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Avid reader and audiobook listener; I love paranormal lit, mysteries, historical fiction, romance, Brit-crime novels and thrillers.

Virginia Beach, VA, United States | Member Since 2012

  • 36 reviews
  • 155 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 6 purchased in 2015

  • Lord John and the Private Matter

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman

    With more than 10 million copies in print worldwide, New York Times best-selling author Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is a global phenomenon. Lord John and the Private Matter, starring one of the most popular Outlander characters, captures all the adventure and magic of the series while delivering a fresh tale that is utterly captivating.

    GoryDetails says: "Lively tale, well told"
    "My Least Favorite in the Lord John Series"

    I tried to actually read this book when it was first published, but sadly, was unable to finish it due to boredom. I just didn't care about Lord John at the time. I only began to read this series for something to do while waiting for the next book in the "Outlander" series to be released. That said, I guess I care a little more about Lord John now, since he's became more of a major figure in the Outlander series. The audiobook version of "Private Matter" is better than the actual hard copy. Lord John can be funny, but is also rather snarky at times. He is a good amateur sleuth and Diana Gabaldon is a good mystery writer; however, I'm not all that much of a fan of the mystery genre, being more of an admirer of straight-forward historical fiction. If you want to fill out your knowledge of Jamie Fraser's character while he and Claire were separated for twenty years after Culloden, I recommend reading the Lord John series, especially "The Brotherhood of the Blade".
    (NOTE: There is a review of "Lord John and the Hand of Devils" on by one "D. McCoy" that I found quite helpful. This reviewer lists the proper order in which to read the Lord John novels/short stories since order is particularly important with this series. If you listen/read them out of order, you may find that you have more questions than answers. Also, I do recommend the Outlander series to readers of the Lord John series. It is MUCH longer, has many more interesting characters, and readers will discover Jamie Fraser, the love of Lord John's life and, IMHO, one of modern fiction's most compelling and enigmatic characters. Though he is straight and VERY married, he and Lord John do become quite bosom friends once they reach an "understanding". This says something to me about the likeability of Lord John and his overall sense of honor.)

    39 of 40 people found this review helpful
  • Men in Kilts

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Katie MacAlister
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    So far, Kathie Williams has made a good showing as the only American at a mystery writers' conference in Manchester - what with that falling asleep in public thing behind her. The sight of Iain MacLaren wakes her up. Clad in a deliciously woolly sweater, the burly Scotsman seems to be holding up a wall at the cocktail party. So Kathie makes her move . . . and winds up stark naked with him in bed, where his thick Scottish brogue, thick manly chest, and thick...other her to do things she's never done before. Like fall in love.

    Kathy says: "Couldn't finish it"
    "Absolutely Awful!"

    This is one of the WORST books I have ever purchased from Audible in the three+ years I have been a member! The storyline is as cliched as it gets and what little plot there is is just trite. This book is so stupid. I want to know how it even got published because it's THAT BAD! Kathie, typical ignorant American in England meets your stereotypical huge, hunky Highlander, Iain. Of course she falls in bed with him right away because she can't resist his accent. His family and ex-girlfriend dislike her. Blah, blah, blah. Seriously, this is the story. As formulaic as any other two-bit crappy romance trying to capitalize on the whole "Scottish-Highlanders-make-me-swoon" audience. Ugh!

    Somewhere between chapters one and five the "hero" of the story, Iain, goes from sounding questionably Scottish to sort-of sounding Irish, along with all of the other characters at his home in the Highlands. With a name like Cassandra CAMPBELL, one would think that this narrator could voice the Scottish accent. Ha! No way! Not even close! Her attempts at the Scottish accent were just terrible! I mean it is embarrassingly bad. I finally had enough torture and quit listening about half way through.


    You've been warned.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Gallery of Vanished Husbands

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Natasha Solomon
    • Narrated By Karen Cass

    When Juliet Montague's husband disappears, so does she. As far as the conservative Jewish community in which she lives is concerned, she is invisible. She does her best to conform to their rules, but then on her thirtieth birthday she does something unexpected. Instead of the fridge she has scrimped for, she impulsively spends her savings on a portrait of herself.It is the first in a series of portraits that punctuate Juliet's adult life as she joins London's lively post-war art scene and proves to be an astute spotter of talent.

    Daniel says: "Best for those with a vivid visual imagination"
    "Wondering What It Was About"

    I loved Natasha Solomon's book, "The House At Tyneford", so I was excited to read this one.

    That was a seriously bad move!

    This book is nothing at all like "Tyneford", whose characters were well-written and the storyline was interesting and meaningful. In fact, it's SO different I'm wondering if it was written by a different author, but with the same name. The story meanders from nothing to nothing and goes nowhere. The characters are extremely one-dimensional and I didn't find much to like about any of them. The plot is virtually non-existent and I honestly couldn't find much point to this book. If you are not into art, especially portraits, you won't enjoy this book. Not that she spends a great deal of time describing painting techniques, but the story does revolve around portraits and the characters are mostly made up of either artists or people connected to the art world. There are too many incidental, irrelevant characters added to the story that just confuse things.

    This is one of those books that I found myself constantly checking to see how much time was left because I was SO bored with it.

    A word about the reader: her voice sounds familiar to me, as if I've heard her before under another name. I know that some narrators use more than one name so this doesn't surprise me. She does a well-enough job here, but the material really doesn't give her much to work with. Overall, her performance is head-and-shoulders above the story.

    I'm so glad Audible now takes books back. I'm trading this one in. Don't waste your credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The House at Tyneford

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Natasha Solomons
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It’s the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When Kit, the son of Tyneford’s master, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford - and Elise - forever. An irresistible World War II story of a forbidden romance in a great English country house.

    Emily - Audible says: "Mixed Opinion"
    "Highly Recommend This Book"

    I know I've just read a good book when I can't wait to share it with my friends.

    The publisher's summary makes it seem like a typically-formulaic romance novel. IT IS NOT. For one thing, it's pretty clean. No bodice-ripping scenes involved, but there is some "colorful dialog" just to keep things "realistic". Normally, I don't dig romance novels, but my daughter raved about it, so I gave it a listen. It is the first book by Natasha Solomons that I have listened to, but it won't be the last. She is such a gifted writer. Her style is descriptive without being verbose which, as I'm sure any writer knows, can be a challenge. I would compare her writing to that of Susanna Kearsley because it has that same overall sense of elegant melancholy. She made me feel such compassion for Elise, who just didn't fit in anywhere. I was able to sense her loneliness and profound loss without pitying her. This is one of those books that I wanted to stretch on into eternity. The characters are well-developed, but not overly so. The author did her job well, leaving me wanting more.

    Now, about the narrator: she usually grates on my nerves. I forgot that I had promised myself never to listen to anything she narrates ever again, but I decided that I wasn't going to let her ruin the book for me. To give credit where it is due, she didn't do a bad job with this book, aside from not voicing men very well (it IS difficult for a woman to read masculine dialog). In fact, there are some scenes that just would not have had the proper pathos had I just read the book. The scene where Elise first meets Kit (while she's trying to expres her frustration by shouting at the sea, using all of the English swear words she knows) would not have been nearly as funny either if I hadn't listened to the audiobook.

    Without giving away any of the plotlines, I'd like to add that you should have a box of tissues handy before you listen. I wish someone would have warned me ahead of time.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Caught in the Light

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Robert Goddard
    • Narrated By Michael Kitchen

    On assignment in Vienna, photographer Ian Jarrett falls suddenly and desperately in love with a woman he meets by pure chance, Marian Esguard. Back in England, he separates from his wife and goes to meet Marian at an agreed rendezvous, only to hear her tell him on the telephone that she will not, after all, be coming. Then she vanishes from his life as mysteriously as she entered it. Who and where is the woman he met and fell in love with in Vienna?

    Janice says: "Three rules when reading Goddard . . ."
    "Nothing Is As It Seems"

    (Warning: one itty-bitty spoiler that you may not catch....)

    No one writes mystery like the Brits, and _Caught In The Light_ is no exception. This was my first book by Robert Goddard, but it will NOT be my last. If you can't get enough of the "edge-of-your-seat, shredding-your-nails, MUST-find-out-what-happens-next" kind of books, then this is your next read/listen. Here you will find intrigue, history, sex, vengeance, cold-hearted betrayal and single-minded perseverance, a strange and wonderfully well-written sort of time-travel, and Goddard weaves in numerous plot-twists, and rabbit-trails that round out the story beautifully. He is incredibly gifted with the written word. His prose is often achingly simple, yet elegant in context and his use of descriptors made me feel as if I had been there, inside the story, not wanting it to end (e.g. "The only thing left in an empty life is time. I could almost touch it as it passed that spring and summer. Amy's existence slipped away behind me like a single turning on a long, straight road. I looked back at it fixedly, fearing that if I once glanced away it would vanish forever"). The characters as he has written them are real and very personally flawed, but I continually found myself wanting things to be put right for the protagonist, Ian Jarrett.

    When the end finally came, it was not predictable as I had feared, but neither was it far-fetched. Just don't expect it to be happy. The story gripped me from the start, probably because I greatly admire Michael Kitchen ("Foyle's War") and, not surprisingly, his reading is another EXCELLENT performance. Once hooked I kept listening because I just could not stop and I finished the book in less than two days (it's nearly 24 hours long).

    I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook version due to Michael Kitchen's massive talent. Mr. Kitchen's theater background enables him to portray this story's historical as well as its contemporary persons very convincingly. He reads female characters' dialog in a softer tone, not using an abrasive falsetto as some male readers do, distinguishing between male and female characters without vexing the listener. In my opinion, nothing lends authenticity to a great Brit mystery like having it read by a truly gifted player who can correctly pronounce proper names, locations, and who can switch seemlessly between different dialects. Do yourself a favor and skip the print version and go directly to the audiobook.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Diane Setterfield
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato, Jill Tanner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's beloved collection of stories, long famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale. The enigmatic Winter has always kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she summons a biographer to tell the truth about her extraordinary life: Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth remains an ever-present pain.

    PA Law says: "Haunting and beautiful tale"
    "The Book That Never Ends"

    I really wanted to like this book and I know I'm going to get a lot of "unhelpful" votes for this review. Please know that it isn't all bad. The story did have some good points. Ms. Setterfield writes wonderfully descriptive passages and her style is lovely in places, but she uses a lot of odd similes ("the words flew out of my mouth like a bird hitting a window"). Huh???
    The first half of the book was good. I was very interested in the story and engaged with the characters (however unlikeable they were), but sometime after the break between sections, I stopped caring about what was happening. The book became tedious. I got fed up when I had to listen to a portion of the twins' story re-told through Hester's diary entries. No doubt they contained important information that the author wanted to convey, but by that time I'd had enough. Where was the editor?! I was constantly checking to see how much time was left, which is never a good sign.

    A number of reviewers have referred to "the twist" and how they thought it was excellent. Well, I was disappointed in it. I thought, "is this _really_ where she's going with the story?" Since I hate spoilers, I'll say no more about that. I will say though that there's only so much self-pity that a reader can tolerate. I'd be interested in hearing a real-life twin's opinion. Not being a twin myself, perhaps I can't relate, but Margaret seems overly attached to (no pun intended), and longing to be reunited with, a twin sister she's never even met. Obsessed is probably a better word because she sees and hears her sister everywhere. Strange.

    A word about the narrators: I can't figure out why there was a need for two. I understand what the director was trying to accomplish, but the book isn't written in a way that's conducive to using two different voices. There are too many places in the narrative where the characters' stories overlap and the narrator who is portraying Vida ends up reading a passage written from Margaret's point of view, and vice versa. It could be confusing if the listener isn't rapt (which admittedly, I was not). Also, I have listened to several books narrated by one of these ladies and, once again, she does a fine job here; however, I had forgotten the promise I made to myself that I would never listen to another audiobook narrated by the other reader. She is not native to England and the way she pronounces certain words is irritating, like nails on a chalkboard, to me. I mean no disrespect. It's just a pet peeve that I wish I could get over.

    I'm sorry to be so critical. If you loved this book, I'm happy you found enjoyment where I could not. If you did not like it, I encourage you to write a review and tell us why not. Books, like any art-form, are subjective. What one person finds merit in, another thinks is rubbish. Such is life.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Semper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Ruth Downie
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers, it's clear that all is not well amongst the native recruits to Britannia's imperial army. Is the much-decorated centurion Geminus preying on his weaker soldiers? And could this be related to the appearance of Emperor Hadrian? Bound by his sense of duty and ill-advised curiosity, Ruso begins to ask questions nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile his barbarian wife Tilla is finding out some of the answers....

    Margaret says: "Hadrian is here!"
    "Nowhere Near As Good As Previous Books"

    I'm not sure how this one got released because it isn't even close to being in the same league as previous books in the series. The characters that I have come to love, Ruso and Tilla, are just "blah" in this one, as is the storyline. Where is the witty banter between them, not to mention the chemistry? They do spend a great deal of time apart (it's almost written as two different, though somewhat intertwined, storylines), but when they are together, there's just......nothing. Where is the cleverly-written plot? Yes, there were some "interesting events" that Ruso had to suffer through, but for the most part I never got the sense that he was in any real danger. The setting is a training base for new recruits, which I guess doesn't really lend itself to riveting storytelling. I found the plot to be uninteresting and a bit confusing. It didn't hold my attention at all. Maybe I missed some important bits because of this, but at times I found it difficult to follow what was going on. In the end, I didn't really care about why Geminus did what he did nor about what happened to him because of it (don't want to leave any spoilers).

    As usual, Simon Vance does a terrific job. He is one of my favorite narrators, which is the ONLY reason I even listened all the way to the end.

    If you are a fan of the Medicus series, I suggest giving this one a miss. I was quite disappointed in this book. So much so that I may not continue with the series unless the next one is considerably better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Death of a Bore

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When John Heppel, a visiting writer to Lochdubh, first proposes forming a writers' circle, the idea is met with much enthusiasm from local residents. However, once the classes get underway, attendance quickly falters due to one undeniable fact: John Heppel is a long-winded, consummate bore. But is dullness a motive for murder? Hamish Macbeth wouldn't ordinarily think so. So when Heppel is found dead, Hamish begins looking for deeper meaning in the writer's stories.

    Nina says: "The usual fare:-)"
    "Appropriate Title For A Rather Boring Book"

    Just finished this one. It isn't the best book in the series. I have not listened to all of the books in the Hamish MacBeth series, but of the ones I have finished, this is probably my least favorite. It just seemed to drag on and on and I couldn't wait for it to end. I didn't really care who did it. The title is rather appropriate since I found this whole book to be a bit of a bore.

    Mr. Malcolm is, IMHO, not the best choice of narrator for these books. He reads very quickly; often running sentences together (including dialog), completely ignoring punctuation and using little inflection. I hate this. He sounds like an older man so, of course, all of the characters sound like old men. Even the female characters. I don't like to be critical, but a narrator can make or break an audiobook. Unfortunately he reads numbers 19 and 21 through 28 of the series. So if I want to listen to them on audiobook I'll just have to deal with it. Ugh!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Death of an Addict: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Davina Porter

    When a recovering addict dies while recuperating near Lochdubh, our red-headed hero suspects foul play. To complete his investigation, Constable Macbeth must leave his idyllic home and travel to Amsterdam to match wits with big-time drug dealers. Fans will enjoy seeing a new, tougher side of Macbeth as he dons smart suits and falls in love with his gorgeous superior officer.

    JoAnn says: "I'll stick to reading the series"
    "Another Great MacBeth Mystery"

    MC Beaton does it again. This is another good book for a rainy weekend. First off though, I have to say that I find previous reviewers' criticism of Davina Porter's narration to be off-base. I realize that personal opinions are usually diverse, but those who think she was confused about what accent to use have likely never met a person from the Scottish Highlands. Davina Porter's portrayal of Scots in general, and Highlanders in particular, is pretty spot-on. The Scottish accent is difficult to do and, to an untrained ear, the Highland lilt CAN sound a bit Eastern European. I know it can be confusing for many Americans to have the prose read in one accent and the dialog read in others, but if you're not familiar with the way a certain people-group speaks, perhaps you should reserve judgement until you've done a bit more research. Davina Porter is English by birth, but is married to a Scotsman. She is one of the best narrators for these types of books because of her ability to speak in all kinds of British dialects. It disconcerts me to see her given bad reviews by those who may have meant well, but may be ignorant of the facts.

    Now about the story, IMHO, this is one of the best in the series as far as plot and (further) character development goes. I have not read or listened to all of the books in the MacBeth series so I can't say for certain; however, this one made me wish I could listen to the whole book in one sitting. I love the fact that Hamish actually gets to leave Lochdubh and travel a bit, meeting "new and interesting" people in Amsterdam (no need to elaborate on that further). He gets to dress up in clothes he would NEVER buy for himself and go undercover, finding that he likes to play the bad guy.....occasionally. He also learns how to charm a woman with "concrete knickers", perhaps creating a new love interest for future books. But Hamish soon finds that city life isn't for him, reinforcing his love for Lochdubh, its people, and life in a small, Highland town.

    If you like Hamish MacBeth mysteries, you won't be disappointed with "Death Of An Addict". If you've never listened to Davina Porter narrate a story, you are in for a treat. Just listen with an open mind. If you are not used to different British (Scots) dialects, you might need to pay more careful attention. But doesn't any mystery, no matter how well-written, require a reader/listener to pay closer than usual attention?

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The 7th Month: A Detective D. D. Warren Story

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 47 mins)
    • By Lisa Gardner
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter

    In Lisa Gardner’s first-ever short story following thirteen bestselling novels, The 7th Month takes listeners between the books and into a day in the life of Boston Detective D. D. Warren. In her seventh month of pregnancy, D.D. should be taking it easy. Instead, she accepts a small consulting role on the set of a serial killer film shooting in Boston.

    Kristi Richardson says: "A great short detective mystery!"
    "Couldn't Get Past The Narrator"

    I listened for about twenty minutes and could go no further because the narrator takes short, loud indrawn breaths after nearly every sentence. This MUST be an affectation that she thinks makes her sound more professional. It is simply ANNOYING and I couldn't stand it any longer.

    A narrator can make or break a story. Glad this was free. I will NEVER purchase anything read by Kirsten Potter, no matter how terrific the story may be.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Instruments of Darkness: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Imogen Robertson
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. Not one to be bound by convention or to shy away from adventure, she recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer, and historical suspense's newest investigative duo is born.

    Martha says: "Not The Best, But Not Too Bad..."
    "Not The Best, But Not Too Bad..."

    Yes, I know my title isn't the greatest, but it was the best I could think of to describe my opinion of this book. That said, I may even continue with the series someday. The story was not bad. It held my interest. I have listened to Wanda McCaddon's narration many times and I think she is a fine reader, although at times she seems to be rushing through the story a bit too quickly. This book is a perfect example of that. Another reviewer commented that it is often hard to tell when the story switches between characters and places. This makes it hard to tell where you are in the story and confuses the listener. I found myself hitting the 30-second rewind button frequently. Another reviewer commented that her childrens' voices are irritating; however, I did not find that to be the case. To each their own, I guess. I believe that Ms McCaddon is a more mature woman, but (IMHO) she does a fine job voicing various characters, including men and younger women. She can also give voice to various dialects, which I REALLY appreciate in a narrator. There are many narrators who cannot (it's not easy!). Bad accents can really ruin an audiobook listening experience for me.

    I would hope, since this is the first of a series, that the subsequent books get better. The author writes well. This story is interesting, to a point. There are twists that make it suspenseful enough to hold one's attention (I found the manner in which the "yellow man" is dispatched to be quite creative). The characters are fairly well developed and the author does an admirable job of giving just enough information about her characters' backstories to leave listeners wanting to know more. This is a good way to set-up a series.

    I would not say it was a waste of time, but neither was it so good that I couldn't put it down. I would urge others to listen for themselves and then share their thoughts with the rest of us. I'd like to hear more opinions about this author/book/narrator.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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