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Gretchen

Use books for escape- typically avoid nonfiction. Enjoy action-romance, espionage/military, sci-fi. Skilled writing is most important.

ratings
538
REVIEWS
63
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
21
HELPFUL VOTES
116

  • On Dublin Street

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Samantha Young
    • Narrated By Paula Costello
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1767)
    Performance
    (1656)
    Story
    (1651)

    Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare.... Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well - until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

    Tina says: "Paula Costello is my new favorite narrator!"
    "Writer with an original voice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first I have heard of this writer and I was delighted to find that she has an original, contemporary voice and knows her craft well. The dialog was fresh, flowed well, and fit the characters exactly. This is a romance that is not written with the same, tired phrases found in every romance book (well, maybe a couple of times...).

    This is a story heavy on character development rather than plot, which was predictable. Any disappointment with the predictable plot was easily overridden by the skill of the writer. The main male love interest's personality was written a bit heavy-handedly, but somehow worked.

    The narrator really 'got' the main character and used a natural approach to differentiating between characters. A couple of times, I wished she had distinguished more clearly between the main character's internal and external dialog, but overall, good job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Death of a Spy: Mark Sava, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Dan Mayland
    • Narrated By Mark Boyett
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Life has never been better for Mark Sava, the former CIA station chief of Azerbaijan. He's recently married, has a newborn daughter, and the launch of his spies-for-hire business in Central Asia has been a great success. Then he gets a call from the US Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia - one his employees, seventy-two-year-old Larry Bowlan, has died of a heart attack.

    Gretchen says: "Worth a listen"
    "Worth a listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mark Sava is a former CIA agent and now runs a spies-for-hire business in Central Asia. The circumstances that send him off to investigate an employee's death is a bit weak given his home situation, but travel around locales rarely (if ever) used in novels is different enough to get attention. The plot is not particularly intriguing.

    Mayland's Mark Sava reminds me of Barry Eisler's John Rain. Mayland's writing is not as entertaining, particularly when comparing descriptions of scenery and challenging circumstances in which characters find themselves. Even so, the Sava series is entertaining enough to spend a credit.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Rosie Effect

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Graeme Simsion
    • Narrated By Dan O'Grady
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (595)
    Performance
    (510)
    Story
    (509)

    Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because - surprise! - Rosie is pregnant. Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

    Elizabeth says: "The bad reviews are true, alas...."
    "The Same But Different"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Simsion portrays Don’s perspective of life with the same charm, but is unable to recapture the humor of the first book. One sees from the beginning that Don’s attempt to fix relationship problems will fail since the problems are caused by Rosie’s subterfuge and internal struggles rather than his own misinterpretations. Don’s attempts land him into the kind of trouble that cause more cringing than laughing.

    Still, I found myself listening to the entire book in one day, missing much needed sleep – a sure sign of a good book. If readers are able to put comparisons to the first book aside, they will find Simsion’s writing fresh and his ability to write dialogue entertaining. His insight into Asperger’s syndrome is fascinating as well as enlightening.

    Overall, don’t skip this because it doesn’t offer all of the humor of the first book. If you are able to push comparisons aside and listen without expectation, you won’t be disappointed.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Kiss Me Like This: The Morrisons

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Bella Andre
    • Narrated By Eva Kaminsky
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (54)

    Kiss Me like This is the first audiobook in a new-adult contemporary romance series about the Morrisons by New York Times best-selling author Bella Andre.

    Max Connors says: "Not the Sullivans"
    "Adult content in a young adult story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The publisher says this is an "adult" series, which is a term they are using loosely. Technically, Serena is an adult as a college freshman, but she is a self-absorbed girl who is struggling with high-school level concerns, such as her first kiss, virginity, making friends, talking in front of a class,... The author provides reasoning to explain her immaturity (as a super model, she didn't experience normal high school life) but this doesn't cover the fact that the majority of content addresses juvenile issues. This is not a bad story - just not what was advertised - albeit bedroom scenes are included.

    Serena leaves modeling to attend college. Her domineering mom-manager doesn't agree and ceases contact. Serena meets the star football player, Sean, who is struggling with the loss of his mother and uncertainty in his future career. Sean introduces Serena to many first time experiences as the two fall in love.

    Andre's writing mechanics are solid, but her character development should be much deeper. This is particularly important since the plot not only lacks inspiration, but nothing happens. Because this is a simple story of two people falling in love, dialog and character depth are particularly important. In addition, the premise of a virginal super model hooking up with the college star athlete is so solicitous that it's condescending.

    Overall, skip it.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Five Ways to Fall: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By K. A. Tucker
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Louise, Deacon Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (282)
    Performance
    (249)
    Story
    (251)

    Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she's made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well...aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny's Palace, Ben's ready to lead a more mature life - until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun.

    Gretchen says: "Light, entertaining"
    "Light, entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reese is a troubled and trouble-making 21 year-old who takes a trip to Cancun as a step in recovery from a short, painful marriage. She meets Ben, who is on his last day of vacation. Even though Ben is the type to sleep with any female who shows an interest, he is enamored by Reese’s energy, unsocial behavior, and sharp tongue. Reese is estranged from her materialistic mother and accepts the assistance of one of her mother’s exes and past step-father, who puts her to work in his law firm.

    Ben and Reese meet again months later as Ben begins his first position as a lawyer in the same firm. Reese’s ex appears back in her life with his new wife and former mistress. Reese is bitter and wants to hurt them as much as they hurt her, which drives much of Reese’s actions through the book. Ben is happy to be entertained by and a participant in Reese’s revenge as long as she understands and accepts his position against commitment.

    The last book in a series, “Five Ways to Fall” reads well without reading previous installments. Tucker can write and is particularly good with character development, but isn’t the best storyteller. The plot would have been strengthened by expounding on Reese’s parents and her quest to learn about her father. The performances are well done, but production has a few small problems.

    Overall, good escapism and worth a credit.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Black: Black Series, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Russell Blake
    • Narrated By R.C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Artemus Black. Perennially down-on-his-luck Hollywood PI whose Bogie fixation is as dated as his wardrobe. With an assistant who mocks him relentlessly, an obese cat that loathes him, a romantic life that's deader than Elvis, money problems, booze, nicotine, and anger management issues, how much worse can it get?

    Amazon Customer says: "Roxy is a must have for the entire series"
    "Witty dialog makes this worth a listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A private investigator, Artemus Black, lives in Hollywood where he works for the rich and famous. He has had little success in life, including his relationships, professions, and finances. Black lives a satire of a noir detective movie, even dressing the part. He takes on a case to help a has-been actor turned director, which promises a much needed financial boost, but brings betrayal and murder.

    In this book, Russell Blake shows he is a master of dialog and fun characters. Black's assistant, Roxy, banters with him at a level equivalent to Grant and Russell in "His Girl Friday" In fact, Black engages in witty dialog with most characters, which is the element that makes this book worth the time to hear.

    Overall, the plot is not particularly intriguing, but Blake's solid writing skills, character building, and balanced humor make this book fun - entertaining. I'm getting the next one in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rock Chick

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Kristen Ashley
    • Narrated By Susannah Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1335)
    Performance
    (1241)
    Story
    (1257)

    Indy Savage is a former wild child (okay, maybe not so "former") and current used-bookstore owner. Lee Nightingale is a former bad boy and now runs a private investigation service. Toss together a quiet barista with a not-so-lawful side-business, a crazy Vietnam Vet, a pothead, a drag queen, family and friends who will not mind their own business, a few stun guns, and a bag of diamonds, and mix them all up with some shootings, a high-speed chase and car bombs exploding, then hang on for your first wild Rock Chick ride.

    karen says: "A Rockin story"
    "Fluffy, formulaic series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Fluffy and fun, the first book (and best) in a series of love stories is enjoyable and fairly well written. Indy Savage owns a used-bookstore/cafe where an amusing group of friends gathers regularly. Indy meets Lee Nightingale who owns a private investigation company. Lee moves in, after knowing Indy since childhood, as he protects her from a crazy succession of attacks caused by the side business of a cafe employee. Some grammatical problems, but because it's written in first person, this could be intentional.

    About the series: I have listened to books 1 - 6 and found each one a repeat of the first love story. In fact, the love interests from one book to the next are so closely matched in characteristics that the author must have copied some of the dialog word-for-word. Still, they offer adequate entertainment, especially if you listen to other authors in between listening to books in this series.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Sempre: Forever Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By J. M. Darhower
    • Narrated By Carla Mercer-Meyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (110)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (100)

    Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess. Now a twist of fate has caused their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.

    Ezinwanyi says: "One of the best narrations of a book"
    "Action, romance, violence, family, secrets, lies"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Haven is a child born into captivity by a mother who is a victim of human trafficking and living as a slave to a mafia couple. At seventeen, Haven attempts escape with the encouragement of her mother, who suspects Haven’s parentage puts her in danger of her master’s wife. Haven does not get far before recapture, but a mafia associate buys the girl. Haven is moved in with the associate’s family, where she meets and falls in love with one of the teenage sons. The two learn of deep mafia secrets that threaten their life together.

    Abuse, slavery, and other such topics are usually elements I avoid in my escapism listening, but Darhower handles them tactfully, without unnecessary gore. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of violence; there is, but the author focuses on plot and characterization. The plot keeps the story moving at a satisfactory pace, but isn’t particularly original. The characters are real and complex, demonstrating the author’s strength. She blends action, romance, violence, and family relationships in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel forced.

    The best aspect of this audiobook is its reader. I would not have enjoyed this as much if I had read it. The Italian, voices, pace –everything…, is expertly performed. One of the best I have heard.

    Overall, I recommend giving this one a try – I am immediately picking up the next one in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Overwatch

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Marc Guggenheim
    • Narrated By Will Collyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    Alex Garnett has spent his life in the shadow of his father, a former Chief of Staff and Solicitor General to two presidents who's been responsible for getting Alex every job he ever had, including his latest: attorney for the CIA. However, a seemingly routine litigation leads to a series of unexpected events, including poison, kidnapping, torture, and murder. As casualties pile up, it becomes clear Alex is the final target in someone's blood-soaked attempts to cover their tracks.

    John says: "Is this all it takes????"
    "Hope this is the first in a series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A young, rash lawyer, Alex Garnett, takes a position with the CIA, an opportunity that Alex later learns was orchestrated by his father, a powerful Washington insider. Alex’s employment history is speckled with self-sabotage and impetuous behavior because of his wish to prove himself and not benefit from his father’s influence.

    His complicated relationship with his father seems to be the reason behind his actions that cause trouble in his new job as Alex probes into secretes beyond his security clearance. With intelligence (and recklessness), Alex learns of a long-hidden Washington power that manipulates the government and events around the world – and that power is determined to stay hidden.

    The premise stretches plausibility, but the story is well-paced and includes some fun action. Guggenheim’s writing reminds me of Tom Clancy. Guggenheim is a competent author, although I would like to see more originality in this story. Even so, I will look for more from him.

    Performance – very good.

    Overall, I recommend giving this a try.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hidden Steel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Doranna Durgin
    • Narrated By Amy Landon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Steve Spaneas doesn't have a clue. Who'd have thought that the woman who stumbles her way into his gym, looking and acting so very much like a street person off her meds, is really a CIA case officer whose memory has been obliterated by experimental drugs used by some very bad people? And seriously, who'd have thought that her attempts to untangle the few clues she's got would lead him right into her world of spies and counterspies, death and deception--and holy cow, stockpiled nuclear weapons?

    Gretchen says: "2.5 stars of potential"
    "2.5 stars of potential"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A CIA operative wakes handcuffed to a bed in a strange room. Groggy and disoriented, she does not know who she is or answers to the questions of her captors. She escapes, stumbling into a community gym where the owner has seen mentally ill patients on the run in the past and recognizes the same symptoms in the confused woman. He feels compelled to help her. As a chase by evil-doers for the woman ensues, she begins putting the pieces of her life’s puzzle together. My wording here is deliberately cliché to suit the premise and plot.

    Even with an over-used storyline, I still give this book 2.5 stars for 3 reasons: the writer’s mechanics are solid, male-female role reversal, and adequate dialog. There are no interesting twists or deep characterizations, but the author has an effortless style. I like the uniquely strong female lead with the male lead in a secondary, but not simpering, role.

    This book did not pull me in, but with only one mediocre rating in audible, I was expecting a near disaster. It is not. Even so, the plot is not strong enough to thrill, the suspense lacks intrigue, the protagonist’s relationship is not a romance, and the dialog is not entertaining enough to carry the story.

    In short, this author shows potential, but needs to deepen her research and apply much more creativity across the board.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cold Blooded: The Nick McCarty Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Bernard Lee DeLeo, RJ Parker Publishing, Inc
    • Narrated By Mike Dennis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    Nick McCarty decides after ten years of black ops assassinations it's time for a change. Against the wishes of his shadow government bosses he has inexplicably managed to become a best-selling author. The novels have made him world famous and provided a cover for his overseas sanctions. But Nick feels something's missing. An employer orders the death of a woman in the witness protection program. Nick sees something in the woman's picture reminding him of someone he knew long ago.

    Matt says: "Fantastic"
    "Assassin and famous writer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An assassin uses his professional knowledge to become a famous writer who travels around the world. He uses his writing career as a cover for his true passion, killing. At the beginning of this story, Nick the assassin targets a woman whose identity under witness protection is leaked. Nick decides to take advantage of her dilemma to deepen his cover with a ready-made family; so, instead of killing his target, he hooks up with her and her little girl. To further complicate the premise, Nick’s employer disagrees with his choice and targets him too. The new ‘family’ goes on the run.

    All characters in this story are completely unlikable – even the little girl. (Well, her dog is ok.) They think little of violence and killing. As Nick survives one unlikely scenario after another, the mother squirms a little at the violence, but recovers quickly and doesn't second guess her relationship with a self-proclaimed psychopathic killer. With only occasional recognition that they make horrid role models, adults shrug and chuckle at a young girl’s blood thirsty attitude. Unbelievable coincidences and rescues are non-stop; so the story moves quickly, lessening the pain of this book’s many problems.

    The reader’s robotic style is difficult to hear for long periods, but it fits the main character well, as the assassin feels as deeply as a machine.

    Overall, don’t waste a credit.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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