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Kathleen Valentine

So Many Books, So Little Time

Gloucester, MA, United States | Member Since 2011

14
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 12 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 31 purchased in 2014
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  • A Land More Kind Than Home

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Wiley Cash
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan, Lorna Raver, Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (192)
    Performance
    (174)
    Story
    (171)

    For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to - an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared.

    Janice says: "An American Tragedy"
    "Mesmerizing and haunting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a beautifully written book with powerful characterization. It is told from three points of view - a story-telling technique that I happen to love because I know how difficult it is to write. Jess Hall is the younger brother of "Stump," a mute; Adelaide Lyle is an elderly woman and former midwife; and Clem Barefield, the town sheriff. The brothers, Jess and Stump, are endlessly curious which leads them into trouble and unleashes a chain of events that leads to a tragic climax.

    What I most loved about this story was the way the author crafted the characters revealing bits and pieces of their pasts with both delicacy and power. I especially loved Clem for his essential goodness and his weariness of the evils of the world. The author's ability to convey a sense of place through the personalities of the people that inhabit it is mesmerizing. The ending is heart-breaking but believable. Altogether a great read.

    The narration was excellent - I especially loved Mark Bramhill, whose strong, gruff voice perfectly embodied the world-weariness of a small town sheriff who has just seen too much and is tired of it all.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Poet

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Buck Schirner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3421)
    Performance
    (2076)
    Story
    (2064)

    Our hero is Jack McEvoy, a Rocky Mountain News crime-beat reporter. As the story opens, Jack's twin brother, a Denver homicide detective, has just killed himself. Or so it seems. But when Jack begins to investigate the phenomenon of police suicides, a disturbing pattern emerges, and soon suspects that a serial murderer is at work.

    Tom says: "Is Connelly the Best Crime Writer Or What?"
    "Very good storytelling, annoying narration..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought the Audible version originally but wound up buying the Kindle version to finish reading. Connolly is a fine story-teller and this is an exceptionally interesting story with lots of plot twists and intriguing characters. Maybe it's just me but I find his "love scenes" to be his weak point. Too many "long moments" and "reaching for him/her" but since those seem to be incidental to the story it is a minor complaint.

    I did not enjoy the narration. I felt the narrator tried too hard to make the voices of the various characters distinctive almost to the point of caricature.

    Still a gripping tale and well worth the time spent reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Deliverance

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By James Dickey
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1319)
    Performance
    (1167)
    Story
    (1168)

    The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the state's most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

    Katherine says: "excruciatingly vivid, marvelously written and read"
    "Amazing Book, Superb Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    James Dickey was a poet with an astonishing ability to blend the terrifying with the beautiful. This story is a perfect example of his skills. Will Patton's narration was spot on (as always.) A perfect blend of fine story-telling and skillful narration.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Creole Belle: A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 19

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1577)
    Performance
    (1361)
    Story
    (1325)

    Creole Belle begins where the last book in the Dave Robicheaux series, The Glass Rainbow, ended. Dave is in a recovery unit in New Orleans, where a Creole girl named Tee Jolie Melton visits him and leaves him an iPod with the country blues song “Creole Belle” on it. Then she disappears. Dave becomes obsessed with the song and the memory of Tee Jolie and goes in search of her sister, who later turns up inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf.

    Melinda says: "Burke & Patton -- Synergistic Phenomenon"
    "Perfect combination of writing and narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    James Lee Burke is one of the finest writers in America today. His ability to capture the nuances of place, culture, and character is unrivaled and he is never better than in his Dave Robicheax novels. Robicheaux is both deeply spiritual and deeply flawed. As he continues his on-going fight against some of the most diabolical and perverse segments of society his fight with his own failings is always at the core of the story. In this multi-layered story as he attempts to find a missing singer whose sister has been pulled out of the bayou frozen in a block of ice, he encounters another purely evil character, Alexis Dupree, and his equally depraved son/grandson, Pierre. This time the stakes are higher because Dave's daughter Alafair is involved, his longtime friend and partner Clete Purcell seems to be sinking further and further into his addictions and wild behavior, and Clete's long-lost daughter Gretchen has joined them.

    This is a great, tense, incredibly dark story -- bayou noir -- filled with outstanding characters and Will Patton does a superb job of capturing the personality of each one. This is a perfect combination of outstanding writing and outstanding narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Doc: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Mary Doria Russell
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (481)
    Performance
    (351)
    Story
    (347)

    The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail 26-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.

    Dennis says: "Great writing and narration"
    "These characters come alive"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mary Doria Russell has the uncanny ability to create characters that are so real and so human that you feel like you know them. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but the kid in me could not resist a book about childhood heroes. I never expected the total treat that this book is -- not because of the story, but because of the way these characters rise above the expectation that they will revive childhood fascination and become people the reader could know.

    I am a reader who wants characters I can love and that I can cheer for. Like many people I've seen lots of movies about the Earps and the gunfight at the OK Corral and all that stuff. Wisely, Russell let the things we all know be just a part of the background and she focused on the people, the humanity of the people, that those legends were. I loved every character in this book. I loved the whores - educated, passionate Kate and stoic, vulnerable Mattie and practical, loving Bessie. I loved the Earp brothers, Morgan and James and especially Wyatt. I loved Bat Masterson in all his dorkiness. I loved the old priest and thought the scene after the funeral where they get drunk and start telling stories was one of the funniest I have ever read.

    But most of all I fell in love with Doc. Russell's John Henry Holliday is a brilliant, passionate, loving man -- a Southern gentleman to the nth-degree with a big heart and a failing body. Toward the end of the book, when, despite his advanced tuberculosis, Doc stands up for Wyatt, Morgan Earp says that he now knows why fighting the Confederate Army was so difficult if all the Southerners were as tough as Doc.

    The final scene, when Doc plays The Emperor's Waltz while his friends marvel at his tenacity and then dance, had me in tears. This is one of my favorite books in a very long time.

    Mark Bramhill's talent as a narrator lent itself well to this story. His mastery of the various accents an his ability to portray the various characters so skillfully made this a delightful listening experience.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Defending Jacob: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By William Landay
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3891)
    Performance
    (3316)
    Story
    (3314)

    Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

    Shauna says: "Defending Jacob"
    "Disturbing and haunting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time. Told from the perspective of Jacob Barber's father, a successful attorney, it shifts back and forth in time between an inquest in which Andy, the father, is being questioned and the book's main narrative. The writing is good and, though it did seem a bit over-wrought in places, I never lost interest.

    When a fourteen year old boy is found knifed to death in a nearby park suspicion falls on Andy Barber's 14 year old son, Jacob, a classmate of the dead boy. The narrative is mostly about the trial and the revelations that begin to unfold about the problems within this family and the secrets Andy has kept all his life about his family history, including his father who is serving a life-sentence for murder.

    Slowly we begin to realize this family has a LOT of secrets. Jacob was bullied in school by the dead boy. Jacob has some very disturbing behaviors of his own. Laurie, Jacob's mother, is shocked when she finds out about her husband's secrets and is unable to reconcile these revelations and their implications for her own son. When a psychiatrist adds some frightening (and I thought specious) opinions about Jacob's behavior, Andy overlooks them but Laurie becomes obsessed with them.

    This is an extremely complex story and the ending is quite disturbing. I'm not really sure how I felt about it. I admired Andy's ability to trust in his son and I found Laurie's inability to do that quite upsetting. This is not a book one soon forgets -- and that makes it a better than average read.

    The narration was quite good. Since I live in the Boston area, I especially appreciated the narrator's ability to handle the local accents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Lewis Carroll
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (224)
    Performance
    (152)
    Story
    (151)

    With his marvelous sense of the absurd, Lewis Carroll's whimsical, fantastical tale delighted children and adults when it was first published in 1865 and has since become a treasured classic of literature.

    Patricia says: "Don't you just LOVE Jim Dale!"
    "I wish I could give Jim Dale a 10!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'v read this story many times but when I saw that Jim Dale was narrating it I just had to buy it and listen. It was worth every penny and minute. Though the story is one of my favorites from childhood, listening to him read the story was a whole new experience. He is quite simply astonishing. Like he did in his narration of the Harry Potter books, he uses so many unique and wonderful voices that you know which character is which without being told. If you already love this book, you'll love it even more hearing him read it and if you do not know the story you are in for an incredible treat.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Caleb's Crossing

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Geraldine Brooks
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ehle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (528)
    Performance
    (377)
    Story
    (384)

    In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex....

    Mary Sue says: "Another good entry into fiction!"
    "Beautiful writing, discouraging performance..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Geraldine Brooks' novel is based on a true story of the first Native American man to graduate from Harvard University. It is set in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard in the late 17th century and is rich in meticulous historical detail. Some readers found the speech, authentic to the era, difficult but I loved it. The story itself is about Bethia Mayfield, a young woman who befriends the Wompanoag man, Caleb, and who longs for an education that is denied her at the time.

    I loved the historical detail and the language however I did find some of the plot shifts rather forced and some of the characters underwent personality changes or no apparent reason that seemed a bit jarring. The narration, however, was very trying. I have admired Jennifer Ehle as an actress in "Pride and Prejudice" and "Possession" but her narration of this story was so annoying I finally gave up listening and read the latter half of the book. She takes such care to enunciate each word that the narration sounds clipped and choppy. This is a book that is better reading than listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Joseph Conrad
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1388)
    Performance
    (1136)
    Story
    (1136)

    A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.

    Harold says: "From Civilization into Darkness"
    "Sheer genius"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Conrad's strange, frightening and bizarre story is one that has always haunted me since I first read it in high school. Now, forty years later, Kenneth Branagh's intense performance brings it breath-takingly alive. This is a deep, strange, haunting work and, in its own way, more relevant than ever. Sheer genius.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 11-22-63: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Craig Wasson
    Overall
    (17233)
    Performance
    (15307)
    Story
    (15260)

    On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

    Kelly says: "I Owe Stephen King An Apology"
    "Brilliant and incredibly creative..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Many more people have written better reviews of this book than I can but I absolutely loved it. King's construction of the physics involved in time-travel is mind-bending. His imagining of what might have happened had JFK livid -- a worst-case scenario -- is genuinely horrible. But above everything is the love story between Jake and Sadie. The last scene is about as beautiful as anything I have ever read. Love this book!

    I thought Craig Wasson did a good job with one exception. I realize it is difficult for men to do women's voices and, for the most part, he did a good job except for the character of Sadie who always sounded whiny and like she was about to cry. I found that distracting. A few of the other minor characters were a bit extreme for my taste but, overall, his narration was enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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