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karen

United States | Member Since 2004

ratings
168
REVIEWS
140
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
181
HELPFUL VOTES
895

  • Sanctuary: A Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Faye Kellerman
    • Narrated By Mitchell Greenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (185)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (151)

    A diamond dealer and his entire family have mysteriously disappeared from their sprawling Las Angeles manor, leaving the estate undisturbed and their valuables untouched. Investigating detective Decker is stumped - faced with a perplexing case riddled with dead ends. Then a second dealer is found murdered in Manhatten, catapulting Decker and his wife, Rina, into a heartstopping maze of murder and intrigue that spans the globe... only to touch down dangerously in their own backyard.

    karen says: "Best of the series"
    "Best of the series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not a big fan of the more recent Faye Kellerman books, but this older one has everything you loved in her Peter Decker series -- a whopping good mystery, tidbits of the personal life of Peter and Rina, police lore, plus the fact that Faye Kellerman writes the best dinner-table conversations of any author out there. A couple of dinner scenes in this one made me laugh out loud -- its so darn accurate you can hear it coming out of the mouths of your own family.

    Something else I found spellbinding -- this book came out in 1995, and without offering a spoiler, suffice it to say that the plot involves a business trip to Israel for both Rina and Peter. In 1995, I was living in California, so back when I read this book, most of the nuances of their time in Israel probably went right past me. Now I've been living in Israel for ten years, and found Kellerman's storytelling absolutely fascinating. Israel has changed quite a bit since then, but many things remain exactly the same. When Rina finds herself driving to Hebron, all by herself, I literally cringed -- are you kidding? She's crazy! Only to find that a few minutes later, Rina is being soundly chastised by a police officer using virtually the same words I'd have used in telling her off. Kellerman's account of the streets of Israel, some of the people she writes about, are extremely accurate, even today. It was fun to see someone writing about Israel who obviously knew what they were talking about.

    Huge credit in this one goes to the narrator, Mitchell Greenberg. He had to master a plethora of languages and accents, everything from Brooklynese to Yeshivish to Hebrew -- broken and fluent -- not to mention Southern California plus the southern drawl of Marge. Very impressive, how he could switch so easily from an aged Ashkenazi rosh yeshiva in Israel to a Sephardic police captain, then to the stumbling attempts at Hebrew by Peter Decker himself. Well done!

    True, this book had an unusual number of highly improbable events -- amazing deductions, based on almost nothing, that not only turn out to be true, but were also provable on the first try. That's okay -- this is fiction. Leaps of faith are acceptable.

    Darn good book. The best of the series, by any standard.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Chris Ewan
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (364)
    Performance
    (322)
    Story
    (323)

    Charlie Howard travels the globe writing suspense novels for a living. To supplement his income - and keep his hand in - Charlie has a small side business: stealing for a very discreet clientele on commission. When a mysterious American offers Charlie 20,000 euros to steal two small monkey figurines to match the one he already has, Charlie is suspicious; the job seems too good to be true, and of course, it is. He soon finds the American beaten nearly to death, while the third figurine has disappeared.

    adrienne says: "A delightful surprise!"
    "For serious whodunit lovers only"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Confession: I love detective fiction, murder mysteries, suspense plots of all kinds, but what I mostly appreciate about them are the characters, the location, occasionally an interesting plot or subplot that deals with something that interests me. In spite of it all, I don't particularly care who "done" it. Occasionally, I will skip the last 20-30 pages of a book entirely -- I'd like to know who actually DID it, but when the explanation of how they did it, or why, gets too long and tiresome, I tune out. I really don't care.

    This is one such book. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 5.5 hours of this book -- I like the main anti-hero character -- okay, he's no George Ripley, but still, as a witty, sophisticated and delightfully droll thief, he was just fine. I liked the Amsterdam location. I thought I was enjoying the plot.

    But then the denouement started, waaaaaaay too early -- and it went on, and on and on and on. Explanation after explanation.... good grief. For a book that's slightly over 7 hours long, if it takes 1.5 hours to explain how it all happened, that's too much. Too complex. I no longer cared -- I wanted to move along to something else.

    I quit listening with 48 minutes left.... way too much explanation for me. Good book, though, up to that point.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Edge of Evil

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By J. A. Jance
    • Narrated By Kristen Kairos
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (32)

    The end of her high-profile broadcasting career came too soon for TV journalist Alison Reynolds - bounced off the air by executives who wanted a "younger face". With a divorce from her cheating husband of 10 years also pending, there is nothing keeping her in L.A. any longer.

    Heather says: "Edge of Evil"
    "The series gets better. Much better."
    Overall
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    Let me say first, I'm a HUGE fan of J. A. Jance. I've read most of the print copies of her gazillion books, and have purchased eight of her audiobooks, mostly the Johanna Brady series. This was my second Ali Reynolds -- which is a good thing: if I had listened to this one first, I never would have bought another.

    First of all, this has to be one of the worst-produced audio books I've ever listened to. At random moments, some peppy, jazzy, supposedly uplifting elevator music interrupts the reading, sometimes drowning out the narrator's voice. It's so inappropriate - what on earth was someone thinking?? It's not chapter divisions, one such interruption was mid-sentence. Totally weird -- and completely destroys whatever mood the book was building toward.

    Then too, much of this book is told in the form of blogs, which might work well on paper, but in an audiobook, not so much. Listening to the narrator's letter-reading voice has a limited appeal - nothing happens, no action or interaction with someone else, just pretty darn dry statements of opinion and articulation of thoughts.

    Finally, a word for authors out there, even really really good ones, like Jance: Perfect people get pretty boring after awhile. It's all well and good to create a laudable character -- not ALL protagonists have to be "flawed". But there has to be a limit. If I wanted to engross myself in completely selfless behavior, I guess I'd opt for Butler's "Lives of the Saints" instead. At least those were real people. Just how perfect is our multi-fired, multi-sued, widowed, about to be divorced nee widowed girl, who always-and-forever puts everyone else on the planet's wishes ahead of her own? One example: a consummately evil man has broken into her home and is beating her to death. In the last possible second, she breaks away, gets her gun, and shoots him to death. Then we have to put up with an agony of soul searching, as Ali beats her breast over what she did to the man's MOTHER -- not anyone she knew, of course, just the woman who had given birth to this monster. "What must she be feeling? I killed her son!" Ali ponders.... well, I don't know what the mother was feeling, assuming she felt anything at all. But I guess if it were me, having marginally survived such a brutal attack, I really don't think fretting about his mother would be at the top of my list of worries -- but then, I'm not a saint. Thank Gd.

    All this is overlaid with Ali's (more understandable) agonizing over the supposed suicide of her best childhood friend. She feels guilty for not having... well, you can imagine. Bottom line: too much agonizing, too much introspection, too many selfless goody-goody acts from a woman who, supposedly, was once a nationally-famous news reporter, who absolutely MUST, at some point, have kicked serious butt to have attained THAT.

    One good thing: we get to find out where Sam the cat comes from, which solves that mystery. As for the rest of it, give this one a pass. The subsequent Ali Reynolds books are pretty good. I guess this was just the practice book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dead Air: A Sammy Greene Thriller

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Deborah Shlian, Linda Reid
    • Narrated By Barbara Whitesides
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    An outspoken, brash, native New Yorker, Sammy Greene isn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers at Ellsford, her ultraconservative New England college. The host of The Hot Line, a talk radio show on campus station WELL, Sammy tackles the toughest, most controversial issues facing Ellsford's student body. When Sammy discovers the body of Dr. Burton Conrad, one of Ellsford's most esteemed professors, her journalistic drive kicks in, and she sets out to find answers to what happened to the beloved professor.

    karen says: "So bad it doesn't merit writing about..."
    "So bad it doesn't merit writing about..."
    Overall
    Performance
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    An extremely amateur -- written and narrated both -- attempt at, what? A mystery? A diatribe against the religious right? A collection of leftist cliches, thrown unto the pages, in some random order?

    Only redeeming social value: if you wonder what's wrong with American colleges and Universities today, this will help you understand. With kids graduating from institutions like this, maybe it's a wonder the country isn't worse off than it is -- assuming that's possible.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Weight of Silence

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Heather Gudenkauf
    • Narrated By Jim Colby, Eliza Foss, Cassandra Morris, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (539)
    Performance
    (423)
    Story
    (420)

    It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night. Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

    Sara says: "A jewel"
    "Better than I expected."
    Overall
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    Story

    I'm an audiobook purist. In terms of narration, my wants are simple. I simply want someone to read the book to me, straight out -- no requirement for acting out each character, although for those narrators with serious talent (Scott Brick comes to mind, as does Davina Porter among many others) narrators who have the ability to give individual voices to characters without being annoying are especially appreciated. I award bonus points if the narrator pronounces location names correctly and refrains from eating while narrating (as one especially irritating narrator does.) I don't need musical introductions or interludes, and in general I don't think having multiple narrators improves anything.

    So I bought this book - it must have been a Daily Deal -- without paying too much attention. Then when I started to listen, and heard that it was being read by a professional "repertoire company" I almost clicked off, right at that point. Having a book "acted out" doesn't appear at all. To me, audio books are -- as one OTR program famously says -- "the theater of the mind". I'll create my own scenes, in my mind, as we go along. I don't want actors playing the parts, dramatizing the story. If I want actual theater, I'll go to Netflix.

    But I persevered - and I was surprised. It wasn't bad at all -- each of the narrators did a very good job, didn't over-act, basically they just gave individual voices to the several characters. Overall, I don't know that this method improved the book any, but it didn't detract, either. It was fine.

    And the story was good -- suspenseful, believable and kept me listening. I liked it enough that I just bought a second book by Heather Gudenkauf -- which has to be the ultimate compliment. This was a good book -- give it a try!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Suspect

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Robert Crais
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3997)
    Performance
    (3570)
    Story
    (3566)

    LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well, not since a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner, Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty - until he meets his new partner. Maggie is not doing so well, either. The German shepherd survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before she lost her handler to an IED and sniper attack, and her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s. They are each other’s last chance.

    Jacqueline says: "Gripping Page Turner!!"
    "Whew!"
    Overall
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    Story

    I know I'll like this book much better the second or third time around... this first time I listened, I was holding my breath during most of it, so I couldn't really concentrate. It's VERY tense -- and if you're a crazy dog lady like I am, you will be scared to death something is going to happen to Maggie.

    "Suspect" is a great book in every respect. I loved Maggie, the damaged, come-from-behind German Shepard -- everybody will love her. It would be impossible not to love a dog with that much heart. Loved Scott James, the equally damaged police officer, trying for a comeback, battling his own demons. The villains were just evil enough, perfectly believable. Crais wisely didn't try to insert a "love interest" or try to turn this into a love story, when the book needed no such thing - it was the love between Maggie and Scott that was important. MacLeod Andrews did a perfect narration -- including narrating Maggie's parts, which he did very well. All in all, just great.

    Interesting that a very similar -- and equally good -- book came out awhile ago, "Burning Man" by Alan Russell, also available on Audible. In that book, the damaged police dog was "Sirius" who'd been seriously burned in the line of duty, and the also wounded police officer trying for the comeback was Michael Gideon. "Burning Man" has a more complex plot, with several "cold cases" going on, whereas Robert Crais spent more time talking about working dogs, how they learn, what they learn, what astonishing capabilities they have. I loved that book too -- they're both well done.

    I'm hoping for sequels to both books -- keep 'em coming!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye: Psychic Eye Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Victoria Laurie
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Michaels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1334)
    Performance
    (1020)
    Story
    (1015)

    Abby Cooper is a P.I., psychic intuitive. But her insight failed her when she didn't foresee the death of one of her clients - or that the lead investigator for the case is the gorgeous blind date she just met. Now, with the police suspicious of her abilities and a killer on the loose, Abby's future looks more uncertain than ever.

    Roger says: "review of Abby Cooper series"
    "Nice change of pace..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't my genre, and normally I'd give any book with the word "psychic" in it a wide berth, but it was a "Daily Deal", and I've had good luck with those, so I went for it.

    I liked it. This isn't great literature, you understand, but as a nice, casual, interesting summer listen, something a little different, it was more than fine. The "psychic" element in the book didn't come off as weird or kooky, but merely as interesting. All in all, it had a well-constructed plot, interesting characters, and was well narrated.

    The ultimate test? If I came across another Abby Cooper book, I'd probably go for it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Manner of Death: Alan Gregory Series, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Stephen White
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (43)

    The deaths of six men and women appeared to be bizarre accidents - until Dr. Alan Gregory discovered the chilling link. Years before, each was involved in the psychology and psychiatry training program at the University of Colorado. And each was the victim of an ingeniously planned, brilliantly executed murder. Now only two alumni survive: Dr. Gregory and Dr. Sawyer Sackett, a woman he once loved.

    karen says: "Really good oldie.."
    "Really good oldie.."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listening to "Manner of Death" -- published in 1999 -- now is a delightful reminder of just how good this series was, in the beginning. And how far it fell, before author Stephen White put a merciful end to it a few months ago.

    All the characters are here, Lauren with her Multiple Sclerosis in an early stage, neighbor Adrianne, alive, not married yet, no son on the horizon, and of course Officer Sam, with his homespun wisdom, his diets, not to mention his funny accent, so well replicated by narrator Dick Hill, the very fine voice of Alan Gregory.

    There's a couple of slimy ex-FBI agents who make you wonder, a sizzling hot former classmate, one of Alan's old flames, who looks for a little while like she might give Lauren a run for her money, there's Emily, the Bouvier, plus a list of characters with walk-on parts who prove interesting... and a plot that holds your attention, minute by minute.

    Listening to this book was like a visit with old friends.... I'm sure I'll tune in to it again and again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Critical Mass: VI Warshawski, Book 16

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Sara Paretsky
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (170)
    Performance
    (148)
    Story
    (144)

    V. I. Warshawski’s closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder. When Kitty’s daughter finds her life is in danger, she calls Lotty, who in turn summons V. I. to help. The daughter’s troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the mad competition among America, Germany, Japan, and England to develop the first atomic bomb.

    S. Sarabasha says: "POWERFUL"
    "Too grim and angry for me"
    Overall
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    Story

    I'm about two hours in and I quit. I may come back to it at some time -- I generally enjoy Sara Paretsky's books -- but this one is filled with so much anger and bitterness I just can't take it anymore.

    Justifiable anger and bitterness, most probably, especially the Holocaust victims/scenes. But even the rest is rendered in a harsh Germanic accent, so with everyone shouting at everyone else, making accusations, the bitterness and the bombastic talk everyone affects -- even Mr. Contreras comes off as a shouting old man -- then it's too much.

    I don't know if you want to listen to this when you're in a good frame of mind, and can tolerate it. Or when you're already miserable, in which case it won't make it worse.

    Maybe better read than listened to? Could be.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Jennifer Worth
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1149)
    Performance
    (1023)
    Story
    (1034)

    At the age of 22, Jennifer Worth left her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she met while delivering babies all over London - from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lived to the woman with 24 children who couldn't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city’s seedier side - illuminate a fascinating time in history.

    Kathy says: "This is one I didn't want to put down!"
    "Fabulous beyond words...."
    Overall
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    Back in 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minnow called television a "vast wasteland" -- and he was right, back then. Today, television is in a magnificent resurgence, with exceptional programming like BBC's "The Street", PBS's "Sherlock", and best of all, BBC's
    "Call the Midwife", which I first encountered via Netflix. Seeing that first episode, I was entranced -- and spent the next several evenings watching every episode available. Amazing, the acting, the stories, the history, the clear but soft presentation of moral issues -- no preaching -- not to mention the insights into life in London's East End in the 1950's -- not that long ago, in the scheme of things.

    So it was with some trepidation that I bought the audio book -- which was the exact reverse of a situation for me. Normally I read the book, and then am reluctant to see the film because it's almost never as good. In this case, I'd seen several seasons of the astonishingly good television series, and found myself wondering if the actual book could be anywhere near as fine.

    It was. And then some -- in fact, the TV series follows Jennifer Worth's written memoirs very carefully, at least in the situations and scenes presented. The TV producers added a little more love interest than was in the memoirs -- for several of the young women, not just Jenny -- but otherwise it's all there, the Sisters, with their various eccentricities, Jenny, with all her sincerity, Fred the handyman with all his schemes, and of course "Chummy" -- well, how would anyone describe Chummy? But the book character is very similar to that played by the enormously talented Miranda Hart. I find myself smiling whenever she appears -- whether in the book or in the films.

    There are a few more historical details in the book than in the series, which I found fascinating. Again, 1950 wasn't all that long ago, but it continued to amaze me that so many medical advancements we take for granted now weren't available then.

    The audio book is greatly enhanced by the perfect narration by Nicola Barber. Her very soft voice, perfect enunciation, is absolutely the right choice for this memoir. Well done!

    All in all, highest recommendation possible for this audio book -- and for the BBC series!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rogue Island

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Bruce DeSilva
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman, Bruce DeSilva
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (774)
    Performance
    (597)
    Story
    (589)

    Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaper man gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians--who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames, and the public is on the verge of panic.

    Michael Jacobi says: "Classic Whodunnit"
    "Very good!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A new author to me, happy to have come across this one as a Daily Deal. (So pleased with Audible for offering 'Daily Deals' -- it lets us test run new authors or genres without a major investment. I've found some awfully good listens this way -- new authors I'll be looking for in the future.)

    Like this one: "Rogue Island" is a good solid detective story, lots of fascinating trivia about Rhode Island, which was fun -- who knew?

    Downside? A little too much baseball lore. For those of us who don't either know or care much about professional sports, at times it felt like I was listening to someone else's conversation, most of which was going over my head. The names of players being tossed around were all foreign to me, and I kept wondering of there were clues there, that I was missing. (There may have been -- I still don't know.)

    Another curious thing that puzzled me throughout the entire book: DeSilva has a lawyer character -- a bad apple -- playing a prominent role. He names this character "Brady Coyle", and has him based in Boston. Which is very strange, because the protagonist of the best-selling -- 24 books strong -- legal thriller/detective series by William Tapply is a Boston lawyer named Brady Coyle. Tapply's "Brady Coyle" is a good guy, big time. DeSilva's is a crook.

    Why would a new author do that? Steal the name, profession and even home base of another author's well-known fictional character, but make his new character the exact opposite of the original one?

    What? There aren't enough names to go around?

    Funny, too, because until very recently, there was a triumvirate of detective fiction writers based more or less in Boston, who -- in real life -- were close friends: Tapply, Phillip R. Craig and his Martha's Vineyard series, and Rick Boyer with his Doc Adams tales. Tapply and Craig are now, sadly, deceased, Boyer is still writing. But because all three loved fishing, and because they write the same general genre, set in more or less the same locale, it was common for one writer's characters to appear, playing walk-on parts in another author's book. So Tapply's lawyer Coyle already had a reputation for turning up in Phillip Craig's books, and in those by Rick Boyer. Which meant that when DeSilva introduced his own "Brady Coyle" there was every reason to believe this WAS the same Tapply character -- except that it wasn't. A needless confusion, I'd say. No point to it at all.

    Other than that, it was an enjoyable listen -- great narrator, too. I'll be looking for more by these two.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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