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John S.

Seattle, WA United States
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  • 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 162
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 146
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 145

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.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable story, narrarator with odd rhythm

  • By Jennifer on 08-15-18

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!

1 of 1 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 113
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 101

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 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

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 441
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 407
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 402

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 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

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.

  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

  • A Novel
  • By: Gail Honeyman
  • Narrated by: Cathleen McCarron
  • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,425
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 23,587
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,485

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Close To Perfection--A Definite Thumbs Up!

  • By Kathy on 08-07-17

Couldn't put it down

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

Reviewed: 08-17-18

While I'm not giving this one a full five stars, I will say that I had a great deal of trouble putting it down; I was that invested in the outcome.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but one of the reasons that I appreciated the book so much was that I identified with Eleanor rather strongly. No, I didn't experience the trauma that she did, but I totally got the effects of long term low self-esteem. That aspect was not exaggerated at all. For those not sure what to expect from the book based on blurbs and reviews, it can be summed up as a near-perfect arc of a minimal existence with limited social skills to an understanding of how most people live. In addition to her trauma damage though, I inferred that Eleanor seemed to have some sort of Asperger's as well?

While I really like the story a lot, I suppose the easiest way to explain the missing fifth star would be that the story struck me as somewhat simplistic, or just too neatly wrapped up. Usually, I don't get plot developments where others claim they saw it coming early on. Here, however, I did pick up on a point that comes near the end intended as a surprise twist.

Highly recommended for seeing the world through Eleanor's eyes. Outstanding audio narration!






  • BUtterfield 8

  • By: John O'Hara, Lorin Stein (introduction)
  • Narrated by: Gretchen Mol
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 46
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 43

A masterpiece of American fiction and a best seller upon its publication in 1935, BUtterfield 8 lays bare with brash honesty the unspoken and often shocking truths that lurked beneath the surface of a society still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression. One Sunday morning, Gloria wakes up in a stranger's apartment with nothing but a torn evening dress, stockings, and panties. When she steals a fur coat from the wardrobe to wear home, she unleashes a series of events that can only end in tragedy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wildly Uneven

  • By Steve M on 08-27-15

Did Not Finish

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

Nothing wrong with the narration, but I couldn't continue with the story after a couple of hours, between the abrupt point-of-view shifts and the characters whom I found largely unlikeable.

  • Insomniac City

  • New York, Oliver, and Me
  • By: Bill Hayes
  • Narrated by: Stephen Bel Davies
  • Length: 6 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90

Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at 48 years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city's incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Addicting

  • By Espanolish on 05-04-17

Highly recommended!

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

Reviewed: 08-02-18

Rather than a long review, I'm going to say that the author completely succeeds in a story with Oliver and NYC as co-protagonists, where often one aspect ends up feeling grafted into the other.

  • Invading Nirvana

  • A Chicagoan in the City of Angels
  • By: Kevin Theis
  • Narrated by: Kevin Theis
  • Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46

Chicago theater veteran Kevin Theis, co-author of the cult classic Confessions of a Transylvanian: a Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror presents: Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels the story of one actor's quixotic odyssey into the heart of the entertainment industry: Hollywood, California. From the early preparations for his trip to La La Land to his search for representation, his encounters with the famous (and soon-to-be famous) as well as his deep-dive exploration of this unique and fascinating city.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A honest Primer on making it in La La Land

  • By cosmitron on 05-18-18

Glad I read it

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

Reviewed: 05-31-18

I'm going to give this book four stars, which means very good, but not outstanding. Overall, I found it quite worthwhile and would recommend it to others.

Basically, there are three elements to the book which the author does a good job of coordinating throughout the story: personal details, entertainment industry focus, and Los Angeles travel narrative.

The first listed, unfortunately, does slow down the story at the beginning before he actually leaves Chicago. In addition, he has a habit of introducing almost every single individual with whom he interacts by full name, which in some cases was totally unnecessary. Also, he injects his political bias in a somewhat sarcastic manner, which might alienate some readers who would otherwise like the book. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I'm being honest as promised in exchange for the sample copy provided.

I found the travel narrative aspect, on the other hand, absolutely brilliant. He does a lot of research, including some out-of-the-way places, making the city Truly Come Alive. I would like to see him do more travel writing in the future!

The entertainment industry focus was well done, for the most part. I was left wondering whether his lack of success had to do with his age, in that many of the older fellows going for roles were already established actors? It's the good looking young people coming to town to start careers who are more of a level playing field as unknowns? Still, I was pleased that he managed to find a voice-over agent there, as well as discover the world of audiobook narration, as those seem to be strengths for him that he can build on going forward. Moreover, even though we never got any samples of his material, I do think that he likely has what it takes to be a comedian.