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Dorothy

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Bluff audiobook cover art

Not what I expected

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

Reviewed: 04-09-19

I picked up this book on a Daily Deal because I had read another by the same author and liked it. Based on that, I expected this book to fit into the 'mystery and thriller' category. Well I suppose it does - in a way. But in a very different way.
The in this book play poker. I don't play poker, I don't know how to play poker, and I couldn't care less about poker. It didn't matter. The story is about poker - and yet not really.
It made me think of those old 'spy vs spy' cartoons in Mad Magazine. Who's bluffing whom? You never know - and I'm not gonna tell you.
It starts out slow. The back story (not particularly exciting at first), then the set up, then the action. But pay attention to some of the minor characters and events, especially in the 'not particularly exciting' parts - they may (but not all of them) become important later in the book. You won't see what's coming.

Out of Africa audiobook cover art

depressing

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

Reviewed: 09-13-18

I picked this up on a sale because I had heard of it (although I have never seen the movie), and I listened to the whole thing because it's short, but I didn't enjoy any of it.
I've heard it said that we shouldn't judge the past by today's standards, but that's easier said than done. This book is a tribute to colonialism and a celebration of trophy hunting (poor animals); a tale of rich Europeans oppressing the 'uncivilized' African people. It was almost more than I could stomach. So the author lost her farm and had to sell it and move back to Europe. Boo hoo... I couldn't garner one iota of sympathy for her. So glad to be done with this book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Jane Two audiobook cover art

I don't get the hype

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

Reviewed: 08-20-18

I picked up this book on a sale because of the rave reviews. Maybe some of the reviewers know the author as an actor and are enamored with him; that's the only way i can explain their enthusiasm. Not being a movie fan, I judged the book alone, and I could barely force myself to finish it.
In spite of his being an actor, I found the narrator's voice annoying - it was kind of raspy throughout. His characterizations and accents, though, were good.
The premise is an old standard - a coming-of-age novel; an adolescent boy writing about his first crush, his football games, his school, his mean older sister, etc etc. For those of us who also grew up in the period in which it takes place (70's), there is the bonus of nostalgia for the memories of our youth - like banana seats and our favorite songs.
There are a few profound observations about life and human nature in this book; the story wasn't all bad. What ruined it for me was the way it uncritically treats attitudes and and actions that correctly belong in a bygone era. Most of the epithets (and there are many) uttered by the characters are offensive and, and include n*gger, pussy, wimp, and the like. Worse, there is approval of settling disagreements with fists and outright assault - not just between the kids, but also by adults in the novel. This was disturbing enough to me that i just cannot recommend it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

A Noise Downstairs audiobook cover art

'Gaslight' meets 'Spy vs. Spy'

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

I've read all of Barclay's previous books so I thought he must be 'slipping' when he wrote this...I was so sure that i had the case solved early on that I almost gave up listening. The plot was way too obvious. I should have known better.

Not gonna give away any spoilers. Just keep listening. It ain't over til it's over.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Kristin Lavransdatter audiobook cover art

Life under medieval church rule

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

Reviewed: 07-13-18

I can’t believe I listened to the whole thing. It’s the story of Kristin’s life from birth to death; really, just like a long soap opera, demonstrating that human nature hasn’t changed at all in the last few hundred years. People back then experienced the same family squabbles and relationship issues that we do today.

But this book offers a fascinating glimpse of a pre-scientific era, when every aspect of life was marked by some superstition, religious ritual, or both (often combined). A constant sense of shame, guilt, and fear pervades the entire saga; and there were many sins to atone for (especially anything related to sexuality). Every misfortune or perceived misdeed required a confession, a sacrifice, an atonement; the calendar was kept according to Saints days, rather than months. If you want to understand the grip that the Catholic church had on people centuries ago, you’ll accomplish that fully by the end of this book. I’m so glad I didn’t live in those times; I’d have been burned at the stake long ago.

A word of advice: I struggled with the names and relationships of the characters, to the point of confusion in a few places. There are many with similar names, and their relationships are complicated (cousins, blended families, etc). I would suggest either making notes to keep track as you go along, or looking up a chart of the characters’ names to refer to (google ‘Kristan Lavransdatter character list).

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Enlightenment Now audiobook cover art

game-changer

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

Reviewed: 06-12-18

Book of the year! We all know that good news doesn't make the news.... but Pinker provides the evidence to back up that claim. If you're tired of listening to the gong-show of idiots that make the news these days, and the depressing parade of pessimism that floods social media, then you need to listen this book.
Pinker offers optimism for the future and provides the rationale for evidenced-based decision-making, scientific and mathematical literacy, reason, and Humanism.
The important charts and graphs are in the PDF if you want to look, but honestly, they are explained and interpreted adequately in the narration anyway.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell audiobook cover art

Life behind a burka

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

Reviewed: 05-05-18

Some books entertain and some carry a deeper message - this does both.
For those of us who grew up in the west and cannot understand or relate to the horrors women experience elsewhere in the world, this book offers a glimpse.
It made me angry, but also helped me to understand the humanity behind women who wear the burka. The things we take for granted here - like freedom of movement, basic education, bodily autonomy - are not always so easily attained in other parts of the world.
All this and a great story.

Mustard Seed audiobook cover art

Part TWO

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

Reviewed: 04-16-18

Couldn't stop listening to this! My dog got extra long walks this week so I could finish it. What a roller-coaster of emotion.
It's the second part of the story of Mattie (a slave) and Lisbeth (the white daughter of a wealthy plantation owner) that began in Yellow Crocus. Make SURE to read that book first or you won't be able to truly appreciate this one.
I have listened to other books narrated by Bahni Turpin and she nails it every time. I don't know how, as an African-American, she can bear to constantly read books about the evil that was slavery, but she certainly brings the characters to life!
The story of Mattie's and Lisbeth's families is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting. I've read other books before that took place in the slave era - what's different about this one is that it portrays the types of struggles and challenges that both black and white families would have faced in the aftermath of the civil war. As a Canadian, I had never learned much about that, or given it much thought before. The Confederacy lost - but that didn't mean the wealthy white property owners just accepted their defeat. The cruelty continued, just in new creative ways... I couldn't sleep last night, thinking about how awful it must have been - both for the blacks who were supposedly 'free' but really weren't, and for whites who took the Union side and faced wrath and shunning from their families and communities.
I'm hoping there will be a Part 3, since the ending leaves a lot open to wonder what will happen next. But I won't say more about that for fear of giving too much away,

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

The Sans Pareil Mystery audiobook cover art

Love this series

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

Reviewed: 12-23-17

I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, so when I look for a new author or series I try to find something that stands out a bit from the rest. Maybe it's my English ancestry, but this one grabs me.
So many modern detective series these days focus on forensic investigations or characters using high-tech gadgets or media to stalk or kill their victims. Detective Lavender has none of those tools at his disposal - 200 years ago, he had not even a telephone, only his wits. Think of Hercule Poirot, but more likeable and less 'quaint'.
Add to that the research that Charlton has done into the time period and neighborhoods in which the novels take place, and you have a very intriguing story. Can't wait to dig into the next one (make sure to read in order; this is the second in the series).

The Memory Watcher audiobook cover art

Starts slow, then spirals down...

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

Reviewed: 12-14-17

I listen to a lot of mysteries and thrillers... but I still didn't see this coming! I only picked this book up on a whim, and when I started listening, I wasn't overly enchanted with it at first. It was like a soap opera. Model family that turns out to be dysfunctional, yeah, sure... whatever.
But keep listening - and pay attention to the 'minor' characters. As the story progresses, the characters disintegrate, one by one, and the situation gets worse and worse until it's a train wreck.
And then... well, I didn't see it coming. Not gonna say anymore and ruin it.