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Volcano, HI, USA | Member Since 2002

  • 61 reviews
  • 275 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 26 purchased in 2015

  • The Fifth Woman: A Kurt Wallander Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Henning Mankell
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In an African convent, four nuns and an unidentified fifth woman are brutally murdered, and the death of the unknown woman is covered up by the local police. A year later in Sweden, Inspector Kurt Wallander is baffled and appalled by two strange murders with an elusive connection to the fifth woman.

    Rebecca says: "A new Henning Mankell fan is born"
    "Yet another Murder by Narrator"

    The reader on this one is so bad I couldn't even hang in, and that's new for me despite the plethora of bad readers. He overacts horribly and most of the time he not only puts huge, portentous pauses between each word, he puts them between the SYLLABLES of each word!

    Normally, I can extrapolate the quality of a story from underneath a bad reader but, in this case, it was too much of a mess. I'd have given the author the benefit of the doubt enough for a 3, but the premise wasn't remotely believable, and had nearly a complete absence of background.

    Save your credits.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Murder 101

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Maggie Barbieri
    • Narrated By Gayle Hendrix
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Safely away from the chaos of Manhattan, St. Thomas, a small college on the banks of the Hudson River, is supposed to be tranquil, bucolic, and serene. Unfortunately, English professor Alison Bergeron has found it to be anything but. Recently divorced and even more recently without a car - it was stolen - she has been hoofing it to school. One Friday evening, two homicide detectives drop by her office. The good news is that they found her beat-up Volvo; the bad news is that the body of one of her students was in the trunk.

    tcvt says: "Narrator Ruins the Story"
    "Pleasurable Reading"

    This is lightweight but satisfying. It's probably only a 3.5, but I upped it because it was enjoyable. The pacing is good, the characters are fun, and the plot is interesting enough. Although romance hovers, it adds to the plot rather than interfering with it. Such melodrama as there is, is of a comical nature rather than overblown and stupid. There's a touch of Evanovich -- not nearly as fall-down funny, but definitely some laughs, and some zany co-stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Death and Judgment: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Donna Leon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A truck crashes and spills its dangerous cargo on a treacherous road in the Italian Dolomite mountains. Meanwhile, in Santa Lucia, a prominent international lawyer is found dead aboard an intercity train. Suspecting a connection between the two tragedies, Commissario Guido Brunetti digs deep for an answer, stumbling upon a seedy Venetian bar that holds the key to a crime network that reaches far beyond the laguna.

    Anne says: "Escape to Northern Italy if you dare..."
    "Darker than Usual for Leon"

    I never regret purchasing a Brunetti novel, and always find them interesting and well worth the time. In this case, the issues are exceptionally painful and seamy, so I enjoyed this one a little less than the others, but it was still well worth the read. As usual, the characters are individual and enjoyable, as are the interactions.

    As always, the sense of place is enjoyable without the mess that some authors make by trying to turn it into a travelogue. The atmosphere of Venice is distinctly with us but always in a natural way that blends with the plot progression.

    AUDIO: David Colacci consistently does a good job. I sometimes wish he'd go slightly lighter on the accents, but on the whole he's excellent. He understands the ongoing characters very well and gives a true rendering of their conversations.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ice Blue

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Anne Stuart
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman

    Museum curator Summer Hawthorne considered the exquisite ice-blue ceramic bowl given to her by her beloved Japanese nanny a treasure of sentimental value, until somebody tried to kill her for it.

    Carey says: "Intense"
    "Say "blahblah" then repeat 3000 times"

    I almost never use one star, reserving it to mean the very worst a book can be. For Ice Blue, this rating is well deserved. It's a real stand-out in the abysmal category.

    It's bad enough that the characters and events have no believability of any kind. But then Stuart repeats everything ad nauseum. How many dozens of times did she describe the male character's appearance? 30? 50? How many times are we told that he's ambivalent about the attraction? How many times do we have to hear that killing the "heroine" is the right thing to do? Killing the book is more like it, and once would have been sufficient. [How on earth does tripe like this get published?]

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Obsession, Deceit, and Really Dark Chocolate

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Kyra Davis
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Sophie Katz's relationship with the irresistible and occasionally insufferable P.I. Anatoly Darinsky is on the fritz when a friend recruits Sophie's investigation skills to decode her possibly two-timing husband's strange behavior. When Sophie shows up in a short, red cocktail dress and her friend's hubby winds up dead, the loveable would-be sleuth can't help but take on the job.

    TRACY says: "Not as engaging as previous books"
    "Has some modest charm"

    I almost abandoned this one, finding the protagonist juvenile, vapid and brassy, but it eventually began to grow on me. There's some genuine wit beneath the nonsense, and the character is wide-open honest about her own faults. On the silly side, but it manages to be worth the purchase.

    AUDIO: Zackman has her flaws, but she understands her role and renders it well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • KnockOut: FBI Thriller #13

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Catherine Coulter
    • Narrated By Paul Costanzo, Renee Raudman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Seven-year-old Autumn Backman has a gift: she can communicate telepathically with others. Not everyone, mind you, but with a select few with whom she shares a special kinship. When Autumn and her mother, Joanna, take her father's ashes to be buried in the family plot in Brickers Bowl, Georgia, she witnesses a horrifying sight: her grandmother and two uncles, burying a pile of dead bodies in the middle of the night.

    Lehua says: "Predictable all the way"
    "Predictable all the way"

    In other episodes I've read from this series, Coulter used some restraint and kept the supernatural element to just a dash of spice. But in this one, she takes the hoodoo way over the line, letting it overwhelm the story and turn it into a shapeless mass. No plot-worthy parameters remain.

