LISTENER

Babs

Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 25
  • reviews
  • 258
  • helpful votes
  • 51
  • ratings
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing

  • By: Madeleine Thien
  • Narrated by: Angela Lin
  • Length: 20 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 291
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 267
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 267

Madeleine Thien's new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition, even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations - those who lived through Mao's Cultural Revolution in the mid-20th century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Devastating and complex

  • By Amazon Customer on 02-13-17

I will live with this book for a long time

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

Reviewed: 01-01-17

Literally just finished it, so it's probably too soon to write a proper review. I confess that it took me a while to get into the story -- would probably have been easier with a regular book -- but then I became hooked. I am so moved by the scope of this novel and by the characters, especially that of Sparrow, the composer forced to become a laborer and factory worker during the Cultural Revolution. The book made me sad and angry because of the lives wasted and destroyed by political ideology and mob rule. But I feel as if Ms. Thien has given voice in this beautiful novel to those who were lost and damaged by the Cultural Revolution and the events in Tianmen Square. I thought the narrator did a fantastic job. I have an e-book version of this, so I think I will go back and "read-read" it to soak in all the details. But before that, I'm dying to do some research on the period of Chinese history she writes about -- I visited there three years ago but want to put this story in its historical context. Thank you, Ms. Thien!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Wrong Side of Goodbye

  • Harry Bosch, Book 19
  • By: Michael Connelly
  • Narrated by: Titus Welliver
  • Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,386
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,148
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,077

Harry Bosch is California's newest private investigator. He doesn't advertise, he doesn't have an office, and he's picky about who he works for, but it doesn't matter. His chops from 30 years with the LAPD speak for themselves. Soon one of Southern California's biggest moguls comes calling. The reclusive billionaire has less than six months to live and a lifetime of regrets. He hires Bosch to find out whether he has an heir.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Connelly Delivers Everytime

  • By Charles Atkinson on 07-19-17

Great new career for Harry!

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

Reviewed: 11-02-16

It's always tricky what to do with heroes when they are police officers who are officially past retirement age. Having Harry in the San Fernando Police Department, solving a fascinating rape case, along with an intriguing private investigation, makes for a really interesting story.

I always liked Titus Welliver as a reader, and now that I have been watching him as Bosch on TV, he is perfect for this book.

The book has a beautiful and touching ending that brought tears to my eyes.

  • Love and War: Volume Two of the North and South Trilogy

  • By: John Jakes
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 42 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,378
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,221
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,223

The Main and Hazard families clash on and off the Civil War’s battlefields as they grapple with the violent realities of a divided nation. America's master storyteller continues his reign with Love and War, a story steeped in passion and betrayal. With the Confederate and Union armies furiously fighting, the once-steadfast bond between the Main and Hazard families continues to be tested. From opposite sides of the conflict, they face heartache and triumph on the frontlines as they fight for the future of the nation and their loved ones.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Can't believe I haven't read this before...

  • By Erik on 10-21-13

Not as strong as Volume 1, but good

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

Reviewed: 02-21-13

I was literally counting the hours until my pre-order of this book arrived. It was certainly compelling, but not as strong as the first volume, in my opinion.

The plot got very complicated -- yes, the Civil War was complicated, but the battles and plot twists were sometimes hard to follow -- and as another reviewer mentioned, some of the dialogue was long-winded.

What I felt in this book was that characters that were quite well-drawn in Volume One became a bit more stereotypical in this book. The "villains," Ashton and Bent, were somewhat ridiculous in the first book -- I thought heaving bosoms and nymphomania were the stuff of really bad romance novels -- but became very caricatured in this one. The sex scenes were cringeworthy.

But even well-drawn characters like Charles and Orrie lost some luster here.They often fulfilled the stereotype of the Southerner as "hot-blooded" and "impetuous" -- if they'd been horses they might have stomped their feet!

I generally like Grover Gardner as a narrator, but he's pretty weak on accents.

Having expressed these reservations, it's still a really engaging and moving story, and gives a sense of the human bravery and sacrifice that shaped this terrible period in American history.

