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MidwestGeek

ratings
371
REVIEWS
80
FOLLOWING
13
FOLLOWERS
5
HELPFUL VOTES
68

  • Iron Lake: Cork O'Connor, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By William Kent Krueger
    • Narrated By David Chandler
    Overall
    (679)
    Performance
    (560)
    Story
    (558)

    Anthony Award-winning author William Kent Krueger crafts this riveting tale about a small Minnesota town’s ex-sheriff who is having trouble retiring his badge. Cork O’Connor loses his job after being blamed for a tragedy on the local Anishinaabe Indian reservation. But he must set aside his personal demons when a young boy goes missing on the same day a judge commits suicide—and no one but O’Connor suspects foul play.

    Mel says: "Who came first - Wm Krueger or CJ Box ???"
    "Good debut, but does the series get better?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was an enjoyable mystery, although it tends to wander a bit and drones on too long about the plight of the Ojibwe tribe and their exploitation by whites, all of which is probably true but for the most part, tangential to the plot. On the other hand, his descriptions of the wilds of Minnesota and its history add to the drama. I understood that this was the first of a series with Cork O'Connor as the protagonist, so however dire his situation appeared to be at any point, I knew somehow he would survive. I liked that he and his wife were multidimensional, having both great strengths and evident weaknesses. Many of their adversaries, however, are more one-dimensional, purely cunning and evil, without any sign of conscience. The female leads are both very beautiful, and sex is always passionate, thrilling, and uncomplicated. The plot is intricate, but fairly predictable, and the ending was, for me, typical of the genre, not at all unexpected. I was rather surprised to learn that Iron Lake won the 1999 Anthony Award for best first novel. The quality of the prose does not compare to that of Louise Penny or Michael Connelly. However, from other reviews, I infer that the writing becomes stronger with time, and note that subsequent books in this series won Anthony Awards for best novel of the year in 2005 & 2006. His latest, Trickster's Point, the twelfth in the series, is currently #12 on the NY Times hardcover best sellers list. So I'd be willing to give a later book in the series a try sometime, but am in no rush to do so. David Chandler was an excellent narrator; I enjoyed listening to him.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Fault in Our Stars

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By John Green
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8806)
    Performance
    (8067)
    Story
    (8117)

    Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

    FanB14 says: "Sad Premise, Fantastic Story"
    "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am far from being a YA, but I was sucked in by all the hype about this book even being a pleasurable read for adults. I have mixed feelings about it. Some of the prose is very good, and some of the scenes and dialog are funny. However, I felt the plot was by design manipulative of the reader's emotions, so much so that it was often hard to take seriously. Do teenagers today really talk like these protagonists? The plot was so predictable. It reminded me of the hugely successful "Love Story", a 1970 novel and movie by Erich Segal, from which my title was taken. When I read that book, I thought that it was a parody of romance novels, and, in fact, I recalled reading that some thought that was Segal's original intent. (Searching the internet, I find no evidence of that. Trick of memory?) I'm sure that John Green did not intend this to be satirical, but it was so overdone....

    Had it not been for Rudd's excellent narration, I probably would not have finished it.

    This is the second attempt at reading Green, the first being "An Abundance of Katherines." This one is better, but I doubt I'll try any others.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Unleashed: Andy Carpenter, Book 11

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By David Rosenfelt
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (404)
    Performance
    (350)
    Story
    (351)

    Andy Carpenter's accountant, Sam Willis, receives a surprise call from Barry Price, a friend he hasn't spoken to in years. Barry needs Sam's financial acumen and Andy's legal expertise. But when Sam almost runs over an injured dog on the way to Barry's house, he can't drive off without waiting for help. By then, Barry's taken off on a private airplane headed to who-knows-where. Soon after they learn that Barry's plane has crashed, and they come to the terrifying realization that Sam was also supposed to have been killed on that plane.

    Richard says: "Didn't see that coming"
    "Fun read; good mystery, hokey ending."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoy the recurring characters, and this followed the usual pattern of earlier books in the series. I like Andy Carpenter's sense of humor, but I'm sure it is not for everybody. This is a better mystery than most, but I found the ending contrived. Still, it was a fun read (listen).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons: Bernie Rhodenbarr, Book 11

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Lawrence Block
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (42)

    Ever since The Burglar on the Prowl climbed the best seller lists in 2004, fans have been clamoring for a new book featuring the lighthearted and light-fingered Bernie Rhodenbarr. Now everybody's favorite burglar returns in an 11th adventure that finds him and his lesbian sidekick Carolyn Kaiser breaking into houses, apartments, and even a museum, in a madcap adventure replete with American Colonial silver, an F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscript, a priceless portrait, and a remarkable array of buttons. And, wouldn't you know it, there's a dead body, all stretched out on a Trent Barling carpet....

    Bennie says: "Welcome back, Bernie!"
    "As usual, corny but very funny."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You will either like these corny mysteries and characters or you won't. I do, and I found this to be one of the funniest in the series. Richard Ferrone does an excellent job of giving voices and accents to the different main characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The UnAmericans: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Molly Antopol
    • Narrated By Jennifer Van Dyck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Again and again, Molly Antopol’s deeply sympathetic characters struggle for footing in an uncertain world, hounded by forces beyond their control. Their voices are intimate and powerful and they resonate with searing beauty. Antopol is a superb young talent, and The UnAmericans will long be remembered for its wit, humanity, and heart.

    W. Perry Hall says: "All the lonely people, where do they all belong?"
    "Sensational stories! Brilliant new author."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Molly Antopol is a wonderful first-time author with a clarity of expression and insight into human behavior that is astonishing. Time and again I was surprised by the unusual degree of self-awareness shown by her characters. This collection of stories mostly take place between about 1943-1953, long before she was born. Their locale varies from San Francisco to Jerusalem to Belarus. Although her themes surround WWII and its aftermath, especially for Jews, the stories encompass universal issues. The title refers obliquely to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, whose activities in the late 1940's resulted in the creation of Hollywood blacklists of professionals in the movie industry and the jailing of 10 men. One of her stories deals directly with the personal consequences of this tragedy.

    Jennifer van Dyck's reading is good, but she makes no attempt to speak in character or to use different voices. It took me a little while to get used to men speaking in a female voice, and her range of emotion is limited. The strength of the writing comes through anyway. For those of you expecting more from a narrator, I encourage you to read the book instead since the narration adds little.

    Finishing the book, I wanted to know more about this author. She wrote an interesting commentary on her namesake village, Antopol, in the New Yorker's Page-Turner blog (Jan. 29, 2014). There are interviews with her in "The Times of Israel" (Feb. 15, 2014) and The Rumpus (Feb. 17, 2014). She divides her time between San Francisco and Israel, when she isn't traveling elsewhere. I look forward to reading her first full-length novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Jonas Jonasson
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1210)
    Performance
    (1070)
    Story
    (1087)

    After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash.

    Sylvia says: "Full of Surprises and Unexpected Events"
    "Amusing satire that loses its edge after a while."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an amusing story, but satire is difficult medium to sustain for the length of a novel. The protagonist, Allan Karlsson, is a lot like Forrest Gump, with similar attributes other than being mentally retarded, bumbling into situations in which he is regarded as brilliant. The style is also similar inasmuch as it is episodic. The author alternates between the present time (2005) and earlier periods of Allan's life, and it works for a while but also gets a bit stale. One difference from Gump is Allan's capacity to drink unlimited quantities of vodka and other forms of alcohol, but that is in character with his being Swedish, I suppose. In order to appreciate this book, you need to approach it like a cartoon or comic book, totally unrealistic machinations and unbelievable coincidences. I enjoyed many of the characters but after a while, I was ready for the book to end, and it took longer to get there than I expected.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • In the Morning I'll Be Gone: Troubles Trilogy, Book 3 (Detective Sean Duffy, Book 3)

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Adrian McKinty
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (394)
    Performance
    (360)
    Story
    (351)

    It's the early 1980s in Belfast. Sean Duffy, a conflicted Catholic cop in the Protestant RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), is recruited by MI5 to hunt down Dermot McCann, an IRA master bomber who has made a daring escape from the notorious Maze prison. In the course of his investigations, Sean discovers a woman who may hold the key to Dermot's whereabouts; she herself wants justice for her daughter who died in mysterious circumstances in a pub locked from the inside.

    B.J. says: "Great conclusion to a terrific trilogy."
    "A great writer and terrific narrator."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love McKinty's writing, and I thought this was the best of the Duffy series. It's quite a complex mystery, and you have to wonder how he manages to survive the situations he gets himself into. I enjoy listening to Gerard Doyle reading; a perfect fit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Night and the Music: The Matthew Scudder Short Story Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Lawrence Block
    • Narrated By Lawrence Block
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (12)

    Lawrence Block's 17 Matthew Scudder novels have won the hearts of readers throughout the world - along with a bevy of awards including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Philip Marlowe (Germany), and the Maltese Falcon (Japan). But Scudder has starred in short fiction as well, and it's all here, from a pair of late-'70s novelettes ("Out the Window" and "A Candle for the Bag Lady") through "By the Dawn's Early Light" (Edgar) and "The Merciful Angel of Death" (Shamus), all the way to "One Last Night at Grogan's", a moving and elegiac story never before published.

    MidwestGeek says: "Stories are clever if you can get past his voice."
    "Stories are clever if you can get past his voice."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As clever an author as Block is, his narration leaves much to be desired. If you can stand his reading, some of the stories are worthwhile. This is a case where I'd recommend reading them instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Dave Van Ronk, Elijah Wald
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    Dave Van Ronk was one of the founding figures of the 1960s folk revival, but he was far more than that. A pioneer of modern acoustic blues, a fine songwriter and arranger, a powerful singer, and one of the most influential guitarists of the ’60s, he was also a marvelous storyteller, a peerless musical historian, and one of the most quotable figures on the Village scene. The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a firsthand account by a major player in the social and musical history of the ’50s and ’60s.

    MidwestGeek says: "Overview of NYC folk music scene of '50's & 60's."
    "Overview of NYC folk music scene of '50's & 60's."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like folk music of the mid- to late 20th century, you'll probably enjoy this memoir, an insider's perspective of the folk music scene, mostly around Greenwich Village. Mention Dave Van Ronk to someone today and you are likely to get a blank stare. Van Ronk never was a superstar but was well known, especially among other folk singers. The narrative is first person, but this is more like an autobiography of his professional life than his personal life. For example, we learn that he was married twice, but you learn little more about his wives than their names. Wald has done a brilliant job editing the material left by Dave Van Ronk. In an epilogue by Wald, you can tell this was a labor of love.
    Although the book was the inspiration for the Coen Brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis," van Ronk differed in important ways from the character in the film. For example, Dave's first love was jazz, and he never abandoned it. Although he hitched a ride to Chicago and back once in hopes of playing at The Gate of Horn, there was never involved a jazz musician resembling Roland Turner nor the Kerouac-like driver/beat poet Johnny Five.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Taking the Fifth: J. P. Beaumont Series, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By J. A. Jance
    • Narrated By Gene Engene
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (153)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (79)

    Homicide Detective J. P. Beaumont had little to go on: a body, definitely male and decidedly dead, with strange little puncture wounds.

    Jean says: "Taking the Fifth"
    "Unbelievable plot and characters; lousy writing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was the first mystery by J.A. Jance that I've read, and I am apparently in the small minority who finds the writing lacking. Especially in the beginning, it sounded like a parody of the usual TV detective dialog with hackneyed phrases, stereotypical characters, etc. I knew what the character would say before he said it. J. P. Beaumont seems to be not a particularly bright or insightful homicide detective, so I was surprised later to learn that he is a legend in the police department. The story is engaging, but Beaumont' sudden love interest is a totally implausible relationship, and his behavior is not only stupid but bizarre. The story goes on for a long time with mysterious murders and no hint of why. Beaumont makes little progress and overlooks the obvious until his former partner points it out from his hospital bed. The eventual resolution is not something that could be inferred from the evidence, although I did guess who the mastermind was. Altogether, a disappointing experience--not of the calibre of other detective series such as Connelly's Harry Bosch or Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache. The narrator seems appropriate for the subject, but his sentences are clipped and often sound affected. Reminded me a little of the legendary TV series Dragnet from the 1950's, but it doesn't work in the 21st century.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inherent Vice

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Thomas Pynchon
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (285)
    Performance
    (125)
    Story
    (124)

    It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy", except that this one usually leads to trouble.

    Philipp Marian Selman says: "If you enjoyed The Crying of Lot 49..."
    "A serious comic mystery. Wait for the movie?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is hard to classify. You might call it a comic mystery, but I didn't find it all that funny. It does accurately reflect a certain time (late 1960's) and place (Southern California beach towns) and the business and brutal side of the drug culture. Various characters, including the PI, "Doc" Sportello, reminded me of an amalgam of "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers," comic book characters from the early 1970's. At one point, Doc recites their favorite line: "Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope." They had no ambition other than to smoke dope and try psychedelic drugs (other than heroin), a little like Doc. He appears to be smart but views the world through a continual marijuana haze. It gets tiresome after a while. There are too many characters and side detours, at least for me, who only listens in the car while commuting or shopping. His dialog with the "honest cop," Bigfoot Bjornsen, contrasts their different life styles and philosophies, but eventually, it too seems to grow stale. One does sense a mutual respect.

    The narrator does a pretty good job handling the myriad challenges of the book, but sometimes, I couldn't distinguish a character by his/her voice. Altogether, a mixed bag.

    I gather a film of the same name will be released in 2014, starring Joaquin Phoenix as "Doc." It'll no doubt be simplified and easier to understand. It'll be interesting to see whether I will like it better than the audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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