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Mark

MTF

Waltham, MA, United States | Member Since 2010

153
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 104 reviews
  • 130 ratings
  • 282 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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34

  • Looking for Alaska

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John Green
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1124)
    Performance
    (946)
    Story
    (953)

    Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words - and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

    Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another.

    FanB14 says: "Humorous YA for Adults"
    "Great dialogue but the story rarely moves"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After really enjoying "The Fault in our Stars," I was really looking forward to "Looking for Alaska." This novel is about a high school junior who is starting at a boarding school. I teach at a prep school, and I enjoy good novels about high school life. Pudge (the nickname of the protagonist) spends the first half of the book making connections with a small circle of friends at his new school. Sex, alcohol, cigarettes, and pranks are at the center of these kids' existences. This novel captured the teen banter very well. The author has a great ear for teen dialogue. But this story does not come close to capturing the full school experience. Only one teacher is mentioned, plus "the Eagle," the notorious dean of students, in charge of discipline. Only one class is mentioned, and absent is the unhealthy preoccupation with grades which permeates prep school life these days. This novel captured the three main characters so well - Pudge, his roommate (the Colonel), and Alaska, the charismatic but complicated girl who steals Pudge's heart. The dynamic between these three kids is great, and was enough for me to like this novel but not love it. Over halfway through the story, there is one dramatic event (which I won't spoil). Very little happens after that beside an extended reaction to that event. The narrator was excellent and almost enough for me to push this to 4 stars.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By George Howe Colt
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    George Howe Colt believes that he would be an entirely different man had he not grown up in a family of four brothers. In Brothers, he movingly recounts the adoration, envy, rivalry, affection, anger, and compassion in their shifting relationships from childhood through middle age. In alternate chapters, Colt moves from a quest to understand how his own brothers shaped his life to an examination of the complex relationships between iconic brothers in history.

    Mark says: "Memoir combined with history"
    "Memoir combined with history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    George Colt mixes the story of his life as one of four brothers (coming of age in the 60's and 70's) along with famous and infamous brothers throughout history. The author's own life story is fascinating, and was my favorite part of this book (it was about a third of the book). This would have been a 5 star pure memoir. Stories of different brothers in history are woven throughout the book - some being major chapters and others being shorter references. These include The Booth brothers, the Thoreaus, the Marx Brothers, and the Kelloggs Brothers. Some of the historical pieces are more interesting than others (the Kelloggs chapter was the most interesting). The way the author left and then returned to a set of brothers was a bit disconcerting. I am close in age to the author, and I enjoyed listening to this book and thinking of my own brother and myself, as well as my own three sons. While this could have been better edited, with some slow parts here and there, I still liked much of it, and loved a lot too. It's a book that stays with me more than other books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Reason to Live (Marty Singer Mystery #1)

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Matthew Iden
    • Narrated By Lloyd Sherr
    Overall
    (342)
    Performance
    (290)
    Story
    (287)

    In the late 90s, a bad cop killed a good woman and DC Homicide Detective Marty Singer got to watch as the murderer walked out of the courtroom a free man. Twelve years later, the victim's daughter comes to Marty begging for help: the killer is stalking her now. There's just one problem: Marty's retired...and he's retired because he's battling cancer.

    William says: "This book was a distraction"
    "predictable but enjoyable mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This very formulaic mystery is about a retired police detective fighting cancer and getting dragged back into a former case where the murderer seemed to walk free. The main character is likeable and believable, and the narrator is very easy to listen to. This novel was a pleasant, fun way to pass the time. There is mystery, action, and romance. This was good "escape fiction."

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Truman Capote
    • Narrated By Michael C. Hall
    Overall
    (503)
    Performance
    (467)
    Story
    (469)

    Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote's masterstroke about a young writer's charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the "American geisha" Holly Golightly. Holly - a World War II-era society girl in her late teens - survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist.

    FanB14 says: "Michael C. Hall in Your Ear + Capote = Bliss"
    "Great writing, boring story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think that this story would be better to read, given the great writing Capote uses for his descriptions. It is harder to savor great writing on audio, I think. I never really cared about any characters, and quit halfway through. I understand that the author is a great writer, but that was not enough for me to keep my interest in this book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Blessings

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Anna Quindlen
    • Narrated By Joan Allen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (289)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (56)

    Anna Quindlen, best selling author of A Short Guide to a Happy Life, returns with this "immensely appealing" novel. The secrets of the past, how they affect the decisions and lives of people in the present; what makes a person, a life, legitimate or illegitimate, and who decides; the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community - these are at the center of this story of love, redemption, and personal change.

    Marilyn M Felix says: "A book club favorite"
    "Very boring!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had read or listened to other books by Anna Quindlen and loved them (One True Thing and Black and Blue). This was just boring. Half the book is flashbacks, and I never cared much about characters from the past. Even the modern story, which had my interest for a while, lot its momentum. In this story, a young man finds a baby in a basket and wants to raise it on his own. He befriends his boss, a strict 80 year-old. None of these characters were realistic to me, and so my heart was not broken, as happened with so many readers and listeners.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • An Officer and a Spy: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Robert Harris
    • Narrated By David Rintoul
    Overall
    (257)
    Performance
    (224)
    Story
    (222)

    Paris in 1895: Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of 20,000. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus' guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military.

    Ryan says: "Top Notch Historical Fiction"
    "History comes to life in this true life spy novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This novel tells the tale of Alfred Dreyfus, a Frenchman convicted of treason in the 1890's. It's a tale of politics, the French secret service, injustice, and whistle-blowing. It is a dramatic legal thriller at times. I did not know the history well enough, so I was riveted to this saga, not sure of the outcome. The second half was great! The first half was so slow, I was tempted to stop listening and get my credit back. The story is told through the eyes of Georges Picquart, the a high level French spy in the army. Much of the first half was too much about Picquart's life, and only when it swung back to the Dreyfus tale did it get really good. I am glad that I stayed with this because the second half of the novel is very good, great at times. It is also a story that has stayed with me since I finished a day ago. This was a little bit of work for me to stay with, but the payoff was very big. The parallels to modern US politics (the rift between the parties) and whistle-blowing were uncanny.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nine Inches: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Tom Perrotta
    • Narrated By William Dufris, Andi Arndt, Tom Perrotta, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (15)

    Tom Perrotta’s first book, Bad Haircut, consisted of linked stories featuring a shared protagonist. Now, nineteen years later, he has written and compiled his first true short story collection. This twelve story book features a group set in Perrotta’s trademark suburban setting, focusing on the fissures in families and unexpected connections among members of typical American communities, including “Senior Season” and "Nine Inches".

    Mark says: "great short stories capture modern day life"
    "great short stories capture modern day life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    These short stories try to capture modern life for teens and adults. They succeed with both. Many of there are absolutely phenomenal. Many are very good. Some were good but forgettable. A short story has to draw in the reader very quickly. These did so. Believable characters combine with interesting situations. It's impossible to rate a short story collection, because all stories will never be great. That was the case here. But I rated this 5 stars because the very best stories were just so good, and I cannot remember reading or listening to a book of short stories that I enjoyed as much. I will definitely explore this author further!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fledgling: Liaden Universe: Theo Waitley, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Sharon Lee, Steve Miller
    • Narrated By Eileen Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (127)
    Story
    (127)

    Theo Waitley has lived all her young life on Delgado, a Safe World that is home to one of the galaxy's premier institutions of higher learning. Both Theo's mother, Kamele, and Kamele's onagrata Jen Sar Kiladi, are professors at the university, and they all live comfortably together, just like they have for all of Theo's life, in Jen Sar's house at the outskirts of town.Suddenly, though, Theo's life changes. Kamele leaves Jen Sar and moves herself and Theo back into faculty housing, which is not what Theo is used to.

    Sires says: "A Coming of Age Story in the Liaden Universe"
    "so boring"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm an adult who occasionally enjoys a good young adult novel. The futuristic school theme intrigued me, but I was totally bored from the start. I can see why this might appeal to a young teenage girl, but it did not work for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Gilbert King
    • Narrated By Peter Francis James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (126)
    Story
    (129)

    Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Arguably the most important American lawyer of the 20th century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life. Despite death threats, the clan, and the urging of his associates, Marshall knew he had to defend "the Groveland Boys".

    Jean says: "the fight for civil rights"
    "Facscinating history; writing stretched out a bit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm very glad I listened to this book about racial injustice in Florida in the '50's. The book captured the racist time and place, but also captured the change that was starting to take place in America. It was good legal drama, riveting at times, and an engaging and painful human drama. Thurgood Marshall plays a big role as an NCAA lawyer defending black men of the rape of a white woman. My criticism is that for the first two-thirds of the book, background anecdotes took up more time than the narrative of the case. The strand of the story got lost among those side stories, including the people and the workings of the NCAA. Some background is interesting and important to the context of a story, but tighter editing could have made this a more engaging read and listen. The last third is excellent. As interesting as this is, an even better book is Simple Justice by Richard Kluger. That is about long legal journey leading to Brown v the Board of Education. That book was riveting from start to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dummy Line

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Bobby Cole
    • Narrated By Jeremy Arthur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (227)
    Story
    (233)

    Jake Crosby’s nine-year-old daughter Katy is pure tomboy, and her dad couldn’t be happier. Since she was old enough to walk, Katy has shared Jake’s love of the outdoors, taking to hunting and fishing as quickly as other kids take to baseball or bike riding. As he packs the truck for a spring turkey hunt, he vows to savor the time with his little girl. But Jake’s hopes for an idyllic weekend are shattered when a band of drug dealers attempts to break into the Crosbys’ remote hunting camp. Desperate to protect his daughter, Jake makes a violent and gut-wrenching decision.

    Susan says: "Good and Fast Paced"
    "An adrenaline rush in rural Alabama!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a great thriller that took my breath away at the start and never let me relax. A gang of bad guys in rural Alabama threatens a father and his 9 year-old daughter out hunting, as well as a high school couple looking for quiet time alone. Good, believable characters got me to care, and for ten hours, the suspense and action kept me glued to my iPod! This novel is perfectly paced to maximize thrills. If you want a heart-pounding escape novel, this will deliver. I give very few 5's to this genre, but this earned it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Suspicion

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Joseph Finder
    • Narrated By Steven Kearney
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (108)

    When single father Danny Goodman suddenly finds himself unable to afford the private school his teenage daughter adores, he has no one to turn to for financial support. In what seems like a stroke of brilliant luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter’s new best friend, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Galvin is aware of Danny's situation and out of the blue offers a $50,000 loan to help Danny cover his daughter's tuition. Uncomfortable but desperate, Danny takes the money, promising to pay Galvin back.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Great Premise"
    "good cross between Paranoia and Gold Coast"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A prep school father borrows money for tuition for his child, and gets drawn into a world of crime and blackmail. The author Joseph Finder knows the Boston prep school world well, and captures it, which is one of the big pluses of the book. I cared about Danny, the protagonist, and his family. This thriller was filled with characters that were interesting and believable enough to keep my interest. Finder's "Paranoia" and DeMille's "Gold Coast" are two of my favorite thrillers. The 'regular guy getting drawn in to crime" is from Paranoia, and the 'regular guy befriending a charismatic criminal kingpin" is from Gold Coast. Both are played effectively in this impelling mystery/thriller. Had I not read either of those other two books, I right have rated this a 5 star novel, but I too often had that "been there" feeling while reading. It's been a few years since the author has written a novel. The wait was worth it, as I had gotten tired of the old formula. Suspicion was good enough for me to check out his next novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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