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R. J. Gladden

Liverpool, UK
  • 93
  • reviews
  • 188
  • helpful votes
  • 97
  • ratings
  • The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

  • By: Ruth Hogan
  • Narrated by: Jane Collingwood, Esther Wane
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 126
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 112

Masha's life has stopped. Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event 12 years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town's lido, where she seeks refuge underwater - safe from the noise and the pain. But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women - the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl-turned-magician's wife-turned-70-something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice - opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Three or five stars, still not sure!

  • By Sharron on 31-08-18

Oh my goodness......

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

Reviewed: 11-08-18

After reading Ruth Hogan’s first book ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’, I loved it so much I felt bereft. So there was nothing left but to read the second novel ‘Sally Red Shoes’. However, it was not without some trepidation that I downloaded ‘Sally’. Would it live up to ‘Keeper’? Would the narration be as excellent? What if.....?

I needn’t have worried, the plot and the characters are just as engaging, the theme, primarily about loss and recovery were gripping and I lived life through the eyes of our heroine, Masha, and the other characters real and imagined, who people Masha’s life. The other smaller thread which runs through the book about Alice and her son is also interesting and bubbles away below the surface until the final denouement at the end and a twist in the plot which I didn’t see coming.

Loved every second of this book and the narrators are also amazing. I am looking forward already to Ruth Hogan’s third novel.

  • Burial Rites

  • By: Hannah Kent
  • Narrated by: Morven Christie
  • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 821
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 759
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 766

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’ spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’ story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Agnes - understanding the human being

  • By Kaggy on 27-06-14

A Difficult listen

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

Reviewed: 09-08-18

This book is not my usual cup of tea and I very nearly gave up several times but I am so glad I persevered. Life cannot always be sunshine and roses and occasionally you need to listen to something that challenges the boundaries and this book does exactly that. The story imparts the life of Agnes, a convicted murderer, who relates the story while waiting for her death sentence to be carried out. It is not a jolly tale and because it is also based on a true story from Iceland in the 1830s with unfamiliar references, place names and practices it is, in parts, unremmitingly sad but the urge to know the real story, not just of Agnes' life but also the murder of which she is accused, leads you on and on to the end of the book. Obviously I cried, proper tears, requiring tissues on several occasions.

Don't read this when you feel your life cannot take any more grief. Read it when you are ready to widen your heart and encompass humanity. Excellent narration too by Morven Christie. I could listen to her voice all day, even if she's speaking Icelandic and I can't understand a word.

  • The Keeper of Lost Things

  • By: Ruth Hogan
  • Narrated by: Jane Collingwood, Sandra Duncan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,279
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,055
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,061

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful book

  • By Mrs on 07-02-17

I didn’t want it to stop....

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

Reviewed: 06-08-18

What a truly wonderful book filled with tears and laughter and beautiful characters, some you can love, but some you can dislike intensely. Thank you so much Ruth Hogan for a great book that helped me convalesce painlessly through a miserable chest infection.

Thanks also to remarkable narrator’s, Jane Collingwood and Sandra Duncan, who brilliantly brought the book to life. I particularly enjoyed Sunshine’s voice which fitted her perfectly without being patronising. How much would I like to meet the girl who made me laugh so often?

Now what do I listen to for the rest of my convalescence? Perhaps the 'Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes'......

  • No Time to Cry

  • James Oswald, Book 1
  • By: James Oswald
  • Narrated by: Rose Akroyd
  • Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 150
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148

Undercover ops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong. Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He's been executed - a single shot to the head. In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con's shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Oswald's Altered Mirror Images!

  • By Simon on 26-07-18

Truly Dissapointed

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

I love Inspector McLean and awaited eagerly this new series but I didn't enjoy it at all. It may have been the narrator who put me off as she seemed to have the same monotone voice for all situations and none of the different characters stood out at all. Every character apart from Conn’s police colleagues (who were just given a cockney characterisation), were voiced as ‘posh’ and this didn’t help me to warm to the story. The jury is definitely ‘out’ and if presented with Book 2 right now I would give it a miss.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

  • By: Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 17 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 641
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 601
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 597

Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, read by Juliet Stevenson. This voyage is special. It will change everything.... One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah's ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Utterly beguiling and brilliantly believable.

  • By ms.t.s.hutchings on 20-02-18

Clever, clever story

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

Reviewed: 12-07-18

I wasn't sure about this book to start with and it took me a while to get into it, but I am so glad I persevered. Wonderful, warm hearted characters who I grew to like, love and respect. Tears and laughter, in fact everything you could want wrapped up in an unusual storyline. I would love a follow up because I'm desperate to know what happens next. The whole experience has left me smiling for days. Truly great performance from Juliet Stevenson brought the whole thing to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Bookseller's Tale

  • Oxford Medieval Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Ann Swinfen
  • Narrated by: Philip Battley
  • Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

Oxford, Spring 1353. When young bookseller Nicholas Elyot discovers the body of student William Farringdon floating in the river Cherwell, it looks like a drowning. Soon, however, Nicholas finds evidence of murder. Who could have wanted to kill this promising student? As Nicholas and his scholar friend Jordain try to unravel what lies behind William's death, they learn that he was innocently caught up in a criminal plot.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A vivid depiction of the past, with a mystery thrown in

  • By Michelle on 19-01-18

Pleasant enough romp

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

Reviewed: 14-06-18

This is a very easy listen with good characterisation. The plot was a little intricate and chock full of red herrings which, to my mind, was unnecessary. Nevertheless I look forward to the next book in this series.

  • Looking Good Dead

  • Roy Grace, Book 2
  • By: Peter James
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 457
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 415
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 410

One single act of kindness becomes an endless reign of terror...Tom Bryce did what any decent person would do. But within hours of picking up the CD that had been left behind on the train seat next to him, and attempting to return it to its owner, he is the sole witness to a vicious murder. Then his young family are threatened with their lives if he goes to the police. But supported by his wife, Kellie, he bravely makes a statement to the murder enquiry team headed by Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a man with demons of his own to contend with.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • As good as the first, but different.

  • By Simon on 31-08-15

Gripping!

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

Reviewed: 12-06-18

I listened to this second novel in the Roy Grace series virtually none stop and loved every gripping minute. Roy Grace is becoming a real person and the other characters are developed superbly throughout the plot. Looking forward to Book 3!

  • The House of Special Purpose

  • By: John Boyne
  • Narrated by: Richard Teverson
  • Length: 17 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85

Russia, 1915: At the age of 16, Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassin's bullet intended for a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family and is instantly proclaimed a hero. Before the week is out, his life as the son of a peasant farmer is changed for ever when he is escorted to St Petersburg to take up his new position - as bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Russian history spliced with romantic fantasy

  • By Kirstine on 13-07-15

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

I was so looking forward to listening to this book as John Boone is one of my favourite authors but I was left bitterly disappointed and it so infuriated me that I didnt even finish the book, an extremely rare occurrence for me. The book is set in a period of history, the last years of the reign of the Romanov’s in Russia. It is a period with which I am very familiar. My disappointment centres around the implication that one of the Tsar’s four daughters enters into a sexual relationship with the hero of the book, the son of a peasant farmer, Georgy Jachmenev.

While I appreciate that this is fiction not fact, the whole idea that this could occur was so beyond the realm of probability, that it ruined the book. It will not put me off reading other books by John Boyne as he remains one of my favourite writers but I shall try and put this book well and truly behind me.

  • Himself

  • By: Jess Kidd
  • Narrated by: Aiden Kelly
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 235
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 218

When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland's west coast, he brings only his handsome face, a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village's lies. Mahony also somehow wakes the dead from their graves, with their foggy memories and hidden stories floating greyly amongst the unseeing living. No one, though - living or dead - will be able to guess what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant narration of a great story.

  • By Anonymous User on 17-01-17

Brilliant!

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

Why is it that some of my favourite novels at the moment are by Irish writers? This book is stunning and one of the best books I’ve read or listened to in the last twelve months. I enjoyed the Hoarder but I really loved Himself which is set in a remote Irish village in which our hero, Mahoney, arrives to try and find out what happened to his mother. This small town is not really prepared for such an onslaught from this handsome stranger and strange things start to happen as soon as he lands.

Jess Kidd has a remarkable gift with characterisation and the wordplay is superb. I found myself laughing out loud earning dodgy looks from neighbours around the pool while on my recent holiday. Aiden Kelly did a brilliant job of bringing the book to life and I fell in love with his voice as he worked skilfully with the fascinating individuals who live in Mulderrig. I have read two of Jess’ books and I look forward to reading a third.

  • In a Dark, Dark Wood

  • By: Ruth Ware
  • Narrated by: Imogen Church
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 764
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 700
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 705

Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered. Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Couldn't stop reading

  • By KomKem on 10-11-15

Hen Do!

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

This novel made me realise why I have avoided Hen Do’s all my life. A bit like an Agatha Christie, all protagonists are herded together in a remote Northumbrian manor with no access to communication apart from a dodgy outside line and a feeble mobile signal. Few of them have anything in common except some sort of relationship with the fortunate bride-to-be. Who will be the victim and who will be the murderer? No spoilers here though.

The book is carefully crafted and although slow to get going I was utterly gripped at the end. A splendid performance by Imogen Church brought the book to life. Altogether well worth the effort.