Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and there he dies suddenly.
I have read this story before and watched 2 filmed versions, and now this Audible version, vainly hoping that something new will clarify the mystery of Rachel’s character. Alas, the story remains the same, leaving me stuck with the unanswered question of “did she or didn’t she?”
Complicating the purposely ambiguous nature of Rachel is the massively unreliable POV of Philip. While Rachel is described more than once as impulsively leading with her heart, that is really a more accurate description of Philip – bitterly hating Rachel before ever meeting her, then falling hopelessly (and inexplicably) in love with her almost immediately on their introduction. His immaturity and obsession blind him to any chance of a level headed assessment of her character and intentions, leaving the reader hanging as well.
I enjoy most of DuMaurier’s writing, and I don’t always need to have tidy endings, but this one has always left me wanting more. Perhaps that was the intent, because in spite of my disappointment in the lack of clarity, I have still come back again and again, hoping for insight that never comes. Perhaps I’ve been afflicted with some of Philip’s obsession, but at this point I just have to let it go.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a "tesseract", which, if you didn't know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg's father had been experimenting with time travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?
I'm roughly 2 hours in and I give up. The narration has been disappointing from the beginning - the tone overly dramatic, failing to create an authentic feel for the characters. Meg and Calvin are especially over done. I was going to push through anyway, but then Mrs. Which came into the picture, and that did it. The drawn out wailing voice is unlistenable. I'll get this in print to discover the rest of the story, but because of the horrible narration, this is going back.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This much we do know: Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered days before Christmas in 1996, her broken body discovered at the edge of her property near the town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland. The rest remains a mystery. Gripping, yet ever elusive, join the real-life hunt for answers in the year’s first not-to-be-missed, true-crime series. West Cork is FREE through May 9, 2018.
I fall into the camp that did not enjoy the disjointed quality of serial podcasts rolling credits at the beginning and end of episodes, and the distracting music and sound effects. I found it very hard to hear and understand a major part of the recorded interviews (sometimes taped in noisy pubs) especially when listening in the car.
If there was more meat to the story I may have felt better about it, but I was just unable to find Sophie in the picture. That the murder remains unsolved adds to the “meh” feeling, because that renders the entire enterprise pure speculation on the facts. This was clearly just not for me.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful
Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate.
Evan Smoak's commandment to “Never make it personal” literally goes out the window with the death of his mentor, Jack. But bloodlust gets stalled as he is forced to take on a rescue mission – Jack’s last assignment to him. Now he has a new dilemma – how to mix revenge and rescue without blowing either or both missions. The young girl, Joey, that he is now stuck with, forces him to face what he used to be before the Orphan program made him into who he is now, and this stirs conflicting feelings that he would rather not face. They are a distraction to his revenge obsession. But Joey’s distractions provide the heart and humor to the story, and even inspire Evan to start making some new commandments of his own – “Don’t fall in love with plan A”.
There are some minor nits to pick – the constant vodka and fire arms tutorials get a little old, and the sub plot with his neighbor, Mia, was an unnecessary sideline in this outing. But setting those aside, I still enjoyed the inventiveness of Evan’s schemes to vanquish the bad guys, and the continued character growth. A strong willingness to suspend disbelief is needed for this series, but if you are willing and able to just go for the ride, then Evan will take you on one wild roller-coaster, tugging on your heartstrings at the same time.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.
The bare bones of this story are those of The Prisoner of Zenda – King (Emperor in this case) incapacitated by opposing faction, concealed by supporting faction, and in need of a plan to prevent exposing the Emperor’s inability to serve. From there Sanderson blazes his own trail. No mere fake double will do – a complete reconstruction of the real Emperor must be accomplished through forgery by illegal means.
The realization of this plan is a complex fantasy, somewhat short on world building in the physical sense, but long on creation of the magical world of forgers who understand and manipulate the reality of anything from a table or wall to the personality and character of an Emperor. This must be done by the prisoner Shai within 100 days or the kingdom as it stands will fall apart and she will be executed. She also realizes that to protect the secret, she is likely to be executed anyway once her services are no longer needed. Her progress is supervised by an arch enemy, Gaotona, who surprisingly is openly curious about Shai’s magic and what makes her tick.
The fascination comes from the magical realism of forgery and also the exploration of what goes into developing a person’s personality, character and responses. By extension, the characters of Shai and Gaotona are explored and changed by each other. For me this was the most interesting part of the story, and kept me moving forward to the climactic action of the end where Shai decides her own fate. A very satisfying and complete story that also hints that there may be openings for a sequel.
Sadly, I did not really like the narration, finding it oddly mechanical and lacking true connection to the characters. Still, did not reduce my enjoyment of Sanderson’s world. Can recommend, but listen to the sample first.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
How far would you go to protect your family? Single dad Ben is doing his best to raise his children, with the help of his devoted mother, Judi. And then Ben meets Amber. Everyone thinks this is a perfect match for Ben, but Judi isn't so sure.... There's just something about Amber that doesn't add up. Ben can't see why his mother dislikes his new girlfriend. And Amber doesn't want Judi anywhere near her new family. Amber just wants Ben and the children.
The prologue sets the scene for the final showdown between two women that we know hate each other enough to kill. Who these two are and how they got to this point is where the story has to go. Unfortunately, author Slater seems to have difficulty distinguishing tension from tedium. Having the POV switch between the adversaries in peel-back-the-onion style keeps the cards held tightly to each ones’ chest, but soon becomes repetitive, especially when it comes to the mom Judi (although Amber gets kind of tiresome too). If this had been shortened to a novella with tighter plotting, maaayybe it would have been more palatable. But the longer the secrets are just teased at, the less tension was sustained – just get on with it please.
Judi and Amber, however unlikable, are the only characters with any dimension. Son Ben was a wuss and husband Henry was a jerk, both paper thin. Story threads meant to add some unexpected interest just muddied the picture and never got resolved. In fact, even after we reach the end and find out who stands and who falls, there’s no real resolution. Scene fades, credits roll and it’s impossible to see how either of these miserable women could “win” because there’s no plausible way to get away with it. There's no attempt at explaining how the killer tries to solidify her victory. I ended feeling I had been manipulated into staring at a train wreck just to see it pull the brake at the last minute and stall on the tracks.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband's crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace. But just when she's starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake - and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address.
I am pretty good with suspending disbelief for the sake of taking the ride the author sets up. That said, when a protagonist is somewhat unbelievable from the beginning, the author needs to at least keep the character consistent. In this case, Gwen swings from being the unbelievably naive Gina, with no inkling of the dark things going on in her garage, to paranoid pistol packing helicopter mom, dodging danger from an obsessed army of internet trolls wishing death or worse on Gwen and her kids a full 4 years after her husband has been placed behind bars. Did Charles Manson or Jeffery Dahmer have that large a fan base?
I tried to just go along with Gwen’s transformation, but then she would do something completely contrary to her new paranoid reality, just to serve a specific plot point – trusting a stranger too soon, choosing not to believe her son when he shared a concern about an event on the school bus.
I also get annoyed with predictability. For me the villain was obvious from the first appearance. The red herrings were also obvious, and the background characters played out like stick figures. Dialogue was stilted – I don’t believe that teens really speak the way her kids do – especially the conveniently hostile Goth daughter. Throw in too-often repeated angsty musings in Gwen’s head, and the annoyance became repetitive. The climax at the end was over-the-top, and the use of a cliffhanger came as no surprise.
In spite of the above, I did finish the book, and the premise gave the unique POV of a family on the run from danger they did not deserve. But after the dust settled, when deciding whether to pick up Killman Creek to resolve the ending, I decided that it will likely be the same song - new verse, and since it’s certain to end with the bad guys vanquished and the family able to find their happily ever after, I decided I’m not interested in how they get there.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop's owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music.
Having loved both “Harold Fry” and “Perfect”, I downloaded this new Rachel Joyce release as soon as I saw it, and it jumped straight to the top of my listening list. And here in the first week of the new year, I wonder if there can possibly be a book that will top this wonderful story for the rest of 2028.
Joyce has imbued her eclectic cast of characters with life, humor, generosity, yearning and raw emotions. A true community of people who look out for each other even in the face of threats from developers and competition from slick franchise merchandisers gives us something to root for – for the neighbors individually and collectively. Frank, with his giant heart and personality is the glue holding the little strip of shop owners together. We yearn for him to finally find the right one to allow him to emerge from his carefully cultivated emotional shell that keeps him protected from any romantic commitment.
I was delighted by the many musical references punctuating the narrative, many familiar, some sending me to Google for enlightenment. Joyce drew me into this community from the first words, and never let me go until, surrounded by an alarming pile of tissues, I came to the resolution of the lives of people I have come to love dearly. This was a one-day listen, causing me to shamefully neglect my daily routine until I turned my pod off in the wee hours, thoroughly satisfied. Very highly recommended.
26 of 29 people found this review helpful
Agatha is pregnant and works part time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, and a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog.
As a psychological thriller, The Secrets She Keeps failed to thrill. The plot was pretty predictable, especially since the editor’s summary gave away a spoiler by calling it “a shocking kidnapping plot”. Well that made most of the story pretty transparent – and a whole lot less shocking.
As a character, Meghan is actually pretty bland. Agatha is the most complex and interesting character, giving what strength there was to the story. But as the story moves towards the climax, suddenly characters are behaving completely out of character. And I don’t mean in an interesting twist kind of way – just doing something to serve the plot in the way the author wanted the plot to go. It drove the story towards an ending that was very unlikely and less than satisfying for me. This is a problem I found in my previous outing with Robothem, making it unlikely I will try again.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
"Marley was dead to begin with...." These chillingly familiar words begin the classic Christmas tale of remorse and redemption in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Now R. William Bennett rewinds the story and focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob T. Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path. Why was Marley allowed to return? And why hadn’t he been given the same chance as Ebenezer Scrooge? Or had he?
I downloaded and listened to this right after listening to Jim Dale's version of A Christmas Carol. They worked together like turkey and dressing. Marley's story of how he became a ghost and how he came to haunt old Scrooge was delightfully and even movingly told. And as expected, perfectly narrated by Simon Vance. The atmosphere and language matched the original tale very well, giving an authentic pairing of the the two books. Listening to them in tandem enhanced both. A delightful Christmas surprise, likely to be repeated next year.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful