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HelgaCabbage

UK
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  • Ashes

  • Ashes Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Ilsa J. Bick
  • Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 56

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom, a young soldier, and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it's now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Review: "Ashes" by Ilsa J Bick

  • By @Scattered_Laura on 05-04-12

Too many unanswered questions.

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

Reviewed: 17-02-18

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

It was enjoyable, but I am frustrated by this idea that a lot of new writers have, that book one of a trilogy means you don't have to actually complete a story.
I understand wanting people to be intrigued enough to buy the next book, but this has so many unanswered questions it basically felt like a prologue and not a complete book and that leaves me feeling cheated.

Would you be willing to try another book from Ilsa J. Bick? Why or why not?

Possibly. I did want to know what happens next, but I also did not want to be given no answers and 26 more questions by the end of book two, so it has put me off continuing. The overall idea of something sending an electro-magnetic pulse that changes the planet was intriguing enough, it didn't need to end almost part way through a scene. That feeling of being cheated by the author has put me off.

Which character – as performed by Katherine Kellgren – was your favourite?

Alex or Tom.

Did Ashes inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to be warier of buying the first book in a series without checking reviews.

Any additional comments?

Well written, but does not feel like book one of a trilogy, more like a piece of one book.

  • Friend-Zoned

  • By: Belle Aurora
  • Narrated by: Eleanor Gwyn, Douglas Berger
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Nikolai Leokov never thought he'd fall in love with the only girl he's ever befriended. Valentina Tomic has issues with commitment after the ultimate betrayal. When Tina decides to make broody Nik's day better, she never thought she would end up friends with the hard man. Nik has never had a woman be so affectionate to him without expecting something in return.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Must listen to

  • By Aileen on 05-01-17

Patchy

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

Reviewed: 14-09-17

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

No.
I hate weak female characters and this began with such promise, with an upbeat heroine who had been through a personal tragedy and yet somehow remained sunny and happy... But then it quickly changed into constant tears and weakness, with the hero having to literally pick her up and carry her every few minutes while she cries into his chest, which is tiresome.

Possibly the lowest point of the story is during a steamy make-out session when she actually bursts into tears because she sees his penis for the first time and thinks it is too large and won't fit... Seriously. It would be a stupid reaction from anyone, but for a woman who has supposedly already given birth to a baby?
And the hero is just as bad. Apparently feeling the need to take off his silk tie to clean her up after sex because the paper towels were too rough in the bathroom... Apparently in his bathroom there is no such thing as toilet paper...
Honestly, stuff like this is just so glaringly stupid it yanks you out of the story and prevents immersion. Better editing would have caught a lot of these things, I think.

My other problem with this story is that all the men are supposedly tough ex-gang members, but they neither act nor speak like men at all and their entire lives seem to revolve around the women and talking about their feelings constantly.
Soon after the women enter their lives they apparently no longer need guys' poker nights, or guys' nights out at the bar, their lives become all about the women, all the time.

I also found the listing of every outfit the girls wore tiresome, as though the story has to wait while we read excerpts from a catalogue or fashion magazine. Cut between these constant reminders of how stunning and sexy all the girls are (in case we're ever likely to forget), and the heroine continuously cooking the 'best food EVER' for her men, and it's like some kind of 1950's housewife fantasy.

What will your next listen be?

I need a break after this and am listening to real crime podcasts. I will choose my next romance more carefully.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator did well with some poor writing, but it was especially confusing when characters constantly repeated out loud the exact words they'd just thought, eg:
What?!
"What?!" I say...
This happens all the time. At first I thought I'd accidentally replayed a few seconds of audio, but it seems the author tried to use this kind of repetition for effect. These should all have been cut by a half decent editor.

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

No. There is not enough story for this to be turned into a film. Everyone would just be stood around talking about how much they like each other.

Any additional comments?

Could have been much better with help from a good editor.

  • A Bachelor Establishment

  • By: Jodi Taylor
  • Narrated by: Anna Bentinck
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 516
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 515

High adventure and dark mystery combine in a sparkling historical romance, by Jodi Taylor writing as Isabella Barclay from The Chronicles of St. Mary's. Bascombe, widowed and tied to an impoverished estate, has learned to ask little of life. With no hope of leaving, the years have passed her by. Lord Ryde, exiled abroad after a scandal, has returned to strip his estate and make a new start in America.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Almost as good a discovering a new Georgette Heyer

  • By Beccameriel on 24-01-16

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 06-02-17

Would you try another book written by Jodi Taylor or narrated by Anna Bentinck?

I have read other books by Jodi Taylor and enjoyed them, and historical romances are my favourite genre (when done well), so I was expecting good things, but I was sadly disappointed with this book.
The best part was the mystery, but the conclusion of that was very anticlimatic.

What was most disappointing about Jodi Taylor’s story?

There was a lack of chemistry between the two main characters, so that I didn't care about their budding romance. In fact I actually found myself hating Lord Ryde. I understood that his unpleasant attitude and the chip on his shoulder were somehow supposed to be endearing or amusing, and the harsh and unforgiving things he said were supposed to be dry and witty, but I just found him obnoxious.I am also not in favour of historical books where there is sex outside of marriage, unless it is a story about a mistress or members of the serving class, where things like that were more common. Georgette Heyer would turn in her grave!

Which character – as performed by Anna Bentinck – was your favourite?

Mrs Bascombe was a nice character, her poor taste in men aside. I liked that she wasn't a pushover, without being inappropriately modern in attitude for that time period.The only exception to that was that she thought it was fine to have sex with a man who was talking about leaving the country and to whom she was not married. Especially since she had no fortune of her own with which to raise any children that might come from that encounter. It seemed unbelievable that an apparently smart woman would do such a thing.

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

Maybe. Perhaps actors would make the characters more likeable and provide the chemistry that is missing from the novel.

  • Otherwise Engaged

  • By: Amanda Quick
  • Narrated by: Louise Jane Underwood
  • Length: 10 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 16

Miss Amity Doncaster, world traveler, is accustomed to adventure and risk. Benedict Stanbridge, a man of science and a spy for the Crown, has faced danger in the darker corners of foreign lands. But they are about to face a threat that is shockingly close to home . . . One does not expect to be kidnapped on a London street in broad daylight.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • PTERODAKTYL!!!!

  • By Eva on 23-04-14

Definitely NOT like Georgette Heyer

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

Reviewed: 06-10-15

What would have made Otherwise Engaged better?

People keep promising me that an author is 'like Georgette Heyer' only for me to be disillusioned. AQ's characters have lots of sex before marriage, and talk and have attitudes like people born in the 1990's rather than the 1890's.There had clearly been SOME research done into the time, for example demonstrating that the first rubber condoms had come into use, and that telegrams were now able to carry messages from Australia to England, but these things were dropped so clunkily into the story that I found myself cringing.

Would you ever listen to anything by Amanda Quick again?

No. I can't take any more awkward graphic sex scenes with scattered descriptions of breeches and bodices thrown in as though the clothing makes it period rather than the attitudes and behaviour.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Louise Jane Underwood?

Any number of people. I tried the sample audio and thought she would be fine, but after a while I kept checking how long the story had to go because I was getting impatient with the story and found Underwood's voice grating.

What character would you cut from Otherwise Engaged?

***SPOILER****I can't remember her name, something like 'Lady Plainshaw'. A pointless character who decided monologuing while holding someone at gun point in a busy place was a good idea, and yet despite being apparently brainless was supposed to have previously made a living as a successful spy. Ridiculous.

Any additional comments?

The beginning of the book was the best part - it promised a strong, smart, female character who could take care of herself and had seen something of the world. But it failed epically to deliver after that, and the heroine seemed to get stupider as the story went on.I also found the mystery very weak.

  • Gemini

  • By: Penelope Ward
  • Narrated by: Therese Plummer, Eric Michael Summerer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

Diner waitress Allison Abraham had no idea her mundane life was about to dramatically change the day she serves a devastatingly handsome customer. Allison is immediately captivated by the mysterious man who stared through her soul with his electric blue eyes. After he abruptly leaves the restaurant, she can't get him out of her head. She has no idea that he had actually come on a mission to find her. Cedric Callahan wasn't expecting to fall in love at first sight with the pretty waitress he'd set out to find.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awesome

  • By susana on 31-10-17

Slow and boring.

