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Mark

MTF

Waltham, MA, United States | Member Since 2010

239
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 130 reviews
  • 156 ratings
  • 340 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2015
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FOLLOWERS
39

  • The Storyteller

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno, Jennifer Ikeda, Edoardo Ballerini, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3878)
    Performance
    (3389)
    Story
    (3406)

    Jodi Picoult's poignant number one New York Times best-selling novels about family and love tackle hot-button issues head on. In The Storyteller, Sage Singer befriends Josef Weber, a beloved Little League coach and retired teacher. But then Josef asks Sage for a favor she never could have imagined - to kill him. After Josef reveals the heinous act he committed, Sage feels he may deserve that fate. But would his death be murder or justice?

    Suzn F says: "The Baker, The Nun, The Virgin and The Monster"
    "Mediocre Picoult effort about the Holocaust"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Most of this story kept my interest, with some parts dragging on a bit. It's a Holocaust tale with a twist. The main character at first seems to be Sage, a scarred and sad young women still grieving over the death of her mother. She befriends an old man (Josef), who tells her that he was an SS officer in Nazi Germany, and he want forgiveness and help in killing himself. I was drawn into these characters and their stories over the first third of the novel. Sage contacts the FBI. The second third of the novel is mostly told through the voices of Minke and Anna. Minke is Sage's grandmother and a Holocaust survivor. Minke's tale seems pretty generic, if you have read a lot about the Holocaust, which I have. Eventually, Minke's story did draw me in, but Anna's never did. It really dragged on. The final third of the novel connected all these different characters and stories, and picked up again. The ending of the novel seemed much too far fetched to me, and I did not believe Sage would act the way she did. I think it was just Judy Picoult trying to be clever and surprise the reader. She did surprise me but lost me in the process. I give this three stars because I was engaged by about 70% of this novel.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • The Winter of Frankie Machine

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Don Winslow
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (706)
    Performance
    (537)
    Story
    (537)

    Frank Machianno is a late-middle-aged ex-surf bum who runs a bait shack on the San Diego waterfront. An affable Italian with a love of people and life, he's a stand-up businessman, devoted father, and a beloved fixture in the community. He's also a hit man - specifically, a retired hit man. Back in the day when he was one of the most feared members of the West Coast Mafia, he was known as Frankie Machine.

    Surf City Swami says: "The Winter of Frankie Machine is a ray of sunshine"
    "Great start, but fades with too much flashback"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was drawn to this story of an ex-hitman for the mob. I liked the novel from the start. Frankie, the retired hitman is funny and sympathetic. The story revolves around a plot to kill him, and then much of the novel is a flashback of Frankie's life. The present is much more interesting than the past, and even though I was 3/4 of the way through thus novel, I found I just didn't care enough to finish it. This was well written and narrated. It's a who-dunnit with a sense of humor. Just not for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Woods

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2703)
    Performance
    (1769)
    Story
    (1769)

    Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again.

    Daniel Mcafee says: "Pleasant Surprise"
    "Fun legal mystery, fades at end"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this mystery / courtroom drama. The main character, Cope, is a DA trying a fraternity rape case. At the same time, people connected to the case are looking Cope's past for skeletons, and the murder of his sister at summer camp with him 20 years ago comes to light again. The novel did a good job moving between the stories. I found myself caring about the main character, and engaged in the plot. This novel fell short in two ways for me. One, I did not love Scott Brick's narration. I have enjoyed him in the past, but Brick is best when the book is a first person narrative from start to end. This switches off from Cope at times, and the narrator's voice does not change enough from character to character. He also overdid the emotion at times. Still, he has an engaging voice and is easy to listen to. My other criticism is the ending. It was so far fetched that the ending was just too much. Until the ending, though, I was enjoying this quite a bit, and I rate this as an above average mystery.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Redeployment

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Phil Klay
    • Narrated By Craig Klein
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (285)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (241)

    Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss.

