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missgrundy

Fine art photographer, retired English professor, dog mom to an adorable Maltese mix, long-time Californian, genealogist, what else?

San Francisco, CA | Member Since 2010

21
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 35 reviews
  • 59 ratings
  • 231 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2014
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28

  • Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Bee Wilson
    • Narrated By Alison Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (161)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (144)

    Since prehistory, humans have braved the business ends of knives, scrapers, and mashers, all in the name of creating something delicious - or at least edible. In Consider the Fork, award-winning food writer and historian Bee Wilson traces the ancient lineage of our modern culinary tools, revealing the startling history of objects we often take for granted. Charting the evolution of technologies from the knife and fork to the gas range and the sous-vide cooker, Wilson offers unprecedented insights.

    G. House Sr. says: "Great information if you play Trivail Pursuit"
    "Loved this book --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you are a foodie or food history buff, you will enjoy this book. It's fascinating in its detail of kitchen equipment, appliances, and so on. It reminded me, in a way, of Bill Bryson's "At Home," another excellent book about the history of the home. It's a good read.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Scarlet Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jeanne Kalogridis
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased. Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the "triumph cards", the predecessor of modern-day Tarot.

    missgrundy says: "Engaging historical novel"
    "Engaging historical novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We're on our way to Italy in the fall, so I'm reading my way through a long list of both fiction and non-fiction histories. I enjoyed this book -- it was engaging and entertaining. Some of the "magical" parts of the story I found to be a bit much, and at times it veered more towards romance than history, but overall I think it was a good read. Caterina Sforza was an amazing woman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Genghis: Birth of an Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Conn Iggulden
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (813)
    Performance
    (452)
    Story
    (457)

    He was born Temujin, son of a khan, raised in a clan of hunters migrating across the steppe. Temujin's young life was shaped by a series of brutal acts: the betrayal of his father by a neighboring tribe, his family left to die on the harsh plain. But Temujin endured, and from then on, he was driven by a fury to survive in the face of death, to kill before being killed, and to conquer enemies from beyond the horizon.

    David says: "Move over Bernard Cornwell"
    "More about Genghis --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great follow-up for Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. This novel brings that great book to life. It fills in all the details in a thrilling narrative. The narrator is excellent. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4288)
    Performance
    (3920)
    Story
    (3920)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Dickensian, to be sure --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly enjoyed every hour of this book. The narrator is extremely good, and the story never flagged for me. It's a big novel, with many characters, and the echoes of Dickens (Pip and Estella, The Artful Dodger) are definitely there. It's dense, and lyrical at times, and suspenseful from time to time -- overall, an excellent way to spend a long commute for a few days or weeks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 20

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (907)
    Performance
    (805)
    Story
    (795)

    In Light of the World, sadist and serial killer Asa Surrette narrowly escaped the death penalty for the string of heinous murders. But following a series of damning articles written by Dave Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair about possible other crimes committed by Surette, the killer escapes from a prison transport van and heads to Montana - where an unsuspecting Dave happens to have gone to take in the sweet summer air, accompanied by Alafair, his wife Molly, faithful partner Clete, and Clete’s newfound daughter, Gretchen Horowitz.

    Dave says: "Burke is still the best"
    "It's getting darker in Dave's world . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a huge fan of every Dave Robicheaux novel that Burke has written. If I have one tiny quibble with this one, it's that more than a few times while listening, I thought, whew, this is getting really dark. The character of Asa Surette, as brilliantly brought to life by Will Patton, is one of the creepiest characters I've ever encountered in fiction. But overall, the book is excellent, and Patton's reading is nearly flawless -- I say "nearly," because along with another reviewer, I feel his voice for Gretchen doesn't quite work, and because Clete just doesn't sound like the Clete in my head, though I've made my peace with it. If you're a fan, don't hesitate to get this audiobook; if you're new to Burke -- start at the beginning! I totally envy you for what you have ahead of you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Kitchen House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kathleen Grissom
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6423)
    Performance
    (4433)
    Story
    (4421)

    Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

    B.J. says: "Good, but with reservations"
    "Glad I listened --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this book, though I understand the criticism of it. I don't necessarily agree with all the criticism that says Grissom plays off stereotypes -- I think she does a little more complex job than stereotypes. The characters, white and black, are complex and nuanced, and the slaves' characters and attitudes, I thought, were a far cry from Bojangles or Stephan Fetchit. They understood their situation, they found ways to cope, but were devastated when families were broken up or other horrific things happened. The main character, Lavinia, skirts the edges of being unlikeable at some points, making her a bit more complex. All that said, I do think the story was melodramatic in that so many kinds of unhappiness and abuse are woven into the story that at times it became somewhat hard to swallow. Marshall, in particular, seemed to be a flat character, going completely black upon his return to Tall Oaks, doing a complete about-face as far as Lavinia was concerned. I also grew irritated that so much of the plot turned on one character or another overhearing the conversation of others -- as a plot device, I felt it was overused. The two narrators were terrific -- the women voicing the stories of Lavinia and Belle were right on, very believable. They made the book for me. It's a page-turner, that's for sure. But you may have a bit of trouble buying it all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inferno: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8493)
    Performance
    (7722)
    Story
    (7782)

    In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

    Livia says: "Formulaic and Hard to Finish...."
    "I so wanted to like it --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I haven't finished listening yet, but I already know what I'm going to say. I enjoyed "The DaVinci Code," but this is almost unlistenable to me. The narrator's fine, and does a great job, but I'm sorry -- Dan Brown is such a horrible writer that you have to be able to totally focus on the plot and ignore everything else to enjoy this book. He tells a good story. Yes. But the story is so often interrupted by repetitions, self-indulgent "look what I know" facts, endless descriptions of places of interest, and utterly unrealistic thoughts by the main character -- e.g., they are running from people who are trying to kill them, they look at a historical artifact, he notices that one side is yellowed from the sun, and he makes a note that he has to double the SPF in his sunscreen. Huh???? He also rips off T.S. Eliot: "a patient anesthetized upon a table" -- does that remind you of "a patient etherized upon a table"? Oh yes, and he couldn't believe he was leaving Florence without having paid a visit to The David -- this, again, when they are being chased by all kinds of people who want to kill them. Come on! I guess you could call me a snob, but I love a rollicking good story, as long as the writing doesn't make me cringe. This one is way too cringy for me.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Kate Atkinson
    • Narrated By Susan Jameson
    Overall
    (284)
    Performance
    (137)
    Story
    (136)

    Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but he was all that was left. She really wanted to be Vivien Leigh, swept off to America by a romantic hero. But here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop beneath York Minster, with sensible Patricia, aged five, greedy Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby, who tells the memorable, witty, and eventful story of The Family.

    Gail says: "One of my favs"
    "An excellent read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It took me a while to warm up to this book -- I found it confusing at first and wasn't sure I liked it. But I finished it over a week ago, now, and it's haunting me still. It's a complicated family story, but also a family mystery that doesn't come clear until the end. I grew to feel very sympathetic toward the narrator, as her family history was revealed, bit by bit. The narrator is excellent -- give it a try. It's a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nancy Wake

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Peter FitzSimons
    • Narrated By Stephanie Daniel
    Overall
    (384)
    Performance
    (311)
    Story
    (307)

    In the early 1930s, Nancy Wake was a young woman enjoying a bohemian life in Paris. By the end of the Second World War, she was the Gestapo's most wanted person. As a naive, young journalist, Nancy Wake witnessed a horrific scene of Nazi violence in a Viennese street. From that moment, she declared that she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazis. What began as a courier job here and there became a highly successful escape network for Allied soldiers.

    Simone says: "Who The "BLEEP" is Nancy Wake??"
    "Great, great story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow. I totally enjoyed this book, the true story of Nancy Wake, a New Zealand-born Australian who was a major figure in the French Resistance in WWII. The story of how she got there and her activities during the war is riveting; I enjoyed every minute of it. What an amazing woman. Read it. You'll hardly be able to believe it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Polar Star

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Martin Cruz Smith
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (508)
    Performance
    (433)
    Story
    (431)

    Ex-Chief Investigator Arkady Renko is in deep on the “slime line” - the fish-gutting station - in the Polar Star, a Soviet fish factory ship of some 250 souls, almost as many secrets, and a dangerous shipboard sub-culture that cares little for the Party, and less for human life.

    richard says: "Probably the greatest audiobook ever. Really."
    "This book is *cold* --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This might be a good book to take on a hot summer vacation, because it is *cold*. The mystery, which takes place on a fishing ship in the Arctic Ocean, is intriguing, the details of the culture fascinating, and the disgraced detective (from Gorky Park) a great character. I've always been interested in Russia, and I don't know how Martin Cruz Smith does it, but he creates a world that seems authentic to me, a non-Russian. Excellent listening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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