SCOTTSDALE, AZ, United States | Member Since 2007
I thought it best to start the Amelia Peabody series with Perkin's first book, and I'm happy that I did. It gives great background into this fabulous woman, who will knock the socks off of anyone who loves a strong female protagonist. For someone who does not know what to expect from this book, take a female Indiana Jones in the time frame of pre-1900, and plop her in the middle of a mystery in Egypt, surrounded by an archaeological dig complete with mummies, tombs, and curses. Amelia herself is a hoot. She's audacious, bold, single-minded, a flawless planner, extraordinarily intelligent, and very intuitive. She throws out one-liners that make the reader laugh out loud, while all the while Amelia is being completely serious. She's full of sarcasm yet sage advice. She will see to it that she gets whatever she wants, but at the same time shows compassion and tenderness when called for. Just to give a head's up, she speaks with the vernacular of a late 19th century proper English "lady" so if listening to that type of speech bothers you, skip it. But while I started somewhat skeptical that I could listen to Amelia for the entire length of the book, I quickly found her quick wit, and highly entertaining narrative style, very easy to listen to. Also, the narrator does an outstanding job with the other characters, keeping them in character throughout the book. In retrospect, considering how much dialogue there is in the book, and considering how the inflections of the narrator add so greatly to the entertainment factor, I believe that this is one of those books that actually lends itself more for listening than reading. The book is full of dry humor, a mystery, interesting information about archaeology, and even romance. In short, it has all the ingredients for a lighthearted book that is just plain fun, and I couldn't stop listening until I was finished! I can't wait to download my next Elizabeth Peters' tale with Amelia Peabody.
I listened to my first Isaac Bell story, "The Chase" out of order in the series and thoroughly enjoyed it. This persuaded me to go back to the beginning of the series and start from book one, which I also enjoyed. Now, having read, "The Wrecker" I am still entertained by this series.
Set just after the turn-of-the-century, I find the allusions to the lifestyle of that era interesting. In addition, although many people seem to have a problem with Scott Brick as a narrator, I find him to be a perfect narrator for these adventure-type novels. I would much rather listen to a narrator who puts the personality that he does into a story, as opposed to a reader who is more flat. For me, he brings his stories to life.
Having said this about the basic qualities of this series, I think "The Wrecker" has done the best job of allowing us to get to know Isaac Bell as a person, as well as a detective. His relationship with Marion continues, and their moments together are sweet and tender and it does bring out a side of Isaac that is softer and less robotic then the detective Isaac Bell.
Of course, listeners should know that all of this series is simple, mostly just for fun, and certainly not in the category of great literature. However, if you are looking for a book that is light, strictly entertaining, but still has some suspense and very likable characters, then you will probably like this series. Cussler does a fine job of keeping the facts and information true to the era, and even goes a little beyond by injecting details about the primary topic of each book.
For instance, in this book he does a great job of enlightening the listener with great information about the trains and locomotives of that time, the process of building a railroad right down to every piece of track and every bolt and tie. I suppose if one isn't interested in trains this could be tedious, but personally I found it added great realism to the story.
As a detective, Isaac is, once again, the brilliant, top-notch investigator upon which the series is based. This is one of the instances of which I was speaking where the book tends to be a little unrealistic… Isaac is a little too perfect. But then again, that's what this sort of book is about… having a hero for whom to cheer, and to know that he will always come out on top. These stories are the classic "the good guy always wins," so, once again, for a fun, lighthearted read it was very satisfying. In this story, as in the others, his villain, the Wrecker, is written with enough intelligence and sophistication that it does make the difficulty in thwarting him very realistic. Cussler does a great job of making him a worthy adversary for Isaac. This keeps the story believable and engaging for the listener, as we try to out-guess his next move to stay ahead of Isaac.
Without spoiling the plot I will add that the one thing I did not like about this particular story was the weapon that the Wrecker used which made him such a dangerous character. Personally, I thought it was downright ridiculous, and very unlikely for the era. However, this was a small negative in the overall believability of the story, and I would still recommend this book for someone who wants to simply have a fun adventure story that does not take itself too seriously.
As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Sadly, I preordered this book from the main page, and the book listings don't show the narrators there. As such, I was unable to see who was reading this book. Heck, I didn't even bother to read the reviews because there has never been such a thing as a bad Harry Bosch novel. It never even occurred to me that the publishing house for a Harry Bosch novel would commit such an incredible blunder as to change the narrator, after 18 books, to someone not only unfamiliar, but inept! When I started listening, I was shocked to not only NOT hear Dick Hill or Len Cariou, but to hear this droning voice that almost put me to sleep.
Mcconnohie literally reads the book... doesn't perform it, but reads it. There were no attempts to assign a unique quality of voice to a particular character, no inflections for different emotions during the story... I imagine that most parents reading a story book to their child would do a better job than this narrator has done. It is so poorly read that I cannot even tell if the book is any good.
I will admit that after reading some of the other reviews that I didn't make it as far as they did! I gave up after only 30 minutes! Who makes the decisions on these narrators? Doesn't Michael Connelly have a say in how the book should be read? Why, on earth, would the powers that be take such a popular series as the Harry Bosch novels, whose followers practically count the days until the next book is released, and then disappoint these fans with such a worthless read (or listen?) This was a huge letdown. Shame on Brilliance Audio and even shame on Michael Connelly if he has any say in the choice of his narrators.
Can you tell that I am NOT recommending this book??! Let's hope they get it right the next time... too bad we will have to wait for probably a year to find out.
I have read every book in this series, in order, and I really struggled to get through this one. There were several times that I contemplated just shelving it (so to speak.) It seems that the more recent titles in this series of Alexander McCall Smith have not lived up to his earlier work. This series, early on, was one of my most beloved series. I could not wait for the next book to come out. In the last few books, it is almost as if McCall Smith is continuing writing the books just to... well... continue the series. There is no heart. There are no interesting cases to be solved. He has made Mma Makutsi into a very silly and unlikeable character, instead of simply being quirky (as she was in the early books.) Mme Ramotswe even comes across as being "tired" or disinterested, compared to her early passion for her agency, its work, and life in her beloved Botswana. Her basic character traits are still there, but in a watered-down version. Even the outstanding narrator, Lisette Lecat comes across as rather lackadaisical.
I can't suggest to an avid fan of this series to not listen to this book as they all have some significant event in them that carries over to the next books, but I will say that I was extremely disappointed in this one, and if McCall Smith is getting bored with writing these books he should either find his earlier spunk to put back into them, or stop the series before he writes these wonderful characters altogether into the ground.
I am writing this review before I have finished this listen. I bought this book immediately following the appearance of Jaycee Dugard on a television interview. I wanted to know more about how such a horrific situation could have possibly persisted for so many years, and, as a student of psychology, get the full story of the demented couple who kept her captive.
I am about three-quarters of the way through her story, and I feel compelled to warn a potential reader that this story is not for the faint of heart. In fact that is an understatement. The first third of the listen is so disturbing that someone sensitive to perverse treatment of children may want to seriously reconsider passing on listening to this read. I could only listen to this section of the book in short intervals, needing to put if away for several days before returning to it, as Jaycee's graphic descriptions of her abuse is so unthinkable that I found it stayed with me for hours, and even days after reading it. There were several times that I seriously contemplated not listening to any more. The only reason I have continued on with it is to learn what happens in the end to this depraved, and insane man and his equally perverted wife. No matter what is done to them in the way of punishment or justice, it will never be enough to give Jaycee back the precious years of her life that they stole.
Jaycee is not a professional narrator, but listening to her recount what was done to her, I realize that only she could be the appropriate person to tell her story.
As for the rating of this book... how does one rate something like this? How does one decide what is appropriate to gauge how "good" a story such as this can be? I honestly don't know, but ultimately I think that Jaycee has done an admirable and courageous job in her retelling of her story and that it merits a strong rating, if, for no other reason, than after all she had been through, she deserves to be heard.
If you are intrigued by, and have a special admiration for the special ops divisions of our country's armed forces, this is a worthwhile read. It did leave me a little disappointed that the author didn't really describe any major (or even many minor) missions that the Delta Force unit carried out, but it is still interesting.
The entire first Part of the download is dedicated to Haney's description of his experience of being selected to apply to be a part of this elite unit of soldiers. He goes into an hour by hour detailed story of the extraordinarily rigorous testing phase that the original hopefuls went through to weed out those who would be chosen to continue on to be trained as Delta Force soldiers, and those who would wash out. It is engaging and certainly gives the reader a clear picture of the physical and mental strength required of these men to even be considered to serve in this unit. The group begins with over 100 candidates, and by the end of the testing phase, less than two dozen remain to move on.
The further story of the extensive training that these men go through is remarkable, and can't help but give the reader an intense admiration for all that Delta Force soldiers must learn to become such elite warriors.
After this, however, the book becomes very weak, and the second Part of the download consists entirely of short anecdotes of small missions, the lifestyle of a Delta soldier, and Haney's personal experience with his assignments(locations.) Honestly, it really isn't that interesting. I was craving more. He would write that one of the most frequent use of their skills was in aircraft hijackings, but he never told a really thrilling story of one of these missions. It began to seem as though this information might be classified, and that he was limited in how much information he could disclose. Again, this was disappointing. If you are hoping for a thrilling story similar to Acts of Valor, this is not the book for you.
However, once of the best parts of the entire listen is the epilogue in which Haney gives a very insightful opinion from his first-hand knowledge of the fighting in the Middle East, and gives an explanation of why our country is in Iraq, and took out Sadaam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. (He does includes the actual account of Bin Laden's assasination, which is much more informative than what we know from the news.) His explanation of why we are in Iraq, his opinion of the future of the stability of the Middle East, and his view of what is necessary to create world stability and truly combat terrorism is one that every American should hear and understand. It is a worthy listen for this small section alone.
What a wonderful surprise! As a dog lover, I was hoping for an uplifting story about the bond between a special dog and his human. What I got was so much more. First, I would like to acknowledge the exceptional writing of Luis Montalvan. He is a very talented writer.
Also, the content of the book went far beyond how Tuesday enabled Montalvan to regain a significant amount of function after his broken body and soul returned from Iraq. Montalvan adds insight to other compelling topics including how service dogs are trained, how Tuesday's early life was also riddled with loss, the insensitivities of people who do not understand the need of a service dog for people with disabilities other than blindness, and the tragic inadequacies of the Verteran's Affairs medical services provided to our soldiers when they return from war.
All of these issues are, of course, bound together with the warmth of the tale of how Tuesday and Montalvan helped each other to heal, and how they now function together as a loving unit, Tuesday guiding Montalvan to progress in his healing, or, at least deal with his disabilities because he has Tuesday for support, love, and physical help.
This story is much more than about a service dog doing his job in a placement to help a disabled man. It addresses political issues, sociological issues, and deeply personal issues of how war breaks down the men and women subjected to it.
I was a bit worried when I saw that Montalvan acted as his own narrator, but he has a wonderful voice, and he tells his story with such heart... no one else could have done it the same justice. I strongly recommend this book.
Perhaps I went into reading this book with inappropriate expectations. I had been having a craving for more authors like Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire series) and David Rosenfelt (Andy Carpenter series.) Mysteries that are not exactly humorous, but that have an edgy, witty, fun side to them that make them a little more lighthearted than the usual tension-filled thriller.
I found this author by reading reviews on the internet from Mystery Book Readers who called Lawrence Block "wickedly funny." Nothing could have been further from the truth. The likeable, but nevertheless criminal character in Block's book, Bernie Rhodenbarr, is really rather, uh... blah. The story was slow, not particularly containing any form of humor, or even satire, wittiness, or irony. Yes there was a mystery. Bernie found himself framed for a murder, and the brunt of the story was Bernie solving the mystery of finding the real killer to save himself from a murder charge. It moved along well, and the writing was fine, but it just didn't have anything that kept me particularly interested.
The only slightly clever part of the story was when Bernie was caught in the act of a robbery, and the senior police officer who caught him in the act, greeted him like an old chum. There were several fun scenes with these two who, albeit on different sides of the law, had a mutual respect and even admiration for each other's chosen vocations.
I was hoping to be pleased enough with this book to launch into the full Bernie Rhodenbarr series by Block, but after this yawner, I think I will pass.
If I could, I would give this 3 1/2 stars. The only reason it wasn't 4 stars for me was that it became a little repetitive with the plot lines. The same scenario over and over... talk about deja' vue! All with very slow progress in terms of clues to find these serial killers. It all comes together at the end, but it is a long time coming. Don't judge the narrator by the sample on the book page. She sounds awful on that snippet, but when she begins to use different voices for different characters she is quite good. Not great with the male voices, but better than some with this series.
One interesting question... is Jane's last name pronounced Ritz-oley or Rizz-oley. As with the word Pizza, the correct Italian pronunciation, "zz" is just "z." No "t." Personally, I don't care, but I sure wish the narrators would make up their mind how Jane pronounces her last name... it varies from book to book. Another illustration of my biggest complaint with this series... NO continuity with narrators! They are AWFUL!
I would strongly recommend to listen to this series in order. I got my information as to the order of the books from an incorrect source when I began listening to them. Now I am all over the board in terms of what and who I know, and how things evolved. The only reason I haven't read The Surgeon is because it is abridged, and I am strongly opposed to abridged books, but after reading this book, I feel I am going to cave in and go back and read it. There were SO many references to it in this book that I regret not having read it first. It is central to the plot in this book, so if you haven't read The Surgeon I would recommend the same for you BEFORE you read this.
Otherwise, I love Tess Gerritsen, even her non-Rizzoli and Isles books. Some of those were even more enjoyable, IMHO. This was not my favorite book in the series, but I did enjoy it, and I think Gerritsen has created a great character in Jane Rizzoli
Another Gerritsen winner. Young Russian girls are promised a better, new life in America, and are taken to the US via Mexico only to learn that their "guides" are really kidnappers. Their "new life" is one of captivity as they are sold into prostitution rings, and live a life of fear and brutality. Rizzoli, being eight months pregnant in this story is written with the perfect balance of her usual finely-honed detective skills, while being physically limited to do the physical part of her job. She ends up being a hostage of two people desperately trying to find a way to send their message of truth to the world about the story of the vanishing girls before they are killed by those trying to silence them, but Jane ends up becoming the perfect person to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once again a terrible narrator... *sigh*... but can't demote the rating of the book because Brilliance Audio can't find the right person to "be" Jane Rizzoli.
This is right up there as one of my favorite Gerritsen thrillers. Loved the characters, the narrator was actually decent in this reading, and the historical aspects of present time characters searching to understand a mystery from another century through letters works flawlessly. It seems it would be a tricky thing to pull off to have the past and present jumping back and forth, but the historical elements are fascinating, and the transitions are smooth as glass. Great listen! Highly recommend this one!
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