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Sara

Chevy Chase, MD, United States | Member Since 2007

68
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 31 reviews
  • 49 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
2

  • Instruments of Darkness: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Imogen Robertson
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (76)

    In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. Not one to be bound by convention or to shy away from adventure, she recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer, and historical suspense's newest investigative duo is born.

    Martha says: "Not The Best, But Not Too Bad..."
    "What fun"
    Overall

    Great combination of manners and murder. I can't wait for the next in the series. Wanda McCaddon is a very good narrator, though her children's voices are irritating. If there were more kids in the book, I don't think I'd be able to listen.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Fourth of July Creek: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Smith Henderson
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews, Jenna Lamia
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral 11-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face-to-face with the boy's profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times. But as Pete's own family spins out of control, Pearl's activities spark the full-blown interest of the FBI, putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.

    Melinda says: "The Ghost of Tom Joad & the Wrath of Grapes"
    "Needs something to pull it all together"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The parts of the novel about the Pearl family are pretty good, but the rest of it just consists of snatches of stories. People come and go, relationships happen and then (maybe) end, and the book just turns into a kind of depressing mess.

    The Pearl storyline was wrapped up way too conveniently, but the story of Rachel/Rose was left up in the air. I could not figure that one out from the beginning - there's a different narrator reading the Rachel/Rose parts, but to whom is she talking? I think there was one fleeting moment where the person questioning Rachel/Rose makes clear he's her dad ("Did you miss me?"), but it went by too fast and I didn't think it was worth rewinding at the time. And, no 14-year old talks like that. Actually, no one talks like that. So, the use of first person just comes across as clumsy and pretentious.

    On the plus side, I think Smith Henderson captures small-town life in the 1980s really well, and he does a stellar job of describing various types of disfunction caused by childhood neglect and abuse. But, who really wants a book about that?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Minstrel: Tir Athair, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Marissa Ames
    • Narrated By Matt Thurston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Arriving in the royal city of Cynegil just after the good king's death, Liam and his traveling troupe face arrest for entertaining during a time of mourning. The new king, Riordan, offers them a choice: play for the court as he demands or be punished for the crime. With little recourse, they acquiesce. While the troupe entertains within the hall, Liam witnesses the dissension between the king and his twin brother, Shamus.

    Angela Goff says: "A Well Wrought Tapestry"
    "Must have read a different book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was so excited to listen after reading the reviews. What a letdown! First off, The Minstrel cannot be described as fantasy in any way, shape or form. Perhaps it's historical fiction loosely based on Irish history during the beginning of Christianity, but that's just being nice. Mostly it's a banal romance with a story that goes nowhere. The dialogue is cringe-inducing and I should have known to stop listening the first time the female protagonist was described as "an adorable redhead." "Adorable", which should never be used in serious fiction, appears time and again on these pages. Why did I listen to the end?? Only excuse is that I had a bad cold and was too tired to shut it off.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Blue Moon Rising: Forest Kingdom, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Simon R. Green
    • Narrated By John Keating
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (99)

    Rupert didn't especially want to be a prince. And he certainly never asked to be the second son of a royal line that really didn't need a spare. So he was sent out to slay a dragon and prove himself - a quest straight out of legend. But he also discovered the kinds of things legends tend to leave out, as well as the usual demons, goblins, the dreaded Night Witch - and even worse terrors hidden in the shadows of Darkwood. Rupert did find a fiery dragon - and a beautiful princess to rescue.

    ronald says: "Almost did not make it."
    "Really?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I made it to the final four hours of this very long book with the hope that the glowing reviews would turn out to be right. Then I just couldn't stand it anymore. It's a simple-minded, Disney-like story involving a prince, princess, demons, and a dark forest. Oh, and a unicorn, a dragon, a mage, and goblins. They are all silly and the story plods. After the first couple hours, the characters do become slightly more complex, but that's only because they started out as one-dimensional cartoon figures. It might be a bit gory for 5-6 year olds, but otherwise it's at their level.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Guardians of the Keep: Bridge of D'Arnath, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Carol Berg
    • Narrated By Daniel May, Gregory St. John, Jeremy Arthur, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (33)

    For 10 years, the noblewoman Seriana lived in exile, believing her husband Karon was dead, executed for practicing sorcery. But now she learns his soul has been anchored to this world by magic. He has been restored to life-though his memories of Seri are gone. When Seri's nephew is kidnapped - and a dark family secret comes to light - the two strangers will have to join together to defeat the evil Lords of Zhev'Na, who want to destroy both this world and the parallel magic realm that lies beyond.

    Sara says: "Multiple narrators should coordinate"
    "Multiple narrators should coordinate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In terms of writing style alone, Carol Berg is probably the best fantasy author out there. Her stories are very good too. The only problem I have with all her novels is that the magic appears to be based on the New Testament, meaning there's always a death/reborn theme and lots of internal conflict about needing to sacrifice oneself to save the world. As a consequence, the plots can get draggy and humorless in parts, and it's hard to get to know some of the main characters (the weight of the world on their shoulders is so large that they become caricatures instead of real people). But, as I'm about to start Book 4 in this series, this issue clearly doesn't bother me enough to stop reading/listening.

    What does bother me is the narration in this series. Book 1 only had one reader, and she was pretty good. But, then they started with multiple readers as the point of view changed from character to character. That can work, but it doesn't here because the narrators obviously didn't talk or listen to each other before reading. Hence, each reader uses his/her own pronunciations and accents, which can be quite different from the others. For example, one narrator says "jeed", another says "ji-heed", and another says "zeed" to refer to same group of people. Prince D'Natheil is pronounced De-Nathael or Danthial depending on reader. And the stable boy, Paulo, sounds like a southern US country gentleman in some of the chapters. It's really grating and inexcusable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Learning to Swim

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Sara J. Henry
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (151)

    When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore towing a tiny passenger. Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He'll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he's resolutely mute.

    Howard says: "A Worthwhile Suspense/Mystery"
    "Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I agree with other reviewers that the story started out strong and then went downhill, but it still kept me engaged. I expect the series will get stronger as it goes along. I did not like Suzanne Toren as the narrator - her voice for Troy was tolerable, but for the other female characters is was downright jarring. I'm glad she's not reading the next one.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Painting the Darkness

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Robert Goddard
    • Narrated By Michael Kitchen
    Overall
    (202)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (171)

    On a mild autumn afternoon in 1882, William Trenchard sits smoking his pipe in the garden of his comfortable family home. When the creak of the garden gate heralds the arrival of an unexpected stranger, he is puzzled but not alarmed. He cannot know the destruction this man will wreak on all he holds most dear.

    Janice says: "Skeletons in every closet"
    "What Fun!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I've never read any Goddard books before, but I will definitely put them on my wish list. This is a fun, well-written, historical thriller. Sort of Dickens, Bronte, and du Maurier combined. Michael Kitchen's narration was fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Last Argument of Kings: The First Law: Book Three

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joe Abercrombie
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    Overall
    (2690)
    Performance
    (1930)
    Story
    (1941)

    The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend and his oldest enemy. It’s time for the Bloody-Nine to come home. With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no-one is safe and no-one can be trusted.

    Lore says: "You have be realistic about these things."
    "Great Characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The one thing I hate most in books and movies is gratuitous torture. I'm OK with run of the mill violence, but long descriptions of pulling out teeth, smashing hands on anvils, burning, and castration - just not for me. Given that, I'm not sure why I chose to listen to a series in which one of the main characters is a torturer, and from the very beginning, I knew that Abercrombie was not going to hold back anything. But, listen I did, and I got hooked on the characters, including the torturer. They are complex and funny and sad and it's hard not to get attached to even the worst of them.

    Like some of the other reviewers, I think the ending was disappointing. I was ready for things to be left unresolved, but I don't think it was necessary to leave us in such a dark place.

    I'm done with Abercrombie for now. While he's arguably the best fantasy writer out there, I can't get myself psyched for more gore and torture.


    Have you listened to any of Steven Pacey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not listened to other Pacey books, but I will definitely look for him now. He's great.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I can only take so much gore in one sitting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4555)
    Performance
    (3828)
    Story
    (3836)

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Jimmy says: "Epic, Remarkable, Easy & Enjoyable!"
    "Good storytelling but predictable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Ken Follett knows how to tell a good story, but the characters are stock and there's nothing really surprising about what happens. While his books are a good way to learn history, Follett spends way too much time explaining things that are obvious to anyone above 3rd grade. And, his sex scenes are adolescent and cringe-inducing (come on Ken, the word "ejaculation" should never be used except in a sex-ed textbook). But, I managed to get through this book and the one before it, and I might even listen to the third when it comes out. They are embarrassingly addictive.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5)

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Minnie Goode
    Overall
    (1167)
    Performance
    (1067)
    Story
    (1065)

    This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

    Think about this says: "I was consumed by this story!"
    "Possibly worst narration ever"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Different narrator!


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Minnie Goode?

    Almost anyone. Surprisingly, her female voices were much worse than the male ones. I turned it off about a quarter way through and bought the Kindle version. It's a very good book.


    Was Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5) worth the listening time?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Read the book yourself unless Audible decides to re-record this one with a different narrator based on the reviews.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Beautiful Place to Die

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Malla Nunn
    • Narrated By Saul Reichlin
    Overall
    (144)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (67)

    Unfolding in 1952 South Africa, A Beautiful Place to Die is a riveting international mystery that flows from the pen of author Malla Nunn. Police officer Emmanuel Cooper is dispatched to a remote town after a police captain is found murdered in a creek. Even though Cooper judges the crime open and shut, the government's feared Special Branch is summoned, making for an intrigue that will titillate any mystery fan.

    Amazon Queen says: "Excellent"
    "Wonderful, well-written mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although this novel provides fascinating background on the beginning of official apartheid in South Africa, it is first and foremost a murder mystery with great character development and storytelling. I was worried it would be preachy or depressing, but it's not. Definitely worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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