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Karen

Westbury, Australia | Member Since 2007

161
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 42 reviews
  • 71 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
7

  • The Secret Keeper: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (62)

    England, 1959. Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime. Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades.

    Amazon Customer says: "Good (ish) story, terrible narration :("
    "Another Kate Morton success"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Kate Morton's skill is in creating intrigue and slowly, teasingly unraveling it. The Secret Keeper is an enjoyable mystery that keeps you guessing and changing you guess almost to the end. The story is set in the present with flashbacks to the London Blitz and England in the 1960's. The story is well paced and the twists are introduced skillfully. The exception to this is the central scene which involves a confusingly executed murder. The scene is so sparsely described that is difficult to picture how it actually happened and whether it would even be possible. Her two main female characters are interesting but all the rest are rather undeveloped and have a two dimensional quality. This impression could also be due to the narrator's lack of skill with accents, which were all rather garbled.
    Overall, it is worth listening to, especially if you can forgive bad accents.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Incrementalists

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Steven Brust, Skyler White
    • Narrated By Ray Porter, Mary Robinette Kowal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (173)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (160)

    The Incrementalists - a secret society of 200 people with an unbroken lineage reaching back 40,000 years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories. Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste - and argued with her - for most of the last 400 years.

    AudioBookReviewer says: "Almost Speechless"
    "Expected much more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I chose this book, I was expecting to hear about the world of the Incrementalists and tales of their endeavours to make the world a better place. Instead, the actions of the Incrementalists were no more than hinted at all through the book. As intriguing as the premise was, the development of it was patchy in most places and was not much more than the backdrop to a rather mawkish romance.
    The narrators were okay but they had a disconcerting practice of using different accents for the same characters. Mary Kowal portrayed the character Jimmy with a French accent while Ray Porter gave him a gruff American accented voice.
    The descriptions of the practice of the Incrementalists and how they work was intriguing but this book was unable to satisfy the need for a story with substance to match the premise.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Returned: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Jason Mott
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (326)
    Performance
    (293)
    Story
    (303)

    Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds healed through the grace of time.... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep - flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old. All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond.

    FanB14 says: "You'd Want to Return It"
    "Oddly flat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After the two prequels, I was intrigued but ultimately the book itself was rather a let down. The writing itself was fine but I kept waiting for the story to go somewhere and it just meandered. The most disappointing aspect was that it just turned into another exploration of segregation and fear. The 'returned' could have been any minority group. Not nearly enough exploration into the whole idea of coming back. On the whole, very disappointing, especially after the prequels.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Francine LaSala
    • Narrated By Lucinda Gainey
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Mina Clark is losing her mind - or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer three-year old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake - a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten.

    Karen says: "Weak finish after a promising start"
    "Weak finish after a promising start"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although the plot of this novel starts out well, it doesn't take long before it starts to unravel. To begin with, it is intriguing and has a great note of mystery. However, it seems that the author laid down too many trails and her attempt to tie them all together gets very weak. So, there are some unanswered questions (what's with the cement mixer?) and some connections that seem to have been stuffed in as an afterthought. Also, the action scenes are so lacking in detail that the characters complete movements that could not be possible. All in all, it feels like the author lost enthusiasm about 3/4 through the book and then just relied on conventional plot development and the briefest of detail to get it through to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joy

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jonathan Lee
    • Narrated By Mandy Weston, Rupert Farley
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Did she jump? Did she fall? Will she wake? ’On an ordinary Friday afternoon in the office, talented young lawyer Joy Stephens plummets forty feet onto a marble floor. In the shadow of this baffling event, the lives of those closest to her begin to collide and change in unexpected ways.

    Karen says: "So slow paced, it almost stopped"
    "So slow paced, it almost stopped"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The novel opens with a slow tedious scene of revelation that becomes obvious to the audience way before the main character clicks about what is going on. The pace does not improve from that point. Essentially, the novel is an examination of the thought processes and deliberations of 5 people, each gradually revealing a piece to the puzzling question of whether Joy jumped or was pushed. Unfortunately, each of the 5 people are unlikeable, whinging characters, whose lives appear small, tedious and terribly boring. By the end of the never ending wading through all the moaning and complaining, when we might actually get the answer to the question, who cares? The narration was very good. Both narrators did indeed make their characters sound self involved and small minded.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Life After Life

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Kate Atkinson
    • Narrated By Fenella Woolgar
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (54)

    What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

    Chrissie says: "A puzzle - is it worth the effort?"
    "So tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really wanted to like this because I love everything else Kate Atkinson has written. So I kept trying and re-trying to slog through it. But it is so, so boring. The characters are bland, the setting is bland and every time her life started again, I groaned because I knew there was just more blandness coming. Really disappointed

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Shadow of Night

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6401)
    Performance
    (5757)
    Story
    (5760)

    Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliff-hanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew's old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries.

    Hallie says: "Even better than A Discovery of Witches"
    "Too long by a third"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the first book, Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness introduces us to a world of vampires, witches and demons, living amongst humans. This first book of the trilogy describes the relationships between the three types of creature, and their relationship between humans. It then sets up the major protagonists, develops their relationships and loyalties and sends them off on an adventure.
    The second book, Shadow of Night tells the story of the adventure which adds nearly nothing new and often falls into mawkish historical romance. Ultimately, listening to it became a marathon of wading through the irrelevancies for the brief flashes of interesting developments.
    I finished the book because I believed until the end that something would happen to develop the plot but it never did.
    I had eagerly awaited this second book in the trilogy but I am not sure I will bother with the third one.
    The narration was excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Marriage Plot

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (42)

    It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes.

    Penni says: "Better than TV"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I chose The Marriage Plot because I really enjoyed Middlesex, and perhaps if I wasn't aware of the comparison between the two books, I would have enjoyed this one more. However, I just couldn't get away from how boring the plot line was. Clearly, it has been very well researched because Eugenides is able to go into minute detail on a number of disparate subjects, from the behaviour of yeast cells to the Victorian novels. However it is the amount of detail that made the story drag for me. That and the fact that I couldn't really feel any empathy for the main characters, who were mostly annoying. The narrator was very good and he did create unique voices for each character, but his best efforts weren't enough to save the plodding nature of the plot.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11945)
    Performance
    (10855)
    Story
    (10879)

    There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

    Magpie says: "Super solid listen!!"
    "Loved it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I started 14, I was expecting some sort of horror/thriller. I would have to say it is not really in that genre but it has suspense by the bucketful. The whole concept and premise of the book is something completely new to me so it was wonderfully refreshing. For most of it, I really had no idea where the plot was heading and so I was riveted. Some aspects of the ending were a bit predictable but in a satisfying way. The way the book ended creates the assumption that this is the first in a series, but it does wrap up enough pieces to leave you pleasantly anticipating the next one, rather than frustrated by a cliff hanger. The narrator was excellent and portrayed all the different characters perfectly.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Broken

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Karin Fossum
    • Narrated By David Rintoul
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    A woman wakes one night to find that a strange man has walked into her bedroom. She lies there in terrified silence unable to move. The woman is an author and the man one of her prospective characters. So desperate is he to have his story told that he has resorted to breaking in to her house to make her tell it. She creates Alvar Eide, forty-two years old, single, who works in an art gallery. He lives a quiet, dutiful life, carefully designed to avoid surprise.

    Karen says: "Tedious"
    "Tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Whilst Karin Fossum is obviously a good writer, she just failed to captivate me with this story. The idea is intriguing, an author whose characters petition her and want to discuss the direction she is taking them in. However, both of the main characters, the author and her fictional creation are exceedingly dull. The author is a dreary woman who laments the noise of the birds in the forest and the beauty of her view, wishing for a windowless basement. Her creation is a timid man, too afraid to live, whose daily activities are described in mind numbing detail. I could recognise that the tension was supposed to be building and that intrigue was being introduced to the plot but the characters were just too dull for it to have much effect beyond whingeing.
    The narrator was very good, although it seemed like an odd choice to have a man read a story essentially told by a woman. Two narrators may have made a difference but I'm not sure that much could save the tedium of the plot. I kept tuning out for large chunks of time and then coming back to the story thinking I must have missed something and would need to rewind. Sadly, I hadn't missed anything.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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