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Jean

I am an avid eclectic reader.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States | Member Since 2010

3313
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 631 reviews
  • 668 ratings
  • 1240 titles in library
  • 131 purchased in 2014
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  • The Lost Fleet: Courageous

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel, Jack Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3190)
    Performance
    (2143)
    Story
    (2167)

    The Alliance has been fight a losing battle against the Syndicate Worlds for over a century. Now, Captain John "Black Jack" Geary, who returned to the fleet after a hundred-year suspended animation, must keep the Alliance one step ahead of its merciless foe.

    Jesse says: "Great Scifi!"
    "Courageous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Christian Rummel did a good job narrating this story. Great space battle scenes and over all a good military Sci Fi. Black Jack and the lost fleet keep getting into impossible situation but do manage to get them selves out of it. A bit of repetition was getting a bit annoying but over all a good fast pace story. This story finished with a cliff hanger so can not wait for the next in the series.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Festive in Death: In Death, Book 39

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By J. D. Robb
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    Overall
    (117)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (108)

    Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn't count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest. Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who'd been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler's enemies, she's also dealing with her Christmas shopping list - plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband's upcoming holiday bash.

    BG853 says: "A Feast for In Death devotees"
    "entertaining book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Personal trainer Trey Ziegler is found dead by Trina, Lt. Eve Dallas’s hairdresser. I think this is the 39th book in the series. This book takes place during the Christmas holidays as have several other stories in the series. I am glad that Robb has managed to treat each holiday different and that the annual “party” is evolving also. I always get a kick out of Dallas’s reaction to the holidays as I feel the same way. This book has a bit more about the personal life of Dallas than other stories in the series. We tag along as she gift shops, helps with “the party” preparations, wraps gifts and so on. Of course, she is trying to solve the murder of Ziegler in between the social life. In the first book of the series Dallas was alone for the holiday by book 39 she has a husband, lots of friends and an active social life, my how she has changed.

    This book lacks the action and suspense of some other the other books in the series but it fits right in with the holiday theme. The victim is a bad guy who raped women, blackmailed people. I got a laugh out of one of Dallas sayings in the book. “Secrets plus greed generally equals a slab for somebody.” I enjoy all the main and secondary characters in the series. Robb has created a rich cast of supporting characters. They all cannot play a large role in every book however the author uses them when they can support the plot. Both Roark and Dallas have evolved over the series sort of like watching friends grow over time. I am amazed that Robb can keep coming up with interesting plots and has kept the characters fresh. Susan Ericksen has narrated the series. I like it when the publisher keeps the same narrator. This is a fun, entertaining read.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Life on the Mississippi

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (34)

    The Mississippi River, known as “America’s River” and Mark Twain are practically synonymous in American culture. The popularity of Twain’s steamboat and steamboat pilot on the ever-changing Mississippi has endured for over a century. A brilliant amalgam of remembrance and reportage, by turns satiric, celebratory, nostalgic, and melancholy, Life on the Mississippi evokes the great river that Mark Twain knew as a boy and young man and the one he revisited as a mature and successful author.

    Jean says: "A meandering tour of the Mississippi River"
    "A meandering tour of the Mississippi River"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Of the first fifteen chapters of the book, twelve are reprinted from “The Atlantic.” In the three introductory ones which precede these, the physical character of the river is sketched. The book was published in 1883. The book begins with a brief history of the river beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto then on the French Marquette and La Salle.

    The most engrossing section describes the author’s education as a steamboat pilot. Vivid details and anecdotes link the story of life on the River. He tells of the odd habits of the steamboat pilots. There is a section on how to read the river including the conformation of the banks, sandbanks, islands and inlets as well as sudden cut outs of the river after storms.

