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Suswati

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  • Educated

  • By: Tara Westover
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 583
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 519
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 516

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. She hadn't been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she'd never set foot in a classroom and no medical records because her father didn't believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn't exist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful, inspiring book on the value of education

  • By David Bowden on 03-03-18

Harrowing and inspiring

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

Reviewed: 05-04-18

It seems almost impossible that Tara Westover is an academician from both Harvard and Cambridge given that she had never been to school. Her story is important, revealing how women are treated and subjugated in fundamentalist societies.

Brought up in a survivalist, Mormon family, Westover speaks about a poverty-stricken, difficult childhood where education is seen as secondary and violence is rife. Her relationship with her abusive brother is horrifying, And moreso is her family's acceptance of his behaviour. So gaining scholarships to top universities in the world despite having had no clue about the Holocaust, the civil rights movement, and Napoleon, is no mean feat.

While parts are repetitive, it is engaging and harrowing to hear her inspiring story.

  • Tangerine

  • By: Christine Mangan
  • Narrated by: Laurel Lefkow, Lucy Scott
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 24

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends - once inseparable roommates - haven't spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Plain cruel

  • By Suswati on 01-04-18

Plain cruel

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

Reviewed: 01-04-18

Call me a wimp, but I don't tend to enjoy books where terrible things happen to the protagonist without any proper resolution.

Alice Shipley, a rather meek woman, lives with her cocky husband in Tangiers, when one day a face from the past comes back to haunt her. Lucy Mason, her former roommate turns up at her doorstep with hidden motives.

This book has been described as similar to The Talented Mr Ripley, and in some ways, we can see how they converge. It is a psychological thriller including aspects of whether Alice can trust her mind, and if Lucy is just a bunny boiler - bringing together all the usual plots. I personally didn't relish this, because the conclusion fizzled out.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

  • By: Stuart Turton
  • Narrated by: Jot Davies
  • Length: 16 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 738
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 688
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 685

'Somebody's going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won't appear to be a murder, and so the murderer won't be caught. Rectify that injustice and I'll show you the way out.' It is meant to be a celebration, but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden - one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party - can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself over and over again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Dense But Interesting

  • By Angela on 16-05-18

Convoluted

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

Reviewed: 28-03-18

I would love to watch this as a TV series because as a book it seems rather all over the place. Following Aiden Bishop, who seems to be appear in a new host body every day in order to solve a Gosford Park-style murder, he's also stacked against competitors desperate to flee this entrapment.

The premise is fantastic - it's Inception mixed with Agatha Christie- but I feel the author Stuart Turton may have overstretched himself because by the end it's a tangle of a mess, and finishes rather abruptly, trying to tackle loose ends. I may be in the minority, but I found myself drifting away quite a bit, actually forgetting characters. There's far too many murders and body swapping, and I don't think it reached its potential.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Lost Connections

  • Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions
  • By: Johann Hari
  • Narrated by: Johann Hari
  • Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 770
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 709
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 701

From the New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Scream, a radically new way of thinking about depression and anxiety. What really causes depression and anxiety - and how can we really solve them?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • One mans story

  • By Andy T on 04-10-18

Sentiment is worthy but not cohesive

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

Reviewed: 19-03-18

Johann Hari has delved into the world of depression and psychiatry, revealing his own battles with the condition and attempting to debunk approaches towards mental health. His intentions are worthy as it is a dense topic of discussion, and absolutely essential, but unfortunately Hari only focuses on one side.

His views on overprescription are completely accurate as many mental health professionals have a tendency to equate behaviour as a science, therefore looking towards traditional methods of treatment. However, his views that depression is totally reactive to environment is incorrect as many with other serious conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar, would have "endogenous" depression ie. where something goes wrong in the brain.

Much of this book concentrates on the disconnection from vital human requirements such as neighbourliness, professional fulfillment, acknowledgement of trauma and so on. His approach suggests that reconnecting may help the malaise. While I agree with half of his argument, others may find it oversimplified. But no doubt we do need a more compassionate attitude towards mental health.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Force of Nature

  • By: Jane Harper
  • Narrated by: Stephen Shanahan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 273
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 260
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 259

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice's welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them. Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • More a Gentle Push of Nature

  • By Simon on 03-02-18

Slow burner, slightly disappointing

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

Reviewed: 17-03-18

As a fan of Jane Harper's debut novel The Dry, this definitely felt like a sub-par sequel. Detective Aaron Falks returns with another case in the Australian wilderness, this time following the disappearance of a woman who went on a work retreat in the outback but never came back.

Four of the women who went with her all have motives to want to see her gone, so Falks attempts to understand what secrets she may have had about them.

The story, as described, felt underwhelming even though I appreciate the straightforward simplicity of Harper's writing. There is no massive conspiracy similar to the first but it may have lacked too much in this instance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Then She Was Gone

  • By: Lisa Jewell
  • Narrated by: Gabrielle Glaister
  • Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,422
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,089
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,088

A missing girl. A buried secret. From the acclaimed author of I Found You and the Richard & Judy best seller The Girls comes a compulsively twisty psychological thriller that will keep you gripped to the very last moment. She was 15, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By Kate on 18-10-17

A little far-fetched but still exciting

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

Reviewed: 13-03-18

While this thriller seems highly unlikely, it is pretty exciting with twist after twist. More than a decade after the disappearance and death of Ellie Mack, mother Laurel begins a new relationship with a family with a sinister connection. 

Some aspects seem hugely unrealistic, i.e. relying on face value to make judgements, and the interconnections appear a little tenuous but this book should be enjoyed as an exhilarating read, rather than a psychological drama. There is very little character development, and sparse  information regarding the wider characters such as Hannah and Paul. However, it's interesting nonetheless.

  • Anatomy of a Scandal

  • By: Sarah Vaughan
  • Narrated by: Julie Teal, Luke Thompson, Esther Wane, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,010
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 937
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 934

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him. Gripping psychological drama for fans of Apple Tree Yard, The Good Wife and Notes on a Scandal. Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tense, engrossing and very topical

  • By Kaggy on 06-02-18

A well-timed book about abuse of power

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

Reviewed: 11-03-18

An Anatomy of a Scandal is a book about privilege and power, a timely novel given the recent spate of high profile sexual harassment cases. In this instance, James is a privileged, charismatic, successful member of Parliment and is accused of raping his mistress in a lift on the grounds of Westminster, while his doting wife Sophie, is torn between believing him and staying with him.

A trial then ensues, in which the accuser, Olivia is forced to face her worst nightmares, all the while fighting against a system in which he is king. Her lawyer Kate on the other hand, knows he is guilty, and we watch her back story unfold.

The book is told from alternating viewpoints with alternating timelines. As more of the past is revealed it is even more clear, that James is hiding more than expected.

An Anatomy of A Scandal exposes sexual assault for being more than just a moment in isolation. It is a culmination of behaviours and attitudes leading up to that moment and involves more than just the victim and the assaulter. An interesting read, and worth a trigger warning.

  • Brit(ish)

  • On Race, Identity and Belonging
  • By: Afua Hirsch
  • Narrated by: Afua Hirsch
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 176
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 161
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 161

Afua Hirsch is British. Her parents are British. She was raised, educated and socialised in Britain. Her partner, her daughter, her sister and the vast majority of her friends are British. So why is her identity and sense of belonging a subject of debate? The reason is simply because of the colour of her skin. Blending history, memoir and individual experiences, Afua Hirsch reveals the identity crisis at the heart of Britain today. Far from affecting only minority people, Britain is a nation in denial about its past and its present.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An excellent insight into growing up non-white in the UK

  • By Dr. M. D. Togobo on 21-02-18

An important and necessary conversation

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

Reviewed: 11-03-18

There is a wealth of insight crammed into this book about race and identity in Britain, describing how important it is to have a cohesive self by accepting that you may have other identities alongside being a UK citizen.

What hinders this process is the apparent racism that plagues British society, from being 'colour-blind' and thus ignoring the issue, to the awkward and troubled relationship with Britain's history and its origins. The author, Afua Hirsch, also discovers her own Ghanaian roots throughout her journey of self-awareness, making this book both a memoir and social commentary. Hirsch checks her privilege immediately, which makes a refreshing change.

While I can completely relate to her opinions on the racist structures in place and the microagressions that have become normalised, the historical and anthropological elements were the most fascinating parts for me. Learning about the racist views upheld by leading western thinkers such as Immanuel Kant and David Huhne, as well as how the 1919 race riots ensued over the perception of 'white cleansing' was deeply concerning.

Hirsch's call for change on Britain's selective amnesia is not new but it has a contemporary angle following the country's move to leave the EU. Incredibly engaging.

  • Unravelling Oliver

  • By: Liz Nugent
  • Narrated by: Sam O'Mahony, Roy McMillan, Kevin Hely, and others
  • Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 718
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 669
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 669

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children's books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease - enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma. In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging, Original and Very Well Crafted

  • By Simon on 28-07-17

An incredibly creepy look at sociopaths

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

Reviewed: 09-03-18

This psychological thriller is unlike most others because there isn't a big reveal as such but it is based on the behaviour of the criminal mind.

In this case, we look at Oliver, who is a sociopath, and feels very little remorse for the terrible crimes he has committed but instead feels aggrieved at his lack of entitlement.

While half of the book is written from his perspective looking back at his past, the rest is written by people around him who believe they could sense his immoral behaviour. Hence it is a case of whether it is nature of nurture that has forced him to behave in such way, and if society truly did think that he was a monster. Interesting concept, but as expected, you'll hate the main character.

  • Never Let Me Go

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Kerry Fox
  • Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 839
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 774
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 775

In one of the most acclaimed novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatizes her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Haunting and thought provoking

  • By Stephibobz on 08-09-15

Grim reading, completely unexpected

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

Reviewed: 06-03-18

For readers of Kazuo Ishiguro's other books, this will come as another surprise. While Remains of the Day is a period drama, and the Buried Giant is folklore, this novel reads as a dystopian fiction. What this shows is the author's incredible versatility at writing different themes, each as good as the other.

The story follows Kathy H., a carer to dying patients, and her mysterious upbringing alongside her charges at a secluded boarding school. From the beginning, we are introduced to the concept of 'donors', and it only becomes apparent after some time what it truly means. As a child, her and her fellow classmates were urged to be overly health-concious with a special focus on artwork, which is said to be taken away to a gallery if exceptional. But when the students begin to question about its necessity, they understand that not all is what it seems.

From cloning to transplants, this book is both daring and alarming - and perhaps one of my favourite Ishiguro novels so far.