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Carol

Classical history buff, love books, ballet, and basketball.

Massachusetts | Member Since 2010

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  • 84 reviews
  • 175 ratings
  • 512 titles in library
  • 20 purchased in 2014
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  • American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (A Full Cast Production)

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Ron McLarty, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3801)
    Performance
    (3369)
    Story
    (3388)

    First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this 10th anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author's preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

    Michael says: "New to Neil"
    "A Different Opinion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I haven't finished listening to this yet, but wanted to weigh in about the narration. If you are one of George Guidall's many fans, by all means get his production. But when I first searched this book on Audible and found only Guidall's version, I chose not to get it because have never cared for his voice or performances. That is not meant as a criticism of this much-honored narrator, it is strictly personal taste and preference.

    I like the use of different readers and in general think all four of these do a good job. This is an *extremely* dense and confusing book, and hearing different voices, at least for me, creates welcome breaks.

    Whether this production will wind up being worth the heavy going is still up for debate with me. Gaiman's Preface to this anniversary edition characterizes it as "big, odd, and meandering." It's certainly all of those. He also acknowledges that some of his fans "really hate it." But there is a lot of interesting stuff in the book, especially for people who enjoy the off-center, the surreal--and the ineffable.




    36 of 38 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
    (114)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (75)

    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
    (587)
    Performance
    (533)
    Story
    (539)

    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.

    Robin says: "Short story with no shortage of events"
    "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!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Origin: A Technothriller

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By J. A. Konrath
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    Overall
    (314)
    Performance
    (292)
    Story
    (294)

    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
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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.




    1 of 1 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
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (147)
    Performance
    (138)
    Story
    (139)

    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
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    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
    (1279)
    Performance
    (1144)
    Story
    (1150)

    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
  • Mortal Stakes

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert B. Parker
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (54)

    Everybody loves a winner, and the Rabbs are major league. Marty is the Red Sox star pitcher, Linda the loving wife. She loves everyone except the blackmailer out to wreck her life. Is Marty throwing fast balls or throwing games? It doesn't take long for Spenser to link Marty's performance with Linda's past...or to find himself trapped between a crazed racketeer and an enforcer toting an M-16. America's favorite pastime has suddenly become a very dangerous sport, and one wrong move means strike three.

    Jane says: "Very enjoyable. Had some laughs."
    "What a Man's Gotta Do"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Spenser books, particularly the early ones, are good, fast reads and very short by today's standards. Although technically book #3, "Mortal Stakes" (1975) is a good starting place for this classic series.

    On the surface it's a simple story: the Boston Red Sox' manager suspects that their superstar may be throwing games as well as pitches (all Red Sox personnel in the book are entirely fictional). The manager hires PI Spenser to investigate the rumor. The trademark Parker descriptions of meals (heavy on the cholesterol), drinks (Labatt's Pale Ale, anyone?), clothes (lots of polyester), and local flavor (Boston's ambiance is captured nicely) are all there, as is Spenser's trademark repartee (which unfortunately doesn't always translate well to audio, especially since Michael Prichard is an OK but not spectacular reader).

    Underneath a fast-moving plot involving blackmail and gambling, this novel builds the foundation for the Code of Spenser as the tough PI faces up to the physical, emotional, and spiritual conflicts inherent when "work is play for mortal stakes." At this point in the series he has not yet partnered with Hawk, the sociopath-with-integrity who plays such a large role in later books. Hit men like Vinnie and Chollo have not yet become Spenser's buddies and back-up. Cops Belson and Quirk, his stalwart links to law enforcement, are present, and the bonds of commitment between Spenser and his future soulmate Susan Silverman glimmer but are not yet forged.

    Over 35 years and 30 novels (there are more than 30, but for me the books lose their lustre and originality somewhere after "Potshot," which was #28 or so), Robert B. Parker created an iconic character that in many ways (and despite many superficial differences) is the logical antecedent of Lee Child's Jack Reacher. Both "heroes" operate under individualistic codes of honor that in their world justify breaking rules and laws in the interests of eliminating evil, protecting the innocent, and righting wrongs. As the lines from Robert Frost that are the epigraph in "Mortal Stakes" sum it up, their deeds are done "for Heaven and the future's sakes." Spenser thinks about it a lot more than Reacher does, but they both wind up serving as judge, jury, and executioner more often than not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Grand Sophy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Sarah Woodward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (176)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (164)

    Resourceful, adventurous and utterly indefatigable, Sophy is hardly the mild-mannered girl that the Rivenhalls expect when they agree to take her in. Kind-hearted Aunt Lizzy is shocked; stern Cousin Charles and his humorless fiancée Eugenia are disapproving.With her inimitable mixture of exuberance and grace Sophy soon sets about endearing herself to her family, but finds herself increasingly drawn to her cousin. Can she really be falling in love with him, and he with her? And what of his betrothal to Eugenia?

    Carol says: "The Full Sophy"
    "The Full Sophy"
    Overall
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    Story

    If Georgette Heyer's many fans were to vote for their favorite Heyer heroine/novel, I predict "The Grand Sophy" would win. Naxos did a nice job on the abridgment that has been on Audible for two years (and which I quickly ponied up a credit for), but it was … abridged.

    Now we get the entire book, and it is good. I enjoyed Clare Wille's narration of the abridgment -- she also reads the unabridged versions of "Cotillion" and "A Civil Contract," both well worth listening to -- but Sarah Woodward's rendition is equally good, and now all my favorite scenes are here, not on the cutting room floor.

    Sophia Stanton-Lacy is the daughter of a British diplomat who has spent her teenage years traveling the Continent with her widower father as the Napoleonic wars wound down. Now Sir Horace is off to Brazil and leaves the 21-year-old Sophy in London with his sister and her numerous offspring. The household's eldest son is strait-laced Charles, who has recently (1) inherited a large fortune from a distant relative and (2) become engaged to the Honourable and egregiously proper Eugenia Wraxton.

    Sophy is sparkling, spontaneous, self-sufficient, and as Charles disapprovingly observes, “on easy terms with every rattle who ever wore a red coat." Not hard to see where the romance will go, especially keeping in mind that first-cousin alliances were common among the “quality” right up through the early twentieth century.

    Besides the protagonists -- and Sophy and Charles are among Heyer's most delightful and memorable -- several other characters also have romances underway or underfoot, and the machinations are tangled, funny, and occasionally bittersweet. Sophy's interactions with her large brood of cousins add marvelous depth to this classic novel. All will be well that ends well, so set aside the dreary dystopians and the vapid vampires and enjoy a romp through the Regency.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Thankless in Death: In Death, Book 37

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By J. D. Robb
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1119)
    Performance
    (1013)
    Story
    (1025)

    For Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the NYPSD, the job is a useful reminder of what she has to be grateful for this season. Hosting Roarke's big Irish family for the holiday may be challenging, but it’s a joyful improvement on her own dark childhood. Other couples aren’t as lucky as Eve and Roarke. The Reinholds, for example, are lying on the floor of their Downing Street apartment, stabbed and bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. Those who knew them are stunned - and even more heartbroken by the overwhelming evidence that they were murdered by their own son.

    Patricia says: "Violence vs. Sentiment"
    "A Thanksgiving Review"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am thankful for this series, which I've been reading since 1995, when Eve's pocket link communicator actually seemed futuristic.

    I am thankful to be done with this particular installment, which--despite a few enjoyable scenes with Eve and friends-- spends far too much time in the head of a whining, despicable, disgusting psychopath who has suddenly discovered the joys of torture, mutilation, and murder.

    I am thankful that Robb/Roberts continues to write this series, and I look forward to Installment #38, because even when there's been the occasional misfire (hey, 37 books? it happens), I always come back for more and am seldom disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Beast: Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, Book 21

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Faye Kellerman
    • Narrated By Mitchell Greenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (100)

    Throughout his years with the LAPD, Peter Decker has handled a number of tough cases and strange killers. But few of his previous assignments compare to his latest case. When Hobart Penny is found dead in his apartment, the cops think that his pet cat - an adult female tiger - attacked the reclusive elderly billionaire. But it soon becomes clear that the beast that killed the eccentric inventor is all too human.

    Think about this says: "Lacking"
    "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the beginning Faye Kellerman created a unique detective series, heavily character-based and set in the community of ultraorthodox Judaism. Rina Lazarus was so sympathetic that I embraced her character completely, even though I found it hard to accept that a highly intelligent modern American woman would voluntarily choose such a lifestyle.

    The first books in the series were great, focused on young widow Rina and LAPD Detective Peter Decker, who marries Rina and becomes a loving stepfather to her two sons. Kellerman has expanded the character base throughout the series, introducing new faces that often stuck around. The most recent two books, "Gun Games" and "The Beast," have been major disappointments, not least because the emphasis on the Decker family has pretty much dissolved. Developments in "Beast" seem to indicate that the series may move in a new direction, which if it is to continue, I think it has to do.

    The "mystery"--and I use the term loosely--in "Beast" is ridiculous. If you swallow the premise that a person could keep a Bengal tiger inside a suburban LA apartment complex for 2 years and the neighbors wouldn't even notice--well, I have a bridge you might like to buy. It does allow for some nice gruesome scenes, however, and the story moves along breezily, a (very) lightweight read. The big question is, What Will Faye Kellerman Do Next?

    I would be happy to see Gabe Whitman and Chris Donati carry the leads in a book of their own. And I really want to know what's happened in the life of Jacob Lazarus Decker (Rina's younger son, now 30, the only character who seemed to have serious problems with the orthodox lifestyle of his parents). There's a throwaway line in "Beast" about the possibility of Gabe and Jake traveling to India together; therein lies an interesting possibility.

    And as long as things are changing, I think it's time for a new narrator, and I'd really like to ditch the Jasmine character, at least until she grows up. The two problems may be related. Mitchell Greenberg makes sultry teenager Jasmine sound like a petulant 5-year-old--and we all know how much fun either of those entities is to listen to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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