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Scott

Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.

Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2009

121
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 55 reviews
  • 313 ratings
  • 795 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
11

  • Bruno, Chief of Police

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Martin Walker
    • Narrated By Robert Ian MacKenzie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (244)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (180)

    Bruno is a former soldier who has embraced the pleasures and slow rhythms of country life - living in his restored shepherd's cottage; patronizing the weekly market; sparring with, and basically ignoring, the European Union bureaucrats from Brussels. He has a gun but never wears it; he has the power to arrest but never uses it. But then the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army changes everything and galvanizes Bruno's attention.

    Sara says: "Good but hardly cozy and gentle!"
    "Fine Characters, Satisfying Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Bruno, Chief of Police rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I'd put it in among the top 25% of the books I've listened to.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Without seeming frenetic, a lot goes on in this story, and even the minor characters are well defined. And Bruno is a rarity among men; he's content with his life, even as he is open to new experiences.


    What does Robert Ian MacKenzie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His pacing, as always, is very measured, which makes it easy to visualize each scene.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I wouldn't say my reaction was extreme. But I was very happy to find an affable character to follow through a series of books, and to discover another author whose narrative style fits like a comfortable glove.


    Any additional comments?

    If I didn't know who the author was, I'd have sworn this must have been written by Alexander McCall Smith. It's uncanny how similar Walker and McCall Smith are in style, tone, pacing, character development and philosophy.

    Within this book some serious subjects are confronted: racism, xenophobia, murder, rape, wartime atrocities, drugs, love, friendship, loyalty, and morality, yet they are considered and discussed without being preachy.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Breakfast with Buddha: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Roland Merullo
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1106)
    Performance
    (950)
    Story
    (948)

    When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger---and amuse himself---he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way.

    Mary McCarthy says: "a thoughtful and often hilarious journey"
    "An Open Mind is a Happier Mind"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the tension between Otto and Rinpoche, or rather the tension Otto feels toward new ideas and an unknown personality. His Western skepticism is logical. How else could one distinguish the authentic from the charlatan? One can't accept everyone who professes to be a teacher, nor even accept all of the ideas that a great teacher might espouse. But it's a fascinating study of how Rinpoche, a duck-out-of-water who lacks social skills (by Western standards) breaks down the defenses of Otto's rigid thinking and steers his adversary toward, if not enlightenment, at least toward a more open minded exploration of existence. The common decency displayed in the bowling alley scene actually had tears streaming down my face.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • From Here to Eternity

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By James Jones
    • Narrated By Elijah Alexander
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (132)

    Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company's boxing team, he gets "the treatment" that may break him or kill him. First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he's risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer's wife. Both Warden and Prewitt are bound by a common bond: the Army is their heart and blood...and, possibly, their death.

    aaron says: "Genius on Every Level"
    "The Title is the High Point"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The characters are cardboard cliché’s, the dialogue laughable, the plot boring, the pace plodding, and the writing atrocious. I am truly shocked by how poorly written this book is, particularly as it won the National Book Award. Virtually every page (or minute) has paragraphs that could win “The Bad Hemingway Contest.”

    The narration is also among the worst I’ve heard (out of hundreds) and seriously diminished the experience. If you are a writer and bemoan your lack of talent, read this book — it will make you feel so much better about yourself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Richard Flanagan
    • Narrated By David Atlas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (498)
    Performance
    (432)
    Story
    (428)

    >In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thailand - Burma Death Railway in 1943, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. His life is a daily struggle to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from pitiless beatings - until he receives a letter that will change him forever.

    Lee Chemel says: "Exquisite"
    "Private Hell, Public Hell and the Evil Within"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book starts slowly and the main character, for all his heroism, is a hard man to like. His inability to understand himself is frustrating. His pointless philandering is disappointing. The pointlessness of his life is depressing. And the narrative style sometimes sways perilously close to a parody of the worst of the Romance genre. I also hate to give a book high marks for a writer's ability to vividly imagine man's inhumanity to man, as though evil=gravitas=important. But we live in perilous times where Man's inherent evil is daily paraded before us on the nightly news, so perhaps we deserve to be reminded of our specie's fatal flaws. For all of these reasons I was tempted to give the book no review and a mediocre rating.

    But it grows on you. There are many sections that suck you in to a harrowing world where survival is one's whole reason for being, and where survivors eventually try to make sense of living in a post war world. These sections offer a mesmerizing tour-de-force of hypnotic prose that addresses the problem of being human. Or perhaps I'm being unfair to the females of the species, as the evils are all fueled by dehumanizing male fantasies of honor and patriotism, religion and codes of behavior that reward viciousness. Listening to this made me despair of being human, but the writing is, at times, transcendent. What a strange experience.

    Not for the faint of heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Return to Tradd Street

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Karen White
    • Narrated By Aimee Bruneau
    Overall
    (247)
    Performance
    (227)
    Story
    (230)

    Facing her future as a single mother, psychic Realtor Melanie Middleton is determined to be strong and leave her past with writer Jack Trenholm behind her.

    Cheryl says: "Another great story!"
    "Satisfying Conclusion to this Quartet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know if Karen White has any more adventures planned for these characters, but this book provides a very satisfying conclusion to the Tradd Street quartet. As genre fiction, Romance novels tend to be predictable. The question isn't where the author is taking us, but how she gets us there. What sets the top echelon apart is the writing. A few (Diana Gabaldon, Susanna Kearsley, and Karen White, for example) can write circles around many authors of more "serious" literature. Their plots, characterizations and power of description are a step above. Yes, the men tend to be tall, dark, handsome, available and incredibly patient, but that goes with the territory. Here Karen White melds Romance and Ghost Story genres into entertaining stories. Each of the four Tradd Street books could, theoretically, stand on its own, but the series is best appreciated when read in order. Enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Starling Project: An Audible Drama

    • ORIGINAL (4 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Jeffery Deaver
    • Narrated By Alfred Molina, full cast
    Overall
    (379)
    Performance
    (349)
    Story
    (347)

    An aborted raid targeting a major arms dealer. A hostage standoff at a bank that may not be what it seems. A plot to spring a former African dictator from prison. What is the threat that connects them all? And just who is the mysterious mastermind, The Starling? From Mexico to Washington - from London to Marseille to Prague - war crimes investigator Harold Middleton and his team of Volunteers risk their lives to follow the trail of clues. But how can they stop The Starling - when he always seems one step ahead?

    Writrix says: "This is a DRAMA, not a book!"
    "Like Watching a Movie with Your Eyes Shut"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jeffery Deaver never disappoints. His thrillers and mysteries are always fast paced and have so many twists and turns you never really know the truth until the last page. This full cast recording is presented like an old-fashioned radio drama on steroids. It's like watching a movie with your eyes shut. It's entirely revealed through dialogue, a few sound effects and mood-setting music. It runs a little over 4 hours. If he'd written it as a printed book it would have included description, a bit more stage direction and perhaps a more elaborated backstory, which would make it run 8 or 9 hours. Since this is a plot-driven story, leaving out some of the extraneous material works just fine. It's set up for many sequels, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't find its way to the Big Screen. Great fun.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Rachel Joyce
    • Narrated By Jim Broadbent
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3752)
    Performance
    (3326)
    Story
    (3336)

    Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack is a letter addressed to Harold from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person.

    FanB14 says: "Wonderful Walkabout"
    "The Perfect Narrator for This Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I probably would have enjoyed reading this as much as listening to it, but I must give credit to the narrator, Jim Broadbent. This is a novel that unfolds at a sedate pace, with observations, recollections and philosophical speculation that requires a certain unhurried delivery. Broadbent inhabits the character and lets us discover his world at a pedestrian gait. The book is deeply affecting, both heartwarming and heartrending, a book that will make you laugh out loud, smile and weep at the decency that can be found in ordinary lives. It's also beautifully written. The prose is simple, yet concise, as illustrated in this brief passage:

    "They had made assumptions. They thought it was a love story, or a miracle, or an act of beauty, or even bravery, but it was none of those things. The discrepancy, between what he knew and what other people believed, frightened him. It also made him feel... that even in the midst of them he was unknown."

    This is a book that you can open at random, read a few paragraphs, and find something new each time. Mysteries, thrillers, Romance, Comedy and Fantasy all have their place, but so does old fashioned, character-driven literature, of which this is a refreshing example.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Firebird

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Susanna Kearsley
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1351)
    Performance
    (1223)
    Story
    (1226)

    Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird - the mythical creature from an old Russian fable. Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna who leads her into the past on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

    Sue says: "More heavy on the romance than the historical"
    "Fine Writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love getting two books in one as the story jumps from the present to the past and back. The historical story is richer for its details, as well as its more diverse characters, but both stories were satisfying. As with all the best writers, Kearsley's prose seems effortless. She's a master of setting mood through description, and her characters are well delineated. The only fault I can find in this one is that all of the young males are stock Romance characters (tall, well-muscled, enigmatic, masterful and never crude). That may keep the ladies coming back for more. As for me, I'll try anything Miss Kearsley puts her hand to, because the power of her writing overcomes any cookie-cutter characters that may insinuate themselves into her stories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Splendour Falls

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Susanna Kearsley
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (371)
    Performance
    (341)
    Story
    (344)

    Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary town of Chinon, and promptly disappears - well, that's Harry for you. As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm.

    G-Ma says: "Disappointing"
    "Wonderful Story, Strong Writing, Wrong Narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I probably would have enjoyed this better in print, but the audible offering is still worth the credit because the story is so strong. I agree with all of the comments regarding Barbara Rosenblat's narration. Her voice is simply too old for the part. That aside, I was in awe of Susanna Kearsley's evocative writing and her ability to weave a complex tale. Having read The Rose Garden and The Winter Sea, I assumed I'd be encountering a Romance novel with some supernatural or Time Travel angle. Instead, this is like a finely tuned, more literary version of an Agatha Christie tale, where disparate characters are brought together and we slowly learn their back stories and how they all relate. I wasn't aware that this was to be a Mystery. It was obvious that there would be a bit of the romance here, but it was subtly drawn out, and the mystery only slowly revealed. In the beginning the reader is simply getting to know the characters, and my hat's off to Ms. Kearsley for such a finely delineated cast of characters. Each one is distinct and plays his or her part in the drama/mystery/romance. When you finally realize that there is a mystery to be solved, you come to realize that virtually every previous scene was filled with clues that are relevant to the denouement. A wonderful book that will stay with me for a long while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Karen Joy Fowler
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (536)
    Performance
    (482)
    Story
    (478)

    Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."

    Amber says: "This was totally worth the credit."
    "Literary but not transcendent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I debated about the headline, as this is a beautifully written book. But I kept thinking that the same story in other hands (Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett come to mind) might have lifted it to another level. Nonetheless, it's totally worth your time. Ms. Joy Fowler is articulate, her characters are sufficiently compelling and the plot is adept at hanging the carrot just enough out of reach to keep me turning the pages (does that make me an ass?) Suffice it to say that It was good enough that I'm interested in trying some of her other books. Orlagh Cassidy's narration was unobtrusive and easy on the ears.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Revival: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By David Morse
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3302)
    Performance
    (2991)
    Story
    (3011)

    In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs - including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession.

    Thug4life says: "Not fit for a King"
    "Satisfying Character Driven Horror"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another reviewer complained that "the plot of 'Revival' serves as a vehicle for Mr. King to spout off about drug addiction, aging, the existence of God, and guitar playing." All I can say is "Hallelujah!" Those are the very things that make this book so satisfying. King knows what he's talking about when he writes of addiction, aging and guitar playing (and any thinking adult will have to agree with the book's "terrible sermon"), which gives the narrator depth and inner demons and gives us reason to root for him. Other reviewers didn't think the story was scary enough, and while certain descriptions may be a bit formulaic, the very concept scared the pants off me and has left me with an uneasy feeling when looking into the abyss, which I guess can be viewed as a positive in the horror genre. The tone of the whole book, and the elegiac reflection of the coda, are reminiscent of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness." King is so good, he makes it look effortless.

    I hope narrator David Morse gets to do future King books. His tone and pacing are just right and he's good at differentiating between the characters.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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