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Jean

I am an avid eclectic reader.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States | Member Since 2015

4629
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 804 reviews
  • 841 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 80 purchased in 2015
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  • Churchill

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor J. Rufus Fears
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (130)

    In these 12 inspiring lectures, Professor Fears presents a well-balanced portrait of Churchill that does not whitewash his flaws. Yet he also draws on the most recent historical scholarship and material from Churchill's writings and speeches to make the case that Churchill belongs with Pericles of Athens and Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest statesmen in the history of democracy.

    Francisco says: "Churchill"
    "A great review of Churchill's life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Professor Fears is an excellent speaker and held my interest to the end. I have over the years watched DVD's from The Great Courses and have never been disappointed. Since I was in elementary school Churchill has fascinated me. I have read/watched/listened to every thing I could get my hands on about or by WSC. Professor Fears managed to provide me with a few pearls of information I was unaware of. Professor Fears reviewed WSC life and his place in history. He covered Churchill's forefather's more in-depth than many other books on Churchill. One of the things I liked best was Dr. Fears reviewed some of the negative books written about Churchill and pointed out the flaws in thinking or agreed that Churchill made a mistake. Like many great men people either hated or loved Churchill. Professor Fears tried to show him as a man, a great statesman, strategic thinker, orator and author. The key items Fears points out about Churchill was he was a Statesman not a Politian and he goes on to define the difference. He also points out Churchill never avoided the difficult jobs he was given, he was honest, studied the situation carefully and acted. He also demonstrates how WSC was a great administrator. Most people know he was a great speaker but he also won the Nobel prize for literature in 1953 for his collection of writing.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • NPR American Chronicles: First Ladies

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By National Public Radio
    • Narrated By Cokie Roberts
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    While the role of the first lady has changed dramatically over the course of the nation's history, one thing remains constant: Americans have always been fascinated by the wives of the President. This collection features in-depth profiles of many of our beloved, inspiring, and occasionally enigmatic first ladies, including Martha Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.

    Jean says: "Engaging"
    "Engaging"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My reading project for 2015 is to read about the First Ladies of the United States, I saw this overview audio book put out by NPR from its American Chronicles series; thought it might provide a good overview.

    Cokie Roberts narrated the book for NPR with excerpts from interviews with First Lady Biographers and from the First Ladies themselves. Roberts was interviewed for her book of Women of the Revolutionary Period.

    Among the First Ladies included are Martha Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

    To hear the First Ladies themselves makes this a special audio book. This short audio book won the Audiofile Earphone Award for 2015.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Losing Faith

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Adam Mitzner
    • Narrated By Andy Caploe
    Overall
    (179)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (158)

    Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country's most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney whose client is Nikolai Garkov, a Russian businessman arraigned on terrorism charges for pulling the financial strings behind recent treasonous acts. The attorney informs Aaron that Garkov is looking to switch representation and will pay $100,000 just to take the meeting.

    Chris says: "Narrator is awful"
    "Absorbing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a new author and narrator for me. The book has a twist I have not encountered in a legal whodunit before. Mitzner has the high powered defense attorney become the accused instead of the defender.

    The author has a criminal accused of aiding terrorist use blackmail to gain his release. Defense attorney Aaron Littman is in the middle of it all. He had an affair with a Judge while he tried a case before her, and the Judge is murdered. Littman’s affair has cost him his wife, family, his law license, his law firm, and now his freedom. Mitzner leads us down a winding path; through various ideas such as was this all a manipulation by the real killer. We wander through various suspects who seem to have cause.

    The book is well-written. It is a tight story with lots of suspense that keeps you looking for clues. The plot is complicated and the ending is a surprise. I enjoyed reading this book; it was a fast easy read that kept me trying to determine who did it. Needless to say, the person I thought was the killer was not. Andy Caploe narrates the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Robyn Davidson
    • Narrated By Angie Milliken
    Overall
    (113)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (98)

    Robyn Davidson made the perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea, with only four camels and a dog for company. Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia's landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity.

    Momma Mia says: "A book for my top five list"
    "Delightfull"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In 1977 Davidson in her 20s took her dog Diggity, four camels and set off across the 1700 miles of the Australian outback. Davidson starts her story in Alice Springs learning about camels. She obtains four camels called Dookie, Zelly, Bub and Goliath.

    She wrote the story for the National Geographic Society that had helped subsidize the trip and paid for the photographer. Because the National Geographic provided the money she had to meet a photographer at various locations on her trip for photographs. The trip took seven months; she met interesting aboriginal people along the way.

    Davidson describes how enjoyable and watchable the camels are. She writes beautifully of the majesty of the land. There is a great description of scenery such as “At times, the sand rolls on and on like an endlessly unfurling, magically variegated carpet that shifts from blood red to burnt sienna, pale pink and dung brown. At other times, it violently rises off the desert flood, swirling and churning into dusty whirlpools.”

    The book is well written and is full of information and trivia such as the word whoosh means sit in Afghani. Davidson writes with an offbeat since of humor that makes the book a joy to read. Angie Milliken narrates the book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Starship Blackbeard

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Michael Wallace
    • Narrated By Steve Barnes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    In the aftermath of an interstellar war with an alien race, Captain James Drake is unjustly court martialed and sentenced to hard labor. Now Drake is on the run from Lord Admiral Malthorne, while another pursuer, Drake's old friend, believes the accusations are true, and promises to bring him to justice.

    Jean says: "Gripping"
    "Gripping"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a new author for me and a different type (sort of) sci-fi thriller, than my usual fare of sci-fi literature. Apparently this is the first book of a series and the book is short only 6.3 hours long.

    Our hero is Captain James Drake. He commanded the HMS Ajax during the war against the Hroom. Captain Drake was court marshaled and found guilty of shooting down an innocent merchant ship. His first mate and crew believe he is being framed and rescue him and steal the Ajax.

    Drake and crew seek help and safety within a plants cluster of pirates and smugglers. Drake and crew set out to find the evidence to prove him not guilty. Drake renames the Ajax to Starship Blackbeard. The crew of the Blackbeard set out to find out why the Lord Admiral Malthorne framed Drake. Drake learns that the Admiral who owns vast sugar plantation is inciting War with the Hroom Empire and attempts to keep the Hroom addicted to granulated sugar to keep them working as slaves.

    The book is well written, lots of fast paced action, with space battles and chases. The crew is bold, brave and daring with lots of interesting characters. The book is highly entertaining and is easy to read. Steve Barnes narrated the book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Racing for the Bomb: The True Story of General Leslie R. Groves, the Man Behind the Birth of the Atomic Age

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Robert S. Norris
    • Narrated By Peter Johnson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Revealed for the first time in Racing for the Bomb, Groves played a crucial and decisive role in the planning, timing, and targeting of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions. Norris offers new insights into the complex and controversial questions surrounding the decision to drop the bomb in Japan and Groves' actions during World War II, which had a lasting imprint on the nuclear age and the Cold War that followed.

    Jean says: "Fascinating"
    "Fascinating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Over the years I have read many books about the Manhattan Project and biographies mostly of and about the various scientists on the project. This book is about a man that was mentioned frequently in passing in the various books but nothing in-depth. This book is more of a biography of General Leslie R. Groves (1896-1970) than a history of the Manhattan Project.

    Norris cover Groves early life, his life at West Point, graduating 4th in his class and after graduation going into the Corp of Engineers, he also explains how Groves developed his exceptional organizational skills and administrative skills. The author covers Groves' time overseeing the building of the Pentagon.

    Norris states Groves was responsible for choosing the three key sites, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Hanford and for the construction of the buildings at these sites. The author bogs down the book with too much information as how many miles of corridors there we’re and how many windows etc.

    At the end of the book Norris covers Groves’s role in the Cold War. Norris was meticulous with his research and had access to all the detailed information on daily activities, meetings, phone calls and so on kept by Gen. Groves’s secretary Jean O’Leary. The book is well written but does bog down at times. I found the book most fascinating.

    If you are interested in World War II history or the Manhattan Project this would be an interesting book for you to read. The audio book is long 23 hours, Peter Johnson narrated the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Working Stiff: Mattie Winston Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Annelise Ryan
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (226)
    Story
    (228)

    When Mattie Winston catches her husband Dr. David Winston receiving some very special loving care from R.N. Karen Owenby, she quits her job and moves out. Mattie's best friend Izzy offers her a place to stay and suggests she'd be a natural as deputy coroner. Now, instead of taking patients' pulses, Mattie's weighing their hearts and livers. But Mattie's first homicide call turns out to be for none other than Nurse Karen, and even though she saw her ex in a heated argument with the newly deceased the night before, she refuses to believe David could be a killer.

    Kathy says: "A Combo of NCIS, Bones and Physical Comedy!"
    "An easy read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a new author and narrator for me. Ryan tells the story of Mattie Winston who has caught her husband David Winston, M.D., having an affair with Karen Owenby, R.N.

    Mattie moves out, quits her job, files for divorce and moves in with her gay friend Izzy, who is the Chief Medical Examiner. Izzy suggest Mattie apply for a job as a deputy coroner investigator. Mattie does and is hired and the first homicide call turns out to be the murder of Karen Owenby. Detective Steven Harley is assigned to the case. Mattie sets out to learn how to be a deputy coroner investigator by trial and error and some book learning and instructions, a sort of on the job training.

    The author writes in a humorous way considering the subject matter. The book is light and easy to read. This book makes a great get a-way from it all read. Jorjeana Marie narrated the story.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • With the Possum and the Eagle: The Memoir of a Navigator's War Over Germany and Japan

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Ralph H. Nutter
    • Narrated By Ed Altman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    From the beginning, it was clear that Ralph Nutter was an exceptional navigator. Rapid promotion followed when he was assigned as Maj. Gen. Curtis the Eagle LeMay's personal navigator. Later, he was picked by Maj. Gen. Haywood Possum Hansell, the 20th Air Force Commander, to be his personal navigator. The author's vivid recollections of those halcyon years make for exciting, informative listening.

    Jean says: "Nutter writes with candor and clarity"
    "Nutter writes with candor and clarity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author, Ralph Nutter, had an interesting war. In his memoirs he tells of his time as the group navigator in B-17s for Brig. General Haywood “Possum” Hansell and then as Col. Curtis “Eagle” Le May in the Eighth Air Force. Hansell was chief planner for the 8th Air Force under Gen. Carl Spaatz, and Le May replaced Hansell in the job. The attrition rate for bombers flying over Germany in daylight without fighter escorts in 1942-1943, was so high that, statistically, it was nearly impossible to complete a tour without injury or death.

    Nutter tells the stories of his full complement of missions as group navigator in Europe, and then as the war winds down he transfers to the Pacific. He again is the navigator for Hansell flying B-29 Super fortress with Hansell, then with Le May when he took over from Hansell again.

    After the War Nutter went to law school, practiced law then became a Judge. As his unit was beginning to die he decided to write his memoirs. The author did some research but he must have kept a detailed diary.

    Nutter uses as a foil for discussion the two men he served under, Hansell and Le May. One was unable or unwilling to abandon high-formation, target specific bombing, even as it repeatedly demonstrated its unworkability. The other made the transition and came as close as anyone to proving that bombing alone can defeat the enemy.

    The B-29 super fortress was the most expensive plane of its time. I was interested in Nutter’s comment about the Truman Commission and its investigation of the B- 29 particularly the engines which never seemed to work. Nutter goes into detail about the problems with the B-29 and with the problem of obtaining fighter cover for the bomber in Europe and Pacific.

    This book reiterates the importance of encouraging WWII veterans to tell their stories while there is still time, for their perspective contains insights and lessons that extend well beyond the preservation of memory.

    The book is relatively small volume, is easy to read and packed with lots of information. I enjoyed reading this book. Ed Altman narrated the book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Furious: Kris Longknife, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Mike Shepherd
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (375)
    Performance
    (339)
    Story
    (343)

    Having used unorthodox methods to save a world - and every sentient being on it - Lieutenant Commander Kris Longknife is wanted across the galaxy for crimes against humanity. For her own safety, she’s been assigned to a backwater planet where her Fast Patrol Squadron 127 enforces immigration control and smuggler interdiction. But Kris is a Longknife, and nothing can stop her from getting back to the center of things - not when all hell is breaking loose.

    Jean says: "Exciting Action"
    "Exciting Action"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the last episode Kris Longknife was sent to a backwater station of Madigan’s Rainbow to command the fast patrol squadron 127 on immigration control and hunting pirates.

    Kris learns that her Grandfather Al, the family business mogul, is sending out a merchant fleet to attempt to trade with the new aliens Kris discovered in the last book.

    She runs away from Madigan’s Rainbow to go to Wardhaven to talk to Grandpa Al. She reunites with her bodyguard Jack and they nearly die in an attempt on Kris’ life. She is hunted by everyone, her accounts are frozen, Nelly and kids are unable to connect to the net and both military and civilian authorities are after her. Kris decides to turn herself over to the government of Musashi. There are still repeated assassination attempts on Kris. She is placed on trial. Shepherd does a great job with the trial. Kris also wants to know what happened to the planet they saved and stop Grandfather Al’s merchant fleet. Can she? The ending is a bit of a surprise and a good set up for the next episode.

    The book is well written and moves at a very fast pace. Shepherd’s quirky characters make the story seem more real. We have new characters in this book to replace those who died or are missing from the last book. The humor offset some of the assassination attempts. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. Dina Pearlman does a great job narrating this series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Daniel Gordis
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Reviled as a fascist by his great rival Ben-Gurion, venerated by Israel’s underclass, the first Israeli to win the Nobel Peace Prize, a proud Jew but not a conventionally religious one, Menachem Begin was both complex and controversial. Born in Poland in 1913, Begin was a youthful admirer of the Revisionist Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky and soon became a leader within Jabotinsky’s Betar movement.

    Jean says: "Thought-provoking"
    "Thought-provoking"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Last fall (2014) I re-read Lawrence Wright’s book “Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David” I thought this might be a good book to provide more information about Begin.

    Begin had run for prime minister eight times when in 1977 he won on his ninth try. Apparently Begin was extreme right wing, he helped formed the Herut party. Begin was despised by the ruling establishment. Begin’s Herut party platform called for Jews to rule in all of Palestine. The Egyptian and Syrian attack in 1973 set up the change to help Begin win in 1977.

    Gordis in his biography of Begin starts with his childhood and adolescence in a Polish Shtetl. Begin was an active Zionist. Begin graduated from University as an attorney. Gordis tells about Begin and his wife Aliza flight from Poland in 1939 to escape the Nazis, only to be imprisoned in Siberia by the Russians. They finally arrived in Palestine in 1942.
    The author tells of Begin’s life in the Irgun, the underground fighting force in Palestine, following their arrival in 1942. Begin lost his family in the Holocaust and that had a major influence on his belief in a homeland for the Jews.

    Gordis covers in depth Begin’s life as prime minister; he covers Begin’s liberalization policies that hastened the end of Israel’s semi-socialist economy. In 1981 Begin bombed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor to prevent them from making a nuclear bomb. Begin welcomed Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The author discusses the peace treaty with Egypt and the 1982 war in Lebanon. Begin won the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for the peace with Egypt.

    According to Gordis, Begin’s most important legacy is the restoration to Israeli’s public life of a fundamental sense of Jewish purpose that was missing from it during the long years of Labor hegemony. The author says Begin was a person whose Jewish soul dictated virtually everything he says; every action he took. Gordis states that Begin remains the, most Jewish prime minister that Israel has ever had. Walter Dixon narrated the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Warspite: Ark Royal, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (239)
    Story
    (238)

    The First Interstellar War is over, but the Royal Navy still has plenty of work to do. As Earth struggles to recover from the bombardment, Captain John Naiser is placed in command of HMS Warspite - an experimental heavy cruiser - and ordered to escort a squadron of colony ships to a star system of immense strategic importance. But as the crew struggle to survive hundreds of light years from Earth, they find themselves dealing with the legacy of the war.

    Jean says: "absorbing"
    "absorbing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book picks up where the Ark Royal trilogy ended. This could be a standalone book or a beginning of the new series.

    The first interstellar war is over. The Royal Navy is rebuilding and has lots of work to do. The earth is struggling to recover from the war. Our new protagonist is Captain John Naiser who is Commander of HMS Warspite, an experimental heavy cruiser. HMS Warspite is ordered to escort a squadron of colony ships to a star system of strategic importance to Earth.

    Nuttall provides us with space pirates; tension building among the colonist in what might become a civil war. The story provides action, humor and some interesting developments for future stories. The story has both space battles and ground battles. We are introduced to a new human like aliens that are still in a primitive state.

    Nuttall has made in my opinion a couple of gross mistakes that would never happen in any military in the world , and as far as I am concerned not even in military Sci-Fi. The first error is a corporal never out ranks a sergeant and the other error; never would a civilian been given a military rank and made the executive officer of a ship.

    It looks as if Nuttall is launching another series. I will be in line to buy the next book if this becomes a series. Nuttall has created a couple of interesting characters I would like to learn more about. Ralph Lister narrated the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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