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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
433
REVIEWS
231
FOLLOWING
6
FOLLOWERS
206
HELPFUL VOTES
887

  • Five Little Pigs

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By Hugh Fraser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (44)

    Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, but just like the nursery rhyme, there were five other "little pigs" who could have done it: Philip Blake (the stockbroker), who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist), who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcee), who had her roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess), who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister), who cried all the way home.

    Sixteen years later, Caroline's daughter is determined to prove her mother's innocence.

    Kathi says: "Good, but not Christie's best"
    "Good, but not Christie's best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hugh Fraser (who played Hastings, the sidekick of Hercules Poirot on the well-loved tv series) narrates this book, as he has done with several other Christie books.

    He did the best he could with this book I think. While I doubt there are actually any "bad" mysteries by Agatha, I would not place this among her best works. It is tedious, and Poirot goes back and forth among the possible candidates for the murderer just interviewing them.

    There is very little action otherwise, and I found myself actually becoming a little bored (almost a first for anything by AC). Don't know whether a different narrator might have spiced it up a bit--Fraser wasn't terribly animated in his reading--though perfectly ok in other respects.

    I'd say, if you love Agatha Christie, this should be on your listening/reading list so you can complete the works. It is not bad--it just is not up to the usual quality of her writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Stops Here: A Bibliophile Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Kate Carlisle
    • Narrated By Susie Berneis
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Brooklyn Wainwright is thrilled to be appearing on the hit TV show, This Old Attic as a rare-book expert. Her first subject is a very valuable first-edition copy The Secret Garden. Its owner, Vera, is eager to have Brooklyn recondition it for resale. But a furious man viciously accosts Brooklyn, claiming that Vera found the first edition at his garage sale, and he wants it back - or else. In the days that follow, Brooklyn visits Vera's flower shop…and discovers her dead.

    Kathi says: "It's okay...."
    "It's okay...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story itself was good enough and held my interest. A professional book binder goes on a tv antiques appraisal show in her capacity as specialist in valuing books. A woman brings in an old copy of "The Secret Garden," which Brooklyn Wainwright identifies as quite valuable, and Vera--it's happy owner-- confesses she purchased it recently at a garage sale and expresses interest in Brooklyn restoring it for her so she can sell it. Then things get dicey, because a violent man who says he had owned the book tries to frighten Brooklyn into giving it back to him, things are kind of tense in the studios where Randolph--who is in charge there--believes someone is trying to kill him. A murder does occur, and Brooklyn is drawn into helping to solve it.

    I recognize that I read this book out of order in a series, so I'm just not going to comment much about the characters (though they seemed interesting and appear to be well-developed). What might keep me from going back and reading earlier ones, though, was the narrator. In most respects she was adequate--but she really did have a terrible time trying to do men's voices. I cringed at her reading of Derek (Brooklyn's significant other), because he was British, and she just could not capably capture either a man's voice or a British accent. If I do read another, it will be because I want to follow up on the story line--not due to the narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Harry Kemelman
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    One of the world’s most unusual sleuths, Rabbi David Small captivates mystery fans with his chutzpah and unparalleled logic. When he investigates some non-kosher behavior by his congregation, he finds himself in water way over his head. While a destructive hurricane pummels Barnard’s Crossing, an elderly temple member dies suddenly after taking his newly-prescribed antibiotic. Soon one member of the Jewish community after another falls under suspicion for drug tampering.

    Kathi says: "Kemelman's wonderful series--brilliantly narrated!"
    "Kemelman's wonderful series--brilliantly narrated!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the delightful series written in the '70's by Harry Kemelman that focuses on David Small, the rabbi of a conservative congregation in Barnard's Crossing, Massachusetts. Sometimes I hesitate before getting old books--but because I read all these in paper form "back in the day," I could recall how interesting they were.

    In this book, Hurricane Betsy is in the background while one of the temple congregants is very ill, a pharmacist and his son have previously had a bitter dispute--leading to the son leaving home, and there are people who want to do some interesting real estate deals. All of these components are parts of the intrigue that arises out of what appears at first to be a patient taking medications for a treatable infection--and leads to murder. Several people are suspect, one in particular that Rabbi Small wants to help (as only he can do, using his particular knowledge of Talmudic law).

    This series has a very good mix of personal and logical--with development of characters like Rabbi Small and his wife and son and the local chief of police as on-going characters. There tend to be different townspeople and temple congregants and boards of directors featured. But one thing that never changes is that the books are a wonderful combination of good story, intriguing mysteries, and fascinating look into the Jewish culture. I have always loved them--but finding that the incomparable George Guidall is narrating them brings them fresh life. Highly recommend!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Death of a Policeman

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (53)

    Local police stations all over the Scottish Highlands are being threatened with closure. This presents the perfect opportunity for Detective Chief Inspector Blair, who would love nothing more than to get rid of Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. Blair suggests that Cyril Sessions, a keen young police officer, visit the town of Lochdubh to monitor exactly what Macbeth does every day. Macbeth hears about Blair's plan and is prepared to insure that Cyril returns back to headquarters with a full report. But Cyril is soon found dead and Hamish quickly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

    Kathi says: "The narrator brings this book to life!"
    "The narrator brings this book to life!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Graeme Malcolm's narration carries the story in this episode of the Highland policeman who wants nothing more than to be left on his own turf, to take care of matters as only he can do best. However CI Blair has always been jealous of Hamish, and thinks up a plot he hopes will get rid of him at last. Since there is a movement to down-size the police force, Blair gets Cyril Sessions, a young policeman, to secretly follow Hamish, take pictures and document that he and his partner really do not do any work, in the hope that this evidence will get MacBeth removed from the force. Unfortunately, this will lead to a murder instead.

    The fun of Hamish Macbeth books is always the characters more than the mystery (although that part is good, too). Hamish is a life-loving man, who doesn't take himself too seriously, does his job quite well in fact, but has little interest in doing anything that would take him up the ladder of promotions, because that might mean leaving his beloved town of Lochdubh. He loves the Highlands, the townspeople, his cat and dog, and wants nothing more than to do what he does best, where he is. That lack of ambition puzzles some and infuriates others, which is where much of the tension in the stories comes in.

    This book is typical of most in the series, but it lacked a bit of the usual pizzazz, and I don't really know why. I love the narration of Graeme Malcolm, and that compensated for what I think is one of the weaker stories in the series. It is still good--I haven't read a bad Hamish MacBeth book ever. But would not call this Beaton's best. I would still recommend it to any faithful Hamish fan!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Cards on the Table: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By Hugh Fraser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (56)

    Mr. Shaitana is famous as a flamboyant party host. Nevertheless, he is a man of whom everybody is a little afraid. So when he boasts to Hercule Poirot that he considers murder an art form, the detective has some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana's "private collection". Indeed, what begins as an absorbing evening of bridge is to turn into a more dangerous game altogether.

    Calliope says: "this is a great Christie mystery"
    "Poirot according to Hoyle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In my own mind, I kind of think of Agatha Christie mysteries as being sort of "A list" and "B list." To me, this book is on the "B list," but not because it is bad; only because it is not quite as wonderful as some others (I don't personally think there are any bad AC novels).

    In this one, Poirot (along with Supt Battle, Col. Race and Ariadne Oliver--a mystery writer who one senses is created by Agatha in her own image) must solve an odd murder. Mr. Shaitana, a man who has boasted he can pick up on clues to people who have committed murder, invites the four sleuths, along with four other people, to play two tables of Bridge. Alas, the man who believed he could figure out who was a murderer quickly becomes the murder victim. And the hunt begins. Poirot cleverly uses the score sheets from the bridge game to ascertain who was playing the game at various times. But there are many more twists and turns till the murderer is revealed in the end.

    I think High Fraser does a good job with the narration, and it is all the more fun since he played Captain Hastings in the Poirot TV series. This is a fun read. Agatha Christie is always a winner, and even though I read them all many years ago, I'm having a lot of fun listening to them again. Recommend!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Henry Huggins

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Beverly Cleary
    • Narrated By Neil Patrick Harris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (38)

    Genuinely funny books for children are few and far between. So, when a story like Henry Huggins comes along, it comes to stay. Children everywhere see themselves in this irresistible boy's adventures.

    J. Walker says: "Wonderful!"
    "Excellent--just excellent!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't typically review kids' books. But we are just back from a vacation with our 5 & 7 year old grandkids--and we listened to this book, as well as "Henry & Beezus" and "Henry & the Clubhouse". They were all wonderful!

    I'm so used to serious lit and adult mysteries, that it was a pleasant surprise and change of pace to listen to these. My husband and I found them as charming as our grandsons did. The kids never uttered a whimper of protest or "when are we going to get there?" during a fairly long car trip because they were just fascinated by the various adventures of Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy. There is also a lot of interaction with Beezus and Ramona Quinby (from the "Ramona the Pest" series).

    These were originally published in the 1950's I think--and believe me when I say--they have lost none of their charm since then. Our kids read them a generation ago, and now our grandchildren are listening to them. There is something totally timeless about the way Beverly Cleary touches so perfectly on the behaviors and feelings and behavioral strategies of elementary school-aged kids.

    Charming. Delightful. Amusing. Perceptive. Clever. Fun. Captivating stories. And here is a shout out to Neil Patrick Harris who narrated them all. If you want something for kids of this age range, you can't go wrong with the Beverly Cleary series. And this narration is simply wonderful! Though I don't read or listen to too many kids' stories these days--I highly recommend this series! Kids can totally relate to the situations that are described, despite the span of years since originally published.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Unsolicited: A Booklover's Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Julie Kaewert
    • Narrated By William Neenan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    From best seller to death-dealer, London's Plumtree Press has a world-class best seller of a novel. And the sequel is earmarked to get this old family firm out of the red. But its anonymous author, known to Plumtree only as "Arthur", has apparently vanished, leaving the crucial last five chapters undelivered. Alex already knows they reveal the identity of the characters who smuggled British children to America during World War II. But, of course, this is fiction. So when a lead critic previews the book as a nonfiction exposé, Alex is shocked.

    Kathi says: "Pretty good, but gets tedious in places"
    "Pretty good, but gets tedious in places"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I took a chance on getting this (first book) in a series, after having previously read a later one out of order, and thinking maybe I found it kind of lackluster was because I didn't have the background the first books would have provided. So it turns out that that was sort of correct--I liked this one considerably better than the other one, but it still had a quality of seeming like an over-long listen.

    Alex Plumtree is desperate to keep his publishing house going, and is depending upon a mystery writer whom he knows as "Arthur" to provide him with the remainder of a best selling novel about kidnapped children. Except there is beginning to be suspicion that this might not be fictional, but true. Furthermore, where is Arthur? He, and the missing end of the manuscript have disappeared. So it is a really good setup for a book. Dangerous things begin to occur and Alex is beginning to wonder who is trustworthy?

    I think two things kept this book from being more interesting (to me). For one thing, it seemed longer than necessary, but more importantly, I didn't feel as if the characters (however well drawn they were) were that interesting (some more than others). The other concern was that Alex is portrayed as a rather young man, someone who is physically fit and has love interest, but my ears heard the narration making him sound more like an older man in the part, which left a disconnect in my listening experience somehow. But that is only my own opinion, others may not hear it that way. The premise of the book is interesting, and it has lots of places that are interesting, but it just seemed to be a little too stretched out somehow. Could have used a bit more editing. Better than I had expected, less engaging than I had hoped for. And I did like it better than the other one in the series I read previously.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Presumed Innocent

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Scott Turow
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1129)
    Performance
    (576)
    Story
    (582)

    Presumed Innocent brings to life our worst nightmare: that of an ordinary citizen facing conviction for the most terrible of crimes. Prosecutor Rusty Sabich is transformed from accuser to accused when he is handed an explosive case - that of the brutal murder of a woman who happens to be his former lover.

    Glen says: "Excellent Book, Gripping Entertainment!"
    "Great courtroom thriller; really great narration!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is Scott Turow's first book in what I understand will become a long line of good legal mysteries. Can't think what to say about this book that hasn't already been said by everyone else. It's old now (written in 1987) but I am just getting started on his books, which I had always heard were wonderful thrillers but somehow missed reading or seeing the films. This did not disappoint in any way, and didn't lack anything for being slightly ahead of cell phones and electronics, which have revolutionized mystery books forever. In fact, I rather prefer the books that are still pre-computerized and rely on old fashioned ingenuity.

    Rusty Sabich is a prosecutor in a mid-west state who is also working to try to get his boss re-elected. When that doesn't happen, and Nico Della Guardia wins the election, he realizes that things will change. But he had not banked on a colleague getting murdered, and himself getting charged with it. A great deal of the book takes place during the trial, and is quite interesting with lots of twists, turns and surprises. The story moves well, and even though I had assumed some things about the ending, I actually had not figured it out.

    This book has similarities to the exciting page-turner John Grishom style of writing, but I believe it preceded those, so this may be the trend-setter here for a lot more subsequently done in similar style. I must say a little about the narrator. I found his ability to do voices to be superb! He shifted back and forth between a lot of different people and it was always clear who was speaking. He did a particularly good job with the voice of Sandy Stern, very light, gentle, yet assertive in the courtroom. If you are like me, one of the dozen or so people on the planet who missed the book or movie of "Presumed Innocent," I can strongly recommend this book. I really enjoyed listening to it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Silent Woman

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Edward Marston
    • Narrated By David Thorpe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    When fire destroys their London theatre, Lord Westfield’s players must seek out humbler venues in the countryside. But company manager Nicholas Bracewell is distracted by a shocking tragedy: a mysterious messenger from his native Devon is murdered by poison. Though the messenger is silenced, Nicholas understands what he must do: Return to his birthplace and reconcile some unfinished business of the past.

    Kathi says: "Trickery, treachery, murder, thieves, plague..."
    "Trickery, treachery, murder, thieves, plague..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Villains galore in this historically interesting, though kind of light and fun reading, in Edward Marsten's book, "The Silent Woman." To my dismay, thinking I'd try something outside of his 19th century Railroad mystery series, I accidentally began with the 6th book in his series about Elizabethan actors. I say dismay, only because I prefer starting series from the beginning. I think it worked out okay, as the characters are well-drawn, and it didn't seem that the author assumed the reader knew who they all were.

    That said, this was a romp through the apparently perilous times of approximately 16th century England as a troupe of actors, displaced by fire in their regular theater, seek audiences elsewhere. Along the way, Nicholas Bracewell realizes that someone bringing him a message from his past in Devon has been killed. So he decides to go there to face some of his own history. As they travel together, the group meets everything short of a plague of locusts (though they do run into the Plague, the illness, in Oxford).

    One man does not want Bracewell to get to Devon, and so all the cloak and dagger exploits begin. In a run of almost unending mishaps, where each side tries to outsmart the other, every device the author can think of is employed to create what almost has the feel of melodrama, so predictable does the string of setbacks and dangerous escapades occur. I liked it, but I think it is written in a way that would also appeal to young people. The narrator uses a slightly exaggerated voice in places, suitable to the dramatic atmosphere being created.

    In theory, the episodes of Nicholas and the men moving toward Devon vs those trying to stop them could have continued forever. While fun, they felt a little as though they were meant to keep the story going longer and longer and occasionally just felt a bit silly. But this is a neat book to listen to if you want something that has historical interest, action every step of the way, intrigue and villainy throughout, and a well-written book. Just don't try to take it too seriously. Recommend.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Silver Locomotive Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Edward Marston
    • Narrated By Sam Dastor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    An exquisite silver coffee-pot in the shape of a locomotive is on its way to Cardiff in the care of silversmith, Hugh Kellow. When the coffee-pot is stolen and a murder is committed, Inspector Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming are called in to investigate.

    Kathi says: "Fun when you need a light read with good mystery"
    "Fun when you need a light read with good mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Edward Marston has written several series of historical books. This series takes place in Victorian 1850's, with the early British Railway system as the background. If you are looking for a deep, intense read, look elsewhere. But I love listening to these as something like a fun palate cleanser after listening to heavier, more intense books. They are predictable, almost "melodrama-light," but always a pleasure to listen to! Especially the marvelous and unique narration of Sam Dastor.

    Inspector Colbeck and Sgt Leeming are called from England to Cardiff, Wales, to investigate the murder of a young silversmith's assistant, who has carried a strange, specially commissioned silver coffeepot in the shape of a locomotive to Wales. On the train, he meets people from a theatre who talk him into showing it to them. Will they be the culprits?

    There are also some entertaining local characters of some social standing who are less than likable. Should we suspect them of the murder? Clifford Tompkins and his greedy wife (who had ordered the silver pot) are amusing, even funny, in their total lack of sensitivity. It is in reading these two characters that Sam Dastor's Indian background peeks through, and I love it (even if it doesn't fully fit the characters). Oh, did I mention? Sam Dastor is one of my very favorite narrators! There is also the love interest for Inspector Colbeck--his beloved, Madeleine Andrews, and things get interesting there, also.

    If you want a crime novel with a lot of vivid violence and filled with language you need to cover you eyes/ears to read/hear--look elsewhere. But if you, like myself, occasionally need a change of pace to take a break from heavier stuff, then give this whole series a try. It is fun, meant to be taken lightly, and well-written with creative characters and information about the time and place, and good mysteries to figure out. Oh yes, and as I mentioned above, read by my *favorite*--Sam Dastor--with his wonderful and incomparable reading voice. :-)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Someone Else's Skin: Detective Inspector Marnie Rome, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Sarah Hilary
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    DI Marnie Rome knows this better than most. Five years ago, her family home was the scene of a shocking and bloody crime that left her parents dead and her foster brother in prison. Marnie doesn't talk much about her personal life - not even her partner, DS Noah Jake, knows much about Marnie's past. Now Marnie and Noah are tackling a case of domestic violence and a different brand of victim. Hope Proctor stabbed her husband in desperate self-defense. A crowd of witnesses in the domestic violence shelter where she's staying saw it happen, but none of them are telling quite the same story.

    Kathi says: "Well-written book about disturbing social crimes"
    "Well-written book about disturbing social crimes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sarah Hilary has written a book that deals with difficult to hear about topics of domestic abuse. Detective Marnie Rome & her partner Noah Jake have come to an abused shelter to interview a woman about an incident she was involved in--but upon their arrival, another crime is occurring there they must respond to. What starts out as an ordinary attempt to do an interview blows up into a story that leads into unexpected and dark places.

    This book is a challenge to read/hear, in one way, because the author has taken on issues of domestic abuse from a variety of perspectives, and made it clear that this is a social issue people should pay more attention to. There is no doubt that any of the events of the book could actually happen. Being involved in this investigation also leads Marnie to have to confront some horrible ghosts of her own past.

    The writing is very good, but the reason I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5, is that the various threads of the book seem to be unrelenting chases after the criminals, with almost no other, lighter story that might bring some relief to the reader/listener at times. Even when the story does shift to Marnie as she is developed as a character, it remains very intense. This entire book is a reminder of the depths of pain and abuse humans can inflict upon each other. Don't get this wrong--this book needed to be written; people need to be aware of what can take place behind closed doors anywhere. But I felt it was intense from beginning to end--with almost no let-up.

    I only gave 4 stars to Justine Eyre's narration because her voice is very soft. I listen on my tablet, and could scarcely hear it--I finally had to hook it up to an external speaker. So this might not be a problem for everybody, but it was for me. I'm not sure why the editing didn't correct for this before it was released. This is truly a very good book--I just wanted to explain why I didn't give it all 5 stars (which it probably deserves in many ways--the writing, itself, is excellent, but I found it hard to listen to constant, unending situations of violence).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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