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SW Clemens

Moss Beach, CA USA
  • 112
  • reviews
  • 311
  • helpful votes
  • 550
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  • The Victory Garden

  • By: Rhys Bowen
  • Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 743
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 684
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 683

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong 21-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage. When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not literary genius, but very sweet!

  • By ellegreenland on 02-26-19

Believable People Behaving Decently

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

Reviewed: 03-18-19

Such a satisfying book. It left me feeling like I'd lived another person's life, and that is a marvelous gift. Rhys Bowen knows how to create believable characters that you root for. The dialogue is always natural. The characters' problems may be difficult, but her characters don't whine. They just get on with living, the way people do. Saskia Maarleveld is a talented narrator, adept at breathing life into each character with tone and accent, including male characters. I listened to the second half of this book in one sitting on a Sunday, because I found it too captivating to put aside.

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

  • A Novel
  • By: Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Narrated by: Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, Robin Miles
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,926
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,621
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,610

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful Read!!

  • By Linda Skowronski on 07-29-17

A Study in Selfish Obsession

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

Reviewed: 01-27-19

I'm sure of the thousands of reviews, I'm one of only a handful of elderly, white, heterosexual readers who read and enjoyed this novel. It came close to being a great book. It reminds me a lot of Scott Spencer's ENDLESS LOVE in its exploration of obsession. It's difficult to write about high emotions without going over the top, and there are times when Jenkins Reid walks that tightrope. But for the most part she pulls it off. I found it lost pace about three quarters of the way through, and the narration for Monique becomes a bit overly fraught toward the end. In addition, the surprise at the end, noted by many reviewers, was no surprise to me. I saw that coming a mile away. Still, it's a very entertaining read and worth your credit.

  • The Colors of All the Cattle

  • By: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 462
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 428
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 424

When Mma Potokwane suggests to Mma Ramotswe that she run for a seat on the city council, Mma Ramotswe is at first unsure. But when she learns about the proposed construction of the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard, she allows herself to be persuaded. Her opponent is none other than Violet Sephotho, who is in the pocket of the hotel developers. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable

  • By Jean on 11-15-18

All is Right with the World

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

Reviewed: 01-20-19

This is the nineteenth book in this series and could easily stand alone, but reading them in order will give the reader a better understanding of the depths of the characters and some of the nuanced humor that comes from knowing a character's predilections and prejudices. There is a case to be solved, an election to be won, the reflection of philosophy, and the growth of characters to be appreciated. Beautifully written in simple, eloquent language. This series can be summed up in one word: Humane.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Mr Gandy's Grand Tour

  • By: Alan Titchmarsh
  • Narrated by: Alan Titchmarsh
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

Timothy Gandy has kept his lifetime's ambition secret for 40 years. Now, suddenly (if tragically) released from the henpecked tedium of his ordinary existence, he is unexpectedly free to realize his dreams. He will embark on a grand tour of Europe, following in the footsteps of the aristocrats of the 18th century. He anticipates high art, culture and pleasant weather. He never expects to encounter new friendships - and possibly even love - along the way.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I Didn't Want it to End

  • By SW Clemens on 12-06-18

I Didn't Want it to End

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

Reviewed: 12-06-18

I love this kind of book. It's gentle and philosophical. The characters are so well drawn that they feel like old friends. One of the reviewers on Amazon wrote that it was "A little unbelievable but a pleasant read," but most of the elements could easily have been drawn from my own life, so I think it's perfectly believable. I'd give this an extra half star if I could, as my only tiny reservation was with the epilogue, and the fact that I was enjoying it so much I was sorry it wasn't longer.

  • The Serpent of Venice

  • A Novel
  • By: Christopher Moore
  • Narrated by: Euan Morton
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,479
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,262
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,258

Venice, a really long time ago: Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from Britain who also happens to be a favorite of the Doge: The rascal-Fool Pocket. This trio of cunning plotters have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising a spirited evening. Their invitation is, of course, bogus. These scoundrels have something far less amusing planned for the man who has consistently foiled their quest for power and wealth. But this Fool is no fool.…

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shakespear, E.A. Poe, and Pocket the Fool

  • By Sires on 05-11-14

A Tour de Force of Narration

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

Reviewed: 10-31-18

This is a farce, and as such will appeal to those who like the genre. It mixes Othello and The Merchant of Venice to forge another story of black deeds and revenge, along with a serpent that serves the deus ex machine role in making everything right in the end. You have to give Moore credit for ambition. It's not an easy task to keep in character for so long. Personally, I find the conceit and silliness only enjoyable in small bites, and might have put this aside without finishing it, had I read it instead of listened to it. Euan Morton, the narrator, kept things lively and comic throughout.

  • The Ocean Liner

  • By: Marius Gabriel
  • Narrated by: Angela Dawe
  • Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,125
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,012
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,014

Cousins Masha and Rachel Morgenstern board the luxury liner the SS Manhattan bound for New York, desperate to escape the concentration camps that claimed the rest of their family. America offers a safe haven, but to reach it they must survive a hazardous Atlantic crossing. Among their fellow passengers fleeing the war, each with their own conflicts, secrets, and surprises, are the composer Igor Stravinsky, making a new start after a decade of tragedy, and Rose Kennedy, determined to keep her four children from harm.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Historical Fiction--Compelling Characters

  • By Linda on 04-05-18

Disjointed

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

Reviewed: 10-13-18

At first I thought this was going to be a reworking of Ship of Fools, but it seems merely to be a vehicle for bringing together certain fictional and historical figures. The title is misleading, as not all of the action takes place on the ship, nor even during the voyage. The title might have made more sense had it been used as a metaphor, but the author didn’t go there. Some of the characters’ stories intersect. Some don’t. One of the main characters, Rosemary Kennedy, isn’t even a passenger on the ship, and some of the main action takes place on land both before and after the voyage. A quarter of the book jumps sporadically ahead, trying in vain to tie up loose ends and give closure to certain relationships.

The concept had potential. The dialogue was good, even if the dramatic tension and pacing were uneven. Perhaps worst of all, the overarching impetus for everyone onboard was to escape from a Europe being engulfed by war, while for Rosemary Kennedy (who was not onboard) the impetus was to escape the dictates of domineering parents. It’s as though the author melded two stories together, diminishing them both. Rosemary Kennedy’s fate could have been used as a metaphor for all of those trying to escape the control of a diabolical dictatorship, but it’s unclear whether the author was even aware of the parallels.

The narrator, Angela Dawe, should be given credit for giving distinctly individual voices to all the characters, ranging from young women to old men.

  • Exit West

  • A Novel
  • By: Mohsin Hamid
  • Narrated by: Mohsin Hamid
  • Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,325
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,135
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,125

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet - sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors - doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Where to Live?

  • By David on 04-04-17

Timely and Hopeful Story

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

Reviewed: 08-31-18

I'm surprised at the dearth of comments regarding the Hemingwayesque style of this novel. Though it's well-written, and highly stylized, it contains several chapters about random people doing unrelated things, with no apparent connection to the story. I expected some resolution at the end, but these appear to be superfluous chapters.
As to the narrator (the author), his delivery is halting, which got on my nerves by the time I'd reached the three-quarters mark.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

  • By: Rhys Bowen
  • Narrated by: Jasmine Blackborow
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,335
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,182
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,171

Georgie, or Lady Georgiana Rannoch, is busy planning her upcoming nuptials to Darcy O'Mara. Unfortunately, what has started as a simple wedding has become quite a royal headache and grand affair, thanks to a guest list that includes the queen and the appointment of princesses as Georgie's bridesmaids. “If only Darcy and I had eloped!” she thinks, as she attempts to organize her wedding and find a place for her and her husband-to-be to live. Just as she despairs of ever finding a home, her godfather offers his fully staffed country estate. But something sinister is afoot....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Overall I loved it!

  • By Dylan on 08-13-18

More Fun with Georgie

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

Reviewed: 08-19-18

Every book in this series is wonderfully fun and entertaining. They all stand alone, but it helps to know Georgiana's background to appreciate how she is growing up, learning to be more assertive and a little less naive. Likewise, Queenie develops, becoming a little more competent in this book. However, as good as the books are, they are even better as audible books. The late Katherine Kellgren gave personality to all of the characters, high and low, which made the audible editions such a delight. The books became a great collaboration between author and narrator, so I was worried that a new narrator might spoil this and any forthcoming books. However, Jasmine Blackborow has stepped right into Kellgren's shoes without missing a beat, and without appreciably changing the characters' distinct voices. Brilliantly done.

  • Lincoln in the Bardo

  • A Novel
  • By: George Saunders
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and others
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,803
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,314
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,274

The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented. February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A Mixed Bag

  • By Thomas More on 02-24-17

Full of Angst, Darkly Humorous, and Poignant

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

Reviewed: 08-01-18

Lincoln in the Bardo isn't so much a novel as a play in novel-like form. I expect to see it on Broadway in two or three years. It's really a very short book. George Saunders is a short-story writer, and though this book is 368 pages, it could be formatted to half the number of pages. Imaginative, idiosyncratic, and bold in conception, it incorporates dozens of contemporary historical accounts to build a collage of Lincoln and his middle son Willie. The larger story is narrated by over a hundred inhabitants of the bardo (a sort of purgatory between life and rebirth), each with his or her own concerns and foibles. Saunders' bardo is suitably creepy. I have only a few reservations. There seemed no purpose to the lack of punctuation, or to the purposeful misspelling of certain words. Also, two foul-mouthed characters seem out-of-character for the time period, while at the same time their foul dialogue is presented with decorously Victorian redaction, as in "The f___ing little s_____! I should kick his G_____n, f___ing nuts!" Despite these reservations, Lincoln in the Bardo is a brave, artistic work, a wild cross-breeding of Waiting for Godot with Our Town, at once full of angst, darkly humorous, and poignant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Western Star

  • By: Craig Johnson
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 7 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,352
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,125
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,102

Sheriff Walt Longmire is enjoying a celebratory beer after a weapons certification at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy when a younger sheriff confronts him with a photograph of 25 armed men standing in front of a Challenger steam locomotive. It takes him back to when, fresh from the battlefields of Vietnam, then-deputy Walt accompanied his mentor Lucian to the annual Wyoming Sheriff's Association junket held on the excursion train known as the Western Star, which ran the length of Wyoming from Cheyenne to Evanston and back.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Warning! This ends in a cliffhanger.

  • By TyrannosaurusRix on 09-21-17

A Pivotal Book in the Series

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

Reviewed: 06-26-18

Reviewers who have not liked this book all complain about the cliff hanger ending. But this is the book upon which the rest of the series will pivot. It gives us our earliest look at Walt as a newly minted lawman, and ties that story together with the present day, and Walt's major nemesis of the past several books who has devastated his family. The villain is supremely vindictive, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Guidall is excellent as always.