It ain’t easy – trying to PMP

Okay, so I am obviously not so great about updates here.  One reason, honest injun, is that I read really fast and I don’t want to half ass it.  The other reason is that I am busy studying for a certification exam I’m taking at the end of June.  It seems like that’s a long ways away but I am totally freaking out.  Hooray for freaking out.

So, in the interest of giving you something to look at, I’m going to do another quick round up of books I don’t think really deserve their own posting.  This means that books like “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” won’t be covered in this one, but I promise to get to them this week with a better write up than these others are going to get.

So, enough begging forgiveness (did that sound like begging?  no?  well, it kinda was) and on to what little content I am throwing up today.

Oh, did I mention I’m not going to put up pictures?  Well, now you know.  🙂

*****

The Road To Omaha, Robert Ludlum.

Remember a bit ago when I did The Road to Gandolfo?  Same guys, back for more.  Same crazy General Hawk, same wussy lawyer Sam, different scam.  In the first one, they were kidnapping the Pope.  In this one, it seems that someone’s gotten their hands on some old agreements between the US Government and some little unknown Indian tribe and it just might be that that Indian tribe owns Nebraska.

Worth reading, a bit long at times.  It’d be a good beach/plane read where you leave it for the next person.  Strangely enough, the lady who read this before me did not agree.  In very nice cursive it says “Yuk! Waste of time.  Feb 93” on the inside cover.  Maybe, like a fine wine, it just needed some time to age.

The Road To Omaha by Robert Ludlum, 570 pages

*****

Greywalker, Kat Richardson

You know how sometimes you buy a book because it’s cheap?  Yeah, well, that’s my excuse.  Harper gets attacked and comes out with this weird ability to be in both our world and some other one where nasty half dead things lie in wait.  Oh yeah, this also means she can see ghosts and feel evil and so she decides to play with the vampires and witches and stuff.  It’s also set in Seattle.

Is is a great book?  Nah.  It’s mildly entertaining.  If you’re looking for the while “normal world meets other” stuff, check out the Sookie Stackhouse books.  They’re way more fun.

Greywalker by Kat Richardson, 341 pages

*****

The Broken Window, Jeffery Deaver

I almost feel bad throwing this in here because I really like Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series.  Have you seen that Bone Collector movie with Angelina Jolie and that other totally cute guy whose name I can’t remember now?  It’s also got Queen Latifa in it although in the book her character is actually a gay guy.

ANYWAY, this is that same series.  And this latest novel doesn’t really disappoint although they are semi formulaic crime mysteries.  In this one, people are being killed and other people are set up to take the fall.  As usual, it’s who done it.  The twist in THIS novel is that it’s obvious someone has access to all sorts of very detailed information about people and their lives, so it looks like it’s OMG COMPUTERS and BIG BROTHER all up in here.  Still, these are good characters and pretty good stories and I’d actually recommend any of the series.  Might want to read them in order though.

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver, 596 pages

*****

L.A. Confidential , James Ellroy

You’ve all seen the movie.  You know what it’s about.  In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a “corruption in LA in the 1950’s” novel.  See the movie, it’s good.

The book?  Eh.  It’s okay.  I actually didn’t get anything additional out of it, but then it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the screen version.  There are a lot of characters, and I found myself getting a wee bit lost… but I kind of blame that on trying to memorize silly equations for this damn test and having no gray matter to dedicate to this one.  On the other hand, I now know and understand that the PERT equation is (P+4M+o)/6 and that it’s the only estimating method that’s a weighted average… and that’s going to be on the test, not who Mickey Cohen talked to, so that’s okay with me.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy, 496 pages.

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Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (Vols 1 and 2)

dreameaters Here begins an extraordinary alliance—and a brutal and tender, shocking, and electrifying adventure to end all adventures.

It starts with a simple note. Roger Bascombe regretfully wishes to inform Celeste Temple that their engagement is forthwith terminated. Determined to find out why, Miss Temple takes the first step in a journey that will propel her into a dizzyingly seductive, utterly shocking world beyond her imagining—and set her on a collision course with a killer and a spy—in a bodice-ripping, action-packed roller-coaster ride of suspense, betrayal, and richly fevered dreams.

~From the back cover of Volume 1

*****

Sounds pretty cool, huh?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Then I started reading this monster.  Wow.  Let’s talk about where I think it all went wrong.

The premise isn’t bad, but it’s horribly convoluted.  I read over 800 pages and I’m still not sure exactly what why it all happened.  Something political, I think.   I’m not sure.  It’s not like I didn’t read the damn thing, I did.  In some ways I wanted to know what happened.  But I should be able to tell you and I can’t.

Let’s talk about characters.  All 15million of them.  We have 3 main protagonists (give or take a few) and a Metro busload of antagonists and they are almost impossible to keep straight.  You’d think that the fact they keep dying would help you sort them out, but it just seems like one bites it and another one enters the picture.  If that weren’t enough, apparently everyone in these books is downing some serious “let’s do the dirty!” juice because everyone seems to be very randy (in a Austin Powers kinda way if you get my drift.)

Lest you think that I have something against sex in books, I don’t.  But, this book is over the top in terms of respect and appropriateness (is that a word?).  And although I’m rarely judging authors personally based on their writing, I can’t help but think of Gordon Dahlquist (the author, lest you be confused) as a semi-misogynistic creep.

So, confusing story, too many characters and insulting treatment of women.  It sounds like it’s this should be filed under “stupid reader problem” and not something inherent in the book and I guess that’s possible.  All I know is that I read a lot and I like and understand most of what I read, this just wasn’t one of those things.  If you ask me, don’t bother with this one.  Leave it in the bookstore.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters vol 1 by Gordon Dahlquist, 464 pages

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters vol 2 by Gordon Dahlquist, 413 pages

Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s time for Ketchup!

I need to come clean.  A while ago I was worried that I’d read too slow and I let myself accumulate a backlog of books in order to make sure that you didn’t have a big gap between posts.  Well, I think we all know that there was STILL a gap between posts and I gotta tell you, that backlog ain’t blogging itself.

So, I’d like to catch us up with some of the less memorable books in one large post.  I’d like to point out that less memorable doesn’t mean BAD, just means I can cover what I want to say in a smaller blip.  This means that we’re out of order but you should get better reviews of the newer stuff I’ve read.  And honestly, if I don’t catch us up, I’m going to start to get lost.

So, let’s get dippin!  (Ketchup, dip, get it?  ah.. nevermind)

*****

soul_identity_small Most people believe that their souls live on past their bodies, but what if there were a way to identify and track your souls progress across several lifetimes?  You’d be able to pass along things to your future ‘soul self’, building a bridge across the ages passing along wisdom and valuables.  Scott Waverly is a security expert and has been hired to protect the company from a suspected insider attack, but along the way he’ll need to figure out what he believes.

****

Not a bad book.  Bought it for a penny on the Kindle and it was worth a bit more than that.  Amazon is selling it in dead tree form for $10 and I like my price better.  It’s not a bad book but not the best.  This is one you could easily take on a plane and leave in the airport bathroom for someone else when you’re done.   Not that I’ve ever done that, but if you found a mediocre book in the ladies in the Little Rock airport, you’re welcome.

Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder, 268 pages (per Amazon’s product page)

*****

little brother cover-small In the not too distant future, citizens are RFID’ed, computer networks are monitored and the illusion of privacy is just that – an illusion.  Marcus, aka “w1n5t0n”, is just a kid who likes to push the boundaries – putting pebbles in his shoes to fool the programs that identify you by gait and cracking the browser security on his school issued laptop.  When he and his friends are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus gets a deep and dirty look at the inner workings of Homeland Security and the Government that is supposed to protect us all from harm.

What follows is a perhaps too logical path to a 1984- like societal monitoring that Marcus and his friends begin to question and, in doing so, begin to recognise that the only way freedoms can be taken is to stand by and do nothing.

*****

Free.  This book is free.  I’ve linked you all to a place where Cory has released this on a creative commons license for everyone to read.  So if you feel like it, go grab it and read it.  My personal take?  Honestly, I think it’s overdone.  I get it, we live in a world where fear has caused the general populace to put up with borderline personal rights intrusions.  And it’s a slippery slope.  Most people don’t complain about taking our shoes off at the airport (really.. are you safer, really?) but now there are x-ray scanners that can see beneath your clothes.  I believe that things like wiretapping under the guise of “safety” isn’t right, and so does Cory Doctorow, but this book practically beats you to death with it.

And I’m probably tired of him shilling it all over the place.  Anyway, I suppose it’s worth reading, but I can’t say that I’m buying it for everyone I know.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow,  384 pages (per Amazon’s product page)

*****

Scarface’s Burden – Joseph Devon. No fancy artwork.  No page count (honestly it’s short.  Like… oh.. short).  But if you like Jonathan Coulton and you like the song “Skullcrusher Mountain” you will like this little story written by an oh-so-put-upon personal assistant to a mad scientist.

http://josephdevon.com/2007/11/29/short-story-scarfaces-burden/

*****

beautiful_red Meet Jack.  Office cube dweller working corporate security by day, technological tinkerer by night, Jack lives in a ever growing connected world.  People are constantly plugged into the web and one of her best friends she’s never actually even met.  But when she notices that someone has broken into her company’s computer system, she starts down an investigatory path that will lead her to the Reds – a group of people who don’t share her worldview.  As she investigates, she discovers a whole new perspective and is forced to examine her own beliefs.

*****

Good one.  Another creative commons license (which means free, folks), I first tried to get into this one when it was on Podiobooks.com.  Side note – Podiobooks.com is really cool.  Free serial audiobooks delivered to you weekly (or as the author writes the next chapter) and it’s a great way to find some new authors.  That’s how I found Scott Sigler (horror author) and a couple of others who are starting to hit mainstream.  Check them out, it’s pretty cool if you like audiobooks.

ANYWAY, Wehm has created a world that I think is (unfortunately) a pretty logical evolution of our own.  Personal interaction is much less important than the online world – in fact people have implants that let them be constantly on network.  But you know if that’s that case, there’s always going to be a faction that thinks that’s not night (get offa my lawn, you smoochers!!) and this book paints that resistance pretty well.  Plus, it’s got some nice little twists.

You can download it free on the link in the picture, it’s short so it’s worth reading if you have time.

Beautiful Red by M.Darusha Whem, 164 pages (per the download website)

*****

black dahlia Elizabeth Short was found brutally murdered in 1947 in an abandoned field.  After her death, she was known as the Black Dahlia.  Her killer was never found.   This novelization imagines the people who found her, the police who worked her case and what a strange and tangled web the Dahlia wove around the people she knew.

The story is seen through the eyes of Bucky Bleichert, an ex-boxer and current policeman, he finds himself drawn into the investigation.  His obsession with the Dahlia and her story threaten all the important things in his life, and in the end he learns something about himself – and perhaps more than he wanted about some people that he cares about.

*****

Ellroy is the master of this sort of writing.  A mix of truth and fiction, he’s woven a mesh of logic and almost unbelievable fantasy (not in that whole fairies and wizards way) into a story that feels like it could have happened that way.  Ellroy also wrote “LA Confidential” (which is somewhere in the “read me” stack) and both The Black Dahlia and LA Confidential have been made into really good movies.  I don’t know what that really says other than you can have a themed movie night if you read both of his books.  Or maybe it means that he writes compelling stories… and that I’d agree with.

(If you get the book with the afterward by the author, read it.  It’s worth it for an interesting insight into Ellroys relationship with the Dahlia… and it’s not what you think!)

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, 337 pages

Weaveworld

weaveworld Meet Calhoun Mooney.  Cal is having an okay life – his father hasn’t been the same since Cal’s mother died, Cal’s girlfriend is pressing that whole “marriage” thing, and all of the homing pigeons in the back yard are completely freaking out.  He doesn’t know it, but he’d better enjoy it, because he’s about to fall into a magic carpet and find out that his current life isn’t the one that he dreams of at all.

Welcome to the Fugue, a hidden world where the magic still lives and the countryside is beautiful.  It’s been hidden in the carpet to keep the Scourge and its agents from completely destroying the land, but people are hot on its trail and when they find it the fight for the salvation of the Fugue begins.

*****

Clive Barker tends to be known for his horror works, but this is actually MOSTLY a work of fantasy.  I say mostly because there are some definite “Barker-like” parts of this story.   Not enough that I’d classify it as horror, per se, but I can’t really recommend it to people who are squeamish at all.  So, Cole, you can’t read this one.

For everyone else, this is a pretty good story.  The idea that the remnants of an entire world and its people are hidden in a carpet is pretty cool.  And Barker has (as is to be expected) written some pretty interesting characters.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a Barker story if they didn’t have some sort of powers – magic coat, some force that a few chosen can shoot from their mouths, etc ( note, these are not the same things.  😉 ) -but they all work pretty well within the definition of the character.  It’s a long story with plenty of people in it, but never really feels like you can’t keep track of them.

I also think it has a pretty neat ending – but I try not to give those away.  So, check it out if you like mostly fantasy with some overshades of horror.  This is early Clive Barker, so if you’re a fan of his later work and haven’t checked this one out, you should.  A bit of a warning though – this isn’t the longest book I’ve read recently, but it sure felt like it sometimes.  He can be a bit long winded, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a classic from a contemporary master.

A note:  It looks like there are some versions of this that don’t have the whole story (maybe it was in 2 books, way back when?)  Anyway, look for the longer one if you have a choice, that way you get everything you’re supposed to.

Weaveworld by Clive Barker, 704 pages

Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Road to Gandolfo

gandolfo1 Say you’re a decorated war hero whose time has come – you’ve become a liability and embarrassment to the red, white and blue.  And say you’re looking for a way to… oh, pay them back.  So, maybe you’d hook up this this lawyer dude you know who is also in the Army and is almost at his tour of duty.  And you might include your 4 former ex-wives.

Then maybe you’d decide to kidnap the Pope for the ransom of $1 per Catholic in the world.

Well, then maybe you’d be General MacKenzie Hawkins, lawyer Sam Devereaux, Hawkins Harem and Pope Francesco 1.  And you’d be in for a hell of a ride.

*****

So, I think I’ve seen half of The Bourne Identity.  I don’t know if I liked it, really, and I tried to read those books a long time ago and wasn’t thrilled with them.   So when the online book club that I pretend to be part of if I like the sound of the book chose this Ludlum book I wasn’t overly excited but thought I’d check it out.

This book is HILARIOUS.  It’s not what I think of as typical Ludlum.  It’s sort of a smart 3 Stooges debacle led by a mastermind of hysterical proportions.  It’s clever.  So clever.  Ludlum has really created these larger than life characters and put them in a pretty preposterous position.  I mean, who decides that they want to kidnap the Pope?!  And not only wants to kidnap the Pope but actually goes through all the planning and fund raising to do it?

Mac and Sam are a strange pairing – sort of a Gibson and Glover Lethal Weapon type of partnership.  I’d love to see a movie made from this book but I can’t see much of a way this would happen.  Which is too bad, because this is a really funny story and I’m planning on picking up the sequel “The Road to Omaha”.

I know this is a quickie review, but you really just need to read it to get the feel.  It would be a great beach read and since summer is coming up it might be worth grabbing if you have a trip planned.  It’s short, so plan accordingly there.  🙂

This one is hard to classify, but I’m going to label this one as “spy” although maybe it’s not exactly.

The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum, 291 pages

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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