Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

March 29, 2010

The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert

Filed under: Science Fiction — Randolph @ 3:53 pm

The Butlerian Jihad by Brian HerbertThe Butlerian Jihad, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, is the first of three books in a prequel to the Dune series. The books focus on the human war against the machines.

The human-created thinking machines were able to seize control of a number of worlds. The story describes the machine attacks on human worlds in a seemingly pointless struggle for humans to survive to an understanding of the machines and technology that helps turn the tide.

I found the personalities of the machines to be interesting in their strengths, weaknesses, and their understanding of humanity. they strive to learn about people and to subjugate them for their own good.

This book sees the earliest beginning of the Fremen, Bene Gesserit, Ixians and Bene Tleilax. There are further suggestions or promises to develop the spacing guild and mentats in the next volumes.

The book violated some of the tenets of the Dune series previously. The technology is explained in present terms rather than left to the imagination. Now we know for sure that the lasguns are laser-related. This felt odd since it was intentionally left vague.

Another violation was that action took place on Earth, which was previously a mysterious birth-place of humanity and never described.

These didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. It provides a good background for the later stories and fits well with the previous writing styles.

March 25, 2010

The Three Stooges Scrapbook by Jeff Lenburg

Filed under: History — Randolph @ 3:52 pm

The Three Stooges Scrapbook by Jeff LenburgThe Three Stooges Scrapbook is both a biography of the Three Stooges and a summary of the Three Stooges phenomenon. It is provided in three parts, the first provides a history of each of the stooges, Healy, their manager, and a summary. The second part talks about the marketing, all the gadgets, comics, cartoons, and spin off/copycat acts. The last part is a summary of the films, both short and feature length. Each of the three sections is roughly 100 pages.

Having been a fan since I can remember, I really wanted to enjoy the book more, and I expected more out of it. I can summarize my issues into two areas.

First, the writing was poor. I felt at times I was reading a bulleted list of events through the lives of the various individuals than a biography. The writing had very little emotional content, and felt like a lecture given by someone just working to get through it.

Second was the repeated information. The biography section of the book follows each individual in his own chapter. These chapters, eight in all (Healy, six stooges, and a summary) had a lot of overlap. Each time, the same information was provided again.

Because of the duplicated information, each of the biographies does stand well on its own. The biographies are very complete (at least beyond my own knowledge) and provide a wealth of information on the individuals.

I found the second section very interesting, as I have always been interested in gadgets and collectables. I was disappointed that almost half of this section was devoted to comic books, and felt that there must be more variety in the toys and knick-knacks.

The last section provides a complete list of their videos, including release dates and synopses. This section includes films including non-stooge roles and cameos. I did enjoy the poster and film shots included.

Overall, I found the book difficult to read, but containing good information. It will be a good reference book for my library.

March 15, 2010

Spook Country by William Gibson

Filed under: Mystery — Randolph @ 3:51 pm

Spook Country by William GibsonSpook Country is a fast-paced book that conceals its subject until late in the book. I was disappointed in what it provided and how things played out.

The book has very short chapters, sometimes only one or two pages in length. For me, this made it difficult to get to know the characters and follow the events.

In the early book, it discusses lots of interesting technology innovations, but these eventually feel like just a way for the author to show his understanding, as they aren’t used in the book. Although the book keeps hinting that they are important. This went a long way to break the illusion of having a narrator vs. the author’s telling the story.

As the book neared its end, reviewing earlier material didn’t feel like it made sense. Some of the character actions early on didn’t feel like they were consistent with what the character should have known at the time. Although this only affected some minor events, it felt like the events were more oriented towards telling a story than internal consistency.

The suspense was good, it was never clear what was going on until the final pages. Although, again, I didn’t feel that the final solution was well thought out. I don’t think anyone would really use the solution they adopted.

March 4, 2010

Fast Sketching Techniques by David J. Rankin

Filed under: Art — Randolph @ 3:50 pm

Fast Sketching Techniques by David J. RankinFast Sketching Techniques provides technical instruction on how to sketch quickly without sacrificing a lot of quality.

What drew me to the book is the quality of the sketches. Although not of a high drawing quality, they are very good given the time constraint and working environment.

The books strengths are the step-by-step approach to the drawing subjects, compositional considerations, and clarity of instructions. The numerous drawings are nice and fit well with the material.

Unfortunately, the book doesn’t have enough material. The author is constantly repeating himself with only minor variations in subjects. He has a lot of anecdotal filler material that may be interesting, but doesn’t support the theme of the book. I felt like this was a good magazine article that was stretched out to sell as a book.

March 2, 2010

How Fiction Works by James Wood

Filed under: Art,Favorites — Randolph @ 3:49 pm

How Fiction Works by James WoodThis book provides discusses fiction and provides an analysis of the tools to make it effective.

James Wood talks primarily about the point of view and voice. He does a comparative analysis of different styles and makes frequent and effective use of examples. Throughout the book, he talks about the tension between the narrator and the characters, how the author can use time, character development and conversation, and on. He never completely leaves a topic, as he will remind us in later sections of those earlier elements and how they are being used in conjunction with the current topics.

The book provides a great deal of information, more than can easily be absorbed in its reading. I feel to book had given me new tools for the analysis of literature, and whetted my appetite for more information.

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