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1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-30-18

Good Grief

I can't force myself to finish listening to this sad, repetitive and endlessly tedious book. The characters are thinly developed and the story just seems to keep covering the same ground and making the same point--over and over again. I usually love books that involve storylines centered on character wholeness and healing through community. However, in the end I think the writing lacked the sparks (or maybe sparkle) needed to help the reader make a true connection to the characters as people.

I also had trouble with the narration. A Lido is an outdoor swimming area--whether it be a beach, a swimming pool or the deck on a cruise boat with pools. The word comes from the Italian and MOST all of the world pronounces it in the Italian manner......LEE-Doh....NOT the way Corbett chose to pronounce this key word. It absolutely was like fingernails on a blackboard. Golly. What an irritating bore this turned out to be.

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7 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-16-18

Richly Evocative Storytelling

This book was a time and space bending jaunt through Canada and introduced the reader to a wonderful collection of completely engaging characters. I thought Slade's narration was terrific. He captured so many different voices and textures in the writing that it really helped propel the story forward.

I agree with other reviewers that there was a strong feeling of the magical woven into the book. It reminded me in some ways of The House of the Spirits in the way it added the "out of body" tone to the writing. Definitely this was at times strange and even occasionally confusing but in the end a powerful story of love, connection, community and family.

I was simply stunned by the ending and I am still pondering the multiple messages in the writing. I plan on waiting a bit and then listening to the whole thing a second time. Original and fascinating.

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10 of 12 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-15-18

Creepy Thriller With Depth

This mystery accomplishes something many thrillers are unable to do by adding a sense of reality to the storytelling and a genuine expression of feeling for the victims of crime. What's more, the story places the listener in the scary position of suspecting almost everyone at different points in the book. There are so many back stories, twists and dark secrets that the ending sneaks up and really surprises. Unlike other reviews I've read elsewhere, I liked hearing all the personal details of life--managing a farm, complex families, raising teens and the daily running of a flower shop. I thought all this information made the book and the story much more firmly grounded in a strong sense of plausibility. In the end, this was a scary, sad and believable story. A powerful combo if you enjoy thrillers that immerse the reader deeply into the lives of the characters and story as it plays out. However, do be warned--it's creepy.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-06-18

A Happy Romp Through The Blitz

I absolutely hated every aspect of this inane representation of life in London during WWII. The narration was so false and forced I was sure it was an American doing a phony over the top British accent. After some research I found that Popplewell was indeed an English actress and had played the role of Susan in The Chronicles of Narnia. Go figure. Not sure what happened here but the narration, in my opinion, was overblown.

Further research produced quotes such as the one used in the title of this review. This picture of WWII London as "delightful" and "charming", to me, felt fake and stylized. It just rang completely untrue. My beloved great-aunt, survivor of the London Blitz, is without question rolling in her grave. Hogwash.

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11 of 15 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-05-18

Series Bogs Down

On the up side the narrator has really improved from the choppy robotic quality of the earlier books. Dawe is even able to do different voices for the characters now. This make it much better for listening.

On the other hand I think I'm giving up on this series. It has become too plodding and on the edge of tedious for me. I hated all the graphic child abuse depicted in the flashback chapters. Then if you add in the odd and abrupt cliffhanger ending the whole thing just lost me.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-02-18

A Timely Look At Immigration

It makes me balk that by giving this book five stars it means that "I love it". In reality, this is a stark look at the underbelly of London 2002-2008 and presents what seemed to me to be the "what's in it for me" way of living. Craig, is fast becoming a disturbing, albeit compelling favorite author for me. She stirs me up and has me fuming with her throw you under the trolley style of writing. Insightful, gritty and at the same time beautifully composed.

In this book five lives are woven together, using a hodgepodge style with frequent holes; many open loops and lots of loose ends. Nothing here is neat and tidy, but the story is drawn directly from today's reality. It forces the reader to look at the current immigration trouble from multiple angles and perspectives. Rather than the hearts and minds approach, Craig presents the use or be used reality, and it is disturbing. The book embraces so many wounded, needy souls--but--oddly enough left me not feeling sorry for anyone. Instead, I felt that the writing presented how we each need to meet "the other" or "the stranger" in immigration as a human equal and then to work together from there.

Thomas' narration was excellent and done seamlessly what with all the transitions between accents and characters. It added to the experience by not overwhelming the characters, but at the same time bringing them each to life.

There was a quote in the book where a character derides America for being idiotic in that we believe that we have the "right" to be happy. The American character points out that we Americans don't believe we have the right to be happy but the right to pursue happiness. I would like to believe that all humans all over the world have that same right, in addition to the chance to live in safety and peace. I think we have a way to go on that front. That said, I guess in the end I did love the book.

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10 of 11 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-25-18

Extreme Violence

This book was absolutely not for me. It was to my mind one of the most callously violent books I have ever read. I have about three horrible hours to go and I can't bring myself to finish listening. The whole story is riddled with profanity, torture, obscenity and gratuitous over the top violence. Be aware, this title should come with a listener warning.

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9 of 12 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-21-18

Swedish Mystery Series Continues

I am really enjoying this mystery series from Sweden set in Stockholm and the Sandhamn Island sailing community. The character development, the wonderfully descriptive background setting and the believable interactions between the characters are all excellent, and make the books very engaging. My only trouble rests in the lackluster or really, more specifically, the choppy odd narration. That said, I think the stories as a whole have a lot to offer and this overrides the narration issues. I am determined to push forward and continue with the series. I love the glimpse into Swedish life and thought the books present.

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11 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-20-18

The Mysteries Of Life And Love

Runcie has taken this series in a somewhat different direction with this final book number six in the collection. I know that the author is writing a prequel that is due to be published in 2019 that goes back in time and explores Sidney's experience in WWII. I do however hope we also get a follow up book that picks up where we are left hanging in 1976 at the end of this title. Be aware that the mystery stories in this book focus for the most part on Sidney's own life and personal interior experience of the world, love and faith. I enjoyed the book and read/listened almost nonstop. I just personally hate being left wondering how it all works out. I guess, in the end that's just how life is--full of uncertainty and the not knowing.

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10 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-19-18

England 1960

I love this series of mysteries as they progress through the life and times of Sidney Chambers a Church of England priest and his family, friends and community. Insightful, humane and honest about difficult issues. I've gotten accustomed to the narration by Peter Wickham after a rough start and now find it just fine. Excellent storytelling.

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9 of 12 people found this review helpful