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  • Alter Ego

  • The Jonathan Stride series, Book 9
  • By: Brian Freeman
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88

When a freak accident kills a driver on the remote roads outside Duluth, Jonathan Stride is disturbed to discover that the victim appears to be a "ghost", with a false identity and no evidence to suggest who he really was. What's worse, the man has a gun locked in the trunk - and it has recently been fired. The next day Stride learns that a Duluth college student has vanished and worries that the two incidents are related. But what would have put an ordinary young woman in the crosshairs of a man who has all the hallmarks of an assassin for hire?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Freeman Stride Bolton & Barrett! WOW!!!!

  • By shelley on 05-02-18

Not badly written, but pretty badly plotted

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-19-18

The English sentences are o.k., and a few of the characters are realistic enough. However, there are way too many cliff-hanger plot elements and zany out-of-the-blue revelations for the novel to hold the most tenuous connection to plausibility.


On the other hand, the author -- Brian Freeman -- must have congratulated himself on his anticipation of the flood of harassment stories spilling out of Hollywood, the restaurant kitchens of New York and DC, governors' mansions, and the halls of the national and state legislature.


Joe Barrett is an excellent narrator, as usual.

  • The Midnight Line

  • A Jack Reacher Novel
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 13 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,089
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,285
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,249

Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Reacher doing what Reacher does!

  • By shelley on 11-07-17

A well-wrought, interesting and sadly topical tale

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-04-17

Lee Child has given us a well above-average installment of Jack Reacher's career. Plus, for those who are interested in learning about the U.S. problem of opioid addiction, this is a painless, even enjoyable way of catching up. Finally -- assuming Child has done a good job with his research -- you'll learn something interesting about the country's episodic history of booms and busts in opioid addiction. I am somewhat familiar with this history back through the 1970s, and the author's description seems accurate. I am less familiar with the earlier episodes.

My description so far may seem to describe an earnest term paper, but in fact the historical, legal, and psychological bits are wrapped in a very well-told tale involving interesting characters, arresting Jack-Reacher set pieces, and a pretty decent plot. Among the 8 or 10 Reacher novels I've read, this certainly ranks in the top third.

The series' long-term narrator, Dick Hill, is up to his long-term average, too. He's pretty good as a narrator and a voice for the male parts; he gives us a one-dimensional and not terribly convincing voice for the female parts. His fans will make allowances, and they will enjoy the spoken version more than they will enjoy reading the story in a book. (In fact, when reading the print version of Lee Child novels, I now tend to hear Hill's voice.)

  • Beyond the Black Stump

  • By: Nevil Shute
  • Narrated by: Davina Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 72

When Stanton Laird, American geologist, goes prospecting for the Topeka Exploration Company in the savage Australian outback, he finds something a good deal more precious than oil.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Davina Porter is a wonderful narrator

  • By PlantCrone on 07-26-14

Interesting view of US-Australia differences 1955

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-03-17

A young Oregon geologist with recent experience in "Arabia" is assigned to assess oil potential in the northwestern Australian outback circa 1955. Though even in '55 Australia was one of the world's richest countries, at the time it was considerably poorer than the booming USA. The economic gap was even wider between long-settled but rural Oregon (where our geologist grew up) and the arid frontier of Western Australia. Our American geologist, who has some skeletons in his closet, falls in love with young Australian lassie, who is a member of an extended, very complicated European-Aboriginal family.

When Mr. Geologist brings not-quite-engaged lassie back to meet ma and pa in eastern, small-town Oregon, complications ensue.

Nevil Shute, an English author who spent many years residing and writing in Australia, brings an odd perspective to the story. The plain message is that American racism in Mr. Geologist's Oregon hometown is a source of division between lassie and geologist's family, friends, and neighbors, even though the fair Aussie lassie is herself of 100% European descent. Even the whiff of a genetic relationship with "half-caste" or "yellow" Aboriginal-Europeans is enough to make Oregonians suspicious. America was certainly racist at the time, but it's a bit odd to treat Australians as blameless in this area. The author's own treatment of the Aboriginal and half-Aboriginal characters in his novel loudly shouts our "These are lesser mortals, whose cares and tribulations matter not at all." Australia was for many decades famous for its European only immigration policy, and its aboriginal population were victims of the same notions of racial prejudice as the American Indian and African-descended residents of the U.S.

