Billy Crystal tells the story of his life in short vignettes. Some are stand-up comedy routines in front of a live audience; some of more serious (always with some humor) autobiographical pieces. This covers his growing up, his career in entertainment, life as a parent, middle age, turning 65, family, death, baseball, etc.. Rarely do these kinds of memoirs sustain my interest as something to listen to or read from start to end. While there were a few parts that felt repetitive, the next piece invariably touched me or made me laugh. You should know that there is no "tell all" aspect to this (except for his boy obsessions as a 13 year-old). Billy Crystal seems to be that rare entertainment star who had one wife and no children in trouble. Too perfect to believe? Maybe or maybe not. I did not let this bother me. His life is amazingly ordinary and extraordinary, and he comes across as such a likeable guy. I liked this quite a bit. Needless the say, the narrator (Billy Crystal!) delivers this book perfectly.
As a math guy, I was drawn to the novel because it was about a genius girl being taken to a math competition in Scotland. The first two hours did not grab my interest and I was almost ready to stop listening, but then the road trip began, and I was quickly hooked. I really enjoyed the rest of the novel. It's really about a single mother and her two quirky kids trying to scrape by in life. Those characters were great, and the road trip with a virtual stranger was funny and heart-warming, and the rest of the book was great, too. The author found the right balance between interesting and believable (like Anne Tyler usually does), with an energy and sense of humor that made this book a lot of fun.
If you want to learn about what it's like to hike the Appalachian Trail, you might really like this book. If you want to get into the mind of the hiker, read Cheryl Strayed "Wild" instead. David Miller, in AWOL, steered clear of most of his personal thoughts. He played it safe, and I don't really feel I know him after listening to this book. He wrote a diary of his daily experiences and published it as a book. I enjoy the outdoors and enjoyed comparing his hike with my cross country bike tours (you eat better bike touring). I ended out skipping a few parts in the middle because it was too repetitive. At the end, the author says he'd like to do the hike again, but I never gathered that from his daily entries. By the way, AWOL is his trail name. It's not about getting lost. Finally, the wrong narrator read this. His smooth voice never matched the character writing those words.
I'm guessing that women might like this more than men. A middle aged couple connected with a young girl who may be real or may be their snow girl come-to-life.My sister recommended it and I gave it a shot. I was intrigued with a book about the Alaska wilderness in the early 20th century. I was okay with a fairy tale aspect, and this drew me in at times, while at other times I thought it was too much. The characters seemed a little "light" with the men too often portrayed as stereotypically dense compared to women (maybe men are, which is why women would like this more). There were enough parts that worked, though, that I stayed with this until the end. I did not think this was too slow, a common criticism of others. The pacing seemed right for this story. I liked the fine line this walked between fairy tale and true-life. It keeps one guessing.This felt a bit like a Young Adult novel, and a good one at times. Not my favorite but somewhat entertaining.
I loved The Dog Stars. It felt like a fresh take on a post apocalyptic world (a flu variation wiped out most of humanity). This first person narrative focused more on the narrator's state of mind, past and present. This story transplanted me to his world. While there are scenes of action and violence, they are few and far between, with the horror of the world being more psychological. It's a tale of Hig, his beloved dog, his airplane, and his brilliant and angry survivalist partner Bangley. I was fascinated with the relationship between Hig and Bangley. While there were some times when the narration was a little over-the-top wistful, I still loved this book. It has stayed with me in a way that few books do. This lends itself especially well to the audio format. This had a bit of the feel of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, with The Dog Stars being more engaging.
This novel grabbed me from the start. I found myself really caring about the protagonist, who narrated the story. He's a middle-aged guy who made a mistake as a teen which continues to haunt him and his family. I was engaged with his present and past life, and was surprised with how much I loved this story. It was heading towards a 5 star review for me, but the exciting, action-packed climax did disappoint me, feeling like something I have read in so many thrillers. The mystery and characters drew me in, but the end just went for the action. Still, I strongly recommend this 4.5 star novel.
George Colt mixes the story of his life as one of four brothers (coming of age in the 60's and 70's) along with famous and infamous brothers throughout history. The author's own life story is fascinating, and was my favorite part of this book (it was about a third of the book). This would have been a 5 star pure memoir. Stories of different brothers in history are woven throughout the book - some being major chapters and others being shorter references. These include The Booth brothers, the Thoreaus, the Marx Brothers, and the Kelloggs Brothers. Some of the historical pieces are more interesting than others (the Kelloggs chapter was the most interesting). The way the author left and then returned to a set of brothers was a bit disconcerting. I am close in age to the author, and I enjoyed listening to this book and thinking of my own brother and myself, as well as my own three sons. While this could have been better edited, with some slow parts here and there, I still liked much of it, and loved a lot too. It's a book that stays with me more than other books.
This very formulaic mystery is about a retired police detective fighting cancer and getting dragged back into a former case where the murderer seemed to walk free. The main character is likeable and believable, and the narrator is very easy to listen to. This novel was a pleasant, fun way to pass the time. There is mystery, action, and romance. This was good "escape fiction."
I think that this story would be better to read, given the great writing Capote uses for his descriptions. It is harder to savor great writing on audio, I think. I never really cared about any characters, and quit halfway through. I understand that the author is a great writer, but that was not enough for me to keep my interest in this book.
I had read or listened to other books by Anna Quindlen and loved them (One True Thing and Black and Blue). This was just boring. Half the book is flashbacks, and I never cared much about characters from the past. Even the modern story, which had my interest for a while, lot its momentum. In this story, a young man finds a baby in a basket and wants to raise it on his own. He befriends his boss, a strict 80 year-old. None of these characters were realistic to me, and so my heart was not broken, as happened with so many readers and listeners.
This novel tells the tale of Alfred Dreyfus, a Frenchman convicted of treason in the 1890's. It's a tale of politics, the French secret service, injustice, and whistle-blowing. It is a dramatic legal thriller at times. I did not know the history well enough, so I was riveted to this saga, not sure of the outcome. The second half was great! The first half was so slow, I was tempted to stop listening and get my credit back. The story is told through the eyes of Georges Picquart, the a high level French spy in the army. Much of the first half was too much about Picquart's life, and only when it swung back to the Dreyfus tale did it get really good. I am glad that I stayed with this because the second half of the novel is very good, great at times. It is also a story that has stayed with me since I finished a day ago. This was a little bit of work for me to stay with, but the payoff was very big. The parallels to modern US politics (the rift between the parties) and whistle-blowing were uncanny.
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