    G. House Sr. says: "A Must Read - Fantastic Heart Rendering Shorts"
    "Good set of military short stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this set of short stories about American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I liked the variety, with so many different slices of military life. This was neither pro-military nor anti-military. It was about people, and the different ways war affects them. Some stories were very good, some good, and the rest were okay or forgettable. The best ones make this worth book listening to. The stories were mostly first person narratives, and while the narrator was very good, it was hard adjusting to different characters when the voice was the same. I think having different narrators for each story would have improved the book a lot. Based on the reviews, I expected almost all the stories to be great, and so too many left me wanting more, thus my 3 star rating. The two or three best stories make this a 3.5 book to me. Worth checking out if the subject interests you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl on the Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Paula Hawkins
    • Narrated By Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21523)
    Performance
    (17908)
    Story
    (17895)

    Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

    L. O. Pardue says: ""Rear Window" Meets "Gone Girl""
    "Disappointing mystery/thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This British mystery is narrated by three women, not all in the same time sequence, as one of the narrators is the woman who has disappeared, and at the center of the mystery. I picked with this up after reading the favorable comparison to "Gone Girl." I read and really enjoyed "Gone Girl." This novel, sadly, is no "Gone Girl," though it strives to be. This novel had an interesting plot and was well paced. The problem is that none of the three sad and insecure female narrators was either sympathetic or interesting (also true of the men in this novel). One is a divorced, sad, depressed alcoholic. The second is a married woman driven to adulterous affairs. The third narrator is married to the first's husband, after a long term extramarital affair. She has a young child and is obsessed with her superiority to her husband's first husband. I stayed with this novel to the end, curious to see "whodunnit" (one of the women? the husband of two of the narrators? the therapist? the husband of the woman who disappeared?). While this story effectively keeps the reader guessing, my lack of interest in any of the characters prevented me from being drawn in. The suspenseful ending was the one hour that did somewhat grab me, but that was not enough for me to recommend this novel. I'd rate it a mediocre 2.5 stars. The three narrators were all very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Doerr
    • Narrated By Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8377)
    Performance
    (7336)
    Story
    (7356)

    Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

    Annie M. says: "Time well spent"
    "Good story!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a sweet, sometimes fairytale-like coming-of-age story in Nazi occupied France. Marie-Laure is the main character. She is a blind girl who moves with her father to a coastal town to live with her great uncle during World War 2. The novel alternates short chapters with Werner, a young German boy who love electronics and is singled out as a boy who can help the Nazi cause with his electronic genius. This story runs through the duration of the war. It is a story of survival and sweetness, and rebellions large and small. I liked it quite a bit, especially the ending (no spoilers here). Only one part of the novel did not work for me. There is a myth about a precious gem which protects the holder from death, but brings bad luck to loved ones. I felt that this detracted from the novel which had enough magic anyway without this fairy tale aspect. Seeing the world through the ears of Marie Laure was the best part of this quality novel. I really enjoyed the lives of both of these characters who faced different challenges to survive. I guessed that their fates were somehow intertwines, and that made for fun reading. The narrator was very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Speaks the Nightbird

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robert McCammon
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3310)
    Performance
    (2952)
    Story
    (2938)

    The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies -- and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel's innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal....

    aaron says: "Dark, Twisted Period Piece with GREAT Characters!"
    "Too long mystery/historical fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like mysteries, and I like historical fiction, and this novel seemed like a great combination of both, with some witchcraft thrown in. There were engaging parts of this tale of a witchcraft trial in a small southern settlement in 1699. I liked the two main characters, a magistrate and his curious, smart, and precocious clerk. My problem was that there were not 30 hours of material in this story to keep it engaging the whole time. There were times I asked myself if I liked it enough to stick with it for another 20 hours. It barely passed that test. The novel did pick up near the end, even if it descended more into true pop fiction. In short, I give this a mixed review. I did stay with the whole thing, which says a lot. Still, it could have been a lot better 20 hour novel with better editing. The slow pace, though, was in keeping with the times, and the reader was quite good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Cuckoo's Calling

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    Overall
    (9098)
    Performance
    (8202)
    Story
    (8218)

    After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: his sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

