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Kathleen Valentine

Gloucester, MA, United States
  • 13
  • reviews
  • 21
  • helpful votes
  • 15
  • ratings
  • True Grit

  • By: Charles Portis
  • Narrated by: Donna Tartt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,617
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,594
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,594

Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So worth it!

  • By Tommygaus on 12-29-10

Perfection!

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

Reviewed: 05-23-16

Mattie Ross is one of the strongest and most pure voices in American literature. She has grit and gumption and, yet, is sweetly vulnerable at the same time. I had read this book some years back but when I learned that Donna Tartt performed an audio version of it I was eager to hear it. Tartt did such a wonderful job of narrating her own books that I was sure this would be wonderful and it was.

There's nothing I can say about Mattie that hasn't been said a hundred times before. She is, as Tartt points out in her epilogue, a combination of Huck Finn, Captain Ahab, and Dorothy Gale with, I would add, a little bit of Scout Finch thrown in for good measure. This was a real treat.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Pontoon

  • A Novel of Lake Wobegon
  • By: Garrison Keillor
  • Narrated by: Garrison Keillor
  • Length: 8 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,200
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 890
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 891

Garrison Keillor's latest book is about the wedding of a girl named Dede Ingebretson, who comes home from California with a guy named Brent. Dede has made a fortune in veterinary aromatherapy; Brent bears a strong resemblance to a man wanted for extortion who's pictured on a poster in the town's post office. Then there's the memorial service for Dede's aunt Evelyn, who led a footloose and adventurous life after the death of her husband 17 years previously.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brillliant but not lighthearted

  • By Shel on 10-01-07

There's nobody like Garrison Keillor!!!

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

Reviewed: 05-17-16

There's just nobody like Garrison Keillor! This book has everything we love about Lake Wobegon--a feisty old lady with a secret life who wants her ashes to be buried in a bowling ball; a goofy bride who made a fortune in aromatherapy for pets; a disgruntled daughter with a drinking problem; warring siblings and visiting Danish clergy. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty! When the ridiculously lavish wedding is called off, but not all the participants are informed, and it collides with the internment of the old lady in the bowling ball, everything runs amok. The collision of a naked hang glider, an Elvis impersonator, a couple of giant mechanical ducks, and the horrified citizens of Lake Wobegon is as hilarious as only Garrison Keillor can make it. I listened to the Audible version which Keillor narrated in his unmistakable style and embellished with piano interludes.

  • The Poet

  • By: Michael Connelly
  • Narrated by: Buck Schirner
  • Length: 15 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,219
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,384
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,372

Our hero is Jack McEvoy, a Rocky Mountain News crime-beat reporter. As the story opens, Jack's twin brother, a Denver homicide detective, has just killed himself. Or so it seems. But when Jack begins to investigate the phenomenon of police suicides, a disturbing pattern emerges, and soon suspects that a serial murderer is at work.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Villain Mystery

  • By Charles Atkinson on 08-10-14

Very good storytelling, annoying narration...

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

Reviewed: 03-02-13

I bought the Audible version originally but wound up buying the Kindle version to finish reading. Connolly is a fine story-teller and this is an exceptionally interesting story with lots of plot twists and intriguing characters. Maybe it's just me but I find his "love scenes" to be his weak point. Too many "long moments" and "reaching for him/her" but since those seem to be incidental to the story it is a minor complaint.

I did not enjoy the narration. I felt the narrator tried too hard to make the voices of the various characters distinctive almost to the point of caricature.

Still a gripping tale and well worth the time spent reading.

  • Deliverance

  • By: James Dickey
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,590
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,269
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,265

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the state's most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • "A river runs through it..."

  • By karen on 11-01-13

Amazing Book, Superb Narration

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

Reviewed: 02-23-13

James Dickey was a poet with an astonishing ability to blend the terrifying with the beautiful. This story is a perfect example of his skills. Will Patton's narration was spot on (as always.) A perfect blend of fine story-telling and skillful narration.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Creole Belle

  • A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 19
  • By: James Lee Burke
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 18 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,368
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,088
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,039

Creole Belle begins where the last book in the Dave Robicheaux series, The Glass Rainbow, ended. Dave is in a recovery unit in New Orleans, where a Creole girl named Tee Jolie Melton visits him and leaves him an iPod with the country blues song “Creole Belle” on it. Then she disappears. Dave becomes obsessed with the song and the memory of Tee Jolie and goes in search of her sister, who later turns up inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Burke & Patton -- Synergistic Phenomenon

  • By Mel on 07-25-12

Perfect combination of writing and narration

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

Reviewed: 11-02-12

James Lee Burke is one of the finest writers in America today. His ability to capture the nuances of place, culture, and character is unrivaled and he is never better than in his Dave Robicheax novels. Robicheaux is both deeply spiritual and deeply flawed. As he continues his on-going fight against some of the most diabolical and perverse segments of society his fight with his own failings is always at the core of the story. In this multi-layered story as he attempts to find a missing singer whose sister has been pulled out of the bayou frozen in a block of ice, he encounters another purely evil character, Alexis Dupree, and his equally depraved son/grandson, Pierre. This time the stakes are higher because Dave's daughter Alafair is involved, his longtime friend and partner Clete Purcell seems to be sinking further and further into his addictions and wild behavior, and Clete's long-lost daughter Gretchen has joined them.

This is a great, tense, incredibly dark story -- bayou noir -- filled with outstanding characters and Will Patton does a superb job of capturing the personality of each one. This is a perfect combination of outstanding writing and outstanding narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Land More Kind Than Home

  • By: Wiley Cash
  • Narrated by: Nick Sullivan, Lorna Raver, Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 499
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 450
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 445

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to - an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So good it made me cry!

  • By Cindy on 11-26-12

Mesmerizing and haunting

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

Reviewed: 10-18-12

This is a beautifully written book with powerful characterization. It is told from three points of view - a story-telling technique that I happen to love because I know how difficult it is to write. Jess Hall is the younger brother of "Stump," a mute; Adelaide Lyle is an elderly woman and former midwife; and Clem Barefield, the town sheriff. The brothers, Jess and Stump, are endlessly curious which leads them into trouble and unleashes a chain of events that leads to a tragic climax.

What I most loved about this story was the way the author crafted the characters revealing bits and pieces of their pasts with both delicacy and power. I especially loved Clem for his essential goodness and his weariness of the evils of the world. The author's ability to convey a sense of place through the personalities of the people that inhabit it is mesmerizing. The ending is heart-breaking but believable. Altogether a great read.

The narration was excellent - I especially loved Mark Bramhill, whose strong, gruff voice perfectly embodied the world-weariness of a small town sheriff who has just seen too much and is tired of it all.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Doc

  • A Novel
  • By: Mary Doria Russell
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 935
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 768
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 764

The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail 26-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great writing and narration

  • By Dennis on 06-02-11

These characters come alive

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

Reviewed: 10-11-12

Mary Doria Russell has the uncanny ability to create characters that are so real and so human that you feel like you know them. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but the kid in me could not resist a book about childhood heroes. I never expected the total treat that this book is -- not because of the story, but because of the way these characters rise above the expectation that they will revive childhood fascination and become people the reader could know.

I am a reader who wants characters I can love and that I can cheer for. Like many people I've seen lots of movies about the Earps and the gunfight at the OK Corral and all that stuff. Wisely, Russell let the things we all know be just a part of the background and she focused on the people, the humanity of the people, that those legends were. I loved every character in this book. I loved the whores - educated, passionate Kate and stoic, vulnerable Mattie and practical, loving Bessie. I loved the Earp brothers, Morgan and James and especially Wyatt. I loved Bat Masterson in all his dorkiness. I loved the old priest and thought the scene after the funeral where they get drunk and start telling stories was one of the funniest I have ever read.

But most of all I fell in love with Doc. Russell's John Henry Holliday is a brilliant, passionate, loving man -- a Southern gentleman to the nth-degree with a big heart and a failing body. Toward the end of the book, when, despite his advanced tuberculosis, Doc stands up for Wyatt, Morgan Earp says that he now knows why fighting the Confederate Army was so difficult if all the Southerners were as tough as Doc.

The final scene, when Doc plays The Emperor's Waltz while his friends marvel at his tenacity and then dance, had me in tears. This is one of my favorite books in a very long time.

Mark Bramhill's talent as a narrator lent itself well to this story. His mastery of the various accents an his ability to portray the various characters so skillfully made this a delightful listening experience.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Defending Jacob

  • A Novel
  • By: William Landay
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 12 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8,885
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,837
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,831

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrific!

  • By cristina on 03-12-12

Disturbing and haunting

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

Reviewed: 09-23-12

This is one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time. Told from the perspective of Jacob Barber's father, a successful attorney, it shifts back and forth in time between an inquest in which Andy, the father, is being questioned and the book's main narrative. The writing is good and, though it did seem a bit over-wrought in places, I never lost interest.

When a fourteen year old boy is found knifed to death in a nearby park suspicion falls on Andy Barber's 14 year old son, Jacob, a classmate of the dead boy. The narrative is mostly about the trial and the revelations that begin to unfold about the problems within this family and the secrets Andy has kept all his life about his family history, including his father who is serving a life-sentence for murder.

Slowly we begin to realize this family has a LOT of secrets. Jacob was bullied in school by the dead boy. Jacob has some very disturbing behaviors of his own. Laurie, Jacob's mother, is shocked when she finds out about her husband's secrets and is unable to reconcile these revelations and their implications for her own son. When a psychiatrist adds some frightening (and I thought specious) opinions about Jacob's behavior, Andy overlooks them but Laurie becomes obsessed with them.

This is an extremely complex story and the ending is quite disturbing. I'm not really sure how I felt about it. I admired Andy's ability to trust in his son and I found Laurie's inability to do that quite upsetting. This is not a book one soon forgets -- and that makes it a better than average read.

The narration was quite good. Since I live in the Boston area, I especially appreciated the narrator's ability to handle the local accents.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

  • By: Lewis Carroll
  • Narrated by: Jim Dale
  • Length: 2 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 453
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 368
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 366

With his marvelous sense of the absurd, Lewis Carroll's whimsical, fantastical tale delighted children and adults when it was first published in 1865 and has since become a treasured classic of literature.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't you just LOVE Jim Dale!

  • By Patricia on 04-08-10

I wish I could give Jim Dale a 10!

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

Reviewed: 09-20-12

I'v read this story many times but when I saw that Jim Dale was narrating it I just had to buy it and listen. It was worth every penny and minute. Though the story is one of my favorites from childhood, listening to him read the story was a whole new experience. He is quite simply astonishing. Like he did in his narration of the Harry Potter books, he uses so many unique and wonderful voices that you know which character is which without being told. If you already love this book, you'll love it even more hearing him read it and if you do not know the story you are in for an incredible treat.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Caleb's Crossing

  • By: Geraldine Brooks
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Ehle
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 857
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 661
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 667

In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another good entry into fiction!

  • By Mary Sue on 05-31-11

Beautiful writing, discouraging performance...

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

Reviewed: 09-19-12

Geraldine Brooks' novel is based on a true story of the first Native American man to graduate from Harvard University. It is set in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard in the late 17th century and is rich in meticulous historical detail. Some readers found the speech, authentic to the era, difficult but I loved it. The story itself is about Bethia Mayfield, a young woman who befriends the Wompanoag man, Caleb, and who longs for an education that is denied her at the time.

I loved the historical detail and the language however I did find some of the plot shifts rather forced and some of the characters underwent personality changes or no apparent reason that seemed a bit jarring. The narration, however, was very trying. I have admired Jennifer Ehle as an actress in "Pride and Prejudice" and "Possession" but her narration of this story was so annoying I finally gave up listening and read the latter half of the book. She takes such care to enunciate each word that the narration sounds clipped and choppy. This is a book that is better reading than listening to.