LISTENER

Podenco Fan

UK
  • 19
  • reviews
  • 66
  • helpful votes
  • 25
  • ratings
The Reunion cover art

High hopes but just could not get into it sadly.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-09-19

I thought this book looked very intriguing and exciting and as I love French Film and murder mysteries I thought this would be ideal, plus some glowing reviews made me think I had found a real treat calling it a clever whodunnit. Alas I could not get into it though I loved the setting in the Cote d'Azur and the first narrator with his wonderful French pronunciation. I did not get far enough along to hear and of the other narrators but so far it sounded great.

Perhaps it was the way the story jumped back and forward or the way I could not get into the characters like a woman who spends 300 euros on an evening dress but has to borrow shoes to go with them and then wrecks it all by going out on a police call along the cliffs without simply taking off the dress and shoes aprox 10 seconds and pulling on her normal workwear or jeans, jumper and sneakers - one minute tops. I think perhaps I was just so caught up in that mystery that I just was so preoccupied and puzzled the real story failed to grip me.

I did like all he intrigue of someone leaving spooky momentos of the past and of the mystery of the couple who just vanished and all the style of the South of France but try as I might I could not engage I left the room for some time leaving the book running and came back to find I had no clue at all about who anyone was, the setting or what was going on so I just reluctantly gave up and will now hope they make a film version if it is as cunning a plot with the twists and turns that the other glowing reviews speak of.

Ralph's Party cover art

I love a good Lisa Jewell but this was not for me

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-19

I am a huge fan of Lisa Jewell - loved "Watching You" and "Then She Was Gone" so much, "The Family Upstairs" was so well written but just the themes were so depressing although it was a cracking plot …. and the rest of them I tried but just could not get into. Almost as if someone different wrote them.

And so it was with this one, I loved the writing style but just kept waiting for something to happen and it all just fell rather flat for me. I suppose I was hoping for a cracking thriller as I know Lisa Jewell has an amazing talent, but this was just much ado about nothing for me.

Also not a huge fan of Imogen Church as she does tend to over egg a reading but find her fine at 1.25 speed where she cannot make a meal out of every single word. Having said that she is a great narrator compared to many- but just needs to pull it all back a bit and let the writing speak for itself and the story breath instead of just milking it for all it is worth as it makes everything just too exhausting.

I have preordered "One Hit Wonder" and so hoping it will be the Lisa Jewell I love rather than the one I just fail to engage with.

Clear My Name cover art

Not for me - returning as could not get onboard

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-19

I enjoyed Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly bar the animal cruelty but I just could not get into this one although I did try several times. I found the whole premise a bit ridiculous and the characters strange, cliquey and unlikable.
It did sound good but I just found myself caring less and less.
I am taking Paula Daly off my list of promising listens as so many brilliant thrillers about by authors like Tana French, Ruth Ware, Fiona Barton, Jane Casey, Lisa Jewell, Clare Douglas, Robert Galbraith. JP Delaney, Cara Hunter, Caz Frear, Louise Candlish, Clare Mackintosh, Caroline Kepnes, Sam Hepburn, Dorothy Koomson. Aga Lesiewicz, T.M. Logan, Anthony Horowitz, Emily Barr, Kate McQuaile, Helen Callaghan. Teresa Driscoll, Sarah Alderson, Catherine Steadman, Sue Watson, Lucy Foley, Jessica Vallance, Kimberley Belle, Elle Croft, Sarah Pinborough, Denise Mina, Harriet Tyce, Jo Spain, Liz Nugent, Elly Griffiths, Mary Torjussen , Joss Stirling, Alison Bruce, C. J. Cooke, Camilla Way, Sabine Durrant , Sarah J. Naughton, Stef Penney, Caroline Mitchell, Annabel Kantaria , Stephanie Marland, Stephanie Broadribb, KL Slater, Eve Chase and Michelle Richmond to name but a few whose book or books I have given 5 stars over the years.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Come a Little Closer cover art

Curate's Egg of a Thriller

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-09-19

Karen Perry ( pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece) has always been hit and miss for me I liked "Girl Unknown", I loved "Can You Keep a Secret" but found the narrator appalling and I tried and failed to enjoy or finish "Your Closest Friend" and "The Boy Who Never Was" but I thought I would give this latest offering a try.

I found it slow to get into but then it picked up for a while, secrets were revealed and tension built around the time honoured suspense of "Did he do it?" reminiscent of "Guilty as Sin" and "Jagged Edge" although this version is non courtroom and is set after release from prison . It was a great premise and introduced well, though I feel there was more scope for making more of this especially through character development.

It was around this time when I began to get sidetracked by the very weird performance of one of the three narrators - the one who voices the character Hilary. Now I am not sure if Hilary is supposed to be insufferable but Julia Winwood made her impossible to like through her interpretation. This narrator's accent veered from Dublin to Liverpool, from Midlands to West Country burr and beyond, sometimes all in one sentence. At times it seemed like she was making comedy style thick accents for characters but then they would continue after the character had stopped speaking. It is hard to know if she was actually playing it for laughs but the effect was just so distracting as her accents blew every which way from Dublin Street Trader to the piratey arrrrrrrrs of Captain Birdseye. I am not sure if Julia Winwood is in fact Irish, at times her accent did seem authentic but the way she could not sustain it for long without it changing and the way she could not keep her character's voices from bleeding into the commentary and vice versa makes me think that her Irish accents are not her own.
This would be even more of a puzzle as to why she was cast as I really have never heard such a weird mishmash of random accents and with so many actors with genuine native Irish accents, let alone great storytelling and acting talents.

This became even more of an issue because as the tension mounted more and more of the story seemed to be told by "Hilary" and while she was more bearable at 1.25 speed I had to switch back for the other slightly wimpy and light female character "Leah" as she became totally whittery at the increased speed. In fairness I have heard Aoife McMahon do good performances in other audio books and she was by far the best of the three. I also found Anton's character, who was meant to be charming to sound more gruff and creepy so really I think the whole book could have been improved with different narrators to breath more likeable life into the characters. There are so very many talented female Irish actors like Caroline Lennon, who do amazing audible narrations and a plethora of attractively voiced male Irish actors that I find this casting almost as bad of a crime than the ones in the book. It is such a terrible shame as whoever is responsible for production and casting of Karen Perry audiobooks has really done their best to sabotage these well written books but I suppose, at least Grainne Gillis was not given another outing after the cringeworthy "Can You Keep a Secret" debacle.

It is also a pity that the sample you hear is of Aoife McMahon, who is by far the most likeable of the three narrators and if I had heard Hilary or Anton instead of Leah's character I might not have bothered to even have given it a go.

Narration aside, it was a 4 star thriller, good premise, plot twists. a slight nod to "Rebecca" and also to the Guilty/Innocent genre, characters could have done with being less superficial and more likeble and credible. Also some of Anton's actions seemed to make no sense like the bath and wine bottle episodes which seemed not really to have been logical or believable though the sim card move was a chilling skillful touch and I did like the reveal on his modus operandi and what was behind it.
So while it had the potential to be a real cracker it just was so much less than it could have been and I think a good editor could have just helped to bring it all into sharper focus and make it into a far cleverer, sleeker and likeable book.
Even the setting of lovely seaside Dún Laoghaire in South County Dublin was never made to shine and the storytelling never gave me really good glimpse of the house so much of the action takes place in.
The character Charlotte is another example of a wasted opportunity as she could have had so much more depth and intrigue built around her which would have made the whole plot make so much more sense and be so much more resonant. So basically for me, whether through the infuriating accent switching narration of hideous Hilary, the wimpy twittering Leah, unappealing, charmless Anton or the lack of compelling and convincing storytelling made the whole thing just a waste of the sum of its parts.
It could have been brilliant ............ it was so much better than most thrillers out there but the narration, lack of final polish which made the book fall so far short of its potential just left me feeling disappointed.

Authors who I feel have really gone 5 stars and beyond in some or all of their books are Ruth Ware, Caz Frear, Fiona Barton, Clare Mackintosh, Emily Bar, Louise Candlish, JP Delaney, Jane Casey, Lucy Foley, Lisa Jewell, Kate McQuaile, Dorothy Koomson, Sarah Alderson, Jessica Vallance, Sabine Durrant, Aga Lesiewicz, and Sarah J. Naughton to name just a few and this book was sadly a full star or more behind these authors' best offerings.

It's not that it is bad, it just could have been so so so much better as a book and I believe top class narration could have also saved it, but instead it is all just a bit lacklustre, musty and drab - much like Anton's house.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Family Upstairs cover art

Another gem by Lisa Jewell but themes not for me.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-08-19

I have to say this was not my favourite Lisa Jewell thriller and of the past few, for me "Then She Was Gone" and "Watching You" were just so much more enjoyable. However I am still giving 5 stars as it was a very well written and tightly woven story with lots of plot twists and interesting backstories.
I just did not like any of the characters or themes and found it all quite depressing.
The narration was very good apart from a few mispronunciations including ennui and some other commonly used words which was jarring.
I also thought the two South African mentions were going to lead to another twist in the ending but unless there will be a sequel it then just seemed like a strange coincidence - don't worry that is not in anyway a spoiler just it could have been an interesting extra element to the ending but wasn't. Odd.
Even had I known the themes I would have still pre-ordered this book based on having so much enjoyed "Then She Was Gone" and "Watching You" but was just a bit bleak for me, which made it seem like it dragged, probably as I just was not enjoying the themes, only the mystery and suspense. Or perhaps, unlike other Lisa Jewell books, it seemed overlong as there was not one likeable character in the whole book so I found myself not really caring that much what happened to them, only to solve the intricately plotted puzzle of just what did happen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A Nearly Normal Family cover art

Engaging, Engrossing, Intriguing Scandi Thriller

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-08-19

I had this book on my wish list but did go for it until it came up as the Daily Deal and had I known how good it was I would have got it a long time ago as it really was very gripping and thought provoking.
The story is told by three different people and includes events as seen from four viewpoints. Just like as is explained in the court case, the first story told is naturally taken as the truth and it takes very compelling evidence to sway the human brain away from believing any other version of events.
This change of perspective makes the book fascinating as we learn so much more about the characters as well as the murder and the events which led up to it.
Stylishly and flawlessly narrated I loved the way the book dipped from English accents into what sounded to me like fluent Swedish when place and people's names came up which made me really feel like I was in Sweden and Denmark and gave it a lovely Scandi Drama authenticity and flair.
Plenty of twists and turns, lots of human emotion and frailty, interesting topics discussed in an interesting way and after listening I really feel like I know the family and could recognise them in the street.
Nothing too gritty, gory, or disturbing, just thought provoking rather than thrills and chills and you certainly can read this on your own at night without getting jumpy and yet still a gentle whodunnit as well.
Who is lying, who is telling the truth and who really knows their family, boyfriends or best friends as well as they think they do? That is the question.
I will look out for this author again as I got into it easily and it kept me hooked and guessing and second guessing all the way to a satisfying end I thought it was very well written and translated with only a few quirks like Deer instead of Doe eyes and biking instead of cycling but overall this was quite charming and acted as a reminder that this was set in a foreign location.
So now I feel like I got back from a holiday in Sweden without any of the cost or travel.
Bonus!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Perfect Wife cover art

OMG THIS IS THE BEST THRILLER I HAVE READ ... EVER

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-08-19

I adored "The Girl Before" could not wait for "Believe Me" which was a huge disappointment thought had an intriguing premise but became just too bonkers towards the latter quarter - but based on the strength of the first book I went ahead and pre-ordered "The Perfect Wife". The release date was put back and I wondered what was taking so long ...

Now I know ... THIS BOOK IS BLINKING BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!

It is, for me, the best thriller I have read maybe ever. Certainly recently. It is set in the near future so there is a bit of sci-fi in it but as much as things we know are inevitable developments, which makes it just super fascinating. It is the world we know but with tech advancements unfolding with the book which is very thought provoking.
Along with this future tech, the moral and ethical questions are also explored and these are real and valid questions which we will surely have to address only too soon.

But this is also and perhaps primarily a love story but also a twisting, turning intriguing, enthralling psychological thriller which really packs in all the cunning reality shifts and plot developments of 10 of your average mysteries.

I loved it from the very beginning which features a GIANT mind blowing and very through provoking twist.
Initially I was put off by the American voice over and I bristled a bit as the previous books had been very well narrated with UK actors but a few minutes in I realised why as the book is set in the US amid the big tech companies so it did make huge sense and the narrators were excellent.

I devoured this book with an enthusiasm unlike any other I have read for years. It just had everything for me - romance, intrigue, thought provoking real issues, an insight into autism, an insight into tech and insight into a lifestyle so different from mine and just when you settled into a level, the whole thing was shaken up with another incredible reveal and turned on its head.

AMAZING!

I loved all the changing relationship dynamics, the unique main character, the luxurious setting around San Francisco with beach houses and surfing and multi million dollar tech company founders including match makers to the rich and famous and the mind boggling ethics of advances which will be coming our way in the near future.

In fact if someone had gone about writing me the perfect thriller this is it with all the elements that intrigue me and written with so much skill, style and depth with as many plot twists and thought provoking issues as a bookshelves of thrillers. Now I know why this book took so long to write as it just is so seamlessly well crafted twist after twist after perspective change after huge reveal after gear change, reality shift and another mind expanding question posed.

Not gritty, gory, dark or troubling, just an amazing journey and adventure with so much depth and a spiralling mystery which just keeps you racing along intrigued and enthralled with a glossy stylish setting, twists, turns, shock reveals, captivating storyline, mysterious and fascinating characters, gripping thrills, spills, amazing questions about the near future and intriguing relationship dynamics.

I suppose in ways it could be compared to Gone Girl but with about twenty different levels going on at the same time and told from several perspectives which gave the whole story so much of a deeper and comprehensive view. But if you loved Gone Girl then this would probably be a real winner for you and I think it would make a fabulous film also as it would be visually spectacular as well as just such an intricately woven web of intrigue, mystery and adventure.

It's about marriage, art, future tech, mystery, murder, intrigue, human nature, romance, jealousy, sibling rivalry, motherhood, tough parenting decision, our brains, our frailty and real questions we will have to work out soon. In other words the perfect blend of romance, psychological thriller, future reality told from a unique point of view in the near future with loads of glamour and style set in the tech and art worlds of the west coast.

I felt like I was eating a giant box of chocolates with all my favourite flavours - I could not get enough - what a treat!

1,000 stars!

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

Quirkology cover art

Fascinating!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-19

Does what it says on the can. I will be getting another Richard Wiseman audio book for sure as such a wonderful easy yet intriguing and thought provoking and informative book - you can almost feel your brain growing :-D

