Sugar Land, TX, United States | Member Since 2010
In spite of Carol's unmistakable voice - which is a treat to listen to - I was disappointed to find that listening to a narrative of her career highlights was not nearly as entertaining as watching her. Not as many laughs as I had hoped.
This is my third Inspector Rutledge mystery, and as with the previous two I found the premise and the set-up extremely well done, drawing me in very early. But somewhere past the halfway mark I realize that the execution is falling just a bit short in delivering information that moves the action forward. In this case, there are two mysteries to solve, including whether they are even related. The suspect pool is large and development of each character sparse enough that I can't even start to judge who may have done it. By dividing our attention, both mysteries lack the impact they might have had on their own. That said, I have suffered through far worse mysteries with absurd results. Never once have I had to roll my eyes and yell at Rutledge "Get a grip!"
I think there is some similarity to the style of the Holmes stories, in that they are actually more character driven than plot driven. The fun of Sherlock Holmes is watching Holmes work, not figuring out the solution in advance. What brings me back for more Rutledge is Rutledge himself. He is one of my favorite detective characters - complex, tormented, but such a good man. Simon Prebble personifies him with his low, calm, almost melancholy voice, yet brings his passion to the surface when justice is on the line. In the early stages of this story, Rutledge has to deal with a group of frightened little boys, and he is the perfect balance of compassionate authority. And the boys themselves are a hoot. A very worthy entry in the series.
Audible apparently changed the free short selection from Gaiman's "Smoke and Mirrors" from Cold Colors to Shoggoths Old Peculiar. I like the new selection much better than the first one. I've become a little better acquainted with Lovecraft recently, so I was able to recognize what was going on. I got a chuckle out of the bewildered Texas boy. But I still prefer Gaiman's longer stories to these bite sized ones because there's so little meat on the bones.
I really enjoyed the preview to the upcoming Ocean at the End of the Lane. The little boy revealing his story has captured my attention and Gaiman's voicing of the boy has captured my sympathy for his plight. Have already pre-ordered the book and look forward to the rest of the tale.
The road not taken. Stepping into the river twice. Groundhog Day. Variations on the theme of getting to do it over, and will it make things better or even different. Ursula gets multiple do-overs from infancy, many times with no control over how the next go-round will be played. Is Fate in control or is Ursula, and does it even matter? Fascinating premise, and generally well done, although I got the sense of Ursula being a somewhat detached observer of her own life rather than a full participant. While some of her actions led her to obvious misery, when sent back to the same situation, choosing a different action may have avoided the misery, but never seemed to result in happiness either. What seemed lacking to me was some inkling of passion or depth of feeling on Ursula’s part. I wanted to feel that if Fate had singled her out for multiple do-overs, that it was for some cosmically important reason. What would stir her soul, rally her to action, justify her existence? Is that too much to hope for or is life just life?
This review is sounding more negative than I really mean for it to, because overall I really did enjoy the book. Made me think of all of the crossroads I have faced in my life and how the choices I’ve made, for better or worse, have made me who I am now, and how might I have been different in other circumstances. A wonderful view of middle class English life between and during the Wars, with differing perspectives because of the various lives lived by Ursula. The writing is excellent. The supporting cast was very much brought to life for me – I was especially fond of Pamela, Teddy and Izzy. The reading by Fenella Woolgar was superb – when she voiced Hugh calling Ursula “Little Bear”, I felt the warmth of his fatherly affection. A solid 4-star, very nearly a 5.
I detest spoilers, so I have been wracking my brain trying to decide how to write a useful review of this book without giving away crucial information. Clearly the central mystery is to determine whether James Norton is really Sir James Davenall returned from the dead. The multitude of characters take sides for or against, with several being uncertain. I took all three positions at different times. This long and densely plotted mystery gives up its clues sparsely and cunningly, requiring you to pay close attention and remember what you’ve heard especially regarding names and dates. The Davenall family has more skeletons in their closets than a whole host of haunted houses. Different interested parties are tracking down different skeletons, resulting in the puzzle pieces being distributed among a variety of characters acting on their own agendas, and not necessarily sharing with the others. Sometimes I thought I had a thread untangled only to be confounded by new information from another direction. I really did have to wait to the end to get all the puzzle pieces in place, and there were still surprises once I got there, with a hint of menace left in the final scene.
This is my first Goddard book, but not the last. The writing is wonderful, and the reading by Michael Kitchen puts this on my list of best narrated books. He is by turns smooth, intense, emotional, cruel and bewildered. He handles male and female, young and old voices believably, adding drama and atmosphere without calling distracting attention to himself. A tour de force performance that has me looking for more of his readings.
I found this book on the sale rack and even though I'm not familiar with the author, the positive reviews and story summary encouraged me to take a chance. Although the book summary suggested an intriguing plot, it is more character driven than I expected, and the author’s ability to make me care about the characters is what had me riveted. The key was Uncle Willie and his commitment to doing the right thing for the foster sons in his care, no matter the sacrifice. He was the moral center to his family in the manner of Hans, the foster father in “The Book Thief”. Although there are two mysteries to solve, this is not an action thriller, but a gentle yet urgent push for the truth about the wrongs done to two young boys 20 years apart. My heart ached for both boys.
The plot is good, the writing a little loose in places, but it matched the personalities of the main characters, so actually seemed appropriate. More sentimental than I usually enjoy, and there were some convenient coincidences that made the story somewhat predictable. But bottom line, I just had to keep reading because I really liked these people. Placed in south Georgia, a location I am familiar with, the southern sensibilities and language made me feel right at home. Andrew Peterson’s reading is adequate - does not distract from the story but doesn’t noticeably add to it either, although his voicing of Uncle Willie is spot on - brings him to life. And if you are not familiar with the correct pronunciations of some south Georgia locations or with the names of past Atlanta Braves baseball players, you probably won’t mind that he messes up several of them – it did make me cringe a few times however.
There's good news and bad news.
First the good news: As expected, Fitzgerald writes beautifully and has clearly communicated the decadent and dissolute atmosphere of the time and people of whom he writes.
The bad news: I just didn't like any of the people of whom he writes. Reviewer Melinda has cheerfully offered a 21st century version of Gatsby, and I totally agree with her "then vs now" comparison. Fitzgerald's characters have the depth of the Kardashians and the moral compass of Lindsey Lohan. Gatsby himself is little more than a celebrity worshipping groupie trying to sell himself as one of the beautiful people in his effort to make his delusional fantasy of love and riches with Daisy come true. I found nothing authentic or admirable about any of the supposed loves, as every one of them is self-serving at the core. The single honorable act was Gatsby trying to protect Daisy, but even that reveals a basic contempt for another person's life. Nothing "Great" in that.
I know this is a classic. I acknowledge Fitzgerald's use of words. As a reflection of the "lost generation" of which he was a key member, this is a literary reality show. I just didn't enjoy the show very much.
I agree with a previous reviewer who stated some difficulty remembering that this is a work of fiction because of the strength of the historical perspective. As long as Keane stuck with the Typhoid Mary story line, I found it riveting, and really appreciated how she was able to provide balance to the myth of an evil one-woman epidemic serving up a petrie dish of typhoid with all of her cooking. It was clear that in spite of all the warnings, she just did not believe that she could be the culprit in making so many people sick. Filth in the streets was so rampant, that typhoid was not the rare occurrence that it is today - no wonder Mary assumed the source had to be found elsewhere. The ethical dilema of personal rights and freedom vs the protection of the public's health is heartbreaking. Unfortunately Mary became her own worst enemy through her stubborness and bad temper.
Props for the excellent descriptive narrative making turn of the century New York real - the huge disparities in living conditions and in the insights into the medical science of the day. (Another reviewer has already eloquently stated the lack of trickle-down of the germ theory to the common man). Also props to Candace Thaxton's excellent narration, especially the subtle changes in accent when Mary was thinking or speaking.
Where Keane lost her way for a time was by over emphasizing the Alfred story line. Apparently one of the fictional aspects of the larger story, I found the long passages that focused on his substance abuse and journey to the midwest to be largely uninteresting and sadly stalled the forward movement of the real story, leaving Mary out altogether for very long stretches. I would have preferred more history and less fiction on that score. Minus one star for that lapse in literay judgement and lack of editing.
My love of Holmes and my growing admiration for Gaiman led me to choose this fantastic short story. I must confess to being at a slight disadvantage in my appreciation of the tale because I am not familiar with Lovecraft's writings, being only an occasional visitor to the sci-fi genre. However, I was delighted at both the story and (as always) Gaiman's performance, and my first instinct as it ended was to start it right back at the beginning, because I am certain I missed some details the first time through. Loved the "advertisements" at the beginning of the chapters, although I suspect my ignorance of Lovecraft obscured the meaning of some of them.
Having seen the movie years ago, there was no surprise for me as to the outcome of the story. What made this a good listen was the view into the mind of a narcissistic sociopath. He is the ultimate unreliable narrator because he manages to convince himself that the world has become what he imagines it to be, and then through his "talented" acting, succeeds in convincing others as well. Is the apparent shallowness of the other characters real, making them susceptible to his manipulations, or is the shallowness merely Ripley's perception that convinces him that they deserve his disdain?
The first 2/3's of the book are the best, as that is where the actions of the story take place. The last 1/3 drags just a bit as the cat-and-mouse becomes redundant, and living exclusively inside Ripley's head gets a bit claustrophobic. That may actually be the point, but after a while, for me it became somewhat tiresome. Unlike some other reviewers, in spite of finding him psychologically facinating (like watching a car wreck), I did not find myself rooting for Ripley. I enjoyed this outing, but I'm not sure I want to continue in the series, as I suspect subsequent entries will likely be new verses of the same song, and I don't like Tom Ripley well enough to want to make him a regular companion. Well narrated by Kenerly who succeeded in giving Ripley the required furtive, paranoid internal voice, alongside the more open and naive public facade.
I grabbed up this title as soon as I saw it available because I had really enjoyed "Into the Darkest Corner" by the same author and narrator. I did like this story very much but was disappointed in Karen Cass's reading this time. Her voicing of Annabelle, Sam and some of the side characters was fine, but I think her interpretation of Collin, the villian (that's not a spoiler) I think was too loud and strident for one that I thought should have been voiced more pensively furtive. Also, some of the supporting female characters came across too perky - almost ditzy, and that was also a distaction. A more subtle touch would have been more appropriate. Perhaps just a matter of taste, but for me it downgraded the enjoyment of the listen.
As for the story - very creepy, almost squeamishly so in some places. But it does build suspense and Annabelle is someone to root for. Quite a bit of time is spent setting up the plot, and some advice to readers who struggle with stories that switch narrators frequently - listen to the names that are annonced at the change of a chapter: That is who is speaking, telling their own stories. It may be a bit confusing in the beginning, but you'll catch the pattern within the first hour. I found the last hour exciting and satisfying. Wraps up leaving some questions to contemplate about social ethics and legal justice. Did not find it depressing, would not relegate it to a Lifetime Movie. More of the style of Criminal Minds.
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