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Maggie Kiely

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Gripping

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

Reviewed: 28-02-20

This is my first book by this author I found it really gripping from the start and I loved the characters of Sandra Olive and Freda It was interesting to see how their war progressed and Freda's eating disorder and Sandra's illiteracy was an interesting twist. I was sad when it ended and would recommend.

1 person found this helpful

Great read

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

Reviewed: 06-02-20

This is the story of James and Amber in modern times with a split timeline to Matilda and Anna two Jewish children during World War II
The children were hidden and protected by an older couple in Corfu called Georgiou and Agnes

It is interesting to see how the two time periods are intertwined in the beautiful island of Corfu with the Mediterranean sea as a backdrop

James and Amber move to Corfu to start a new life yet they do not know what heartbreak faces them. They start a dream restaurant make new acquaintances and friends. What faces them is the breakdown of their lives together with the loss of their home and lifestyle

Amber learns of the story of the Jewish people living on the island during the war and how they were transported by cattle cars to Auschwitz. For most, the trip brought death and the gas chamber their destiny at their destination.

Both stories were well told and I wanted to read at every opportunity. It is thrilling and heartbreaking in equal measure.

It is particularly apt at the moment with the 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau liberation I loved this book and would recommend.

2 people found this helpful

So many inaccuracies

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

Reviewed: 27-07-18

This book has achieved high acclaim in France.
This work begins after the murder of the children then delves back into the lives of the nanny and the parents to see what led to the events.
This does not read as a translation so all praise to Sam Taylor for a wonderful job in this respect. Moreover the narrative by Finty Williams was superb.
This is seriously far from a thriller It is a well written social commentary of day to day events in the life of a family.
The first half of the book shows how Myriam and Paul are happy to use and abuse their nanny. While telling themselves they are being kind to her they patronise and demean her. Myriam and Paul’s characters are not developed and they move in and out of the story without the reader having much insight into them. This is the same for other characters in the book. I felt this was written by someone far removed from the story I never felt Louise was alive in the story.
It is difficult to see why the parents did not see some of Louise’s behaviours as concerning but then they are focused on their own lives their work and Louise keeps the home and children ordered so they accept it. An example of this is bite marks Myriam discovers on her young son which is explained away by Louise the nanny and the mother just accepts it.
Overall I just felt extremely frustrated by this book as follows.
The ending was just flat with no satisfaction at all.
There are elements of this book which could not happen in real life despite its basis on a similar real life case in the USA in 2012.
When the supposed killer is in a coma the state will arrest her but then procedures stop until and unless the accused recovers. No investigation witness interrogation, Judge, trial can occur as the person accused of murder is not there present to defend herself. Yet all this is presented to the reader as what happened in this case.
Secondly are there no data protection laws in France? How is it possible for authorities to write to the employer of the nanny disclosing her financial irregularities without her consent? Then when given that information Myriam who is a solicitor did not tell Louise that she does not have to legally accept her husband’s debt which is the reason for her debt in the first place?
Overall this was a well written and well translated distant look at day to day family life without any thriller gripping elements with glaring inconsistencies in legal practices of any government
Personally it just left me confused and perplexed. I could not recommend it and will return it to Audible.

11 people found this helpful

Dire Narrative

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

This has been totally destroyed by the narrative by Anna Friel who sounds like she is eating swallowing the whole time. I may try it as a physical book. Will return to Audible.

4 people found this helpful

Dark Mesmerising

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

Reviewed: 27-01-18

Picked this up as on Richard and Judy bookclub recommendation. Narrative was helpful to story.
A debut by this author and what a read it was. Based on the true life of Matthew Hopkins a Witchfinder in Essex in the 1640's. The author adds fiction into the mix including that of his sister Alice with the story being told from her perspective.
The times and story are so dark and scary in parts. Alice has a trying time to live and survive as a woman under the patronage of her younger brother Matthew. Alice has returned home following the sudden death of her husband leaving her penniless. Brother Matthew holds all the cards of money home and Alice is dependent on him.
Matthew climbs up the societal scale, with compromised mental health and psychotic leanings. He is even more dangerous in that he is believed and encouraged with none of his behaviours challenged or curtailed.
The female 'witch' accused victims are not without intellect which they use to fight for their own and their loved ones lives. Matthew Hopkins creates a culture of fear and recriminations where others are prepared to lend their voices to his madness saying their fellow town folk are witches.
Alice is far from perfect but a likeable character whose story is interesting. When Alice arrives back at Matthew's home she is pregnant making her more vulnerable. She is fully aware of what Matthew is doing, but due to her personal circumstances she is forced to stick with him. She tries to help these women where she can.
The reader sees Matthew sinking lower and lower in his treatment of Alice. The ending though was wonderful.
I so enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Stories 'Poor' with a capital P

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

Reviewed: 12-05-17

This is a collection of short horror stories plus two novellas one of which featuring 'Charlie Parker' called ‘The Reflecting Eye’. A departure from the 'Charlie Parker’ series for John Connolly.
The stories are:
1. The Cancer Cowboy Rides
2. Mr. Pettinger's Demon
3. The Erkling
4. The New Daughter
5. The Ritual of Bones
6. The Furnace Room
7. The Underbury Witches
8. The Inkpot Monkey
9. The Shifting of the Sands
10. Some Children Wander By Mistake
11. Deep Dark Green
12. Miss Froom, Vampire
13. The Wakeford Abyss
14. Nocturne
15. The Reflecting Eye: A Charlie Parker Novella
16. Mr. Gray's Folly
17. The Cycle
18. The Bridal Bed
19. The Man From The Second Fifteen
20. The Inn At Shillingford

The shining light in this is the superb narrative by Jeff Harding as usual.

As a fan of the ‘Charlie Parker’ series I wanted to read this Parker novella as the ‘Collector’ makes first appearance here.
The first story ‘The Cancer Cowboy Rides’ was beyond poor and really had it not been for the Charlie Parker novella I would have stopped there.
For a short story to work really interesting characters must shine through plus a gripping plot and perhaps a good twist. This is so difficult to do with few words and Connolly certainly did not achieve anywhere near this with poor short stories suitable for a junior school English homework task.
If interesting plots characters or surprises are wished for don’t read here.
The Charlie Parker novella is ok but does not aid the story of Parker Lewis Angel or The Collector.
Not in any way recommended.

1 person found this helpful

Mad Girl very apt title

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

Reviewed: 24-04-17

I have never heard of this author before and chose book as recommended by Richard and Judy bookclub. The author read this which I think is always a mistake and a professional narrative would have enhanced it.
One in Four people suffer with a mental health issue and its often forgotten that without mental health there is no health.
Thus it is can only be positive that mental health is now in the media glare with the Royal Family ‘Heads Together’ campaign.
This talks in honest detail of what suffering with mental ill health feels like up close and personal. I admire and commend Bryony Gordon’s tenacity to share her experiences ‘warts and all’.
I wish to show no disrespect as a close family member has significant mental health issues. The selfishness and the 'only me and my needs' outlook of the person as discussed by Bryony I can so relate to
I read it in one sitting and now think that was a mistake. I would recommend reading it in short segments with other life being lived in between. I personally found it extremely overwhelming, manic and full on and felt like I needed to be in a sound proof no action room for a month after it.

4 people found this helpful

Similar to 'Me before You' by JoJo Moyes

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

Reviewed: 24-04-17

I had never heard of this author and chose this as on Richard and Judy bookclub.
Keith Stuart has a son diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum in 2012. This is his debut novel. I felt the narrative was good.
This is a fictitious tale of a family with a child on the spectrum based on his experiences.
Alex the father has virtually no relationship with his autistic son. This causes severe disharmony within his marriage to Jody and he leaves the family home.
I found it hard to warm to the character of Alex as I felt he was somewhat lacking in any emotional connection to anyone. This made his relationships feel directionless. Maybe this was because of his past life experience with his brother’s death.
Having worked with children on the spectrum I felt Sam was represented well with his autism simply explained.
I thought there were too many characters and it felt so ‘full on’.
The following are all going on simultaneously
* Alex is not bonded with his son
* Alex and his friend Dan living together and all that entails
* Emma Alex’s sister returns home after 10 years travelling fleeing past experience
* Alex and Sam bond over Mindcraft
* Alex struggles with the death of his brother
* Alex’s mother has a health problem
There were other sub plots but the above were the main ones. I think it would have been better if less was going on so the focus could have been on Sam and his autism.
In my opinion it started off well with autism as its focus and then merged into a version of Jojo Moyes ‘Me before you’.

1 person found this helpful

So lovely

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

Reviewed: 30-03-17

I felt the narrative was excellent and really aided the story.
I have wanted to read this for some time. I could not watch the film as Nicholas Cage is in it and I would never watch him.
This novel won the Commonwealth Writers Prize of 1995. The life of Pelagia is followed for sixty years of her life. The early chapters do drag a bit but once it got going I was hooked.
The characters despite flaws were very personable and appealing. Both homo and hetrosexual love is shown. The story begins with World War II finding Pelagia with her father a doctor on the Greek island of Cephalonia as it is drawn into war.
Pelagia is physically attractive possessing a keen intellect. She thinks herself in love with an illiterate Greek fisherman Mandras who goes to war vowing to return and marry Pelagia.
The island is ‘taken’ by the Italian army. The Captain Antonio Corelli comes to live in their home. Corelli is a player of the Mandolin and once responds to ‘Heil Hitler’ with ‘Heil Puccini’. Rather than fighting war Corelli sets up a singing group meeting in the toilets.
In time Mandras returns from war finding Pelagia and Corelli in love.
The author describes the political landscape of the time linking it to Pelagia her father and the people of the Greek island. The horrors of German revenge on the Italians is laid bare.
This is such a lovely beautiful read and gave me a feel good feeling. It shows how love can survive and grow to something deeper over time. The conclusion was quite wonderful and I was sad to say goodbye. I would highly recommend it.

Great idea for story

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

Reviewed: 10-03-17

I felt the narrative was excellent and really aided the story
This book focuses on Hope who is forgotten by all who meet her as soon as she cannot be seen. This is a wonderful take on life and I found it interesting to consider.
At the start of the book we learn that from her teenage years Hope Arden is ‘forgotten’ by her family acquaintances and everyone else. As a result Hope ventures off alone excelling as a thief. Hope makes contact with a rich beautiful woman using the phone App ‘Perfection’. When the woman dies in mysterious circumstances Hope is determined to close down ‘Perfection’ in retribution.
‘Perfection’ is an app telling its followers what to do eat where to go. Points are given when the instructions are followed.
It was interesting to see Hope’s story mingling with her desire for revenge. The middle of the book did drag a bit and could have (in my opinion) been edited more
Its very difficult to take in that as soon as someone looses sight of Hope they have no knowledge of ever seeing her.
I would definitely look out for next book by this author and would recommend it.

1 person found this helpful