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Richard

New York, NY, United States
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The Heart's Invisible Furies audiobook cover art

Favorite Book of 2018

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

Reviewed: 01-01-19

Wished it never ended. I wanted to live in John Boyne’s Ireland. I loved this warm, tragic extremely funny book.

Christodora audiobook cover art

Title is more of a state of mind then a place

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-22-17

Having lived in New York through the HIV/ AIDS epidemic it was odd to read a book that had a number of characters based on people I knew and worked with. When the author focuses on the people in that part of the story, I found myself listening more intently. 'The Plague' and it's aftermath is still a riveting narrative of a people, place and time.

Unfortunately "Christodora" is mostly about several, not very interesting people, whose lives are only peripheraly affected by AIDS with the major exceptions of Hector, the Puerto Rican activist, Anna, his intial boss at the NY Health Department and Isabel, the Latina girl from Queens who becomes infected with HIV and then finds her voice in the movement to fight AIDS. Each, while important, are bascally secondary to the story.

The bulk of "Christodora" centers on Milly, the artist daughter of Anna and her adopted son Mateo, Isabel's secret son, who grows up to be an artist also. The conflict between mother and son forms much of the book and neither were interesting enough for me to care about. Both were so self-centered in their own way that I wanted to shake them and say 'grow up!'

The various narrators didn't help much either. Both the readers of Milly and Mateo seemed to emphasize the characters blandness and Anna's played to the worst of the upper-middle class Jewish stereotypes. Upper East Side New York by way the the European shtetl. Even more offensively, given that Tim Murphy is himself gay, ALL the the gay characters sounded like they were each competing for a knock off of "Ru Paul's Drag Race". I haven't heard this much bitchy dialogue since the last time I was at 'Lips' in the village. Only the woman speaking for Isabel gave her the fiery passion and heartbreaking loneliness this young, scard, proud girl deserved.

After finishing "Christodora" I had the image of Eighth Street in the village, once so vibrant and hip, then commercial and now just filled with boarded up shops with 'For Rent' signs all over.


4 of 6 people found this review helpful

Caravans audiobook cover art

Afghanistan Then is Afghanistan Now.

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

Reviewed: 05-28-17

Michener writes long fact filled novels that,while might have some thin characters, is nevertheless absorbing and fascinating. Knowing what I know about Afghanistan now and then entering that world circa 1948 was just eye opening. Great storytelling!

However, I don't plan to listen to any other audio books by Michener until they get a narrator that can actually act with his or her voice. There are literally hundreds of characters in his books and they all have the exact same mid-Atlantic sound. Male/female. Young/old. Foreign/American. Happy/sad etc. ect.

No thanks audio, Hard copy here I come.


2 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Accident audiobook cover art

Aren't Literary People Awful? Don't Answer That.

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

Reviewed: 05-28-17

Nominally a thriller about a manuscript that once published will rock the known entertainment/political world, but quickly devolves into a critique of upper middle class consumerism. As standard publishing types are mowed down one by one, it becomes clearer their deaths are more for being ambitious then for any real narrative purpose. Drink to much. Dead. Wear good clothes. Dead. Ageing. Dead. Luckily the cop on the beat is lower middle class so he gets to live.

After a while, you realise the manuscript that everyone is chasing is just a second-rate 'MacGuffin' and the real author is just using it score easy points.

Narrator is good though and keeps things moving and it's an easy book to listen to on a car or bike ride.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

East of the Sun audiobook cover art

Indian history takes a back seat to 3 young women

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

Reviewed: 05-24-16

Imagine being stuck on a bus with three young women talking loudly behind you. Worse, what they are going on about is really vapid and dull to everyone else but them. That's what's listening to this book was like.

This is the kind of book written for a certain type of woman who wants a swoony romance in an exotic local, but not to many facts to trouble her mind. Since Victoria Holt is no longer alive, a facsimile of a carbon copy will have to do.

Why did I choose this book? Good question. I liked the cover and I am interested in the time period regarding India and it's break from the long stifling colonization by the English. Well the cover is lovely but that's about it.

I'm also in the bad habit of almost always finishing a book I start. The story's one saving grace is that I didn't have to concentrate to hard so I could zone out and not worry about missing anything.

Hey this is not the first 'bad' book I have listened to and it won't be the last, I just have have to try harder to limit the damage.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Telegraph Avenue audiobook cover art

Just not as thrilling as his previous works.

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

Reviewed: 03-22-16

I've read (not listened to) all of Chabon's novels and this one, while enjoyable, just seems like him in a minor key. Story takes a while to get started and once it does never seems to take off. (This is odd since there is a long set piece taking place in a dirigible with a night club attached.)
Also, the story, while amusing, just didn't seem to have the depth of his best ones. I got through it but just barely.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Fleshmarket Alley audiobook cover art

Decent entry into the series

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

Reviewed: 09-03-15

This is a good, very timely story regarding the exploitation of immigrants both legal and illegal. Overall though it seems that Rebus and Rankin are just going through the motions waitng for the time they can both retire from the series. Not bad, just not very memorable. In five or seven months I'll probably have to check to see if and when I listened to it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Museum of Innocence audiobook cover art

Like Having a Stranger Talk for Hours....

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

in a foreign language while you are trapped in an elevator. Every minute detail of a decades long obsessive love is explored over and over again. '...and here, dear reader, is the spoon my darling Füsun used to stir her tea on Sept 23 1976...'. It seemed to never end. On the plus side a listener can tune out for periods of time and not miss a thing. By the end I was skipping chapters without missing a beat.
However, John Lee is truly a great narrator.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

Inferno audiobook cover art

Great if you are visiting Florence or Venice

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

Reviewed: 08-07-14

Lots of stuff and nonsense from Dan Brown about Robert Langdon escaping near death defying situations again. Also with the help of a beautiful age-appriopiate woman. This time it's all about Dante's "Inferno". Together they travel from Florence to Venice and end up in Istanbul. Oddly, nothing about Langdon's previous hair-raising adventures seem to have made a dent in his mind. It's like he starting anew with each book.

Still what kept me going was all the minutia of the cities and Dante. All the little known historical facts about the churches, museums, waterways, palaces etc take up a lot of the book. Like a teacher who gives you just enough information so you don't nod off in class or become overwelhmed with details before moving on.

Plot has something to do with W.H.O., a world shattering virus and bad guys shooting at innocent people all being tied into Dante's "Divine Comedy". Shrug

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

The Magicians audiobook cover art

Brave Potter/Narnia mash-up for "GoT" set

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

Reviewed: 06-14-13

Have to admit that it takes a very brave author to take Harry Potter and Narnia and have it apply to those young men who are just now discovering "Game of Thrones". Post adolescent young man has to decide what his future will be while still clinging to the rituals of childhood.

Adulthood is scary, so Quentin our hero, tries to avoid it for as long as possible. Unlike the "Potter" series where father and parental figures abound, Q (as he is sometimes called) has nobody but himself to guide him and he makes a mess of things. Still, little by little he starts to grow up, though by the end Q is not much further then Harry Potter at the end of "Sorcerer's Stone". Wondrous for a boy of 12, dismaying for a young man in his mid twenties.

Still, I salute Lev Grossman for this brave attempt. Kinda like decent comfort food with with added spices.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful