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Scott

A wine, food and travel writer with a Master's in English Literature, over 500 published articles and three and a half unpublished novels.

Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2008

71
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 34 reviews
  • 231 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 32 purchased in 2014
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6

  • The Good Soldier

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Ford Madox Ford
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (89)

    The Good Soldier is a story about the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples - one English, one American - and the growing awareness of American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian façade. It is Dowell’s attitude - his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration - that makes the book so powerful and mysterious. In Ford’s brilliantly woven tale, nothing is quite what it seems.

    Jefferson says: "The Clueless Cuckold and the Romantic Philanderer"
    "A brilliant character study of a fool"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Good Soldier to be better than the print version?

    Yes.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I found it a fascinating character study of a class of people with enough money to travel and indulge their vices, yet without ambition or direction. It's also a beautifully written book. It would have been more aptly titled The Sound and the Fury, because it is truly "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The protagonist/first person narrator is clueless, and often states, "I don't know; perhaps you can make sense of it," or phrases to that effect. It's obvious he learned nothing from the experience he relates. Even so, it's worth reading for its precise prose and the fascinating way the author weaves in flashbacks. Written in 1915, in style Ford Madox Ford falls in a direct line between Henry James and Ernest Hemingway. Though more reminiscent of James in both subject matter and style, there are passages that will remind you of Hemingway's character descriptions in The Sun Also Rises. The least rewarding aspect of the story is the failure of the male characters to grow. They are unbelievably dull-witted, which can become tedious with repetition.


    What about Ralph Cosham’s performance did you like?

    Ralph Cosham brings just the right tone of ennui and cluelessness that makes the first person narrator both a charming fool and an annoying idiot.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Luminaries

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Eleanor Catton
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (602)
    Performance
    (513)
    Story
    (530)

    It is 1866 and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.

    Ian C Robertson says: "Literally Dickensian"
    "Brilliant Narration but Book Needs an Editor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mark Meadows is amazing, voicing more than a dozen characters so distinctly that it was like listening to an ensemble cast. His accents run the gamut from Scottish, to Irish, the various regional and class distinctions of England, Maori, Australian, Chinese, men and women, young and old. I only kept listening because of the narrator.

    The book is Dickensian in scope and 19th Century in narrative style, which befits the subject, but it needed a good editor. The writing is very good, but the story jumps around in time to no purpose, and is numbingly repetitive. The last quarter of the book does little more than show in action what we already know from hearsay and narration, and leaves a few loose ends that would have given a more satisfying resolution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • NOS4A2: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Joe Hill
    • Narrated By Kate Mulgrew
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2285)
    Performance
    (2124)
    Story
    (2127)

    Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

    Christopher Barnes says: "D*mn near flawless"
    "THIS APPLE TOOK ROOT"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excuse the cliché, but Joe Hill didn't fall far from the proverbial tree. He writes action scenes that are so like his father's that you can barely tell the difference. His characters are also finely drawn, with believable foibles and failings. The pacing was excellent, especially given that he had to pause to show how Vic McQueen grew from "The Brat" of the first part, into the troubled adult of the second part. It was also refreshing to find "morbidly obese" Lou Carmody cast in the role of a fully realized, sympathetic hero. Of course all of that could easily have been ruined by a mediocre reading, but Kate Mulgrew is outstanding, giving each character an individual voice, as well as increasing the pace and urgency in her voice when the text called for it. If you're looking for horror, you can't do much better than this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elegance of the Hedgehog

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Muriel Barbery
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat, Cassandra Morris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1831)
    Performance
    (853)
    Story
    (867)

    An enchanting New York Times and international best seller and award-winner about life, art, literature, philosophy, culture, class, privilege, and power, seen through the eyes of a 54-year-old French concierge and a precocious but troubled 12-year-old girl.

    Pyles says: "It surprised me"
    "Sweet and Philosophical"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're looking for action, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a character study and a philosophical exploration of the characters' Parisian world, look no further. The writing is, at times, poetic, and always self-assured. If you like Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series, or the Isabel Dalhousie series, you'll like The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The dramas are internal, small and mundane, but no less interesting for all their familiarity. The philosophical musings are sometimes so intricate that I had to rewind to listen a second time, and indeed I think this is a book that may be a better read than a listen. Nonetheless, Barbara Rosenblat's husky voice was perfect for 54-year-old Renee, and Cassandra Morris does a respectable job as 12-year-old Paloma.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mysterious Island

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jules Verne
    • Narrated By Berny Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (213)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (191)

    Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne’s masterpiece. “Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump” (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive....

    Tad Davis says: "Wonderful novel, mediocre translation"
    "Dry Rendition"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This book could have benefitted from a better producer, who would have caught mispronunciations.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Jules Verne? Why or why not?

    Yes, Verne has a way of making science seem miraculous.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Berny Clark’s performances?

    No. I hate to criticize a narrator, as I could certainly do no better, but this book had more characters than Clark could easily differentiate. Also, he mispronounced a number of words, which immediately took me out of the narrative. For instance, instead of pronouncing "draught" as "draft," he says "drot."


    What character would you cut from The Mysterious Island?

    The boy, Herbert, is extraneous.


    Any additional comments?

    There are probably better translations, and a narrator adept at many voices would make this a better listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sense of an Ending: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Julian Barnes
    • Narrated By Richard Morant
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (486)
    Performance
    (411)
    Story
    (415)

    Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumor, and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

    Ryan says: "The mutability of afterimages"
    "Lovely Use of Language"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Sense of an Ending the most enjoyable?

    The narrator has an uncanny knack for sounding both young and old, which plays into the structure and sense of the story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The candor of the narrator, who tries his best to understand, even when he is clueless.


    Which character – as performed by Richard Morant – was your favorite?

    There really is only one character that Richard Morant has to perform, and that's Tony Webster. But he does an exemplary job of giving us Tony the adolescent and Tony the 60ish retiree trying to connect with his past.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    When the past you thought you knew, differs from the past your friends knew, what is the truth?


    Any additional comments?

    The English language is a beautiful medium for the expression of thought, and Julian Barnes is eloquent. Like Ian McEwan, it doesn't really matter what Barnes is writing about; it's about the ability of the language to express the nuance and complexity of human interaction and introspection. Stellar.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Son

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Philipp Meyer
    • Narrated By Will Patton, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Shepherd, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (898)
    Performance
    (810)
    Story
    (828)

    Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim. Spring, 1849: Eli McCullough is 13 years old when a marauding band of Comanches takes him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to life among the Comanches, learning their ways and waging war against their enemies, including white men - which complicates his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is.

    Melinda says: "Five Stars for the Lone Star, The Son, & Meyer"
    "A Major Talent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Son again? Why?

    Eventually (there are so many good books that I haven't already read), as the narrators lend authenticity to the tale.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Peter McCullough, because he is tormented by the amorality of the rest of his family, and who, though timid, finds the courage to pursue his own path.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There are several "memorable" scenes, but it would be hard to describe any of them as "favorite," as they are mostly of bloody and inhumane conflict.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Son and why?

    Eli, because he's a survivor, and because he has a curious sense of loyalty. He learns to be ruthless the hard way, and at an early age, which effects all of his relationships thereafter. As readers, we try to understand his motivations by observing his actions, but it's unclear why he should take bloody revenge for one crime against him, and yet forgive another. He's complicated and dangerous.


    Any additional comments?

    The story and even the narration, as good as it is, take a backseat to the writing, which pulls you into Time and Place. Very reminiscent of McMurtry at his best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4232)
    Performance
    (3867)
    Story
    (3867)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Long Winded with Brilliant Moments"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Goldfinch to be better than the print version?

    I doubt I could have got through the print version. David Pittu gave such distinct voices to each character that it is hard to imagine the print version being any better.


    If you could take any character from The Goldfinch out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Hobie. He's one of those philosophical characters you sometimes meet who take a long view of the world, even though they arrive there by focusing on a small part of it.


    Any additional comments?

    Three points:
    1. While initially engrossing, the constant and deep introspection becomes tedious by the half way point. It would be extremely easy to edit out a third of the book without losing a thing in the abridgment.
    2. Nonetheless, it's fascinating that Donna Tartt can so perfectly capture the mindset of adolescent boys.
    3. And since her seemingly intimate knowledge of heavy duty drugs can hardly have come entirely from the imagination, I'm surprised she lived to finish the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (5871)
    Performance
    (4237)
    Story
    (4257)

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Shannon says: "Word Thief"
    "Zusak Is Not a Fool"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Book Thief to be better than the print version?

    While Allan Corduner is very good, I expect the print would read as well.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The ending.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The first time they steal apples.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The last chapter and epilogue are among the most powerful in literature.


    Any additional comments?

    Hemingway once said something like, "Any fool can begin a novel. It takes a novelist to get out of one." This novel was very good from the start, but there were moments in the middle where I felt it dragged a little. However, the ending is transcendent. It lifts this book to a whole other realm. Most impressive.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Joyland

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Michael Kelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2561)
    Performance
    (2375)
    Story
    (2378)

    Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.

    Cozy Mystery Reader says: "The sweest and creepiest coming of age story!"
    "Classic King"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, I'd recommend this book. It's classic King, with great set-up and foreshadowing and deftly drawn characters. Also, for those who are just trying out Stephen King for the first or second time, it's not too long.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    While the ending was never really in doubt — since it's a first-person narration we know that the narrator survives — there was a bit of deus ex machina about the timing that detracted from the resolution.


    What about Michael Kelly’s performance did you like?

    He sounds perfectly natural and is good at delivering self-deprecating lines in which the narrator looks back at his younger self.


    Did Joyland inspire you to do anything?

    Read more books written in the first person, to see how differently each is handled. For instance, after Joyland I re-read The Great Gatsby. Both books are written in the first person, but one is more purposely prosaic, while the other is consciously poetic. Same point of view, very different results. Fascinating stuff.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • His Majesty's Hope: A Maggie Hope Mystery, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Susan Elia MacNeal
    • Narrated By Susan Duerden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (98)

    World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive–a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad–and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war–and of her own past.

    nicola says: "Narrator.She doesnt end sentences & is breathy"
    "The Character Deepens"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes, it was like watching a good movie unfold in my head. The point of view kept shifting from major to minor characters, from protagonists to antagonists, which kept the story moving along at a quick clip.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    It was fast paced, tightly plotted, and the romantic sub-plots and the intersection of main story and backstory kept me turning the pages. Of course, we know up front that the Nazis lost the war, and in a series such as this we know that the main character will survive. So the dramatic tension revolves around how she uses her wits and training to prevail, and in the survival or death of the peripheral characters. Maggie keeps getting deeper and more resourceful as the series goes on, and her relationships keep changing with changing circumstances. She stands as a reminder that most of the people who fought that war were in their 20's, and the reality of a world gone mad required and demanded that they mature quickly.


    What aspect of Susan Duerden’s performance would you have changed?

    While I think Susan Duerden's performance was much improved over her last outing in Princess Elizabeth's Spy, her German accent here was heavy handed. A sentence might read, "This is the way we work," while her attempt to make it sound German was more like, "Ziss is ze vay ve verk." Such distortions aren't necessary, and were in fact a bit distracting.


    Could you see His Majesty's Hope being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I'm afraid I'm not up on young British actors and actresses, so I can't comment on who the stars should be. However, it would make a great mini-series, and I expect the BBC will do just that after a few more titles are added to the series.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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