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Pamela

Member Since 2011

20
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 31 reviews
  • 164 ratings
  • 531 titles in library
  • 63 purchased in 2014
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  • Italian Shoes

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Henning Mankell
    • Narrated By Henry Strozier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (123)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (70)

    With more than 30 million copies of his works published, in 37 languages, award-winning author Henning Mankell may be Sweden's most accomplished novelist. Here he crafts the icy, atmospheric tale of Fredrik Welin, a disgraced surgeon living in exile on a small island. When Fredrik receives a surprise visit from a lover he abandoned decades earlier, he begins the difficult road to redemption.

    E. Golladay says: "Wonderful"
    "Nothing like Kurt Wallander"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Henning Mankell's work and expected to love this novel, even though it is not a mystery nor does it cast the same characters as I know from the Wallander books.

    But right from the first, I found this a difficult read. The characters are not in the least appealing and selfishness and petty grudges get tiresome after awhile. Not all grudges are petty, however, and the ones that aren't, make me like these people even less. There is an amazing streak of recklessness that runs through all of the major players. Some of them have paid a high price for mistakes in the past, but they certainly have not learned from those mistakes.

    If I were to meet any of the major characters out in the real world, I would watch them with morbid fascination for a bit, then have to turn away in disgust. Sadly, the book continued long after my fascination ended.

    I will continue to read any Mankell books that I find as he is a marvelous writer, but I hope I do not come across any more failed doctors or terrible mothers in the process, or at least any like those in this book.

    The narrator did a fine job and was credible as the aging, dissolute protagonist.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • FREE Masked Ball at Broxley Manor

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 14 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (306)
    Performance
    (287)
    Story
    (283)

    A delectable prequel to the national bestselling Royal Spyness mysteries featuring Lady Georgiana Rannoch—thirty forth in line to the throne, and England’s poorest heiress. At the end of her first unsuccessful season out in society, Lady Georgiana has all but given up on attracting a suitable man—until she receives an invitation to a masked Halloween ball at Broxley Manor. Georgie is uncertain why she was invited, until she learns that the royal family intends to marry her off to a foreign prince, one reputed to be mad.

    Amazon Customer says: "Strident narration, shallow story"
    "Short & lightweight story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have not read any of the Royal Spyness stories so far but they constantly come up in my "recommended for you" list so I thought this would be a good introduction. The story is predictable and light weight, but mildly amusing in its own way.

    There are several glaring mistakes in the story itself which definitely reduced my relaxed listening. A couple of examples:
    A police inspector enters a ball in progress and makes a general announcement to all of the attendees. That would not even happen today, let alone nearly a century ago when all police, even inspectors, were generally relegated to the servants' entrance and waiting in the kitchen until the man of the house could be called to attend to him.

    The lady of the house asks her 19 year old cousin / houseguest if she slept alone the night of a ball. Maybe an older, married women may be asked that by her best friend, but not a 19 year old who is considered fodder for the royal marriage engines.

    There were a couple of things about the narration that made the book harder for me to listen to. A primary character is described as having careful but correct English and that is how he is read. Later the same character reappears and suddenly has a strong brogue - no comment or notice taken but a completely different voice. And as with many English readers, the American women are shrill, loud and harsh. There may be women out there who sound like that and perhaps even Wallis Simpson did, but I personally have never known any. It almost makes me want to turn the book off, the voice is so discordant.

    I may try a full length Royal Soyness but with a different reader. I do like the premise and mysteries in this time period are among my favorites (I am a huge fan of the Phryne Fisher books by Kerry Greenwood). I am glad this one was only 65 minutes long.

    0 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Paul Ingrassia
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (122)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (99)

    America was made manifest by its cars. From the assembly lines of Henry Ford to the open roads of Route 66 and Jack Kerouac, America's history is a vehicular history-an idea brought brilliantly to life in this major work by the acclaimed author of Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster.

    Geoffrey says: "My Best listen in a while"
    "Less about cars, more about car men"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fascinating topic and there are sections which I really enjoyed in this book. The Volkswagen story was a great expansion on the vague outline I already knew. We have all heard stories of the hard struggle Henry Ford suffered to get his cheap, reliable Model T on America's roads, but I learned new details here.

    But there is way too much that reads like the newspaper articles Ingrassia wrote throughout his career. Names and dates, education, work history, job titles - way too much to remember and certainly too much to care about. The "man on the street" quotes especially grated on me - I do not care why 200 average Joes bought their first Beetle or what they think of BMV drivers.

