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John S.

Seattle, WA United States | Member Since 2005

294
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 128 reviews
  • 162 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2014
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17

  • Free Air

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Sinclair Lewis
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Claire Boltwood and her father drive their Gomez-Dep roadster from Minnesota to Seattle, exposing themselves to all the perils of early motoring. They encounter the upper-crust Boltwoods who are at once more noble and more insignificant. Other class barriers exist between Claire and a mechanic named Milt, who, along with his cat, follows close behind.

    John S. says: "Good narration"
    "Good narration"
    Overall

    Took a while to get into the story (which I found a bit dated), but I did end up caring about the characters.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain: How a Nation Grew into an Empire and the Birth of a Modern Society: Brief Histories

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Paterson
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (24)

    The Victorian era has dominated the popular imagination like no other period, but these myths and stories also give a very distorted view of the 19th century. The early Victorians were much stranger than we usually imagine, and their world would have felt very different from our own. It was only during the long reign of the Queen that a modern society emerged in unexpected ways.

    Troy says: "Brief, But Insightful"
    "Glad I bought it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A good overview of how much things changed during the reign, as well as a good comparison of how much technology changed society in a lifetime, similar to modern history.

    Good narration - recommended

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Michael Rosen
    • Narrated By Michael Rosen
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (24)

    From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters forever. How on earth did we fix upon our 26 letters? What do they really mean? And how did we come to write them down in the first place? Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in 26 vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts.

    Andy says: "delightfully entertaining"
    "PDF not essential"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Twenty-six entries each starting with a brief overview of a letter of the alphabet (historical background, phonetics, etc.), used as a jumping off point for a digression of a specific linguistic (for lack of a better term) aspect. Some were (at least mildly) interesting, while others (often having to do with the author's own life) weren't. Overall, the book worked to pass time when I needed to fill short periods with background noise. Rosen's reading was okay as author-narrated books go, but I might've preferred to skim the print book I think if I had to go back and decide again.

    One point that irritated me more as the book went on was the incredibly U. K. centric focus. I accept that Rosen is English himself, but as most folks for whom English is their primary language are NOT British, the short shrift he gives in passing to that fact seemed a bit ... patronizing - with a "zee"!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach: One Woman's Trek of the Perimeter of Lake Michigan

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Loreen Niewenhuis
    • Narrated By Loreen Niewenhuis
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    In 2009, Loreen Niewenhuis walked completely around Lake Michigan. This audiobook chronicles that journey, a 1,000-mile walk around the world's fifth-largest lake. The audiobook explores both the geology of the lake and the measure of a person - a woman, married, mother of two sons (who joined her for portions of the walk). But most of the walk was done solo, an adventure in discovery of self and place. Niewenhuis conveys a sense of the magnitude of the lake she loves, a place so elemental to the four Midwestern states that form its shores.

    John S. says: "Impulse purchase that paid off"
    "Impulse purchase that paid off"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked the book quite a lot as a travel narrative, and the author does a good job narrating her own work. My issue was that I found her a bit of a downer regarding the ecological problems of the lake, which are well known, and being addressed; still, I'd definitely recommend the book to those who feel the topic might be of interest.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Still Life in Brunswick Stew: A Cherry Tucker Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Larissa Reinhart
    • Narrated By Erin Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.

    John S. says: "Poor clueless Cherry"
    "Poor clueless Cherry"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought the first book wasn’t too bad, but this one is, to use a southern expression, rather a hot mess. Three quarters of the way through I found myself wondering when the “mystery” angle was going to kick in? It sort of did after that, but by then that didn’t really matter, more like, “Oh, it was that person.”
    Let’s talk about Cherry, whom another reviewer has labeled “narcissistic”; I tend to agree. She spends her time sulking about slights quite a bit, when not outright provoking hostility from others. At one point, she engages in a nasty bit of badinage with the waitress at a dive (an establishment called “The Viper” could be anything else?), which would’ve been avoided had Cherry not deliberately escalated the situation. Later, when she makes a very nasty remark to her “arch enemy” Shawna, she gets punched in the face. When asked what happened afterwards, she admits that she make the remark, but says defensively, “I didn’t think she’d hit me!” Cherry's crack was the kind of remark that even a Philadelphia Main Line society matron would’ve been hard pressed to ignore. Score one for Shawna. At one point, the locals bristle at the idea of being called “country”; okay then … “yokels” perhaps? Almost all of them seem like something out of Jerry Springer to me. My jaw dropped when Cherry referred to someone as trash, and a moment later tells us how she “honored” her grandmother’s passing with a t shirt featuring that lady’s photo “outlined in Swarovski crystals.” Pot-kettle-black, I’d say. Finally, there’s one subplot that I found fascinating, featuring the one character who isn’t at all trashy, Max Avtaikin. I think of it as The Case of the Suspicious Speedos.
    Max is an immigrant from the former Soviet bloc, who seems somehow to be involved with illegal gambling, at least in Cherry’s mind. He lives in a mansion, is single, and husky enough to have the nickname “Bear” which Cherry uses (he generally calls her “Artist” in return). In addition to a light-years-beyond-gorgeous boyfriend, Luke, Cherry has a quasi-ex-husband, Todd, from an annulled quickie Vegas marriage (see Jerry Springer above), who’s also H-O-T. We know this about them because Cherry tells us … often. Todd is employed by Max part-time as a bingo caller, when Max lets the Ladies’ Auxiliary use his property for their games. During one bout of snooping to confirm her suspicion that Max is running an illegal high stakes poker operation in his pool house (involving poor Todd in that sordid scheme, so he needs her “rescuing”), Cherry runs across Todd swimming -- in speedos! She is mortified beyond belief. When she (hysterically) demands to know WHY he is wearing speedos, Todd replies that they are not his, but that Max “loaned” them to him. She never actually questions that single, husky middle aged men routinely have speedos that fit young hunks perfectly lying around as a matter of course. One might get the impression that the games played in the poolhouse might be more of the strip poker variety perhaps? At one point, the plot has Max taking Cherry upstairs to see a painting he bought, with the line, “That is my bedroom (behind the closed door); you do not need to see it.” I suppose if she were that curious, she could just ask Todd?
    I would be willing to read the next book, on the assumption the series was actually intended to be a campy parody, ‘cause in that sense, it’s a rip-roaring success!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Foreign Faces

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By V. S. Pritchett
    • Narrated By James Langton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    I am,' writes Mr. Pritchett, 'an offensive traveller'-meaning not that he is rude to porters, but that his praise of a country has sometimes been taken by its inhabitants as abuse or ridicule. Be that as it may, his book, which is based upon sojourns in Spain, Turkey, Persia, and the Iron Curtain countries, will delight every English reader. Pritchett's alert eye and relaxed manner, his flair for meeting new places and people without any warping preoccupations, produce the most felicitous results.

    John S. says: "Great snapshot of an era"
    "Great snapshot of an era"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This collection of travel essays, many from Cold War-era eastern Europe, I found "right up my street" (as our British friends would say). Narration seemed a good fit, too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Tecate Journals: Seventy Days on the Rio Grande

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Keith Bowden
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    The Rio Grande is simultaneously one of the most watched and least understood rivers in the world. Some stretches of the Rio pass for endless miles through remote wilderness, boxed in by canyons hundreds of feet high and inhabited by only the hardiest animals and humans. That's why journalist Keith Bowden decided to become the first person to travel the entire length of the Rio as it forms the border between America and Mexico.

    John S. says: "Story of a unique trip"
    "Story of a unique trip"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I couldn't put my finger exactly on why I didn't like the book more, deciding it was his style of ingratiating himself with Hispanics he met as "such a cool Anglo" (which he had the honesty to report actually backfired on him at least once).

    The first part is rather slow going with backstory of his life, finally getting in the water at El Paso, and then canoeing down to Laredo, where the author lives. A couple of friends join him for stretches, and he meets up with others along the way. This section isn't very populated, and there's only so much description to go on about, so he "profiles" the folks I've just mentioned, which fell into a "you had to be there" mode for me.

    Still, on balance, that was marginally better than the second part from Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico. Here, he spends a great deal of time charming initially-unfriendly border patrol agents, between beer runs in local towns. At one point, he marvels that he was able to stroll through a (prosperous) winter retirement community ... "because I'm white!" That was back-to-back with an encounter with a Mexican who was pleased that his countrymen had treated Bowden so kindly (he had bopped back and forth between the countries in a sort of zig-zag fashion); his delight in telling the reader of that fellow's follow up remark "and how would I be treated as a stranger in your country?" to which Bowden gives the expected answer of "not well!" had my eyes rolling. If that politics wouldn't bother you, you'll like the book more than I did.

    Finally, the narration was outstanding - perfect fit!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries: The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 45 mins)
    • By Evelyn David
    • Narrated By Wendy Tremont King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Hell on wheels or a psychic in a travel trailer? Brianna Sullivan gave up her job finding missing luggage for the airlines in order to seek the freedom of the open road. Her first stop? The small town of Lottawatah, Oklahoma. Using her psychic abilities, Brianna takes on a multitude of jobs to earn gas money, help out the local police detective, and direct some troubled souls towards the light.

    John S. says: "Took a bit to get into the story and narrator"
    "Took a bit to get into the story and narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This title includes two short stories - first one that sets up the "series" and a second ghost story, that takes place ten days later, which would be okay as part of a larger collection (of, say, a half dozen or more), but not really a lot of plot on its own. Obviously, one credit for two stories that last under two hours is a no-go proposition, but $5 a throw is still steep (I used promotional currency to purchase this book). A single title of six stories for $15, or one credit, would have been the way to market these. The narration seemed a bit slow at first, but I got used to Ms. King's style by the second story, and it's fairly clear she put a lot of effort into the job.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Too Big to Miss: The Odelia Grey Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Sue Ann Jaffarian
    • Narrated By Lynne Darlington
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Too big to miss--that's Odelia Grey. A never-married, middle-aged, plus-sized woman who makes no excuses for her weight, she's not super woman just a mere mortal standing on the precipice of menopause, trying to cruise in an ill-fitting bra. She struggles with her relationships, her crazy family, and her crazier boss. And then there's her knack for being in close proximity to dead people…

    John S. says: "Took a while"
    "Took a while"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    but after a couple of hours I was totally invested in the story. Odelia's the kind of character you wish were real so that you could actually meet her.

    Here's hoping the rest of the series becomes available in audio format soon!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Majestic Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Denis Mackail
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Two journalists, Peter Langley and James Vincent, are recuperating from winter colds at the Majestic Hotel in Newcliff-on-Sea one February when they get mixed up in a murder mystery: Peter is on the scene just after Howard Impey, theatrical impresario, is shot in Kenneth Paisley’s hotel room, the night before the opening of the latter’s new play starring the beautiful Anna Worthington. Peter is unimpressed with the police investigation, so he and James follow their own leads and uncover several vital clues, in which the police don’t seem to be very interested....

    John S. says: "NOW I get it!"
    "NOW I get it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The audio sample seemed pretty good, so I was baffled by the low rating here. However, now that I'm finished, I have to report that it was a real chore getting through this one -- proof that a great narrator can't save a weak story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • All the Little Live Things

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Wallace Stegner
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (21)

    Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Joe Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat. And although their new home looks like Eden, it also has its serpents: Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of drugs, yoga, and sex, and Marian Catlin, an attractive young woman whose otherwordly innocence is far more appealing—and far more dangerous.

    B.J. says: "Another winner from Stegner"
    "Old Man Yells at Cloud!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much of the first half of the book is typical story setup: introduction of characters, setting the scene, and the like, which is fine, although it's dragged out here with the focus on squatter Jim Peck (technically, he has Joe's grudging permission to stay on the property). As the hippie-ish young man makes himself gradually into a more permanent fixture, than just pitching tent, Joe's level of resentment grows ... as did my fatigue. Second half of the story contains flashbacks to Joe's past, that help explain his strong feelings, as well as another storyline about a neighbor, until the Final Conflict, where all goes horribly wrong. It's no spoiler to say that Peck is quite manipulative, although perhaps a slight one in mentioning that Joe's mistrust proves grounded in the end.

    Stegner could write ... and how! Unfortunately, the story's grim tone marches on throughout, his heavy-handed warning about the societal changes that the 60's will bring seeming dated, and largely disproved. Edward Hermann does a knockout job with the narration, as though the book were written back then with him specifically in mind for the job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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