My experience with the app store has been totally different.
While I do embedded code for a living, I wanted to learn to write iOS apps. I am by no means a really good Obj-C programmer (but I am improving). My first hobby app suddenly looked like it might be marketable and I prepped it for app store submission.
When I got my one app rejection (on my first submission) I got an electronically generated letter that was sort of vague as to the reason. I responded to it, I got a response by a human in only an hour or two explaining in simpler terms what the issue was and what they expected. I resubmitted that afternoon and in a few days it was up and on sale. There have been no rejections over any of my subsequent updates.
I also had to push out an update about 4-5 days before the iOS 6 release due to a stupid coding error that iOS 6 would no longer let me get away with. It sat in the queue until iOS 6 was released then suddenly the app went from waiting, to in review to ready for sale in a few seconds. It came out when they did a dump of all the other iOS 6 apps. I suppose if an app has a certain number of sales and decent feedback they do not spend much time on it during reviews when crunch time is upon them. This has happened more than once - on the 5.0 update and the 4.0 update too.
Releasing at other times, I usually have 5-6 day waits. My last release (approved today) took a bit more than 8 days.
I have no complaints so far in my 2+ years on the app store.