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Karen

Portland, OR, United States

ratings
73
REVIEWS
35
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
9
HELPFUL VOTES
64

  • Red Mist

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Patricia Cornwell
    • Narrated By Kate Burton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1211)
    Performance
    (967)
    Story
    (977)

    Determined to find out what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months earlier, Kay Scarpetta travels to the Georgia Prison for Women, where an inmate has information not only on Fielding, but also on a string of grisly killings. The murder of an Atlanta family years ago, a young woman on death row, and the inexplicable deaths of homeless people as far away as California seem unrelated. But Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding's death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning....

    Rene says: "Too much dialog, too little story"
    "Better than average Scarpetta, abysmal narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike some of the other reviewers, I found the plot and characterization acceptable, but not outstanding. After reading all of the other Scarpetta novels (but having never listened to one), I can say that there are some redeeming qualities to some of the characters, and the plot was intriguing, although sometimes confusing, as she is concerned with three different cases that span more than a decade.

    The narration, however, is one of the worst I've encountered in any of the dozens, if not hundreds, of audiobooks I've enjoyed. The woman's voice is a monotone, and as another reviewer pointed out, makes Scarpetta sound depressed and cynical, with none of the bright features of her personality. She consistently mispronounces words, suggesting that she is simply reading the text "cold" and has not studied it at all. Barely worth a credit. I'll certainly not buy any more books by this narrator.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Fingersmith

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Sarah Waters
    • Narrated By Juanita McMahon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (663)
    Performance
    (572)
    Story
    (574)

    Orphaned as an infant, Susan Trinder was raised by Mrs. Sucksby, “mother” to a host of pickpockets and con artists. To pay her debt, she joins legendary thief Gentleman in swindling an innocent woman out of her inheritence. But the two women form an unanticipated bond and the events that follow will surprise every listener. Fingersmith was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize, and was chosen as book of the year 2002 by more organizations than any other novel. Sarah Waters was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards.

    shopper from Palm Springs, Ca says: "The BEST BOOK I"ve read this year!"
    "This is a five-star book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After the favorable reviews and accolades, how could I give this book less than five stars? I can only fault it by suggesting that some judicious editing might improve the flow of the narrative.I was, however, quite pleased to listen for the entire 23+ hours, waiting for the next turn of the clever plot.

    The bones of the story have already been described, so I'll pass on that. Suffice to say that, while the story takes an erotic turn a few times, it is most definitely NOT soft porn, in any sense of the word. There is nothing in this book to offend. The homophobic reader will likely not enjoy the story, but I suspect that the book will only appeal to people with educational levels that are not consistent with homophobia.

    Juanita McMahon is a very accomplished narrator, and does a magnificent job of giving each character a unique voice. Next week, I'll be treated to a dramatization of this novel by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I hope the play lives up to the high standard set by the novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Black Cherry Blues

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Mark Hammer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (823)
    Performance
    (532)
    Story
    (523)

    Dave Robicheaux had begun to put the pieces of his broken life together again when an old friend turned up on his doorstep, dredging up old memories and new threats.

    Geoff says: "Fantastic"
    "JLB had a lot to say in this novel."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Some of his words are pure gold. The disadvantage of listening to a book is that you cannot highlight or bookmark a special few words. Burke's point of view becomes solid in this book and what he wants to say about life, through Dave Robicheaux's errors in judgment and liaisons with the spirit world, becomes apparent, at least for now.

    This is not a plot-driven book; it is character-driven. Cletus makes a welcome return (I always picture him as Gary Busey). The plot is fairly mundane, and portrays Dave getting involved with some dangerous people as a consequence of helping an old friend. Most of the action takes place in Montana, and JLB establishes the ambiance in a manner that is similar to his lyrical descriptions of Louisiana, yet not as successful. The outcome is really never in doubt; it is the manner in which it will be reached that is the question, and the mythic/magical elements (of which I am very fond) do play a role here.

    I have already read ALL of the Dave Robicheaux books, but not in order, so I am starting over, and enjoying them as audiobooks, except for Heaven's Prisoners, which is not available as an unabridged audio book. I have to say that I am not as fond of Mark Hammer's narration as I am of Will Patton's. In fact, I almost gave up on this book in the first few chapters, but I eventually got used to his voice. He does an abysmal job with Alafair and Batiste, and when Dave is having a conversation with Cleet, it is difficult to tell them apart. He gives everyone a Southern/Texas accent for some strange reason. I have to stop thinking of this as a performance and just imagine that Mark Hammer is reading to me, and doing the best he can. Unfortunately, it's just not very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Skin

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Mo Hayder
    • Narrated By Andrew Wincott
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (58)

    When the decomposing body of a young woman is found, the wounds on her wrists suggest an open-and-shut case of suicide. But Jack Caffery is not so sure. Other apparent suicides are cropping up, and they all have a connection to Elf's Grotto, a nearly bottomless network of flooded quarries just outside the city. Caffery begins to suspect a shadowy and sinister predator, someone - or something - that can disappear into darkness and slip into houses unseen.

    Karen says: "Suspension of disbelief is one thing..."
    "Suspension of disbelief is one thing..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...improbable coincidences that serve to tie together loose ends of a story are something else again. I am fond of this series and especially like the moral ambiguities that Jack Caffery and now Flea Marley are faced with. They are believable characters. The series of contrivances that brought this story (which began in the last book, Ritual) to a close are not believable, however.

    Having said that, I could not stop listening during the last few hours of the book and actually spent the day baking so I would have an excuse to listen! I simply wanted to know how it would end - something that is all too predictable in many of the books I read.

    I woiuld also add that the narration is flawless and adds greatly to the enjoyment. Although I was not much impressed with this book, I'll surely carry on to the next.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blue Labyrinth

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
    • Narrated By Rene Auberjonois
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1891)
    Performance
    (1704)
    Story
    (1694)

    A long-buried family secret resurfaces when one of Aloysius Pendergast's most implacable enemies shows up on his doorstep as a murdered corpse. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect murder, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased. The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California's desolate Salton Sea, which in turn propels him on a journey of discovery deep into his family's sinister past.

    G. House Sr. says: "Twists and Tuns in the Pendergast Family Tree"
    "And the saga continues..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am completely smitten with this series, and eagerly await each new chapter. This book exceeded my expectations, which were pretty high. I was pleased to learn more about Constance Green, and more of the Pendergast family history.

    A corpse on the doorstep of his home on Riverside Drive leads Pendergast to a variety of locales, exotic and familiar. Margo Green is a welcome returning character. She and Constance find themselves in a race to save the man they both love, in different ways and for different reasons.

    I suppose one could find fault with the construction of the book if pressed into fine details, but why bother? This book, like all of the Pendergast books, is pure fun and adventure, with a bit of mystery and even some dry humor mixed in.

    Rene Auberjonois is the ultimate narrator for this series, and I would find it difficult to imagine a Pendergast book without his voice to accompany. Thanks to both authors and the narrator for many hours of listening pleasure.

    0 of 0 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
    (1556)
    Performance
    (1375)
    Story
    (1365)

    "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.

    Diane says: "Incredibly disappointing"
    "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.

    3 of 3 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
    (6108)
    Performance
    (5540)
    Story
    (5535)

    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 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Little Friend

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (415)
    Performance
    (317)
    Story
    (317)

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Joyland

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Michael Kelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3690)
    Performance
    (3403)
    Story
    (3403)

    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
    (251)
    Performance
    (168)
    Story
    (165)

    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
    (12376)
    Performance
    (11207)
    Story
    (11233)

    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.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "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

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