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MRS V L HALL

  • 12
  • reviews
  • 44
  • helpful votes
  • 15
  • ratings
  • In Bitter Chill

  • By: Sarah Ward
  • Narrated by: Juanita McMahon
  • Length: 11 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 158
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 148
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 149

You can't bury the truth forever.... Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later, Sophie Jenkins' mother commits suicide. Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her. But news of the suicide reopens old wounds, and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Secrets That Won't Stay Buried - Gripping!

  • By MRS V L HALL on 18-03-16

The Secrets That Won't Stay Buried - Gripping!

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

Reviewed: 18-03-16

What made the experience of listening to In Bitter Chill the most enjoyable?

Firstly, the storyline was very well constructed and involved a cold case review of the disappearance of two schoolchildren in 1978. Exceptional plotting, numerous twists and characters who are believable. This is the kind of incident that could happen in any village or town and is sensitively portrayed and well paced.

Secondly the narrator did a superb job and must be given credit. She gave an impassioned delivery of the novel and I really did get the feeling she was involved and interested. The narrator brought the village and characters of Bampton alive! From the elderly folk in the village to the police team, she found the perfect voice and her distinction between characters was excellent.

Who was your favorite character and why?

DI Francis Sadler headed up the cold case review for the police as is a fascinating character who I long to see reappear in future novels. Slightly reticent and staid, he is a thoughtful man who commands his team well and the undercurrent of tension with DC Connie Childs is authentic. I would love to see this police team return in future novels.

Which character – as performed by Juanita McMahon – was your favourite?

Juanita McMahon did a thoroughly superb job with all of the characters, but DI Sadler came across as a good man who cared about the girl who was returned and his understanding of her fragility was well conveyed.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

In Bitter Chill was very thought provoking as this is a scenario which is plausible and could happen to any of us, anywhere in the country. At the time it would have been harrowing for Rachel Jones and never totally unravelled it has remained with all of the locals.

Any additional comments?

The narration and the gripping storyline make this an involving listen and I will look out for Juanita McMahon again.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Nightblind

  • Dark Iceland, Book 2
  • By: Ragnar Jonasson
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 79
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 71

Ari Thor returns to investigate a chilling series of crimes that are rooted in tragic events from the past. Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Why change the narrator?

  • By James Woods on 21-03-16

A sensational return to the heart of Dark Iceland!

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

Reviewed: 17-01-16

What made the experience of listening to Nightblind the most enjoyable?

Nightblind offered a truly memorable glimpse into the heart of Dark Iceland and a triumphant return to the tiny fishing village of Siglufjördur where Ari Thór finds himself stationed. In this follow up to the success of a dazzling debut in Snowblind the author once again presents a superbly drawn cast of characters and what makes for a brilliantly well plotted mystery. Listeners are able to gain a real feel for the claustrophobia of life in a remote vilage where incomers never feel they truly belong and this is a story which hooks you from the off!

The author cleverly draws in the wider backdrop of the economy in Iceland and the prosperity of the fishing industry is no more, with an increased emphasis on the need of the village to rely on the tourist trade as a source of income. Combined with a new tunnel making the village more accessible this has made for some changes and with it some newcomers. Yet when a shooting occurs in the village in this noriously peaceful country it still strikes at the very heart of society and the puzzle which Ari Thór find himself wrestling with offers a second thrilling return to Iceland.

What did you like best about this story?

Undoubtedly for me it was gaining an update on how life for the protagonist Ari Thór has changed. Despite being passed over for the job which Tómas left vacant he has made his home in the village and is now a father. Alongside Ari Thór, a brilliantly drawn cast of locals make for a memorable return to Siglufjördur and bring the story alive.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The scenes which I most enjoyed were undoubtedly those which featured Ari Thór alongside his former boss Tómas. In Snowblind the rapport between the two was evident and the chemistry and interplay between the duo was established. Once again working alongside his former colleague this allows a look at just how far Ari Thór has come.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

If Snowblind made for a brilliant starter, then Nightblind undoubtedly delivers a memorable main course and the icing on the cake combined!

Any additional comments?