    The rest of the book is an account of Twain’s trip down the Mississippi decades later as an old man. He describes the changes in the river and of American during his lifetime. The book is hilarious, fascinating, meandering tour of the Mississippi River most of all the book is entertain. Grover Gardner does an excellent job narrating the book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Finest Years

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs)
    • By Max Hastings
    • Narrated By Barnaby Edwards
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Preeminent military historian Max Hastings presents Winston Churchill as he has never been seen before. Winston Churchill was the greatest war leader Britain ever had. In 1940, the nation rallied behind him in an extraordinary fashion. But thereafter, argues Max Hastings, there was a deep divide between what Churchill wanted from the British people and their army, and what they were capable of delivering.

    Jean says: "Full of perceptive insight"
    "Full of perceptive insight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Max Hasting well known British historian attempt to take a realistic view of Winston Spencer Churchill. The author has written a subtly revisionist account of Winston Churchill during the war. Hasting has taken a different method of looking at Churchill that is by looking at him through the eyes of others at the time. Hasting used diaries, letters and stories then he ties it together with a bits and parts of Winston Churchill speeches. That Hasting is never seduced by Churchill’s effortless apothegms and anecdotes is an indication that this is a fine book rather than simply an addition to the hagiography.

    During the period in which Britain fought almost alone—the Dominions being the exceptions—Churchill parsed what amounted to a series of defeats and evacuation as noble encounters. Finally the Russians entered the war and had to deal with 200 axis’s divisions, the British struggled to handle a couple of Afrika corps. I found one comment by Hasting that WSC was so frustrated with the British Army; all they could do is lose battles. Churchill praised the Air Corp and the Navy. Hastings said WSC was intensely frustrated by the caution and lack of imagination of his Army Generals—notably those who won the Victoria Cross in the First World War They were fighting the prior stationary war instead of adjusting to the fast moving current war.

    The author wrote a damning indictment of Britain’s culture of war-making, making do with shoddy equipment, corruptions in procurement, appointments and promotions based on mere social statues not merit. These are the same complaints that Lord Wellington made during the Napoleonic war. Napoleon was the first to promote officers on merit. Napoleon once said “ give me my officers and the English soldiers and I could rule the world”. Hasting discussed the Russian Spies in England that kept Stalin abreast of every major development. The author also discussed the Union strikes during the War slowing down vital war materials.

    This book may have some valuable lessons not just about leadership but about the relationship between soldiers and civil society. The book is well balanced revealing Churchill’s failings as well as his strengths. Despite his failings he is revealed as one of the greatest wartime leaders. If you are a history buff, a Churchill fan or interested in WWII you will find this an excellent book. Barnaby Edwards did a good job narrating the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ark Royal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (373)
    Performance
    (353)
    Story
    (355)

    Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye. But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons.

    C. Hartmann says: "TWO (!!) audiobooks this year get SIX stars"
    "suspenseful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is book one in a trilogy about the Royal Navy in the future. The Ark Royal is a space cruiser ready for the junkyard with a Captain that is a drunk and a crew of misfits. This is a military Sci-Fi or some people call it a space opera based around old technology and a problematic crew.

    The old obsolete RN space cruiser is pushed into action against an alien menace. Nuttall does a good job of building up the back story to his characters (of course, he will have three books to work with). The author introduces some twists-one of the crew is a British Prince, lots of relationship between the crew. The description of the aliens and their culture is slow to start unveiling which adds to the suspense.

    I noted in the space battles they are blasting away at each other up close with guns. That went out with World War II so I do not find that very realistic. Nuttall should read Jack Campbell or David Weber both are suburb with battle scene. The book needs more editing, too much repetition, the technology and space combat tactic need to be made more plausible. The plotting is good, the characters interaction is good and the story carries the day. There is a lot of potential but the book needs a good editor and a rewrite to clean it up a bit. For a first book the author did a good job and is worth reading more of in the future. Ralph Lister did a good job narrating the story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Natural Woman: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Carole King
    • Narrated By Carole King
    Overall
    (127)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (113)

    Carole King takes us from her early beginnings in Brooklyn to her remarkable success as one of the world's most acclaimed songwriting and performing talents of all time. A Natural Woman chronicles King's extraordinary life, drawing listeners into her musical world, including her phenomenally successful number-one album Tapestry, and into her journey as a performer, mother, wife, and present-day activist.

    Thomas A. Morgan says: "The Baby Boom Generation's Big Sister"
    "A music prodigy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is not the type of memoir or biography I normally read. I have heard people talk about Carol King so thought I would learn about her. I am afraid I stopped listening to music when Elvis Presley came on the scene. I stayed in the Big Band era.

    Carole King is a Jewish girl from Brooklyn. Her name was Carol Klein she was of Polish Russian Jewish descent. King states she wanted to be a teacher. She states the gift of her music presented itself early in her life. Apparently she was a piano prodigy. She tells of her of her first contract with a recording company when she was 15 years old. Kings says she learned to play and write all types of music from classical to rock and roll. King tells of her life married to Gerry Goffin having her first child at 17 years of age. She had two children by Goffin. She also tells about her other husbands Charley Lankey with whom she had two children, James Taylor and Rick Evers. Apparently some of the husbands were addicted to drugs but King states she never used drugs. She also is careful only to provide positive information about these men. She tells of her life on a ranch in Idaho.

    King tells of being crammed into a cubicle at the music publisher’s office writing hit after hit. She writes in detail about the making of “Tapestry”. She tells about the writings of various songs and sings parts of song which was easy to do as she also narrated the audio book. She talks about the fact she preferred to write music rather than be a performer but her music produces said she was talented enough to perform and pushed her into. She says she only started to travel and perform routinely after her children were grown. She provides a travelogue type of information of the tours she did in foreign countries. I found this part quite interesting. King says she is not very good at lyrics and prefers to work with someone to do the lyrics. She writes all the music. She said her career has been going for 54 years so far and it took her 12 years to gather the memories and write the book.

    I enjoyed the book it was like sitting down with a cup of tea and listening to a new friend tell stories about their life.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Nicholas Rankin
    • Narrated By Napoleon Ryan
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In 1941, the United Kingdom faced its darkest hour: It stood alone against the Germans, who had chased British forces out of France, Norway, and Greece. All it had left were desperate measures - commando raids, intelligence coups, feats of derring-do. Any such "novel enterprise", wrote Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence, required "an officer with drive and imagination of the highest order". He found one in Commander Ian Fleming.

    Jean says: "Lots of information about Commandos"
    "Lots of information about Commandos"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ian Fleming born into a rich and well connected Scottish banking family was recruited in 1939 into the Royal Navy intelligence division as a personal assistant to NID’s head, Admiral John Godfrey. Fleming had the rank of Commander. He played a key role in the secret world of spies during World War II. He suggested schemes and ideas some of which were taken up and proved notable covert success.

    I was surprised to learn a fact about Winston Churchill I had not come across or if I did the fact did not stay with me. Rankin stated that after the disaster at Dunkirk Churchill suggested creating commando units. The commando units were created by all the services and are still a key part of the military forces today. Rankin states that the most remarkable and lasting ideas by Fleming was his suggestion that a special group of Royal Marine Commandos be set up. This small group of intelligence gathering raiders who would attack and plunder targeted German establishments---radar stations, Kriegsmarine offices, naval installation, stealing anything useful such as code books, movement orders and so on. It was called 30 Assault Unit. The Unit proved invaluable in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Rhodes, Yugoslavia and the invasion of France. It was most effective in Germany during the last days of the Third Reich. It stole the entire archives of the German Navy over 500 tons of material.

    Rankin tells the stories of the unit’s raids, describing the men and their exploits. After the war Fleming wrote the James Bond novels. Rankin tells a bit about Fleming’s personal life and problems after the war to his death. The 30 Assault Unit of the Royal Marines is still in existence and fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The book could have benefited from the services of a good editor. Napoleon Ryan with his base voice narrated the book. Only give this book 3 stars overall because of the poor editing the information was most interesting.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel, Book 19

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (191)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (167)

    "You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely," notes Jack Reacher - and sure enough, the retired military cop is soon pulled back into service. This time, for the State Department and the CIA. Someone has taken a shot at the president of France in the City of Light. The bullet was American. The distance between the gunman and the target was exceptional. How many snipers can shoot from three-quarters of a mile with total confidence? Very few, but John Kott - an American marksman gone bad - is one of them...

    Jeffrey says: "Lee and Dick seem tired"
    "A page turner"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the 19th Jack Reacher Novel. They are blissfully pedantic whodunits. I have found that both men and women like to read the Jack Reacher stories. Reacher is a retired army military policeman who is a loner. He is off the grid. He hitchhikes, or takes the Greyhound. He doesn’t have a credit card, driver’s license, or a cell phone. He buys new clothes, usually from a thrift shop every three or four days and throws the old ones away. He rights wrongs. He is laconically funny.

    The plot of this book involves Reacher joining an international manhunt for a rogue sniper. The possible American sniper is John Knott a man Reacher had put into prison. The president of France is almost killed by the sniper. The G8 meeting is about to take place in London so the race is on to catch him. As Reacher had caught him before he is called in to catch him again. A sniper, gangsters, ex-military guys Child’s weaves together an exciting twisting story.

    Child has continued to make Reacher interesting, informative and compelling. Child’s style is straight forward and no-nonsense sort of like Reacher. Child does provide a surprising twist at the end of the story. I am looking forward to the next Jack Reacher book. By the way Tom Cruise is NOT Reacher. Dick Hill did his usual great job narrating this book. Hill has been the narrator for the entire series he is Reacher.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Bittersweet

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs)
    • By Colleen McCullough
    • Narrated By Cat Gould
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses - a new option for women of their time who have previously been largely limited to the role of wives, and preferably mothers. As the Latimer sisters become immersed in hospital life and the demands of their training, they meet people and encounter challenges that spark new maturity and independence.

    Jean says: "1920s Australia"
    "1920s Australia"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought this book would be a historical novel about the changing role of nurses just after World War One and into the 1920s. The story is a tale of Edda, Grace Heather (Tufts) and Katherine (Kitty) two sets of twins. The story is set in the imagined Australian country town of Corunda. The novel underlines several of McCullough’s enormous strengths as a writer—superbly deft characterization, multiple plots that move apace, a warmth and generosity in the telling and dialogue sharp and at times funny.

    The story starts in a country hospital, nurses and sisterly friendship. In those days a women’s was limited in a career choice. She could get married, be a teacher, a nun or a nurse. The four girls are educated and start a new three year nursing program to become an R. N. Australia has just adopted the new system requiring nurses to be educated and licensed. Edda wanted to be a physician but has to settle for a nurse. The story’s attraction is the dissection of Australian society during the great depression and the detailed exposure of sex discrimination and feminist struggles in the Australian style.

    The book had my attention in the beginning with descriptions of the hospital and nursing techniques but unfortunately for me the book turned into a romance novel. I am not a fan of romance novels.

    Colleen McCullough is Australia’s most successful author. She lives on Norfolk Island. I enjoyed her book “Thorn Birds” and her series on ancient Rome. Cat Gould did a good job narrating the book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Rosen
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (114)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (32)

    A leading Supreme Court expert recounts the personal and philosophical rivalries that forged our nation's highest court and continue to shape our daily lives. The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.

    Trevor Burnham says: "Excellent history"
    "Interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I recently watched Jeffrey Rosen on T.V. interview various Supreme Court Justices and this trigger me to buy this book as it seemed somehow I had skipped over Rosen in my readings on the Supreme Court.

    In his book “the Supreme Court” Jeffrey Rosen, an acclaimed observer of the Court, teaches law at George Washington University, argues that temperament trumps all. “Humility and common sense” he writes, more than “academic brilliance on rigid philosophical consistency” separates the truly influential justices from the other.
    Rosen premise rests on four rivalries, each from a different period in the Court’s history, each pitting what he calls “pragmatic” personality against an “ideologue”. There are as follows:
    1. John Marshall against Thomas Jefferson (Marshall’s greatest antagonist, was a President not a justice.)
    2. John Marshall Harlan against Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
    3. Hugo Black against William O. Douglass
    4. William H. Rehnquist against Antonin Scalia

    In the book Rosen goes into detail about each of these 4 sets of justices. Rosen’s book makes a less than convincing case that agreeability is the key to influence. Part of the problem is that Rosen’s neat dichotomy (pragmatist/ideologue) may not be neat enough. No more helpful than labels of liberal or conservative. Take for example Harlan and Black. Both appear by the author rendering, a lot like ideologues. Harlan the lone dissenter in Plessey v Ferguson (1896) ruling created the separate but equal. Black similarly is painted as a free speech absolutist. Rosen say Black’s pragmatism is his ability to bring his brethren around to his view point without budging much in the process. Rosen is right that this skill accounted for much of Black’s influence. But to suggest in Black’s case or in general that personal temperament matters more than intellect seems a stretch to me. “The self –centered loner” he writes “is less-effective than the convivial team player”. This view is not without merit. Rosen’s contrast between the churlish Scalia and the conciliatory Rehnquist makes the point effectively, even if the other chapters do not. In each case Rosen contends, the Justice who had the judicial temperament that includes pragmatism, common sense, trust and institutional loyalty such as Marshall, Harlan, Black and Rehnquist were able to more effectively shape American law.

    Rosen blends biography with clear descriptions of legal cases that illustrate his point. The book ends with an interest recent interview with Chief Justice Roberts. The author points out that Roberts worked for Rehnquist as a clerk and sees Marshall as a model. If you are interested in history or the Supreme Court this is an interesting book to read. Alan Sklar did an excellent job narrating the book.




    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Heist

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Daniel Silva
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (648)
    Performance
    (579)
    Story
    (578)

    Master novelist Daniel Silva has thrilled listeners with 16 thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back - from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. His brilliant creation, Gabriel Allon - art restorer, assassin, spy - has joined the pantheon of great fictional secret agents, including George Smiley, Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, and Simon Templar.

    Brian says: "If new to Daniel Silva, great book. Otherwise..."
    "A hunt for a Caravaggio"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I decided to read this book when I saw the name of the artist as Caravaggio. I had read a biography of him last year and have kept my eyes open for more information about him. I have made a point of looking for his paintings whenever I go into an art museum. I saw one of his paintings in the Art Museum in St. Louis, Mo and another in the De Young Museum in San Francisco, Ca. Apparently this is a series about Gabriel Allon who is an art restorer, investigator and Israeli intelligence operative. There was some information about various techniques to restore art which I found most interesting and a discussion of various famous paintings and art heist. The book also covered a bit about the famous paintings taken from the Jews during WWII and the hunt for them.

    The plot has Allon helping a friend by trying to recover a Caravaggio painting. While on his search he discovers multiple murders, and a tie to a brutal Arab dictator who is paying for stolen art work. Silva has created Allon as a complex personality, which makes him more believable. The book is not just a spy thriller but also an art history novel. There is lots of intrigue, insight and suspense. The only down side is the commentary about current situation in the Middle East but it was well done and worked easily into the story. The author provided us with a nice travelogue as the story moved from London to Lake Como to Venice on to Vienna and then to Jerusalem.

    I enjoyed the book it was an easy read and kept my attention. The book was narrated by the Audie Award winner George Guidall. The Audie Award is the audio book industries equivalent to the Oscar.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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