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Katherine

Kailua Kona, HI, United States | Member Since 2003

33
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 64 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 28 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • Wife of the Gods: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Kwei Quartey
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (45)

    Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, a good family man and a remarkably intuitive sleuth, is sent to the village of Ketanu---the site of his mother's disappearance many years ago---to solve the murder of an accomplished young AIDS worker. While battling his own anger issues and concerns for his ailing son, Darko explores the motivations and secrets of the residents of Ketanu.

    Shaliali says: "Engrossing Mystery in a Fascinating Setting"
    "An outstanding debut!"
    Overall

    A delicious read on many levels: a honest-to-goodness mystery with a fallible, dedicated detective; a psychological study of casualty and loss; a geographical and political lesson, For me, most of all, a delightful anthropological glimpse into another culture, in fact an amalgam of societies, where old-time mysticism meets new-age mysticism meets contemporary pragmatism. The characters we meet in Ghana are occasionally as incapable of understanding each other as a Tea Bagger is of fathoming a Secular Humanist, and equally as tolerant. New Paragraph:


    I take issue with a previous reviewer who decried its "cruelty" and violence. This was a story with very little violence, but when it did appear it was an integral part of illuminating a crucial aspect of a character or a way of life, and viewed as the abhorrent behaviour it was. It was not glorified, certainly not enjoyable or admirable. It is not offered as entertainment; this is no "24." Rape takes place off stage, with none of the slavering and lascivious delight in the barbaric that some American writers like to wallow in. New Paragraph:


    While occasionally the descriptions seemed hackneyed and the dialogue seemed false, Simon Prebble still presented with complete faith in the narrative, bringing us through the rough spots with aplomb and his cloak flourished over the puddles. My guess is this book listens better than it would read, and the credit for that belongs with Mr. Prebble. I look forward to their next collaboration.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Valley of Amazement

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Amy Tan
    • Narrated By Nancy Wu, Joyce Bean, Amy Tan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (925)
    Performance
    (817)
    Story
    (829)

    Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West - until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is.

    Pamela says: "Just could NOT get past the ugliness"
    "This novel should come with trigger alerts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My problem with this book is that, while it seems to be about strong, resilient women, it's really a relentless and unsparing description of the experiences of women who have to choose between starvation and a life of being raped in exchange for cash and gifts. Certainly, there are still millions of girls sold into sexual slavery, and maybe it's our duty to acknowledge this, but 25 hours of it? I feel blindsided, like I bought a novel and got a diatribe. Moments of relief and humor, intimations of "courtship," and a ragged story line do not make this an engaging read. Amy Tan's editor was clearly too intimidated to insist on the reworking that might have made this book even tolerable.

    It was generally tedious listening, occasionally droll, often unremittingly dull, and at times excruciatingly painful. Never fun. Never.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Mermaids Singing

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Val McDermid
    • Narrated By Graham Roberts
    Overall
    (385)
    Performance
    (336)
    Story
    (336)

    The bodies of four men have been discovered in the town of Bradfield. Enlisted to investigate is criminal psychologist Tony Hill. Even for a seasoned professional, the series of mutilation sex murders is unlike anything he's encountered before. But profiling the psychopath is not beyond him. Hill's own past has made him the perfect man to comprehend the killer's motives. It's also made him the perfect victim. A game has begun for the hunter and the hunted.

    Barbara says: "Not for the squeamish"
    "A dark and ripping yarn!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another outstanding mystery from McDermid. A perverse serial killer is on the loose, and the attacks seem to center on Bradfield's gay community. The two main characters, Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, are dedicated and likeable and reassuringly flawed (even if Tony's problem seems somewhat overblown: a major issue resulting from what was a minor critique). They move ever so slowly into mutual trust and honesty with authentic caution.

    The author's conceit of introducing the victims to us inspires our sympathy and keeps us cheering on the investigators. While the detail can be quite gruesome, especially when you've become fond of the victim, it isn't gratuitous, and the author does turn our eyes away before it becomes unbearable.

    As grizzly as the book can be, the narrator is steady and impassive. He reads with the reassurance of one who knows everything will turn out fine in the end. I'm off to unearth more of McDermid's older mysteries, and search out what Graham Roberts is reading as well.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • After the Night

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Linda Howard
    • Narrated By Natalie Ross
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1031)
    Performance
    (560)
    Story
    (566)

    "Of all of my novels, After the Night remains one of my personal favorites – and Faith Devlin and Gray Rouillard are two of my favorite characters. Faith is strong, proud, and fearless, and Gray – well, he’s just downright sexy. Faith’s search for the truth about the devastating scandal surrounding her mother and Gray’s father blazes with intrigue. Add some sultry Southern hear, and you’ve got a real scorcher of a listen." (Linda Howard)

    Judy says: "Can I give 6 stars?"
    "Appalling glorification of bullying and abuse"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was surprised, not expecting a "romance" (I should be more careful), but certainly not expecting one of Howard's favorite characters to be an abusive, bullying, stalker who terrorizes women until they just beg for more. He uses his physical size and local influence to dominate, assault, and tyrannize, in a way only a masochist would call sexy. His actions often descend to the level of criminal offenses, and the "strong" heroine merely flutters. Faith is lamentably inconsistent: her character is supposed to be capable and successful, yet she makes one stupid and dunderheaded decision after another.

    Amazingly, unchallenged throughout the book is the way Faith as a child is held responsible for the sins of her mother, while the sins of Gray's father are (reluctantly but casually) accepted, and never reflect badly upon his own children, and no one ever notes the hypocrisy. This incongruity, while perhaps unremarkable in the 50's or 60's, is both glaring and repugnant in a book published in 1995.

    While I understand that the point of romances is for women to fantasize taming and winning the erstwhile unbreakable beast (perhaps why girls like horseback riding), this chauvinist pedophile was merely a sadistic terrorist with intermittent explosive disorder, no conscience or self-awareness, and absolutely no long-term relationship value. The concept of "romance" was entirely absent from this plague chronicle. I do not have enough thumbs to turn down on this travesty.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Murder My Neighbour

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Veronica Heley
    • Narrated By Julia Barrie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Troubles never come singly. Ellie’s old friend and housekeeper falls off a ladder and hurts herself after seeing a “ghost” in a neighbour’s house, while Ellie is trying to get rid of a desperate young man, who says he’s looking for his great aunt… who happens to own the house in question. Mrs Pryce had told everyone she was moving to a retirement home, but never arrived there.

    mary says: "Tedium personified"
    "Don't bother. A tedious farce."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Murder My Neighbour better?

    Another author, another reader, and an interesting plot. The characters were predictable and hackneyed, the dialogue was forced and improbable, the story line was boring and unsatisfying. The only thing that could make this muddle worse is printing it backwards.


    Has Murder My Neighbour turned you off from other books in this genre?

    It has certainly turned me off from the author. Never again.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The reader seemed as bored by the story as we would be. The best parts of the performance were the subheadings: "Sunday morning.... Monday evening."


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    1. Disgust, that the subtext was so offensively Christian, and bordered on the absurd at times. 2. Irritation, that I'd wasted actual cash money on this trash. I'm not particularly anti-religion: I like Katherine Hall Page and Faye Kellerman. But when one can't pick up a physical book and leaf through it, reading the front leaf or back cover, one becomes dependent on the reviewers, and the integrity of Audible. I wish Audible would warn us in advance about explicit Christian proselytizing...


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris, Dylan Baker, Elaine Stritch, and others
    Overall
    (1107)
    Performance
    (500)
    Story
    (498)

    Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.

    Patricia says: "Enjoyable Book"
    "If I could have given zero stars, I would have"
    Overall

    Unpleasant and occasionally darkly humorous. Written by a phalanx of whining, casually vicious 14-year-old stoners, who are getting back at the teachers & parents who "don't understand them" by rewriting children's fables. Like that would work.

    I'm a long-time fan from SantaLand days, travel long distances to hear Sedaris read, and have bought every book he's published, but the whingeing tone and the callous cruelty were a complete turn-off. If you're a big fan of adolescent badinage, this is the book for you. If not, wait for his next one. I deleted this after cringing through almost half of it, and am disappointed that I didn't move on sooner.

    Before you buy this, note that [at this writing-Ed.] the rating isn't even 3.5, and his other books still run between 4 & 5. The 3.4 would be even lower if Audible permitted a no-star review. Squirrel is an appalling low point in the Sedaris oeuvre, and has apparently dissatisfied, not only me, but a huge number of fans. What a waste of Elaine Stritch, to boot! Buyer beware.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • English: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Wang Gang
    • Narrated By Michael Sun Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Twelve-year-old Love Liu, who lives in Zinjiang, China, loves languages and studying English. His friendship with his English teacher is one of the few constants in his life as China's Cultural Revolution rages.

    Here is a captivating coming-of-age novel in the tradition of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

    Katherine says: "Unfortunate reading, annoying self-narration"
    "Unfortunate reading, annoying self-narration"
    Overall

    Everything in the story line revolves around the viewpoint of Love Liu, a particularly self-obsessed teenage boy, perhaps an unnecessarily redundant description. Set against the background of the cultural revolution, this coming-of-age story keeps the cultural revolution way too far in the background to inform the listeners. The immensity of the cruel and erratic politics of the time are merely hinted at in the novel, but explicated in the afterword (should have been the "Forward."). Love Liu does not seem to register anyone else's reality as having any validity, and as a result creates catastrophic problems for his parents, best friends, teachers, and himself. Themes and events are introduced and then dropped, leaving enough loose ends to be frustrating and dissatisfying. The ending was limp and bathetic.

    I love books by Chinese authors and nonfiction about China and was looking forward to this. Alas, thumbs down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Brian Fagan
    • Narrated By James Langton
    Overall
    (374)
    Performance
    (111)
    Story
    (114)

    Best-selling author Brian Fagan brings early humans out of the deep freeze with his trademark mix of erudition, cutting-edge science, and vivid storytelling. Cro-Magnon reveals human society in its infancy, facing enormous environmental challenges - including a rival species of humans, the Neanderthals. For ten millennia, Cro-Magnons lived side by side with Neanderthals, an encounter that Fagan fills with drama.

    Paul says: "Fact and fiction"
    "The author almost lost me immediately"
    Overall

    ...With his little tableau of a modern day nuclear family [hunter, "wife"(!), one girl, one boy]. The boy frolics, a Neanderthal appears, the children panic, mother comforts, father menaces. Come on, with this kind of ignorant and ill-considered anachronism, what could possibly be expected from the rest of the book? Anthropological, zoological, and archeological evidence all argue for the extended family unit, comprising, most often, enate family groupings of hunter/gatherers. So why should we believe whatever he says next?

    Many thanks to the reviewer who suggested skipping Part 1. I'll try Part II to see in any actual data enliven the narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I'm the King of the Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Paul Ansdell
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Charles Kingshaw and his mother have come to live with Edmund Hooper and his father – in their ugly, isolated Victorian house called Warings – for good. To Hooper, Kingshaw is an intruder, a boy to be subtly persecuted, and Kingshaw finds that even the most ordinary objects can be turned by his enemy into a source of terror.In Hang Wood, when they are lost, their roles are briefly reversed but Kingshaw knows that Edmund will never let him be and that he cannot win in the end.

    Janet says: "A memorable story"
    "Beware: Spoiler in review reveals ending"
    Overall

    A spare and stunningly conceived and written biography of bullying. However, listening to it was like watching a kitten being prepared to be boiled alive. It was literally painful at times to hear the distress of Kingshaw, the main character. I only continued to listen because Hill continued to dangle the hope that the worm might finally and irrevocably turn. In the end, the evil boy triumphs and the sensitive lad succumbs. This at least illuminates our current political situation, in which lies can overwhelm truth, cruelty overpowers kindness, and relentless and prolonged inhumanity, united with mass indifference, defeats the will to fight back. I felt utterly wrung out by the end of the book, but better informed about our political process.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Bulletproof Mascara: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Bethany Maines
    • Narrated By Renée Raudman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    When Nikki Lanier signs up as a cosmetics rep at Carrie Mae, it’s hardly her idea of a dream job. With a degree in linguistics and a hard-core workout regimen, the 26-year-old redhead once had hopes for a real career. But unemployed and desperate to escape life at home with her nagging mother, she’ll try anything – even selling make-up to housewives. But soon, Nikki learns that the powder and lipstick are simply cover-up for The Carrie Mae Foundation: a secret organization of international espionage and high-tech mascara founded for the purpose of “helping women everywhere."

    Kate says: "Ready for the next installment"
    "Not even worth the money, much less the time"
    Overall

    A lame cross between Nancy Drew and the Powerpuff Girls, except that the supportive father-figure is not her own, and the mother is a bitchy shrew. We have chubby Bess, mouthy George, and a hunky Ned, wildly improbable Powerpuff plot twists with a totally insupportable finish. Haunted by insecurities and uncertainty, the heroine still manages in all situations to perform heroically on an almost superhuman level. The jumping back and forth in time might have worked if there were secrets to have been revealed; as it is, it's merely annoying.

    While purporting to have feminist themes, even characters in their fifties are referred to as "girls," career is trumped by "love," and the cast of stock female characters were hair-rippingly stereotyped and formulaic. If this is chick lit, I'm going back to dick lit. This was way too uneven to recommend even as kid lit, but that's the classification it deserves.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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