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Kathi

Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!

Member Since 2010

ratings
377
REVIEWS
177
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
191
HELPFUL VOTES
601

  • The Viognier Vendetta: A Wine Country Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Ellen Crosby
    • Narrated By Christine Marshall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (4)

    When Lucie Montgomery visits Washington, D.C., she doesn't expect that her reunion with old friend Rebecca Natale is a setup. But Rebecca disappears into thin air after running an errand for her boss, billionaire philanthropist and investment guru Sir Thomas Asher. Also missing: an antique silver wine cooler looted by British soldiers before they burned the White House during the War of 1812.

    Kathi says: "Wonderful story--but the narrator left me groaning"
    "Wonderful story--but the narrator left me groaning"
    Overall
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    Story

    I love all of Ellen Crosby's books, and to date, I had read the previous ones in paper version. I wish I had kept to that format.

    This story is as good as all of them are. They are a continuing series--with excellent mysteries keeping them interesting--that revolve around Lucie Montgomery, who has suffered an accident that leaves her lame and walking with a cane--but still full of spunk and determination. She finds herself running her family's vineyard, and despite the financial and other stresses that go with such an enterprise, she and her helpers struggle to make it a go.

    This story involves her leaving the vineyard and Loudoun County to go to Washington, DC (about 30 miles away) where she meets her old friend Rebecca who soon after mysteriously disappears, as does a valuable item belonging to her boss, Sir Thomas Asher. Lucie is determined to find out what happened to her friend, and finds herself in danger from that situation, even while she is personally suffering as she wonders what her lover and chief wine expert for the vineyard is doing--is he secretly planning to leave her?

    This book is as good as the previous ones have been. But I live just a few miles away from the fictional place Crosby describes in her books, and I have never heard anyone in this county--indeed in all of northern Virginia--speak with the whiny, would-be imagined Virginia accent that this narrator uses through the entire book. I have listened to another book that she narrated and I liked it a lot. So I assume she decided that this is the voice quality that encapsulates this area. I have started and stopped listening to this book a dozen times because her strained and annoying version of what is actually a delightful, soft speech quality of the old families who live where this book is placed has sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

    I definitely recommend the book and this author! And I think this could be a decent listen if the listener [hopefully] will believe and accept that people in this lovely area do not whine, do not have a sing-song tone to their conversations, and do not have an exaggerated accent that does not (to my ears) replicate any speech style that I have ever heard in natural circumstances anywhere. I feel sad saying all this--because I believe she is otherwise a very good narrator. Just not this time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The End of the Point: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Graver
    • Narrated By Hillary Huber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    A precisely observed, superbly crafted novel, The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver charts the dramatic changes in the lives of three generations of one remarkable family, and the summer place that both shelters and isolates them. Ashaunt Point, Massachusetts, has anchored life for generations of the Porter family, who summer along its remote, rocky shore. But in 1942, the U.S. Army arrives on the Point, bringing havoc and change.

    Kathi says: "Absorbing family saga"
    "Absorbing family saga"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ashaunt Point, located on a rocky shore in Massachusetts, has served as a summer retreat for the Porter family for generations. The story picks up there with the arrival of soldiers in 1947, because of the war. This is the backdrop as Elizabeth Grazer introduces the characters who will gradually reveal themselves through language, interactions and many exquisite small details that make this a very engaging listen. The book tells the story of the family through the remainder of the century, as they each grapple with finding their way through life. She is very skillful at revealing the intentions, emotions and connections among the family members, and showing the ways each one struggles to find a meaningful life, with more and less success.

    Hillary Huber's narration is very good. Whether it is the conflicted life of the Scottish nanny Bea, trying to choose between loves, or the neurotically self-absorbed Helen, or her son Charlie, dealing with the burdensome legacy of his namesake, she is good at producing many different voices and evoking moods and emotions. Built upon the duel (perhaps predictive) images of this family shelter being a rocky, remote place, and the early scenes of the army moving in beside them, the novel unsurprisingly reveals the inner (and sometimes outer) challenges for family members finding peace, even sanity, in their lives. They seem always searching for something that is also remote from their grasp, as they move through their often troubled lives. Ashaunt Point remains the place that seems to ground them, that lingers in their memories as a place of shelter.

    The book is told through different voices, including letters and diaries. I found it very hard to stop listening. Although somewhat long, the author has written it with so much variety in the ways she presents the characters and story (often using a kind of future commentary that weaves in important information), that it remains interesting throughout. Recommend as a very good listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Black Diamond: A Mystery of the French Countryside

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Martin Walker
    • Narrated By Robert Ian MacKenzie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (42)

    Best-selling author Martin Walker’s previous two novels starring Chief of Police Bruno Courrèges became hits with fans and critics around the globe. In this thrilling third mystery, Bruno has his hands full with trouble in the truffle trade in St. Denis’ marketplace. And when a friend is murdered, things really start heating up.

    Kathi says: "Engaging action, great characters/sense of place!"
    "Engaging action, great characters/sense of place!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bruno Courrèges is the Chief of Police (indeed, the only policeman) in the small, fictional town of St. Denis, located in the rural Périgord region of France. A lovely small town where everybody knows each other would seem the unlikeliest spot on earth for murderous crimes to occur. But they do, often bringing in more high intelligence concerns than might be imagined for such a quiet spot.

    In this book, Bruno is faced with managing trouble between Chinese and Vietnamese gangs, with roots leading back to the time before the war. There is also something strange taking place in the lucrative truffle market, and Bruno has to handle both situations at once. As often happens in these books, the trouble is not just an upset between neighbors, but rather arises from a greater and older piece of French history.

    The people are richly and beautifully drawn, and through them, we sense the character of people living a lifestyle that feels threatened by in the incursion of modern government oversight and regulations. But when the need arises, Bruno is very capable of shifting from small town policeman (think American Andy Griffith) to capably working hand in hand with the more sophisticated levels of police and intelligence communities. After which, he always comes home to his modest house, his cooking, loving, and community involvement.

    This is just a wonderful series, and the narration is superb! I only wish there were more of them. It sure makes me wish I cook book a trip to southwest France to see the area from which these stories arise. I so very much recommend them to anyone intrigued with stories that evoke a brilliant sense of location and people!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Nasty Habits: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian White
    • Narrated By Bruce Mann
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    One secret can bury an entire family forever... Desmond is a man ill equipped for today's world. He is reclusive and unsocial, traits exacerbated by his domineering mother. As a result, Desmond is at his happiest when he's absolutely alone. During a birdwatching outing along the Devon coast, Desmond wanders into a cave. Inside, he finds something that appalls and terrifies him: a skeleton dressed in a nun's wimple.

    Kathi says: "Nasty is right"
    "Nasty is right"
    Overall
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    Story

    Well, at first I thought it was only the narrator who was making the book so bad. He reads with almost a strict monotone. I asked myself if that was meant to be some kind of stylistic effect, since this is a psychological thriller (or intends to be). I actually listened to the entire book (not sure why). Just kept telling myself it would get better. Depends upon your taste, I suppose. This was absolutely not mine. Story begins with a man who is a rather conflicted loner in life discovering a corpse in a cave while on a trip alone. A good bit of the book is devoted to the story between him and his mother--somehow that was probably the most interesting part. The rest of the story revolves around the family who is affected by the discovery of the dead woman--and I'd say that so far as depravity goes, the author more than managed to convey the depths to which humans can be brought down as they are forced to examine their own behaviors. Might be what some like to read. Isn't what I like. I will especially avoid anything narrated or written by either of these two people. Future readers--this is simply my taste. I love psychological mysteries, but not this one. Your mileage may vary.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Without Warning

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By David Rosenfelt
    • Narrated By Jeff Steitzer
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Years ago, Katie Sanford’s husband was convicted of the murder of Jenny Robbins, then died himself in prison. It’s a small town and memories are long, and Katie and Jenny’s husband, Chief of Police Jake Robbins, have had to work at putting the tragedy behind them. But it's all brought up again in the wake of a hurricane which has just wreaked havoc on their quiet Maine town.

    Kathi says: "A "could-not-put-it-down" police procedural!"
    "A "could-not-put-it-down" police procedural!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I know (and love) David Rosenfelt's work from his wonderful Andy Carpenter series. This is my first time listening to something else he has written. And this book did not disappoint in any way. On the contrary, if possible, I even liked it better!

