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karen

United States | Member Since 2004

1068
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 151 reviews
  • 179 ratings
  • 2894 titles in library
  • 168 purchased in 2014
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  • Option to Kill: A Nathan McBride Novel, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Andrew Peterson
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1363)
    Performance
    (1185)
    Story
    (1198)

    When Nathan McBride receives a text message from someone who claims she’s been kidnapped, it triggers a deadly chain of events that has the potential to haunt him for the rest of his life. Nathan will soon learn that nothing from his past could ever prepare him for the crisis he’ll soon be facing. The girl’s name is Lauren and she’s just 12 years old.

    Carla says: "An Outstanding Story with Engaging Characters"
    "Came in at the middle, I guess"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is apparently one of those series where you have to start with the first book. As it is, I feel like I walked into the middle of the movie, starting with this #3 book. There's just no background information offered that makes anything else make sense: who is this man with the (apparently) scarred face? We have only the barest explanation, and there's no explanation for the scars -- and he gets testy when "the girl" asks. Why would this man immediately, and without question, put his life on the line on the basis of one anonymous phone call? From someone he's never even heard of, let alone met? What's the basis of this mysterious partnership he has with another (absent) man? What do they do, and why? Okay, he's a "private investigator" -- but how many PI's would act as MacBride does, on NO information -- let alone no promise of any kind of payment?

    Beyond that, this "Nathan MacBride" is a little tough to deal with. He's constantly issuing terse orders: "Don't touch me". "Don't come up behind me". "Don't talk to me." "Don't ever wake me up." And gets downright nasty if the poor kid forgets. The girl, for her part, has some oddities herself. There she is, 12 years old, has mastered all kinds of things, electronics, the solar system, cooking, guns and ammunition, etc etc. She mastered an entire series of hand signals in "less than a minute", we're told. But yet she doesn't understand the word "intangible"? That word she has to have explained to her? Doesn't make sense.

    If you like cat-and-mouse thrillers, and don't need to know who any of the characters are, or why they're either running or being chased, this is probably a pretty good book. Lots of techno-geek stuff, lots of tense chases over hill and dale. But if you need to know a little more about who, what and why anybody is doing anything, then either skip this book, or maybe start with the first book in the series. I'm not going to pursue this series any farther, but I can understand it has an audience.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Ocean Beach

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Wendy Wax
    • Narrated By Amy Rubinate
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (86)
    Story
    (85)

    Unlikely friends Madeline, Avery, and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami's South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They've been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki would get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have a shot at keeping her family together.

    Leah says: "Super Magnificent Read"
    "Impossible to listen to"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I quit six hours in... it's probably a good story. I like the idea. But the narrator makes no distinction between the three young women's voices, and trying to figure out who is talking at any one time is absolutely impossible. Beyond that, she runs from one character's story to another's with no break whatever -- it's way beyond confusing. I got tired of backtracking.

    So many (new) narrators do this -- run separate story segments together without a break, as if there weren't even a paragraph marking, Once again, I ask: what do they read from? Why can't they at least pause between different character's stories? Is it that they're reading from something that doesn't show paragraphs?

    I keep telling myself I'll get back to this one, but honestly, I doubt it...

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • No Time for Goodbye

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Linwood Barclay
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (288)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (164)

    The house was deathly quiet. That was the first sign that something was terribly wrong. Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke that morning to find herself alone. Her family - mother, father, and brother - had vanished without a word, without a note, without a trace. Twenty-five years later, Cynthia is still looking for answers. Now she is about to learn the devastating truth.

    S. Johnston says: "I truy enjoyed this book!"
    "Still a great book.."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Living overseas, in a land where English-language books were very difficult to come by, I found myself reading all kinds of books I probably wouldn't have picked, had there been more options. I remember picking this book up, having never heard of either it or the author, and not having high expectations. Boy, I was wrong.

    I was captivated from the first page -- the story moves along at breakneck speed, and not for quite a while can you even begin to imagine how such a thing could have happened: a teenage girl wakes up after a late night with her boyfriend, and finds that the rest of her family has simply disappeared, gone, without a trace. In spite of all the investigations and publicity at the time, nothing is ever discovered. The family just disappeared.

    At some point, Barclay allows us to see how the solution to the puzzle could have occurred -- only things are never quite that simple.

    So back then, years ago, in a country far away, I remember finishing the book, putting it down with a "Huh! Didn't see THAT coming..." and after wiping a few tears off my face, thinking, 'Wow. What a book!'

    It IS quite a book. Still is. It's not Great Literature, maybe, but in terms of genre, one of the best. As an Audible book, this one was especially good because of the narrator, Christopher Lane. He narrates with exactly the right intonation -- sort of a befuddled-but-tolerant father figure, which is exactly right. Perfect for Terry Archer, a mild mannered wry-humored English teacher, husband of Cynthia Bigge, who was the teenager who lost her family. Archer never experienced any of the mystery himself, but nevertheless, he's the one who has coped with Cynthia's lifelong struggle with her loss. When things start to happen, it falls to him to figure it out.

    To say much of anything more could spoil it, so I won't. Just know that this is a really good listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Fixer Upper

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Mary Kay Andrews
    • Narrated By Isabel Keating
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (415)
    Performance
    (237)
    Story
    (232)

    After a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed, and homeless. She reluctantly accepts to refurbish Birdsong, the old family place in Guthrie, Georgia. But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise. "Bird Droppings" would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol - pink dump. There's also a murderously grumpy old lady who has claimed squatter's rights and isn't moving out. Ever.

    Karen M. McGrady says: "Enjoyable Listening"
    "Love this book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In fact, I love it so much I've bought it three times -- first as a paperback, then as an audible book, then again as a paperback, after I loaned out my first copy then never got it back. No problem: if any leisure reading is worth buying three times, this one is.

    "Mary Kay Andrews" is Kathy Hogan Trocheck when she's at home -- I got hooked on her after hearing her interviewed on a Canadian radio station while driving home from Vancouver BC late one night, and was impressed with her versatility as a writer, publishing in several different genres. I'd never read any of her numerous books -- 17 novels, 10 of them mysteries -- but this one is my favorite. First of all, I like make-overs, whether it's hairstyles, makeup, dresses or houses. There are several "I got fired, but inherited an old house, so I may as well fix it up" books -- see the "Orchard Mysteries" series by Sheila Connolly, also available on Audible, not to mention a whole fixer-upper series by Sarah Graves. They're all good -- but there's more "meat" in this one than most, since there's a parallel story running about how protagonist Dempsey Killebrew got taken by a clever lobbyist boss in Washington, and found herself on the front pages of the Washington Post, hung out to dry for her boss's misdeeds. And then there's Ella Kate, the irascible 80-year old termagant who's been squatting in the house, adding an extra layer of interesting oddball Southern characters who populate Guthrie, Georgia, the wide spot in the road where "Birdsong", the dilapidated mansion, sits.

    Lots of things get "fixed up" in "The Fixer Upper" -- not just the house, but just about everyone involved. And if you've been putting off doing some painting, tiling or floor refinishing yourself, it works as an inspiration, too. After listening to "Jimmy" - a real estate agent who paints houses for fun -- wax lyrical about the ethereal grace involved in applying a new coat of paint to an old room, I called a painter and set about doing some 'fix-it' work myself.

    Good book. But I guess I said that.






    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Redemption Key

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By S. G. Redling
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (21)

    Her narrow escape from blue-eyed assassin Tom Booker has made former data analyst Dani Britton question all of her choices-like trusting "good guys" who carry badges. On the run and haunted by the government-sanctioned massacre of her coworkers, Dani finally settles in remote Redemption Key, Florida, at a bar where strong drinks and shady deals are the norm.

    karen says: "Odd little book"
    "Odd little book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A "Daily Deal", knew nothing about the author or the book before listening.... which was probably my mistake. There are a series of books by this author, and I don't know where this one fits in, but it was obvious there was a lot of back-story about these much-wounded, bodies-covered-with-scars characters. The past was alluded to, but I never got over the feeling that I'd walked into the middle of a play.

    It was well read and parts were interesting -- I could see the attraction -- but when I was an hour from the end, and had just listened to yet another set of paragraphs enthusing over Dani's body parts, most frequently extolling her exquisite legs, her "thin little arms" and her "tiny little feet", I decided I'd had enough. There's more to writing a "thriller" than endless descriptions of her body -- and everyone else's, come to think of it. Much ink was spend on defining, over and over again, everyone's body type, very very big, little teeny tiny, and in between. Seemed very strange.

    So I never did really get into it -- it had great potential. I liked the location. But way too thin a story line to be compelling, and the characters never emerged from two-dimensional.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Night Music

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Jojo Moyes
    • Narrated By Clare Corbett
    Overall
    (330)
    Performance
    (297)
    Story
    (291)

    The Spanish House is a mixture of designs, Georgian, Gothic and Moorish, as if whoever started it had simply got bored. It has long been known as an architectural folly to locals, and is now nearly derelict to boot. When its reclusive owner dies intestate, the Spanish House is left to his city-dwelling niece. For Isabel, recently widowed, the house is a potential lifeline - the only hope she has of providing for her two children without having to sell her most treasured possession.

    Kelly says: "Jojo Moyes is my favorite."
    "Extremely valuable book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It was thanks to this book that I got all the windows in the house washed -- inside and out -- the garage floor swept and both the linen closet and the sewing room reorganized. I couldn't stop listening -- I had to find some way to justify taking the time to keep listening.

    This was my first exposure to Jojo Moyes -- never heard of her before, never come across any of her books before this one, when I rolled the dice on yet another really great Daily Deal. "Night Music" won't be the last -- except that I expect I'll listen to this one a few more times before I'm finished with it.

    It's funny, I see other reviewers saying that this isn't Moyes best book, which just blows my mind. Can't quite see how any of them could be better than this, but... hey, I'm willing to try.

    Maybe it's just me, but there's something about a battle over a house that attracts me. Another of my favorite books (not the film) is Andre Dubus III's "House of Sand and Fog" which also involves a house everyone wants, and the emotional pull such an embattled dwelling can bring about. "Night Music" is very different from that book -- maybe even better -- but I felt the same compulsion to keep listening until it all got worked out. Of course "Night Music" is really about the people -- the fragile, wounded, too-trusting professional violinist who inherits it, the corrupt builder who pretends to help restore it, but has evil plans of his own, the children caught in the middle of it, the guy who's camping out, unknown, in the boiler room... and the rabbits. Can't forget the rabbits.

    What can I say? Don't miss this one. Your own house will be a whole lot cleaner by the time you finish!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • He Who Dies Last: Dr. Hoffmann, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Christoph Spielberg
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Doctor Felix Hoffmann is furious when an infusion pump mysteriously fails, nearly killing his 82-year-old patient. But his anger quickly turns to suspicion when he learns the patient’s posh apartment is for sale - without the patient’s knowledge. Together with his vivacious girlfriend, Celine, Felix discovers that someone at the hospital has concocted a deadly scheme to fleece geriatric patients and then hasten their deaths. Turns out he didn’t save his patient from an equipment failure - he saved him from murder.

    karen says: "Outstanding!"
    "Outstanding!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A low-key mystery set in Berlin -- and a great listen by any standard. There's murder afoot here -- but Dr, Felix Hoffman works with geriatric patients, and some of the normal end-of-life situations he encounters might be natural, others clearly not so. But this is not a "thriller", rather a really interesting look into the world of seriously ill old people and one doctor who serves them.

    And their pets. The following is not really a "spoiler", but... "Trixie", described as an 'ugly mutt' was owned by Dr. Hoffman's elderly aunt, so when the aunt herself dies, Trixie is adopted by Dr. Hoffman and figures prominently in the tale. What's interesting -- as a side note in the story -- is that Dr, Hoffman recognizes the important part that pets play in the lives of the elderly, and so he uses a legacy to create an adjunct to their hospital, a kennel for patient's pets, where the patients can go to visit any time they're able -- they even installed a few hospital beds, so a patient can even spend the night with their pet if they wish. Not surprisingly for us pet lovers, but Dr. Hoffman notes that after this facility is established, the demand for pain medication and anti-depressants in his ward drops by half. I believe that -- and an interesting idea. I wonder if this really exists in Germany.

    All in all, this a really good book. I'd never heard of the book or the author before -- thank you Daily Deal! -- but now I'll definitely seek out more "Dr. Hoffman" books on Audible. Very enjoyable -- I was sad to finish it.



    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Tom Wolfe
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1070)
    Performance
    (624)
    Story
    (625)

    Tom Wolfe's best-selling modern classic tells the story of Sherman McCoy, an elite Wall Street bond trader who has it all: wealth, power, prestige, a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress - until one wrong turn sends Sherman spiraling downward into a humiliating fall from grace. A car accident in the Bronx involving Sherman, his girlfriend, and two young lower-class black men sets a match to the incendiary racial and social tensions of 1980s New York City.

    JOHN says: "TEN STARS"
    "Big mistake"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Three hours in, and I began to realize what a colossal mistake I've been making with audiobooks. I've been giving five stars to lots of books, books I really enjoyed, books that kept me listening way beyond time to quit, well-narrated books, all of them the kind of thing I knew I'd remember for a long time. All those were good books, great books, maybe. But now, what do I do with this book? "Bonfire of the Vanities"? This book -- as written and narrated -- is so far beyond all those other books I've loved, what do I do now? Only five stars are available!

    The other thing is, I could easily write a book setting forth all the reasons why this is the best audiobook I've ever listened to -- well, on a par with my other all-time favorite, "Angela's Ashes", which - up until now -- I'd decided was the only other PERFECT audiobook I'd come across. Now there are two.

    I won't write a book about it, I won't even say much more, except for one thing: if you've read this far, and decide NOT to buy this book, you're a damn fool. This is the experience of a lifetime, an experience that will draw you in, wrap you up, and then spit you out 27 hours later, exhausted, limp with emotion, and knowing only one thing: you've got to listen to it again.

    And as to Joe Barrett, the narrator, there should be a lifetime uber-superior award for his interpretation of this book -- he handled everything with perfection, the gazillions of New York accents, of every possible ethnicity, he slam-dunked the various complicated medical terms, not even Yiddish threw him off his stride. This book is worth it for the narration alone.

    Buy it. Download, and click it on. You're gonna be missing the experience of a lifetime if you don't.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • After I'm Gone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Laura Lippman
    • Narrated By Linda Emond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (336)
    Performance
    (297)
    Story
    (304)

    Dead is dead. Missing is gone. When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Day dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative - if not all legal - businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July in 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when Felix, facing prison, vanishes. Though Bambi has no idea where her husband - or his money - might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie.

    C. Vincent says: "Cannot rate this highly enough!"
    "Very disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Too bad, too. Having read almost all the Tess Monaghan books and at least a couple of the stand-alones, I was greatly looking forward to this one. Laura Lippman is a fine writer, by any standard. But not this time. I didn't connect with this one at all.

    It doesn't really fit into any genre -- it's not really a mystery, or if it is, it's so slow moving and tedious that if that's what you wanted, you'd give up early. (I nearly did, many different times.) It could be chic lit of some kind, what with all the women and their inner monologues, fighting over what this criminal they loved had left them as he fled -- "the women" including a wife, mistresses, various female children, various extended family. It could be just a straight novel, maybe, but it's just not good enough. The 'who cares?' factor is way too high. In fact, if anyone other than an established author like Lippman had written this, it would never have sold.

    All the way through, I was wondering if the narration was a part of the problem. Narrator Linda Emond has a very pleasant, easy to listen to voice, but as the story jumps back and forth in time, with several different women talking about what they were thinking, what they did, what they wore, what others had done to them, what they should have done, etc etc it was extremely difficult to keep track of who was talking, and where in time they were. Emond didn't make any serious attempt at differentiating the voices, nor did she sometimes even pause, when leaping from an historical accounting into the present or back again. In fact, I started/restarted this book three different times -- never would have done that, if it had been anyone but Lippman -- but in the early pages, I couldn't figure out who was talking, when it was taking place, or who was talking next. Not to mention that it was boring, right off the block. I couldn't find a way to care.

    Toward the end, I found myself wondering if this was a fleshed-out true Baltimore story of some kind -- a criminal, flush with assets, runs off to parts unknown, forever, thus avoiding conviction, while the women he leaves behind fight over his left-behind spoils. The "cold case" investigation never seems to be a real part of the story -- just something shuffled in, here and there, so it could sort-of qualify as detective fiction.

    Best advice? Skip this one. Virtually any other book by Miss Lippman will be better. Oh, and another piece of advice? If you're going to name your protagonist "Bambi", you darn well better be writing a literary masterpiece, because we all harbor too many cutesy associations with that name to tolerate anything short of genius.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mother's Day Out: The Margie Peterson Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Karen MacInerney
    • Narrated By Cris Dukehart
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (108)

    With a husband who works long hours trying to make partner and two rambunctious kids that are running her ragged, Margie Peterson is like any other worn-out suburban mom. When she decides to take a job as a PI for a seedy local detective agency, everything changes. It doesn’t take long for Margie to get in over her head: Her first day on the job she totals her minivan, mistakenly enters a drag contest, and winds up in the bathroom with a dead transvestite. But when Margie finds her home number in the victim’s phone, things really start to get interesting.

    Susan says: "Fun"
    "That was fun!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yet another bargain book success! Never heard of either the book or the author, but decided to roll the dice and take a chance -- and once again, that was a good idea.

    It's funny, they say there are only four basic plots in all of fiction, but I'm not sure how that accounts for this one. As the story evolves, a pretty unique situation reveals itself -- although in today's crazy world I suppose it isn't quite as unique as I think it is. Even so, this was like nothing I'd ever read before. I loved the freshness of the whole thing.

    Karen MacInerny has created interesting, likable characters and structured a truly unique plot but what makes this book a real delight is how funny it is. One of the side-stories deals with how Margie, formerly a stay at home mother, now a new, untrained, part-time private eye, is forced to deal with the head of her daughter's day care center. My kids are grown now, but it seems to me I had some of those same inane discussions with a similar Witch in Power when they were little -- you know, the "Solve (this issue with your child) by tomorrow, or we're expelling her." No, my daughter hadn't decided that she was a dog -- with all that entails, including eating on the floor, barking, biting, etc -- but I seem to recall similar disputes and similar chaos. And I also recall spending some evenings with one kid or the other, explaining just how important to Life As We Know it, that they amend their conduct by tomorrow morning, or all hell was going to break loose. Like Margie, I simply could not deal with having to find new child care arrangements. I'm sure most other working mothers will have had similar experiences. Odd how much more fun it is to remember those situations than was dealing with them in the first place!

    Also odd was that so many readers compared this book to those of Janet Evanovitch. I don't get that at all. I've read/tried to read a couple of Evanovitch's books, and didn't enjoy them at all -- I've stopped even looking at her series. To me, the Evanovitch books came across as downright silly, whereas this one was genuinely funny. All in the eyes of the beholder, I suppose.

    So? All in all, a good book and a great narrator. I'll be looking for more.



    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Little Mercies

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Heather Gudenkauf
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd, Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (249)
    Performance
    (223)
    Story
    (224)

    Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity - the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined.

    Carla says: "Couldn't stop listening!"
    "Whoa! Ten stars, if that's possible."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to "The Weight of Silence", also by -- then unknown to me -- author Heather Gudenkauf and generally liked it -- I liked it well enough to try another. Who knew that this second book would ultimately rank among my all-time favorites? All through the whole book, I kept making mental lists of everyone I had to pester, to get them to read/listen to 'Little Mercies'. It's a stunner, by any standard. Wish I had someone to discuss it with.

    There's a dual plot: in one segment, Ellen Moore is a first-class social worker, the kind of passionate, caring, dedicated social worker we wish all of them were. But by a freaky communication error with her husband on a hot and hectic morning, Ellen doesn't realize that her husband has already put baby Avery in Ellen's car. Ellen rushes off to a client emergency, not knowing her one-year-old is in the back seat. Not until she returns to her car hours later and finds people breaking the windows to free her unconscious child does she realize what happened.

    In a parallel story, a gutsy little ten year old Jenny Baird finds herself alone on a bus, heading to a strange town, after her ne'er-do-well father gets himself into a fight and arrested as he's just about to board. it's a heartbreaking tale, as this little girl tries to seek out first her grandmother, whom she's never met, and then her mother, who's never cared two bits about her, and finds herself lost and alone, each time - except, that is, for the 'little mercies' of total strangers who lovingly take her in and try to help.....

    In a way, 'Little Mercies' reminds me of the best of Jodi Picault's books. With the two parallel stories, each told by an excellent narrator, you experience two compelling tales as they intertwine. in Jenny's story, we wish we all had the kindness of some of the people Jenny meets. And in Ellen's story, virtually all of us who are mothers won't have too much trouble seeing this terrible chain of events as happening to any one of us. One of my friends -- mother of seven children herself -- is adamant that any parent who "forgets" his/her child in a locked car should simply be taken out and shot, no further questions asked. No caring parent, she contends, could ever be so mindless. This friend is at the top of my list to get her to read this book. It CAN happen. Innocently, and in spite of every safeguard -- well almost every safeguard -- it does happen. And what follows compounds the tragedy.

    Warning: once you start listening, you'd better clear your schedule. There are times when you simply can't stop listening, you just have to push on. It's that good.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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