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B. Westman

Maine
  • 14
  • reviews
  • 125
  • helpful votes
  • 349
  • ratings
  • Moving Day

  • By: Jonathan Stone
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,108
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,000
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,001

Forty years’ accumulation of art, antiques, and family photographs are more than just objects for Stanley Peke - they are proof of a life fully lived. A life he could have easily lost long ago. When a con man steals his houseful of possessions in a sophisticated moving-day scam, Peke wanders helplessly through his empty New England home, inevitably reminded of another helpless time: decades in Peke’s past, a cold and threadbare Stanislaw Shmuel Pecoskowitz eked out a desperate existence in the war-torn Polish countryside, subsisting on scraps, dodging Nazi soldiers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a fantastic story... a real treat!

  • By Joe Crescenzi on 06-03-14

Deja Vu

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

Reviewed: 08-22-17

When I downloaded this title and opened it to listen for the first time, my app said my last location was the end of the book and did I want to go there.... I just stared. Turns out, I've already read this book on my Kindle... Oh well, says I, I could return it, but I'll just listen anyway. I am SO glad I did. Despite the storyline, which is good, there is a lot of deep philosophical thinking going on in this book as well. The narrator was excellent and his ability to switch "voices" rapidly was spot on. When there was a group of people talking, it sounded like a whole group of people talking, not one person reading everyone's lines. The story itself is well done, but nothing spectacular. For the most part, each "next step" was fairly predictable. But the underlying histories and thought processes of both the protagonist and the antagonist are captivating. As I listened, I remembered much of the basic plot from my previous reading years ago, but the nuances and details had escaped me. Warning: there are some graphic depictions of violence in this book and if you have a queasy stomach, be warned. That said, it was a good story, extremely well narrated, and well worth the credit.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A Trace of Death

  • A Keri Locke Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Blake Pierce
  • Narrated by: Elaine Wise
  • Length: 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 88
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 76
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 79

Keri Locke, Missing Persons Detective in the Homicide division of the LAPD, remains haunted by the abduction of her own daughter, years before, never found. Still obsessed with finding her, Keri buries her grief the only way she knows how: by throwing herself into the cases of missing persons in Los Angeles. A routine phone call from a worried mother of a high-schooler, only two hours missing, should be ignored. Yet something about the mother's voice strikes a chord, and Keri decides to investigate.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator is all wrong

  • By jhoss on 11-19-17

The Wrong Voice

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

Reviewed: 05-12-17

First of all, this was a rather mediocre story at best. The central character is a female cop who lost a daughter 5 years before to an abductor and never saw her daughter again. We're told the story of the abduction through a series of episodes where the main character "zones out" and remembers the details of her daughter's nightmare. She is often in briefings or in the midst of important interrogations when these zone out periods hit her. It's just stupid.

The writer lacks the skill to create a complex situation and then extricate the characters from it. If the characters ran into a dead end, somebody suddenly "remembered" another tidbit that shed all new light on the situation. Once, I can swallow. Every time, it becomes old. There was no real creativity in the writing.

The final blow was the narrator. This was completely the wrong narrator. Perhaps she is a good narrator with the right story, but this wasn't it. There was nothing in the background of ANY of the characters or the location to suggest a British influence or placement, yet the narrator has a very thick British accent with exactly zero attempt at Americanizing it in any way. The story is set in California. The accent made my mind keep trying to place the scenes in London or something. It was a total immersion breaker. Additionally, as the action stepped up, the narrator became increasingly excited, to the point that she was shouting through about 1/3 of the book.

By chapter 19, I realized I no longer cared about the story. The protagonist, supposedly a police officer, was violent and crass. She bullied and physically intimidated everyone she spoke to. She was touted as an excellent detective, yet she obtained every bit of information through threats and intimidation of the witnesses and/or possible suspects. By the time I grew tired of it, I realized that she was just a mean cop with a bad attitude and no redeeming characteristics. When I reached a scene where she actually assaulted a witness with a blunt object for information she felt he was "holding back", then threw money at him and told him to go to the local walk-in clinic an "be careful not to fall into any more counters", I knew I was done. I was disgusted, didn't like the characters, hated the amateurish writing, and was just plain tired of trying to filter through the narrator's accent to a story set in an American city, with American characters.

Fortunately, I got this book for very cheap since I already had the Kindle version (which I hadn't read yet) or I'd be looking to return it. Thank goodness I didn't spend one of my valued credits!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Louisiana Bigshot

  • Talba Wallis Mystery Series, Book 2
  • By: Julie Smith
  • Narrated by: Nan McNamara
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 57

Meet the hottest detective duo in New Orleans - she's Queen Latifah. He's Danny DeVito. Or they would be if this were a movie - in print, they're Talba Wallis and Eddie Valentino. Talba's got the beauty, the brains, the computer savvy, the poetic soul, the youth, the right demographic, and the sass. Eddie's got the detective agency. Also a short fuse and yes, wisdom. Not only do they make it work, they've got chemistry.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • for every season

  • By Angela on 05-16-17

Fun Female Detective Story

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

Reviewed: 03-21-17

This is what I consider a fun read. Nothing too deep and profound, not especially thrilling or amazing, but it was a good story to pass the time and brought a few smiles along the way. Talba Wallis is an up and coming PI with a smattering of skills and a lot of determination. She is smart, but a little "too much" for some of her circumstances. The description of her as a "Queen Latifah" type is pretty spot on. I can see the Queen handling the role very well.

The plot revolves around a layered series of events that begins with the death of Talba's friend, but just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Although race is not a factor in the story, it is. Talba is black and her friend was white. And her friend was from a VERY white part of Louisiana, where Talba cannot blend in, and therefore cannot truly investigate they way she has been taught in the heart of New Orleans, where races blend and meld together. But as I said, Talba is smart. She'll figure it out.

About the narration for this book, though, I have some reservations. For me, a story told from the perspective of a young black woman from New Orleans should "sound" like a story told by a young black woman from New Orleans. Nan McNamara sounds so bleach blonde bob-tailed, cookie cutter white that it was more of a distraction to the story. I wanted to hear "Talba" but I just couldn't. And don't even get me started on her attempts at the voice of Eddie Valentino, who should have been a New Jersey, nasaly old white man, but again, you've got the bleach blonde cookie. "His" use of "Ms. Wallis" made me cringe every time. If you can get past that (and I only barely could), it's a relatively well-written detective novel about a young detective who is just learning her way and who does make mistakes, sometimes rather pricey ones.

I may check this author again sometime, but for the character Talba Wallis, I should think there could be a better voice.

  • Beale Street Dynasty

  • Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis
  • By: Preston Lauterbach
  • Narrated by: Mirron Willis
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16

Following the Civil War, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, thrived as a cauldron of sex and song, violence and passion. But out of this turmoil emerged a center of black progress, optimism, and cultural ferment. Preston Lauterbach tells this vivid, fascinating story through the multigenerational saga of a family whose ambition, race pride, and moral complexity indelibly shaped the city that would loom so large in American life.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Narration Speed...It's Half the Battle

  • By B. Westman on 03-21-17

Narration Speed...It's Half the Battle

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

Reviewed: 03-21-17

First of all, let me say that if you make it to the end, congratulations! It is a good story about the history of downtown Memphis in the area surrounding the now touristy Beale Street. The book sheds a lot of light on why parts of the city have developed they way they have and the politics involved in the shaping of a black river town into a major metropolitan city.

Stay with me... the story IS a good one, but it took a sheer force of will to get going on this book. Having lived in and around Memphis most of my life, but having been away for the past almost 20 years, I was really looking forward to this historical glimpse into the city where I grew up. But the narration. is. painful... The narrator over-pronounces most words, pauses in bizarre places in the sentence, and even mispronounced at least 10 commonplace words (not proper names or place names, just common words) before I lost count. The first time I tried to listen, I gave up and couldn't do it. But two or three audiobooks later, I decided to give it another go. The print versions of the book have solid reviews so I knew that the story was in there somewhere.

