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Tracet

Hamden, CT, United States
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  • England My England

  • Anglophilia Explained
  • By: Mark Dery
  • Narrated by: Mark Ashby
  • Length: 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2.5 out of 5 stars 458
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 387
  • Story
    2.5 out of 5 stars 391

Downton Abbey has brought out the Anglophile in American fans of the hit TV series. But Anglophilia has a long history in America. Why are some native-born residents of our Shining City Upon a Hill, where All Men Are Created Equal, seduced by the fluting tones of manor-born privilege? At last, Anglophilia explained - in American, thank you.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Qualifies as my most irritating Audible purchase

  • By Emily on 02-23-14

This was free, I hope?

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

Reviewed: 12-12-17

"Give us that veil of illusions, Anglophiles seem to be saying. Better that fairytale feudalism of Kate and William than the bright smiling rapacity of Mitt Romney and the incomparable vulgarity of Donald Trump."

*essay gains a star for entertaining statement of obvious*

"Isn't 'community' what so many recent Brit-based myths are really selling? Whether it's the race-based tribalism of Lord of the Rings ..."

*essay loses star for addressing something the author obviously knows nothing about in a manner that makes me want to slap someone*

Five minutes later...

I don't like this guy much. If he self-identifies as an Anglophile, he really hates himself. The level of contempt in this little piece is startling.

Two minutes later still...

And I'm out. *abandons ship* This was not, to rather appropriately warp a Britishism, as labeled on the tin. Do I understand Anglophilia in general better? I do not. Do I understand my own Anglophilia better? I do not.

Happily, I don't need to.

I'm not part of the "Diana cult"; I don't much care about the current royal family. That's not the only brand of "Oh to be in England" there is. While Mr. Dery might have been on the right track in regards to the role of a wish for community in Anglophilia, I feel the track strayed off into fenlands when he tried to take it further. At least for me. Yes, I think the community aspect of a village in the Cotswolds (or an Elvish haven, or a Hogwarts house) is part of the allure of a lot of what I read and watch and love - but by no means is it everything, and implying that Anglophilia all but equals racism? Right. Thanks for your opinion. Push off.

Yes, thank you, I'm aware that the England I would cheerfully commit mayhem to achieve for myself doesn't really exist. I live where I live, and the odds against my ever actually making it to England grow steeper by the year, so - allow me to enjoy it, ok? My ideal English village or London flat (a la Miss Marple or Lord Peter, respectively) are as soap-bubble in nature as Rivendell and Winterfell.

I don't really care. I enjoy the illusion. Mr. Dery, please label your contempt for such illusions as such in future, so that people will know to avoid it.

The narrator was adequate, although the author's (in context) weird dislike for Englishness bled through his reading. I really, really hope this was free.

  • Ben Aaronovitch

  • Audible Sessions: FREE Exclusive Interview
  • By: Robin Morgan
  • Narrated by: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Length: 23 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 70
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61

Ben Aaronovitch is the best-selling author most well-known for his urban fantasy series, Rivers Of London. He joins Robin Morgan in the Audible Studios to discuss, among other things, his latest book The Hanging Tree.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thank you for this free interview!

  • By Diana on 07-14-17

I knew it!

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

Reviewed: 06-29-17

I knew Aaronovitch purposely barraged Kobna Holdbrook-Smith with accents! I did *not* know how much BA sounded like KHS, which was neat. Lovely interview - with lots of happy news.

  • Dragonvein, Book One

  • By: Brian D. Anderson
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 11 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,853
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,556
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,560

Carentan, France, 1944 - Ethan Martin, a soldier in the 101st Airborne, is fighting for his life. But soon he will learn what peril truly is when he is ripped from his world and transported to a land of magic, swords, and dragons. And though the Nazis are now far, far away, danger is closer than ever.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting Story but very light on in details.

  • By Kindle Customer on 07-16-15

Good narration of a bad book

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

Reviewed: 03-28-17

I might have mentioned at some point how deeply bored I get during fight scenes in books. The more the author tries to make them exciting by including lots of detail, marking a battle stroke by stroke and blood droplet by blood droplet, the more utterly bored I get.

There was a lot of fighting in this book.

It's one of my favorite conceits, the idea of someone being whisked from one world to another where they have to find allies and figure out which side they're on and so on. I wish this had taken advantage of the idea better.

Part of my disappointment stems from the fact that nobody trusted anybody from the beginning. Everybody tromped through the landscape just completely brassed off with everyone else, making hollow threats and snarky remarks, and nobody told anybody anything for chapters and chapters. "Why are you helping us?" Growl: "I have my reasons." *sigh*

And the whole book was a trail of question marks, not in terms of unanswered questions (though there are plenty of those as well) but more of "What??" moments. It just didn't make sense that a boy from 1944 Earth could see a little dragon, as he does on his first morning, and never say anything to anyone for days. It doesn't make sense that he never talked about the dreams he kept having (to the point that I dreaded every time the author sent him to bed), especially after Jonas told him his mother used to have prophetic dreams. It made no sense that Jonas never asked how much time had passed since he left – and the book never said, as far as I'm aware. (I might have zoned out at some point while listening, but I don't think so. Wait, there it is at 6 1/2 hours into the audiobook: more than 500 years.) And it took forever for all of them to discuss the brief period before they all went through the portal back to Whatsit. It made no sense that Ethan never protested what Jonas said about his mother – he knew the people who raised him were not his blood parents, but there should have been at least one squawk of "what?!" when it seemed like Jonas knew who his birth mother was – and he never so much as acknowledged it. It didn't make sense that Ethan also never asked about elves and dwarfs (or did the author use the Tolkien-esque "dwarves"? Probably); granted, in 1944, pre-Tolkien, maybe it wasn't such a Thing, but Ethan still should have known what they are, and been surprised they were real, and want to know more. It's silly that Ethan trompled through this fantasy land with a sword on his hip, but though he spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to use a magical ability he might not even have, it never occurred to anyone to teach him the rudiments of how to fight with a blade. Ever. That's … just dumb. (The only advice given Ethan is a less pithy version of GRRM's "Stick 'em with the pointy end". Hmm… The HBO GOT episode aired 6/5/11; Game of Thrones was published 8/1/96. Dragonvein was published in 2015. Gosh. I smell a … coincidence.)

(The first book in the Dragonvein series was only published just over a year ago, and it's already up to book five? Wow.)

Names like "Cynthia" and "Jonas" in the midst of this setting – Medieval Fantasy™ - were possibly more jarring than the ones people like to make up and fill with apostrophes and random capital letters.

Ethan came from a pre-Tolkien date, but Brian D. Anderson does not, and my boredom turned to annoyance as Ethan's introduction to the elves strongly echoed a certain scene in Mirkwood. Maybe Ethan grows up to come back to Earth as Tolkien, and that's why the elves were almost indistinguishable from those of Middle-earth (except for what sounded like comically large ears – seriously, I wouldn't want to try to depict that. It would be almost impossible to make them look legit). There was even something damned close to the Book of Mazarbul. Honestly, I would think a fantasy author would make a powerful effort to avoid close brushes with Tolkien, out of pride if nothing else.

Even more than of fight scenes, I'm bored by So-Evil-for-the-Sake-of-Evil. Even Nazis, the original enemy Ethan was fighting, were not uniformly evil, and not all evil just because evil was fun; it was (technically) for the Fatherland, for the Fuhrer, for the good of the many in their minds.

And even more than that I'm bored by a plot which consists largely of Our Hero getting himself and his friends into deep trouble, and then having his chestnuts pulled out of the fire by unexpected intervention. After the third, and fourth, and especially the fifth or sixth time, then really there was no more tension to any situation, no suspense of how are they going to get themselves out of this?! - because I learned to rest assured they were not going to get themselves out. They would be gotten out. Danger was irrelevant. The good guys might end up a bit battered, but someone always came rushing up to save the day. My eyes – they roll.

It's strange that while the author focused obsessively on fights, two of the biggest conflicts – including the most climactic scene toward the end – featured Ethan's point of view. And Ethan passed out. So everything went dark. And then we got told what happened along with Ethan when he came around again. It was a very odd, rather anticlimactic method of storytelling.

It was repetitive. There were echoes of words throughout, the same phrasing used over and over (and clichés like "a long moment" were used over and over), people kept asking the same questions twice… and the same things happened over and over. People took lots of cleansing breaths (which seems out of place in 1944). Both boring and repetitive is to have people toss off a comment about something non-Earthly, to which Ethan responds "What is/are - - ?" And I became deathly tired of the "Boy Scout" tendencies of Ethan. I mean, they were laudable and all that, but it got old – someone is in trouble, they should leave it alone lest they get in more trouble too, they help someone with everyone but Ethan grumbling, and everything works out for the best as the new waif and/or stray becomes a valuable member of the questing company.

And it was predictable: I figured out where Ethan's friend Marcus was pretty quickly. And the choice of the (view spoiler) was telegraphed as clearly as anything Western Union ever sent. And as for that climax … *sigh* Yup. Saw it coming sixteen miles off.

I was not fond of Kat (Cat?), the thirteen-year-old girl who joined the quest; her personality was wildly inconsistent, going from coolly competent thief to petrified child to giggly teen to sultry seductress and cold-blooded killer to the one who saved the day to timid child to unrequited awkward and ineffectual flirt. There's a Star Trek podcast (Mission Log) which talks about the Gumby-fication (Gumbification?) of certain characters to force them into whatever role was needed for a plot. The story needs someone who's a smooth operator? Voila. Next episode needs someone who's a total idiot about women? Voila – same character. And so on. Kat was like that – token female character who was whatever was needed in a given scene. This situation came to a head when she became viciously, stupidly, hatefully jealous to the point that I almost jettisoned the book less than an hour from the end. She needed a good kicking – physical violence seemed to be the only language she really understood, given the frequency with which she punched and slapped other people (especially Ethan).

Ethan, who was supposed to be the chosen one and the one all of this land has been waiting for and so on and so forth, just didn't seem too bright. He was just a kid, of course – I couldn't help thinking the book would have been much better if he'd been just a few years older – but he was kind of an idiot. As mentioned, he kept things quiet when he should have been telling someone; he told people things when he should have kept his mouth shut; he passed out about half a dozen times; finally, again in the last half hour of the book, he drank something a complete stranger hands to him. I didn't care who this person turned out to be, Ethan had just said himself that almost everyone he ran into on this world tried to kill him, and the drink he tried here is a distillation of some kind of mushroom – he should have been twitching and frothing a minute later.

Two-thirds of the way through the book (and boy was I disappointed that it wasn't closer to the end), Ethan was given a chance to give a rousing speech … I wished he hadn't been. And not long after someone tells a long and heart-felt story, complete with sniffling, about how when she was young she fell in love with a grown man and he was too honorable to take advantage of her and so left her unrequited – which is very much to the point, until she adds that shortly after she married another man, who was horrible to her and "the day he died was the best moment of my life", or words to that effect. Which kind of negates the lesson of the story, since if the first guy had "taken advantage" he would have been kind about it, and saved her the agony of the second guy.

One constant annoyance was either a quirk of the writer or of the narrator's, not sure which: an insistence on possessives of names ending with "S" to be rendered as Marcus' instead of Marcus's. Example: "Marcus'" – which sounds like "His room was empty. So was Marcus". Poor Marcus. It just bugged me throughout – and there were several names ending in "S", two of them main characters. Oh, and constant use of "laying" instead of "lying" made me want to slap somebody too. (Maybe that's why Kat was as violent as she was.)

I did like that the portal magic responsible for Ethan's evacuation and return was not exactly favorably looked upon. I liked that the portal was completely unpredictable, that there was no way to know or find out what it did with Marcus – it was a great idea, with lots of possibilities. It was a bit unfortunate that what actually happened was predictable. I did not like the use the dwarfs were revealed to have made of portals long long ago: there was an elephantine infodump in the dreadful last half hour of the book which made a standard Tolkien rip-off into something sillier.

As happens so often, there were pieces of something good floating around in this stew, some good ideas and interesting sparks which, handled very, very differently, might have made a good book. Unfortunately, as it is, it's not much better than annoying.

The narration by Derek Perkins is excellent, making as much of a silk purse as possible out of a sow's ear. He reminds me strongly at times of Simon Vance, with much the same tone and facility for characterization, the same warmth. But the sow's ear was still very much a porcine auditory organ, however well read.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Relic

  • Pendergast, Book 1
  • By: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 13 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8,385
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,465
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6,504

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human. But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders. Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who - or what - is doing the killing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Non-Perishable

  • By Snoodely on 05-26-10

That poor museum

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

Reviewed: 03-28-17

I feel like I've heard amazing things about this series (though I couldn't tell you where)… But I can't say I'm impressed. Relic is a thriller, a sort-of mystery in which the murderer isn't going to be the butler or anyone else remotely as ordinary but something entirely Other. It's not a genre I ordinarily go in for, but since I've picked up an installment of the series here and there in various formats I thought I'd start at the beginning.

It didn't begin well. It opened with the sort of prologue that usually makes me sigh, this one in a South American jungle with an expedition going sideways and pear-shaped all at once. And then it picked up and dropped down in Manhattan, as bodies began to drop.

One question: How can you get ballistics on blood spatter? Because Preston & Child seemed to think that's a thing.

Some of the science and technology in the book seemed … kind of adorable. Originally published in 1995, you wouldn't think it would be quite as outdated as it was – but it really was. The information gained from the DNA analysis seemed pretty far-fetched. Can you really tell from reading the DNA how long a gestation period is, or whether a species' estrous cycle is suppressed? Or even the average weight of a given creature?

The storytelling was at times very nice. I made a note at one point: "What the hell happened to that guard?" He was placed in apparently imminent danger, and then … not mentioned again for long enough that I honestly started wondering if he'd been forgotten by the authors. And then, "Oh. There he is. Nicely done." But I have to say I was pretty surprised when what I assumed was the climax of the book came eight hours into a twelve-hour book. I don't think it's a spoiler to mention that in the midst of all the action there is substantial damage done to the museum and, of course, to a number of exhibits – and that hurt. Artifacts thousands of years old, smashed to bits for no good reason. That always hurts – more, in some cases, than character deaths do.

There's a fair amount of repetition in the style of writing. There were at least a couple of mentions of how the creature looked just like the little figurine from South America – and then someone who should know better asks "what does it look like?" And if the New York FBI agent had given the same directions to the SWAT team one more time I would have started swearing. The whole plot was a little predictable – although there was at least one death I didn't expect. At one point Pendergast murmured "not yet" to himself over and over as he waited for his shot … which was absolutely moronic given how often everyone stressed the creature's enhanced senses. He might as well have been yelling "Hey! Come kill me over here!"

It was such a shame that the old botanist told our heroes about the Mbwun legend, and then a few minutes later (audiobook time) the long-lost journal told almost the exact same story. There was no new revelation, no surprise, despite the fact that it was a first-hand account from someone who seemed to actually have experience of the terrible bargain the Kathoga tribe made. Nothing. The story of a bargain with the devil in which people have to eat their own children should not be boring, but, told for the second time in the space of a handful of chapters, it was.

I wasn't overwhelmed with excitement about the characters; they skirted the borders of cliché at times, with the irascible cop, the high-handed Fed who swanned through doing what he needed to, the scientists so focused on their jobs that they've forgotten about life, the journalist who … well, ditto, in his way. Margot not quite but almost escaped being a token Girl. I will say I grew to enjoy FBI agent Smithback, with his Southern gentility and complete disregard for anything trying to get in his way.

I wish the journalist in the group hadn't chosen to act like an idiot journalist at a really stupid time. It would have made so much more sense for him to be helpful and useful, and then capitalize on that later for a story. And were the mayor's fine words real, or because he just heard the reporter called out as such? I don't believe that was ever clarified – in this book, at least.

There was a sort of anti-sexism that surprised me, and kept surprising me – both in its usage and in how it affected how I absorbed the book: the redoubtable Miss Rickman is consistently referred to as just "Rickman". And almost every time, right up to the end, I kept thinking they were talking about a male character. Women just aren't often referred to by their last name alone (I think it happens to my brother all the time, but to me only once at one job, because there were two of us with my first name and the other one came first). What particularly made it odd was that Margot Green is consistently referred to as Margot, but Rickman is Rickman.

I know there are plenty of real examples of Evil Bureaucracy putting profit, pride, and publicity before public safety, and so on – but it gets old. They're never my favorite stories. They're not unrealistic – and maybe that's why they're not my favorites. I don't understand why, say, the directors of a museum would insist on proceeding with an exhibition opening when doing so might put thousands at grave risk. Or why an FBI agent in uncharted waters would fail to take heed of every concern, no matter who it came from, when thousands of lives were about to be at grave risk.

I think it would have been a lot of fun to have everything going on below the surface – the beast or whatever cornered and captured in the basements, everything fixed and solved by the heroes of the piece while the nasties celebrate uninterrupted above, and then the good guys showing up disheveled and blood-spattered and exhausted, maybe damaged – and triumphant.

The sound effects in the audiobook were incredibly obnoxious: echoes in the basement, a muffled overlay for someone on the phone or walkie, etc. Please. Don't. It was especially annoying because it was obviously meant to add a touch of realism – but something that could more naturally have added realism and urgency, a simple amping up of intensity in the narrator's voice in speed and timbre, didn't happen. Part of the climax was read as calmly and sedately as the places in which emails and computer readouts are read. The delivery of Smithbeck and his accent was enjoyable, though.

After a while, that extended climax began to feel like The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure or something, with several discrete groups struggling to survive against a force greater than they are, amounting to a disaster. It just kept going, and going, a difficult situation becoming almost impossible, becoming almost unsurvivable. On the whole, it wasn't entirely my cuppa. I think I will keep going with the series, though; there was enough there that gave me hope for later stories that no longer involve the plot points of this one and its immediate sequel. Anyhow, I own 'em – I'll probably get around to 'em.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Sleeping Giants

  • By: Sylvain Neuvel
  • Narrated by: full cast
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,827
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,551
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,542

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • How is this on so many lists? Don't bother.

  • By Adam on 06-29-17

Even better than the print edition

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

Reviewed: 03-28-17

I read this book (via Netgalley) last year, and seized on the audiobook as soon as possible. And listening to it after November 8 was a very different experience from reading it in early 2016. Ah, I thought, that's why a certain person wants to block all refugees from Syria – he must have read this book and the suspicion that Syria is working on a nuclear program. (Well, the rumor is he can't read, so he must have listened to the audiobook.)

But this isn't going to be a politically-oriented review. The rest of it, I mean.

I loved everything about Sleeping Giants every bit as much this go-round as I did the first time – maybe even a little more, if that's possible, because the cast was excellent. The funny moments were given that extra little nuance – "Don't go! I'll tell you more stories about little Tommy sitting on the stairs!" is probably one of my top-ten favorite lines from the past couple of years – and the unfunny moments were even more wrenching than before. Which is pretty remarkable, considering I knew what was coming. It was still a horrible shock – I still dug in my heels against it and waited for the miraculous reversal of fortune, the "Oh! There! That's what actually happened, it's all fine" moment. There wasn't one, of course. And it hurt. Again.

"Speaking of the president, how is she?"
*%#!
Sorry. I slipped.

The characters are beautifully well-rounded, through what they say themselves and as seen through others' eyes. Rose, calm and more together than all of them; Vincent so obnoxious and yet the one who breaks my heart more than anyone (until someone else does); Ryan, who … well, about whom the less said the better. Kara, one of those people who makes for a great fictional character but would be a horrible companion – a nice person to visit but … The Interviewer is enigmatic, with a patina of tragedy that is never explained (here). And the even-more-mysterious-than-the-Interviewer Mr. Burns, who in this audiobook sounds a lot like Peter Falk.

I love the format of the book, told through interviews and journal entries, news items and transcriptions. Neuvel does a wonderful job of building both character and plot in a style which could in other hands be patchwork. The emotional roller-coaster was a total surprise when I read it first, and was every bit as wrenching this time. I can see myself reading this annually.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • My Name is Markham

  • The Chronicles of St Mary's
  • By: Jodi Taylor
  • Narrated by: Piers Wehner
  • Length: 1 hr and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 665
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 615
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 614

Like a smaller and much scruffier Greta Garbo - finally - Markham speaks! It's Christmas and time for the first (and almost certainly last) St Mary's Annual Children's Christmas Party - attendance compulsory, by order of Dr Bairstow. Discovered practising his illegal reindeer dance and poo-dropping routine, our hero, along with fellow disaster magnets Peterson and Maxwell, is dispatched to Anglo-Saxon England to discover the truth about Alfred and the cakes.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Missing Zara Ramm

  • By Lesley G on 01-27-17

Oh my

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

Reviewed: 03-27-17

A jaunt into the past by the St. Mary's crew; a really nice close encounter with a major historic figure; chaos and calamity with a happy ending – it must be Christmas! Well, it was when it was released, and it was in the story, at least.

By now, the crew of St. Mary's are dear old friends, and it's tremendous to get inside Markham's head for this go-round. (If Ms. Taylor ever gets bored, she could start from the beginning of the story and flip POV's – [book:Just One Damned Thing After Another] through Dr Bairstow's eyes, for example… Oo. That would be fun.

And this is fun. More fun than should be lawful. Chaotic, hilarious, moving, exciting – my lord, I love these books.

I was a little sad going into this because it wasn't narrated by Ms. Taylor's usual St. Mary's narrator, Zara Ramm – but she's Max, so that would be silly, so they got Piers Wehner. And … Someone, please, I'm begging you, find him many, many more books to read to me. I was going to say "books like this", but nobody does it like Jodi Taylor, and Jodi Taylor mostly uses Max's point of view, so he won't have much work there – but this man needs more books that let him be funny. More books, period. He's terrific. He was thoroughly in character, giving a little laugh here and there, putting in exactly the right pauses and inflections. Whoever is doing the casting for Jodi Taylor's audiobooks must absolutely love her, because every single book has been nearly perfect at worst. Although I've got every one of Jodi Taylor's books, I've never read a word she's written, just because of this. And I've loved every word.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Working Stiff

  • Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
  • By: Judy Melinek MD, T. J. Mitchell
  • Narrated by: Tanya Eby
  • Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,064
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,877
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,863

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband and their toddler holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, and counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking listeners behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating, though disturbing at times

  • By Sean on 08-26-14

Each body tells a story.

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

Reviewed: 03-22-17

This is the tale of a woman's decision to switch over from her residency as a surgeon to training as a medical examiner. You know CSI, Criminal Minds, the other CSI, Rizzoli and Isles, the other other CSI, etc.? Forget them. They fit almost as well into the fantasy genre as Game of Thrones or anything with werewolves or vampires.

I grew up watching Quincy, M.E. I'm as fond of Jack Klugman from that show as I am of Oscar Madison. But I think it was mostly his fault that I was as shocked as I was – which was extremely – when I grew up a little and found out that doctors can't always diagnose illness or determine cause of death with certainty. Quincy and shows like it always made it seem like it was very basic puzzle–solving, like simple algebra: this symptom + another symptom – some other symptom = diagnosis; some were just more obscure than others, or perhaps there might be obscuring circumstances. Hey, I was young; I didn't quite have a handle on how vastly simplified the world is on the other side of the tv screen. It must be nice to live there, where the killer is always caught (in 48 minutes! Unless of course it's a featured serial killer who escapes and will be returning for the season finale) and the disease is always cured, or at least identified.

Honestly, I remember being very confused and gobsmacked the first time I saw something that was, you know, real. On CSI, there is impatient sighing when they have to wait a few hours for DNA results. In reality, it's more like months. Whatever it was, it wasn't as real as this book. Turns out a tox screen can take a couple of weeks – and that shocked me. Need a copy of a report from another department? Give it a few months.

It's been a little while since I bought this audiobook, so I don't remember whether the setting in time of the book had an impact on my decision to give it a try: Dr. Melinek changed her concentration from treating the living to examining the dead in 2001. She trained in New York City. If the idea that she was involved in the aftermath of 9/11 was one of the reasons I opted for the book, it was a moment of temporary insanity. To this day I flinch when a plane flies low. I live in Connecticut. I've visited NYC many times – and police and fire fighters from my area went to Ground Zero. I had friends and friends–of–friends who live and work in the City. I heard first–hand accounts, that weekend. It's emotional. Still. Of course.

Between that and the basic subject matter, this book is not for the squeamish. But it's a story well told, with humor and compassion – and passion. Even while I was cringing, I enjoyed it.

“AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”

  • A Cold Day for Murder

  • A Kate Shugak Mystery
  • By: Dana Stabenow
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 5 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2,676
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,395
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2,393

Eighteen months ago, Aleut Kate Shugak quit her job investigating sex crimes for the Anchorage DA’s office and retreated to her father’s homestead in a national park in the interior of Alaska. But the world has a way of beating a path to her door, however remote. In the middle of one of the bitterest Decembers in recent memory ex-boss — and ex-lover — Jack Morgan shows up with an FBI agent in tow.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Gritty Realistic

  • By SMH on 09-01-16

Great beginning

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

Reviewed: 03-17-17

Marguerite Gavin gives this book a fantastic narration. She doesn't attempt to replicate the way Dana Stabenow probably hears Kate Shugak's ruined voice in her head, doesn't attempt to constantly "do" ruined, for which I was grateful for the five and a half hours of the book. I'm sure it's a good read, but it's a great listen.

This takes place in a part of the world I'm just not that familiar with, that weird and wonderful great state of Alaska. I'll admit it – I think my only real "experience" of it is from "Northern Exposure" and [book:To Start a Fire]. It's someplace I think I'd have liked to go – but, after listening to this (and from what little else I know), I don't think I'd be very welcome.

It was a little startling to hear the contempt that goes into some characters' discussion of "greenies"… I am so enveloped in "save the planet or we die – duh" that it's … truly weird to read about this alien mindset, valuing money – and, yes, I understand, jobs, but primarily money – far above the idea that … well, if you cut down all the trees, it will be hard to still be cutting down trees in five years, because … they will all have been cut down. Even just the simple enjoyment of the beauty of nature – meh. Let's go for a lunar landscape – people like the moon.

Great sense of humor which for some reason I didn't expect – Bobby is a terrific character, funny without being comic relief. And the fact that a lot of the book is funny doesn't mean that the rest of it isn't heartbreaking. From the general poverty and misery of so many and rampant alcoholism, to the very specific pain of Kate with her trauma (physical and in memory), the disappearances she's investigating, to the wounded yearling moose being chewed on alive by a wolverine.

I enjoyed listening to the cadences of the names. Chick Noyukpuk, the Billiken Bullet; the Kanuyaq River; Niniltna; etc. And the other names – the Lost Chance Creek, the Lost Wife Mine, Squaw Candy Creek…. It all adds to the atmosphere.

Mutt's awesome and I want one.

  • Crosstalk

  • By: Connie Willis
  • Narrated by: Mia Barron
  • Length: 18 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 709
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 657
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 656

In a not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure that has been promised to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. So when Briddey Flannigan's fiancé proposes that he and Briddey undergo the procedure, she is delighted! Only, the results aren't quite as expected. Instead of gaining an increased empathetic link with her fiancé, Briddey finds herself hearing the actual thoughts of one of the nerdiest techs in her office. And that's the least of her problems.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Learn when to say no

  • By Amazon Customer on 01-21-17

Frenetic!

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

Reviewed: 12-15-16

A quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "To be Irish is to know that, in the end, the world will break your heart."

In her "All Clear" duology, Connie Willis's style of crossing conversations, interruptions, characters involved in their own business to the point they're completely unaware of anything else, and feverish pacing – it all worked. I loved the characters, the style was exciting and compelling, and if I hadn't already been a huge fan I would have become one.

In Crosstalk, however, all those same characteristics drove me straight up a wall, to the point that I had to quit for a little while to go read something else. It's a great story – Briddey and her (somewhat new) love Trent are undergoing a procedure to let them feel each other's emotions, which is something of a celebrity fad and famed for cementing relationships. But Briddey's family is worried about the procedure (called an EDD), and one of her colleagues – C.B. – also thinks it's a bad idea – and every single one of them tells her so early and often (very often), oblivious to what she wants. Actually, it kind of seemed like all their protestations might have just made her take a stand and stick to it – and of course when something does go … if not wrong, then odd … with the procedure, there's all the more reason to keep things as quiet as possible. Where possible.

Meanwhile, Briddey's aunt is another constant voice on her phone, wafting Auld Ireland over everything and trying to fix her up with likely Irish lads (though she had never been to Ireland and had no more right to the brogue than I do). And one of Briddey's sisters is constantly – no, seriously, I mean constantly calling and texting her with helicopter parent worries about her nine-year-old daughter, none of which have any foundation in reality. The other sister seems a bit more solid, but … well, no, I suppose not. And then there are all the coworkers, who somehow know about Trent popping the EDD question to her before any human without any form of empathy or telepathy. Certainly not empathy – these people are hideous. They're even worse than the people I work with, and that's remarkable. (It's fiction.)

Briddey must be an extraordinarily nice person, is the only conclusion I can come to. And I'm not nearly as nice, because in her place I would have murdered at least two of the other characters in this book by Chapter 3. I would have gone off on the faux-Eire aunt, because it's mildly offensive; I would have called DCFS to have the nine-year-old taken away from my sister; I would have fired my assistant and/or quit that job and started looking for a work-from-home opportunity. Briddey does none of this – just surfs over everyone's CONSTANT interruptions and horrific combination of nosiness and self-involvement, apologizes at times I wanted to shake her for, and keeps on keeping on.

The pace of the book is so fast that Ms Willis almost – almost – distracted me from the concerns that kept popping up about Trent and the odd little comments about the EDD that pepper his dialogue, usually interrupted. It was enough to keep reminding me I was worried. Frenetic pace, frustrating characters – I really didn't think I was going to like this one, Connie Willis or no Connie Willis. In fact, I had to quit for a day or two, just take a break and let my blood pressure normalize before I plunged back in.

And I began to become involved. I began to care more about Briddey, and C.B. I started to care about Maeve, the niece. The episode in the Carnegie Room at the library was still and peaceful and funny and absolutely lovely – and maybe it wouldn't have been so lovely if not for the huge contrast with the usual chaos.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the whole Irish connection to the telepathy. It seemed a bit facile to me – especially the concentration on red hair. There are plenty of people with red hair who aren't Irish; the all-powerful Wikipedia points out that the gene for red hair is pretty common in Scotland, England, and Wales (38% there), and not unheard of pretty much everywhere else. "…The Volga region has more redheads per population than anywhere else in the world with the exception of Ireland." It was also a little annoying that Briddey was so surprised that …er, one other character was Irish, all but saying "but you don't have red hair". Something like ten percent of the population of Ireland have red hair. Being Irish doesn't mean you have red hair, and having red hair doesn't mean you're Irish, and the importance attached to both things and keeping their supposed connection to telepathy (for which I don't remember a single bit of actual evidence – lots of conjecture, but not a bit of evidence) quiet just felt silly.

But whatever my issues with that, it's a side issue. It's still Connie Willis, who can character build like nobody's business. I love nothing more than a perfectly ordinary person showing remarkable heroism, and C.B. had some really marvelous moments. I was never quite as in love with Briddey as, perhaps, I was supposed to be, but her panic attacks were very real (and very justified).

Just focus on the marshmallows and the Falls won't get you.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

  • The Discoverers

  • A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself
  • By: Daniel J. Boorstin
  • Narrated by: Christopher Cazenove
  • Length: 5 hrs and 18 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 162
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 62

Why didn't the Chinese discover America? Why were people so slow to learn the earth goes around the sun? How and why did we begin to think of "species" of plants and animals? How, when, and why did people begin digging in the earth to learn about the past? How did the study of economics begin? These are but a few of the fascinating questions answered by Dr. Boorstin, Librarian of Congress Emeritus.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of my Top 10 Fav. Books!

  • By shannonnn on 05-09-05

abridged - and terrible audio quality

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

Reviewed: 11-29-16

Poor audio quality – the difference between "This is Audible" and the beginning of the narration is glaring. Also? And I confess this is my bad for not realizing before I bought – it's abridged.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful