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Pamela

Bigfork, Montana
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  • Forensics

  • What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime
  • By: Val McDermid
  • Narrated by: Sarah Barron
  • Length: 11 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,717
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,580
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,565

The dead talk - to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Crime Seen

  • By Mark on 09-02-16

Good history of forensics

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

Reviewed: 09-03-18

I enjoyed the history of each of the elements of forensics discussed - fingerprints, blood spatter patterns, facial reconstructions, etc. Many unsung heroes got a little, well deserved, credit here. Most were discussed in the context of one or more real cases which introduced or advanced the science.

I personally enjoyed the reader's Scottish accent, as opposed to some other reviewers. You should be able to determine from the sample excerpt whether it is for you or not. What I did not like were the horrible English and American accents which sounded as if they were drawn directly from 1930 melodramas. Fortunately, they constituted less than 5% of the material. But sadly, they are what I will remember most about this narrator. I would like a version of this book where she read it through in her lovely Scottish brogue.

  • Real Food, Fake Food

  • Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do About It
  • By: Larry Olmsted
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Yen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 623
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 567
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 562

You've seen the headlines: Parmesan cheese made from sawdust. Lobster rolls containing no lobster at all. Extra-virgin olive oil that isn't. Fake foods are in our supermarkets, our restaurants, and our kitchen cabinets. Award-winning food journalist and travel writer Larry Olmsted exposes this pervasive and dangerous fraud perpetrated on unsuspecting Americans.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointed in how few foods were covered.

  • By Perry Gallagher on 01-13-17

Pretentious, condescending and, yes, repetitive

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

Reviewed: 05-28-18

There was very little new information in this book - honey imitations was the only one that was both new to me and touches my daily life. I am very disappointed that reading labels carefully can only prevent about half of the frauds described in this book. I use the word frauds cautiously as most of the problems discussed are not crimes but the result of poor legislation.

My big problem with the research in this book is that it is biased towards publications by and discussions with farmers, producers and trade organizations representing the product in question. Olmsted admits that Kobe beef is not his favorite and discusses the trouncing French wines received at the hands of Napa Valley vintners in taste tests. Despite that, his argument is that food produced outside the defined geographic areas are intrinsically inferior. He seems to believe that producers will exchange cheaper ingredients unless there is a government body watching carefully. The high-end US wine industry clearly disproves this - highly rated and regarded products command higher prices and the producers, in general, would not sully their good reputation with rotten or contaminated grapes. The flip side is well established brands that fall under profit pressures and bad production cycles - those prices are not usually decreased to reflect the lower quality. There are poor quality products overcharging naive consumers. But if a consumer finds a product they like and is of consistent quality, they will continue to buy it and recommend it to friends.

He is irritatingly inconsistent in his expectations. American-style Kobe beef is a fraudulent name, but Gruyere-style cheese is an adequate disclosure that the cheese did not come from Switzerland. I could list dozens of these, but won't bore you - the book will do that adequately.

On a minor note, Olmsted falls into the same trap the marketing organizations do - the monetary loss is not the gross tonnage of fake food sold multiplied by the selling price of the exclusive controlled product. I am not likely to spend $30+/lb for Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged balsamic vinegar when I am making Caesar salad or lasagna. I might for a cheese plate but I can not afford those prices for everyday use. Additionally, there is not nearly enough production in these exclusive areas to meet worldwide demand - price is not the only cause of substitutions.

If you do not want to suffer through the book, here it is condensed into just a few rules:
1. Read labels - what are the ingredients, where is the product made? (be aware this may not always be accurate)
2. Buy local when you can, knowing the producer is a real plus.
3. Do your research. Know which products and brands are reputable and which are questionable. Know the meaning of terms such as organic, all natural, and pure for the products you are buying.

Jonathan Yen is not a bad narrator but is totally wrong for this book. He sounds shocked at every discovery - cranberry juice is mostly apple juice!!! McDonald's lobster rolls are not real Maine lobster!!! Maple-flavored items may contain no actual maple syrup!!! It gets very tiring very quickly. His attempts at accents are laughable at best and cringe-worthy at worst.

  • Winston Churchill Reporting

  • Adventures of a Young War Correspondent
  • By: Simon Read
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

Long before his finest hour as Britain's wartime leader, Winston Churchill emerged on the world stage as a brazen foreign correspondent, covering wars of empire in Cuba, India, the Sudan, and South Africa. In those far-flung corners of the world, reporting from the front lines between 1895 and 1900, Churchill mastered his celebrated command of language and formed strong opinions about war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Icon in the Making

  • By asassyvic on 03-02-16

Young and Reckless

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

Reviewed: 05-02-18

I have read many books by and about Churchill, but Read does us all a service by covering a period of his life we do not often hear about. Much of the book is fairly slow going - more detail about the battles than I expected.

There are great stories about Churchill himself: how he used his family connections to gain access to battle zones, his struggles to get his writing published and his inability to settle into the lifestyle expected of a young officer. I knew the basics of his escape during the Boer war, but the adventure is told well here and in much more detail than I have read before.

We do get glimpses of how his experiences shaped the Winston Churchill who lead the British during much of the second world war. It does feel a bit like the first volume of a long and detail biography. There is a fairly abrupt end to the action, followed by a one chapter epilogue that outlines the next 50 years of his life. I wish that there had been some discussion about how the experiences outlines in this book came into play in later policy or strategic decisions.

But as a fan of everything Churchill, I did enjoy the book and will probably listen to it again after reading books that only refer to this period in passing.

Simon Vance, as always, did an excellent job with the narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Collectibles

  • The Collectibles Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: James J. Kaufman
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,011
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,837
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,832

"Do what the other fella can't. Be what the other fella ain't. And then help the other fella." Joe Hart has never let go of his uncle's words. An orphan from the unspoiled Adirondack Mountains, Joe leaves his humble beginnings and goes on to distinguish himself, first as a navy submarine commander, then as an attorney unequaled in his field. But Joe's world crashes with an unexpected tragedy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This book is a MUST READ!

  • By shelley on 05-10-16

VERY contrived and unrealistic

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

Reviewed: 03-30-18

First, let me say that I do not mind books that touch my heart, but they have to have some connection with reality. I know a fair amount about several of the subjects touched by this book - finance, banking, the Navy, woodworking - and this book is so far off base as to be laughable.

For only one example that will not divulge the plot, there is an extensive portion which talks about the deal that Joe manages with the lending banks. There is no way in the the world, that any major bank would have all of its officers and executive staff available at a minute's notice to spend more than a day listening to a proposal from someone they have never met before, especially not for what is essentially a small business loan. A few million dollars in loans may get you a VP but will not get you a dozen of the top officers who can all be converted by an outsider's fancy binders.

Joe may be good at what he does, but when he gets some medical tests done and the doc tells him his MRI results are "amazing" I almost gave up. Everyone, even people who have never seen him before, think he is amazing. He criticizes Preston for trying to be in control all of the time, but he is so manipulative it is frightening. He is not malicious or evil, but he does control everything - even going so far as asking Preston to vow that he will do whatever Joe asks of him - anytime anywhere.

I felt manipulated too and that is never good in a book.

And no, this most assuredly not a mystery or suspense book. It is a feel good novel, if that is even a category.

It gets 2 stars overall though because Joe Barrett is as good as ever. There is some implied sexism, a tiny bit of swearing and nothing violent or sexual if any of those make a difference to you.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are

  • By: David Livermore, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: David Livermore
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,576
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,409
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,406

Based on groundbreaking research, these 24 lectures address dynamics and customs related to working, socializing, dining, marriage and family - all the areas necessary to help you function with a greater level of respect and effectiveness wherever you go. You'll also encounter practical tips and crucial context for greeting, interacting with, and even managing people from other parts of the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Quite possibly my favorite of The Great Courses

  • By Quaker on 09-17-13

Targeted to businessMEN

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

Reviewed: 03-11-18

This series does raise my awareness slightly for areas I have not yet visited, but I was more frustrated than informed.

Despite repeatedly saying that just being polite and tolerant is not enough, Professor Livermore repeated falls back on that stance because people can not be pigeonholed, no matter where they are from. His examples are of the Ugly American faces the puzzled local variety, rather stereo-typed and superficial. If you are going to do business in a foreign culture, you need a lot more information than is provided here. If you are touring, you will probably never face most of the situations he reviews (you are unlikely to be invited into the home of a Saudi family unless there is expectation of an ongoing relationship).

But my single biggest complaint is that the entire presentation is from the standpoint of men. As a woman who has traveled extensively in Asia, Europe and Latin America for professional reasons, I can guarantee you that I would never be invited to a night drinking with my Chinese counterparts. There is absolutely no discussion of the issues a woman faces in traditional cultures, with the exceptions that Italian women have learned to ignore men who throw catcalls their way on the street and Arab women find the hijab comforting..

Anyone who travels for work or pleasure will gain much more from the trip if they are informed before they travel - not just the social customs, but the history, current events and cusine of a new place. If you are traveling and do not do that already, you have missed a great opportunity. If you do your research, there is not a lot new to learn here.

Livermore is perfectly acceptable as a presenter and his 10 cultural dimensions can be helpful to remember that others' cultures can be quite different than mine. If this helps me be more understanding and tolerant, that can only be a good thing.

  • Starlight Detectives

  • How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe
  • By: Alan Hirshfeld
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 205
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 188
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 187

In 1929, Edwin Hubble announced the greatest discovery in the history of astronomy since Galileo first turned a telescope to the heavens. The galaxies, previously believed to float serenely in the void, are in fact hurtling apart at an incredible speed: the universe is expanding. This stunning discovery was the culmination of a decades-long arc of scientific and technical advancement.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Experience the discovery of most of the universe.

  • By Zachary Adams on 05-26-15

A story of imaging stars

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

Reviewed: 11-14-17

This is not my favorite book on discovering the skies. It is jam packed full of information, with so many characters, I could not develop a clear sense of any of them.

The story is really more about the improvements in imaging the universe than of the discoveries themselves. There is more than I ever imagined about the competitive approaches to photographing through telescopes. (I use the word photographing generically - I know that it not inclusive, as is exhaustively discussed in this book). I was surprised at the resistance to using anything other than the human eye to document what has been seen in the skies.

Astronomy and astrophysics have always drawn my curiosity and sense of discovery, but this book, sadly did not take me on that journey.

As noted in other reviews, Joe Barrett is a fine narrator but not the best for this book. His skills are probably better suited for fiction.

For something more comprehensible in an audiobook, try anything by Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson or look at the highest rated books in the astronomy category. This one is a bit of a snooze that should probably be left for those with a special interest in its narrow focus.

  • The Jennings Report

  • By: Anthony Buckeridge
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 3 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

When Jennings and Darbishire discover a hibernating hedgehog they are instantly intrigued. Then, when Venables tells him that foxes eat hedgehogs, Jennings decides to rescue it. But things rarely go as planned for Jennings, and after a series of mishaps involving Miss Thorpes puppy and a bottle of 'Ants Anti-Escaping Fluid', Jennings is left wondering whether Old Sleepy will make it through the winter. Clueless clodpoll! The Jennings Report is one of a series of 25 books by Anthony Buckeridge.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A sweet story of childhood adventure

  • By Pamela on 09-18-17

A sweet story of childhood adventure

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

Reviewed: 09-18-17

Originally published in 1970, this tale of schoolboys reads as if it were written in the 1930s. Yes, there are television aerials and other signs of more modern times, but the slow pace of life and sources of adventure speak to a quieter, more innocent era.

The hedgehog fares well under the care of a gaggle of well meaning students, while the teachers are more likely to be befuddled. This is 19th in a series of 24 books. It is the only one I have read/listened to and I did not find that to be a problem.

This story is well suited to being shared by children and parents. There is nothing threatening or frightening in the book.

  • Blindsighted

  • By: Karin Slaughter
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Early
  • Length: 12 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,323
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,036
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,033

A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it's only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer's twisted work becomes clear. Sara's ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, leads the investigation - a trail of terror that grows increasingly macabre when another local woman is found crucified a few days later.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great story- raw and amazing characters

  • By Soccer_mom on 02-19-15

Unlikable characters do stupid things

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

Reviewed: 08-10-17

I am very surprised at the high ratings of this book. It needs a good editor and a much better narrator.

From the very first page, our heroes do unethical, illegal and foolish things. Starting with a bizarre pediatrician / coroner who fails to call for an ambulance when she is assisting an injured woman and then proceeds to poke and prod the body before evidence is recorded, and leading to a police officer who breaks into a suspect's house and does not even consider that all evidence or arrests forthcoming would be thrown out of court in a split second.

Another police officer is a time bomb about to go out. She is short tempered, short sighted and so insecure that it is a wonder that she ever got a job. For some reason, the chief allows her to participate in the investigation of her sister's murder - predictably to disastrous results.

There are very specific details given about clothes, locations, appearances, etc which I could only expect to be significant later. But no, they were merely filling to an already over-filled book.

There are gruesome and stomach turning descriptions of the crimes, but even with that, women's genitals are consistently called "private parts" - a laughable euphemism given the violations committed.

I understand this is an early Karin Slaughter. I keep seeing high ratings for her books and I may have purchased another one, later in her career. I might give it a try in case she improved, but this is not a quality book.

The narrator was marginally better than the book, but her secondary characters are cringe-worthy.

  • Death Before Wicket

  • By: Kerry Greenwood
  • Narrated by: Stephanie Daniel
  • Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 543
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 457
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 453

It all sounds simple enough as Phryne sets new investigations into motion. But when greed and fear are the motivating factors, people become ruthless and Phyrne quickly finds herself enmeshed in blackmail, secrets, lies and the dangerous influences of deep magic.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bowled Over

  • By Dandylion on 07-25-13

A visit to the big city

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

Reviewed: 07-28-17

I am a big fan of this series and even though the stories are implausible, I find the telling and the narration delightful. Fortunately in this installment, the magic is all artifice and Phryne's insights into human nature are the tricks that win in the end.

I do not like it when authors insert paragraphs in foreign languages without a translation (although that may have been in a footnote). I think it is arrogant to assume that every reader knows the same modern and extinct languages as the writer. There are probably half a dozen of those inserts here - more than any others of this series, but that is probably due to the academic setting. Not enough to make me dislike the book, but plenty to bother me a little.

I missed Lin Chung - he is mentioned but does not appear in this volume. There is a hint about his future without Phryne; that would be a loss to both the heroine and the readers. We will see in the next installment.

  • My Sister's Grave

  • By: Robert Dugoni
  • Narrated by: Emily Sutton-Smith
  • Length: 10 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,039
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,738
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,725

Tracy Crosswhite has spent 20 years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House - a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder - is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Quite good...

  • By Rebecca on 10-18-15

Implausible from the start

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

Reviewed: 07-08-17

This will not be detailed, I just want to point out a major flaw overlooked by most reviewers.

From the beginning Tracy has been working to overturn the conviction of her sister's supposed killer. Every statement, every assumption, every comment assumes that once that is done, Tracy can move forward with her life and put the presumed murder behind her. How Tracy would be able to finally move on is never explained - she would still not know what happened to Sarah, if she was still alive or who had been involved in her disappearance. If the police had botched the original investigation, or been left without any clues or suspects, after 20 years, the mystery will not be solved.

It is because of that faulty premise that the whole story even works. As a trained homicide detective, Tracy would be more likely to be trying to solve the disappearance herself, not expending energy and endangering her career to free a man who gives her the creeps. By resolving what happened 20 years earlier, Tracy would free the convicted man if that was appropriate, but I find it implausible that his freedom would be her primary goal when her whole life has been spent obsessed with her sister's disappearance.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful