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.

August 15, 2023

Deviant Flux by Jessie L. Kwak

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Randolph @ 3:32 pm

This is a sci-fi action story with a bit of intrigue. This is part of a series, I don’t know any recommended order but the author suggested they can be read in any order.

After the destruction of her world and the loss of everyone she knew, Starla goes to Maribi, an asteroid station run by a strong-handed cartel, seeking any of her family. After finding her cousin, Mona, she is rapidly pulled into a political conflict.
Despite being a science fiction story set in the distant future, the technology is seamlessly worked into the story and takes a back stage. It works well.

August 5, 2023

From Dream to Reality: How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer by Jessie L. Kwak

Filed under: Writing — Tags: — Randolph @ 3:20 pm

This is a perspective on becoming a freelance writer based on Jessie Kwak’s experience. It covers a lot of material, all at a fairly high level. Useful for someone trying to decide if this is the right path to take and to get started, but you will want to supplement it with more detailed material.

August 3, 2023

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Filed under: Adventure — Tags: , — Randolph @ 2:43 pm

I have to say that this book is disappointing in many ways.

The setting is interesting and has a lot of potential, but this author could not carry it off. The writing is decent and at times good, but the storytelling and the characters are a problem.

The story takes place on Mars in a highly stratified society where mobility isn’t possible, even when some believe it is. The protagonist, Daro, is just about perfect except for his anger and foul language, yet no one really faults him for this. He is chosen by the Sons of Ares to be transformed by genetic engineering and training into a gold, the top strata of society, stronger, smarter, faster reflexes, better in every way. He is not the type of person who would be likely to succeed at this, nor the type the Sons of Ares would select.

There are opportunities for strong symbolism usage which the author started but didn’t play with. One is dance. His people dance to celebrate life and to forget their problems. Dance was important in the early parts of the book, then almost forgotten. The other was the allusion to Roman mythology, sometimes Greek. The leaders have taken on the persona of Roman gods, the secret organization which helps him is the Sons of Ares, yet this isn’t really explored.

Whoever edited the book for continuity and content didn’t do his job, if there was anyone who tried. The author seems to write from the beginning to the end of the book without going back for edits, on several occasions the author writes himself into a corner then uses a plot device to write himself out when going back and adding a relevant scene or two could have handled the problem.

Another editing fault is that, after his transformation, Daro is constantly explaining his ability to leap or run due to Mars’ lower gravity, tell the author it is 38%, not 37%, having lived his entire life on Mars Daro would have nothing else to compare it to, that is all he knows. He should attribute any changes to his genetic engineering.

His female characters are either plot devices, such as his wife, who adores him, yet seems to withhold important information, specifically about his world being a lie, then reveals it all at a single event and pointlessly sacrifices herself to further the plot. He talks about women being fighters and leaders, but doesn’t demonstrate it through the story other than a single woman-on-woman battle.

I can go on, issues include: using conflict as a way to improve the species when they have genetic engineering, pacing of the book is too fast at important points, leaders not noticing that their game is fixed, leaders not using armies or other force when their Olympus is invaded, military tactics that just don’t make sense or were used in the middle ages and now unknown to these people with vast computers, how Daro could possibly have learned what he needed – the Sons of Ares could not have known.

Don’t waste time on this book.

July 17, 2023

The Doom That Came to the Coffee Shop by Mark Teppo

Filed under: Horror — Tags: — Randolph @ 7:44 am

This is a choose-your-own-adventure book, it is a training exercise for the Night Office, an organization that fights otherworldly and extra-dimensional monsters. This is a training exercise. In this exercise, the reader is transported to a coffee shop where they are to identify an existential threat to humanity.

You will die, maybe you will walk away. But can you survive the mission? I found the adventure fun, playing it several times to explore different paths through the book. It can be run through in about 15 minutes to complete most paths. It will still get read from time to time. Now I need to get another book in the series, this is the cheapest and smallest so I anticipate more complex stories.

July 6, 2023

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Randolph @ 11:03 am

This is the first book in the Longmire mystery series and serves as an introduction to the main characters. The mystery revolves around a man who was murdered and left in the wilderness. Clues relate to the rape of a mentally slow girl and indian artifacts.

I found this mystery only moderately interesting and the writing adequate, if this had been the first of the series I had read I would not have placed a lot of value on reading others. The books seems to focus on introducing characters and the setting.

June 7, 2023

The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lilian Jackson Braun

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 5:29 pm

In the opening of the book, Qwill is suffering from amnesia following a bicycle accident. This provides a good opening and sets the stage for the book.

Qwill has inherited a lot of money, if he can live in the mansion in Pickaxe City for five years. While swearing that he doesn’t want the money and likes the simple life, he spends a lot of his time hiring staff, having a lavish party and feeding his cats caviar and other fine foods. While taking inventory of his new home, Koko shows him clues to a missing girl.

The newspaper investigator in him cannot let it go, he investigates the girl while trying to manage a large estate. Archie, Qwill’s former boss, tries to convince him to stop investigating as it appears someone my be trying to kill him. Then a random murder happens, is it tourists? If Qwill dies the money goes to a company in New Jersey, would they stoop to murder? Although Qwill continues his investigation, it is Koko who has the answers, if only Qwill would listen.

The book is fun in the typical style of the author but it had two disappointing parts. The accident at the beginning of the book happened before his investigation began. And the denouement came through a secondary character, not Qwill, although Koko had the information he needed. It is still a good story.

May 29, 2023

Murder in the Queen’s Armes by Aaron Elkin

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 11:21 am

Gideon and Julie are on their honeymoon in this book, the third book in the Gideon Oliver series. Gideon wants to visit a local museum where he notices that an old skull is not what it seems. Then he visits a dig site where a friend is managing a dig site, while the friend is excited with a secret he is waiting to reveal, that the Micenean cultural diffusion to England might be related to an actual landing instead. One of his students is anxious to share some important information with Gideon, after making an appointment with Gideon, he goes missing.

With a missing skull, a missing student and a friend who is possibly about to make a fool of himself and destroy his career, Gideon has to explore the dig site and talk to people about the mysteries. Trying to find time for his very understanding wife, he works with the police to find the truth and weave everything together.

May 17, 2023

The People of Darkness by Tony Hillerman

Filed under: Mystery — Tags: , — Randolph @ 10:44 am

This is the fourth book in the Chee/Leaphorn stories, I’m filling in a few books I missed when reading the series. Jim Chee has an offer to join the FBI which he is considering, or to continue his studies to become a Hataalii, a tribal medicine man.

There is a backstory of an explosion at a well logging event that killed a number of people. Years later a bomb explodes in a pickup as a tow driver is hooking it up for towing, the target was a man already dying from cancer. Then someone steels a keepsake box from a rich man, B. J. Vines, leaving many valuables that are in sight. Chee’s first involvement was when Mrs. Vines asked Chee to recover the box.

The People of Darkness are involved, somehow. This is a religious sect that worships the mole. It is not recognized by most Navajo for its use of peyote.

During his investigation, he finds himself and a woman, Mary Landon, who finds herself wandering with Chee during his investigations, the target of an assassin.

The locals believe Mr. Vines is a witch, Chee must find a solution that satisfies the local cultures and the white men.

The book is excellent and rich in Navajo culture.

May 4, 2023

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Filed under: Fiction — Tags: — Randolph @ 9:45 am

This book has been on my reading list for a long time, and I was somewhat disappointed. The story is of a teenager dealing with getting dropped out of another school. He wanders about, avoiding his parents and going through a few adventures.

The story is told from a first-person perspective. His language is crude and uses a lot of mild vulgarity, but this doesn’t make it difficult to read. Through his adventures, the real story is told through backstory, we meet his friends and family and learn about his values.

It seems to be a type of travel story, I kept expecting him to grow up. There is a suggestion at the end that that could come to pass, but it’s not clear that he has learned anything.

The title is a reference to his one desire, to save children, the catcher in the rye being a person to keep children from falling off a cliff. This could be an allusion to his one good family relationship to his younger sister, who dotes on him and believes in him despite any evidence to the contrary.

Throughout his adventures, we never meet any family members except his sister. He does have adults he respects, who have opportunity to advise him, but who have their own faults, real or imagined.

The book itself is short and easy to read. I’m not sure why it has such acclaim.

April 24, 2023

Tundra: 100% Naturally Flavored Comics by Chad Carpenter

Filed under: Humor — Tags: , — Randolph @ 2:40 pm

These cartoons are typical of Chad’s later works. They aren’t as funny as early cartoons, but still decent and improve toward the end of the books. I don’t care for his style of having every fourth page printed sideways, it’s just awkward to read and adds nothing.

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