E-books and audiobooks: fiction
by Bernard Cornwell
(read by Jack Hawkins)
1356, read by a hesitant Jack Hawkins, is set around one of the most famous battles in European history: Poitiers, in which the English and French clashed over land, money and power. Bernard Cornwell tells the story through the search for a mythical sword, which Edward, the Prince of Wales, believes will grant him super powers. Picking up where Harlequin - part one of the series - left off, our guide is aspiring young archer Thomas of Hookton, who wants to join Edward's merry men. But to prove his worth, he must find the holy weapon (better known as La Malice). Thomas is not the only person on the quest - there are twisted Catholic types, avaricious businessmen, and those jealous of his skills. 1356 is great fun. But while it is written by a master craftsman, the same can't be said for Hawkins' narration which gives the eerie sensation he is learning to read and his French accent is so bad Inspector Clouseau will surely turn in his tomb, non?
The Hydrogen Sonata
by Iain M. Banks
(read by Peter Kenny)
For a quarter of a century, the darkly enjoyable novelist Iain Banks has been stalked by a comparably dark, science fiction-toting version of himself: Iain M. Banks. The latter has created an entire universe - The Culture - within which he has fashioned stories of politics, technology, economics and all sorts of galaxy-hopping weirdness. The Hydrogen Sonata is the ninth instalment. In this latest adventure, a nasty bunch called the Scavengers are homing in on the ever-diminishing Gzilts, one of the original civilisations responsible for creating The Culture 10,000 years before. They quickly turned their backs on the epicurean society they helped to shape, and aimed for The Sublime, an ethereal dimension with overtones of heaven. The plot is driven by a murder and a secret, which the reader knows, but the main characters only discover gradually. Peter Kenny's posh tones enhance the other-worldliness of Banks' increasingly complex narrative. Serious entertainment.
by Harlan Coben
Whole Story Audiobooks
Bestselling thriller writer Harlan Coben ( Tell No One) is the latest to hitch a ride on the young adult bandwagon. There is a strong, even literal family resemblance to his most famous books. Coben's young adult hero, Mickey Bolitar, is nephew to his older adult hero, Myron. Where his uncle is a towering hunk of a sports agent, Mickey is troubled and unsure of himself - hardly surprising given that he spent much of part one ( Shelter) being bashed about. Not content with learning that his dead father (Brad) might not have perished in a car accident, or that his mother was a drug addict, fate removed his girlfriend, Ashley, in mysterious circumstances. Seconds Away (nice pun that, for a sequel) continues the plot, starting with the cliff-hanger that ended part one. The novel works well enough, although it seems to me that Coben is in a holding pattern, mopping up a fine debut while preparing the ground for a possible trilogy (there is another twist at the end). Still, fun for all the family.