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Kathi

Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!

Member Since 2010

1012
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 233 reviews
  • 435 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 204 purchased in 2014
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208

  • The Burgess Boys: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (517)
    Performance
    (441)
    Story
    (446)

    Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home.

    Susianna says: "Some Secrets Shouldn't be Kept"
    "Superb novel that will stir the reader's emotions"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a book that is about two brothers, Jim and Bob, and a lifetime of agony each has suffered in his own way as a result of a childhood incident. Each has lived with unspeakable memories about a day where a terrible tragedy occurs. However, though this event brings tremendous hurt to an entire family, nobody speaks about it. One brother is sent to a therapist, but for the most part, the family pushes their pain away to get on with life.

    This story begins with their nephew Zach committing a hate crime--does he do it from intent or ignorance of what he is doing? This is the central question that underlies the entire first part of the book, and forces the brothers to face what they have run from looking at all this time.

    On another level this is such a book for our time! It addresses the question of differentness, of otherness--whether at the level of family who don't know really know each other, or cultural groups who have uneasy relationships as immigration shifts the balance of community and townspeople must come to grips with the presence of people they cannot understand.

    This portion of the book explores the way people respond to outsiders, to those who are not like themselves. The author includes the reality that the Somali immigrants who have located in a Maine town are equally suspicious and wary of the Mainers, with whom they now live, after fleeing political horrors and wars in Somalia. The book seems to point out that none of us, at base, even those comfortable with engaging with those different from themselves, are spared the conflict stirred by the challenge of some who find the presence of otherness threatening. Stepping outside the comfort zone of the known and familiar can be so terrifying that people will do all sorts of things to avoid having to adapt to new people and knowledge, even about those they thought they know the best.

    This book explores how family must come to terms with the differences, secrets, conflicted emotions and strangeness of their own members, much as the townspeople must find ways to adapt to the changes of having the Somalis enter with their different language, religion and habits.

    The author does a masterful job of depicting the intricate tapestry of love, hate, fear, emotions and reactions to having to come to terms with those they find they do not understand. This is a powerfully written book that will stir the reader with emotion as the story unfolds. There were often times when I found myself wondering, "what would I have felt or done in similar circumstances." That is the genius of this book--it engages the reader deeply, and forces us all to examine our own assumptions and beliefs, as well as telling a deeply moving story. I cannot recommend reading it highly enough. I only wish I could give it 6 stars!

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • A Good Indian Wife: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Anne Cherian
    • Narrated By Dylan Lynch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Handsome anesthesiologist Neel is sure he can resist his family’s pleas that he marry a "good" Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage. But that’s precisely what he gets. His bride, Leila, a 30-year-old teacher, comes with her own complications. They struggle to reconcile their own desires with others’ expectations in this story of two people, two countries, and two ways of life that may be more compatible than they seem.

    Kathi says: "Pretty good, light reading"
    "Pretty good, light reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although this book was filled with lots of details that gave a very thought-provoking window into the Indian culture, and I think most people would find that interesting, this still seemed like a "Chick Lit" kind of book to me. Or perhaps a story we'd see on the Hallmark Channel.

    Suneel Sarath (known as Neel) is a doctor, educated in America, living and working in California, dating an American woman. However, his family really want him to marry a "good Indian girl," and so, when the chance arises to call him home to India (his grandfather is very ill) his mother and aunt seize the opportunity to connect him with Leila, a lovely young woman who, for various reasons, has been turned down by past potential Indian grooms, and who feels she will never be a bride. They do marry, but when they return to California, he has to decide what to do about his long-time girl friend Caroline (pronounced, she insists, "the French way"). This leads to his having something of a double life for a while, till things force the situation as the book moves toward it's end.

    The good parts of this book are, that I enjoyed hearing about the Indian culture, the characters were interesting, and the story did move along. However, I felt that it was kind of predictable, the narration was a bit bland, and in the end, there was little about it that I'd call memorable (for myself, at least). It was a good listen--and worth the time, but not as deep or exciting as I had hoped when I purchased it. I think I was expecting something different. But if you are seeking a light summer read--this is well worth the credit.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Still Life with Murder: Nell Sweeney Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By P.B. Ryan
    • Narrated By Leigh Ryan
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into dismal poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.

    Kathi says: "Gilded Age in Boston--excellent mystery!"
    "Gilded Age in Boston--excellent mystery!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    P B Ryan has written this mystery series set in the 1860's wealthy area of Boston. Ryan parallels Nell's own entrance into the book with her assistance to Dr. Greaves who is managing a particularly difficult delivery. Afterwards, it turns out that the maid who gave birth doesn't want to keep the baby, so it is wealthy Viola Hewitt, wheelchair-bound, grieving the loss of two sons in the Civil War, who decides to adopt the infant. She hires Nell to be governess, and so the connections between Nell Sweeney and the Boston Brahmin Hewitts begin.

    Very quickly into the story, there is a murder, and reason to think that William Hewitt, one of the sons long thought dead, is the killer. Viola is desperate to find out if it is her lost son, so secretly sends Nell to the jail to find out. This will eventually lead the curious Irish immigrant girl back into places she thinks she has gotten away from, as she cannot resist investigating the murder on her own.

    This is a book I read previously, and enjoyed comparing the written version with the narrated one. In the beginning, I was not too fond of Leigh Ryan's reading of some of it. But as the book moves along, I think her narration gets much better. I find her voice a bit soft and gentle for parts of it, but she did very well with the Irish accents, and Nell herself. This is an interesting book, which is why I wanted to re-read (hear) it. I like the author's skill with dialogue, with creating good characters, maintaining a good flow and fascinating details, and just the right amount of tension. I think this is an excellent beginning to the series. Recommend!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Stops Here: A Bibliophile Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Kate Carlisle
    • Narrated By Susie Berneis
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (8)

    Brooklyn Wainwright is thrilled to be appearing on the hit TV show, This Old Attic as a rare-book expert. Her first subject is a very valuable first-edition copy The Secret Garden. Its owner, Vera, is eager to have Brooklyn recondition it for resale. But a furious man viciously accosts Brooklyn, claiming that Vera found the first edition at his garage sale, and he wants it back - or else. In the days that follow, Brooklyn visits Vera's flower shop…and discovers her dead.

    Kathi says: "It's okay...."
    "It's okay...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story itself was good enough and held my interest. A professional book binder goes on a tv antiques appraisal show in her capacity as specialist in valuing books. A woman brings in an old copy of "The Secret Garden," which Brooklyn Wainwright identifies as quite valuable, and Vera--it's happy owner-- confesses she purchased it recently at a garage sale and expresses interest in Brooklyn restoring it for her so she can sell it. Then things get dicey, because a violent man who says he had owned the book tries to frighten Brooklyn into giving it back to him, things are kind of tense in the studios where Randolph--who is in charge there--believes someone is trying to kill him. A murder does occur, and Brooklyn is drawn into helping to solve it.

    I recognize that I read this book out of order in a series, so I'm just not going to comment much about the characters (though they seemed interesting and appear to be well-developed). What might keep me from going back and reading earlier ones, though, was the narrator. In most respects she was adequate--but she really did have a terrible time trying to do men's voices. I cringed at her reading of Derek (Brooklyn's significant other), because he was British, and she just could not capably capture either a man's voice or a British accent. If I do read another, it will be because I want to follow up on the story line--not due to the narrator.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Harry Kemelman
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    One of the world’s most unusual sleuths, Rabbi David Small captivates mystery fans with his chutzpah and unparalleled logic. When he investigates some non-kosher behavior by his congregation, he finds himself in water way over his head. While a destructive hurricane pummels Barnard’s Crossing, an elderly temple member dies suddenly after taking his newly-prescribed antibiotic. Soon one member of the Jewish community after another falls under suspicion for drug tampering.

    Kathi says: "Kemelman's wonderful series--brilliantly narrated!"
    "Kemelman's wonderful series--brilliantly narrated!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the delightful series written in the '70's by Harry Kemelman that focuses on David Small, the rabbi of a conservative congregation in Barnard's Crossing, Massachusetts. Sometimes I hesitate before getting old books--but because I read all these in paper form "back in the day," I could recall how interesting they were.

    In this book, Hurricane Betsy is in the background while one of the temple congregants is very ill, a pharmacist and his son have previously had a bitter dispute--leading to the son leaving home, and there are people who want to do some interesting real estate deals. All of these components are parts of the intrigue that arises out of what appears at first to be a patient taking medications for a treatable infection--and leads to murder. Several people are suspect, one in particular that Rabbi Small wants to help (as only he can do, using his particular knowledge of Talmudic law).

    This series has a very good mix of personal and logical--with development of characters like Rabbi Small and his wife and son and the local chief of police as on-going characters. There tend to be different townspeople and temple congregants and boards of directors featured. But one thing that never changes is that the books are a wonderful combination of good story, intriguing mysteries, and fascinating look into the Jewish culture. I have always loved them--but finding that the incomparable George Guidall is narrating them brings them fresh life. Highly recommend!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Death of a Policeman

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (53)

    Local police stations all over the Scottish Highlands are being threatened with closure. This presents the perfect opportunity for Detective Chief Inspector Blair, who would love nothing more than to get rid of Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. Blair suggests that Cyril Sessions, a keen young police officer, visit the town of Lochdubh to monitor exactly what Macbeth does every day. Macbeth hears about Blair's plan and is prepared to insure that Cyril returns back to headquarters with a full report. But Cyril is soon found dead and Hamish quickly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

    Kathi says: "The narrator brings this book to life!"
    "The narrator brings this book to life!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Graeme Malcolm's narration carries the story in this episode of the Highland policeman who wants nothing more than to be left on his own turf, to take care of matters as only he can do best. However CI Blair has always been jealous of Hamish, and thinks up a plot he hopes will get rid of him at last. Since there is a movement to down-size the police force, Blair gets Cyril Sessions, a young policeman, to secretly follow Hamish, take pictures and document that he and his partner really do not do any work, in the hope that this evidence will get MacBeth removed from the force. Unfortunately, this will lead to a murder instead.

    The fun of Hamish Macbeth books is always the characters more than the mystery (although that part is good, too). Hamish is a life-loving man, who doesn't take himself too seriously, does his job quite well in fact, but has little interest in doing anything that would take him up the ladder of promotions, because that might mean leaving his beloved town of Lochdubh. He loves the Highlands, the townspeople, his cat and dog, and wants nothing more than to do what he does best, where he is. That lack of ambition puzzles some and infuriates others, which is where much of the tension in the stories comes in.

    This book is typical of most in the series, but it lacked a bit of the usual pizzazz, and I don't really know why. I love the narration of Graeme Malcolm, and that compensated for what I think is one of the weaker stories in the series. It is still good--I haven't read a bad Hamish MacBeth book ever. But would not call this Beaton's best. I would still recommend it to any faithful Hamish fan!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Cards on the Table: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By Hugh Fraser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (56)

    Mr. Shaitana is famous as a flamboyant party host. Nevertheless, he is a man of whom everybody is a little afraid. So when he boasts to Hercule Poirot that he considers murder an art form, the detective has some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana's "private collection". Indeed, what begins as an absorbing evening of bridge is to turn into a more dangerous game altogether.

    Calliope says: "this is a great Christie mystery"
    "Poirot according to Hoyle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In my own mind, I kind of think of Agatha Christie mysteries as being sort of "A list" and "B list." To me, this book is on the "B list," but not because it is bad; only because it is not quite as wonderful as some others (I don't personally think there are any bad AC novels).

    In this one, Poirot (along with Supt Battle, Col. Race and Ariadne Oliver--a mystery writer who one senses is created by Agatha in her own image) must solve an odd murder. Mr. Shaitana, a man who has boasted he can pick up on clues to people who have committed murder, invites the four sleuths, along with four other people, to play two tables of Bridge. Alas, the man who believed he could figure out who was a murderer quickly becomes the murder victim. And the hunt begins. Poirot cleverly uses the score sheets from the bridge game to ascertain who was playing the game at various times. But there are many more twists and turns till the murderer is revealed in the end.

    I think High Fraser does a good job with the narration, and it is all the more fun since he played Captain Hastings in the Poirot TV series. This is a fun read. Agatha Christie is always a winner, and even though I read them all many years ago, I'm having a lot of fun listening to them again. Recommend!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Henry Huggins

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Beverly Cleary
    • Narrated By Neil Patrick Harris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (38)

    Genuinely funny books for children are few and far between. So, when a story like Henry Huggins comes along, it comes to stay. Children everywhere see themselves in this irresistible boy's adventures.

    J. Walker says: "Wonderful!"
    "Excellent--just excellent!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't typically review kids' books. But we are just back from a vacation with our 5 & 7 year old grandkids--and we listened to this book, as well as "Henry & Beezus" and "Henry & the Clubhouse". They were all wonderful!

    I'm so used to serious lit and adult mysteries, that it was a pleasant surprise and change of pace to listen to these. My husband and I found them as charming as our grandsons did. The kids never uttered a whimper of protest or "when are we going to get there?" during a fairly long car trip because they were just fascinated by the various adventures of Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy. There is also a lot of interaction with Beezus and Ramona Quinby (from the "Ramona the Pest" series).

    These were originally published in the 1950's I think--and believe me when I say--they have lost none of their charm since then. Our kids read them a generation ago, and now our grandchildren are listening to them. There is something totally timeless about the way Beverly Cleary touches so perfectly on the behaviors and feelings and behavioral strategies of elementary school-aged kids.

    Charming. Delightful. Amusing. Perceptive. Clever. Fun. Captivating stories. And here is a shout out to Neil Patrick Harris who narrated them all. If you want something for kids of this age range, you can't go wrong with the Beverly Cleary series. And this narration is simply wonderful! Though I don't read or listen to too many kids' stories these days--I highly recommend this series! Kids can totally relate to the situations that are described, despite the span of years since originally published.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Unsolicited: A Booklover's Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Julie Kaewert
    • Narrated By William Neenan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    From best seller to death-dealer, London's Plumtree Press has a world-class best seller of a novel. And the sequel is earmarked to get this old family firm out of the red. But its anonymous author, known to Plumtree only as "Arthur", has apparently vanished, leaving the crucial last five chapters undelivered. Alex already knows they reveal the identity of the characters who smuggled British children to America during World War II. But, of course, this is fiction. So when a lead critic previews the book as a nonfiction exposé, Alex is shocked.

    Kathi says: "Pretty good, but gets tedious in places"
    "Pretty good, but gets tedious in places"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I took a chance on getting this (first book) in a series, after having previously read a later one out of order, and thinking maybe I found it kind of lackluster was because I didn't have the background the first books would have provided. So it turns out that that was sort of correct--I liked this one considerably better than the other one, but it still had a quality of seeming like an over-long listen.

    Alex Plumtree is desperate to keep his publishing house going, and is depending upon a mystery writer whom he knows as "Arthur" to provide him with the remainder of a best selling novel about kidnapped children. Except there is beginning to be suspicion that this might not be fictional, but true. Furthermore, where is Arthur? He, and the missing end of the manuscript have disappeared. So it is a really good setup for a book. Dangerous things begin to occur and Alex is beginning to wonder who is trustworthy?

    I think two things kept this book from being more interesting (to me). For one thing, it seemed longer than necessary, but more importantly, I didn't feel as if the characters (however well drawn they were) were that interesting (some more than others). The other concern was that Alex is portrayed as a rather young man, someone who is physically fit and has love interest, but my ears heard the narration making him sound more like an older man in the part, which left a disconnect in my listening experience somehow. But that is only my own opinion, others may not hear it that way. The premise of the book is interesting, and it has lots of places that are interesting, but it just seemed to be a little too stretched out somehow. Could have used a bit more editing. Better than I had expected, less engaging than I had hoped for. And I did like it better than the other one in the series I read previously.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Presumed Innocent

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Scott Turow
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1131)
    Performance
    (578)
    Story
    (585)

    Presumed Innocent brings to life our worst nightmare: that of an ordinary citizen facing conviction for the most terrible of crimes. Prosecutor Rusty Sabich is transformed from accuser to accused when he is handed an explosive case - that of the brutal murder of a woman who happens to be his former lover.

    Glen says: "Excellent Book, Gripping Entertainment!"
    "Great courtroom thriller; really great narration!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is Scott Turow's first book in what I understand will become a long line of good legal mysteries. Can't think what to say about this book that hasn't already been said by everyone else. It's old now (written in 1987) but I am just getting started on his books, which I had always heard were wonderful thrillers but somehow missed reading or seeing the films. This did not disappoint in any way, and didn't lack anything for being slightly ahead of cell phones and electronics, which have revolutionized mystery books forever. In fact, I rather prefer the books that are still pre-computerized and rely on old fashioned ingenuity.

    Rusty Sabich is a prosecutor in a mid-west state who is also working to try to get his boss re-elected. When that doesn't happen, and Nico Della Guardia wins the election, he realizes that things will change. But he had not banked on a colleague getting murdered, and himself getting charged with it. A great deal of the book takes place during the trial, and is quite interesting with lots of twists, turns and surprises. The story moves well, and even though I had assumed some things about the ending, I actually had not figured it out.

    This book has similarities to the exciting page-turner John Grishom style of writing, but I believe it preceded those, so this may be the trend-setter here for a lot more subsequently done in similar style. I must say a little about the narrator. I found his ability to do voices to be superb! He shifted back and forth between a lot of different people and it was always clear who was speaking. He did a particularly good job with the voice of Sandy Stern, very light, gentle, yet assertive in the courtroom. If you are like me, one of the dozen or so people on the planet who missed the book or movie of "Presumed Innocent," I can strongly recommend this book. I really enjoyed listening to it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Silent Woman

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Edward Marston
    • Narrated By David Thorpe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    When fire destroys their London theatre, Lord Westfield’s players must seek out humbler venues in the countryside. But company manager Nicholas Bracewell is distracted by a shocking tragedy: a mysterious messenger from his native Devon is murdered by poison. Though the messenger is silenced, Nicholas understands what he must do: Return to his birthplace and reconcile some unfinished business of the past.

    Kathi says: "Trickery, treachery, murder, thieves, plague..."
    "Trickery, treachery, murder, thieves, plague..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Villains galore in this historically interesting, though kind of light and fun reading, in Edward Marsten's book, "The Silent Woman." To my dismay, thinking I'd try something outside of his 19th century Railroad mystery series, I accidentally began with the 6th book in his series about Elizabethan actors. I say dismay, only because I prefer starting series from the beginning. I think it worked out okay, as the characters are well-drawn, and it didn't seem that the author assumed the reader knew who they all were.

    That said, this was a romp through the apparently perilous times of approximately 16th century England as a troupe of actors, displaced by fire in their regular theater, seek audiences elsewhere. Along the way, Nicholas Bracewell realizes that someone bringing him a message from his past in Devon has been killed. So he decides to go there to face some of his own history. As they travel together, the group meets everything short of a plague of locusts (though they do run into the Plague, the illness, in Oxford).

    One man does not want Bracewell to get to Devon, and so all the cloak and dagger exploits begin. In a run of almost unending mishaps, where each side tries to outsmart the other, every device the author can think of is employed to create what almost has the feel of melodrama, so predictable does the string of setbacks and dangerous escapades occur. I liked it, but I think it is written in a way that would also appeal to young people. The narrator uses a slightly exaggerated voice in places, suitable to the dramatic atmosphere being created.

    In theory, the episodes of Nicholas and the men moving toward Devon vs those trying to stop them could have continued forever. While fun, they felt a little as though they were meant to keep the story going longer and longer and occasionally just felt a bit silly. But this is a neat book to listen to if you want something that has historical interest, action every step of the way, intrigue and villainy throughout, and a well-written book. Just don't try to take it too seriously. Recommend.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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