The Psychopath Test was my first introduction to Jon Ronson, both as an author and as a narrator. And such is the nature of both his idiosyncratic writing style and vocal delivery, that it took me a while to realize that I quite liked it.
This isn't exactly what I was looking for. Again, not being previously familiar with the author (I'm a little more familiar now), I expected a more serious tone. Ronson treats his material seriously, but there is often a tongue-in-cheek aspect to his writing, leaving the reader wondering if the author means EXACTLY what he's saying. Once I got used to the style, I found it enjoyable.
Although this book is full of information about psychopaths, it will leave you even less sure about their nature--if it can even be said that psychopaths have a nature. TPT isn't what I'd call scholarly journalism, but it's an eye-opener nonetheless.
I really liked Jeff Guinn’s The Last Gunfight. It had remained in my wish list for some time because I wasn’t sure that a thirteen hour book about an event that was over within minutes would hold my interest. TLG more than held my interest—I found myself listening to it every chance I got. It was an enjoyable and educational “read,” and I was satisfied when it drew to an end.
Guinn depicts an Old West that is at times different from what we’ve seen in movies, but it is every bit as exciting. The author does a good job of bringing his characters to life, and at times clearing up myths. A standout aspect of the work is how skillfully Guinn depicts the web of events which led to the so-called “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” putting them in context, so that the reader can easily understand the motivations of both parties leading to the fight which it appears nobody really wanted. Moreover, the author does a great job of showing not only how history affected events in Tombstone, but also the impact those events had on history.
As at least one other reviewer has pointed out, the author does take some license with his characters in ascribing them motives and thoughts he could only be guessing at. This seems largely to be even-handed, except in one or two instances where Guinn seems to have taken an active dislike to his subjects, and seems to magnify and dwell upon their foibles.
This book was a nice surprise. I particularly recommend it for readers interested in American history or the Old West. The narrator was well-suited to the material and delivers an enjoyable, unobtrusive performance.
Returning to the once-thriving Detroit after a prolonged absence, native son Charlie LeDuff , much like the narrator in Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” encounters a ruined wonder, its former glories in tatters and serving now only to mock it. The difference is that the fabled Detroit of yesteryear is not ancient history to LeDuff, but a very real part of his memory (or perhaps social memory, as the city had already been in decline according to LeDuff), and all the more painful for the seeming impossibility of changing its course.
There are some upbeat moments in “Detroit,” if no real happy ones, but they are few. Mostly, it is a gritty and passionate look at a doomed city, riddled with corruption, cronyism, inefficiency and despair. LeDuff manages to care enough about his subject that reading through this list of tragedies doesn’t feel too lurid The author injects himself liberally into the book, and sometimes it’s difficult (deliberately so, I suspect) to separate the author’s story from the city’s story, but it is in these comingled themes that the book is at its most personal and most powerful.
Ultimately this book is akin to battlefield reporting. It focuses on skirmish after skirmish in a much larger and altogether more murky war. This is not a redemptive book. There are no answers, only troubling, heartbreaking pictures. LeDuff believes that Detroit is a bellwether for America in general, having signaled the nation’s postwar rise and now serving as a grim harbinger of things to come. As intriguing and provocative as this notion is, LeDuff never explores it in any depth.
“Detroit” was informative, and kept my interest throughout. Eric Martin’s narration is great.
"The Junkie Quatrain" took me by surprise. The reveiws I read were rather lukewarm, and while I've enjoyed some of Clines' other stuff, he's never wowed me, so I was essentially looking for something which wasn't awful.
Not only is TJQ not awful, it's pretty damn good. It's composed of four shortish stories, all of which function well enough on their own, but when taken as a whole provide a much richer experience.
This book features a diverse variety of characters, but they're believable and human, and are the real stars of the story. The infected are merely a facet of the environment and setting (although they're a big facet; never fear). The story remains rooted in people with whom we can, if only in some small way, identify.
It's been a while since I've been drawn so completely in to a work of non-fiction. "MCTUS" was a wonderful, informative read, and ultimately, for me, a bit of a sad one.
It's difficult for me to gague how much appeal this book will have for people who aren't comics fans or interested in publishing. It's well-written, and moves quickly, but the repeated rises and falls of a pop-culture phenomenon might not thrill casual observers.
But this book meant the world to me. I grew up reading Marvel Comics, and so many of the characters and creaters seemed almost like old friends to me. I was suprirsed at how much I didn't know about the behind-the-scenes maneurvering, marketing-driven titles, and revolving editorial mandates.
This book is a rich tapestry of Marvel history, from its derivative, pulp beginnings just before WWII to the mega-movie franchises of today.
Okay, I'll admit that I'm a sucker for a creepy setting, and an isolated, snow-bound madhouse offers plenty of that. The setting is very much a part of the story, and its effective use by the author, along with a collection of characters we can identify with (or at least recognize) and care about, contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the book.
Not all of the characters are likable, by any means, but I enjoyed them all, and often, I was a little suprised wihen some of them (no spoilers) were killed, even though I'd been expecting it.
"The Loon" is a fun, unashamedly B-movie of a read, with equal parts mad-science horror and psycological terror. This was a quick, satisfying listen.
Haviing listened to "White Plume Mountain" (the first book in this series; it's not absolutely necessary to listen to it first, but I recommend it), I knew excactly what to expect from this book, and I got it: a fast-moving and light-hearted dungeon crawl with plenty of action and humor. In addition, this book also has a fun element of court intrigue.
The trio from White Plume Mountain retuns in "Descent," with the addition of a new, unskilled team member, Private Henry. I particularly enjoyed the development of this character.
This was a fun, fairly light listen that kept my interest throughout.
Sean Duffy can't seem to catch a break. Though clever,well-read,witty and possessed of a certain broken charm, Duffy is a man constantly asking for--and receiving trouble. A catholic cop who lives in a protestant world, Duffy has never yet been able to bring a killer to justice, and all he has to show for his efforts are a lot of scars.
"Sirens" brings us to a Belfast which has been given a sliver of hope in the form of the DeLorean Motor Company. As McKinty seems to do so well, he seamlessly weaves his fictional world around the sometimes stranger-than-life events of actual history.
I can't speak highly enough of the narrator, Gerard Doyle, who hops effortlessly between accents and dialects.
'Lions of Kandahar' brings the combat close--sometimes too close for comfort. It's a gritty, valiant look at one man's experiences in the recent conflict. This unique focus has its advantages and disadvantages. The author's intimate knowledge of the subject makes for a detailed and compelling read, and because the team is so small, it's easy to keep track of the various participants in course of the battles. However, at the same time this narrow focus does not lend itself to an understanding of "the bigger picture" regarding Afghanistan, or how the events depicted in "Lions" fit in to that bigger picture.
The narration is excellent.
White Plume Mountain is a novelization of a classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure from the late 70's and early 80s. This book is full of action, with plenty of vile monsters and despicable humans to keep the story racing from point to point.
WPM manages to be well-written and well-crafted story, without ever taking itself too seriously. The characters aren't deep, but they are fun, and the reader knows exactly how to feel about them.
This is not an epic fantasy novel. If you're looking for 'The Lord of the Rings,' you won't find it here, but what you will find should be a lot of fun.
This was a pleasant surprise. Five unrelated sci-fi combat novellas which I could intersperse between other books. I enjoyed all five stories, although some much more than others. I found the stories toward the end of the collection to be the strongest, which I always appreciate.
I enjoyed the different styles and the authors' respective takes on the genre. These are good fun, not too heavy, but by no means fluff.
The narration is great.
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