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W. Perry Hall

Member Since 2015

507
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 128 reviews
  • 541 ratings
  • 648 titles in library
  • 79 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
6
FOLLOWERS
23

  • Mr. Mercedes: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8585)
    Performance
    (7864)
    Story
    (7874)

    In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

    Joyce says: "Love this style of King!!!"
    "Hey now, all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like the Ice Cream Man (stop me when I'm passing by), all Stephen King's suspense novels are guaranteed to satisfy. I was given an advance copy of this Saturday and finished it Monday.

    King stirs up a super-odd trio:
    a mentally disabled, milquetoast mid-40s lady who still lives with her moma;
    a rather boring, recently-retired, suicidal and alcoholic police detective in his mid-60s who failed to solve that last big case; and,
    a 6'5" squeaky-clean, high school African-American kid.

    As the story develops, they come together to rush against time to try saving the lives of 4,000 screaming teeny-boppers at a "Round Here" [see, One Direction] concert from the psychotic bomb plot of an Oedipal Ice Cream Man. The kid's mom and sister are in the crowd, adding to the tension.

    Undeniably, King is still on his game, even without the supernatural to aid his story. The twists in the plot keep coming to build toward a concerto crescendo. This isn't a "character-driven" plodder that'll be taught in lit classes 100 years from now. With the King, the story rules and the characters are given enough that you care what happens.

    King is and has been the master of creating the verisimilitude of evil in many forms in the genres of suspense, thriller and horror novels. This fits the first, but this is quite the mastery King has achieved in thriller and horror novels. While the antagonist here is quite creepy, King has painted much darker villains. This psycho isn't evil incarnate; his evil has a cause (probably not THE only cause) and, without revealing too much, it has something to do with an Oedipal aspect to the story, of which the details are so revolting that the reader-results should range from "rendered nauseous" to "released vomitus."

    This is more of a modern-day suspense novel, which are churned out these days like rows of wind turbines, by much lesser talents and by some who have mastered the modern-day suspense more than has Stephen King. It's not Mr. King's strongest suit. While the bomb plot at a teeny-bopper concert hits REALLY close to home and the internet and car break-in aspects of the story were interesting, I had a difficult time suspending disbelief over the combination of the protagonist detective and his peculiar sidekicks.

    This is a perfect beach read though: a rapid-paced suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until the end.

    Actor Will Patton has become the go-to guy for blockbusters because of his super acting talent in the *performance of narration.* He is clear, crisp, low-key until the story calls for him to turn it up; he never overdoes a character and, with him, after a while of listening you just get lost in the story and forget about the narrator. To me, that is the ultimate ability for an audible narrator; isn't that why so many of us love Tom Hanks? You forget it's Tom Hanks after watching for a while and get lost in the movie. Same thing here.

    In the genre, I give Mr. Mercedes 4 stars. It does not stand out as a 5 when compared to some of the supremely talented novelists who have mastered the art of suspense in a modern-day, non-supernatural setting. 5 stars for Will Patton.

    26 of 36 people found this review helpful
  • Whisper Hollow

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Chris Cander
    • Narrated By Ann Osmond
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Set in a small coal-mining town, a debut novel full of secrets, love, betrayal, and suspicious accidents, where Catholicism casts a long shadow and two courageous women make choices that will challenge our own moral convictions.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Masterful work. Flannery meets Sons & Lovers"
    "Masterful work. Flannery meets Sons & Lovers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was so moved by this novel. It left me to ponder: How many moral quandaries can a medium-sized novel hold?

    I would have to place Chris Cander alongside Flannery O'Connor. Since Ms. O’Connor, I haven’t yet read another author who has fully captured Evil lurking beneath the Zealot’s cloak in religion as Ms. Cander did in WHISPER HOLLOW. The setting is Whisper Hollow, West Virginia, a coal mining town, from prior to WWI until the late 1960s.

    It is a story exploring the bonds of the different kinds of love, amorous v. familial, true love v. the vows of a marriage arranged young. In the ruins of a coal mine disaster, Chris Cander paints a scene so strong and mired in moral dilemma it suffocates the soul. And cues a later scene that is at once devastating and redeeming. Not just because of the coal mining locale was I reminded of D. H. Lawrence in "Sons and Lovers."

    Myself, I wish the publisher would change the cover which makes the novel appear to be something of a romance or romantic historical fiction. It’s neither.

    "Whisper Hollow" is a masterful literary novel, as good as any I’ve read by modern authors.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Stranger

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By George Newbern
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (936)
    Performance
    (802)
    Story
    (806)

    The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar or a parking lot or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

    W. Perry Hall says: ""Well, Mr. Secret Revealer!""
    ""Well, Mr. Secret Revealer!""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is it...the last time I fall for a decent review of a book by Harlan Coben, I promise myself.

    I dunno, maybe it's my fault that I cannot overlook dialogue that's apparently important to the story, in which one character cries out to The Stranger, "Well, Mr. SECRET REVEALER!!" It reminded me of comic lines by the buffoonish Ben Stiller character to straight-faced Vince Vaughan, in the film, Dodgeball. Here, I also laughed, so hard i swallowed drink down the windpipe. And choked.... Then gave up on another self-inflicted stomach punch in reading a silly Coben book.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Rock Springs: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Richard Ford
    • Narrated By Fleet Cooper
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In these 10 exquisite stories, first published by Atlantic Monthly Press in 1987 and now reissued as a Grove Press paperback, Richard Ford mines literary gold from the wind-scrubbed landscape of the American West - and from the guarded hopes and gnawing loneliness of the people who live there: a refugee from justice driving across Wyoming with his daughter and an unhappy girlfriend in a stolen, cranberry-colored Mercedes; a boy watching his family dissolve in a night of tragicomic violence.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Superb, Picturesque Stories in Wyoming & Montana"
    "Superb, Picturesque Stories in Wyoming & Montana"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Rock Springs" reminds me why I love realist short stories of unique people in faraway settings to experience .

    In picturesque prose precisely crafting unique situations, Richard Ford explores turbulence in relationships and the human's restive consciousness, made all the more evident against Ford's halcyon landscapes, from the wide ranges of Wyoming to the highlands of Montana. Each story one of resolution or revelation, eliciting intumescent empathy.

    The best set of short stories I've heard or read in a long time. Maybe ever.

    The narrator did a really good job.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Where All Light Tends to Go

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Joy
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (149)
    Story
    (147)

    The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually.

    Marci says: "Perfection"
    "Heck of a story set in stark, cursed world few see"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This especially praiseworthy for a first novel, particularly when I compare to some of the early works of other authors of the Southern lit (noir) ilk, like Daniel Woodrell, whose praise graces the novel's cover. I keep wanting to compare it to a Ron Rash short story (like those in the stellar and sulphurous "Chemistry and Other Stories") expanded and developed further into a rather short novel, which is in no way intended as a criticism.

    Written as a first person narrative of Jacob McNeely, apparently 18, around the time of his former classmates' HS graduation. He dropped out of school to help out in the family business, a West Carolina mountain meth mob of which his daddy, Charlie McNeely, is the don. The book revolves primarily around the relationship between Jacob and daddy, their ties to the community (vel non) and particularly to "bulls" (law enforcement officers). The themes include whether one can escape blood and environment ("blood is thicker than water, and I'm drowning in it"), and the irrefutable difference between what's right and what's wrong and how this distinction sometimes gets muddled by a life full of "broken windows."

    Jacob's love interest Maggie (his old girlfriend he grew up beside) and their possibly rekindled romance are a driving force in the story and she is symbolic of "a way out of here." And yet, I never could relate to it so much because I felt she was not fully developed and thus their relationship not realized in a way that made me feel despair at the threat of losing it. Perhaps that's what Mr. Joy intended. I did get a sense of the emptiness of a life lived with a daddy don and a momma meth head, with a little dark and *addled* spice of Flannery O'Connor thrown in.

    The novel is intriguing and kept me hanging until the end. Mr. Joy employs clear and conversational prose to convey a funereal context. I can't help but believe that if he'd had a little more experience under his belt, he might have more fully explored the story of Jacob + Maggie and have hit a homerun.

    I look forward to reading more from this gifted writer. He can tell a hell of a story, with profundity and clarity, set in a stark and cursed world few see aside from on nightly newscasts.

    The accent seemed too strong at first, but the narrator quickly recovered and did a really good job.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Ryan Holiday
    • Narrated By Ryan Holiday
    Overall
    (937)
    Performance
    (817)
    Story
    (805)

    We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn't be this way. There is a formula for success that's been followed by the icons of history - from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs - a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they found the astounding triumphs we all seek.

    Jason DeFillippo says: "Great book I wish I had 25 years ago"
    "Highly Practical Advice for Life (No Pie n Sky BS)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This synopsis/collection of philosophy (from the Greeks to the leaders of today) and inspiring personal stories of someone who has persevered on each topic should be required reading before being awarded a college diploma to help the bright-eyed, the bubbly, the go-getters, et al. I am not being coy when I say this. I think someone should help those entering the real world to realize that everything will not go their way, that there will be obstacles on the path that, depending on your perspective, can be turned into the new path toward even greater goals. These coming obstacles of life will surely come his/her way, and some will, at first glance, appear so devastating that it seems to shatter the personal myth most of us hold dearly upon exiting high school or college. You know, the myth about you having big house, a perfect marriage, 2 straight A kids, and a well-planned career you love and that makes you tons of money.

    This is a new perspective coming from many different angles on turning obstacles over and around and about, into positives that may well be a better way than that shattered personal myth. I often go back to this book often and find a treasure I really need and that I'd forgotten from my first reading.

    This is not a feel-good, power of positive thinking, Dr. Phil hogwashing or Eckhart Tolle powder puffery.

    It's real and it's practical.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Phillip Connors
    • Narrated By Adam Verner
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Now Connors returns with the story of what drove him up to the tower in the first place: the wilderness years he spent reeling in the wake of a family tragedy. This is an unforgettable account of grappling with a shattered sense of purpose, from his family's failing pig farm in Minnesota to a crack-addled Brooklyn neighborhood to the mountains of New Mexico, where he puts the pieces of his life back together.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Search 4 Sense n Bro's Suicide--Moving Memoir"
    "Search 4 Sense n Bro's Suicide--Moving Memoir"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A poignant memoir of author's search for the sense of his brother's suicide. If there's a better description of the grief suffered, of the need to understand, of the empty place in the soul that one tries to, but can never, fill after the loss of a family member to suicide, I'm not sure I want to read it.

    Mr. Connors provides a vivid and moving account of how he could not move past his younger brother's suicide until he had followed all traces of the moments and days leading up to the gunshot wound to the temple, until he spoke to others who had talked to his brother, before he could track down photos and an autopsy report. In short, the author had to satisfy himself that there were some things he would not know, could not know. When he came to grips with this fact and to a peace within, he was finally (but not fully) freed of the constant thoughts, guilt and the feelings of emptiness within himself.

    The things Connors did, the places he worked and the people he met, all on his journey to peace and self-revelation, add up to make this a memoir a rewarding read/listen.

    The narrator did an admirable job.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Simon Armitage
    • Narrated By Bill Wallis
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (95)

    The famous Middle English poem by an anonymous Northern England poet is beautifully translated by fellow poet Simon Armitage in this edition. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" narrates in crystalline verse the strange tale of a green knight who rudely interrupts the Round Table festivities one Yuletide, casting a pall of unease over the company and challenging one of their number to a wager.

    Mary says: "great original, translation, and reader"
    "Old Fable in a Superb, Refreshing New Translation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't fully appreciate this when I read it 25 years ago, at least as I can recall. This new translation is refreshing and easily comprehensible without watering down the tale's mysticism or sacrificing its bite.

    Very good performance by the narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gangsterland: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Tod Goldberg
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    A few surgeries and some intensive training later, and Sal Cupertine is gone, having disappeared into the identity of Rabbi David Cohen. Leading his growing congregation in Las Vegas, overseeing the population and the temple and the new cemetery, Rabbi Cohen feels his wicked past slipping away from him, surprising even himself as he spouts quotes from the Torah. But the Mafia isn't quite done with him.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Goombah Goes to Vegas and Becomes Tony with Torah"
    "Goombah Goes to Vegas and Becomes Tony with Torah"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really liked this easy-to-listen crime novel with its dryly witty, yet dark, plot I'd sum up as:

    Great Lakes Goombah Guns Down 4 G-men, Goes to Vegas, and Turns into a Tony with a Torah.

    Rabbi David Cohen (aka Sal Cupertino, a 35-year-old shadowy hitman with a bad plastic surgery job) appears to go through a existential crisis-lite as he misses his wife and young son and considers the Torah that he's basically committed to memory (his mob nickname was "Rain Man"), but maintains his killer karma. While Mr. Goldberg has fun playing with the interplay among Italian mobsters, a hitman's rabbinical conversion and perhaps a reptilian shedding of the Jewish skin, he doesn't glamorize gangsters, the mob lifestyle, Jews or G-men. The novel maintains a diabolical darkness in 1990's Las Vegas despite the comedic diversions.

    I'd not heard of Tod Goldberg before seeing the good reviews for this book, but he really seems to have hit his mark. I'll be looking forward to his next book.

    If you loved "The Sopranos" and "Bugsy," you should revel in "Gangsterland."

    My only complaint is the narration. I hate it when a narrator botches an easily recognizable, nearly household name, like Brett Favre (as Fave-ruh), a Hall of Fame QB, in an important part of the story, and then repeatedly mispronounces it. Of course, the Producer is just as much at fault for not correcting this.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Drink Before the War

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Dennis Lehane
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (528)
    Performance
    (454)
    Story
    (456)

    With novels like Mystic River and Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane has dramatically altered the landscape of the crime thriller—while boldly overstepping the boundaries that have long separated mystery from literature. Now two of his sensational early novels have been combined in a single volume—two gritty and mesmerizing masterworks of suspense featuring the private eye duo of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro.

    L. O. Pardue says: "Great beginning to thriller series"
    "Highly Enjoyable Potboiler on Beantown Backstreets"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent, suspenseful beginning to the series. Lehane was able to create magic mojo between partners Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro from the start, for a super 1-2 Irish-Italian P.I. punch, taking it to the Boston streets, dodging bullets, brawn and barbs from 2 black street gangs and some powerful politicians.

    This is a close 2d in the series to #4 "Gone Girl." I have criticized a couple of the other (particularly, #3) in the series as being too implausible and feeling forced. While the plot in #1 could be seen by some as far-fetched, it all seemed real and true to me.

    A highly enjoyable potboiler on the backstreets of Beantown.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Johann Hari
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    Overall
    (232)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (208)

    It is now 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, 30,000-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

    P. Smith says: "A Must if the drug war has touched you at all"
    "Engrossing Exploration of Drug War Failures"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An engrossing exploration of the failures of the "war on drugs" and the reasons why, through a narrative of the war's czar, users and abusers, peddlers, law enforcement, the poor souls who have been "collaterally damaged," current policy makers and governments who have legalized certain drugs (like Vancouver) and all drugs (Portugal). I also found his coverage of studies on addiction fascinating.

    Mr. Hari makes a compelling argument for legalization of all but darkly-affecting drugs like heroin and crack. I cannot say he's convinced me of the answers, but I am much more open to the persuasion of the arguments, as to certain drugs, after reading this book. While I do not believe I will see such legalization happen in my lifetime, this is a much-needed treatment of the subject that is certain to start conversations.

    I enjoy Mr. Hari's conversational writing style; yet, in parts, he seemed unable to control his supercilious tone.

    The narrator was terribly annoying, indulging himself in affected, preposterous American accents, depending on who he (the narrator) decided should be ridiculed (ironically).

    I definitely recommend this if you have someone near and/or dear to you with a drug problem.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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