FRECKLES by Cecelia Ahern 🎧

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.

But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.

Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.


Title : Freckles
Author : Cecelia Ahern
Narrator : Amy McAllister
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 40 minutes
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Harper Collins Audio
Release Date : September 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

Headlines:
Quirky
Small town
Eclectic cast

I’m always up for reading a book by Cecelia Ahern, she always brings the unexpected with her women’s fiction and contemporary tales. This one however, didn’t hit the spot for me although the format of audio was pretty great and kept me going.

The protagonist, Allegra (Freckles) was an incredibly quirky character with some neurodivergent characteristics (it seemed). She was endearing in lots of ways and as a character I was drawn in. Add in Tristan, Pops, Spanner and others, there were lots of pluses. There were also a bunch of characters I couldn’t stand like Becky and Carmencita, the latter being horrendous and she was supposed to be. I felt rather mixed about the characters by the end.

I struggled with the plot most of the way through. At first, I felt engaged with this small town, her life as a traffic warden and the strict routine of the day, but it lost its shine with repetitiveness. By half way, the pace was slow and I’d lost interest. I didn’t feel much by the culmination.

The narration was excellent and it truly kept me going throughout the book. So this was the right format for me. Sadly, overall Freckles didn’t work its way into my heart and I do feel a little disappointed.

Thank you to Harper Collins for the review copies.

Thank you to netgalley and Harper Collins Audio for the early review copy.

THE WOMEN OF TROY by Pat Barker 🎧

Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths.

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Largely unnoticed by her squabbling captors, Briseis remains in the Greek encampment. She forges alliances where she can – with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, with Calchus, the disgraced priest – and begins to see the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…


Title : The Women of Troy
Author : Pat Barker
Narrator : Kristin Atherton
Format : Audiobook
Length : 12 hours, 18 minutes
Genre : Greek Mythological Retelling
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : August 26, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Intensely detailed retelling
The rise of women
Tragedy and heartbreak

The Women of Troy picked up the story immediately after the end of The Silence of the Girls. It amazed me that a successful outcome of the war didn’t really change dynamics in the camp. The men still treated the women terribly, used and abused them with zero respect. The men across the ranks were petty and egotistical, none more than those who were senior. Again, with this installment, I found there was hardly a man to cheer for. Expect to feel emotions of anger at the misogyny and abuse.

I enjoyed hearing the story from Briseis’ perspective; she really was a character to admire. She was all about survival but she maintained a degree of integrity and compassion for her female companions and occasionally for some men. When the story flipped on occasion to one of the male’s perspectives, I was less invested but Briseis carried the majority of the story.

The narration was superb and the emotional temperature of the camp was translated well.

This story definitely is on the heavier end of spectrum for Greek mythology/ancient history fiction. The detail was both welcome but also at times slow in pacing. I did prefer the first installment of this series but I’m also glad I saw this story through to it’s completion. It ends in a place of possiblity of more but I’m not sure if this is the plan.

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin Audio for the early review copy.

THE STAND-IN by Lily Chu 🎧

How to upend your life:
-Get fired by gross, handsy boss
-Fail to do laundry (again)
-Be mistaken for famous Chinese actress
-Fall head-first into glitzy new world

Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly “friendly” boss, and yes, she still hasn’t gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she’s healthy, she’s (somewhat) happy, and she’s (mostly) holding it all together.

But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema’s golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie’s world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: Due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive – and infuriating – man Gracie’s ever met.

If it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie’s in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined – especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs her help. In the end, all the lists in the world won’t be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself…and her heart. 


Title : The Stand-In
Author : Lily Chu
Narrators : Phillipa Soo
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 55 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible Original
Release Date : July 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Sweet and engaging
Funny moments
Fake relationship

The Stand-In brought such a fresh and sweet romance orientated around a fake relationship but it wasn’t as straight forward as that sounds. The three people involved (Gracie, Sam and Fangli) really grew into three characters I felt totally invested in, especially Gracie. This grudging period these three navigated together was mostly light but it did bring some deeper themes of mental illness and physical illness.

Sam really grew on me from the arrogant, judgemental guy to the one willing to listen and be supportive. I loved seeing Gracie challenge his prejudicial views on her mixed cultural heritage. The whole stand-in storyline was fun and delightful.

This audio came with an almighty twist that I didn’t see coming. Major writing props for that! It truly finished this story in place where it felt like more than the average contemporary romance.

The narration was single POV and the narration captured all the characters and dialogue well. It brought the story perfectly to life.

Thank you to Audible for the early listening copy.

FALLING by T.J. Newman 🎧

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.


Title : Falling
Author : T.J. Newman
Narrators : Steven Weber
Format : Audiobook
Length : 8 hours, 26 minutes
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date : July 6, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Fast-paced
Two tandem/linked stories
Won’t put you off flying

I’m giving this book 4 stars as much for the sweeping audio experience and the storyline in general. I think audio was the right format for this thriller for me, it felt like watching a really great disaster movie.

The story was fast-paced following a hostage situation and a plane situation. All focus was on Bill the pilot and Jo the head steward. These two characters really made the story but in addition, so did the whole air steward crew.

The baddies of the piece weren’t always obvious and I enjoyed the twists we got along the way. The backdrop for why all this happened was an interesting piece of contemporary political history that feels less explored in thrillers.

This was a ride and I sure enjoyed, punching through this in a few days, wishing myself back to the audiobook.

Thank you to LibroFM & Simon and Schuster Audio for the review copy.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781797128221-falling

THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris 🎧

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling. 

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: Leave Wagner. Now.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career. 

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.


Title : The Other Black Girl
Author : Zakiya Dalila Harris
Narrators : Aja Naomi King, Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Bahni Turpin, Heather Alicia Sims
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hours, 33 minutes
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Office politics
Undertones and rumblings
Allies or enemies

The Other Black Girl was an incredibly unusual thriller in terms of plot. It was an office-based story about the relationhip and power dynamics between the bosses and those wanting to move up the ranks, twinned with the inequality of people of colour in the workplace. All that led to a blend of competition, underhandedness and suspicion.

I’d seen this book heralded as a ‘Devil Wears Prada’ thriller but there was little I could equate to that story. There was zero humour or levity, but a lot of looking over the MC’s shoulder. It was hard to see who was friend or foe.

This was a fast-paced read with mulitple POVs and to be honest, I wanted to stay with Nella’s perspective most of the time. I got lost at points when the story moved back to a drama in office from some time ago with an black editor and author.

I didn’t like where the story ended up and that factor definitely brought the rating down for me. However, the journey through the story was tense and entertaining, so I would be eager to read Zakiya Dalila Harris again.

The narration of the audio was strong. Nella’s POV was pitched well, with that kind of suspicious tension that set the tone. There were other POVs that again were a little confusing at times but well narrated.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the audio and physical copies.

THE MAIDENS by Alex Michaelides 🎧

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.


Title : The Maidens
Author : Alex Michaelides
Narrators : Louise Brealey, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : June 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Creepy men galore
Power imbalance
Great plot with some fading

I felt really excited about this one, the Grecian historical connection, university, students and with a murder at the centre; this audio did deliver on those aspects. The setting conjured that academia feel but with an encroaching darkness of these ongoing murders.

Mariana as a MC had my empathy to some extent for her recent past but I wouldn’t describe her as brilliant (as per the blurb), in fact I found her to be completely stupid making accusations left, right and centre while running headlong into obvious danger. After a while, she annoyed me.

The Maidens had a complex plot at the heart and I really liked the depth and intracacies. It really kept me guessing, that is, until it didn’t as it faded towards the end. I felt somewhat disappointed in the final culmination. I’m not sure what the point of Fred was in the plot.

I was interested in how Sebastian could be such an important character and creepy from the grave, I thought there was some clever writing there.

The narration was dual POV which was 95% Mariana and 5% someone else. The narration was strong throughout.

Thank you to LibroFM and Macmillan Audio for the audio review copy.

BLOG TOUR – THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND by Ayesha Malik

Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?

For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.

On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.

Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.

Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.


Title : This Green and Pleasant Land
Author : Ayisha Malik
Format : eARC/ALC
Page Count : 464
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre
Release Date : October 1, 2020 (paperback)

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a poignant, real and sometimes witty story about legacy, identity, community separation and togetherness. THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND centred on community and family. This was an own voices exploration of muslim main characters navigating an often stuffy English village life. It was enjoyable and kept my attention most of the time.

Bilal and his family were navigating a recent bereavement, deathbed promises and guilt built on top of that legacy. Bilal decided that this promise to build a mosque in his little patch of England would be followed through and the journey to seeing this to fruition was the meat of this story. The characters around Bilal, his family, his community connections were witty and rich, full of prejudice and yet sometimes supportive. These characters were an eclectic mix and some were just plain eccentric.

What engaged me most was the laughs it brought to me as I identified with the struggles that Bilal had with the people around him and just how hard this goal would be to achieve. The descriptions and dialogue were rich and vibrant. The story gentle wove the familial and community philosophies, prejudices and politics into everyday life; just as it really is. An enjoyable read.

I had a eARC and audio review copy and so I did a combination read of both. The narration was good throughout and captured the nuances of the characters and dialogue, so I would recommend both formats.

Thank you to Compulsive Readers Tours and Zaffre for the early review copies.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS by Cara Black 🎧

In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

The New York Times bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc investigations reimagines history in her masterful, pulse-pounding spy thriller, Three Hours in Paris.

Kate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Führer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of the war, a country girl from rural Oregon finds herself holding the fate of the world in her hands. When Kate misses her mark and the plan unravels, Kate is on the run for her life—all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up.

Cara Black, doyenne of the Parisian crime novel, is at her best as she brings Occupation-era France to vivid life in this gripping story about one young woman with the temerity—and drive—to take on Hitler himself.


Title : Three Hours in Paris
Author : Cara Black
Narrator : Elizabeth Rodgers
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 21 minutes
Genre : Historical Thriller
Publisher : Recorded Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

This was a strong character-driven historical read set in WW2 France and Britain. Told from the POV of Kate, an American living on the Orkneys where she lived with her late husband, this was a tense and fast-paced suspense. Kate was recruited because of her marksmanship with a rifle and found herself on a high profile job.

What entailed was a story all about her survival in Paris during German occupation. She ricocheted from one situation to and her, not knowing who to trust. Kate was a woman in the full depths of grief over a significant loss and yet she was navigating this high stress situation. The story gave me Charlotte Gray vibes. It was a gripping listen and totally enjoyable.

The narration by Elisabeth Rodgers encapsulated Kate, her journey and her desperate circumstances so well. She transported me to the era and the story completed.

Thank you to LibroFM and Recorded Books for this ALC.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started