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Scott

Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.

Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
269
REVIEWS
43
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
7
HELPFUL VOTES
89

  • The Importance of Being Seven

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Robert Ian Mackenzie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (270)
    Performance
    (233)
    Story
    (235)

    Perhaps best known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith delights fans around the world with his warmhearted 44 Scotland Street novels. In the series’ sixth entry, the residents of 44 Scotland Street grapple with problems both trivial and severe, but none so great as when six-year-old Bertie Pollock - who longs to be seven - mislays his mum and learns a valuable lesson about wish fulfillment.

    Benedict says: "Beyond touching"
    "Like visiting with old friends"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Importance of Being Seven again? Why?

    Yes, I actually have listened to parts of it again. I'm fascinated by the way in which McCall Smith effortlessly weaves philosophy into the story.


    What other book might you compare The Importance of Being Seven to and why?

    Since this is a series, it can be compared with any of the other books in the series. As in other series (take Ann B Ross's Miss Julia series, for instance) the characters are recurring, and half the fun is in finding out how they've progressed from the last book.


    What does Robert Ian Mackenzie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I have read some of the books, as opposed to listening to them. I find the audible versions tend to put me more convincingly in Edinburgh. Robert Ian Mackenzie can turn on a Scotch brogue in a way I can't. He's particularly effective as Angus Lordie.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Many laughs, many smiles. Maybe even a tear or two.


    Any additional comments?

    I love the way he sees the world through his characters' eyes, be it six-year-old Bertie, or Cyril the dog, or the twenty-something Matthew. These are well-delineated characters. Too many fictional characters are caricatures. McCall Smith's characters are wonderfully low key, each with his or her own limitations and self-perceptions, navigating a world filled with other human beings with their own foibles — people who are narcissistic, overbearing, dishonest, self-deluded, self-sacrificing, gullible, hopeful, sad, funny and sweet. They each come with the sort of mild eccentricities and self-doubt that you'll recognize in members of your own family. In other words, they're believable.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Code Name Verity

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Wein
    • Narrated By Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1447)
    Performance
    (1311)
    Story
    (1307)

    Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery. Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong....

    Suzn F says: "Haunting, Beautiful, Exquisite, Special Book"
    "Preposterous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I give Elizabeth Wein high marks for writing a compelling story, and the narrators are superb, but it's hard to give credence to the conceit of a confession written in literary style. There is another incredibly illogical action that I can't divulge without spoiling the book for other readers. But it makes no sense and that absolutely ruined the book for me.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Rainbow Rowell
    • Narrated By Laura Hamilton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (766)
    Performance
    (680)
    Story
    (682)

    Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, coworkers at The Courier, know the newspaper monitors their office e-mail. But they still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers, and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can’t seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period. Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill still can’t believe that it’s his job to monitor other people’s e-mail.

    Julie says: "Just what I'd hoped for"
    "Captures the Zeitgeist of the Millennials"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, let me preface this by saying I'm a "senior citizen," so you know where I'm coming from. I loved his book, as it rather accurately depicted my children's lives as boomerang kids approaching thirty. Moreover, it had a wonderful lead up, presented all the expected complications in unexpected ways, and made the resolution a little more complex than I anticipated. In other words, it was perfectly paced, giving us sympathetic characters, and leaving us satisfied. I read a lot of fiction, from historical to literary. If I had to characterize it, I'd say this is a masterfully presented Romance that makes us care about the characters and leaves us with a smile on our faces. Well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Jonas Jonasson
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1693)
    Performance
    (1513)
    Story
    (1532)

    After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash.

    Sylvia says: "Full of Surprises and Unexpected Events"
    "Laugh Out Loud Funny"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In a blending of Forest Gump meets Baron Munchausen meets Lao Tzu, mild mannered and apolitical Allan Karlsson manages to have an impact on his times, even if no one knows his name. Whether having exceptionally bad luck and hardship, or experiencing the most providential escapes, through it all he accepts whatever comes his way because, as his father pointed out, "whatever will be will be." Fatalistic acceptance forms the core of his character as he goes from one adventure to the next through a very long and very eventful life. Loads of fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Resistance Man: Bruno, Chief of Police, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Martin Walker
    • Narrated By Robert Ian Mackenzie
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (45)

    Bruno Courrèges - provincial French police chief extraordinaire - is back in another delectable tale of mystery and suspense that unfolds in the gastronomically ravishing Dordogne.

    Scott says: "Another Winner from Walker"
    "Another Winner from Walker"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This series is notable for its gentle tone, its sympathetic characters, the methodical unraveling of the core mystery, and topical themes. Earlier novels in the series have addressed xenophobia, illegal immigration, human trafficking, genetically modified crops, real estate development, truffle fraud, fois gras, PETA and the ETA. Resistance Man incorporates themes of prejudice against homosexuals, abortion, the longing for family and government corruption. And as always, there are the ever present family feuds, politics, testing of loyalties, and the struggle to reconcile legal, pragmatic and moral solutions. The only frustration is that we'll have to wait another year for the next installment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Life After Life: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Kate Atkinson
    • Narrated By Fenella Woolgar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1362)
    Performance
    (1209)
    Story
    (1219)

    On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

    Diane says: "Life after life after life after life after life.."
    "The Sweetness of a Do Over"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of my favorite books of the past year (out of about 60). The concept is intriguing, and the protagonist becomes more compelling with each iteration. The minor characters also acquire more depth as they resurface throughout the stories. The narrator could not have been better. And the ending is tremendously satisfying. This is not a book I'll soon forget.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Chestnut Street

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Maeve Binchy
    • Narrated By Sile Bermingham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (83)
    Story
    (83)

    Maeve Binchy imagined a street in Dublin with many characters coming and going, and every once in a while she would write about one of these people. She would then put it in a drawer; “for the future,” she would say. The future is now. Across town from St. Jarlath’s Crescent, featured in Minding Frankie, is Chestnut Street, where neighbors come and go. Behind their closed doors we encounter very different people with different life circumstances, occupations, and sensibilities.

    Jean says: "A great collection of short stories"
    "Women Wronged"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, I should say I’ve read most of Maeve Binchy’s books and am a big fan. However, this volume, published after her death, might better be considered an unfinished work. It’s a collection of 36 stories, only loosely connected by the street on which some of the characters live (in some cases it’s a tangential connection). Most of the stories end rather abruptly, and knowing Binchy’s previous work, I expect she would have connected some of the stories and characters, and possibly have fleshed out some of the characters and expanded some stories had she lived to help in the editing process.

    Certainly she would have brought some element into the book to redeem the otherwise gloomy outlook. Of the 36 stories, there are but three that might be considered optimistic. These are all character studies of mostly sad, wronged women who work hard and are continually disappointed in their relationships with parents, siblings, friends, and especially men. The men, in all but four of these stories, are drunks, gamblers, philanderers, drug dealers, unethical businessmen, workaholics, neglectful and cheating husbands and boyfriends, and absent fathers.

    The narrator has a pleasant Irish accent, but she also has a lisp that is sometimes distracting, and there is no attempt made at differentiating characters through voice; so they all sound exactly alike.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Forever Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Susan Lyons
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (45)

    Amanda and her husband, David, feel fortunate to be raising their son and daughter in the close-knit community of ex-pats on Grand Cayman Island, an idyllic place for children to grow up. Their firstborn, Sally, has always listened to her heart, deciding at age four that she would rather be called Clover and then, a few years later, falling in love with her best friend, James. But the comforting embrace of island life can become claustrophobic for adults, especially when they are faced with difficult situations.

    wobbly says: "I'll be returning this one"
    "By Love Obsessed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read or listened to all of Alexander McCall Smith's adult books, and this one stands apart in its repetition and lack of humor. In tone it reminds me of Scott Spencer's Endless Love, or the novels of Anne Tyler. We suffer the protagonist's obsession for hours, only to be handed a shockingly abrupt ending. The scene we eagerly anticipated throughout the book finally arrives, we wait to see what the main character will say and do, and suddenly a curtain is drawn over that pivotal, life changing moment, and we find ourselves on a beach, with the protagonist and her mother, engaged in a banal conversation that adds nothing to the story. How disappointing!

    Nonetheless, along the way we're treated to a few of McCall Smith's philosophical asides, insights into human character, and the nature of romantic love. And Susan Lyons does a wonderful job of narration, handling a number of English accents with subtlety and grace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • On the Island

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Tracey Garvis Graves
    • Narrated By Heidi Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (417)
    Performance
    (383)
    Story
    (389)

    When 30-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts. T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

    Kim says: "Loved this book!"
    "Ridiculously Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought this would be a pleasant Young Adult novel (aka, light literature). Instead, ten minutes into it I was hooked and spent the rest of the day listening to the end. Yes, I agree that the narrator could have done a better job of differentiating the two main characters, but the story was well-paced and compelling. Tracey Garvis Graves excels at the subtleties of relationships, and has an unusual understanding of teenage boys. Entirely satisfying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Frog Prince: A Romantic Comedy

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Elle Lothlorien
    • Narrated By Leah Frederick
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (99)

    With one sniff, sex researcher Leigh Fromm recognizes that any offspring she might have with the mysterious stranger would have a better-than-average chance of surviving any number of impending pandemics. But when Leigh finds out that the handsome "someone" at her great aunt's wake is Prince Roman Habsburg von Lorraine of Austria, she suddenly doubts her instincts - not that she was intending to sleep with the guy.

    Jeana says: "Humerous Love Story"
    "Fun Romantic Romp"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Elle Lothlorien takes a tired genre and gives it a shot of energy with her wry sense of humor and impeccable pacing. I read the ebook first, and enjoyed it, but the heroine's voice in my head didn't match the manic delivery of Leah Frederick. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the audio version just as much, as Frederick gave it her own unique spin.

    0 of 0 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
    (998)
    Performance
    (858)
    Story
    (875)

    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.

    Allan Cumming says: "Sometimes you need to have a book read to you"
    "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

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