Some Quick Audiobook Reviews…


A quick round-up of six recent audiobook listens. Mostly, very good.

Featuring: Carrie Fisher, Frederick Forsyth, Anna Kendrick, Trevor Noah, Graham Norton, Nikki Sixx

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New Books (February)


Featuring: David Annandale, Jo Baker, Mishell Baker, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Pierce Brown, Christopher Charles, Jessica Chiarella, Dan Cluchey, Max Allan Collins, John Connolly, Don DeLillo, S.B. Divya, Rachel Dunne, Mark Andrew Ferguson, Hadley Freeman, S.L. Grey, Lauren Groff, A.J. Hartley, Noah Hawley, Katie Heaney, Patrick Hemstreet, Mitchell Hogan, Lee Kelly, Shane Kuhn, Joe R. Lansdale, John Lansdale, Tim Lebbon, David Levien, Brian McClellan, Claire North, Willow Palecek, K.J. Parker, Bryony Pearce, Victor Pelevin, Molly Prentiss, Andy Remic, William Shatner, Mickey Spillane, Jo Spurrier, Allen Steele, Stuart Stevens, Alex Stewart, Jack Sutherland, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Marc Turner, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Teddy Wayne

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Review: AND AGAIN by Jessica Chiarella (Touchstone)

ChiarellaJ-AndAgainUSAn engrossing, beautifully written novel about what makes us who we are

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda — four terminally ill patients — have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves — without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

What would you do if you were given a second chance? Not only a second chance, but a second body — fresh, new, cloned. Completely clear of defective genes, and devoid of the scars and weathering of everyday life. This is, in part, the premise of Jessica Chiarella’s fantastic debut novel, And Again. It is also one of the first must-reads of the year. Continue reading

New Books (June-July)


Featuring: John Joseph Adams, Andy Abramowitz, Edgar Cantero, Joshua Cohen, Bennett R. Coles, Ctein, Dennis Dunaway, Matthew Dunn, Vaughn Entwhistle, Michael R. Fletcher, Teresa Frohock, Caseen Gaines, John Gilstrap, Ed Greenwood, Janet Groth, Paul Kane, Marshall Ryan Maresca, John Niven, Tom Pollock, Ronda Rousey, John Sandford, Charles Stross, Neely Tucker, Jon Wallace, Fran Wilde, Daniel H. Wilson Continue reading

Review: IT’S SO EASY (AND OTHER LIES) by Duff McKagan (Touchstone)

McKaganD-ItsSoEasyUSA superb memoir of Guns ‘n’ Roses and more

A founding member of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver — and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee — shares the story of his rise to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, his personal crash and burn, and his phoenix-like transformation.

IN 1984, AT THE AGE OF TWENTY, Duff McKagan left his native Seattle — partly to pursue music but mainly to get away from a host of heroin overdoses then decimating his closest group of friends in the local punk scene. In L.A. only a few weeks and still living in his car, he answered a want ad for a bass player placed by someone who identified himself only as “Slash.” Soon after, the most dangerous band in the world was born. Guns N’ Roses went on to sell more than 100 million albums worldwide.

In It’s So Easy, Duff recounts Guns’ unlikely trajectory to a string of multiplatinum albums, sold-out stadium concerts, and global acclaim. But that kind of glory can take its toll, and it did — ultimately — on Duff, as well as on the band itself. As Guns began to splinter, Duff felt that he himself was done, too. But his near death as a direct result of alcoholism proved to be his watershed, the turning point that sent him on a unique path to sobriety and the unexpected choices he has made for himself since.

I really enjoyed this book. Despite being a huge Guns ‘n’ Roses fan (my first CD was Use Your Illusion I), McKagan’s story was mostly unknown to me. The first music magazine I ever bought was an issue of Hit Parader which included a long interview with and feature on McKagan and his music, but beyond that I don’t believe I’ve read anything else about him. After finishing Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself, I wanted to read another music biography, and this one came highly recommended. I can certainly see why: it’s gripping, extremely well-written, sometimes amusing, and brutally honest. Continue reading

Books Received: December #2 (Or, “It Rained Books Just Before Xmas…”)


A nice wave of new titles arrived or were purchased just before Christmas. I’ve just been slow about posting this, which means I’ve already read a couple (and dismissed a couple). Some more have arrived since, too, but I’ll post about those at the beginning of January.

Featuring: Kate Atkinson, Belinda Bauer, Gregory Benford, Douglas Brunt, Chelsea Cain, John Connolly, Christopher Farnsworth, Helen Giltrow, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Lev Grossman, Glenda Larke, Karen Lord, Alex Marhsall, Peyton Marshall, Brian McClellan, D.J. Molles, Syliva Moreno-Garcia, Mark Morris, Larry Niven, Claire North, Chuck Palahniuk, Matthew Pearl, D.B.C. Pierre, Jennifer Ridyard, Jeff Somers, Gabriel Squailia, Mark Sullivan, S.J. Watson, Jaye Wells Continue reading

Audio Review: AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden (Audible/Touchstone)

ElwesC-AsYouWishAn inconceivably good memoir

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies. Therefore it was with great anticipation that I awaited the publication of Elwes’s memoir of the making of the movie. Elwes, who played Westley, delivers here a superb book. It is witty, humble, and excellently performed. Elwes is joined on occasion by other members of the cast and crew, who contribute their own stories and favourite memories of the production. What struck me most was how clearly they all enjoyed the whole process — even when things became tough, painful (literally — there were a few injuries during filming). Elwes talks of the disappointment that the movie was original met with scratching of heads by many, and the amazement and gratitude that it went on to become a massive hit on video, not to mention a passed-down-the-generations classic. Elwes’s delivery is perfect, as one can expect, and the narration is welcoming and crystal clear. There are also many moving memories of Andre the Giant, who played Fezzik and sadly passed away in 1993.

Every fan of the movie should read or listen to this. Or probably both. This was thoroughly enjoyable, engaging and very difficult to stop listening to. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch the movie for the hundredth time. And order a copy of the book for everyone I know (including one for my own library)…


As You Wish is published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. It is available in audio via Audible, who provided the review copy. Here’s a video clip of The Princess Bride cast being interviewed on Good Morning America (2011):