The Islanders by Christopher Priest

Read by Michael Maloney

Description: Reality is illusory and magical in the stunning new literary SF novel from the multiple award-winning author of The Prestige.

A tale of murder, artistic rivalry, and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; a narrative that pulls you in and plays an elegant game with you.

The Dream Archipelago is a vast network of islands. The names of the islands are different depending on who you talk to, their very locations seem to twist and shift. Some islands have been sculpted into vast musical instruments, others are home to lethal creatures, others the playground for high society. Hot winds blow across the archipelago and a war fought between two distant continents is played out across its waters.

The Islanders serves both as an untrustworthy but enticing guide to the islands; an intriguing, multi-layered tale of a murder; and the suspect legacy of its appealing but definitely untrustworthy narrator.

A travelogue (think Lonely Planet or those ‘destination in the spotlight’ articles in the rags) of an extensive archipelago strung around the surface of an alien planet. We are shown a handful of the islands, with names and patois nomenclature, climate, geographical quirks and even some miltary history. The delivery is in a ‘just the facts ma’am’ manner, detatched and clinical, adding to the underlying uneasiness.

Aay 25:31 – the Academy of the Four Winds
Annadac 06:31 – torrent riding
Cheoner 34:25 – detained person KS: “I am definitely telling you the truth.”
Collago 11:33 – set in the temperate zone we find immortality.
Deriil – Toruin 01:10
Deriil – Torqui 11:05
Deriil – Torquil 13:48
It was at this point I found a wiki stub and notice that these islands were used in a previous collection of short stories
Emmeret 08:15
Fellenstel 03:15
Ferredy Atoll 15:00
Ganteen Asemant 14:08
Goorn 1:09:39
Juuno 06:03
It was at this point I decided to buy the paper book – how can I solve the puzzle if I can’t flick back through the pages to check things out?.
Piqay 1
Piquay 2
Rowthersay 1
Rawthersay 2

It’s hot so lie back under the AC and stand up fans, close your eyes and imagine yourself in The Dream Archipelago…

…or better still, don’t. It’s all tricksy on this planet so it is fascinating to read about yet not to imagine a trip.

LATER: dumped the audio and await the book – I need to see the words on the page to stand half a chance of solving this shifting-sand puzzle. So it’s a 4* for the moment…

Spire by William Golding

Description: Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and on Dean Jocelin in particular.

Opening: He was laughing, chin up, and shaking his head. God the Father was exploding in his face with a glory of sunlight through painted glass, a glory that moved with his movements to consume and exalt Abraham and Isaac and then God again. The tears of laughter in his eyes made additional spokes and wheels and rainbows.

Another disconcerting read from Golding, I had my slapping hand ready for Jocelyn.

3* Pincher Martin
3* Lord of the Flies
4* The Spire

Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse

bookshelves: summer-2015, published-1958, tbr-busting-2015, amusing, books-about-books-and-book-shops

Read from April 06, 2014 to July 13, 2015

Description: A Brazil nut playfully flung through the window of the Drones Club catapults Uncle Fred into action in P. G. Wodehouse’s jab at the publishing industry. An anonymously penned novel about the nut incident has nobody suspecting the culprit and everybody scrambling for the royalties . . . then the movie rights come up for sale.

It’s summer so of course there must be an encounter with Wodehouse and Heyer at some point!

TR The Man With Two Left Feet (Jeeves 0.5)
WL My Man Jeeves (Jeeves, #1)
3.5* The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves, #2)
5* Carry on, Jeeves (Jeeves, #3)
4* Right Ho, Jeeves (Jeeves, #6)
4* Joy in the Morning (Jeeves, #8)
3* The Mating Season (Jeeves, #9)
3* Ring for Jeeves (Jeeves, #10)
4* Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (Jeeves, #15)

3* Eggs, Beans And Crumpets
TR Barmy in Wonderland
3* Summer Lightning
3* Uncle Fred in the Springtime
3* Cocktail Time
3* Service With a Smile
TR Leave It to Psmith (Psmith, #4 ; Blandings Castle, #2)

4* Something Fresh (Blandings Castle, #1)
TR Leave It to Psmith (Psmith, #4 ; Blandings Castle, #2)

4* A Damsel in Distress
3* Love Among the Chickens (Ukridge, #1)
3* Uneasy Money
3* Summer Moonshine
3* Ukridge
3* The Small Bachelor
TR Barmy in Wonderland

King Charles III by Mike Bartlett

okshelves: summer-2015, published-2014, radio-3, ghosties-ghoulies, contemporary

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 12 to 13, 2015

Description: After a lifetime of waiting, Charles ascends the throne. A future of power. But how to rule? Mike Bartlett’s ‘future history’ play won the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Play. The production, directed by Rupert Goold, premiered at the Almeida Theatre before moving to the West End in a co-production with Sonia Friedman Productions and Stuart Thompson Productions.

This “bracingly provocative and outrageously entertaining new play” (The Independent) explores the people underneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of our democracy, and the conscience of Britain’s most famous family.

KING CHARLES III was first produced by the Almeida Theatre and subsequently co-produced at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End of London by Sonia Friedman Productions and Stuart Thompson Productions in association with Lee Dean & Charles Diamond and Tulchin Bartner Productions. The sound designer for the theatre production was Paul Arditti.

Mike Bartlett’s radio play NOT TALKING won both the Imison and Tinniswood Awards in 2007. He has been Writer-In-Residence at the both the National Theatre and The Royal Court Theatre. His play LOVE, LOVE, LOVE won Best New Play in the 2011 Theatre Awards UK; COCK won an Olivier Award in 2010 for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, as did BULL in 2015. As well as winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play, KING CHARLES III won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of 2014.

Due to rights restrictions, audio for this programme is available only within the UK.

HAH – excellent fayre. A play rendered as if an historical fiction, written in blank verse, starring the UK’s present royal family and I bet this ruffled more than just a few feathers.


I love the soliloquies, the Diana ghost, the admonisions to KCIII to keep his mouth shut, AND what about Jocelyn Pook – count me as an instant fan!

THE best west end show since Book of Mormon and Collaborators, yet I doubt if the Royal Box was used.

As a mild piece of trivia, Elizabeth has only ~50 days or so left before she out queens Victoria as longest ruling monarch.

Go Lizzy!

Another trivia snippet, Book of Mormon has just become the first show to break the £200 barrier for a ticket – that is one fantastic show!

Huzzah for free speech and artistic licence. Fully recommended.

Charles Tim Pigott-Smith
Camilla Margot Leicester
William Oliver Chris
Kate Lydia Wilson
Harry Richard Goulding
Mr Evans Adam James
Mr Stevens Nicholas Rowe
James Reiss Miles Richardson
Jess Tafline Steen
Sarah/Diana/TV Producer Katie Brayben
Spencer/Sir Gordon/Archbishop/Kebab Man Paterson Joseph

A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris

Narrator: Ralph Lister

Description: Edward I is familiar to millions as “Longshanks”, conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (in Braveheart). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king’s action-packed life. Earlier, Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort, traveled to the Holy Land, and conquered Wales. He raised the greatest armies of the Middle Ages and summoned the largest parliaments. Notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.

In this audiobook, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England’s destiny – a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward’s opponents (including Robert Bruce) to resist him.

Dr Marc Morris portrays the era accurately and in an engaging manner; Ralph Lister reads with energy. Recommended.

TR The Norman Conquest
4* The Great Terrible King

The Chess Players by Frances Parkinson Keyes

Description: Paul Morphy was the scion of two outstanding Creole families. His paternal grandfather, Diego Morphy, had been Spanish Consul, first in Charleston and then in New Orleans; his maternal grandfather, Joseph Le Carpentier, commonly called the “double-tongued,” was a successful French auctioneer. On the condition that Le Carpentier would build a house suitable for a superb bridal residence and that his daughter, the beautiful Telcide, should be provided with a fantastic dowry, Don Diego gave his consent to an alliance between her and his son Alonzo, a promising young lawyer destined to become a justice in the supreme court of Louisiana. It was a step down, socially, for the Morphys, but Don Diego felt there were compensations, especially as he and Joseph Le Carpentier had long had a common bond in their love of chess: closer ties would facilitate more and more frequent games.

A somewhat difficult fiction based on the actual personage of Paul Morphy, where the tiny print was not at all helpful. Morphy’s was a troubled, short life and I felt the pain on the page …

…I yearn for some upbeat now. NEXT!

Maxwell’s Curse by M.J. Trow

bookshelves: summer-2015, published-2000, sussex, series, mystery-thriller, cosy, skoolzy-stuff, superstitions, amusing

Read from July 02 to 12, 2015

Read by…………….. Peter Wickham
Total Runtime………. 8 hours 24 mins

Description: 31 December 2000 history teacher Peter ‘Mad Max’ Maxwell sits down to celebrate the Millennium, the proper one, of course. Shortly before 12 o’clock the doorbell rings, and he finds a dead woman on his doorstep. That’s the start of the sixth novel in M.J. Trow’s Maxwell series. The particulars of the case this time points to witchcraft. The background is well-researched, and, like the earlier novels in this series, Maxwell’s Curse is exciting and fun. The unlikely hero of an eccentric history teacher once again picks up the challenge and battles crime.

This is the one with sabre-fencing, diary, and corn-doll. Just a straight three for this one, and a large hope that this is not the series going downhill. Funniest line was about a comb-forward Caesar would die for.

ETA – the description was copy/paste from grramazon and it states that this is the sixth. According to the list this is the fifth.

4* Maxwell’s House
3.5* Maxwell’s Flame
4* Maxwell’s Movie
3.5* Maxwell’s War
3* Maxwell’s Curse
TR Maxwell’s Ride