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Comfortable Crime

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

Reviewed: 21-04-20

This is a paranormal mystery for those who love The Great British Bake-off and the Antiques Roadshow. It's entertaining, easy and ultimately feel-good listen with a murder or two on the menu. However, if you like all loose ends tidied up by the end of a book this might not be for you. We find out some answers but deeper questions remain unanswered inviting us to continue listening to the series.

On the upside:

There's a cute cat, the main character has an interesting back story, the setting is beautifully described and anyone who dies comes back as a ghost. The recipes and baking inspiration are also a nice touch.

On the downside:

I struggled with the narration. The English accents are not good and this made parts of the text hard to follow. It distanced me from some characters and could be frustrating at times.

Having said all that, I will be reading or listening to A Baker's Coven which continues this slowly woven tale.

Entertaining Cosy Mystery

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

Reviewed: 21-04-20

If you enjoy books by Deborah Harkness and Sam Short this may well be right up your street. It's got definite flavours of 'A Discovery of Witches' about it with Oxford, witches and an enigmatic vampire who lives in a manor in Woodstock. The Vampire Knitting Club fits more snugly in the cosy crime and fantasy genres though. As the title suggests, the books are full of gentle humour, interesting characters and details that draw you into the story. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for a steamy listen. Though our main character does have romantic interests they are of the slow burn kind and the whole story does not depend on them.

The narration could have been better if Sarah Zimmerman had been able to master British accents. Though her story-telling tone was excellent and she fit the protagonist well, the voices she gave her English characters were often jarring. Most of the characters are English so this did sadly lessen my enjoyment of the book.

In spite of this, I've listened to all the books available in this series which is a recommendation in itself. Despite various twists and turns, aspects of Nancy Warren's plots are (comfortably) predictable. The fact her mysteries remain quite addictive is testament to her story-telling skill.

1 person found this helpful

Honest, Funny, Moving

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

Reviewed: 18-11-19

Gutsy, effervescent and full of love, even when talking about traumatic experiences and losses. Johnathan has an integrity that can warm me to the core.

Nearly

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

Reviewed: 08-05-19

I loved the detail of this book. Many of the author's descriptions of people and places are spot on and beautifully evocative. I'm happy to say the story shied away from being too simplistic or predictable. There are delicious moments where the tension between colliding lives are explored; where the pull towards traditions is balanced by the pull away towards freedom.

On the downside, I agree with a number of other reviewers that the relationship between the two main female characters could have been better developed. I also found the mispronunciation of Hebrew words jarring. It is a shame, especially because the narrator managed other aspects of the task well, with well-defined voices for each character and a natural story-telling style. The production team also share responsibility for poor pronunciation of key words reaching the final edit.

Readers who enjoy insights into cultures and communities other than their own will probably find gems in these pages. The narrative offers a glimpse into Orthodox Jewish life in London; albeit this shows only some sides of a diverse community. However, I'd suggest Hebrew speakers read rather than listen and I'd caution anyone seeking an LGBTQ representation that this book only goes so far, though does raise important questions.

4 people found this helpful

Lost and Found

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

Reviewed: 03-10-18

A heartwarming story about loss and finding your way. At the heart of this tale are two unconventional families and a host of interconnected lives. It took me a little while to get into the parallel and interwoven story-lines but I am so glad I kept going. Having two good narrators helped me to keep up with who was who. Some characters take a little longer to get to know and love while others touched my heart immediately and will stay there for a while. I was left feeling both moved and uplifted.

I'd recommend this book to people who like imagining the lives of others, anyone recovering from not too recent grief or loss, people who believe in new beginnings and second chances and anyone who likes dogs. I would add, the interwoven stories do require concentration and you will need a little patience and a belief that there is often more to life than meets the eye.

Lethal Talent

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

Reviewed: 30-09-18

Loved:

- The main characters, including their flaws
- The sense of place and time; recent nostalgia London pre-Olympics
- The Parliamentary scenes
- The often scathing look at both political extremes
- Time spent exploring motivations and background suspects
- The exploration of how people with mental health problems are treated
- The complex and often frustrating relationship between Strike and Robin
- The brilliant narration by Robert Glenister who helps bring people and place to life

Loved a Little Less:

- Robin needing to be rescued by Strike, again
- The story took a little while to kick into full gear (but was worth every minute)

2 people found this helpful

Not Quite Converted This Time

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

Reviewed: 26-09-18

I am a big fan of Deborah Harkness and the All Souls Trilogy so I was really looking forward to this latest installment. Whilst it was nice to catch up with familiar and much-loved characters, I really didn't get much of a sense of plot structure, suspense or mystery. The original trilogy had the mystery of Ashmole 782, adventures time-walking through history and a forbidden and potentially dangerous love story at its core. (One that broke down centuries of prejudice.) Time's Convert had a long, emotive engagement and short-lived family feuds over bringing up magical children. The history of The American Revolution was beautifully told through Marcus' broken memories. I get the feeling that exploring that time in history and what it means today was probably one of the main reasons this book was written.

Overall, it was a pleasant listen and a catch up with characters from past books, but there were missing ingredients so it did not bewitch me. It felt like a long introduction. I'd still read more if I knew it was going somewhere.

Like other reviewers, I prefer the previous narrator who I thought captured the different voices and accents better.

8 people found this helpful

Steampunk Mystery

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

Reviewed: 08-12-17


This intriguing, generally well-crafted book would have gained a higher rating from me if the main female character had been less detestable. She seemed to take manipulation and scorn to new, selfish and potentially lethal heights in order to show someone else's ability to be dangerous and devious should they wish to be. (No, this doesn't mean she blows up Whitehall). The main male characters were generally far better drawn, as was the enchanting, sock stealing mechanical octopus, who I fell for immediately.

There is less surprise in some of the whodunnit aspects of the novel but plenty of plot twists as characters work it out and discover themselves and each other on route. The main mystery explored by the narrative is not finding out who made and planted the bombs and timepieces. Instead, the story is driven by the mysterious nature of time itself and how the characters plot their own and one another's journeys through a maze of possible futures.

I loved the detail and atmosphere created but found the story at times a little long-winded and lacking variations in pace and tone. I am not sure how much this had to do with the writing or the reading of the book.

Though it could have done with more changes in tempo, the narration was clear, with different accents and voices depicted well.

Well worth a listen if you like steampunk, mysteries, philosophical or historical novels.

Southern Style Romance

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

Reviewed: 21-05-17

If you could sum up The Fixer Upper in three words, what would they be?

Feelgood Southern Romance

Would you recommend The Fixer Upper to your friends? Why or why not?

I'd recommend this to those who want a traditional romance with a touch of Southern comfort (not the drink) and hospitality. There is a satisfying story-line of corrupt politicians and lobbyists being chased by the FBI as well as predictable but sweet themes of a woman finding courage, romance and a sense of self and belonging. I guess this is a 'New Southern' book, a little nostalgic but also gently aware of prejudices it would like to leave behind. The story is like comfort food, full of the manners, houses, friendships and eccentricities of a small Georgia community with one foot in the past and one pointing towards the future.

What does Isabel Keating bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Isabel Keating paces the narration well & creates good voices and accents for the characters.

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

Sometimes our future is where we least expect.

Secrets in Alabama

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

Reviewed: 19-05-17

What did you like best about this story?

To my mind this has the makings of a modern classic. Both human nature and southern culture are looked at deeply critically and with love. It's well narrated with an unforced southern accent that helped me get caught up in the plot. This is a story of surprises, secrets wrapped in secrets, deep prejudices, complex characters and steel magnolias. I found it in turns funny and moving, haunting, romantic and wise. It will stay with me.