LISTENER

ricketsj

St. Paul, MN United States
  • 37
  • reviews
  • 123
  • helpful votes
  • 95
  • ratings
  • Pretty Girls

  • By: Karin Slaughter
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Early
  • Length: 20 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,460
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,422
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,425

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors. More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely needed the trigger warning, but..

  • By Hillary on 02-01-16

Prurient.

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

Reviewed: 10-26-15

I never shy away from violence in fiction and have read many books in the horror or detective/mystery genre, but this novel bothered me because of the authors apparent determination to dwell self-indulgently on the violence itself so much that she appears to forget to generate sufficient motivation for it. It's like she was thinking to herself, "what is the most horrible, evil thing that I could write about happening to some young woman," and in doing so kind of takes it as a given that this is a thing that men would be motivated to do. This is a bleak, bleak world that the author is painting, and one that I didn't want to spend enough time in to get all the answers.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Just Kids

  • By: Patti Smith
  • Narrated by: Patti Smith
  • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,071
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,755
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,739

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late 60s and 70s and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Overrated

  • By Stan on 04-28-13

Fascinating look into 60's/70s NYC.

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

Reviewed: 05-25-15

This memoir was fascinating, and very artistically done. I really knew almost nothing about Patti Smith beyond a basic knowledge of her music and what I did know of Mapplethorpe turned out to be stereotypical and a very small slice of who he actually was. I was frequently amazed at the 'small town' atmosphere that seemed to have existed in New York around the Chelsea Hotel during this time period. Just going through her daily life, Smith casually meets and becomes acquainted with enormous musical names like Hendrix and Joplin, writers like Tennessee Williams and Sam Shephard (who I had no idea she had dated), legends like Salvador Dali, and of course the whole Andy Warhol superstar bunch as they were sort of teetering back into obscurity. But Smith never sounds like a name-dropper (though she may have if I was not aware that she would eventually become a rock star herself). It's just an immensely engrossing picture of this slice in history, and the detail Smith puts into the early years of her life with Robert and their continuing friendship captures the complexity that gets lost in snapshot descriptions of the famous. It also provides a portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe to challenge the image that he acquired during the 80s when he became a symbol of shocking art and an example conservatives liked to point to when arguing to de-fund the arts.

  • Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America

  • By: Peter Conn, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Peter Conn
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 219
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193

Best-selling books have played a critical role in influencing the tastes and purchasing habits of American readers for more than 100 years. But there is more to America's great best-selling books than the sales figures they rake in. American bestsellers also offer us ways to appreciate and understand particular periods of American culture.In this series of 24 lectures you'll enjoy a pointed look at key best-selling works and their places within the greater fabric of American cultural history.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Looking for the great in great

  • By Deborah Jacob on 05-19-15

Engaging, focused on context of the book.

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

Reviewed: 05-25-15

I really enjoyed this, particularly as the lectures focused on the context in which a book was published, which informed why it may have been a bestseller. He also discussed the plots of the books enough that if you had not read it (one went back to the days of the Puritans) you could still understand how it fit in its period of history.

It's final lecture on 'mega-authors' (I don't think that's the word he actually used, but it's how I think of them) was a little depressing. It's an important comment on how the business of publishing impacts what will be presented to readers, but it's also something that people need to be cognizant of if they want to understand why some of the great novels of the past may not even have been published today. The lecturer does this without sniping at the actual writing of the mega-authors, which I think is important.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Exorcist

  • 40th Anniversary Edition
  • By: William Peter Blatty
  • Narrated by: William Peter Blatty, Eliana Shaskan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,309
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,084
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,079

Four decades after it first shook the nation, then the world, William Peter Blatty's thrilling masterwork of faith and demonic possession returns in an even more powerful form. Raw and profane, shocking and blood-chilling, it remains a modern parable of good and evil and perhaps the most terrifying novel ever written.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrifying...

  • By Kenneth on 10-01-12

Wow! The narrator made this amazing!

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

Reviewed: 04-29-15

I've seen the movie many times, and decided to listen to the book based on other reviews. I couldn't agree more, William Peter Blatty is an AMAZING narrator. This is possibly the best audio performance I've ever heard. He brings the characters to life and managed to actually be scary, even with a story that I was already well-familiar with.

There were a couple things about the psychiatric theories of the day that were maybe a little dated, but apart from that small quibble it was a great, compelling story that kept me listening right from the start.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • We Are Anonymous

  • Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
  • By: Parmy Olson
  • Narrated by: Abby Craden
  • Length: 14 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 988
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 878
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 883

In late 2010, thousands of hacktivists joined a mass digital assault by Anonymous on the websites of VISA, MasterCard, and PayPal to protest their treatment of WikiLeaks. Splinter groups then infiltrated the networks of totalitarian governments in Libya and Tunisia, and an elite team of six people calling themselves LulzSec attacked the FBI, CIA, and Sony. They were flippant and taunting, grabbed headlines, and amassed more than a quarter of a million Twitter followers.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting book, AWFUL narration

  • By Jen on 11-11-14

Informative and just the right amount of tech.

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

Reviewed: 09-22-14

I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning about the origins and actual character of the group that goes by the name Anonymous and only really knows about the group through media about their 'hacktivism.' I knew almost nothing about methods of hacking or cyber attacks but am technically savvy enough to not need an excruciatingly simplistic explanation in order to grasp the necessary concepts. This book strikes the right balance. I understood everything without being either confused or bored. The story focuses mainly on the personal stories of several individuals, focusing a lot of attention on a few who got involved with 'Anonymous' and then formed a similar group and were eventually caught. The method works well because it illustrates the lack of cohesiveness in what the entity called Anonymous really is. The book makes it clear that 'Anonymous' is not an organized group with a singular vision but rather a name that can be claimed by anyone loosely affiliated when he or she wants to- which can work in its favor or against it. It also demonstrates the flip side of the social activism: the essential nastiness and lack of basic human empathy of many individuals in the group. It was also very interesting to see inside the methods used to target individuals or organisms who (sometimes randomly) fall within the cross-hairs of the technically knowledgeable. My first impulse upon finishing the books was to change all of my passwords and carefully think about anything I post anywhere on the internet: a lesson that we could all probably use.

  • Dear Committee Members

  • A Novel
  • By: Julie Schumacher
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 3 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 287
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 260
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 259

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastically Funny!

  • By Catherine on 12-15-14

Offbeat and unusual, but surprisingly evocative

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

Reviewed: 09-22-14

I wondered when I purchased this whether it would feel 'gimmicky' based on the unusual form and hyperbolic tone, but I was surprised by how much actual story there is in this collection of letters. This is quite an accomplishment considering that most of the letters are not written to anyone the main character actually knows. At times I found Jason Fitger infuriating and narcissistic, but a real empathy for his students and for writers he admires slowly emerges through the misanthropy. Using this method of storytelling, Schumacher really does manage to comment on some very topical issues: the abuse of recent graduates and adjunct/non-tenure academics in the current university and college system, the transition from applicant to supplicant for students entering this economy, the strange politics behind what gets published and what doesn't, etc. It might be a short book and a highly stylized method of storytelling, but I liked it and recommend it especially to anyone who who is a writer, an academic, a recent student, or simply one of the millions who have been smacked in the face by the new economy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Secret Place

  • A Novel
  • By: Tana French
  • Narrated by: Stephen Hogan, Lara Hutchinson
  • Length: 20 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,705
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,334
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,326

"The Secret Place", a board where the girls at St Kilda's School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Well...I really liked 50% of it

  • By Pamela on 09-11-14

Odd, but it worked for me.

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

Reviewed: 09-12-14

I've read other reviews of this book and disagree on some of the points that have been made by those who disliked the book. I can see why people would not like the (spoilers) intimations about magic, but I actually liked that part- specifically because it's absolutely never explained. What this book captured for me was the sense of magic that comes from intense youthful attachments. That magic does feel real, and it's not something that you ever experience again once you've turned the corner into adulthood. I saw the 'magic' in this book (and also the similar hints of supernatural from the first book in the series In the Woods) as being largely metaphorical. The fact that it isn't really explained or dwelt upon is precisely why I liked it.

I have come to really like Frank Mackey, and I'm assuming that Tana French must also as he has now made three appearances in her novels. It was nice to see him again, and in his usual top form. Liking him made it a little harder to like Holly, though. I found her to be a troubling character in Faithful Place, and she still is now.

One piece of criticism I agree with is that the teen-speak got to be a bit much. First, if I actually had to listen to that I'd slap those kids silly after five minutes. Second, while I understand that kids can be bold and don't necessarily understand when to be serious, I felt that it was a bit unrealistic for girls being interrogated in a murder case to make no real attempt to drop the lingo for the sake of self-preservation. One thing I did think Tana French got right, though, was showing the convoluted thinking process that young people engage in- what many of the characters did seemed completely nonsensical, but that's very much how adolescents are. I would have liked a bit more follow up about what happened to everyone in the aftermath of the case. French normally provides quite a bit of this, but it sort of cut off sharply in this one.

I don't really agree with the many comments people have made that they could not understand the female narrator. I didn't have that problem at all. I thought both did a good job, and any annoyance I felt was just transference from the obnoxious people being narrated at times.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • In the Woods

  • By: Tana French
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 20 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11,582
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,092
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9,077

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Very mixed feelings (semi-spoilers included)

  • By Dottie B. on 02-14-13

A conflicting read.

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

Reviewed: 06-26-14

This book came highly recommended from a friend who is a big mystery reader, so I had anticipated that I would like it better than the average mystery. I thought the set-up was well-chosen, but then felt that the author made a crucial error in making the 1984 mystery FAR more interesting than the Devlin murder ever became. I was intrigued by every mention of the 1984 crime, but quickly figured out the likely culprit in the Devlin crime before even making it to the second half of the novel. Worse, I found myself becoming extremely irritated with the minute detail about every interaction between Cassie and Rob. Both characters come across as being absolutely thrilled with themselves, which made them off-putting in the extreme.

These little 'friend crushes' do happen, so it's not that it bothered me that they were constantly being depicted as being as in-tune to each other as a couple married for fifteen years. Both characters, however, came across as sneering at every other character and so absolutely sure of his/her own conclusions that the lack of humility was distasteful- particularly as it led to a very rough interrogation of a grieving family member based upon no actual evidence. Cassie is a sort of 'Mary-Sue' character, presented as a bit too perfect in every way to not be a thinly-disguised avatar for the author's idea of the perfect female character. Rob, on the other hand, is so absurdly self-involved (and frankly, a bit misogynistic) that I really began to dislike him once the story got rolling.

I'm an attorney, so maybe I am over-focused on the ethical lapses here, but I was horrified at how little concern Rob (and Cassie!) had for the fact that their concealment of his involvement with the 1984 case would have on any attempt to prosecute in the Devlin case. ANY defense attorney who became aware of what he had done could get the whole case dismissed faster than you could say "OJ Simpson" because of the substantial likelihood of evidence tampering. To continue working the case simply because he wanted to (and for Cassie to allow this to happen) alienated me from both beyond repair. Ironically, the characters I actually liked (Sam, for example) were often ridiculed by Rob and Cassie, which did not help me like them better. They came across as the snotty kids at the popular table in the cafeteria during middle school, so perhaps it was fitting that the relationship fell apart the same way a teen-aged romance might.

Many have commented on their dissatisfaction with the ending. Without giving too much away, I will simply say that this is likely to be more of a problem for people who like more formulaic mysteries. Since I don't read many mystery novels, the lack of resolution only made the story more believable for me. One of the reasons mystery novels are not always my favorite thing to read is precisely because of the neat, 'wrapped up with a bow' resolutions and lack of realistic ambiguity. I wanted more resolution at the end, but found it realistic that I couldn't have it.

A note on the performance: I found it a bit odd that the narrator was not Irish and none of the characters had Irish accents despite the whole thing taking place in Dublin. It's somewhat explained, but still a bit weird. The reason for my somewhat low rating of the performance, however, is because nearly all of the characters who were either female or children were given rather annoying characterizations. Even Cassie's 'voice' is done in a whiny, snotty way that I found grating. I don't expect a grown man to sound female or like a child, but the voices chosen made those characters sound whiny and irritating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Lost City of Z

  • A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
  • By: David Grann
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,846
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,126
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,140

A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon. After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to find out what happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wished I could be reborn in the past

  • By Jens on 03-24-09

Interesting, but a weirdly anticlimactic ending.

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

Reviewed: 06-16-14

I followed the advice of reviewers for this book and listened to River of Doubt first. I agree that it is a more entertaining book, but after finishing it I was still sufficiently curious to pick up this one as well. The story is interesting, but I felt a bit mislead about what it was going to be about. The description bills the story as an investigative reporter trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of Percy Fawcett's party in the Amazon. The book is really more a detailed history of Fawcett and his motivations and then an exploration of the many people who subsequently tried unsuccessfully to find out definitively what happened to Fawcett over the years. This story was quite interesting, though Fawcett does not come out looking particularly well. However, the actual exploration of the author sort of concludes in an anti-climactic way because while he decides that he has learned the truth about what happened to Fawcett, it is based on a third-hand account that had been previously reported so it was not exactly new ground being covered. Honestly it seemed obvious from the outset that there was never going to be any way to prove what happened definitively without actually recovering Fawcett's remains (or those of his son or Raleigh Rimell), a task that seemed next to impossible due to drastic changes to the land in that area. It is interesting for the history of Fawcett and other Amazonian explorers, but River of Doubt is far superior for the description of the experience of exploring the Amazon.

  • Under the Dome

  • A Novel
  • By: Stephen King
  • Narrated by: Raul Esparza
  • Length: 34 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,293
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,580
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,615

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when - or if - it will go away.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best Stephen King I've Heard

  • By Scott on 02-10-10

Simpsons already did it, and did it better.

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

Reviewed: 05-29-14

***spoiler alert*****

This novel, while interesting enough to finish and in some places enjoyable, contains a few of the characteristic irritants I often find in Stephen King novels. First and probably foremost is his bright-line distinction between the good guys and the bad guys. In this novel as in others where the antagonist is human (Dreamcatcher and Firestarter come to mind), the good guys are so altruistic and willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good that they emerge as being someone flat and unreal. The villains, on the other hand, are so cartoonishly evil that I find myself frequently rolling my eyes- as if anyone ever nakedly thinks to himself "Aha, now for my chance to do bad things because I totally want to do bad things." Yet in this novel there are many, many characters who appear to think in just such terms and you find never a single twinge of discomfort or uncertainty among them even when they're all in a group. For example, a group of young people, literally as soon as they are made police officers, engage in a brutal gang rape, and none of them exhibit even a flicker of human feeling or guilt before, during, or after the nefarious deed. I certainly agree that people in groups do things that they might never do alone, but King's unwillingness to humanize any of his bad guys at all rings solidly false.

The second common King trope that was too annoying in this novel was having his good guys act in absurdly stupid, short-sighted ways that often lead them to their own deaths. Examples abound: the minister, outraged by the aforementioned brutal gang rape, confront the group of rapists ALONE, physically pushing them around, even though she could just as easily have gone directly to the police chief inside the building right behind them. Of COURSE, she gets beaten up and gets her poor dog's head blown off. Then the widow of the chief of police, despite being warned not to go alone, confronts the main town villain Big Jim about his criminal activities on her own and has her neck snapped within minutes. Next the secondary protagonist Rusty confronts Big Jim, also alone, with his knowledge that Big Jim has murdered his own minister. probably at least one other person, and possibly three. Unsurprisingly, he ends up being jumped by Big Jim's goons and then arrested. What is up with these freaking moronic acts of bravado? Since when is confronting dangerous people the only way to deal with them? Why didn't they publish this information in the newspaper, which clearly should have been operating from a secret location by the time these things happened, or do a word of mouth campaign? Our heroes acted with such reckless disregard for themselves and the town in general that I was disgusted with them all by the time the novel rolled into it's fifth part.

That's the other thing: I have nothing against long books, or even long KING books, but this novel takes place over the course of about a week and did not need to be over a thousand pages long. King needs to give his editor more authority, or he needs to reel himself in a little. There are many parts that drag, or where he takes far too long to complete a scene of marginal value to the plot and marginal interest to the reader. Did we really need chapters told from the dog's point of view? The work's pacing really suffers as a result. It meanders for days and then pounds the last ten pounds of plot into a five pound bag.

Finally, the narrator. I am a little on the fence about this and felt a bit guilty about the two-star rating because Esparza did a decent job of keeping the narration interesting and did voices and all that, which I normally appreciate. However, it was hard to get past some of his odd choices. This is a tiny town in Western Maine. Most of the characters have rarely ventured from the region. In spite of this, Big Jim is given a 'fat southern sheriff' drawl, a French Canadian character is given what can only be described as a bastardized Jamaican accent, and several of the teenagers and Rusty, the secondary lead, sound like Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Seriously, they really do. Most annoying to me was the narrator's voices for female characters, which fell along two lines. Either they were whiny and nasal (Sammy Bushey, Norrie Calvert, all of the female children) or they were old-timey accents of sophisticated affectation that sounded like Katherine Hepburn at her absolute snootiest (Julia, Andrea, the sheriff's widow). NONE of them rang true to me, and some of them I found downright hard to listen to. I stress that I have a pretty low bar for the narrator. I don't expect awesome voice performances, but am happy when I find them. I just got really tired of listening to these weird, out of place accents because they took me out of the story that I was having enough trouble staying engaged in.