On the nightstand

Book Blog

December 24, 2017

In the City of Bikes (Review)

isclosure – I’m a bike activist. I ride in the most dangerous city in America for this, three days a week. I’ve even spoken on the subject in this podcast. There is a gigantic photo of me on the wall at my work, with me pictured on my bike. Everyone knows I’m a man who rides a bike. We’ve also been to Amsterdam and saw the bikes – even went on a tour (with helmets – how geeky we must have looked). That trip was cut short by my wife breaking her arm – another story there, this is a […]
December 3, 2017

Cool Japan Guide (Review)

ought this one for the wife, a sort of statement of intent thing for our trip next year to Japan (which I want to do cold in Tokyo and she wants to do prepped on a tour. So yes, still sorting out things). But it’s a very interesting approach to trip-planning, a girlish comic book of traveling to Japan, all filled with bright burn-your-eyes-out color and girlish comics of all the things you’ll need to know. Look, it’s not Fodars, but it’s a lot of fun. So Abby’s been to Japan lots. Of course she has – she’s young and […]
November 26, 2017

Tom Jones (Review)

ix weeks. That’s how long it took me to get through this thing. Six weeks. 874 pages of tight, olde-english text. My literary albatross. So this classic is not what you’d expect a classic to be. It’s like falling in love with a substance abuser, a love-hate relationship. And it’s massive and sprawling, but also repetitive and editorial. But what (or, better yet, who) is Tom Jones. Tom is the son of unknown parents, smuggled into the bed of Mr. Allworthy, local landowner and (as his name implies) a just and charitable man. Well, up to the point where he […]
November 19, 2017

Patriots (Review)

haven’t read David Drake in a while – not seriously since college and his Hammer’s Slammers break out novels. And here we have another one written in 1996 (which is more than twenty years ago, a fact that continues to surprise me). Saw this in a used book store and figured why not. So this story is a thinly veiled allegory (so I’m told) of the Revolutionary War, and what took place in Vermont with Ethan Allen (whom I knew just from the PR he gets in America and if it’s anything like what Sam Adams got, then yes, it’s […]
November 12, 2017

Utah Blaine (Review)

amilies have dark secrets. My sister likes romance novels. Me, I love an occasional Louis L’Amour western. It’s all wide open spaces and honest heroes who have to fight against massed opposition for the sake of good and right (rather like my own life, seems to me). L’Amour can hold an audience; that’s been proven around the world. So the hero with his cool name, Utah Blaine, is on the run after springing himself from a Mexican jail (for attempting to help a revolution). He’s moving north, back into the states, on foot, without a gun. Then one night he […]
October 29, 2017

Stone Lake (Review)

tone Lake was an odd book sent to me by a friend (you want to challenge me, Boy? Think you can send me books and not get ones in return? Well, we’ll see about that). When I first got it, I frowned at the cover, frowned at the back, and thought “Why is this guy sending me chick-lit?” So Jon (See, chick-lit) is a dude who lost his company to his shitty best friend. Most of his time is spent working for free. Most of his money goes to his blubbery lazy mom. He’s divorced – and his ex hooked […]
October 22, 2017

Pygmy (Review)

ll the Cedar family knows is that they have, at the urging of their church, adapted a young boy from a third world country, one that they wish to share the blessings of American culture and consumption with. This family is pretty screwed up, with the son a moraless turd and the daughter sniffing solder fumes, mom burning every battery in the house in her vibrator and dad just oblivious to it all. They’ve even renamed him “Pygmy” without the slightest thought or hesitation. All Agent Number 67 knows is that he’s succeeded in being imbedded (along with several fellow […]
October 16, 2017

He gave me Barn Cats (Review)

met Maria Santomasso-Hyde in her art gallery in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful art, all sorts of country paintings. But then we got to talking. We’re both writers. We’ve both lost cats. Then she mentioned she had a book she was selling off a stack to one side, an autobiographical work she’s put together. Of course, I almost always buy such things – you gotta help those as hungry as you, right? Maria’s deal is that she’s very Christian and very loving, so when she went through a year where she lost nine loved ones (her mom, her loyal dog, […]
October 8, 2017

How to be happy (Review)

o, I didn’t get this because I was depressed about my cat’s passing (well, maybe a little). Titled as above, and subtitled as Not a Self-Help Book, Seriously), it intrigued me. The cover shows a hand holding a wick of sorts, which turns out to be the light (we find) that surgeons on night-shrouded battlefields and inside shot-ravaged frigates used to illuminate their patients. It’s a desperate form of healing illumination – fitting. So inside this curious book, we see a dedication to a bunch of people “but not Sandra”, and the statement (which I love) – “On day, if […]
October 1, 2017

Alive Day (Review)

his was our drive-home cut from the aforementioned Four Summoner’s Tales, an interesting piece about a strange special ops group, kinda a combination of Seal Team Six and Ghostbusters. It was a good closeout to the set. This is an existing character from an existing series, but that’s okay – you can pick up the characters pretty quick in this novella. The writing is that Hooyah style, all weapon descriptions and “bad guys” and buff, haunted yet caring heroes (not that there is anything wrong with that). The author carries it well – it’s authentic and enjoyable. Kick ass! Turns […]