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J. Waggoner

Chicago, IL USA | Member Since 2013

  • 6 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 219 titles in library
  • 1 purchased in 2015

  • Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Annie Jacobsen
    • Narrated By Annie Jacobsen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

    A User says: "Reality, always more interesting than fiction."
    "Intriguing for the history"

    Jacobsen does a fine job of telling the story of Area 51, especially the spy plane missions that originated from there flying U-2 and A-12 aircraft. I've been a more-than-casual student of post WWII aircraft development over the years and I found much in this book I had not found elsewhere. If one is a aircraft history buff, this book will be very interesting.

    The information about the CIA and how it utilized the base was also interesting but I have more doubts as to the accuracy of the author's statements and conclusions. By the nature of national intelligence there will be gaps in the narrative. I find Jacobsen's speculations in filling in some of those gaps sometimes a bit far-fetched.

    The decision to have the author read her own book was, I believe, a mistake. She has a somewhat "sexy," breathy voice which is interesting for a short time, but after a few hours it becomes irritating. I think the book would have been better served read by a reader with far more experience in professional reading. It's not as demanding a book to read as a novel, where the narrator must keep characters straight for the listener by voice quality, but there is something to be said for the experience a professional reader has.

    I bought it for the content, not for the reading. If I had it to do over again I think I would have purchased it in print. It has some interesting information but the reading just doesn't make it for me. Be sure to listen to the sample - if you feel you can listen to her voice for a long time, I encourage you to give it a try. The content of the book is worth it.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Execution of Sherlock Holmes:: And Other New Adventures of the Great Detective (Unabridged)

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Donald Thomas
    • Narrated By John Telfer

    Drugged, manacled, condemned to a dank cell in the depths of London's infamous Newgate prison, the world's greatest literary detective awaits execution by a vengeful crew of formidable enemies. Escape is impossible; death, a certainty. But not for Sherlock Holmes, who, in a stunning display of intellect and derring-do, will elude his hangman's noose and live to fiddle, spy, and ratiocinate another day.

    J. Waggoner says: "Not the "real" Holmes, but reasonably close"
    "Not the "real" Holmes, but reasonably close"

    In addition to reading all the original Holmes stories, I've read and/or listened to many by more contemporary authors. Few really capture the spirit of Holmes and Watson. I've listened to this title and Donald Thomas' "Ghosts of Bly" and I think these capture the feel better than many. However, the author - because he is writing of events a hundred years in his past - has taken to tie Holmes' activities into actual historical events. Sometimes this becomes interesting, but sometimes it just seems to be done in an attempt to help set the scene of the story, and rarely does it assist in that regard. For example, mentioning the songs heard on the street below 221B Baker Street seemed to say to me, "Look, I did my research" more than it helped to settle the time and place in my mind.

    On the other hand, the plots are reasonably interesting and, with the exception of one of the stories, seem to employ the famous Holmes deductive reasoning and encyclopedic knowledge to good effect. The performance is solid, and Mr Telfer's accents seem genuine to this American from the Midwest!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Frozen Heat

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Richard Castle
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother's background.

    ShySusan says: "Another good one"
    "The best so far in the series"

    The first couple of "Heat" tie-in books from the "Castle" TV show were...well, not great art, certainly. However, they have been steadily improving, and "Frozen Heat" actually had a very intriguing plot. It also sets up a sequel, so if you are looking for a book that ties everything up at the end, this is not it!

    I found Johnny Heller's voice to be one of those that takes some getting used to, but a couple of hours into the book it was fine - in fact, his voice quality helped to set the overall tone of the book.

    It's not the finest mystery novel I've ever heard, but it IS interesting and the plot moves along at a good pace. I listened to it mostly on a couple of 5-hour drives I recently made alone and it make the time pass much more quickly!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The Millennium Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stieg Larsson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: How do you one-up a book that’s already a global literary phenomenon? Hire Simon Vance to (flawlessly) interpret the loves, lives, and murders of Sweden’s cold and secret-filled world. A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue. It's about the disappearance 40 years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden.

    Pamela Murphy says: "COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN"
    "You have to be patient!"

    I'm sure by now many people know at least a bit about this book...first book by the author, part of a trilogy that was intended to be a longer series at the time of the author's death, etc. This book is in a category of what I would call "wish fulfillment." The protagonist, Mikal Blomkvist, is a person very similar to the author himself in terms career and motivations. It is obvious that the author has strong feelings about certain social, political and economic issues. Those are rather heavily handled in the book, with some cardboard characters and fairly unbelievable situations. "The Girl," Lisbeth Salander, is intriguing at first and then just downright Bourne-type superhuman. Her transformation throughout the book seems forced, and because she is not inclined to speak much of her emotions, jumps in her emotional growth seem out of character.

    On the other hand, the middle portion of the book about the mystery of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger is very intriguing. It's amateur cold-case police work, with some miraculous help from Salander, but the complex and dysfunctional Vanger family is the most interesting group of characters in the book.

    I'm sure that US listeners will find the location of the story in Sweden to be just exotic enough to help hold their interest, although from an audiobook standpoint it takes some time to sort out names of people and places - especially places, unless one is already familiar with Sweden. The whole milieu is just different enough from the US to add a touch of variety without being completely disconcerting. Unfortunately, the ending seems rushed and tacked-on compared to the pace of the rest of the story.

    Simon Vance does a creditable job performing the book. He does not attempt to do Swedish accents except in a couple of cases. His decision to give Salander a working-class English accent, for example, actually works well for English-speaking listeners. It gives one a sense of her background by using a cultural reference with which we even in the US are already familiar. I was much more pleased with his reading than with the book itself, and I will certainly look for other work of his in the future.

    Will I read or listen to the other two books in the trilogy? Not likely, from reviews I've read of the novels themselves. If you can wade through the slow beginning of the book, the middle mystery section is worth the wait. Overall the book is not outstanding but the Vanger mystery is actually worth the time and effort spent in listening. If locked-room mysteries and family intrigue aren't your cup of tea, I suggest you give this one a pass.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Rolling Stones

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Robert A. Heinlein
    • Narrated By David Baker, the Full Cast Family

    It doesn't seem likely for twins to have the same middle name. Even so, it's clear that Castor and Pollux Stone both have "Trouble" written in that spot on their birth certificates. Of course, anyone who's met their grandmother Hazel would know that they came by it honestly.

    George says: "Good Fun, Good Science"
    "Vintage Heinlein, well-performed."

    Robert A. Heinlein's classic tales are now of course pretty well dated. The characters sound like they are in a 1950s movie, with the rapid-fire banter for which Heinlein was so well-known. Unfortunately for modern-day listeners younger than 50 years old, the idea that a family could be bouncing around the Solar System alone in their spaceship for months at a time probably sounds somewhat silly. For those of us who grew up during the Space Age, we wanted to believe we would do it - or that at least our children would.

    So I listened to this book with a certain degree of nostalgia (I first read it when I was in elementary school in the early 1960s) and a degree also of sadness, that the universe drawn so well by Heinlein here of a spacefaring society seems so much farther out of reach today than it did then. This is a Heinlein book written for teens but so good it was a fine read for adults, and it still is. Perhaps it and others from the Golden Age of science fiction will inspire a new generation to want to explore space and get us back "Out There."

    The cast does a fine job of portraying the Stone family. This is the way to hear this book - with all the characters speaking to you in their own voices. I recommend this book even to those who are not Heinlein or vintage science fiction fans purely for the enjoyment of listening to the characters. The cast does "bring them to life" and I'm sure this is the closest we will get to ever seeing this story on film or television...and our imaginations are always better than the screen! Nobody knew that better than Heinlein!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Reagan in His Own Voice: Ronald Reagan's Radio Addresses

    • ORIGINAL (5 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Ronald Reagan
    • Narrated By Ronald Reagan

    From 1975 to 1979 Ronald Reagan gave more than 1,000 daily radio broadcasts, the great majority of which he wrote himself. These addresses transform our image of Reagan, and enhance and revise our understanding of the late 1970s - a time when Reagan held no political office, but was nonetheless mapping out a strategy to transform the economy, end the Cold War, and create a vision of America that would propel him to the presidency.

    Michael says: "I LOVED this -common sense in Reagan's own voice"
    "I only wish it were longer!"

    This is a wonderful window into the mind of Ronald Reagan during the interval between his time as Governor of California and his run for the Presidency in 1980. Since all the addresses were written by him with no ghost writing or editing by staffers, you get the "real stuff" - the authentic Ronald Reagan, speaking on a wide range of topics, from the Cold War to the loneliness of travel on the road. He had such a wonderful speaking voice, and these three-minute gems were so good, I just wish there were more of them here. (The commentary by former staff members was very insightful, however, and is certainly not "filler.")

    You will find that, had you listened to these little speeches in the last half of the 1970s, you would have known exactly how Reagan would behave as President - he laid out, carefully and with great clarity of thought, what he believed about American exceptionalism, the growth of the the Federal government, international relations, abortion, personal courage, and a host of other topics. This recording shows you a wise, principled, articulate man. If you were a fan of Reagan before, you will be more so after listening; if you weren't, you will be amazed at how wrong you were in your beliefs. I cannot recommend this audiobook more highly. The regular audio CD version is apparently out of print; get it in the downloadable version. Tell your friends to get it...and better yet, get it for your children and grandchildren, so they can know what kind of dreams Americans can have and how they can make them come true.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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