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Louise Hartgen

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  • 31
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  • 19
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Like a War Horse Pulling a Wagon!

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

Reviewed: 16-12-19

I loved the first book in this series and happily put down my credit for the second, hoping I would love it as much, but I'm so underwhelmed, so disappointed and, quite frankly, so bored! The story chugs along at a snail's pace, words words words words and nothing happens for ages and ages. When it does it just seems not worth wading through all the guff to get to it. John Lee is a truly masterly narrator and he does better than his best with this, but I swear it's like watching a beautiful, sleek, powerful war horse trying to lug along a covered wagon. I don't see myself going any further with this series, which is really sad.

Loved it.

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

Reviewed: 13-12-19

Overall I enjoyed this book, especially as fantasy is usually not really my thing, but as it got nominated for an Audi last year I thought I'd try it. I've taken a star off for story as I did feel the author's propensity to stall the story to wander off down side roads in the name of giving us details about the world he was creating did get a bit old, and long discussions about the nature of power and so on were wordy and unnecessary. On the plus side the story had humour as well as being full of action and well thought out with many well drawn characters, both likeable and otherwise. I have to disagree strongly with anyone who says the main character is egotistical. I find him refreshingly, almost brutally honest about himself and his own perceived inadequacies, he doesn't paint himself as anything other than what he is, warts and all. Yes, he does like sex, he's also very honest about that, but in comparison with some books I've read, or tried to read even in the fantasy genre, I don't think this can be called overly crude, though it's certainly not for the easily shockable. I want to save the last word for a truly great narration by John Lee who does a truly marvellous job at bringing this flawed, talented, lovable mage and the world he lives in to life. I can't wait to hear more.

I Just Didn't Care.

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

Reviewed: 28-07-17

I didn't read The Girl On The Train when all the fuss blew up, but when I did I was really impressed, so I thought this one would be a must read. It so wasn't and I'm going to return it. The story is so slow moving as to be completely static, it's also unbelievable to the point of being completely ridiculous, the characters are all absolutely unlikable and, what's worst of all, I just didn't care! I didn't care how she fell in the water or why, I didn't give a button about the non-communicating sisters, or the motherless daughter, or the bereaved mother, or the teacher with something on his conscience, or the trouble teenage boy. Although I should have by three hours in, I really just did not care, and that's the mark of a badly written book. Thank goodness I can get my credit back and use it on something more worth my time. If you're thinking of trying this, I'm afraid it's not only the water you'll end up having to wade through.

1 person found this helpful

Had To Give It Up.

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

Reviewed: 30-07-16

What disappointed you about Fall of Giants?

Everyone told me how wonderful this book was, so, though the historical novel is not my usual fare, I decided to give it a try. I'm afraid I gave up about twenty per cent through because I found it boring, completely predictable and, as a proud Welsh person, in places downright offensive. For instance, why does every story which involves a mining community have characters that are either completely unintelligent or else atheists and union agitators? My grandparents were miners, they were nothing like this at all. Oh, and of course we had to have a fatal explosion and a strike. Can't have a story about a mining family without those! Why, in the pieces about the aristocracy, do we have an inadequate man who feels war would make him useful, oh, and of course he falls for the maid and, I'm guessing, gets her pregnant. Yes the book, as much as I was able to stomach, is a vast canvas and could teach much about a time you didn't know about, but that is not why I like to read, especially when I'm feeling as ill as I do today. And I thought the narrator was dreadful! His Welsh accent kept veering towards Asian, his Russian was thick and clotted, his American was only just adequate and his German was almost comical. I know I'm in a tiny minority here, but I'm gladly giving the rest of this a miss and turning to something which doesn't have me foaming at the mouth!

What will your next listen be?

Probably as far different from this horrible thing as I can get. I feel a desperate need for escapism so it will probably be fantasy or sci fi, or a really good family saga like Barbara Taylor Bradford's Cavenden series. Now there's someone who can write about this period without boring me to death and annoying me to screaming point!

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of John Lee?

If he was still alive, bless him, I'd have gone for Philip Madoc. He was good with accents and, thank heaven, could do authentic Welsh. I think Stephen Thorne could also have done a good job with this or maybe even John Duttine.

What character would you cut from Fall of Giants?

That's hard to say as I probably hadn't met them all. I will say though that the only one I could really engage with was Ethel, but even that petered out when I saw which way the wind was blowing.

Any additional comments?

A lot of people love this book. I wish I could have loved it too. I've done this review not to slam it or relieve my annoyance, but so that a new reader might have both sides of the coin. Try it for yourself, if you think it's your kind of thing, and see what you think yourself.

Golden Son, Not Exactly Sunny!

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

Reviewed: 17-08-15

Where does Golden Son rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

As I've probably listened to thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of audiobooks in my life, that's a hard question. I was expecting a lot from this book. I ranked Red Rising as one of the best books I've read in a very very long time. Having to put all the ingredients in the pot again, stir them and make the same kind of cake, or even better, is a hard ask. I do think Pierce Brown pulls it off, but there are some reasons, which are purely a matter of taste, which meant I couldn't give it a 5.
The story is as well written, but very much darker. I think for me if I'm going to read a lot of dark I have to have light strokes, either from humour or more happy, hopeful or at least slightly lighter notes. Maybe I'm a wimp but unalloyed bleakness just makes me shut down. The story, particularly in the second half, became difficult for me to read.

If there's one thing I really do object to it's following a character for hours and hours and hours of book only to find a sad, shocking, gruesome end. It just makes the whole exercise feel pointless. Having said all this, Pierce Brown makes you care right from the get go, or he makes me care. This book is beautifully written, wonderfully narrated and is a great sequel which leaves you wanting more.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Daro has to be my favourite character. He is everything a real, true hero needs to be. He is a great leader, clever and resourceful with the ability to make people follow him through thick and thin, but he is flawed. He is vulnerable. He doesn't get it right all the time, but neither does he do anything petty or cruel.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

A hard one to answer without giving a spoiler. Let's just say there's one place in the book where I thought: "Oh finally! Finally!" When you read it you'll know where I mean. It's beautifully written and nicely understated.

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

Oh that's a cynch! Break The Chains!

Any additional comments?

Just one. I want more! When can I have more?

1 person found this helpful

Brilliant! Totally Awesome!

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

Reviewed: 17-08-15

What made the experience of listening to Red Rising the most enjoyable?

I hadn't heard a word about this book, I found out about it purely by chance and I was hooked even from the little audio sample. I couldn't wait to download and read it and I was not disappointed. Everything about it from the story to the performance just spelled quality.

The thing I loved was that this strange, totally alien human civilisation was so well drawn, you can feel what it's like to wallow in that fry suit. You can follow Daro from the depths to the heights, through squallor and luxury, hardship, battle, through love, pain, friendship, you can feel it all and believe it so intensely that it can take your breath away.

The narration was masterly, from the thick brogue of the reds through the mincing accent of the pinks to the clear, refined speech of the golds, it's all beautifully done. We even got to hear a version of the Persephone song at the end. I don't remember the last time I sat and heard such a long book without a break before. But this one I did. I just never wanted it to end. Do yourself a favour and grab it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Red Rising?

Now how am I supposed to answer that one without giving a spoiler? :) I'll just say there's a particular scene where Daro, the main character, finds out that the planet he thought was barren and uninhabitable is not. Very not. And that far from being a noble pioneer, he's been a lied to slave all his life. It's so well written it made me sob.

Which character – as performed by Tim Gerard Reynolds – was your favourite?

Well obviously Daro was the best performed, because he had to take him the furthest and do most with him, but I thought Mickey was beautifully done as was Mateo, and Sevro had a wonderful comic edge. Sorry that's not just one, there are too many good ones to pick just one.

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

Did I ever! It made me laugh at times, and at times it made me cry. A lot. As I said earlier, I sat up reading it all through the night and on into the morning. My husband came in to make coffee and found me sobbing incoherently.

Any additional comments?

I'll remember this book, and its sequel which I read the next day, as one of the great reads of this year, possibly of the last five years at least. I can't wait for more.

1 person found this helpful

So, So Disappointed!

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

Reviewed: 17-08-15

What disappointed you about Alive: Book One of the Generations Trilogy?

I have truly loved the work of this author for years. I've followed him since he was a podcast novelist and watched his rise to bestseller with delight. I have to say I had qualms when I heard he was writing what I consider to be yet one more too many in the endless series of Hunger Games variants. Sorry, harsh words I know, but I've seen so many from the un-put-downable to the awful and this just doesn't work for me.

I didn't find anything to like in the main character, which for Sigler is very unusual. I mean, when someone like Quentin Barnes is being at his most bratty and unbearable you still can't help liking him. This kid is just bratty, and she gets more bratty as time goes on. In fact you can say the same about most of them up to the time, over half way through, when I turned off in disgust. Chances are if I haven't learned to care about the characters by then, I never will. It's such a shame. Scott's characters are what I really love usually. These were just like cartoons almost, so unlike him. I was also unhappy with the narration, but that's a matter of taste. Emma Galvin does a good job but I find her voice nasal, sharp and unpleasant to listen to.

Would you ever listen to anything by Scott Sigler again?