    The characters flop, too. Coulter has always been noticeably cartoonish, but didn't run amok until this one.

    She's also maddeningly repetitive, not just with statements, but with actions and events. Worst of all, the plot was so predictable that I found myself skipping large chunks, only to tune in later to find that things had gone exactly as I'd known they would. In fact, I fell asleep -- again -- just before the end, and couldn't stir up enough interest to rewind and finish it.

    The producers chose to do that awful thing of swapping between readers. Including this novel, I've never seen that done well. Rather, it's
    disruptive and distracting. Costanzo has a high pitch, almost adolescent, which saps strength from the story. Raudman is awful beyond belief. I thought I'd experienced the worst overacting possible in audio, but she trumps them all.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Runner: A Jane Whitefield Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Thomas Perry
    • Narrated By Joyce Bean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When a bomb goes off in the middle of a hospital fundraiser, Native American guide-turned-housewife Jane Whitefield finds herself face to face with the cause of the explosion: a young pregnant girl who has been tracked across the country by a team of hired hunters.That night, regardless of what she wants or the vow that she's made to her husband, Jane must come back to transform one more victim into a runner. And her quest for safety sets in motion a mission that will be a rescue operation - or a chance for revenge.

    Jackie says: "Riveting"
    "Boring as a textbook"

    There is no mystery of any kind. This is merely a textbook on detailed tactics of evasion. From good guys down to bad guys, and everyone in between, none of the characters are believable, especially not in their motivations. ("That's a beautiful dress!" exclaims one of the characters, while escaping from a bombing.)

    A big deal is made out of the protagonist's native heritage, but it's gratuitous; it doesn't figure in, or add to, the story in any way
    and if it has any significance to the protaganist's character, the author fails to make that connection. It comes off like sticking a Groucho Marx nose on an evening gown model.

    AUDIO: Bean is adequate, making fewer errors than many, but not excellent. Maybe a C-.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Exit Music

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Ian Rankin
    • Narrated By Tom Cotcher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A #1 internationally best-selling author and recipient of the Gold Dagger Award, Ian Rankin has endeared himself to readers and won widespread critical acclaim for his much loved novels featuring Detective John Rebus. In Exit Music, the curtain is unquestionably falling on the long, controversial career of Rankin's famous investigator. But even as Rebus prepares for retirement, he is lured into one final case involving a murdered poet and a delegation of Russian businessmen.

    charles says: "I hope Rankin changes his mind."

    Not his best novel, but still light years better than most of what's out there. Rankin gives mystery lovers their gift of intricate plotting and the sorting through of what's related and what's not, whom to trust or not. And admirers of his writing see a new depth of characterisations and introspection. But there's a listlessness under it all. This listlessness is a legitimate element of the story but obviously drains energy. The ending is a type of cop-out that I would never have expected from this writer. Perhaps he meant it as a courtesy to the readers, allowing them to choose where they want to take it, but for me it was a pain in the neck.

    AUDIO: What a dreadful choice Cotcher was! And how sad to see him ruin Rebus's last appearance. Cotcher's ignorance of Rebus turns the witty, sharp, and aware hero into a clumsy and inferior clod. Sad.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Sworn to Silence: A Thriller

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Linda Castillo
    • Narrated By Kathleen McInerney
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    the sleepy rural town of Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and "English" residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But 16 years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. In the aftermath of the violence, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence. Kate Burkholder, a young Amish girl, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer but came away from its brutality with the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish.

    SHEILA says: "I'm sorry....."
    "Freddie Goes Amish"

    It's clear this author would be capable of writing a good story; it's unclear why she chose not to. Is it that gore and horror sell? Is she aiming at the teenagers who watch the Friday the 13th style of horror movies? It actually becomes boring in the middle of psychotic mania rampages simply because she so belabors every repellent detail. Even the supposedly good guys left me unmoved. Flawed characters are all well and good, but there's a distance between them vs. folks that have degenerated into complete basket cases. The plot is pretty silly most of the time. Like, hasn't this woman -- an officer of the law -- ever heard of lawyers?

    AUDIO: McInerney is a mediocre actress, and is all over the place in this novel, bouncing between overacting and flat-affect droning, with only a few bits that are well done. The protagonist is played nowhere near tough enough, and all the men sound like dweebs.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Redwall

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Brian Jacques
    • Narrated By Stuart Blinder

    As the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey bask in the glorious Summer of the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful. But things are not as they seem. Cluny the Scourge, the evil one-eyed rat warlord, is hell-bent on destroying the abbey's tranquility as he prepares to fight a bloody battle for the ownership of Redwall.

    Claire says: "Very good narration, but author's version better"

    This is a very stock children's tale, with recycled characters and events. Reading this would be preferable to poking one's eye out with a stick if it were a rainy day and the kids had absolutely nothing better to do.

    AUDIO: Blinder is pretty overblown and florid.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Diane Setterfield
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato, Jill Tanner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's beloved collection of stories, long famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale. The enigmatic Winter has always kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she summons a biographer to tell the truth about her extraordinary life: Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth remains an ever-present pain.

    PA Law says: "Haunting and beautiful tale"
    "The emperor's new clothes"

    I tried harder than I ever have to hang in with a bad book, and did so because of glowing reviews. What were they thinking? I would say that reading this was like watching grass grow, except that watching grass can be pleasant. If Setterfield had sliced out about 12 of the 14 hours, it might have been an okay novel. Maybe.

    AUDIO: Hard to judge, because there was so little life in Setterfield's main characters.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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