"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE HARD WAY (Jack Reacher #10) (audiobook) by Lee Child

Published by Brilliance Audio in 2008.
Read by Dick Hill
Duration: 12 hours, 2 minutes

Jack Reacher is just hanging out in a New York City coffee shop, drinking coffee and staring out the window when he gets caught up in a kidnapping case. Turns out he witnessed the money hand off without even realizing what he was seeing. The ransom payer tracked Reacher down, picked him up and brought him to his exclusive penthouse apartment/office. Turns out his wife and stepdaughter have been kidnapped and he has decided to leave the police out of it and just pay the ransom.

The millionaire runs a quasi-legal mercenary operation and has decided to use his best men to search out the kidnappers and eliminate them...and he wants Reacher to help due to his previous police experience and offers him a hefty cash bounty if he produces. But, as Reacher starts to dig into why someone would want to kidnap his new employer's wife and stepdaughter he starts to find a lot more nagging questions than answers...

This was an especially interesting Reacher book for me. Lots of action, about 3 surprise twists and a number of interesting locales. Dick Hill's narration is just about perfect. He totally captures Reacher's attitudes. 

I rate this audibook 5 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: The Hard Way by Lee Child.

Friday, May 26, 2017


Published by Highbridge, a division of Recorded Books in January of 2017
Read by Eric Martin
Duration: 3 hours, 4 minutes

I love Bruce Catton's histories of the Civil War. As a rule Bruce Catton (1899-1978) wrote histories that are easy to read, thorough enough to give the reader a solid grasp of the issues and peppered with well-told human interest stories. 

Confederate Major General George Pickett (1825-1875)
This history of Gettysburg feels a bit disjointed, sort of like it was a knitted together from a series of articles that Catton wrote for American Heritage magazine. For example, it spends a lot of time looking at the events just before the battle and skips one of the more dramatic and important moments of the battle on the second day (Little Round Top).

However, the exaggerated emphasis on the first day did not bother me. Too often the first day is sort of skipped over and it's not like the second day was ignored - it just focused on Dan Sickles' horrible deployment and the danger it posed to his own army. That is also important. 

The third day, of course, focuses on the infamous Pickett's Charge. Catton's short history also includes a solid look at Lee's retreat back to Virginia, the consequences of this loss to the Confederacy and a peek at the ceremony in which Lincoln delivered his famed Gettysburg Address, including a reading of the speech itself.

Eric Martin did a nice job with the book. He has a pleasant voice.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: THE BATTLE of GETTYSBURG: AMERICAN HERITAGE SERIES by Bruce Catton.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

VICTORY at YORKTOWN: A NOVEL (George Washington Series #3) (audiobook) by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

Published in November of 2012 by Macmillan Audio.
Read by William Dufris
Duration: 12 hours, 2 minutes

Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen conclude their Revolutionary War-based trilogy with an up-and-down look at the final year of real action in the war (October of 1780 to October of 1781).

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumball
The actual battle descriptions are quite good in the book. The book is absolutely great with its explanation of the strategies employed to maneuver Cornwallis into the Yorktown fortifications, the coordination between the French and American forces and demonstrates just how narrow this victory really was. 

However, the audiobook starts out with a two hour overwrought description of the execution of Major Andre. Andre was the British officer that conspired with the infamous American traitor Benedict Arnold. While this scene was used referred back to often throughout the rest of the book, the scene itself was very repetitious and entirely too long to make it's point. I nearly quit the audiobook completely after an hour of it.

William Dufris did a great job with all of the accents the book, especially the French officers.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found at Amazon.com here: VICTORY at YORKTOWN: A NOVEL (George Washington Series #3).

Sunday, May 21, 2017

THE GIRL on the TRAIN (audiobook) by Paula Hawkins

Published in 2015 by Penguin Audio
Read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher
Duration: 10 hours, 59 minutes

Every day Rachel sees the same couple in the same house as she is commuting to London on the train. The train makes a regular stop near this house while waiting for another train to clear the track and Rachel stares out at the backyards of the neighborhood where she used to live before her husband left her for another woman. She notes the attractive new couple that has moved in a couple of houses down from her old house and makes up pretend glamorous background stories for this seemingly happy couple whose house is identical to the one she used to live in.

One day she is shocked to see the lady from her fantasy world kissing another man. Even worse - soon after, that woman disappears, is presumed dead and becomes the center of a media frenzy.

Rachel tries to get involved by telling the police about the other man but she tells her story so poorly that it makes no sense. Even worse, she is known to the police because it turns out that Rachel is a boozy stalker of her ex-husband and his new wife and child and turns up at her old house (just a couple of houses down from the victim's house) on a semi-regular basis after she has gotten drunk so she has absolutely zero credibility.

But, Rachel carries on and gets herself involved in the story in so many ways...

I am going to be brutally honest here. I know this was a runaway bestseller and everyone is talking about how amazing this book is but I found it to be irritating on so many levels (the exception being the actual reading of the book by the 3 different narrators - they were great).

All of the main female characters, except for Rachel's roommate (who gets dumped on in the narration for not wanting a roommate that vomits in the hallway and does not clean up the mess) get their validation from the approval of men (as expressed through sex) and their ability to make babies. It is a pathetic little inbred world. In a way, this an anti-feminist story (woman have no value except to make babies for their men). Or, maybe it's a too-clever feminist satire. Either way, it's very annoying.

Even worse, the whole thing could've have been a short story if the very articulate Rachel would've just explained herself a little better to the police from the beginning. An extra 3 or 4 sentences would've made a world of difference.

This is one of those books where I found myself rooting for the killer to just take out a few more of these characters before the book ended.

I rate this audiobook 2 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

SMALL WARS: A JACK REACHER STORY (audiobook) by Lee Child

Published in 2015 by Random House Audio.
Narrated by Dick Hill
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Lee Child. Photo by Mark Coggins
Jack Reacher is back in his Military Police days in this short story. He has been moved to a new base in Georgia and immediately has a murder to investigate - a new female intelligence officer who is beautiful, rich and is on the fast track to the top is found dead beside her Porsche on a country road near the base.

Jack Reacher starts to dig and quickly puts all of the pieces together in a satisfying, but too-short story. All of the stuff you love about a Reacher novel are here:  smart comments, a little bit of fighting, quick thinking and an ending that makes you think about the difference between what is legal and what is just. Dick Hill's narration is spot-on, like always.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

This audiobook short story can be found on Amazon.com here: Small Wars by Lee Child.

Monday, May 15, 2017

OUT of RANGE (Joe Pickett #5) by C. J. Box

Originally published in 2005.

Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett has been re-assigned. Normally, he covers the area around the town of Saddlestring but he has been temporarily re-assigned to a plum location - Jackson, Wyoming - the home of the Grand Tetons and a well-known retreat for the rich and the famous.

While Joe is thrilled for the opportunity, he is not happy about the circumstances behind it. A fellow game warden that he knew and respected suffered some sort of mental breakdown and killed himself. Plus, his family has been receiving ominous "breather" phone messages at all times of day and night...

So, Joe Pickett goes off to Jackson only to find that this new assignment is extraordinarily complicated by politically-connected power players, trendy protesters and the investigation into the previous game warden's suicide and things are getting weirder and more complicated all of the time...

I am reading this series in what seems to be an insane random order. A lot of the events in this book are referred to in other books down the line so this is an important chapter in his story. But, this was not the best of the Joe Pickett series and certainly not a good one to start with if you are thinking of starting the series. But, for me at least, a book with Joe Pickett is like a visit with old friends.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on May 15, 2017