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Bob

Takoma Park, MD, United States | Member Since 2005

150
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 30 reviews
  • 70 ratings
  • 521 titles in library
  • 25 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
9

  • The Power of One

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bryce Courtenay
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    Overall
    (2969)
    Performance
    (1767)
    Story
    (1773)

    Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa. Through enduring friendships with Hymie and Gideon, Peekay gains the strength he needs to win out. And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice.

    Bob says: "Compelling story lifted higher by the narration"
    "Compelling story lifted higher by the narration"
    Overall

    After several listens to books by Bryce Courtenay, it strikes me that this author's books, narrated by Humphrey Bower, represent something of the ideal in mainstream, audiobook fiction. The stories are vivid, well-plotted, with stirring story arcs. The narration is superb, with Bower handling a variety of accents and personalities and sexes in deft and entrancing form.
    Yes, Peekay's accomplishments strain credulity. But only if you stop to add it up in a dispassionate accounting. Swept along by the story, it is not an issue. He is ruled by a genuine sense of humility that saves the day. The story is marked by great struggles to overcome injustices and stiff odds, some perhaps stereotyped villains and saints, but also nuanced and unique characters to balance it out.
    There are two early significant characters that I expected might reappear. One, the 'good' one I thought surely should; the other, the 'bad' I thought could. Only one did reappear and it was the latter. I was surprised it was not both. This is not the kind of story to worry too much about convenient twists and turns.
    The German character Doc is wonderful, especially the way that Bowers brings him to life. I never tired of his superlative 'absodoodle'. On occasion it brought tears to my eyes. Of all the audiobooks I have listened to in the past ten years, only the Courtenay/Bower combination has done that - and consistently.

    48 of 48 people found this review helpful
  • Diamond Dust

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Peter Lovesey
    • Narrated By Steve Hodson
    Overall
    (80)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    Detective Inspector Peter Diamond is keen to get his teeth into a new case. So, when a call comes in that a woman's body has been found in one of Bath's parks, he arrives quickly at the scene - only to discover that the victim is his wife.

    Victoria says: "A lovely read"
    "A Mystery of Many Layers Right to the End"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the most outstanding entry yet in the fine series featuring Peter Diamond, a beautifully told, highly engaging story with shocks, twists and turns and stories within the story. I just wish Audible carried more of the series, and that I encountered this narrator Steve Hodson more often. He delivers a range of distinctive voices and accents, which bring characters fully to life. The author Lovesey created a rich and compelling character in Diamond, distinctive for his very human flaws. Nothing pat about the characters or the story, unlike the formulaic approach of lesser mystery/crime fiction writers. But while some of the Diamond novels have been thinner (such as Bloodhounds) this is substantial and satisfying.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Riviera Contract

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Arthur Kerns
    • Narrated By Evan Greenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    In early 2002, six months after the World Trade Center attack, Hayden Stone who took early retirement from the FBI, is working for the CIA. On his last assignment to Afghanistan a colleague is killed and Stone blames himself for his death. A friend in the upper ranks of the CIA offers him an assignment to the South of France. Stone accepts, thinking this is exactly what he needs to get his life back on an even keel: French life on the Côte d’Azur. Well, he’s in for a surprise. He has little time for the Mediterranean ambiance, as two terrorists, acting separately, attempt to murder him.

    Bob says: "Classic espionage hero takes on today's terrorists"
    "Classic espionage hero takes on today's terrorists"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hayden Stone is a likeable cool cat, part old school government agent, part James Bond maverick. He ably takes on some very bad guys in this engaging yarn that brings us inside today's complicated fight to contain global terrorism. Some of the appeal of the tale lies in following Hayden's mixed success with the opposite sex.
    One of Kerns' best constructs is the lead terrorist, a complex and very deadly bad guy. One of his weaker characters is a man whose corruption is too obvious/predictable. This detracts from the suspense the author is building.
    Overall, Kerns has created a protagonist we want to follow on subsequent missions.The narrator does a fine job of bringing these characters to life. I look forward to the next installment.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Black Box: Harry Bosch, Book 18

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Michael McConnohie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2081)
    Performance
    (1765)
    Story
    (1749)

    In a case that spans 20 years, Harry Bosch links the bullet from a recent crime to a file from 1992, the killing of a young female photographer during the L.A. riots. Harry originally investigated the murder, but it was then handed off to the Riot Crimes Task Force and never solved. Now Bosch's ballistics match indicates that her death was not random violence, but something more personal, and connected to a deeper intrigue. Like an investigator combing through the wreckage after a plane crash, Bosch searches for the "black box", the one piece of evidence that will pull the case together.

    Amazon Customer says: "Disappointing"
    "I expected much more from Michael Connelly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read or listened to all of Connelly's Bosch books as well as the Michael Haller tales, and I cannot recall a weaker effort. Connelly sets a pretty high standard so I don't think this is a bad book. But the best things about it are recycled from earlier works, largely Bosch's prickly, driven nature, his trouble with relationships at work and in his personal life, and some of the atmosphere of L.A. and the world of cops.
    The story tumbles out in fits and starts and the intrigue is minimal. Tension begins to build in the last third only to wane amid a clunky, tired plot line and cliched 'action' scenes at the end.
    The narrator McConnohie is not an asset. His voice seems better suited for commercials than drama - too smooth, with a cadence that projects an insincere earnestness. His narration lacks the grit and depth that might have brought Bosch more to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Storm Prey: A Lucas Davenport Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By John Sandford
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1411)
    Performance
    (594)
    Story
    (586)

    Very early, 4:45, on a bitterly cold Minnesota morning, three big men burst through the door of a hospital pharmacy, duct-tape the hands, feet, mouth, and eyes of two pharmacy workers, and clean the place out. But then things swiftly go bad, one of the workers dies, and the robbers hustle out to their truck-and find themselves for just one second face-to-face with a blond woman in the garage: Weather Karkinnen, surgeon, wife of an investigator named Lucas Davenport.

    Erin says: "Entertaining & Edgy"
    "Grubby Villans, Sluggish Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sandford is a pro and does not compose a bad tale. But this for me is the most disappointing of all of his titles that I have read or listened to. Sanderson often features bad guys who are bumbling, amoral and cretinous; this particular lot are off-putting with no redeeming quirks or original touches.
    And within Sandford's oeuvre, the gap is widening between the delightful Virgil Flowers stories, and those starring his original lead character, Lucas Davenport. A healthy dose of credit goes to the Flowers' narrator Eric Conger, who gives Flowers a winning charm and warmth, along with a vocal inflection that embodies Minnesota country. The Flowers novels are truly funny and compelling; there is just a shadow of that delight in the Davenport books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heft

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liz Moore
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
    Overall
    (1743)
    Performance
    (1576)
    Story
    (1583)

    Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.

    Melinda says: "Intriguing--Captivating--Altering"
    "Original, Risky, Ultimately Captivating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This unusual and affecting book at times presents worlds so bleak, so terribly sad, that the passive act of listening further is called into question. But listening on is richly rewarded. We hear the parallel stories of two males, one middle-aged and almost immobilized by the physical infirmities of his great bulk; the other young and physically gifted. Both are trapped into narrow lives with what seems few possibilities for escape or true fulfillment.

    It is at first hard to absorb the sad tale of enormous Arthur Ott, a very bright man who in severe depression has eaten his way into ten years of shuffling no further than within a few rooms of his Brooklyn townhouse. Salvation of a sorts arrives once he is moved by a letter to invite hired help into his house.

    Kel Keller's is a coming of age story of sorts - a high school phenom baseball player burdened with crippling secrets. Kel's story seems so far from Arthur's - the only tie is the letter writer to Arthur. I came to love both men's stories, though more seemed at stake with Kel's. I applaud the imaginative power of the author to create such convincing worlds.

    My only quibble, the only reason I do not give five stars, is in the way the author decided to conclude this novel. Yes, 'literary fiction' does not tend to wrap stories up in a bow, or necessarily lead us through travails to a happy ending. But the entire story built to a convergence of two worlds, of two lives. The author chose to leave threads dangling to a degree that, instead of letting me enjoy fashioning my own ending, left me feeling short-changed. Very good stories often leave us wanting more, even as we are left with much to savor and be content with. In this case, it felt incomplete to an unsatisfactory degree.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Truth in Advertising: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By John Kenney
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (211)
    Story
    (210)

    Finbar Dolan is lost and lonely. Except he doesn’t know it. Despite escaping his blue-collar Boston upbringing to carve out a mildly successful career at a Madison Avenue ad agency, he’s a bit of a mess and closing in on 40. He’s recently called off a wedding. Now, a few days before Christmas, he’s forced to cancel a long-postponed vacation in order to write, produce, and edit a Superbowl commercial for his diaper account in record time. Fortunately, it gets worse....

    phil b says: "Great Stuff"
    "Engaging depth behind the send-up"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At the outset this seemed a glib send-up of big time advertising (a rather easy target for satire and ridicule). It centered on one particular flack, a funny but shallow man drifting through life, hiding behind one-liners. Initially it was hard to care about the protagonist and my attention wavered. Then a moving, dramatic back story slowly but steadily came to life and made the listen well worthwhile and quite engaging. The quality of the audiobook is greatly boosted by the excellent, versatile narration of Robert Petkoff. One mild complaint is the at times lengthy and somewhat tedious spells of introspection by the main character Finbar, mulling over the same doubts and fears and mental roadblocks. All in all a fine tale and excellent audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shock Wave

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John Sandford
    • Narrated By Eric Conger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1560)
    Performance
    (1294)
    Story
    (1291)

    The thrilling new Virgil Flowers novel from the #1 New York Times best-selling author. The superstore chain PyeMart has its sights set on a Minnesota river town, but two very angry groups want to stop it: local merchants, fearing for their businesses, and environmentalists, predicting ecological disaster. The protests don't seem to be slowing the project, though, until someone decides to take matters into his own hands.

    aaron says: "Not the best Virgil ~ but it is still Virgil!"
    "Best Virgil Flowers yet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Virgil Flowers is one of the best characters of contemporary crime/mystery fiction, and arguably the most appealing of all in audiobook format. Kudos to the author John Sandford, who made his fame with his character Lucas Davenport. Davenport and the Prey novels are fine, but I find the Flowers stories to be clearly superior. And much credit goes to the narrator Eric Conger. For my money, he expands upon the author's creation with what he brings to the reading: the warmth and uniqueness of the voice, the inflections, attitude, personality. No hammy "Minnesota" accent, but a delivery that feels authentic. Beyond his portrayal of Virgil, he handles a range of characters with aplomb. Simply exceptional.
    Early reviews to the contrary, I found the plot and substance of Shock Wave to be superior to the preceding Flowers novels. I expected the 'PyeMart' thread to be heavy handed; it is not. There is a unique cast of characters and no obvious solution to the mystery. The balance of humor and seriousness is satisfying,and for the first time, Virgil's personal life is a bit more complex and realistic (for all his charm, a new conquest isn't so easy).
    So many contemporary crime stories are diminished by either wooden characters or depressingly grim circumstances. The Flowers' novels thankfully have neither, But they also do not veer towards Carl Hiassen-like parody and lampooning (as good as Hiassen is for what he does). We need more crime novels of the serious yet thoughtful and also most cleverly entertaining mode that Sandford delivers with Virgil Flowers. Too rare!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Faithful Place: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    Overall
    (3781)
    Performance
    (2153)
    Story
    (2157)

    New York Times best-selling author Tana French has won the prestigious Edgar, Barry, Macavity, and Anthony awards. As her third novel featuring the Dublin Murder Squad opens, 19-year-old Frank Mackey is waiting in vain for Rosie, who he’s supposed to run away to London with. But when she doesn’t show, Frank leaves Dublin without her—thinking never to return.

    Buffalogal says: "Incredible"
    "Lots of Angst, Not Much Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Frankly I was disappointed in the quality of this story. I found the central character unlikable and unreliable and the mystery quite thin - it was pretty obvious fairly early on 'who done it'. And I was bothered at how the main character over and over castigated his family, telling us what horrible people they were, of course he would be shut of them. Not only is the portrait that emerges far more nuanced but, excepting the father and the oldest brother, they prove sympathetic, and the three other siblings very decent. The disconnect does not seem intentional to advance the story in an interesting way, just poor story telling.
    The writer provides some nice description and atmosphere and the narrator is strong.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rough Country: A Virgil Flowers Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By John Sandford
    • Narrated By Eric Conger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1153)
    Performance
    (611)
    Story
    (616)

    Virgil's always been known for having a somewhat active, er, social life, but he's probably not going to be getting too many opportunities for that during his new case. While competing in a fishing tournament in a remote area of northern Minnesota, he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to investigate a murder at a nearby resort.

    Ruby says: "Extraordinary Plot Twists"
    "Virgil Flowers rocks"
    Overall

    I found John Sandford's 'Prey' series to be okay, pretty good, and Lucas Davenport a better than average lead character for a mystery/crime series.
    But with Virgil Flowers the author has struck gold. Virgil is immensely likable, and a far more unique creation. And Eric Conger is a superb narrator, he makes these stories immensely enjoyable to listen to. The plots vary a little in quality (and frankly none are great literary achievements) but they are plenty good enough because the character and the narrator are so winning.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3557)
    Performance
    (1268)
    Story
    (1286)

    An innocent man is about to be executed. Only a guilty man can save him. Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high-school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.

    Suzn F says: "I confess, I loved it!"
    "Better by the end but a trying journey"
    Overall

    I really wanted to like this book because I admire John Grisham as a person and I want to resist the image he carries in some 'literary snob' corners as being a bit of a hack. This book will not help change that image. The story was for the most part predictable, had an oddly slow pace unrelieved by interesting characters, and the author showed no knack for thrill, suspense or mystery. The narrator was pretty mediocre, which didn't help. Yes, Travis Boyette is creepy, but the combination of the slimy voice of his character played off the do-goody/whiny voice of the 'pastor' Schroeder made for an unpleasant listen.
    Donte Drumm is done wrong by the system and it is almost torture to slog through his slow descent. There just are no unique twists or turns here, no surprises, no richness, no depth.
    Somehow there was some sense of satisfaction at having stayed with it to the end, (I did like some small touches, such as how the football team resolves its issues) but overall it is pretty thin gruel. Too bad, because the heart of the story is in the right place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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