Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tales of the Slayers (graphic novel)

Tales of the Slayers (graphic novel)

As previously mentioned, I don't usually read graphic novels, but the library had a bunch of them and I had time during the summer. I picked up a few of them.

There were a few Buffy, the Vampire Slayer comics, almost all featuring the characters from the show. Casually flipping through them, I wasn't interested. However, Tales of the Slayers was different. It was a bunch of short stories featuring Slayers from the past and the future, filling in more of the mythos rather than simply supplementing the series. I enjoyed it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batman: Terror (graphic novel)

Batman: Terror (graphic novel)

I don't usually read graphic novels, but the library had a bunch of them and I had time during the summer. I picked up a few of them.

This one was quite good featuring Batman squaring off against both Hugo Strange and Scarecrow (who has plans of his own that Strange is unaware of). Catwoman also puts in an appearance. Worth reading.

I'm glad this was the first one I picked up. Otherwise, I might not have read any more.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Star & Stripes Triumphant (Harrison)

Star & Stripes Triumphant, Harry Harrison (2001)

The satisfying conclusion to an excellent trilogy finds the United States at war with Great Britain, with Ireland playing an important role. The rules of engagement have changed as warfare has moved into a new age.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stars & Stripes in Peril (Harrison)

Stars & Stripes in Peril, Harry Harrison, 2000

Book two of this alternate Civil War tale finds the Union and the Confederacy taking the fight to Great Britain and the rode to freedom may well be in Ireland.

Very well done. Excellent read.
(I believe I give my copy to the guy who loaned me the other two books because he couldn't find his copy.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Star & Stripes Forever (Harrison)

Stars & Stripes Forever, Harry Harrison, 1998

Standing on line at Barnes & Noble's, I glanced over at the discount books and saw a book called Stars & Stripes in Peril, an alternate history book set during the Civil War, that takes the Union and the Confederacy into Ireland. Sounded interesting, so I scooped it up. It looked so interesting, that I hadn't noticed that it was book two of a trilogy. This was pointed out to me about an hour later by a couple of friends. The first reminded me that he had told me about the series at least a year earlier. The second was the one whom I gave the Net Force books to, and he in return loaned me the other two books in this trilogy. This is the first.

Harry Harrison does an excellent job with alternate history, and this is no exception. The premise is simple: what if Prince Albert had died a month earlier than he actually did. That is no small change for history. Prince Albert was key in defusing a standoff between Great Britain and President Lincoln, which could have ended in the United States fighting a war on two fronts.

Naturally, this would've ended badly for the Union and very quickly, so Harrison adds an extra twist. The British intend to attack Mississippi under cover of darkness. Unfortunately, the ships get lost in the fog and when they invade, they realize too late that they have actually attacked Louisiana, committing unspeakable acts.

The British decide that they'll have to take it all. The Confederacy can only respond by putting aside their differences and joining forces with the Union. And, no, I didn't give away the ending to the book. This happens around the middle, if I remember correctly.

I enjoyed this book. If you like alternate history novels or stories set in the Civil War or just have an interest in General Sherman, read this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vulcan! (Sky)

Vulcan!, Kathleen Sky, 1978

One of the original Star Trek novels, and an early edition of it (with the original artwork, not the updated cover). Unfortunately, I don't remember much about it other than the blurbs I found online.

I don't think that this is the only Trek book I've read by Kathleen Sky.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tom Clancy's Net Force: CyberNation (Perry)

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Breaking Point, Steve Perry (2000)

This was the last in the pile of Net Force paperbacks I'd acquired. Unlike the others, this one had a title that actually had something to do with the plot. There was an online community called Cybernation, which wanted to be an independent entity among other nations. You can imagine what kind of Revolution would be required to bring that about.

Enter Net Force, which once again wins the day, but never entirely nor convincingly. Something always slips through their grasps.

Anyway, I thought enough about these books to pass the bunch of them on to another Tom Clancy reader, even if these aren't technically by Clancy

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto (Snicket)

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto, Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler)

After a bit of a wait, this 11th book in the series was released. I picked it up at a special appearance in a crowded theater on the Upper West Side where Lemony Snicket was too afraid to appear, so Daniel Handler appeared instead. (Some parents were concerned until their children clued them in.)

We unfortunately sat in the back of the theater and so we were the last to get on line to meet him and get an autograph. I read more than half the book while standing on line for two hours waiting to meet him on a lined that snaked through a corridor with numerous doorways, so you were never really sure how close you were. The "Evening with Lenomy Snicket" started about 7 pm. I left with two children about 9:30 pm. He was personable and spent a minute or two with every child, but that's what caused the backup. Unfortunately, some of his fans fell asleep on line or their parents gave up when they were getting close (though still a half hour away).

That said, the book was a little bit of an improvement over the last couple, but it still felt like it was being dragged out, and you had the feeling that the mysteries within would probably not be solved before book 13, if ever.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Point of Impact

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Breaking Point, Steve Perry (2000)

Another book in the series, which overall I enjoyed even though I can't remember much about the individual books other than I was started to get tired before I finished my stack of them. Again, I didn't have Perry's name written down, so I didn't know it from looking at the cover. This one had to do with drugs capable of inducing super-strength and intelligence being sold over the Internet. Drama ensues.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

X-Files: Whirlwind

X-Files: Whirlwind, (does it matter who it's by?)

Another novel based on the show, but not an adaptation of any particular episode.
I don't remember anything about it in particular, but I would remember if I ever liked an X-Files novel.

So far, I haven't. What works for a one-hour television episode doesn't seem to work for a couple hundred pages.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Kingdom of Infinite Numbers: A Field Guide (Bunch)

The Kingdom of Infinite Numbers: A Field Guide, Bryan Bunch

Every summer I try to read a book about math to expand my knowledge of the subject. I usually fail. I get part or even most of the way through the book and then I haven't a clue what the author is talking about anymore.

This book from the summer of 2004 was different.

Bunch writes a "field guide" for numbers, picking interesting numbers and describing what's interesting about them, starting with natural numbers like 1, 2, 3, moving on to 0, particular negative numbers and fractions, decimals, and specific really, really big numbers.

It was an interesting read. And I made it all the way through.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Breaking Point

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Breaking Point, Steve Perry (2000)

Don't remember it much except the personal lives of all involved move forward. A little research tells me this one had something to do with Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) driving people mad.

This was the book that got me wondering -- not that it was going to stop me from reading the next two -- if this ragtag team was ever actually going to be successful at something. Oh, sure, things get resolved but no one is going to confuse these books with real life operations at the FBI, not even those ten years in the future (which is almost now). So if the evil scientist geniuses can make quantum computers and manipulate radio waves to control minds, why do these technologies always get lost forever and how come, with all these evil scientist geniuses running around, none can duplicate the results? And how dumb are the folks who run Net Force if they can't recruit some of these geniuses who always seem to outshine their geniuses?

It's science fiction, whether they want to admit it or not. So if they want to establish that the FBI's Net Force suddenly have super-duper super computers, what's the problem? They're trying to keep it realistic?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Night Moves

Tom Clancy's Net Force: Night Moves, Steve Perry

The apostrophe-s lets you know that Tom Clancy didn't write the book although I would've been hard-pressed to tell you who did. It's not in my list. I had to look it up online.

I received the 2nd book in the series, "Hidden Agendas", as a stocking stuffer a few years earlier. It was an okay book, although it had a bit of filler, mostly dealing with a character that I assume was important in the first book, but was totally ancillary to this story. It takes place in a future that would probably be here about now and deals with a unit of the FBI that fights crime on the Internet, and since they use virtual reality, they really do fight crime on the Internet.

This book, which is the third in the series, brings the team to England after one of them has a stroke induced over the Net and they must find who it is that can break into what should be secure computers.

Quick read.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves, (Truss)

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss, 2003

With a title like that, accompanied by cover art featuring a homicidal panda, not to mention reviews I seen, I had to get a copy of this book because I was sure it would be a hysterically funny read.

It was not. It was the most dry book I'd read in quite some time. I guess I was expecting something along the line of William Safire's On Language columns. This was much more straight-forward and no-nonsense -- despite the book's title. Not to say that the author didn't make some excellent points on punctuation, she did. It just wasn't as enjoyable as I had hoped.

