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Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

Davis, CA, United States | Member Since 2008

  • 232 reviews
  • 446 ratings
  • 855 titles in library
  • 25 purchased in 2015

  • The Bartender's Tale

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Ivan Doig
    • Narrated By David Aaron Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Bartender' s Tale stars Tom Harry and his 12-year-old son, Rusty, who live alone and run a bar in a small Montana town in the early 1960s. Their lives are upended when Proxy, a woman from Tom's past, and her beatnik daughter, Francine, breeze into town. Is Francine, as Proxy claims, the unsuspected legacy of her and Tom’s past? Without a doubt she is an unsettling gust of the future, upending every certainty in Rusty’s life and generating a mist of passion and pretense that seems to obscure everyone’s vision but his own.

    B.J. says: "If you love a good story ..."
    "I just love Doig's tales!"

    I always know I am in for a great yarn when I listen to an Ivan Doig book. This one centers on the relationship between a father and son living in rural Montana in the 1960's. The narrator did an excellent job of capturing the western feel of the book.

    While I certainly did enjoy this story, it was not as good as my favorite Doig book, "Dancing at the Rascal Fair". This book, in comparison, did not have the compelling characters and emotional impact that "Rascal Faire" did for me. None the less, "The Bartender's Tale" is a good, solid coming of age story and much more.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Judy Melinek, MD, T. J. Mitchell
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband and their toddler holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, and counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking listeners behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple.

    R. Milam says: "Great story - but not for the faint of heart!"
    "Dead Body Soup!"

    This book is very interesting but be forewarned. It is not for the faint of heart. There are in-depth descriptions of dead bodies, mangled and marred by accidents, suicides, criminal activity, or just plain old time. That is, they weren't found right away. Ever wondered what happened to a decaying body? No, I didn't either, but now I have an idea! Some of the author's depictions of autopsies come with an interesting story, others are just about the autopsy. It is interesting how cause of death is determined--or not determined. It was unsettling to learn of how often the NY law enforcement were uninterested in learning a death might be non-accidental because they were just too lazy to do a criminal investigation. Ugh.

    I found the 9-11 story fascinating in a ghoulish way. Actually, most of the book was ghoulish, but that didn't make it bad. You just have to be prepared for what is being presented.

    I was taken aback when I first started listening to the author's description of her autopsies, which were presented in great detail and with great glee. Then, I had to remind myself the glee was coming from the narrator, not the author. The author is a medical doctor and the narrator is versed in chick-lit books, for heaven sakes! How does that compute? And once again, there were those renditions of buffoonish male voices. I knew I would persevere and keep on listening but am left wondering who picked this narrator for a very serious topic and why? Does an author have any say in the matter? I can't believe Melinek was very happy when she listened to her own book.

    (As to my review title, this has always stuck in my mind. A very rude co-worker once asked her cubicle neighbor, who brought in an apparently aromatic ethnic soup for lunch, "What are you eating? Dead body soup?" Ugh, again.)

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Narrated By Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Everything we now know about the universe - from the behavior of quarks to the birth of galaxies - has come from people who've been willing to ponder the unanswerable. And with the advent of modern science, great minds have turned to testing and experimentation rather than mere thought as a way of grappling with some of the universe's most vexing dilemmas. So what is our latest picture of some of the most inexplicable features of the universe? What still remains to be uncovered and explored by today's scientists?

    Kristi Richardson says: ""The Universe is in us!""
    "Greate Mysteries--Solved, Unsolved, Unimaginable"

    Mysteries of the universe, solved and unsolved. . . hmm.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is such an enthusiastic lecturer, I can imagine he could make just about any topic fascinating. He talks about some of the greatest mysteries of our universe, a few that have been already solved and others that we are currently struggling with and may never in our lifetimes find the answers to. He talks about mysteries that keep him up at night and some that defy current imagination. He talks about the existence of mysteries that we don't even have the intelligence or current knowledge to wonder about.

    Should we even worry or fret or care about mysteries we cannot solve or even imagine? What was it like when the universe was formed? How about when it will eventually die? Are there parallel universes? What in the heck is dark matter or dark energy? Why should we even care?

    If any of these questions interest you, I suggest you get this selection from The Great Courses. It is guaranteed to feel too short for you, no matter what your knowledge base or curiosity index is. It is guaranteed to be fascinating, anyway.

    Now, I have to check and see if I can find any other books by deGrasse Tyson. He is a wonderful lecturer! He is worth pursuing further.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Yellow Crocus

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Laila Ibrahim
    • Narrated By Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Moments after Lisbeth is born, she’s taken from her mother and handed over to an enslaved wet nurse, Mattie, a young mother separated from her own infant son in order to care for her tiny charge. Thus begins an intense relationship that will shape both of their lives for decades to come. Though Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she finds nothing but loneliness in the company of her overwhelmed mother and her distant, slave-owning father.

    Elizabeth says: "Completely Enjoyable"
    "A rare find, a 5 star book!"

    I don't rate all good books with 5 stars, but I have absolutely nothing to nitpick about this audiobook. I enjoyed everything about it, and I am sure it will remain in my memory for a long time to come.

    I am often wary of reading a "slave" book, just like I am of a "holocaust" book. It takes some emotional bracing and mental preparation beforehand, but I will not avoid these two heartrending and important subjects.

    This book was beautifully written. The characters were well-developed and all very believable. Whether I loved them or hated them, I could surely understand their motivations and behaviors based on the times and the setting they resided in. The slavery period can make for very sad and uncomfortable reading, but author Ibrahim handled this with finesse, neither appealing to or manipulating our emotions and our guilt, nor glossing over it to make it more palatable. I feel the story was well-balanced and the facts of the period were presented in a non-preachy and non-exaggerated manner.

    The story was engrossing to me. I really cared what happened to the two main characters, Mattie and Lisbeth. I held my breath at times when they exhibited behaviors that would likely put them in real danger, and I sighed with relief when it seemed that they would be all right. The ending was very intense and emotional--I listened with rapt attention, even though I believed I knew what was going to happen. This book is an example of what I refer to as "an author taking care of their readers."

    The narration, in case you are wondering, was just perfect. I hope to find more audiobooks narrated by Turpin in the future.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Walk

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Richard Paul Evans
    • Narrated By Richard Paul Evans
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    What would you do if you lost everything - your job, your home, and the love of your life - all at the same time? When it happens to Seattle ad executive Alan Christoffersen, he's tempted by his darkest thoughts. A bottle of pills in his hand and nothing left to live for, he plans to end his misery. Instead, he decides to take a walk. But not any ordinary walk. Taking with him only the barest of essentials, Al leaves behind all that he's known and heads for the farthest point on his map.

    Beth says: "A story of Hope"
    "Great listen but why is it so SHORT?"

    I really enjoyed this short story and am left wondering, since there are at least five books in the series, why oh why are they so short? It is totally unnecessary and I am left with a slight negative feeling from a book that I otherwise loved listening to.

    Alan Christoffersen's life falls apart in a matter of weeks. Everything that he knew and loved is gone, and he has to make some pretty serious decisions. His first decision is whether he even wants to go on living. Well, there wouldn't be any book at all if he did himself in, so that is no spoiler. Besides, you already know he is going on a long, long walk (5 books worth, so far).

    Alan's walk becomes what I might call a spiritual endeavor (but not really religious) and I feel he is going to learn some of life's deeper and more important lessons as he continues on his cross country trek. This is a very gentle, sweet book that moves along at a walker's pace. I enjoyed it immensely and I do look forward to continuing the journey .

    This is an author-narrated book. Authors are not necessarily the best narrators, I think we all would agree, but sometimes that can acceptable. Evan's tells his story in a quiet, believable fashion, so much so that I had to do some research to find out if this was a novel or true story at the beginning.

    So, all in all, this was a very positive listening experience for me despite the above-mentioned shortness of the audiobook.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Watershed Year

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Susan Schoenberger
    • Narrated By Amy McFadden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Lucy never confessed her love to her best friend Harlan before he passed away. Two months after his funeral, she is haunted by the power of things left unsaid. But then she receives the first of his e-mails arranged to be sent after his death. So begins the year that everything changes - Lucy's watershed year. In an e-mail, Harlan says something that consumes her: He's certain Lucy is destined for motherhood. In her grief, she suddenly rediscovers hope, journeying to Russia to adopt a four-year-old boy.

    Kathy says: "Ugh, chick-lit again, and a bad case of the blahs!"
    "Ugh, chick-lit again, and a bad case of the blahs!"

    This book was so utterly disappointing for me. So many words, such minutiae and so much triviality. It seemed like such a promising story line. International adoption is a real interest of mine. I felt like this book never took off, that was stuck on the tarmac for hours and hours. I didn't see much character development and thus, I didn't feel for any of the characters, at all. The endless nonsense about the saints--ugh, what type of plot gimmick is that? It wasn't educational or informative or even interesting, just quirky filler to me.

    Add Lucy and Harlan's friendship and her year of endless grieving for what never ever was, for what she was actually afraid to even acknowledge. And how far-fetched was what Lucy learned about Harlen at the end? Really? (I am not going to say more as I don't want to spoil it for anyone.)

    As for the narrator, I have mixed feelings. She did the foreign voices well but she got very shrill whenever there was any emotional dialogue. In addition, I really didn't enjoy the way she portrayed Lucy. Too much emphasis in her voice. It made Lucy seem downright annoying to me most of the time.

    And yet, I plodded on and on even though I knew how it would end beforehand. There was something that kept me going. Therefore, I am giving it three stars across the board. And yet, I will not seek this author out again.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl on the Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Paula Hawkins
    • Narrated By Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

    L. O. Pardue says: ""Rear Window" Meets "Gone Girl""
    "A very difficult review for me to write!"

    I follow many reviewers (it's fun!), and the reviews kept coming in on this book, every one positive. So, of course, I chose to listen to it, too.

    This is a difficult review to write because I don't want to give ANYTHING away. You will be missing something from the listening experience if you know anything about what to expect. It is best to let the story unfold, ever so slowly, have your surprises and make your own opinions. So, what is there to say about The Girl on the Train? As you can see from my star ratings, I have mixed feelings.

    The first thing you should know, as I didn't and had to rewind the first hour, is that there are three different narrators for the three main characters. So, pay attention until you start to recognize the voices.

    On the positive side, the book held my attention all the way through, and the narrators were excellent in "becoming" the individual women. I was kept guessing who-done-it until the last hour or so of the book. It's always nice to have a surprise you never saw coming at the end.

    So, besides the above-mentioned good aspects, there were some things that bothered me enough to lower my ratings. Again, trying not to give anything away, there were some real inconsistencies in the plot--people acting out of character along with conflicting behaviors and information. More disconcerting was the weakness and passivity of the three women. It made me grimace and want to shake them. The likeability factor of the characters--just about all of them--was pretty low, too. As a result, I felt little tension and anxiety when danger appeared.

    I wouldn't encourage anyone to read or not read this book. You just may love it, as did many reviewers. It is your choice to make!

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Moving Day

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Jonathan Stone
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Forty years’ accumulation of art, antiques, and family photographs are more than just objects for Stanley Peke - they are proof of a life fully lived. A life he could have easily lost long ago. When a con man steals his houseful of possessions in a sophisticated moving-day scam, Peke wanders helplessly through his empty New England home, inevitably reminded of another helpless time: decades in Peke’s past, a cold and threadbare Stanislaw Shmuel Pecoskowitz eked out a desperate existence in the war-torn Polish countryside, subsisting on scraps, dodging Nazi soldiers.

    Joe Crescenzi says: "What a fantastic story... a real treat!"
    "What an unusual and fascinating story!!"

    I thought the plot sounded interesting, but I didn't have a clue where this book would lead me. I enjoyed this book immensely and just know I will listen to it again. There is a certain enjoyment that comes with knowing a book's ending. You can sit back without tension and just enjoy the second trip. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the first trip. There was just a bit of anxiety plaguing me, a bit of worry.

    You can better learn the plot from the publisher's description. Per my short summary, you have a 72 year-old affluent, somewhat snobbish, very intelligent Jew who is wronged by a con artist who steals the old man's and his wife's lifetime of belongings before a retirement move to southern California. Stanley Peke, as victim, started out as not such a likeable character and at some points, even reminded me of the con artist, Nick--some similarities in personality, the wish to get even, egocentric, and both very much in their own heads. That is what is so unusual about this book. Most of it was written as if it was coming from the two men's own thoughts and feelings. Some felt this method was too slow moving, not so interesting. I got used to it fairly fast. I realized what the author was doing and was able to go with the flow. I was not in a hurry. I am not an action junkie.

    As the book progressed, I learned a great deal more about Stanley Peke, who he was and why he was that man. While he did not become significantly more loveable, I could surely understand him. As time progressed, I became a staunch supporter and rooter for old Stan. The book took me places I never imagined, and every bit of it was compelling and fascinating, becoming more so as the book charged on toward the ending.

    (And I have not even said anything about Nazis! You are in for a treat.)

    Narration was done perfectly by Christopher Lane. He nailed both main characters as well as anyone could.

    A most unusual story. I am looking forward to more from this author.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Chiefs

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Stuart Woods
    • Narrated By Mark Hammer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1919, Delano, Georgia, appoints its first chief of police. Honest and hardworking, the new chief is puzzled when young men start to disappear. But his investigation is ended by the fatal blast from a shotgun. Delano's second chief-of-police is no hero, yet he is also disturbed by what he sees in the missing-persons bulletins. In 1969, when Delano's third chief takes over, the unsolved disappearances still haunt the police files.

    karen says: "In my 'Top Ten' books of all time!"
    "One of the Best Ever!"

    If you haven't listened to this book yet, you are really missing something wonderful and unforgettable. Yes, it has been around for a long while which means there are alot of reviews. So don't just take my word for it. Look at the reviews here. (My favorites are from Karen and Linda Lou.)

    But let me add a few words of my own. This is a story that engulfed me, one of those books I just couldn't remain on the surface of. The characters are so well-developed that I felt I knew them. I came to really have strong feelings about them--whether I liked them or hated them, there was so much emotion evoked. And when I really care about a character, I feel such fear when they are in danger. At one point--no, at a couple of places--I had to turn the book off, as I couldn't bear to know what happened next. Of course, I braced myself and I went back, as I had to know. I kept telling myself to trust the author and the other reviewers.

    Listening to this first book from well-known author Woods was a very rewarding experience. The narration was the best you can find, in my opinion. What is this nonsense about it being too slow? Ridiculous. Mark Hammer had it down perfectly. His cadence and speed matched perfectly what you would expect of the old south. I wouldn't have had it any other way. Perhaps that is why the story was so believable. He is a genius!

    Read the story description about the dead police chiefs. There is really SO much more than that here. Look at all the glowing reviews. And do yourself a favor and get this book. I am so glad I did.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • These Things Hidden

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Heather Gudenkauf
    • Narrated By Ali Ahn, Angela Lin, Angela Goethals
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Once the golden child of tiny Linden Falls, Iowa, Allison Glenn watches her reputation crumble as she is sent to prison for five years—convicted of a terrible crime. But what really happened that fateful night? Allison’s younger sister is the only other person who knows the truth. Now out of prison, Allison is more desperate than ever to set the record straight, but the revelation of the truth could have far-reaching consequences.

    C. Morris says: "Please save yourself the time"
    "Pure Drivel--Beware!"

    I can't believe I got through the entire book, but I did. So much drivel! The story line is so implausible and unbelievable. Coincidences abound and I kept shaking my head in disbelief. The writing is very simple and filled with minutiae. Action is sorely missing from this book until the very end and that action was so ridiculous I would have preferred to do without it.

    The characters were not well-developed, and their behaviors had almost no explanation or basis. Too many of them were unlikeable or downright unpleasant. And following the old trite pattern, the parents of the adult characters must be evil and hateful.

    As for the narration, it was passable but not exceptional.

    With all these complaints, I managed to stick with the book and finish it in a few days. My recent listen of another of this author's books left me with the feeling it was messed up by the narration. I cannot, however, blame a bad narration for my dislike of this book. I am thinking that Heather Gudenkauf is not my cup of tea. I won't be purchasing any more of her stories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cold City: A Repairman Jack Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By F. Paul Wilson
    • Narrated By Alexander Cendese
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    If you’ve never read a Repairman Jack novel, this is the place to begin. It’s 1990. A twenty-one-year-old named Jack has dropped out of college, leaving his old life behind to build a new one in New York City. Manhattan’s rough edges are jagged enough to shred any unwary newcomer, but perhaps not one who is determined to stay off the grid, at any cost, in the busiest metropolis on earth. And to do so, he’ll have to take jobs of a less than legal nature.

    Andrew Pollack says: "Fun, as long you don't think too much"
    "This Narrator is Quite a Character!!"

    It was a daily deal and it sounded promising. It seemed a bunch of folks liked the Repairman Jack series and this book, a prequel, seemed a good place to start. So I decided to give it a try. What a fun story and what an amazing narrator. Cendese is a very talented guy and he certainly had his work cut out for him in this book. He switched flawlessly back and forth to SO many different accents--Italian, Germanic, Arabic, Jewish, etc, etc, doing a predominantly great job with each. It was actually mind-boggling--just listening to Cendese's performance was fascinating. I don't think I've ever experienced anything quite like this in an audiobook before.

    The story itself is pure fun. Not deep, not great literature, but it kept me listening and wanting to know what would happen next to young Jack. He is not a repairman in this book--he is just finding himself here. Struggling with his ethics, trying to support himself, establishing relationships . . . .

    There is more information on the plot in the description and in other reviews. This is a fun book, I enjoyed it, and I do recommend it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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