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

Reviewed: 03-09-15

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

It took far too long for anything to happen, and I didn't care about the main characters or their relationship because it seemed all they had to say about the other person for the first half of the book, was that they were so beautiful / gorgeous. If that is the sole reason for someone becoming obsessed with another person to the point of despair if they don't see each other, it makes me hate characters who are apparently so shallow.

It was mostly predictable and boring. I thought there was going to be a much better obstacle keeping the two characters apart, and when the 'reveal' happened I found it kind of silly, as if he'd just been upfront about it in the first place, I doubt it woud have been a problem at all.

I found a lot of the throwaway comments to be patronising and sometimes thoughtlessly insulting, for example, a gay character says that his boyfriend has a job as a drag queen but is 'not a cross-dresser, he's a real man'... I'm sorry but how does being a cross-dresser make you less of a real man?

Characters like the gay best friend seemed to only be included for the purpose of showing us how nice and open minded the heroine was, because they never appeared again after the first meeting. It felt as forced and stupid as introducing a dark-skinned character and talking with them about how great they look in warm colours just so she can prove she isn't racist. These days don't we just assume you aren't racist or homophobic unless shown otherwise? Do we need to admire the heroine because she can be friends with a gay guy? Big deal! The friendship was pointless, the scene with that character was therefore pointless, and as so much of this story did, it dragged.

I also found parts of the story a bit moralising and preachy. Drinking = bad. Violence = bad. Leaving an abusive relationship = good. We GET IT.

What could Penelope Ward have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I wish she had made her male characters more realistic.
As someone who has a lot of male friends as well as an older brother, the idea that men sit around constantly confiding in each other about their feelings and their love lives is pretty ridiculous to me.
The author seemed to think putting a beer in their hands and scattering the word 'man' into their conversations with each other was all it took to make them believable male characters. It did not. They sounded like women. And obsessed overly-emotional women at that.

There was also a massive over-simplifications of subjects like drinking problems, violence, and autism. The scene where Alison makes almost immediate friends with an adult autistic woman by the giving and withholding of an iPad as a reward / punishment felt like a dog training exercise and made me cringe.

She could also have chosen a different name for her hero. 'Cedric' just doesn't do it for me. But that's just personal preference...

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration was okay, although I heartily wish the flatmate character had not been British because American narrators doing British accents are almost inevitably dreadful. I have heard worse, but it was still painful.

What character would you cut from Gemini?

The unnecessary 'best' friend, the ex-boyfriend, the two-dimensional soon-to-be-ex girlfriend, the lonely diner guy… so many characters who served almost no purpose or were there simply to try and force us to think well of the heroine.

Any additional comments?

There were a few scenes I enjoyed, such as when they have a Skype call and Cedric raps. We actually see something more from the characters than just how hot or beautiful they are, or how obsessed with each other they are, and get some actual personality. One of the few times I started to almost care.

  • Lying Out Loud

  • By: Kody Keplinger
  • Narrated by: Suzy Jackson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go. Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with - secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable but frustrating

  • By HelgaCabbage on 09-07-15

Enjoyable but frustrating

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

Reviewed: 09-07-15

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Lying Out Loud is not a prequel or a sequel, it is a self-contained story, which should not need to be read in a particular order with Keplinger's other titles... However there are a number of throw-away scenes in this book which refer to characters and relationships from her earlier titles. The scenes contribute nothing at all to the story, but rather slow the pace as well as giving away summaries of the entire plots of her other novels.It felt thoughtless and self-congratulatory of the author to include these, and I wish an editor had pulled them out of the finished book.

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

I lost patience with Sonny quite rapidly.At first her constant lying is mildly entertaining and a symptom of her home life / family situation. But her treatment of her best friend, the ingratitude she shows towards her, as well as the way she places her in an intolerable situation and then goes back on a promise she made to her for purely self-interested reasons, all made me very angry.Towards the end of the book, when it was completely obvious that her lies would be found out, it felt unrealistic that any person could be stupid or selfish enough to act the way Sonny does, at which point I hoped both the love interest and her best friend would simply wash their hands of her forever.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I enjoyed the scene where Amy's parents find out the real reason Sonny has been staying at their house. It was emotional and helped to regain some of sympathy and compassion for Sonny that was desperately needed by this point when I was starting to hate her.

Was Lying Out Loud worth the listening time?

Yes, overall I did enjoy it, but there were moments I wanted to fast-forward to avoid spoilers of other novels - and because those scenes contributed nothing to the story. It would have benefitted from tighter editing, as the whole 'when will the truth come out' part began to drag.

Any additional comments?

The narrator was great, I thought she got the voices of Sonny and Amy just right.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • These Old Shades

  • By: Georgette Heyer
  • Narrated by: Cornelius Garrett
  • Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 208
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 136
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137

Society believes the worst of Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon who is clearly proud of his Sobriquet, Satanas. It is he who buys Leon body and soul from a scoundrel in a Paris backstreet.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • GREAT BOOK FOUND THE VOICE ACTING DIFFICULT

  • By Lindsay on 06-06-12

Awful narration, great story

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

Reviewed: 07-08-14

Would you try another book written by Georgette Heyer or narrated by Cornelius Garrett?

I love Georgette Heyer books, and own almost all of the unabridged ones.

Would I try another narrated by Cornelius Garrett? No. His voices are all wrong for the characters, and I have only listened to this book once as a result, unlike my other Heyer audiobooks, which I enjoy over and over again.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite character is the Duke of Avon because he is so devilish and clever but is capable of great feeling.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Cornelius Garrett?

Michael Drew, who narrated Devil's Cub brilliantly (with many of the same characters) or Clifford Norgate, who did a wonderful job narrating Frederica.
Or Phyllida Nash, who narrates many other Heyer novels wonderfully.

Could you see These Old Shades being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

I don't know because Hollywood so often messes up the original stories we love so much.
If it was done well and stayed true to the source material, I would definitely want to see it.

Any additional comments?

Please, please, please, get this audiobook re-recorded with a different narrator.I listen to Devil's Cub (the sequel) a lot, and I wish I could enjoy this one as much, but the narration makes that impossible.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Remember When Two

  • The Sequel (Remember Trilogy)
  • By: T. Torrest
  • Narrated by: Allyson Ryan
  • Length: 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5

You know how sometimes, your high school crush grows up to be an insanely famous movie star? Okay, probably not. But I do. Back in high school, Trip Wiley's fanbase only encompassed the denizens of the nothing little suburb of Norman, New Jersey. Ten years later, all that is about to change.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Frustrating

  • By HelgaCabbage on 22-06-14

Frustrating

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

Reviewed: 22-06-14

What would have made Remember When Two better?

Clearly the author was struggling for a way to create tension and keep the two main characters apart, and resorted to that time worn classic of 'misunderstandings'. Layla had such a complete inability to actually understand or communicate it made me lose all patience with her, and I was actually beginning to wish Trip would meet somebody else by the end of this book.

What will your next listen be?

I pre-ordered Book Three before I'd listened to this one unfortunately, so I will have more hours of frustrating heroine and zero tension to get through.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Allyson Ryan?

Probably. The narrator was fine, it was the story that made me lose patience.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration, and a little bit resentful that I'd already pre-ordered the third book in the trilogy on the strength of Book One.
If I'd read this one first, I wouldn't have bought Book Three.

Any additional comments?

There were frustrating parts in Book One of this trilogy too, especially the huge melodrama about falling in love with someone but not going to the same college (oh nooo!) (apparently meeting up at weekends, regular phonecalls, etc. are only possible for friends and casual acquaintances, but not the love of your life… *sighs in irritation*), but it was still a much stronger book. You can forgive the pair for not communicating well because they are teenagers.
To keep up that level of stupidity when they are both adults is just incredibly annoying.

  • The Secret Life of William Shakespeare

  • By: Jude Morgan
  • Narrated by: John Telfer
  • Length: 17 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 8

The greatest writer of them all, brought to glorious life. How well do you know the man you love? How much do you think you know about Shakespeare? What if they were one and the same? He is an ordinary man: unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. And he is also a genius. The story of how a glove-maker from Warwickshire became the greatest writer of them all is vaguely known to most of us, but it would take an exceptional modern novelist to bring him to life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining and imaginative

  • By Simply Red on 16-07-12

My least favourite Jude Morgan book.

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

Reviewed: 14-04-14

What did you like best about The Secret Life of William Shakespeare? What did you like least?

Jude Morgan always thoroughly researches everything, and uses beautiful language and descriptions that really conjure up clear pictures of the time and people.

I really wanted to like this book as I have absolutely loved all his others, but I'm afraid I found this one dull and was relieved when it ended and I could listen to something else.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I learned more about Shakespeare, because despite the internal thoughts and feelings being author invention, they were woven seamlessly around what is known through historical record to be fact about his life.

The least interesting thing for me was his portrayal of Anne Hathaway. She was so self pitying and introspective all the time, and it was hard to care about her.

The attraction of Will to Isobel, who came across as completely unlikeable, also lacked any credibility for me.

What about John Telfer’s performance did you like?

He handled the language very well, and his gravitas helped the story feel less dull.

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

Probably, because there wouldn't be any internal monologues and self pity from Anne in a visual format.

Any additional comments?

If you have never tried a Jude Morgan book before, I would suggest first trying 'The Taste of Sorrow' (about the Brontes) or 'An Accomplished Woman' (a more lighthearted period piece in the manner of Georgette Heyer), both available on Audible.

Another favourite Jude Morgan book is 'Indiscretion' which is a very funny period romance, although it's not yet available on Audible.

Jude Morgan (Tim Wilson) has also written a number of historical crime novels under the name 'Hannah March' and I highly recommend those too.

Sadly this is the only book of his I have not enjoyed, and would not recommend.

  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

  • The Karla Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: John le Carre
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 12 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 868
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 311
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 314

Mr George Smiley is small, podgy, and at best, middle-aged. He is disillusioned, wrestles with idleness, and has been deserted by his beautiful wife. He is also compassionate, ruthless and a senior British intelligence officer in short-lived retirement from the Circus the British Secret Service organisation situated in London. But Moscow centre has infiltrated a mole into the Circus and it’s more than likely that the perpetrator is Karla Smiley’s old adversary and his opposite number in Moscow.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Hottest Cold War Novel Ever Written

  • By KDT on 27-04-10

A negative review does not make it 'unhelpful'

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-04-13

I write this knowing that many people use the 'unhelpful' vote as an 'I disagree' button, instead of realising that some people like to hear both positive and negative reviews before making up their mind to a purchase.



I really wanted to enjoy this book, as I know that John Le Carre's knowledge of MI6 and intelligence work was vast, and that he was the first to use terms that became common, such as 'mole' for a penetrative spy, or 'housekeepers' for people who audit and oversee finances of MI6.



I don't give up on books easily, but I managed only two thirds of this one. Having spoken to others I think this is a book that you either love or loathe, and I found it extremely tedious.



In my opinion there is far too much narrative summary.

I don't need a lot of action and things blowing up, as one reviewer said, but I do need things to be happening for the most part in immediate scene, in front of my minds' eye. There were a few places that Carre did this, such as the parts with the ex-spy working at a boy's school, but for the rest the only visual element was someone sitting down to read something, and think about past situations. The information itself came across in a very turgid style with nothing to visualise at all.



I found his portrayal of women to be unbelievable, which may simply be a symptom of the time he was writing, but they all seem to be either lunatics or gushing drunks who say 'lover' and 'darling' all the time.



Nothing much happens, I found myself wishing I had the paper copy so I could skim, and I'm sorry to fans of his work, but this is definitely not a book I would recommend.



On a positive note, the narrator was excellent and did his best with some dull material.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful