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Karen

Likes: Cozy mysteries (cats a plus), personal memoirs,not too dark fantasy, books about the brain. Dislikes: Torture, animal cruelty.

Glen Gardner, NJ, United States | Member Since 2014

57
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 113 reviews
  • 113 ratings
  • 316 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2015
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5

  • Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Charlaine Harris
    • Narrated By Therese Plummer
    Overall
    (754)
    Performance
    (350)
    Story
    (352)

    Though a small town at heart, Lawrenceton, Georgia, has its dark side - and its crime buffs. One of them is librarian Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, a member of the Real Murders Club, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It's a harmless pastime - until the night she finds a member killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss.

    Jeanie Jenkins says: "Adjusting expectations"
    "Liked it mostly, but turned off by one part"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    At first I was really into this book. It is about a group of people who had a club where they discussed real murder cases, and it starts where one member gets murdered in the style of the case they were gonna discuss that night. I like the premise and I thought it was interesting, but I got turned off when a nice old couple got hacked up (off screen thankfully). Just crossed the line of good fun in a murder mystery in my opinion. But I did finish it. Not sure the outcome was 100% convincing either but the author at least made a point of mentioning that sometimes serial killers seem like ordinary people to people who know them casually. Will continue the series to see what happens with the characters, but serial killers are really not for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Curiosity Thrilled the Cat: A Magical Cats Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Sofie Kelly
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (324)
    Performance
    (291)
    Story
    (291)

    When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there's something more to these felines. When murder interrupts Mayville's Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect.

    Linda says: "Promising "Cozy" Series"
    "A Very Tame Cozy - Things to know..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The thing to know about this book is that there isn't much action. If you want excitement look elsewhere. I like peaceful books, with small town settings where characters bake and hang out with their cats and even I found this book very mild. There is a lot of meaningless polite dialogue too. "How are you today, Kathleen?" "I'm fine." "Are you sure you are fine?" "Yes, I am sure. Thank you so much for asking." That sort of thing. Kathleen is not an exciting person. There's no romance (though clearly the hunky detective who likes cats is intended as a future love interest). We don't really learn much more about the cats magical abilities than you could learn by reading the back cover. I am hoping to have things pick up in the next book. It isn't entirely clear why Kathleen is investigating the murder at all actually. In general I prefer a real reason to motivate a person. The thing I liked least about the book though was the ending. Most people want the victim to be someone not well liked so nobody is sad about it. This victim is a really bad person, probably too bad because I really didn't care if his murder was solved. Lastly, and this makes me a bad person I guess, when the killer is revealed I sort of wished Kathleen had left the whole thing alone. It seemed sort of self righteous to push this whole issue, and why really was she so hung up on getting "justice" for this dead jerk anyway? However, I have had that issue with other heroines in other series (like Skye in the Scumble River books). They pursue these things because they are such good people. Can't relate. I am going to read the next one though because I feel there is potential with the magical cat angle and the romance angle. I tried reading the print version of this book some time ago and made it about halfway through. It just didn't hold my attention. But I did much better with the audio version. At first I was turned off by the narration. Our heroine is given a very snooty voice and I wasn't sure I could stand it but she grew on me over time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stiff Penalty

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Annelise Ryan
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (70)

    Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That's why she's on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she's turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames's teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can't believe it, even as her own long-estranged father may be following her.

    Beatrice says: "I love Maddy Winston"
    "Different Format, But Still Interested in Mattie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought this book moved slower than the previous ones. I also didn't like the format all that much. The bulk of the book is told as Mattie tells her story to her shrink. The main problem I found with this approach was that instead of seeing the things happen, you are given a higher level spoiler, then told the story. And I mean big things are blown this way. We should see if Hurley is going to propose, not be told if he will. Things like that. Also the pregnant Mattie is more jealous and whiny than usual. Her shrink is paid to hear her repeatedly stress about whether her and Hurley "have what it takes" or not, but I wasn't. Not to imply I didn't enjoy the book, I continue to be interested in Mattie and Hurley and I did enjoy the book. But even the mysteries in this one take a back seat to Mattie's psych issues. We end at a good place for Mattie though and not without enough drama left that the series could continue.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell
    • Narrated By Kimberly Farr
    Overall
    (419)
    Performance
    (358)
    Story
    (364)

    When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly 60 years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the 19th century with a 21st-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades.

