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Karen Syed

Karen L. Syed, Reader/Author/Publisher

Orlando, FL | Member Since 2008

  • 13 reviews
  • 81 ratings
  • 311 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014

  • Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By James Rollins
    • Narrated By Peter Jay Fernandez

    Galilee, 1025. A cunning Templar knight uncovers a holy treasure: the Bachal Isu - the staff of Jesus Christ - a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power that will forever change humanity if unleashed. A millennium later, Somali pirates hijack a yacht off the coast off the Horn of Africa, kidnapping a young pregnant American woman and brutally killing her husband. Painter Crowe and his SIGMA team are enlisted for the top secret rescue mission. The kidnappee is the daughter of the U.S. President.

    Amazon Customer says: "Another Sigma Win!"
    "Sigma Rocks"
    What did you love best about Bloodline?

    One of my favorite things about this entire series is the narrator. He has the talent to bring each and every character to life and gives them their own distinct personality. James Rollins is one of very few authors who can make the story an actual character. Not sure how to explain that, but every aspect of his books play an integral role.

    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Sigma books always keep me hanging on. Rollins takes mundane facts and weaves them into interesting tales. From history to mysteries, every book has its own special roadmap that makes the journey worth every minute invested.

    Have you listened to any of Peter Jay Fernandez’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This narrator has piqued my interest and while the only books I've heard him read are there Rollins books, I will definitely be looking for more.

    Any additional comments?

    My only problem with this book was Rollin's excessive explanations of medical aspects and the historical points. In previous books he gives us what we need to know, but in terms that most people can easily understand. I found myself a bit intimidated by the details and wanting to skip ahead.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Local Habitation: An October Daye Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Seanan McGuire
    • Narrated By Mary Robinette Kowal

    October “Toby” Daye is a changeling, the daughter of Amandine of the fae and a mortal man. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, most changelings are second-class children of Faerie spending their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day.

    Marci says: "What a fantastic book!"
    "A Story told as it should have been."
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Local Habitation to be better than the print version?

    One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because of the tones and accents the narrator used when telling the story. It didn't sound like someone simply reading a book.

    What did you like best about this story?

    One of my favorite things about this, and all of McGuire's books are her characters. Each one is unique and the author makes certain to accentuate each of their traits.

    Which character – as performed by Mary Robinette Kowal – was your favorite?

    When listening to the October Daye novels, I truly am mesmerized by Tybalt. I'm not sure if it has more to do with the narrators voice, or his personality. More than likely it is a combination of both. I find him irresistable.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I can't say my reaction to this book was extreme, but I will admit to being more than a little obsessed with continuing on as I listened. I dreaded having to stop and getting to the end.

    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the best paranormal series I have run across in many years.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Seanan McGuire
    • Narrated By Mary Robinette Kowal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The world of Faerie never disappeared: it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, these second-class children of Faerie spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations.

    G Reinhardt says: "Missed Matched Pair"
    "A Super Listen!"

    I never would have thought I would enjoy this book so much. I was desperate for something to read and happened upon this. I loved it. The story is fresh and interesting. The characters are unique and enjoyable. The overall impact of the book is memorable. So often when I finish a book, it just goes away. This has been in my mind enough that that I have suggested it to several people I met in store lines.

    I am headed off to buy the next in the series.

    The narrator was excellent. I've added Mary Robinette Kowal to my list of repeat readers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ice Cold

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Tess Gerritsen
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Something terrible has happened in the snowbound village of Kingdom Come, Wyoming, where 12 eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Meals remain untouched on dining room tables, cars are still in garages, and the town's residents have vanished into thin air. This is the disturbing setting where vacationing medical examiner Maura Isles and her traveling companions find themselves trapped during a ferocious snowstorm.

    Babs says: "Intelligent people behaving stupidly"
    "Good Solid Story"

    Up until the series hit television I had never heard of Rizzoli & Isles. I enjoyed the show and thought I would give the books a try. I downloaded ICE COLD from Audible for my last trip and I was not disappointed.

    Since this was my first one, and it was #8 in the series, I was a little lost with some of the character dynamics, but the author did a well wnough job of getting me up to speed. I found ICE COLD fast-paced and solid There were a few places where the internal narrative of the characters grated a little, but that may have been for personality purposes and probably not just to annoy me.

    The story was a lot more interesting than the jacket copy led me to believe and even though it took me a little while to get into it, I truloy enjoyed it. I will be reading more of this series.

    One of the reasons I chose this book is because I recently discovered Tanya Eby (Narrator) and am really enthralled with her ability as a reader. This was my second book read by Eby and there will be plenty more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Villa

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By Laural Merlington
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Sophia Giambelli has never worried about competition. As a savvy businesswoman, she knows she must be prepared for anything...but she isn't prepared for Tyler MacMillan.

    LeftyMom says: "Excellent!"
    "A Pleasant enough story"

    I have come to enjoy the new type of books Nora Roberts is writing. The romantic suspense is much easier to read than her previous romances.

    The Villa has a great cast of characters and Ms. Roberts does a good job of keeping them straight and organized with regard to the story. The premise of The Villa was interesting and I found all of the secondary characters necessary and well-developed.

    I have to admit though, I figure Tyler to be the main male protagonist/hero, but found David to be a much more likeable and admirable hero. The three generations of women were refreshing in their strength and the kids added a wonderfully light touch to the story.

    Overall, a great listen. And I do enjoy Laural Merlington's narration. She has a talent for the variety of voices that adds depth to the audio version not found in the print version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Affinity Bridge: A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By George Mann
    • Narrated By Simon Taylor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.

    Doug says: "nowhere near as bad as reviewed"
    "Really Really Really Good Listen"

    George Mann's "The Affinity Bridge" was a real eye-opener for me. I am new to the steampunk genre and have been looking for books to read in order to quench that need. I have started several but became so bogged down in vampires and werewolves that I just stopped reading.

    This book however is beautifully written. Yes, there are a few zombies, but they do not overwhelm the story. Mann captures the feel of the Victorian era with clever descriptions and remarkable characters. Maurice Newbury is quite a character in himself, rakishly flawed, but powerful in his determination to do right by the Queen and her country.

    Veronica Hobbs is a force to be reckoned with. Headstrong, loyal, and as determined as Sir Maurice, they make an awesome pair.

    Fighting against several unknown entities, Newbury and Hobbs are cast into a world of near chaos. They must discover if the forces at work are those of the dark forces, one of Newbury's weaknesses, or if something far more sinister is afoot.

    With plenty of action, emotion, and a few good twists, "The Affinity Bridge" is one of my favorite steampunk novels so far. I can't wait to download the next one in the series.

    As for the narrator, I normally don't prefer the male voices, but Simon Taylor has quite a talent. I think his performance of the various voices was quite exceptional and I will be looking for more books narrated by him. A damn good listen!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Laurence Leamer
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In March 1999, a Palm Beach matron and her socially ambitious husband invited the elite of the island for a dinner dance honoring Prince Edward. Among those dancing to the string orchestra that evening would be those accused of murder and spousal abuse, and others who would suffer fates both unseemly and unspeakable. Among the outer circle there would be murders, suicides, and fatal fires.

    Diane says: "Madness under the royal palms"
    "A cacophony of gossip"

    Extravagant dinner parties at culturally prejudice clubs, and homophobic cronies who rule their domain with an iron fist and no mercy shine. Leamer takes us back to when the rich and political went to Palm Beach for seclusion and solace and mingled without worry of the filth of the lower class and Jews. Leamer spends a lot of time reminding us of the socially outcast community not welcome in paradise. The Palm Beach residents discover all too soon, nothing stays the same. The old die and the new take over. For most people, old money spends no differently than new, it just doesn't smell as musty.

    Leamer tells of the infighting, the betrayals, and of the power of the cutting edge of the "Shiny Sheet," the local gossip/society column that could literally make or break a man or a woman. From the disgraces of social etiquette revealed at million dollar fund raisers to the erotic and unequaled bashes of the more recent residents. It never ceases to amaze me how writers find it such an easy tool to single out those who are different and try to cast them in a light that intimates that they are actually better than what they are, or worse at it were. In the case of Madness Under the Royal Palms, it is the Jews and the homosexuals.

