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Nancy J

Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover

Tornado Alley OK | Member Since 2011

516
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 110 reviews
  • 207 ratings
  • 462 titles in library
  • 108 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
16
FOLLOWERS
179

  • Taken in Death: In Death, Book 37.5

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By J. D. Robb
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    Overall
    (1251)
    Performance
    (1118)
    Story
    (1128)

    Two young children disappear from their East Side home in New York City, their nanny killed in cold blood. As Lieutenant Eve Dallas begins to unravel the crime scene and search for Henry and Gala MacDermit, she's drawn into the twisted mind of a kidnapper who will stop at nothing to take revenge. Horrific threats concerning the brother and sister hit far too close to home for Eve, drawing her back into memories of her own tortured childhood.

    Patricia says: "Was she in a hurry?"
    "Great Short Eve Dallas Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In Taken in Death, J.D. Robb has created an engrossing story that keeps you engaged and rooting for the good guys right to the end. And all the good guys are back in this story -- besides Dallas and Roark, the investigation includes Peabody, Macnab, and all the members of Dallas's team. The plot depends on an old, often used plot device which I can't name without being a spoiler, and Robb has given the old device new novelty and shine. The mission in this book involves locating and rescuing two young kidnapped children, and the key to finding them turns out to be a child's toy.

    The author manages to pour a lot of tension and suspense into a book that is only a bit over 3 hours long. Susan Ericksen's narration is excellent as usual, and the whole experience is well worth your time and token. Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Long Way Home: Chief Inspector Gamache, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (631)
    Performance
    (577)
    Story
    (573)

    Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he'd only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. "There is a balm in Gilead," his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, "to make the wounded whole." While Gamache doesn't talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache's help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. "There’s power enough in Heaven," he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, "to cure a sin-sick soul." And then he gets up. And joins her.

    David Walker says: "Back in 3 Pines"
    "Louise Penny Continues to Amaze!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In her "Armand Gamache" series (or "Three Pines" series), Louise Penny has created for her readers beloved characters, most of whom live in a beloved village where most of us would love to live. The enchantment of the village of Three Pines rests both in its size (so small it appeaars on no map) and in the wonderfully eccentric characters who inhabit it.

    Penny describes this enchanted place so simply, but so meaningfully, that I for one would move there tomorrow if it really existed. But the real wonder of the Three Pines books is the fully developed, yet still maturing, personality of each and every character. Even secondary characters get a good dose of description so that the reader has a good idea of their characters and emotions. And the primary characters, after nine previous books, are so well known to us in all their strengths, eccentricities, and weaknesses that each of their actions in this 10th book can be interpreted against the background of their characters, their pasts, and their previous actions.

    For this reason, I highly recommend that a new reader start with the first book in this series, "Still Life", and read in chronological order up to and including The Long Way Home. Starting with #10 would detract greatly from a reader's enjoyment.

    This 10th book is not an action book or thriller, but something more like an old-fashioned murder mystery in which a puzzle must be solved. This type of plot seems to me to perfectly reflect the quieter life being led by Gamache since his retirement. While it may not be the favorite type of plot for some Penny fans, it is immensely satisfying to me, because I have an even greater opportunity to become even more familiar with several of the Three Pines residents.

    And of course, Ralph Cosham IS Gamache, and all the other regular characters in these books. His performances are perfect, and make the stories even better than the print books!

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The First Rebellion: The Waverly Women, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Marion Chesney
    • Narrated By Vanessa Benjamin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    The Earl of Tredair has had his fill of balls, routs, and silly misses, and he despairs of finding someone extraordinary - that is, until he meets Miss Fanny Waverley. Most unique and intriguing, Fanny and her two sisters are the adopted daughters of the reclusive bluestocking Madame Waverley. They have been raised as her disciples to spread the word of women's rights and to encourage poor oppressed females to stand up against the iniquities of the male sex. The beautiful and farouche Miss Fanny, however, finds it quite difficult to think of all men as cruel and lustful beasts....

    Nancy J says: "Not up to Chesney's Usual Standards"
    "Not up to Chesney's Usual Standards"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Marion Chesney is an extremely prolific author, writing both period and contemporary novels and series of mystery and romance under several names, including Marion Chesney and, probably best known, M.C. Beaton. I have read books from several of her series, including contemporary, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian mysteries. I have enjoyed almost all of them. They are written with a light hand, enjoyable without serious pretension.

