Saturday, December 20, 2008

Twisted - Jeffery Deaver

Twisted is a collection of 16 short stories by Deaver. These are excellent stories. Sometimes the bad guys win and sometimes the good guys win and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. There's even a Lincoln Rhyme short in here. Very highly recommended.

Convergence - Charles Sheffield

Convergence is the fourth Heritage Universe novel. Things are starting to heat up with the Builder artifacts. Darya Lang is very close to solving the mystery of the Builders when all the artifacts start to change. To make it more interesting she and her friends are inside one while it's happening. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Family Honor - Robert B. Parker

Family Honor is a Sunny Randall novel. Sunny is not just another Parker detective. She has her own series, but she's also rubbed elbows with characters from Parker's other New England based novels, the Spencer and Jesse Stone series to be specific. Family Honor is the first in the Sunny series. I've decided to start at the beginning and reread the ones I missed.

Family Honor is about rescuing a runaway and cleaning up the mess that triggered the run. Sunny's personal life and her dog are tangled up in the story, as is her extended family, the cop side and the mob side. It's a very interesting mess. Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

Inkheart is a fantasy about books and people who love them. Imagine someone who's so compelling when they read aloud that the book they're reading comes alive, literally. People and creatures from the book they're reading magically appear in the real world. The downside is that for every creature that pops into this world one has to disappear into the book.

Years ago a nasty villain named Capricorn was read right out of a book. Now this evil man is determined to find the reader, who's been hiding ever since, and have him read other dark and deadly creatures from the book called Inkheart. Highly recommended.

I have an 11 year old granddaughter who's read this book. It's appropriate for kids, but it can be quite a dark tale at times. If your kids are prone to nightmares this might be a book to save for their teen years. On the other hand I think of this quote when I read children's books that seem a bit dark:

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed. — G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Transcendence - Charles Sheffield

Transcendence is book three in Sheffield's Heritage Universe series. This book has more aliens, more builder artifacts, and more Zardalu. It's a great space adventure. Every book in this series had made me laugh aloud on more than one occasion, as the author seeds his narrative with humor and suspense. One constant is the perfidy of Louis Nenda and Atvar H'sial. They're almost likable bad guys, but still bad. This time their reach may have exceeded their grasp. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your Heart Belongs to Me - Dean Koontz

Your Heart Belongs to Me has most of the elements of a great Koontz thriller. But it would be hard to write about them without giving away the interesting parts of the story. That's because these elements are about all that's interesting. This book had too many disparate threads and plot dead ends too keep me interested. The ending was about as satisfying as a blind date with your sister. I look forward to the next Odd Thomas novel but Your Heart Belongs to Me was disappointing. Disappointing is something you don't expect from Koontz.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tales of BeedleThe Bard - J. K. Rowling

The Tales of Beedle The Bard is a short collection of fairy tales written from a wizard's perspective. It's enhanced by commentary from Professor Dumbledore. In fact, the commentary exceeds the length of the stories in most cases. It falls short of a Harry Potter tale, but I enjoyed the read. It's like the scent of a favorite food compared to eating the meal. You enjoy it, but it leaves you wanting more. This would be a good Christmas present for a young reader. The proceeds go to a worthy charity. Recommended.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stranger in Paradise - Robert B. Parker

Stranger in Paradise is a new Jesse Stone novel. Crow, one of the villains from Trouble in Paradise, is back for this novel. Crow was the only bad guy to escape from the Stiles Island incident, and he escaped with a boat full of money. The question is what does Crow want in Paradise this time. He's searching for someone and Paradise seems like a good place to look. When he walks into the station and checks in with Jesse things start to happen. Very highly recommended.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What NOT to do over Thanksgiving

My first big mistake was agreeing to play football, shortly after eating Thanksgiving dinner, with five people, all at least 15 years younger than me. The game was three on a side, with one son-in-law (Indianapolis policeman), one nephew-in-law (college student), one grandson 9, one grandnephew 12, and the neighbor kid 11. The neighbor kid was the vicious one. I still have his footprints on my sweatshirt! Mostly I have sore muscles from head to toe. Yes head! I must have muscles in my head because I agreed to play.

My second mistake was agreeing to take a couple of my grandkids bowling the next day. The first frame I fell flat on my face when my knees gave out. I didn't get a gutter ball, but only because they had bumpers in the lane for my grandkids. Yes, for my grandkids! I managed to stumble through three games but I barely topped 100 each game. Thankfully I beat one of my grandkids, but I feel a little guilty making a nine year old play with a 16 pound ball. Just a little though. He was on the other team the day before.

So I'm home and I'm sore and if I never see a football or a bowling ball again I'll die happy. At least until next Thanksgiving.

Just After Sunset - Stephen King

Just After Sunset is a collection of 13 short stories. An appropriate number for Stephen King. It's been a long time since King came out with a collection of short stories and it was worth the wait. I'm particularly drawn to short stories. They can be as compelling as full length novels, but I can usually get to sleep before my alarm goes off in the morning.

King is one of those story tellers who never lets you know how it's going to end. There are some authors you can count on for a happy ending, no matter how grim their tales get in the middle. Sometimes I like that and sometimes I don't. King can kill off the whole cast and leave a monster waiting around for the next innocent to stroll within reach. You never know. Some of these stories end happy and some just end. They're all excellent.

My personal favorite was Stationary Bike. I now have a better excuse not to ride mine :) Close behind were The Cat from Hell, A Very Tight Place, and The Things They Left Behind. Very highly recommended.

Divergence - Charles Sheffield

Divergence is the second book in the Heritage Universe series. This story takes off where Summertide ended. I recommend you read Summertide first. The same cast of characters make their appearance, but there's a new protagonist E.C. Tally. Tally is a computer housed in a tank grown human body. It's an interesting concept and one that presents some humorous and insightful looks at human nature. The villains, Louis Nenda and Atvar H'sial, are still villains, but they help the rest of the group when they encounter some long lost Zardalu. The Zardalu are the most feared race in the spiral arm, but they were thought to be extinct for over 11 thousand years. This is a book that keeps your interest and provides plenty of surprises. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vista pain - UAC

Vista introduced a whole new level of nanny prompts to the Microsoft Windows experience. It's bad enough that when you delete a file it asks you if you're sure you want to delete it. Vista's User Account Control (UAC) has decided that users should be asked if they're sure about lots of things. If you consider yourself to be moderately computer savvy, and you want to turn off these annoying little windows, you can disable UAC.

Get into the Control Panel and into User Accounts. Then look at the last choice for making changes to your account. It says "Turn User Account Control on or off." This is the good stuff. Click on this choice and uncheck the box next to "Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer." It's only protecting you from yourself. When you click OK you'll have to restart your computer, but you won't have to see those irritating "Windows needs your permission to continue" prompts any longer.

If you're not sure how to get into the Control Panel and into User Accounts maybe you do need to be protected from yourself. Wait until you figure out those steps before you start working without a net.

Installing Software - Why Ask?

I've been migrating to a new PC lately. My old XP machine was slowly shedding function. First the sound card, then some USB ports, then some software stopped working. This time I decided not to wait until I had to run to the store and make an emergency buy to replace a dead box. I bought a refurbished machine and started moving the applications I use on a daily basis to the new box. I don't have the energy to write about the joys of moving to Vista but maybe someday.

That brings me to my point. I've been installing a lot of software lately and it's occurred to me that I've wasted quite a bit of my time dealing with lawyers. Every time a piece of software asks me "do you accept this license" it's because some lawyer somewhere put the fear of God and lawsuits into the purveyor of that particular package.

How stupid is that question? I bought the software. I paid good money for the functionality I want. If I say no to the question it won't install. Why on earth would anyone say no? But the install script asks anyway because some lawyer, or a whole flock of them (note vultures form flocks), decided it was a good CYA move to ask the question. Did you ever consider how much better our world would be without lawyers?

Lawyers are like condoms. Nobody really likes or wants them. They make things more complicated and less fun. Unfortunately, these days you better have one or you could leave yourself open to all kinds of problems. Ironically it's other lawyers who usually cause those problems. You like a conspiracy? Think about that for a while.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cross Country - James Patterson

Cross Country is the latest Alex Cross novel. Patterson provides the same easy reading style and stay-up-late suspense as all his novels. This story has detective Cross on the trail of an African gang leader named Tiger. Cross follows Tiger all the way to the African continent and runs into more trouble than he could have imagined. Highly recommended.

One caveat. Patterson goes preachy in this one. That doesn't mean the topic doesn't deserve to be raised, but novels are not the place to do it. Write an exposé or an op-ed piece for a national magazine. Please let novels be about the characters and the plot. Not the current cause of the day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Night Crew - John Sandford

The Night Crew is about a freelance video crew. They spend the night hours cruising the LA area for news stories they can sell to local stations and networks. One evening they film an animal rights protest and a teenage suicide jumper. That seems to start a series of murders that are tied Anna, the head of the crew. This is a tight suspenseful story. There's plenty of action and some interesting twists.

Sandford is an amazing author who always manages to add extra dimensions to his characters that draw the readers in and make them care about the people in his novels. This book is no exception. Very highly recommended.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Extreme Measures - Vince Flynn

Extreme Measures is another Mitch Rapp novel. This is a book you can't put down. Terrorists are finally back in the USA and the CIA is swimming upstream against politicians and their bureaucracy to track it down. It's a close race. Not everyone makes it to the end. Very highly recommended.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Summertide - Charles Sheffield

Summertide is the first in a sequence of books called the Heritage Universe Series. Summertide is a hard science fiction novel. It takes place over 4,000 years in the future in the Dobelle system. The Dobelle is unique in the known universe. Every year there's a convergence of planets and suns called Summertide that unleashes some tremendous forces on all the planetary bodies in the system. Once every 350,000 years all the plants and suns in the system linup just right to create phenomenal tides that will be devastating to the only life bearing planets in the Dobelle system, Quake and Opal. In this story surviving Summertide is the challenge. Finding out why the mysterious Builders seem to be so focused on the convergence appears to have engaged all the known intelligent races, making that survival even more difficult. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Divine Justice - David Baldacci

Divine Justice is another Camel Club novel. This book picks up where Stone Cold left off. Don't even bother to read Divine Justice without reading the other books in this series. It's well worth the time, and won't be any effort if you like a well crafted mystery. In this story Stone is working to elude the government after the events of Stone Cold. The Camel Club almost breaks up in the aftermath. While running from the CIA Stone finds himself in a dangerous situation in a small town that's not what it seems. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rough Weather - Robert B. Parker

Rough Weather is a Spencer novel. I really like Parker's writing style. He's like Patterson. They both write tight concise stories that don't drift off point and are usually single threaded. They like short chapters that keep you interested and make you want to read just one more page or one more section. This novel brings back the Gray Man. He and Spencer face off in an interesting struggle that's a mystery right up to the end. Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dark of the Moon - John Sandford

Dark of the Moon is a detective mystery involving the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but this time the focus of the story is Virgil Flowers instead of Lucas Davenport. Virgil has made appearances in earlier Prey series novels, but not as the main character. Now he's the main investigator on a series of murders in a small Minnesota town that quickly become more complicated than they first appeared.

I eat lunch down at the diner several days a week, and read while I'm munching on my fries and sandwich. There's one stretch in this story where the waitress stopped by and asked me if I was going to eat or not. I was so engrossed I couldn't take the time to dip a fry in ketchup and pop it in my mouth. This novel is that good. Lots of stories keep me awake at night but few can distract me from a plate of fries :) Very highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thirteen - Richard Morgan

Thirteen is a novel about the not too distant future when Mars is past the initial stages of colonization and America has splintered into Rim states and Jesusland. Sounds almost prophetic after last night. In this twisted future there are Thirteens. They're genetically engineered human throwbacks to pre-agricultural society when the survival of humans depended on aggression and individualism. Thirteens were designed to give humanity the edge they needed to win wars and escape the general feminization of society. This story is excellent. It was very hard to put down. I'm hoping for a sequel. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Mile High Club - Kinky Friedman

The Mile High Club was interesting for the first couple of chapters, strictly from the perspective of trying to figure out if the author was actually attempting to write a serious novel or just playing with alliteration. It's a book about an ex-country singer turned private eye who is full of himself, written by an author who is even fuller of himself. It took determination to finish this farce and way too much of my time. Don't bother. Not recommended at all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Brass Verdict - Michael Connelly

The Brass Verdict is another Mickey Haller book. Mickey is making a comeback from his shooting in The Lincoln Lawyer. He got off track along the way and he's recovering from pain killer addiction in addition to the shooting injuries. In this book Mickey inherits a fellow lawyer's practice after the other lawyer is murdered. The problem is, will one of the inherited cases get Mickey murdered too? To make it even more interesting, Connelly brings in Harry Bosch to investigate the murder. If you're a Connelly fan you'll be very familiar with Harry. Very highly recommended.

Key of Valor - Nora Roberts

Key of Valor is the third and final book in Robert's Daughters of Glass trilogy. This time Zoe is searching for the final key to conclude the quest. This is Nora Roberts so you know there will be romance, there will be sex, and there will be a happy ending. You never know quite how she'll put it off though. Another book you don't want to stop reading until the last page. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly

The Lincoln Lawyer is about a good lawyer who's not sure he's one of the good guys. He fall prey to his biggest fear, an innocent client. How he manages to resolve the problem is full of twists and turns and makes an excellent story. Highly recommended.

I have a love/hate relationship with authors like Connelly. I love books like his that keep pulling you along with tight prose and suspense. I was working until after 11:00 last night, and then I couldn't put The Lincoln Lawyer down until I'd finished it after 1:30 in the morning. This morning is the part I hate. I call it a book hangover. My name is Jerry and I'm a bookaholic.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

By the Sword - F. Paul Wilson

By the Sword is the latest Repairman Jack novel. It follows Bloodline. You have to read the Repairman Jack books in order to really appreciate them. The reason for the title of this story becomes evident early. How a sword fits in the thread of these novels takes a while longer to surface. More answers and more puzzles, like all of Wilson's books. Very highly recommended.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Brisingr - Christopher Paolini

Brisingr is the third book in Paolini's Inheritance series. The first two are Eragon and Eldest. This is an excellent series for children old enough for the books. I've already purchased the first two books in paperback for some of my grandchildren to read. I'll add Brisingr to that list when it comes out in paperback.