For all that, this is an interesting, even fascinating, picture of life in frontier Australia and rural Oregon circa 1955. Very well read.

  • Abducted

  • Lizzy Gardner, Book 1
  • By: T. R. Ragan
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,857
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,525
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,515

Escaping from a madman should have been the end of her nightmare. Instead it was only the beginning...Lizzy Gardner was just seventeen when she was kidnapped by the psychopath known as Spiderman, a serial killer terrorizing her California hometown. Imprisoned and tormented for months, Lizzy narrowly escaped with her life and Spiderman vanished without a trace. But if she thought he would forget her, she was dead wrong.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Edge of your seat

  • By shelley on 02-17-14

Horribly written, poorly narrated

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-23-17

Five hours of tedious listening was enough. I left seven hours of the story unread. True, the first quarter hour or so was expertly written and narrated, but after that the story failed on three counts. The psychology of the majority of characters was unpersuasive; the author tried to squeeze in too many personal narratives, leaving the main characters' stories chopped up ... as though crucial links in their stories had been edited out; and the narrator was episodically robot-like and childish (and not in a good way). By childish, I do not mean the reader was adept at imitating the voice of children, which would have been helpful, as many of the victims were children. I mean that the narrator sometimes read the text like someone who was learning how to read, and the text before her was unfamiliar and contained too many big words.

A puzzling combination of deficient writerly skill and narrator weakness.

  • Fateful Mornings

  • Henry Farrell Series, Book 2
  • By: Tom Bouman
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 9

In Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, summer has brought Officer Henry Farrell nothing but trouble. Heroin has arrived with a surge in burglaries and other crime. When local carpenter Kevin O'Keeffe admits that he shot a man and that his girlfriend, Penny, is missing, the search leads the small-town cop to an industrial vice district across state lines that has already ensnared more than one of his neighbors.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bouman's 2 Farrell books

  • By Mr. Arthur A. Kinsman on 07-30-17

Sad tale, not always easy to follow

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-17

Not a police procedural, exactly, but not a rom com fer sure. Sort of a lyrical, depressed tale of rural decline. And chemical dependency, haphazard violence, and whatever is the opposite of resilience. If you can follow the numerous characters & half-submerged plot (missing in action for whole chapters at a time) you've got me beat.

Very well read, though.

  • God's Problem

  • The Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer
  • By: Bart D. Ehrman
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganzer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 482
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 310
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 309

In times of questioning and despair, people often quote the Bible to provide answers. Surprisingly, though, the Bible does not have one answer but many "answers" that often contradict one another.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Despite "Suffer the little children"

  • By Kaeli on 05-03-08

An interesting, worthwhile inquiry

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-11-17

As usual, Prof. Ehrman gives inquiring readers an interesting & worthwhile read. The deep mystery for Jewish & Christian believers is how all three of these propositions can simultaneously be true:

1. God is all powerful.

2. God is good.

3. God's human creatures suffer. Terribly. Even when they are innocent believers.

Nonbelievers might observe that the only proposition we can be sure of is #3. However, Prof. Ehrman is interested in how orthodox Jews and Christians have found answers to this deep puzzle in the Old and New Testaments. He gives the curious an excellent introduction to the history and logic of the answers they can find there.

Some readers may object to the repeated and lengthy excursions into actual human suffering that the good professor gives us. Many of us are already aware of the Holocaust, the Cambodian and Rwandan massacres, early death, suffering from terrible illness, injury, torture, and so on. Still, Ehrman writes engagingly, plainly and without cant, and he is a valuable guide to the basic question he addresses. The volume is very decently read. I recommend this book to a broad audience of believers and curious nonbelievers.

  • Somebody I Used to Know

  • By: David Bell
  • Narrated by: Andy Paris
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,953
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,704
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,703

When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire 20 years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off. The next morning the police arrive at Nick's house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She's been found dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely Worth a Credit

  • By Snoodely on 07-15-15

Not bad, but not fabulous either

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-01-17

The author delivers a long, intricately plotted puzzler, with a plot driven by the questionable judgement of the narrator. Crucial actors do not show up til act IV. Oh, and did I mention it's long. Or maybe it just seemed so.

Competently read.

  • News of the World

  • A Novel
  • By: Paulette Jiles
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,676
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,263
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,250

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful story....but not True Grit

  • By DenGig on 04-14-17

A brief but excellent novel, marvelously read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-27-17

This is the story of an aging man working in a profession previously unknown to me. He buys out-of-town (sometimes out-of-country) newspapers and goes from town to town reading a selection of articles to small crowds of villagers who pay a modest fee to listen in. Some of the villagers are illiterate, but many simply want to hear interesting stories from afar. The story takes place in the immediate post-Civil War era in a Texas still under Union military occupation. It begins near the borderlands of European settlement and powerful Indian tribes, Kiowa and Comanche.

This crucial detail gets the plot moving, for our aging news reader is given custody of a 10-year-old European, a newly ransomed captive of the Kiowas who has been raised by that tribe from the age of about 5. She remains intensely loyal to her adopted Kiowa identity.The exciting and moving tale takes us from a rude frontier settlement down to the little girl's surviving relatives in a long-settled part of rural Texas, not far from San Antonio. The two main characters are the traveling news reader and the 10-year-old girl, of course, but the brief Odyssey described in the novel introduces us to a wide range of distinctive characters, good, bad, and indifferent, whom our hero and heroine meet along their way. The interest of the story, of course, is the transformations that re-make the news reader and his young charge. A memorable and excellent story, excellently read by veteran reader, Grover Gardner.

Strongly recommended.

  • Sleeping Murder

  • Miss Marple's Last Case
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Stephanie Cole
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 328
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 293
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 295

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernize the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs.

In fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, they were to solve a "perfect" crime committed many years before.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Always fascinating

  • By CatBookMom on 12-21-12

A superb Christie mystery, superbly narrated

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-27-17

As with all Miss Marple mysteries known to me, this is extremely well written -- clear, dryly and subtly humorous, and intelligent. The actual mystery, including distinctive and diverse characters, is also very well conceived. Agatha Christie fans will be expecting all that I suppose. But a real treat of this version is the first-rate narration by Stephanie Cole, who is an excellent actor -- with a unique , appropriate voice for all the characters, upper middle class and lower born alike, English native and New Zealander alike. All in all, this is a real pleasure, and I expect to be listening to it again in a few years. Purchase and enjoy!

  • The Whistler

  • By: John Grisham
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 13 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13,605
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12,234
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12,162

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • It's John Grisham, right?

  • By Elle on 10-30-16

Interesting plot that takes a while to take flight

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-21-17

Before purchasing this audio book I saw plenty of very hostile reviews. I agree with the argument that John Grisham has written better novels, but I cannot agree that this book is a terrible let-down to his fans. It simply takes its time to take wing and become engrossing. Before I was midway through, I was fascinated by its exploration of little-known corners of American law: (a) Tiny state agencies charged with evaluating ethics and legal charges against judges; and (b) Tiny Indian tribes with hugely profitable gambling casinos.

As usual the characters are diverse though, in this case, not terribly interesting. This does not mean the characters are unrealistic. How many characters do we meet in the course of our lives who are as interesting as Alan Turing, Tecumseh Sherman, or James Bond? One reason Grisham's plots stay interesting to his fans is that we never know whether the good guys will triumph in the end. As his most faithful readers know, sometimes the admirable characters lose miserably. All in all, I learned something about judicial ethics inquiries, the economics of Indian gambling casinos, and the possible role of political corruption in their creation and management.

The reader was competent, not terribly engaging, but not irritating either. This is not Grisham's best work, but the man is a pro. His novel is far better conceived and executed than most popular novels.