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Mary-Liz

I am a book junkie. Read to me.

ratings
17
REVIEWS
16
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
2
HELPFUL VOTES
32

  • The Wind Singer: The Wind on Fire Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By William Nicholson
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (20)

    In Aramanth, exams are everything. When Kestrel rebels, her family are sentenced to the harshest punishment. To save them, Kestrel learns the secret of the wind singer and she sets out to discover the true source of the evil that grips Aramanth.

    Erica says: "An Overlooked Masterpiece"
    "Wonderful narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A well-written fantasy/dystopia story for middle-grade readers. Samuel West is an excellent narrator. He interprets the story with wit and verve. All the characters, and there are many, are distinct and easy to recognize through his many subtle voice variations. Beautifully done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Chris Ewan
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (888)
    Performance
    (795)
    Story
    (798)

    Charlie Howard travels the globe writing suspense novels for a living. To supplement his income - and keep his hand in - Charlie has a small side business: stealing for a very discreet clientele on commission. When a mysterious American offers Charlie 20,000 euros to steal two small monkey figurines to match the one he already has, Charlie is suspicious; the job seems too good to be true, and of course, it is. He soon finds the American beaten nearly to death, while the third figurine has disappeared.

    adrienne says: "A delightful surprise!"
    "Funny and entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The puzzle is straight-forward but the characters are very appealing. The thief-writer's friendship with his agent is especially engaging. Some very funny descriptions and situations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery by Rob Thomas: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Rob Thomas, Jennifer Graham
    • Narrated By Kristen Bell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1798)
    Performance
    (1668)
    Story
    (1657)

    The first book in an original mystery series featuring 28-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends - Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas - Veronica is ready to take on Neptune's darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

    Alison says: "Mars Attacks, succeeds!"
    "Too many cliches"
    Overall

    Nice performance by Kristen Bell.
    Not a very well written book, though. Many plot points seem as stale as the fetid beer dregs in the bottles littering the streets of Neptune after Spring Break. One of the worst is the dumb-as-rocks sheriff, a classic of bad pulp fiction, but even this guy wouldn't be stupid enough to fail to check out a chief suspect's alibi. The machoer-than-thou drug cartel boys are tired stereotypes bordering on offensive.
    Still, Veronica remains appealing and I found myself rooting for her in spite of the writing. She deserves something better than a story that feels like a first-draft TV script.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By James Runcie
    • Narrated By Peter Wickham
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    1955: Canon Sidney Chambers, loveable priest and part-time detective, is back. Accompanied by his faithful Labrador, Dickens, and the increasingly exasperated Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney is called to investigate the unexpected fall of a Cambridge don from the roof of King's College Chapel; a case of arson at a glamour photographer's studio and the poisoning of Zafar Ali, Grantchester's finest spin bowler. Alongside his sleuthing, Sidney has other problems. Can he decide between his dear friend the glamorous socialite Amanda Kendall and Hildegard Staunton, the beguiling German widow?

    Maine Colonial says: "Good writing, but weak mystery, and awful reader"
    "Charming but lightweight."
    Overall

    The story about cricket was just... Wow, way too much cricket. No more cricket stories, for God's sake. Otherwise fine.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl on the Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Paula Hawkins
    • Narrated By Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21469)
    Performance
    (17864)
    Story
    (17851)

    Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

    L. O. Pardue says: ""Rear Window" Meets "Gone Girl""
    "Excellent thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Beautifully written, well fleshed out characters. An almost perfect study of the unreliable narrator. I felt the clues to the killer were telegraphed early on, but I read an inordinate number of thrillers and mysteries, so I'm hard to fool. There is a nice twist in the end I didn't see coming.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • True Grit

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Portis
    • Narrated By Donna Tartt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2117)
    Performance
    (1262)
    Story
    (1270)

    Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

    Tommygaus says: "So worth it!"
    "Beautifully written"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can't believe I hadn't read this until now. Charles Portis writes in a way that would make taxes or legislative bills fascinating. His dialogue, settings, characters -- especially his characters -- ring absolutely true. Is there anyone more appealing in fiction than the brave, formidable Mattie Ross? The film versions just make her feisty, which is nice, but she is so much wiser and morally complex than the child she appears to be. The Cohen Bros. did a very good job with this story; the John Wayne version seems a cartoon set against the real narrative. Neither movie does True Grit justice. You miss all those wonderful, expertly chosen words. And who knew Donna Tartt, a fine novelist herself, had such an engaging, Southern reading style? Really, please, buy this immediately and listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Stranger House

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Reginald Hill
    • Narrated By Gordon Griffin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (52)

    For years, the Stranger House has stood in the village of Illthwaite, offering refuge to travellers. People like Sam, a brilliant young mathematician, who believes that anything that can't be explained by maths isn't worth explaining. And Miguel, a historian running from a priests' seminary, who sees ghosts. Sam is an experienced young woman, Miguel a 26-year-old virgin.

    Jen Terry says: "an OK read"
    "Scrappy heroine, pleasingly complex mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well written and crafted thriller, which uses the classic chestnut of the remote village, with residents who distrust nosy outsiders, to great effect. You think this is going to be an old-fashioned horror, with restless ghosts and forbidden, pagan rites still practiced by the weird locals. In fact, it's a modern, psychological drama, its twists attributable to very human fears and desires. Some of the crimes may be too modern for certain listeners: If you are bothered by stories that involve hurting children or torture, be aware that this narrative takes a few dark turns. Nothing overly graphic, but it does go there, if not all the way there.
    There are two mysteries here, one historical, one contemporary, each with its related protagonist, a compassionate Spanish ex-priest and a scrappy, Australian mathematician named Samantha Flood. Sam Flood is almost worth the price of admission alone -- she's that appealing.
    Great reading by Gordon Griffin, who differentiates the many characters with vocal distinctions and quirks. I had no trouble keeping the large cast straight.
    My only complaint is that the epilogue, while intriguing, ties up the threads too neatly. Still, the rest of the story is so good that I'm willing to forgive Reginald Hill for this over-zealous bit of plot writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Monkey's Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Alan de Queiroz
    • Narrated By Jonathan Todd Ross
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (27)

    How did species wind up where they are today? Scientists have long conjectured that plants and animals dispersed throughout the world by drifting on large landmasses as they broke up, but in The Monkey’s Voyage, biologist Alan de Queiroz offers a radical new theory that displaces this passive view.

    Mary-Liz says: "Fascinating, if you can handle the detail"
    "Fascinating, if you can handle the detail"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an exhaustive study of biological history and evolution, as it relates to continental drift, cladistics and other off-shoots and counterpoints to Darwin's theory. I had never heard of the field of biogeography until I listened to this book and now I feel very comfortable with the subject. The author begins with Darwin and then looks at each successive theory in turn, ultimately disproving many or tempering their strict stances with alternative possibilities. De Queiroz builds his case brick by scientific brick, until he returns to Darwin, who first suggested that many, if not most, of the breaks and bizarre pan-continental connections in the biological narrative could be attributed to seemingly impossible journeys across oceans by species. Darwin did several experiments but didn't live long enough to prove his suppositions. De Queiroz, however, with the benefit of DNA testing, cites numerous examples of plants and animals that could not have reached certain shores any other way except by ocean travel.
    I found this book illuminating and entertaining. I've read Darwin, but I am not a scientist, so some of the theoretical explanations went a bit too deep for me. But de Queiroz works hard to engage the non-scientist and his enthusiasm for his subject is hard to resist. He brings to life many interesting historical characters, such as the gentleman-explorer who influenced Darwin and the passionate, if wrong-headed, Leon Croizat, who thought Darwin "congenitally not a thinker."
    The reader does a great job with material which, while very well written, can be dense in its exhaustive detail.
    I bought this book on a whim and I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Persuasion

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1520)
    Performance
    (1140)
    Story
    (1154)

    Anne Elliot has grieved for seven years over the loss of her first love, Captain Frederick Wentworth. But events conspire to unravel the knots of deceit and misunderstanding in this beguiling and gently comic story of love and fidelity.

    Emily - Audible says: "Juliet Stevenson is Simply Amazing"
    "Great tale, well told and read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of my favorite Austen novels and I loved the BBC Radio 4 version with Juliet Stevenson in the role of Anne Elliot. She seems to understand the heroine's inner conflicts better than anyone else. Stevenson brings all of her sensitivity and training as an actress to this reading. Simply beautifully done.
    In every Austen novel, there are the silly characters whom Austen meant to be comical, but whose persistent idiocy irritate me to the point where I just skip over their parts. They are almost always women, the worst being Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, although Miss Bates in Emma and Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility are similar, if lesser, annoyances. But in Persuasion, the silly character happens to be a man, Anne's father Mr. Elliot, and I find that, far from irritating, Mr. Elliot is one of the funniest and most ridiculous characters in Austen's fiction. Stevenson seems to appreciate him, too, for she reads his part with relish, infusing him with all the pompous self-importance Austen intended. I found myself stopping the performance and replaying those parts two and three times. Great laughs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Apple Tree Yard: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Louise Doughty
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    Overall
    (187)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (168)

    Yvonne Carmichael, renowned geneticist, public authority, happily married mother of two, sits in the accused box. The charge is murder. Across the courtroom, not meeting her eye, sits her alleged accomplice. He wears the beautiful pin-striped suit he wore on their first meeting in the Houses of Parliament, when he put his hand on her elbow, guided her to a deserted and ancient chapel, and began to undress her.

    Mel says: "No Scarlet 'A' in Apple Tree"
    "Not bad, but a relatively plain mystery, really"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Juliet Stevenson infuses pathos and melancholy into a dreamy, naive protagonist who becomes entrapped in what proves to be a rather mundane murder. The story is told first-person from the protagonist's viewpoint and she addresses her thoughts to a unnamed "you," the man with whom she engages in an improbable affair. For most of the novel, the real mystery is figuring out who the man really is, his motivations and his true feelings for the protagonist. We don't even know his name until more than two-thirds of the way into the story. I found the device wore very thin and I probably would have bailed were it not for Stevenson's expert reading. As it turned out, I am glad I stuck with it because I do think the novel had some intriguing elements and the writing is excellent in parts, with interesting characterizations. By the end it was clear Doughty meant this to be, in part, a play on the techniques of storytelling. At one point in the protagonist's trial, she observes, "I realized that all one needs for a story is a collection of facts." Yes, that and few more things, and maybe especially a consummate actress like Juliet Stevenson reading your stuff.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • American Gods

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5622)
    Performance
    (2465)
    Story
    (2484)

    For the three years Shadow spent in prison, all he wanted was to get back to the loving arms of his wife and stay out of trouble for the rest of his life. But days before his release, he learns that his wife has been killed in an accident, and his world becomes a colder place.

    Joseph says: "Amazing, powerful book about America."
    "I bailed after Part 1"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Neil Gaiman, I really do, but I could not keep reading this. This is his "revised" version, which adds something like 20,000 more words to the narrative. Really. Too much. George Guidall is a good narrator and gamely tackles the often difficult text with strong characterizations and lively conversations, but it wasn't enough. I just found the story about demons and angels battling in the Midwest frustrating, weird and alienating.
    I felt guilty giving up but I did. Life's too short. So sue me.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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