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Merlinfan

  • 32
  • reviews
  • 12
  • helpful votes
  • 32
  • ratings
  • Gemini Joe: Memoirs of Brooklyn

  • By: Janet Sierzant
  • Narrated by: Al Benelli
  • Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

The runt of the litter, Gemini Joe is no stranger to tears. His life is a story; following the Great Depression and his parents' struggle to provide for his family. Survival in his powerful, sometimes cruel family was not easy. Although he remembers with affection and occasional humor the holidays, his childhood friends, his mother and grandmother, his tough, bullying brothers and indifferent sister, his family was too much for him. He found acceptance in a bottle of scotch. In the end, he managed to conquer his addictions, but was it too late?   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gemini Joe, Growing Up in Brooklyn

  • By J. Konitzer on 08-08-18

The Second Time Around is Great!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-12-18

I bought and read the earlier version of this true story in which the author speaks of her father (Gemini Joe) in a narrative form... She tells the story. In the new (revised) version, she puts everything back into her father's own words... and the audiobook format makes the book come "alive".
Growing up in New York and Long Island around the same time that Gemini Joe was a local "big shot" gave me some cool insights into the man who ran county functions as well as many of Long Island's beaches when I used to spend a lot of time there. He was a drinker and an abuser and reminded me a lot of my own abusive dad. I really love the book... even if parts of it were hard for me to endure because of my personal experiences.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Bringing Down Romeo

  • Black Hills Wolves, Book 53
  • By: D. L. Jackson
  • Narrated by: Al Benelli
  • Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

Hide your girlfriends, hide your daughters. Tad Dawson, confirmed bachelor and runway model, has come back to the Black Hills for his brother's wedding. Also known as Romeo for his love-them-and-leave-them attitude, Tad has a reputation to lose and a woman to win. However, he won't be able to do it on his own, since the woman he wants would rather assault him with nail guns, power saws and rocks. Not what he expected when he turned on the charm.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Too short... Could/should have been longer

  • By Merlinfan on 06-08-17

Too short... Could/should have been longer

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-08-17

Would you consider the audio edition of Bringing Down Romeo to be better than the print version?

I prefer audiobooks to print in general... so... Yes!

What other book might you compare Bringing Down Romeo to and why?

This was the second book I've read that is about "shifters" so I would compare it to "Dangerous"... the other book of this genre in my library.

Have you listened to any of Al Benelli’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. I'm a fan of Al Benelli. It's why I bought this book. I think he's a great storyteller. Not his "best" work, but still entertaining and enjoyable.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really. It seemed to move along at a steady pace but then ended rather abruptly IMHO. The story could have and should have gone further... Maybe the author plans a sequel... or that's just the way the series is designed to be. Who knows...

  • Dangerous

  • Black Hills Wolves, Book 24
  • By: D.L. Jackson
  • Narrated by: A. T. Al Benelli
  • Length: 3 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

Eleven years from the day he left, Xan Davis returns to Los Lobos a changed Wolf. After promising his insane Alpha, Magnum, that no one will ever know who he really is, he is forced to endure unspeakable torture in distant lands. The Black Hills call to his tormented soul, so he goes, hoping the familiar forests will soothe his suffering inner beast. Liv Dunn, born a coyote but living as human, constantly looks over her shoulder. Less than a year before, a former patient attacked her, leaving her emotionally devastated.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My first "Wolf Book"... Definitely not my last!

  • By Merlinfan on 01-31-17

My first "Wolf Book"... Definitely not my last!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-31-17

What made the experience of listening to Dangerous the most enjoyable?

It's a whole new genre for me... Never paid much attention to "shape shifters" or the whole universe of werewolves and such... always thought it was for kids and Draculean weirdos... But I'm a fan and follower of the narrator and... I love all his other stuff, so... "What the hell"... I bought it! Now I'm hooked! It's like a mythological MacGuyver skill to be able to "shift" from one life form to another to change the rules of engagement instantaneously. This added dimension gives the whole genre a powerful boost and a whole new avenue for the author to take the storyline. Decreases the predictability of the story. Makes it that much more desirable to keep on reading to see what happens because so much more can happen... You gotta try it for yourself to truly understand what I'm attempting to describe here...

What was one of the most memorable moments of Dangerous?

For me it was the way the author "merged" the principal characters past experiences in Africa as an agent of the company with what was happening in his present search for the truth about himself and his PTSD... falling in love with his therapist... discovering that she too was a "shifter"... a hybrid coyote... half human. His epiphany... Xan realizing this woman was destined to be his mate...

Which scene was your favorite?

The final confrontation between Xan and Ajani... the demon shifter from Africa who has tracked him all the way to the Black Hills to seek his revenge. The fight scene is as good as anything from a combined "Rocky" marathon...

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

Things aren't always what they seem... Same goes for the people around you.

Any additional comments?

Really surprised how much I liked this. I expected to breeze through a sort of mindless, fantasy... a boy scout fireside spook story... Wow, was I wrong. I hope he does another one in the series...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • If You Can't Stand the Heat

  • By: Taryn Kincaid
  • Narrated by: A. T. Al Benelli
  • Length: 4 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

Derek Dunne is a Cordon Bleu-trained food critic for the prestigious New York Monitor, whose scathing review of a popular Italian bistro has driven away all but the most loyal neighborhood patrons. Lucrezia Serafina DiCicco is a clumsy business school drop-out, working as a chef and scrambling to keep her family's restaurant afloat, after her father develops diabetes and is banned from his kitchen for his own good.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Can't wait for the sequel...

  • By Merlinfan on 12-20-16

Can't wait for the sequel...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-20-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Well, If my friends, like me, enjoy tales of fine dining, creative kitchens, warm and tender romance and sizzling sex... they'll be thanking me for the recommendation.

What other book might you compare If You Can't Stand the Heat to and why?

Dinner with the Don... for all the same reasons above. "Don" was more of a comedy however, whereas "Heat" is definitely more of a romance novel. I hope there's going to be a follow up story about Lu and Derek

Which scene was your favorite?

The 'quickie" wedding at city hall in New York. It's about as romantic as it gets...

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

Fantastic Food... Racy Romance... Sizzling Sex... Reservations accepted!

Any additional comments?

Another book well performed by one of my favorite narrators... And I'm hoping this book becomes a series...

  • Dinner with the Don

  • By: Jim Yoakum
  • Narrated by: Al Benelli
  • Length: 4 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

A very influential New York City pop culture guru finds himself running for his life after his review of a mob-owned restaurant makes it the most popular, hippest place in town.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A cute story... No Godfather... but good anyway!

  • By Muffina on 02-06-17

Guy Fieri Meets the Sopranos... a Cucina Comedy!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-15-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Oh yeah... It's satire at it's best. A New York "celebrity" restaurant reviewer and self-proclaimed "trend-setter" gets his cannolis in the wringer when he plays around with a "family" style establishment in Little Italy. His stellar review is not exactly received as one might expect. Add in a Kelsey Grammer sort of police detective, a few bumbling Mafiosi street soldiers, and the lemming-like followers of our trend setting hero and you have the stage set for a chuckle-a-minute farce of Neil Simon proportion. This book was a gas...tronomical joy to listen to. Could have been made into a swell movie... Maybe Hugh Grant and Joe Pesci?

What other book might you compare Dinner with the Don to and why?

I'm a big fan of this narrator. He makes the book more like a radio-play. Listening to "Dinner with the Don" I was reminded a lot of his "Eating Trees"... written by Jeff Koppelson. Same kind of humor... similar characters... Set in New York City... Tied in nicely with food. Both were enjoyable comedies that had me laughing out loud... causing some folks on the train to wonder what I was up to. Thank goodness my earbuds are highly noticeable.

Which character – as performed by Al Benelli – was your favorite?

There were a few, but if I must pick one it would be our hero, Dexter Grey. This poor guy gets into more trouble just for trying to be nice, but... as many of us have experienced... no good deed goes unpunished.

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

Next time you go looking for a family-style restaurant... make sure you know what kind of "family" they serve!

Any additional comments?

A good read, er... listen! Just the right length. Great character voices. Another gem from my favorite book narrator.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • If I Were a Chick...

  • By: Michael Lawrence
  • Narrated by: A. T. Al Benelli
  • Length: 1 hr
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

This book is designed to show women how to handle serious relationship issues without looking like crazy girl Sally. This book is designed to give women the respect they deserve by teaching them how to earn it. Why should any man respect you when you don't respect yourself? To get respect you must earn respect. It's about women losing themselves to keep happy a man who will never love them the way they should be loved. It's about women lying down and accepting any and everything men throw at them.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good advice for young women

  • By Merlinfan on 07-30-16

Good advice for young women

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-30-16

Would you listen to If I Were a Chick... again? Why?

Maybe... If my daughters were not already grown and gone I'd definitely listen again... and when my granddaughters are the appropriate age... yes! I'll use it to reference "Grandpa's Advice"

What was one of the most memorable moments of If I Were a Chick...?

A couple... but mostly when Michael is One-on-one with his daughter, giving her the "male" thought process behind the male persona. Every young woman should have a heart-to-heart chat with their dad like that.

What does A. T. Al Benelli bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The characters come to life. I've read some other people's reviews of this guy and I'd say they are pretty accurate.

What did you learn from If I Were a Chick... that you would use in your daily life?

How to approach the young ladies in my family with the brutally honest truth of what motivates most men in the world... and how these ladies need to protect their honor and virtue from subliminal... but no less predatory... tactics.

  • Engine 24: Fire Stories, Books 1, 2, and 3

  • By: Joe Corso
  • Narrated by: A. T. Al Benelli
  • Length: 5 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

"On the night of May 27, 1964, thousands of New York City residents, whose dwellings overlook the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, had ringside seats for a spectacular wind-fanned waterfront fire that lit up the Jersey shore. A fire that, before it was brought under control some hours later, taxed the combined efforts of four FDNY marine companies, five FDNY Engine companies, 16 JCFD fire companies, 14 Coast Guard vessels, and 21 Pennsylvania R.R. tug boats.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping True Stories from a Fireman’s Life…

  • By Mike L Lane on 12-07-16

ALL THREE VOLUMES... a great deal!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-30-16

What made the experience of listening to Engine 24: Fire Stories, Books 1, 2, and 3 the most enjoyable?

I bought this for my library... but I actually read Volumes 1, 2, and 3 individually as they came out in the beginning. My dad was a New York City firefighter around the time Joe Corso (D'Albert) was serving at Engine 24. I love the stories because my dad didn't share much when he was on the job. Corso illuminates things that likely were identical to the experiences my own father endured.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Engine 24: Fire Stories, Books 1, 2, and 3?

The Kennedy assassination... 9/11... Joes first days as a probationary fireman... The origin of the firefighters badge... OK, they were all memorable. If you like real-life stories of firefighters, firehouses, fires and the lives led by our dedicated public servants you are going to love this series.

Have you listened to any of A. T. Al Benelli’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. I have been a big fan for a long time. It's how I found this series of books in the first place. I usually search on the narrator to see what new books he's done. He's a great story teller... Like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones. He doesn't just "read" the book... he "performs" it. Try listening to Eating Trees or The Old Man & The King or Lafitte's Treasure and you'll see (hear) for yourself what I'm talking about.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The part where Joe (now retired) calls back in to his old firehouse to find out the details of the men who were on the scene on 9/11. Engine 24 and Ladder 5 were the first two companies to arrive on the day the NYFD lost over 300 firefighters. You will learn about the Pope's special blessing... Recalling the details of 9/11 will both sadden and anger you that America was so savagely attacked. NYFD firefighters were running into the Towers while others were running out. The cowards who perpetrated 9/11 should be made to know what true bravery is.

Any additional comments?

This book is a wonderful tribute to firefighters all over the globe... Thank You to all of them for what they have done and still do to protect us.

  • Engine 24: Fire Stories 3

  • By: Joe Corso
  • Narrated by: A. T. Al Benelli
  • Length: 1 hr and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2

In this book, the era of Kennedy's assassination, race riots, and looting are related through the eyes of a NYC firefighter. Joe Corso describes where he was and what the reactions of the firemen and officers were the day that President Kennedy was killed. The author describes what it felt like to be detailed to La Casa Grande - "The Big House". Engine 82 was one of the busiest fire companies in the world during the race riots of the '60s.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved #1 & #2... So #3 was a no-brainer

  • By Merlinfan on 07-30-16

Loved #1 & #2... So #3 was a no-brainer

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-30-16

If you could sum up Engine 24: Fire Stories 3 in three words, what would they be?

More GREAT stories...

What other book might you compare Engine 24: Fire Stories 3 to and why?

OK... This may sound a bit dumb, but I'm comparing it to the first TWO volumes written by Joe Corso (aka D'Albert). I was sort of sitting on the front porch waiting for volume THREE because the first two volumes were outstanding. My dad was a NYFD firefighter with 43 Hook & Ladder in Manhattan around the same time Joe served with Engine 24. Joe's stories fill in so much of what my dad chose NOT to share with our family. He seldom talked about his work... we had to glean what was going on by the expressions on his face when he came home... which were often vastly different. This book explains of a lot of that mystery. It also fills in a couple of "holes" in Books 1 & 2 that I didn't realize were "holes" until I read this volume... Joe provides a few interesting "fill-ins" here in volume 3.

Which character – as performed by A. T. Al Benelli – was your favorite?

The book is written as a narrative... so my favorite character is "Joe"... needless to say... but I just love the "color" brought to all the other characters in Joe's life by the narrator. I've said this many times before... "Al Benelli brings a book to life... like a documentary on the radio... or a radio play. I love his performances".

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

Almost... This book is a flashback to the '60 & 70's. Joe recalls the day President Kennedy was shot and... as can all of us who lived through it... recalls exactly where he was and what he was doing. That triggered my own memories and the sadness and fear I felt that day... came back to me. And then there was 9-11. I came pretty close to tears, again. God bless our first responders and grant safe keeping to all those who lost their lives to that cowardly attack.

Any additional comments?

I've heard from a few audiobook websites that the compilation of ALL THREE VOLUMES of Engine 24 will be released soon as a single audiobook. If you haven't read (heard) any of the Engine 24 series you might want to wait a bit... All three in one is an excellent purchase option.

  • Engine 24 Fire Stories 2

  • By: Joe Corso
  • Narrated by: Al Benelli
  • Length: 1 hr and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

Every firefighter has a treasure trove of interesting stories to tell, and the stories more often than not are instructional, as well as exciting. When I was a firefighter, I kept notes of the fires I responded to. Now that I am retired, I have reflected on my career as a firefighter and have written a second book about the men alongside whom I worked, facing dangerous situations daily. This book is a compilation of eight short fire stories written between 1963 and 1972, from notes I wrote after returning from fires.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More of the greatness started in Volume 1

  • By Merlinfan on 07-22-16

More of the greatness started in Volume 1

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-22-16

What made the experience of listening to Engine 24 Fire Stories 2 the most enjoyable?

The history... Joe Corso brings the history of everything from the military use of fire... to the meaning of the Maltese Cross, emblematic of the world's fire services... to the evolution of the volunteer fire-gangs of old NYC into the famed NYFD. The color is brilliant.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Engine 24 Fire Stories 2?

The fighting of a multi-alarm fire from "inside" as told through the eyes of the firefighter who was right there... at the nozzle... with his NYFD brothers at his "six". If you love fire stories... it just doesn't get any better...

Which scene was your favorite?

When Joe and is buddies confront a "dirty" firefighter who was shaking down local business and building owners on his fire inspections. The way they handled that situation and the ensuing solution made me feel proud to be a New Yorker. It wasn't the excitement of a fire but the "politics" of corruption and the way honest men handle it. Meeting Serpico didn't hurt either.

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

While others are rushing out... These men are rushing in!

Any additional comments?

A perfect sequel to book One... with none of the expected "let down". The excitement and intensity remain at the same level as the heat!

  • Engine 24: Fire Stories

  • By: Joe Corso
  • Narrated by: A. T. Al Benelli
  • Length: 1 hr and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Every firefighter has a treasure trove of interesting stories to tell and the stories more often than not are instructional, as well as exciting. When I was a firefighter, I kept notes of the fires I responded to. Now that I am retired, I have reflected on my career as a firefighter and have written a book about the men alongside whom I worked, facing dangerous situations daily. This book is a compilation of five FIRE short stories written between 1964 and 1972, from notes I wrote after returning from fires.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • God Bless the NYFD... and all our public defenders

  • By Merlinfan on 07-21-16

God Bless the NYFD... and all our public defenders

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-21-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely... Most of my friends are New Yorkers... they'd love this, because it's TRUE stories of the best of the best. To add to this, my father was a New York City firefighter with 43 Hook & Ladder in upper Manhattan. This book took me back to the days when he told his stories... and brought me to the firehouse to meet his "brothers".

What did you like best about this story?

It was a great combination of the drama and terror of a fire and life in and around the firehouse... as experienced by Joe D'Albert (aka Joe Corso) an NYFD firefighter in the turbulent 60"s and 70"s in downtown Manhattan... the Village. Joe's stories bring the perils and personalities of a special breed of public servant. I love stories of the NYFD and this one is/was top notch. I can't wait to hear the next volume.

Which character – as performed by A. T. Al Benelli – was your favorite?

Wow... this is hard. The book is told as a narrative in the first person from the perspective of Joe D'Albert, a larger than life, genuine New Yorker... complete with all the accent, attitude and urban charm of a man's man. But I also loved the voices around him... Bill, Joe Black and Captain McLaughlin, with his trace of an Irish brogue. Benelli seems to be a master of characterization. You can distinguish the participants without the drudge of a million "he-saids" or "she-saids" that ruin the transition from printed books to audio productions. In summary... I liked 'em all!

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

This book definitely tugs on your emotional duffel-bag. I'm pretty sure I didn't laugh out load or shed tears but it brought me back to some sad times. My dad attended the funeral of the 12 brave firefighters lost while responding to the infamous Box 598 alarm in the 60's... That one hurt. I was just a teenager, but I still remember my dad crying... not a sight I saw very often. Then there were the "pranks" that all firemen pull... and endure. I know I smiled listening to those. The "peanut butter" incident was hilarious. I wonder if I could get away with something like that with my buddies.

Any additional comments?

I've listened to a lot of the collaborative works of Joe Corso and Al Benelli... they make a great team... but this was the best to date and I hear there's more "...Fire Stories" coming. Can't wait!