LISTENER

Elisabeth Carey

  • 321
  • reviews
  • 411
  • helpful votes
  • 360
  • ratings
  • Romance at the Royal Menagerie

  • By: Ruth J. Hartman
  • Narrated by: Julie Hinton
  • Length: 4 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

John Fairgate is torn by the fact that he'll inherit the title of baron upon his uncle’s death. Especially given that his uncle insists that he give up ornithology and marry a childhood acquaintance. The first request, John will honor no matter how much he hates the idea. But marrying a shrew who makes his skin crawl, he simply cannot do. Meeting Miss Francesca Hartwell at the zoo has given him other ideas for a wife. But she’s not titled or wealthy. How will John be able to convince his uncle that she’s the woman of his heart? 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Silly, but fun

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 10-18-18

Silly, but fun

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

Reviewed: 10-18-18

Francesca Hartwell loves cats of all kinds, including the big cats, all of them, and luckily for her, her father is the caretaker of big cats in the Tower of London's Royal Menagerie. Ever since her mother ran off to become the mistress of an earl, Francesca has pent most of her time with her father at the menagerie,. More to his distress than his pleasure, she has proved to have a real talent for handling the big cats.

They are absolutely dependent on his income from this job, and the Head Keeper would be very displeased to know that she was entering the cages, so she can only do so after hours.

And then one day she meets John Fairgate, an obviously well-born and wealthy man, visiting the menagerie, and he shares her love of big cats.

He apparently is not titled, and that's a good thing because her father is never going to forgive losing his wife to a titled nobleman. But John Fairgate could be the new donor the menagerie needs to care for the animals and keep her father employed, and he doesn't have a title...

John Fairgate is the heir of his Uncle, Baron Paddington. His beloved uncle has just a few requirements for him. Be ready to inherit the title and its responsibilities. Give up his ornithology research, because it's incompatible with devoting enough time to future duties as the Baron.

And marry a suitable wife, specifically, a woman he has known since they were both children, Miss Jezebel Cartwright. Miss Cartwright's father was his own dear friend, and they had long agreed it would be just ideal if the two children married when the time came. What the Baron doesn't recognize, but John does, is that Jezebel Cartwright is a malicious shrew, who, in the real Regency London, would have been ruined fairly quickly for her shameless, and perhaps more to the point, rather crude and obvious, attempts to get her hooks into John, whom she regards as her own property.

John, Francesca, Francesca's father, and John's uncle are all, ultimately, smart, decent, likable people. Francesca and John are both courageous and honorable, and are not going to do the wrong thing.

Jezebel Cartwright, on the other hand, probably can't spell honor. Or honour, if we're being picky and English, which would be appropriate for a Regency romance.

So, negatives: No, sorry, I can't imagine the cat caretaker's daughter at the Royal Menagerie in early 19th century London being educated and polished enough to ever pass muster as a future Baron's wife. Jezebel Cartwright is so far over the top that she's coming down the other side. If you're sensitive to such things, and I often am, you're going to be rolling your eyes pretty quickly.

Yet, somehow, I really enjoyed this one, even while I was rolling my eyes. It's fun, and I like these people.

So, recommended with the stated caveats.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • The Fifth Risk

  • By: Michael Lewis
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 751
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 671
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 665

"The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them. Michael Lewis’ brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Awkward and Disappointing

  • By Amit M on 10-04-18

A look at Trump's impact on how government works

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

Reviewed: 10-16-18

What happens when the people responsible for running our government have no idea how it works--and don't really care?

This is a look at how complex the actual workings of our government really are, what the federal agencies actually do, why it matters, and how completely unprepared and indifferent the Trump team was.

This is not a partisan work. Not at all--unless you count caring about government working properly as "partisan." But in that case, the "parties" you're talking about aren't Democrat and Republican, or liberal and conservative.

Lewis describes the senior staff of the federal departments and agencies preparing for the arrival, right after the election, for the arrival of the "landing teams" of whichever candidate won, to be able to brief them on what their agencies and departments do, to equip them to start the process of taking over.

Lewis also describes the utter silence and absence of anyone from the Trump team that day, that week, for weeks to come.

When Trump people did arrive, it was in ones, twos, or very small groups. They weren't interested in in-depth briefings. In several cases, they just wanted the names of anyone in the department or agency working on "questionable activities," such as researching or studying climate change or energy safety.

We also get some of the backstory.

I am not Chris Christie's biggest fan. More accurately, I'm not a Christie fan at all. But Christie got Trump to, very grudgingly, agree to create, once he was the nominee, the Presidential transition team which is required by federal law. But Trump wouldn't pay for it with his own money, and he wouldn't agree to spend campaign funds on it, so Christie started separate fundraising for it.

When Trump discovered this, he hit the roof, and accused Christie of "stealing my money." He was convinced he and Bannon could plan the transition in twenty minutes after he'd won the election. Bannon persuaded him that if he disbanded the transition team, Joe Scarborough and Trump's other media favorites would conclude that Trump believed he had no chance of winning. So transition planning continued. Christie, of course, was fired.

And Trump didn't pay any attention to the plans his transition team made for him.

When a former Bush official took the time and care to assemble a list of people politically inoffensive to Trump who were qualified to fill positions in one department, Trump ignored that list, and appointed friends, donors' favored candidates, campaign volunteers with absolutely no relevant experience. We've all seen the coverage of Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and Scott Pruitt at Energy, but the nomination of Barry Myers, CEO of Accuweather, to head NOAA did not get the same level of coverage. It wasn't ignored, and it was controversial. Why? Because Barry Myers has sued NOAA, and lobbied intensively, to have NOAA banned from sharing its weather information and data with anyone who might otherwise be a paying customer of the for-profit weather companies. This was an attempt to take the information and data the American taxpayers pay millions for our government to collect and process, and turn it over to for-profit companies to make the taxpayers pay for again.

If you think, no bbiggie, I get my weather from Accuweather or the Weather Channel, or whatever other source, not NOAA, you need to know that those companies get all their data that they reprocess and give to you for a profit, from NOAA. They are not launching the satellites, or gathering the data, or maintaining the history, or anything else that is the expensive end of weather prediction. Accuweather claims they make better predictions, but they also don't share enough information for anyone to even have an opinion. And weather prediction overall has gotten dramatically better in recent decades and even in recent years--NOAA is the source of the research that has done that.

Myers is so controversial, even in a highly partisan Congress, that he hasn't been confirmed, a year after his nomination.

That is just one example in this book. This book only covers a small number of departments and agencies because a book that covered them all would be unmanageable to write and produce in time to be of current use rather than historical use. It's just scratching the surface.

Lewis covers this through interviews and with people formerly at the agencies, people outside of them who work with and rely on the vast data these agencies and departments produce, and looking at the ways this data, instead of being a drain on the economy, is a valuable source of growth and innovation in the private sector. It's fascinating, absorbing, and clear. Very much worth reading or listening to. Recommended.

I got this audiobook free from Audible as an Audible member, and I'm reviewing it voluntarily.

  • Hi Bob!

  • By: Bob Newhart
  • Narrated by: Will Ferrell, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, and others
  • Length: 3 hrs and 34 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,885
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,645
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,611

In Hi Bob!, American icon Bob Newhart gets together one-on-one with a handpicked cohort of luminaries in the world of entertainment, whom he happens to be friends with. Bob gets deep with each performer about their aspirations, their careers, how they got started, and how they grew to be where they are today. They make TV shows, movies, or albums, but they all like telling stories.    

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • really well edited, funny, sincere

  • By RCC on 09-24-18

An entertaining look at life as a comedian & actor

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

Reviewed: 10-14-18

Bob Newhart was for decades one of the most popular and consistently likable comics in America. His two tv series might be better remembered now (or not, I could be completely wrong about that), but he also had a long career as a stand-up comic, with some tremendously popular spoken-word albums. When he started out, there were no comedy clubs, and the entire experience of being a professional comedian was very different.

In this audiobook, he talks with fellow comedians, about his stand-up career, their experiences getting started in the business, friendships, challenges, and, somewhat oddly to me, mostly his second major tv success, Newhart, with only secondary mention of his original hit show, The Bob Newhart Show.

It's a fascinating set of conversations, organized into themes, and intercut to create the sound of a larger conversation with multiple participants, even though, as Newhart makes clear at the beginning, in fact scheduling challenges meant they were all one-on-one conversations.

It's an interesting and mostly funny look at a career in show business and as a comedian. A very enjoyable listen, and I am

This audiobook was offered free on Audible to members, and I am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • How Language Began

  • The Story of Humanity's Greatest Invention
  • By: Daniel L. Everett
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Yen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 85
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 84

Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett, a "bombshell" linguist and "instant folk hero" (Tom Wolfe, Harper's), provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than 7,000 languages that exist today.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hard to endure

  • By Michael D. Busch on 09-09-18

Interesting but flawed

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

Reviewed: 10-12-18

This is such a frustrating book.

