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B.J.

I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

Minneapolis, MN, United States | Member Since 2010

1807
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 160 reviews
  • 382 ratings
  • 881 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
15
FOLLOWERS
689

  • Sutton

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By J. R. Moehringer
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (193)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (173)

    Born in the slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the 20th century, Willie Sutton came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren’t taking brazen risks, they were shamelessly seeking bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of bank panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out. So began the career of America’s most successful bank robber. Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men.

    Jen says: "wow WOW wow W0W w0w!!!!"
    "What a fabulous character!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sutton is SO outrageous. As a character, he's unbelievably bold. I'm not sure where reality stops and creative license starts. But, it's memorable and a terrific listen.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Alphabet House

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcom
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (28)

    British pilots James Teasdale and Bryan Young have been chosen to conduct a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresden, Germany. Intelligence believes the Nazis are building new factories that could turn the tide of the war. When their plane is shot down, James and Bryan know they will be executed if captured. With an enemy patrol in pursuit, they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for senior SS soldiers wounded on the eastern front.

    John S says: "Leaped before I looked. Happy I did."
    "Smart fiction with pitch-perfect narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a Department Q fan - the series of more well-known books by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I was curious about how he would approach this one - a standalone - with its completely new cast of characters. I wondered if he could pull it off with the same level of mastery.

    Short answer: yes, most definitely. In my opinion, he's one of the most skillful contemporary fiction writers around. Here he shows he can also write historical fiction with a deft hand. He just has it. He has a natural way of character interaction that rings true. This book held my interest from beginning to end. I thought about it when I wasn't listening.

    And Graeme Malcom? What can I say. He has become one of my very favorite narrators. I never tire of listening to him. He's perfectly suited to this book just as he is to the Department Q series. It makes me think he could read anything and I'd listen to it - right there with Edoardo Ballerini and George Guidall.

    There you have a perfect combo: Malcom's narration and Adler-Olsen's writing. For me this particular book was a great, credit-worthy selection ... exactly what you hope every book will be.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Hampton Sides
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (517)
    Performance
    (471)
    Story
    (471)

    In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: The North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever." The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship.

    Dennis Hinkamp says: "Great found story"
    "An absolutely fascinating story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Every now and again you hit a book that's so addictive you just can't stop listening. This was exactly that for me.

    I knew nothing about this voyage. I'd never heard of George DeLong or the USS Jeannette. I expected a good historical account - something I'd listen to a few hours at a time. Instead I found myself buried in the story, the characters, the land, and their entire experience.

    Hampton Sides does a great job of bringing together a ton of detail into a coherent storyline. Some reviews are a little hard on that aspect, but I thought it added to the whole experience. These were very competent people. The level of preparation was stunning. That they left behind such a complete record of the voyage is a testament to how seriously they took this endeavor. All the detail made it more real for me.

    As to the narration ... I thought it was adequate. Morey doesn't get it the way, but he doesn't add anything either.

    Word of warning: while I was listening, I was so taken with the book that I started looking up maps and other details about that area of the arctic. Until that time, I really didn't know how this was going to end. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had stayed off the Google machine until I was done. It was impossible to avoid details and it spoiled the suspense.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Vicki Constantine Croke
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (34)

    At the onset of World War II, Williams formed Elephant Company and was instrumental in defeating the Japanese in Burma and saving refugees, including on his own "Hannibal Trek." Billy Williams became a media sensation during the war, telling reporters that the elephants did more for him than he was ever able to do for them, but his story has since been forgotten.

    Angela says: "Fascinating"
    "A wonderful book about magnificent beasts."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The greatness of this audio book is not in the writing or narration. Both are adequate but not noteworthy. The real beauty lies in the subject(s) - the elephants. In a way, this ends up being a love story to them.

    Though I've always wanted to know an elephant personally, I likely never will. This gave me a glimpse of what that might be like. I was impressed, once again, by their intelligence, uniqueness, and bravery. Again, as with many other books, it filled in a piece of WWII history that was new to me.

    It's interesting to see where events have taken people in life - especially during the first half of the 20th century. I don't think anyone could have predicted how Billy Williams' decision to become a teak man in Burma would actually turn out or what a difference he might make. By virtue of place, the book shines some light on British colonialism - and it's not pretty.

    This is a lovely look at what happens when people have a passion and heart. And though that's interesting, for me the unforgettable stars of this book are really the elephants themselves. Here's to you, Bandoola.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Turning Angel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Greg Iles
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (593)
    Performance
    (415)
    Story
    (412)

    As two of the most prominent citizens of Natchez, Drew Elliott and Penn Cage sit on the school board of their alma mater, St. Stephen's Prep. When the nude body of a young female student is found near the Mississippi River, the entire community is shocked - but no one more than Penn, who discovers that his best friend was entangled in a passionate relationship with the girl and may be accused of her murder.

    Sharon says: "Boring, too long and drawn out"
    "I really like Greg Iles. Usually."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    But this book doesn't come close to his others. First, it's WAY too long. The plot drags. Usually his books are longish, but they need the time for a plot that keeps turning and twisting. Second, it's just too graphic. I'm okay with details, but this one went too far for me. Third, it was just too predictable.

    If this is your first Greg Iles book, I hope you don't judge him but it. There are plenty of others that are absolutely terrific. This one is mediocre by comparison.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Bloomsday Dead

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Adrian McKinty
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (878)
    Performance
    (416)
    Story
    (402)

    Michael Forsythe is contacted by his former lover, Bridget, a New York Irish Mob boss, whose fiancé he killed. Bridget, calling from Dublin, says that her 11-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. Michael's choice is to fly to Dublin and help her find the girl, or be executed at the hands of Bridget's goons, who are holding him at gunpoint. He agrees to nothing, but is soon on the way to Dublin, leaving the first two of many dead bodies in his wake.

    Johnnie Walker says: "SIX STARS ******"
    "One of the best bad guys ever."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a dark book - the final in an inky black trilogy. And it is fabulous.

    Adrian McKinty has a talent for bringing characters to life with the written word. Then Gerard Doyle picks it up and does the best Michael Forsythe I could possibly imagine. There isn't a better fit between book and narrator.

    This is murder and mayhem. It's not gentle. The dialogue is rough and so are the scenes. Expect that. You can also expect a tightly written mystery that keeps you listening.

    I think it would be disappointing to start with this book rather than the first one in the trilogy. Listen to all three in order and you'll be rewarded with some superb character development. McKinty is at the top of his game.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Nightingale

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Kristin Hannah
    • Narrated By Polly Stone
    Overall
    (263)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (222)

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes Kristin Hannah’s next novel. It is an epic love story and family drama set at the dawn of World War II. She is the author of twenty-one novels. Her previous novels include Home Front, Night Road, Firefly Lane, Fly Away, and Winter Garden.

    Gayle says: "Beautiful Story of a Horrific Time in History"
    "S-l-o-w start but great finish."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a tough book to review. It would be easy to include a spoiler and that's not fair to other readers. So, I'll stay clear of that and do the best I can.

    This is the first Kristin Hannah book for me and I didn't really know what to expect. With all the advance press, I was hoping for something equal to, say, "The Goldfinch" for this year's list of greats. Yes, it's good - but it's not going to make that list for me.

    Though there's never a shortage of WWII books in fiction, there have never been enough books about the huge contribution women made to the war. I'm always pleased when one comes along that I think will capture new readers. I don't think this book comes close to "Code Name Verity" in quality, but there's no question it will generate great word-of-mouth and be a book club favorite.

    As to the book itself, I wish I could rate it in two halves. The first half for me was ho-hum. Let's be generous and call it good. It took me a very long time to get into it. The narrator didn't help much. She's adequate, but really doesn't enhance the experience in any way. For quite a while I wondered if I could endure but pushed on anyway. I'm glad I did. Things changed.

    About at half time, the storyline thickened and it became a compelling listen. All the set up on the characters paid off. Closer to the end when the author brings the whole thing around, she really ties it up beautifully. I'd even call it great.

    Is it "Winds of War" caliber? Nope. But that book will never get a new flock of readers and social media buzz where this one just might. If it helps a new generation know what women did during the war, it will have done its job.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Half of a Yellow Sun: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Narrated By Robin Miles
    Overall
    (395)
    Performance
    (355)
    Story
    (352)

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Adichie’s brilliant historical novel follows the fortunes of five characters living through the tumultuous 1960s—a time when the Biafran-Nigerian War raged in southern Africa.

    Alla says: "Horrifyingly human - mandatory reading"
    "A phenomenal merging of history and fiction."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm really in awe of this author. Her ability to craft a compelling story against the backdrop of war - even this particular war - is really impressive. More than that, she helped me understand the historical context while delivering a story. That's an achievement.

    Like many others who were around during the 60s, my knowledge of Biafra is limited to photos of starving children and pleas for help. I knew nothing about what caused the humanitarian catastrophe - only that it existed. The images are seared in my mind. If someone had handed me an historical tome on this particular civil war, I doubt I ever would have read it. That's where Adichie delivers some magic. Her book brought that whole time to life for me and delivered an ugly history in a way I could understand.

    There are times in the book where I was confused as to the sequence of events. The jumping back and forth wasn't always clear. There are also times that the actual writing is a B+ instead of an A. None of that mattered to me. I was completely taken by the whole experience -- diving into Nigerian history, reading about Biafra, examining my own assumptions, and thinking about how vulnerable people can be when superpowers don't do the right thing.

    Robin Miles adds a dimension to this book I never would have experienced if I'd read it in print. Her reading is beautiful - artful, nuanced, and completely one with the characters.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Fourth of July Creek: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Smith Henderson
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews, Jenna Lamia
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (239)
    Performance
    (213)
    Story
    (214)

    After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral 11-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face-to-face with the boy's profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times. But as Pete's own family spins out of control, Pearl's activities spark the full-blown interest of the FBI, putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.

    Peter says: "Intense"
    "One big meh."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    During the long winters we suffer through here in the north, it's really nice to broaden out a bit and discover authors that are new to me. (Anything to break through the boredom.) I have a special admiration for first time authors - the rare breed with the persistence to actually write that debut and get it published. So, I really looked forward to this book. I wanted to love it. I didn't.

    There's an underlying grittiness that normally appeals to me. In this case, it wasn't dark - it was bleak. Let's call it Wyoming, as we heard so often. Second, it just needed to be tighter. Everything wandered ... the dialogue, the characters and the plot. There were times when I was really lost as to what was going on. I was about half-way into it and realized I was ready for it to wrap up so I could move on to the next book. That's never a good sign.

    I'm seeing rave reviews all over the place and am wondering if I missed something. I don't think so. I think it's a distinctive writing style that will appeal to some people and maybe not so much to others. The bleakness may work for some people. The wordiness may work for some - though I vote for a ruthless editor to the benefit of all. I think I can fairly say it just was not my kind of book. To each his own.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Purity of Vengeance: A Department Q Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (795)
    Performance
    (686)
    Story
    (699)

    International superstar Jussi Adler-Olsen, with more than fourteen million copies of his books sold worldwide, returns with the fourth book in his New York Times best-selling Department Q series, about a perplexing cold case with sinister modern-day consequences. In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her in her youth, including Curt Wad, a charismatic surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in 1950s Denmark.

    Charles Atkinson says: "It's a 5 Star Story of Revenge"
    "Okay. I'm hooked."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not sure where the writing ends and the narration begins, but together Adler-Olsen and Malcolm are simply terrific. Malcolm has a way of delivering the wry asides and frustration Carl Mørck has with Assad's language mangling that makes me laugh out loud. It gives me the feeling that I'm along for the ride and observing all of this from the back seat. And what a ride it is.

    I never quite know where Adler-Olsen is going to take the plot and just when I think I've got it figured out, I find out just how wrong I am. I love how cleverly the characters work off each other. He manages to write about daily life events (and body functions) with such wit. Stomach flu? Who knew it could be hilarious.

    This series is a little twisted, sometimes dark and very quirky. (There's always an "ewww!" factor.) It's also first-rate entertainment if you want to bury yourself in a mystery and take a trip into a Denmark you never knew was there.

    I hope Graeme Malcolm is called back to narrate the first two books in the series. Carl Mørck just isn't the same without him.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Conspiracy of Faith: Department Q, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (899)
    Performance
    (797)
    Story
    (807)

    Detective Carl Morck has received a bottle that holds an old and decayed message written in blood. It's a cry for help from two young brothers, tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. After floating in the ocean for years before turning up, the bottle sat forgotten, unopened, on a police department windowsill, before the seal was cracked and the gruesome message, written in Danish, was analyzed. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why weren't they reported missing? Could they possibly still be alive?

    John S says: "Alternative to Nesbo/Harry Hole Novels"
    "The perfect thriller."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jussi Adler-Olsen's books have been coming up in my suggested list for a long time. I'm not sure what took me so long to give them a try, but I finally took a look and decided to start with this one. The rave reviews were impossible to ignore and after listening, I think it earned every one. Granted it's not literature, but I still had to give it top honors. Here's why:

    This is such a perfectly executed thriller that it should be a "how to" manual for writers. It has an underlying tension that never abates. He ratchets it up a notch from time to time, but it never goes back to zero. There are just enough characters to keep it interesting but not make it a difficult listen. (Meaning, I never had to write anything down to keep them straight.) The characters are quirky with dialogue that's clever and witty. (Meaning, I actually laughed out loud.) It's a thriller, so of course there are horrific things - but this author somehow manages to stay on the psychological side, rather than venturing into the disgusting. When you're not listening and thinking about it, it's the characters that stay with you - not graphic scenes. That's impressive.

    Graeme Malcolm's narration is spot-on. It's absolutely perfect for the author and the characters. The combination makes this escapism listening at its finest. I'm so glad to discover an author I like as much (or more than) Nesbo and McKinty. Kudos to all for a credit-worthy listen.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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