The Hat Shop on the Corner by Marita Conlon-McKenna #AudioReview #20booksofsummer (4/20)

I am delighted to welcome you all to my review for the Audio version of The Hat Shop on the Corner by Marita Conlon-McKenna.

Let’s see what it is all about…

A gloriously warm-hearted novel about wonderful hats, the people who buy them – and their remarkable stories.

Hats! Hats! Hats! Upbrims, sidesweeps, silks, ribbons and trims all become part of Ellie’s life when she inherits the little hat shop on Dublin’s South Anne Street. But the city is changing, and Ellie must decide if she wants to follow the hat-making tradition of her mother or accept a generous offer to sell the shop.

Encouraged by her friends, Ellie takes on the hat shop, and her quirky designs and tempting millinery confections soon attract a rich assortment of customers all in search of the perfect hat.

Creating hats for weddings, shows, fashion and fun, and falling for the charms of Rory Doyle along the way, Ellie is happier than she has ever been before. But as her fingers work their magic she discovers a lot can happen in the heart of a city like Dublin….

Ellie inherits a hat shop on the corner of South Anne Street in Dublin. After some thought, she decides that she will take on the running of the shop and continue in her mothers’ footsteps. Using her own experience and knowledge to create millinery masterpieces fit for any occasion.

This is a lovely story to listen to and the narrator Caroline Lennon has the perfect tone to her voice to make the story come alive.

This is obviously a story about hats, the making of them, the different materials used and all manner of other things. The author has the balance of the millinery world just right. Giving enough information to keep my interest without overburdening me. It compliments the story of Ellie and her customers. There are also other different things going on this this story. The street where the hat shop is situated is underthreat, not just Ellie’s shop, but also other retailers, from a large development.

I am going to go back to the hats again, well the customers actually. Each customer that comes into the shop wants a bespoke hat. This involves Ellie finding out what the occasion is and then also a little bit about each customer. This means I got to know more characters and their own stories, some are sad, some happy, some nervous, some shy but all want a hat. I got to know their likes, dislike and preferences. Whether they were willing to take a chance on something they wouldn’t normally pick or knew exactly what they wanted.

This was such a lovely story to sit and listen to. It’s one I would recommend to those that like a gentle, heartwarming story about people in their everyday lives. It has also left me wanting to now go and read the book as well.


This is book 4 out of 20 in my #20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous : xx

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir @SussexMysteries #Audible #AudioReview

I am delighted to be sharing my review for the Audiobook version of The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir. I was the lucky recipient of this from Isabell after she ran a Giveaway as part of her Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources.

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

A young woman named Zara goes missing, one year to the day that her boyfriend, Joel, was killed in a hit-and-run. Is Zara in danger? Is she still alive? What really happened to Joel, and who is to blame?

In the quiet seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, the police appear to be doing little to find Zara. Her friend Janie decides to make it her mission to track her down. It’s the “swinging sixties”, and Janie fears that Zara may be mixed up with drugs, alcohol, or worse. As Janie explores the strange circumstances of Zara’s disappearance, she starts to question the truth about Joel’s death.

Janie runs the mobile library and has a passion for crime fiction, especially Agatha Christie. Can Poirot help Janie solve the mystery of Zara’s disappearance? 

As she looks for clues she comes across some unsavory characters who each have a reason for wanting Joel dead. Can Janie untangle the web of lies and find out the truth?

Local librarian and mystery reader Janie Juke felt like just the right person to look into the death of Joel and the disappearance of Zara. Her love of Agatha Christie and Poirot gave her the push to use her ‘little grey cells’ and do some sleuthing of her own!

The narrator, Penny Scott-Andrews had just the right tone for me. I was easily able to imagine a young woman who was very excited to be searching for clues.

The story itself is set in the 1960s and I felt that able to remain in the time as the book progressed. It had mentions of music and bands as well as news items of the day.

While it is not what I would call fast paced I found the story to be quite addictive to listen to. It is a cosy mystery and also has Janie’s family involved. They voice their concerns as she investigates and they are also her sounding blocks.

This is the first in the Sussex Murder series and I am very interested in reading/listening to more. A good cosy murder/mystery with references to Poirot and Christie that kept me entertained.

It is an audiobook that I would Recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve #Audible #AudioReview

I am delighted to be sharing the Audible Version of Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve and Narrated by Barnaby Edwards.

Welcome to the astounding world of Predator Cities!

Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon, London will feed.

In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage – and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

“Predator Cities”… yeah, you read that right… cities that devour other cities! Not only do they devour cities they also float!

This obviously falls into the fantasy genre and is also a YA themed book and is the first in the series. I have seen this advertised as a film and while I am waiting to watch it I thought this might be as good a time as any to listen to the book.

Tom is the main character and he is a little naive to some of the more darker dealings and politics of the cities and its power-hungry leaders. Corruption is rife and puts Tom in danger. Along the way, Tom meets Hester. She is an intriguing character, nervy, watchful and, alert at all times.

The battles between the elite and the powerful as they strive to be bigger and better than others and have their cities to be bigger and better also. There is definitely one megalomaniac that stands out from the rest, he is evil and yeah slightly mad with his vision for the future. In with that, there is the struggle that the common people have, the comparisons intrigued me as I listened.

I really enjoyed some of the word-building and the play on words, as I listened I understood why this would be made into a film.

Barnaby Edwards does a great job with the narration and had a tone in his voice that didn’t jar or jangle. He had a good range to the voices and I found it easy to follow.

I enjoyed listening to this a lot and it has actually left me wanting to read the book as well! So now I am looking forward to the book and the film!

It is an Audiobook that I would recommend.

Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds : The Musical Drama #Audible #review

I am delighted to be sharing my review of Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds. This is a new release and Audible Original Drama version released in 2018.

I did wonder how I would get on with this as I am such a huge fan of the Richard Burton version…

An Audible Original Drama

One of the world’s most recognisable sci-fi stories, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds established numerous conventions for the genre, including the threat of an invasive extraterrestrial species, space travel and intergalactic conflict, inspiring directors, gamers, producers and writers alike with its sobering story of struggle and survival. 

Marrying the suspense, drama and urgency of Wells’ original novel with Jeff Wayne’s rousing and flamboyant score, Audible’s new and exclusive dramatisation uses action, narration, original music and evocative sound design to immerse listeners in a world that’s as thrilling as it is desolate. 

Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Musical Drama stars Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Adrian Edmondson, Theo James and Anna-Marie Wayne. 

Also featuring: Rachel Atkins, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Josh Bond, Nicholas Boulton, Philip Bulcock, Jessica Dennis, Stephen Fletcher, Pete Gold, David Holt, Roger May, Harry Myers, Richard Reed, Mark Straker, Ben Whitehead and Sarah Whitehouse. 

I am not going to go into the ins and outs of the story, it is based on HG Wells and has been adapted into various films and shows.

I heard this for the first time while at primary school. One of the teachers brought in the vinyl record in and I absolutely fell in love with it. That would have been The Musical Version and I would have been 10 ish years old at the time. Since then I have listened and seen different versions of this and I have to be honest nothing has come close to the sound of Richard Burton’s voice. It just has just the right tone to it. So why I hear you ask would I listen to yet another version? Well, why not!

The memorable and chilling music is something that is so well known and adds an ominous and chilling atmosphere. The music is something that I have always loved. This version does not have the songs as it is the drama and not the musical version. There is a new feel to the music score and while a lot of the original content is there I discovered changes. It has a more modern feel while still holding the original style.

So to the narrator, I loved Richard Burton narrating the musical version and for me when I listened to it as a child, his voice seemed to fill the room. Michael Sheen has a different tone to his voice and adds something different. He seems to have more variation to his voice that was I admit a very nice change from the more monotone Burton.

I have to say that I am always going to be a fan of the first recording I heard. It filled me with awe, fear and also excitement. It opened up a world of mystery and my imagination loved it. This Drama version does do a brilliant job, it has the drama, excitement and atmosphere. While for me it will never be as good as the one I first heard, it comes in at a magnificent second. I will say that the voices and the music really did work well for this slightly more modern feeling of this re-working.

I would love to see a live show of this and it has been on my bucket list for a long time.

This is one I will listen to more than once and I would Highly Recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

Becoming by Michelle Obama #Audiobook #Review

I am delighted to share my review for the Audiobook version of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I have had my eye on this for a while and as I had a credit left on Audible I decided that this was a book I would like to listen to, rather than read.

So let’s have a look and see what it’s all about…

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Listening Length: 19 hrs 3 min

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Well as you can see from the synopsis this book has a running time of 19hours and I will tell you something, it didn’t feel like that long. Her voice is one of those really pleasant ones, it makes it easy to listen to her and it’s full of emotion.

I had Michelle accompany me on a 7hour drive to my parents house and back again, she was with me as I was weeding the garden and when she had finished telling me her story I genuinly missed her voice.

Becoming is the story of Michelle Obama, she relates her childhood growing up in Chicago, through college and university and to becoming one of the most famous women in our time.

As I listened to Michelle I was surprised to hear that she is not the confident person I thought she was. She shared her worries, fears, nerves, doubts and concerns. She comes across as so strong and yet she is like the rest of us exactly like the rest of us.

I adored listening to the anecdotes and stories from her childhood and these carry on into adulthood. She is super proud of her roots and shares some wonderful memories. I smiled and laughed at many and also had a lump in my throat at others. In fact at one point I had to pause the book because I was driving and I could feel tears welling up, not a good thing when you are on the motorway.

Michelle comes across as such a warm and genuine person. This is evident from the stories and the causes she supports and also from the the sound of her voice. I could here anger and frustration as well as humour, sorrow, and amusement. It felt that she was talking directly to me rather than at me.

I adored the fact that she was very open and honest as she told me about her life. It was refreshing to see the more vulnerable side as well. To be able to see her not as a First Lady, but as a daughter, wife, mum or work collegue.

An absolutely fabulous book to listen to and the most brilliant choice of audiobook to spend my spare credit on!

I absolutely recommend Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fab 🙂 xx

#AudioBook : Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken #Review

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I have a first for me today on my blog, an audio book! “Six Stories” by Matt Wesolowski published by Audible Studios, this is also available in paperback and eBook format by Orenda Books. Take your pick of format and BUY HERE

Synopsis:

It’s 1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

It’s 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult Internet figure.

Featuring a full cast narration using 17 different voices!

My Thoughts:

I have never really properly sat down to listen to an audio book before, they have been background noise like a radio would be, so when I spotted Amazon running a free trial I decided it was about time I gave them a go.  Where to start and what to pick was a problem, you have 1 free purchase of any book and there are millions, literally millions to chose from.  So my choice was based on just browsing until something cropped up.  This is when I saw “Six Stories” I have this one on my wish list, it is there because of the  book reviews I had seen from fellow Bloggers and also on the Blog Tour for Orenda Books organised by Anne Cater.  It seemed like a good choice as I had not read it, wanted read it but finding the time to fit it in was a problem.  I agree not the most scientific choice, but it worked for me.  What I had not realised, or more like had forgotten about was that this book was set out as a podcast and it soon became apparent, either by pure luck or fate this book was already a good choice given its written style.  I listened to this as I was digging my garden, you may think this odd, but NO DISTRACTIONS! so it worked for me 🙂

So enough waffling, onto my thoughts.  This is story is set out as a series of podcasts by  6 different people as they recount their version of events from 1995/6 when a Tom Jeffries body is found. The podcast is produced 10 years later and is the work of Scott King and he has interviewed those who knew Tom.

OH WOW!!!! What a story, twists, darkness, atmospheric details, suspense, drama it has the lot and a hell of a lot more.  As I listened to this story there were times when I forgot I was listening to a book or a work of fiction.  You get a real sense of the characters and also the environment of Scarclaw Fell. The characters conveyed many emotions as they told their tale, some with hesitation and nerves, a sign of embarrassment or guilt maybe.  The interviewees have a reluctance about them that adds to the air of mystery, also adds to the feeling of them having more involvement than they want to admit.  I really liked the way Matt used Scott’s character by adding little asides about the little nuances he picks up from the characters as they tell their tales.  He relates a reluctance a hesitation or little visual quirks he notices in the characters, whether they are coincidental to the story they tell or just something he notices.  Again another great way to build up suspicion and suspense.

The description of the Fell were very well described, an area containing geological, historical and industrial descriptions.  A place of danger from abandoned mine shafts and marshes, with the inevitable folklore tales of a mysterious, legendary character that will trap the unwary.  There is a presence of bullying in this story, it is not nice listening to someone tell of how it had affected them it is an essential element that has been very well portrayed and Matt has not held back on this issue but has also not over dramatised it.

So as a bit of a summary, this is a real gritty, atmospheric and superb listen.  I think this is one I will definitely read as a book even though I have listened to the audio.  I did get a real sense of suspense, drama and there is a little bit of a horror element to it.  It has a feel of something very different, new and exciting about it.  On the audio side of it, the voices of the characters were good, I did find a couple of voices that I was not that keen on but it didn’t take away any of the enjoyment.  It helped that with remembering the characters, but not as much as I would remember them in a book.  I think this is a skill that can be developed over time.

This is a story I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND who want a something that is full of mystery, tales, folklore, that is atmospheric, gritty and dark.  It will keep you on the edge of your seat as the tale is told, and what a tale it was.  I absolutely loved this one.

 

About the Author:

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and US anthologies.

Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015, his subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2017

Follow Matt on Twitter 

About the Audio Book:

  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 15 Mar. 2017
  • Language: English

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