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John S.

Seattle, WA United States
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  • Murder in the Morning

  • A Melissa Craig Mystery, Book 2
  • By: Betty Rowlands
  • Narrated by: Joan Walker
  • Length: 8 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 72

Melissa Craig is settling in nicely to a new teaching position in the quaint little village of Upper Bembury, getting to know her way around, drinking tea with the eccentric staff, even sewing the first seeds of romance. But when she arrives one morning to find police outside her classroom, Melissa is shocked to hear that her beautiful colleague Angelica has been found dead in her home. As everyone in Angelica’s life comes under suspicion, Melissa makes it her mission to go in search of the truth.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Ok but not memorable.

  • By JBinNC on 09-23-18

Did Not Finish

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-09-19

Giving this one three stars, but more like a lackluster 2.5 for me. Gave up on the book partway through when I realized I hadn't enough interest in the plot or characters to keep going.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Murder at Hawthorn Cottage

  • A Melissa Craig Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Betty Rowlands
  • Narrated by: Joan Walker
  • Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 194
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 166

Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner. But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown in to the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home. Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed? Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good clean mystery.

  • By Sally on 10-27-18

Mixed feelings

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-19

I wasn't keen on the main character at the beginning, but as she softened a bit later in the story I felt she was okay. Other reviewers have mentioned that they didn't care for the narrator's male voices, but I was fine with them as a matter of fact, I believe the audio edition works well with the crusty next door neighbor.

Unfortunately, I felt the plot itself was rather silly. Also, I wasn't real keen on the minister and his wife. He came off as dippy enough that his later revealed role in the plotline was difficult to swallow.

  • The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean

  • By: Mira Robertson
  • Narrated by: Zoe Carides
  • Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 2

1944. Emily Dean is sent to stay with relatives in rural Victoria. With grandmother determined to keep up standards despite the effects of the war; Della, the Bible-quoting cook, and her young and fearless aunt Lydia, who refuses to befriend her, Emily just wants to go home. But things start looking up when she encounters Claudio, the Italian prisoner of war employed as a farm labourer. And then Lydia’s brother, William, unexpectedly returns from the war. Wounded and bitter, he’s rude, traumatised and mostly drunk, yet a passion for literature soon draws them together.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Tough one to review

  • By John S. on 12-27-18

Tough one to review

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Would I recommend it? Yes overall, but it's a matter of watching a fuse sputter along for several hours with a resultant bang. How much it's worth the wait will vary. Some folks will find it a really well-presented vignette in a young girl's life, while others will feel that everything is all of a sudden wrapped up too quickly and neatly.

Solid narration

  • Too Darn Hot

  • By: Sandra Scoppettone
  • Narrated by: Laura Hicks
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Awash in tears, salesgirl Claire Turner arrives at the Times Square office of Private Investigator Faye Quick and begs Faye to find her missing boyfriend, Army Private Charlie Ladd, who has been AWOL for three days. Faye takes the case, which leads her to Charlie's room at the Hotel Commodore - where she finds an unknown man naked, dead, and stuffed inside a wardrobe.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sorry this is the end

  • By John S. on 12-05-18

Sorry this is the end

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-05-18

Really good sequel, although it doesn't stand on its own as the backstory in the other title would be a huge help in understanding this one.

I'm not one who guesses mystery resolutions early on, so this one had me surprised at the end. I wish there were more of this series, but the author wrapped up things here so that it was a logical place to stop, or could have been continued had she and the publishers come to an agreement.

Only negative note would be that the theme of anti-Semitism was handled in a rather clunky manner I thought.

  • Murder at Half Moon Gate

  • By: Andrea Penrose
  • Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 220
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 199
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 198

When Lord Wrexford discovers the body of a gifted inventor in a dark London alley, he promptly alerts the watchman and lets the authorities handle the matter. But Wrexford soon finds himself drawn into the murder investigation when the inventor's widow begs for his assistance, claiming the crime was not a random robbery. It seems her husband's designs for a revolutionary steam-powered engine went missing the night of his death. The plans could be worth a fortune and very dangerous in the wrong hands.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Murder at Half Moon Gate

  • By all smiles on 08-14-18

Slow story with exciting finish

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-18

Best analogy would be a restaurant meal with a decent-but-not-outstanding main course, but dessert proves a knock out! The first book in a series is usually more set up, and less tension, but not here. Good sequel, characters are developed well, especially young Raven.

I was a bit concerned that there are only two books, and none on a forthcoming list that I could find. However, at the author's website she explains that the third manuscript has just been sent off to the publisher, so she's hopeful for it to be printed sometime next year. Yay!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

  • How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated
  • By: Alison Arngrim
  • Narrated by: Alison Arngrim
  • Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 119
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 119

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch is Alison Arngrim's comic memoir of growing up as one of television's most memorable characters - the devious Nellie Oleson on the hit television show Little House on the Prairie. With behind-the-scenes stories from the set, as well as tales from her bohemian upbringing in West Hollywood and her headline-making advocacy work on behalf of HIV awareness and abused children, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch is a must for fans of everything Little House.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Do yourself a favor .....GET THIS AUDIO BOOK!!!!!

  • By AnnShamrock on 11-07-17

Nellie: misunderstood anti-hero

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-27-18

I have never actually seen an episode of Little House on the Prairie, going into this book with only a general idea of the characters. For the most part, this book worked for me quite well, although I came away realizing that I don't think I would like to see any of the TV series.

My loyal fans know that I don't like rehashing plots, but here's what to expect as an overview: background on Alison's early life in New York City and Hollywood, including the story of her parents' backgrounds, as well as her abuse by her clearly insane brother, Stefan; her parents left them home alone together much of the time. The middle part of the book, probably about half of the text or so, centers on her time as Nellie Oleson. This section is probably of the most interest to the general reader, as she goes into some detail of life as a child actor, as well as her relationship with the other cast members. Final section has to do with finding herself after playing the same character continuously for several years, as well as facing the effects of the abuse, largely repressed. It's her chance to tell her story regarding working as an advocate for AIDS patients, and abused children.

Overall, I think it's a terrific book, with great writing, and audio delivery by the author. She managed to forgive her parents, but I don't know that I have.

  • A Cruise to Murder

  • Rachel Prince Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Dawn Brookes
  • Narrated by: Alex Lee
  • Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23

Meet Rachel Prince, a newly qualified police constable trying to hold it together after being ditched by her fiancé. Rachel's best friend, Sarah, suggests that she needs a break and what better way to relax than a Mediterranean cruise? Sarah works as a nurse on the cruise ship and they plan to enjoy all the luxuries of cruising. At least they would do if Sarah ever got any time away from the medical centre. Rachel makes friends with a bereaved, elderly woman and an attractive Italian but it's not long before she is convinced that something sinister is going on.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Cruise to murder

  • By Deedra on 11-15-18

Meh

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-21-18

This seems intended as a G-rated, vaguely "Christian" title; early in the novel one "slutty" male character is presented as a ham-handed example of a Bad Person, while the protagonist's faith (for lack of better term) is highlighted. This approach falls by the wayside, but made a negative impression on me.

Story is told from multiple points of view, which works in terms of giving knowledge our heroine couldn't possess, though in some cases I found it distracting. The mystery itself will likely frustrate readers as, sorry for the semi-spoiler, the person is not anyone who can be guessed ahead of time.

I'd say the target audience would be folks looking for a gentle "clean" adventure. I didn't really care for any of the characters, other than the old Lady, so doubt I'd read a sequel. Verdict here: so-so, filled time, nothing more. Audio narration was a good fit.

  • This Dame for Hire

  • By: Sandra Scoppettone
  • Narrated by: Laura Hicks
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Meet Faye Quick, a sassy secretary who keeps the home fires burning by reluctantly becoming a private investigator after her boss and agency owner, Woody Mason, joins the army. True to her name, Faye catches on quickly and is especially adept at solving crimes - notably when she stumbles (quite literally) over the body of a murdered woman. This accidental discovery not only forces Faye to keep the doors of the agency open during wartime, it keeps them swinging. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Better than expected!

  • By John S. on 10-03-18

Better than expected!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-03-18

Wasn't sure what to think of this one, but as I like almost anything set in historic NYC decided to give it a chance. At first, Faye's snappy patter overwhelmed me, but after a while I grew used to that. Secondary characters are quite well done; this is where the audio narration makes for a possibly better experience with this series. Characters are quite differentiated, with the narrator doing male voices well.


I didn't guess the killer, but then again I rarely do - perhaps I don't want to? The victim's father (Faye's client) was a bit over-the-top. Another minor quibble had to do with Faye's hinting at her family background back in Newark, just throw-away references without any real resolution for this reader. Speaking of Newark, her friend from high school, a rich girl with family money allowing her to live in Manhattan as a psychic, didn't quite work for me in that I don't think Anne would've attended a public school with Faye. Otherwise, I liked the psychic angle. Without giving anything away, there's one suspect who's pretty much dropped leaving his situation rather … unsettled.


The romantic angle is handled well, helped by the fact that he's likeable, in a low-key way. Faye's secretary, Birdie, comes ff as a bit flighty (dippy), though holding her own later in confronting Faye about feeling taken for granted. Woody, the agency owner, serves as a character in his own right though offscreen fighting overseas. She has a couple of What Would Woody Do? moments dealing with the case, along with worrying about his fate. The Final Solution is referenced, which Faye dismisses as too fantasticly bizzare to possibly be true. This at a time when lynchings were commonplace.


Sorry there are only two books, but looking forward to visiting with Faye and the recurring characters again. Especially recommended for those with an interest in life at home during the war, particularly 1940s New York.

  • I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan

  • By: Alan Partridge
  • Narrated by: Alan Partridge
  • Length: 6 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 454
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 419
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 414

Journalist, presenter, broadcaster, husband, father, vigorous all-rounder – Alan Partridge – a man with a fascinating past and an amazing future. Gregarious and popular, yet Alan’s never happier than when relaxing in his own five-bedroom, south-built house with three acres of land and access to a private stream. But who is this mysterious enigma? Alan Gordon Partridge is the best – and best-loved – radio presenter in the region. Born into a changing world of rationing, Teddy Boys, apes in space and the launch of ITV, Alan’s broadcasting career began as chief DJ of Radio Smile....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Anglican giant among pygmies

  • By John on 06-20-12

Narcissism on steroids

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-25-18

Partridge is an incredibly clever character, with the narrator doing an outstanding job portraying him. I can't believe that his assistant would stick with him for more than a short time, even if she suffers from a serious case of low self-esteem. There were some hints now and then, but I could have used more indirect evidence that to know him is to loathe him.

  • Around the World in Eighty Wines

  • Exploring Wine One Country at a Time
  • By: Mike Veseth
  • Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

The journey starts in London, Phileas Fogg's home base, and follows Fogg's itinerary to France and Italy before veering off in search of compelling wine stories in Syria, Georgia, and Lebanon. Every glass of wine tells a story, and so each of the 80 wines must tell an important tale. We head back across Northern Africa to Algeria, once the world's leading wine exporter, before hopping across the sea to Spain and Portugal. We follow Portuguese trade routes to Madeira and then South Africa with a short detour to taste Kenya's most famous Pinot Noir.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Author accomplished his intention well

  • By John S. on 09-07-18

Author accomplished his intention well

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-07-18

Read this one more for the travel narrative angle than to hear wine details. Story worked okay for me, but it's not a travelogue, except to emphasize the effect of local geography on wine production. Target audience might be those who see all those international options at the store, but are confused or daunted by the differences.

Audio narration helped bring out author's enthusiasm, though reader stumbled on some items occasionally.