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Amazon Customer

CA, United States | Member Since 2010

  • 19 reviews
  • 115 ratings
  • 516 titles in library
  • 67 purchased in 2014

  • Full Dark, No Stars

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Craig Wasson, Jessica Hecht
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    "I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger...." writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up "1922", the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

    Parusski says: "Eerie, honest, frightening!"
    "Full Dark, Four Stars"

    As Craig Wasson launches into the first lines of 1922, “My name is Wilfred Leland James, and this is my confession. In June of 1922 I murdered my wife, Arlette Christina Winters James, and hid her body by tupping it down and old well.” You can feel how much you’re going to love this audio book. Even if you feel like a sick deviant as you delight in their sinister plot lines and unshakably vivid characters.

    And then, Jessica Hecht begins to warble through Big Driver, the story of a Tess, a mystery novelist, who is brutally attacked and that’s just the beginning. Though none of the women in all four stories are treated with particular care (the men don’t fare much better), Hecht’s Tess was particularly weak and a little whiny.

    Wasson comes back with King’s clever take on the deal with the devil tale in Fair Extension. The story of Dave Streeter terminal cancer patient who is seduced by the idea of extending his life, this is easily the most uplifting of the four stories, and it almost feels out of place amongst the sheer dire straits some of the other characters land in.

    But of course, Hecht begins to prattle and baby talk her way through A Good Marriage. Though the story of a longtime wife who makes a gruesome discovery about her husband, is hands down the most fear inducing story of the four (King states he was inspired by the BTK murder and his wife in a killer afterword), it’s the worst performance.

    Thankfully, some merciful producer selected Wasson to read the afterword in which King describes the collection: “I have tried my best to record what people might do, and how they might behave, under certain dire circumstances”. He does that in spades. All in all, he written four unforgettable stories that are sure to haunt readers long after the book is finished.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Fever: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Mary Beth Keane
    • Narrated By Candace Thaxton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny, and coveted, talent for cooking. Working in the kitchens of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless "medical engineer" proposed the inconceivable notion of the "asymptomatic carrier" - and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman.

    Margaret says: "Walk a mile in my shoes..."
    "Captivating Retelling"

    I haven’t written a book review in awhile but felt compelled to write this one. I enjoyed Mary Beth Keane’s the Walking People and once I heard the subject matter for this book, I was sold. A historic trial? A medical mystery? I couldn’t have picked a novel I more wanted to read.

    I hope that is not a spoiler to note that Mary Mallon was the first well known ‘healthy’ carrier of Typhoid Fever. She was asymptomatic and since little was known about how sickness spread, it was hard for people to recognize the health risk she posed. She was a cook and though out breaks of Typhoid seemed to follow her wherever she was employed; she refused to believe she could be the source of the fever. Even after she was confronted with the possibility that she was spreading the fever. She refused to cooperate. She continued to cook until she was arrested and deatined. She wasn’t released for two years and only after agreeing not to cook. Despite all this, she cooks again. Changes her name and continues to cook until she is recaptured.

    Enter Keane to deliver an entirely unexpected novelization of her life. The tendency to sort of side with Mary and vilify her treatment and compare it with others (non-working class males who may have received much better treatment) and conclude Mary was treated unfairly. Or try and convince readers that Mary’s recklessness led to unnecessary deaths even after the danger she posed to others was explained to her. Keane does something else. She seems to take both sides-- rallying a little for Mary and then highlighting her unsafe obstinacy. So the reader is both frustrated with and sympathetic towards, Mary.
    Keane once again plays with time beginning somewhere in the middle of Mary’s story and then hopping all around throughout her life similar to her The Walking People narrative. Maybe more successfully this time, but I am still unsure why authors belabor this technique when a simple straightforward arc would serve.

    What is known about Mary seems to all be spot on, but Keane adds a lot too. For instance additional deaths, a fabricated alcoholic live in lover, and a backstory are all provided. I’m torn too to what this all adds. A historical novelization works best for me when it holds as closely to the truth as possible. However these additive also provide period detail to further set Mary’s drama.

    I am beginning to realize it sounds as if I am conflicted about the book which I am not. I highly recommend it for any historical fiction fans. Mary’s story horrified me, disgusted me, and baffled me in turns. I was genuinely engaged in Mary’s story from the very first through the last page.

    And though the narrator slips in and out of an Irish accent inexplicably, she otherwise does a good job.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Finding Emma

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Steena Holmes
    • Narrated By Natalie Ross
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The last time Megan saw her youngest daughter, Emma, was on the little girl’s third birthday. Now, two years later, she sees her daughter’s face in every blonde girl she passes - at the grocery store, in car windows, at the doctor’s office. She is determined to find her daughter, but her commitment borders on obsession as she finds herself following these little girls who resemble her missing daughter. Her inability to move on after Emma’s kidnapping has distanced Megan from her friends and family.

    Amazon Customer says: "Overwrought Drama"
    "Overwrought Drama"

    While under her mother's supervision, three year old Emma disappears. Two years later Emma is still gone. Her Mother, Megan, hasn't been able to recover. She spends her time putting together "stranger danger" seminars for schools and organizing supervision for children who walk home. She also mistakes other little girls for Emma. Her husband, Peter, shames Megan for "seeing" Emma in other children. He wants Megan to focus on the present and their two other children. The novel quickly shifts and then alternates to the story of an elderly couple struggles to raise their granddaughter, Emme amongst the grandmother's declining health.

    I am afraid I am in the minority on this one. I thought this book was only OK. I was expecting more of a mystery. Any mystery Holmes had, she gives away pretty quickly on in the story. There isn't really a plot other than waiting for the characters to uncover the "secret" that the reader already guessed. Holmes replaces suspense with repeated heart wrenching scenes illustrating the damage that Emma's kidnapping has afflicted on Megan's family. The story of a kidnapped child is pretty relatable for any parent, so the dozens of scenes underscoring the repercussions of this tragedy are unnecessary. I felt beat over the head with sad scenes. The marital tension seemed contrived and never fully fleshed out. A typical argument:

    Peter: You need to move on from Emma's kidnapping!
    Megan: I will never give up on Emma! (bursts into tears).

    Ok, maybe that's a facile transcription of an argument. But they had multiple arguments to this effect and that's how they began to feel. I wanted to say: Megan, honey, if your husband's idea of being supportive is to encourage you to move past your daughter's tragic kidnapping while flirting with his attractive business partner, you may want to move past your marriage. I mean it's only been two years. But do try and acknowledge your other kids, just once and a while. He has a small point there.

    Another thing that bothered me was several sub-plots that never went anywhere. I kept reading hoping they would go somewhere, but they didn't. I now see that maybe they will be picked up in the author's companion novella or the sequel. Inexplicably, I am tempted to purchase both of these? Maybe I am still hoping to uncover the novel I intended to read. AS of today, I have not purchased either.

    Another note: I got a deal on the audio version via Whisphersync. The narrator baby talks Emma's lines. While I have no problem with a narrator who performs characters, I have never heard an adult do a good rendition of a small child's voice. This is a pet peeve of mine, and is so grating, if Emma had more lines, I would not have been able to listen to the audio version.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5)

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Minnie Goode

    This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

    Charles says: "Unique"
    "Good Story, Should have READ it"

    Story and premise is imaginative and definitely held my interest. Consider purchasing a paper or ebook. However, I found myself wincing at the over acted narration. The narrator feels the need to use a different voice for every character however the narrator can't do other voices, so they come off like bad impressions. A lone southern accent in an massive underground bunker hundreds of years in the future? A weasel like voice for the villain? It's too much. The pacing and enunciation are off. Bizarre giggles sporadically and then she breaks into baby talk into Part 4. It's not just distracting, it’s awful. I will be avoiding Minnie Goode in the future.

    52 of 65 people found this review helpful
  • Rebecca

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Daphne du Maurier
    • Narrated By Anna Massey

    After a whirlwind romance and a honeymoon in Italy, the innocent young heroine and the dashing Maxim de Winter return to his country estate, Manderley. But the unsettling memory of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter, still lingers within. The timid bride must overcome her husband's oppressive silences and the sullen history of the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, to confront the emotional horrors of the past.

    P. Wade Thompson says: "A Great Listen"
    "One of my all time favorite listens"

    Rebecca is one of the few books that is worth the second (and third) listen. As good today as the first time I read it. Anna Massey brings new depth to this classic moody mystery. Plan to listen to again when I need to escape into an evocative novel.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Vaddey Ratner
    • Narrated By Greta Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood - the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father.

    Melinda says: "A Terrible Tale from A Beautiful Storywriter"
    "Did not care for the narration"

    The narrators overly sweet voice distracted from the tragic but gripping material. Some background on Cambodian history leading up to the revolution might have also better set the story's events.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Tim says: "Brilliant Sequel"
    "Does anyone do it better than Follett?"

    For this fan of Fall of Giants there was nothing better than hearing John Lee pick up where my favorite players in Europe, Russia and America left off. Winter of the World covers the period leading up to and the resolution of WWII. It is not necessary to read the series launch, Fall of Giants (I do highly recommend that book on its own merit).

    This was maybe even more enjoyable then the first book as I had a better grasp of the history shaping the lives of the characters. Once again Follet spoils his reader with fascinating historical detail and context. My only complaint is how Follet contrives to interweave these families and puts someone at almost every import event in the time period. 31 hours wouldn’t suffer from a new character or two.
    Historical fiction fans should not miss this one.

    John Lee is perfection. His heavily accented reads are a treat for the ears.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By C. W. Gortner
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    “No one believed I was destined for greatness.” So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens - the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a new world. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

    ToniAnn says: "The Queen's Vow"
    "An Intriguing Take"

    I know that Isabella is a complicated figure. Both acclaimed and condemned for her legacy and contributions to history. CW Gortner of Confessions of Catherine de Medici tackles her in his latest novel, The Queen’s Vow. The scope of the novel is ambitious and attempts to cover Queen Isabella’s childhood, power struggles with her half-brother, her romance with Ferdinand, the Crusades, her meeting with Christopher Columbus and on and on. The effect is a little unfocused, but allows for a varied depiction of the monarch instead of a more singular betrayal (ie, religious fanatic). The aspects of Isabella’s life that are unflattering like igniting the Spanish inquisition are depicted but breezed over. Gortner allows Isabella to pretty heavily justify her positions. Much of that was hard to read knowing the consequences of Isabella’s choices.

    Some things I would have enjoyed reading more about her children particularly Catherine of Aragaon are so briefly skimmed it was disappointing. Juana however is thoroughly explored in Gortner’s novel The Last Queen is given a bigger depiction. However, the book did include a lot of romance and though Isabella and Ferdinand appear to be a rare love match, I still felt Gortner’s treatment was heavy handed.

    There is no lacking in drama as Isabella led an sensational life in a tumultuous time. And though I enjoyed much of the novel, and found Gortner’s Isabella interesting though complicated, a pre-existing interest in Isabella or the time helps. Because despite Gortner’s kind treatment Isabella is still a thorny subject and some of her actions are unjustifiably horrific and are irredeemable to modern readers.

    If you don’t mind the occasional inconsistent Spanish lisping accent, the narrator, Rosalyn Landor brought really depth to Isabella’s story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Broken Harbor: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Stephen Hogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Broken Harbor, all but one member of the Spain family lies dead, and it’s up to Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy to find out why. Mick must piece together why their house is full of cameras pointed at holes in the walls and how a nighttime intruder bypassed all the locks. Meanwhile, the town of Broken Harbor holds something else for Mick: disturbing memories of a childhood summer gone terribly wrong.

    Amazon Customer says: "Best in the Series"
    "Best in the Series"

    While those who have read Faithful Place were introduced to Frank “Skorcher” Kennedy, we obviously didn’t scratch the surface. He starts Broken Harbor in about the same place French last left him spouting cop jargon and bragging about solve rates. Though the events from the Faithful Place novel have left his reputation a little tarnished. In a bid for redemption, Frank takes a case involving the attack on a family after which only the mom survived. He’s also showing a relative newbie the murder squad ropes, the uncannily perceptive Ritchie. He’s also dealing with a mentally ill sister who has shown up just in time to upend his life. When the case ends up more complicated than he could have imagined, Frank’s path to the killer requires him to question everything he was certain he knew.

    First, I’m a fan of the entire Dublin Murder squad series. I find that Tana French ups her skill with every subsequent book. Broken Harbor has officially replaced Faithful Place as my favorite. Second, everything I love about the series is here: complex mysteries with genuine surprises, a fascinating and layered view of modern Dublin, and some of the best interrogation scenes I have ever read. French also tackles another “partner” relationship which she hasn’t touched much since Rob and Cassie in her debut, In the Woods. One of the things that stand out the most in Harbor is French’s vivid portrayal of the victim’s marriage and family life. Through some clever plot situations we get layered depictions of this family which makes their story fascinating. Frank’s character development is also entirely honest which by the end of the book makes the reader a genuine fan. Broken Harbor is a gift for mystery fans. And while each book in the series stands alone, once you read one, you will want to read all four. I for one cannot wait for the next installment.

    I listened to the audio version performed by Stephen Hogan. About 90% of Steven Hogan’s reading is wonderful. However, he does a really screechy impression of Frank’s sister which unfortunately puts the listener off.

    55 of 57 people found this review helpful
  • The Orphanmaster

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Jean Zimmerman
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a 22-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a British spy named Edward Drummond. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage.

    Amazon Customer says: "Bizarre at times"
    "Bizarre at times"

    In the young New Netherlands colony, orphans are disappearing. The evidence recovered suggests some may have even been partially eaten. The leading theory is a Native American beast who consumes children. Terrifying an entire community, but irrevocably changing the town’s Orphanmaster, a she-merchant and an English spy hunting fugitives.

    For such a dark story, I was surprised at how well it was researched. In fact some of the chapters open with headlines. You get a good sense of the politics, social protocol and economic feel of the time period. You can’t help but come away with a better understanding of the origins of Manhattan.

    Some warnings:
    -The story is gruesome throughout
    -The story’s romance is contrived. It feels sort of forced amongst the rest of the subject matter.
    - There are also many narrators telling the story. They are all pretty roughly sketched (but eerily memorable). The collective tells the story of the colony and it’s time more than any one character. The timeline isn’t fluid either. At times this ensures the reader is lost, and that the author may even be employing the confusion.

    So it’s not for everyone. But if you keep to it, the novel really picks up momentum towards the end of the story and even becomes focused.

    The novel’s narrator George Guidall was perfect. He reads the entire novel as if he’s voicing over a movie trailer. I will definitely be on the lookout for more performances from him.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    FanB14 says: "Amazing Amy"
    "Delightfully Twisted"

    There's not much I can say about this book without spoiling some of the fun. It begins abruptly. Housewife Amy disappears on her five year wedding anniversary. The story is told alternately from the point of view of her husband, Nick, beginning the day of her disappearance and then passages from Amy's diary which starts at the beginning of their relationship. Readers are torn by the dubious Nick--can we trust anything he says? And we are treated to a conversation depiction of a strained marriage.

    There was a lot of hype behind this book, so I did purchase the day it came out. I wasn't disappointed. I spent every waking hour listening to this one--so beware. I truly enjoyed this one.

    Kirby who reads Nick is decent, but Julia who reads Amy is awesome. She is perfect.

    92 of 98 people found this review helpful

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