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Babs

the Gadget Queen

Ottawa, ON, Canada | Member Since 2004

205
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 23 reviews
  • 46 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 35 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
5

  • Hangman: A Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Faye Kellerman
    • Narrated By Mitchell Greenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (239)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (51)

    Fifteen years ago, high school senior Chris Whitman went to jail for murdering his girlfriend, Cheryl Diggs. Propelled by a misguided sense of chivalry, he confessed, determined to save another classmate, the beautiful and vulnerable Terry McLaughlin, from having to testify at his trial. When the truth came out, Chris was released from prison, married Terry - pregnant with his child - and changed his last name to Donatti. He also became a professional killer.

    Babs says: "Felt as if she ran out of time"
    "Felt as if she ran out of time"
    Overall

    I always enjoy the Peter and Rina Decker novels, although I find we haven't had enough of Rina in recent books. And the link between their religious observance and their daily lives is hardly emphasized any more -- in this book, they take in a non-Jewish kid and there is barely any reference to how he is going to adjust to life in a Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observant) home. But that's not my main complaint about this one, which just feels disjointed and unbalanced. Kellerman has decided to describe every female character's clothing, which is a bit bizarre -- do we care that Marge is wearing rubber-soled shoes? And she goes into great detail about every single preliminary interrogation as Peter and his team try to solve the murders -- but then all of the final and crucial leg work, interviews, shocking evidence, interrogations and confessions are described in a summary narrative in the last 45 minutes of the book, or less. Did she reach her page limit and say, "Oops, no time for more dialogue, let's wrap everything up?" Also, no one seems at all fazed that an intelligent doctor has stayed married to a hit man for years and seems to have no problem with his continuing to see their son. I'm giving it three stars because I was consistently interested, but it's not up to Kellerman's usual standards.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Love and War: Volume Two of the North and South Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By John Jakes
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (439)
    Performance
    (381)
    Story
    (378)

    The Main and Hazard families clash on and off the Civil War’s battlefields as they grapple with the violent realities of a divided nation. America's master storyteller continues his reign with Love and War, a story steeped in passion and betrayal. With the Confederate and Union armies furiously fighting, the once-steadfast bond between the Main and Hazard families continues to be tested. From opposite sides of the conflict, they face heartache and triumph on the frontlines as they fight for the future of the nation and their loved ones.

    Hunter says: "The second is as good as the first!!!"
    "Not as strong as Volume 1, but good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was literally counting the hours until my pre-order of this book arrived. It was certainly compelling, but not as strong as the first volume, in my opinion.

    The plot got very complicated -- yes, the Civil War was complicated, but the battles and plot twists were sometimes hard to follow -- and as another reviewer mentioned, some of the dialogue was long-winded.

    What I felt in this book was that characters that were quite well-drawn in Volume One became a bit more stereotypical in this book. The "villains," Ashton and Bent, were somewhat ridiculous in the first book -- I thought heaving bosoms and nymphomania were the stuff of really bad romance novels -- but became very caricatured in this one. The sex scenes were cringeworthy.

    But even well-drawn characters like Charles and Orrie lost some luster here.They often fulfilled the stereotype of the Southerner as "hot-blooded" and "impetuous" -- if they'd been horses they might have stomped their feet!

    I generally like Grover Gardner as a narrator, but he's pretty weak on accents.

    Having expressed these reservations, it's still a really engaging and moving story, and gives a sense of the human bravery and sacrifice that shaped this terrible period in American history.

    Now counting the days and hours until Part 3 arrives!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Live to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Lisa Gardner
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter, Rebecca Lowman, Ann Marie Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (853)
    Performance
    (458)
    Story
    (464)

    On a warm summer night in one of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods, an unthinkable crime has been committed: Four members of a family have been brutally murdered. The father—and possible suspect—now lies clinging to life in the ICU. Murder-suicide? Or something worse? Veteran police detective D. D. Warren is certain of only one thing: There’s more to this case than meets the eye.

    Erin says: "Live To Tell - 3.5 stars"
    "Compelling, then too far-fetched"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book definitely kept me engaged. The idea of combining the voices of Sgt. D. D. Warren, investigating two bizarre murders of entire families, with that of a mother of a very disturbed child and that of a nurse who not only works with disturbed children but who was the sole survivor of her family's massacre, is quite intriguing.

    The scenes in the psychiatric unit for disturbed and mentally-ill children were very difficult, but they rang true, and did much to illustrate the character of Danielle. And I loved the narrator who voiced Danielle.

    However, I had a problem with the character of Victoria, the mother of the violent child Evan. She started out sympathetic, but she eventually sounded if she was determined to be a martyr. The trembling voice of the narrator also got irritating.

    But those weren't insurmountable obstacles.

    As the book started to wrap up, however, things just got too odd. The motivation of the killer was very thin -- avenging an act that didn't really need avenging -- and the discussions of alternate planes of reality got silly when one of the most sensible characters in the book started believing in them. Say what?

    So it was enjoyable overall, but frustrating enough that I couldn't give it more than three stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alone

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Lisa Gardner
    • Narrated By Anna Fields
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (841)
    Performance
    (455)
    Story
    (454)

    As a sniper with the elite Massachusetts State Police SWAT Team, Bobby Dodge saved a woman and her young son by shooting her armed husband. But vicious rumors begin to circulate the next morning when Bobby loses his gun and his privileges. It turns out the dead man was the son of a prominent Boston judge and had accused his wife of poisoning their son.

    Sherry says: "I know I'm not Alone . . ."
    "Terrible narrator, unsympathetic characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I usually enjoy Lisa Gardner's work, but I gave up on this one just over halfway through. First of all, this is some of the worst audiobook narration I've ever heard. I've heard Anna Fields before, and she was competent, but this is cringeworthy. Her attempt at male characters reminded me of adolescent girls pretending to be men while making prank calls. Plus, all the men seemed to have slurred speech. She attempts to do a Boston accent with the character of Bobby (the only character with a Boston accent in a book full of Boston natives), but it comes and goes, and is never effective.

    The story seemed intriguing at first -- top-notch sniper saves the lives of a mother and child in a hostage situation, but finds himself accused in a murder plot -- but became so implausible that it got tedious. The femme fatale Catherine is supposed to have such beauty and sex appeal that men abandon their senses, morals and good judgment at a single glance. She's written like a really bad cartoon character. The sniper Bobby, whom I've enjoyed in other Gardner novels, completely lacks common sense in this one. Hard to believe that a supposedly smart suspended cop runs around interrogating witnesses, showing up at crime scenes and doing just about everything that could incriminate him.

    And the idea that virtually everyone is prepared to ignore the facts of the case -- armed man is shot after pointing gun at woman's head -- in favor of some bizarre conspiracy theory just gets silly after a while.

    I am not usually this negative about an audiobook, but this one made me angry that I had wasted so much time in hopes that it would get better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stalker: A Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel, Book 12

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Faye Kellerman
    • Narrated By Mitchell Greenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    Cynthia Decker became a cop against her father, Peter Decker's, wishes. But police work is in her blood, and she's determined to make it on her own -- even now, when her razor sharp instincts for danger are telling her that something is very wrong... The signs are impossible to ignore: things being moved around in her apartment, the destruction of personal effects. But it's a harrowing trip down a dark canyon road that confirms Cindy's worst fears. Someone fiendishly relentless, and with decidedly evil intentions, is stalking her.

    Kelly says: "agree with reviewer Babs -- disappointing!"
    "First time have NOT finished a Faye Kellerman book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Stalker?

    I usually love the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus novels, and am always anxiously awaiting the next installment. I know that this one is from earlier in the series, but it's not one that I had read or listened to.

    In a nutshell, there's not enough Decker and Lazarus and WAY too much Cindy Decker, who is an extremely unpleasant and unsympathetic character at this stage in her life and career. Every pig-headed, short-sighted, stubborn and childish option that crosses her path, she pursues.

    Someone's tailing her -- naturally, she doesn't report it to anyone (don't worry, I'm not spoiling much). Drive drunk? Sure. An apartment's been broken into? Don't call backup, just barge in there! Have a hunch on a case? Why would you even think about calling your colleagues?

    I got halfway through and decided life was too short to finish it -- made my blood pressure rise.

    The other thing that was really irritating about this novel was Kellerman's level of detail about insignificant events. She devoted huge amounts of space to things like a discussion among three women at a restaurant about who would order what. Who cares?

    I hate to be so hard on Ms. Kellerman, who is a brilliant writer. And I love nothing more than to be immersed in the world of Peter and Rina and their rich and observant Jewish life, and the way the cases come together.

    But this one is worth a pass.


    Has Stalker turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, I love the series and I will read or listen to future books. And I love the genre.


    What about Mitchell Greenberg’s performance did you like?

    He's an excellent reader -- captures nuances of voices and conversational rhythms, can convey different male and female characters without forcing the female voices. I've always enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, his readings/performances.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger -- I found myself talking back to the book because Cindy's behavior was just so irritating and immature.

    I know that this is something of a coming-of-age novel for the character, but I didn't have the patience to experience it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Come Home

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Lisa Scottoline
    • Narrated By Maggi-Meg Reed
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (187)
    Story
    (183)

    Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter's lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her - though it is stressful - and her daughter, Megan, is a happily overscheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team. But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer.

    Mary says: "Whining and crying make it impossible to finish"
    "Life is too short to waste on this book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I usually know what to expect from Lisa Scottoline's books: Smart woman does stupid things, but lives to tell the tale. They drive me crazy at times, but her stories are usually a good way to get away from the real world for a while.

    This one fits the "smart woman/stupid things" pattern, but it adds a layer of domestic drama that wastes an inordinate amount of time. And the central character is just so irritating that I found myself talking back to the book.I should have turned off after the first half hour, but made it halfway through before deciding that it wasn't worth listening to all the dreck to solve the mystery.

    Imagine that your long-lost stepdaughter shows up at your door to tell you that her father's been killed. Wouldn't you ask what happened? When, where and how? Nope, we first have to listen to endless dialogue between the drunken, sobbing teenager and the saintly stepmother about how sorry each of them is about not having been in touch with the other.

    Then the central character's biological daughter comes home, and there's more sobbing and teenage angst.

    I disagree with those reviewers who disliked the narrator. She couldn't handle an Irish accent (or was it supposed to be Russian?), but I think she did a great job channeling the teenagers -- you could even hear the different intonation from the character who wears braces!

    But the performance is irritating because the characters are irritating -- that's what whiney teenagers sound like! -- and there is way too much soap opera and not enough mystery.

    The central character -- I called her Jill the Pill -- appears to be a good doctor, and was probably a good stepmother. But she lacks common sense and perspective -- hey, let's run down the middle of a highway to chase an SUV! -- and she's way too self-righteous.

    Can't believe I'm expending this much time and effort to review such a waste of time, but I wouldn't want other readers who have enjoyed Lisa Scottoline's books in the past to be sucked in by this one.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Sixth Man

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By David Baldacci
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2081)
    Performance
    (1189)
    Story
    (1193)

    Edgar Roy - an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility-is awaiting trial. He faces almost certain conviction. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy's attorney, Sean's old friend and mentor Ted Bergin, to help work the case. But their investigation is derailed before it begins-en route to their first meeting with Bergin, Sean and Michelle find him murdered. It is now up to them to ask the questions no one seems to want answered....

    Anthony says: "Somebody needs to be fired..."
    "Engaging once you get over bad female narrator"
    Overall

    I love the Sean and Michelle stories, and was looking forward to a new one. But I almost gave up when I heard Orlagh Cassidy's harsh and inappropriate voices for the female characters, particularly for Michelle. She may be from the south, but the accent Cassidy gives her is grating, and her intonation makes the character a real witch (actually, the word that rhymes with it), instead of just a strong and assertive woman. Same with the other woman with an even more pronounced southern accent. I like Cassidy's British accents in other books, but this is like fingernails on a blackboard.

    It's also bizarre because sounds as if McLarty and Cassidy recorded their parts in separate studios at separate times, so the sound quality is completely different for each reader. Conversations sound weird.
    In terms of the book itself, it's reasonably interesting and engaging (although I figured out a lot of it way before the end). However, Baldacci has given the characters some excruciating dialogue -- instead of having the narrator explain facts about weapons, or why they are in Maine for this case, he makes it part of Michelle and Sean's dialogue, so that many of their conversations sound completely unrealistic and artificial. And hearing the US President and various high-level officials explain to each other in a meeting how their intelligence program works, as if they've never heard it before, was also ridiculous. Made me cringe on more than one occasion.

    Bottom line, if you like the series and want to take your mind away from the real world for a while, it's OK. But don't blame me if you throw your iPod across the room a few times!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Upstairs Downstairs: Secrets of an Edwardian Household

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By John Hawkesworth
    • Narrated By Jean Marsh
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    Jean Marsh, who played Rose in the TV series 'Upstairs Downstairs', reads John Hawkesworth’s classic novelisation. It is 1905, and the Bellamys reside in Eaton Place, in the heart of London’s Belgravia. Above stairs, Lady Marjorie runs the house and plans her husband’s future in the government. Below stairs, Rose and Sarah, the maids, pursue their duties beneath the ever-watchful eye of Mr Hudson, the butler....

    Barbara says: "Just wonderful -- except it's not edited!"
    "Just wonderful -- except it's not edited!"
    Overall

    I grew up watching the original Upstairs, Downstairs, own all the episodes and recently enjoyed the new series. So it was wonderful to know that I could listen to a novelization voiced by Jean Marsh. Hawkesworth, who I believe wrote many if not all episodes of the original series, does a great job of turning the first season into stories. And Marsh is a very good reader, and does the various accents quite well. So I was hooked. But the bizarre thing is that someone forgot to edit this recording. We hear mistakes, retakes, different versions of the same line -- at one point we even hear the producer talking to Marsh -- and it's a bit disconcerting. I would have given this five stars, but had to take one off for the lack of editing. After all, we do pay for a finished product. But still worth listening to, and quite addictive!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Ice Cold

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Tess Gerritsen
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1503)
    Performance
    (859)
    Story
    (850)

    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"
    "Intelligent people behaving stupidly"
    Overall

    I've always enjoyed Gerritsen's books and the characters of Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli. But this story is so full of holes and completely bizarre behavior that I kept listening just to discover what inane twists Gerritsen would add next. Maura is just plain whiney for the first part of the book -- is she surprised that having an affair with a Catholic priest is a recipe for heartache? -- and then we have to listen to endlessly banal conversations as she goes on an ill-fated road trip with an irresponsible medical colleague and his dysfunctional friends. Worst part is that Maura -- who comes across as prisisy and priggish -- is always a step ahead of these people in terms of foreseeing problems, and yet she lets Dr. Doug, aka Peter Pan, lead the group into one disaster after another. There's a ridiculous case of a corpse being misidentified that would have lasted about 30 seconds if someone had actually bothered to check dental records BEFORE the funeral -- what kind of investigators are these people? After an impressive body count and a few false "solutions" to the crimes, the story ends with a reference to some unspoken clue that will affect one of the character's futures. Is it something we're supposed to remember from a previous book? Or is it a starting-off point for the next novel? Either way, it's the final frustration in a frustrating novel.

    27 of 29 people found this review helpful
  • The Postmistress

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Sarah Blake
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (486)
    Performance
    (164)
    Story
    (161)

    Alternating between an America still cocooned in its inability to grasp the danger at hand and a Europe being torn apart by war, The Postmistress gives us two women who find themselves unable to deliver the news, and a third woman desperately waiting for news yet afraid to hear it. Sarah Blake's The Postmistress shows how we bear the fact that war goes on around us while ordinary lives continue. Filled with stunning parallels to today, it is a remarkable novel.

    Babs says: "Reasonably enjoyable, but too full of stereotypes"
    "Reasonably enjoyable, but too full of stereotypes"
    Overall

    I had read so many reviews of this book, all comparing it to The Help. Don't believe the hype! It's a relatively enjoyable listen, and deals with an interesting time in US and world history -- before the US entered the war, and as the world was just learning about the fate of Europe's Jews. But the characters are just too stereotyped: the plucky girl reporter, drinking whiskey with the boys and having anonymous sex during London's blackouts; the middle-aged, no-nonsense postmistress experiencing romance for the first time (and getting a certificate of virginity from her puzzled doctor -- ick!); and the timid wife whose doctor husband runs away from a medical mistake by deciding to tend to victims of war in London. The young wife character is never developed -- maybe we could forgive her timidity and vapidity if we had been given any sense of why we are supposed to care about her or what strengths she has besides being a little doll her husband can protect. The scenes of the "radio gal" doing her reports from London are quite interesting, and her encounters with doomed Jews in France and Germany are chilling. But we don't end up caring that much about the characters, and there's nothing surprising or compelling in their fates. And so many loose ends are never tied up. The narrator is terrible at accents -- her British accent and her New England accent often sound the same, and her French pronunciation is appalling -- and she often pronounces Edward R. Murrow's name as "Mur-ROW." This book was a decent diversion but more frustrating than rewarding.

    73 of 75 people found this review helpful

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