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A fairly good story, expertly narrated.

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

Reviewed: 23-09-2019

A work of historical fiction, although based on the life story of one of the author’s forebears, this is an interesting story that is probably quite realistic about the prospects of a younger daughter of a prominent family during the early years of the reign of James I.

I confess I almost stopped listening as early as the prologue, in which a man speaking as though he were present when the young Princess Elizabeth was taken into the Tower of London was still alive as its Keeper in 1617. I returned to the beginning and listened again, decided the way in which that section was phrased was ambiguous, and continued with the story.

The main character, Lucy, seems at times to be almost too virtuous to be quite believable, although she does have her moments where her flaws and human nature are revealed, in which she seems more relatable. For some readers, her tale will evoke deep sympathy, while others may feel she spends too much time engaging in self-pity and decrying her lot in life as the victim of the selfishness and vanity of various other people.

The most believable characters are the hateful ones: Lucy’s sister Barbara, Aunt Joan, and Frances Howard. These characters exemplify the worst of human nature, along with a certain young man who is fickle at best and heartless at worst. It is in disliking these characters that the reader feels the most empathy with Lucy.

The narration is most enjoyable, with lively expression and very good use of tone, voice and accent to bring the characters to life.

Overall, it is a fairly good story, expertly narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Fabulous historical fiction!

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

Reviewed: 04-09-2019

Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was the first anointed and crowned queen of England, ruling alongside her husband, Edgar, in the 10th century.

‘The First Queen Of England’ Part 2 is the second instalment of Elfrida’s story, and shows just how strong and resilient she was in a world dominated by patriarchy, politics and warfare.

Just like the first book in the series, this book is very well written and is entirely consistent with the historical context of the story, even though it is undoubtedly fiction.

It is a significant achievement on the author’s part to reanimate characters from the long-distant past in such a way that the reader feels as though they know them and can understand their concerns, cares and motivations. It is pleasing to witness the dynamics of the characters as they mature, and intriguing to observe the intricacies of the machinations and politics at court and the personal impact on the queen and king as individuals as well as rulers.

The narration by Sheila Daly Payson is most enjoyable. Her voice is pleasant and her reading is fluent. Her characterisation of the different roles is effective, and really brings the various characters to life.

As richly detailed and intriguing as part 1, ‘The First Queen Of England, Part 2’ is a most enjoyable story. This is in every aspect a very pleasurable audiobook experience

Really enjoyed this story!

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

Reviewed: 14-08-2019

The past holds all sorts of mysteries for those who enjoy researching their family tree. But what if no such avenue of research is available? What if someone were to find that their past simply didn’t exist?

Despite the fact that Peter Coldrick has no family and no family tree, his past does catch up with him in a way that sets Morton Farrier on a course of investigation that led to places that neither he nor the reader could possibly expect.

This is a really interesting mystery story with a refreshing perspective that presents new opportunities and avenues for investigation than amateur sleuths or police detectives usually employ. It draws on some intriguing elements of World War II history as the background for an investigation that takes place seventy years later and in a completely different context.

The narration by Jonathan Ip is very good indeed. He has a very pleasant voice to listen to, and portrays the different characters very effectively. His reading brings the story to life, and immerses the audience in the story as an eyewitness to the drama and action as it takes place.

All in all, a great story and a great narration.

An excellent audiobook experience

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

Reviewed: 04-08-2019

The third in Kerri Maniscalco’s Victorian macabre mystery series, ‘Escaping from Houdini’ is set on the Etruria, a cruise ship travelling from London to New York in 1899. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell, and Uncle Jonathan Wadsworth, A series of gruesome murders present this Victorian forensic science team with a series of challenges and mysteries that must be solved before arriving at their destination.

The story is intricate and complex, dark and dangerous, and completely captivating. Themes of distraction, illusion and deception interweave like a macabre carnival dance. The personal consequences and implications for Audrey Rose, Thomas, and other passengers on the ship are compelling, keeping the audience engaged both mentally and emotionally in the drama as it unfolds.

Nicola Barber’s narration is expressive, fluent and most enjoyable. Barber has a definite gift for characterisation and drama that makes her storytelling lively and most enjoyable.

A really good detective noir story.

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

Reviewed: 19-07-2019

The third book in Phyllis Entis’ ‘Damien Dickens Mysteries’ crime/detective series, ‘The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper’ continues the story of private investigators Damien and Millie Dickens with new challenges and investigations, at the same time taking them into new territory in their relationship.

This is an exciting and tension-filled story with some very interesting and quite unexpected twists. I enjoyed the suspense and the interaction between different characters, and I loved the chance to revisit Montreal as I enjoyed the narrative.

The narrator has a nice, clear voice and is easy to listen to. His reading is expressive and fluent, and his use of register, accent and inflection in his characterisation is consistently good.

Overall, this was an excellent audiobook experience.

Loved it.

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

Reviewed: 22-05-2019

The sequel to ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, this is equally gripping and dramatic historical fiction set in Romania, with the majority of the story taking place at the school of forensic medicine that is housed in the castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler.

The book blends history, folklore, horror and forensic mystery genres in a uniquely twisting tale in which Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell once again seek to solve a series of mysterious deaths. The action is well paced, heightened by plenty of suspense and intrigue. There are plenty of mysterious characters and viable suspects, and the story is so well constructed that the truth almost imperceptible until it is revealed.

The narration by Nicola Barber is excellent, and gives a great deal of listening pleasure.

A highly engaging and absorbing story.

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

Reviewed: 08-05-2019

Anyone who has read a book or two by CH Clepitt will understand that it is perfectly reasonable to expect that everything she writes is a ripping good yarn. ‘The Book Of Abisan’, in which contemporary fiction blends seamlessly with magical fantasy, is the kind of book that only reinforces that sort of assumption. It’s brilliant.

The storytelling is well paced and infused with moments of humour that balance the action and intrigue of the plot. The storyline is original and interesting, and the suspense and tension are palpable as the mysteries and quests of the story emerge and interweave.

The various settings contrast well with one another and serve to highlight the sense of strangeness the characters experience when they find themselves in a juxtaposed world. This also keeps the reader fully engaged in the story because there is nothing predictable about where the story might take them next... which is, of course, half the fun.

The characters are varied and complex, each with personal motivations that drive their actions and decision making. There are some really wonderful characters who keep the reader invested in their personal stories as well as the tale overall, and others who are designed to be hateful and play that part very well.

The Audible narration is quite enjoyable, with good vocal control and variations in tone and voice that help to develop both plot and characterisation. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and her diction clear, so she is quite easy and enjoyable to listen to.


Bound by a Dragon cover art

A captivating tale!

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

Reviewed: 19-03-2019

I love a great story as much as anyone, but I also really enjoy it when a story makes me thing about important ideas that relate to life beyond the book, too.

‘Bound By a Dragon’ is a powerful story that tells of the dangers of prejudice and wilful ignorance, and of the difference that is made by accepting someone for what they are. This book demonstrates that prejudices are learned behaviours, incredibly hard to break once formed and bringing about significant consequences not just for the individual who holds them, but also for those on the receiving end.

In fact, it is fair to say that as the story progresses, the central character Keira is challenged to rethink many of her assumptions about people and the rules her society holds to so strongly. It is hard to learn to trust one’s instincts over what one has always been taught, and even more difficult to change others’ perceptions and understandings of the way things are in life.
Through Keira’s challenges and discoveries, the reader is led to thinking about the assumptions we make and the misunderstandings we carry, and how they impact on our own lives and relationships.

Through Aaron’s experiences the reader is given lessons about individuality and self-acceptance, but also about accepting the things that happen in life and dealing with them in healthy ways.

These important themes and ideas are intricately woven together to create a book that is complex and thought-provoking at the same time as immersing the reader ina distant fantasy land and being wonderfully entertaining.

The plot and premise of this book are interesting and quite original, building intrigue and suspense with some well-constructed complications and twists to keep the reader engaged in the story.

The audiobook narration is expressive and fluent, and I really enjoyed the change of accent. I found it easy to understand every word, and appreciated the easy pace and rhythm of the narrative.

A very enjoyable mystery.

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

Reviewed: 22-02-2019

‘The Green Pearl Caper’ is a very enjoyable detective noir style whodunnit story that keeps the audience guessing right to the end.
The narration by Tom Lennon really suits the style of the story, very reminiscent of the black and white private eye movies that used to play on Saturday afternoon TV.

The story is well constructed, developing at a good pace while keeping the reader guessing until the end. There are plenty of characters, both major and minor, who could be suspects, and the first person perspective of Damien Dickens invites the audience to develop theories and speculate on the evidence as more than an onlooker.

This was a really engaging audiobook, and I am glad to know there are more in the series.

An excellent audiobook experience.

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

Reviewed: 15-02-2019

Children are disappearing and being found dead in alleys. Jake and Darius are the detectives whose job it is to find out who is responsible.
The trail is not without complications, and the investigation gets personal for both officers before they can solve the case.

‘Chalk Outline’ is a compelling and suspenseful story, narrated very effectively by Todd Waites in a style that at times sounds as much like a reporter as it does a storyteller, which adds to the sense of urgency and gives an air of reality to the narration. The narrator also makes very good use of voice and tone to denote the various characters,

The story rises to a dramatic climax that keeps the reader’s heart well and truly in their throat as they listen, unable to do anything to change the outcome and having to look on as the action unfolds.
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