Leighton Pugh provided a superb narrator for Ari Thór. His lively delivery made for a very engaging listen and his expression and careful distinction between the different characters easily drew you in to the story. His passion and enthusiasm for the story he narrates is evident and I would look forward to hearing him again.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Abrupt Physics of Dying

  • The Claymore Straker
  • By: Paul E. Hardisty
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 15 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company's oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A sophisticated high stakes thriller with bite!

  • By MRS V L HALL on 05-12-15

A sophisticated high stakes thriller with bite!

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

Reviewed: 05-12-15

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Immensely!

Every thriller promises edge of seat tension but very few actually deliver. The Abrupt Physics of Dying does! If this does not get your heart beating on overtime then nothing will! Gritty, gripping and heart stoppingly tense until conclusion I was nothing short of mesmerised. Set in Yemen and with a wonderful sense of place this is a hugely timely novel which deserves to attract even non-thriller fans. With some thoroughly thought-provoking moments I was blown away. Highly recommended.

I was expecting violence to feature throughout this book and although it is present it was not gratuitous at all. The action is all implicit to the storyline and never overplayed. With a wonderful narrator and an incredibly considered retelling of events this makes for an incredible listening experience.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Abrupt Physics of Dying?

With so many twists and turns it would be hard to pick out just one memorable moment largely because I became so emotionally involved with the story. I had a true sense of appreciation of the situation that Clay found himself in and my empathy with the local population was all-consuming.

What about Peter Noble’s performance did you like?

Peter Noble is an outstanding narrator with real depth of emotion in his voice evident throughout. That the novel is largely based on true events could be part of the reason for this. Noble cranks up the tension well and brought the story of Claymore Straker off the page and alive.

The narration is an essential part of the audiobook experience and Peter Noble will go on my list of narrators to look for again.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I really wished I could have fitted listening into one session which is a definite thumbs up. With vivid descriptions and an excellent portrayal of the bribery, corruption and assuaging of data that goes on within global energy corporations, I couldn't put this down or be separated from my headphones easily!

Any additional comments?

Powerfully moving and intelligently written The Abrupt Physics of Dying will blow you away!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • We Shall Inherit the Wind

  • Varg Veum
  • By: Gunnar Staalesen
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 62

It's 1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend, Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he's made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant!

  • By Flower Girl on 14-02-16

A masterclass in Nordic Noir! Exquisite!

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

Reviewed: 03-12-15

Would you listen to We Shall Inherit the Wind again? Why?

Yes. This is an audiobook which I can see myself returning to time and again.

At heart this is a highly original classic crime plot but what makes this so special is the wonderful eloquence of Gunnar Staalesen. He tells a story which is so much more than just 'a simple crime yarn'. With a complex, slightly jaded private investigator in the form of Varg Veum at the fore, and a cast of distinctive characters, this is a story with a beautiful human relationship element encompassing love and revenge and a breathtaking backdrop of the Nordic coast. With a focus on environmental issues this is a thought-provoking story and a cast of well drawn characters ensure this an suspenseful and fast moving tale.

What was one of the most memorable moments of We Shall Inherit the Wind?

For me it was the interactions between Varg Veum and girlfriend Karin. Both characters have a fascinating backstory and the fact that Varg blames himself for the plight of Karin comes across as emotional and realistic.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Colin Mace?

Yes, Infact prior to this I already had two books by this narrator in my library (both crime fiction). With every story he does a wonderful job of differentiating characters and undoubtedly his narration makes for a lively and engaging listen.

Colin Mace brought to life a brilliant Varg Veum - a world weary private eye who is only too well aware of what his mistakes in life have cost him. The dynamics with Karin were moving and I felt I understood just what his work has cost him. Mace has voiced numerous Audible books and he does a stellar job on all those I have heard.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This is highly thought-provoking with a brilliant contemporary focus and on ending this story I was already itching to meet the fascinating Varg Veum again.

Any additional comments?

This is Nordic Noir with a social conscience - an understated story which is one to stand back and admire. A fantastic listen and one not to be missed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Defenceless

  • By: Kati Hiekkapelto
  • Narrated by: Julie Masiey
  • Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 25

When an old man is found dead on the road - seemingly run over by a Hungarian au pair - police investigator Anna Fekete is certain that there is more to the incident than meets the eye. As she begins to unravel an increasingly complex case, she’s led on a deadly trail where illegal immigration, drugs and ultimately murder threaten not only her beliefs but her life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Scintillating delivery of an outstanding story!

  • By MRS V L HALL on 02-12-15

Scintillating delivery of an outstanding story!

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

Reviewed: 02-12-15

Would you consider the audio edition of The Defenceless to be better than the print version?

Before listening to The Defenceless I had previously read the book and enjoyed it immensely. Undoubtedly it was one of my favourite reads of 2015 and as well as being a hugely timely and relevant novel it was also a remarkably profound insight into the life of migrants. To my mind, Kati Hiekkapelto is the finest exponent of urban noir and this gritty storyline packs a very weighty punch. Low on violence, blood and gore but this is powerful stuff!

I had not previously heard the narrator and her impassioned delivery certainly added something to the novel. An audiobook really comes to life when the narrator sounds as involved in the story as the listener and this was the case. A wonderful sense of urgency in the voice of Julie Masiey at moments of heightened tension also played well. I also appreciated the subtle distinction between characters voices which made this all the more riveting. I hope that this narrator provides the audio for future novels as she did a cracking job.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Undoubtedly Anna Fekete. A brilliantly realistic portrayal of a modern woman facing life as a migrant in a new country. Believable and human, unlike so many fictional cops!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The banter between Anna and her bigoted colleague Esko. Initially coming across as a racist, drunken investigator with no sympathy for migrants and the situations that bring them to another country, his interaction witn Anna forces him to reconsider his opinions.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I spent a long time thinking about The Defenceless - it made me think about the sadness of just how easy so many people in society seem to find it to tar every immigrant with the same brush. A different situation brings each and every settler to a new country and without considering individual situations we cannot emphasise with people.

Any additional comments?

A splendid narration of a book which will resonate. Anna Fekete is brilliantly brought to life. Timely and relevant.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Charles Paris: An Amateur Corpse

  • A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation
  • By: Simon Brett, Jeremy Front
  • Narrated by: Bill Nighy, Suzanne Burden, Geraldine McEwan, and others
  • Length: 1 hr and 52 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122

Bill Nighy stars as Charles Paris in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast adaptation of Simon Brett's comic crime novel An Amateur Corpse. Charles is out of work again, and to make matters worse his mother has come to stay and he's no way of escaping her. So when he's offered some voiceover work by old friend, Hugo, he's delighted to get out of the house. But Hugo's marriage is in trouble: his much younger wife, Ellie, spends all her time at her Amateur Dramatic Group, and Hugo is drinking too much.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • WONDERFUL, WITH A FEW RESERVATIONS!

  • By Cheshire Shopper on 11-01-13

Standout narration by Bill Nighy.

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

Reviewed: 02-12-15

Would you listen to Charles Paris: An Amateur Corpse (Dramatised) again? Why?

Yes, without a doubt. Bill Nighy does a wonderful job as Charles Paris. Lightweight plot admittedly but this is a 2 hour comedy romp which I can see myself listening to over and over again. Bill Nighy is the spark here and the wonderful rapport he has with the character who plays his long suffering wife and his agent makes this book sing!Hugely enjoyable. A 2 hour slice of fun.

What other book might you compare Charles Paris: An Amateur Corpse (Dramatised) to, and why?

I have listened to and read many of the Agatha Raisin novels by MC Beaton - these are admittedly lightweight on the crime element but brilliantly humorous yarns. The narration of Penelope Keith brings the character of Agatha alive and the way in which her performance adds something special is very like what Bill Nighy does for Charles Paris.

What about Bill Nighy’s performance did you like?

Perfect as the luckless, hapless perennially drunk and unemployable Charles!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Undoubtedly the moments of biting wit from agent Maurice giving Charles another dressing down! The comedy and banter worked well.

Any additional comments?

A brilliant production of an easygoing storyline. Comedy crime but Bill Nighy plays this perfectly!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Backpack

  • By: Emily Barr
  • Narrated by: Emma Fenney
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 94
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 83

The wonderful first novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sleeper and The Sisterhood. It's New Year's Day and the year isn't kicking off well for Tansy: her mother's dead, she's a cocaine addict and her boyfriend has just left her. A trip around the world seems like the only option except that she's not interested in seeing the world, just escaping from it, and the last people she wants to hang out with are backpackers.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A solid 4 star listen - enjoyable.

  • By MRS V L HALL on 02-12-15

A solid 4 star listen - enjoyable.

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

Reviewed: 02-12-15

What did you like most about Backpack?

For me, it was hearing about Tansy as she travelled the world. In essence she is seeking an escape from her life in the UK and the fact that she is not the stereotypical travelling kind of person ensured this captured her cynicism perfectly! Lightly humorous and good expression in the narrators voice.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Backpack?

The backpack travels were told with subtle humour and I found the moments when Tansy encountered over travellers kept this story feeling fresh.

Which character – as performed by Emma Fenney – was your favourite?

Tansy - without a doubt. This is her story and I loved seeing how much she changed over the course of her travels.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No probably not. I listened to this over several days and it was great to get little chunks of the backpack experience.

Any additional comments?

A solid narration of a very good book. A solid 4 star - perhaps not setting the world alight but a really great story to get into and some nice moments of humour.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • How I Lost You

  • By: Jenny Blackhurst
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Ness
  • Length: 10 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 377
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 349
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 352

My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my 12-week-old son Dylan. I have no memory of what happened but you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police are telling you, don't you? But if you can't remember what happened, how can you be sure that they are telling the truth? And if there was the smallest chance your son was alive, wouldn't you do anything to get him back? A fantastic debut from an outstanding talent. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • brilliant but quite dark

  • By mjays on 23-10-15

A psychological thriller - stretches credibility.

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

Reviewed: 01-12-15

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Probably not. A very average psychological thriller which stretches believability just a little too far. A disappointment compared to Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant or The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth. Felt a little flimsy and I found it fairly transparent to see where this was headed. Not the most memorable.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Felt the storyline moved fairly slowly and a little more action was required to keep the listeners focus. A few more red herrings could have spiced this one up and created tension and drama.

What about Jennifer Ness’s performance did you like?

Great emotion, a haunting narration. Performance was good and I would listen to the narrator again.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Sadly not. More action and pivotal events needed to sustain a novel or film. My attention would wander as things become more predictable.

Any additional comments?

Good narration, storyline and plot lacking for me.

  • The Girl on the Train

  • By: Paula Hawkins
  • Narrated by: Louise Brealey, India Fisher, Clare Corbett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22,749
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,476
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,474

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Hated it

  • By Miss N. Bleakley-wadlow on 05-02-17

Decent story but very drawn out.

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

Reviewed: 01-12-15

If you could sum up The Girl on the Train in three words, what would they be?

Drawn out!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Probably Rachel as she was descending into her spiral of descent and alcohol issues. I could imagine how a woman basically on there own would struggle in this situation.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?

Well, the distinctive narrators each did a wonderful job making this click and I particularly enjoyed this recounting of the story.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Rachel's descent and plight by and large. Not the most exciting but the most engaging part for me.

Any additional comments?

Overly drawn out story and narration would have benefitted from truncation. Towards end I wanted to shake the characters to liven them up!

  • Funny Girl

  • By: Nick Hornby
  • Narrated by: Emma Fielding
  • Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 224
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 197
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 197

Funny Girl is the story of a popular 1960s tv comedy series. The writers are Tony and Bill, comedy obsessives, who each harbour a secret. The Oxbridge-educated director, Dennis, loves his job but hates his marriage. The male star, Clive, feels he's destined for better things. And most of all there is Sophie Straw, once Barbara Parker, Miss Blackpool 1964, who's changed her name and abandoned her old life because she just wants to make people laugh, like her heroine Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A complete delight!

  • By Mr. S. Wallace-jones on 14-11-14

Magical story - poor narration,

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

Reviewed: 01-12-15

What did you like most about Funny Girl?

Certainly not the narration!

Probably the banter which Barbara shared with the sitcom writers, director and actors. That added real humour.

I also appreciated all the details and locations in London and it brought back some lovely memories when I spoke to my parents about this.

What other book might you compare Funny Girl to, and why?

Rather unique really.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Couldn't really engage with the narrator. Despite thoroughly enjoying this book the lack of feeling and emotion from the narrator dragged this one down. Towards the end my attention was wandering.. Didn't do justice to a great book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Sadly not.

Any additional comments?

For me this didn't quite hit the mark and this was purely due to the performance and delivery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful