I Must Say by Martin Short, Audio Edition

Posted by on Mar 11, 2016 in 2016, 5 stars, Book Review | 4 comments

I Must Say by Martin Short
I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short narrated by the author

Genre: Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 8 hours, 40 minutes
Narrated by: Martin Short
Source: Purchased

The Book
From the publisher:

In this engagingly witty, wise, and heartfelt memoir, Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz obsessed kid from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen, known to his famous peers as the “comedian’s comedian.”
Short takes the reader on a rich, hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking ride through his life and times, from his early years in Toronto as a member of the fabled improvisational troupe Second City to the all-American comic big time of Saturday Night Live, and from memorable roles in such movies as ¡Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride to Broadway stardom in Fame Becomes Me and the Tony-winning Little Me.
He reveals how he created his most indelible comedic characters, among them the manic man-child Ed Grimley, the slimy corporate lawyer Nathan Thurm, and the bizarrely insensitive interviewer Jiminy Glick. Throughout, Short freely shares the spotlight with friends, colleagues, and collaborators, among them Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Gilda Radner, Mel Brooks, Nora Ephron, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Shaffer, and David Letterman.
But there is another side to Short’s life that he has long kept private. He lost his eldest brother and both parents by the time he turned twenty, and, more recently, he lost his wife of thirty years to cancer. In I Must Say, Short talks for the first time about the pain that these losses inflicted and the upbeat life philosophy that has kept him resilient and carried him through.

My Thoughts
I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to buy this audiobook. I think it came along in the aftermath of listening to and enjoying Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants. I enjoyed that so much that the thought of another celebrity memoir by a comedian sounded good.

I have enjoyed watching Martin Short on TV and in a few movies. I’ve never been a huge fan who sought out his work but enjoyed what I happened to see and hear. After listening to this memoir, I am much more of a fan of his than I was before.

This is not one of those dirt dishing memoirs. If anything, Short is remarkably kind and complimentary about almost every well-known person he mentions

I didn’t know much of Short’s history or background so it was fun to find out that he worked with and knew many comedy luminaries long before any of them became famous.

The chapter where he talks about his wife’s battle with cancer and her death just about did me in. This memoir is funny, interesting, heartbreaking and delightful. I have officially added Martin Short to my list of dream dinner guests.

I absolutely recommend this and in fact I would also encourage you to get the audio over the print format. Being able to hear Short play his characters has to be better than reading it without his voice. I’ve never thought of myself as a memoir fan but this is absolutely one of the best I’ve read or heard,

5 stars 5/5 for the book

5 stars 5/5 for the narration because no one could have done this better than Martin Short himself.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling

Posted by on Jan 15, 2016 in 2016, 5 stars, Book Review, JK Rowling | 2 comments

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling with art by Jim Kay

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Oversized Hardcover
Series: #1 in the Harry Potter series
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 247
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay’s dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters in this full-colour illustrated hardback edition of the nation’s favourite children’s book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Brimming with rich detail and humour that perfectly complements J.K. Rowling’s timeless classic, Jim Kay’s glorious illustrations will captivate fans and new readers alike.

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to bother to talk about the story because we all know it. I’ve read it multiple times, listened to it once (the Jim Dale versions) and plan to listen to it again (the Stephen Fry versions) so obviously I love it.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated by Jim Kay - Hogwart's Express
I was interested as soon as I heard this illustrated edition was coming. Then I saw a preview of some of the artwork and I started counting the days until it would be available. I picked up my copy the first week and it’s simply gorgeous.

It’s an oversized (coffee table size) book printed on high quality paper with an attached ribbon bookmark. My first thought after picking it up was that I don’t think I’m going to be able to lift Order of the Phoenix when it hits the bookstores. Seriously, we’re talking potential for back injury if they don’t split that one into two volumes.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated by Jim Kay - Hagrid rescues Harry
Jim Kay has done a masterful job with the illustrations. They are beautiful. I am amazed that he has managed to create these images. They are wholly new, yet at the same time remain true to both the drawings in the original editions and the sets and actors from the movies.

Because Alan Rickman is on my mind today, I’m including Kay’s Snape here. It’s not Alan Rickman, yet at the same time it’s not exactly not Alan Rickman.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated by Jim Kay - Severus Snape
I felt that Jim Kay managed to take the images in my head and make them even more beautiful than I hand imagined.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated by Jim Kay - Diagon Alley
I cannot wait for the next book in this illustrated editions series.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Audio Reread – The Martian by Andy Weir

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in 2015, 5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 1 comment

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C Bray

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 10 hours, 54 minutes
Read by: R.C. Bray
Source: Purchased

The Book:

I read and wrote about the print edition of this book back in January. I loved the book pretty much everyone I know who read it thought it was as good as I did. When I heard that Matt Damon was playing Mark Watney in the movie version I was skeptical but after seeing a couple of trailers for the movie I have to agree that it was a good casting choice.

I had heard from several reliable sources that the audio format of the book was wonderful. I decided that I wanted to listen to the audio edition before we go see the movie.

My Thoughts:
That was an excellent choice. I think I enjoyed the book even more the second time around and the primary reason for that is that the audio edition is simply excellent.

I will admit that part of the reason I enjoyed listening to this as a reread is that since I already know the story there was a lot less holding my breath this time around. The first time through the print edition I spent a lot of time reading as fast as I could to find out what happened next. This time, with the audio I was a lot more comfortable just letting the story happen.

R.C. Bray does a masterful job of narrating this book. His first person voice as Mark Watney is perfect. It fits right with the way I created Mark’s voice in my head as I read the book. In the parts of the book that are not in Mark’s voice, Bray is called upon to portray a wide variety of characters, voices, and accents. He makes the whole experience of the story even more wonderful than the first time through in print.

If you haven’t read this book, please consider the audio format. If you’ve already read the book in print I strongly encourage you to give the audio format a try.

It’s just a thrill ride and a whole lot of fun.
4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the book
5 stars Rating 5/5 for the narration

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Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition by H.G. Bissinger.

Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 in 2015, 5 stars, Book Review | 4 comments

Friday Night Lights 25th Anniversary Edition by H.G. Bissinger

Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger

Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback and Ebook
Publisher: De Capo Press
Publication Date: Originally 1990, this edition with a new afterword 2015
Pages: 357
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
The world of Texas High School Football is explored by following the 1988 Permian High School Panthers Football team on their quest for a State Championship.

Why I Read It:
I had been meaning to read this for ages so the question is really why did I finally read it? I saw a link to the Sports Illustrated article with an excerpt of the new section of the book which follows up on some of the people 25 years later. I only read a few paragraphs before deciding it was time to buy and read the new edition.

The Book:
From the publisher:

The 25th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and Sports Illustrated’s best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the author

Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa—the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn’t known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.

With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires—and sometimes shatters—the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.

My Thoughts:
This book is not just about the 1988 Permian Panthers football team. It’s also about the world of Texas High School Football. It’s about the city of Odessa in both boom and bust times, It’s about kids under pressure. It’s about life.

I attended college in Texas in the early 1980’s and was familiar with the intensity of high school football there as compared to other places I had lived. The Permian Panthers were a familiar name from the sports pages. I even took a road trip to Odessa one weekend (but that’s a whole different story from my college days).

I loved the television series that was loosely based on this book although I hadn’t read the book or seen the movie. As I read this it was interesting to see how the TV series used bits and pieces from the people in the book to develop wholly different characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Bissinger alternates sections about the players and their season with sections about the history of the area including the difficult to read parts about racism and class inequalities. It’s all there, the good and the bad but mostly the real.

The controversy that exploded after the publication of the book in 1990 made me a marked man. I had to cancel my book tour there. The anger was palpable. I exposed the good of Odessa, because there are many good, hearty, and honest people there. But I also exposed thick veins of racism and misplaced academic and social priorities.

I loved the new afterword about the author’s trip back to Texas to visit a few of the major players in the story twenty-five years later.

Twenty-five years earlier I had gone in search of the Friday Night Lights. Now, during a week in April, in Texas, I went searching for those who had played under them.

I highly recommend this book.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in 2015, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire

Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire with art by Dustin Nguyen

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: #1 in the Descender Series
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 148
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
Ten years after all robots are banned a childlike android may hold the clue to keeping the universe safe from further attack.

Why I Read It:
I read it because I adore everything I’ve read by Jeff Lemire.

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-6 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Ten Years after planet-sized robots called Harvesters appeared and wreaked havoc across the galaxy, a young android named TIM-21 wakes to find that all robots have been outlawed. But TIM may hold the secrets to the Harvesters in his machine DNA and he quickly becomes the most wanted robot in the universe. With bounty hunters and threats lurking at every turn TIM embarks on a mind-blowing adventure through the stars along with his robot dog, Bandit, and the lumbering mining droid, Driller.

My Thoughts:
Lemire has a way of telling a story through the innocent eyes and trusting nature of a child. In this case the ‘child’ is a childlike android who was designed to help people.

I am a class-A companion robot. My primary function is to entertain, protect and assist in the education of my assigned human child companion. Secondary functions include using my proprietary empathy settings to adapt to and gradually assimilate with my human companions.

Not surprisingly since it’s also from Image Comics, the imaginative story reminds me of Saga with the combination of robots, human and human like characters as well as some distinctly non-human creatures.

The artwork by Dustin Nguyen is wonderful. It’s done in watercolors but it’s vivid and varied in the different settings.

I have always enjoyed everything I’ve read by Lemire but this first volume of a new series is exceptional.

You can read the first issue online at BoingBoing – take a look. I’m betting you’ll be intrigued.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in 2015, 5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: Originally 1961, this edition 1996
Pages: 256
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Young Milo takes an adventurous trip through a mysterious tollbooth from his bedroom into a world of adventure.

Why I Read It:
It was becoming obvious that my I had a major lapse in my childhood by missing this book.

The Book:
From the publisher:

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .

My Thoughts:
I already want to read this again.

It reminds me of a lot of the animated “children’s movies’ that include a lot of subtext that is hilarious to adults but flies right over the kids’ heads. This is a fun fantasy adventure story for kids but the puns, wordplay and political satire make it plenty of fun for adults too.

The world of Wisdom that is divided over the supremacy of Words or Numbers turns out to have many fun and funny surprises. Milo’s quest to return Rhyme and Reason to the land had me giggling to myself.

I’m really not sure how I missed this book when I was a kid because it’s absolutely something I would have loved and read over and over again. I guess I’ll have to make up for it now.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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