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Karen

Portland, OR, United States

ratings
62
REVIEWS
31
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
6
HELPFUL VOTES
57

  • The Red Door: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (485)
    Performance
    (269)
    Story
    (267)

    June 1920. In a house with a red door lies the body of a woman who has been bludgeoned to death. Rumor has it that two years earlier, she'd painted that door to welcome her husband back from the Front - only he never came home. Meanwhile, in London, a man suffering from a mysterious illness first goes missing and then just as suddenly reappears. He is unable to explain his recovery. Inspector Ian Rutledge must solve the cases.

    Carol says: "Too Many Twists"
    "A bit of a disappointment!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having learned that "Charles Todd" is actually a mother-son writing team, I can only surmise that their communication regarding the writing of this book slipped a cog now and then.

    I am a big fan of the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, and the novels are usually tightly plotted and have a pleasant rhythm to them, which is carried out superbly by the voice of Simon Prebble. This book, however, could not seem to decide where it was going. Poor Rutledge must have put thousands of kilometers on his car, driving all over Southern England and back to London over and over, as he sought to solve two (three? four? five?) completely unrelated cases. I kept looking at the time remaining on my iPod and wondering when it was going to be finally over.

    Diehard fans will, nonetheless, probably want to read this book, if for no other reason than to track the events in Rutledge's life, as there are some notable events in this book. Just don't expect the usual well-written story - it is tolerable, but not up to the usual Charles Todd standard.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Place: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Stephen Hogan, Lara Hutchinson
    Overall
    (826)
    Performance
    (742)
    Story
    (736)

    "The Secret Place", a board where the girls at St Kilda's School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

    Pamela says: "Well...I really liked 50% of it"
    "Like many others, I am also disappointed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tana French's latest effort involves the murder of a teenaged male student at an exclusive private school. The companion girls' school has a Secret Place where students can express themselves by posting items they don't feel comfortable talking about. As the book begins, someone has posted a message in The Secret Place, claiming to know the identity of the killer.

    After investing six hours in this book, I simply could not imagine investing 14 more...so I just gave up, something I almost never do. Although I did enjoy the detective-narrated chapters, I simply could not bring myself to care about what happened to any of the pseudo-Valley Girls attending the private school, nor was I getting a clear picture of the victim and why I should care about him, either. This may have been a function of the narration, which has a powerful impact on the manner in which a book is perceived, so perhaps I'll try reading it in text form on my Kindle.

    I was so looking forward to this book, as I have enjoyed her previous books. I guess I will avoid pre-ordering and wait to read reviews when her next book is published.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3865)
    Performance
    (3563)
    Story
    (3562)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    "Even better than the first installment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I truly hope that Galbraith/Rowling has outlined several books in advance, the way that Harry Potter was written, so that the wait between books can be shorter. I have become very fond of Cormoran Strike, and Robert Glenister does a keen and clever job of bringing him to life with a unique voice and manner.

    On the heels of his success detailed in The Cuckoo's Calling, Cormoran is slightly more flush than he was in the first book. Without a clear idea of how he will get paid, he sets out to solve the murder of a controversial writer whose wife has been (unjustly, in Cormoran's view) blamed for his grisly murder. Some may object to the graphic details of this crime, and the audible format makes it awkward to skim ahead. These details are central to solving the murder, so grit your teeth and pay attention if you can.

    I enjoyed getting additional information about Cormoran's background and we meet some new and engaging characters, as well. I seldom believe that a book deserves five stars, but this book fully engaged me and I enjoyed every minute. Thanks, JK/Robert!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Little Friend

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (346)
    Performance
    (255)
    Story
    (253)

    From the author of The Secret History comes a dark, suspenseful novel of lost childhood. Harriet Dusfresnes is a child in Mississippi, haunted by the murder of her brother when she was just a baby. He was found hanging from a tree in their backyard; his killer was never identified, nor did the family ever recover. Only Harriet's teenage sister might have seen what happened that day, and she has blocked it out from her memory.

    Sam says: "Couldn't put it down"
    "Just could not listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this narrator so difficult to listen to; I gave up on this book after about an hour, and cannot give it an honest appraisal. Her dialect/accent seems disingenuous and she often ends her sentences on an interrogatory upwards note, which is usually indicative of someone lacking confidence. I also found her frequent, audible deep breaths to be so distracting that I just couldn't continue. The book sounds worth reading, and I adored Ms. Tartt's The Goldfinch, so I will read the book in print as an alternative.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Joyland

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Michael Kelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3244)
    Performance
    (2996)
    Story
    (2998)

    Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.

    Cozy Reader says: "The sweest and creepiest coming of age story!"
    "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book months ago and procrastinated listening to it, primarily because it was billed as a "mystery" and the "cover" seemed to portray a crime noir type novel, and I wasn't sure that was what I was looking for. I was so wrong.

    This is an honest and heartfelt coming of age story, with a mystery as a story device to move things along. I heartily concur with other reviewers who insist that Stephen King has gotten an unfair reputation - usually by people who have never read one of his books.

    I love Stephen King. I love the way he puts so much of himself so generously in each book that he writes. I love the way he writes dialogue and never assumes an omniscient point of view over all characters - the sign of a lazy writer. Writing in the first person is the most challenging task a writer can take on, and he does it to perfection. We learn about the other characters through the eyes of the narrator, not through broad statements like "she was scared," or "he was disappointed." Instead, we learn about his characters through their actions and their dialogue, just like in real life. Tricky business for a writer, and he does it so skillfully that we don't even realize he is doing it.

    Books seldom bring me to tears. This one did. Just listen to it. You'll be so glad you did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Silent Mercy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Linda Fairstein
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (243)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (159)

    It's the middle of the night. Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper is called to Harlem's Mount Neboh Baptist Church, a beautiful house of worship originally built as a synagogue. But the crowd gathered there isn't interested in architecture, or even prayer. They've come for the same reason Alex has: to find out why the body of a young woman has been decapitated, set on fire, and left burning on the church steps.

    Beverly says: "Not up to Fairstein's Usual Flair"
    "Good story, but could not handle the narrator..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I realize that Barbara Rosenblat is an esteemed narrator, but this is the second book I have listened to that I did not enjoy, because of her narration. This book is not great literature, and I'm sure it was never intended as such. That said, it IS a good story, with interesting characters. A narrator can surely influence the listener's perception of the characters, and her interpretation led me to see some of the female characters as hysterical whiners, when I am sure that is not how the author meant for them to be portrayed. Granted, there are a number of strong female characters, but it is almost impossible to tell them apart by the narration. This is the first Alexandra Cooper book I have read. I liked the book and will read others in the series, but I will read them in print, not as audio books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9863)
    Performance
    (9028)
    Story
    (9041)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    Cynthia says: "What a slog"
    "A failure of technique"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I do respect the fact that it took Donna Tartt more than a decade to write this book. It is L-O-N-G, which is not, for me, a deterrent to enjoyment. In fact, I grew so used to the steady rhythm of this book that I was taken aback when the rhythm changed toward the end. I understand that the author felt the need to pontificate a bit, and I may be all alone when I object to this slightly. When Theo expresses his philosophies at the end, this seems (to me) almost a failure of authorship. Generally speaking, an author chooses a character or characters to pronounce the theme(s) of the book, and Boris does quite a good job at this, and so does Hobie. I realize that Theo has something else, something additional, to say, but the clever use of a literary device might make it more palatable than just smacking us over the head with it at the end, thereby compromising the warp and weave of the book's fabric. Maybe she tried doing it a different way, and Theo just had SO MUCH to say that it didn't work through dialogue. Then, I would argue that it is TOO much. It's like a Steven Spielberg movie, when he is so insecure sometimes about the theme that he takes us by the hand and leads us to it, and then yells, "SEE!" He does this, especially, in Empire of the Sun, which I loved. But I felt insulted that he had such little respect for the viewers' intelligence. I feel the same about Donna Tartt. I want to holler, "I get it, I get it, already!"

    Having said all that, I did love the book. I loved what it had to say, and (mostly) I loved how it said it. I think, like all things, what we take away from a book is up to the reader. I refuse to sink into nihilism with Theo, although he does expound at great length about the middle ground where beauty and love exist. I think he has not much partaken of those things, but perhaps he will. Who knows?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Crocodile on the Sandbank: The Amelia Peabody Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Peters
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    Overall
    (2890)
    Performance
    (1661)
    Story
    (1655)

    Amelia Peabody inherited two things from her father: a considerable fortune and an unbendable will. The first allowed her to indulge in her life's passion. Without the second, the mummy's curse would have made corpses of them all.

    Carrie says: "Nice break from the usual-"
    "I am obviously part of a minority..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...in that I did not care for this book. I would not be finishing it if it were not required reading for my book club. I started out with the book as an ebook, realized I would never be able to finish it, and opted for an audible version. I have never been so irritated by a narrator. Why does Barbara Rosenblat take these great gulps of air every few sentences? I never hear other narrators do this. Perhaps she has asthma? Is a heavy smoker? In any event, I find it very unprofessional and highly distracting. And I realize that my ill humor makes me sound like Amelia Peabody herself, who is, in my opinion, unnecessarily arrogant and full of herself. Sorry - I'll content myself being a member of a minority, and pass on the rest of this series, plus any book narrated by Barbara Rosenblat.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Good Omens

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Martin Jarvis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4400)
    Performance
    (2853)
    Story
    (2883)

    The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.

    Lauren says: "Great voice adds to already amazing story"
    "I don't have much to add..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...to previous reviews. I think it has all been said. Except that, I just do want to put in another word for Martin Jarvis, whose narration of this book is simply brilliant. A few reviewers have mentioned his failure to pause at breaks in the story. I actually did not notice that, but I suppose it could be irritating if one does notice it. There are so many recurring and steady characters; I found it amazing that he was able to find a distinct voice for each one.

    I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a memorable read/listen and I'm sure I will listen to it again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 20

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1146)
    Performance
    (1014)
    Story
    (1000)

    In Light of the World, sadist and serial killer Asa Surrette narrowly escaped the death penalty for the string of heinous murders. But following a series of damning articles written by Dave Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair about possible other crimes committed by Surette, the killer escapes from a prison transport van and heads to Montana - where an unsuspecting Dave happens to have gone to take in the sweet summer air, accompanied by Alafair, his wife Molly, faithful partner Clete, and Clete’s newfound daughter, Gretchen Horowitz.

    Dave says: "Burke is still the best"
    "Sorry, JLB, not my favorite Robicheaux"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I agree that JLB is probably the best American fiction writer alive today. And after I read Creole Belle, the book that preceded this one, I did not think that the series could get any better. Unfortunately, for me, it didn't.

    While listening to an audio book, I find it difficult to separate the writing from the narrator. Will Patton is one of my favorite narrators, and I just finished his masterful performance of Alas, Babylon. So I was surprised to find (as other reviewers have mentioned) that his performance in this book is somewhat lackluster. I agree that his rendering of Gretchen is so poor as to be distracting. And he seems to lose his place from time to time, carrying over in one character's voice into another's, or the narration. I was tempted to simply give up and purchase the print version, and I probably eventually will.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lacuna

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Narrated By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (830)
    Performance
    (319)
    Story
    (315)

    Born in the United States, but reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers and, one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed muralist Diego Rivera. When he goes to work for Rivera, his wife, exotic artist Kahlo, and exiled leader Lev Trotsky, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution.

    Tricia Stevens says: "Great story!"
    "Give this book a try, despite the narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was also deeply disappointed when I began listening to this book, and still believe that a good listen could become a truly memorable listen if a professional narrator were employed. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable book, and the author's gentle and somewhat tentative voice is especially well-suited to the latter part of the book, which is told by Violet Green.

    As an American expat who has lived almost a decade in Mexico, and who remembers the HUAC hearings when I was a small child, this book was a perfect match for me. I delighted in Harrison's descriptions of Mexico, sharing his love for this country for the same reasons; he expressed it much more articulately than I can. And I remember the fear and consternation on my parents' faces when they were asked, as teachers, to sign loyalty oaths.

    This is a book about two very different cultures, and an extraordinary man who sought comfort in each, but never quite found it. That is a gross oversimplification, because the true wonder of this book lies in the manner in which the author chose to tell it. She never resorts to the "third person omniscient" point of view, but instead lets the readers draw their own conclusions about the characters by observing their behavior and listening to their own voices. Only a very skilled writer is able to do this, and I am grateful to Ms. Kingsolver for having faith in the intelligence and perception of her readers.

    I am a compulsive and eclectic reader, and many of the books I read are for entertainment only. This book is truly an exception. It enriched my spirit and I hope it does the same for yours.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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