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Jean

I am an avid eclectic reader.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States | Member Since 2010

3345
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 637 reviews
  • 674 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 137 purchased in 2014
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  • Taking the Fifth: J. P. Beaumont Series, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By J. A. Jance
    • Narrated By Gene Engene
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (83)

    Homicide Detective J. P. Beaumont had little to go on: a body, definitely male and decidedly dead, with strange little puncture wounds.

    Jean says: "Taking the Fifth"
    "Taking the Fifth"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A friend had introduced my to J.A. Jance books and I started the the Joanne Brady series and have enjoyed it. Read a few of the new Beaumont books but now have started at the beginning and working my way though. Beaumont has changed over the books which I find interesting. In this book Beaumont thinks or feels the main suspect is being framed. The book has interesting twists and turns and I was beginning to wonder how it was all going to tie together but Jance did a good job doing so. Enjoy the descriptions of Seattle.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Karen Abbott
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little-known aspects of the Civil War: The stories of four courageous women - a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow - who were spies. After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

    Jean says: "Engrossing book"
    "Engrossing book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this book as it provided another aspect of the Civil War that one rarely hears about. Abbott provides an alternate view of the Civil War by featuring previously untold stories of the impact women and civilians had on the war effort. She brings these individuals fully to life with passion for their causes. The subjects of Karen Abbott’s engrossing book are four women who worked undercover in the Civil War. Belle Boyd and Rose O’Neal Greenhow worked for the confederacy and Elizabeth Van Lew and Emma Edmondson worked for the Union. Boyd was 17 years old in 1861, known as “The Secesh Cleopatra” and La Bella Rebelle” she flirted and spied never making pronounced efforts to conceal her espionage activities. Emma Edmondson born in 1841 from Flint Michigan, by way of Canada, worked as a nurse and also infiltrated enemy terrain to gather intelligence. She masqueraded herself in various disguises to do this. She even disguised herself as a man and fought with the 2nd Michigan Infantry. Greenhow ran a spy ring out of Washington D.C. she also learned cipher and Morse code. In 2012 I read “Wild Rose” by Ann Blackman which gave an in-depth history of Greenhow’s life. Elizabeth Van Lew was of Richmond society. Her father was a prominent businessman and slave owner. She was one of Richmond’s wealthiest citizens. She had been educated in Philadelphia by an abolitionist governess. She ran a spy ring, learned to cipher and Morse code. Van Lew’s most impressive agent was Mary Jane Bower, her black servant.

    Abbott did meticulous research for the book and it is smoothly written and structured (chronologically) so as a certain amount of suspense is built in. The author’s research included letters, diaries and news accounts of the time. Abbott claims that as many as four hundred women both North and South were posing and fighting as men. The author also stated women were capable not only of significant acts of treason, but of executing them more deftly than men. Karen Abbott is a well known history author and a graduate of Villanova University.

    If you enjoy history and true stories of adventure and courage you will find this is just the book for you. I read this as an audio book with the use of “whispersync” so I could take advantage of the photographs in the book. Karen White did a good job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Ben Macintyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (147)
    Performance
    (132)
    Story
    (129)

    Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6.

    Michael Eaton says: "The Greatest Spy -- Ever Discovered"
    "Gripping Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was thoroughly engrossed in this book, beginning to end. It provided insight into the behind-the- scenes working of those we entrust with our most important political and military secrets. Harold “Kim” Philby (1912-1988) during the 1940’s and 50’s was an officer in the U.K. secret intelligence service (MI6). All the time he was spying for the Soviet Union remitting many damaging Anglo-American secrets to Moscow. Hundreds died because of his treachery.

    Ben Macintyre tells the story of Kim Philby a member of the British upper class. His father was linguist who became an advisor of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. Philby became a Communist while at Cambridge University. He married Litzi Friedman a Communist of Hungarian Jewish descent. It is claimed she was the one to recruit him as a Soviet spy. Macintyre suggest that although Philby was a sincere Communist, the impelling motive for his treachery was conceit. Cheating people made him feel clever. He betrayed anti-Soviet insurgents in Albania, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia and Ukraine, causing many deaths. The KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn provided information against Philby in 1962. He made a confession and then escaped to Russia in 1963.

    Ben Macintyre was a journalist with the Times of London. He conducted an enormous amount of research and found new sources of information in the office diaries of MI5’s deputy Chief Guy Liddell which became available in 2012. The book ends with an afterword by John le Carrie who worked in MI6 during the same time as Philby. The book reads like a spy novel but it is a solidly researched true story. John Lee does an excellent job narrating the book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Nelson Touch: Ark Royal, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    Overall
    (221)
    Performance
    (211)
    Story
    (212)

    Ark Royal - the Royal Navy’s outdated space carrier - has won a smashing victory against the enigmatic aliens, capturing one of their starships and returning to Earth. Now, Admiral Theodore Smith and his crew are assigned to command a fleet charged with making a deep-penetration raid into alien territory, a fleet made up of carriers from four different nations. But with a crewman who isn't what he seems, untested pilots and international friction - and a new and dangerous alien plan - can Ted and his crew survive their mission?

    Jean says: "Author improving"
    "Author improving"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the second book in the Ark Royal series. The story begins eleven months after the first book ends. Captain Smith has been promoted to Admiral and is now in charge of the fleet with Ark Royal servings as his flagship. James Fitzwilliam has been promoted to Captain and is now the captain of the Ark Royal. The Earth Defense Command has decided to go on the offensive and strike the aliens in their own space territory.

    The book is divided into two parts. The first part takes place before the mission leaves earth orbit and mostly deals with relationships of the crewmembers. The second part deals with the Mission with the fleet in constant state of danger. Admiral Smith leads the large fighting force on the mission called “Operation Nelson”.

    The story adds another element to the plot line and creates a number of new characters including a fighter pilot named Charles Augustus. He causes some personnel problems that will impact the future. The story is interesting, entertaining and better written than book one of the series but still needs to reduce the repetition. There is lots of action, suspense and battles and ends in a cliffhanger. This I assume is to get you to buy book three of the series. Ralph Lister has done a good job narrating the series.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Jack Cheevers
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    In 1968, a small, dilapidated American spy ship set out on a dangerous mission to pinpoint military radar stations along the coast of North Korea. Packed with advanced surveillance equipment and classified intelligence documents, the USS Pueblo was poorly armed and lacked backup by air or sea. Its crew, led by a charismatic, hard-drinking, ex-submarine officer named Pete Bucher, was made up mostly of untested sailors in their teens and twenties.

    Jean says: "Mesmerizing book"
    "Mesmerizing book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On January 23, 1968 the USS Pueblo, a lightly armed diminutive spy ship was boarded by heavily armed North Korean military near Wonsan and the American crewmen taken prisoner. Jack Cheevers, a former Los Angeles Times political reporter, painstakingly and dramatically describes the seizure of the ship and crew and how close the United States came to becoming involved in a second Korean War. On January 21, 1968 North Korean commandos had attempted the assassination of the South Korean President. The USS Pueblo was never notified of this incident. The author had done meticulous research including tracking down survivors for their stories.

    To avoid the potential war LBJ dispatched Cyrus R. Vance to South Korea to negotiate. Cheevers carefully tracks Vance’s delicate mission. For eleven months the Pueblo crew was regularly and savagely beaten, tortured and starved while negotiation to get them back was going on. Cheever’s reports that once freed the crew all suffered from a variety of mental and physical ailments. A Navy psychiatrist diagnosed some of the crew member with “Concentration Camp Syndrome”. (A disorders that afflicted survivors of Hitler’s death camps).

    The last part of the book deals with the Navy’s inquiry of the incident. The Court of Inquiry ordered a court marshal of Cmdr. Lloyd “Pete” Bucher but the Secretary of the Navy dismissed it. Bucher and crew had to fight for their reputation the rest of their lives. Many years later, after a long fight by supporters, the crew was finally awarded the POW medal.
    This book tells an important and almost forgotten incident of the Cold War. The book reads like a suspense military novel rather than a history book. Jeffrey Kafer did an excellent job narrating the book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Chris Matthews
    • Narrated By Chris Matthews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (66)

    They were the political odd couple - the two most powerful men in the country, a pair who "couldn't be more different or more the same." For six years, Matthews was on the inside, watching the evolving relationship between President Reagan and Speaker of the House O’Neill. Drawing not only on his own remarkable knowledge but on extensive interviews with those closest to his subjects, Matthews brings this unlikely friendship to life in his unique voice.

    Jean says: "View by an insider"
    "View by an insider"
    Overall
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    Story

    This book provided a great amount of information into the background of Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan’s rise to power. Matthews worked as a speech writer for President Jimmy Carter and was an aid to Speaker Tip O’Neill so he is writing as an insider. Matthews’s eyewitness account of the collapsing Carter campaign in 1980 is one of the strongest sections in the book.

    The 1980 election made Ronald Reagan, who was the most conservative Republican to date, President. The Republicans got control of the Senate but the Democrats controlled the House. Matthews paints Reagan and O’Neill as mirror images of Irish American politicians. O’Neill fits the type but Reagan was a product of a protestant small Midwest town and southern California and down played his Irish heritage. Matthews misread Reagan as affable when his election depended on his very public meanness, his zest for the punitive ---the vow to crackdown on “welfare Queen’s” and domestic spending. Reagan began his political career working for Barry Goldwater. Reagan launched his campaign for presidency in the heart of KKK country to counter Jimmy Carter.

    Matthews portrayed O’Neill as a blustering, tough Irish Bostonian who came up through the ranks of Congress, a consummate political insider. Reagan by contrast likes to portray himself as an outsider somehow innocent of the machine. His politics are still being played out today in the suspicion of all government programs and the conviction that all taxes are bad. Reagan the actor was head of the Actor’s Union and former Governor of California.
    The book is instructive with lessons on legislative flexibility and budget protocols that are now often ignored. Political scholars will profit from Matthew’s emphasis on documentation in his recounting of the pivotal role played by James A. Baker III, Reagan’s chief of staff, in the Reagan-O’Neill deal. Baker was not too proud to trek to O’Neill’s home at night to craft the compromise. Tip was able to rescue a tottering Social Security system and keep it going a good long time to come with the help of Reagan and Bob Dole. Tip’s support was crucial to Reagan achieving a historic nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union whom Reagan called the “evil empire”. On the other hand, the 1981 fight over the budget O’Neill failed to stop the slashing of taxes on the rich. O’Neill supported Reagan on deploying Marines to Beirut and tried unsuccessfully to thwart the President’s domino fixation on Nicaragua and the Contras.

    I am a middle of the road independent and I was wondering how a democrat was going to portray a republic president. I must say for the most part Matthews just laid out the facts and did not add political commentary. The book is interesting and entertaining. Chris Matthews did a good job narrating the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kirsten Gillibrand
    • Narrated By Kirsten Gillibrand, Susan Denaker, Hillary Clinton
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Fourteen years before Kirsten Gillibrand succeeded Hillary Rodham Clinton as senator from New York, she heard her future mentor say these life-changing words: "Decisions are being made every day in Washington, and if you are not part of those decisions, you might not like what they decide, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself." A young corporate lawyer at the time, Gillibrand felt as if she’d been struck by lightning. She instantly knew that her voice - all women’s voices - were essential to shaping the future of this country, and that she had a greater purpose in life.

    Jean says: "Interesting"
    "Interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is about mobilizing women (and men) to get off the sidelines and become active in effecting beneficial change in society. The author is challenging women to become involved in changing society toward benefitting women. Gillibrand said men learned this lesson a long time ago. In so many words change will not happen until more women become active in all areas of government. Gillibrand says politics is one big way to change the country and we need to put more women in position to make change. Gillibrand said generally women work to get bills passed and are more willing to focus on the goal and not let petty party politics get in the way of the greater good. The author said her fellow female Senators are more willing to reach across the aisle to achieve goals and more willing to compromise. Gillibrand describes her fight to get 9/11 first responder health insurance passed and the fight to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She goes on to say there are many areas that work is need on such as workplace discrimination, access to child care, equal rights, sexual discrimination and abuse in the military and on college campuses and many many more. The author says politics is a means for advocacy for her causes. In many ways this is a book with an ethical message.

    Gillibrand provides a memoir of her life up to writing the book to illustrate what triggered her to get off the side lines and become an advocate for change in her community. She first was elected to Congress from the 20th district in New York. When Hillary Clinton left the Senate to run for president Gillibrand was appointed to Clinton’s place in the Senate. Edward Kennedy was the senior senator from New York and Gillibrand worked with him on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal. When Kennedy died Warren was elected to his Senate Chair. She discuss the distaste she has of comments made about women’s clothes, hair style, weight and so on whether they are running for office, giving a speech or in the business board room. These types of comments are not made about the men. Gillibrand tell what it was like to be pregnant when she was a congresswomen and having young children while working in the Senate.

    Over all I found the book interesting and I do hope that it will motivate young girls to think of a career in politics, or the career areas of government such as the State, Treasury, Justice Department or other such areas. Gillibrand recommends everyone become active in their local community government. Some will want to advance to state and federal government or other related organization to advocate for their causes. I noted that Gillibrand and many of the politicians are attorneys therefore, that appears to be a good professional path to positions of leadership and government jobs. I wish Gillibrand had provided some suggestion of courses to take or professions that would help provide the needed skills and tools to be an effective politician.

    I had recently read the biography of Chief Justice Lorna Lockwood of the Arizona Supreme Court and had noted she encouraged women attorneys to advance themselves to various judgeships. Lockwood said women need to advance themselves in their profession and to help the young women coming up in the profession. Lockwood said more women in all areas of professions, business, not for profit organizations and government would bring about a more balanced world. Susan Denaker did a good job narration the book.

    2 of 2 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
    (279)
    Performance
    (257)
    Story
    (259)

    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.

    Bookworm says: "Better than the last several In Death books"
    "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.

    1 of 2 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
    (60)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (42)

    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
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    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
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    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
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    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
    (437)
    Performance
    (412)
    Story
    (415)

    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.

    Jim In Texas! says: "A good solid effort at a Space Opera"
    "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 3 people found this review helpful

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