    The premise of this one could so easily have been mishandled by someone with less skill and talent, But Rosenfelt makes it very credible. After a hurricane in Maine, a town decides to open a time capsule which should not have been opened till way into the future, fearing the water damage present might have affected it's contents. And what they discover turns the town on it's head. Instead of usual local items of historical interest and predictions, there is a corpse and a different set of predictions that could only have been written by someone planning future crimes. They give proof that a murder for which they thought they had convicted the right person several years ago, could not have been committed by him. Unfortunately, the man convicted was killed in prison, so cannot help them now.

    It falls to chief Jake Robbins to try to stop what he fears will be more murders now that he has this fresh evidence, but as he races against the clock, he finds himself becoming one of the main suspects.

    Excellent writing. Excellent narration (though Steitzer had a tiny bit of difficulty with some women's voices). The plot flows well and quickly, the characters are well-drawn, and the tension is present in a way that kept me drawn in from start to finish! Can't wait to go back and read another of Mr. Rosenfelt's non-series books. If they all are as a good as this one, I'm sure they will be wonderful!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • In a Gilded Cage

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (85)

    Irish immigrant Molly Murphy and her New York City P.I. business are in the midst of a sweeping influenza epidemic and a fight for women’s suffrage that lands her in jail. Her betrothed, Police Captain Daniel Sullivan, finds her, but he hardly has time to bail her out, what with Chinese gangs battling for control of a thriving opium trade. The only consolation Molly can take from her vexing afternoon in the clink is that it made her some new friends among the Vassar suffragists - and brought her a pair of new cases.

    Kathi says: "Excellent story / Narration a bit uneven"
    "Excellent story / Narration a bit uneven"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is such a good series. Rhys Bowen has a clever way with creating very memorable characters (in this and her other two series). The premise behind this one is interesting. Molly Murphy begins the series as a scared Irish immigrant, literally "just off the boat," and develops into the confident and hard-working young woman we meet by the time we encounter her in this book.

    Here she starts by marching with a suffragette's movement and winds up with the other women in jail for their efforts. But this opens connections with the characters who will people this story with her, as she takes on new cases through her private detection agency. Molly is a woman a bit ahead of her time, but her modern ideas do not put off the attentions of her friend, Captain Daniel Sullivan.

    You can predictably count on a good read from Rhys Bowen. However, this is the first I have listened to. In the beginning, when Nicola Barber began reading in Molly's voice, I thought they had miraculously found the perfect narrator! However, I'd have to say that I found that the case not so much with the other voices. I loved every word she spoke for Molly, but found the rest to be less engaging, for some reason. Nevertheless, this is an excellent light mystery, and a good read/listen!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Murder in the House of the Muse: The Jeremy Wadlington-Smythe Mysteries

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Leni Bogat
    • Narrated By Dennis Kleinman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (8)

    In this delicious murder mystery we are introduced to Jeremy Wadlington-Smythe, a newcomer to the wonderful world of the whodunnit. In this novel, the first of the series, Jeremy, an accomplished orchestral conductor with a unique view of his mission, accepts an engagement to lead a major American symphony orchestra only to find himself in the midst of murder and mayhem.

    Kathi says: "Highly underwhelming"
    "Highly underwhelming"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm sorry. This book just got on my nerves. Thought it would be very interesting; surely it had all the ingredients to have been. Though there had been no Audible reviews, the Amazon (paper book) reviews made it sound good. And it probably is in that format.

    Almost from the start I felt the whole thing was very off-putting. It began okay--a wealthy backer considering how to bring talent to the city's orchestra and help audiences enjoy the music more and obviously pay more for their annual subscriptions. So they invite British conductor Jeremy Wadlington-Smythe to come to America to lead the orchestra. He is a conductor with the ability to bring music to an audience in very creative ways. He views it as a challenging opportunity to bring music to life in new ways. That's where the book starts going downhill. Even before the mystery part begins.

    Although there is a lot of "insider" sort of exposure to the backstage workings of how the creative moment seen by the audience is actually much more down and dirty deals, which has interest, to me that was overpowered by what was either bad writing or bad narration (I'm not sure which). It was artificial, pompous, stilted, and I cringed at the conversations between people that used such perfect grammar it was simply unrealistic. Average people simply don't converse so formally.

    Found it ironic that a book about creating music, beautiful sounds, wound up being one where the sounds of listening to it read aloud were just pretty awful. I gave it more stars than I personally felt it warranted because the people who had commented on the written book seemed to like it so much that I suspect it might be better in that version.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Dutch Blue Error

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By William G. Tapply
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    To solve a murder, Brady must find a copy of the world’s rarest stamp. It is a small paper square with uneven edges, dark blue in color, and bearing a smudged portrait of a long-dead king. It doesn’t look like much to Brady Coyne, but the stamp known as the Dutch Blue Error is one of a kind - a philatelic freak worth at least one million dollars. It is the prize possession of Ollie Weston, a wheelchair-bound Boston banker, and it is valuable enough that for its sake, several good men will die.

    Kathi says: "Good second book in series"
    "Good second book in series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading and enjoying William Tapply's first book, "Death at Charity's Point," decided to try this next in the series. I was not disappointed--it was a solidly good listen. On the other hand, in "The Dutch Blue Error," I didn't see the improvements in style, character presentations, etc that I had thought might start happening after the first book (in fact, it was a little confusing, because Coyne's personal assistant, who had just been introduced in the first book, was already--if temporarily--replaced by a new assistant, Zerk.)

    This is a pretty good series--the action moves, the plot is interesting and the characters believable. I intend to continue listening to these, as they hold my attention and I find myself quite involved in the story. But there could be room for improvement (in my opinion). They lack a little pizzaz somehow.

    In this book, Coyne is approached by one of his clients to try to negotiate for a rare stamp (known as the Dutch Blue Error) which leads to great danger for himself and Zerk. It was interesting that Tapply brought in an element of racial prejudice, but while it validated some of the social status of 1985 when this book was first published, it doesn't seem to have a lot to do with the actual story.

    What I really like about the book(s) so far is that they are good mysteries, with promise for the same going forward. Brady Coyne is a likable, laid back fellow who seems to sort of get drafted into detecting, since he prefers his actual job--being a lawyer to the very wealthy who doesn't get involved in terribly taxing assignments. The narrator gets the laid-back quality very well in his reading. While I can't say this is a block-buster, I will definitely say it is very good--and I plan to read more in the series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Help the Poor Struggler

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Martha Grimes
    • Narrated By Steve West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (37)

    Around bleak Dartmoor, where the Hound of the Baskervilles once bayed, three children have been brutally murdered. Now Richard Jury of Scotland Yard joins forces with a hot-tempered local constable named Brian Macalvie to track down the killer. The trail begins at a desolate pub, Help the Poor Struggler. It leads straight to the estate of Lady Jessica, a 10-year-old orphaned heiress who lives with her mysterious uncle and ever-changing series of governesses.

    Kathi says: "Grimes sets a more serious tone--good listen"
    "Grimes sets a more serious tone--good listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The last book or two in the series have seemed transitional in some ways, from the earlier books which were richly populated by all the eccentric characters from Long Piddleton and provided some comic relief in places during the crime detection. This book is almost all about Richard Jury (from Scotland Yard), his sidekick Sgt Wiggins, and an Inspector from another jurisdiction, Brian Macalvie. Melrose Plant plays a minor role, and the Long Piddleton characters meet briefly in the Jack and Hammer pub, so that we don't forget about them, but this is really a more serious and intense book than the earlier ones. There is both interesting tension among the characters who have experienced three recent murders and the haunting memory of one twenty years before for which the wrong person might have been convicted. The recent murders occur when he is getting out of prison.

    As usual, Grimes has used a pub as the title of her book, "HelpThe Poor Struggler," and this name may be said to sort of speak to the general situation, but doesn't play a central role in the book, except that Jury, Wiggins and Macalvie meet there to discuss the case. Here are three seemingly unrelated child murders and they must hurry to solve the case before another child gets murdered, in this case, the precocious Lady Jessica Ashcroft.

    I felt this book was an improvement from her last, but still greatly miss the lighter-hearted early books, where there was still Richard Jury, Who did more with Melrose Plant and his team of quirky friends. There was nice tension-reducing in that. However, this looks like a transition into more serious crime solving. Her most recent books (notwithstanding that they were all written in the 1980's), but recent in terms of where in the series they are placed, seem to be her effort to have less involvement of the silly characters and more straightforward mystery solving. I rather miss the Long Piddleton group, but know this is her own maturation as a writer most likely. I enjoy hearing this old series, which I read in the 80's. They are each a treat. Recommend.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Death at Charity's Point

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By William G. Tapply
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Brady Coyne never meant to become the private lawyer to New England’s upper crust, but after more than a decade working for Florence Gresham and her friends, he has developed a reputation for discretion that the rich cannot resist. He is fond of Mrs. Gresham - unflappable, uncouth, and never tardy with a check - and he has seen her through her husband’s suicide and her first son’s death in Vietnam. But he has never seen her crack until the day her second son, George, leaps into the sea at jagged Charity’s Point.

    Kathi says: "Pretty good first book in a mystery series"
    "Pretty good first book in a mystery series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had never heard of William Tapply and his Brady Coyne series before finding it on Audible. Thought I'd take a chance, and was not disappointed. Coyne is an attorney to wealthy people, leading a good life, with few requirements he can't comfortably handle. Until he is hired by Florence Gresham to check on the story behind her son's suicide--a jump off Charity's Point into the sea. This brings him to the private school where her son taught history to look into the situation, thinking it will only be a matter of reassuring his client. He is quite wrong. What he begins to uncover is shocking, at several levels, and he becomes a reluctant detective, in spite of his attempts to say he's only a lawyer and doesn't know how to conduct investigations.

    If this is Tapply's first book, and if it continues to progress and get more fleshed out from here, it looks like this will be a series I'll read more of. It isn't a shoot-em-up, sit on the edge of your seat sort of book (which suits me just fine). It meanders along at a comfortable pace, with good narration that seemed to perfectly match the story quite well. There is action throughout the book, moving toward the final solution and wrap up . I found it very satisfying.

    One small thing, if this matters to anybody. It is not the length advertised. It ends 20 or 30 minutes before expected, and the last part is a free reading of the next book (something I've seen done in paper books, never on Audible.) Recommend, especially thinking this is a good first book, and seems to have a lot of promise.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Just One Evil Act: A Lynley Novel, Book 18

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Elizabeth George
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    Overall
    (293)
    Performance
    (257)
    Story
    (255)

    Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is at a loss: The daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can't really help - Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn't on Hadiyyah's, their daughter's, birth certificate. He has no legal claim. Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective, but the trail goes cold. Azhar is just beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss when Angelina reappears with shocking news: Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace.

    Ruth Nielsen says: "Not a Fan Anymore!"
    "Good, but not up to standards of previous books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been feeling increasingly disappointed by Elizabeth George's books. It seems as though there was no such thing as a bad Lynley novel "back in the day." But lately, I find myself wondering if someone else is ghost-writing them for her. It feels like whatever held them together in the beginning--some of the chemistry between the characters, and the coherence of the plots--has slipped a little.

    That being said--in fairness felt I should be honest--they are still Lynley and Havers--and I've grown to love them so much over the years that even with a little fading of the original charm, they are still good reads (listens). In this one, we get more of a look at Barbara Havers--unmarried and childless, but who has grown very fond of her little neighbor over the course of several books. She learns with genuine anguish first that the child has been kidnapped by her mother, then that she has simply been kidnapped for real. That's a good plot line--and had many possibilities. But gosh, is the book ever long! Was there an editor on the job here? And then, while I enjoy books that have occasional foreign language comments inserted here & there--in this one (for completely baffling reasons) the author has characters speak whole conversations in Italian (with no translation provided). Someone who speaks the language might have really liked that--I don't, and I didn't.

    Davina Porter is a wonderful narrator--yet she lacked something in reading this. I imagined that even she didn't know what to do with the book. And, just to be clear--I am saying some things that another reader might want to know about before deciding on purchasing this book. But I still enjoyed it--as it is a (weaker) but still excellent read, due to the fact that the whole series, with the development of characters up till now, carries this book in ways that a stand-alone novel could not have done on it's own.

    I hope that Eliz George will be reading the comments of her long & faithful fans, and maybe do some better editing of the next Lynley novel--which even though this one was not quite up to par--I still anticipate with pleasure.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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