This tale unfolds after the Civil War, beginning with Robert Church, the first black millionaire from the South and leads to a political battle for control of the city between the blacks of downtown sponsored by the Church family and fortune, and the whites of uptown, sponsored by E.H. 'The Boss' Crump and his fortune, right up to the race riots in the 60's. Having grown up in the city just after the race riots, this book was a bit of a prequel to my childhood. It was fun to hear street names and businesses that I remember from my youth.

Now... for the solution to the problem of the narrator. About an hour into my second go at trying to listen to this book, it dawned on me that I was feeling a constant urge to yell "get on with it!" So that's exactly what I did. I hit that little icon on my device that says "1.0 Speed". I opted instead for "1.5 Speed". Lo and behold, things suddenly got a lot more tolerable. I don't think any amount of tweaking could ever make it "good". But tolerable was sufficient. I finally felt I could listen to the story without cringing or having my mind wander between words. That is, until the narrator mispronounced a word. Those were like mental speed bumps that you never saw coming. My ears would hit one of those and BAM! Brain fell off the track. I'd spend several seconds trying get my head around the weird pronunciation and then have to run to catch back up to the storyline, that was clipping along at 1.5x the normal rate. About mid-story, I put the narration speed back to 1.0 and it was fine for the rest of the book. Either the narrator found his groove, or I just got used to listening to him. I'll never know because I doubt I will put myself through the pain of listening to him again.

If you find this book in print, or done by another narrator, I'd certainly recommend it. As it is with this version, have a fourth grader read you his history book. It will sound better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Heads in Beds

  • A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
  • By: Jacob Tomsky
  • Narrated by: Jacob Tomsky
  • Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 802
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 735
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 732

Jacob Tomsky has worked in hotels for more than a decade, doing everything from valet parking to manning the front desk. He's checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room service, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late check out, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your mini-bar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. And in Heads in Beds, he pulls back the curtain on the hospitality business.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The presidential suite of audiobooks

  • By Grant on 03-10-13

Eye Opening

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

Reviewed: 12-13-13

This book was entertaining and enlightening from the very beginning. The author uses a bit too much crude language for my liking, but he does a great job with the story and throws in lots and lots of little tips along the way. I will never ever check into a hotel the same again. I will never look at the front desk clerk the same again.

For seasoned travelers, watch out, you might see yourself in this story! But if you pay attention at all, you should be able to improve your future hotel stays. This inside look at the hospitality industry is probably more gritty and detailed than the industry is comfortable having exposed, but that's what makes it great. Peppered liberally with doses of humor and a very light, quick paced storyline, this book was over far too soon. Very well done and if Jacob "Thomas" Tomsky wants to write "Heads in Beds 2", I'll be at the head of the line to grab it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Historian

  • By: Elizabeth Kostova
  • Narrated by: Justine Eyre, Paul Michael
  • Length: 26 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,260
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,507
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,527

Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of: a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great immersion entertainment

  • By Joseph on 08-26-08

For once, I choose Abridged

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

Reviewed: 11-05-13

The abridged version of this book was my very first Audible purchase, the one I got free for joining all those years ago. At the time, I didn't know about abridged and unabridged versions on the site and so when I bought the title, I didn't know there were choices.

Anyway, I listened to it and loved it. The story is spooky, historically captivating, and not at all your typical vampire story. The narration was excellent and the cast of characters really came to life.

Years later, I found myself with spare credits and decided to upgrade to the unabridged version of this novel. I could barely wait to finish my current title so I could start this one. The narration is equally as exellent and the story of course, has the same basic plot, but in this one instance, I actually found the additional material to be dry and boring. It didn't really add any substance to the story and actually made the story just a hair too long. I lost interest. After the long, dry, wordy descriptions, I found that I no longer cared (or even remembered, sometimes) what was going on in the plot. I found myself mentally running to catch up all the time due to the fact that my brain would go numb waiting for the story to continue.

In summary, Elizabeth Kostova's story is a great one, and well worth the read. My opinion is that there ought not BE an abridged/unabridged version of this book. The stuff that the abridged version omits should have been left on the editor's cutting floor in the first place. Get the abridged version and enjoy an excellent story.

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

  • By: Stephen King
  • Narrated by: Anne Heche
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,064
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 802
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 805

Anne Heche reads The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the story of nine-year-old Trisha McFarland who gets lost in the woods while on a walk with her family. Boston Red Sox closing pitcher Tom Gordon becomes Trisha's imaginary companion - and the key to her survival against an unidentified someone (or some thing) leaving death and destruction in its wake.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Amber Alert

  • By Tango on 03-22-15

Musical Interludes - All Wrong

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

Reviewed: 11-05-13

While this book had all the fascination and description one expects from Stephen King, the production had a flaw that really detracted from the story for me. Rather than chapters, this book is broken into "Innings" (fits the story line). However; there is an unexpected, unappreciated, and ill-fitting small musical interlude at the end of each "inning". It totally breaks the flow of the narrative and frankly, I just found it irritating.

As for the story itself, it is a very well written tale, told by a 9-year old little girl lost in the woods. Her constant ongoing internal dialog with friends, family, herself, and her beloved Tom Gordon (former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox) make up the crux of the tale. The narrator, Anne Heche, does a great job of capturing the inflection and occasional mispronunciation of a smart, but relatively average 9-year old.

The story is a great one. I've read it in paper, and now I own the audio book too. It's not a long story, but a very lonely, scary one. It's worth a read, despite the poor musical interruptions.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Winter Sea

  • By: Susanna Kearsley
  • Narrated by: Rosalyn Landor
  • Length: 15 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,538
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,822
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,842

History has all but forgotten.... In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next best-selling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write. But then she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing Read

  • By Menon on 08-14-12

An Incredible Two-fer

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

Reviewed: 02-01-12

This audio book is absolutely amazing. It is a book about writing a book...so you get two stories for the price of one as the story's main character, a novelist, also tells the story she is writing. What is so incredible is the intertwining of two very different writing styles. There is the style of the author, but within that, the character author has a different style. Ms. Kearsley is quite talented to be able to pull this off. Additionally, the narrator, Ms. Landor, does an fantastic job with the multitude of voices in both story lines. She even uses a different "voice" to read the character's novel. It's difficult to explain, but profoundly well-done. This is definitely one that I think starts with an excellent plot and benefits all the more with an excellent narrator. A must-read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Family Fang

  • By: Kevin Wilson
  • Narrated by: Therese Plummer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 870
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 748
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 748

Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist's work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents' madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents' strange world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful, Heart-wrenching, Shocking.

  • By Amanda on 11-18-11

Surprisingly Deep

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

Reviewed: 11-30-11

I grabbed this novel on a whim because it was featured on a banner ad when I came to the Audible site. I am SO glad I did. This story is very well written and the characters are unique and competently developed. The story is interesting and often unpredictable, which makes it enjoyable all the way to the end.

And I have found a new narrator! Up until now, Davina Porter has been my favorite narrator due to her ability to really manipulate voices and bring a variety of characters to lfe with her voice. Therese Plummer is spectacular at this. She really breathes life into this already good novel and give you a cast of characters, each unique in their own voices. This book, unlike most that I've read or listened to, had a complete ending. When the story was over, I was done. I didn't have questions, I didn't wish it would go on...the story was over. And I liked that. It left me free to appreciate it and move on to the next book in my library with a sense of closure.

This one is definitely worth the credit.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Room

  • A Novel
  • By: Emma Donoghue
  • Narrated by: Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,413
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,532
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,508

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, but what she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A truly memorable read

  • By Kathleen on 09-16-10

Haunting...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-27-11

The reviews of this book were rather mixed, but I downloaded it anyway, and I am really glad I did. The story is absolutely haunting. I have listened to this story through twice now and I can't stop thinking about it. Room is disturbing in its concept... Imagine living with a small child for 5 years in an 11x11 room. But the telling from Jack's perspective is so different from what an adult would think of the situation and is therefore completely unique. Everyday that I listen to this story, it makes me more aware of the little things I've come to take for granted. Exceptional story, well read and thought provoking.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful