Impressionist Painting for the Landscape: Secrets for Successful Oil Painting by Cindy Salaski

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on April 11, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

Impressionist Painting for the Landscape: Secrets for Successful Oil Painting by Cindy Salaski

The book got off to a weak start for me. When describing materials, he describes what he has and insists it is the BEST available. He doesn’t give adequate information as to why it is the best and what you can do if his choice isn’t available or is too expensive for the reader. This doesn’t address why the best wouldn’t change over time. Everything he has is the best.

The book got a lot better when he got down to painting techniques and composition. However, the authors didn’t really address impressionism very much. The book includes some step-by-step painting examples, again, there is a discussion of techniques, but not as to why they would support an impressionistic feel.

There are a lot of references at the bottom of alternate pages to a website for additional material. This is just a blatant attempt to get you to a website to view ads. the extra materials consist of two pages, one of very basic suggestions already covered in the book, the second page is a nice painting with a few words about its composition. This could have been included on one page in the book. Instead there are three pages about the two authors and two pages that are selling a video.

The book does have value, don’t expect to come through it with any understanding of impressionism and you can enjoy it.

Moscow Rules (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on January 17, 2016 @ 8:28 am

Moscow Rules (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva

Gabriel is on his honeymoon, when a Russian journalist insists on meeting with him. Gabriel reluctantly accepts the invitation, but when the man is killed before the meeting, Gabriel is drawn into a mystery involving a very powerful weapons dealer with dangerous plans.

Gabriel’s art plays a bigger role than in some of the stories, it has always felt it should be a bigger part of this stories, so this was refreshing.

This is a very well-told story with a lot of intensely interesting characters. The story has a good pace and will keep the reader involved.

Reality Check by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on May 3, 2015 @ 8:32 pm

Reality Check by David Brin

A rather dull, short story. It didn’t have time to develop anything of interest.

The Dark Place by Aaron Elkins

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on February 20, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

The Dark Place by Aaron Elkins

This is the second Gideon Oliver mystery by Aaron Elkins. The dark place is the Olympic National Park in Washington, here the dense canopy hides the sun from most of the forest floor. A few bones in a basket are found by a hiker, and a large footprint is found nearby.

John Lau asks Gideon to provide whatever information he can determine. These are the bones of several people and dead by a number of years, it could be an indian burial site, but there are no Indians in the park. Another sign points to big foot, so the crazies are about.

The story is well-told and a good mystery, throw in a love interest with a park ranger and you have an enjoyable story.

Brightness Reef by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series,Uncategorized,Uplift — posted by Randolph on May 3, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

Brightness Reef by David Brin

This book takes place on an abandoned world intended to be natural and develop its own races, who would hopefully be available for uplift. A small population of each of six races, in turn, have landed small colonies on the world. Their intent is to devolve and be re-uplifted, and hopefully to avoid attention and possible punishment from the stellar community. Humans are one of the six.

These races have ancient antipathy for each other. And each brings unique skills and histories. They have overcome their differences, and their are pieces of culture of each that has worked its way into the others, yet they do maintain separate communities.

The story revolves around the arrival of a spaceship or renegade humans. Their intent is unknown, and seems sinister. They aren’t an official envoy, so they shouldn’t be here, either.

This story shows us a different side of each of the races, including the humans. It maintains its suspense on the invaders, and latent tension among the six races.

Unfortunately, this book mostly sets up the series and doesn’t resolve much of anything. The story is interesting, and a must read if you’re interested in the Uplift series.

Foundation’s Fear (Second Foundation Trilogy) by Gregory Benford

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series,Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on March 2, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

Foundation's Fear (Second Foundation Trilogy)
by Gregory Benford

This is the first of a trilogy billing itself as the second foundation trilogy based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Although a three-book set, each can stand on its own very well.

The author explores some elements left up in the air by Isaac Asimov, and fills with more current knowledge and philosophy, such as addressing why there are no non-humans in the galaxy.

Some of the topics he addresses include expanding on Dor, who she is and giving her a little background. Her character is expanded, and perhaps changed a bit, at least from what I may have imagined. In general, he adds a lot about computers and robotics that Asimov didn’t go into, or couldn’t because the technology wasn’t available. Philosophically, he approaches the topic of computer intelligence and what could constitute life. In this, Hari creates two simulated people, Voltaire and Jean of Arc, to help him understand society and to help further his psychohistory, Voltaire and Jean of Arc act as a yin and yang, who’s arguments are designed to answer questions. But they evolve their own desires and take on life beyond their programming.

I found the book difficult to work through at times, but still an interesting addition to the Asimov series. I believe those fond of the Asmiov trilogy will enjoy this and find it interesting. It adds background to the trilogy and brings it a little more into the present. Otherwise I don’t think it may not be worth the effort.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on May 29, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My impression of this book seems to improve with age. Susan Cain presents a new perspective in introversion and its place in society. The book seems aimed at parents and teachers, but has enough information of general interest and value to be a good read for anyone interested in these aspects of psychology or sociology.

The book presents the strengths and weaknesses of both introversion and extroversion and why both are of value to society. I found the section on leadership styles and strengths and weaknesses very interesting. Susan continues to touch on why corporate America overvalues the extrovert and the value to business of the introvert and on the relationship between the two personality styles.

More of the book was directed more toward parents and teachers dealing with introverted children than I liked, or I would have rated the book much better. These sections were still interesting, but much less relevant.

This book is a good read for anyone, but it could have been better.

Will Shortz Presents KenKen Easiest Volume 1 by Tetsuya Miyamoto

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on March 23, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

Will Shortz Presents KenKen Easiest Volume 1 by Tetsuya Miyamoto

These puzzles are way too easy. You get used to them pretty quickly.

The puzzles are only based on addition and subtraction, and no larger than 5×5. The last dozen puzzles seemed easier than early ones, i don’t think they were organized well. And they didn’t get challenging enough once you learn the techniques.

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on November 29, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

Story Engineering by Larry Bonds

The book, Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, proposes that writing fiction can be broken into six basic skills, dubbed by the author as the SIx Core Competencies. Most of the reviews seemed very favorable, and it seemed like it would be a good read.

The first section, about 30 pages plus introduction, made me feel like the whole thing was a sales pitch. The author dropped the subject of his workshops several times. I was encouraged to continue only by the previous reviews I had read. He mentions the “Six Core Competencies” so often, it felt like he was trying to artificially make it into a catch-phrase associated with his name.

The Six Core Competencies, always capitalized, each had a section of several chapters devoted to it. Several of these sections had no meat to them. He talked around the subject, discussing its importance, but not providing any engineering techniques.

As all of the previous reviews suggested, his section on characterization was strong, and it was the strength of the book. He did provide good information no building characters and weaving them into the story in the proper sequence. However, I don’t think he offered enough that wasn’t available in other books with better information.

I found the sections on structure and scenes also interesting and informative. In my own opinion, the structure was better and more valuable than the character sections. But he did provide good information in all three of these sections.

Overall, I don’t feel the book is bad, but it does feel overblown. It is a good primer into story design, and if it were presented that way, I would rate it better. If you want or need solid information on any of his competencies, I believe you should find them elsewhere. The book, Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, proposes that writing fiction can be broken into six basic skills, dubbed by the author as the SIx Core Competencies. Most of the reviews seemed very favorable, and it seemed like it would be a good read.

The first section, about 30 pages plus introduction, made me feel like the whole thing was a sales pitch. The author dropped the subject of his workshops several times. I was encouraged to continue only by the previous reviews I had read. He mentions the “Six Core Competencies” so often, it felt like he was trying to artificially make it into a catch-phrase associated with his name.

The Six Core Competencies, always capitalized, each had a section of several chapters devoted to it. Several of these sections had no meat to them. He talked around the subject, discussing its importance, but not providing any engineering techniques.

As all of the previous reviews suggested, his section on characterization was strong, and it was the strength of the book. He did provide good information no building characters and weaving them into the story in the proper sequence. However, I don’t think he offered enough that wasn’t available in other books with better information.

I found the sections on structure and scenes also interesting and informative. In my own opinion, the structure was better and more valuable than the character sections. But he did provide good information in all three of these sections.

Overall, I don’t feel the book is bad, but it does feel overblown. It is a good primer into story design, and if it were presented that way, I would rate it better. If you want or need solid information on any of his competencies, I believe you should find them elsewhere.

Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant (Popular Culture and… by Kevin S. Decker

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on November 2, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant by Kevin S. Decker

You can recognize a good philosophy book, you know them. They have an 8-point font and every other paragraph runs on for at least 2 pages. Until now.

THe Popular Culture and Philosophy series changes that. With Star Trek and Philosophy, several philosophers use the Star Trek universe to explore different topics in philosophy. They make great use of different facets of the numerous series and movies to discuss philosophical points.

For instance, Professor Harald Thorsrud discusses stoicism comparing it to Vulcan philosophies. He makes good use of the series, with a few dialog excerpts to drive points. Other topics include ethics of bioengineering, aspects of religion, the nature of time, and Lyotard’s theory of the Differend, among many other topics.

The book offers good breadth with narrow depth, but provides enough depth in its choice of topics to give you a good taste of the subject. The book is light, yet full of information that is easy to digest. Any fan of Star Trek with at least a passing interest in philosophy should consider it for reading.


next page


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace