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Karen

Vancouver, BC, Canada | Member Since 2006

81
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 27 reviews
  • 190 ratings
  • 230 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
4

  • The Road to Ruin

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Donald E. Westlake
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    John Dortmunder and his merry band of crooks return to the scene of the crime world in an attempt to steal a fleet of automobiles that would leave the Sultan of Brunei blushing. The mark is Monroe Hall, corrupt CEO of a now defunct conglomerate, who spent more of his company's money on himself than the boys at Enron and WorldCom combined. Having escaped prosecution, Hall is holed up on his Pennsylvania farm, and Dortmunder, as usual, has his eyes on the big prize: Hall's vintage wheels.

    Karen says: "Bleehhh!"
    "Bleehhh!"
    Overall

    Boring, poorly plotted, no sense of pacing. The jokes fall flat.
    The narration really doesn't help--monotone, and some of the characters, even quite important ones, are indistinguishable from one another. The women, in particular, sound almost alike, and this is yet another male narrator who can't seem to read a female dialogue without sounding like he's mocking the woman in question.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Help

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Kathryn Stockett
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and others
    Overall
    (27088)
    Performance
    (13710)
    Story
    (13755)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: The most celebrated performance in all of Audible’s history, The Help has nearly 2,000 5-star reviews from your fellow listeners. We hear the print book’s not bad, either. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

    Jan says: "What a great surprise!"
    "WONDERFUL"
    Overall

    This is beautifully written and beautifully read. The characters stand out, even some relatively minor one. My only complaint? I just didn't believe the ending. I feel like the author lost her nerve. Or some publisher made her pretty it up, as has happened to so many authors going back to Dickens.
    No plot spoilers here, but my parents were both from the deep south, and I was born in Florida in 1955. I was in elementary school, in Montgomery Alabama. When it was announced that Bobby Kennedy had died, the middle school and high school students in the building next door ran cheering from the doors, as the black janitor lowered the flag.

    NO WAY would ALL the outcomes, personal and communal, have been this benign.

    BUT THE BOOK IS STILL a brilliant exposition of a place and time. I had goosebumps at various dialectical expressions, and boy oh boy were some of my Alabama relatives close cousins to some of these characters. Well worth reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Summerland: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Michael Chabon
    • Narrated By Michael Chabon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (189)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    It's summer, and the Clam Island fairies, or "ferishers," as the North American Fair Folk call themselves, are in grave peril. War is coming, another battle in an ancient conflict, a struggle against the Fell Smith and his power of Anti-life. He and his host of demon engineers, kobolds, and warriors have sought to destroy the fairies since time began. When the Clam Island band sends for a champion, they get an 11-year-old boy named Ethan Feld.

    A Reader says: "Unforgettable characters!"
    "Inventive, but not his best"
    Overall

    On the plus side, I usually don't enjoy authors reading their own books, but MC is great! He embodies the different characters beautifully. Less happy, however, is the sense I walked away with that this was pretty slap-dash, over all, as if Mr Chabon just dashed it off. Just because a world is fantastical does not mean that it must lack coherence. This one needed a really good edit, or three.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Psmith in the City

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By P.G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    "Work," said Psmith, with simple dignity. "I am now a member of the staff of this bank. Its interests are my interests. Psmith, the individual, ceases to exist, and there springs into being Psmith, the cog in the wheel of the New Asiatic Bank; Psmith, the link in the bank's chain; Psmith, the Worker. "I shall not spare myself," he proceeded earnestly. "I shall toil with all the accumulated energy of one who, up till now, has only known what work is like from hearsay."

