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Mark

SAINT PETERSBURG, FL, United States | Member Since 2009

14
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 10 reviews
  • 13 ratings
  • 422 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
8

  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Anthony Bourdain
    • Narrated By Anthony Bourdain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1881)
    Performance
    (1132)
    Story
    (1110)

    In the 10 years since his classic Kitchen Confidential first alerted us to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of eating out, much has changed for the subculture of chefs and cooks, for the restaurant business and for Anthony Bourdain. Medium Raw explores those changes, tracking Bourdain's strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood. Bourdain takes no prisoners as he dissects what he's seen.

    Andy says: "entertaining but not as good as kitchen conf."
    "Unexpectedly Delighted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bourdain can get on your nerves. I should know, after faithfully inhaling his No Reservations for years, and more recently The Layover, all the while noticing the shows' producers increased tolerance for letting Tony get away with (or encouraging him towards?) kinda lame stuff. To watch as Tony tosses back triple shots of straight (insert local booze here) with a local table-mate until the redness of nose and the inanity of banter chafes my patience, and is no longer good TV (I even found it tedious when I was still a practicing drunk). On the other hand, the Haiti and Beirut and Mozambique episodes are finer recent examples of how No Reservations works when it’s nurtured and cared for. It was this Bourdain I hoped to find in Medium Raw, and with some trepidation I procured the audiobook.

    All hesitation was quelled after the first two or three chapters. I am pleased to say I’m now enjoying my second listen, revisiting themes and analyses the first pass threw down with such ease and grace. Whatever impulse Bourdain may have to tread lightly and boozily when shooting some of his less stellar travel drunkalogs is not present here. Instead we have a sharp noggin bristling with ideas and a witty blast of fresh and cheeky verbiage in the sharing of them. He’s got some of David Foster Wallace’s eye for detail, and hints of A. J. Liebling’s ability to communicate complex ideas about food and society in a few finely crafted phrases that get right to the nut.

    Dear Tony, if Medium Raw is the Bourdain that the TV versions of you have been hinting at, then please give us more of this pen on paper stuff, as after all it was Kitchen Confidential that sent the TV scouts after you in the first place. Yes you’re fun and irreverent on TV, but you really shine on the page (and incidentally as the narrator of your own work).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Likeness

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Heather O'Neill
    Overall
    (3008)
    Performance
    (1900)
    Story
    (1908)

    Tana French's debut, In the Woods, hit the New York Times best-seller list and drew rave reviews from the Times (London) and Booklist. Picking up six months later, this riveting sequel finds Detective Cassie Maddox still scarred by her last case. When her boyfriend calls her to a chilling murder scene, Cassie is forced to face her inner demons. A young woman has been found stabbed to death outside Dublin, and the victim looks just like Cassie.

    Michael says: "Really on a Different Level"
    "Doppelganger Cop Infiltrates Misfit Roomies Lair"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I recall having looked forward to another case with the plucky lady cop from book 1. Alas this new tale is mired in a preposterous premise. Also, vastly unlikeable "suspects" consume abundant space flinging tiresome dialogue from within murky yet unremarkable relationship dysfunctions, all the while apparently flubbing a plethora of unlikely close calls for busting our dead-ringer protagonist. Could just barely make it to the end, but solely to ensure I was not imagining the train wreck.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Human Stain

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Phillip Roth
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    Overall
    (332)
    Performance
    (281)
    Story
    (281)

    It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished even his most virulent accuser.

    Darwin8u says: "Spooky how Roth bends the edge of the possible"
    "Roth Captures Gray Areas"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK it felt significant. All those gray areas covered so meticulously but still so messily. We all make messes. Roth's protagonist does us all the favor of painting so many percentages of gray into this one, it feels big and universal while getting all human and grrrr in the process. Not a light read, but not an unforgiving one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel, Book 20

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1146)
    Performance
    (1014)
    Story
    (1000)

    In Light of the World, sadist and serial killer Asa Surrette narrowly escaped the death penalty for the string of heinous murders. But following a series of damning articles written by Dave Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair about possible other crimes committed by Surette, the killer escapes from a prison transport van and heads to Montana - where an unsuspecting Dave happens to have gone to take in the sweet summer air, accompanied by Alafair, his wife Molly, faithful partner Clete, and Clete’s newfound daughter, Gretchen Horowitz.

    Dave says: "Burke is still the best"
    "Gang Reunites in Mountains for Anger Mismanagement"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Finished this about 5 months ago, so things a bit foggy, but here goes: Innumerable verbal confrontations with undesirables help each of our feisty gang to conclude bad people are really quite a pain, and so dispatch a few of them, but not before administering a batch of homilies and lectern poundings to ensure we know what's good, wholesome and worth fighting for, except I'm still not quite sure I got it. Love Will Patton's work - it's pretty well the only thing worth listening to here.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Fifth Witness

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Peter Giles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4693)
    Performance
    (2689)
    Story
    (2672)

    Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense, only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home. Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too - and he's certain he's on the right trail. Despite the danger and uncertainty, Haller mounts the best defense of his career in a trial where the last surprise comes after the verdict is in.

    Bob says: "Compelling and difficult to put down"
    "Unlucky in Law"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Geez the clients Haller gets. I started with Lincoln Lawyer and hung onto the wiper blades while the story thrashed this way and that; very satisfying. By the current installment, I think Connelly is out of gas. The last two thirds felt like the really really long courtroom scenes in Wambaugh's Onion Field, minus the character insights, but yes with occasional jurisprudential zingers. The action was very occasional, and the only riveting scenes were when Haller would shout out things to his hastily conscripted team of poindexters and bikers like "get more file boxes, stat!" [perhaps not actual line but it's been 2 months at least since I finished listening to this tired rehash of all the courtroom snooze-fests I've abided for way too long]. btw: have read at least 7 of Connelly's Bosch series and sure, that gets all procedural and cop-bureaucracy-tedious, but this Haller phoned-in publishing-deadline-looming-so-better-get-typing really tests my loyalty.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kafka on the Shore

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett, Oliver Le Sueur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1574)
    Performance
    (876)
    Story
    (872)

    Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at 15, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down.

    Melinda says: "Brilliant Meandering--what was in those brownies.."
    "50 shades of Oedipus"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Thank you Barry, Grace and James for your insights. I will add this book is not for the rest of our Audible colleagues if their literary predilections do not include:
    a) cats being captured, drugged and graphically murdered;
    b) elements of Sophocles' Oedipus trotted out in a sophomoric ploy to graft a motif onto a teenage runaway tale;
    c) writers like Murakami when they say things like "what I'd like to be is a unique writer who's different from everybody else" and "the key to understanding the novel lies in reading it multiple times."
    Really? I mean really?
    The audio version comes in 3 parts, and I stopped for good early into the third, out of respect for how little time we have on this earth, and how badly in need of a much ballsier editor this "unique" writer's work is. The narrative is a hot mess, and Murakami knows it, but wishes to continue the ruse, given his existing reputation. Interviews with him reveal he may believe himself to be a medium or channel. Tut tut.
    Story aside, performance kudos to Sean Barrett whose Nakata & Hoshino voices alone were a welcome break from the book's meandering miasma.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Eagle Has Landed: Liam Devlin, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jack Higgins
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (122)
    Story
    (126)

    It was to become known as the most daring enemy mission of the entire war: Operation Eagle, SS Reichsfurher Heinrich Himmler's audacious plan to kidnap Winston Churchill on British soil in November 1943.

    David Share says: "The Eagle has Landed"
    "Halfway through, and am taking a breather..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...as this project has perhaps too many men with too many names in rather a lot of rooms conversing in quite a few accents. Yeah, the planning stage for a heist has been known to drag other tales down too. Maybe I'll skip forward to the action and just imagine all the chin wagging I missed. And does Himmler have to look so gosh darn evil every time our writer conveys his physicality to us? Less would have been more. For planning more intense, but from real life, try Operation Mincemeat or Agent Zigzag - both by Ben Macintyre.

    If I dive back into the story and finish I'll come back and add an addendum to this rather ungenerous blurt of mine here.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Hard Evidence: A Dismas Hardy Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By John Lescroart
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (276)
    Performance
    (125)
    Story
    (130)

    When the bullet-ridden body of a Silicon Valley billionaire washes up on shore, assistant D.A. Dismas Hardy finds himself the prosecutor in San Francisco's murder trial of the century. The suspect: a Japanese call girl with a long list of prominent clients. But when a bizarre series of events blows the case wide open, Hardy finds himself on the other side of the law - as a lawyer for the defense.

    Alton says: "good book"
    "Couldn't finish..."
    Overall

    ...due to trouble with narrator, but story not all too compelling either. Reminded me of old plot lines from the annals of "Hart to Hart".

    Narrator David Colacci uses a technique I have come to think of as the "Rip Torn" scale of character differentiation: gruff, gruffer and gruffest, with a few female gruffsters thrown in for good measure.
    The only character voices who have bothered me more are Dick Hill's women (who belong in children's cartoons and would therefore be credible sounding only if drawn as hedgehogs or koala bears), and anything recent by Scott Brick (The Lion by Nelson DeMille seemed voiced in a Ritalin fog).

    I liked our protagonist Dismas, and was getting almost close to caring about his life, wife and career, but then along would come Colacci with another character voiced with some Rip Torn gruffitude and the whole scene would fly out the window for me. Realistically, I suppose I have been spoiled by master craftsmen like Joe Barrett, Humphrey Bower, Tim Goodman, David Timson, and Steven Weber.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Last Ember

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Daniel Levin
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    When Jonathan's firm sends him to Rome to discredit the testimony of a prominent U.N. antiquities official, a chance reunion leads to a hunt for the legendary Tabernacle Menorah: solid gold, eight feet high, stolen 2,000 years ago and never recovered. As Jonathan and his friend scour Rome's ancient sites for hints to its whereabouts, they quickly realize they are not alone and the precious menorah is a key to controlling history itself.

    John says: "Rich in action and historical detail"
    "I am two-thirds through this, but..."
    Overall

    ...having trouble pressing play, due to: wooden lead characters [Jonathan and Emily]; almost complete absence of humor; an excess of exposition, more exposition and finally lots and lots more exposition. Ouch.

    There are moments when it shows promise, and certainly many of the historical threads fascinate. But when the cardboard protagonists come together in the presence of all these rich cultural artifacts and treasures, I can't concentrate. It's a bit liking setting Joe Hardy (of the "Boys" of the same name) and Nancy Drew against the backdrop of a Dickens novel or smack dab in the heart of the New Testament.

    Here's an idea: Could Levin write a work of non-fiction? Yes! Should he scrap the novel as a viable form of getting his wonderful historical material across? Yes! For now, I will get my history from masters of the fictional form such as Bryce Courtenay and Ken Follett or from pure non-fiction like the awesome (and lengthy) Gandhi & Churchill I just finished by Arthur Herman or anything by Ben MacIntyre.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lincoln Lawyer

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Adam Grupper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6766)
    Performance
    (3058)
    Story
    (3072)

    Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It's no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients. But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face to face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame.

    Steven says: "Great Legal Thriller, Great Reader"
    "1st Person Narrative of the Highest Caliber"
    Overall

    The only first person cop/lawyer style narrative I have enjoyed as much have been the 3 or 4 books by Nelson DeMille that feature retired NYPD detective John Corey. However, author Michael Connelly's sense of story thread is impeccable and a thrill to follow. Connelly's work [I've read one other: Void Moon] appears to involve fewer tangents and sidebars than DeMille's sometimes rambling oddyseys, and so drives you to the destination with a more focused trajectory. I think there is one other Mickey Haller story, but I'm going to read a few other Connelly's before I try that one. Will review Void Moon later [I'm on the last 45 minutes of it and am crawling Audible for another Connelly. I don't want to see the cookie jar empty while I savor the last few crumbs of the Void Moon confection].

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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