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Carol

It is true that I know only what I have read in books. But I have read a great many books. ("Venetia" by Georgette Heyer)

Massachusetts | Member Since 2010

591
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 88 reviews
  • 185 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 40 purchased in 2014
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  • 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
    (469)
    Performance
    (251)
    Story
    (249)

    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.

    Linda Lou says: "AN ADDICTIVE SERIES!"
    "Too Many Twists"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of my favorite mystery series. Its protagonist is unique and, in most of the books (this one is an exception), the physical and (especially) the psychological setting of post-WWI England are engrossing. Simon Prebble's narrations are excellent.

    That said, this entry is disappointing. After a promising and intriguing start (maybe the first 1/3 of the book), the story loses focus. Inspector Rutledge is constantly crank-starting his motor car as he travels back and forth across southern England multiple times following the threads of three cases. He gets exhausted and so did I. I'm all for unexpected twists in a whodunnit, but in this one the twists tangle into a Gordian knot that is totally frustrating (to say nothing of unbelievable).

    If you have never tried this series, you should read the first one ("A Test of Wills") first; a superb book, it lays groundwork for the main character(s) that is essential. After that may be helpful to read the series in sequence, but I haven't and have still enjoyed them. And I'd advise skipping this particular entry.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella & Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Ismail Kadare
    • Narrated By Clinton Wade, Allan Robertson, Jeremy Arthur, and others
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In this spellbinding novel, written in Albania and smuggled into France a few pages at a time in the 1980s, Ismail Kadare denounces with rare force the machinery of a dictatorial regime, drawing us back to the ancient roots of tyranny in Western Civilization. During the waning years of Communism, a young worker for the Albanian state-controlled media agency narrates the story of his ill-fated love for the daughter of a high-ranking official.

    Carol says: "Three Stories, Each Unique"
    "Three Stories, Each Unique"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The title novella in this anthology by Man Booker Prize recipient Ismail Kadare is a reference to the Greek king Agamemnon, who lured his daughter Iphigenia to the altar with promises of marriage to the hero Achilles, only to seize her and sacrifice her to the gods so that his army would be allowed to sail away and attack Troy. The narrator of Kadare’s novella, a broadcast journalist in totalitarian socialist Albania during the early 80s, finds the ancient story of Iphigenia strangely resonant. He is hurting because the woman he loves has recently left him, allegedly because her father did not find their relationship politically expedient. He has also received a last-minute ticket to a grandstand seat at the May Day Parade--a high honor he cannot refuse--and his romantic musings as he walks to claim his unsought “exalted” position are interspersed with paranoid reflections as to the meaning behind the anonymous invitation. Is it really a reward (and if so, for what?), or is it a trap?

    “Agamemnon’s Daughter” is Kadare’s no doubt autobiographical mirror of the conditions prevailing in Albania from 1944-1985, under the rule of dictator Enver Hoxa (referred to in the story as the “Supreme Guide”). During that time Albania achieved unprecedented economic and agricultural success; the people were said to be “tax-free”; education (within rigidly prescribed socialist contexts) was available to all and literacy skyrocketed. By the May Day described, it is also a society where personal privacy, independence, family loyalty, and love itself have been sacrificed to absolute political authority. It is all the more chilling for having been drawn from reality.

    The second story, “The Blinding Order,” explores the paranoid psychology that grips people when a “witch hunt” is on; in this case, the hunt involves seeking out those who possess the “evil eye.” It was an original approach to a topic that’s been covered many times.

    I found the last and shortest story, “The Great Wall,” to be the most interesting. Set in the 14th century, it documents the internal musings of two men, one an engineer called to work on shoring up China’s Great Wall against an attack by Tamarlane’s army; the second man is a scout for that army. It’s not exactly action-packed, but it’s an interesting take on fear, conquest, and psyching out the enemy.

    This collection was an unusually literary choice for me; I tend to listen mostly to genre fiction, which these stories definitely are not. If this had been a novel I probably would have found it, well, boring, but the length of these pieces made each of them an intriguing change of pace. I was a little put off by the coarse, even misogynisitic, language Kadare uses when describing women sexually, but aside from those brief instances I found the writing admirable. All in all, a worthy selection, especially for anyone interested in political history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • An Echo in the Bone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5210)
    Performance
    (3416)
    Story
    (3424)

    Jamie Fraser knows from his time-traveling wife Claire that, no matter how unlikely it seems, America will win the Revolutionary War. But that truth offers little solace, since Jamie realizes he might find himself pointing a weapon directly at his own son - a young officer in the British army. And Jamie isn't the only one with a tormented soul - for Claire may know who wins the conflict, but she certainly doesn't know whether or not her beloved Jamie survives.

    Charles says: "Read all of Gabaldon's stuff before this one"
    "When Last We Saw Them..."
    Overall
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    It has been five years since "An Echo in the Bone" was published, and the long awaited Volume 8 is finally imminent (June 2014). Although readers are now five years older, the forthcoming "Written in My Own Heart's Blood" will apparently pick up the story on the same day (well at least one of the same days) "Echo" ended.

    I started listening to this series four years ago and listened to them all in sequence (along with the Lord John Grey books--and a lot other books in between). I just recently finished "Echo," so I guess I timed it right. I can't imagine how frustrating it's been for fans of the series who read "Echo" when it came out to have had all those cliffhangers hanging all this time. You've probably re-read the book in anticipation of the new one; it's certainly a good idea to do so.

    After three books set claustrophobically in frontier North Carolina and stories centered almost exclusively on Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Brianna, in "Echo" we *finally* get off of Fraser's Ridge--with a vengeance! If almost nothing happened in "Fiery Cross" and the action was slow (and mostly depressing) in "Snow and Ashes," then "An Echo in the Bone" seems determined to make up for it. Not only do characters from previous books (notably Ian, Lord John, and William) now take center stage right along with J,C,R&B, we are suddenly world and time travelers again. The action covers much of the American east coast, has great scenes in Scotland (in TWO story lines, 200 years apart!), and for kicks throws in several scenes in London and France. We meet historical characters, including Benedict Arnold and a naked Ben Franklin. Even Rollo the Wolfhound gets featured actor status.

    The mind reels and the plot jumps can be hard to follow, but I enjoyed "An Echo in the Bone." I'm especially grateful for the action-packed pace after the previous two snoozers. I think you do need to have read "The Brotherhood of the Blade" in the Lord John series to fully appreciate "Echo," but that should not be a hardship; in my opinion, "Brotherhood" is, all things considered, Diana Gabaldon's best novel to date. And I'm glad I won't have to wait five years to find out what happened in Philadelphia that day.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Venetia

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Phyllida Nash
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (60)

    Venetia Lanyon, beautiful, intelligent and independent, lives in comfortable seclusion in rural Yorkshire with her precocious brother Aubrey. Her future seems safe and predictable: Either marriage to the respectable but dull Edward Yardley, or a life of peaceful spinsterhood. But when she meets the dashing, dangerous rake Lord Damerel, her well-ordered life is turned upside down, and she embarks upon a relationship with him that scandalizes and horrifies the whole community.

    Carol says: "Heaven for Heyer Fans"
    "Heaven for Heyer Fans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hard on the heels of Naxos releasing "The Grand Sophy" and "Sylvester," two of Georgette Heyer's greatest, comes the equally wonderful "Venetia." All three books were written at the peak of Heyer's career. "Venetia" has a bit more melodrama than "Sophy" or "Sylvester," partly because of the reformed rake with a painful past that is the the hero, Lord Damerel.

    All her life Venetia has heard oblique references to her "delicate position," along with veiled warnings that she must be especially protective of her reputation, "so as not to be thought to be...." At which point her well wishers generally trail off and say something like "....but I must say no more on that head," leaving Venetia puzzled, to say the least. The arrival of the charming but brooding Damerel increases these warnings to a fever pitch, for reasons that the reader will probably guess before Venetia solves the mystery.

