Lancaster, PA, United States | Member Since 2010
Ok... I wanted a biography of Coolidge which wasn't dragged through a left wing filter. This book isn't... It seemingly is without bias. It is also without original research, a fact the author makes clear up front. The author has no ability to fashion a well-turned phrase or to execute a slashing insight. Instead Robert Sobel through Charles Bice's yeoman's reading goes from point A to point Z, a ride much like one would take on an old-timey trolley car through the last century's first half. The rider peers outward as the book points out the sites (I believe you can hear Sousa if you listen reeeeeely closely :-) and there's little chance to get out and walk into the scenes at depth.
Still, I now know what I wanted to know about Coolidge. The book gave me what I needed to think about... Rather than giving me the writer's thoughts about it. Living in the Northampton, then Boston area for 25 years, my curiosity grew especially since the Western Mass region ignores its ex-President.
If you are interested in one of America's most popular Presidents and wonder why he's been essentially forgotten - you'll find this book satisfying if a tad boring.
A last thought... this is an old-fashioned history book. It is not driven to entertain, nor to indoctrinate. Rather it appears to be an orderly collection of facts which the reader can use appropriately. It will not spark a movie or TV show. I will allow you to fit Coolidge into your personal live-view. Today, that's a pretty high standard.
Looking for the kind of legal thriller that Scott Turow used to write? Here's a guy NOT PREACHING his ideological message. Here's a nifty noir voice. I just listened to Dashiell Hammett's Maltese Falcon where the hard-boiled detective got invented. Scott Pratt's in that league. Like Hammett he's writing straight entertainment while playing the various techniques of fiction like a jazz pianist pulls in the riffs and chords you expect from hands that can find the dark a well as light keys.
Tim Campbell's created this ensemble cast with same sort of note-perfect sense as Pratt. Did I like it? I just downloads the next Joe Dillard book. Wadda-you think?
Hammett shocked readers. He won't today. So stripped of that support, Falcon's now a slow period piece. The legendary snappy dialogue's also lost its snap over the years, copied and tightened as it's been by so many who've mastered this genre since Sam Spade was invented. Hammett invented pacing that goosed along the plot. And yet, even there his followers have learned to crank up the pace to warp speed.
It was interesting to return to the firm of Archer & Spade, but it was more like a class assignment... Something for study perhaps. Something to appreciate for its contributions.
I read Falcon when I was young. I like that memory more than this revisit. Hmmmm... Maybe you can't go home again, eh?
Scobel and Israel are a top IT reporting team. Maybe THE top team. They have an intriguing curiosity, wonderful access, and an ability to translate tech complexities into colloquial English. But, high tech becomes old tech at blinding speed. I finished this listen on 6/15/14. A lot of their material was… well think of a banana. You know how quick the yellow ones become brown? We'll this banana was flecked when I read it, on the way to brown.
I'm guessing the expiration date for Age Of Context is probably 10/14 or 11/14 at the latest. Get it while it's fresh, huh?
Jeffery Kafer's a good fit for the read he helped me enjoy the listen.
Imagine an argument with great links missing from its logical chain. Then imagine simply inventing links of fact to fill the gaps... Links fit into place with welds blended and blurred by strong emotional distractions.
A deus ex machina is a literary or sophist trick... an ancient device that Wikipedia defines as a seemingly unsolvable problem which is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object.
Robert J. Sawyer does that here in Calculating God... quite enchantingly. He "proves" the case for diesim by... well I use the word enchantingly in a couple of its meanings. It is much like a fascinating fairy tale that absorbs and charms you. And it is also a magical yarn that fits as well into the realm of fantasy as sci-fi. Indeed, it's an ingenious blend which proves nothing yet, seems to. Uh-huh, here the "calculations" and the "proof" are just like a guy suddenly and abruptly whipping a rabbit from a hat.
He does it so well, you forget that he's contrived to bring both a certain kind of hat, baggy-sleeved jacket, and well... his own unexpected rabbit.
Sawyer's good. And while you're enjoying this "calculatiion" ignore the man behind the curtain. There's nothing to see there... Just move along past :-)
Oh, and Jonathan Davis, or whoever... reads the book ... um... enchantingly.
You ever seen taffy stretched? Well it sags in the middle and even breaks if over-pulled.
Fidelity is rich, thick, and a sometimes gooey taffy. The characters are by Thomas Perry, so they're basically complex. Characters drive Perry stories. But here, the cast is pulled sometimes beyond its, um, stretchability.
Fidelity's a good book, and Perry's always a unique chef. This recipe's different from all of the other six Perrys I've listened to - so this author's not derivative. But it's more like "Strip" in his book of recipes… not a waste of time. Diverting. But I urge you to listen to either of "The Butcher Boys", or the classic "Metzger's Dog" first.
Oh… Michael Kramer ROCKS! He makes this book worth the time keeping this listen from becoming a stretch too far.
Michael Sears has mastered alchemy. He's turned the lead of securities trading into precious reading. You know how a magician can do a trick right in front of you, then do it again and you're still agape? Sears has done it again in "Mortal Bonds" - this second Jason Stafford novel. "Black Fridays" was good, it worried me though that it wouldn't …. no… couldn't be done again. It was… Even better. My only regret is that there is no third Jason Stafford book to yet download.
John Bedford Lloyd is what Scott Brick should be and he has made a masterful difference over the reader of "Black Fridays". He can do voices, creates totally believable females. He handles nuance the way grand prix drivers handle curves. But, he stays invisible… In the best ensemble productions, it is a bad performer who stands out. Little wonder that Lloyd holds a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Lloyd is magnificent at allowing Michael Sears' creation to sing much like a great conductor will interpret a terrific composer. But, this seems to be the only Audible book he's read. PITY! The man is brilliant, no wonder he's appeared in scores of movies.
OK… this is too long and most won't read it. So just take my advice and start with "Black Fridays" and you'll come in at the beginning of the creation of this complex and clever Jason Stafford epic. Then listen to this pair of alchemists at work in "Mortal Bonds".
FIVE STARS ALL AROUND!
Among well written stories, this one is average. Lloyd Sherr's a terrific actor and manages the entire cast brilliantly. Marty Singer's got an interesting, um, challenge that works to both deepen him and to add tension to the plot. Here's the "but".
That's the sound of snapping credibility. The evil mastermind behind all of the action sucks too heavily upon the reader's belief. Too much disbelief's got to be suspended. I couldn't do it so the ending sagged when the big-bad-boss TWANGED credulity.
Maybe I'll read the next Marty Singer mystery. maths Iden's created a clever character facing a unique challenge. So… If you're intrigued by the publisher's blurb… Well heck, it got me to read it. Just remember the "TWANG!" and don't say you weren't warned. K?
I guess Michael Koryta’s from Cleveland, huh? Can’t think of any other reason this average private eye tale’s based there. Certainly it adds nothing to the color, or more importantly, to the culture of this story. Pity. Visiting the place in this book’s like visiting Any-Mall-USA. If I’m being taken to visit a place, I want a sense of it. Otherwise, don’t take me around the streets and miss taking me through the minds and idiosyncrasies that make it compelling.
Okay, it looks as if I digress. But that’s the point. There’s no richness to this story. It’s not bad, just, well… blah. And the ending…
WHICH BRINGS ME TO SCOTT BRICK…
He’s an audible.com star. And he can act. Problem is he can act when he shouldn’t. Frank Sinatra once told his arranger Nelson Riddle that there was a reason people bought records with the Sinatra name. They were after a Sinatra experience. He ordered Riddle to tone down the decoration between the words to allow listeners to attend to what they paid for. There are characters and narration in novels. The narration is the author’s voice between the dialogue. Brick uses it as an opportunity to insinuate his own decorations… Exactly what Sinatra told Riddle NOT TO DO!
I notice Brick ‘s dramatic decorations. While Brick does a terrific job of characterization, he insists upon a portentous intrusion into the narration. His quivering emotional pitch when neutrality is essential in the space between dramatic interpretation is often sappy. Oh, I know that Brick’s got a ton of fans and that I’m sure to get a lot of negative reaction to this review. But I’m pleading with you Mr. Brick… CRANK IT DOWN. You are an amazing talent… But give Michael Koryta room to do his music.
Maybe this book seemed just so-so to me because the decoration between the singing even got weepy? Especially at the end.
But… It could happen, right? And if it did, DELIGHTFUL!
Well, that's the way this thing goes. It's a pearl… perfectly formed… Dully sparkling. And I'm delighted at the improbability of this story and its rich thick tastiness.. The three lead characters in this ensemble are what you expect from Thomas Perry… WUNNERFUL! Notice how I keep using caps? Well, that's the way I feel now that I've just finished Death Benefits by the pool down here in balmy South Carolina… vacationland USA. It's a beach/pool/summer biking read and Michael Kramer reads it all masterfully.
Get it, love it. Another Perry wonder-story. I'm off to download another Perry before the sun goes behind a cloud. Need to go pearl diving again.
Warning… listen first to "Medicus" the lead off book in this tale of legion doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso's tale of Roman times. Ruso's a frustratingly dumb guy while his slave and love interest Tilla is a smart blonde. And each of them are kind of encased in the frustrations of their culture which create frustrations which we can see from our perspective as outsiders looking in.
Ruth Downie is VERY clever in making her setting a part of the ensemble cast of her books and its mysteries. My own frustrations with Dr. Ruso's ineptness of course is planned to increase the tensions in Terra Incognita. And after all, without tension, there's really no plot, right?
For some reason we are more likely to believe that characters are really ancient Romans if the reader is British, and Simon Vance provides that filter well. In all, this is a believable trip to another place/time peopled with intriguing characters. I'll probably listen to another in the series. But, remember my warning…. Read "Medicus" first, I liked it more.
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