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

My Friend Anna cover art

Really enjoyed amazing story but very padded out

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-19

I purchased this audio book after seeing a very short tv interview with Rachel DeLoache Williams which was the first I had heard of the Fake German Heiress story and of course I was horrified and intrigued. As a fan of so many stylish tv series and films series set in New York, I knew I had to know more as with its glamorous backdrop of the social elite coupled with the exciting world of Vanity Fair and outrageous crimes, it just sounded stranger than fiction.
As such, there are reports of many people such as Lena Dunham of "Girls" fame and companies such as Netflix interested in developing it and it looks as if soon it will be immortalised as another glossy glam NYC saga which will make it even harder to keep in mind that this all really happened and that there were real victims but bearing this in mind this is a fascinating, frightening story which must be told.
I was happy to see the length was over 8 hours but also I did wonder how a story which could easily be told in 15 minutes could last so long and there was a HUGE amount of sometimes fascinating, sometimes tedious and often repetitious padding. I adored all the name dropping, loved hearing the details of working in the photo department of Vanity Fair, devoured all the high life details of "bites grabbed" in exclusive restaurants, luxurious and exotic hotels, personal training, mani pedis and infra red saunas - in fact I could have listened to another 8 hours solid of that. I was riveted by the incredible chutzpah of Anna Delvey and riveted as the story unfolded. But overall I did get a huge feeling of time being conscientiously filled in what often felt laborious and very monotonous but then there this is a true story and I am sure Rachel did ask Anna when her money would be repaid hundreds of times but I think even if it had meant a shorted book it would have been better for more of an overview or at least weekly review rather than blow by blow description. However Rachel seems so meticulous in her fact gathering I imagine she wanted to accurately depict her frustrations at the futility of the situation.
It would be cruel to quote the old adage that a fool and his or her money are easily parted but it is important to remember that monsters walk amongst us and many people have honed their grifting skills to such a high level that even clever, savvy, street smart people are no match for them - so this book is a wake up call for all of us.
Rachel DeLoache Williams wrote this book out of necessity I imagine, though with all the sums I am not sure at the end the exact figure she was out of pocket for and I think the book makes a terrific read considering this. It is a bit repetitious and padded out but for the most I adored all the details including the family outings and charming activities such as dying Easter eggs. It truly was a lovely glimpse into another world.
Although Rachel DeLoache Williams is not a professional narrator I thought she did a great job of reading her book and it did give the book a unique authenticity and interest that would have been missing with an actor. So I think this was the right way to go .
So I totally recommend this book for anyone who loves glamour, high life and intrigue and an insight into what it is to have a fabulous job in publishing but if you just want the facts without the personal terror and turmoil and beautiful descriptions of what everyone was wearing, what cocktails they were sipping and where they were gabbing a bite ... then maybe the newscoverage would be a more concise way to find out all about this fascinating and headline grabbing case.

Whether if you are happy or even comfortable to be treated to lots of fine dining and luxury treats at a generous, willing friend's invitation is a really an individual and private matter and as much as it would not sit well with many it seems very unfair that this has been held against Rachel DeLoache Williams in the matter of charges being put on her credit cards and not repaid or removed as promised. This understandable aggrievement at being branded a free loader and opportunist herself and in some way have have had it coming to her and now paying the price does come across strongly and of course this book is the perfect vehicle for her to try and separate the crime against her in this shameless con and the lifestyle and freebies she enjoyed with what she took for a generous and wealthy friend before she was basically robbed.

Is it wrong if Rachel DeLoache Williams ends up making a lot of money from being conned?
Personally I am all for it, as I really enjoyed this fascinating book and true life story and experiences and no amount of money could compensate for what she went through and I will also look forward to the glossy glam world it is set in coming to life as a TV Series or film as they say "you couldn't make it up"

The real question is will Conwoman/German Fake Heiress be able to benefit from her despicable grifting?
Now that really would be a crime.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Before I Find You cover art

Gripping Thriller, Amazing Narration,Twists Galore

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-04-19

This excellent and unusual thriller was beautifully brought to life by the excellent narration and I was actually surprised to see all the characters were played by the one, super talented narrator Candida Gubbins as they really were all so different from one another.
I started off not warming to the brash, cockney Maggie but soon I was captivated and I loved the many depths and backstories of the characters and the layers of deception, illusion and plot twists.
This thriller was a generous cut above the usual offerings of the genre and just kept twisting and turning until the very end. By their very nature murder mysteries so often disappoint as the reveal does not live up to the premise and it all appears rather contrived, however "Before I find you" really packed a punch with delightful puzzle after puzzle.
The end may have been a touch far fetched but apart from that I could not fault it and I loved the way the story was told from so many different perspectives and sizzled along throwing punches along the way.
I am now going to catch up on the rest of Ali Knights work and keep a keen eye out also for more of Candida Gubbins excellent narration to.
Highly recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful