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John S.

Seattle, WA United States | Member Since 2017

714
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 222 reviews
  • 256 ratings
  • 294 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2018
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33

  • Pago Pago Tango: A Jungle Beat Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By John Enright
    • Narrated By Phil Gigante
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    Detective Sergeant Apelu Soifua knows firsthand how cops work in the big city; he spent seven years on the beat with the San Francisco PD. There, the job was just a job. But back home on American Samoa, it’s personal. On an island, there are no strangers. Secrets may be commonly known but they’re never discussed, and solving crimes requires a certain…finesse. Here, Apelu walks the line between two cultures: Samoan versus American, native versus new.

    Robert L. says: "A Mystery On Island Time"
    "Great narration and interesting setting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'd never heard Phil Gigante read before, and was truly impressed by his handling the range of characters, especially female voices. Plot suffered from a slow start, and somewhat confusing (at least in audio) finale. I'd definitely read more of the series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Mario Giordano, John Brownjohn
    • Narrated By Matt Addis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (20)

    Auntie Poldi, sassy, brassy, and 60, moves to Sicily for a quiet alcohol-fuelled retirement. A murder spoils her plans. This is the first novel in a charming new mystery series set in Sicily and laced with Italian sensuality and humor. It features an amateur sleuth, the sassy and foul-mouthed Auntie Poldi. Recently widowed Poldi moves to Sicily in order to quietly drink herself to death with a sea view, but fate intervenes. When she finds the corpse of a young man on the beach, his face blown off with a sawn-off shotgun, she becomes a potential suspect in his murder case.

    John S. says: "Did Not Finish"
    "Did Not Finish"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After awhile I felt I wasn't getting into this one, but decided to soldier on. At around 2/3, I fell asleep finding the book at the end when I awoke. I just didn't care enough to go back and listen - moving on. The gimmick of the narrator nephew was okay, but I think one has to be "Bavarian" (NOT just German) to appreciate it Poldi and her background.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neon Pilgrim

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Lisa Dempster
    • Narrated By Lisa Dempster
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    During a culture-shocked exchange year in Japan, 15-year-old Lisa Dempster's imagination is ignited by the story of the henro michi, an arduous 1,200-kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan. Perfectly suiting the romantic view of herself as a dusty, travel-worn explorer (well, one day), she promises to return to Japan and walk the henro michi, one way or another, as soon as humanely possible. Fast-forward 13 years, and Lisa's life is vastly different to what she pictured it would be.

    John S. says: "Wasn't sure at first, but glad I got it"
    "Wasn't sure at first, but glad I got it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I started this book as I wanted something inspirational, and this one sure didn't disappoint! Author starts out the story overweight depressed and generally rather a mess; ends up quite an international success for her achievement.

    It helped that she speaks very good Japanese, having been an exchange student on Shikoku earlier. On the other hand, she's vegan, which presents quite a challenge in such a fish-based culinary landscape. I wouldn't say, however, that it's a book about Japanese culture as such directly. Her encounters are with folks along the Route as a pilgrim, rather than a genuine tourist or expat. It's her story of finding herself primarily.

    I suppose if I had to find one negative aspect to the story, it's that she certainly seems to vomit quite a bit. So much so that I was near certain she was pregnant. Still, for a novice hiker, and writer, she manages proves the adage: You don't know until you try!

    Audio narration came through well, so a good decision not to hire an outside narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Katy Tur
    • Narrated By Katy Tur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2012)
    Performance
    (1845)
    Story
    (1835)

    The NBC journalist who covered - and took fire from - Donald Trump on the campaign trail offers an inside look at the most shocking presidential election in American history. Intriguing, disturbing, and powerful, Unbelievable is an unprecedented eyewitness account of the 2016 election from an intelligent, dedicated journalist at the center of it - a thoughtful historical record that offers eye-opening insights and details on our political process, the media, and the mercurial 45th president of the United States.

    v2o777 says: "ENLIGHTENING WITH MUCH HUMOR -LIKE YOU WERE THERE"
    "Good on the politics, but ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I feel bad saying this, but I just couldn't get into the book. When the author stuck to politics, it was okay, but she lost me when it veered into her personal life, or life on the road as a reporter. She and I did not "bond" (as they say).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jane and the Stillroom Maid: Being the Fifth Jane Austen Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Stephanie Barron
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (91)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (55)

    Jane Austen is enjoying August, 1806, among Derbyshire's craggy peaks, sparkling streams, and cavernous gorges. That is, until she discovers the corpse of a young gentleman whose blond curls and delicate features suggest the face of an angel.

    Susan says: "Will the real Jane Austen please stand up?"
    "Good series introduction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Being a fan of Regency-era mysteries, as well as Kate Reading's narration, I decided to try the first available audiobook in the series. Turned out a smart move! Not being a Jane-ite, I suppose I'm spared the inevitable comparison with her work and life details. Biggest takeaway for me was seeing her as rather an extrovert, when somehow I'd felt her as more reclusive? As far as book itself is concerned, my only real issue was that I had trouble keeping straight who was who among the upper class characters at times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Age of Henry VIII

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Dale Hoak
    • Narrated By Professor Dale Hoak Ph.D. University of Cambridge
    Overall
    (92)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (78)

    Henry VIII, who ruled England for almost four decades, provokes questions. What is greatness? How should we judge character? Who or what can be said to "make" or cause history? England's most famous king ruled an island only about the size of Pennsylvania, 500 years ago - yet he remains instantly recognizable to this day. In this series of 24 revealing lectures, an honored teacher offers an intimate portrait of the monarch who, in a recent biographer's words, "changed the heart, mind, and face of Britain more than anything between the coming of the Normans and the coming of the factory"

    Fara says: "Fascinating and enthralling!"
    "Had to stick with it a while"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By the end I found I didn't regret having gotten this title, although at first I wasn't so sure. Author's speaking style took some getting used to as he came off as ... pedantic (shall we say) early on. Also, other reviewers have mentioned digressions, which I can understand, but would say that the material becomes more philosophical, or theoretical, than factually-rooted at times. I'll give him credit that it's a different approach to one of the most well-trodden periods in history, as opposed to a recitation of facts without much interpretation which wouldn't work well.
    Bottom line: target audience would be Tudor-philes looking for a fix.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Alan Partridge: Nomad

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Alan Partridge
    • Narrated By Alan Partridge
    Overall
    (271)
    Performance
    (253)
    Story
    (252)

    In Alan Partridge: Nomad, Alan dons his boots, windcheater and scarf and embarks on an odyssey through a place he once knew - it's called Britain - intent on completing a journey of immense personal significance. Diarising his ramble in the form of a 'journey journal', Alan details the people and places he encounters, ruminates on matters large and small and, on a final leg fraught with danger, becomes not a man (because he was one to start off with) but a better, more inspiring example of a man.

    Michael says: "Pointlessness is the point"
    "Not what I expected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I purchased this audiobook I had assumed that Alan Partridge was a real British celebrity, with this the story of his walk through Britain an actual travel narrative. In part, yes, but not that kind of story.

    Reminded me a lot of Pooter in the Victorian satire Diary of a Nobody, but while that fellow was an upfront social climber, Partridge assumes he's "made it" with condescension for all. Normally, that would make a character insufferable; here, however, there are moments of self-deprecation. Towards the end, he almost (don't worry, not quite) becomes likeable.

    Much of the humor comes from the narrator delivery, so I couldn't see this one succeeding much in print at all. Hadn't realized this is actually a sequel, so got the first book for a time when I need guaranteed laughs.

    I'm fairly Anglophile, but some of the cultural references still went past me, but I'm confident I inferred the point correctly when that happened. So, don't get concerned if that happens to you as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Quiet Life in the Country: A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By T E Kinsey
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Knowelden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4435)
    Performance
    (3992)
    Story
    (3991)

    Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they've just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life. But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There's a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation...

    Yvonne says: "A nice cozy read!"
    "Tough one to review"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Really 3.5 stars, but rounded up out of generosity.

    First thing I wanted to say, right off the bat, is that when it was disclosed that Lady H. is 40 years old, my jaw dropped, as I had assumed her to be closer to 60. That may be due to the narration, but she comes across as dowager-ish to me. Flo, I infer, is younger, though I see her as being closer to 40 than in her 20s.

    As for the story, I cut slack for the first in a series as a means of fixing the characters and setting, so the plot isn't as crucial. Here, it was okay, if not great. The second murder does push the first one out of the way enough that I'd almost forgotten about it by the end.

    Now, it's time for the 800-lb. gorilla to make its appearance . . . is this what would today be called a "bromance" (between women), or something more? Not trying to be salacious about it, but their chummy relationship being explained away by her Lady H's wanting to eschew old convention didn't quite work for me here. Added to that, the staff are not live-in, so from what would be tea-time in Britain (late afternoon in USA) until the next morning, it's just the two of them in the house.

    Adding a splash of fuel to that fire would be that the author mentions that Lady H's husband was "the love of (my) life"; yet, he is otherwise barely mentioned at all. As a matter of fact, there's a lot more made of she and Flo as a crime-fighting duo in the past, as a sort of Batwoman and (female) Robin. The titled husband's young, untimely death seemed a convenient device to make Emily an actual Lady in order to have access to upper class events. Flo, by the way, doesn't seem to miss the deceased nobleman one iota.

    Audio narration I found overall good, especially the voice of Flo through whom the story is told. Some of the secondary voices, unfortunately, weren't as . . . compelling ("OK, she didn't seem to nail this one" when they first appear). Not a deal-breaker, but anyone who reports they had an issue with the narration I wouldn't say was being overly picky.

    I'm planning on reading another in the series to see whether the plotting improves beyond the getting-to-know-them stage.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Secrets of Wishtide

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Kate Saunders
    • Narrated By Anna Bentinck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2648)
    Performance
    (2431)
    Story
    (2421)

    Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged 52, is the widow of an archdeacon who makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator. Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in nearby Highgate with his wife and 10 children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When a case arises involving the son of the highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire undercover as the family's new governess.

    Shirley says: "Historical intrigue-"
    "Hope there are more adventures!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're looking for a Victorian mystery fix, I can recommend this one.

    This story is likely intended as the "pilot" for a series (although as of months later there's no sign of a sequel). We're dropped into her detecting career "in progress" as it were, since previous cases are referenced. Basically, she's investigator Paul Drake to her criminal attorney brother's Perry Mason. The action begins with Letty acting as governess to a noble family in order to ferret out a blackmailer; that angle is seemingly resolved, until a member of that family is caught up in a series of (related) murders, so she and her brother are paid to continue working on the bigger picture. Plotting is well done, although the final showdown seemed a bit dramatic to me, even by Victorian standards. Some might see in-your-face feminism at times, but women were indisputably chattel, suffrage was the least of their issues in the mid 1800s.

    Audio narrator did a decent job overall, though I'll agree with others that her male voices ranged from okay to needs-work. Good fit for the material, hope she gets to read the next book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Al Franken
    • Narrated By Al Franken
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14389)
    Performance
    (13294)
    Story
    (13153)

    Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

    TerryPotter says: "Fabulous book; history, hard politics and lots of laughs"
    "Glad I bought it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was never a fan of him during his SNL days, only vaguely being aware of him at all. So, the early part of this memoir I felt was a bit lost on me. Being a political junkie, his decision to run for office got more traction, with his tales from the Senate itself the strongest part. I don't always "get" his sense of humor, but D. C. is so tension-filled that using it to diffuse the atmosphere there is a great asset.

    My main take-away was that he really wants to help people, rather than just a sense of more government programs are better . . . because. Franken tries to be as respectful of colleagues as possible, although he admits at one point "There's an exception to that rule: Ted Cruz." He's not especially fond of President Trump nor Mitch McConnell, but reins things in (mostly) in discussing them (relative to Cruz anyway).

    Not recommended for partisan Republicans, but others should appreciate the behind-the-scenes aspects. His reading the book himself was a no-brainer with decades of performance experience.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Murder at Lowry House: Hazel Martin Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Leighann Dobbs
    • Narrated By Alison Larkin
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (108)

    When mystery novelist Hazel Martin receives a secretive letter from an old friend who suspects her relatives have murderous intentions, she packs her bags and heads to the country. Tampered medications, symptoms of poisoning, and suspicious accidents all add up to attempted murder, and it's up to Hazel and her Siamese cat, Dickens, to sniff out the clues. But with a house full of relatives who all have a motive, will Hazel be able to unmask the culprit before things turn deadly?

    Kathi says: "Enjoyable cozy"
    "Not for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On the comedy series "Are You Being Served" an exasperated Mrs. Slocum was known to shout: "Weak as water!" Well, that's how I felt about this story. 

    I had thought it set in present day at first, with the only real clue coming later about horse-drawn vehicles giving way to cars. Since I never cared much for any of the charcaters, especially the protagonist, revelation of the murderer was not a big deal; I just wanted it to be over. Rather than a cute hook, the cat was just annoying. Wasn't real fond of the way Hazel treated the cop either, but he seemed to wise up that she was using him. 

    Audio narration seemed to fit the text, which meant that the reader didn't do much to elevate things; if anything, she made them sillier. This is one future series I'd be sure to skip.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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