    Tracey says: "Unbelievable debut mystery set in London"
    "Too talky for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The start of this novel grabbed me. I liked the two main characters in this mystery - a disabled vet turned private detective (Strike) and his office temp woman (Robin). But as the story went on, it became just one interview after another, as Strike tried to see if the celebrity suicide was in fact a murder. Not much happened, and the personalities of the main characters took a back seat. Halfway done, I decided that I'd rather find something to listen to that would engage me more. I did like the writing, but my mind began to wander, making it harder to appreciate the nuances of testimony and evidence. I expect that there are many who like this kind of old fashioned novel, but it was not enough to keep my attention.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Providence of Fire

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Brian Staveley
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1002)
    Performance
    (900)
    Story
    (896)

    Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

    L. Sheldon Clark says: "Miscommunication driven plot ruined a good story"
    "an impressive fantasy sequel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved The Emperor's Blades. I liked The Providence of Fire. I should say that I rarely read fantasy, but coming of age stores are one of my favorite genres. That's likely why I preferred the first novel. The second is a much more complex story, and the plot was cool and the writing once again amazing. I actually wish that I had read this instead of listened. I don't have a great auditory memory. I would have liked to more easily flip back to reread parts. This was my problem with later books in The Game of Throne series, which I suppose means that Staveley is in good company. While I liked this novel, real fantasy buffs will probably love it. I look forward to volume 3, and plan to read that.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (933)
    Performance
    (774)
    Story
    (771)

    The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career - 1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.

    Abdur Abdul-Malik says: "From Powerful to Powerless"
    "History at its best!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This continues one of the great series in American history. LBJ is one of the most interesting and complex characters in US history, and Robert Caro is one of the great writers of nonfiction. This combination cannot be beat. The earlier books are great, but this book stands on its own as well. There is a lot on the Kennedy brothers (Jack and Bobby) which I enjoyed as well. The book covers Johnson's years running for VP with Kennedy, his years a vice president, and the first few months of his presidency. This held my attention like an engaging novel. I learned a lot too. I cannot speak highly enough about Robert Caro and his LBJ series.

    This is a fairly long book, and for the first time, I read the ebook version, and tried Whisper Sync to switch back and forth between audio and reading. The narrator was great, and the synching was all automatic! I did need to download the Audible app on my iPhone, and listen through that and not iTunes. When I switched devices, within 5 seconds, I was asked if I wanted to go forward to the spot the other device was at. This book was equally compelling reading or listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The President's Pilot

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Robert Gandt
    • Narrated By Thomas Block
    Overall
    (557)
    Performance
    (508)
    Story
    (499)

    A year and a half into her first term as President of the United States, Libby Paulsen is in a world of trouble. Her controversial agenda has placed her in a doomsday clash with a right wing cabal led by an enigmatic Air Force general. The conspirators will stop at nothing - including assassination - to remove Libby Paulsen from office. When the cabal targets Air Force One, Libby's Presidency - and her life - rest in the hands of a maverick pilot named Pete Brand, a man with whom the President shares a long-smoldering secret.

    Matthew says: "Gives a whole new meaning to Snakes on a Plane!"
    "nonstop action, intrigue, and fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved this novel. It was as suspenseful and addictive as those first seasons of 24, the TV series. This is the story of a plot by a right wing element of the military to kill the president and vice president, and covertly take over the US government. Is it realistic? No. A conspiracy could not get that big without a leak somewhere, but if you suspend your belief a bit and sit back to enjoy the ride, you might have a blast. I did. I really could not stop listening! I have given almost no 5 star ratings to novels of this genre. I bought this on a whim, and it was so much fun. Much of it takes place on Air Force One, as the president's pilot pulls out all stops in his effort to save the president. Of course, the president (a woman) and the pilot have a past. I'll say no more. I enjoyed this from the first second to the last. One caution - I was shocked at how bad the reader seemed at first with his stilted pronunciation and old man voices. I thought I'd quit soon, but the novel sucked me in so fast, and at one point, I started to like what the reader brought to the book. It all worked for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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