Friday, March 20, 2009

A Dangerous Man - Charlie Huston

A Dangerous Man is the third book in Huston's trilogy featuring Henry Thompson. The first two books were Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things. Henry has turned into someone he really doesn't like. Just being around him is taking your life in your hands. The ending is everything you'd expect. If you can deal with the violence you'll enjoy this conclusion to an amazing character. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hunter Kiss: A Companion Novella - Marjorie M. Liu

Hunter Kiss is the protagonist in a couple of novels by Liu. This novella ties together Hunter and Grant and provides some needed background on both. It's a good story all by itself. How they meet and how Grant convinces Hunter to not kill every demon she sees is explained. This would have been good to read before The Iron Hunt. Highly recommended.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Heat Lightning - John Sandford

Heat Lightning is another Virgil Flowers novel. Virgil works for Lucas Davenport as the crime investigator he uses to clear the heavy stuff. This time he's got his hands full. He's asking himself who the bad guys are, who's going to be killed next, and what happened 35 years ago to get this ball rolling. This one is fast paced, and as usual Virgil is something of a horn dog, but in a nice way. Very highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Undead and Unworthy - Mary Janice Davidson

Undead and Unworthy is book seven in the series of books about Betsy -- Queen of the vampires. You spend more time laughing then tensing while reading this series, and that's the way it should be. There's almost nothing serious in these books, from the devil's daughter who goes to bible study, to Betsy who is more concerned with the fact that she died needing a pedicure than that she's dead. Very highly recommended.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wait Till Helen Comes - Mary Downing Hahn

Wait Till Helen Comes is a classic ghost story for younger readers. When you move into an old church with a graveyard in the back you have to expect some ghostly rumbles. When Heather's initials match those on a tiny grave stone hidden under a tree the mystery starts. One of my grandkids will be getting this book for a birthday or Christmas. Very well written and just spooky enough. Highly recommended.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Warriors #1: Into the Wild - Erin Hunter

Into the Wild is a novel about cats. A house cat named Rusty decides to live on the wild side and join a clan of wild cats. Rusty joins the Thunderclan and becomes Firepaw. This is a great story for young readers. There's no sex, no bad language, and while there is violence it's cats and not humans. I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more novels in the series. My grandkids will be getting some of Hunter's books as presents. Highly recommended.

That said, the problem of feral cats is an epidemic in this country. Feral cats are not a natural predator. As this story makes clear, they kill and eat rabbits, squirrels, birds, and other animals that aren't prepared for this ferocious predator. Barn cats that keep the rodent population of farms under control are fine, but anyone who allows their cats to go outdoors is being irresponsible. Anyone who feeds feral cats and encourages their breeding is dooming the rabbit, squirrel, and ground dwelling bird population in their area. I serve two cats that live in (rule) my house and never go outside. However, when I'm hunting and see feral cats they are shot on site.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Six Bad Things - Charlie Huston

Six Bad Things is the sequel to Caught Stealing. Huston continues the story of Hank Thompson and his 4.5 million stolen dollars. Hank's stay in Mexico comes to an end when he's found by the Russian mob and the local constables. He's on the run again and there are even more dead bodies in his wake this time. The goal -- keep his parents alive. The ultimate solution will blow your mind. Highly recommended.

The Iron Hunt - Marjorie M. Liu

The Iron Hunt is the first in a new series of stories by Liu. The Iron Hunt is about a woman named Hunter Kiss. She's a hunter of demons. She has five demons of her own that protect her at night by prowling with her as she hunts. They protect her by day when they become her shield by attaching themselves to her body as tattoos that are impervious to even bullet wounds. They can even protect her from being hit by a bus. Her demon hunter status is hereditary. It's passed on from mother to mother. Liu is a very imaginative story teller. Unfortunately she goes a little too far in my opinion and throws in too many characters and settings that go unexplained. I still enjoyed the book. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Caught Stealing - Charlie Huston

Caught Stealing is a story that epitomizes the saying "no good deed goes unpunished." You begin to think Hank is never going to see the end. Murder, mayhem, and 4.5 million dollars. Highly recommended.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Kindle - first impressions

I finally took the plunge and got a kindle. It arrived Thursday afternoon and I worked way too late that night, so I didn't get to play with it much until Friday.

My first impression, it's smaller than I expected. I like the screen. The E-Ink® electronic paper is fantastic. I'd have preferred something besides white, but I got a black cover to go with it. I'm impressed.

I like the combination USB cable/charger. Very slick. I ordered a spare only because I know my penchant for losing things. Too bad the kindle end of the cable doesn't match the other dozen or so USB cables I have.

I've tried every feature I can. The text-to-speech is not as bad as I expected. I'm certainly not going to have it read to me, but the male and female voices are clear on most words. They have trouble with names and made up words like you run across in Stephen King stories. This feature can stay experimental from my perspective.

I've loaded some MP3 files in the music folder and the speakers are pretty good if you're right up close. I plugged some headphones into the jack and it's great. I already have an MP3 player with lots more memory, and it fits around my neck while I'm biking or working around the yard or house. The kindle doesn't fit my needs for a music player, and I avoid audible like the plague. MP3 books work just fine for me on my MP3 player. This is another feature I don't need.

The web browser is desperate. If I really had to get to the web and all I had was my kindle I'd use it, but it's going to have to improve before I'll look forward to using it. Enough said.

I've used the to convert a PDF and a DOC to kindle food. One was the US Constitution and the other was the Bible. Both work fine on the reader. I've also directly downloaded a TXT file to the kindle and that reads fine too. There are a ton of places to get free books. OK, they're not all best sellers, but there are some good old classics to be had for free.

I've tried subscribing to a blog and the Chicago Tribune. The blog is gone. I spend over 12 hours a day glued to desk anyway, so why pay for what I can get on the computer for free? The Tribune is interesting though. I like the ability just skim from article to article. I've found a few I read to the end, but not many. Lack of pictures is a drawback. I suspect I'll cancel that subscription also before the two week trial is over.

The display is easy on the eyes. The navigation is easy when reading. I keep hitting the next page button instead of depressing the joy stick though. I'll get used to that after a while.

The single neatest feature for me is the dictionary. I really hate to run across I word I don't know, but it happens. I'm usually sitting back in my chair with a cat, a dog, or both on my lap, and getting up for a dictionary isn't an option. The kindle makes looking up that mystery word a snap. Thank you!

The wireless is a very nice feature. I checked the coverage map before pushing that one-click button, but my home area and my family's area in Indiana are all covered. Besides you only need the wireless to download new content. I've already got enough on my kindle to last me for a few weeks.

I finished King's UR and Dish Served Cold by Deaver last night. The kindle is a pleasure to use. Next up, Caught Stealing by Huston. Free is good :)

My conclusion? Thumbs up. Five stars. Very highly recommended.