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Suzy

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Light war story but way too long & drawn out

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

Reviewed: 14-10-18

I liked the story - German child refugee sent to England before the start of WW2. The events follow her through a foster placement, then losing her memory and a second foster placement. I liked the main character Lisa/Charlotte and really cared how things worked out for her. There was a lot of time spent on character rather than action.

My main reason for only 3 stars is the writing style. It is overwritten in my opinion, with lots of explanation & exposition. In the dialogue the speakers use each other's names. Also it says things like she took her coat, because it was cold, because it was winter and Berlin is cold in winter. I really thought it was written for teenagers but there's a bit of bad language and sexual references which mean this isn't the case. It's also way too long.

Overall I am glad I kept listening (I was decorating so just let it run) but I can't really recommend it. The narrator was average with several mispronunciations but the different voices she does are clear.

Modern day life lessons

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

Reviewed: 30-09-18

I have to admit, I found the book slow going at times, but then I was listening while decorating, so wasn't giving it 100% attention. And I think this book is one that needs concentration. It starts with a crime - a man with racist views kills, and in one case attempts to kill but the victim survives. The narrative then follows the lives of perpetrator and survivor, jumping back a lot to fill in the story of their lives before the crime. The story then changes a gear and we follow forward, through the legal system and themes of forgiveness and atonement, change and kindness. I found this section to be most interesting. Whilst it's just a portrait of a few lives on the surface, I think every reader can take life lessons from it. The narrator which is also the author, was fantastic. I just felt with a different structure in the early part and an hour or two less listening time, this would have given better focus. I do however recommend.

Overly long and tries too hard

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

Reviewed: 08-09-18

The premise was good - struggling writer goes to see his old professor for advice and gets caught up in the investigation of the disappearance of a schoolgirl. The novel jumps around in time with flashbacks to the disappearance in the 70s and flashbacks to when Markus was taught by the professor. However it was fairly easy to keep track as sections were short. There were also sections read from the book which made the professor famous. As the story progresses it gets more complicated. There were a few revelations which were easy to guess, but then several red herrings - he did it, then later no he did it, then even later no he did it. This got a bit tedious and meant the book wasn't very well balanced. At over 20 hours it was really long and I'm glad I finished it but I think the story could have taken half the time. I liked the narrator. He was consistent and easy to listen to and very professional I felt.

Unusual Search Story

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

Reviewed: 25-08-18

Not what I was expecting. A woman goes through a traumatic experience and deals with it by trying to find out more about the perpetrator and his background. I found the concept for the book interesting but the author seems to keep the reader at a distance throughout. Because of a this,the book lacked emotion for me and the quest to discover his background became the focus rather than it being about the author herself.

Lacks the personal touch

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

Reviewed: 21-08-18

I love author read books and there are moments when Hillary lets down her guard and is a joy to listen to. However most of the time it feels like she's delivering a speech and this made the book feel overly long. I found it interesting to hear from her viewpoint and there are snippets of personal details but overall I didn't come away feeling I knew more about her as a person. Given some of the criticism levelled at her was about a disconnection with people, I feel she missed an opportunity to speak to these people. I've no idea if she will run again but this book hasn't really helped if she plans to do so. It's just her view of the campaign and sadly very little new material.

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Matterhorn cover art

Atmospheric but I didn't engage with all the characters

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

Reviewed: 21-07-18

I am sure this book gives a really good and realistic impression of what it was like to serve in Vietnam. The boredom, the confusion, the death, the mix of people from all walks of life. It's a very long listen but I let it somewhat flow over me and it felt like I could really visualise the environment. However what didn't work so well was the large cast of characters who I got really confused by, even just remembering the names and which person was with which company. There are moments of real emotion but I felt this would've been increased if the book was a little easier to follow. In terms of timeline, thank goodness it's chronological. There's a good smattering of bad language throughout which is something I usually avoid, but it is all within context and for me, added to the authenticity. The narrator was excellent. At no point did he sound bored or like he was reading a book. It was overall a great listen. Just for me a bit confusing at times.

Confused by this emotional tale

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

Reviewed: 25-03-18

Overall the story was fine. I am not that interested in sport or cycling but the story didn't focus on the technical aspects of the race to the Olympics. Instead it was about people - two girls and a boy who meet at a training camp. The author does a good job of getting us to feel the tension of racing and see the 'win at all costs' attitude. The biggest problem I had was the difficulty in following what was happening. I mistakenly thought the change in time period was showing when the girls were children, but I later realised it was showing when they were grown with their own children. This wasn't clear to me until over half way through and affected my enjoyment a lot. I also found the constant Star Wars references of the child, Sophie, really irritating and distracting. Overall just 3.5 stars for me. The narration was okay, nothing special but not silly voices. I just again found it tricky to distinguish between the different characters.

Underwhelming 'Manson inspired' tale

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

Reviewed: 25-02-18

Lonely and misunderstood teen gets in with a bad crowd in the hippy days and gets led astray. Sadly there's nothing new in the story, the characters or the insight which made for a rather dull listen. The main character is somewhat insipid, dazzled by the hair of a popular girl. I just couldn't get into the mindset of her or the others and it just felt like a cheap imitation of a real life tragedy. An easy listen with a decent narrator but really not worth the effort.

Disappointingly dull family saga

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

Reviewed: 17-02-18

I had high hopes for this book as I do enjoy fiction with a link to World War Two. However I found this saga was flat and dull. Post war Switzerland and Gustav lives in poverty in contrast to his friend Anton. I quite enjoyed the relationship between the two school boys but then the story drifts to fill in the back story of Gustav's mother & absent father. Later we jump in time to the future when Gustav is grown and meets with figures from his father's past. For me there wasn't enough tension or activity in the plot. The style was very telling (Gustav was anxious, Anton was frightened, he did this, they did that). The big reveal is for Gustav to uncover stories of his father, but it really wasn't such a big deal (or a surprise). Overall a gentle drama but lacking in oomph.

Jack the Ripper - alternative theory

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

Prologue - aboard the Titanic & a man shares his story with a fellow passenger. Cue flashback to 1880s Whitechapel, London. Not just an alternative ripper story but a jolly good listen. It starts with an East End thug and prostitutes trying to survive the harsh living conditions. A woman steals from an injured man then has second thoughts about leaving him in the street. A discovery on a job, leads to the arrival of the Candle Man to tie up loose ends. The story intertwined nicely and was thrilling without too many confusing twists. I felt it portrayed the period reasonably well but the focus was on the plot. The narrator was okay, I was too caught up in the story to bother too much about the accents. Overall a really good book.