Everett has a lot to say, that's of interest, about the history of human language, and makes an interesting, and to me persuasive, case that language goes back to Homo erectus, if not further. One thing he points to, hardly the only one, is the H. erectus population on the the island of Flores. They must at some point have arrived in numbers sufficient to establish a viable population, which would mean a minimum of fifty men, women, and children arriving together or in close succession. This isn't likely with accidental rafting. It suggests more sophisticated skills, to build craft capable of crossing that distance in sufficient numbers intentionally--which would probably require language.

He's also quite, quite certain that language is an invention, not an instinct. If you think otherwise, you are wrong. Completely wrong. Oh, and he really thinks Noam Chomsky is completely wrong, and doesn't seem to concede him any significant contributions on the subject of language at all.

Chomsky in 1957 published Syntactic Structures, arguing that human language flows from an innate instinct, a universal grammar at the base of how humans think. An important part of his argument is that since only humans have language, it must have emerged fairly recently, due to a single mutation, perhaps 50,000 years ago. There's more to his theory, including the idea that universal grammar didn't develop for the purpose of communication, but instead was originally used to facilitate complex human thought, with language a later effect.

That's not remotely a complete explanation of Chomsky's theory, but it's a good-enough starting point for a review of Everett's book. Everett says, not quite in so many words, that Chomsky is an ignorant fool. Language is obviously an invention, not an instinct, not a mutation, and he has demonstrated this by...as far as I can tell, by asserting it repeatedly.

That's very sad, because there are some obvious weaknesses to Chomsky's theory, starting with the fact that complex features are essentially never the result of a single mutation. This involves a far greater knowledge of genetics than we had in 1957, of course, but it's not surprising that sixty years of research result in some significant damage to a theory grounded in areas we had not yet made major progress in.

It seems far more likely, in light of what we now know, that language emerged more gradually, as mutations, and natural and sexual selection among the natural variations in genus homo, led to the development of language.

Unfortunately, Everett rejects that, too.

Language, he says, is just a straight-up brilliant invention, coming straight from the clever brains of Homo erectus, or Homo habilis, or Homo ergaster, or possibly even Australopithecus afarensis, whoever came up with it first. Also, there was never any proto-language. The very first language was fully functional, able to do everything its users might need language to do.

Because every brilliant invention is perfect when first invented, right? That's normal, isn't it?

Everett also says there are no inherited language defects, which there ought to be if language is an instinct, written in the genes, rather than an invention. This would be persuasive, if true. Alas, other scientists seem to disagree, finding genetics-based language impairment not common, but nevertheless real. Here's a link to one example of a scientific paper discussing it. Full text is pricey, but if interested, your public library may be able to help you.

Genetics of Speech and Language Disorders Changsoo Kang and Dennis Drayna Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 2011 12:1, 145-164
https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-genom-090810-183119?rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&journalCode=genom

There's also the awkward fact that every human population, no matter how isolated, has language. Why is this awkward? Because things invented in one place, don't automatically spread to other populations the inventors' population isn't in contact with. Every culture has language. Not every culture invented written language, even though it's incredibly useful, once you have spoken language and a moderately complex culture. Invention of an alphabetic-style written language is even rarer.

And the wheel appears to have been invented once, in Sumeria, and spread from there. There's one exception; ancient Mexicans, but no other New World cultures, did invent wheels--and use them only in what appear to have been either toys or cult objects. Yet these were advanced, complex, sophisticated cultures, arguably more complex and advanced than the Spanish who arrived to conquer them. It wasn't lack of brains or sophistication that kept wheels as a useful concept from being invented in the New World.

So, why does everyone have language?

Why do two children, kept in isolation from anyone who speaks to them during the entire period they should be acquiring language, invariably emerge from that abuse speaking their own language? Why do twins not kept in that kind of extreme isolation not uncommonly develop their own "secret" language, separate from the one they use with adults around them?

Humans in contact with other humans develop language. It doesn't matter how sophisticated or complex their culture is otherwise. Humans speak to each other. If they're deaf, if there's more than one deaf child even if there's no one around who teaches them sign language, they create their own sign language. It's universal. It's how humans in contact with other humans behave.

It's innate.

It's also quite obviously for communication, another way Chomsky appears to be wrong, so one would think Everett wouldn't need to pound so incoherently on Chomsky rather than more calmly discussing the specifics.

This is an interesting book. I find I've not touched nearly enough on the aspects that I like, or that I found persuasive. Yet the weaknesses are important, and also interesting.

If interested in the topic, I recommend giving it a try.

I bought this audiobook.

  • Exit Strategy

  • By: Martha Wells
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 3 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 414
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 381
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 381

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah - its former owner (protector? friend?) - submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit. But who's going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue? And what will become of it when it's caught?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Martha Wells + Murderbot + Kevin Free= original, funny & fantastic

  • By Mark Hancock on 10-07-18

Another great Murderbot adventure

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

Reviewed: 10-10-18

Murderbot has successfully escaped the environs of its latest run-in with GrayCris Corporation, with proof of GrayCris' criminal activity. If it can get back to Preservation space and reach Dr. Mensah, its...owner? guardian? friend?, GrayCris can, possibly, be stopped from getting more colonists and scientific expeditions killed in their pursuit of corporate profit.

Unfortunately, GrayCris has kidnapped Dr. Mensah and is demanding an enormous ransom, apparently in hopes of also luring Murderbot in. GrayCris thinks Murderbot still has the evidence in its possession. Murderbot is smarter than that, but Dr. Mensah is still at enormous risk. The sensible thing for a rogue SecUnit that was never programmed to care about anyone is to forget about Mensah, head out beyond the corporate rim, and let the people it has sent the information to act on it.

Murderbot so wishes it were sensible.

It's another wild adventure, as Murderbot keeps getting better at not getting spotted as a SecUnit, struggles with dealing with human emotions, and faces the even more unpleasant challenge of its own emotions and just why exactly it is risking its life to save people it has been trying to get further away from.

Once again, Murderbot is a lot of fun. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

  • All I Ever Wanted

  • By: David Neth
  • Narrated by: Drew Malone Nienhaus
  • Length: 2 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Leo's had some bad luck in his life. After his father walked out on him and his mom, they've been struggling to make end's meet, not to mention any hope of saving for college. But after finding the perfect replacement for a lost family heirloom for his Mother's Day gift, Leo discovers it's actually a magic genie lamp. Presented with three wishes that could give him everything he's ever wanted, Leo soon realizes that genies have justly earned their reputation for twisting wishes to other ends. What he thought he wanted isn't all it's cracked up to be. And now that he's already used all his wishes, there's no turning back.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Is it a good to accept wishes from a genie?

  • By Donna Wiebe on 10-21-18

Good kid confronts very strange challenge

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

Reviewed: 09-29-18

Leo and his mother have faced some challenging times, struggling to make ends meet, since Leo's father left. With very little money, Leo is looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, when he finds a gravy boat in a local shop. It looks a lot like one of the family heirlooms they had to sell for money to get by on, and he hopes his mother will really like it.

It turns out to be a genie's lamp.

The genie, whose name is Felix, of course offers him three wishes. Well, not so much offers. He needs Leo to accept and use those three wishes.

Leo is a smart kid. He's watched enough movies and tv to know that genies' wishes almost always go wrong in some way that's obvious in retrospect, when you think carefully about what you really said. He'd rather skip the whole thing, but since he apparently can't, he wants to be really, really careful.

Leo is also a good kid, and greed isn't one of his values. His first wish is very carefully phrased. He wants to have enough money that he and his mother don't have to live paycheck to paycheck and she doesn't have to work crazy hours. Within half an hour of making that wish, his mother calls with the shocking news that his father, who had stolen the small but not trivial nest egg that was to be the basis of Leo's college savings, has called. It turns out he invested that money, and is now returning the resulting, much larger, nest egg to Leo.

This leads to Leo and his mother talking about his father for the first time in a long time, and his mother talking about how she misses her former husband, who used to be her best friend. In a careless moment, in Felix's hearing, Leo wishes that his father were back so that his mother could be happy again. And he uses the fatal word, "wish."

This is the point at which things start to go wrong.

Leo, and his best friend Genevieve, are good kids. His mother is a good person. So is Gen's mother. Everyone is trying to do the right thing. Leo and Gen don't always succeed, but they aren't acting out of greed or self-importance. They're trying to make those around them happier and better off--and they don't define "better off" in terms of "great wealth."

This is a very enjoyable novella, about young people that are likable, interesting, and whom it might be nice to meet. Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • Hamster Princess: Little Red Rodent Hood

  • By: Ursula Vernon
  • Narrated by: Eva Kaminsky
  • Length: 2 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Most monsters know better than to mess with Princess Harriet Hamsterbone. She's a fearsome warrior, an accomplished jouster, and is so convincing that she once converted a beastly Ogrecat to vegetarianism. So why would a pack of weasel-wolf monsters come to her for help? Well, there's something downright spooky going on in the forest where they live, and it all centers around a mysterious girl in a red cape. No one knows better than Harriet that little girls aren't always sweet. Luckily, there's no problem too big or bad for this princess to solve. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A familiar fairy tale turned inside out

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 09-27-18

A familiar fairy tale turned inside out

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

Reviewed: 09-27-18

Ursula Vernon is, as always, a delight.

In this case, she takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and turns it inside out and sideways, with wonderful results.

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone and her friend Wilbur respond to a plea from a very odd young hamster girl, dressed all in red. and mount their riding quail to go to the aid of her grandmother. Grandmother's cottage in the woods is surrounded by weaselwolves of nefarious intent...

Well, of course they have nefarious intent. Weaselwolves eat hamsters, right? So Harriet and Wilbur are quite puzzled to find the weaselwolves hiding behind trees, apparently afraid of Red.

What's going on? The more they investigate, the stranger things seem, and the less certain Harriet is that Red is the one in need of help.

This is just a lot of fun. If you have kids in the intended middle grade age range, use them as your excuse. If not, well, read or listen to it anyway.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

  • Captive on the Fens

  • DI Nikki Galena Series, Book 6
  • By: Joy Ellis
  • Narrated by: Henrietta Meire
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 302
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 284
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283

A young woman's body is found in a remote barn on the Fens. Before she was killed, one of her fingers had been cut off. Who is inflicting this violence and why? The young woman in the barn had been kept captive for some time. And the case shows strong similarities to an unsolved murder in Derbyshire. When another woman is found alive with similar injuries, the case grows even more complicated.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Author Joy Ellis never disappoints!

  • By Wayne on 09-15-17

Dead young women & gangsters with unknown motives

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

Reviewed: 09-18-18

DS Jospeh Easter's daughter, Tamsin, is about to marry Niles, a young detective constable with the Greenborough police force. Freddie Carver, a vicious criminal boss formerly based in London and more recently hanging out in Spain, is apparently in Greenborough and planning to stay. Joseph and DI Nikki Galena are determined to catch him before he becomes a fixture in their district. Two dead young women have turned up, both apparently held prisoner and tortured for some time before being killed and dumped.

And because their lives aren't exciting enough yet, a young man storms into the station demanding that finally, once and for all, they find his missing twin sister, who is believed to have simply run off, which is the right of any adult to do. He's certain she didn't, and is in danger.

There's a lot going on here, and some outstanding plot threads from previous books get more attention here. There are dangerous signs that hardnosed Nikki might be mellowing a tiny bit, duty takes Cat into Derbyshire, where she meets a detective sergeant she might have a future with. Joseph's ex-wife arrives in town for the upcoming wedding, and might be a source of future trouble. Nikki's biological mother, on the other hand, may be turning into a real asset.

The plot is excellent as always, but, also as always, the real reward here is the ongoing development of the characters as they continue to live their lives while doing their challenging and dangerous jobs.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

  • Bloodlines: Cove Point Manor

  • By: William B. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Bill Nevitt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 27

Alex Tinsdill never thought a simple DNA test would lead to a $250 million inheritance and Cove Point Manor, a massive estate built during the Gilded Age on the Gold Coast of Long Island, New York. Alex's inheritance doesn't come without a cost however, as two greedy relatives soon show up, determined to separate Alex from his new found riches. Cove Point Manor has a dark past, and a sinister secret which is about to be revealed!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bloodlines

  • By Deedra on 06-20-18

A disappointment

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

Reviewed: 09-14-18

Alex Tinsdill takes a Y-chromosome DNA test, hoping to learn more about his paternal family prior to his great-grandparents. Not long after uploading his results, he's contacted by a New York City lawyer, telling him he is the long-sought heir to a fortune and a large estate on Long Island.

With little to hold him in Toronto, he figures it can't hurt to go to New York and check this out. Having learned the truth about his ancestry--his great-grandparents made creative use of the truth, though what they said certainly wasn't all lies--he goes to Long Island to see his new property. There he meets Maggie, the property manager who has maintained the property for years, having inherited the job from her father and grandfather.