    The main focus of the book is on the cars of the 1950s to 1970s. I wish Ingrassia had spent time on the shortsighted management decisions of the late 70s and 80s and the blinders the Big 3 wore when it came to Japanese cars. I remember an apocryphal quote from one Detroit-based executive "I am not worried about Japanese imports - no one I know drives a Japanese car." Well, I grew up in California and just about everyone I knew drive a foreign car. From this book, you would think the only Hondas on the road are the Accords built in Ohio. The one exception is the final chapter which discusses the game-changing Prius.

    So while I did learn some new aspects of the business, the scattered focus of this book left me frustrated. This could have been a much better book. I have a nagging feeling that I read this book before - in the front page center column stories of the Wall Street Journal where Ingrassia spent his career. There is a big difference between a great feature article and a great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Dr. Dolittle

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Hugh Lofting
    • Narrated By David Case
    Overall
    (697)
    Performance
    (599)
    Story
    (608)

    No one loves and understands animals like the eccentric 19th century physician Dr. Dolittle, who masters animal language with the help of Polynesia the parrot. After his human patients desert him, the kind-hearted doctor finds his calling in practicing animal medicine, and his fame spreads far and wide. When a terrible epidemic breaks out among monkeys in Africa, Dr. Dolittle sets out to save them, accompanied by some of his favorite pets.

    Stacey says: "Has racist undertones"
    "Be wary - not the charming classic story expected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The most amusing part of this edition is an introduction by Hugh Walpole stating that this book (originally published in 1920) is destined to become a classic of children's literature, unlike the pale imitations such as Wind in the Willows. Doolittle does not hold up well to aging, and even for its time there are disturbing patterns in the story.

    Racism is prevalent and unlike stories such as Tom Sawyer, there are no cultural references here to provide a springboard for discussion with children. The book professes to take place in the time of our grandfathers but there are no surrounding clues. Even in 1920 I hope that terms such as nigger and blackie were on their way out of children's literature. A major plot point involves an African prince whose greatest wish is to be a white man. Along with the other Africans, he is easily fooled by the superior white man.

    There is only one female character, Dolittle's sister Sarah, who acts as his housekeeper. When she tires of his antics she threatens to leave him and the poverty she has endured to get married. And that is all we hear from her. Oh, she was made happy by a new dress earlier in the story.

    The apparently Arab pirate, Ben Ali is all evil, and no even a good Muslim as he craves the meat of Dolittle's pig pet Gub-Gub. But he and his band agree to give up their pirating way and become farmers after stupidly losing their ship to Dolittle.

    The animals capture and hold captive the pushmi-pullyu to entice him to go on tour in England to make money for Dolittle. He is brainwashed for three days before he finally relents and agrees to go. He is told how wonderful it will be, but the same monkeys who captured him stay behind in Africa since it is their home.

    The superiority of the English man is an overriding message here - one I am not comfortable with. I do not think everything has to be politically correct but this book made me cringe more than once.

    The narrator is pretty good overall but his pig grunts bothered me. It effectively communicated "pig" but they are not in the book and to my ear quite unnecessary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Swag

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Elmore Leonard
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (129)
    Performance
    (112)
    Story
    (112)

    The smallest of small-time criminals, Ernest Stickley Jr. figures his luck's about to change when Detroit used-car salesman Frank Ryan catches him trying to boost a ride from Ryan's lot. Frank's got some surefire schemes for getting rich quick - all of them involving guns - and all Stickley has to do is follow "Ryan's Rules" to share the wealth. But sometimes rules need to be bent, maybe even broken, if one is to succeed in the world of crime, especially if the "brains" of the operation knows less than nothing.

    D. Sevener says: "Fun tale, well told, great narration"
    "Second rate crooks are not Elmore's best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The two primary characters are small time robbers (grocery stores, liquor stores, bars) who ride out their luck until they fall in with some serious guys. They were not particularly appealing personalities to me. I appreciate that they did not intend to hurt anyone, but they are so careless and thoughtless that the inevitable happens.

    The women are not as one-dimensional as some reviewers believe - there are a few women who really move the story forward. The "career girls" by the pool were a 1970s reality - looking for a bit of fun until they had to settle down. Teachers, clerks, models and other career girls were the ones who could afford to live independently in a singles apartment complex. They were as superficial in their relationships as the guy next door, even if that guy was a petty criminal.

    These two guys, however, are not suave and slickly charming; they are insecure, whiny and weak. No one in the book was interesting enough for me to care what happened to them. Many much better Elmore Leonard novels out there (Get Shorty and Pronto come to mind)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By H. P. Lovecraft
    • Narrated By William Roberts
    Overall
    (499)
    Performance
    (437)
    Story
    (445)

    At the heart of these stories, as with all the best of Lovecraft’s work, is the belief that the Earth was once inhabited by powerful and evil gods, just waiting for the chance to recolonise their planet. Cthulhu is one such god, lurking deep beneath the sea until called into being by cult followers who – like all humans – know not what they do.

    Katherine says: "Required reading"
    "Classic but dated"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is clearly a classic of the horror / sci-fi genre but it did not age well to my ear. Not only is the story itself incredible knowing what we do today, but they way the story plays out to stereotypes and prejudice is disturbing. Characters who have physical or mental features different than the "normal" are mistrusted and treated with fear. In all cases that fear is well placed - as if simply being an albino or having large hairy hands makes you much more likely to murder your family.

    That said, this is an author who broke fresh ground and inspired many well respected authors of the last several decades. In that context, it is worth reading (or listening to) for the foundation Lovecraft establishes.

    The narrator is excellent for this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • All the King's Men

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Robert Penn Warren
    • Narrated By Michael Emerson
    Overall
    (734)
    Performance
    (364)
    Story
    (360)

    The fictionalized account of Louisiana's colorful and notorious governor, Huey Pierce Long, All the King's Men follows the startling rise and fall of Willie Stark, a country lawyer in the Deep South of the 1930s. Beset by political enemies, Stark seeks aid from his right-hand man Jack Burden, who will bear witness to the cataclysmic unfolding of this very American tragedy.

    Eric Berger says: "Marvelously written and read"
    "Why use 50 words when 500 will do?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes, this is a Great American Novel, a classic of its time. The story of a back country crusader who becomes the powerful governor of an unnamed state (which is, of course, Louisiana) carries, at its core, important messages about America, politics and mankind.

    But they are buried under mountains of words. There are intricate descriptions of people who we only glimpse once and never return to the story (anyone remember the man at the California gas station? you listened to 10 minutes about him). Peoples' actions are described multiple times with only slightly different phrases. Nothing is left to the imagination. And that is what I missed most in this book - the way good writing sends my mind reaching for images and stories beyond the words on the page.

    It was also difficult for me to continue with a 20 hour book when I actively dislike the first person character. Yes, he does exhibit strong racist and sexist attitudes, but this was written in the 1940s and takes place in the South, so that is not the problem. But he is amoral man with no beliefs of his own. He is not even interesting - he simply observes interesting things.

    Literature is often complimented for its spare writing, with the bones of the story expressed and the rest only alluded to - a style exemplified by Ernest Hemingway. If the opposite of that style is flowery and overgrown as in Ayn Rand, this story clearly falls into the second group. Too much for my tastes; I do not prefer being smothered by the vines and tendrils of a book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Time Pirate: A Nick McIver Time Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Ted Bell
    • Narrated By John Shea
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (44)

    A thrilling sequel to the instant New York Times best seller Nick of Time, in which the young time traveler Nick McIver must prove his courage once more, on two fronts: in World War Two–era England, where Nazis have invaded his homeland, and in America during the Revolution, where Nick stands shoulder to shoulder with General George Washington.

    mike says: "a fun ride"
    "Daring doings by a young English boy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have mixed feelings about this book. In the context of an adventure story that every boy dreams of, Time Pirate is hard to beat. But if consistency within a story and within the historical context it takes place is important to you, Time Pirate falls far short.

    Our young hero is resourceful and brave. Great military and political leaders look to him for advice. His foolish exploits always end in success. Victory over the dastardly bad guys is a foregone conclusion. There is not a whiff of nuance or equivocation here.

    But he consistently makes decisions that anyone can see are wrong - and those same great leaders do not challenge him. He does not take action that will clearly further his cause, but may eliminate a few chances for excitement in the book. He has intricate detailed knowledge of military battles and maneuvers in some cases and in others does not demonstrate the most basic understanding of the principles of battle.

    In once scene, a great military leader passes triumphantly through a town, recognized by every soldier he passes. Moments later, he presses the man he has come to see into keeping his presence a closely guarded secret as knowledge of his presence could ruin great plans. Huh? On the occasions he is captured, he is put into custody with all of his worldly possessions, including firearms, knives and the time traveling orb. This does not make sense even to an eight year old.

