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S. Droski

voracious reader

Austin, TX | Member Since 2000

ratings
929
REVIEWS
17
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
5
HELPFUL VOTES
74

  • The Cold Dish: A Walt Longmire Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Craig Johnson
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3430)
    Performance
    (2547)
    Story
    (2545)

    Award-winning author Craig Johnson's critically acclaimed debut Western mystery takes listeners to the breathtaking mountains of Wyoming for a tale of cold-blooded vengeance. Four high-school boys were given suspended sentences for raping a Cheyenne girl. Now, two of the boys have been killed, and only Sheriff Walt Longmire can keep the other two safe.

    Dataman says: "Not Your Ordinary Western Novel (Series)"
    "so glad I gave it a second chance!"
    Overall
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    I tried to listen to this book when I first bought it, but couldn't quite get into it. There are a number of components that just don't generally prompt me to pick up a book (rape, Native American theme, "old West" feel, slower pace, etc.). Also, the narrator, while good, made Walt sound older than he is.

    Recently I found the Longmire TV series on Netflix, which was based on these books and that turned me around. After watching the only season available I was hooked and wanted more so I decided to try this book again. This time I was able to relax into the slower pace and really appreciate the characters and background. I found I really liked all the characters in the TV series and now that I could picture them I was better able to get through that "first book" difficulty of getting to know and appreciate the people in the book. This is always a challenge for me when I pick up a new series and especially so when there are too many other themes in the book that aren't necessarily my thing.

    The pace is a little slower, but I finally realized that is more a representation of where the book takes place. It's not that nothing happens in the book as the plot actually moves well. You just have to give it a chance. The Native American mysticism later in the book is interesting and adds to the complexity of the story. The narrator also grows on you as the book goes on. He really does a very good job of bringing all the characters to life!

    The overall theme was troubling to me, but once I was able to get past that a little, I could see what a gem this book is. You know from the title and a quote at the beginning that this is a story of revenge. You learn pretty early on what the revenge is for. Normally knowing so much is a recipe for a boring book, but in spite of knowing so much up front, the book is full of twists, turns and surprises. I had a number of suspects in mind, but didn't know until the end who really committed the murders. I'm downloading the next couple of books in the series now and I'm so glad I gave this book a second chance!!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Kevin Pollak, Alan Goldsher
    • Narrated By Kevin Pollak
    Overall
    (207)
    Performance
    (190)
    Story
    (190)

    Kevin Pollak rose through the comedy club ranks at the feet of Don Rickles and Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson, and George Carlin. Named one of Comedy Central’s Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time, he’s a killer impressionist — Falk, Shatner, Walken, Nicholson — a versatile actor with one of the most respected filmographies around, and an Internet pioneer. He’s done it all, and now he’s ready to spill the beans.

    S. Droski says: "Turns out I'm a fan...who knew?!"
    "Turns out I'm a fan...who knew?!"
    Overall
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    To begin this review I’ll admit to being on the frivolous side when it comes to entertainment. Even in a serious book/movie I prefer large portions of humor without too much dark violence. Pollak’s initial movie career consisted of serious films that while amazing, aren’t generally my thing (A Few Good Men, for example).

    To make matters worse, I really don’t care for impressionists. I appreciate the skill and talent that goes into that genre of humor, but impressionists just don’t make me laugh. Later in his career Pollak did some lighter movies with more of the “clever banter” type humor I enjoy, such as “The Whole Nine Yards”. Bottom line is that though I have nothing against him, I’ve never considered myself a Pollak fan….until this book.

    I honestly don’t even remember why I bought this audiobook, but when I ran out of other books and found this on my iPod I figured I might as well give it a try. I am SO glad I did! Not only did I love this book, but after listening to Pollak telling the story of his life, I have become a huge fan. The stories about Bruce Willis, De Niro, Nicholson, Jerry Lewis, Tom Cruise, Naomi Campbell, Rip Torn and others were entrancing, which is saying a lot since I’m also not much for keeping up on the latest celebrity gossip. I just got home from the grocery store and caught myself literally laughing out loud as I listened to this book while shopping. It was honestly that funny.

    Pollak makes no apologies for his fairly large ego, but he’s also surprisingly likeable and almost humble at times. Don’t ask me how he can be an egotistically humble man, but he manages to do so in a way that makes you wish you had the chance to get to know him in person. And, once you realize all the cool things he’s done in life you see the ego is justified!

    His stories about other legendary performers are mostly positive, but in a funny and interesting way. He makes them seem like real people. When he gushes about some legend he’s had the opportunity to work with you feel the sincerity in his praise of them. He does discuss some famous people that he obviously didn’t think much of and though his commentary about them is biting at times, it just doesn’t have that whiney, “mean girl” feeling that so many people try to call “funny”. His negative comments are funny and seem to me like they came from an honest place.

    I also like the way he sprinkles in some bits of wisdom around how he made some things in his career happen. He seemed to really appreciate the chances he's been given and those he made happen (remember...there's no shortage of ego). Since I didn’t start out as a big Pollak fan the book started a little slow for me, but once I got into it I enjoyed it to the very end. My only complaint is that my book purchase didn’t come with a voucher to meet Pollak in person.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Murder on a Girl's Night Out

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Anne George
    • Narrated By Ruth Ann Phimister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (105)
    Story
    (104)

    Novelist Anne George injects murder, mayhem, and laughs into her popular mysteries. Nominated for an Agatha Award, this hilarious tale of two “60 something” sisters reveals the deadly consequences of a hasty real estate purchase. Retired Alabama school teacher Patricia Anne thinks her older sister, flamboyant Mary Alice, has lost her cotton-pickin’ mind. On a whim, Mary Alice bought the Skoot ’n’ Boot, the local country western night spot where she and her boyfriend hang out. Mary Alice insists it will be easy to run the club - until the previous owner is found executed.

    betsy says: "Darker than Expected"
    "Fun chicken soup for the ears"
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    This book was a great break from some of the more serious reading I’ve been doing. The pace is relaxing, but not too slow and as soon as you settle into the seemingly mundane life of two older ladies, things change and you are swept into a crazy mystery with two wild women at the helm. There’s one crazy situation after another in this first book, but I won’t go into that detail here for fear of ruining the ride for you. Just trust me that things get crazy! I don’t know about you, but I absolutely enjoy reading about wild women (or wild men) with good hearts!!

    At first glance the two sisters are entirely different and annoying in their own ways. One is a pedantic, persnickety, somewhat judgmental, former English teacher who insists on correcting everyone’s grammar. The other is a man-chasing, glutton who clearly sees everyone else’s faults and has no qualms about telling everyone exactly what they are doing wrong.

    There are enough husbands, boyfriends, children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors to bring depth to the story. As you get to know these “annoying” ladies, you can’t help but fall in love with them. It turns out that they are funny, loving and though different, they both have equally good hearts and souls so it’s easy to overlook and actually smile at what initially seemed like annoying traits (especially for those of us who are perfect and never annoying…lol).

    I am now listening to the last audio book in this series (seems there’s at least one more not in audio) and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these books. The narrator does an awesome job of bringing the 60-something pair and the rest of the cast to life. She also does a fabulous job of conveying the wry humor that’s scattered throughout and in this way she helps the author evolve our view of the women from annoying to heartwarmingly fun.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Poisoned Tarts: Savannah Reid, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By G. A. McKevett
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (34)

    What happens when too rich and too thin becomes too deadly? Voluptuous P.I. Savannah Reid is about to find out as she delves into the disappearance of a celebrity hanger - on that soon leads to something more sinister. As Halloween draws near, Savannah will have to learn a killer's deadly 'tricks' before someone else is 'treated' to murder.... Halloween in Southern California just doesn't have the frosty bite Savannah's used to, although her latest job promises chills aplenty.

    Nancy says: "One of the best in the series!"
    "OK addition to an excellent series"
    Overall
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    Story

    I typically only review the first book in a series unless there's something really specific that needs to be said. In this case I'm reviewing this book because the only other rating (with no review to explain why) was one person who gave the book 1 star.

    I rated all the other books in this series with 4-5 stars overall, though I admit this story didn't grab me like most of the others so it only got 3. I don't really enjoy "mean girl" themes though, which is why this wasn't one of my favorites.

    Still, there was a complex enough plot to be interesting with a bit of a surprise ending so it's worth listening to if you enjoy other books in the series as I do. As always, I enjoy getting to know Savannah and the others better and I think the narrator did an outstanding job of bringing the characters to life without overdoing the GA accent.

    I certainly wouldn't recommend listening to this if you don't already know the characters via the previous books. This late in the series you need to have some background on people, personalities, etc.

    Also, as I mentioned in my review of the first book, the titles are a bit confusing. Though they tie into the plot of each book, they initially led me to expect more of a cozy series like Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries (which I also enjoy). This is much more like a less dark Sue Grafton mystery. I was also shocked to realize a few books in, that at least some of these books are Harlequin, which I typically associate with sappy romance books. Though there is a reasonable amount of romance in the series, it's much more real and often touching and funny. It's not the sappy, teenage-angst ridden stuff that usually prompts me to avoid Harlequin books.

    I've now listened to all the books in this series and without giving anything away, I'll just say that though I really hated to see it end, the last book was the very best and there was an extremely satisfying end to the story. While this particular book wasn't my favorite, this series has become a favorite of mine, which is why I felt it was important to balance the other reader's 1 star rating with a full review. This series has interesting characters, humor, strong story lines and it progresses nicely from book to book. It's interesting without getting too dark or serious overall and I highly recommend it for some fairly light mystery reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Just Desserts: Savannah Reid, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By G. A. McKevett
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (202)
    Story
    (203)

    Finding herself in over her head with a case involving a politician's infidelities, Memphis-born karate expert Detective Sergeant Savannah Reid is told that she must turn in her badge because she is overweight.

    S. Droski says: "Confusing title for a great book"
    "Confusing title for a great book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The title led me to expect a series similar to Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series (which I enjoy), but this was really closer to a Southern version of Sue Grafton’s Millhone series (but not as dark).

    I loved this book and have already downloaded the next three in the series. I’m especially excited to have found a new series with a good number of books as it’s always a bummer to find books I love only to find there are only a few in the series.

    What was so great? The plot was complex enough to be interesting without being convoluted. The characters were also very likable and interesting. Best of all for me was the humor. I didn’t laugh out loud most of the time like I do reading an Evanovich Stephanie Plum book, but there was enough clever, real humor to keep the story from being too dark.

    The relationships had a real feel to them too, versus the overdramatized version of relationships you often see in books so it felt like I was getting to know real people.

    Also, having lived in GA for some years I was pleased that the narrator didn’t over do the Savannah accent. She did a really decent job of it and overall she did an excellent job bringing out the main character’s personality. For me the sign of a good narrator is when I forget someone is reading to me and I just recognize characters, which happened right away in this book. Savannah is someone I’d love to know so it was great fun being part of her life for a few hours. Hopefully you’ll feel the same if you try the book!

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Eragon: The Inheritance Cycle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Christopher Paolini
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7876)
    Performance
    (3048)
    Story
    (3105)

    When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

    Sandra says: "Utterly Awesome!"
    "Exactly what you'd expect for the genre"
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    If you love books about dragons, elves and quests you will probably love this book. I liked it, but found it to be pretty much the "same old story" with no real surprises until you get to the (slightly cliff-hanger) ending. I am still undecided about whether I'll give the next book in the series a try or not, simply because this didn't leave me dying to hear what happens next like the books in "The Hollows" series do.

    To be fair, I'm often luke warm about the first book in a series since it can take a while to really get into the characters and their world. The author has to introduce everyone so you may not get into the really interesting details and side characters initially. That said, I also just listened to the beginning of a series that I felt was much more interesting and stronger than this (Switched by Amanda Hocking) so I can't totally let this book off the hook.

    Don't get me wrong, the book was good, just not as great as the other reviewers made it out to be. The narration was fabulous, but the story was just good in my opinion. I just found the plot to be "typical"....nothing really new or surprising. I've only read a few dragon books and even with that limited exposure I felt this plot was predictable and pretty much interchangeable with the others. There was no humor to speak of, which is something I really need in a book, though I know that's not important to everyone. I also really love quirky, interesting characters, which were in short supply here. To that end, I wish there had been more done with the fortune teller and the cat. To be honest, I think a series about them would be much more fun and interesting than this book.

    On a positive note, if you are looking for a book that you could listen to with your kids, this might be a good choice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wicked Business: Lizzy and Diesel, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Janet Evanovich
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (601)
    Performance
    (538)
    Story
    (538)

    Lizzy Tucker’s once normal life as a pastry chef in Salem, Massachusetts, turns upside down as she battles both sinister forces and an inconvenient attraction to her unnaturally talented but off-limits partner, Diesel. When Harvard University English professor and dyed-in-the-wool romantic Gilbert Reedy is mysteriously murdered and thrown off his fourth-floor balcony, Lizzy and Diesel take up his 20-year quest for the Luxuria Stone, an ancient relic believed by some to be infused with the power of lust.

    Lorena says: "Not her best"
    "cute, fun read that doesn't require any thought"
    Overall
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    Story

    Evanovich is one of my favorite authors and I've read all her books. This isn't up to the standard of her Stephanie Plum series, but it's not bad. As far as Evanovich goes, this is really more of the same so if you want an easy, silly book to lighten your mood without taxing your brain, give this a try. I mean, how can you go wrong with two hot guys with super hero-like powers, a crazy nemesis, a crazy/quirky/funny sidekick, a quest for items with mysterious powers, a monkey who is smarter than some people I know, and a reluctant heroine who prefers baking over saving the world?

    As usual, Lorelei King does a great job of bringing the characters to life. If you haven't read her other books you should probably read the first in this new series before this one. If you are familiar with Evanovich you could probably jump straight into this one, though why miss the fun?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Furies of Calderon: Codex Alera, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4172)
    Performance
    (2834)
    Story
    (2869)

    In the realm of Alera, where people bond with the furies - elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal - 15-year-old Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. But when his homeland erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Tavi's simple courage will turn the tides of war.

    Jim says: "Remastered into chapters from CD."
    "Disappointing, but technically a decent book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I adored Butcher’s Dresden series and I also really enjoyed the Vorkosigan series another reviewer compared this to so I really wanted to like this book. Sadly, though I slogged through the entire thing, I just couldn’t get into it. I did like the end, thankfully.

    The narration was very good and technically it was a decent story, but it was at least 75% politics and all the political machinations just bored me to tears. To be fair, they were integral to the plot and Butcher did an excellent job of creating a well thought out and complete story. Every once in awhile you’d get a glimpse of interesting and likeable (or really evil) characters that helped me start warming to the story, but then we’d jump right back into the politics and I’d get bored again.

    This book was also missing the clever humor that’s Dresden and Miles bring to their series. There was very, very little humor in this book. I love a good action adventure that has a good bit of humor. It helps me get involved in the character’s lives and I was really disappointed not to find that here, especially since I know Butcher is more than capable of delivering excellent humor. If you don’t need the humor, but you love political intrigue and battle scenes, you’ll probably like this book as it really was well written and the narration was very good. It just wasn’t for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By James Marsters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4091)
    Performance
    (2944)
    Story
    (2955)

    Here, together for the first time, are the shorter works of best-selling author Jim Butcher - a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time. The tales range from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious.

    Brian says: "Know what sucks about this book?"
    "worth it if you love Dresden- fills gaps"
    Overall
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    I have fallen in love with this series, though I’m bummed that they switched narrators in the final book. I already own some of the anthologies that include stories from this book so I wasn’t sure it was worth buying this one. Even though it’s not the best book in the series, I’m glad I bought it. These stories aren’t as engaging as the main books, but they fill in some gaps so if you love the series and want to know everything you can about the characters this is worth buying. If you haven’t read the series I’d skip this until you do.

    I’d listened to the first couple of stories in other books, before I started listening to this anthology. They were OK, but didn’t stand out to me at the time. I think that’s because I didn’t know the characters then and you miss too much in a really short story. I’d tried to watch the TV series before I listened to the books and I couldn’t figure out why it just didn’t click for me. Now I understand that the best part of this series is the nuance of the characters and the sardonic, clever humor of Dresden, Murphy and others. I laugh out loud in the main books of this series more than I have in a long while and I just love all the subtle (and some not so subtle) references to books, movies and music Dresden often throws out. I swear I even caught one to the movie Clueless in an earlier book, which seems funny coming from Dresden. You will miss many of those references if you don’t listen closely, but I get a kick out of them as they really show off Dresden’s (and Butcher’s) personality. In short stores or brief TV shows the nuance is lost and you just have one monster after another without the chance to get to know the characters.

    I really enjoyed the brief author introductions to each story. That background made me like Butcher even more and really added to my understanding and enjoyment of the stories. Sadly, this is also your last chance to hear James Masters narrate. John Glover does a good job in the next book, which is saying a lot for me since a change in narrator usually ruins the series for me, but in my opinion, Masters IS Dresden. Glover does a good job, but he just doesn’t bring across the humor like Masters does and that’s one of my favorite things about this series. I’m thankful they didn’t switch narrators sooner.

    As to filling in some gaps, you learn who Nick is (comes up in the last book), learn how Murphy and Dresden first met and you even get a story to fill in the gap between book 12 and 13. That cliffhanger ending in book 12 was a big one and though you can definitely jump into book 13 without hearing the short story between them, I thought it was worth hearing what happened between the books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Trail: Blood, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Tanya Huff
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (104)

    For centuries, the werewolves of Toronto have managed to live in peace and tranquility, hidden quietly away on their London, Ontario farm. But now, someone has learned their secret - and is systematically massacring this ancient race. The only one they can turn to is Henry Fitzroy, Toronto-based vampire and writer of bodice rippers. Forced to hide from the light of day, Henry can’t hunt the killer alone so he turns to Vicki Nelson for help.

    Yvonne says: "Must read for vampire lovers"
    "OK, but mostly annoying and creepy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I felt a bit ambiguous after reading the first book in the series so I decided to give this second book a try. I won't be reading more.

    The story was OK, but very predictable with nothing really interesting or fun enough to overcome that issue. The characters are OK, but not likeable enough to make me want to hear another book about them. There was also a strong incest related portion of the storyline that I found really creepy. It was related to animals somewhat so maybe it shouldn’t have bothered me, but it still just made me cringe every time it came up.

    The narration was also a problem for me. The narrator did a decent job technically – she enunciated well (though almost too well in places so it sounded forced), did a reasonable job of differentiating the characters and varied her tone and cadence to keep from sounding boring. I just couldn’t stand listening to her voice.

    To be fair, maybe it’s just my personal preference, but she has a quavering, almost “old lady” quality much of the time, which made the characters all sound whiney and angry. I read paritally to escape real life frustrations so I hate listening to a bunch of whiney, angry people for hours on end. I think the author meant for the main character to come across that way to some degree (she’d been through a lot of loss and change and wasn’t adapting well), but the narrator’s voice made all the characters sound that way and it annoyed me so much that I just couldn’t get into the book.

    This certainly wasn’t the worst book or narration, but I didn’t enjoy it.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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