The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman Narrated by Joan Walker #audiobook #audible #nonfiction #history #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for a brilliant audiobook. The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul by Eleanor Herman and narrated by Joan Walker. This is a title that I adored, I admit it was the narrator Joan Walker that I was looking for as I had recently listened to another book narrated by her. She is a fabulous narrator and one that I will be keeping an ear and eye out for in the future.

The story of poison is the story of power. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.

Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications, and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed turds on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings, and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. The most gorgeous palaces were little better than filthy latrines. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.

In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder.

MY REVIEW

This has been a fabulous audiobook to listen to. I will mention the narrator first though. Joan Walker is a narrator I have only recently come across and I have to say she is brilliant. She has a very soothing voice and I am just able to relax as she tells of the poisons that the author has compiled into this book.

This is a history of poisons through the centuries. From way back when to the modern day and taking in all the varied, various and macabre ways of discovering if you have been poisoned and also the treatments over the centuries to find an antidote. After listening to this I am so glad I live in the age of today rather than a few hundred years ago.

I will say that this isn’t a book you want to listen to while you are eating your lunch! Especially if it’s the sections dealing with how royalty and noble persons would guard against poisoning, well how the medics at the time would. Using mummified human remains for example to ward off ill effects is just a very basic thing that was used.

This is so interesting to listen to and it follows a natural progression of medical discoveries and treatments over the centuries. From basic herb lore to cutting-edge laboratory discoveries this book includes a lot.

There is the obvious historical and medical interest to be found in this but also if like me, you are also a fan of crime fiction then this is also a great listen.

The author obviously knows her stuff and it does come across in the narration. I think this is where the narrator and author have been well matched as I think both enjoyed writing and reading this book as much as I did listening to it.

This is one of those books that is ideal for curious minds as well as those with a fascination for the macabre world of poisoning. It is a series of snapshots through history that documents how effective a good poison cold be. It is something that has changed monarchs, rulers and important decisions, and as we know it is still in use in today’s world.

If I had to sum this book up I would say it is fascinating and an eye-opener. It is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times best-seller Eleanor Herman’s new non-fiction book, The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul, is set to come out in June 2018. Think royal palaces were beautiful places to live? Think again!

Herman offers a rare combination of skills for a historian – her research is intensely scholarly, yet she writes the story in a colorful, witty manner. “History is so fascinating that it never has to be presented in a boring way,” she explains. “These were flesh and blood people, just like you and me, facing war and plague, falling in love, living among splendid art and gut-wrenching poverty. Sometimes people ask me if I plan to write novels. And I say, with all the things that really happened, who needs to make stuff up?”

Eleanor, a New York Times bestseller, has also written Sex with Kings (a history of royal mistresses), Sex with the Queen (a look at queens’ love affairs), Mistress of the Vatican (a biography of an influential papal mistress), and a four-part YA fantasy series on Alexander the Great, called The Blood of Gods and Royals.

Eleanor is a frequent commentator in the media about royal scandals, and has hosted episodes for The History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and America: Fact vs. Fiction. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Eleanor graduated with a degree in journalism from Towson University, studied languages in Europe, and for thirteen years worked for NATO’S Nations & Partners for Peace magazine. She is married and lives in McLean, VA with four very demanding cats

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

Joan Walker is a hugely experienced, extremely versatile professional voice artist. Her range extends from crisp concise technical narration, to inventing the perfect character voice for a bubble blowing elephant. It’s a voice that can be funny, friendly, sexy, warm, authoritative…or more.

As well as appearing in over 500 plays on BBC radio, Joan has voiced countless TV and radio adverts, read copious talking books some of which have won awards including the Golden Earphones from AudioFile USA plus the American Library Journal Best Audio of 2016, narrated an array of documentaries, created voices for animations and video games and is the voice of audio guides in some of the greatest art galleries and museums in the world.

Following a degree in maths and psychology Joan taught maths for 2 years to earn enough money to send herself to drama school. She did a 1 year post graduate diploma at Welsh College of Music and Drama, qualifying in July 1983 and starting her acting career immediately as part of the rep at the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster.

Her career includes theatre, television, film, lots of radio drama and poetry, much commercial voiceover work, talking books, narration for galleries and museums, and most recently a world tour of Mamma Mia! Lycra, platform boots and Abba songs for a whole year. Bliss.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland by Lisa Schneidau #audiobook #fantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Botanical Folk Tales of Britain & Ireland by Lisa Schneidau and narrated by Joan Walker. This was a title that caught my eye while I was scanning through Audible and I do love Folk Tales.

This collection of folk tales takes you on a green and leafy journey around the British Isles. Here are locally sourced and traditional folk tales of wild trees and plants throughout the seasons: from the magical mistletoe to the bad-tempered stinging nettle. Plants shape the British landscape, and they provide food, medicine and inspiration—yet in the middle of our hectic lives, we often take them for granted. Traditional stories, passed down the generations, tell of the complex relationship between people and plants in Britain, in lowlands and uplands, coasts, bogs, forests, and towns.

MY REVIEW

I grew up reading fairy tales and folk tales so when I saw this as an audiobook I knew it would be a good one for me.

The collection of Folk Tales has been collated by Lisa Schneidau and the narrator, Joan Walker is fabulous. Joan has a very listenable voice, she adds good local accents to the various stories depending on which part of the country the tale is from.

As someone who loves her garden and also loves reading, I immediately knew that this would be great to listen to while outside in my own garden.

There are some tales that I knew, and some that I thought I knew from other stories I had read as a child, but actually turned out to be slightly different. As an adult listening to these tales I soo0n realised how dark some of them can be, death of characters is something that occurs quite often in tales, but I never really saw this as a child.

Some of the tales have a modern introduction to them, mentioning things such as phones. This means it will appeal to the younger reader today but lead them nicely into the tale and its past origins.

Each of the stories has a plant at its centre, beanstalk, mossy coat, rosemary, holly and so many others that are well known and some a little more obscure. Each tale has a relevance to a person, people or village, they are a mix of good and bad and lots of warnings. Tales of woodlands, forests, bogs and marshes, mountains and dales. The tales are laid out by season.

This is an audio that I will listen to again as I really enjoyed it. It has a calming feel to it with the gentle voice of the narrator. This is one for those who like to relive childhood tales and to a certain extent you can see how some old wives’ tales, legends and warnings have their origins, it is one I would definitely recommend it.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly #Audible #audiobook #toplisten #audioreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly. I grew up and was aware of this comedian and over the years I have then watched his travelogue shows.

When I saw this on Audible I knew straight away that this was the book I was going to spend my credit on this month. It was a brilliant choice and exceptional audio and one that will be on my Top Books of the Year list!

In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.

As a young comedian, Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings… and writing.

Windswept and Interesting is Billy’s story in his own words. It is joyfully funny – stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.

‘I didn’t know I was Windswept and Interesting until somebody told me. It was a friend who was startlingly exotic himself. He’d just come back from Kashmir and was all billowy shirt and Indian beads. I had long hair and a beard and was swishing around in electric blue flairs.
He said: “Look at you – all windswept and interesting!”
I just said: “Exactly!”
After that, I simply had to maintain my reputation…’ 

MY REVIEW

Billy Connolly is a voice I have known of since childhood when Mum and Dad listened to his vinyl LPs, a voice I have known but at the time I didn’t really understand, probably just as well really.

Over the years Billy has been on TV chatshows, radio, Top of the Pops, in film and to be fair in most of the entertainment genres. I have read one of his previous books, it was years ago and it was one that I lent to someone who never returned it!

I decided to listen to the audiobook of this autobiography and I have to say, compared to when I heard his voice as a child, I can understand every word. I mentioned listening to this book to my mum, and the first thing she said was “could you understand him”, yes she still remembers trying to decipher the LPs, not easy especially when Billy starts laughing!

This is a man who has had an interesting life, he has travelled the world and met so many people. He is an observer of people and has taken risks and chances. Some worked some didn’t. But he is a unique man.

Listening to this book had me laughing to a point where I had to pause the book so I could compose myself and also hear what Billy was saying! He sees life slightly differently and this is what makes his improvised stand-up routines so unique.

If you want to listen to an autobiography that gets under the skin of what makes a person tick, then this one is fabulous. Billy doesn’t hide his past, he is open about his mistakes and how he has done things as well as what has affected him over the years.

This is entertaining and funny but it is also honest and a bit of an eye-opener at times. It isn’t all humour and anecdotes, as he discusses the abuse he suffered as a child. It is something that had taken many, many years for him to come to terms with and also to understand. I did also get the hardback of this and read some sections as well as listened. And yes, as I read it I could hear Billy’s voice.

Excellent listening, honest and very addictive. I would absolutely recommend it. 

Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I found on Goodreads –

“Blessed are those who yodel – for they shall never be troubled by offers of work.”
― Billy Connolly, Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography

“I hope I’ve shown a few disbelievers that they should never discount those they think are different, disorganised or distractible.”
― Billy Connolly, Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography

ABOUT BILLY CONNOLLY

Image is taken from Goodreads

William “Billy” Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin (The Big One). His first trade, in the early 1960s, was as a welder (specifically a boilermaker) in the Glasgow shipyards, but he gave it up towards the end of the decade to pursue a career as a folk singer in the Humblebums and subsequently as a soloist. In the early 1970s he made the transition from folk-singer with a comedic persona to fully-fledged comedian, a role in which he continues. He also became an actor, and has appeared in such films as Mrs. Brown (1997), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA; The Boondock Saints (1999); The Last Samurai (2003); Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004); and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008).

It is as a stand-up comedian that Connolly is best known. His observational comedy is idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff. He has outraged certain sectors of audiences, critics and the media with his free use of the word “fuck”. He has made jokes relating to masturbation, blasphemy, defecation, flatulence, haemorrhoids, sex, his father’s illness, his aunts’ cruelty and, in the latter stages of his career, old age (specifically his experiences of growing old). In 2007 and again in 2010, he was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.

Connolly has been married to comedian and psychologist Pamela Stephenson since 1989. In the book Billy, and in a December 2008 online interview, Connolly states he was sexually abused by his father between the ages of 10 and 15. He believes this was a result of the Catholic Church not allowing his father to divorce after his mother left the family. Due to this, Connolly has a “deep distrust and dislike of the Catholic church and any other organization that brainwashes people”. In a 1999 interview with “The Sunday Herald” Connolly condemned the SNP as “racist” and the new Scottish parliament as a “joke”.

In November 1998, Connolly was the subject of a two-hour retrospective entitled Billy Connolly: Erect for 30 Years, which included tributes from Judi Dench, Sean Connery, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Eddie Izzard. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing : ) xx

The Silk Roads: The Extraordinary History that created your World – Children’s Edition by Peter Frankopan #audiobook #20booksofsummer @NetGalley @BloomsburyUK #audioreview

I am delighted to share an audio book review today for The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. I have this book in hardback and have been meaning t read it for so long. When I saw there was an audio version available via NetGalley I immediately requested a copy. My thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for granting my request to listen and review.

This is a children’s version aimed at those around 11 years and up. A quick listen at just over two and a half hours long.

Set your sails east with this stunningly original new history of the world. Peter Frankopan explores the connections made by people, trade, disease, war, religion, adventure, science and technology in this extraordinary book about how the east married the west with a remarkable voyage at its heart – the journey along the Silk Roads.


From ancient world laws laid down by King Hammurabi and the mighty Persian empire, to terrifying Huns, the rise of Europe, two world wars and politics today, The Silk Roads moves through time and history sewing together the threads from different peoples, empires and continents into a phenomenal history of the globe.


With stories from each and every corner of society, Frankopan’s magnificent retelling of his literary triumph The Silk Roads, sumptuously illustrated by Neil Packer, is a must-have world history.

My Review…

I have a hardback version of this book but as yet have not read it. When I saw there was an audio version I thought this might be the ideal time to listen instead. I was aware that this is a version that is abridged and aimed at a teen audience and so shorter in length than the actual book.

This narration is excellent to listen to, my only issue was that it finished far too quickly! I was really enjoying the book and I could have listened for a lot longer.

This is the story of the Silk Road, from the first recognition and use of this route to modern-day use. Not only does the author deal with important events on the Silk Road, but he also uses these events to mention other events in the world. This works really well as there are various reference points so you are aware of what else was going on at the time.

So while this is primarily about the Silk Road it is also a world history book. Cross-referencing like this means you get glimpses of social events, cultures, histories. The author explores how political decisions, trade decisions are all part of how we see different countries and their rulers in the world. How money and politics are more important than the people.

Condensing world history down into this version is excellent. It makes this a fascinating listen for those who like history but want a more manageable version. After listening to this I do think I will be picking up my physical copy of the book and also the follow-on book.

A fabulous listen and one I would definitely recommend. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

My Week In Books (w/e 12th April) #Booknews #Bookupdates #MeAndMyBooks

Hello and welcome to another week of bookishness. Like many people I have been getting on with some baking. It is something I regularly do, although I admit that I occasionally used to make my own bread, I am now making it regularly.

The bonus to making homemade bread is that I always make enough for two 1lb loaves, now as there are only two of us it is a bit too much. There is however, method behind my madness… half the mix makes up a loaf the other half gets made into my version of Chelsea Buns and they do freeze down well.

As it was Easter I also decided to try my hand at Hot Cross Buns. Now I know what the Other Half is like for buns and cakes and when the recipe said the mix was for 12, I knew straight away I had to double the mix and that way I could freeze some down.

You may notice there is one of the Hot Cross Buns missing… well I had to make sure they tasted okay and the best way is when they are straight out of the oven, it did and yes I burnt my tongue. Oh the suffering I have to put myself through…😋🤣😂

Right, let me show you the books I have read this week…

Last week I had just started to read The Memories We Buried by Helene Leuschel and I quickly found myself caught up in it. This is, as the title indicates, is about memories and with memories come secrets and what a compelling read this book was. There is a good psychological thread through it as I discovered more about the main characters and gradually started to see the bigger picture. Excellent read.


I read The Wheelwright’s Daughter by Eleanor Porter for the upcoming Blog Tour. This is set in Elizabethan England and is the start of a series about Martha and the village she lives in. An unfortunate event has the finger of blame pointed at Martha and there are accusations of witchcraft.I really enjoyed this book and even though I did feel it was a little on the slow side due to it being the start of a series, it did capture my attention and I found myself eagerly reading. The only downside was the bit of a cliffhanger, but this has the effect of leaving me wanting to know what happens next.


Another first in a series book, well actually its a trilogy, The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey. Now I have read this author before and was blown away by The Girl With All The gifts, its such an amazing book, so when I saw there was a Blog Tour for him I immediately signed up. The Book of Koli is a dystopian and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it again has a slower pace as it is the first book and therefore sets the groundwork for what is to follow. I got to discover more about Koli and the community he lives in. It is told from his perspective and for me it worked so well. The world the the author creates is great and I am waiting eagerly for the next books.


I could have sworn I had read this author before but it seems I have books that I have bought but have yet to read, I do know I am not alone in this either. Willow’s Wedding Vows by Debbie Viggiano was a book that I immediately got caught up in as I discovered all about Willow and her dreams of marrying long-term boyfriend Charlie. This author has written a story that at first glance looks like a rom com, and yes it does have that feel to it, but it is also deceptive in the way the characters have been used. A story that kept me on my toes as I tried to work out who was telling the truth and… I’m leaving it there as I think I could quite easily give away to much. Keep an eye out for the blog tour.


So, what am I currently listening to…

Well, I have never read any of these books, I have tried a couple of times to read the first one in the series and for some reason they don’t capture my attention. I have seen the films and yes I enjoy them and when I saw that Audible Stories had the first book to listen to for free I hopped on over to have a listen. Now I have to say Stephen Fry is an amazing narrator and I loved this version.

Well, it’s Harry Potter & The Philopsohper’s Stone by JK Rowling. In fact i am enjoying it so much I used one of my Audible Credits to buy my own copy, and while I was there used another credit to buy the second book as well.


Well that is me done for the week, I am not sure which book I am going to pick up next, so I wish you all a great week ahead.

Yvonne xx

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Hat Shop on the Corner by Marita Conlon-McKenna #AudioReview #20booksofsummer (4/20)

I am delighted to welcome you all to my review for the Audio version of The Hat Shop on the Corner by Marita Conlon-McKenna.

Let’s see what it is all about…

A gloriously warm-hearted novel about wonderful hats, the people who buy them – and their remarkable stories.

Hats! Hats! Hats! Upbrims, sidesweeps, silks, ribbons and trims all become part of Ellie’s life when she inherits the little hat shop on Dublin’s South Anne Street. But the city is changing, and Ellie must decide if she wants to follow the hat-making tradition of her mother or accept a generous offer to sell the shop.

Encouraged by her friends, Ellie takes on the hat shop, and her quirky designs and tempting millinery confections soon attract a rich assortment of customers all in search of the perfect hat.

Creating hats for weddings, shows, fashion and fun, and falling for the charms of Rory Doyle along the way, Ellie is happier than she has ever been before. But as her fingers work their magic she discovers a lot can happen in the heart of a city like Dublin….

Ellie inherits a hat shop on the corner of South Anne Street in Dublin. After some thought, she decides that she will take on the running of the shop and continue in her mothers’ footsteps. Using her own experience and knowledge to create millinery masterpieces fit for any occasion.

This is a lovely story to listen to and the narrator Caroline Lennon has the perfect tone to her voice to make the story come alive.

This is obviously a story about hats, the making of them, the different materials used and all manner of other things. The author has the balance of the millinery world just right. Giving enough information to keep my interest without overburdening me. It compliments the story of Ellie and her customers. There are also other different things going on this this story. The street where the hat shop is situated is underthreat, not just Ellie’s shop, but also other retailers, from a large development.

I am going to go back to the hats again, well the customers actually. Each customer that comes into the shop wants a bespoke hat. This involves Ellie finding out what the occasion is and then also a little bit about each customer. This means I got to know more characters and their own stories, some are sad, some happy, some nervous, some shy but all want a hat. I got to know their likes, dislike and preferences. Whether they were willing to take a chance on something they wouldn’t normally pick or knew exactly what they wanted.

This was such a lovely story to sit and listen to. It’s one I would recommend to those that like a gentle, heartwarming story about people in their everyday lives. It has also left me wanting to now go and read the book as well.


This is book 4 out of 20 in my #20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous : xx

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve #Audible #AudioReview

I am delighted to be sharing the Audible Version of Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve and Narrated by Barnaby Edwards.

Welcome to the astounding world of Predator Cities!

Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon, London will feed.

In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage – and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

“Predator Cities”… yeah, you read that right… cities that devour other cities! Not only do they devour cities they also float!

This obviously falls into the fantasy genre and is also a YA themed book and is the first in the series. I have seen this advertised as a film and while I am waiting to watch it I thought this might be as good a time as any to listen to the book.

Tom is the main character and he is a little naive to some of the more darker dealings and politics of the cities and its power-hungry leaders. Corruption is rife and puts Tom in danger. Along the way, Tom meets Hester. She is an intriguing character, nervy, watchful and, alert at all times.

The battles between the elite and the powerful as they strive to be bigger and better than others and have their cities to be bigger and better also. There is definitely one megalomaniac that stands out from the rest, he is evil and yeah slightly mad with his vision for the future. In with that, there is the struggle that the common people have, the comparisons intrigued me as I listened.

I really enjoyed some of the word-building and the play on words, as I listened I understood why this would be made into a film.

Barnaby Edwards does a great job with the narration and had a tone in his voice that didn’t jar or jangle. He had a good range to the voices and I found it easy to follow.

I enjoyed listening to this a lot and it has actually left me wanting to read the book as well! So now I am looking forward to the book and the film!

It is an Audiobook that I would recommend.

Becoming by Michelle Obama #Audiobook #Review

I am delighted to share my review for the Audiobook version of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I have had my eye on this for a while and as I had a credit left on Audible I decided that this was a book I would like to listen to, rather than read.

So let’s have a look and see what it’s all about…

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Listening Length: 19 hrs 3 min

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Well as you can see from the synopsis this book has a running time of 19hours and I will tell you something, it didn’t feel like that long. Her voice is one of those really pleasant ones, it makes it easy to listen to her and it’s full of emotion.

I had Michelle accompany me on a 7hour drive to my parents house and back again, she was with me as I was weeding the garden and when she had finished telling me her story I genuinly missed her voice.

Becoming is the story of Michelle Obama, she relates her childhood growing up in Chicago, through college and university and to becoming one of the most famous women in our time.

As I listened to Michelle I was surprised to hear that she is not the confident person I thought she was. She shared her worries, fears, nerves, doubts and concerns. She comes across as so strong and yet she is like the rest of us exactly like the rest of us.

I adored listening to the anecdotes and stories from her childhood and these carry on into adulthood. She is super proud of her roots and shares some wonderful memories. I smiled and laughed at many and also had a lump in my throat at others. In fact at one point I had to pause the book because I was driving and I could feel tears welling up, not a good thing when you are on the motorway.

Michelle comes across as such a warm and genuine person. This is evident from the stories and the causes she supports and also from the the sound of her voice. I could here anger and frustration as well as humour, sorrow, and amusement. It felt that she was talking directly to me rather than at me.

I adored the fact that she was very open and honest as she told me about her life. It was refreshing to see the more vulnerable side as well. To be able to see her not as a First Lady, but as a daughter, wife, mum or work collegue.

An absolutely fabulous book to listen to and the most brilliant choice of audiobook to spend my spare credit on!

I absolutely recommend Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fab 🙂 xx

#AudioBook : Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken #Review

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I have a first for me today on my blog, an audio book! “Six Stories” by Matt Wesolowski published by Audible Studios, this is also available in paperback and eBook format by Orenda Books. Take your pick of format and BUY HERE

Synopsis:

It’s 1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

It’s 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult Internet figure.

Featuring a full cast narration using 17 different voices!

My Thoughts:

I have never really properly sat down to listen to an audio book before, they have been background noise like a radio would be, so when I spotted Amazon running a free trial I decided it was about time I gave them a go.  Where to start and what to pick was a problem, you have 1 free purchase of any book and there are millions, literally millions to chose from.  So my choice was based on just browsing until something cropped up.  This is when I saw “Six Stories” I have this one on my wish list, it is there because of the  book reviews I had seen from fellow Bloggers and also on the Blog Tour for Orenda Books organised by Anne Cater.  It seemed like a good choice as I had not read it, wanted read it but finding the time to fit it in was a problem.  I agree not the most scientific choice, but it worked for me.  What I had not realised, or more like had forgotten about was that this book was set out as a podcast and it soon became apparent, either by pure luck or fate this book was already a good choice given its written style.  I listened to this as I was digging my garden, you may think this odd, but NO DISTRACTIONS! so it worked for me 🙂

So enough waffling, onto my thoughts.  This is story is set out as a series of podcasts by  6 different people as they recount their version of events from 1995/6 when a Tom Jeffries body is found. The podcast is produced 10 years later and is the work of Scott King and he has interviewed those who knew Tom.

OH WOW!!!! What a story, twists, darkness, atmospheric details, suspense, drama it has the lot and a hell of a lot more.  As I listened to this story there were times when I forgot I was listening to a book or a work of fiction.  You get a real sense of the characters and also the environment of Scarclaw Fell. The characters conveyed many emotions as they told their tale, some with hesitation and nerves, a sign of embarrassment or guilt maybe.  The interviewees have a reluctance about them that adds to the air of mystery, also adds to the feeling of them having more involvement than they want to admit.  I really liked the way Matt used Scott’s character by adding little asides about the little nuances he picks up from the characters as they tell their tales.  He relates a reluctance a hesitation or little visual quirks he notices in the characters, whether they are coincidental to the story they tell or just something he notices.  Again another great way to build up suspicion and suspense.

The description of the Fell were very well described, an area containing geological, historical and industrial descriptions.  A place of danger from abandoned mine shafts and marshes, with the inevitable folklore tales of a mysterious, legendary character that will trap the unwary.  There is a presence of bullying in this story, it is not nice listening to someone tell of how it had affected them it is an essential element that has been very well portrayed and Matt has not held back on this issue but has also not over dramatised it.

So as a bit of a summary, this is a real gritty, atmospheric and superb listen.  I think this is one I will definitely read as a book even though I have listened to the audio.  I did get a real sense of suspense, drama and there is a little bit of a horror element to it.  It has a feel of something very different, new and exciting about it.  On the audio side of it, the voices of the characters were good, I did find a couple of voices that I was not that keen on but it didn’t take away any of the enjoyment.  It helped that with remembering the characters, but not as much as I would remember them in a book.  I think this is a skill that can be developed over time.

This is a story I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND who want a something that is full of mystery, tales, folklore, that is atmospheric, gritty and dark.  It will keep you on the edge of your seat as the tale is told, and what a tale it was.  I absolutely loved this one.

 

About the Author:

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and US anthologies.

Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015, his subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2017

Follow Matt on Twitter 

About the Audio Book:

  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 15 Mar. 2017
  • Language: English

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