Sunday, January 27, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Forgotten

The Forgotten by David Balacci
Narrated by Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy
Series: John Puller: Book 2
Unabridged, Length 12 hours and 35 minutes
Release Date: 11-20-12
Publisher: Hachette Audio

Publishers Summary:
 In Paradise, nothing is what it seems....
Army Special Agent John Puller is the best there is. A combat veteran, Puller is the man the U.S. Army relies on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. Now he has a new case - but this time, the crime is personal: His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida.
A picture-perfect town on Florida's Gulf Coast, Paradise thrives on the wealthy tourists and retirees drawn to its gorgeous weather and beaches. The local police have ruled his aunt's death an unfortunate, tragic accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller's father, telling him that beneath its beautiful veneer, Paradise is not all it seems to be.
What Puller finds convinces him that his aunt's death was no accident… and that the palm trees and sandy beaches of Paradise may hide a conspiracy so shocking that some will go to unthinkable lengths to make sure the truth is never revealed.
©2012 David Baldacci (P)2012 Hachette Audio

My Thoughts:
The Forgotten just as thrilling and satisfying as I expected it to be.  This is the second book in the John Puller series and just as good as the first, Zero Day.  If you haven’t read Zero Day, Puller’s referring to “what happened in West Virginia” will make you want to.  

A good book practically immobilizes me for the last half.  The Forgotten kept me sitting in my favorite chair getting absolutely nothing done.  It’s a great story with plenty of action and plot twists.  I really like Puller's interactions with his family, a brother in prison for treason and his senile father in a nursing home. 

 Ron McLarty’s voice is perfect for John Puller.  Actually his voice is just perfect for any story with a big, tough, capable hero.  I have heard many of his performances and never a mistake or mispronounced word.  Orlagh Cassidy is great with the female voices.

I do have one gripe about overall performance – the sound effects.  I didn’t mind the boat motor noise so much and didn’t jump too high when shots were fired but the tuneless music that is supposed to enhance the suspense just didn’t work.  It was so annoying I wanted to scream, “shut that awful music off!”

I give it A+ for story and narration but only a B for overall production. 
I enjoyed The Forgotten courtesy of my local library. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Audiobook Review: Notorious Nineteen

Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel  by Janet Evanovich
Narrator: Lorelei King
Series: Stephanie Plum, Book 19
Length: 6 hours and 7 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio

Publisher's Summary
Number-one best-selling author Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels are: "irresistible" (Houston Chronicle), "stunning" (Booklist), "outrageous" (Publishers Weekly), "brilliantly evocative" (The Denver Post), and "making trouble and winning hearts" (USA Today).
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don't just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don't do what Tiki tells you to do.
After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie's bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton's premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it's on Stephanie to track down the con man. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape...or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive.
Since the hospital staff's lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it's hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie's Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.
The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money - or maybe just desperate - Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again - a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid's dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone.... Or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she'll have to remember: No guts, no glory.
©2012 Janet Evanovich (P)2012 Random House Audio

My Thoughts:

I love Stephanie Plum and have listened to all the previous novels in the series but Notorious Nineteen was a disappointment.  I kept thinking, “Have I already heard this one?” and even searched my list of books read to see if I had. Nope, it was new to me.  I had it on hold at the library and recently downloaded it.  It had all my favorite characters and plenty of action but repeated so much of what happened in previous books in the series that it almost seemed as if  Evanovich had cut and pasted excerpts from previous works.  The formula is familiar, cars being blown up, evil/insane character trying to kill Stephanie, a quirky character she befriends, two sexy men to rescue her.  The romance seems to be heating up a little.  Morelli mentions the L word and Ranger seems to care more (or was that my imagination?) Stephanie, even though she also mentions the word "love" to Morelli, still fights an attraction to Ranger.  Personally, I'd like to see her end up with Ranger. 

Lorelei King’s performance was brilliant, as usual.  She is one of my favorite narrators and really made the book worth listening to.  I love the way she gives each character a personality.  She makes them come alive and keeps them consistent, book after book. 

If this had been my first Stephanie Plum novel, I’m sure I would have loved it.  As it was, there was just enough plot to keep me interested enough to finish it.    


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Audiobook Review: Cloud Atlas

Audiobook Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Narrated by Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Kim Mai Guest, Kirby Heyborne, John Lee, Richard Matthews
Length: 19 hours and 33 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio

Publisher's Summary
From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer, and one of the featured authors in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003 issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope.
A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilization: the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.
In his captivating third novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre, and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us. 
This audiobook is available exclusively as an audio download!
Note to customers: The complicated format of this novel makes it seem that the audio may be cutting off before the end of a story, accompanied by a change in narrator. However, this is the author's intention, so please continue to listen, and the stories will conclude themselves as intended.

My Thoughts:
When I got to the end of Cloud Atlas, my first thought was that I must hear this wonderful novel all over again immediately to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.  I may even buy the book to experience it in a format that will allow me to go back and forth easier than the audio format will allow. The reason I chose Cloud Atlas is because I saw the movie trailer and wanted to hear the book first.  I have yet to see the movie but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m eager to see how they had to change the story to make the movie.  It could not have been easy. 

From Wikipedia: “A sextet is a formation containing exactly six members. It is commonly associated with vocal or musical instrument groups, but can be applied to any situation where six similar or related objects are considered a single unit.” 

So the novel itself is a sextet. There are six stories told in different styles and layered so that they are nested, each being interrupted in the middle and continued in reverse order in the last half of the book with the exception of the post-apocalyptic story of Zachary.  His story is told without interruption and is the center of the book.  Adam Ewing’s story is told in the form of journal entries during and after his voyage across the Pacific. Robert Frobisher, a young composer who has been disinherited from his family’s fortune, tells his story through letters to a friend in 1931.  Luisa Rey’s story is in the style of a modern fiction thriller. ­Timothy Cavendish’s story is told through his memoirs.  He is an aging British publisher who finds himself imprisoned in a nursing home. Somni-451’s futuristic story is told in the form of an interrogation while she is in prison for rebelling against the powerful Corpocracy.  All of these people are connected in some way but each story could stand on its own.  

My favorite was the story of Robert Frobisher, the young musician who composed the Cloud Atlas Sextet, a piece for six instrumental voices.  The arrangement of his sextet mirrors the order of the stories in the novel. 

 I loved Frobisher's short-hand style of writing, his dry humor and his musical metaphors.  He’s a resourceful young gentleman with a propensity for getting into trouble.  After being disinherited by his wealthy family and kicked out of school, he finds a way to keep a roof over his head and learn from a master composer.  My favorite Frobisher quote: “Whoever opined, “Money can’t buy happiness,” obviously had too much of the stuff.”

The narrators chosen for Cloud Atlas are absolutely perfect. Hearing the different voices, styles and accents adds much pleasure to the experience. 

I purchased Cloud Atlas with my monthly Audible credit and gave it a 5 star rating.