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John S.

Seattle, WA United States
  • 227
  • reviews
  • 743
  • helpful votes
  • 261
  • ratings
  • 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 7
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

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 22,085
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20,527
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,441

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
  • Completely fine? No... Completely AWESOME

  • By Janna on 07-15-17

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 94
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84

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.

  • Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

  • By: Mario Giordano, John Brownjohn
  • Narrated by: Matt Addis
  • Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 171
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 163
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 162

Auntie Poldi, sassy, brassy, and 60, moves to Sicily for a quiet alcohol-fuelled retirement. A murder spoils her plans. This is the first novel in a charming new mystery series set in Sicily and laced with Italian sensuality and humor. It features an amateur sleuth, the sassy and foul-mouthed Auntie Poldi. Recently widowed Poldi moves to Sicily in order to quietly drink herself to death with a sea view, but fate intervenes. When she finds the corpse of a young man on the beach, his face blown off with a sawn-off shotgun, she becomes a potential suspect in his murder case.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Auntie Poldi Rocks!

  • By Lynn on 04-01-18

Did Not Finish

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

After awhile I felt I wasn't getting into this one, but decided to soldier on. At around 2/3, I fell asleep finding the book at the end when I awoke. I just didn't care enough to go back and listen - moving on. The gimmick of the narrator nephew was okay, but I think one has to be "Bavarian" (NOT just German) to appreciate it Poldi and her background.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Neon Pilgrim

  • By: Lisa Dempster
  • Narrated by: Lisa Dempster
  • Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2

During a culture-shocked exchange year in Japan, 15-year-old Lisa Dempster's imagination is ignited by the story of the henro michi, an arduous 1,200-kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan. Perfectly suiting the romantic view of herself as a dusty, travel-worn explorer (well, one day), she promises to return to Japan and walk the henro michi, one way or another, as soon as humanely possible. Fast-forward 13 years, and Lisa's life is vastly different to what she pictured it would be.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wasn't sure at first, but glad I got it

  • By John S. on 03-29-18

Wasn't sure at first, but glad I got it

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

Reviewed: 03-29-18

I started this book as I wanted something inspirational, and this one sure didn't disappoint! Author starts out the story overweight depressed and generally rather a mess; ends up quite an international success for her achievement.

It helped that she speaks very good Japanese, having been an exchange student on Shikoku earlier. On the other hand, she's vegan, which presents quite a challenge in such a fish-based culinary landscape. I wouldn't say, however, that it's a book about Japanese culture as such directly. Her encounters are with folks along the Route as a pilgrim, rather than a genuine tourist or expat. It's her story of finding herself primarily.

I suppose if I had to find one negative aspect to the story, it's that she certainly seems to vomit quite a bit. So much so that I was near certain she was pregnant. Still, for a novice hiker, and writer, she manages proves the adage: You don't know until you try!

Audio narration came through well, so a good decision not to hire an outside narrator.

  • Unbelievable

  • My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History
  • By: Katy Tur
  • Narrated by: Katy Tur
  • Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,514
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,312
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,300

The NBC journalist who covered - and took fire from - Donald Trump on the campaign trail offers an inside look at the most shocking presidential election in American history. Intriguing, disturbing, and powerful, Unbelievable is an unprecedented eyewitness account of the 2016 election from an intelligent, dedicated journalist at the center of it - a thoughtful historical record that offers eye-opening insights and details on our political process, the media, and the mercurial 45th president of the United States.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ENLIGHTENING WITH MUCH HUMOR -LIKE YOU WERE THERE

  • By v2o777 on 09-18-17

Good on the politics, but ...

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

Reviewed: 02-10-18

I feel bad saying this, but I just couldn't get into the book. When the author stuck to politics, it was okay, but she lost me when it veered into her personal life, or life on the road as a reporter. She and I did not "bond" (as they say).

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Jane and the Stillroom Maid

  • Being the Fifth Jane Austen Mystery
  • By: Stephanie Barron
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 95
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 57

Jane Austen is enjoying August, 1806, among Derbyshire's craggy peaks, sparkling streams, and cavernous gorges. That is, until she discovers the corpse of a young gentleman whose blond curls and delicate features suggest the face of an angel.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Will the real Jane Austen please stand up?

  • By Susan h on 01-23-13

Good series introduction

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

Reviewed: 01-07-18

Being a fan of Regency-era mysteries, as well as Kate Reading's narration, I decided to try the first available audiobook in the series. Turned out a smart move! Not being a Jane-ite, I suppose I'm spared the inevitable comparison with her work and life details. Biggest takeaway for me was seeing her as rather an extrovert, when somehow I'd felt her as more reclusive? As far as book itself is concerned, my only real issue was that I had trouble keeping straight who was who among the upper class characters at times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Age of Henry VIII

  • By: Dale Hoak, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dale Hoak
  • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 86
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86

Henry VIII, who ruled England for almost four decades, provokes questions. What is greatness? How should we judge character? Who or what can be said to "make" or cause history? England's most famous king ruled an island only about the size of Pennsylvania, 500 years ago - yet he remains instantly recognizable to this day. In this series of 24 revealing lectures, an honored teacher offers an intimate portrait of the monarch who, in a recent biographer's words, "changed the heart, mind, and face of Britain more than anything between the coming of the Normans and the coming of the factory"

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating and enthralling!

  • By Fara on 12-18-13

Had to stick with it a while

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

Reviewed: 12-19-17

By the end I found I didn't regret having gotten this title, although at first I wasn't so sure. Author's speaking style took some getting used to as he came off as ... pedantic (shall we say) early on. Also, other reviewers have mentioned digressions, which I can understand, but would say that the material becomes more philosophical, or theoretical, than factually-rooted at times. I'll give him credit that it's a different approach to one of the most well-trodden periods in history, as opposed to a recitation of facts without much interpretation which wouldn't work well.
Bottom line: target audience would be Tudor-philes looking for a fix.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful