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Gretchen SLP

Sacramento, California
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  • A Kiss Before Dying

  • By: Ira Levin
  • Narrated by: Mauro Hantman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 802
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 709
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 713

Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing--not even murder--to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she's pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nothing like a classic.....

  • By karen on 03-27-13

🐖🐖🐖🐺Man Smart, Woman Unfortunately Not Smarter

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

Reviewed: 03-16-19

For my acquaintance with this nearly perfect book, I am grateful to a reviewer I used to follow (back when Audible allowed Followers and the beloved Listeners I Follow page, which I still dearly miss). This reviewer pointed out that of all the thrillers that try to shock the reader wirh an enormous, unexpected reversal or twist, A Kiss Before Dying was the first and one of the only books to truly pull it off in a masterful way. Having now read it, I agree. I would put in on a very short list of just three books that contained twists or reversals I never saw coming, but that made perfect sense once they did: Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper, the new psychological thriller The Silent Patient, and now A Kiss Before Dying, which as the reviewer I followed pointed out, succeeded first, in 1953. (It also created the template for Caroline Kepnes’ You, as discerning readers will quickly notice.) This was a spellbinding, almost too-terrifying-to-listen-while-driving story, at first seemingly farfetched and yet horribly believable, and I recommend it almost without qualification.

My only complaint is that I wished the women were smarter, and also that we got to know them better. As in Caroline Kepnes’ You, we are mostly inside the mind of the killer, so other characters never seem as fully realized or as fully human. Ellen came closest, and my terror for her safety was so acute around the middle of the book that I had to stop listening for awhile and return to a dry nonfiction book just to recover my equanimity. I think the author intentionally recreates here the classic children’s story of The Three Little Pigs (at one point, the killer even wonders Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Gold-Digger), and let’s just say I was somewhat disappointed when Marion, the third little piggy, didn’t bear as much resemblance to that plucky, independent and resourceful creature as I would have liked.

Overall, though, I loved it, and unlike some other reviewers I thought the narrator did a fully adequate job with the material.

Grade: A-
Bechdel Test: Fail, I think. But let’s remember it was written in 1953, and by a man.

  • The ABC Murders

  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 6 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 865
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 798
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 791

There's a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic. A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarkein Churston. With each murder, the killer is gettingmore confident - but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal, mistake.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 🚂🔪🗝📝⚰️☕️🧩Better Than the Malkovitch Series!🧩🔮🎲🚂🗺📞📽⚖️

  • By Gretchen SLP on 02-27-19

🚂🔪🗝📝⚰️☕️🧩Better Than the Malkovitch Series!🧩🔮🎲🚂🗺📞📽⚖️

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

Reviewed: 02-27-19

Inspired by the recent series starring John Malkovitch, I finally listened to this title, and was not disappointed. In fact, this is tons more fun than the series; where the series is dark, gloomy (almost depressing) and slow-moving, this book is light, fun, funny, and fast-paced. Whereas Malkovitch’s Poirot is alone, lonely, downcast and defeated by age and encroaching infirmity, this is the Poirot I remember from my youth: wisecracking, gently ribbing his faithful sidekick and affectionate companion Hastings, facing old age with good humor and aplomb, and delighting in another opportunity to exercise The Little Gray Cells. The plot is intriguing and fast-moving, the characters well drawn, the final denouement mostly unpredictable and with a good twist, and plot holes or inconsistencies generally nonexistent. Dame Agatha was a very careful writer at her best, and this is one of her best. Enjoy!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Silent Patient

  • By: Alex Michaelides
  • Narrated by: Jack Hawkins, Louise Brealey
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,448
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,203
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,190

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening, her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face and then never speaks another word. Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing debut!

  • By Jillian Hendrickson on 02-12-19

🖌🎨🎭🔥ART AND MADNESS🔪💉💊🗄🖌💔🖤✏️📝

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

Reviewed: 02-22-19

This is a book that really lives up to the “Psychological Thriller” label. For me, the male narrator’s slow, overarticulated delivery was annoying, so I enjoyed reading on my Kindle more than listening to his chapters. The female narrator is great, however. I enjoyed the twin focus on art and psychology. And the surprise twist was of the kind I’ve seen successfully pulled off in only one other book, Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper. I literally gasped aloud and said “No way!” I was shocked and yet....when I thought back, everything fit.

Now for the downside. There’s no real heart to this book—it’s about madness and obsession, like a Poe story—and the one character you’ll come to feel is a good person does not receive the happy ending (or, in fact, ANY happiness) that they deserve. Also, one character has a past laden with so very much parental and personal death, suicide, depression, and suffering that discerning readers will feel it’s all a bit gothic and unreal. But maybe that’s what the author was aiming for: a story of near-gothic madness, obsession and suffering of which Edgar Allen Poe would have been proud. In that case, the book is a smashing success.

Grade: B+ or A-

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • The Darkest Hour

  • Ella Marconi, Book 2
  • By: Katherine Howell
  • Narrated by: Caroline Lee
  • Length: 14 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

Paramedic Lauren Yates stumbles into a world of trouble the night she discovers a dead man in an inner city alley, for the killer lurks nearby. When the murderer threatens to make her life hell if she tells the police, she believes him - he's Thomas Werner, her sister's ex and a very bad man indeed. But when a stabbing victim tells her with his dying breath that Werner attacked him too, she finds herself with blood on her hands and Detective Ella Marconi on her back.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 🤔Lackluster Entry in a Usually Brilliant Series😐

  • By Gretchen SLP on 02-12-19

🤔Lackluster Entry in a Usually Brilliant Series😐

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

Reviewed: 02-12-19

Well, shoot. I waited YEARS for Vomume 2 to be released, after having positively devoured Volumes 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 in this normally fantastic series. I was ready and eager to love this installment too. It arrived, years after I first began wondering why it and Volume 3 had never been made available on Audible. I dug in with all the eagerness of a kid on Christmas morning. And it just sort of...fell flat, in every conceivable way. For one thing, the plot. Poor choices on the part of the author and plot holes abound. Meth as a high-stakes, international-drug-ring type drug? I don’t buy it. Awkward, soap-opera-esque love triangle so important to the participants (all THREE of whom belong onstage at the Jerry Springer show) that they lay into each other with screams, threats and exhortations the moment after the big climax, despite the fact that one of them—the man both women claim to adore—has just narrowly escaped being murdered, and is lying unconscious in a hospital bed? Preposterous. A ruthless, high-stakes international drug kingpin and notorious triple murderer...who somehow has time, motive and inclination to PRANK the lead detective in the case by entering her home when she’s not there, stealing her shampoo, leaving her milk out, turning on her shower, and leaving cute little rocks with eyes drawn on them in her sweater pockets? No. I’d have to be a meth addict myself to believe that. Also: Where’s the action of the climax? Why is it only described after the fact, instead of shown?

Still, the narrator is Caroline Lee, who I love, and even though CAROLINE LEE SHOULD NEVER, EVER ATTEMPT EUROPEAN ACCENTS (her Thomas Werner in this book sounds exactly like her preposterous Russian Masha in Nine Perfect Strangers, rendering him FAR less terrifying than the author intended), I still love her. And the book did hold my interest enough that I finished it in three days.

Grade: C.
Bechdel test: Pass.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Brooklyn

  • A Novel
  • By: Colm Toibin
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 685
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 620
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 622

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street and, when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 🚢 🌊🇺🇸 🗽Oh, what a tangled web we weave 🛳 ⚓️ 🇮🇪🍀

  • By Gretchen SLP on 02-07-19

🚢 🌊🇺🇸 🗽Oh, what a tangled web we weave 🛳 ⚓️ 🇮🇪🍀

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

Reviewed: 02-07-19

This is a frustrating story, in some ways, because the main character makes some poor choices and then conceals important truths from her family and friends, and the reader/listener just wants to shake her by the shoulders and talk some sense into her. Also, the book ends even more abruptly than the movie, which made me appreciate the way the screenplay for the film not only shows protagonist Eilis finally telling Jim Farrell the truth, but also takes her all the way back across the Atlantic to Brooklyn, so that at least there is some reasonable closure. In particular, even though it’s been a few years since we saw the movie, we never forgot the scene on the ship in which Eilis, now a seasoned transatlantic traveler, advises a young, frightened solo female first-timer. But: This is a gorgeously written, moving, and surprisingly fast-paced book. I was riveted, which doesn’t often happen for me with such a basically quiet, introspective, literary work. I loved being immersed in the life, thoughts and emotions of a young female immigrant to 1950s New York City.
The narrator is flawless, and sounds a lot like Laura Linney.
Grade: A.
Bechdel test: Pass.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Gone to Dust

  • By: Matt Goldman
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,855
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,633
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,630

A brutal crime. The ultimate cover-up. How do you solve a murder with no useable evidence? Private detective Nils Shapiro is focused on forgetting his ex-wife and keeping warm during another Minneapolis winter when a former colleague, neighboring Edina Police Detective Anders Ellegaard, calls with the impossible.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Above Average

  • By wisconsinclark on 11-06-17

😆😂Hilarious and Fast-Paced Murder Mystery🔦⚖️🔫🚬⚰️💊🗝💌

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

Reviewed: 02-04-19

I loved this! What a fabulous daily deal! I forget which long-ago Listener I Followed first recommended it to me, but I thank that person, whoever they were. You wouldn’t think that a murder mystery could be so funny, fast-paced, and consistently interesting, but this one is. Makes sense that the author wrote for Seinfeld. One thing that stood out among the book’s many unique features: this is the only work of detective fiction I’ve ever read that actually taught me something about the life of a private detective. Also, I never knew who the killer was until the end, and there were NO eyeroll-inducing moments, just a lot of fun. The narrator is FANTASTIC and increases the humor value considerably. If I had to come up with some criticism, the author is not kind in his portrayal of FBI agents, who come off as cartoonishly clueless and immature. Also, there are a few typos and errors of grammar and usage in the printed text. Nonetheless: Highly recommended. Grade: A

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Nine Perfect Strangers

  • By: Liane Moriarty
  • Narrated by: Caroline Lee
  • Length: 16 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,331
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,800
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6,761

From number-one New York Times best-selling author Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies, comes her newest audiobook, Nine Perfect Strangers: Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amid all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these 10 days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next 10 days are going to be.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 🌬🌥☁️🌦Fun, Fluffy, and Forgettable🍭🍬🍭

  • By Gretchen SLP on 02-03-19

🌬🌥☁️🌦Fun, Fluffy, and Forgettable🍭🍬🍭

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

Reviewed: 02-03-19

I’m a diehard, longtime fan of both Liane Moriarty and Caroline Lee, and was looking forward hugely to the release of this book. It was okay—it held my interest, mostly, and there was one truly hilarious scene, by the pool—but overall, I’d rank it close to the bottom of this author’s oeuvre, maybe just above the last book, Truly Madly Guilty, but far, far below Moriarty’s best work, the stellar Big Little Lies. The problem, apart from characters who are incompletely drawn and a silly plot line that sort of goes nowhere, is that Moriarty appears to have had a little too much fun writing this book, to the point that she almost sounds carelessly slaphappy and silly, both in dialogue and in narrative voice. She very obviously inserts herself, the writer, as a character, and has that character and others break the fourth wall by speaking directly to the reader. Characters even say things to each other like, Are you breaking the Fourth Wall? At one point, one female character actually says to another female character, We had better talk about something other than a man, or we are going to fail the Bechdel Test! That’s just too self-consciously cutesy and silly for my taste. There was also originally a problem with the narration when this book was first released—the normally flawless Caroline Lee spoke extremely slowly—but Audible reports that issue has now been fixed, so I won’t advise you to do what I did and play it at 1.25x speed. One narration issue that almost certainly continues is the choice (made by someone, whether Lee herself or a production director) to have the narrator read not just Russian character Masha’s dialogue but ENTIRE CHAPTERS in Masha’s thick, cartoonish, Boris-and-Natasha type Russian accent. (This was also done with entire chapters containing Vid, the one immigrant character in Moriarty’s last book, Truly Madly Guilty, helping to ruin that audiobook for me and a lot of other readers.)

Grade: B-
Bechdel Test: Pass, albeit self-consciously.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: BBC Radio Casebook Vol. 4

  • Eight BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatisations
  • By: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Narrated by: full cast, Nadine Marshall, Claire Benedict
  • Length: 5 hrs and 49 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier - and only - lady detective, is back with another batch of unusual cases. In these eight episodes, she receives a visit from a very important person; helps out Mma Potokwani, who has had bad news at the Orphan Farm; looks into who is orchestrating a campaign against Mma Soleti; and welcomes a new arrival - while righting an old wrong. Plus, Mr JLB Matekoni’s apprentice gets into trouble; Mma Makutsi is hiding a secret; and Mma Ramotswe tries to come to terms with one of the trickiest situations she has ever faced: taking a holiday. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • First Four Stories Are Repeat Material 😒

  • By Gretchen SLP on 01-30-19

First Four Stories Are Repeat Material 😒

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

Reviewed: 01-30-19

Unfortunately, the first four stories of this fourth volume are repeats of stories included in volume three, even though the table of contents for neither volume reflects this. That was an irksome and discouraging discovery. From the fifth story on, although the stories are new, they are not up to the quality of the stories in previous volumes. Even though I loved the first several volumes, I’m not sure I’ll be purchasing volume five if/when it is released.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • In the Name of the Family

  • A Novel
  • By: Sarah Dunant
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Boulton
  • Length: 14 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 252
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 238
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 236

It is 1502, and Rodrigo Borgia, a self-confessed womanizer and master of political corruption, is now on the papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia, age 22 - already three times married and a pawn in her father's plans - is discovering her own power. And then there is his son Cesare Borgia, brilliant, ruthless, and increasingly unstable; it is his relationship with Machiavelli that gives the Florentine diplomat a master class in the dark arts of power and politics.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best historical fiction novels

  • By GrandmaNurseHeather on 04-13-17

🌞👸🤴🏻👰🏻👰✍️💌Human Nature in Action 🌛🔥☄️🍺🎻🗡🛡⚰️⚱️🗝🎉🍗🎼📚🤴🏻👸🏼

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

Reviewed: 01-27-19

History is human nature in action. —Niccolò Macchiavelli

This was a relatively interesting, educational and enjoyable listen for me once I gave up trying to remember which Cardinal, bishop, duke, scribe, advisor, mutinous rebel spy, papal envoy, courtly lady in waiting, or Florentine bureaucrat was which and just sort of gave myself permission to let the gist of the story flow over me. Kudos to the author for rescuing the reputation of Lucrezia Borgia almost 500 years after her death! I grew up hearing only that she had been a scandalous, poisoning, murderous seductress, and it was interesting and fun to be proven wrong. Years ago, I loved Sarah Dunant’s Birth of Venus, and I thought it was time to try another of her novels. I’m glad I did.
Grade: B+
Bechdel test: Pass.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: BBC Radio Casebook Vol.3

  • Seven BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisations
  • By: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Narrated by: Claire Benedict, full cast, Nadine Marshall
  • Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

Another seven BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramas, written and adapted by Alexander McCall Smith from his own best-selling series. A third outstanding collection of stories featuring Botswana’s only female private detective agency, run by the irrepressible Precious Ramotswe. Based on the hugely popular novels and brought to life with music and full casts, these evocative productions return us to Botswana, where Precious has more mysteries to solve.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful, Funny, Refreshing Radio Plays🎭🎤🎼

  • By Gretchen SLP on 01-22-19

Delightful, Funny, Refreshing Radio Plays🎭🎤🎼

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

Reviewed: 01-22-19

I LOVE this series, and began listening to the next installment the moment after this one ended. What a treat! All the charm of the books is captured here, and much is added as the excellent and perfectly cast voice actors bring the characters and situations to life. Production values are also excellent, and the music between chapters adds delightfully to the total experience of listening. I recommend this series wholeheartedly to any fans of the novels, and recommend Volume One as an introduction for listeners new to the gentle humor of McCall Smith’ Series.

Grade: A+
Bechdel test: Pass.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful