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  • The Genius of Birds

  • By: Jennifer Ackerman
  • Narrated by: Margaret Strom
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 238
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 221
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 219

Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. In fact, according to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence. Like humans, many birds have enormous brains relative to their size. Although small, bird brains are packed with neurons that allow them to punch well above their weight.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • What a disappointment!

  • By S. Benedict on 07-05-16

Good and bad

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

Reviewed: 10-12-18

I liked this book very much even though I had read a lot of what’s in it previously in other places, being interested in birds as I am.

Some of it, though, was totally fascinating about what birds have been documented to have done. A few feats I had not heard of before.

However, getting closer to the end of the book, it seemed there was more and more about research that has been done. And I confess, this is more about my weakness than the book’s, but this became too hard for me to listen to - cutting some birds’ nerve and then turning them loose out on the ocean to see if they could find their way home (homing pigeons) and the like.

I realize so much of what’s known about my beloved birds was discovered using just such techniques, but that doesn’t help. It’s still cruel and unnecessary. Maybe somehow, someday, this kind of research will benefit humans or already has, but that doesn’t excuse it. We arrogant humans aren’t the actual lords of the universe we believe ourselves to be. Not when we can so loosen our sense of right and wrong that we can inflict such painful damage on innocent, harmless creatures for no good reason without even a pretense of a pressing need to know.

Be that as it may, if I had known there would be as much “research” included, I would have skipped the book. I knew of course that there would be some. Also, I suspect a lot of it was placed towards the end of the book for this very reason. If it had been at the beginning, I would have abandoned it then. Too painful to read, but that’s just me.

A note about the negative comments on the narrator. I liked the narrator very much and had difficulty understanding the origins of those remarks. There were some plain mispronunciations that perhaps should not have been there, but to my ear, no more than some of the absolute best narrators I have heard to date. There was however, quite a lot of what I would describe as labored pronunciations but those were of scientific words (species, body parts etc.) which I would not have expected even very learned persons to be fluent in. And I would not necessarily call them MISpronunciations because I am not expert in the topic enough to know the difference. But I do give the narrator props for her efforts to state such words plainly and not just skate over them like sometimes happens in audiobooks.

So while there are things with narration that absolutely drive me bonkers (i.e., narrator tries to act out each part instead of READ the book aloud), this type of narration “flaw”, if it can be called that, doesn’t bother me at all and even is to be expected when the subject matter is so involved with science. I also didn’t detect a lack of interest in her style; on the contrary, I thought her tone was just about right, considering her subject matter ranged from the adorable and amazing to the cold and factual scientific. She did not make any attempt to inject herself into any scenario she described, which I appreciate and HATE when the narrator tries to do that. If her manner has been described as like a school teacher, which I don’t 100% agree with, I think she got it just about right.

Ok, one more note. This is about the author’s style of writing. The use of alliteration was extreme in occurrence to the point where I was getting angry at times. This technique can be effective when used with discretion and finesse, but using it 4-5 times in every paragraph begins to get suspicious. One suspects the author has run out of truly relevant words and so uses filler words. That destroys the reading/listening experience for me. Those instances of alliteration jump out at me like a grasshopper in my ear and I just want to edit what I just heard to delete the filler words. They detract me completely from the train of thought being described prior to the occurrences. This is not the effect an author wants but it is what it is. From only the author’s standpoint, I would carefully test-listen to another audiobook by this author before I would buy another. But I confess, 4-5 occurrences of alliteration per paragraph is an exaggeration. But the overuse is quite excessive.

  • Judas

  • By: Astrid Holleeder
  • Narrated by: Naomi Frederick
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19

Astrid Holleeder's brother Willem Holleeder, best known for his involvement in the 1983 kidnapping of the CEO and chairman of Heineken brewing company, is one of the most notorious criminals in contemporary history. For decades, Wim ruled over his family mafia style, threatening death if any of them betrayed him. Now, she's turning the tables on him. Charged for his involvement in multiple assassinations, including that of his former partner and brother-in-law, Holleeder is finally on trial for murder, all due to the shocking testimony of his own family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Edge of seat and gripping story! Wow!

  • By deb on 08-23-18

I am being generous...

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

Reviewed: 09-09-18

If this story wasn’t as newsworthy as it has been, I would not have stayed with it all the way through, so badly did it annoy me

It is the story of a woman in the Netherlands whose brother was deeply involved with organized crime there, and who dominated and terrorized his whole family for decades including murder and attempted murder. Nothing would ever stick to him, law enforcement wise. The legal system there is depicted as much worse than useless, at times criminalizing the victims.

So after the woman, who had become a criminal defense lawyer, finally got sick of living like a paranoid rat in a hole, she and her older sister decided to turn his butt in and testify against him. This involved a couple years of her secretly recording him by wearing equipment she cleverly altered for maximum effectiveness.

Eventually the unbearable legal escapades began which were so insane they would’ve driven the strongest, sanest person stark, raving mad, if the account is accurate. And the author is no shrinking violet.

Which brings me to my point of this review.

All the way through the book the author depicts herself as this tormented, guilty “Judas” of a sister who somehow should never think ill of her monster brother who had even had a close family member killed and shot at others including young children. She continually beats her breast about how much she still loves him and feels wretched about being responsible for having him locked up for life (no death sentence there) and even seems suicidal about it at times.

She fully documents his actions and personality and understands he is a killer who lacks any conscience and yet she carries on like this. And this is a highly educated, very clever, astute woman who insists on blaming herself for him. I found that sickening.

Eventually he does get locked up but gets the case delayed again and again so things just dragged on with the seemingly impotent legal/police system. But while in jail, brother puts out a contract on sister’s life - both sisters in fact. This was expected by them for literally years but intensified the misery and fear they had been living with. And yet, our hero continued to carry on about her guilt and regret about him being locked up. She “wanted him to be free!”

During this time while waiting for any kind of court resolution, the author continues to offend by wailing about preparing for her inevitable death, preparing her family and having little “probably last” get-togethers... everyone weeping, etc.

I’ll stop right here and say, I believe a lot of the melodramatics in this book is for the eventual purpose of a movie script. Taking into account the idea that the culture in the Netherlands is not the same as ours in the US, I still can’t accept that a woman there still sees herself as to blame for everything and deserving of death for taking self preservation actions, which she seems to say aren’t really for her because even at the very end of the book she still believes she is going to be murdered eventually, but for others.

Perhaps I am being too judgmental because the legal system there really did come across as worthless, leaving her in reality susceptible to being killed because it would be unable to prevent it. And perhaps culture there is that women are more helpless than we are here. These things tend to reasonably at least partially explain her entire way of dealing with the horrible situation she grew up with and endured well into middle age.

But at some point, it seems to me that rational living demands taking full responsibility for everything in life that one can and refusing to assign responsibility too oneself for things out of one’s control. Not saying this is easy by a long shot. But anything else leaves a person in misery and conflict for life, or as long as one clings to things that can’t be reconciled in real life.

Deep down, I suspect the author played up opportunities for drama with an eye to capitalizing on her story with more than a book. And I definitely have no problem with capitalizing on it. It could be a way to ultimately accept and understand all that transpired and compensate for all the sacrifice involved.

However, slanting the character of the main person in the story as less than it would appear she would’ve had to have been to do all she did seems to cheapen the whole story, somewhat reducing it to a soap opera, instead of just stating the truth of it, which offers all the mellodrama the story needs.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Mindhunter

  • Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit
  • By: John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker
  • Narrated by: Richard M. Davidson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,344
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,031
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,020

Discover the classic behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas’ 25-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country’s most notorious serial killers and criminals - the basis for the upcoming Netflix original series.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Too much ego

  • By Kourtney on 01-27-18

Boring

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-18

Maybe I didn’t give this book a really fair chance. I do love long books. But after several hours listening to this one I was still waiting less and less patiently for the interesting part to begin and it just wasn’t happening.

It SHOULD be a very fascinating read and maybe later on, if it ever got into the guts of various cases, it would be.

I definitely am interested in background information, a book’s setting and origin. Some authors have a way to weave this into the story in a relevant and connected way. But it seemed to me there was mostly a lot of bragging about how great the author was right from the beginning, rather than anything else more interesting.

So that’s it for me, much as I hate to admit defeat or admit maybe I just don’t have the sophistication and/or intelligence to fathom the wonderfulness of this book. I am not returning it right now but putting it aside. Maybe in future I will decide to jump into the middle of it or something. But as of right now I just can’t wait any longer for the good part, if there is one.

  • Why Not Kill Her: A Juror's Perspective

  • The Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial
  • By: Paul Sanders
  • Narrated by: Kelly Rhodes
  • Length: 21 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 15

On June 4, 2008, at approximately 5:30 p.m. in a quiet suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, Jodi Arias stabbed Travis Alexander 29 times, cut his throat, and then shot him in the head. The killer then went to great lengths to cover up the crime, including sending his grandmother flowers, going to the memorial service, driving by the victim's house, and calling the lead investigator, Detective Esteban Flores. It would take five years before the case would be put in front of a second jury and leave them to decide whether Arias was a cold, calculating killer.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • horrible

  • By Neil on 03-10-17

the absolute worst!

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

Reviewed: 04-22-17

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Maybe there is a least discriminating reader somewhere who might be able to find some redeeming qualities in this work to in some way justify the overall investment. But I cannot see how this amazingly worthless, annoying book ever got to be an Audible offering.

The case in point was the death penalty trial for Jodi Arias in the murder of Travis Alexander. She had already been convicted of the crime. The trial was to determine death penalty vs. life in prison. The author was attending as a public observer, not a juror. He takes copious notes each day and it is obvious that the tiniest, most unrelated details he observes get spelled out IN FULL and that is what gets dumped in the book eventually.

I love courtroom stories (must be nonfiction), no matter how boring they get sometimes, and how bogged down with procedure, lawyers' antics, etc. But it is taking a supreme effort on my part just to tolerate the shortcomings presented here. To mention a few (briefly):

-The sheer number of repetitions of certain phrases/references is just nauseating. The listener has to stifle cuss words and bite the tongue just to continue. So many offenders, but the one that drove me insane the worst was some rendition of "as a former juror...". If I have to hear that wording one more time before I depart this vale of tears, it will push me over the edge. And I am not done with the book yet, and it is a test of my will power that I intend to finish it.

It appears the author's previous experience as a juror on a death-penalty case was not only the highlight of his life, but also of his education, his profession, etc. It made him an expert on absolutely everything about the current case (and no doubt any other case).

Another example that is unnerving is that at each and every mention of a person's/witness' name, the author has to give the title also, as in Mrs. Mary Jane Jones, Ph.D., forensic scientist for the current case"...

It isn't helping the listener to spell that information out 5 times in every chapter of the whole book! By a couple chapters after the first mention, the listener knows who Mrs. Jones is. It is harassment to keep repeating this information over and over. Probably, this was for the benefit of possible newspaper articles being created... But if so, it speaks to the laziness/sloppiness of authorship that these repetitions were not cleaned out when the book was created.

The repetitions were widespread; every pertinent (and trivial) fact about the case was repeated in nearly every chapter! I surmise the author was reporting for a newspaper on the case as it proceeded; so I suppose all the previous facts had to be re-told with each new chapter/article. I really do not know for sure. But if I somehow deleted everything I had heard twice already, and then all the fluff about clothes, hairdo's and lunches, this book would have been about 1/4th as long. And of much higher quality.

- The amount of pure fluff/padding in this tome is sickening! The listener has to hear every single detail of every single garment worn by every single person at issue, on every single day of a trial that lasted well over a year, (not to mention makeup and hairdos), including the shade of a woman's hose (I mean, can you even SEE nude stockings?). I still cannot believe an author would have the raw guts to detail what all the men are wearing all the time, no matter how boring and irrelevant. These are a lot of LAWYERS, for pete's sake. They dress like LAWYERS! The womens' details were no more interesting. Is there a listener on the planet who cares about the wardrobe of lawyers who all wear suits and ties, or women who dress conservatively for court appearances? I was pulling out tufts of my hair. It is so blatently just FLUFF, word filler! If there were some noteworthy aspects of the wardrobes on display, it would be one thing. But the only point of all those descriptions was to ADD WORDS.

Now, I am getting into all-caps mode, and I must settle down.

Of course, I also got treated to every detail of the lunches the author and a few of his lunch companions ate. And of course, the weather. Honestly! A little bit would have gone a long way.

There was enough total padding that anyone would just give up on this book, but I am 3/4 of the way through because I just could not believe, at the beginning, that this entire book could continue as it started. Some books get off to slow starts... so I kept going.

I have literally hundreds of audiobooks in my library. I am an audiobook addict. And I am pretty forgiving and willing to go along with an author and overlook stuff that others would not, and find the thread of redeeming value in an author's work, if I can.

But this work just seems to be another stab at milking the legal goings-on of the couple cases the author has participated in, for money. It appears he has done some previous writings about the cases (that I am not familiar with, but he references). How else to explain this work, that seems not to have been even glanced at by any editor.

The narration does not help either. There are some skippings of words and some slurring here and there and I wondered if the narrator had possibly been "overtired" or something. But I could put up with that.

I will be curious to see what other listeners got out of this book, and if they saw it similar to the way I see it. To me it is the most miserable excuse for an Audible offering that I have encountered since Audible dot com was invented. Shameful and disgusting attempt to rake in some cash, on the author's part, without putting hardly any effort into it.

I know I could return it but I look at it as an educational experience, just this one time. I have felt that Audible needs to tighten the reins lately in the quality department overall. This certainly feeds into that impression. I cannot believe if someone at Audible had read this as a pre-screen that it ever would have been available for sale.

Has Why Not Kill Her: A Juror's Perspective turned you off from other books in this genre?

If only there had been some way to know ahead of time, how badly quality of offerings by Audible has slipped lately, I would have been spared this pain of wading through this book. It is not the genre that I have been turned off on. It is the full confidence that Audible is only bringing me the choicest offerings to choose from. It seems no one at Audible is doing quality examinations on the offerings.

Would you be willing to try another one of Kelly Rhodes’s performances?

I was not impressed with the narrator. I would probably avoid this narrator unless I was sure the actual book would be worth it.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Why Not Kill Her: A Juror's Perspective?

As noted above. There was 3/4 of the entire word count of the book that could have/should have been omitted. Not scenes, just basic word salads that served no other purpose other than making more pages in the book. Sad!

Any additional comments?

Please, Audible! Listen to the darn books! All the way through. Do not depend on whatever you are now depending on to base your decision as to whether any book is up to standards before you put it out there for us, your loyal customers. This book was scraped off the bottom of the barrel.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Stranger She Loved

  • A Mormon Doctor, His Beautiful Wife, and an Almost Perfect Murder
  • By: Shanna Hogan
  • Narrated by: Pam Ward
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 229
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 208
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206

In 2007, Dr. Martin MacNeill - a doctor, lawyer, and Mormon bishop - discovered his wife of 30 years dead in the bathtub of their Pleasant Grove, Utah, home, her face bearing the scars of a facelift he had persuaded her to undergo just a week prior. At first the death of 50-year-old Michele MacNeill, a former beauty queen and mother of eight, appeared natural. But days after the funeral, when Dr. MacNeill moved his much younger mistress into the family home, his children grew suspicious.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The story of a true psychopath

  • By Michelle in New York City on 11-27-15

True crime addicts - do not miss this one!

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

Reviewed: 03-17-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'd strongly recommend this to all true crime lovers. It has all the normal stuff, i.e., nutty husband gets infatuated with nutty girlfriend, then needs to get wife out of his way - on the cheap. A divorce would cost too much by way of money, property, reputation. He decides on a do-it-yourself hit job, and he seemingly has the credentials to pull it off flawlessly.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Stranger She Loved?

The part that snagged my undivided attention was the listing of the findings of the extensive investigation that was done, late in the game, on this guy's past. It was nothing short of astonishing that he got away with all kinds of fraud - medical school, medical license, law school, Morman church official, and many, many more shady deals. Most people might get away with one or two of the deals this guy pulled, but not dozens of them, including having a felony record early on, yet that never caused a ripple in all the fraud that followed. I found this litany of con jobs just incredible. All of the information on all of this stuff was readily available in public records and could easily have been uncovered anywhere along the line.

He was the typical psychopath - totally charming some of the time and totally, deadly insane at other times. But to sail through scheme after scheme as he did, starting at a young age and continuing until he was finally caught for killing his wife in his 50's, well, this is the most outlandish tale of this kind that I have ever known about.

I have to ask myself - could ALL of our public (and private) institutions in this country be THAT derelict in their jobs that one person could sail through life taking whatever he wanted, with no repercussions, building one scam on the other for decades, to reach the stature that he did in the community and the country, really. Morman bishop, widely known and respected doctor, all-around good guy. It positively sends chills down my spine to contemplate this.

And to top it all off, he VERY NEARLY got cleanly away with murdering his wife, as well. If it weren't for the dogged determination of the children of this murdered woman, acting and pushing against every authority involved, for years and years, this guy was home free with everything intact - his properties, his money, his dead wife's insurance payout, his reputation, his job as a high ranking doctor. He hadn't lost anything through it all, except for what he considered excess baggage - his faithful wife of 30 years, mother to 8 children,

I have to wonder how many nuts like this one are out there right now gaming the various systems, taking from others, ruining lives, while the legal systems sleep on the job. Not every victim's family has the wherewithal to see something like this through to the end that this family did, in spite of their also having to wrestle with issues caused by this guy's so-called fatherhood. The guy was a pedophile, in addition to his other attributes, and there were younger children left to be raised, and the older kids fought to get control of them, wrest them away from the guy and give them a good and wholesome completion of their childhoods. But a single victim acting alone would hardly ever be able to muster the resources to do what these siblings did.

Which character – as performed by Pam Ward – was your favorite?

Alexis - the oldest of the murderer's children. She was blessed with the strength and intuition to recognize the situation early, and to stay focused, and keep the others focused, year after year, on getting justice for their mother. It is a very sad commentary that they had to push against the tidal wave that they did, when the legal system failed miserably to even consider the VICTIM through it all. It was all about "fairness" for the perpetrator, and illustrates well the weakness of the bureaucracy.

It also highlights the general sloppiness and lack of dedication to the job at the very heart of our public life here in America - the fact that no one bothered to so much as Google this sicko before entrusting him with lives and property. So many authorities, public and private, were involved along the way of this man's life, yet no one did basic vetting. VERY basic vetting. This ought to scare every one of us.

Any additional comments?

Additional comment - This audiobook, like perhaps the last 15 or more I have purchased, was chock full of the defect I have been complaining about, that being that prior to each new chapter, the last several sentences, or paragraph, is repeated before the new chapter begins. I am going to keep track from now on and note this in my reviews until something is done about this. It is most irritating and needs to be fixed. Leaving this to annoy customers is cutting corners too far.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Ghettoside

  • A True Story of Murder in America
  • By: Jill Leovy
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,566
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,395
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,396

Audie Award, Non-Fiction, 2016. On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home--one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Wish I liked it more

  • By Deborah on 03-05-15

Is this really a soap opera? Or actual history?

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

Reviewed: 03-13-16

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This will take some explaining...It is deficient on several different points. I was very surprised to be so disappointed in it, based on its excellent reviews.However, after the first three hours, I was still waiting impatiently for the action to begin.

It seemed to be all indepth descriptions of the saintly cops in the LAPD some years back. It slowly evolved into the same type stuff regarding some of the first "noteworthy" victims of violence that I heard about, those being mainly run-of-the-mill Black-on-Black murders in the police districts being discussed, murders that went unsolved, as the overwhelming majority of BOB killings did.

I might add at this point that, regarding these BOB murders, the melodrama just went on and on AND ON about family members falling down on the floor in grief, and how they otherwise just went through extreme destruction to their lives with their sons/brothers, etc., killed. This gratuitous excess was nauseating to me. And I am one who appreciates actual nonfiction reporting of the facts, emotions, warts and all. But descriptions of the tears running down so many different faces, the excessive repetition about the horribleness of it all - it was just plain gratuitous and did not have the desired effect. I was disgusted and thought," Just get on with the story please!"

The saintliness verbiage, too, seemed to go on and on and I wondered, did these couple holy cops walk on water, too? Did they put on their pants one leg at a time?

So eventually, what seems to be the main action began, and surprise, surprise! - THIS sudden intense focus is due solely to the fact that one of the saintly cops' sons became a victim. WHOA! WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY NOW!

OF COURSE it would be natural for this type of crime, getting up close and personal to the police officers, would inspire a more intense response. But then again, the cop involved had insisted on maintaining his home right in the worst-crime district, raising young children there, etc. And he was clearly pretty paranoid that his son would be at particular risk there. So this murder could not have, or should not have, come as the huge shock that it did to the police.

I am definitely not blaming the officer for his son's death. We all pays our money and takes our chances in our earthly lives. We use our best judgment and conduct our lives as uprightly as we can. We do the best we can with what we have.

My intent in these remarks is to emphasize the degree that this perfectly interesting topic, historical background of the LAPD, has been, I think, almost indecently embroidered with emphasis that is out of line on the ostensibly gut-wrenching aspects of this history. In my mind, a more objective and fact-oriented telling of the history would have been way more effective. To me, if you just tell me what happened, my own emotions will respond to that. You do not have to tell me how to feel about what happened, which is what is going on in this book so far. I resent that. It ruins the story for me because it is condescending to my ability, my intelligence to understand the facts for myself.

Example, I do not recall, in very long descriptions of the saintly cops that the book started out with, hearing about any of their NEGATIVE personality qualities..Only the wonderfulness of their various quirks. But no one is that perfect. Even good traits, like being fastidious about record-keeping, can have another side, such as becoming anal... It would have, in no way, ruined my appreciation of the fine qualities of an officer, to have learned that he was, at the bottom of it, just a man trying to live life as a good and decent human being. It would have enhanced my feeling of trust of the author. But getting only the wonderfulness side of things raises suspicion that the intent is to manipulate emotions.

OK, so I am probably using way too many words here to make a point. But I am something like 5 hours into the book now and I am only getting more and more annoyed at these factors, and not sure if I am able to continue with it. I am very very disappointed. There was so much promise, considering the subject matter. Probably most Americans living today have some interest in the historical doings of the LAPD. But the author has tried to make a soap opera out of it.

What do you think your next listen will be?

As always, looking for new narrations by Kevin Pierce, Scott Brick, to mention a couple favorites. Also hoping for new-to-me offerings by authors Burl Barer, M. William Phelps, Eric Larson, Charles Bosworth, Gregg Olsen, Anthony Flacco, Ron Franscell, or Diane Fanning. Or something else nonfiction showing a listening time over 10 hours that also bears high ratings.

What aspect of Rebecca Lowman’s performance would you have changed?

She did OK with what she had to work with. No theatrics, just straight reading, which is what I prefer.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Ghettoside?

Of course I would have cut out all the excess melodrama wherever I found it. It detracts from the story and belittles the audience. Apparently the author believes the American public can only appreciate soap opera level experiences. He gives us no credit for having a brain, but only need and/or desire to be ENTERTAINED on a superficial level.

Any additional comments?

Yes! If Audible doesn't do something pretty soon about the terrible disregard for quality in putting together these recordings, there will have to be a listener revolt! What is turning out to be completely EXCESSIVE and INEXCUSABLE is the repetition of the last paragraph, or the last few sentences, before a new chapter. This is INFURIATING. At first in other books it seemed to be just an occasional thing, but in the last couple books I have had, it has increased and in this current book, it seems to be every single new chapter is preceded by this intensely irritating repetition. Aren't our monthly fees enough to buy us some basic level of oversight of the products that Audible is pushing out onto us? Does Audible think we do not NOTICE? This has been going on for a very long time now and has only gotten worse and worse. It is like a slap in the face to us listeners. Don't we deserve better than this?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Bridge of Spies

  • A True Story of the Cold War
  • By: Giles Whittell
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 689
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 631
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 625

Bridge of Spies is the true story of three extraordinary characters: William Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, a British born KGB agent arrested by the FBI in New York City and jailed as a Soviet superspy for trying to steal America's most precious nuclear secrets; Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the closed cities of central Russia; and Frederic Pryor, a young American graduate student in Berlin mistakenly identified as a spy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bridge of Spies

  • By BookReader on 09-28-15

Mediocre to the nnth degree.

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

Reviewed: 12-12-15

Would you try another book from Giles Whittell and/or Giles Whittell?

Probably not.

What was most disappointing about Giles Whittell’s story?

BORING!

What about Giles Whittell’s performance did you like?

If he had just stuck to straight reading of the book, I would rate him a 5 narrator. But he insisted on "play-acting" the parts of various characters, although not consistently, and this is a technique that I find both distracting and degrading of the book and its delivery. His non "play-acting" reading also is just a bit too fast for my preference also, but this narration issue is just a personal thing. It is NOT my reason for not rating overall higher - which has only a slight bit to do with the narration, and everything to do with the material itself and the shortcomings of this particular effort in making a book out of it.

Do you think Bridge of Spies needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Good grief - NO! This one book is overly sufficient.

Any additional comments?

I have about an hour left to listen to to finish this book. But when I just checked my progress, I couldn't believe that I have been waiting for the actual ACTION, i.e., interesting part, to start all this time! I still can't believe my "Is that all there is?" feeling. I mean, how did this ever get to the print/release stage? There is no THERE there. Well, ok, not MUCH anyway. All of the book up to this point has contained some mildly interesting information - stuff we did not get in the mainstream media at the time, but that is the most I can say for it. I honestly was looking for either some skeletons-in-the-closet material, maybe some political assassinations or forbidden love affairs....ANYTHING, really, just to spice up the droll, dry presentation of the facts of the case, which seemed to mainly consist of the educational backgrounds of all concerned, their family situations and physical attributes... smoker or non...

Example - the part about our spy plane going down. There was total disbelief in our government that the pilot could have survived this. It was not even considered for quite some time. And yet, the guy did survive, of course, and lived to tell all about it. Now, THERE was the probably best opportunity in the whole story to generate some excitement, to suck me right into the action. But no. Didn't even try to happen. Or the parts involving Eisenhower and Krushchev, obvious opportunities for some human interest. The facts of what happened were all there, all told, but my eyes did not come unglazed-over. I did not get vivid, unforgettable mental images of really any part of this book. It was just dry reporting that was put in a journal format, date by date.

If some others rate this book a five or even a four, I would guess they are coming to it from a very much more straight-academic viewpoint than the general reader, because I am pretty widely-read, and of normal intelligence, interested and curious about practically any subject, and I am STILL WAITING for something interesting to happen in this book. I have stuck with it all the way right up to the delivery of the spies to the bridge and I cannot see where anything interesting is left that can happen, after all of this, so I am putting this one aside and moving on to something hopefully better able to hold my interest.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Five Families

  • The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires
  • By: Selwyn Raab
  • Narrated by: Paul Costanzo
  • Length: 33 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,032
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 929
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 918

Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo, and Lucchese. For decades these Five Families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals, and generational changes that produced violent, unreliable leaders and recruits.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 7326451

  • By Mark on 10-13-16

Yawn....

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

Reviewed: 11-09-15

Would you consider the audio edition of Five Families to be better than the print version?

This is a pointless question. Unless most people are in the habit of re-reading books they have already read, which I do not believe they are, this question ought to be deleted. It is not helpful.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Five Families?

I cannot give an answer to this question because of the nature of the book. It is basically a history textbook, and reads like one. Pretty interesting in parts, but very dry overall. No suspense, no high drama. The most interesting facet of the book for me was the tying together the Mafia organization from its various sites and gangs ("families"). The overall view, which one does not normally get the benefit of, while getting news stories and etc., adds interest and enlightenment, to a point.But memorable moments? Nah.... weren't any, for me.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration is suitably even, flat and dry. I do not mean that as a criticism. There was no call by the text for high drama in the reading, and so there was none.However, the reason for the slightly lower rating of the narration is to register a complaint regarding the increasing sloppiness displayed in these audiobooks. I am re-thinking my membership because I am getting more and more disgusted by this lack of ordinary quality and care in the preparation of these audiobooks. I am a big enough user that I am able to really see the trend at work here, and it is not good. The faults include long pauses in the middle of sentences, repeating with no seeming reason of sentences or parts thereof, and these type things are not the fault of the narrator but reflect lack of care on one part of the audiobook prep.However, following through on the low-quality prep theme, I get tired of mispronunciations of ordinary words and relatively common names. In other words, items that a person would have read through prior to recording, and done minimal Google research to check on the proper usage - but this was not done. Sloppiness. Just plow through it with the error included, it's no biggie.It isn't a biggie, one by one. But they sure do add up and irritate, especially when taken together with the messy prep of the recording itself. Is there no "proofing"? Obviously, there isn't. I realize the prices of these audiobooks do not allow the same profits as hardcover books, but there is still such a thing as basic product quality. And Audible is deteriorating in this regard. It may be able to afford this while it has the monopoly, but this situation is crying out for others to step in and produce a better product. I am looking for this and I cannot be the only one.Meanwhile, Audible, how about a bit of oversight and enforcement - in other words - proper, ordinary management - being applied to the production process of these products? With so much hard squeezing out of profits, there does come a point of no return. And this product is pretty rapidly getting to that point.

9 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • The Courage to Act

  • A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath
  • By: Ben S. Bernanke
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 22 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 532
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 474
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 473

In 2006, Ben S. Bernanke was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve, capping a meteoric trajectory from a rural South Carolina childhood to professorships at Stanford and Princeton, to public service in Washington's halls of power. There would be no time to celebrate, however - the burst of the housing bubble in 2007 set off a domino effect that would bring the global financial system to the brink of meltdown.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Way, way deep into the weeds...

  • By farmhouselady on 10-14-15

Way, way deep into the weeds...

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

Reviewed: 10-14-15

Would you consider the audio edition of The Courage to Act to be better than the print version?

I have no way of comparing. This question needs to be dispensed with as I do not believe the overwhelming majority of audiobook partakers make it a habit to also read the print version of each audiobook. It makes no sense to me that they would do both.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Interesting.

What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

To me, the narrator seemed like the nearly ideal person to give voice to this entire book, with his uniformly even, dispassionate tone, considering what most people might regard as very dry material. I will even admit to nodding off a time or two. But I saw no way the narrator could have jazzed up his delivery of what mostly sounded like right out of a textbook, at least until near the end.

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

No, I don't feel an extreme reaction is possible. Not that the financial crisis itself was not an extreme thing, impacting gazillions of citizens in a horrible way. But in this book, we are in an academic world, a world of graphs and rules, of historical precedents and, it seemed, every type of consideration other than the real-world, intimate effects felt by the victims. This would be my main criticism of the work.

Not that the harm to the victims was skipped or its importance denied. It was all there, but it was given as numbers on charts. There was not a single personal story given of a victim's life being ruined by the irresponsible acts of others.

Another factor that was not elucidated in my opinion had to do with the criminality of the perpetrators of the crisis. Totally lacking was any blaming or emphasis on the right/wrong aspect. All the factors that actually coalesced to cause the collapse were listed as in a textbook, but in a setting of a financial environment, not human nor even very much political. The political aspect was lightly touched upon.

Even the situatiion with the robo-signers, which at the time quite shocked and alarmed me, was flatly explained in terms of numbers of documents, etc., and the amount of fines eventually paid. No outrage was evident on the part of the author.

The author did mention his "disappointment" over how it seemed the politicians were so willing and even eager to harm the economy without really even knowing what the end result would be, but I would have described the whole political situation in different, specific terms. This crisis was nothing if not death by a thousand cuts for millions of citizens.

All told, however, it appears the intent of this work was to be just a sort of day-by-day diary of one man's trek through the deep weeds of a near-death experience of the world's foremost economy, with all that emanates therefrom. I would have thought that experience would have been a lot more of an emotional one for the man sitting in at the top of the heap, taking the destruction all in.<b

Any additional comments?

Get this book if you are a person with education on finance. Its main interest would have to be to this group. There is precious little of an up-close-and-personal aspect included, although being the subject was the ruination of so many lives, I would have thought more should have been said about that. This book was written from the viewpoint of a master mechanic analyzing a terrible train wreck - all the big and little material things which played into the wreck, while almost meticulously barely mentioning the hundreds of people who were killed.

Will probably be used as a textbook.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Silence on Monte Sole

  • By: Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Camponeschi
  • Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

Monte Sole--Mountain of the Sun--had the bad luck to lie on the main route of withdrawal of the retreating German armies in autumn 1944. As the Allied advance stormed up Italy to the very shadow of Monte Sole, Axis frustration over their retreat and the harassing Italian partisans reached its peak. With full authorization of Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, and with an infusion of dread SS reinforcements, the Germans determined to neutralize Monte Sole.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The most Interesting book ever

  • By Cristina Ruffini on 02-13-15

ZZZZ...zzzz.........plus icky narration.

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

Reviewed: 09-30-15

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator did not sound like English is his first language. Most likely Italian, sounds a little French in places. I found this language issue VERY distracting! I was far more involved mentally with processing the words and sentences, than in drawing up the mental pictures that I normally do in response to the narration, to the point where I was having some difficulty in following the action. So, the narration is the first thing I would change. Should be an excellent English speaker. I understand that the story takes place in WW2 Italy and concerns peasant people who lived rural, isolated lives during that time, and the objective was no doubt to bring more reality to the listener. But to me, the technique of using a narrator who barely speaks English just does not work.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I found the story very boring! It seemed to take umpteen chapters just to set the stage. I had to follow the characters through their daily, and seasonal, routines, including detail on their clothing and diet, etc., as well as all about each person's ancestors and land ownership, the marrying and intermarrying of everyone... this seemed to go on forever. Way to relax the listener to the state of deep slumber even before the first action started. I gritted my teeth and stuck with it, because I am greatly interested in the war stories of WW2 and it seems they are always fascinating. But I am now well into the give-and-take between the Italians and Germans and I have not been able to figure out if I am IN THE ACTION PART YET, or not! Seems if I am not drawn into the action yet at this point, then I cannot see where it is going to occur in the last half of the book.On the other hand, I can't really tell whether it is just the narration that is spoiling this book for me, and if possibly with another narrator, the story itself actually is being well told. To me, this is another example of trying to make some kind of stage play out of a book that was written to be consumed by a reader. When narrators attempt acting out each character's part, or in this case mucking up the entire story from page 1 to the end, with this very "colorful", thick and difficult to understand (at times) style of speaking, it cannot turn out well. And the reason is: THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN TO BE READ, NOT ACTED. There is a reason (at least one) why, when a book is going to be made into a movie, screenwriters get on the job and adapt the whole telling of the story to suit a viewing audience, not a merely listening one. I do not understand why the folks responsible for prepping these audiobooks do not know this. The countless excellent works of fiction and nonfiction available via Audible.com are more than capable of standing on their own merits with quality narration "as written", and trying to turn them into some other form of entertainment destroys a lot of the effect that the author has created. The narrator should NEVER draw attention to him/herself. I will get off my soapbox now. It just seems to me that, when I first joined, this was never an issue for me. But now, every 3rd or so book I get ends up irritating the heck out of me with all the meddling with the narration. This ought to be banned. There should be no seam between the voice of the narrator and the words on the written page.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Edoardo Camponeschi?

No - or perhaps this present book is not his normal manner of speaking. Perhaps he is very fluent in English and only used this horrible accent for this particular book. I would like to think he would be capable of this. It isn't that he lacks skill or professionalism and I hate to speak negatively of him. I am sure he was performing as he was requested to do.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

So far as I've been able to discern just what the plot is thus far, it seems it would be a snoozer of a movie as well as the book. There seemed to be promise the way this book was described, however, that is why I bought it. If a movie was made, I would surely look into it.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful