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Kathi

Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

Member Since 2010

1382
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 260 reviews
  • 544 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 85 purchased in 2015
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  • A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (227)
    Story
    (235)

    When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in.

    Jen says: "Beloved Bess"
    "Beloved Nurse Bess! She's always wonderful!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to A Bitter Truth again? Why?

    Perhaps. I don't often re-read mysteries, but if ever I would, anything written by Charles Todd (mother-son writing team) would be it!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Always Bess--she is so kind and resourceful. When I was a young girl, in addition to reading Nancy Drew, I also read a series (less well known, I think) called "Cherry Ames." She was a nurse who was an amateur sleuth as well. I loved those--and perhaps it is that long past devotion to that series that also echoes in my memory as I read this one!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Oh yes--only I have to break it up because of length!


    Any additional comments?

    Bess Crawford is a companion series that goes with the Inspector Rutledge series. While he is often more of a loner--acting as he sees fit to get the crime solved, Bess tends to be more involved with other people. As a nurse, she is in contact with others more anyway. She has a background father and his long-devoted friend from the wars, who often magically step in to protect her when things begin to get too rough, so she doesn't have to be a physically tough action figure! She does do things on her own, but usually she is clever in being able to solve crimes through her connectedness to others more than Rutledge, who shies away from people as a rule.

    I think the two series complement each other beautifully. If you have not read either from the beginning--suggest you do so. While they work okay starting in the middle, like many series, characters develop over time, so that is more satisfying.

    My only thoughts about this particular book that made it *slightly* less enjoyable (and that would be like removing 1/100th of a star :-) is that the idea of Bess going to the house of a perfect stranger for a few days, giving up her own Christmas visit with her parents, was rather implausible. But if you forgive the authors that tiny bit of a stretch, it is a great read!

    I"m biased, because I would (at this point) love just about anything Charles Todd writes--because I have read every book so far and truly enjoyed them. But I honestly think they are a talented pair. Highly recommend--good history of WWI era as well as good writing, and interesting plots!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Crafty Killing: Victoria Square Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Lorraine Bartlett
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (32)

    The last thing Katie Bonner wanted was to become the manager of Artisans Alley. But when her business partner Ezra Hilton is found bludgeoned to death, she has no other choice. Business under Ezra had been faltering - but was it enough to provoke someone to murder? Only Katie can find the answer.

    Kathi says: "So-so"
    "So-so"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I believe another listener commented that the narrator sounded as though she had a cold. I would have to agree with that. It seemed sometimes her voice was also too soft. The story was okay, though it felt a little forced in places. I like cozy mysteries, know I can depend on not being upset by slaughter and grisly scenes. Some, like any other kind of genre, work better than others.

    This one is the story of a young widow who inherits an arts and crafts (for sale) related establishment, that had been going downhill until she got it. She has to discover who killed the man who had owned it, as well as find ways to make it financially solvent going forward. I enjoyed the character descriptions, they were the best parts. But the book moved at a somewhat uneven pace, and I often found myself rewinding parts, because my mind had wandered. I can see that this is a series that might be better as it takes off in more books. Guess I'd give it kind of a wavy-hand. Would like to hear it read with a more spirited narrator, that would probably make some difference.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Daughters of Cain

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Colin Dexter
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (65)

    Little progress had been made by the Thames Valley Police since the discovery of a corpse in a North Oxford flat. The victim had been killed by a single stab wound to the stomach. The police had no weapon, no suspect, no motive, but within days of taking over the investigation, Chief Inspector Morse and Detective Sergeant Lewis uncover startling new information about the life and death of the victim, Dr. Felix McClure, late of Wolsey College, Oxford.

    A P says: "A different Morse"
    "A great Morse and Lewis book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the beginning of this book, I wasn't so sure. The narrator took some getting used to (till, by the end, I was convinced he had done a terrific job, with voices, atmosphere, everything that could contribute to wonderful reading of this book). The setup for the whole book took a bit longer than some do. But just when I was wondering if I was going to write this off as an unfortunate mistake, I realized that my interest had sneakily gotten more and more engaged, till I didn't want to stop listening up to the end.

    The plot is actually not too complicated--an Oxford professor is killed, later someone else is, as well. And naturally, they are connected. I felt many shifting levels of engagement in the story. Initially, not sure if I could stay with it, by the end, I wished it were another couple of hours longer.

    Don't want to give away the plot, but I will say that the characters are perhaps more intricately developed than in other Morse books, and this book almost depends upon that for its entire understanding. The narrator who at first seemed annoying with the heaviness of his voice and his loud swallowing, gradually revealed this as being truly part of the book. Morse, as a character, is not always a socially correct sort of man. And I think the reading underscored some combination of that and the sort of stuffy, over-correctness of the Oxford world this story moves about in.

    Suspect some people may just find his voice annoying. I did at first, till I realized that his intriguingly annoying speech characteristics (purposeful or not?) were making this story "work" better. Think there was also more breadth of scope for Morse as a character in this book; showed several sides of him in interesting juxtaposition. I liked it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Power French Verbs 2: English and French Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Mark Frobose
    • Narrated By Mark Frobose
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Break free of boring verb conjugation programs that robotically teach French in a contrived context and learn speak using High-Intermediate French verbs, just like native French speakers use.

    ben says: "amazing technique for learning French verbs in all"
    "Very good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to, and liked, several books in this series, but this one really seems to hit its stride. While all seem helpful, I like that this one moves at a good pace, and is quite useful on a practical level. One note--not for beginners, though you don't have to be very advanced. Even though they explain the vocabulary and grammar involved, it seems to me it would have been a challenge not to have known both beforehand. I think this is a great review for creating conversation in french.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Haunted Abbot: A Sister Fidelma Mystery of Ancient Ireland

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Peter Tremayne
    • Narrated By Caroline Lennon
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    In December of 666 A.D., Fidelma of Cashel and her companion Brother Eadulf, having completed their business with the Archbishop of Canterbury, make one final journey before returning to Ireland. At the insistence of Brother Botulf, a childhood friend of Eadulf, they detour from their trip to Eadulf's home village and make their way to Aldred's Abbey. Arriving at midnight on the night of the old pagan festival of Yule, as requested, they find Botulf's dead body - his head caved in by a blunt instrument.

    Kathi says: "Good series, Excellent narration"
    "Good series, Excellent narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My only regret about this story is that the books available to listen to only begin mid-series. Many years ago I read several of Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma books and thoroughly enjoyed them then. I find that now, hearing this one, it is as interesting and fun as I thought before. Caroline Lennon is a very good narrator who does well with different voices.

    This book concerns Fidelma and her companion/husband Brother Eadulf, who are called to Aldred's Abbey in East Anglia, under mysterious circumstances in the deepest cold and snow of mid-winter. They quickly encounter murder, madness and great suspicion there, as they are forced to remain due to Fidelma's unexpected illness, and Eadulf's strong wish to solve the murder of his friend.

    The book has much of historical interest about it. The author (I think) took a few liberties here and there that led to some anachronisms (for example, I doubt that people wrote notes to themselves on scraps of paper in the 7th century), but somehow I didn't mind them. They simply help hold the story together in a more interesting way. I would compare this series a bit to the Brother Cadfael books, though I believe earlier in time. If you like mysteries that will hold your interest without too much blood and gore, have well-drawn characters, and do not require exact authenticity, you might enjoy this. I was quite happy to see this series at last available on Audible.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Murder Past Due: Cat in the Stacks Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Miranda James
    • Narrated By Erin Bennett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (87)

    There's a cat in the stacks...and he makes the purr-fect partner for a librarian-turned-sleuth. Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows librarian Charlie Harris - and his Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash. They also know his former classmate-turned-famous best-selling novelist, Godfrey Priest. But someone in Athena took Godfrey off the best seller lists - permanently, and with extreme prejudice. Now, Charlie and Diesel must browse through the history section of the town's past to find a killer.