However, there's one anecdote that stands out in my mind. Truss takes "Warner Brothers" to take over the movie, Two Weeks Notice, which should have an apostrophe: Two Weeks' Notice. She returns to that point several times and mentions "Warner Brothers" quite a few times. What Truss fails to realize is that Warner Bros. is spelled with a period.

(I know that because I read it in Safire's column.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Maybe (Maybe Not), (Fulghum)

Maybe (Maybe Not), Robert Fulghum, 1993

In the mid-90s, I had a 50-mile, one-way commute to work to Parsippany, NJ. I got a library card for the Morristown library (which was easier to get to than the Parsippany branch) and started checking out books on tape, mostly abridged.

This was the book that I had checked out in 1996 just before a blizzard, which dropped two feet of snow in New York City and more in New Jersey. I listened to this book on my Walkman over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour commute by subway and railroad. I bring this up so that you can get a complete picture of how early I got up, how long I traveled and how much snow was piled on the ground outside that Morris Plains station where I waited for a bus that went near my office complex. Imagine that you were in a car driving down that street just as I was listening to Fulghum explain the events surrounding the time he conducted the Minneapolis Chamber Symphony as it played the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth.

You would have asked yourself, why is that guy in a suit, carrying a briefcase and standing in a three-foot drift with the frozen wind blowing snowflakes in his face laughing hysterically??

When I saw a copy of this book years later, I had to read it unabridged. It was as good as it was eight years earlier although I didn't have Fulghum's voice reading it to me. Even if you don't read self-help or inspirational or religious books, this is one to read.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let Freedom Ring (Hannity)

Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism, Sean Hannity, 2004

The syndicated, radio-talk-show host and Fox News commentator's first book is filled with his opinions, which you are free to disagree with, and facts, which you aren't, although how you interpret those facts might vary. If you're a fan, or just like-minded, you'll probably find a lot to like in this book. If you're not and you're still reading this, you're probably seething by now.

Feel free to read this as opposition research. Read it to find the "flaws" and "fallacies" and the stuff that he's just making up. However, also note that everything is sourced. I didn't check the sources, but if you think he's lying, you're free to do so. I'm sure many did back in 2004 when this book was first published.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The King of Shadows (Marston)

The King of Shadows, Ann Marston, 1998

Book five is an improvement over books three and four as it weaves together the stories of two descendants of the Celi who fight for justice and freedom and that of a Somber Rider who has the blood of the original, ancient and magical people of that land flowing through his veins. Events will set these three on a collision course and shape the future on the island.

Unfortunately, I had to do some research on this one, as I did with the last one. I don't remember anywhere near as much as I thought I would. Without checking, I wouldn't have remembered the title of the book, which is technically Book of the Swords in Exile trilogy, not book five in the Celi/Skai/whatever series.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rogue Pirate (Betancourt)

Rogue Pirate, John Gregory Betancourt, 1987

I remember almost nothing of this book. I did a little research and found out that it was a TSR book for AD&D, and it had pirates in it. And sorcery. And mythical creatures and a big battle at the end.

I've read Betancourt's short fiction in the past, so I'm sure that I liked this (or, at the very least, didn't NOT like it), but I'm puzzled as to why I'd pick up such a book, which was #3 in a series, apparently. Library sale? Book raffle? The old used book store that had a 2-for-1 (and later a 3-for-1) trade-in policy?

This is the kind of book for which I needed a web log like this five years ago.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Oops, Wrong Order

Not that anyone who know the difference, but I haven't been consulting my list of books from 2004. I just assumed I read all the Snicket books together. Apparently, there were stretches in between when I had to wait for the next book to get to me. So I'm going back in time with the next few selections that get posted. Oops.

Cloudbearer's Shadow (Marston)

Cloudbearer's Shadow, Ann Marston, 1998

This is the first book in the Swords in Exile trilogy, the sequel to Marston's Rune Blade trilogy. In my opinion, it is all entirely one series because the first trilogy had no ending. In fact, this story starts one generation after the previous one ended, which was standard for the first three books.

I don't remember much about this one, which says something in itself because I remember much about the first two books and I could tell you all the things I hated about book three. This book was more like Broken Blade than the first two books, but it did move the story along. Heavy on the romance and coming of age (and magic).

Still, I'm glad I reserved it at the library and was able to track down a copy so many years after picking up that discount copy of The Western King.