    During her lifetime Georgette Heyer was said to resent the fact that her Regency romances were so much more popular than her mysteries or her historical fiction. I agree her mysteries are underrated (particularly "Envious Casca," which I think is a minor masterpiece that Masterpiece Mystery should dramatize immediately), but, whether she agreed with the assessment or not, her Regencies are in a class by themselves. The best of them -- including Venetia -- stand head and shoulders above the pack. Enjoy!

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Hollow World

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (150)

    Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing. But when he is faced with a terminal illness, Ellis is willing to take an insane gamble. He's built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he'll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. Ellis could find more than a cure for his disease; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time has begun.

    Hassan says: "A Good Read!!"
    "We Aren't in Riyria Any More"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you are a huge fan of Michael Sullivan's "Riyria Revelations" (as I am), you may be disappointed by storyline of this book. If you love Hadrian and Royce and Gwen and Arista (as I do), you may be disappointed by the characters in this book. If you are simply a fan of Sullivan's writing (as I am), or if you like thought-provoking social commentary with offbeat sort-of science fiction, you may like this book.

    Elements of the book reminded me of "Looking Backward," an 1888 book by Edward Bellamy. It is a change to see a vision of the future that had at least some elements of utopia, rather than the bleak and brutal dystopian futures portrayed in most 21st century novels. But 2,000 years is a long time (trying to go 200 years into the future, our MIT-trained protagonist miscalculates by an order of magnitude), and this future is indeed weird.

    Definitely a change of pace for Michael Sullivan, and not something I would have chosen if he hadn't been the author. "Hollow World" lives up to his high standards as a novelist, and I'm not exactly sorry I listened to it, but, unlike the "Riyria" books, it's not something I'd want to listen to a second time.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Invisible Ring: Black Jewels, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Anne Bishop
    • Narrated By John Sharian
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (80)

    Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped - only to be caught and sold into slavery once again. The notorious queen who has purchased him, known as the Gray Lady, may not be what she seems. Soon, Jared faces a difficult choice: his freedom, or his honor.

    Tango says: "Save Your Credit"
    "Bad Queen, Good Queen, Warlord Prince"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You should only consider getting this title if you're already a fan of the Black Jewels trilogy ("Daughter of the Blood," "Heir to the Shadows," and "The Queen of Darkness," hereafter referred to as BJT), and even then I wouldn't recommend "The Invisible Ring."

    The BJT is a mix of magic, epic fantasy, sadistic evil, adventure, romance, and erotica (both romantic and BDSM). Its world is one of multiple planes (Terreile, Kaelaer, Hayll, and the Twisted Kingdom) and different races (winged humans, humans who live for centuries, regular humans, "black widows," and undead sorta vamps). Jewels are the source of magic, and the darker the jewel the more potent the magic. Women hold the dominant sexual power and evil queens enforce it by forging "rings of obedience" onto the … anatomy … of any powerful Warlord Prince they can get their hands on.

    If you're still reading this after the above description, you might enjoy the BJT books, which are unique, intriguing, exciting, romantic, and often erotic. But "The Invisible Ring," a prequel to the BJT, is none of these.

    The marvelous, fully developed characters of BJT are absent. Instead we have the callow Jared and a pretty young pre-queen who may, if Jared and his buddies can manage to save her from the hideously evil Red Queen Dorothea, develop into a full-fledged Grey-Jewelled Queen (grey jewels being pretty high-powered items in this world). Dorothea is the only major character from BJT who shows up (well, BJT' s hero Daemon has a cameo, but it's so pale you can overlook it). Dorothea's scenes are truly gruesome--she is one corrupt witch queen!--but mostly the book is just boring and trite, and very unlike the books of the trilogy.

    P.S. The review of Invisible Ring by Tango is spot on. I have been meaning to post this "warning" review for a while, and her excellent summation has just beaten me to it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paradise City: A Joe Gunther Mystery, Book 22

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Archer Mayor
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (9)

    Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are alerted to a string of unrelated burglaries across Vermont. Someone, in addition to flatscreens, computers, and stereos, has also been stealing antiques and jewelry. Meanwhile, in Boston, an elderly woman surprises some thieves in her Beacon Hill home and is viciously murdered. The Boston police find that not only is the loot similar to what's being stolen in Vermont, but it may have the same destination.

    Carol says: "The Names of the Streets are Real"
    "The Names of the Streets are Real"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Archer Mayor's mysteries featuring Joe Gunther are "regionals" depicting life and crime in Brattleboro and other locales of the upper Connecticut River Valley of Vermont, along the Interstate 91 "ski-way." This installment takes Joe south down I-91, into the Western Massachusetts part of the Valley--which happens to be the region where I happily hang out. The action centers on Northampton, the self-proclaimed "Paradise City" of the book's title, which is generally regarded as the fine arts and fine dining center of Western Mass. (Snobs from Boston need not comment on that statement, thank you.)

    I enjoyed reading the portrayals of Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield, and other haunts of my stomping grounds. Most of the places described are real--from Coolidge Cafe to the Summit House, from the abandoned Strategic Air Command post hidden inside Mount Tom to Amity Street and Potwine Lane, the accuracy of the locations was fun (at least for a "local" like me). The art and jewelry gallery that is crucial to the story is fictitious, but certain (noncriminal) elements of it were recognizable in real establishments.

    Even though the "taste of home" kept me reading, I found the overall story less than compelling. I also found it very hard to follow the characters. We are introduced in rapid succession to Billie, Willie, Mickey, Bobby, Tony, Jimmy, Dan, and Ed, to name a few. One's a victim, some are cops, and the rest are bad guys. We also have Mina, Anna, Donna, Nancy, Sammie, and Lou. It was a relief to meet Li Anming, an artisan "smuggled in" from China and kept as slave labor, re-setting and re-crafting stolen jewelry; her character at least I was able to recognize readily.

    I remember reading a couple of the early Gunther books, and that I enjoyed "Borderlines" and "The Skeleton's Knee." But the series never grabbed me, and there are 15 or 16 books in between "Knee" and "Paradise" that I never read; so it's partly my own lack that I didn't know the characters (beyond Joe Gunther himself) who are series regulars. But even discounting the regulars, the rather flimsy plot seemed overburdened with players. It's a fairly short read with some interesting scenes. Not awful, not great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • FREE: The Jester (A Riyria Chronicles Tale)

    • UNABRIDGED (54 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    Overall
    (1210)
    Performance
    (1093)
    Story
    (1109)

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A thief, a candlemaker, an ex-mercenary, and a pig farmer walk into a trap…and what happens to them is no joke. When Riyria is hired to retrieve a jester’s treasure, Royce and Hadrian must match wits with a dwarf who proves to be anything but a fool. Difficult choices will need to be made, and in the end those who laugh last do so because they are the only ones to survive.

    Janice says: "You have chosen wisely"
    "Short and Very Satisfying"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    To me, one of the most best things about the three volumes of "Riyria Revelations" was the seamless way everything came together over the course of the saga and, especially, at the end. There are no bewildering meanderings by pointless characters; the whole enterprise is beautifully conceived and well written (and the narration is also very good). "The Jester" encapsulates all these qualities into a short, neat 1-hour package. Immediately, we are plunged (literally) into the adventure with no idea of what's going on, but over the course of a few pages all becomes clear and winds up in a poignant "wow" moment that's very satisfying.

    It probably helps to have a little "Riyria" background -- at least enough to know who Hadrian and Royce and Riyria are -- but in terms of the story "The Jester" stands alone. Well done, Mr. Sullivan!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Origin: A Technothriller

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By J. A. Konrath
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    Overall
    (371)
    Performance
    (342)
    Story
    (345)

    When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert, he has no idea he’s been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon. He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan. But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn’t just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth.

    Nathan says: "Awesome!"
    "Making My Beelzebubble Burst"
    Overall
    Performance
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    A rabbi, a priest, and a molecular geneticist... oh, you've heard this one?

