On the nightstand

Book Blog

March 10, 2019

Bluff (Guest Review)

ot every magician is a Houdini or David Copperfield, but with lots of practice and a bit of misdirection some can be great.  It all starts with “Pick a card.”  From there this enjoyable tale of a not particularly successful female magician twists and turns.  Get ready to read about magic tricks and card cheats – throwing cards, cutting cards, controlling cards, false deals, dealing from the bottom, and even rigged cuts. Natalie Webb was a child protege winning the World of Magic competition for close up magic (sleight of hand with common objects) when only eighteen.  Then something happened […]
March 3, 2019

Altered Carbon (Review)

pen admission – I saw the Netflix version of this before reading it. Like The Expanse, it was better in some ways and worse in some ways. But Altered Carbon is still a great book, smooth as brandy in a detective noir tale (of which this pretty much is). In our nasty future, you can cheat death by being installed into another body (re-sleeved). Hey, isn’t that nice? But trust the author of this wonderful gritty tale to bring up the lousy way this could work out. For example, you get put away for a crime? Someone else can use […]
March 3, 2019

East of Eden (Guest Review)

ohn Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden is a must read for any avid reader. Published in 1952, the language and references still relate to chaotic world of the 21st century. My mind quickly relaxed into the gentle rhythm of the novel, thankful for the opportunity to spend more time reading and less time on Google just to understand the narrative. Though Steinbeck’s writing style is simple, the underlying messages are complex and dense. To fully appreciate John Steinbeck’s masterpiece, one must prepare themselves for hours of contemplation on personal development and volition. Steinbeck artfully conveys a story that, by example, […]
February 26, 2019

Moby Dick (Review)

Yes, I know. This book should speak to me as a writer for the themes it explores. And it should speak to me, personally, about the mad pursuit of the unobtainable. But I just… can’t… get through it. Forgive me, for I have sinned. I’ve read Three Musketeers (and all the companion books). I’ve read Candide and Anna Karenina. I’ve read Don  Quixote. I’ve even read Tom Brown’s School Days   . Even Gilgamesh! I know how to set aside the twenty-first century me and become a simpler, less-expectant, slower-paced me, to read a book for its merit and discover the […]
February 25, 2019

Without Warning (Review)

suppose the scenario for Without Warning is the angry American fantasy – what if America ceased to exist? What if it vanished? How much would we be missed? In this case, “the wave” (an inexplicable energy barrier) falls over the United States (and central Canada, Mexico and most of Cuba), dematerializing all life within and locking the rest of the world without. In this bleak new world, we have a couple of interesting story/character arcs. There is the commander of Guantanamo Base, there is a southern lawyer (a fixer) on vacation in Hawaii, there is a hitwoman with a brain […]
February 24, 2019

The coming of the Martians (Review)

ith all the miles beneath my wheels and all the audio books I’ve listened to, it’s kinda funny to have this one which I knocked off in an afternoon. The Coming of the Martains is a good audio dramatization (meaning they aren’t reading, they are acting) of my all-time favorite book, The War of the Worlds. There is a lot going on here, and I was interested to figure how they would do this production. After all, reading aloud how the narrator’s dog cart topples over as the Martian’s tripod steps over it is one thing, but to actually pull […]
February 16, 2019

Fondly Fahrenheit (Review)

kay, I’ve got an audio book and a paper one both half-done for this weekend. My niece hasn’t come through on her promise to submit a review. I’ve got nothing. A little poking around the net found a reference to one of the thirty greatest scifi shorts, a piece called Fondly Fahrenheit. Kinky. So I found it HERE (sorry about the format, but it will print okay and it isn’t that many pages). And I read it. And I loved it. First off, this piece was pretty raw for 1954 (when it was first published). I can see why people […]
February 10, 2019

The Swarm (Review)

’ve got a friend in a hospital sixty miles off whom I visit three times a week. This is an extra 300 miles a week in the car, or five hours going putt-putt-putt. There was a serious concern that, following a long day at work, I might fall asleep at 80mph on the lonely swamp-crossing highway, go into the brush, get eaten by alligators and never be seen again. Listened to music CDs and actually drifted off the road one night. This wasn’t working. Next trip out, I stopped at the local library and fingered through their audio books collection. […]
February 3, 2019

Powers of the Earth (Review)

ith apologies to my best friend (a Liberaltarian) who gave me this book, I simply couldn’t finish it. I finish almost every book I start. I make a specific effort to do so. But this one, I could not. Let me go over the idea of the novel first, and then I close with my personal pain point about it. So, Powers of the Earth is a tale of a lunar colony founded by those fleeing the slow system’s failure of Earth. Everything is quite touchy-feelie back at home, with the military forced to accept handicap soldiers, with CEOs put […]
January 26, 2019

Gyo (Review)

oo boy. Okay, so Gyo means “fish” in Japanese, and not “a dreamlike nightmare that gets worse and worse until you are screaming to awake”. Which was my first guess. Gyo is a manga (a Japanese graphic novel) produced by a macabre-spewing author/artist named Junji Ito. My wife gave it to me for Christmas, a little thing she thought I’d like. So let me put it this way – I found it disturbing. Sickening. Crazy. Bleak. Strange. And just goddamn weird. It was also pretty good (from a horror viewpoint). I’m not going to spoil too much. At the start, […]