An Audible Collection of the Latest and Greatest Reads from Penguin Random House…
I didn’t realise just how much I have been loving audible, until I sat down to write reviews on the books I have been listening to lately… and there are a LOT of them. I adore audible books, I have blogged about them before, and honestly there aren’t enough hours in the day for audible books.
The Thursday Murder Club is an ALL TIME FAVOURITE
If you have not read the Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, then you have missed some fabulous reading… download the whole series from audible and get yourself onto a roadtrip, real or virtual… just get listening!!!
The Thursday Murder Club (# 1):
First book in the series and we are introduced to an unlikely group of slightly off-beat and quirky friends who are living in a retirement village in England, where everything is lovely and the world hops merrily around from one tea-time to the next. Well, except for these four friends, that meet in the puzzle room on Thursdays to research cold case murders that they have spotted in the local paper. Elizabeth, a retired spy; Joyce, a retired nurse and habitual puzzler; Ibrahim, a retired psychiatrist; and Ron, a Union Man; have between them, a very unusual set of detecting skills, let’s call them “life-skills accumulated over the years.” A murder is solved of course, but it is really a story all about the people!!!
The Man Who Died Twice (# 2):
In this book the leader of the pack, Elizabeth, really comes to the fore. Her shady past catches up to her, there is a violent mobster on the loose and $20 million pounds worth of diamonds. A new and very useful character is introduced to the gang, when Ibrahim is attacked in town, Bogdan arrives in the story to lend a hand to our elderly crew. Honestly, you need to read the first book to meet the team and it is brilliant and second one was even better.
The Bullet that Missed (# 3):
And again, better than the one before!!! In this book the gang are working on a ten year old cold case, dredging up old news stories that a lot of folk would rather they didn’t. Elizabeth has a proposal, of sorts… from an old KGB “colleague” – marry him or her best friends will die. Wow, for all the quick witted sleuthing that goes on, we can’t help wanting the book to slow down a little so that we can spend a little longer with the characters. They are everything to love and more… but no, the pace is fast and the narrator a master. Absolutely loved this and can’t wait for the fourth instalment…
The Last Devil to Die (# 4):
Due out in 2023… and I can’t wait.
Such Great Reads!!!
The People on Platform 5
This is a thoroughly feel good book and I think one of the unsung reads of 2022. This is the story of a handful of folk that catch the train to commute to and fro: same train, same time, same seat, same stations… everyday. They don’t know each other, they know nothing about the people behind the facade on the train. As seasoned commuters they don’t intend to chat ever, until one day of the main characters nearly chokes on a grape… and from that day on they slowly but surely all become firm friends. It is about first impressions not always being the correct impression. The characters in the book are delightful, they grow on you, they change and and from an attitude of never “talking to strangers” they become a tight team of friends that depend on each other, through thick and thin. Honestly, we all have our issues… and this tight night group of friends is not exempt, that is what makes this book so very readable… we need friends to get through our day to day and this book is all about that. A lovely relaxing read…full of little twists and turns and unexpected surprises. And a happy ending – it’s all thoroughly good. Grab it, read it and pass it on to a friend.
This is a great read about a difficult topic… Meredith Maggs has not left her home for 1214 days and yes, she is counting. Within the first few pages of the book we are aware that Meredith has agoraphobia. The fear of leaving her house has literally trapped her. From the get go we are hoping for a speedy recovery. This is a gentle story of the life of Meredith, who may be home alone, but she has a well established care system in place. Her groceries are delivered, her job is online, she has therapy online and even a support group online. Otherwise her best friend and young children visit, the neighbours son stops by to do help with chores, a social worker stops by and her constant companion, Felix, her cat, is always near at hand. Meredith might be home alone, but she is not lonely and doesn’t initially miss the wider world. But, as the story unwinds and we learn more and more about her life, we realise that Meredith has some deep seated problems that she needs to resolve before she can face the world again. Meredith is lovely, she is brave, she is funny, and she has been hurt… we are invested in her healing. I love that the story doesn’t rush, we feel like we are getting to know Meredith over a cup of tea. This is a lovely read, loads of issues are raised and topics that could be extremely triggering (abusive relationships, neglectful childhood) are introduced through the eyes of Meredith, gently, so that she can get to grips with them. This is a book full of hope, and several topics that could wear you down are slowly but surely conquered… I really enjoyed this one, Meredith is just the nicest character and she deserves all the help she can get.
All the Broken Places
This book is the sequel to The Boy in Striped Pyjamas… which is a tragic children’s book set in World War Two, where the Bruno, the son of a German Officer becomes friends with a boy in the local prisoner of war camp, with dire consequences. Years later we catch up with his older sister, Gretal, who has gone from being an “oh so prim and perfect older sister” in the first book to a ninety-one year old genteel lady, living her very own private and comfortable life in London. But there is something extremely uncomfortable about life for Gretal, she cannot erase the memories of her past… forgive and forget are not an option for her, she has tried to “start over” several times, but somehow the past keeps on catching up with her. From her escape from Nazi Germany at the end of the War, to Paris, to London, Australia and back to London… she is a restless character with a story untold. It is time for us to her her story, the nightmares that she endured as the older sister of “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas,” not to mention her life as the daughter of a notorious war criminal. An interesting story told from a different perspective. Gretal is very pragmatic and practical about her past… but when the past catches up to her, she is not afraid to stand up for the young boy downstairs, living under the threat of his tyrannical father. This is a great read, there are twists and turns as you read about a life, that you honestly can’t believe is just a “character in a book.” For all the flaky teenager that Gretal was, she grows into a woman of steel and when called to do the right thing more than seventy five years later… she has some very hard decisions to make. This book is a triumph, following on as it did, from such a tragic beginning. I really enjoyed reading it, though prepare yourself to cry, and I was more than a little sorry when it ended. I still want to know what happened to Gretal, how her story continues. A sequel that ended with questions… I have a feeling that John Boyne may have more up his sleeve, since he has been living with the characters from the books, in his head for several years. This is a great read, extremely giftable, especially for those that enjoyed The Boy in Striped Pyjamas as a child.
“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” they say… I certainly judged this one. I loved the cover and the book – this is easy reading historical fiction. It turns out that a little historical fiction in a year packed with psychological thrillers was a blessed relief. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt like a “summer holiday mystery read” from my childhood… I was drawn into the story and couldn’t put it down. The story is set in London in 1799, and Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery designer. Her parents were archaeologists that died under mysterious circumstances when she was very young. She was raised by her malicious uncle, Hezekiah, that is dead set on claiming her inheritance for himself, only he can’t find it. His behaviour becomes more and more bizarre as the book goes on… and herein lies the mystery – is this a curse or is there a scientific reason for his ailing health. Dora turns to a promising student of antiquity, Edward to determine her own destiny and the future of those around her. This is a lovely mingling of mystery and mythology.
Psychological “Family” Thrillers
More Than You’ll Ever Know
This book totally unsettled me… you know the ending right at the start. Our strong and feisty protagonist, Lore Rivera, is married to two men at the same time. The book opens with one of her husbands dead and the other one in prison because of it. And then… we step back in time and follow the life of Lore Rivera… how she met her first husband and had kids, how she met her second husband and her step kids. Two perfect families, two loves that were totally different and that she wasn’t able to step away from. Lore works in finance and travels between her two homes, and one assumes that eventually the one husband will find out about the other… but through various circumstances they never seem to. But they must – so you read on! The story is narrated to us by Cassie, a wannabe crime investigator/writer… who knows that if she gets to write this story it will be her all time lucky break, but also might be more than her current relationship can handle. To Cassie’s surprise, Lore is finally ready to share her story, but there is a proviso, for every part of the puzzle Lore reveals she would like Cassie to reveal part of her own dysfunctional childhood story. As Lore’s story unfolds and Cassie’s innate crime sleuthing skills come to the fore, we realise that the story we have been told of the husband’s meeting doesn’t add up… and what exactly happened on that hot summer night in the summer of 1986 has to be figured out from scratch. All is not as it seems… this is a murder mystery with a psychological twist as each character tries to out-manipulate the other. I found this book disturbing, just the idea that we could live separate and distinct lives from our own… very much a case of “How on earth did Lore find herself in this position and could this be happening more often than we think?”
The Family Upstairs
Libby Jones is twenty-five years old and after waiting her entire life to see who her real parents are, she discovers not only their names but also that she is to inherit a mansion, in Chelsea, as well. Not only that but she discovers a pretty grisly history, and instead of a welcoming family, she has relatives of varying levels of creepiness, emerging out of the woodwork. And we step back in time, to discover the story of baby Libby… who was found in a large fashionable house in London. The baby was carefully looked after and happy, the three bodies downstairs, that have been lingering there for more than a while, were really not well, decomposing in fact. Needless to say, the police have a murder mystery on their hands – What happened to the sweet family with a pigeon pair of children that lived in the house? Why did the children appear to be starving, who was looking after them? Why did the withdraw from the community and the biggest question: Who had been looking after the baby? Where was her family? The more they looked for answers, the more questions arose.
The Family Remains
And the sequel, is just as gripping… back to back psychological thrillers. The book begins with a dark, dawn discovery on the shores of the Thames, where a body has been discovered… and only with the slow and steady work of DCI Owusu, do we finally start to understand the role of each of the players and how all their stories are linked together. As the children that grew up in the Chelsea mansion, start to return to their roots, thirty years later. Trying to figure out what went wrong and how they made it out alive from the sweet family home that turned into a house of horrors, literally overnight. These books were very creepy and the audible narrator did an excellent job of bringing all the characters to life. I am going to say trigger warning: children get hurt in these books, and you should probably be aware of that as you step into them.
The Apartment Upstairs
You need to clear some time for this one, because once you start you won’t be able to put it down. This is the story of Scarlett, who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and lives in an apartment that has been specially adapted for her. Her loving aunt lived upstairs until she was brutally murdered, to the point where no expects Scarlett to continue living there. But Scarlett, being Scarlett, a “never-give-up-no-matter-what” kind of gal, returns home as soon as the police allow it and hopes that life will continue as before. It doesn’t of course. The story intertwines with the lives of two funeral professionals who have been asked to create a memorial service for Scarlett’s Aunts… there are twists and turns, there are a number of red herrings, there are loads of curious circumstances… I really enjoyed this crime novel, perfect “weekend away” kind of read.
I have done so much hiking this past year and in a moment of extreme confidence I decided to read a book on the ultimate hike… Everest. Well, this book might make you want to stay off high altitude mountains for a while. Cecily Wong is a journalist on the adventure of a lifetime, she has taken on a little more than she can manage and I totally relate to that, but if she manages she gets to interview hiker extraordinaire, Charles McVeigh, who is on track to complete several summits in world record time. Needless to say, someone dies on the slopes, un unfortunate accident and the team continues… and another hiker dies. Cecily Wong realises that there is more at stake than she realises and now her life is in danger. Gripping, in the freezing cold and terrible conditions… will they make it to the top and back again safely… that’s a big ask!!! The author creates a chilly environment, it’s not hard, considering the surroundings. Get cosy and let the hikers do the hiking, this story literally had me on the edge of my seat and gasping for air as they conquered higher and higher altitudes… thriller, very much so. Not to mention extreme survival!!!
All I can say is… beware of large family reunions and wellness retreats on remote islands off the coast of Devon. It is rumoured that the island is cursed… and several years previously, when the island was home to a boarding school, a cruel and vicious series of attacks to students from the school. The culprit was never found… Meanwhile the family and extended family arrive for their holiday, and then a murder occurs, the police are called in, and another murder… And when the weather turns, no one can escape the island. It’s Sarah Pearce, she is good, there is suspense and creepiness and a road trip “listen.”
Amazon Affiliate Links for Books Mentioned in This Post.
Some of these books were gifted to us for review purposes, by Penguin Random House South Africa. However all the audible versions of the books I bought and paid for myself. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely my own.