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loix

Pittsburgh, PA, United States | Member Since 2004

302
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 36 reviews
  • 98 ratings
  • 625 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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11

  • Life Itself: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Roger Ebert
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (327)
    Performance
    (287)
    Story
    (287)

    Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer.

    loix says: "mixed feelings"
    "mixed feelings"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Life Itself?

    Roger's rich life, straight from the horse's mouth.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Mr. Ebert's power of recall was a little frightening, but I certainly admire it, and the prose is just beautifully precise.


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    I was almost inspired to listen to the Cheney memoir. The narration was spot on throughout, down to the different accents. I could even sense the slightest tinge of feeling in some of the more emotional passages.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    It ain't over till you stop living it.


    Any additional comments?

    Maybe I'm reaching for the moon here, but that's only because the author has already set the bar so high with his other writings. I am aware that redundancy is inherent in vignette-style memoirs such as this one, but I would have much preferred those repeats replaced with more anecdotes about the walks through his favorite haunts, great directors /actors, and movie/book references.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News - and Divided a Country

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Gabriel Sherman
    • Narrated By Erik Singer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (56)

    When Rupert Murdoch enlisted Roger Ailes to launch a cable news network in 1996, American politics and media changed forever. Now, with a remarkable level of detail and insight, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman brings Ailes’s unique genius to life, along with the outsize personalities - Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, and others - who have helped Fox News play a defining role in the great social and political controversies of the past two decades.

    Lawrence says: "A Monumental Achievement"
    "Whoa! Really? Yikes."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Had it not been for the author's assurances that the content of this book has been fully vetted by him and two fact-checkers, I would have thought this pretty outrageous and nauseating fiction. But I fully understand that when the subject refuses to agree to an interview unless his demands for censorship are met, the author has little choice but to go with second-hand accounts. And the picture is far from pretty. Very few people that are mentioned in the book come through as decent; most [characters--that is how they struck me at least] are much more self-serving and cowardly than anybody I happen to have had the good chance to meet in my life. Their egomania, sense of entitlement, and lack of common compassion proved a little too much to handle in large doses, which partly explains why it took me nearly a month to finish a pretty straightforward account of the life of Roger Ailes.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4179)
    Performance
    (3820)
    Story
    (3821)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Editor MIA"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book might have been vastly improved with some major editing. Nothing would have been lost, and the readers would have been spared much annoyance (not thrill--there is definitely a line between the two), if 1/4 of it had been left on the cutting room floor. In an effort to create suspense, too many passages are repeated, and too much space devoted to the unfocused, self-absorbed, and lethargic musings of the protagonist, who is not half as likable or interesting as Boris, Hobie, or even the Barbers.
    Kudos to the very versatile narrator, but I still hope that they could have found someone more cosmopolitan (or at least studious enough to look up how basic phrases are pronounced in the respective languages), and who does not lean so much into the stressed vowels, rendering an already-too-long book even more time-consuming.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sycamore Row

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Michael Beck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5788)
    Performance
    (5233)
    Story
    (5229)

    Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County's most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly?

    Brock says: "Grisham at his best (again)"
    "Full circle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love John Grisham novels, and I'd been so looking forward to "catching up" with Jack Brigance. Maybe too much so.
    It is not a bad story overall, and it has been good to "visit" with Jack, Harry Rex, Lucien, and Ozzie, but the plot left something to be desired. I was only mildly intrigued about where the story would go, but I didn't really care all that much about the answer. I must have been watching too much TV (Breaking Bad, for instance).
    I would have been much more interested in a follow-up to The Client.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Billy Crystal
    • Narrated By Billy Crystal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1055)
    Performance
    (964)
    Story
    (964)

    Billy Crystal is 65, and he's not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like ""Buying the Plot"" and ""Nodding Off,"" Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, and his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Listeners get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever ""test positive for Maalox""), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion (""the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac""); grandparenting; and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal's reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived.

    Pamela says: "Growing up with Billy Crystal"
    "Who'd have known?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought all good comedians were the product of dysfunctional families. This is a very moving (if the last chapter doesn't get the waterworks going, see a professional) and enjoyable account of a family man and entertainer that thoroughly disabused me of that notion. Mr. Crystal's loving musings about his family--whether blood relatives or lifelong friends--nearly made a convert out of this sworn single person. Now there's the kind of success anyone would envy! The narration went by so fast that I had to be on the edge of my seat not to miss a single detail, but I doubt any other reader could have done the impressions or the tender memories justice.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Night Film: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Marisha Pessl
    • Narrated By Jake Weber
    Overall
    (943)
    Performance
    (841)
    Story
    (857)

    On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

    linda says: "Eerie, Relentless, Riveting"
    "Literary, this ain't. Psycho, yes. Thriller, no."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If the measure of literary fiction is abusing participial clauses and opting for the word "indicate" when "point (out)" would do just as well--both marks of stilted prose--then this would be literary fiction. The story also suffered from a very flimsy plot entirely grounded on a stalker of a protagonist (definitely not a hero) so paranoid and egocentric that he sees connections where they are none and who is ready to go to any length for the sake of a story that he has largely made up in his deranged mind (so it does delve deep into the psyche of the protagonist and as such qualifies as psychological fiction, I suppose). The title also needs far better character development to qualify as good fiction, literary or otherwise. Coyote's impressive vocabulary was completely at odds with her background and thick accent.
    The only redeeming factor of this title was the narrator (who was so perfect as Mr. DuBois!). Had it not been for Mr. Weber's soothing voice, I could have never finished this overhyped mess of a story.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Brett Martin
    • Narrated By Keith Szarabajka
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (161)
    Performance
    (145)
    Story
    (143)

    In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium-cable channels like HBO and then basic-cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television’s narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, and more tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality....

    Kali says: "Praise TV's third golden age!"
    "Behind the scenes of my two favorite TV shows"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike some of the other reviewers, I didn't mind at all that this title wasn't a treatise on the recent history of the revolution in television. I thoroughly enjoyed the gossipy insider info on my two very favorite TV shows--The Sopranos and The Wire. I also liked the focus/priority given these two shows, as opposed to the afterthought discussion of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, both of which I am watching, but neither of which--IMHO--measures up to the other two. In fact, I would have preferred it if the author hadn't been so generous with his own opinions about how The Wire fell short, given how off-the-mark they were and also how many TV critics there are out there who can offer much better-informed insights on the issue.
    As for the narration, I found it satisfactory overall. Mr. Szarabajka does a credible impression of Tony Soprano, but I wish he hadn't abused it by applying it to David Chase or Tony Sirico.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Cuckoo's Calling

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4794)
    Performance
    (4366)
    Story
    (4376)

    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"
    "Hindsight is 20/20, but ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't get how the critics could have missed it. The comical and (often) grotesque description of the characters and mishaps is classic Rowling (at least from what I could gather from listening to Jim Dale's inimitable rendition of the Harry Potter books years ago in my friends' car). Other than the characterization, I also enjoyed the well-constructed plot (although I must admit I wasn't quite convinced by how the killer's alibi was broken) and the well-chosen words. Not having read all the classical poets, however, I can't say I fully grasped what those clever Latin epigraphs were supposed to do. Also, the interrogation scenes sounded more elaborate than realistic, probably because every character in the book talks pretty much the same way, down to their choice of expletive(s). I dearly wish Jim Dale will agree to narrate all future titles by Galbraith (ahem), even though I did enjoy Mr. Glenister's narration (his voice reminds me of Idris Elba, who is one of my favorite actors). Wishing for many happy returns.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Case of Redemption

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Adam Mitzner
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1313)
    Performance
    (1128)
    Story
    (1138)

    A high-profile attorney in the middle of a leave of absence following a personal tragedy is drawn back into the legal arena amidst a media firestorm when he agrees to represent a popular rap artist accused of brutally murdering his pop star girlfriend. With its powerful voice, pause-resisting tension, and strong cast of characters, Adam Mitzner’s novels are reminiscent of such best-selling authors as Scott Turow and John Grisham.

    cristina says: "Excellent"
    "Easily one of the worst legal thrillers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The excessive pop culture references cheapened the story, and the author's attempt at a more literary opening (by converting years and months into minutes) only made him lose track of the timeline of his own story, so that the protagonist keeps saying months later that it's been 18 months since the catastrophic event that turned his life upside down. I cannot even summon the willpower to list all the bad metaphors and examples of cringe-inducing writing, because verbatim quotes would require another listen. The plot was pretty flimsy, and not even on a par with a typical TV police procedural (I must admit TV writing has come a long way). The narrator did not fare much better, unfortunately. I will not spoil it for other readers by revealing how he sounded out the word "eschew," but allow me to say that the word was hardly recognizable.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Touch & Go: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Lisa Gardner
    • Narrated By Elisabeth Rodgers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1976)
    Performance
    (1658)
    Story
    (1669)

    Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life you’d find in the pages of a glossy magazine: A beautiful 14-year-old daughter. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by all. A perfect life. When investigator Tessa Leone arrives at the crime scene in the foyer of the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and a million tiny pieces of bright green Taser confetti. The family appears to have been abducted.

    lisa says: "Wait for it to go on clearance!"
    "And I had such high hopes for this title"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    *Given* that it was about a Back Bay family. I lost count how many times the word "given" was used, along with "let alone"; I think this might be a case where even the great Stephen King would allow the use of the forbidden thesaurus (I suppose Mr. King made that remark only to discourage those with a poor command of their own language from getting into writing or at least to encourage them to pay closer attention to their native tongue and work on improving it). Vocabulary aside, it doesn't take long for any fan of crime fiction to zero in on the suspect and the motive; I've seen police procedurals on TV with better plots. The author's attempt at a metaphor with "orange" was also pretty lame. The only scene that featured any decent writing was the one about the cinnamon rolls--Ms. Gardner just might have a career in food writing. The narration was competent overall, but would have been better without the artificial r-dropping; the male voices were no more convincing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By John Thavis
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (126)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (111)

    For more than 25 years John Thavis held one of the most fascinating journalistic jobs in the world: reporting on the inner workings of the Vatican. His daily exposure to the power, politics, and personalities in the seat of Roman Catholicism gave him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on an institution that is far less monolithic and unified than it first appears. Thavis reveals Vatican City as a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, scandals threaten to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past is continually upended by the practical considerations of modern life.

    Linda says: "A neutral look at inner workings of the Vatican"
    "Timely, but disjointed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The vignettes should at the very least have been ordered chronologically. Also, the book would have benefited from glosses for the specialized vocabulary items (at least when an item appeared for the first time); as it is, it felt like the author was more intent on showing off rather than showing the reader around.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Latin teacher!


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No, unless the movie focused on a particular vignette, like that of the Latin teacher, who seemed absolutely fascinating. The movie would be too Altman-like otherwise--disjointed and fragmented.


    Any additional comments?

    Very timely book!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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