It's rare that I listen to a book and don't find something to redeem it. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates is the most disappointing book I've listened to in a long time.
Despite the fact that she draws on historical and literary figures, there is not a single sympathetic or engaging character in the book. I don't care about any of the characters, and that's a rare thing.
The premise of the book had great promise. What would a vampire / demon novel look like set at the turn of /very early in the 20th century? As it turns out, not much.
The blatant racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism make me grateful that I live in the next century. The small petty politics of Princeton Univeristy and the local community are uninteresting and tedious.
This book might be better experienced in the written form. The story is largely told from the perspective of an "historian", and the book is replete with footnotes. The constant interruption of narration by the footnotes is jarring and doesn't make for a seamless reading experience. The epistolary extracts are better, but overall the entire work hangs oddly.
Grover Gardner does a passable job as narrator, but he doesn't have much range and most of the characters sound the same. He also has an annoying habit of mispronouncing words (ie. consummation).
This is a long and meandering journey which doesn't ultimately go anywhere. If you're interested in this particular time period in American history, you might find this mildly interesting. If you aren't, then there's not much to recommend it.
Overall, I'd say save your credits and find something else instead.
Fans of Richard Preston will like this book. It's a very comprehensive primer on viruses and pandemics.
It has a bit of an academic tone and can be fairly heavy going, but it's very interesting and thought-provoking.
It's probably not too simplistic for scientists, and it's not too complex for the rest of us. Nathan Wolfe gets it just right.
It's thought-provoking and fascinating and has a good blend of the historical and the current.
I don't think I'll look at chimpanzees the same way again. Or hunting, for that matter.
This is a great book. Most people will probably be drawn to it superficially because of the 9/11 connection. However, the 9/11 information is probably the least interesting part of the book. Most of what Dr. Melinek had to work with were tiny pieces and fragments.
The rest of the books is absolutely fascinating. There's just the right blend of clinical, interesting science, and riveting storyline.
For anyone who is squeamish or easily offended by death and dead bodies, this is probably not a great listen. But for everyone else, it's a good book. There's a lot of blending of Dr. Melinek's personal history in with the work she was doing.
At the end I was hoping she would write a follow-up about her experiences in California. To me that's the mark of a good book -- wanting another.
Two thumbs up!
I was hoping for something more clinical and less Readers Digest. These stories are in the vein of heart-warming, gently amusing and vaguely spiritual or uplifting.
The stories are fine for what they are, but they aren't an in-depth look at funeral homes, funeral directors and morticians. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Mary Roach's Stiff.
I don't think I'll bother finishing listening to these. Or I'll keep them for the category of audiobooks I can listen to while grocery shopping so it doesn't matter if I get distracted.
These are about as bland and vanilla as you could get.
The storyline in the Silkworm isn't quite as compelling as it was in the Cuckoo's Calling. Part of that relates to the completely hideous plotline of Bombyx Mori and the way it is integrated throughout the novel.
The development of the relationship between Cormoran and Robin is very satisfying and multi-layered. The supporting characters are less dimensional, but they work.
The only irritating thing is the literary references /quotations at the beginning of each chapter. Okay, JK, we get it. You're a serious writer. I don't need convincing. I'm a card-carrying member of the fan club.
In all, it's definitely worth a credit. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.
What a great first novel in what I hope is a long series.
The plotting is sharply written, the characters are well drawn and human. The ending comes as a real surprise. This is a great book and proves that JK Rowling is not just a one-hit (series) wonder.
Robert Glenister's narration is excellent. His voices are well done and completely appropriate to the characters..
I will continue to buy these from Audible as long as they continue to be written and published.
I love these kinds of adventure tales. This series has such promise. I love the early James Rollins books, and this is similar.
The problem with this series is the narration. Sean Mangan has the diction of someone who is inebriated and who is trying to enunciate clearly and yet slurs at the same time. It's irritating. He also doesn't do a terribly good job of distinguishing between the particular characters. Alex Hunter sounds just like Amy.
I may or may not buy the next one in audiobook form. I may just get them all on Kindle.
Fans of Jasper Fforde's novels and fairly tales would like this.
It's a reasonably interesting novel with some quirky characters and interesting plot devices. The narration is fairly well done, and the story is interesting enough.
Is it great? No, but it's fairly good. This is in the category of light fantasy summer reading.
It's about fairy tale archetypes which occur in real life and the squad of characters hired to stop the stories from taking over and having dire consequences. The main protagonist is a Snow White character who ends up getting pulled inside her own story.
As I say, if you like Jasper Fforde's work, then this is right up your alley.
This is one of the few audiobooks where the narration is miles better than the story.
It's an interesting premise (priest called on to exorcise the White House) but it ultimately doesn't deliver. This would have made an interesting long short story or very short novella, but it just drags out interminably.
Take a stereotypical aging alcoholic defrocked priest, possessed building, and throw in some slavery history and some utterly uninteresting tidbits about prior inhabitants of the White House. Shake well and then discard.
Unfortunately, this is the third in a series, and the first two aren't available on Audible. Hint, Audible: Get on that.
There is obviously some backstory missing, but the reader/listener can make an educated guess about what has happened in the previous two books.
Interesting mix of English suburban village (do the outskirts of London count as "village"), residents with secrets, and an interesting cast of characters.
Shawn Barrett's narration is great and he does all voices well. I didn't see the whodunnit coming.
Interesting placement of the story back in the mid-70s as well.
For fans of the Eisenmenger books, this is another winner by Keith McCarthy. His writing is dryly amusing and droll and I find it very appealing.
Mo Hayder has written a fabulous series about the exploits of DI Jack Caffery and Sgt. Flea Marley. As the events in some of the books take place close in time to the previous book, it's helpful to listen to them all in one marathon.
Damien Goodwin, the narrator of Birdman and The Treatment was absolutely excellent. He has a fabulous range of voices and characters. Andrew Wincott, the narrator of Ritual and Skin, was very good (but not as good as Damien Goodwin).
Unfortunately, Stephen Crossley, narrator of Gone and Poppet, is abysmal. He has only two voices: one male, and one female. Regardless of age, class or origin, the characters all sound the same. He has the same sort of breathy earth-shattering revelation quality to his narration that Scott Brick has, but without the skill.
If the story weren't so good, this would be unlistenable. I'm dreading listening to Poppet because it's the same narrator. Perhaps he will have had some lessons in vocal range and intonation.
The story lines are absolutely gripping, and filled with red herrings and intrigue and multiple plot lines. Mo Hayder is a genius. I love everything she has written. She's not afraid to kill off her characters, and there are often things she leaves hanging from one book to another.
The series is fabulous and a must-listen to anyone who likes thrillers, British police procedurals, and intricate psychological mysteries. The books aren't for the faint of heart or the squeamish, but they're well worth it if you enjoy this particular genre.
The theme of lost / missing / kidnapped children runs through all the books, but it's never heavy-handed.
The first two books are five stars across the board, the second two get 4 stars for performance and 5 overall and for story, and this one only gets a 2 for performance. They all merit 5 stars for the story.
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