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Karen S. Garvin

Maryland | Member Since 2014

  • 6 reviews
  • 30 ratings
  • 194 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2015

  • Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By M. Louisa Locke
    • Narrated By Cynthia Wallace
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide, and to pay off a debt, one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns. Annie also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of her clients has died. The police believe his death was suicide, but Annie believes he was murdered.

    KarenB says: "Enjoyable story, annoying narration"
    "Disappointing protagonist"

    I wanted to enjoy this book because the era is interesting to me. But the protagonist starts out strong and then turns to jelly as soon as a handsome man appears on the scene. Too predictable; I don't mind the romance but this was a tepid as they come.

    I was expecting the Sybil character to have a main part in the story, but she's put away after the first few chapters. I thought that aspect of the story might have been a lot stronger. Annie became annoying and I found myself not really caring what happened to her. The only character I was curious about was Nate.

    There were too many descriptions of clothing and backstory and not enough real mystery. I don't care how So-and-so got their clothing unless it relates to the mystery. The epilogue was a poor excuse at wrapping up the book. I felt like several chapters were missing and the author just got tired of writing and filled in the blanks to get it over with.

    "Sparks fly?" Not really. There's plenty of tinder here, but no logs to keep the flames burning. The story's premise is sound but it just doesn't deliver.

    I haven't listened to any other narration by Cynthia Wallace, but this annoyed me. Sorry. I thought her attempt at doing the men's voices was pretty good, although there were a few glitches where she slid from one voice into another and it should have been edited out. The women's voices were all pipsqueaky or breathy and Southern-drawly. Cynthia's own voice, when she just read the narration, would have been fine for Annie's voice. I thought the gushiness was just too over-the-top.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Abominable: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Dan Simmons
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins

    The year is 1924 and the race to summit the world's highest mountain has been brought to a terrified pause by the shocking disappearance of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine, high on the shoulder of Mt. Everest. By the following year, three climbers - a British poet and veteran of the Great War, a young French Chamonix guide, and an idealistic young American - find a way to take their shot at the top.

    Marci says: "Great story, great detail"
    What would have made The Abominable better?

    Edit about half of it out. There was a lot of information about climbing, which wasn't bad. Until it was repeated several times. There were also step-by-step descriptions of how a character climbed a particular rock wall and lengthy descriptions of equipment.

    This information might have worked if it had been blended in with action, but it was an info dump worthy of the Sears catalog (of sporting goods).

    What was most disappointing about Dan Simmons’s story?

    I enjoyed The Terror and I wanted to enjoy this, but 14 hours into the story I just could not bear to listen to the info dumps any more.The "As you know, Richard," type of writing was just too cliched, and only served to introduce an info dump (and possible reader coma).

    Which scene was your favorite?

    Driving in the car to Snowdonia before they did any climbing.

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

    I never finished the book, so I'd have to say disappointment and boredom. I tried to finish it. I made it halfway - 14 hours out of the 29 or 30 hours, and then I just said, "Hey, I'm not enjoying this. There is no reason to make myself continue listening." I bailed out at the point just after the sky burials.

    Any additional comments?

    The main character Jake seems a bit of a jackass. He's young, but he's also a bit bigoted and after awhile it rubs thin. I had to wonder why climbing pros would take this irritating kid along with them.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Maisie Dobbs

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Jacqueline Winspear
    • Narrated By Rita Barrington
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence - and the patronage of her benevolent employers - she works her way into college at Cambridge. After the War I and her service as a nurse, Maisie hangs out her shingle back at home: M. DOBBS, TRADE AND PERSONAL INVESTIGATIONS. But her very first assignment soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

    Lori says: "A delightful discovery"
    "Dragging, like a dead body"
    Would you try another book from Jacqueline Winspear and/or Rita Barrington?

    Most likely not, although I won't close the door on them entirely.

    Has Maisie Dobbs turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, I like the genre.

    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I think the reading speed was far too slow. The drawn-out "male" voice for the butler when he answers the phone was the last bit I was able to listen to. It was just laughable and destroyed the credibility of the story. I want entertainment while I drive, but I can't afford to be put into a stupor. I think the narrator tried very hard to differentiate the voices, but the character of Billy sounded like a young kid and not an older war veteran. This is just one of those things -- women doing men's voices and vice versa -- that don't always work well. However, I give Rita credit for managing to remain consistent (at least the two hours I listened to) for the character voices.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Maisie Dobbs?

    Where do I even start? I'm not sure this story would survive much cutting because much of it seems to be internal dialogue and thoughts. There simply was very little action in the first few chapters and trying to edit it down would reduce that to zilch. However, in some places the internal dialogue could probably be sent the way of the dodo. In particular, the internal dialogue in the scene where Maisie is having lunch with her first client's wife in the restaurant could stand some pruning. When Maisie holds hands with the woman and thinks about how the other women in the restaurant might be interpreting that action, I think that's a fair bit of fluff that can go. I don't think it adds much to the character or the story. I know it's supposed to make us understand that Maisie has feelings for others, but it's over the top for me. I found it maudlin, to say the least.

    Any additional comments?

    I really wanted to enjoy this story, and it has generally good reviews so I thought I would like it. I am also quite interested in history and historical novels are a favorite of mine. But this was far too slow for my liking and I could only manage to listen to two hours of it before I gave up. My biggest concern is that I quit listening just as it *might have* been getting good, but I don't know. In all honesty, I think I could possibly stand to read the book because I could skim over the parts that annoy me, but I just can't sit and listen to the inner dialogue. It's just tedious.I know that as a first book in a series the characters aren't always as well formed as they become later on. I didn't find Maisie objectionable as a detective, but the womanly bonding thing was puke-ready. Sorry. I just found it put me off too much, or maybe it was just a data dump. I'd rather see her feelings through her dialogue or her actions, not constantly be told what she's thinking.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ghostwalk

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Rebecca Stott
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A Cambridge historian is found drowned, clutching a glass prism in her hand. The book she was writing about Isaac Newton's involvement with alchemy remains unfinished. When her son, Cameron, asks his former lover, Lydia Brooke, to ghostwrite the missing final chapters of his mother's book, Lydia agrees and moves into Elizabeth's house. Soon Lydia discovers that the violence that has fallen across present-day Cambridge may have its origins in the troubling evidence that Elizabeth's research has unearthed.

    txkimmers says: "More of a stroll"
    "Not really spooky, but definitely mysterious"
    Where does Ghostwalk rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    This is probably in the top five books that I've listened to. At first I thought I wasn't going to like the story because it seemed as though it was going to be more about relationships than ghosts, but that lasted for about five minutes before I got sucked into the story. I think the narrator does a great job and I really felt like she was the author speaking, not just someone doing an interpretation.

    What did you like best about this story?

    The story was well told and not predictable.

    Which scene was your favorite?

    I don't remember, but I really enjoyed the scenes at the cottage and how the light played across the ceiling as though thrown by an invisible prism. The description was eerie and beautiful and mysterious

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

    No, only because I can't sit still that long! I listen to books while commuting, but there were a couple of times I sat in my car a few minutes after getting home to finish up a scene

    Any additional comments?

    I'm a student of history so this appealed to me on several levels -- not the least because I was also writing a research paper on Newton at the same time. I enjoyed the fictional aspects of the story, but I listened closely for historical details, too ... and they're there. Check out the author's website if you are interested in Newton's history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Affinity Bridge: A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By George Mann
    • Narrated By Simon Taylor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.

    Doug says: "nowhere near as bad as reviewed"
    "A Bit Confused"

    There was a lot going on in this story -- murder, mayhem, zombies, an airship accident, a spunky female Victorian protagonist, a mysterious and talented main character, and a mad scientist. Maybe it was too much; there were some scenes that seemed like they should be part of another book, such as when the main character, Newbury, is in his room lying in a pentagram. It was never clear that this had anything to do with the storyline. Frankly, I found the mystery curious but the gross descriptions of zombie fights a bit over the top. I'm not into guts and gore; the story could have cut half of the fight scenes. And really, what is it with zombies? Are they just thrown in for comic relief in all books these days?

    This book shows promise of good character development for subsequent stories, but the plots need no extraneous elements -- and that includes slavering zombies. I want more of the Victorian/steampunk elements and less monsters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Boneshaker

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Cherie Priest
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

    Jesse says: "Doesn't live up to potential"

    I went for this because of the steampunk aspect. I mean, how can a story with an airship in it be bad? Well, it's not bad, really, but I was disappointed by the story. There was too much emphasis on arguments between the mother and teenage son and less emphasis on developing the plot. I thought the Boneshaker machine was going to be at the midst of this story, but it was off to the side. Too bad. And frankly, I can do without zombies.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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