Now counting the days and hours until Part 3 arrives!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Live to Tell

  • A Detective D. D. Warren Novel
  • By: Lisa Gardner
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter, Rebecca Lowman, Ann Marie Lee
  • Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,339
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,813
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,823

On a warm summer night in one of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods, an unthinkable crime has been committed: Four members of a family have been brutally murdered. The father - and possible suspect - now lies clinging to life in the ICU. Murder-suicide? Or something worse? Veteran police detective D. D. Warren is certain of only one thing: There’s more to this case than meets the eye. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Live To Tell - 3.5 stars

  • By book me! on 07-27-10

Compelling, then too far-fetched

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

Reviewed: 02-21-13

This book definitely kept me engaged. The idea of combining the voices of Sgt. D. D. Warren, investigating two bizarre murders of entire families, with that of a mother of a very disturbed child and that of a nurse who not only works with disturbed children but who was the sole survivor of her family's massacre, is quite intriguing.

The scenes in the psychiatric unit for disturbed and mentally-ill children were very difficult, but they rang true, and did much to illustrate the character of Danielle. And I loved the narrator who voiced Danielle.

However, I had a problem with the character of Victoria, the mother of the violent child Evan. She started out sympathetic, but she eventually sounded if she was determined to be a martyr. The trembling voice of the narrator also got irritating.

But those weren't insurmountable obstacles.

As the book started to wrap up, however, things just got too odd. The motivation of the killer was very thin -- avenging an act that didn't really need avenging -- and the discussions of alternate planes of reality got silly when one of the most sensible characters in the book started believing in them. Say what?

So it was enjoyable overall, but frustrating enough that I couldn't give it more than three stars.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Alone

  • By: Lisa Gardner
  • Narrated by: Anna Fields
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,630
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,086
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,078

As a sniper with the elite Massachusetts State Police SWAT Team, Bobby Dodge saved a woman and her young son by shooting her armed husband. But vicious rumors begin to circulate the next morning when Bobby loses his gun and his privileges. It turns out the dead man was the son of a prominent Boston judge and had accused his wife of poisoning their son.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great story, annoying characterizations.

  • By Jacqueline Dolata on 03-06-13

Terrible narrator, unsympathetic characters

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

Reviewed: 02-21-13

I usually enjoy Lisa Gardner's work, but I gave up on this one just over halfway through. First of all, this is some of the worst audiobook narration I've ever heard. I've heard Anna Fields before, and she was competent, but this is cringeworthy. Her attempt at male characters reminded me of adolescent girls pretending to be men while making prank calls. Plus, all the men seemed to have slurred speech. She attempts to do a Boston accent with the character of Bobby (the only character with a Boston accent in a book full of Boston natives), but it comes and goes, and is never effective.

The story seemed intriguing at first -- top-notch sniper saves the lives of a mother and child in a hostage situation, but finds himself accused in a murder plot -- but became so implausible that it got tedious. The femme fatale Catherine is supposed to have such beauty and sex appeal that men abandon their senses, morals and good judgment at a single glance. She's written like a really bad cartoon character. The sniper Bobby, whom I've enjoyed in other Gardner novels, completely lacks common sense in this one. Hard to believe that a supposedly smart suspended cop runs around interrogating witnesses, showing up at crime scenes and doing just about everything that could incriminate him.

And the idea that virtually everyone is prepared to ignore the facts of the case -- armed man is shot after pointing gun at woman's head -- in favor of some bizarre conspiracy theory just gets silly after a while.

I am not usually this negative about an audiobook, but this one made me angry that I had wasted so much time in hopes that it would get better.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Stalker

  • A Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel, Book 12
  • By: Faye Kellerman
  • Narrated by: Mitchell Greenberg
  • Length: 13 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129

Cynthia Decker became a cop against her father, Peter Decker's, wishes. But police work is in her blood, and she's determined to make it on her own -- even now, when her razor sharp instincts for danger are telling her that something is very wrong... The signs are impossible to ignore: things being moved around in her apartment, the destruction of personal effects. But it's a harrowing trip down a dark canyon road that confirms Cindy's worst fears. Someone fiendishly relentless, and with decidedly evil intentions, is stalking her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cindy's a Twit

  • By Simone on 12-08-16

First time have NOT finished a Faye Kellerman book

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

Reviewed: 12-06-12

What disappointed you about Stalker?

I usually love the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus novels, and am always anxiously awaiting the next installment. I know that this one is from earlier in the series, but it's not one that I had read or listened to.

In a nutshell, there's not enough Decker and Lazarus and WAY too much Cindy Decker, who is an extremely unpleasant and unsympathetic character at this stage in her life and career. Every pig-headed, short-sighted, stubborn and childish option that crosses her path, she pursues.

Someone's tailing her -- naturally, she doesn't report it to anyone (don't worry, I'm not spoiling much). Drive drunk? Sure. An apartment's been broken into? Don't call backup, just barge in there! Have a hunch on a case? Why would you even think about calling your colleagues?

I got halfway through and decided life was too short to finish it -- made my blood pressure rise.

The other thing that was really irritating about this novel was Kellerman's level of detail about insignificant events. She devoted huge amounts of space to things like a discussion among three women at a restaurant about who would order what. Who cares?

I hate to be so hard on Ms. Kellerman, who is a brilliant writer. And I love nothing more than to be immersed in the world of Peter and Rina and their rich and observant Jewish life, and the way the cases come together.

But this one is worth a pass.

Has Stalker turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I love the series and I will read or listen to future books. And I love the genre.

What about Mitchell Greenberg’s performance did you like?

He's an excellent reader -- captures nuances of voices and conversational rhythms, can convey different male and female characters without forcing the female voices. I've always enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, his readings/performances.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger -- I found myself talking back to the book because Cindy's behavior was just so irritating and immature.

I know that this is something of a coming-of-age novel for the character, but I didn't have the patience to experience it.

  • Come Home

  • By: Lisa Scottoline
  • Narrated by: Maggi-Meg Reed
  • Length: 12 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 471
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 387
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 389

Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter's lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her - though it is stressful - and her daughter, Megan, is a happily overscheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team. But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Whining and crying make it impossible to finish

  • By Mary on 04-16-12

Life is too short to waste on this book

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

Reviewed: 04-21-12

I usually know what to expect from Lisa Scottoline's books: Smart woman does stupid things, but lives to tell the tale. They drive me crazy at times, but her stories are usually a good way to get away from the real world for a while.

This one fits the "smart woman/stupid things" pattern, but it adds a layer of domestic drama that wastes an inordinate amount of time. And the central character is just so irritating that I found myself talking back to the book.I should have turned off after the first half hour, but made it halfway through before deciding that it wasn't worth listening to all the dreck to solve the mystery.

Imagine that your long-lost stepdaughter shows up at your door to tell you that her father's been killed. Wouldn't you ask what happened? When, where and how? Nope, we first have to listen to endless dialogue between the drunken, sobbing teenager and the saintly stepmother about how sorry each of them is about not having been in touch with the other.

Then the central character's biological daughter comes home, and there's more sobbing and teenage angst.

I disagree with those reviewers who disliked the narrator. She couldn't handle an Irish accent (or was it supposed to be Russian?), but I think she did a great job channeling the teenagers -- you could even hear the different intonation from the character who wears braces!

But the performance is irritating because the characters are irritating -- that's what whiney teenagers sound like! -- and there is way too much soap opera and not enough mystery.

The central character -- I called her Jill the Pill -- appears to be a good doctor, and was probably a good stepmother. But she lacks common sense and perspective -- hey, let's run down the middle of a highway to chase an SUV! -- and she's way too self-righteous.

Can't believe I'm expending this much time and effort to review such a waste of time, but I wouldn't want other readers who have enjoyed Lisa Scottoline's books in the past to be sucked in by this one.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • The Sixth Man

  • By: David Baldacci
  • Narrated by: Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,336
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,211
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,212

Edgar Roy - an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility-is awaiting trial. He faces almost certain conviction. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy's attorney, Sean's old friend and mentor Ted Bergin, to help work the case. But their investigation is derailed before it begins-en route to their first meeting with Bergin, Sean and Michelle find him murdered. It is now up to them to ask the questions no one seems to want answered....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of my favorite Baldacci Books

  • By Ronda Snyder on 04-22-11

Engaging once you get over bad female narrator

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-02-11

I love the Sean and Michelle stories, and was looking forward to a new one. But I almost gave up when I heard Orlagh Cassidy's harsh and inappropriate voices for the female characters, particularly for Michelle. She may be from the south, but the accent Cassidy gives her is grating, and her intonation makes the character a real witch (actually, the word that rhymes with it), instead of just a strong and assertive woman. Same with the other woman with an even more pronounced southern accent. I like Cassidy's British accents in other books, but this is like fingernails on a blackboard.

It's also bizarre because sounds as if McLarty and Cassidy recorded their parts in separate studios at separate times, so the sound quality is completely different for each reader. Conversations sound weird.
In terms of the book itself, it's reasonably interesting and engaging (although I figured out a lot of it way before the end). However, Baldacci has given the characters some excruciating dialogue -- instead of having the narrator explain facts about weapons, or why they are in Maine for this case, he makes it part of Michelle and Sean's dialogue, so that many of their conversations sound completely unrealistic and artificial. And hearing the US President and various high-level officials explain to each other in a meeting how their intelligence program works, as if they've never heard it before, was also ridiculous. Made me cringe on more than one occasion.

Bottom line, if you like the series and want to take your mind away from the real world for a while, it's OK. But don't blame me if you throw your iPod across the room a few times!

Upstairs Downstairs audiobook cover art
  • Upstairs Downstairs

  • Secrets of an Edwardian Household
  • By: John Hawkesworth
  • Narrated by: Jean Marsh
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 53
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 43

Jean Marsh, who played Rose in the TV series 'Upstairs Downstairs', reads John Hawkesworth’s classic novelisation. It is 1905, and the Bellamys reside in Eaton Place, in the heart of London’s Belgravia. Above stairs, Lady Marjorie runs the house and plans her husband’s future in the government. Below stairs, Rose and Sarah, the maids, pursue their duties beneath the ever-watchful eye of Mr Hudson, the butler....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Just wonderful -- except it's not edited!

  • By Barbara on 05-02-11

Just wonderful -- except it's not edited!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-02-11

I grew up watching the original Upstairs, Downstairs, own all the episodes and recently enjoyed the new series. So it was wonderful to know that I could listen to a novelization voiced by Jean Marsh. Hawkesworth, who I believe wrote many if not all episodes of the original series, does a great job of turning the first season into stories. And Marsh is a very good reader, and does the various accents quite well. So I was hooked. But the bizarre thing is that someone forgot to edit this recording. We hear mistakes, retakes, different versions of the same line -- at one point we even hear the producer talking to Marsh -- and it's a bit disconcerting. I would have given this five stars, but had to take one off for the lack of editing. After all, we do pay for a finished product. But still worth listening to, and quite addictive!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Hangman

  • A Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel
  • By: Faye Kellerman
  • Narrated by: Mitchell Greenberg
  • Length: 12 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 373
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 164

Fifteen years ago, high school senior Chris Whitman went to jail for murdering his girlfriend, Cheryl Diggs. Propelled by a misguided sense of chivalry, he confessed, determined to save another classmate, the beautiful and vulnerable Terry McLaughlin, from having to testify at his trial. When the truth came out, Chris was released from prison, married Terry - pregnant with his child - and changed his last name to Donatti. He also became a professional killer.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Felt as if she ran out of time

  • By Babs on 08-14-10

Felt as if she ran out of time

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-14-10

I always enjoy the Peter and Rina Decker novels, although I find we haven't had enough of Rina in recent books. And the link between their religious observance and their daily lives is hardly emphasized any more -- in this book, they take in a non-Jewish kid and there is barely any reference to how he is going to adjust to life in a Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observant) home. But that's not my main complaint about this one, which just feels disjointed and unbalanced. Kellerman has decided to describe every female character's clothing, which is a bit bizarre -- do we care that Marge is wearing rubber-soled shoes? And she goes into great detail about every single preliminary interrogation as Peter and his team try to solve the murders -- but then all of the final and crucial leg work, interviews, shocking evidence, interrogations and confessions are described in a summary narrative in the last 45 minutes of the book, or less. Did she reach her page limit and say, "Oops, no time for more dialogue, let's wrap everything up?" Also, no one seems at all fazed that an intelligent doctor has stayed married to a hit man for years and seems to have no problem with his continuing to see their son. I'm giving it three stars because I was consistently interested, but it's not up to Kellerman's usual standards.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful