On the nightstand

Book Blog

May 19, 2019

Hello Universe (Review)

kay, I’m going to sound like a hipster, but since this is a kids’ read I’ll tell you the magical way I came upon this book. My wife and I were having a leisurely ride on our tandem in a tree-covered neighborhood and found a little book box curbside. You know, where are the places where you can add or take books, just a place to swap. Most of them were kid books and this was no exception. Sight unseen, I pulled it. The universe must have been directing my hand. So this story runs between three main characters (and […]
May 12, 2019

Pines (Guest Review)

ecret Service agent Ethan Burke is on a mission. No, not, protecting the president – Secret Service agents do more than that. He’s looking for agents who went missing in a small town called Wayward Pines.  The story begins shortly after Ethan arrived in Wayward Pines.  He wakes up with a splitting headache after a car crash.  He’s missing his wallet, keys, badge, gun and even much of his memory.  As he limps into town, he meets the locals who seem friendly, but strangely not very helpful. While investigating the missing agents, he also wonders what is going on in […]
May 5, 2019

The Case for Christ (Review)

kay, so here’s the thing. Faith is faith. If you believe in some version of the Christian Christ, in Allah, or even a blue elephant-headed god, that’s yours. Nobody tells you to do it and your personal conviction will determine the strength of your faith. You can’t will it to be. You can convince yourself to make it stronger. It just is. So the “story” behind this novel is that real world Lee Strobel is having a stirring of faith. When his wife announces that she’s turning to Christ, this supposed neutral author gains a new hobby, that being traveling […]
April 28, 2019

Affair in Araby (Review)

’ll admit that I was in the middle of a religious book that was as tedious as a sermon on a rainy afternoon. Had a bus, train and cycle ride home and I wanted to read something fun. So up goes good ol’ Project Gutenberg, where I found this wonderful tale of truth and virtue and pluck and right, written way back in the twenties, a little thing that plays counter to the actual dreariness of history. So three gentlemen of adventure, Ramsden, Grim and Jeremy (the burly Australian) (oh, and Narayan Singh, their loyal Sikh) bounce back from the […]
April 21, 2019

Cibola Burn (Review)

his one’s the fourth book of the series that would turn into TV’s Expanse, a sprawling space saga that deals with humans, their curiosity (or greed or lust for power, something like that), leftover weaponizable alien goo from a long-dead race, a star gate, a virgin planet, and the crew of the Rocinante. In a nutshell – refugees from the war over Ganymede cooked through the jumpgate opened at the end of book three. They claim (i.e. they land on) a planet in one of the newly-opened system. Turns out its also a planet a corporate has claimed, and their […]
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 […]