The counterpoint to how good things are looking with his new property, new wealth, and new friend Maggie, are old family "friends," Brenda and her daughter, Connie. Brenda is the sister of an actual good friend of his now-deceased mother. That sister is also deceased, but Brenda and Connie still expect Alex to handle all their problems for them, including providing money when needed. When they figure out he's inherited a fortune in the US, they can't get from Toronto to Long Island fast enough.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It has potential. Alex, Maggie, the New York lawyer Julia Wentworth, and others, are quite likable, interesting, and real.

Brenda and Connie, on the other hand, are stereotypes of the "poverty is result of bad character" variety. You can't like them; they are actually bad people. Yet I kept wanting to say, no, wait, you can't be serious...

The plotting is perfectly decent, and the characters we're supposed to like are decently written. Even the cheap targets, Brenda and Connie, are written well-enough that you can't just say, the wrong people have been labeled the villains.

And yet.

None of these people speak normally. There never use contractions. None of them. Ever. No one says "I can't." They always say "I cannot." They say "I will," not "I'll." And that's just the simplest thing to point out. All through, the language is too correct, too clear, no normal contractions or elisions or sloppy, casual phrasing. What individuality the characters have in their speech is entirely due to the narrator, who infuses them with emotion and personality.

And yet.

The narrator is a benefit, but not an unmixed blessing. He speaks with such precision that he misses the chance to subtly lessen the effects of the writer's placing unnaturally correct speech in the mouths of his characters. He's so precise it's distracting.

Overall, not recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator.

  • Leverage in Death

  • In Death Series, Book 47
  • By: J. D. Robb
  • Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,040
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,865
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,855

For the airline executives finalizing a merger that would make news in the business world, the nine a.m. meeting would be a major milestone. But after marketing VP Paul Rogan walked into the plush conference room, strapped with explosives, the headlines told of death and destruction instead. The NYPSD’s Eve Dallas confirms that Rogan was cruelly coerced by two masked men holding his family hostage. His motive was saving his wife and daughter - but what was the motive of the masked men? 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Captivating

  • By Jean on 09-23-18

Another great Eve Dallas murder mystery

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

Reviewed: 09-12-18

Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, and the rest are confronting a nasty pair of killers, smart, capable, but definitely not pros, engaged in a bizarre and deadly form of market manipulation. The very first victim is a man who walks into the meeting where the luxury airline he works for and an economy airline are going to finalize their merger, and blows himself up with a suicide vest, killing eleven other people and injuring more.

He had absolutely no discernible motive to do this. He was heard to say to the president of his company, right before he detonated the bomb, "I'm sorry, I don't have a choice." He had plans for celebrations after the meeting, first with his own staff, and then with his wife and daughter.

The wife and daughter are found, alive but somewhat battered, and bound with zip ties, at home.

Dallas is challenged at first to even work out what the motive for the crime is, but both one of her men, Baxter, who invests his own money cautiously in the stock market, and her very own "expert consultant, civilian," Roarke, who has gotten very rich understanding not just his beloved computer systems, but also markets, explain what will happen to the two companies' stock. First it will crash. Then it will be announced that the merger is still on, and it will climb in value again. There will be a narrow window when someone who is prepared to move immediately can make a very handsome profit.

With the first success, it seems inevitable that the killers will strike again, but where? There aren't that many high-profile mergers close to completion at any one time, especially since there's evidence suggesting the killers are likely to want to stay local. What else can they manipulate the same way?

They find out all too soon.

As with any case involving multiple murders and a killer or killers who don't plan to stop, it's a tense and stressful time. I'm reminded again in this book how both Dallas and Peabody have grown into their roles, and how both Dallas and Roarke have tackled their own personal issues, and the challenges of two such strong personalities from such different backgrounds being married to each other.

Dallas is also mastering a role that comes much more naturally to both Roarke and Somerset: being part of the extended family of Mavis and Leonardo's young daughter, Bella. I think it is maybe even not freaking Dallas out quite so much that she's starting to understand Bella!

But the new stress in this book is that the movie based on tv reporter friend Nadine's book about the Icove case, The Icove Agenda, is up for an Oscar. Well, several Oscars. Best Movie, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song (Mavis, of course.) Probably several others, too, but these are the ones stressing Dallas out!

Somehow she keeps all the balls in the air, as she always does, and it's another satisfying visit with Dallas and company.

Also, I was struck this time by just how much Susan Eriksen is just the right voice, and the right reader for the In Death series.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.