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missgrundy

Fine art photographer, retired English professor, dog mom to an adorable Maltese mix, long-time Californian, genealogist, what else?

San Francisco, CA | Member Since 2010

22
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 38 reviews
  • 66 ratings
  • 262 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
28

  • Red Hook Road

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Ayelet Waldman
    • Narrated By Kimberly Farr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    A marriage collapses under the strain of a daughter’s death; two bereaved siblings find comfort in one another; and an adopted young girl breathes new life into her family with her prodigious talent for the violin. As she writes with obvious affection for these unforgettable characters, Ayelet Waldman skillfully interweaves life’s finer pleasures—music and literature—with the more mundane joys of living.

    glamazon says: "Brilliant"
    "An enjoyable read/listen"
    Overall


    Though I don't usually read family stories, I found Red Hook Road overall very enjoyable. It's about the aftermath of a tragic incident that brings together two very unlike mothers who are forced to deal with situations together as life goes on. It's touching and for the most part very well written. I've read some criticisms that the two main characters, the mothers, are unlikeable, and while I get that, I found them rich enough characters that even though there were definitely unlikeable things about them, I still felt empathy for them and understood how life had shaped them in those particular ways. Iris, in particular, while extremely irritating in her desire to control anything and everything in her path, was still vulnerable enough and showed enough kindness and love that her negative qualities didn't really bother me. On the downside, the plot is a little contrived, and there's a bit of deus ex machina at the end. But it's well worth a read, if this is the kind of novel you enjoy. I also thought the ending dragged out a bit -- as I was listening to it in the car, I kept thinking, "Okay, that's got to be the last sentence . . . " but it wasn't. As far as the audiobook is concerned, the reading is very good with one minor complaint -- the female reader speaks the male voices in a register that's so low it really sounds forced and unnatural. I get that they have to differentiate the voices somehow, but I found it distracting, especially the voice of the father. But overall, the audiobook was great, and the book itself worth the read, if you like that type of story. It's not my usual choice, but I enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Place: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Stephen Hogan, Lara Hutchinson
    Overall
    (983)
    Performance
    (883)
    Story
    (876)

    "The Secret Place", a board where the girls at St Kilda's School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

    Jim says: "CAN NOT UNDERSTAND HALF THE BOOK (AUDIO)"
    "Not the best, but --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a huge fan of Tana French, but this wasn't my favorite. I think the girls' story could have been cut by half to have a tighter narrative. I disagree about the woman narrator -- I thought she was fine and had a thankless task in doing the voices of eight teenage girls. I'm hoping her next will be up to the level of Faithful Place (my favorite).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Quick: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Lauren Owen
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural world populated by unforgettable characters.

    kelliez123 says: "not my favorite"
    "Mixed Reaction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well. I wouldn't want to not recommend this book. It's good, and it kept my attention throughout. But as others have said, it takes a kind of left turn part way in, and I wasn't aware that I was going to be reading "that" kind of book. Still, I kept reading, and it's a good story in the end. At times, it was a little confusing, but it might have been less so if I'd been reading the book instead of listening. The narrator is fantastic -- switching accents effortlessly. He did a wonderful job. So, recommended. I'm looking forward to this author's next effort.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Speaks the Nightbird

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robert McCammon
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3008)
    Performance
    (2685)
    Story
    (2669)

    The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies -- and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel's innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal....

    aaron says: "Dark, Twisted Period Piece with GREAT Characters!"
    "Slow starter, but . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It actually took me three tries to get going on this book. It starts off slowly, you have no idea of who the people are, and twice I put it aside to read something else. But finally came a time when I had nothing on my iPad I hadn't read but Speaks the Nightbird, so I sighed and turned it on again.

    Wow. It certainly picked up, and turned into one of those books that you feel obsessed about -- looking for reasons to drive the car, sitting in the driveway listening long after you're home, and so on. There are so many plot twists and turns, it's guaranteed to keep your attention and keep you guessing.

    And the narrator is wonderful. He does the voices beautifully, including the women, which I can't say for all narrators. Others have given you information about the subject matter and details, so I'll just say, Read It. Now.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Scarlet Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jeanne Kalogridis
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (34)

    Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased. Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the "triumph cards", the predecessor of modern-day Tarot.

    Amazon Customer says: "An Unfortunate Sideshow"
    "Engaging historical novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We're on our way to Italy in the fall, so I'm reading my way through a long list of both fiction and non-fiction histories. I enjoyed this book -- it was engaging and entertaining. Some of the "magical" parts of the story I found to be a bit much, and at times it veered more towards romance than history, but overall I think it was a good read. Caterina Sforza was an amazing woman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Genghis: Birth of an Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Conn Iggulden
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (947)
    Performance
    (571)
    Story
    (574)

    He was born Temujin, son of a khan, raised in a clan of hunters migrating across the steppe. Temujin's young life was shaped by a series of brutal acts: the betrayal of his father by a neighboring tribe, his family left to die on the harsh plain. But Temujin endured, and from then on, he was driven by a fury to survive in the face of death, to kill before being killed, and to conquer enemies from beyond the horizon.

    David says: "Move over Bernard Cornwell"
    "More about Genghis --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great follow-up for Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. This novel brings that great book to life. It fills in all the details in a thrilling narrative. The narrator is excellent. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10185)
    Performance
    (9321)
    Story
    (9340)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Dickensian, to be sure --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly enjoyed every hour of this book. The narrator is extremely good, and the story never flagged for me. It's a big novel, with many characters, and the echoes of Dickens (Pip and Estella, The Artful Dodger) are definitely there. It's dense, and lyrical at times, and suspenseful from time to time -- overall, an excellent way to spend a long commute for a few days or weeks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 20

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1155)
    Performance
    (1022)
    Story
    (1008)

    In Light of the World, sadist and serial killer Asa Surrette narrowly escaped the death penalty for the string of heinous murders. But following a series of damning articles written by Dave Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair about possible other crimes committed by Surette, the killer escapes from a prison transport van and heads to Montana - where an unsuspecting Dave happens to have gone to take in the sweet summer air, accompanied by Alafair, his wife Molly, faithful partner Clete, and Clete’s newfound daughter, Gretchen Horowitz.

    Dave says: "Burke is still the best"
    "It's getting darker in Dave's world . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a huge fan of every Dave Robicheaux novel that Burke has written. If I have one tiny quibble with this one, it's that more than a few times while listening, I thought, whew, this is getting really dark. The character of Asa Surette, as brilliantly brought to life by Will Patton, is one of the creepiest characters I've ever encountered in fiction. But overall, the book is excellent, and Patton's reading is nearly flawless -- I say "nearly," because along with another reviewer, I feel his voice for Gretchen doesn't quite work, and because Clete just doesn't sound like the Clete in my head, though I've made my peace with it. If you're a fan, don't hesitate to get this audiobook; if you're new to Burke -- start at the beginning! I totally envy you for what you have ahead of you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Bee Wilson
    • Narrated By Alison Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (279)
    Performance
    (243)
    Story
    (246)

    Since prehistory, humans have braved the business ends of knives, scrapers, and mashers, all in the name of creating something delicious - or at least edible. In Consider the Fork, award-winning food writer and historian Bee Wilson traces the ancient lineage of our modern culinary tools, revealing the startling history of objects we often take for granted. Charting the evolution of technologies from the knife and fork to the gas range and the sous-vide cooker, Wilson offers unprecedented insights.

    Amazon Customer says: "Intriguing history of everyday utensils"
    "Loved this book --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you are a foodie or food history buff, you will enjoy this book. It's fascinating in its detail of kitchen equipment, appliances, and so on. It reminded me, in a way, of Bill Bryson's "At Home," another excellent book about the history of the home. It's a good read.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Kitchen House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kathleen Grissom
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7106)
    Performance
    (5048)
    Story
    (5037)

    Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

    B.J. says: "Good, but with reservations"
    "Glad I listened --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this book, though I understand the criticism of it. I don't necessarily agree with all the criticism that says Grissom plays off stereotypes -- I think she does a little more complex job than stereotypes. The characters, white and black, are complex and nuanced, and the slaves' characters and attitudes, I thought, were a far cry from Bojangles or Stephan Fetchit. They understood their situation, they found ways to cope, but were devastated when families were broken up or other horrific things happened. The main character, Lavinia, skirts the edges of being unlikeable at some points, making her a bit more complex. All that said, I do think the story was melodramatic in that so many kinds of unhappiness and abuse are woven into the story that at times it became somewhat hard to swallow. Marshall, in particular, seemed to be a flat character, going completely black upon his return to Tall Oaks, doing a complete about-face as far as Lavinia was concerned. I also grew irritated that so much of the plot turned on one character or another overhearing the conversation of others -- as a plot device, I felt it was overused. The two narrators were terrific -- the women voicing the stories of Lavinia and Belle were right on, very believable. They made the book for me. It's a page-turner, that's for sure. But you may have a bit of trouble buying it all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inferno: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10636)
    Performance
    (9619)
    Story
    (9705)

    In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

    Livia says: "Formulaic and Hard to Finish...."
    "I so wanted to like it --"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I haven't finished listening yet, but I already know what I'm going to say. I enjoyed "The DaVinci Code," but this is almost unlistenable to me. The narrator's fine, and does a great job, but I'm sorry -- Dan Brown is such a horrible writer that you have to be able to totally focus on the plot and ignore everything else to enjoy this book. He tells a good story. Yes. But the story is so often interrupted by repetitions, self-indulgent "look what I know" facts, endless descriptions of places of interest, and utterly unrealistic thoughts by the main character -- e.g., they are running from people who are trying to kill them, they look at a historical artifact, he notices that one side is yellowed from the sun, and he makes a note that he has to double the SPF in his sunscreen. Huh???? He also rips off T.S. Eliot: "a patient anesthetized upon a table" -- does that remind you of "a patient etherized upon a table"? Oh yes, and he couldn't believe he was leaving Florence without having paid a visit to The David -- this, again, when they are being chased by all kinds of people who want to kill them. Come on! I guess you could call me a snob, but I love a rollicking good story, as long as the writing doesn't make me cringe. This one is way too cringy for me.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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