Oh I would certainly listen to Scott's books again! That's why I'm so vehement probably. I know he can do miles, miles better than this!

Would you be willing to try another one of Emma Galvin’s performances?

No. I really don't like her voice.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid not. I do try to find something positive to say, and Scott Sigler is an author, and a person, I truly admire, but I really didn't like this at all.

2 people found this helpful

Incredible. That's the Only Word.

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

Reviewed: 08-04-15

Would you consider the audio edition of Letters to My Daughter's Killer to be better than the print version?

Yes, much better, having someone read this to me gave the book a completely new dimension that I would not have got if I had simply read it in Kindle or other EBook format.

What other book might you compare Letters to My Daughter's Killer to, and why?

I've never read a book quite like this, but in terms of keeping me glued to it and totally wrenching my heart, leaving me completely wrung out at the end, it reminds me of "Room" by Emma Donoghue.

What about Julia Franklin’s performance did you like?

Some narators just read. The really great ones take on a character, a voice, and act. Julia's voice is not accented, when speaking naturally it sounds quite different to how she narrates this book, but she has given Ruth Sutton a voice, a personality, she brings her alive.

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

Yes, but I can't go into details for fear of spoiling it for others. Suffice it to say there was one moment when I had tears running down my cheeks.

Any additional comments?

This book grabbed me from the first sentence and I couldn't stop till I'd finished the whole thing. It's a heartbreaking, hard-hitting, immensely powerful and emotional read.

A woman's life turns from normality to a mailstrom of tragedy and chaos on learning that her only daughter has been brutally murdered. More shattering shocks fall on her and she struggles to come to terms with the identity of the killer, of his refusal to admit his guilt and for her desperate need to know the truth and achieve some closure. As she is still entombed in bitterness, rage and hatred four years after her daughter's death she initiates a restorative justice plan, beginning by sending the killer a series of letters and exerpts from her journal.

I have never been a mother or a grandmother, this woman's life is different to mine in most respects you could think of but I totally felt her tearing emotions and related to her at every stage of her story. It also helped that the book was beautifully and sensitively narated, something one cannot always rely on, sadly. This book is not a comfortable experience, it is not a crime novel in the usual sense, but it is a totally truthful and gripping story and probably one of the top three most moving books I have ever read.

A Good Tale Well Told

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

Reviewed: 04-06-14

Would you consider the audio edition of The Girl with All the Gifts to be better than the print version?

I am unsighted so never read the print version of this book, therefore have only read the audio version.

What other book might you compare The Girl with All the Gifts to, and why?

It is very similar to a lot of the dystopian genre, The Stand by Stephen King came to mind where the world breaks down because of an infectious disease, the two stories are, in all other respects very different.

Which character – as performed by Finty Williams – was your favourite?

I liked all the voices she did, but I particularly liked the young soldier Galagher. She gave him a vulnerable sound which got to me because I had a fair idea he was going to end up as cannon fodder.

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

If they smell you they want to eat you.

Any additional comments?

This book is one more in the seemingly endless series of Distopia literature that's come along over the last few years. I have to say though, this one's premise is very unusual. I felt it was a bit slow to get going but once I was fully involved with the characters I got remorselessly pulled into the story and stayed involved till the very end.

The naration is beautifully done by Finti Williams who has exactly the right voice for this book. I usually find Distopian literature bleak and unsatisfying. This one, by its nature had its fair share of bleakness but I liked the end, it had a nice feeling of rightness to it. All in all, a good tale, well told.

A Fine Piece Of Storytelling.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-04-11

When you begin to read a book, and you find that it is liberally splattered with a word that you find very objectionable, when the story seems to be meandering along at no great pace, and when, furthermore, the book treats with a group of characters who are, in this reviewer's opinion, with very few exceptions, a rather unpleasant bunch, it says something for the author's storytelling abilities that I became interested enough in these awful people to want to know what happened to them in the end.

So, here we have a gathering of family and friends at a barbecue given by an arrogant, lustful civil servant and his snitty veterinarian wife. During the barbecue, an unbearably bratty child provokes a fellow guest past endurance, and gets a slap. The resulting furore is told from the point of view of several of the people at the barbecue, whose lives seem to have been changed by this seemingly small incident.

On the book's pro side, the story is very well told, the characters are well drawn, and I was made to think about my own opinions and attitudes, which is always a good thing. The naration was also beautifully done indeed!

On the con side, If you're easily shockable, this is not the book for you. There is very strong language, including liberal use of the C word throughout, graphic sex and a bit too much info about bodily functions.

All in all, I'm glad I wasn't put off by some bad reviews, and tried it for myself. A good read.

10 people found this helpful