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New York, NY, United States | Member Since 2006

  • 29 reviews
  • 216 ratings
  • 642 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2015

  • The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By David Grann
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon. After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to find out what happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z.

    Jennifer says: "A Worthy Read for Armchair Explorers"
    "Read "River of Doubt" instead"

    Extensive press raised my expectations that this would be a notable and memorable book.
    Unfortunately, the so so writing failed to bring the subject matter to life. This book pails in comparison to RIVER OF DOUBT (though it quotes from this earlier work).
    Here's another situation where the author is unable to bring his characters to life on the page -- or to convey the arc of their journey.
    The books promise is sadly done in by its feeble execution.
    Not terrible...however, I would advise checking out better options first.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    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"
    "What's all the buzz about?"
    Would you listen to The Goldfinch again? Why?

    No - and I wouldn't suggest that a friend spend the time to listen to it. There are many other novels that are much better.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Goldfinch?

    The are several moments - Vegas, the museum - the book is made up of them. The problem is that the linkage between them gets weaker and weaker as the novel progresses.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The book did not evoke an extreme reaction - it certainly never caused me to smile. I was saddened to read yet another novel where key characters spend long periods of time on drugs or in pursuit of them. This is almost becoming cliche.

    Any additional comments?

    Based on the awards and the glowing reviews, I was hoping for a novel as compelling as Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" -- but my hope was misplaced.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By David Shafer
    • Narrated By Bernard Setaro Clark

    The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee.

    Michele says: "A Light-Hearted Paranoid Thriller"
    "Did they mention this is the first in a series?"
    Would you listen to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot again? Why?

    No. While the writing is clever, the story quickly becomes so far-fetched with too many unbelievable coincidences that suspense fades. Then, to top it off, the book ends like a Marvel movie -- with a cliffhanger that screams "Sequel to Come".

    Would you recommend Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. Read Gibson or any of a dozen more accomplished cyber pop writers.

    Which character – as performed by Bernard Setaro Clark – was your favorite?

    None rose high enough to be considered favorite

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Originally, yes. However, half through the book I began to wonder if the author knew where this was all going. Since he ends the book without ending the story, I suspect he doesn't.

    Any additional comments?

    After reading the glowing review in the NYTBR, I was very disappointed in the book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Power Spanish 2 Accelerated: 8 Hours of Intensive High-Intermediate Spanish Audio Instruction (English and Spanish Edition)

    • ORIGINAL (8 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Mark Frobose
    • Narrated By Mark Frobose

    The long awaited sequel to Power Spanish I Accelerated is finally here! This exciting high-intermediate level Spanish program will teach you to speak and understand authentic Latin-American Spanish even faster and at a high-intermediate level. Learn to communicate in the past, present and future tenses, while you respond to exciting and innovate learning situations with a number of expert and educated native Spanish speakers and an English speaking guide.

    Tom says: "Program really helps you become fluent in Spanish"
    "Poorly Conceived"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Unlike the far more useful Pimsleur or Learning Spanish Like Crazy audio programs, Frobose doesn't bother inserting in chapter or lessons breaks. This makes it very difficult to repeat a difficult section/lesson. It doesn't really seem much thought was given to the program overall. How else can one explain teaching the numbers one through ten in the level 2 audiobook -- or spending 40+ minutes going over idiomatic expressions? I was so hopeful that this would be a well-designed and effective audio-tool for learning Spanish. Sadly, it isn't.

    What was most disappointing about Mark Frobose’s story?

    Frobose simply failed to construct an effective learning program where one section built on the one before it. He also failed to make it easy for the listener to go back to the start of a lesson to repeat. Sadly, the audio sounds like a cut and paste hack job.

    Would you be willing to try another one of Mark Frobose’s performances?

    I'm unlikely to try another Frobose audio. I've listened to two of them and both suffer from a lack of warmth, clarity, or effectiveness. His aren't the worst Spanish language audio programs out there -- but they aren't all that good.

    Any additional comments?

    Frobose could learn a great deal from the producers of the podcast Coffeebreak Espanol as these folks have a warm and inviting tone that encourages and engages listeners. Mark's robotic delivery and recycled phrases take the joy out of the learning process.

    4 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Conversational Latin-American Spanish 2: 4 Hours of Intensive Conversation Training (English and Spanish Edition)

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Mark Frobose
    • Narrated By Mark Frobose

    Now learn to converse at an even higher and faster level than with our popular Conversational Latin American Spanish I, and enjoy the process...No Boring Grammar. Grammar is presented by a trained and certified English speaking American Spanish instructor who guides you through the program while the educated Colombian and Mexican native speakers teach you authentic Latin-American Spanish the way it's really spoken!

    Oleta says: "From My Mind into My Mouth"
    "Don't be misled! Only 1 hour of dialogue"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If you want to hear just four short dialogues repeated again, and again, and again...then this audiobook is for you. Unlike the far better Pimsleur or Learning Spanish Like Crazy programs, Frobose assumes listeners don't have enough sense to rewind to listen to a section until they master it. Instead he repeats sections---endlessly. The overall effect was so tedious, it took all the joy out of learning the language and made it difficult to listen to. Most frustrating is that I only learned four relatively short and only somewhat useful dialogues after suffering through all the repetition and bland delivery.

    What could Mark Frobose have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Include four hours of intensive dialogue as promised instead of repeating four short dialogues again, and again, and again to get to four hours. You get four times more valuable and instructive content from a Pimsleur or Learning Spanish Like Crazy audio than you do from this one.

    What didn’t you like about Mark Frobose’s performance?

    Robotic delivery and poor editing -- clearly a cut and paste job sticking pieces together. Frobose lacks warmth. The stilted notes of encouragement lacked sincerity. Overall, the effort pailed in comparison to Pimsleur -- less learned, less enjoyable to listen to, less encouraging.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It was nice to hear the conversations by native speakers and have a chance to practice them. Would have been happier if there were more than four short dialogues in the entire program.

    Any additional comments?

    Many of the other reviews for Frobose's audios appear highly suspect. Most of the comments were posted by people who have never reviewed anything else. And it is surprising how similar their reviews are. Particularly surprising is the reviewer who made the exact same comments for Frobose's programs for Spanish and French ("This really worth the money") awarding five stars to Frobose and far fewer to competitors. Final bit of advice: Buyer beware!

    6 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Stranger's Child

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Alan Hollinghurst
    • Narrated By James Daniel Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate—a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance—to his family’s modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to.

    Here-and-faraway says: "I Hated For It To End"
    "A Sorry Story from a Gift Writer"
    What disappointed you about The Stranger's Child?

    The author goes on and on without sharing any sense of his destination.

    Has The Stranger's Child turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes, the book

    What does James Daniel Wilson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Well read.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    If you are a militant gay, convinced that every other male is secretly gay, you might enjoy the book. If, however, you see the world as a mix of gay and straight -- you'll be frustrated by the lack of straight characters...and by the inclusion of those from the British upper class that would certainly have been part of the story if a more balanced author had been at the keyboard.

    Any additional comments?

    Hollinghurst's earlier work - particularly The Swimming Pool Diaries - is much more compelling. This book felt like Downton Abbey without with, pathos, or characters you cared about. (Don't even get me going about the ending...)

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book IV

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By John Lee

    It is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces, some familiar, others only just appearing, are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.

    Aaron says: "No Roy Dotrice"
    "Enough already"
    What disappointed you about A Feast for Crows?

    The author seems afraid to end the series -- or uncertain as to the ending. He insults his listeners by rehashing 'old news' without really moving the story forward. This is more like a movie of the week where they take a 30 minute story and stretch is to 2 hours in order to enrich the pockets of the producers without any concern of the viewers/readers.

    What was most disappointing about George R. R. Martin’s story?

    He rambles on and on and on and on

    Which scene was your favorite?

    It is so hard for anything to stand out amid the endless droning. Too many characters. Too much back story. Too little forward momentum. If you thought the last book went nowhere, be prepared...

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Martin's world and character names are engaging -- too bad he seems afraid to get to a final climax. At least Tolkein had the conviction to find an ending.

    Any additional comments?

    Wish I hadn't wasted so much time on a book that went nowhere. Time to move on -- even if the author is able to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Watchers

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Dean Koontz
    • Narrated By J. Charles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    From a top-secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose....

    Katie says: "Great book; so-so narrator"
    "Overwritten book with so-so narration"

    I'm not sure why I was expecting more of this book. The premise sounded interesting enough. However, the combination of the author's on-point prose and the narrator's 'adequate' reading left me feeling like I just finished a large meal of unremarkable food. Full but not satisfied.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • A Discovery of Witches

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library.

    Tim says: "True Blood PG13"
    "A Long Set-up for a Sequel"

    While well read, the book itself was a disappointment. The beginning is enchanting (a nod to the supernatural) -- the middle goes on and on -- the ending reads like a promotion for book two. Don't look for a final conflict between good and evil or resolution of any sort. On the whole, the writing is smart enough but the pacing feels flat/monotonous and the romantic sections get a bit too gooey for my taste. It seemed like the author really didn't have a vision for the elements of evil to challenge the protagonists. The hints at a conspiracy and one-dimensional antagonists helped the book come across as a sweet supernatural romance novel...much less than I expected after the engaging opening. Overall a disappointment -- the spell was cast, however the magic failed to materialize.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Aimee Bender
    • Narrated By Aimee Bender
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother - her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother - tastes of despair and desperation.

    Victoria says: "I'm Going to Read the Actual Book"
    "Author is a terrible narrator - story is so-so"

    Why would an author think she is a better reader for an audiobook than a trained professional? Her publisher and producer should have had the guts to tell that she's not up to the task. Their honesty might have given this light and somewhat interesting work a chance as an audiobook. Instead, listeners are subject to 8 hours of an annoying monotone. While some snippets of decent writing managed to emerge despite the mangled delivery, the book never seemed to fulfill its early promise. Too bad -- I had high hopes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lotus Eaters

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Tatjana Soli
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It's 1975 and the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the city falls into chaos, two lovers make their way across the city to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a devastated country she has come to love. Nguyen Pran Linh, the man who loves her, must deal with his own conflicted loyalties. As they race through the streets, they play out a drama of love and betrayal that began twelve years before.

    Emily says: "Best book I've read yet this year"
    "Beautifully written...and read"

    After reading numerous glowing reviews for this book I was curious...but also apprehensive because I'm not a fan of "Vietnam war books". However, this book entranced me from the first page to the last. Soli does an exceptional job crafting complex and compelling characters. Her descriptions of Vietnam make the country come alive -- almost emerging as another character. If you are looking for a simplified political parable for or against the war, look elsewhere. For those seeking an original work of fiction that will transport you to another time and place, The Lotus Eaters delivers.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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