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Kelly Howard

Oregon | Member Since 2008

159
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 52 reviews
  • 82 ratings
  • 500 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014
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  • Stirred

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By J. A. Konrath, Blake Crouch
    • Narrated By Angela Dawe, Phil Gigante
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (142)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (127)

    They are the very best at what they do. Peerless. Unmatched. Only fate could bring two such extraordinary people together—or the depraved manipulations of a homicidal criminal who takes lives for the sheer pleasure of watching his victims die.

    Joe says: "A good ending to the series"
    "Good reading, story/characters only mediocre"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Stirred? What did you like least?

    The reading was good; phil Gigante was excellent (as usual), Angela Dawe pretty good. I think the authors were going with 'strong & independent' for the heroine, Jack Daniels, but to me she came off more in the 'so stubborn she's stupid' category. She repeatedly goes charging blindly into dangerous situations, forcing her friends to follow her, & usually other people end up getting hurt or killed. She's 8 1/2 months pregnant & has eclampsia, which is life-threatening for her & fetus, but she refuses to go to the hospital or have labor induced slightly early..she refuses the early delivery because she wants to put off 'being a mother' ?!? Idiotic! It's not like she can just put it on hold! I couldn't even figure out why the authors gave her the eclampsia; it's a plot device that does nothing but prove how reckless & stupid Jack is. Other characters are quite thin, except maybe Harry McGlade (sp?) who I think is supposed to be the cranky guy full of crude jokes & puns who really, underneath it all, is lovable & has a heart of gold. I found him totally unlovable & so obnoxious I ended up rooting for the bad guys to kill him.I'm fairly sure the authors are going for an edgy, dry 'n' darkly witty thriller --and there were some quite funny moments-- but the product doesn't come near to fulfilling that intent.


    Would you ever listen to anything by J. A. Konrath and Blake Crouch again?

    Very doubful.


    Have you listened to any of Angela Dawe and Phil Gigante ???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Listened to Gigante do several things, most notably his outstanding renderings of Joe Lansdale's Hap & Leonard series; this one falls in the dust compared to those, which have excellent readings and excellent stories & characterizations.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Hangman's Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Oliver Pötzsch, Lee Chadeayne (translator)
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1360)
    Performance
    (1213)
    Story
    (1206)

    When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. When more children disappear and an orphan is found dead with the same mark, the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt. Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth.

    goddess_of_pipework says: "Fascinating"
    "not even Grover can save this turkey"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    i seem to be in the minority here, but I thought this book was so stupid I couldn't stand to finish it, despite the fact that Grover Gardner is one of my all-time fave readers (& he did his usual outstanding job).

    Perhaps some of the problem is from translation; I cannot 'stay in' a book set in the 1600s where a character uses "Whatever" in the sense that modern-day teens use it --as in, indicating indifference to anther's statement, for example. There were a few other examples of modern idiom, and a lot of just really hideous dialogue.

    Another problem, not translational: the enormous contrast between the anachronistically enlightened/aware hangman & the other superstitious/ignorant villagers was just ridiculous; the hangman not only recognizes that need for cleaning wounds several centuries before anyone else, he realizes all this witch (& much other) stuff is mere ignorant superstition, & to round it out he beats Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock by centuries in his sleuthing. He's way too over the top brilliant & aware.

    btw, for those who have trouble reconciling how the kindly healer can also be hangman & torturer, we see in the very first paragraph that the protagonist is himself 'tortured' by what he has to do; we see him getting drunk & generally having a nervous breakdown when it comes time for him to do his thing, especially when he thinks the torturee/executionee is undeserving...he also slips the innocent really groovy drugs before going to work on 'em, so they hardly feel a thing. (that's another thing; I could only wish my current medications were 1/10th as effective as some of his herbal remedies...they just ain't that good).

    In contrast to the uber-genius hangman, other characters do such incredibly moronic things that I found myself hoping they'd get killed off before they got a chance to breed (or annoy me further). Things like (this is not a spoiler, it's not something that actually happens, but exactly parallel things do). Stuff like:

    --characters X & Y are being chased by others, down a box canyon at night. X & Y are sneaking along, then stop in bushes to listen for sounds of pursuit. Suddenly X stands up & yells "HELLOOO!" Y grabs X & hisses "What are you doing?!" X answers, "I wanted to see if the echo works at night."

    --X & Y are being pursued another time (still night). X comes up behind Y, puts hand over Y's mouth so Y doesn't scream, whispers in Y's ear "Shh, it's me, don't scream." Y nods. X lets go. Y shouts "Don't put your hand over my mouth, I hate that!!

    Like that. Too dumb to live. I got so annoyed by things that that, & by how over-the-top stupid many characters were all around that I managed to stick with the book about 3/4 of the way through, at which time I decided I'd only bother finishing if I thought every character was going to die a horrible death. But since there are further books in the series, clearly some live on. Needless to say, the hangman, his daughter, & the rest of the gang are going to have to do it without me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Kraken Project: Wyman Ford, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (236)
    Performance
    (219)
    Story
    (220)

    NASA is building a probe to be splashed down in the Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Saturn’s great moon, Titan. It is one of the most promising habitats for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, but the surface is unpredictable and dangerous, requiring the probe to contain artificial intelligence software. To this end, Melissa Shepherd, a brilliant programmer, has developed "Dorothy", a powerful, self-modifying AI whose true potential is both revolutionary and terrifying. When miscalculations lead to a catastrophe during testing, Dorothy flees into the Internet.

    Jacqueline says: "Kraken Project? Not Really!"
    "Dorothy needs to be sucked up by a tornado"
    Overall
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    Story

    I've read a bunch of DP's books, both solo & with L Childs, but this is definitely not one of the winners. I agree with a number of reviewers who said it seems like a YA novel, at least in many parts. None of the characters (including Dorothy, and her little dog [?!] too) seemed particularly believable, & the kiss request was just idiotic & creepy. I found the kid so incredibly obnoxious that I kept fervently hoping he'd get killed off; yes, I know teenagers can be a trial, and he did have tough things to deal with (like the foot thing*), but it is possible to write a problematic character without having him be so loathsome that the reader prays for his death. Of course, the fact that his parents were also utterly intolerable caused me to cut him a teeny bit of slack, but they were another problem. I must say, Preston has a knack for creating characters which I absolutely cannot stand; some of the jerks in this book make me think that he's responsible for certain characters in the books he wrote with Childs...the reporter Smithback in many of the Pendergast books springs to mind...the kid in this one could be his clone in obnoxiousness.

    Preston showed a serious lack of imagination with having two different characters bring somebody out of hiding with the exact same trick-- pretending to abuse something the target cared about. I kept waiting for Ford to mention that he'd learned the trick from the first instance, but it was presented like "what a great idea!" --twice.

    Overall, the plot was beyond my ability to suspend disbelief. Could a computer program really hide the way Dorothy did at the end? Perhaps I just don't understand the physics of computing well enough, but I didn't buy it, along with quite a few other things. The dialogue was rather doubtful at times, also.

    Sowers did a decent job with what he had to work with. At least he didn't do what the guy who read the Dresden Files did on the first book, which was give vent to these humongous sighs at intervals, like reading the book was the worst thing he'd ever had to trudge through (he either got more interested as the books went along, or learned to suffer in silence).

    *granted, I know nothing about surfing, but I had real problems with him never being able to surf again because one leg was shorter than the other. What a weenie! People surf without arms, with 1 1/2 legs, with no legs... there's a picture of a guy without arms OR legs riding a board with a girl with one arm, fa cryin' out loud! Okay, they're not shooting the pipe (or whatever it's called) on a monster 40 foot wave, but sheesh!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of the Dead

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1943)
    Performance
    (936)
    Story
    (935)

    The New York Museum of Natural History receives their pilfered gem collection back, ground down to dust. Diogenes, the psychotic killer who stole them in Dance of Death, is throwing down the gauntlet to both the city and to his brother, FBI Agent Pendergast, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison.

    V.A. says: "Not bad"
    "a good pendergast, not great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been re-listening to this series of DP & LC's every now & then for several years; they're great brain candy, take my mind off of the trials of life while I'm driving, gardening, whatever. I'd give this 3.5 stars for the story itself, if I could. It's not, IMO, the best of the series. The reasons I downgrade this particular book (all the judgement on this book --& the series-- is based on them being the aforementioned literary equivalent of cerebral gummy bears, not deathless literature):
    1. The perfection of both Pendergast & his bro in all their endeavors stretches even my ability & willingness to suspend disbelief past the breaking point. These guys can do anything, be anything, & they know everything. They're masters of everything from hand-to-hand fighting to great literature (papyrus through Romantic poets to modern day), to gourmet food & wine, every science, computer programming, neurosurgery without a scalpel, morse & all other codes....these guys are incredibly proficient at absolutely everything. They can masquerade as someone else so successfully that people who've had close & extended contact with both characters remain totally clueless (despite the fact that another character notices that one of the brothers has an extremely unique 'personal scent', which goes unnoticed by other people who work with him for years & years).
    The Superman-like abilities they have with absolutely everything just goes beyond absurd & reaches annoying this time out..

    2. Some of the 2nd tier characters are simply loathsome, when (I think) they're supposed to be sympathetic characters. I'm thinking particularly of Bill Smithback here; he's arrogant, egotistical, devious, obnoxious, ethics-free, and a dreadful snob. Every time he appears in the books, since about 1/3 of the way through "Relic," I've been hoping somebody would kill him off & put him out of my misery. Several of the lesser characters, especially the cops/FBI guys, are so revolting & just so utterly, purely, total jerks that it even goes beyond my ability to believe (Capt Waxey [sp?] in the other book, Agt Coffey in this one).

    3 This isn't the writers' fault, but this production has these really annoying, random moments of "mood music" that pops up at idiotic times. In several places they'll run up the music & stop the reader for a few moments, then let him continue, with the music playing under the narration. These gaps come right smack in the middle of scenes, not at natural break points. Far from enhancing the scary or thrilling mood, they totally kill it & aggravate the heck out of the listener. The director should quit audiobooks & go work in radio or movies, if what they really want to do is play with music. When they're working with audiobooks they should stick to audiobooks.

    Scott Brick does an excellent job with this one. I wasn't wild about him the first time I heard him, but either he's gotten better or I've learned to appreciate him more. I just listened to his reading of "The Passage" (Justin Cronin), & thought he did an outstanding job, even better than any of his renditions of Preston & Child's books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7608)
    Performance
    (7239)
    Story
    (7250)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "probably will be most enjoyed by real space fans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of those books I'd really like to give 3 1/2 stars. I mostly enjoyed it but while listening, the thought occurred many times that it was a good thing that I'm really "into" the space program, because otherwise I'd probably be bored. The premise is fascinating --guy gets accidentally stranded on Mars, how can he possibly survive until they can come rescue him (IF they can rescue him at all)? But aficionados of Thrillers or Action/Adventure books are likely to be disappointed; there is no "Big Thing" to thrill or provide action. Everything is pretty much within the realm of reality --no aliens, no killer asteroids, no wild action. The thrills & action lie within the realm of the mundane; he puts in an enormous amount of work to survive, have food & oxygen sufficient to last.

    So if the basic realities of the space program arent' interesting enough for you, you'll probably be rather bored. If the problems & difficulties inherent in traveling to & surviving in non-Earth & outer space environments fascinate you, you're golden.

    The reader did a decent, workmanlike job; not inspired or amazing, but solidly competent.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Scott Sigler
    • Narrated By Phil Gigante
    Overall
    (265)
    Performance
    (253)
    Story
    (254)

    Homicide detective Bryan Clauser is losing his mind. How else to explain the dreams he keeps having - dreams that mirror, with impossible accuracy, the gruesome serial murders taking place all over San Francisco? How else to explain the feelings these dreams provoke in him - not disgust, not horror, but excitement? As Bryan and his longtime partner, Lawrence 'Pookie' Chang, investigate the murders, they learn that things are even stranger than they at first seem.

    valarie says: "Another AMAZING story"
    "book is so-so, bad directing ruined a good reader"
    Overall
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    Overall, I give the book itself a "Meh" & the reading a raspberry for somebody ruining a good reader's performance.
    I haven't read anything by Sigler before. I decided to give him a try while reading through a listing of books narrated by one of my fave readers, Phil Gigante. I first heard him reading Joe R Lansdale's Hap & Leonard books, with which he does an absolutely fantastic job. I figured no matter what the book was like, at least the reading would be excellent. HA! I did not count on it being directed by someone who apparently dreams of being a major Foley artist in Hollywood; this reading is utterly ruined (for me at least) by tons of "special effects" which are totally unnecessary; leave Gigante alone & you'll have a great reading. But no. When the 2 main characters use the "2-way" function of their cell phones, you get these ear-splitting beeps & electric tones. When someone is thinking/talking to himself, Gigante sounds like he's being recorded while reading inside one of those old concrete-and-steel, Interstate highway rest stop bathrooms...most of these inner thoughts were so echo-ey & muddled I couldn't understand them at all. Instead of letting the very talented Gigante do different voices for the monsters, they used electronic idiocy which rendered those voices somewhere from annoying to incomprehensible.

    And speaking of annoying, there were many aspects of the book itself which I found worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Worst of all was the protagonist's sidekick/partner, "Pookie," who has to be one of the most irritating characters in modern fiction (& I don't mean just his idiotic nickname). He always talks like some kind of gangsta-wannabe, just overflowing with moronic jokes, sexist & racist remarks, and tons of juvenile humor.

    It was not at all clear to me why the beautiful young pathologist (o course) so fervently loves the main character, Brian (even though they've split up, she's still gaga over him). The guy has all the emotional range of a mollusk...no, actually octopi have more. I guess it's supposed to be sort of a Spock/Data thing, where supposedly the woman has a burning desire to "wake up" the emotional stone. Although, both the Vulcan & the android are (to me) more believable love interests.

    The main character does gain some emotional activity as the book progresses, but very little of it is positive. I found him fairly unlikeable as a protagonist. I suppose I should put in a *Spoiler ALERT*, as I'm about to say something which occurs late in the book, his feelings upon learning something about his background. Stop here if you don't want to learn something early. *Spoiler ALERT**Spoiler ALERT* I don't understand Brain's reaction to finding out he was adopted, & liked him even less after). He didn't even wait to get the details; even before he talked to his "father" or knew anything at all about the circumstances, he was completely enraged. Why? I realize that learning you're adopted could be a shock, but he's furious to his Dad for "lying" to him even before he learns that he's genetically one of the bad guys. He went from mourning his beloved mother & living & respecting his dear father to despising them before learning anything. Then his putative father explains things & Brian hates them more & disowns them. He never gives either parent the benefit of a doubt even for an instant, which to me is not a sign of a likable or sympathetic character.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Dark Design: Riverworld Saga, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Philip José Farmer
    • Narrated By Paul Hecht
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (52)

    Best-selling author Philip José Farmer crafted an SF landmark with his wildly imaginative Riverworld series. In this third installment, much has transpired since Earth’s denizens found themselves resurrected along the shores of a river 22 million miles long. With the truth of this strange river’s creators, the Ethicals, still shrouded in mystery, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Samuel Clemens, King John, and Cyrano de Bergerac face a fantastical voyage of discovery.

    Battaglia says: "The series seems to get longer and longer."
    "third in the series, dead last in quality"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I first read "Riverworld" in the 70s, & I remember enjoying it. I didn't enjoy it enough to get all 3 books, though...& after listening to this dog, I wish I'd kept it that way.

    We do get (sort of) the main characters from the first 2 books together, which was nice; I missed Burton & his bunch in #2. But for some reason, Farmer decided to intro a brand new main character & couldn't have come up with a more annoying person if he'd studied for years. Jill is one of the more obnoxious characters to appear in fiction in a long time. She's constantly, aggressively on the defensive, knows everybody is out to get her & deny her genius & incredible capabilities, & --best of all-- she has the amazing ability to take ONE LOOK at anyone, determine their gender, race, & time of origin, & immediately she knows EXACTLY what that person thinks about her, about women, & precisely how badly they're going to treat her. And then she condemns them for their egregious bigotry. Um, hypocrite much? She even periodically tells herself that she should quit this, but does she ever actually improve? Take a guess.

    Other than the loathsome Jill, & bouncing back & forth between Sam & Burton's groups, with quite a few LOONNNNNG & incredibly boring side lectures on religion, the plot can be summed up fairly briefly:
    1. someone wants to build a great big something to get to the source.
    2. They toil mightily, get into intrigues & war with the neighbors for the raw materials,
    3. They spend all their time in wild angst over who gets to run the thing when it's done.
    4. Then they usually lose it.
    Repeat, with different or the same people, different or the same great big something.

    Unless I dozed off at the end (possible; I had to keep backing up b/c I'd gotten so tired of building, bickering, & bi*ching) we never really get a satisfactory idea of who or what is behind the Riverworld, or why. And by then, I didn't care.

    The reader does an okay job; he's not too good with voices, so it wasn't always easy to figure out who was talking if there weren't adequate cues in the text, and I'm not wild about his voice, but he was...acceptable. At least as good as the book itself, which is sorta damning with faint praise. I gave him 1 more star than the book itself because his performance didn't inspire me to want to commit actual violence, unlike the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Citizen of the Galaxy

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Robert A. Heinlein
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (30)

    In a distant galaxy of colonized planets, the atrocity of slavery is alive and well. Young Thorby was just another bedraggled orphan boy sold at auction, but his new owner, Baslim, is not the disabled beggar he appears to be. Adopting Thorby as his son, Baslim fights relentlessly as an abolitionist spy. When the authorities close in on Baslim, Thorby must find his own way in a hostile galaxy. Joining with the Free Traders, a league of merchant princes, Thorby must find the courage to live by his wits and fight his way up from society's lowest rung.

    Kelly Howard says: "two classics together; can't get much better!"
    "two classics together; can't get much better!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been a fan (weak term, actually) of Robert Heinlein for decades. I discovered the readings of Grover Gardner several years ago, & he's tops on my readers list. Put 'em together, what a treat!
    I feel somewhat guilty about not giving RAH 5 stars across the board, but truthfully, CotG isn't my favorite Heinlein book. It's just not up there with Stranger in a Strange Land or Time Enough for Love, or even some of the "boys" books (but it's definitely better than some of his last clunkers, like "Friday" which I felt sorta stunk...forgive me, RAH).
    Anyway, this is the story of Thorby's sequential life disruptions --from child slave bought by the kindly (& mysterious) "Pop" Baslam the Beggar, to part of the Sisu Trader family, to the brief stint in the galactic military to his final (surprise) return to his "real" identity. Heinlein uses Thorby & his adventures to discourse (at times somewhat excessively) on one of his favorite themes, freedom & its inverse, the loathsome slavery. It's because of the sometimes pedantic tone that I give this 4 stars instead of 5, because the book bogs down a bit occasionally.
    But I thought after rereading it for the first time in decades, that it's held up well; Heinlein's visions of star travel seem as likely & vivd now as they did then, & big business & people are every bit as sleazy now as portrayed then...with a few good folks here & there, still trying to fight the good fight. Like a lot of Heinlein, it contains grains of hope toward humanity without ever (ever!) being overly optimistic.
    Rich characters and interesting situations --Heinlein gives free rein to his anthropological ideas in this one-- make this a diverting read/listen. And of course, Grover Gardner does it right!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Needle

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Hal Clement
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    A manhunt within a man. The hunter from space's depths chose Robert Kinncaid as his "host" and invaded his body, controlled his thoughts, and began the search. The Quarry was lurking in another human being somewhere. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack- a needle that carried death and destruction.

    Kelly Howard says: "Interesting book that's aged well"
    "Interesting book that's aged well"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was quite surprised when I heard, at the end of the book, that the copyright date was 1950. I certainly noticed that some modern tech was lacking --cell phones, for one-- but the book didn't really seem too terribly dated beyond that.
    Other than that, I found it a pretty good listen. Though not exactly an 'edge of your seat' page turner, it was nonetheless quite interesting. The characters were well fleshed out & the developing relationship between Bob & the Detective was well portrayed, with Bob being neither too terrified nor too easily accepting of his unexpected internal partner, The Detective was an interesting character as well, also complex enough to seem a real character --despite being considerably advanced in physics & as a symbiote, he (it?) nevertheless makes some mistakes with Bob, thus escaping the "omniscient alien" type that too often appears in SF.
    I did get tired of the somewhat pompous tone that appears at times, most notably the various characters who refer to assorted antagonistic entities as "our friend the [whatever]". If the doctor had used the phrase "our friend the plasmodium" one more time I'd have had to do something dire to somebody.
    The reader did a solid if unspectacular job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fearless Fourteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Janet Evanovich
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1461)
    Performance
    (517)
    Story
    (516)

    Personal vendettas, hidden treasure, and a monkey named Carl will send bounty hunter Stephanie Plum on her most explosive adventure yet. Dom Rizzi robbed a bank, stashed the money, and did the time. His family couldn't be more proud. He always was the smart one. Joe Morelli, Dom Rizzi, and Dom's sister, Loretta, are cousins. Morelli is a cop, Rizzi robs banks, and Loretta is a single mother waiting tables at the firehouse. The all-American family.

    Patricia says: "Laughed out loud..."
    "Dull, downright bad entry in the Plum series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed the earlier Stephanie Plum books both in audio & print form, but Evanovich seems to've totally phoned this one in...& phoned it in poorly. The first 8 or so chapters are beyond dull; nothing happens, we get repeated, extended descriptions of Bob the dog tinkling & eating, Stephanie eating comfort food, Stephanie driving around Jersey endlessly, tons of Lula finding things to complain about (more on her in a moment). It's mundane crud, and even the introduction of an aging country music star with massive "quirks," which I assume was supposed to add spice & humor to the book, just provided another series of thuds.

    The characters have become caricatures of themselves, or worse. All the usual suspects are here: Stephanie somehow continues to be a clueless bounty hunter --after 13 books of doing it, you'd figure she'd learn something-- yet at the same time she makes occasional near-Sherlockian leaps & bounces between a terrified & queasy newbie & a weary pro. She's just not authentic at all. And the outrageous and creative situations she used to get into are in the past, with nothing particularly inventive happening in the whole book.

    Ranger, the sexy, near-ninja mystery man, has ended up in the truly unfortunate position of being uxorious toward Stephanie without actually having any kind of relationship with her --the most he gets is an occasional pat on the hand, maybe, but he acts like her lap dog anyway.

    Joe Morelli has turned into a cardboard generic "cop" who adores Stephanie. Period. Yawn.

    Lula gets the shortest stick in a veritable pile of match-sized kindling, though: whereas she used to be funny, quirky, and a unique character who (tho a former ho) had a considerable helping of...well, innocence or naivete may not describe it, but a rather charming sort of clueless unsophistication that made her endearing despite her volatile nature. Now Lula just seems dumb and downright mean, and her campaign against Tank verges on creepy....she's a worse stalker than the guy who's supposedly stalks the country singer, who just seems to be a harmless dweeb.

    All in all, if this is the turn that the Stephanie Plum books take from now on in the series, I'm done with her. I suppose I should be happy that there were a dozen or so good ones, but it's annoying to have an author get so lazy & sure of their audience that they churn out garbage & hope nobody notices, or that their fans will be grateful for garbage if it's THEIR garbage, or however Evanovich excuses this tripe (other than the "laughing all the way to the bank" excuse). I do know that most authors get a certain number of fans who're so rabid that they will gobble up anything that author deigns to produce & they'll gush & fawn over it, no matter how wretched the dreck is (Laurell K Hamilton springs to mind as a particularly egregious example of dreck with rabid fans). I'd hope most people are more discerning & don't so enthusiastically reward lousy, lazy writing. I certainly won't. I may reread the old books, but am going to require proof of quality before throwing my hard-earned money in Evanovich's direction.

    Lorelei King does what she can with this turkey, but not even her skillful reading can save it. It also seems as if the director has to pad the audiobook to get it near the requisite length; the pauses between chapters are the longest I've heard on any audiobook....I kept thinking my ipod batteries had died. I don't know how many pages the book was...however many it was, it was a waste of trees.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Visions in Death: In Death, Book 19

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By J. D. Robb
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (888)
    Performance
    (574)
    Story
    (579)

    On one of the city's hottest nights, New York Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is sent to Central Park - and into a hellish new investigation. The victim is found on the rocks, just above the still, dark water of The Lake in the park. Around her neck is a single red ribbon. Her hands are posed, as if in prayer. But it is the eyes - removed with such precision, as if done by the careful hand of a surgeon - that have Dallas most alarmed.

    Holly Helscher says: "Interesting Ending"
    "good, solid, typical Eve Dallas story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been looking for an "In Death" book that features Peabody more, because I'm getting really, really tired of Dallas. She's such a Suzie 1-note...every book is the same; Eve gets wigged out because some murder (no matter what the circumstances) throws her back into her traumatic childhood memories, she acts like Testosterone Trixie, kicking ass, guzzling coffee, acting as if she grew up on Mars & has never heard of things like parties, housewarming or baby shower gifts, etc, etc. The woman clearly pays no attention to anything that goes on around her (other than murder things & her traumatic childhood flashbacks). Roarke continues to love her madly, wildly, etc even tho she's a monumental pain in the neck, a constant grouch, always late, etc yada (that's why it's a romance novel; no matter how obnoxious she is, the world's richest, most gorgeous guy stays besotted with her. Riiiiight).

    I find Peabody to be a much more interesting character, largely because not only is she nicer, she's more lifelike & complex, she grows & changes some as the books go by, she's funny, she's decent --simultaneously hard-nosed and caring.

    Another gripe with this book; Eve spouts that old, idiotic, tired, untrue myth about hair growing after death. Why can't authors grow a brain & stop with the stupidity on that? It drives me nuts! Hair and fingernails DO NOT KEEP GROWING AFTER DEATH. It doesn't add anything to the plots I've encountered it in, other than to point up the stupidity of the author. (Tho this wasn't as bad as another book I listened to recently, where a character not only claimed the hair 'n' fingernails garbage, but also that both dead bodies and STEAKS AT THE GROCERY WERE ALIVE AT A CELLULAR LEVEL(!!!). Ye gods, I know science is like voodoo to some people, but how dumb does it get? Moronic, apparently.

    Susan Erickson does her usual excellent job with the reading; she nicely & consistently walks the line between straight reading & acting, her pacing is always good, her pronunciation is almost 100% perfect. Sometimes the 'special effects' they do with the computer &/or droid voices get overdone, but that's not the reader's fault, & they don't get so bad they overwhelm the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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