c May 2020 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

May Reads Part 2 of 3 - Audio Books

Audio Best Book Reviews 2020

This blog post is Part 2 of my May 2020 Book Reviews you can read part 1 here.  There were only two audio books completed this month, the third book I am still listening to, and it may be a while before I finish it. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel is a mammoth 38 hours long and I'm not even half way through. 

Audio Book Reviews Crime Thriller Corben

Missing You by Harlan Coben
It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.
My Review
Having watched the Netflix series The stranger by Harlan Coben in April and thoroughly enjoying it, I was drawn towards Missing You when the audio book appeared as available to loan to on my library app. Set in New York, with a strong female police officer leading the story, there is the Italian mob from years gone by, and kidnappers to worry about. I found the story a little drawn out and think it would of benefited from being shorter.

It didn't quite meet my expectations, but it was a reasonable detective thriller. Plenty of twists along the way and some unusual characters, there were people that didn't appear to be who you thought they were. I'm I going to pick it up another one of Harlan Coben books, probably yes. A quick word about the narrator of the book, I didn't like some of the ways he flipped his voice and his accent doing nothing to capture the characters, they just didn't seem that genuine. Maybe I would of enjoyed the book more with a different narrator.
3 stars out of 5

You can purchase this book as audio, kindle or paperback from AmazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Audio book review greek myths

Mythos and other Greek myths by by Stephen Fry
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You'll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia's revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

My Review
This popped up in the available audio books to lend on my library app. I was tempted because it was a Stephen Fry book, of which I have not read any, and mostly because he was narrating it. 

It is a big book, 15 hours long. I don't think I'd realised just how much I would enjoy this book, learning about the Greek gods people the tales behind them including the mortals in the stories.  It was just so fascinating at times. Then there's the link from the stories and characters of the gods to modern day use of English language and tales. 

So whilst this book was long it totally benefited from being narrated by Stephen Fry, who has a way of capturing a listener and almost hypnotising them. Even if he narrated a car manual the reader couldn't help but be drawn by his magic in telling the words. 

This book will have certainly have me seeking out the next book in the series Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures, think Jason searching out his Golden Fleece, and the third book Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold is due for publication later in 2020.

4 out of 5 Stars

This book can be purchased from amazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

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Audio Book reviews greek myths

Look out for my review of Hilary Mantels The Mirror and the Light audio soon, that is if I ever make it to the end. You can find out more about the library app mentioned in my audio book reviews here in my blog post Library Audio Books using the Libby App.

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You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

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May Book Reviews & New Book Releases Part 1 of 3

As I type this it's day 72 of staying home and social shielding from the Corvid-19 virus, that's right not even a stroll out past my garden boundary. Reading has become a huge and happy distraction for me which also means more book reviews for you. I've read/listened to 11 and a bit books in May, I will split the reviews of these books over 3 blog articles this being the first.

Book Reviews Coming up...
  • The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina
  • The Missing by C.L. Taylor
  • Charlotte by Helen Moffett
  • Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay
Agatha Christie Read this Month
  • They Do It With Mirrors
Audio Books 
  • The Hero: The Enduring Myth That Makes Us Human
  • Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry
  • Missing You by Harlen Coben 
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
There are never any spoilers in my book reviews so read ahead with confidence knowing there are no plot giveaways.

The phone box at the end of the world book review

The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina
We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.
My Review
The first half of this book deals with the after effects of the tsunami, with Yui living in a school gymnasium for the following months. It broke my heart, my sister can attest to my sobbing and rather loudly too. There are few books that have had this effect on me. I think this was because I knew the story was based on real events. I knew people in Japan at the time, I've been to Japan. As the author describes everyday life, Japanese peoples habits and mannerisms, I could envisage all these things - making everything so very real.

The second part showed me that dealing with death is a journey that everyone deals with differently. I enjoyed following Yui's journey her relationship with Takashi and the people she meets along the way, at the phone box at the edge of the world. At times I would forget that this was an imagined story, for all I could feel were the lives of the families left behind from the Tsunami. It's showed me the different ways of dealing with grief and lose, something none of us can avoid.  

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is released 25 June 2020, you and be can purchase from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book. By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog.  

4 out of 5 Stars

Thank you to Manilla Press and Bonnier Books for an advance readers copy of this book for review.

Charlotte Helen Moffett book review

Charlotte by Helen Moffett
Everybody thinks that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is twenty-seven years old, unmarried, plain, and seemingly without ambition. When she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her best friend Lizzy Bennet is angry at her for undervaluing herself. Yet the decision is the only way Charlotte knows to provide for her future, and marriage will propel her into a new world, of duty, marriage, children, grief and ultimately illicit love, and a kind of freedom.

Jane Austen cared deeply about the constraints of women in Regency England. This powerful reimagining takes up where Austen left off, showing us a woman determined to carve a place for herself in the world. Charlotte offers a fresh, feminist addition to the post-Austen canon, beautifully imagined, and brimming with passion and intelligence.
My Review
Moving onto an historical read, very possibly my favourite genre. I'm one of the many Jane Austen fans who particularly love Pride and Prejudice. So it is with excitement and nervousness I read Charlotte, I desperately want the world of Pride and Prejudice to live on but also I don't want to ruin my love for it. Don't worry this book will not disappoint.

We meet familiar characters and homes that we know well. We meet Charlotte Collin's after she has been married for many years. She has a family, is settled into the life of a cleryman's wife, eats frequently at Rosings Park. Yes we meet Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, who I admit appears quite changed. 

Both Jane Bingley and Elizabeth Darcy are in the book, including the  rather outspoken Mrs Bennett. It was a pleasure to read, I felt like I was on safe ground back in Georgian, England. A joy to see many of the characters we know but through the eyes of Charlotte,thus seeing them in a new light. Charlotte continues to be a close friend to Elizabeth, though they now live many miles apart and in very different circumstances. 

Go on, pick up the book and find yourself lost in the world of Jane Austen again thanks Helen Moffett's imagination. 

The books does stand alone, you do not need to have read Pride and Prejudice. But why would you have not? For me there was just a single point in the story line when I thought no I don't believe that Charlotte Lucas would of done such a thing. That has prevented me from giving the book 4 stars.

3.5 out of 5 stars 

Charlotte is due to be released 3 September 2020, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book. By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Thank you to Manilla Press and Bonnier Books for an advance readers copy of this book on Net Galley for my review.

Book Reviews Garden Tea Cakes and Me

The Missing by C.L. Taylor

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide… 
My Review
I read this book as a buddy read with my friend Darcy, we reviewed the book together via FaceTime another first for me! But one that has been repeated several times since. The Missing is the second C.L. Taylor novel I've read, Sleep being my first which I thoroughly enjoyed, a great psychological thriller which I score 4 stars.

The Missing is a psychological thriller opening at the 6 month anniversary since Billy went missing. We see how its affected the family, and slowly the story looks back at the relationship of each member of the family with Billy. We are drip fed clues, who had reason to drive Billy out of the house, did he run away or is he dead. Who could of killed him and why. I flipped between a number of suspects and why things could of gone so wrong for Billy.

The story is interspersed with Whatsapp conversations between 2 people. It's for the reader to identify these people, their conversations are blunt and very relevant to finding Billy. From our buddy read discussions Darcy and I had very different ideas on who these people where. 

I quite liked the character Claire the mum at first, but as you progress through the book your realise. She stifles her family, something she is unaware of, not allowing them to have freedoms to think or act for themselves. Trying always to keep the peace. There was a period of reading the book when I could not put it down. Right up to the big reveal I did not predict, who, what and why. A good read for anyone who loves a missing person thriller. 

There was a section in the book on pornography and I did feel that it wasn't necessary for the story. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book less than the book Sleep is its setting. It takes place within a family home, I realise that at the moment I am enjoying books that do not revolve around a single home setting. Maybe its the virus lockdown and being stuck at home has bought about this feeling.

3 Stars out of 5 
The Missing can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Good Reads and Pinterest

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

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