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  • The Way the World Ends

  • (Warmer Collection)
  • By: Jess Walter
  • Narrated by: Dan John Miller
  • Length: 1 hr and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 105
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 94

For three strangers whose paths will cross, the storm hasn’t even reached its peak. Two of them are the kind of climate scientists no one ever listens to in disaster movies. The third, against even icier opposition, has just moved to the Magnolia State to come out. Soon they’ll all be pushed closer to the edge, where the bracing winds of cataclysmic change can be so wildly liberating.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Always Have Hope!

  • By J. Matthews on 12-16-18

Walter's Warning on Warmer

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-13-18

"How demoralizing to see those same adults shrug helplessly at the backward illogical politics, to act as if nothing can be done, when clearly everything can be done."

Out of context, a perfectly reasonable, completely general statement. In the hands of Jess Walter, coming near the end of his short novella in a series about possible near future outcomes from climate change, this is also a quite specific statement about the character who feels that way. There is no better way to get a message across in fiction than to develop a character properly and then have that character deliver the message within the context of their personal development.

Walter is a master at this. It's been a looong time since Walter's wonderful novel Beautiful Ruins and even since his slightly more recent short story collection. This will have to tide us over. Thankfully, it's a perfect 90-minute, 50-page story, getting its point across regarding climate change by bringing three characters together at Mississippi State University during a freak springtime snow storm. I've listened to 30-hour books that aren't as fully formed and satisfying as this.

And it's available at the perfect price for Amazon Prime members!

  • The Last Kingdom

  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,318
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,988
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,963

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex, Alfred's kingdom and the last territory in English hands, Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great series of books

  • By Joshua on 10-02-15

How the Wessex Was Won

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-18

A young English boy is captured by invading Danes and raised by their leader as one of their own, eventually growing into an accomplished warrior and military tactician. During his formative years, covered in this first volume of a long series, he witnesses the Danish conquest of three of the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that existed in the late 9th Century, and then their inability to conquer that last remaining English kingdom, Wessex, ruled by a young monarch who would eventually become known as Alfred the Great.

Bernard Cornwell has attempted to write a history of the era, in which England eventually came together as a unified kingdom, is a demystified manner, as close to reality as is possible given the huge gaps in verifiable primary historical sources. What is left, mostly, is basically a military history that chronicles the campaigns of war waged by the Danes in their attempt to win all of England, and the defensive measures taken by the Saxons of Wessex.

I liked The Last Kingdom more as a history lesson (granted that it is fictionalized and not verifiable) than as a literary work. The characters were not special in any way, and the plot suffered from lack of drama because we know the outcome in advance. The only real insights were in how war was waged in that era (in all its blood and gore), what tactics were employed, and most interestingly of all, how both the Danes and the Saxons saw their god or gods as being the true combatants -- they both believed their god/gods was on their side and only the true god/gods could prevail.

Uhtred, the main character, has been compared to Forrest Gump, someone who always seems to find himself in the middle of the most important events among the most important players. Gump is of course so well known, so the comparison is useful, but Uhtred is more like Jack Crabb from Little Big Man, a white settler's son captured by the Cheyenne, raised as an Indian warrior, going back and forth as an adult between the white people and the Cheyenne, and ultimately ending up as General Custer's tactical adviser during the Battle of Little Bighorn.

I started watching the BBC/Netflix series based on this book and was immediately disappointed that almost all of Part I, Uhtred's life as a boy with the Danes, was condensed into one episode. The book is far superior. And then there is the History Channel series Vikings, which covers much of the same ground from the Norse point of view -- the main characters of that series, Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, are among the main characters in this book. That's what drew me here, as a fan of Vikings, the promise of seeing the same history from the English point of view.

  • Paul Simon

  • The Life
  • By: Robert Hilburn
  • Narrated by: Dennis Boutsikaris
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 189
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174

Through such hits as "The Sound of Silence", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Still Crazy After All These Years", and "Graceland", Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs for a half-century about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most honored and beloved songwriters in American pop music history. His music has gone beyond the sales charts into our cultural consciousness. He was the first songwriter awarded the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Paul Simon the music

  • By Swallowtail on 05-28-18

Still Hazy After All These Years

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-18

I held off reading biographies of Paul Simon until the heralded publication of this one by Robert Hillburn, which promised to be the one that, given extensive access to Simon himself for the first time, would present a balanced view of the great singer songwriter. This is The Life after all, not a life. I'm a huge fan -- I perform his songs. I didn't want a character assassination of one of my heroes, every prior biography determined to prove that Paul is the world's biggest jerk.

So I'm terribly disappointed in the result. It's not bad -- most people will probably enjoy it. But even though Hillburn was given ultimate control of the output, it's hard to imagine Simon, who comes off as controlling even if not the world's biggest jerk, didn't somehow guide him to a desired result by focusing on the songwriting, recasting controversies as misunderstandings, even avoiding events like his highly publicized 2014 arrest.

There is a case to be made (as Hillburn does) that Simon has been so invested in his art since his teenage years that he often comes off as distant, distracted, controlling, but is really just consumed by his work. But it just cannot be the case that everyone else was wrong about him in every imaginable instance, giving me a sense that this is an unbalanced portrait, albeit in a different direction that usual.

What Hillburn does best in this book is hardly praiseworthy. In a space which is not short but certainly not overlong, only one question is fully and adequately answered: What is Paul Simon's place in the pantheon of songwriters? We already knew the answer -- top five all-time. The only real addition to the Simon canon are detailed explanations of where some of his famous lyrics came from and what they mean, explained by Simon himself.

And even that is marred by flaws: the publication in full of the lyrics to many songs (do we really need every word of Wrist Band?), factual errors like calling Woody Allen a Bronx native (he's Brooklyn born and bred), or saying that the lost verse of The Boxer was added later and that its famous booming drum was recorded inside an elevator shaft. The author's laziness shows at every turn, and that is the problem with this book, regardless of how you feel about the substance.

There is so much more I have to say about this, but it wouldn't be helpful here. If you're interested, my full review is at Good Reads in all its gory detail. The bottom line here: if like me you've been waiting for a balanced look at Paul Simon's life and career, you're nor going to get it. If you just want the overall story, you'll probably like this well enough.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Noir

  • A Novel
  • By: Christopher Moore
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,651
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,546
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,537

It's not every afternoon that an enigmatic, comely blonde named Stilton (like the cheese) walks into the scruffy gin joint where Sammy "Two Toes" Tiffin tends bar. It's love at first sight, but before Sammy can make his move, an air force general named Remy arrives with some urgent business. 'Cause when you need something done, Sammy is the guy to go to; he's got the connections on the street.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Laugh Riot, Inconsistently Delivered

  • By Maggie May on 04-18-18

Moore Takes a Bite Out of Film Noir

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-26-18

If you ever read Christopher Moore, you know to expect one or more of the following: 1. A satirical skewering of the conventions of a classic literary form (Shakespeare in Fool and Serpent of Venice, the Bible in Lamb), 2. Northern California as a setting (Grim Reaper, Bloodsucking Fiends, and Pine Cove series), and 3. Supernatural entities (just about all of them). In Noir, you get all three, a send-up of film noir and hard-boiled pulp fiction set in San Francisco just after WWII, featuring a talking snake, a moon man, and Men in Black.

This is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The first half of the book is mostly a parody of the way people talk in film noir, the original malapropisms and fractured metaphors replaced by a new layer of malapropisms and fractured metaphors, half of which seem to be based on different kinds of cheese. This is fun for a while, but starts to get a tedious and repetitive. That's when the plot kicks in, and strange twists and turns are thrown at us at breakneck pace, which is kind of fun but also kind of hard to keep straight.

What made it all work for me was the better late than never introduction of the moon man. I will argue that it is not a spoiler to bring up the moon man, because this is Chris Moore, so a discussion early in the book about Roswell, New Mexico that some believe to be a flying saucer can only mean one thing, that an alien will surely find its way into the story. It's worth noting that this discussion is led by a side character, the kid, who is simply hilarious every time he appears, which is not often enough for my taste.

Along with the moon man, the men in black, the talking snake, and the kid, we have the wisecracking hero (a bartender), the femme fatale ("a size-eight dame in a size-six dress, and every mug in the joint was rooting for the two sizes to make a break for it"), and a wide array of colorful supporting characters, including the denizens of Bohemian Grove, the cabal of rich powerful men who plan the fate of the world while dancing at the foot of a statue of giant owl (which BTW is real and continues to this day).

I particularly liked the afterword, where Moore explains why he chose San Francisco in 1947 as his setting, vibrant characters in themselves. He describes the neighborhoods and the various groups of people, how he started out wanting to write a serious potboiler but couldn't help throwing in the jokes, and where the individual characters came from, an amalgam of real people and fictional characteristics inspired by news events or other literary works. For me, the whole had already come together in the final few hours, but the afterword really made it all make that much more sense.

The big problem, though, is the narration. I recognize that a hard-boiled voice is needed to narrate a hard-boiled character, but it's just too grating. Not a showstopper, not for me anyway, but I wish they had found someone true to the genre with less edge in his vocal chords, more of a smooth Bogart kind of voice. Even beyond the narration, the spectrum of reviews tells you that this is a love-it or hate-it kind of book. Although I won't go so far as to say I loved it, I ended up liking it well enough, but I could see where it would turn some people completely off. So, your mileage may vary.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Hit Makers

  • The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction
  • By: Derek Thompson
  • Narrated by: Derek Thompson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,214
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,096
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,094

Nothing "goes viral". If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today's crowded media environment, you're missing the real story. Each blockbuster has a secret history - of power, influence, dark broadcasters, and passionate cults that turn some new products into cultural phenomena. In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A lot more interesting than I expected...

  • By Mr on 04-22-17

Pure Drivel, Utter Nonsense Clickbait in Book Form

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-18-18

Derek Thompson discusses clickbait several times in Hit Makers. Clickbait is an exaggerated online headline that lures you into clicking on it without delivering on its promise. This book is clickbait. It's worse than clickbait, which after all is just a minor annoyance that wastes a minute of your time -- this audiobook by contrast will cost you real money or a credit, plus 11+ hours of your time, without ever fulfilling the promise of its headline -- a scientific explanation why hits are popular.

But it's not Thompson's fault. It's mine. I fell for the clickbait. I should've known that no science, no nothing, can identify a formula for hit making. If Thompson had that knowledge, he'd be making hits, not writing clickbait about it. More fool me. You don't have to fall for it. This is how I was going to end my review, but this is really the most important takeaway and needs to come first: Don't fall for it! Here's the rest of the review with some details, if you're interested:

Imagine this conversation. In fact, don't imagine it, just recall it, because you've had it many times: "What did you do last night?" "Saw a movie." "Any good?" "So-so, but it has this killer song in it. Don't waste your time with the movie, but do check out this song..." That is word of mouth. Thompson never considers that common explanation for how a movie with middling box office (Blackboard Jungle) could launch the best selling rock and roll hit ever (Rock Around the Clock). Instead, he chalks it up to chaos theory (a fancy way of saying luck).

Now imagine this conversation (which you will have to imagine, because if you've seen Star Wars, you know it has never taken place in real life): "You gotta Star Wars. The story will just knock you out!" "I couldn't agree more. What genius, taking a classic western and Flash Gordon and Kurosawa and melding them into something so familiar yet so new." Thompson chalks up the popularity of Star Wars to its, uh, story.

He's too young to remember how it really happened. Me and my friends saw a trailer for Star Wars before it came out, and said this: "Holy crap, what was that?" (We didn't say crap.) "Man, those special effects are off the charts, never seen anything like that!" "Swords made of light, cars that hover over the ground, holographic messages, spaceships dodging asteroids, exploding planets." "Holy crap!" (Still not saying crap.) "We gotta see it the minute it comes out!"

We told everyone we knew about it. We were there the night it opened. Then we told everyone about that. And then everyone went to see it, and they told everyone they knew about it. "Swords made of light, cars that hover over the ground, holographic messages, spaceships dodging asteroids, exploding planets." Thompson never mentions the effects, or the vision of the future, or the hopeful messages, or the word of mouth that propelled the movie, or the cult following that bound people afterwards. In truth, the weakest aspect of Star Wars is its trite derivative story line, which we forgive because the rest of it is so mind-blowing.

Word of mouth. That phrase is hardly used in this book about how books, movies, music, etc. become popular. Thompson does mention "going viral" but only after eight hours of ignoring it, and then only to debunk it as a myth, and doing so solely by splitting a semantic hair, using the narrowest available definition of viral as it applies to how actual microbial viruses spread. And even that is wrong -- the definition he quotes is not limited to one-on-one transmission, it could be one-to-many. And good luck finding his definition -- I looked and couldn't locate it. Every definition I did find is a perfect metaphor for going viral over the internet.

Even more infuriating is his prime example of something going viral that wasn't really (by his narrow definition) truly viral -- the book 50 Shades of Grey. Somehow in Thompson's warped analysis, user-driven web sites FanFiction.net and GoodReads.com (primarily responsible for popularizing the book by initially generating its extensive word of mouth) don't qualify as viral, even though they are the very definition and pure incarnation of viral. His prime examples of why going viral is a myth represent, stunningly, the exact mechanics of going viral!

It goes on and on. A thing on vampires that never tries to explain the enduring popularity of vampires in pop culture. A thing on why certain Impressionist painters are so well known that never considers that maybe they were just that good, or that word of mouth resulted from the controversy they generated in their day. A thing on Swedish pop songs that attempts to make the point that it's all based on luck despite example after example of how it's all done by formula. A thing on gender roles in movies that has nothing at all to do with popularity.

And a whole chapter on how Facebook is becoming people's primary news source that fails to take into account its declining popularity among the young, who started leaving for other platforms before this book was written, once they figured out their parents had taken over Facebook. And that after a ludicrous chapter-long aside about teenagers that should've given the author a clue about why teens went to Facebook to begin with and why they've begun to abandon it, and how it will therefore never be a primary news source. (Now if he'd said Twitter, I'd have agreed with him.)

Just this morning I saw this Twitter meme: "What's one thing that you've watched/read/listened to and loved that you can't wait for a friend to consume so you can watch them freak out about how much they loved it?" (Typical answer: Hamilton.) Culture is a platform of social interaction. Something to talk about, something to identify and define common interests, something that makes you part of a social group of like minded people. Part of one chapter discusses exactly that, to Thompson's credit. But it misses the larger point: this is the whole ball game, it's the primary, maybe even the sole driver of word of mouth, which is the primary, maybe even the sole driver of why a hit is a hit.

You already know all that. You don't need Thompson's 11+ hours of pseudo-scientific drivel to help you reach that conclusion (which you have to do on your own, because he's totally distracted himself with his own pretzel logic). This is clickbait. Don't take the bait.

  • The Brass Verdict

  • A Novel
  • By: Michael Connelly
  • Narrated by: Peter Giles
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,230
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,533
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,513

Things are finally looking up for defense attorney Mickey Haller. After two years of wrong turns, Haller is back in the courtroom. When Hollywood lawyer Jerry Vincent is murdered, Haller inherits his biggest case yet: the defense of Walter Elliott, a prominent studio executive accused of murdering his wife and her lover. But as Haller prepares for the case that could launch him into the big time, he learns that Vincent's killer may be coming for him next.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Mickey Haller Is My Favorite Mystery Character

  • By Cathy on 10-22-08

Engaging Legal Thriller, Deus ex Machina Ending

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-13-18

Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer, returns to his legal practice after an absence that ensues from the initial entry in this Michael Connelly series (the entry that was made into the movie). He has a full case load drop into his lap when a colleague is killed, headlined by the murder trial of a movie producer notorious enough to be CourtTV's top story -- a highly fictionalized version of the Robert Blake or OJ cases. Meanwhile, Harry Bosch, the star of Connelly's long-running series, drops in to investigate the case of the murdered colleague.

And all of this works extremely well -- until the ending.

Having now read all but one of the Haller books, the recurring theme of this series of legal dramas is clear -- guilt versus innocence, and the defense attorney's role in representing clients who may or may not be guilty, or guilty to varying degrees. In The Lincoln Lawyer, Connelly does a masterful job of having Haller walk this fine line to a satisfying conclusion. This time around, I regret to say that unforeseen external forces (known in literary circles as the discredited device of Deus ex Machina) are the deciding factor rather than Haller's own guile.

I can't say more without spoilers, but it's a disappointing finish to an otherwise excellent story.

The several denouements to the Bosch side of the story likewise reach flat conclusions -- although Bosch fans should take note that he is very much a secondary supporting character here (it would have been interesting for Connelly to write this same story from Bosch's point of view as a full entry in his series). Peter Giles, in his debut as Haller, gets a lot of grief from other reviewers, IMO at least partially deserved. Surprising, because he does well in subsequent entries (I read them out of order).

  • Differently Morphous

  • By: Yahtzee Croshaw
  • Narrated by: Yahtzee Croshaw
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,622
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,424
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,412

A magical serial killer is on the loose, and gelatinous, otherworldly creatures are infesting the English countryside. Which is making life for the Ministry of Occultism difficult, because magic is supposed to be their best kept secret. After centuries in the shadows, the Ministry is forced to unmask, exposing the country's magical history - and magical citizens - to a brave new world of social media, government scrutiny, and public relations.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not for everybody

  • By R. MCRACKAN on 09-24-18

Meddling Muggles Muddle it Up

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-07-18

The Ministry of Occultism has quietly for centuries suppressed magical powers that manifested themselves in children, creating schools for magical kids designed to repress those skills. In Yahtzee Croshaw's world, the Muggles are in control of the magic. Allison is expelled from that school when it turns out her power -- eidetic memory -- is not a magical power. The Ministry hires her at the same time that magical creatures from another dimension, blobs called Fluidics, enter England and are accepted as citizens.

Jokes start piling up about strange-looking refugees, dual personality creatures, and the politically correct way to refer to them. The initial droll response to these jokes morphs into groans as they are repeated too often. Doubly frustrating because the mockery of PC zealots on one hand is treated equally with racists who want to kill the "differently morphous" and "dual personality" creatures, which are easy to project onto real life groups like Syrian refugees and transgender people.

But at the heart of it all is a murder mystery -- who is killing the Fluidics, how and why? The answers are actually clever. Put it all together and you have a decently constructed world that includes magic and monsters, the emergence of a decently plotted murder mystery, some decently developed characters (especially the loony tune Dr. Diabolory), and uneven but still satisfying humor of the Douglas Adams type.

The author's own narration is pretty good, he certainly brings his characters to life with his voices, and maintains his smarmy tone throughout. His voice is not, well, mellifluous, to say the least, so it does sometimes grate. But minor quibble, he still gets the job done. Decently.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Coming Storm

  • By: Michael Lewis
  • Narrated by: Michael Lewis
  • Length: 2 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,043
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,566
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,527

Tornadoes, cyclones, tsunamis… Weather can be deadly – especially when it strikes without warning. Millions of Americans could soon find themselves at the mercy of violent weather if the public data behind lifesaving storm alerts gets privatized for personal gain. In his first Audible Original feature, New York Times best-selling author and journalist Michael Lewis delivers hard-hitting research on not-so-random weather data – and how Washington plans to release it. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Why you shouldn't ignore the weather forecast

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 09-10-18

Money Squall

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-07-18

I listened to The Coming Storm without knowing anything about how it came to be an audio-only Audible Original or how Michael Lewis came to write it. Without that knowledge, what I heard was a middling tale about National Weather Service data, how it has been used to predict storms, how it has been abused by private sector forces and their government allies, and who is behind both sides of that equation -- three pivotal scientists who have elevated the efficiency of data mining and the AccuWeather owner who wants to control that data for profit.

Much of the first hour provides the back story of two of these personalities, which made me feel right off the bat as if I wasn't getting what I wanted, which was analysis of what is going on with the weather. I was surprised that this was more about weather data than about the weather, but that turned out to be interesting. And then I was blown away by two unexpected elements -- how the greedy and corrupt administration is trying to make money off all of this (and other governmental) data, even if means lives will be lost to tornadoes and hurricanes, and why lives are in fact lost to storms because people ignore NWS warnings.

All of these scattershot threads only made sense once I took a deeper look and learned that a) this is part (about half) of a larger work (The Fifth Risk) that is more about the neglect of the current administration and that b) most of this appeared piecemeal in Lewis's reporting for Vanity Fair before he left VF and inked a deal with Audible to write Originals. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that (except for the corruption and neglect) -- it just adds context that helps explain why The Coming Storm is what it is.

In the end, I'm happy I got it as a free Audible Original, but I will not shell out full price or a full credit for The Fifth Risk. As it is no longer available for free, I would recommend you buy The Coming Storm and skip The Fifth Risk if you're using cash, or get The Fifth Risk rather than The Coming Storm if you're using a credit. And certainly don't do either if you're going to be offended by its politics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Innocent

  • By: Harlan Coben
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,724
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,139
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,130

Some mistakes can change your life forever. For Matt Hunter, that mistake came in one terrible moment when his attempt to help a friend and stop a fight resulted in an accidental death. Matt was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. Time that his peers spent in college, Matt endured behind bars.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exciting!

  • By Amber on 05-10-05

Slightly Twisty Plot, Major Thematic Twist

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-01-18

Matt Hunter, a college kid from (where else?) Livingston, New Jersey, gets into a fight and ends up in jail for manslaughter. Years later, working as a paralegal because ex-cons can't be lawyers, married to an expectant mother, and hoping to move back to Livingston, Matt's life goes completely off the rails. How and why? That's why you want to read The Innocent, to find out. If you've read Harlen Coben before, the structure will be familiar. If you haven't, check it out, it works for us longtime fans.

At first, the set-up was so familiar that I felt as if I'd read this book before. And the technology, though only a dozen years old, seemed dated enough to undermine the proceedings. But that quickly passed -- the technology doesn't really play a pivotal role, and though the story is familiar, Coben puts an interesting twist on his usual M.O. Instead of examining how the comfy safe world of suburban white America has its seamy underbelly, this is about people on the outside looking in, living in the overtly seamy world at large and wishing they could live the normal suburban life.

I can only give it four stars, though, as the reveals come a little early, leaving Coben with a couple of hours to fill with secondary twists that don't really advance the story or the theme -- surprisingly, the identity of one of the killers becomes one of these secondary details. And then there's Scott Brick. Thankfully, he hasn't been hired to narrate Coben in a number of years, but going back to Coben's earlier work, like this, likely as not means having to endure Brick's tiresome drone. Crank up the speed to a tolerable pace.

  • Canada

  • By: Mike Myers
  • Narrated by: Mike Myers
  • Length: 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,209
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,126
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,125

Comedy superstar Mike Myers writes from the (true patriot) heart about his 53-year relationship with his beloved Canada. Mike Myers is a world-renowned actor, director and writer and the man behind some of the most memorable comic characters of our time. But, as he says, "No description of me is truly complete without saying I'm a Canadian". He has often winked and nodded to Canada in his outrageously accomplished body of work, but now he turns the spotlight full-beam on his homeland.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awesome book by my favorite comedian

  • By Spencer cox on 09-21-17

Whoa Canada!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-25-18

Mike Myers has an interesting theory about why so many comics, actors, musicians, and other entertainers come from Canada. Because of laws that require a certain percentage of Canadian content across various media, Canadians have a place to put in their 1000 hours and then emerge as fully formed artists. Canada is to them as Hamburg was to the Beatles. Myers has other insights into how Canada's idiosyncratic place in the world, especially alongside the USA, has influenced its inhabitants.

Most importantly to his fans, who are presumably the majority of the readers of his book, he has insights into how being Canadian influenced his place in the world. Seeing his Canadian heritage as integral to his personality and to his persona as a comic and actor, this book acts as a memoir as well as a paean to his home country of which he is so proud. It's not a complete autobiography, but it does delve into his childhood, his immediate family, and his emergence as a performer.

Even as an American, I gained some new perspectives about some of the issues we grapple with south of the border by seeing how they were/are dealt with in the Great White North. But I would have liked a little less about Canadian politics and more about Myers's life, especially his adult life. He clearly chose to leave that out because that life has been in America, not Canada. Still, that would have been interesting. Maybe that will appear in a follow-up titled America about his life and career in his now-adopted country.

Shockingly, Myers is not a great narrator. He sounds like he's reciting his words, especially early on -- he gets better as he goes along. It's not that I think this would have been better had it been narrated by Wayne Campbell, but it is somewhat, and surprisingly, stiff. There is no comic timing when he delivers punch lines. It's not as funny as he intended.

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