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Jerry Hilts

Portland, OR, USA | Member Since 2010

ratings
236
REVIEWS
11
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
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HELPFUL VOTES
15

  • Gun Machine

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Warren Ellis
    • Narrated By Reg E. Cathey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (173)
    Story
    (175)

    After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for 20 years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable purpose. Confronted with the sudden emergence of hundreds of unsolved homicides, Tallow soon discovers that he's walked into a veritable deal with the devil.

    JunkyardMessiah says: "Perfect marriage between writer and narrator"
    "Ellis Just Keeps Getting Better and Better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tighter and more grounded than his previous novel, Crooked Little Vein, there is still plenty of the Warren Ellis outrageousness we know and love. This is an excellent, quick, fun read. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bleeding Edge

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Thomas Pynchon
    • Narrated By Jeannie Berlin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (105)
    Story
    (94)

    Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics - carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people's bank accounts - without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom - two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst - till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm....

    Robert says: "A fine wine in a dirty and cracked glass"
    "A Good Book. A Horrible Audiobook."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Stick with the printed version.

    Although Bleeding Edge is an outstanding book, this is probably the single worst narration of any of the audiobooks to which I've listened. Given Ms. Berlin's history as an actress, one would expect a much better performance. Have you ever had that experience when you're reading aloud, think you've reached the end of a sentence then discover that it continued with another word or clause? Every sentence seemed to surprise her. Very often it felt like she didn't understand what she was reading. Why anyone thought this reading was good enough to release is beyond me.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Kevin Mitnick, William L. Simon
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3391)
    Performance
    (3011)
    Story
    (3020)

    Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world’s biggest companies—and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable.

    Mikeyxote says: "Great listen for tech fans"
    "Kevin Mitnick is Not a Hacker"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bill Joy is a hacker. Steve Wozniak is a hacker. Linus Torvalds is a hacker.

    Kevin Mitnick is not a hacker, not even a bad hacker, he's a wanker. He's also a liar, a cheat, a hypocrite, and quite possibly a psychopath.

    I picked up this book on sale, because I thought it would be interesting to hear Mitnick's side of the story. I got his side alright. Even in his own words, Mitnick comes across as a loser who's ego far out distances his mediocre talents. Nearly all of his break-ins were the result of using exploits discovered and developed by other people, or even more often "social engineering". Social Engineering is wanker speak for lying: things like pretending to be from tech support to get a naive employee to give up their password or turn off security measures. Lying and taking advantage of trusting people seems to be the only thing at which he excelled. Even then, his bragging seems ludicrously excessive. At one point he compares his charisma to "those guys from the Oceans Eleven movies".

    With the exception of a few members of his family, he expresses no remorse for his actions. He often blames his victims for being gullible enough to believe his lies.

    The prose is amateurish. I guess his ghost writer isn't much of a writer either.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Alexander Hamilton

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (1131)
    Performance
    (380)
    Story
    (378)

    Ron Chernow, whom the New York Times called "as elegant an architect of monumental histories as we've seen in decades", now brings to startling life the man who was arguably the most important figure in American history, who never attained the presidency, but who had a far more lasting impact than many who did.

    Robert says: "Captivating & Fluid Bio Unique American immigrant"
    "An Extremely Thorough Biography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was quite a comprehensive, enjoyable biography.

    Most people who remember a bit of their high-school history will be familiar with the highlights of Hamilton's life: born in the West Indies, Aid to Washington during the Revolution, co-author of the Federalist papers, first Secretary of the Treasury, shot in a duel with Aaron Burr. As you might expect, this eight hundred page tome fills in the details and gaps of that timeline extensively. Those details are quite often fascinating.

    I also learned a lot about the history of the early republic that I hadn't known. In particular, I had no idea about how polarized and extreme the reactions to French revolution and its aftermath were among the founders, how instrumental it was in defining our early party divisions, nor how close we came to war with France.

    The author is definitely partisan. Although fairly forthcoming about Hamilton's own faults, his rivals are definitely presented in an extremely unfavorable light. Fans of Adams and Jefferson in particular should be prepared for some tough talk. In general, I think this is a good thing. I'm a pretty big admirer of Jefferson, and to a lesser extent Adams, so seeing this perspective was very enlightening.

    I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Urn Burial: A Phryne Fisher Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Kerry Greenwood
    • Narrated By Stephanie Daniel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (255)
    Performance
    (225)
    Story
    (226)

    Phryne Fisher, scented and surprisingly ruthless, is not one to let sleuthing a horrific crime get in the way of an elegant dalliance. The redoubtable Phryne Fisher is holidaying at Cave House, a Gothic mansion in the heart of the Victorian mountain country. But the peaceful country surroundings mask danger. Her host is receiving death threats, lethal traps are set without explanation around the house and the parlour maid is found strangled to death.

    Nancy J says: "Homage to the Golden Age Mysteries and Christie!"
    "Phryne Does Christie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You can always count on Phryne Fisher for a bit of light fun. This one is a bit different from others in the series, as the author tips her hat (or sticks out her tongue) at Agatha Christie. The story is full of the usual Christie tropes (the isolated country house, the long returned secret relative, and on and on) but Greenwood pokes and tweaks them in a very un-Christie way.

    It wasn't my favorite of the Phryne mysteries by far, but was quite an enjoyable diversion none the less.

    j.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Herzog

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Saul Bellow
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (90)

    Winner of the National Book Award when it was first published in 1964, Herzog traces five days in the life of a failed academic whose wife has recently left him for his best friend. Through the device of letter writing, Herzog movingly portrays both the internal life of its eponymous hero and the complexity of modern consciousness.

    Chris Reich says: "Grows Within You"
    "Just Can't Connect with Bellow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Given his reputation, and the high esteem in which he his held by writers whom I hold in high esteem, I always feel like I should like Bellow more than I do. Herzog is a good book, but (for me) not a great one.

    I'm tempted to blame my ho-hum reaction on the fact his characters often seem less like real people and more like puppets for the author, through which he can espouse some point or another. But if I'm honest that same argument could be made with even more accuracy at authors I love like Pynchon and DeLillo. Maybe it's just that what he has to say isn't all that interesting.

    It could be that I find language is unmoving. There are occasional phrases that seem clever, but there's no musicality.

    Whatever it is, Bellow just leaves me a bit bored.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • God Is My Broker

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Brother Ty, Christopher Buckley, John Tierney
    • Narrated By Mark Linn-Baker
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    One fateful day, Brother Ty - a failed, alcoholic Wall Street trader who had retreated to a monastery - decided to let God be his broker. He saved his monastery and discovered the Seven and a Half Laws™ of spiritual and financial growth. Now, for the first time, Brother Ty reveals his secrets and tells you how you can get God to be your broker.

    Malcolm Trevillian says: "An entertaining fiction"
    "Another Good Chuckle from Christopher Buckley"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're a long-time fan of Christopher Buckley's, like I am, you'll probably enjoy this novel too. If you're new to Buckley's work, I'd begin elsewhere. It's not that this book isn't good. It's a fun, quick read and well worth the time. It's just that Buckley has been so much better in his other books.

    The title of this book might give some people the wrong impression. It has very little to with God and even less to do with investing. It's a satire that pokes good fun at the self-improvement industry and its gurus: Depak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, et al. Chopra in particular gets hung up to some pretty harsh (and well deserved) ridicule.

    The plot revolves around a group of monks in upstate New York struggling to keep their monastary/winery afloat. With their finances exhausted and the situation grim, the abbot grasps for any solution he can get. He turns to the apparent wisdom he has found in a Depak Chopra book, and, as they say, hilarity ensues.

    I'm not sure why I didn't enjoy this book as much as Buckley's others. It could be that it is one of his earliest efforts (though I believe it came after the excellent "Thank You For Smoking"). It could be that he was collaborating with another author, John Tierney. It could be the hokey "meditations" at the end of each chapter. In any case, though it was funny and ejoyable, I was disappointed that it wasn't up to what I've come to expect from a Christopher Buckley novel.

    If you haven't read Buckley before, I recommend that you skip this one for now and read one of these instead:

    - Thank You For Smoking
    - Little Green Men
    - No Way to Treat a First Lady
    - Supreme Courtship
    - Boomsday
    - Florence of Arabia
    - They Eat Puppies Don't They

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Difference Engine

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (157)
    Performance
    (133)
    Story
    (134)

    The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It is a prime example of the steampunk sub-genre; It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer called Engines. The fierce summer heat and pollution have driven the ruling class out of London and the resulting anarchy allows technology-hating Luddites to challenge the intellectual elite.

    Delano says: "Starts strong, falls off"
    "Pretty good, but not Gibson good."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Sure, but not before reading Gibson's other stuff.


    Did Simon Vance do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Vance did an adequate job of establishing different voices, tones, and accents for the various characters in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I finally got around to reading The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. I'm not sure how they spit up the writing duties, but it just didn't feel like a Gibson book to me. Perhaps it was Sterling's voice (this is the first of his books I've read), or perhaps it was that the alt-victorian setting is so different from other Gibsonian worlds like Blue Ant or The Sprawl, but world of The Difference Engine didn't feel as rich as those others. "Rich" isn't really the word I'm looking for. Perhaps "textured" or "vivid" would be better, but they don't feel quite right either.All in all, it was a pretty good story, well told. If you haven't read Gibson's other stuff though, I'd recommend starting there. I'm especially fond of the Blue Ant series: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Something from the Nightside: Nightside, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Simon R. Green
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1190)
    Performance
    (662)
    Story
    (673)

    "Taylor is the name. John Taylor...My card says I'm a detective, but what I really am is an expert on finding things. It's part of the Gift I was born with as a child of the Nightside - the hidden heart of London where it's always three a.m., where inhuman creatures and otherworldly gods walk side-by-side in the endless darkness of the soul. Assignment: Joanna Barrett hires me to track down her teenage daughter, who decided to forgo the circus and run away to the Nightside."

    Angela says: "The Nightside"
    "No Clich?? Left Unturned"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow, this was bad. Sometimes sci-fi or fantasy can overcome mediocre writing because the plot is so interesting, the premise is so intriguing, or the fictional world so full and rich that it doesn't matter if the language is a bit stilted or the characters are a bit flat. This isn't one of those times. This writing is so bad I am amazed that it found a publisher at all.

    I'm trying to think of something positive to say, something to make this more than just a stereotypical Internet rant. I can't.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Second World War: Milestones to Disaster

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Sir Winston Churchill
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (1317)
    Performance
    (729)
    Story
    (726)

    Churchill's history of the Second World War is, and will remain, the definitive work. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction.

    John M says: "Brilliant! Only Churchill could have done this."
    "A Fascinating Memoir"
    Overall

    This wasn't so much a general history of the period than a personal memoir. As a matter of fact, his accounts of many events (such as the 'night of the long knives') differ greatly from others, particularly when he was not directly involved.
    That said, Churchill was fascinating character with a privileged and unique place within many of these grand historical events.

    All in all, it was a very enjoyable read. The only thing detracting from that enjoyment was the sheer number of times Churchill reminds us that he was right and everyone else was wrong; if only everyone would have listened to him, war could have been avoided. His argument is not without merit, but after the first fifty or sixty times most readers will have gotten the point. The subsequent two or three hundred reminders seem just a tad self-aggrandizing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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