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Mark

MTF

Waltham, MA, United States | Member Since 2010

210
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 122 reviews
  • 148 ratings
  • 319 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2015
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37

  • Life Itself: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Roger Ebert
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (382)
    Performance
    (337)
    Story
    (337)

    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"
    "Great parts and slow parts to this life story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was a big fan of the Siskel and Ebert movie review TV show, and really looked forward to this memoir. I enjoyed the beginning which covered Roger Ebert as a child, high-schooler, and college student. I liked his early years as a reporter. But then there was about a 90 minute stretch which talked about places he loved in Europe. Not much about Ebert or other people, Just one place after another. It got really boring to me. Then, when Ebert gets into reviewing movies, there was one snippet after another about entertainers he meets. Not too interesting to me as I did not know too much about those people, nor care. I skimmed ahead a bit until I got the the Siskel chapter, which I loved. The rest of the book was very good. We got to the love life of Roger Ebert, including learning about Chas, his wife. He finally dealt with his alcoholism, and then with his cancer. Those last three hours were very engaging. So, for me, good first third, boring middle third, and very engaging final third. I expect that if you are a real student of the movies (and even better, of Europe, too), you will like the whole book.

    2 of 2 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
    (868)
    Performance
    (719)
    Story
    (715)

    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
    (352)
    Performance
    (318)
    Story
    (316)

    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
  • Me Before You: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Jojo Moyes
    • Narrated By Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3869)
    Performance
    (3486)
    Story
    (3506)

    Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life - steady boyfriend, close family - who has never been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life - big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel - and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy - but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected.

    Michael says: "Who or What defines Quality of Life?"
    "Very engaging novel, start to end"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This novel grabbed me from the start, and I loved it right to the end. A working class 20-something English woman becomes caretaker for a wealthy quadriplegic young man. This story is filled with interesting and believable characters, and touches your heart throughout. There are small twists and turns which I won't say too much about, for fear of being a spoiler. While this feels like a story that will draw more female listeners and readers, I think men and women will both like this. It is both a feel-good and sad story. I liked Moyes's One Plus One, yet liked this even more. This was my favorite audio-novel in quite a while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Fighting Chance

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Warren
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Warren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (622)
    Performance
    (580)
    Story
    (580)

    As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher - an ambitious goal, given her family’s modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but 15 years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington, DC, to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws?

    Amy says: "Great Book. Great Narration."
    "Mostly interesting look at money and politics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this to learn more about my senator. I expected more equal parts memoir and politics, but it was almost all politics, especially after the first couple hours. The most fascinating part was the battle for financial reform after the economic collapse during the Bush years. Everyone knows that politics and and money are deeply connected, and this book made that connection so clear. I admire Elizabeth Warren for the battle she fought to level the playing field. That said, she repeated her same message again and again, making parts of this feel repetitive. And while I believe that her empathy for the "little people" is real, I wanted to hear more of her ideas on the ways to tackle many of the country's problems. Elizabeth Warren's voice was too much at times. What works for a revved up 20 campaign talk can get tiresome for a full book. I am still glad I listened to this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cop Town

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Karin Slaughter
    • Narrated By Kathleen Early
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (804)
    Performance
    (668)
    Story
    (679)

    Atlanta, 1974: It's Kate Murphy's first day on the job, and the Atlanta Police Department is seething after the murder of an officer. Before the day has barely begun, she already suspects she's not cut out to be a cop. Her male uniform is too big, she can't handle a gun, and she's rapidly learning that the APD is hardly a place that welcomes women. Worse still, in the ensuing manhunt she'll be partnered with Maggie Lawson, a cop with her own ax to grind.

    Ronna says: "Women cops in bigoted 1974 Georgia"
    "slightly juvenile but still engaging"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This police story features two women trying to make it as police officers in Atlanta in the 1970's. A big part of this was about their hurdles in that all-male world of police. I was okay with that, but virtually every male officer we meet is a chauvinistic lout. I could buy that (even as a guy). The women were too naive with a total lack of confidence. Even that I bought, but those women were stupid too often, with me the reader frustrated with their obtuseness. Of course they grow on the job over a very short period of time. It was very predictable. The characters lacked depth and nuance. It is also a book that will appeal more to women, I think. As a guy, I sometimes felt like I was eavesdropping where I was not supposed to be. With all those criticisms, I still gave this three stars because it was a fun engaging cop story where I was rooting for the good guys to beat the bad guys. The writing is good for this genre, and the action sequences are pretty gripping, even if I know where things are going.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • NOS4A2: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Joe Hill
    • Narrated By Kate Mulgrew
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3488)
    Performance
    (3235)
    Story
    (3240)

    Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

    Jacqueline says: "Finish to Start Excellent is Novel This"
    "Too familiar territory"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got this book because I have enjoyed many Stephen King novels, and this story seemed similar. The first 15 minutes were great, and then I quickly grew bored. What makes many Stephen King books so good is the way the reader cares about everyday people before the creepiness and supernatural kick in. Thirty years ago, I may have liked this, but I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had read this before, and I quit halfway through the first part. The novel was too long for me to wait and hope it picked up. Maybe it did, but I didn't care to wait.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Brewster

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Mark Slouka
    • Narrated By Brian Troxell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    When Jon and Ray form a tight friendship, they find in each other everything they lack at home, but it’s not until Ray falls in love with beautiful, headstrong Karen Dorsey that the three friends begin to dream of breaking away from Brewster for good. Freedom, however, has its price. As forces beyond their control begin to bear down on them, Jon sets off on the race of his life - a race to redeem his past and save them all.

    Mark says: "OK 60's coming-of-age story"
    "OK 60's coming-of-age story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This novel had the feel of a true life gritty memoir. It's about trying to fit in during tough high school years. It focuses on three misfit friends and a girlfriend of one. The protagonist deals with the guilt of surviving the death of a brother. Running track is his outlet. The time and place rang true, and as a guy who grew up in the same era, I can say that the author had the language of the times right. There is not too much of a plot line (making it more artsy...), with some themes running through it. You will probably guess the main theme early one, but I won't be a spoiler. The story never engaged me as a whole, yet I enjoyed many parts, and stayed to the end of this short novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • One Summer: America, 1927

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1555)
    Performance
    (1402)
    Story
    (1388)

    One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country - a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge). It was the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and came of age in a big, brawling manner. What a country. What a summer. And what a writer to bring it all so vividly alive.

    Mark says: "Why 1927?"
    "Bryson's best!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read or listened to many Bill Bryson books, and One Summer is definitely my favorite. It grabbed my interest at the start, and never let go. There were just so many fascinating things that happened in America in 1927. Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, prohibition and gangsters, anarchists, etc.. This book goes deeply enough into the key characters to satisfy, but also has so many fascinating stories. I sometimes look at life today and think with nostalgia about what life must have been like in those simple olden days. Reading this, you see America in 1927 for the good and the bad, and I realize life today is not so bad. If social history has any interest to you, you should try this book. The author narrated it, and it took me a while to get used to his voice. I wish he had left that job to a professional. Still, I loved the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Hanging Judge

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Michael Ponsor
    • Narrated By Rich Orlow
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (25)

    When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so that he can pursue the death penalty.

    Mark says: "A fresh, engaging courtroom drama"
    "A fresh, engaging courtroom drama"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In some ways, this was a standard courtroom crime novel. A murder occurs, and we think that the suspect (a former drug dealer who seems to have turned his life around with a degree, a wife, and a child) is innocent, but you never know. I used to love that genre, but too often find myself bored with something I feel I have read too many times. This novel intrigued me because it was written by a judge, with a judge as the protagonist. The novel did not disappoint me. It had a rookie author freshness to it that I enjoyed, and I liked the judge perspective on a capital case. The main characters were believable and the plot moved at a good pace. Only a couple things held this back from being a 5 star book. Some of the secondary characters move in and out of the novel too quickly, and I would forget who they were. The author wanted to share true facts in the local history of capital punishment, but some went on too long. That said, I think that most fans of courtroom fiction will enjoy this. The narrator was especially excellent, differentiating voices so well. One warning - it is clear early on that the author is anti-capital punishment. Most of the reviewers who panned this book were clearly bugged by this, so if that is your political belief, be forewarned.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Steve Jobs

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Walter Isaacson
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (12276)
    Performance
    (10628)
    Story
    (10605)

    Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

    Jeanne says: "Interesting man"
    "A great biography!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This biography of Steve Jobs does a great job at capturing the man and the Apple technology he played a big part with. I avoided this book for a long time, thinking that there was no way his story could keep my interest for more than 25 hours. I almost opted for the abridged version, but finally went for the unabridged (if it dragged, I planned to return it and get the abridged). This full book captured my interest from beginning to end. It is well researched and incredibly well written. I credit Jobs for letting the author write whatever he liked. Jobs knew that he was not beloved by all, and wanted an accurate portrayal of his life. This bio captures him in all his brilliance, warts and all. I enjoyed the personal story of this charismatic and irritating man, and I loved reading about the development of so much technology that I know so well. From the Mac computers to the iPods and iPhones, and even the Apple stores with their genius bar, the story of each is fascinating. Even the business end was interesting in this story of a great entrepreneur. I enjoyed this as much as any biography I have listened to. It was also cool that I listened to this on my iPod while using my iPhone for a GPS for a good part of this book. Meanwhile, iTunes organizes my audiobook collection. All thanks to Steve Jobs.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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