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Scott

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

Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2009

118
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 52 reviews
  • 301 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2015
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11

  • 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
    (189)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (162)

    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.

    Carol says: "A YA Mystery that Isn't... Quite"
    "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
  • Return to Tradd Street

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Karen White
    • Narrated By Aimee Bruneau
    Overall
    (229)
    Performance
    (210)
    Story
    (213)

    Facing her future as a single mother, psychic Realtor Melanie Middleton is determined to be strong and leave her past with writer Jack Trenholm behind her.

    Cheryl says: "Another great story!"
    "Satisfying Conclusion to this Quartet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know if Karen White has any more adventures planned for these characters, but this book provides a very satisfying conclusion to the Tradd Street quartet. As genre fiction, Romance novels tend to be predictable. The question isn't where the author is taking us, but how she gets us there. What sets the top echelon apart is the writing. A few (Diana Gabaldon, Susanna Kearsley, and Karen White, for example) can write circles around many authors of more "serious" literature. Their plots, characterizations and power of description are a step above. Yes, the men tend to be tall, dark, handsome, available and incredibly patient, but that goes with the territory. Here Karen White melds Romance and Ghost Story genres into entertaining stories. Each of the four Tradd Street books could, theoretically, stand on its own, but the series is best appreciated when read in order. Enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Starling Project: An Audible Drama

    • ORIGINAL (4 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Jeffery Deaver
    • Narrated By Alfred Molina, full cast
    Overall
    (296)
    Performance
    (275)
    Story
    (276)

    An aborted raid targeting a major arms dealer. A hostage standoff at a bank that may not be what it seems. A plot to spring a former African dictator from prison. What is the threat that connects them all? And just who is the mysterious mastermind, The Starling? From Mexico to Washington - from London to Marseille to Prague - war crimes investigator Harold Middleton and his team of Volunteers risk their lives to follow the trail of clues. But how can they stop The Starling - when he always seems one step ahead?

    Writrix says: "This is a DRAMA, not a book!"
    "Like Watching a Movie with Your Eyes Shut"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jeffery Deaver never disappoints. His thrillers and mysteries are always fast paced and have so many twists and turns you never really know the truth until the last page. This full cast recording is presented like an old-fashioned radio drama on steroids. It's like watching a movie with your eyes shut. It's entirely revealed through dialogue, a few sound effects and mood-setting music. It runs a little over 4 hours. If he'd written it as a printed book it would have included description, a bit more stage direction and perhaps a more elaborated backstory, which would make it run 8 or 9 hours. Since this is a plot-driven story, leaving out some of the extraneous material works just fine. It's set up for many sequels, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't find its way to the Big Screen. Great fun.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Rachel Joyce
    • Narrated By Jim Broadbent
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3537)
    Performance
    (3139)
    Story
    (3147)

    Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack is a letter addressed to Harold from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person.

    FanB14 says: "Wonderful Walkabout"
    "The Perfect Narrator for This Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I probably would have enjoyed reading this as much as listening to it, but I must give credit to the narrator, Jim Broadbent. This is a novel that unfolds at a sedate pace, with observations, recollections and philosophical speculation that requires a certain unhurried delivery. Broadbent inhabits the character and lets us discover his world at a pedestrian gait. The book is deeply affecting, both heartwarming and heartrending, a book that will make you laugh out loud, smile and weep at the decency that can be found in ordinary lives. It's also beautifully written. The prose is simple, yet concise, as illustrated in this brief passage:

    "They had made assumptions. They thought it was a love story, or a miracle, or an act of beauty, or even bravery, but it was none of those things. The discrepancy, between what he knew and what other people believed, frightened him. It also made him feel... that even in the midst of them he was unknown."

    This is a book that you can open at random, read a few paragraphs, and find something new each time. Mysteries, thrillers, Romance, Comedy and Fantasy all have their place, but so does old fashioned, character-driven literature, of which this is a refreshing example.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Firebird

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Susanna Kearsley
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1257)
    Performance
    (1136)
    Story
    (1139)

    Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird - the mythical creature from an old Russian fable. Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna who leads her into the past on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

    Sue says: "More heavy on the romance than the historical"
    "Fine Writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love getting two books in one as the story jumps from the present to the past and back. The historical story is richer for its details, as well as its more diverse characters, but both stories were satisfying. As with all the best writers, Kearsley's prose seems effortless. She's a master of setting mood through description, and her characters are well delineated. The only fault I can find in this one is that all of the young males are stock Romance characters (tall, well-muscled, enigmatic, masterful and never crude). That may keep the ladies coming back for more. As for me, I'll try anything Miss Kearsley puts her hand to, because the power of her writing overcomes any cookie-cutter characters that may insinuate themselves into her stories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Splendour Falls

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Susanna Kearsley
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (339)
    Performance
    (310)
    Story
    (313)

    Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary town of Chinon, and promptly disappears - well, that's Harry for you. As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm.

    G-Ma says: "Disappointing"
    "Wonderful Story, Strong Writing, Wrong Narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I probably would have enjoyed this better in print, but the audible offering is still worth the credit because the story is so strong. I agree with all of the comments regarding Barbara Rosenblat's narration. Her voice is simply too old for the part. That aside, I was in awe of Susanna Kearsley's evocative writing and her ability to weave a complex tale. Having read The Rose Garden and The Winter Sea, I assumed I'd be encountering a Romance novel with some supernatural or Time Travel angle. Instead, this is like a finely tuned, more literary version of an Agatha Christie tale, where disparate characters are brought together and we slowly learn their back stories and how they all relate. I wasn't aware that this was to be a Mystery. It was obvious that there would be a bit of the romance here, but it was subtly drawn out, and the mystery only slowly revealed. In the beginning the reader is simply getting to know the characters, and my hat's off to Ms. Kearsley for such a finely delineated cast of characters. Each one is distinct and plays his or her part in the drama/mystery/romance. When you finally realize that there is a mystery to be solved, you come to realize that virtually every previous scene was filled with clues that are relevant to the denouement. A wonderful book that will stay with me for a long while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Karen Joy Fowler
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (463)
    Performance
    (418)
    Story
    (413)

    Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."

    Amber says: "This was totally worth the credit."
    "Literary but not transcendent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I debated about the headline, as this is a beautifully written book. But I kept thinking that the same story in other hands (Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett come to mind) might have lifted it to another level. Nonetheless, it's totally worth your time. Ms. Joy Fowler is articulate, her characters are sufficiently compelling and the plot is adept at hanging the carrot just enough out of reach to keep me turning the pages (does that make me an ass?) Suffice it to say that It was good enough that I'm interested in trying some of her other books. Orlagh Cassidy's narration was unobtrusive and easy on the ears.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By David Morse
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2633)
    Performance
    (2402)
    Story
    (2419)

    In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs - including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession.

    Thug4life says: "Not fit for a King"
    "Satisfying Character Driven Horror"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another reviewer complained that "the plot of 'Revival' serves as a vehicle for Mr. King to spout off about drug addiction, aging, the existence of God, and guitar playing." All I can say is "Hallelujah!" Those are the very things that make this book so satisfying. King knows what he's talking about when he writes of addiction, aging and guitar playing (and any thinking adult will have to agree with the book's "terrible sermon"), which gives the narrator depth and inner demons and gives us reason to root for him. Other reviewers didn't think the story was scary enough, and while certain descriptions may be a bit formulaic, the very concept scared the pants off me and has left me with an uneasy feeling when looking into the abyss, which I guess can be viewed as a positive in the horror genre. The tone of the whole book, and the elegiac reflection of the coda, are reminiscent of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness." King is so good, he makes it look effortless.

    I hope narrator David Morse gets to do future King books. His tone and pacing are just right and he's good at differentiating between the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Capture the Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Dodie Smith
    • Narrated By Jenny Agutter
    Overall
    (338)
    Performance
    (288)
    Story
    (289)

    "I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him.

    Matthew says: "Well, that was a surprise"
    "Astonishingly Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't realize until I'd finished it that the book was written 60 years ago and that the author was famous for her children's book 101 Dalmatians. I had hoped that this was from a contemporary author and that there would be more books in the same vein. Though others have remarked on the similarity with jane Austin, I felt the tone and ability to set mood was far more reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier. The prose is beautifully restrained, the narrator is superb, the characters are full and delineated, and the world Dodie Smith recreates here (of English country life in the 1930s) is vividly drawn. Just my cup of tea.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Gilded Age

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Mark Twain, Charles Dudley Warner
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    The Gilded Age is the collaborative work of Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that satirized the era that followed the Civil War. This period is often referred to as the “Gilded Age” because of this book. The corruption and greed that was typical of the time is exemplified through two fictional narratives: one, of the Hawkins, a poor family from Tennessee that tries to persuade the government to purchase their seventy-five thousand acres of unimproved land.

    TX lilbit says: "An American classic, beautifully narrated"
    "Surprisingly Current"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Gilded Age is one of the few Twain works I hadn't read, and I was pleasantly surprised. The American penchant for get-rich-quick schemes, and the corruption and hypocrisy of Washington politicians was already in full-force 150 years ago! The southern dialect of Senator Dilworthy is vintage Twain. Great satire, though the second half, which involves a murder trial, drags on a bit too long. It's all the more ironic that Twain followed the example of his characters who dream of quick riches, only to be bankrupted by their greed. Excellent narration by Bronson Pinchot.

    1 of 1 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
    (2213)
    Performance
    (1985)
    Story
    (1985)

    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.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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