    But the story does move along and the adventures never stop. John Shea is an excellent narrator for this book although he does exhibit some odd narrative techniques. His pacing is far from steady and some of his voices are caricatures. But, his style seems to work well for this story of pirates, generals, airplanes and ships.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Willful Behavior: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Donna Leon
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    Overall
    (70)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (61)

    Mystery lovers everywhere are addicted to Donna Leon's ever-honorable Commissario Guido Brunetti and her portrayal of Venice's beautiful but sinister byways and canals. In Willful Behavior, Brunetti is approached for a favor by one of his wife's students. Intelligent and serious, Claudia Leonardo asks for his help in obtaining a pardon for a crime once committed by her now-dead grandfather.

    Lawrence says: "Leon Audio Fans Beware!!"
    "Signorina Elettra is NOT a London shopgirl"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As did many other listeners, I had a very difficult time with this narrator. He is not a bad reader - this is simply NOT the series for him. He loses all of the Venetian personality of the story for me. The recurring female characters especially grated on my ear (Signorina Elettra, Paola Brunetti and Chiara Brunetti). Paola's aristocrat father was also way off the mark; to my ear he sounded like a weak, sniveling husk trying to live off the glories of the past (not the man we know from other books in the series).

    I will not give complete blame to the narrator though, as I was shocked at one passage that refereed to Signorina Elettra responding "girlishly" - something we have not seem before or since from the sophisticated, elegant assistant.

    The story was well developed and we met more colorful characters from Guido's past. The tale of trade in illicit artwork is perfect for the machinations of the rusty and ponderous Italian legal system. There are surprise discoveries and sad realizations. Guido makes mistakes and has to compromise justice - something that always breaks his heart. This book is a good addition to the series.

    I, for one, would be happy to buy another copy and listen again if we could have David David Colacci narrate.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Howard Blum
    • Narrated By John H. Mayer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (45)

    It is the last decade of the 19th century. The Wild West has been tamed and its fierce, independent and often violent larger-than-life figures – gun-toting wanderers, trappers, prospectors, Indian fighters, cowboys, and lawmen –are now victims of their own success. They are heroes who’ve outlived their usefulness.

    Lynn says: "An Entertaining History"
    "Written like fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    And that is not a compliment! The author "documents" the thoughts of the characters, even moments before they die. I know there are diaries and manuscripts, but they would never give the detailed level of dialogue and internal observations that are present here. If this had been sold as a fictionalized account of three characters, I would have been satisfied.

    This is a "tale of the Yukon" and is interesting as that. It is NOT the story of the Yukon and if you come to it expecting a broader view of how and why the Klondike gold rush happened, you will be disappointed. Given those warnings however, it is an amazing story that gives a taste of the character of the times. It is about 30% too long for the subject, but the story moves along and kept me listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Peter Stark
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (73)

    At a time when the edge of American settlement barely reached beyond the Appalachian Mountains, two visionaries, President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor, foresaw that one day the Pacific would dominate world trade as much as the Atlantic did in their day. Just two years after the Lewis and Clark expedition concluded in 1806, Jefferson and Astor turned their sights westward once again. Thus began one of history's dramatic but largely forgotten turning points in the conquest of the North American continent.

    L. Lyter says: "Lost History, Found"
    "Daring, greedy men take on nature and natives"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    With scant knowledge of where they are headed or how the world will change while they are en route, two bands of intrepid men head for the Pacific Northwest to assert their dominion over the land and, more importantly, the fur trade.

    Cultural differences between the partners (who have the most to gain financially), voyageurs (French Canadians who are expert boatmen), trappers and the Native Americans lead to ghastly mistakes with deadly consequences. The arrogance of the European mindset is difficult to overcome and the primary barrier a successful expedition.

    Although I have spent much of my life in the Pacific Northwest, this is a story I had never heard. Perhaps that is because their motives were completely financial - no superficial talk about Manifest Destiny or God's will to give a patina of morality. The men were brave and often heroic but they were also stupid, indecisive and foolish. They were so far from home that the only choice was to go on, whatever lay ahead.

    Running two stories along parallel paths can sometimes be difficult to follow, but this book does a good job with both the over-land and sea expeditions. At the very beginning of the book, there is a chapter which actually takes place at almost the close of the story. It comes across as a bit of a gimmick to me - and this story does not need any tricks to keep your interest. The rescue ship in that first chapter is actually one of the least engaging parts of the story.

    Other than that one, admittedly minor, complaint, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and learned a great deal. The reader was good, no distracting tics to bother me. The pace is appropriate to the material.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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