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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
391
REVIEWS
60
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
19
HELPFUL VOTES
86

  • Red Sparrow: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jason Matthews
    • Narrated By Jeremy Bobb
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1054)
    Performance
    (950)
    Story
    (953)

    Drafted against her will to become a "Sparrow" - a trained seductress in the service, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA's most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America's valuable mole in Moscow.

    Melinda says: "Sexy Saucy Spies"
    "6 stars - intelligent and very well crafted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Summary- solid writing, interesting characters, captivating story, but not appropriate for everyone due to sometimes violent situations

    Well researched, concise yet rich writing, and intriguing characters make this one of my favorite audio books. Nearly 18 hours long, I expected to get impatient before reaching the end; but, the pace of this spy thriller kept me invested until the last word. Matthews does a beautiful job providing details without 'data dumps'. In other words, the reader learns about the characters, situations, and locales naturally through dialog and action rather than monotonous descriptions. This writer reminds me of Ken Follett.

    The plot takes absorbing turns. I won't say anymore on that to avoid spoilers - but it was exceptional. Some might not enjoy this sometimes grim story of hard people who survive by telling lies and remaining emotionally distant.

    The narrator's voice and speaking style fits the story. His Russian was convincing, a real professional.





    14 of 16 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
    (74)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (69)

    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.

    Yetty says: "Perfection in every sentence"
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Black: Black Series, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Russell Blake
    • Narrated By R.C. Bray
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    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
    (612)
    Performance
    (582)
    Story
    (588)

    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.

    1 of 1 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
    (70)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (62)

    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
    (27)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    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
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    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
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    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 0 people found this review helpful
  • Graveyard of Memories: John Rain, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Barry Eisler
    • Narrated By Barry Eisler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (230)
    Story
    (230)

    What makes a legendary assassin? For John Rain, it was the lessons of love, war, and betrayal he learned in Tokyo in 1972. Fresh from the killing fields of Southeast Asia, Rain works as a bagman under the watchful eye of his CIA handler, delivering cash to corrupt elements of the Japanese government. But when a delivery goes violently wrong, Rain finds himself in the crosshairs of Japan’s most powerful yakuza clan.

    Jim says: "The real John Rain returns"
    "Love, war, and betrayal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Eisler writes “Memories” from John Rain’s view point, explaining his fall into assassination as a profession. After the Vietnam war, Rain stays in Asia, living in Tokyo without belonging or meaning; but, for a 20 year-old lacking education, he lives comfortably. Not having yet developed his calculated constraint seen in previous books, Rain reacts rashly to three punks and accidentally kills a relative of a powerful clan. Rain’s lack of experience and relative naiveté are challenges he needs to overcome to stay alive and turn the tables on a growing list of enemies, including the Japanese government and his own employer. While in hiding, Rain becomes romantically involved with a Korean woman, whom he unwittingly places in danger. As the publisher’s summary says, Rain learns, “lessons of love, war, and betrayal.”

    As always, Eisler’s descriptions of Tokyo are vivid without unnecessary details or wordy descriptions. It brings together so many elements of good storytelling and good writing that I am grateful to another listener for highly recommending Barry Eisler’s books.

    This series reminds me of Child’s Jack Reacher series. I like Child’s writing, but I do not understand the reason for the Reacher series’ success over that of the Rain series. Perhaps the Rain series’ isn’t appreciated as much because its premise is assassination; or, perhaps its fuzzy distinction between good and evil is unappealing; or, perhaps unlike Reacher, Rain’s remoteness is not a choice, rather a result of childhood experiences as a Japanese-American. All of which are pluses for me. Also, Eisler’s character development is deeper; the scenery is much richer and more exotic; its research is extensive; and, the plots are drawn from espionage and current events.

    Eisler narrates this himself – and does so excellently.

    Overall, I highly recommend this series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Knock Out: Worth the Fight

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Michele Mannon
    • Narrated By Rachel Fulginiti
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (69)

    Logan Rettino never imagined she'd fall so far. Dropped by her ex on national TV, she's gone from prima ballerina to ring card girl, reduced to revving up the crowds before MMA bouts. However distasteful she finds her new job, it pays well…and she needs the money if she's ever going to rebuild her life. Promised a huge bonus if she can convince a brooding, gifted welterweight to keep fighting, she'll do whatever it takes to earn his trust. Keane O'Shea is unbeatable in the octagon. A former marine, he fights with a ruthlessness no gym jockey can match.

    Boredom says: "I loved this book"
    "Didn't knock me out"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An ex-ballet dancer is reduced to acting as an 'octagon girl,' walking the octagon shaped cage in skimpy clothing, holding round cards for MMA fights. Her continued employment in the high paying job is dependent upon her success in keeping a former marine turned MMA welterweight in the cage and winning. The dancer moves in with the fighter under the flimsy premise to help his tortured soul. The two try to resist each other, but predictably cannot.

    The story is slow and foreseeable as interactions between the ballerina, lusty men, and the fighter are repeated several times with similar results, which are woven into an on-again-off-again relationship cycle of the two main characters. The author's use of the ballerina's ex-boyfriend and the fighter's playmate as antagonists is weakly executed. It's likely the author's goal was to explore sexual tension between two opposite characters, but their development is not deep enough to be intriguing.

    The book reads as though the author jumped onto the MMA writing bandwagon for the sole purpose of selling books, rather than based on intimate experience or particular interest in the subject. Although the author's storytelling lacks creativity and depth, her writing technique shows glimmers of talent, earning a second star on a one star book.

    Overall, don't waste a credit.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Busted: The Odyssey of Holly Bunn

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Bill Wetterman
    • Narrated By Lara Wells
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Holly Bunn has spent her whole life crawling out of hell. She owns a Porsche, a condominium, and tons of size four clothes. Except for her wealthy Orlando clients, she's a loner. Her face and figure pay the bills. By forty, she'll need to have enough saved to retire. In her line of work, she's responsible for her own retirement plan. A runaway at 12, she and God talk about starting a halfway house for victims of abuse. God protects Holly, whoever God is. And with His assistance, maybe she can help others. Problem - a guy has entered her life - a gorgeous man with a sweet personality.

    Gaele says: "an interesting story that doesn’t fit into any one"
    "Oddly entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this a couple of weeks ago and put off rating it because for the first time, I do not know how I feel about a book. I do know that I found its premise unpleasant; its characters unusual; and its plot unconvincing. Even so, it kept my attention, the writer shows talent, and I thought about the main character long after I finished the book. I settled on 3 stars for these reasons and added a 4th star as a salute to a writer who threw out all the rules established by authors and publishers grappling for mass sales.

    The unpleasant premise to which I refer involves Holly Bunn, a prostitute whose good looks, pleasant demeanor, and strange naivete generates a demand for her services that raise her rates to amazing heights. The story follows her through a handful of years when she falls for a virgin, who is also a twisted vigilante; connects with the wrong people; and eventually ends up in dire circumstances - and yet, she somehow remains simple and guileless.

    The author's portrayal of Holly - a prostitute's lack of bitterness, her strange combination of kindness and selfish behavior toward those close to her, and her response to events in comparison to the responses of others - is the best aspect of this book. Perhaps his goal was to simply tell a story, but his main character is intriguing enough to carry an unlikely plot that takes place in the darkest parts of society.

    Overall, try this book if you are extremely bored with your usual consumption or if you are a bit experimental with your reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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