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  • An Accidental Death

  • A DC Smith Investigation Series, Book 1
  • By: Peter Grainger
  • Narrated by: Gildart Jackson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,371
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,123
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,107

The story opens with the apparently accidental drowning of a sixth form student in the Norfolk countryside. As a matter of routine, or so it seems, the case passes across the desk of Detective Sergeant Smith, recently returned to work after an internal investigation into another case that has led to tensions between officers at Kings Lake police headquarters. As an ex-DCI, Smith could have retired by now, and it is clear that some of his superiors wish that he would do so.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent British Mystery

  • By Customer on 09-07-16

Just the right amount of mystery

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

I love mysteries (including police procedurals, like this one) but am frequently annoyed because the answer is obvious, or there is not enough information given for the reader to solve it. This book was particularly well structured, as it featured an experienced (but not superhuman) detective mentoring a rookie. As DC Smith explains things to Waters, we can follow along and, perhaps, jump ahead. I didn’t get everything, but I got much of it. I also enjoyed the scenes of inter office Ill-will and politics. And there are mysteries in DC Smith’s past, which the attentive reader can also suss out. I look forward to reading more from this author, and hope to see Smith and Waters again.

  • Heft

  • By: Liz Moore
  • Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
  • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,435
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,069
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,067

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Intriguing--Captivating--Altering

  • By Mel on 04-19-12

A moving tale of love, courage and forgiveness

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

Reviewed: 04-22-18

I often buy books on sale (after checking the reviews) and by the time I get around to reading them, I have no idea what the book is about or why I bought it. This was the case with _Heft_ The book is told from the point of view of two characters, Kell, a high school athlete, and Arthur, an apparently wealthy, extremely obese shut in.

The audiobook has two different narrators. Kell's narrator is good. Arthur's is magnificent. Arthur's voice is rich and round, with the elegance of tone of James Earl Jones or Orson Wells. Yet he convincingly replicates his maid Yolanda's excited, Spanish accented New York voice.

Hearing Arthur's story, I was at first not sure I wanted to continue the book. Arthur seemed to have lived a life of extreme passivity, giving up immediately whenever he encountered problems.

It also seemed that the title referred to Arthur's vast corpulence, and who wants to read a book about a sad, weak fat guy?

I am so glad I stuck with it. The book picked up with the introduction of Kell, who has his own troubles. In fact, I think every major character has suffered a loss, but the characters reflect on their pasts and reveal strengths that are unexpected and present an encouraging view of humanity.

At the end of the book, I believed that "heft" has many meanings - the weight of sorrow, the strength of the lives and relationships we build, and what we choose to carry for ourselves and others.

I will not forget this book or its characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Olive Kitteridge

  • By: Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by: Sandra Burr
  • Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,576
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,927
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,923

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interweaving Short Stories Make a Good Novel

  • By Sara on 07-21-14

Getting to know an entire town

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

Reviewed: 02-11-17

This book is a collection of short stories, all following a theme. Olive Kitteridge features prominently in three stories, less prominently in others and in one, she walks through a room, saying nothing.

Despite Olive's prominence, there are many other interesting people in town. A beautiful anorexic girl, an alcoholic musician and a talkative minister's daughter are three of my favorites.

Because the book concerns people from the same town, we learn other people's opinions of characters we have previously or are soon to meet.

The book takes place over decades, so we hear that some characters have divorced or died, had children or buried them.

Olive's life is the most thoroughly reviewed. I hated her when she was first introduced. She was cruel, smug and dismissive of her kind husband Henry. She seemed to hate every single person she met, except for her son. As the book continues, we learn that she can be observant, insightful and kind. We also learn about the events and people who shaped her psyche. By the end of the book, Olive herself begins to ponder the mistakes she's made in her life, and whether she can correct them.

I have rated very few of the hundreds of books I've listened to with five stars, but I think this is a book that is a masterwork, and that will stay with me for a long time. It is well worth a listen.

  • Abraham Lincoln

  • The Prairie Years and The War Years
  • By: Carl Sandburg
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 44 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,076
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 985
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 989

Originally published in six volumes, which sold more than one million copies, Carl Sandburg’s Abraham Lincoln was praised as the most noteworthy historical biography of Sandburg’s generation. He later distilled this monumental work into one volume that critics and readers alike consider his greatest work of nonfiction, as well as the most distinguished, authoritative biography of Lincoln ever published.

Growing up in an Illinois prairie town, Sandburg listened to stories of old-timers who had known Lincoln. By the time this single-volume edition was competed, he had spent a lifetime studying, researching, and writing about our 16th president.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A moving tale of a very human man

  • By Kindle Customer on 06-25-16

A moving tale of a very human man

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

Reviewed: 06-25-16

I have read several Lincoln biographies, including Doris Kearns Goodwin's very good one, but this one gave me much more of a sense of Lincoln, the man. There were many of his jokes, many instances of his interactions with ordinary people, so many stories of his kinndness and understanding of human nature.

I didn't realize when i bought the book that it was 44 hours long. To my great surprise, I finished it in about ten days, listening four or five hours a day because I was so interested.

There were a few stories about Mary Todd Lincoln's difficult behavior that revealed her illness and his constant generosity and understanding.

I also liked Sandberg's references to how Lincoln's speech sounded. I am almost certain that he would never be elected today, as he would be dismissed as an ignorant hick.

From previous biographies, I knew that Lincoln was shot on April 14. When Grant defeated Lee at Appomattox on April 9, I realized the end was near. I kept hoping (knowing it was ridiculous) that Lincoln would decide to stay in that Friday. The stories of some of the things he did that day were heartbreaking, and so very kind. For example, he met a widow with four children whose husband's pension hadn't been paid for months. He promised to personally take care of it the next day. She wept in gratitude, and I wonder if she ever got that pension.

The national train ride of mourning was so well written that I felt the nation's love and sorrow. One shortcoming, I felt, was that other than the moments and hours after the shooting, Sandburg provided no quotes or insight into the reactions of Lincoln's wife and sons. I wondered what it was like for them to accompany his (eventually decomposing) body around the nation. In the midst of their grief and horror, I wonder if the solidarity of the crowds was conforting, exhausting or both.

Often during the book, as Lincoln's decisions were reviewed, often very unfavorably, by his contemporaries, I wondered how long it takes to get a fair perspective on history.

This was a beautifully written and narrated book, and it will inform my view of Lincoln and American history forever.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Great Minds of the Medieval World

  • By: Dorsey Armstrong, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 162
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 149
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 145

In this gallery of extraordinary minds, you’ll encounter the leading lights of a world-shaping era, including figures such as Maimonides, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, and Francesco Petrarch. Professor Armstrong goes to great lengths to bring these historic figures to life, revealing both the great intellectual contributions and the personal strivings, challenges, and triumphs of some of history’s most remarkable human beings.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Prof Armstrong at her best!!!

  • By BVerité on 08-13-14

Great minds, fascinating people

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

Reviewed: 08-03-15

Somewhat to my surprise, this is one of my favorite Great Courses.

I bought it on sale figuring "Why not?" I had no particular interest in the middle ages, which I imagined as always dark and smelly.

Professor Dorsey Armstrong LOVES this time period, and her enthusiasm and knowledge are contagious. There were quite a few people I'd never heard of. By far my favorites were Hildegarde of Bingen and Christine of Pisan.

They are the only two women with their own chapter (Abelard and Heloise have one together) and they are truly remarkable.

Hildegarde was an eminent scholar respected by the clergy and pope (amazing in this time period) and Christine was a successful writer and businesswoman. Christine, in particular, surprises me because most educated women (that I know of) were either noblewomen or nuns, and she was neither.

The other Greats were also interesting, and Professor Armstrong really helps us understand how their thoughts affected global thinking and learning.

I've purchased (coincidentally) two of Professor Armstrong's courses and loved them both. I will now be looking for more. Turning Points in Medieval History might be next.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Effective Communication Skills

  • By: Dalton Kehoe, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dalton Kehoe
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,209
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,056
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,028

From asking a waiter for an unusual substitution to urging a service manager to get your car finished sooner to swaying your significant other toward a particular film or show, many of the decisions you make are decided by talking. And no matter why you engage in face-to-face talk, there's no way to insulate yourself from the dangers of miscommunication. These 24 mind-opening lectures are your chance to learn more about how you communicate verbally, the common problems you can encounter in doing so, and how you can improve your own effectiveness.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting Lectures with a Misleading Description

  • By James Garritano on 08-25-13

Not what I was looking for, but glad I found it

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

Reviewed: 07-26-15

I thought I was getting a course on public speaking (apparently I did not read the course description.) What I got was a very interesting course on how people communicate and form relationships. As a supervisor, I was able to use some of Professor Kehoe's suggestions on talking to employees immediately. I was very annoyed with a perpetually underperforming employee. I had asked him to do something and he forgot. I was about to demand an explanation, but I remembered the chapter I had just listened to. Did I provide a clear list of instructions and a sense of why this was important? Yes on the instructions, no on the importance. Surely he MUST know why it was important! But, maybe, not.

I spoke calmly to "B", explained why the task was important, asked if there was any way I could help him accomplish it by the end of the day, suggested he call the client to find out what she wanted, and (almost miraculously) the problem was solved by the end of the day.

I will keep these lessons in mind, although I will probably need to listen again to pick up more tips.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • 1177 B.C.

  • The Year Civilization Collapsed
  • By: Eric H. Cline
  • Narrated by: Andy Caploe
  • Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,735
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,581
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 1,571

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the "Sea Peoples" invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wanted to Like... And Did!

  • By Brett M Miller on 09-12-14

Too academic for a general audience

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

Reviewed: 07-05-15

I knew very little about this time period, aside from the art and some knowledge of Egypt.

The author states that he hopes that this will be the foundation of a series of history books about this time period. He seems to have great enthusiasm for the period, and knowledge of many of the civilizations.

Unfortunately, his discussion of the period include many topics that he seems to gloss over, as if he assumes his audience would be bored by some of the specifics of the people, places and events he discusses. I would have liked an overall review of the various countries, their types of government, their relative prosperity, their trade goods and religions.

Mr. Cline did discuss some of the leaders, particularly the pharaohs, involved in the events, and I found those chapters the most interesting.

He opens the book with a discussion of the mystery of the "Sea People" who seem to have descended on many countries at about the same time and totally destroyed them. The Sea People seem like the Biblical plague of locusts. Throughout the book, Mr. Cline suggests that the Sea People might be this group, or might be another, might be several groups or maybe didn't really exist at all.

The events in question might have happened in 1177, or perhaps 1200, possibly 1180, or some other time.

At the end of the book, I had some idea of some of the things that happened (or may have happened) in a one or two hundred year period, but I was left feeling less educated than I hoped to be for the time I put in to listening to this book.

  • Money Management Skills

  • By: Michael Finke, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Michael Finke
  • Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,427
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,125
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,085

The goal of money management is to maximize our happiness at every stage of our lives. Whether you are a novice investor or a seasoned pro, starting your first job or contemplating retirement, these 24 straightforward lectures are an excellent primer for making successful financial decisions at every stage of your life. Professor Finke takes you on a tour of some of the most widely available financial products and tools, from mutual funds to life insurance to college savings accounts.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Completely Irresponsible Advice

  • By Christopher on 01-12-18

I thought I knew a lot, but I was schooled

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

Reviewed: 07-05-15

I bought this course because it had so many positive reviews, and I thought "Maybe I might learn something."

I learned far more than I imagined, some of it contrary to what I believed EVERYONE knew.

Professor Finke is obviously well-versed on the subject, and his enthusiasm for it overcomes any boredom that I might have found in what I generally find a pretty dry subject.

Although my knowledge of investments and diversification were strong, Professor Finke helped me reconsider what money is for. He introduced the topic of Life Cycle Theory - which is that you should consider all the money you'll make in your life and apportion it out to provide you with the maximum benefits, including pleasure, throughout your life.

This idea stunned me, as it suggests that perhaps a twenty-something should borrow money to fund her home, education and other life experiences, knowing these debts will be paid by her older self.

I was also stunned to find that home ownership isn't always the best financial decision, how to consider insurance and some good tax strategies.

If these topics sound dull, Professor Finke made them seem interesting and easily understandable.

This is one of my top five Great Courses. I just wish I had bought it 20 years ago.

75 of 81 people found this review helpful

  • Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

  • By: Dorsey Armstrong, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 678
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 573
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 566

Tap into the power of effective writing by developing the fundamental critical and analytical skills that transform your writing from "good" to "great." Regardless of your subject, goal, or occasion, these skills will help you organize your thoughts into a coherent piece, make a persuasive argument rooted in facts, and make responsible use of research materials.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • None of my professors has ever been this helpful!

  • By R. Hays on 03-01-15

A course I wish I'd had in high school or college

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

Reviewed: 05-20-15

I was an English major in college. I learned to do research and write papers. I think I have some natural writing ability, and I know I am very logical. Nevertheless, writing essays was agony for me. I had no idea how to outline. I put the project off to the last minute. Thanks to many all-nighters, I was able to get good grades.

Thirty-five years later, I listened to this course for a couple of reasons.

I'm a supervisor and have to provide written feedback. Almost always, I end up writing the reviews at the last possible moment and stress about not having done them sooner.

I am also a Toastmaster. As a Toastmaster, I give 15 to 20 speeches a year. After 24 years, I've finally learned to outline, but I thought this course might help me organize my thoughts more efficiently. I have a technical speech that I've been planning to give, but couldn't quite figure out how to organize and present it to a non-technical audience.

This course (perhaps the 20th I've listened to) is one of the two best I've heard. (The other was "The Other Side of History".)

Professor Armstrong is a gifted and engaging lecturer. She provides insight into her own writing, which informs her recommendations of best methods. She has concrete suggestions for how these techniques can be used both inside and outside academia. (Letters to the editor, resume writing, etc.)

She gives us examples of poor or average writing, then recommends changes that undeniably improve the work.

Her course is clear, well-organized, easy to follow and (surprisingly) fun.

My niece wants to teach high school English. I have recommended this course. If I had been presented with this material in my youth, my writing would have been better and my sleep more prolific. As it is, I believe my habits and my writing will improve thanks to Professor Armstrong and this course.

86 of 89 people found this review helpful

  • The Haunted House

  • A Charles Dickens Christmas Story
  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Deaver Brown Deaver Brown
  • Length: 1 hr and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7

Another wonderful Dickens short story combining spectral images with Christmas. Wonderful turns of phrase and digressions throughout. To name but one, “faithful obstructions”, for servants - in other words, easier to do it yourself if not for pride of position. Playful, fun, and illuminating. One of his less listened-to stories; well worth it for anyone, but especially for fans.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Bad story topped by worse narrator

  • By Kindle Customer on 04-16-15

Bad story topped by worse narrator

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

Reviewed: 04-16-15

I am a big Dickens fan, and I was thrilled to find some new works.

After listening, I'm pretty sure Dickens himself didn't boast about this one. The story did have some amusing descriptions of the house and the 12 or so residents who come to investigate the haunting for Christmas. The houseguests promise to say nothing of anything they observe in the supernatural realm until the 12th night of Christmas.

The narrator describes some scary things he's observed, then tells us about a dream he had of the time when he was a schoolboy.

The end.

The big gathering in which all the strange tales were to be told never happens.

This was a really, really bad story by anyone, let alone Dickens.

The narrator seems to be some random guy with no vocal talent who heard that there was money to be made recording books. It was obviously recorded long, long ago. possibly in a galaxy far, far away, since the audio quality is not good. Every now and then the narrator says "TAPE TWO" or "TAPE THREE".

I think this thing cost me $1 on sale.

I was robbed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful