Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
This book transported me into the world of the Alaskan wilderness, and into a family terrorized by a broken man. I felt the bleakness of the never-ending winter, the struggle to survive in the harsh elements, and the tension in their cabin knowing that a single word could set off the dad. I felt the wonder that Leni felt as she discovered this new world, tested her abilities, and formed strong relationships with the rugged outsiders that populated her life.
Yes, sometimes I wanted to scream at the choices that some of the characters made, but it also made them so much more human. I know some reviewers are critical of the mother because she was in an abusive relationship, but they fail to realize this is an all too common scenario, especially in the 1970's when women lacked some of the options and support they have now. It doesn't justify her choices, but it makes them real. I wanted to shake Cora and tell her to take Leni and run so many times, but I also never stopped rooting for her.
The story takes a rather heartbreaking turn after a set of inevitable events, and I cried several times for these characters I'd come to love. The story isn't just about surviving the Alaskan wilderness, but also surviving the struggles of life. It's about finding love even when things are bleak, and holding onto it no matter what.
It was a moving story I won't soon forget, and one of the few books I think I'll listen to again. Special shout out to Julia Whelan, who elevates the material of whatever she's narrating.
When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path. But one of the women doesn't come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened. Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker.
I enjoyed The Dry immensely when it came out, and was excited to listen to another story about Detective Aaron Falk. Although this mystery lacks the personal connection Falk had to the town and the victims in the first book (to its minor detriment), I was still drawn into the story and eager to learn about this group of ladies whose hike took a disastrous turn. This was definitely a book I was sad to have to turn off every day after my commute was over; I wanted to keep listening to the end! I telegraphed the ending quite a bit before it happened, but there were still some great surprises thrown in that I didn't anticipate.
You don't have to read The Dry first, although I recommend you do. There are some minor callbacks to that novel in this story, but they are either briefly explained or don't really affect the clarity of the plot. It does help deepen the story of Falk though, and helps explain his strained connection with his late father - something that is referred to a lot but not elaborated on.
Can't wait for the next one in the series!
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
For 10 years something has gnawed at Isaiah Quintabe's gut and kept him up nights, boiling with anger and thoughts of revenge. Ten years ago, when Isaiah was just a boy, his brother was killed by an unknown assailant. The search for the killer sent Isaiah plunging into despair and nearly destroyed his life. Even with a flourishing career, a new dog, and near-iconic status as a PI in his hometown, East Long Beach, he has to begin the hunt again - or lose his mind.
I loved the first IQ book and was thrilled to see a new one released. Although still a fan of the series, I feel confident in saying that this book is not as strong as the first.
Firstly, there are far too many villains to keep track of, which got old quite quickly. There are like, 4 different mobs/gangs that our hero deals with in the book, and each one has multiple henchman that are on his tail, sometimes at the same time. Many of them even got their own mini backstories, but I didn't really care about these characters and just wanted the plot to move forward. I eventually stopped trying to track who was who, and in the end I don't really feel like I missed much by not knowing.
Secondly, I don't feel like the story did IQ justice as far as his intelligence is concerned. It didn't feel like there were many instances where his powers of observation and deduction were utilized, which is a shame. He also just wasn't as likable in this story as he was in the first, although I can't really explain why. He seemed to be more whiny/entitled in this one, I guess.
Thirdly, and this is a minor quibble, but the narrator used a different voice for Dotson this time, and I didn't like it nearly as much. It was like an Eddie Griffin voice or something, and different enough from the first book that it was jarring and annoying every time Dotson spoke. It didn't feel like the Dotson I'd come to love from the first book at all! That being said, Sullivan Jones did an excellent job otherwise.
Overall I don't regret spending the credit, but I wish the story had been more focused on solving a mystery like the first one, and less focused on Isiah running away or defending himself from the numerous gangs.
Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.
Although filled with sad and bittersweet moments, this book was such a joy to listen to. I genuinely cared for each and every character and enjoyed going on these painful but worthwhile journeys with them. The narration for Arthur's character was particularly excellent. It's true that everyone is struggling with their own burdens that others may not see, and I think this book illustrated that perfectly. A great story and a great listen - definitely worth the credit!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It's all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather - a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric - from ruin. But they have no idea they've become the obsession of the girl in the woods. Andoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family - something she's known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can't resist the temptation to get close.
Although this book (and others like it from the same author) have a lot of bleak elements to them, I really enjoyed this anyway. I thought the narration was great, and perfectly matched the character of Henry. A depressing but good listen.
The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston's North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She's also a raging alcoholic. Hildy's family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place - "if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday," she advises "run for your life" - and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key.
I want more Hildy! Mary Beth Hurt gave a fantastic performance that drew me in and made me love Hildy, flaws and all. You can't help but root for her and shake your head at her choices, all at the same time. This was a fantastic listen, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
Elementary school teacher Jacqueline "Jacks" Morales's marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was...until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn't alone.
Would you listen to The Good Widow again? Why?
While I enjoyed the story and might read it as a traditional book, I wouldn't listen to it again. It was a struggle to get through the first time. I thought about returning it, but just decided to ignore it the best I could.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Most of the characters were pretty frustrating, but I guess Jacks was the favorite.
Would you be willing to try another one of Dara Rosenberg’s performances?
Absolutely not. The narrator has a sing-songy voice and her inflection makes every sentence sound like it's a question. "Up speak" is the term, I believe, and she has a bad case of it. It's not a voice that is well-suited for the mystery/thriller category, as it takes all of the suspense out of the story. Even if she spoke that way intentionally as a character choice, it was the wrong choice entirely.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
No, I don't think this is the type of book that invokes extreme reactions. It's a pretty standard mystery novel.
Any additional comments?
I wouldn't call this a traditional thriller; it's more of a mystery with some late-breaking thrills thrown in. It does verge on "Lifetime" status a little, but I enjoyed the plot nonetheless.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
What made the experience of listening to The Dry the most enjoyable?
Great use of setting, an enjoyable narration, characters I cared about, and two mysteries worth solving!
What did you like best about this story?
I thought the pacing of the story was good, and the "mystery within a mystery" kept me interested when I felt like I was starting to figure out who was responsible for one of the tragedies. The ending felt satisfying and was surprising in many (good) ways.
Which character – as performed by Stephen Shanahan – was your favorite?
I like the main character and the detective he worked with the best. They made a great pair.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I did listen for longer stretches that I usually do, especially towards the end. If I had the time or the patience, I suppose I would have wanted to listen to it in a single sitting.
Any additional comments?
The narrator's accent took me a little bit to adjust to, but after a few chapters it was fine. Also, the audio "chapters" are broken into random 3-5 minute segments instead of following the book chapters. This causes weird pauses in the middle of dialogue between characters or in the middle of a scene as the "chapter" switched. It was a strange choice and not one I've experienced on any other audiobooks I've listened to before. It has the unfortunate tendency to take you right out of the story at times. Disappointing choice by the audiobook editors/engineers.
At 10 years old, Hadley Dixon's life changed forever. Since those few tragic weeks, she's tried to keep the past buried, but old bones have a way of rising up. Grown now, Hadley can't hide any longer. Haunted by a boy who never made it home, a woman who sings in moonlight and dances in flames, and the strange, scarred recluse who watches it all from the shadow of the pines, the time has come for Hadley to pay for her sins.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
It is such a sad book, although after having listened to a few books from this author, I suppose I should come to expect that. No one really makes it out unscathed.
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
Although I knew the inevitable conclusion was approaching, I was drawn to keep listening regardless. It was well-plotted with intriguing characters whom I cared about.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Homer V. Jones?
Yes. The narrator was a strange choice, given that the book is told from the point of view of a young girl, and later the same girl as she grows into a woman. The older male narrators voice seemed really incongruent with the "voice" of the book.
Do you think The Grave Tender needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No, I think the book ended on a satisfactory note. It ended about as I'd expected, but I still found it worthwhile to listen to the end.
Any additional comments?
The book seemed plagued with audio problems, apart from the narrator. On some sections, it seemed like they edited the tempo of his narration so the sentences were almost on top of one another without a break between, even when it wasn't a tense part of the book. Other times, a sentence or two would sound like he was far away from the microphone, then suddenly his voice would jump back in to normal range. Also, the audio quality often seemed different, like parts had been re-recorded and cut into the original. All of these incidents really took me out of the story, unfortunately. It had me focusing more on the narration that the plot at times, which was unfortunate.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful