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Calliope

ratings
117
REVIEWS
116
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
143

  • Burning Angel: A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Mark Hammer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (96)

    Detective Dave Robicheaux becomes entangled in the affairs of the Fontenot family, descendants of sharecroppers whose matriarch helped raise Dave as a child. They are in danger of losing the land they've lived on for more than a century. As Dave tries to discover who wants the land so badly, he finds himself in increasing peril from a lethal, rag tag alliance of local mobsters and a hired assassin with a shady past.

    Ted says: "HAUNTING: A Mystical Bayou Cop Story..."
    "lazy writing, bad editing, sloppy plot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Apparently JL Burke never met a simile he could refuse - I've never seen such an overuse of similes, and to me it's a sign of lazy and heavy-handed writing.; It's a lot more difficult to write a description without a simile than with it, and it's more didactic and heavy handed to write a simile that leaves nothing for the imagination to create or enjoy. While some might say that it results in wonderful description, I say it results in a paint-by-numbers picture rather than a work of art.

    And the sloppy plotting......oh, where to begin? Did everyone forget that Sonny has a look alike cousin? Why did the professional assassin make such an amateurish job of trying to kill Dave? What did anyone's recollections of their military past add to the various story lines? And why were there so many subplots?

    As for the editing of the audiobook, there were extremely extended pauses - some of 6-7 seconds that made me wonder if the app had stopped working. And at one point, I heard a muted "what's wrong" at the end of the chapter, as if either the mike was still active or the editor had not trimmed out that piece of audio.

    I like Mark Hammer's lazy and slow reading pace - it seems very appropriate for a deep south storyline. But he still has problems differentiating voices, and it got confusing sometimes - a really good narrator should allow you to recognize the character without hearing the name spoken.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Malala Yousafzai
    • Narrated By Archie Panjabi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (820)
    Performance
    (745)
    Story
    (748)

    When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York.

    Jan says: "So much more than expected..."
    "This book was a wonderful surprise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I never had any intention of reading or listening to this book when it came out. Anything Oprah raves about drops down on my list of experiences I want to partake in.....and then one morning, I looked at Malala's face on the cover and changed my mind. And I was pleased to discover this wasn't the preachy or heavy-handed book about politics and the evils of the Taliban that I was afraid it would be.

    Happily, this book is more about a brave young woman than about politics. And it's about her supportive parents, in a place and time when that wasn't always available to girls and young women. I was as much impressed by the life and actions of her father as I was about Malala herself, and I think he and his contributions have been overlooked much of the time. Malala obviously learned a lot from the way he treated his wife and daughter (very different from many others of his culture), the way he fought to build schools and teach children (male and female), and the way he spoke out, organized, and negotiated to make education for all a priority.

    It's not surprising that a smart girl from a family like that would also grow up to cherish education and to speak her mind about the importance of everyone having those opportunities. What was surprising (to me) was that it didn't take away from her "normal-ness" as a pre-teen and teenaged girl.....and that comes through in the book. She talks about chatting with school friends about pop music and the Twilight books, and about fighting with her younger brothers over access to toys or a computer. About enjoying going on picnics, and playing cricket. Ordinary stuff that happens to young teenaged girls all over the world.

    It's also clear from the book how much Malala loves her home and her country, even while she is saddened by what is going on there (mostly in respect to the rights of women and children, but also that some of her own countrymen have claimed her shooting was either a fake, or an excuse to move to the West). She is also quite clear that her views on Islam have not been changed by the efforts of other groups to instill a fringe fanaticism that is not reflective of true Islam. That while her world has been changed by the Taliban and what has happened to her, she has not.

    The narration was wonderful, full of heart and emotion, and sounding young enough to actually be a 16 year old girl (which lends even more realism to the reading).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Haunting of Hill House

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Shirley Jackson
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (536)
    Performance
    (463)
    Story
    (470)

    Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House.

    Mark says: "Superb Reading of Horror Classic"
    "a classic that isn't as terrorizing as I'd hoped"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a classic novel of terror, not horror -- it's more about the things that go bump in the night and set off disturbing and paranoid thoughts in people's minds. It's all psychological, no blood-and-guts violence. Still, this story (unlike some other of Jackson's works) doesn't really stand the test of time with respect to the characterizations and dialogue. I didn't like the supposedly witty banter that seemed to take up a lot of time and only made the characters seem superficial and uninteresting. I liked the opening and set up, and I liked the ending, but the middle of the story seemed too lightweight and unfocused.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Mark Haddon
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4075)
    Performance
    (1785)
    Story
    (1804)

    Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone has Asperger's Syndrome, a condition similar to autism. He doesn't like to be touched or meet new people, he cannot make small talk, and he hates the colors brown and yellow. He is a math whiz with a very logical brain who loves solving puzzles that have definite answers.

    Robert says: "Endearing. Pathos, humor, reality, and insight."
    "far longer than it ought to be"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes, this book has a unique point of view and yes, this book has an interesting protagonist, but that doesn't make it a good book, or a well written book. I felt like I was being hit over the head with the same descriptions of that uniqueness (clearly Asperger Syndrome) over and over and over again. Maybe that's the point - that those with Asperger's are very often fixated on something and use phrases or descriptions repetitively? But the author himself has said it's not a book about Asperger's, it's a book about being different and making one's way in the world as an outsider. In that case, I think he wrote a repetitive and overly-long book that made me care less and less about the protagonist as time wore on. Probably would have been a better short story than a short novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fear Nothing: Detective D. D. Warren, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Lisa Gardner
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (785)
    Performance
    (679)
    Story
    (678)

    The last thing Boston Detective D. D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark. Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear… She is later told she managed to discharge her weapon three times. All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work. My sister is Shana Day, a notorious murderer who first killed at fourteen. Incarcerated for thirty years, she has now murdered more people while in prison than she did as a free woman.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Fascinating look at a killer family!"
    "Painful to listen to"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read a couple of Lisa Gardner's DD Warren books before and enjoyed them, but I'm finding this audiobook painful to listen to. I'm only about a tenth of the way through, but I'm writing the review now because I might end up returning this book -- the narration is that bad. I find it slow and unengaged, with limited emotional breadth that does nothing to draw me into the stories or the characters. Still, I'm going to put this book aside and get back to it later. It could be that it pales in comparison to other great audiobooks, and might sound better after a short break.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Glengarry Glen Ross

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 22 mins)
    • By David Mamet
    • Narrated By Gordon Clapp, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, Richard Dreyfuss, and others
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (45)

    A group of low-ranking real-estate salesmen are trying to survive in a cut-throat office culture. But when two of them devise a plot to redress the company's wrongs, the resulting turmoil increases the pressure to unbearable levels. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance.

    Nothing really matters says: "Top notch, dramatic acting in a great story."
    "powerful performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've never seen this play produced, but I have seen the movie so I was prepared for the strong language and palpable anger in the dialogue.......and these performers do a wonderful job. The anger and fear is almost palpable among the salesmen of a real estate development as they struggle to sell properties to feed their families and rank higher than their coworkers on the sales board each month, so they can get better sales leads the next month to try and hustle to earn enough to feed their families again.

    If you've never listened to a live performance it might take a bit to get used to the sounds of the audience applauding, for instance, but it's worth it to hear this great script and great performers.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Whack-a-Mole

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Chris Grabenstein
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (754)
    Performance
    (346)
    Story
    (338)

    John Ceepak and Danny Boyle return with the hunt for a long-dormant serial killer who might be ready to strike again. An innocent discovery on the beach in Sea Haven pits Ceepak against a killer with a code just as rigid as his own. When the killer targets his next victim, the consequences becomes dire for Ceepak and Boyle. This is a game they must win.

    Bernadette says: "Series gets better and better"
    "more character development, more serious crime"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In this book, the series takes some significant steps forward - characters are more developed (Ceepak in a relationship, Danny now a full time police officer), and the crime and mystery are more serious and more grisly. That may or may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the light writing style and dialogue are still there. I could have done without the musical accompaniment to the epilogue, though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Storyteller

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno, Jennifer Ikeda, Edoardo Ballerini, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3220)
    Performance
    (2809)
    Story
    (2820)

    Jodi Picoult's poignant number one New York Times best-selling novels about family and love tackle hot-button issues head on. In The Storyteller, Sage Singer befriends Josef Weber, a beloved Little League coach and retired teacher. But then Josef asks Sage for a favor she never could have imagined - to kill him. After Josef reveals the heinous act he committed, Sage feels he may deserve that fate. But would his death be murder or justice?

    Sue says: "Interesting...different than I thought it would be"
    "1001 Nights in Nazi Germany"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sage is a young woman who befriends an elderly man in her grief support group, and he asks her to kill him as a kind of twisted form of justice for his previous crimes 60+ years before when he was an SS officer..........but that's not really what the book is about. Too bad, because that would have made a more interesting book about justice, forgiveness, sacrifice, self-loathing, and self-doubt.

    Instead we get a retrospective story about how Sage's grandmother lived and survived though World War II and internment in Nazi concentration camps, in great part because of her unfinished and ongoing story that she'd written.....the story had captivated an SS officer who helped her survive Auschwitz because he kept wanting to know what happened next in her story. That forms the biggest chunk of the book, and it's mixed with that telling of the story that she (the grandmother) wrote - which bears an unfortunate resemblance to a teen vampire love story. 'I killed for him, isn't that a sign that we were meant to be together?' -- Ugh!

    There's a definite undertone of Christian mythology in the book, in spite of the fact that Sage is an atheist and her grandmother was a Jew who survived the holocaust: Mary, Joseph, Adam, and Eve (well, it's actually Eva), all appear and bread is a central thread as the staff of life and livelihood, and the manifestation of the baker's emotions. Overall, I thought it was rather heavy handed in it's symbolism and language.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Queen of Hearts

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (454)
    Performance
    (424)
    Story
    (425)

    Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British throne, knows how to play the part of an almost royal - but now she's off to Hollywood, where she must reprise her role as sleuth or risk starring in an all-too-convincing death scene...

    Amanda says: "Unbearable"
    "Good but not her best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think this story pushes the envelope a little too far when it ventures to Hollywood.....had most of the story stayed on the ocean liner crossing the Atlantic, I think it would have been much better. I like the central cast of characters (all except for Queenie - she should have stayed with her new boss), but things reached ridiculous with the wild animals and movie plans. It was a fun romp up to and including New York, and I hope the next installment will stick a little closer to home for the 34th in line to the throne and her Irish beau.

    And I hope Queenie gets a job elsewhere and exits from the series!

    Katherine Kellgren's narration is always great, but even she was stretched a little too far, especially with the Spanish and Mexican accents. She managed a range of American accents fine, though she was a little over the top with the Western twang too. I'm hoping for a more Euro-centered story next time. Maybe even within the UK. A trip to Darcy's old home, maybe?

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • A Dangerous Fortune

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2466)
    Performance
    (1165)
    Story
    (1181)

    In 1866 tragedy strikes at the exclusive Windfield School when a mysterious accident takes the life of a student. Among the student's circle of friends are Hugh Pilaster; Hugh's older cousin Edward, dissolute heir to the Pilaster banking fortune; and Micky Miranda, the handsome son of a brutal South American oligarchy. The death and its aftermath begin the spiraling circle of treachery that will span three decades and entwine many lives.

    Rebecca says: "Predictable Fun"
    "Oy, vey -- what a soap opera!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're captivated by the machinations of wealthy families....well, this might be the book for you. I found the story dragged on and on with predictability, but then the last chapters felt rushed as if Follett felt the need to wrap things up quickly. All the regular suspects are there (the rich snob, the hooker with a heart of gold, the honourable son, the black sheep of the family, the evil foreigner) but they don't add up to anything unexpected and aren't written with much subtlety or imagination. Follett seems to me to write some excellent books and some very average ones, and this is solidly in the second category.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Crime and Punishment

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnett (translator)
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (476)
    Performance
    (314)
    Story
    (315)

    In this intense detective thriller instilled with philosophical, religious, and social commentary, Dostoevsky studies the psychological impact upon a desperate and impoverished student when he murders a despicable pawnbroker, transgressing moral law to ultimately "benefit humanity".

    Mubarak says: "Excellent Excellent Excellent!"
    "great narration improves the difficult writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my first venture into Russian literature, and I am pleased to say the wonderful narration helped with the difficult nomenclature.......characters are referenced sometimes by their last names, sometimes by their first and middle names, and sometimes by their nicknames - all of which are foreign to my ears. But because of Anthony Heald's narration skills, I could sort out who was whom and keep the story straight. I'm sure it would have been more difficult if I were reading the text.

    This is a combination of philosophy, social commentary, and a murder mystery; the murder mystery is the weakest of all the components, I think, and the murder is used mostly as an illustration and as motivation for the rest. That's OK, because the philosophy and moral questions posed by the book are the real meat-and-potatoes of what makes it interesting. This is not an easy book, but it was ultimately worthwhile. Still, it will take some time before I'm ready again to take on another Russian novel that looks at philosophy and society so deeply. I think I need a change of pace now with a bit of fluffy pop fiction - it's good to mix them up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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