    Not a bad book. It was more than a little interesting in a hangnail kind of way. You know it'll hurt when you pull the skin, but you keep playing with it. I couldn't stop, but only because my morbid sense of curiosity kept at me. At the end of the book I don't know how Laurence Leamer fit into it all.

    The betrayal seemed minimal and I found the stories not nearly as scandalous as sad. The way the residents, past and present, are portrayed is more pathetic than unique. The mental instability and lack of values give me cause to celebrate my ordinary existence. The deaths in this book, nothing spectacular. Just dead.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Look Again

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lisa Scottoline
    • Narrated By Mary Stuart Masterson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a "Have You Seen This Child?" flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops - the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she's a journalist and won't be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth.

    Elaine says: "Excellent Book"
    "An awesome way to spend your time!"

    I was a little disappointed that this was not a Rosato & Associates story, but Look Again is an excellent story. Lisa Scottoline has taken an extremely difficult topic and given it back the emotion it deserves. As usual her character development is outstanding and the reader really gets to know each person in the story through their respective roles.

    One of my favorite things about listening to Lisa Scottoline books has always been the voice Barbara Rosenblat, so when I read that this was a different voice, I had concerns. I can tell listeners that Mary Stuart Masterson, a tremendously talented actress, did a fabulous job. She took to the story with ease and never let me down once.

    I also enjoyed being able to listen to the interview with Lisa Scottoline at the end of the presentation. Ms. Scottoline is a not only a remarkable writer, but shows her talent as an advocate and a mother as well.

    Look Again is a must for not just Scottoline fans, but also fans of a good suspense!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Queen Noor
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren

    When Lisa Najeeb Halaby was 26, her father introduced her to King Hussein of Jordan. Within a year, she became his fourth wife. Born in 1951 to a distinguished Arab-American family, Lisa was unsure what her role would be. King Hussein was not only the head of state in Jordan but also considered the spiritual leader of all Muslims. This memoir provides a vital perspective on 30 years of turbulent world history from the Arab point of view.

    Karen Syed says: "Extraordinary"

    Not being one for biographies, I went into this book with a bit of hesitancy. From the very beginning I was captivated.

    Queen Noor reveals intimate details of her life as a Queen in a place that held so much curiosity for the rest of the world. She shares the details of her love for the King and the country that became the home of her heart.

    Well told and filled with delightful tales and emotional memories, this story is one that everyone should read. From her unique family background to the intense commitment she made to improving the state of Jordan and people all over the world.

    Queen Noor is definitely a woman to be considered extraordinary and the telling of her life with King Hussein is a beautiful one, though often filled with turmoil and despair.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a warm love story with strong characters, all the better that these characters are real.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Martha Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Christopher Byron
    • Narrated By Christopher Byron

    From housewife to billionaire CEO, Martha Stewart is not just the businesswoman with the Midas touch, she is also a lightning rod for many of the most important and controversial social and economic issues of post-WWII American life. In the unauthorized Martha Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, business writer and columnist Christopher Byron traces Martha's journey from the troubled world of a working-class family in New Jersey to the pinnacle of fame and power.

    Karen Syed says: "Bitterness Revealed"
    "Bitterness Revealed"

    This book is one of the worst examples of sour grapes I have ever read. Christopher Byron uses the written word as a weapon against someone who may or may not have ever done something wrong to him.

    His narrative is angry, ruthless, and one-sided. Byron has chosen to focus on every negative aspect of Martha Stewart's life, by using overly dramatic punch words and accentuating the discrepancies in media stories.

    As a narrator, Christopher Byron would wonderfully suited for thrillers or suspense novels, but as a biographical writer, his objectivity leaves something to be desired.

    Martha Inc. is labeled as an unauthorized biography, when in fact it is simple character assassination. Everyone knows Martha Stewart is human and has faults, but with such blatant disregard for the theory of creative license, it is my opinion that Byron steps over the line.

    This book is senseless and more than a little annoying.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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