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karen

ratings
262
REVIEWS
221
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FOLLOWERS
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HELPFUL VOTES
2461

  • Little Wolves: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Thomas Maltman
    • Narrated By Hillary Huber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (22)

    Set on the Minnesota prairies in 1987, during a drought season that is fostering the demise of the family farms, the story features two intertwining narrators: a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor's wife who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America, reminiscent of Russell Banks' Sweet Hereafter or Affliction, driven by a powerful murder mystery, Little Wolves is a literary triumph.

    karen says: "What a strange book..."
    "What a strange book..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Can't quite get my mind around this one yet. I have few doubts that book clubs, having picked this book, will spend many hours debating what it all really means.

    The plot swings from one extreme to another -- at points, it's almost too harsh to bear. A young suicide victim is refused burial in the "regular" part of the cemetery, shunted off, instead, to the section for the damned, those hopelessly beyond salvation. And then there's the 'prairie raw', parts, where the bleak and bitter nature of farm life is laid on with a trowel. For me, the dead animal quotient came perilously close to being too high. Time after time, I was within a hair of signing off, finding something a little easier to listen to.

    But I didn't turn it off -- which says something else about this book.

    It has its delightful moments too, some of them hilarious. This is a German Lutheran town -- seriously judgemental and harsh in its own right, in terms of how 'newcomers' are treated, in terms of what's done and what's not done. In that sense, Clara is a fish out of water. As a pastor's wife, certain standards of conduct are imposed upon her, and she is expected to comply. But she seems blithely unaware, or better yet, doesn't much care. One absolutely hilarious scene has her showing up, seriously pregnant, at a women's circle meeting in shorts, an incident that will no doubt be recounted with titillation and delighted horror for the next hundred years or so. That vignette is wonderful, exceptionally well written and insightful. I wish there'd been more scenes like that.

    The narrator? Once again, this one didn't do her homework. I don't understand why professional narrators don't check for the correct pronunciation of local place names. In this one, Hillary Huber, who otherwise does a good job, repeatedly renders the Minnesota town of "Mankato" as man-KHAAT-o, whereas any real prairie kid will know it's man-KAY-o. Stupid error -- would only have taken a moment to check, and instead, it renders her as less than professional.

    Would I recommend "Little Wolves"? Maybe. Sort of. I guess. I'm glad I listened, and I know parts of it will stick in my mind for a long time. Other parts are sufficiently disturbing I can't forget them soon enough. If you like prairie stories, with all that entails, you might find it as intriguing as I did.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Cinderella Murder

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Mary Higgins Clark, Alafair Burke
    • Narrated By Jan Maxwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1642)
    Performance
    (1450)
    Story
    (1448)

    In a first-time collaboration, "Queen of Suspense" Mary Higgins Clark partners with best-selling author Alafair Burke to deliver a brand new suspense series about a television program featuring cold case murders.

    Eva Gannon says: "Gripping!"
    "Boring...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    How can two such talented authors possibly write such a boring book?


    I've backtracked several times, trying to get back with the story line, find a hook that will get me interested, but the whole thing never seems to go anyplace. The narrator keeps grinding away, and nothing much ever seems to happen.

    I'm four hours in, and not going to waste any more time on this one. File it in the "Life is too short" pile, and move on....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cherringham - A Cosy Crime Series Compilation (Cherringham 1 - 3)

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Matthew Costello, Neil Richards
    • Narrated By Neil Dudgeon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2088)
    Performance
    (1871)
    Story
    (1863)

    Jack's a retired ex-cop from New York, seeking the simple life in Cherringham. Sarah's a Web designer who's moved back to the village find herself. But their lives are anything but quiet as the two team up to solve Cherringham's criminal mysteries. This compilation contains episodes 1 - 3: MURDER ON THAMES, MYSTERY AT THE MANOR and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT.

    Marie says: "Great Find"
    "Wow! What a find!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I took a chance on this book -- never heard of it or the authors, but when I saw that Neil Dudgeon was narrating, I couldn't resist. A bit of Midsomer to listen to? Maybe. I was still a little reluctant, though, because I never buy books of short stories, which this purportedly was. Still.... Neil Dudgeon? Let's try it out.

    I was about half through before I went back to Audible, and bought ALL the books in this series. It's THAT good! I've never done that before, bought them all, at once. But this series is worth it.

    Cherryham is an English village in which a widowed American detective has retired. That's the basic plot. But things happen in this allegedly peaceful little community -- and now there's someone to investigate, which he will, if pressed. He teams up with Sarah, a mother and web designer, and the two find themselves in the midst of things most dreadful -- not a lot of gore or violence, just British murder, as refined as it gets.

    I see people are comparing the series to Agatha Christie, or Angela Lansbury's Cabot Cove, but a better parallel just happens to be my favorite of all time. the "Simon Serrailler" books by Susan Hill. In that series, Serrailler is a sophisticated, gentlemanly sort of detective, but the real stars are all the people in his large and fascinating family as well as the community at large. The books are pleasurable because it's like visiting old friends, catching up with what they're involved with at the moment. That's also true of Cherryingham, we get to meet all types of village people, one after the other, and -- basically -- assess their ability to carry of a very discreet murder or two. It's great fun. And that's where the "short story" thing is resolved -- all the stories feature the same village, same lead characters, just different villagers, different crimes. It's all of a piece -- and what a piece it is!

    And best of all? Neil Dudgeon as narrator. I was right about how good it is to listen to him. He's pitch perfect, impossible to improve on. I wish he would narrate a great many more books, he's a natural.

    Love British village mysteries? These books are a fine treat!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Grave Talent: A Kate Martinelli Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Laurie R. King
    • Narrated By Alyssa Bresnahan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (356)
    Performance
    (319)
    Story
    (317)

    The unthinkable has happened in a small community outside of San Francisco. A series of shocking murders has occurred, the victims far too innocent and defenseless. For Detective Kate Martinelli, just promoted to Homicide and paired with a seasoned cop who’s less than thrilled to be handed a green partner, it’s a difficult case that just keeps getting harder. Then the detectives receive what appears to be a case-breaking lead: it seems that one of the residents of this odd colony is Vaun Adams, arguably the century’s greatest woman painter and a notorious felon.

    Anna says: "Another Fantastic Series by Laurie R. King"
    "Good book, dreadful narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’ve read this book a couple of times, together with all the others in this series. They are all good, in fact, I like them better than Laurie Kings “Sherlock” books. So I was looking forward to the very pleasant experience of having someone read them to me, which often reveals aspects of the story you didn’t get from reading it yourself.

    That didn’t happen. In fact, it was only with gritted teeth that I got through the book at all. For whatever reason, the powers that be selected a “story lady” narrator, a woman who, in the traditional sing-song cant of the professional storyteller, worked to imbue each word, each syllable, with ominous portent, so all the good little boys and girls sitting on the floor in front of her, couldn’t possibly miss any aspect of the scary content.

    For me, it ruined the book. I’d get so caught up in her overly poetic emphasis that I lost track of what was actually happening. Admittedly at times, during back and forth conversations among characters, she dropped the most extreme aspect of her narrative, but the moment the book,went back to text or description, there it was again. It drove me nuts.

    I wish publishers would understand that there is a difference between narrating an audiobook - a police procedural, of all things - and professionally interpreting a classic folk tale. The people who undertake these two very different art forms have very different talents and training. They should not be intermingled, any more than you’d pick the Tijuana Brass to interpret a classic opera. While both forms of music are enjoyable, to expect the same musicians to perform both of them isn’t likely to prove,satisfactory to anyone.

    In the future, I will be sure to listen to a sample of any audiobook with a narrator whose name I don’t recognize. Wish I’d done that this time.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Twelve Clues of Christmas

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4483)
    Performance
    (4039)
    Story
    (4019)

    On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile, Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.

    Felicia The Geeky Blogger says: "It was a great Christmas Who-Done-It!"
    "Smashing, simply smashing!"
    Overall
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    Story

    Christmas isn't my holiday, so i rarely buy or read books with a Christmas theme. But who can resist Lady Georgie? Couldn't miss this chapter in her life so....

    It's a fabulous book -- a very good mystery, as people keep getting killed (or just dying?) in and around the manor where Lady Georgie has found a seasonal job. But that may not have been the best part: what I really enjoyed was all the "other stuff", all the tidbits of information about how the Brits of that era celebrated the holiday -- wow, the food! Meal after meal, all of them sounding great. And the dances, costume balls, dressing up, and all the traditional games, the horses, the "crackers", the Yule log -- but how in heck did they get a presumably huge and soaking wet hunk of tree to burn? At the end of those twelve days, I should think all of them -- the servants and the served, alike -- would simply collapse of overload, overload on food, on celebrating, and on keeping up appearances. Anyway, just delightful, the whole thing. I've read and liked all of these books in this series, and this was surely one of the best.

    Great narration, too -- as usual. I should think that by the end of narrating one of these books, narrator Katherine Kellgren would have a sore throat, from all that screeching - ha! Love the way she does the voices!

    I know I'll listen to this one again -- so rich in story and details it needs to be consumed again, to get it all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Trauma: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Michael Palmer, Daniel Palmer
    • Narrated By Xe Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (468)
    Performance
    (424)
    Story
    (425)

    Dr. Carrie Bryant's four years as a neurosurgical resident at White Memorial Hospital have earned her the respect and admiration from peers and staff alike. When given the chance of performing her first unsupervised brain surgery, Carrie jumps at the opportunity. What should have been a routine, hours-long operation turns horribly wrong and jeopardizes her patient's life. Emotionally and physically drained, Carrie is rushed back to the OR to assist in a second surgery.

    lauren outland says: "The best Michael Palmer ever"
    "Loved it -- GREAT narrator!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Let's be honest -- I bought the book because of the name MICHAEL Palmer. I've read and loved several of his books over the years, and felt like reading a medical thriller again. But I'll tell you what -- this book by his son, in his late father's stead, was every bit as good as the Michael Palmer books. Especially interesting was the look into the Veteran's Administration system -- and yes, of course, it's fiction, and presumably nothing this horrific ever actually occurred (although quite frankly, from some of the stories, I wouldn't be surprised) but still, a glimpse into how the hospitals function, staffed and how they serve their patients was interesting -- and very timely. As was the theme of PTSD among our returning soldiers. Great topic -- a believable protagonist, excellent dialogue -- good book!

    And a really great narrator -- maybe becoming one of my favorites, come to think of it. Xe Sands is perfect -- such a pleasant, clear voice, and she reads the book with just the right amount of inflection, reasonably differentiation among characters, and exactly the right pace. No overwrought theatrics, no dramatic pauses, no mispronunciations that I caught -- although as she effortlessly zipped through medical terms I'd never heard before, I can't vouch for that. But I will now be watching for books she narrates -- she's just first rate!

    There's an author interview at the end that's good, too. I don't believe I've read any of the books that Daniel Palmer has written as himself, so to speak. I'm going to look for them -- clearly, the kid can write.

    All in all, a great audio book experience!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Duplicity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Sibel Hodge
    • Narrated By Simon Vance, Henrietta Meire
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1523)
    Performance
    (1369)
    Story
    (1372)

    Max and Alissa have a fairy tale life - newlywed, madly in love and enviously rich. Then Max is brutally stabbed to death at their home and Alissa, miraculously, escapes with her life. But why was she spared? The hunt for the killer begins, uncovering a number of leads - was Max's incredible wealth the motive? Had his shady business practices finally caught up with him? Or was it a stalker with a dangerous obsession?

    6catz says: "Silence of the Calves"
    "Totally disgusting. Animal abuse."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dreadful. Opens with a scene of animal abuse, and it doesn't get any better. Not for animal lovers.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Luck and Judgement: A DC Smith Investigation Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Peter Grainger
    • Narrated By Gildart Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (824)
    Performance
    (762)
    Story
    (762)

    When a worker goes missing from a North Sea gas platform, there seem to be just two possible explanations - it was a tragic accident or a suicide. It does not take Smith and his detectives long, however, to discover that James Bell led a double life back onshore in Kings Lake, a life complicated enough to make him at least one dangerous enemy. Before the case can be unraveled, Smith must get a new team working together.

    Katie says: "An unexpected, very good series"
    "Narrator makes it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A very good book -- loved it. But it was the narrator who made it what it was. Something about his wise, sort of sardonic, tone was just perfect for this work.

    Will be looking for more books in the series, and I hope they will have the same narrator. Now I'm searching to see what else Gildart Jackson has narrated -- I have a feeling they will all be a cut above average!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Human Remains: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Haynes
    • Narrated By Karen Cass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (149)

    Police analyst Annabel wouldn't describe herself as lonely. Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbor's decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the woman's absence. Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleagues' lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.

    Patricia says: "Just Loved It"
    "Awfully grim - but unquestionably unique"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked it -- sort of. There were parts that made me cringe, other parts that made me see things in a way I hadn't before, parts where I felt so sorry for people with apparently empty lives, like some of the minor characters in the book. How very sad that there are people who suffer such loneliness and emptiness -- and I'm not even sure what the "cure" might be. One thing occurred often as I was listening: if someone who had recently suffered the loss of someone they loved, this would be a very poor choice of book. It's very raw -- both subject matter and as written. It could certainly prove painful, especially for the more vulnerable among us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Somebody I Used to Know

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By David Bell
    • Narrated By Andy Paris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2746)
    Performance
    (2515)
    Story
    (2513)

    When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire 20 years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off. The next morning the police arrive at Nick's house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She's been found dead.

    Snoodely says: "Definitely Worth a Credit"
    "Two hours in, and can't get through any more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think those who like this book, and those of us who don't, will divine along generational lines. This book is for millennial -- or younger -- women. Not for tough old cookies like me, women who still think that there should be differences between men and women.

    The protagonist in this book, Nick Hanson, is what I'd call a girlie-guy. He is one of those new-age "sensitive men", deeply into his "feelings", memories and long-lost relationships. When faced with this troublesome, puzzling, even dangerous, situation, his first reaction is to run around to all his women friends -- most of them stemming from prior romantic relationships -- to "talk" about it. What real man would do that? That's what women do -- and when they do, it's fine. But I don't like men who act like women -- anymore than I'd like a woman who'd go into a biker bar, challenge some dude to a beer-swilling contest and then knock his block off. I can't relate to that -- or to this sissified man.

    I have considered that it might be the narrator -- or else he just perfectly fits the character, but whatever, it's just too annoying.

    I don't need all my books to be hard-boiled. Average MEN are fine -- they don't all need to be Jack Reacher. But I guess it comes down to this: if I knew Nick Hanson in person, I'd cut him a wide swath. I'm sure he's a fine upstanding person, a very caring social worker doing a lot of good, but he is not someone I'd care to spend any time with.

    And two hours in, I don't want to hear any more about his adventures, either. Feh.

    34 of 44 people found this review helpful
  • Blind Justice

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Anne Perry
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (364)
    Performance
    (320)
    Story
    (321)

    In Blind Justice, mystery abounds in London as Hester Monk, wife of Thames River Police Commander William Monk, questions Abel Taft - a charismatic preacher accused of extortion. Taft appears guilty as sin, but his trial explodes when a star witness drops a bombshell that has the Monks scrambling to save their dear friend Oliver Rathbone.

    Nancy J says: "Excellent Victorian Mystery /Legal Thriller"
    "Need to remind myself...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ... not to buy anymore "Monk" books by Anne Perry. I'm sorry I fell for this one -- I remember thinking the same thing about the last one I bought, but forgot my resolution not to purchase any more of them.

    Like most reviewers, I have loved Anne Perry's books -- the setting, the customs, the stories, the issues she tackles. They have been, up until recent years, excellent reads, every one of them. Some of the early ones I've read many times over.

    But now, the "Monk" books really aren't about Monk anymore -- Monk was, is, a fascinating character, but now he's just a walk-on part, second fiddle to his friend Rathbone, who isn't nearly as interesting. And Hester? As Monk's now-wife, Hester, with her experiences as a nurse during the Crimean War, was one of fictions finest characters. Ever. Not anymore. She too has been pushed aside -- and for what?

    For what basically amounts to a trial transcript. I'm not interested in reading a trial transcript -- which is what about 70% of this book is. (I spent nine long years reading trial transcripts to earn my daily bread, and I'm not about to do it again, certainly not for free.) Trial transcripts are boring. The are REALLY boring when all they are interspersed with is the inner monologue of one or more of the characters. If I were reading this book -- instead of listening to it -- I could flip the pages fast, skim, to see if there was anything I needed to know. But in listening, I'm pretty much pinned to the page as long as the author wants me there.

    I've had it. No more.

    But the good news is, there are now many authors writing excellent fiction set in Victorian times -- when I started reading Anne Perry, she was the only one I knew (other than AC Doyle himself, of course!) who focused on that time. Now? Maureen Jennings, Deanna Raybourn, Stephanie Barron, and my personal favorite, Victoria Thompson, although her books are set in New York during that same era. Lots of options, now, for those of us who love those historical settings. But I'm swearing off Inspector Monk.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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