    Well, they are all part of a super-secret government project in an underground lab deep in the desert. It seems that while digging the Panama Canal in 1903, workers unearthed a huge, humanoid being with wings, horns, and cloven hooves. The being was alive but in a state of suspended animation. So of course Teddy Roosevelt took him back to the U.S. and installed him in this no-expenses-spared secret lab.

    Fast-forward to the present. The molecular geneticist is there to sequence "Bub’s" DNA. There's also an M.D. and a veterinarian on the study team. The priest and the rabbi are there just in case, and there’s a crusty old army general who runs the show and reports to the president. Bub has suddenly woken up and started talking, but no one can understand him, so a noted linguist is called in. But Bub picks up English real quick, so the handsome linguist is really there to romance the pretty lady vet and to team up with her to lead the heroics when everything goes horribly wrong (as we know it will because we remember Jeff Goldblum's speech about chaos theory in Jurassic Park).

    This adventure is fast-moving, gruesome, and ridiculous if you think about it (and you don’t have to think very hard). But it had enough interesting characters (including Bub) and unexpected plot twists to keep me intrigued and just enough humor to lighten the gore. It’s also the right length--long enough to build suspense but short enough so the silliness doesn't become exasperating. I suspect that if you enjoy books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (especially their solo efforts) you'll probably enjoy "Origin."

    Luke Daniels does his usual fine job of narration, right up to the book's memorable last line, which he delivers perfectly.




    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Gods of Mars: Barsoom Series, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Edgar Rice Burroughs
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (176)
    Performance
    (163)
    Story
    (165)

    Soldier and adventurer John Carter tells the story of how he returns to the planet Mars to be reunited with his love, the Martian princess Dejah Thoris. With his great friend Tars Tarkas, mighty Jeddak of Thark, Carter sets out in search of his princess. But Dejah Thoris has vanished. And Carter becomes trapped in the legendary Eden of Mars, from which none has ever escaped alive.

    Ron says: "The best"
    "Scott Brick Takes On a Classic Adventure"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The John Carter trilogy (Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars) was a high school favorite of mine, and these three books were among the first purchases I made after joining Audible. I chose the Gene Engene recording of "Gods" and my review of it is there. But that production was marred by technical problems, so when the recent movie tie-in came out with veteran narrator Scott Brick at the helm, I decided to get a "new, improved" version of this middle book.

    Technically this is indeed a good productio. But Scott Brick's modern, somewhat deadpan delivery seems at odds with the over-the-top drama of the "this is my marvelous life" voice that Burroughs used for John Carter's first-person "memoir." Admittedly, capturing the colorful dramatics without sounding silly is a tough job for any narrator. Brick is a pro, and this is a professional if not inspired reading.

    I still like Sondricker's narration of the first book, "Princess of Mars," the best. Engene's version of "Warlord" is fine, technical problems were fixed, but "Warlord" isn't as good as the first two books.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • White Fire: Agent Pendergast, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
    • Narrated By Rene Auberjonois
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1609)
    Performance
    (1429)
    Story
    (1440)

    Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protégée, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law. His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who - with brutal precision - begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside. After springing Corrie from jail, Pendergast learns she made a discovery while examining the bones of several miners who were killed 150 years earlier by a rogue grizzly bear.

    G. House Sr. says: "A Grand Slam Tale of Terror"
    "An Interim Adventure"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Preston & Child's "Helen" trilogy (Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves) introduced a lot of twists, turn, changes, and new characters into Pendergast's life. It also re-introduced Corrie Swanson, the grubby adolescent from "Still Life with Crows," now a college student and apparently potential protege of Pendergast.

    "White Fire" opens about a year after the end of "Two Graves." Pendergast has been in a state of isolation, traveling the world alone, when he receives a forwarded letter from Corrie describing her exciting new forensic project. He joins her in the nick of time to save her from the rich and despicable.

    This is, as others have said, Corrie's adventure. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't typical Pendergast. It will be interesting to see how P&C handle the "scope for the future" that we glimpsed at the end of Helen's story. I hope there's another trilogy in the works. Meanwhile, this stand-alone was an OK fast and gruesome adventure.

    As always, Rene Aberjonois does a spectacular job of narration.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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