    Ronna says: "A cat and his librarian"
    "Story better than narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a pretty good mystery, about a man who is a college librarian who keeps a huge Maine coon cat named Diesel. Unlike another well-known series where the cat itself always solves,the mysteries, Diesel provides a loving companionship to Charlie and the young man who is a boarder at his house. He is always present everywhere, but you don't have to suspend belief here, because it is the humans who are solving the crime. Though the characters are a bit stilted in some,ways, and seem too "good" to be believable, it was a fun read. The narrator was okay for the most part, but for some reason this series appears to keep a female voice for a male protagonist. Looking ahead, I noticed they switched narrators for some reason, and still don't have a man reading it. Takes some getting used to. I intend to listen to the next one, but with expectations altered. Characters are a bit too "nice," which left them a bit one-sided. But if you are looking for a comfortable read, without unnecessary sex and violence (which can be refreshing), this is a good book. Despite all that I felt about the lack of character complexity, the plot was delightfully absorbing. I listened to it almost non-stop. And had a good surprise at the end.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Chatham School Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Thomas Cook
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (22)

    As lawyer Henry Griswald draws up an aging client’s will, he reflects on a series of events in 1926-1927 that shattered the peace of his boyhood community. Griswald, then a student at the school where his father was headmaster, witnessed a passion that would change him forever. At the heart of Griswald’s reverie lies a mystery only he can solve. What really happened at Black Pond—a tragedy that eventually destroyed five lives?

    Kathi says: "Winding, intriguing story draws you in"
    "Winding, intriguing story draws you in"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a rather good book. Quite well-written and the narration was excellent. In one respect, it is like a coming of age story. Henry Griswald, now an old man looking back over certain events in his life during his adolescence, reveals tantalizing clues to both his understanding of the adults in his life, and a mystery that involves the students and teachers in a private boys school of which is father is the headmaster. The author has done a good job of revealing the interior worlds of the characters through Griswald's understanding of what happened, looking back from half a century later. I was fascinated by the way little pieces of what he recalls completely (and repeatedly) changed my thoughts about what was taking place, as he slowly tells a story of a passionate mystery and the morals of an early 19th century small town in New England. This book had a surprises everywhere, even it's last paragraph!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Death Comes to London

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Catherine Lloyd
    • Narrated By Susannah Tyrrell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (41)

    With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy's special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism. Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead.

    Sara says: "A Delightful Story of Murder in London 1816"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listened to the first book and enjoyed it a lot. This seemed a disappointment by comparison. I had difficulty distinguishing voices of characters in the narration. The story is basically interesting enough for a historical cozy. But I had hoped for more.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Summer Queen: Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Chadwick
    • Narrated By Katie Scarfe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (92)

    Eleanor of Aquitaine's story deserves to be legendary. She is an icon who has fascinated readers for over 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive - until now. Based on the most up-to-date research, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Chadwick brings Eleanor's magnificent story to life, as never before, unveiling the real Eleanor. Young, golden-haired and blue-eyed Eleanor has everything to look forward to as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine.

    Sara says: "The Romance Runs Strong in This One"
    "Is it history or romance?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have always loved Eleanor (Alienor) of Aquitaine--she has sort of been one of my favorite historical characters, and I read everything I find about her. So when I saw Elizabeth Chadwick's book featuring her story, I eagerly got it.

    So--for me--and this is just my opinion--it's kind of a wavy-hand thing.(had good points and less good ones). It is a well-written and very interesting book. I don't typically read romance novels, and I realized that's what this would be when I got it, but I think in future I'll look for either historical biography or (maybe) a romance novel. I actually found it fun to listen to--even my husband liked it. But I felt that it might have been a little much to turn this exciting woman of history into a romantic/sexy sort of heroine.

    So how can I explain this? I really liked the book. I really love reading about the historical Alienor of Aquitaine. I guess I would prefer, at the end of the day, to have read a more strictly biographical account of her. But that's just my taste--I can really say that the book is good. If I just wasn't trying to square it with the Alienor I've held in my imagination for 50 years, I would have liked it better. As a romance novel--I suspect it is superb (I don't read many--but I think so). As a historical one, just missed my personal taste by a little. But I do recommend it--the book is a good story and a good listen, well-narrated.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • A Long Shadow: Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Samuel Gillies
    Overall
    (60)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (50)

    Scotland Yard’s Inspector Ian Rutledge brought the Great War home with him, and its horrors haunt him still. On New Year’s Eve 1919, he finds a brass cartridge casing, similar to countless others he’d seen on the battlefield, on the steps of a friend’s house. Soon there are more, purposely placed where he is sure to discover them. Unexpectedly drawn away from London to a small Northamptonshire village, he investigates the strange case of a local constable shot with a bow and arrow.

    Kathi says: "Excellent book--but read this series in order!"
    "Excellent book--but read this series in order!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I noticed that only one person has rated this book before now, and appears not to have liked it at all. If that listener was unfamiliar with the whole series, it would be easy to understand how difficult it might have been to make sense out of this story. I love this series, and I loved this book. But it is perhaps one that most depends upon knowing and understanding the character of Ian Rutledge up till this point, to allow the book to be interesting and meaningful.

    Ian Rutledge is a veteran returned from WWI, injured in body, mind and soul. He feels cautious of other people, has been rejected by the woman he had been engaged to before the war, and has come back to work at Scotland Yard, where he seems to be something of a loner, a man who works best by following his own intuititions. Indeed, he is not exactly "alone," because he suffers from Shell Shock (what we would call PTSD today), and carries within him, the haunting voice of an executed war comrade, along with torturous guilt and memories.

    This book possibly is the strongest one in the series, in terms of directly and indirectly alluding to the internal ghosts he is struggling with. The book begins on New Year's Eve, where a woman is doing a seance-like sitting, trying to evoke the dead--which so unnerves him that he has to leave early. He finds shell casings there (and other places) which provoke anxious memories for him. And then his job takes him north, to a spirit-ridden area, where tight-lipped people won't go into the woods, nor reveal why to him because of something that occurred in their past.

    The writing of this whole series and especially this book is just word-perfect. I never want one to end. I have read each one in paper, and I'm now coming back to listen--which is a very satisfying experience, as I hear details and grasp more of the psychological aspects of this time in history, and the narration is quite good as well. But even though I recommend this book with as many stars as one could give it, I fully believe this is one book best read only after getting a better sense of what the series/character is about. Otherwise, I can easily understand how disappointing it might have been to listen to--might not have made as much sense in many ways. However, I found it as good as when I first read it, and if one follows the series, this book will most likely be greatly enjoyed at many levels--historical, psychological, good mystery and very unique main character.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • A Demon Summer: A Max Tudor Mystery, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By G.M. Malliet
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (85)

    The powerful Lord complains loudly to the local bishop, who asks Father Max Tudor, vicar of Nether Monkslip and former MI5 agent, to investigate. Just as Max comes to believe the poisoning was accidental, a body is discovered in the cloister well. Can Max Tudor solve the case and restore order in time to attend his own nuptials?

    Ronna says: "A must read for all cozy enthusiasts--"
    "Oh, I REALLY love this series!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think this is my favorite in the Max Tudor series so far. In this book, Father Max Tudor (a former MI-5 agent and now a priest) has had to leave his village and his pregnant love to go to a nunnery where suspicious events have occurred. He is there to look into the poisoning of Lord Lislelivet, who ate fruitcake laced with something that seemed intended to warn him away.

    I thought that beginning (of being poisoned with fruitcake) was either meant to be taken a bit lightly or else it was somewhat awkwardly worked out. But it served its purpose--to get Ftr Tudor to the place where all the mysteries are happening. And unfortunately, things will get worse before they get better.

    Let me tell you why I love this series & especially this book. GM Malliet has put this into a convent setting--something that I think it could be challenging to keep interesting for some authors. But Malliet writes with a refreshing dose of modern day observations and comments that are delightfully sprinkled throughout, which contrast with this religious setting where time has all but stood still. She moves deftly back and forth between drawing the listener/reader into the depths of a lifestyle that it is even hard to imagine in this busy world, with comments that remind one that it is indeed taking place in the 21st century.

    She has done something else that I think is difficult--she has created a fairly large group of characters, and that can be hard to keep up with in some books. But in this one--the cast of characters are read out in the very beginning--so that was a big help, plus they are so well drawn, that I felt no problem following them.

    I think the ending was a little bit too much drawn out--but it turned out to be a complicated situation, and probably needed all the time spent on winding it up. I hope, now that the "seasons" are all used up (in the titles of this series) that Ms. Malliet will still write about Max Tudor. I find this a really enjoyable series, and loved every word of this book. I felt so sorry when it had to finally be over.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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