The Inheritance series follows a young boy, Eragon, as he discovers a dragon egg and grows to become the first free dragon rider of his generation. Eragon is human, but in the world of these books there are elves, dwarves, urgals, and more. In Brisingr, Eragon and his dragon Saphira rescue a maiden, defeat a corrupt dragon and rider, help pick a dwarf king, forge a new sword, and discover what might be the key to defeating the evil Galbatorix. Please read these wonderful books in the right order. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Key of Knowledge - Nora Roberts

Key of Knowledge is the second book in Roberts' Daughters of Glass trilogy. You have to read Key of Light first to really appreciate this novel. This story follows Dana in her search for the key of knowledge that's needed to unlock the souls of the three trapped demi-goddesses. Look forward to more magic, adventure, and romance. I've already started reading Key of Valor, the final book in the trilogy. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Key of Light - Nora Roberts

Key of Light is the first book in a fantasy trilogy. I really enjoy Roberts and she's at her best in this novel. Three women, three keys, and since it's Roberts, three romances. The first romance is in this book and it's intense. The keys are magic and will free three demi-goddesses who's souls are trapped in a locked box. The book keeps your interest late into the night, like all Roberts' stories. I've already started Key of Knowledge. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bloodline - F. Paul Wilson

Bloodline is the latest Repairman Jack novel from Wilson. It's got a wicked cliff hanger. I've already pre-ordered the next in the series, By the Sword, which should come out this month. I can't put down Repairman Jack.

This story starts out with a simple fixit that expands to be pivotal to Jack's struggle with the Otherness. This book has more twists than a roller coaster and is a much more interesting ride. Very highly recommended.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Crystal Prison - Robin Jarvis

The Crystal Prison is the second Deptford Mice novel. This is a good series for kids and I'll be buying copies for some of my grandkids. It's a little dark, but kids don't mind scary when the ending is positive. This time some of the mice head for the country, along with Madam Akkikuyu the rat, to return Twit back to his home. All is not as it seems and there are some interesting adventures to be had. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Woken Furies - Richard Morgan

Woken Furies is the third Takeshi Kovacs novel I've read. Morgan has an amazing ability to make his future worlds believable. This story follows the ex-envoy back to his home planet for an interesting mix of revenge and revolution. It would be interesting to see a swamp panther -- from a distance! The Martian technology circling Harlan's World plays an important role in this book too. Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Diplomatic Immunity - Lois McMaster Bujold

Diplomatic Immunity is a Miles Vorkosigan novel. If you're not familiar with Bujold's diminutive intergalactic hero this is a reasonable novel to start with. You don't need to know all the details of Miles' history to appreciate this story. There are references to Miles' past in the story, and you'll want to explore some of the earlier novels in the thread, but this is an engrossing tale with plenty of twists and turns and enough weird aliens to make any scifi buff happy. Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Harbingers - F. Paul Wilson

Harbingers is the 10th Repairman Jack novel. This is my second read because the new Bloodline is out and I'm refreshing my memory before I read it. If you've never read a Repairman Jack novel you're in for a treat, but I recommend starting from the beginning. I think there are 11 total now. You can see an earlier post of mine on Crisscross for a link to a list of all the novels in order.

This story brings a whole new set of characters into the battle between Jack and the Adversary. The problem is figuring out if their friends or foes. There's plenty of action and some big surprises. Very highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass is the last book in Pullman's Dark Materials series. If you read The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife you should read this book. The story is still too sophisticated for children, but it does provide a conclusion to the series, although not in a particularly satisfying way.

Some authors write crisp clean prose that keeps the reader's attention. Patterson is a master at this. In this book, Pullman never said anything in one sentence that he couldn't stretch to a paragraph or more. I really wanted to find out what happened to Lyra, Will, and the worlds of this series, but this novel really began to drag toward the end.

A movie might be the best medium for this novel. Hollywood would throw away the wasted words. Probably along with a lot of important ones. They definitely changed the whole tone of The Golden Compass when they made it into a film. Recommended — only if you read the other books in the series.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stone Cold - David Baldacci

Stone Cold is the latest in the Camel Club series. You can't really appreciate this book unless you read the previous books in the series so try and get them in order. This is an amazing book. Threads from previous books are tied together and new threads are left dangling in space. Sadly, the Camel Club loses a member in this novel. That's all I'm saying. You have to read this book. Very highly recommended.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan

Altered Carbon takes place in the 25th century, when people seldom suffer from real death. The body dies but the mind is resleeved into a new body. It opens up some interesting possibilities. This is the first Takeshi Kovacs novel. I've also read Broken Angels by Morgan and if you've never read a Takeshi Kovacs novel, and you like science fiction, you need to read one. Altered Carbon is the place to start. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Monday Bike Ride

Last Monday morning a couple of friends and I went for a ride on the I&M Canal Trail between Ottawa and Utica Illinois, and on the trail in Buffalo Rock State Park. The weather was great. The problem was that the I&M Canal Trail between Buffalo Rock State Park and Utica was closed. It's been closed since last August when it was washed out in a storm. This is one of the most scenic sections of the I&M Canal Trail. Now I hear the state is closing two of the four state parks that span the trail. These are Channahon Parkway State Park and Gebhard Woods State Park. If the I&M Canal Trail closes it will be a serious loss to the many people who ride and hike this trail all year round. If you want to let the governer of Illinois know what you think, click on the Governor’s On-line Contact Form or call the governor’s office at 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121.  I'd try the 312 number since he spends most of his time in Chicago :(

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife is the second book in the Dark Matter trilogy by Pullman. Like The Golden Compass, it's not really a kids book. It's too violent for one thing. For another, the novel introduces complex social and religious issues that most kids will struggle with. That aside, the story is compelling. I found myself staying up too late to finish, only to hit another cliff hanger at the end. Now I have to find the third book! Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lost Souls - Lisa Jackson

Lost Souls is a mystery about missing women, a vampire cult, and a young women who seems to attract serial killers like flowers attract bees. Kristi Bentz is the daughter of a famous cop and has been the focus of other books by Jackson. I started with this book but I'll be visiting the others. I just have to figure which of Jackson's books they are!

Kristi had a near death experience in a previous story and can see people who are about to die or come close to dying. She's started back to school and just happens to pick a campus where female students are going missing. She also coincidentally rents an apartment that one of the missing girls lived in. The story is addictive, meaning it was hard to stop reading. I found excuses to keep going until I finished the book. Highly recommended.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final novel in Meyer's Twilight Saga. I'm not going to do anything to spoil this for you. If you read the first three books in this series you have to read this one. If you haven't read the first three books then read them so you can read this one! You will not believe the twist that this book introduces. It is amazing and well done. Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass is a real kid's adventure. Lots of fascinating characters pepper the story like witches, daemons, talking bears, and cliff-ghasts. The best part for kids is that Lyra, the heroine, is not just carried along by the adults in the story, she's the driving force in most of the action. Be aware that this book is not conclusive. It ends in a cliff hanger of sorts, and there's a sequel that's required reading.

The Golden Compass
is supposed to be a kid's story. I enjoyed reading it but I don't know any kids the age of Lyra who could read it and really understand what's going on. I didn't see the movie made from this book, but if the producers were true to the book I would expect the movie to be just as confusing.

My recommendation is read the book along with your kids and make sure you understand what's going on so you can answer questions as they go. Given that caveat, highly recommended.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Triple - Ken Follett

Triple is a spy story set in the cold war days. It starts at the end of WWII, in order to introduce the main characters. Then the story jumps ahead a couple of decades to pit the Soviets against the Israelis and the Palestinians in a triple play for the fuel to make nuclear bombs. This is an excellent novel. There's plenty of suspense and action and a little romance. Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Last Colony - John Scalzi

The Last Colony is the sequel to Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades. The characters are familiar and Scalzi has woven the three stories into a very satisfying conclusion with this novel. There are still lots of aliens and action, but there are some twists and turns in this book you won't anticipate. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Watchmen is a graphic novel that alternates between picture pages and supplementary material to support and complement the main thread. I just can't get into graphic novels. I like the story line but for me the pictures distract rather than enhance the story. If you like graphic novels you'll probably love this one. The ending is pretty amazing. Recommended.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Twisted - Andrea Kane

Twisted is a book about ex-FBI agent Sloane Burbank. She's a consultant now, since she left the FBI after being injured in the line of duty. The novel focuses on a serial kidnapper, rapist, and murderer who abducted one of Sloane's childhood friends. The tension escalates as more women begin to disappear and Sloane's old boyfriend is the FBI agent Sloane finds herself working with. I'm not trying to be vague, but I don't want to spoil this for anyone. It's an excellent book. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades is the sequel to Old Man's War. They share the same universe and are temporally in sequence but there is very little overlap in characters. This story is focused on the special forces of the CDF and one traitor's attempt to wipe them out. I really like Scalzi's writing style and the way he mixes plenty of action with an interesting story line. Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Old Man's War - John Scalzi

Old Man's War is the first in a series of books about a future world where humans can enlist in the Colonial Defense Forces at the age of 75 years and receive a new lease on life. This story follows John Perry. John's a widower who's wife was planning to enlist too, but she didn't make it to 75. There are lots of aliens, battles, and some surprising twists. It's an old fashioned science fiction adventure, like the paperbacks I used to read when I should have been studying, several decades ago :) Highly recommended.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Naked in Death - J.D. Robb

This is the first book in Roberts' Eve Dallas series. It introduces almost all the main characters in the series and answers lots of questions I've had as I read the novels in almost random order. It goes without saying, the story is excellent as always. I wonder when Peabody shows up? Highly recommended.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dead of Night - J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas

Dead of Night is a collection of four stories by four different authors. The first pits Eve Dallas against a vampire in a tale by Roberts. I have to admit this is what drew me to the book. The other three stories are excellent introductions to their respective authors. All were shaded toward the supernatural and all were well worth reading. A magic coin, a magic castle, and a magic carpet all anchor unique tales with romance as their common thread. Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Immortal Highlander - Karen Marie Moning

I admit it. I should pay more attention to the genre when I pick a book. But The Immortal Highlander sounded like an adventure with swords and sorcery. However, even a category like romance is misleading when it comes to this book. Why not just call it a book about sex? The heroes and heroines think about sex, talk about sex, and of course have sex more than they do anything else.

The story line, aside from the sex, is interesting and there's suspense, magic, swords, and Faeries. This story is definitely rated X, but I enjoyed it. There are many books in Moning's Highlander series, but I'm not likely to pursue them. When I was a teenager I'd have dogeared the pages I now skip over. I'm not a teenager any more. Her brand of "romance" is not what I prefer. Recommended.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ascendant Sun - Catherine Asaro

Ascendant Sun is science fiction based in a far future parallel universe where the human race has split into at least three separate factions. One of those factions is the Skolian Empire. This book follows the story of one Skolian, Kelric, and his efforts to make it through enemy space to safety after the collapse of the empire. To make it more interesting the collapse occurred while Kelric was in captivity for 18 years and presumed dead. The Skolian Empire is a series I plan to explore in more detail. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse is the third in a series of novels by Meyer. The first two are Twilight and New Moon. There's a fourth book coming out in August called Breaking Dawn. What I really like about these stories is that even though they're about teenage love, vampires, and werewolves, they're appropriate for actual teens to read. No sex and no bad language. It's a real pleasure to read an excellent story that I can pass along to my grandkids.

Eclipse provides some new information about werewolves and vampires. There's plenty of action and some old enemies make their appearance. However this novel is still focused on the love story between Bella and Edward, and Jacob! Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In Odd We Trust - Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan

In Odd We Trust is a graphic novel. The story was good, although I found it hard to follow the thread from panel to panel. The illustrations were excellent. I'm just not a fan of graphic novels.

In Odd We Trust is a prequel to the first Odd Thomas novel, which was titled Odd Thomas. If you haven't read any of these excellent books by Koontz start with Odd Thomas the novel, then read In Odd We Trust, then move on to the other books in the series. If you have a shred of imagination you won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.

Rules of Deception - Christopher Reich

This is a book you can't put down until the last page. There are twists inside twists and there's plenty of action. The line between good guys and bad guys blurs and seems to disappear at times. At first it seemed the author was almost weaving too many threads into the story, but they eventually merge into a great ending. Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ceremony in Death - J.D. Robb

Another Eve Dallas novel. If you're paying attention, I'm reading these in no particular order since I started in the middle. This is the story where Jamie is introduced. I've run across him in a couple of other novels. I'm going to make a point of reading the first story in the series where Eve meets Roarke -- Naked in Death. I've missed that one so far. As always this is a story that captures your interest from start to finish. Witches and human sacrifice make for an interesting plot. Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Broken Window - Jeffery Deaver

This is the latest Lincoln Rhyme novel. As always he's pitted against an impressive villain. If you were ever worried about identity theft this book could push you over into the paranoid category. It's got plenty of cliff hangers and there's one cop who doesn't survive. To make it even more interesting, the watchmaker from Cold Moon is nibbling at the edges of Lincoln's attention. Very highly recommended.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blood Noir - Laurell K. Hamilton

This is a new Anita Blake novel. Rated X. Hamilton still draws me in with the vampires and weres, but she has Anita over think everything she does in her relationships. It's very frustrating. It's exactly the way you'd expect a woman to think. It's not the way I'd expect an editor to tighten up a story. I really enjoy the action parts of the story, but could do with less sex and introspection. Maybe I'll start looking for Hamilton's books in Reader's Digest Condensed format. Recommended.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Reapers - John Connolly

The Reapers is a thriller that covers some interesting moral ground. The protagonists are assassins. The people they're pitted against are worse assassins. The line between good bad guys and bad bad guys is sometimes hard to define. There's plenty of action and lots of interesting characters. I've yet to read a Connolly novel I haven't liked. Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Deep Black: Biowar - Stephen Coonts & Jim DeFelice ...

This is the second Deep Black novel I've read by Coonts. If you're into high tech gadgets and lots of action this is a book you'll like. It did tend to jump around from one location to another quite a bit. I prefer books with one or two threads to follow rather then four. I enjoyed the book though, and I intend to read more Deep Black novels. Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death - Laurie Notaro

This is another laugh out loud book. I got strange looks last night while I was reading at the Chinese Buffet. It seemed a little slow to start, but I suspect that's because the author has no kids and is female while I have 4 kids, 10 grandkids, and I'm male. She missed out on most of what's humorous (in hindsight) in my life :) I'm going to be reading a few more of Notaro's books. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Compulsion - Jonathan Kellerman

This is another Alex Delaware novel. It has the same cast of supporting characters as usual and the bad guys are particularly bad this time. Alex and Milo make an interesting pair. I really enjoyed this book if it just wasn't so hard to put down. Read or sleep? Life is full of choices :) Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Term Limits - Vince Flynn

This is a political action thriller that I found most satisfying. Mainly because some fat cat politicians had their terms limited -- permanently. The premise of the novel is intriguing and the suspense is tight. More than once I couldn't figure out what Flynn was going to do with all those pages still to be turned, but he always found a way to keep me turning them. Highly recommended.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evanovich

This is the 14th full length Stephanie Plum novel. There aren't too many books that have an interesting plot and can also make me laugh out loud while eating lunch in a restaurant. Evanovich can do it with consistency. I always look forward to a new story from her, especially if it involves Stephanie the reluctant bounty hunter. Very highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nothing to Lose - Lee Child

Jack Reacher again. You have to admire this guy's ability to avoid society. Fortunately, for those of us who read, he can't seem to avoid trouble. This is another amazing story and the end will blow you away. Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Scientists - John Gribbin

This is a great book. You're not going to learn all there is to know about physics or chemistry or quantum theory, but this book presents a broad look at how science evolved from the 16th through the 20th centuries in a very entertaining way. It provides interesting insights into how science as we know it works and the important men and women who helped make it what it is today. It's a long story, and jumps around sometimes because it's written from the perspective of the scientists involved, but it's a very satisfying read. Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seduction in Death - J.D. Robb

Every time I finish an "In Death" novel I'm ready for another. Seduction in Death is no exception. Eve Dallas and the standard cast of characters contribute to an interesting story and a satisfying conclusion. The future seems to have its share of creepy villains and Lt. Dallas is there to put them away. Very highly recommended.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

7th Heaven - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

This is the seventh book in the Women's Murder Club series. It's as good or better than the others. I stayed up late two nights trying to finish this one but finally killed it off during lunch today. The ending was a real surprise. Very highly recommended.

I don't have TV so I have no idea what the TV series is like. My recommendation is read the books and give your imagination some good exercise. There are no commercials!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Purity in Death - J.D. Robb

Purity in Death is another Eve Dallas book. This is a fantastic series for those that like cop novels and a little science fiction at the same time. Lt. Eve Dallas is a homicide cop in New York City, but it's the New York City of the year 2059. This is book 15 of the In Death series. I recommend reading them in order but I haven't done that so you can jump in anywhere and enjoy the story. For background the right order would be better. Nora Roberts web site has all the information you need. Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same person. Very highly recommended.

Note: do not listen to this book in the car while your grandchildren are present. The cop language and the steamy scenes (there are several) will have to be explained if you do. I learned this the hard way :(

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Without Fail - Lee Child

Another Jack Reacher novel that kept me glued to my chair. Reacher had a brother. His brother had a girl friend. The girl friend manages to find Reacher and hires him to assassinate the vice president. That's the beginning of an very interesting story. Highly recommended.

Broken Angels - Richard Morgan

This is a story about war and politics in the distant future when Martian artifacts provide all the motivation needed for human nature to assert its lowest common denominator. The technology is impressive and the action and plot twists kept me interested all the way through. Resleeving make for lots of possible sequels :)   This is my first Takeshi Kovacs novel. I intend to read more. Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Odd Hours - Dean Koontz

This is Koontz's fourth Odd Thomas novel. This is such an interesting character you find yourself anticipating the next book in the series as soon as you finish. This time you're left with more questions than answers so there has to be a fifth. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Phantom Prey - John Sandford

Phantom Prey is the latest installment in the Lucas Davenport Prey series. There are a few authors and series I try to keep track of. Sandford and his Prey series is one of them. All the novels in this series are well worth reading. Highly recommended.

Echo Burning - Lee Child

Echo Burning is a Jack Reacher novel. Jack's saving another damsel in distress and doing it well. There are some twists in this one that'll catch you by surprise. This is my second time reading this book. Getting old has it's benefits. Every time you read a good novel it's like the first time :)   Highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson

This is the first book in the Baroque Cycle series. If you like historical novels this story will definitely pull you in. It takes place in the 17th and 18th centuries. It covers so much ground I can't summarize and do it justice. Science, politics, finance, and religion are all mixed into a fascinating tale that has a fictional Waterhouse tying it all together. If you read Stephenson's Cryptonomicon that name will be familiar, as will others in this novel. It's a long but satisfying read. Highly recommended.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Maximum Ride: The Final Warning - James Patterson

This is another flying kid book in the Maximum Ride series. The target age level seems to be dropping with the series. I still enjoyed the story and will continue to read this series, but it's villains and protagonists are becoming juvenile and predictable. Patterson has joined the rank of some of my other favorite authors (Koontz and Grisham) and started preaching. At least when he gets on his soap box about global warming it's in the right venue -- a work of fiction. All that aside, I recommend this book to Maximum Ride followers and others.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Dark Portal - Robin Jarvis

This is my first Jarvis book and I really enjoyed it. I have 10 grandkids and I like to read some books I can recommend to the older grandkids from time to time. This one will be on my Christmas buy list this year. It's the story of a brave band of mice who take on the sewer rats and their dark lord. This book is only the first in a series of books in the The Deptford Mice series. Highly recommended.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Curse of the Spellmans - Lisa Lutz

This is an excellent book for those who think their families are dysfunctional. You'll quickly discover just how normal you are. Lutz managed to top her first Spellman novel with this one. I look forward to many more. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hollywood Station - Joseph Wambaugh

This is an excellent cop story about policing in Hollywood. There are lots of characters, some cops and some crooks. The plot thread is salted with interesting short stories along the way to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Plum Lucky - Janet Evanovich

This is another Stephanie Plum story. It's short but sweet. The question becomes how many hot men can Stephanie juggle at once? I almost got a friend of mine, who only reads T.V. Guide and stamp and coin collector magazines, to read this one by quoting the last line in the book, "Diesel was gone...and so was my bra." He's waiting for the movie :) Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Creation in Death - J.D. Robb

A novel featuring Lt. Eve Dallas is always worth the read. This time it's personal and comes right down to the wire. I enjoy reading Nora Roberts in any guise. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Darkest Evening of the Year - Dean Koontz

The first Koontz novel I ever read was Watchers. Golden retrievers are a focus in this story too. Once again Koontz has written a fascinating tale of people, both good and evil, that will keep you reading way past bed time. If you haven't read Watchers I highly recommend it too. You can read them in any order. They're both well worth the time. Highly recommended.

One caveat. Some authors are starting to get preachy on their favorite causes. Koontz is just a little distracting in this novel with his crusade for dogs. Not nearly as annoying as Grisham has been lately, but it does detract from the story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Duma Key - Stephen King

King never fails to engage the reader. This story is interesting from beginning to end, and not a bad ending either -- for King. I didn't get much sleep while reading it, but I'll be able to sleep having finished it. I can't say that about all the King novels I've read :)   Highly recommended.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Appeal - John Grisham

The Appeal is a good book. You keep wanting to turn the page and read the next section. It kept me up past 2:00 AM. However, Grisham is becoming a lot like Stephen King. His stories keep pulling you in but the endings almost make you wish you hadn't read the book. I warned you. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Complete Hammer's Slammers Volume One - David Drake

I really enjoyed this book. Drake writes stories that make you think and doesn't waste time or words doing it. This is a compilation of short to medium length stories on the topic of future tank warfare. This is an excellent book to read if you don't have big chunks of time, since the stories can be read and enjoyed in quickly. You can finish one before bed or knock off a story at lunch while you eat a sandwich and some chips. I'll be reading more Drake. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Obsession - Jonathan Kellerman

This is another Alex Delaware novel with the usual cast of characters. Alex got his old girl friend back and a new dog and has plenty of dead bodies to sleuth over. Highly recommended.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Black House - Stephen King & Peter Straub

This is the follow up to The Talisman. I really think Straub might be a positive influence on King. I'm a happy ending kind of guy and that's one thing you could not count on with King. He could leave you feeling pretty wiped at the end of a book. Cujo and Pet Cemetery come to mine :)   This is an excellent story. Highly recommended.

The Hunters - W.E.B. Griffin

I'm reading these out of order because I grabbed the wrong book from the stack at some point and it's what I had on a long business trip. This is the third novel in the Presidential Agent series. Castillo is a great protagonist, and the rest of the characters do an excellent job of backing him up. Another can't put it down book. Highly recommended.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Talisman - Stephen King & Peter Straub

The Talisman reminds me of The Stand and The Dark Tower series. I liked it. It was too bogged down in detail at times, but it kept my interest and the ending was unlike many King novels. You'll have to figure that one out. I've never read a novel by Straub, that I remember, so I can't gauge the influence he had on the final story. I'll have to give him a try. I read this book because I'm about to read The Black House and it's the sequel to The Talisman. Everything in order :)   Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

This is the latest Mercy Thompson novel. I really like the way Briggs writes. Before this book I read a science fiction that was very good but not a grabber. I could put that book down and pick it up later with no problem. Iron Kissed is a grabber. I missed sleep for this book because it grabs you from start to finish. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Heaven's Reach - David Brin

This is the final book in the uplift trilogy centering on the planet Jijo. It's a great finish and leaves plenty of this series' universe to explore in future novels. I recommend starting with book one and two before reading three. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Traveling with computers

I'm working in North Carolina for a while. I've been here two weeks and will probably be here for three more. It's a pretty part of the country. This picture of the building where I'm working was taken in the fall. It's considerably more bare now.

The building is very nice. If I have to work in an office (cubicle) at least it's in a nice environment. Of course tearing down and installing new labs doesn't give me a chance to enjoy it much.

I'm working in Cary, a suburb of Raleigh. I brought my bike, my dogs, and three computers. I'm actually getting more exercise here than in frigid Illinois. I pedal to work and back from the hotel each day and take the dogs for a ride mornings.

My reading time is suffering though. What I'd give for a comfortable chair to sink into with a book in the evenings. I miss my La-Z-Boy :( On the other hand every restaurant I've been to serves sweet tea. Yahoo!

Infinity's Shore - David Brin

This is book two in the uplift trilogy based on the planet Jijo. The first is Brightness Reef. This is another fascinating story. More questions are answered and more raised. I look forward to book three. We're up to nine sooner races on Jijo now and things are really getting interesting. Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

By Order of the President - W. E. B. Griffin

This is the first in a new Griffin series dealing with today's issues of terrorism and homeland security. It is Griffin, so the story is still centered on the military and the role it plays and could play. The terrorist plot is certainly different from most books I've read along this line. The solution is also unique but effective. I hope our president, and future presidents, can be as effective as the fictional president in this novel. I can't see a democrat having that much courage or sense. Vote Republican! Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans - Ann Coulter

I have to admit I bought the book for the cover. Ann Coulter is Hot. Just kidding! About why I bought the book I mean. Coulter is just as smart and on the money as ever. I wish some of the conservatives in government had half the balls she does. I'd vote for her for just about any office. I'm not sure she'd make a good ambassador though. I don't think diplomatic is in her repertoire :) However, I don't want her to change. She's pretty close to perfect as is. Highly recommended.