    Karen says: "Such a dilemma"
    "Such a dilemma"
    Overall

    It's such a dilemma. Jonathan Cecil does a far better job reading the PSmith books, but the Frederick Davidson recordings have much better sound quality. Davidson presents PSmith as if he is essentially a wordier Bertie Wooster. His tone is all snide-ness and knowing. But PSmith is a far more intelligent, and a far FROM hapless, creature. He is stylish, to be sure, and somewhat affected, but more-than-perfectly competent. Cecil nails the tone, and in his various readings, makes each of the two characters clear, and different. I'm going back to the Cecil.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Mandelbaum Gate

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Muriel Spark
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The Mandelbaum Gate divides the conflict-torn realm of Jerusalem, separating Israel from Jordan. Barbara Vaughn, a stubborn young English woman and half-Jewish Catholic convert, insists upon crossing the divide in order to rendezvous with her fiancé, in spite of the very real danger. Her quest sets off a series of bizarre situations and adventures, set against the backdrop of the Eichmann trial of 1961.

    Karen says: "Spark Sparks!!"
    "Spark Sparks!!"
    Overall

    Superb Spark book. Early-ish in her career, so not quite so grim as her later ones. Each character, large or small, drawn with clarity and interest, and all set against the background of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. A bit of a spy mystery thrown in as well. Not to mention crime. Such an amazing accomplishment. The narration is perfect, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By David Wroblewski
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2864)
    Performance
    (771)
    Story
    (775)

    Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents and an unusual breed of dogs on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. But when tragedy strikes the Sawtelle family, Edgar flees to the surrounding wilderness. He comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him.

    Ella says: "Just OK"
    "Almost all the way there"
    Overall

    Stunning narration by Richard Poe. Restrained but not unemotional. The book lags in places, speeds up the wrong way in others--pacing in fact is the only major issue. But the unusual characters and mythic nature of the story more than make up for the flaws. One strong edit and this could have been a five-star!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Narrow Road to the Interior and Hojoki

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Matsuo Basho, Kamo no Chomei
    • Narrated By Togo Igawa
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    The Narrow Road to the Interior and Hojoki are two of the best-loved works of their kind; famous for their beautiful, delicate verse and subtle insight into the human condition. It has been said of The Narrow Road that 'it was as if the very soul of Japan had itself written it'. It takes the form of a travel diary, and traces the poet's journey from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to the northern interior.

    Karen says: "Second story unintelligible"
    "Second story unintelligible"
    Overall

    The first story in this collection is beautifully translated and narrated. However the narrator for the second story has such a heavy accent and the recording quality is so poor that the piece is
    VERY difficult to understand.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Jeeves and the Tie that Binds

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By P. G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (6)

    Jeeves belongs to a club for butlers in London's fashionable West End, and one of the rules there is that every member must contribute to the club book everything about the fellow he is working for, the idea being that such information will help those seeking new employment. Some dull employers are given only a few lines in the club book, but Jeeves has penned 18 pages about his employer, Bertie Wooster. And Bertie, quite understandably, is perturbed.

    connie says: "Wodehouse started repeating himself"
    "Not the best Wooster and Jeeves"
    Overall

    Clearly, by this point in the franchise, Wodehouse was getting tired. The plot is even more than usually derivative, and nothing new really happens.
    Some lovely moments, but not essential.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Junot Diaz
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Staci Snell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2225)
    Performance
    (945)
    Story
    (953)

    Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku: the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

    Kathleen says: "Fabulous listen"
    "Wild story beautifully read"
    Overall

    Profane, shocking, strange, but once I settled in, very moving.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Olive Kitteridge

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (917)
    Performance
    (408)
    Story
    (407)

    At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.

    BeckyC says: "Absorbing collection of linked stories"
    "Compelling"
    Overall

    These stories are bleak, but compelling. I completely believed in every character, young or old, male or female.
    The reading is utterly suitable.
    There were a few loose ends, a result, perhaps of the structure, but the book is worth it even if you only listen to the final story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hours

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Michael Cunningham
    • Narrated By Michael Cunningham
    Overall
    (174)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (45)

    The Hours is the story of three women: Clarissa Vaughan, Laura Brown, and Virginia Woolf. By the end of the novel, the stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace.

    Steve says: "Very literary, intentionally slight plot"
    "good story, bad reader"
    Overall

    Authors should almost NEVER read their own fiction. I couldn't distinguish the characters during dialogue, and in general was unimpressed with the reading as a whole.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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