On the nightstand

Book Blog

September 6, 2020

The Complete E.C. Segar Popeye (Review)

couple of weeks ago, I had a rushed book-selection. I thought I had Covid-19. Yow. Isolated overnight in my den (on the floor, poor me). The next day, I cleared the wife out of my path of egress and bolted from the house (heading towards a testing site, then my mom’s beach place). Would be a couple of days away. And before I went, I grabbed the closest thing with words, my collection of Popeye cartoons (from 1930-1934). This constituted Volumes 1 and 2 of the collection by Fantagraphics Books on this, massive things about 20 inches tall (which made […]
August 30, 2020

The Lost City of Z (Review)

knew a girl, once, who dreamed of hiking across Brazil and the Amazon. If I still knew where she was, I’d send her this book if only to give her the relief of lost dreams. If you like outdoorsy things, backpacking and camping, you might find this book interesting. So, in the early part of the last century, the English were sending out explorers all over the globe, driven to fill in those blank spots on the map. You know, that whole “Dr. Livingston, I presume” stuff. And one of the most famous at the time was Percy Fawcett, a […]
August 15, 2020

Trail of McAllister (Review)

an, I used to read these Western things when I was a teen, and Author Matt Chisholm is still pumping them out. But after my last slow thick book, a fast cowboy novel was just what I needed. So in this one, we open with five hard men chatting in their nasty little shanty. Turns out one of them “got him”, meaning he ambushed someone and shot him right off the edge of a canyon, leaving his body to fall into the river. As a reader, our first question is “who did you shoot?” And little by little, it is […]
August 9, 2020

Kara Kush (Review)

art of the reason I desperately had my wife pinch-hit for me last week is the fact that Kara Kush is 575 pages long. But no, it’s not just that. The problem I had was that this book was a very slow read. Sounded like it should be interesting – an American who grew up in Afghanistan finds himself as the de facto leader of the Mujahideen when the Soviets invade in the early ‘80s. Like Batman, he has wealth, connections, and even a secret cave to base. Add to this the discovery of a vast horde of ancient gold […]
August 2, 2020

Anne of Green Gables (Guest Review)

finished reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time yesterday.  Even though I have long known of this book, but have not had occasion to read it until it was a selection of my book club, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it.  It was not just an interesting read and a very good story, but also very inspiring without being even the least bit preachy. It is a simple but also moving story of a young orphan girl, Anne Shirley, sent by mistake from the orphanage to a brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, […]
July 26, 2020

Pennsylvania Railroad Facilities – Volume 9 (Review)

his is another picture-heavy volume of Pennsy Railroad memories, collections of snapshots presented in order of location, east to west, Antis, PA to Derry, PA, along the PRR Allegheny Division. A train club friend loaned me this one (as he had Volume 10, which I reviewed HERE). It’s a compilation of images from the early days of railroading to the near-present, showing changes to the railroad, the equipment, and the towns and cities through which this proud railroad ran. For me, the book came at a timely moment – I’m building a microlayout west of this division, out in the […]
July 19, 2020

Coal Railroading (Review)

ven though I model the Southern Pacific in the Central California Valley, I’ve been thinking of making a smaller “fun” layout, one I can fire up casually and run without trouble. You can see more about that decision (and the plans) HERE. But in a nutshell, I’m moving my action to Western Pennsylvania (in the made-up town of Tuscarora). I’m going to be running a very short line with coal getting hauled to a powerplant, with local switching and even a tower operator (big plans for a small space). So we’ll see how this comes out. While picking up preliminary […]
July 12, 2020

MS Found in a Bottle (Review)

o I’m wading through an old Afghan thriller and nowhere near done, and my review deadline is coming up. With that in mind, I pulled out a hardback from a collection my wife bought me years back, short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Flipped through it and picked MS Found in a Bottle at random. The story starts out slow enough, a man of the world but not of it, sailing on a tramp freighter in the 1800’s sometime through the South China Sea. A massive storm (with plenty of foreshadowing) comes down on them at night with the crew […]
July 5, 2020

The Darkling Plain (Review)

nother from the Mortal Engines series, a thicker book that finds Tom Natsworthy and his daughter Wren (and, indirectly and via different paths, estranged wife Hester) returning to the place it all began, the ruined London, laying in its debris field after its attempt to fire its Medusa weapon backfired (literally) so massively in book one of the series. We have the orphaned Lost Boy Fishcake hauling along the remnants of Anna Fang, once freedom fighter for the Anti-tractionists and now a murderous puppet (in the form of a six-foot tall automation that lawn-mowers people with its finger-scythes). And we […]
June 28, 2020

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (Review)

his strange little book came to be in my Astronomy Club – they had a “for a good home” cart of books and I scooped this one up. Oddly, it comes from quaint old 1989, so yes, a lot changes in thirty years. I’ll take my cheap shots early – the book is certainly dated. Mr. Ashpole (the author) is operating in the post-disco era. Several times he notes that no extra-solar planets have been detected (now there are hundreds). The Hubble is still a dream. All the technologies he discusses are outdated. Not his fault. That’s looking back from […]