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Patrick King

Exeter, NH | Member Since 2009

39
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 21 reviews
  • 98 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 53 purchased in 2014
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  • A Deadly Shade of Gold: A Travis McGee Novel, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John D. MacDonald
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (215)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (178)

    When McGee picks up the phone and hears a voice from the past, he can't help it. He has to meddle. Especially when he has the chance to reunite Sam Taggart, a reckless, restless man like himself, with the woman who's still waiting for him. But what begins as a simple matchmaking scheme soon becomes a bloody chase that takes McGee to Mexico, a beautiful country - and one from which he hopes to return alive.

    Aaron P. Lazar says: "Travis McGee - a hero for all time"
    "Comically bad"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This is a very silly and improbable thriller that makes itself absurd by repeatedly going off on pseudo philosophical tangents. Travis McGee is a large, sentimental, narcissistic, violent, sociopath who makes one poor decision after another but still manages to spin things in his mind so he feels like he's "helped" someone. If he would just LISTEN to people in the first place instead of trying to manipulate them to do what HE thinks they should do, he might be of some benefit instead of getting them all killed.His attitude about women is hilarious. Of course every woman who meets him aggressively wants to take him to bed at least to hear him tell it. He on the other hand is very judgmental. Oh he takes advantage of casual encounters one after the other, but he's bound to make some eviscerating comment about her low self esteem or her intelligence after he's thoroughly used her for everything she's got. There is one term that sums this guy up and it is a crude allusion to a bodily orifice.


    What could John D. MacDonald have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    If the story was better plotted and the characters less stereotypical it would be a better book.

    That said I disliked McGee from the beginning. His friend Sam Taggart calls to say he's in trouble and needs help. McGee changes the subject and gets him talking about a love affair Taggart skipped out on three years before. Clearly McGee himself had designs on Taggart's ex and lays this absurd guilt trip which Taggart falls right into. McGee goes to the woman in the case, takes her to dinner and gets her all worked up about seeing her old beau again. They go over to the motel Taggart is staying in only to find him knifed to death. At that point both McGee and the woman, a boutique owner, swear to avenge their fallen lover and comrade. Irresponsibly McGee takes this woman to Mexico on a search for Aztec gold which apparently got Taggart killed, and McGee gets her killed too!

    Over the course of this story McGee beats and tortures three women (all of whom want to sleep with him afterwards), kills a dog, and an elderly (albeit scummy) TV producer. McGee's behavior is the cause of at least ten violent deaths in this book alone. In the long run however McGee determines his friend Taggart thoroughly deserved to be knifed and the people who actually did it are allowed to walk away.

    The main thing I think John D. MacDonald could do to improve his work is to see a psychiatrist.


    Which character – as performed by Robert Petkoff – was your favorite?

    Petkoff was the reason I kept listening to this book. His voices are terrific. I particularly liked the Boston art expert who appeared twice while McGee negotiated his blood money.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I would probably watch it on Netfix. I would not pay to see this story dramatized in a theater. It is quite funny in the fact that it takes itself so seriously.


    Any additional comments?

    I doubt I will read anymore of this series. These books came highly recommended by people whose intelligence I previously took as a given. I am reassessing this point. I am a long-time lover of Ian Fleming's novels and have also read all of Micky Spillane's work. At one point in this book McGee has the temerity to comment "It's easy for Mike Hammer." Well, Travis, in every Spillane book Mike Hammer is beaten to a bloody pulp. In your story you sprained your wrist. I'd say it was easy for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Truman Capote
    • Narrated By Michael C. Hall
    Overall
    (495)
    Performance
    (459)
    Story
    (461)

    Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote's masterstroke about a young writer's charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the "American geisha" Holly Golightly. Holly - a World War II-era society girl in her late teens - survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist.

    FanB14 says: "Michael C. Hall in Your Ear + Capote = Bliss"
    "Hall Brings New Depth to A Great Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Breakfast at Tiffany's?

    Beyond Capote's light yet vivid scenes and characters, Hall's narration adds a sense of mystery and longing completely appropriate to the theme of the story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Breakfast at Tiffany's?

    The narrator's initial meeting with OJ Berman in Holly's living room is not what the listener expects and therefore very amusing and beautifully described.


    Have you listened to any of Michael C. Hall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I'm familiar with Mr. Hall's work on the TV show, Dexter, the primary reason I got this audio book. I've read the book at least twice before and was just curious to see what Hall would do with it. Breakfast at Tiffany's was in my view an unusual choice for Mr. Hall to read. Frankly I was blown away by it. I was aware of the charisma in Hall's voice from his TV work. Add to that Capote's exquisite description and characterizations and this was my treat for last week. I will listen to this again.


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

    Never love a wild thing.


    Any additional comments?

    I hope Mr. Hall will have time in his schedule to read more books. Rest assured I'll be listening to them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Kent Hartman
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    Overall
    (142)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (132)

    If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew - whether you knew it or not. On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music - sometimes over the objection of actual band members....

    Diana Haynes says: "Fascinating Story Well Told"
    "Left Guessing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It seems as though Kent Hartman learned to write by composing blurbs for paperbacks. His alliterative metaphors double up on each other. This "look at me" style of writing is really annoying especially when you hear it read aloud. Just one typical example, he refers to Phil Spector as "The elfin emperor." Perhaps that doesn't sound like a big deal but four or five of these things per page it really begins to grate on the listener after a while.

    Starting a book about several disparate people describing events that seemed important to them was I though very hokey and not at all enlightening: Hal Blaine caught in a circus fire, Glenn Campbell getting a whipping... come on!

    The other thing is when you're writing a book about musicians who do you imagine is going to buy it and read it? People who are very interested in music and how musicians develop their chops, that's who and that's what they want to know. Most of us who read these books have inadvertently done as much research on this subject as the author has. Therefore we expect the author to know that Bertha Spector until the day she died referred to her son by his REAL name, Harvey, NEVER as Phil. If I know that and Mr. Hartman doesn't, what else did he get wrong? My guess is plenty.

    So much is glossed over. He tells a very interesting story about how Don Peake conned his way into an important gig by being able to play Be Bop A Lula, one of three songs he knew on guitar. The thing is, after it was discovered that he really couldn't play guitar, he was kept on and the other band members PAID FOR HIS GUITAR LESSONS! Hartman acts as though this is typical musician behavior. It is not. Why did they do this for Peake? This is the story we'd like to know and he writes as though it was self-explanatory. There are many of these instances in this book.


    If you’ve listened to books by Kent Hartman before, how does this one compare?

    As far as I know The Wrecking Crew is the only book Kent Hartman has ever written.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I thought the tragic story of Jim Gordon was well-told and of great interest.

    I thought the angst of the Monkeys, the Byrds, etc not being allowed to play their own instruments on recordings attributed to them was interesting and ironic. They were getting paid, weren't they? Would they rather drive a taxi?

    Mr. Hartman seems to think that fans were fooled by these prefabricated groups. We were not. One of the most impressive things about the Beatles was that they played their own instruments. We were used to "singing" groups and the Beach Boys, for example, was a singing group. When they became competitive with the Beatles and started claiming they too played their own instruments, they fooled no one. Many of us knew the names, Glenn Campbell, Hal Blaine, Barney Kessel, James Burton etc. If they were a 'secret,' they were a poorly kept secret.


    Do you think The Wrecking Crew needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    There is much that is interesting in The Wrecking Crew. There is a continent of information however that is glossed over and left out. The evolution of Barney Kessel is never described nor his mentoring of young Phil Spector. Mac Rebennack I don't think is mentioned once. Leon Russell is glossed over. James Burton, Nino Tempo are footnotes. Much more could be written on this subject in greater detail.

    The Swamp Birds are never mentioned as such. Steve Cropper and Duane Allman are name drops.


    Any additional comments?

    More in-depth Audible books on this subject are, Mick Brown's Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, Tommy James and Martin Fitzpatrick's Me, The Mob and the Music, Life by Keith Richards, and Peter Ames Carlin's Bruce.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Moon And Sixpence

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By W. Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Robert Hardy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (16)

    Charles Strickland, a conventional stockbroker, abandons his wife and children for Paris and Tahiti, to live his life as a painter. While his betrayal of family, duty and honour gives him the freedom to achieve greatness, his decision leads to an obsession which carries severe implications.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Roman a clef-abominable french artist Paul Gauguin"
    "Art and the Artist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I'd highly recommend The Moon and Sixpence to anyone, particularly those struggling with the dichotomy between great art produced by a less-than-great human being.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Maugham uses a journalistic tone in The Moon and Sixpence to create the idea that the story happened to him just as he tells it. It is not only beautifully written but very convincing. If I didn't know that the story was based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin and that Maugham did not actually know the artist, I'd believe this is a true story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene was probably Maugham's confrontation with Strickland in his rundown Paris hotel. Maugham goes there full of preconceived notions about what Strickland is doing and finds that not one of them is true. The reality is much worse!

    There are so many great scenes, when Stroeve does his utmost to convince his wife to allow him to bring the deathly ill Strickland home to their house. The death of Blanche Stroeve is another powerful scene. The scene when the landlady convinces Strickland to take a native wife. The description by the doctor of Strickland's destroyed masterpiece on the walls of his death hut. And the last scene when Mrs. Strickland and her children discuss the responsibilities of being related to a genius. Very ironic.


    If you could rename The Moon And Sixpence, what would you call it?

    Why fool with the title of a masterpiece?


    Any additional comments?

    Robert Hardy does a SPECTACULAR job on bringing this powerful and thought provoking novel to life. His characterizations are masterful.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (1113)
    Performance
    (951)
    Story
    (958)

    Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down.

    Darwin8u says: "Mantel Pulls the History out of the History"
    "Makes one appreciate The Bill of Rights"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Beautifully and evocatively written, this is the story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn and her family. It is told through the eyes of Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. King Henry appears to be a narcissistic psychopath, a problem if not caused by, certainly exacerbated by his lofty all-powerful political position.

    Cromwell, on the other hand, is perfectly aware that what he is doing on the King's behalf is morally and legally wrong. He is simply doing his best to avoid being executed himself. If he takes a deadly revenge for verbal slights along the way he pretends not to enjoy it. At the beginning of this novel, Thomas Moore and Cardinal Wolsey, intimate advisers to the King, have already been publicly humiliated and executed. There is no benefit that would allow a shrewd person to get close to this monarch. He is dangerously paranoid and kills everyone he loves.

    I'd particularly recommend this book to people who think capital punishment is a valid legal exercise and that public shaming serves some useful purpose. At one point Cromwell is asked by his son if he believes the queen and her "lovers" are guilty. He says, "They're guilty but not as charged." I have to wonder if, even in our own day, people are wrongfully convicted of crimes and even executed just to get them out of the way.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This is a book teeming with great characters. Nonetheless I became most interested in Thomas Cromwell the protagonist. His thinking is obtuse. His decisions as sly at Machiavelli's. His ability to see three moves ahead in this dangerous and hypocritical court lifestyle raised him from a blacksmith's abused son to The Earle of Essex.


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

    I have and Simon Vance is one of the finest readers of audio books we have currently. His work is consistently engaging and well-researched. His pronunciation is nearly flawless.


    If you could take any character from Bring Up the Bodies out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Honestly I'd be apprehensive about getting close to anyone in this scenario. I don't think my life would be worth the price of the dinner. That said I'd probably enjoy a conversation with the Princess Elizabeth even at her young age in this story. She was the one who survived and to some extent lifted England out of the depression of these dark days. She did not survive because she had so many supporters. She survived because she knew when to hold back and when to push forward.


    Any additional comments?

    Beautifully written, suspenseful, loaded with both physical and mental action. Historical fiction doesn't get better than this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Jeff Guinn
    • Narrated By Jim Frangione
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (74)

    Award-winning journalist Jeff Guinn's highly acclaimed Manson has won rave reviews and is a top-pick on must-read lists everywhere. This superb biography answers lingering questions about the Manson Family murders, while delivering stunning revelations about the life of America's most notorious psychopath.

    Ruby Dartz says: "Charles Manson: Even worse than you imagined"
    "Helter Skelter Redux. Ignores all new evidence."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Manson better?

    Any attention to new evidence and commentary that has come forth in the past 40 odd years would at least have improved Mr. Guinn's credibility with those of us who actually follow this case. When you start a book that states Charles Manson never did a good thing in his life, you know you are about to read a very single dimensional view on a subject. How good a writer or researcher does one have to be to demonize Charles Manson after all?

    What annoyed me a lot was Guinn's persistent reference to Manson being a talentless singer and song writer. We HAVE songs and performances by Manson as handy as YouTube. He was a good singer and an interesting song writer. He was certainly as good or better than many professionals making a fortune in the recording industry at that time. All you have to do is listen to these recordings to see that what Bugliosi claimed and Guinn now reiterates lacks foundation in fact.

    Mark Lindsay (singer for Paul Revere and the Raiders and Melcher's business partner in 1969) told Ugly Thing magazine in the winter issue 2011 that he and Terry Melcher firmly intended to produce Manson's records and that Manson had every reason to know this. Manson and "the family" were at Melcher's beach house on August 6, 1969 at a large party. They all knew perfectly well where Melcher lived and that he had moved from the 10050 Cielo Drive address.

    I didn't go out of my way to find this information. Why didn't Guinn come across it in his research? My conclusion is that it did not fit into his agenda for his book. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson is not a real biography. It is an editorial to sell a mythology that has been eroding every year since Bugliosi made his case.

    I'm not claiming that Charles Manson is a great guy. I'm saying that this case was wrongly prosecuted. Many facts were withheld to protect the guilty. The Tate/Labianca murders were murders for hire and Charles Manson himself was no more the ringleader of these crimes than Richard Nixon was.

    Anyone researching the Tate and Labinaca murders today CANNOT avoid the statements and testimonies that bear these possibilities. To write a book like this and ignore their existence tells every reader that this author's agenda is not to take a modern look at the case but to sell the same implausible story that was sold to a jury 44 years ago.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The Autobiography of Mark Twain vol. 2


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

    No. I have never to my knowledge heard Mr. Frangione's narration before. I thought he did as good a job as he could have with the material.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson did clear up the Bugliosi myth of "No Name" Manson. Manson's mother was married at the time of his birth and he was born conventionally and named: Charles Milles Manson, after his grandfather Charles Milles, on his birth certificate.

    The book also identified Colonel Scott as Manson's biological father. Unfortunately no interviews with surviving Scott family were included here. The memoirs of Manson's family members, who certainly have much to be bitter about, showed only that side of the story. The idea that Manson was a spoiled child when in fact his mother and uncle were in prison for robbery and his grandparents were unrealistically religious needs further explanation and collaboration than Mr. Guinn offers here.


    Any additional comments?

    The so-called Manson Family was a loose knit group of kids who came and went. Guinn, with no verification at all, tries to make "The Family" appear to be a card-carrying organization in which members were selected and rejected according to their usefulness to Manson. Perhaps there were people who did not fit in for whom it seemed that way. Guinn uses only their testimony.

    I'm not apologizing for a murderer. I'm questioning whether the man actually did the crimes for which he has been serving time for nearly half a century. There IS evidence that something else was going on which the State of California did not choose to bring forward at trial.

    BETTER books on this subject are: Charles Manson Now by Marlin Marynick, The Manson File by Nikolas Shreck and The Myth of Helter Skelter by Susan Atkins Whitehouse. There is also much new information in the film Six Degrees of Helter Skelter which apparently Mr. Guinn has not seen and completely ignores. Anyone who believes his book under discussion is "well-researched" apparently doesn't know what research requires. Talking to a couple of old ladies does not cover it.

    The idea that Charles "Tex" Watson, whom even Mr. Guinn identifies as an intermittent "family" acquaintance, was taking order from Charles Manson would be funny if the myth had not been perpetuated for so many years.

    1 of 8 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
    (105)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (89)

    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 pyramid racket on a global scale.""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Bleeding Edge the most enjoyable?

    The most exciting element to Mr. Pynchon's work is always his insights:

    "Those who repeat 'Ground Zero' over and over do so without shame or concern for etymology." (He explains what he means here.)

    "Look at them. An army of the clueless who think they own 11 September. Hey, why shouldn't they? They bought it from you. We all did."

    "These are people who believe the Invisible Hand of the Market runs everything. They fight holy wars against competing religions like Marxism. Against all evidence that the world is finite, this blind faith that resources will never run out, profits will go on increasing forever, just like the world's population--more cheap labor, more addicted consumers."

    With Bleeding Edge I used, and strongly suggest, the Whispersync option


    What did you like best about this story?

    Pynchon takes rumor, speculation, news and commentary around the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks in New York City, adds humor and irony and comes out with the first important book on the subject by anyone. As he put it: "Paranoia is the garlic in life's kitchen. You can never have too much."


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jeannie Berlin?

    Almost anyone. The idea of listening to a 477 page novel read by someone who sounds like Truman Capote is taking a joke much too far.


    Who was the most memorable character of Bleeding Edge and why?

    This is a Pynchon novel. All his characters are memorable. Maxine Tarnow is in many respects Oedipa Maas from The Crying of Lot 49 all grown up. She ran a private fraud investigation company in Manhattan in the summer of 2001. Her spook contact, Nicholas Windust, ties fraud to international espionage. Marvin is her Rastafarian bike messenger who brings things Maxine never ordered but soon badly needs. March Kelleher is Maxine's best friend since childhood and mother-in-law to the illusive Gabriel Ice, former high school nerd now CEO of hashslingerz, a computer security firm that is accessing the information they are paid to keep secret. DeepArcher, the evolving open-source website and Misha and Grisha ubiquitous Russian twins. I haven't scratched the surface of the characters in Bleeding Edge.


    Any additional comments?

    Bleeding Edge is the first serious, sarcastic, ironic, completely unsentimental examination of the 9/11 attacks, the events prior to and the ramifications of, by an American author. At this writing perhaps I should say THE American author.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Amanda Knox
    • Narrated By Amanda Knox
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (283)
    Performance
    (267)
    Story
    (266)

    Amanda Knox spent four years in a foreign prison for a crime she did not commit. In the fall of 2007, the 20-year-old college coed left Seattle to study abroad in Italy, but her life was shattered when her roommate was murdered in their apartment. After a controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011, an appeals court overturned the decision and vacated the murder charge. Free at last, she returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.

    Brock says: "A Fascinating Story- Buy it now!"
    "A Happy Ending to a Long Wait!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I first heard of Amanda Knox or Foxy Knoxy, the name that stuck in my mind and the collective consciousness of the world, I thought she must be a type of female Charles Manson. I've read a lot about this type of criminal personality and I have to say from the beginning something didn't seem right. There have been such women, Judith Ann Neelley for example. But they are abused and neglected children whose criminal behavior starts early and goes from bad to worse culminating in murder. The ideas that Amanda Knox, a college exchange student, one evening, fueled by marijuana (a substance the effects of which I have a more than a passing familiarity) got a couple of guys together and murdered her roommate for a sexual thrill simply did not ring true. The drug was wrong, the perpetrator's background was entirely wrong. But why would Italy, a modern nation and the cradle of Euro/American civilization railroad a young American woman for a brutal crime? Amanda Knox's book is the eleventh book I've read on this case and the answer to that question is still speculative.

    I've waited six years to hear Amanda Knox tell her story and she certainly does here in harrowing detail. She is brutally honest and self-critical about her early behavior in Europe. That said, she was a much better behaved young adult than I ever was. There but for fortune... Her analysis of her ordeal in the questura which produced her false confession and named her former employer as the murderer is so vivid and so carefully thought through it was easy for me to understand what was done to her. Her short-lived but dramatic relationship with Raphaele Sollecito, her co-defendant, is carefully explained and detailed. Knox is a journalist in the sense that, like Anaïs Nin, she keeps journals, so the specifics of her experiences is much more vivid than most other memoirs I've read. Her recap of the three years and eleven months almost to the day she spent in Capanne Prison, her contemplation of suicide, her efforts to keep herself busy and sane, those who intimidated her and tried to undermine her perfect record of cooperation, and those who succored and encouraged her are equally given their due in these pages.

    The murder of Meredith Kercher is not the focus of this book. As Knox notes they were friends for a few weeks and their relationship was evolving when Kercher was murdered. Although Knox frequently expresses grief and anger at Kercher's fate, the focus of the book is the unusual ordeal of Amanda Knox, an American exchange student who, based on hypothetical logic and intuition was accused and then convicted of murder in arguably the oldest civilization in Europe. The crime as described by the prosecution never made sense, but when it shredded rather than admitting 'mea culpa' they literally conjured evidence which also easily unraveled in the face of modern forensic science. All of this is described from Knox's point of view. It is a vivid and evocative picture.

    The pleasure of hearing the author tell the story in her own words added greatly to my enjoyment. Knox has a pleasant speaking voice and her inflections sometimes say more than an entire paragraph. I waited a long time to hear this and the results are everything I could have hoped for. I wish her health, wealth and happiness.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Jenna Miscavige Hill
    • Narrated By Sandy Rustin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (735)
    Performance
    (671)
    Story
    (671)

    Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

    Tim says: "The Despicable Truth Behind Scientology"
    "The beatings will continue until moral improves"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have more than a passing familiarity with the work of L. Ron Hubbard and the methods of Scientology so I was intrigued to read Jenna Miscavige Hill's book. After a tumultuous two days of listening, I'm amazed she made it out alive.

    If you want to understand how false confessions are coerced, or how someone can become completely wrapped up in an improbable belief system I have never read a more explicit description of these processes or a better step-by-step analysis of an experience starting in early childhood than Ms. Hill's.

    The amazing thing is she was able to think her way out of it really putting the old adage, "Think for yourself and question authority" to the task. The authorities in her case were impressive: her parents, grandparents, siblings, aunt, and Uncle David Miscavige the undisputed heir to L. Ron Hubbard's legacy.

    Removed from her biological family at the age of seven and trained to work at manual labor, medical assistant, animal trainer, and Sea Org auditor while maintaining her Scientology OT levels, foregoing all but the most rudimentary conventional education, Jenna Miscavige was fully indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology by adolescents. Adolescents, though, is where the adventure begins.

    The Church enumerates the first four "dynamics:" Self, family, group, and species. Within the Church, however, members are expected to forgo the second family dynamic for "the greater good." Husbands and wives are frequently quite young and even more frequently separated. When they have sexual relations outside of their committed relationships, however, they are considered "Out 2D" and severely punished. For all of Hubbard's wisdom about human nature, his organization has gotten completely lost regarding human biology. The stories Jenna Miscavige Hill tells here would be very funny if they were not deeply tragic. She describes an organization out of touch with reality and hanging on to its focus by a thread. These "leaders" should be encouraged to read Dianetics 55. CONTROL = the ability to start, change and stop. This goes for your thoughts as well as your selves.

    Congratulations on your escape, Jenna, but don't you believe for an instant that they are no longer watching you. They contacted me for a $3,000.00 donation after 35 years. I had to change my phone number to stop the calls and the mail keeps right on coming. Stay strong!

    Ms. Rustin, by the way, offers an excellent reading. I give her high marks as well.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Swag

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Elmore Leonard
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (120)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (104)

    The smallest of small-time criminals, Ernest Stickley Jr. figures his luck's about to change when Detroit used-car salesman Frank Ryan catches him trying to boost a ride from Ryan's lot. Frank's got some surefire schemes for getting rich quick - all of them involving guns - and all Stickley has to do is follow "Ryan's Rules" to share the wealth. But sometimes rules need to be bent, maybe even broken, if one is to succeed in the world of crime, especially if the "brains" of the operation knows less than nothing.

    D. Sevener says: "Fun tale, well told, great narration"
    "Rooting for the bad guys again"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As with the best of Leonard's stories, Swag is very funny as well as suspenseful. Frank Ryan, a used car salesman catches Ernest "Stick" Stickley stealing a car off his lot. Naturally he calls the police and Stick is arrested but not before he ditches the car and is hold up in a bar. As Frank is the eye witness to the crime the entire case rests on his testimony. Frank Ryan thinks he may have a better use for Stick than letting him sit in a jail for grand theft auto.

    Frank Ryan has worked up ten rule for perfect robbery. He declines to recognize Stick at court and the two meet afterwards to discuss a possible working relationship. Initially the reader has the impression that Frank is the brains of the outfit. However as we come to know Stick it becomes clear that Stick has a better grasp of what they're doing and how not to get caught.

    There are moment when I laughed out loud at the antics of these two stooges. They rob a fortune, live like airline pilots, and as they become confident start throwing away the rules that brought them success.

    When it comes to plotting, dialogue and humor in context Elmore Leonard is in a class by himself. There are certain times when nothing will do but one of his books. Swag is a hoot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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