    I have especially enjoyed her Edwardian series and the Hamish MacBeth series. So when I saw a listing for a Chesney Victorian series, I anticipated the pleasure I had experienced in the Edwardian series. Alas, despite the intriguing underlying concept (a set of sisters who have been raised in, and have adopted, the ideals and goals of women's rights, especially women's suffrage), the book felt flat and uninteresting to me.

    This book was missing all the light, humorous touches which I had come to expect from Chesney. The characters, especially the sisters, seemed dull and lifeless despite the fact that the plot contained more than a little action. Finally, many of the occurrences in the plot were simply not believable, and no amount of humor could cover up or diminish that fact. Despite the best efforts of narrator Vanessa Benjamin, she could not give this book enough life to make it enjoyable.

    I will continue to read other Chesney books for those times when I just want a light, humorous break, but I doubt that I will continue this Waverly Women series.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3533)
    Performance
    (3268)
    Story
    (3263)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    "Second in the series even better than the first"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In "The Silkworm," J.K. Rowling, aka Robert Galbraith, proves that she can write and develop characters in adult detective fiction just as magically as she did in YA fiction where the characters themselves were surrounded by magic. She captivated us through a 7-book series in Harry Potter. Now she/he has created detective Cormoran Strike and Robin, his assistant/protege wannabe. In this second book both Cormoran and Robin grow and become stronger, more mature, and more comfortable with themselves.

    Along with the exceptional character development, "Galbraith" provides the reader with lots of characters who are quirky, to say the least, and a great plot which had me keeping up but not able to foresee the twists and turns.

    Robert Glenister takes the story and adds even more magic with his narration. He has settled into these characters and, despite a deep voice, he creates believable female voices. All in all, this was a wonderful listening experience. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Profiler's Daughter: Sky Stone, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By P. M. Steffen
    • Narrated By Gabrielle de Cuir
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (987)
    Performance
    (883)
    Story
    (886)

    The Profiler's Daughter is a psychologically haunting thriller that combines murder mystery, love triangle, and family intrigue in one satisfying page burner. Sky Stone was born into the wealth and privilege of Boston's oldest Brahmin family but chooses instead to follow in the footsteps of her deceased father, legendary FBI profiler Monk Stone. In the chilly morning hours before the Boston Marathon, when a beautiful university student is found strangled and mutilated, her body left at the base of Heartbreak Hill, Sky returns from self-imposed exile to investigate.

    Irene L. Culkeen says: "What a great find"
    "Some Character Development, Please!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I purchased this Audiobook as a result of some good reviews by other listeners whose reviews I respect. Alas, I was not impressed. At times I felt like I was listening to a poorly-written teenage adventure novel. (My apologies to the many extremely well-written and imaginative young adult novels.) I found the main character, Sky Stone, a one-dimensional character who repeatedly goes off on tangents motivated either by anger or by hormones, often ending up in very uncomfortable situations. Secondary characters were not much better, and that only because they appeared in the story for shorter periods of time.

    I was made even more aware of the lack of development of the characters in this book when I listened to my next book, The Silkworm, written by J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith, and experienced the marvelous, three-dimensional characters which that writer produces.

    That said, the plot of The Profiler's Daughter was fairly engaging, although there were a few too many red herrings. I did enjoy the depiction of the rather stormy relationship of Sky and her Grandmother. I found the narration to be adequate.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Talking Heads

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Alan Bennett
    • Narrated By Alan Bennett, Full Cast
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (18)

    Performed by the author and five of Britain's leading actresses, Alan Bennett's tales are full of quirky, insightful detail that bring the characters vividly to life. From Julie Walters' portrayal of an actress seeking fame to Anna Massey's alcoholic vicar's wife, these individuals are linked by their self-delusion, desperation, and vulnerability.

    Ron says: "Impeccable, terrific, and moving"
    "Quirky, funny and brilliant"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Alan Bennett is my all-time favorite writer of dialogue and monologue. He is a master at showing a character's inner feelings without the character's actually knowing he or she is revealing much of anything. And he has an uncanny knack for creating the talk of women: every line, even when pretty far out, sounds absolutely true to the character.

    These talents make the "Talking Heads" monologues memorable, ironic and funny at the same time that they are moving and powerful. In particular, "A Lady of Letters," with Patricia Routledge, and "Bed Among the Lentils," with Anna Massey demonstrate the quiet lives of desperation lived by many women.

    This is material guaranteed to make you laugh or chuckle and yet be moved by the speakers. Highly recommended!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Kiss Before Dying

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ira Levin
    • Narrated By Mauro Hantman
    Overall
    (415)
    Performance
    (370)
    Story
    (373)

    Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing--not even murder--to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she's pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures.

    karen says: "Nothing like a classic....."
    "An Exceptional Groundbreaking Crime Drama"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When you listen to this book, it seems as fresh and current as it was when first published in 1953, with a main character psychopath/sociopath who is charming and ruthless, preying on young women and willing to kill to get what he wants.

    Ira Levin was 23 when "A Kiss Before Dying" was published, and I marvel at the taut, complex and frightening plot which he produced. This is especially true when you consider that his other works through his lifetime included "No Time For Sergeants," "The Boys From Brazil," "Rosemary's Baby," and "The Stepford Wives."

    While I had previously seen a movie of this story, I had never read the book. The book is sooo much better at building the suspense and keeping you guessing. The author even manages to keep the reader guessing for a while over which of three possible young men is the culprit.

    The recording also contains an informative introduction about the author and the book, and how the book was received when it was first published.

    Highly recommended to anyone who appreciates taut and careful plotting, and enjoys classic mystery stories.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Vanguard

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Michael Innes
    • Narrated By Matt Addis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Successful minor poet, Philip Ploss, lives a peaceful existence in ideal surroundings, until his life is upset when he hears verses erroneously quoted as his own. Soon afterwards, he is found dead in the library with a copy of Dante's Purgatory open before him.

    Nancy J says: "Good World War II Espionage Tale"
    "Good World War II Espionage Tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In "The Secret Vanguard," the 5th book in the Appleby series, Michael Innes starts the plot with a dead poet, then takes us on a wild ride around the English countryside as it was in 1940. Characters are kidnapped by strange foreigners, escapes are engineered, then escapees have to play desperate games of evasion, only to be caught again. As the story goes along, you are told that these bad guys are German agents, and if you stay alert, you will be told how all of this is tied to the murdered poet. The story is great fun, and reminds me a bit of "The Thirty-nine Steps" by John Buchan, which dealt with World War I spies in England.

    I enjoy Innes's literate writing, his plots and his characters, especially Inspector Appleby, who is ordered by the Government to join in the chase after the Germans. Matt Addis delivers his usual excellent narration in this story, performing in both educated and regional working class accents in a polished and effective manner.

    An excellent way to spend a day or two (or a long drive) listening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • An Assembly Such as This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Pamela Aidan
    • Narrated By George Holmes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (216)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (98)

    As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley's persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows, as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.

    Douglas says: "The Spirit of Austen Enchanted"
    "Well done by both author and narrator - great fun."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like other reviewers, I must confess that I have an addiction to all those sequels, variations, and other books which I just call "Austen genre." I have read quite a few and will continue to read more, even if they turn out to be disappointing attempts by writer and/or narrator.

    Pamela Aidan's trilogy ("A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman") is among the very best of the Austen genre. Aidan writes quite well, conveying the atmosphere, culture, and daily life of the English upper class during the Regency Period. In addition, she provides a great deal of information about the politics, foreign affairs, and legal matters of that Period. And she does all this while staying very close to Jane Austen's characters and plot in Pride and Prejudice. I found her suppositions about the true natures of the P&P characters to be completely believable and understandable: her Darcy never puts a foot wrong or betrays his principles (until he sees that his principles are mistaken or no longer valid). I enjoyed seeing the fleshing-out of characters like Georgianna and Mr. Bingley, and the introduction of new characters, especially Fletcher, Darcy's valet.

    As to the narrator, George Holmes, I had no trouble with his reading. While his cadence is a bit different because of pauses between phrases, the pauses are very slight and, to my mind, create a less-hurried cadence, one more suited to the age in which the book is set. It is my understanding from quite a bit of reading that the upper classes in the Regency Period actually did talk slowly, because they seldom had any sort of deadline which required urgency. In addition, I believe that George Holmes' voice is very well-suited to this book -- light, somewhat delicate, and very much like the voice of a Regency aristocrat (as I have imagined them or heard them in BBC productions).

    This was a very enjoyable read, and I have already started volume 2 of the Trilogy.

    RECOMMENDED.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Death Comes to the Village: A Kurland St. Mary Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Catherine Lloyd
    • Narrated By Susannah Tyrrell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    A wounded soldier and a rector's daughter discover strange goings-on in the sleepy village of Kurland St. Mary in Catherine Lloyd's charming Regency-set mystery debut. Major Robert Kurland has returned to the quiet vistas of his village home to recuperate from the horrors of Waterloo. However injured his body may be, his mind is as active as ever. Too active, perhaps. When he glimpses a shadowy figure from his bedroom window struggling with a heavy load, the tranquil faade of the village begins to loom sinister....

    Sara says: "A Happy Surprise!"
    "Well-written Regency Mystery with a Twist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Set in the village of Kurland St. Mary, "Death Comes to the Village" is the first in a projected series. The mystery plot is intriguing, with several twists along the way, featuring two missing maids from two households, and a series of thefts of small items from the houses of each of the wealthier families in the area. The identity of the villains is not who we usually would suspect, and the author keeps the secret well through most of the book.

    The characters are even more intriguing, in my opinion, particularly Miss Lucy Harrington, the oldest daughter of the Rector, considered by some to be an old maid in her early 20's. Unlike the heroines in most Regency Romances I have read, this young woman chafes under the strictures imposed upon her by society. Since her mother died in childbirth when Lucy was 15, Lucy has had to act as nursemaid to her 7-year-old twin brothers and as her father's housekeeper and hostess, fulfilling the duties her mother would have performed. She has no prospect of escaping those duties, since her father views the arrangement as a permanent one and intends to send her beautiful younger sister to London for a coming out season.

    In rebellion, she becomes involved in investigating the disappearance of the maids and the thefts, in an uneasy alliance with Major Robert Kurland, the wealthy local squire, who is bedridden while he recovers from injuries suffered in the battle of Waterloo. He is rude, with a quick temper, and they argue as much as they work together. Both main characters are multi-dimensional and interesting. Other characters, while not as finely drawn, are still interesting and entertaining.

    Narrator Susannah Tyrrell has an unusual voice and delivery which bothered me a bit at the beginning, but I soon grew used to it and decided that it was perfect for this book. Her change of voices and delivery of both high class and low class regional accents sounded wonderful to this American's ear. And she dealt well with scenes of suspense and violence.

    I enjoyed this book a lot, and I look forward to listening to the series as it progresses.

    Well worth a credit!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Death on Blackheath: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel, Book 29

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Anne Perry
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (144)
    Performance
    (129)
    Story
    (128)

    As commander of the powerful Special Branch, Thomas Pitt has the job of keeping Britain safe from spies and traitors. So there' s no obvious reason why he is suddenly ordered to investigate two minor incidents: the blood, hair, and shards of glass discovered outside the home of naval weapons expert Dudley Kynaston, and the simultaneous disappearance of Mrs. Kynaston' s beautiful lady's maid. But weeks later, when the mutilated body of an unidentified young woman is found near Kynaston' s home, Pitt realizes that this is no ordinary police investigation.

    Nancy J says: "Another great Special Branch tale."
    "Another great Special Branch tale."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    "Death on Blackheath" is the tenth book which portrays Pitt as a member of Special Branch, a government agency concerned with security, espionage and government secrets. When Anne Perry first moved Pitt from the police to Special Branch, I had difficulty adjusting: the espionage and thriller parts just didn't ring true for me. But I hung in there, believing that Perry would get it together so that Special Branch would be as believable and engrossing as the earlier police novels were. And the last few Special Branch books did finally come up to the quality of plot and style that I had so enjoyed in the police stories.

    In this latest installment, Pitt and Stoker of Special Branch are called to investigate matters which would not otherwise come under their jurisdiction, except that they occured at the home of Mr. Kenyston, an important scientist doing secret weapons work for the government. As things progress, bodies are discovered near the same home, all causing Pitt to focus on Kenyston. It turns out that some of those things were intended just to create that focus.

    Anne Perry writes with her usual fine eye for detail, both physical and emotional detail, and describes minute details of her characters that allow the reader to see the faces, and the new lines caused by aging, hard work, fear and other factors.She allows us to understand and feel what the characters are feeling, and the exceptional narration of Davina Porter makes us feel the fear, the happiness, the love and the hatred that the characters experience. Many of Perry's continuing characters appear in this installment. This book may be one of my favorite Pitt books, because it also lets us see, and feel, new love between two of my favorite Perry characters.

    Highly recommended!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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