    Bokworm says: "I still don't know much about Huguette Clark"
    "Fascinating, But Know This..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was torn between wanting to listen to this or to read it in print. I decided the book was simply too long for me to make it through in print so I got this version but I also took the hardcover put of the library because you really need the pictures to appreciate the story. Another way to make this work is to use the book's website emptymansionbook which has pictures readily available. The website also has other additional information. One frustrating thing is that as of the time the book was published there hadn't even been a settlement of the will. Even now, some things are still up in the air. I felt compelled as soon as I finished to see what information I could get online about where thongs stood. So just know that you have to go beyond this audiobook to get the complete story. Having said that though the story itself is absolutely fascinating. At least it was to me, though I imagine some people need more action. If you find strolling through old mansions and imagining life therein interesting then you will probably be interested. Having said that know there are a lot of long passages with lists of expenses, etc, that certainly slow the story down. Keep in mind too that you are dealing with an elderly recluse so action isn't going to be her thing. But if you ever wondered what went on in such a life this is an interesting look at just that. One interesting thing that you get with the audiobook as opposed to a print version is that there are numerous recordings from phone calls one of the coauthors had with Huguette and I thought that was a nice touch to get to actually hear this person you are spending all those hours hearing about. Having said that though she can be a little hard to understand. The book did feel long. One reason was that the authors went through her life a number of times. That is, they talked about her and got her up into her nineties several times before going back and covering another aspect of the same life later. Truthfully I am not sure if there was a better way to do this - they certainly had a challenge making a cohesive whole from the varied sources of information that they had. I was surprised the first time though that she made it into her nineties to discover I was only half way through the book. I am really glad I stuck with the book all the way through. It's rare to finish a book and remain so genuinely interested in what I just read that I wanted to revisit it on the internet. So a great book for the right audience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sociopath Next Door

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Martha Stout
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    Overall
    (2990)
    Performance
    (1936)
    Story
    (1934)

    We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people, one in 25, has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath.

    Taryn says: "Reinforces what you have already known"
    "Interesting, Not horrible, Good narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While perhaps not earth shattering in its content, I did find this book interesting. One thing I particularly liked was as I listened a question would occur to me and it seemed every time I wondered something I found that whatever I was wondering about (theory of causation, or brain differences, or relation to attachment disorder) was the next thing to be addressed. The book starts with a discussion of the prevalence of sociopaths in society, and the 1 in 25 people statistic explained a lot of what happens in the world. As the author first discusses and portrays sociopaths, I was a little concerned that given the nature of the behavior of stereotypical sociopaths that I was in for an upsetting read. However with the exception of one episode which was unfortunate for bullfrogs, the book is safe even for the tenderhearted. I think the author did a great job showing different types of sociopaths outside the stereotype, and i like that while starting on a scarier note that the book ended in a more positive way. Really enjoyed the narrator - she really brought the characters to life. Her Doreen Littlefield in particular was perfect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lucky Stiff: A Mattie Winston Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Annelise Ryan
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (144)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (130)

    It's Christmas Day in the sleepy town of Sorenson, Wisconsin, but instead of unwrapping presents, deputy coroner Mattie Winston is at the burnt remains of a house where a charred body has been found. The victim is none other than Jack Allen - a paraplegic who recently won a huge casino jackpot. Upon closer inspection, Mattie and detective Steve Hurley are convinced Jack was murdered to steal his winnings, giving the phrase blackjack a whole new meaning....

    Beatrice says: "humorous and fun"
    "Mattie, Mattie, What are you doing?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A lot of reviewers were very annoyed by this book and the sheer number of stupid things Mattie manages to do in it. I agree it is frustrating behavior for someone we have been regarding as a smart woman. Also, I agree with others who say the amount of disasters in the book is really over the top. It reads more like an action movie that a mystery. But I certainly did enjoy parts very much. The Mattie and Hurley build up is a lot of fun, and there is a scene with a drunken Mattie that was priceless, despite the fact that the narrator is really bad at drunk voices. And if the book hasn't driven you mad by the end there is the up and down of the cliffhanger ending that had me starting the next book within five minutes of this one. But since this is a mystery I should say something about the mystery part. There are two deaths being investigated in the book, and I have to say I am not sure what the author was thinking with the secondary death. It was a downer and didn't showcase anything good about Mattie and Hurley (who I notice both seem to like to play bad cop and feel ok bullying anyone involved in any capacity with a suspicious death). The main mystery was better. Book definitely kept my interest throughout.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Board Stiff

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Annelise Ryan
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (137)
    Performance
    (122)
    Story
    (122)

    Sorenson, Wisconsin's deputy coroner Mattie Winston is back on the job...in a nursing home examining the body of Bernie Chase - the now former president of the Twilight Home's board of directors - who is covered in a powder used to turn liquids to solids. The home's residents are certain Bernie was offing the patients who cost him too much...and the patient that found him can't remember a thing.

    Amanda says: "Love this series!"
    "Not a Great Mystery, But Enjoying Mattie's Life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have become attached to Mattie and the characters in this series, so my standards aren't super high with the mysteries. However, this was definitely not a favorite for a couple of reasons. The mystery was set in a nursing home and I don't really care for the portrayal of old folks in this book. They are mostly played crudely and for laughs. I have never found the character of the sex starved old lady who is supposed to be funny/repulsive to be amusing. I gather plenty of people do find that funny since this author certainly isn't the only one to put in such characters for humor. It seems especially off when they are also trying to make statements about the value of life. That wasn't a big deal though. What I found weak about the mystery was that no one ever solves it. They investigate but really nothing gets accomplished until the killer basically comes forward. I prefer my detectives to actually solve the mystery not just work on it until it blows up in their face. Still, I enjoyed Mattie and Hurley. I was surprised by how quickly they fell back in together after the cliffhanger ending of the last book. Although there are some things left up in the end at the end of this one, Mattie seems in a better place in her life than usual. I wish the next one was available on Audible!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Murder of a Chocolate-Covered Cherry: A Scumble River Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Denise Swanson
    • Narrated By Christine Leto
    Overall
    (276)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (221)

    Grandma Sal's Soup-to-Nuts Cooking Challenge is coming to town, and Skye Denison is entering. And though she can't solve the mystery of the perfect mousse, murder is another story. Because a cocky contestant has been found delectably drowned in a chocolate fountain....

    deanna says: "I keep re-listening to the Scumble River Series"
    "Good Enough Cozy for Scumble Fans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the last book the narrator suddenly changed the voices of two characters which was really annoying. In this book, one of them, Skye's mother May, sounds normal again. Thank goodness for that since she has a prominent role in this book. In fact I would say there is way too much May in this book. Bunny still doesn't sound right. The book centers around a cooking contest, which gives us that good small town atmosphere. As usual the victim is a snooty, insulting woman. There is a secondary mystery of a missing teen. I enjoyed the mysteries well enough but I have to say that some of the characters were not strongly drawn enough that I necessarily could tell them apart. That was inconvenient when some of them were suspects. I was very happy to see more maturity from Skye in this book, she was less reckless and at one point I was sure she was going to do something very stupid, and she didn't do it! So I was all around satisfied with this installment and ready for the next.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Frozen Stiff: A Mattie Winston Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Annelise Ryan
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (155)
    Performance
    (141)
    Story
    (140)

    Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows everyone in the charmingly small town of Sorenson, Wisconsin - except the latest body discovered in a desolate field. If a woman this attractive had moved into town, the news would have surely hit the gossip mill in record time. So who was the murdered femme fatale? Whose knife was left planted in her chest? The mystery deepens when detective Steven Hurley takes one look at the body and turns as white as the newly fallen snow...and excuses himself from the case.

    Karen says: "Better Mystery, Romance not as good"
    "Better Mystery, Romance not as good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been enjoying this series because I enjoy the characters particularly Mattie and Hurley, and Mattie makes me chuckle. In the first two books, the mysteries were perhaps not that well developed. In this book we move on to a much more complicated mystery which plays a bigger role in the book. I considered that a plus and I even listened up to 5 hours in one day to have it resolved. Also, I did not solve this one. That said though, I found the lack of romantic progress disappointing. In fact the developing romance has gone backwards instead of forward in this book. But I will definitely go on to the next one to see if it gets back on track! It's the same narrator as previous books and I really like her as Mattie but she does sometimes mispronounce words.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Scared Stiff: A Mattie Winston Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Annelise Ryan
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (186)
    Performance
    (166)
    Story
    (166)

    When Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston and her boss/best friend, Izzy, are called to the home of waitress and part-time model Shannon Tolliver, they find the ghoulish Halloween decorations a bit too authentic. Among the fake blood and skeletons is the corpse of Shannon herself. Since the whole town knows Shannon recently had a very public spat with her estranged husband, Erik, he's suspect number one. But Mattie happens to know Erik truly loved his wife, and is simply incapable of the brutal act - even if he owns the exact same caliber handgun as the murder weapon.…

    Melanie says: "Good Series, Nix the Stupid Sexual References"
    "Light, Enjoyable Cozy Mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am really enjoying this series. Unlike some other listeners I have no problem with the narrator. I find her voice fits the characters, even if she does occasionally use a pronunciation that seems off to me. Unlike the first book, I did not guess the ending in this one. I think this is going to be one of those series though that I enjoy the characters so much that I feel no need to over analyze the mystery. Mattie makes me chuckle. If you liked book one you will like this one. All the things you could dislike about it (like Mattie's klutziness, or the crude sexual innuendo) were part of book one as well. They did not bother me. There was one character who got a little tiresome in this one for me, an elderly man with dawning dementia and a catheter problem, but I can over look that since I enjoy Mattie and Hurley and Izzy and the pets enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Stolen Life: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Jaycee Dugard
    • Narrated By Jaycee Dugard
    Overall
    (1491)
    Performance
    (1127)
    Story
    (1128)

    "In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen. For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse. For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation. On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I dont think of myself as a victim. I survived...."

    Daniel says: "Terrific"
    "Not as Hard to Listen to as I Feared, Hard to stop"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I actually had this audiobook for ages before I listened to it. I was one of the many people totally fascinated by Jaycee's story in the news. I just wasn't sure I could actually handle listening to the abuse that she had suffered. My main area of interest was in what happened when she returned to her family though and this seemed to be the only source for that info. I finally listened to it and I have to say that it wasn't as hard to hear as I thought. I hate rape scenes, even in fiction, and dreaded that in this book. Jaycee manages to communicate the facts of her abuse without dwelling on the suffering and she explains the pattern of abuse in detail basically just once. The reader understands what happened without having to keep reliving it. I thought it was very well done. Some reviewers are critical of Jaycee's narration. I rather liked it. She sounds very young which works well when discussing her early days. There is also a flat, reading quality to what she is saying that makes it less emotionally charged and easier to listen too. I really think this was preferable to some narrator dramatizing the material. What happened was drama enough. As with anything that makes headlines, you tend to think that you already know a lot of the story. I confess to being surprised at how Jaycee came to tell the officers who she was. I had the impression from the news that once she was alone with officers she seized the day to reclaim her identity. Actually, they really had to pull it out of her. She does go into a lot of detail on her therapy after the reunion wit her mom. I would have really liked to hear what her mom was thinking at certain points but I guess that is a different book. I found the book a quick and compelling read that is hard to assign a starred value to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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