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Book Blog

April 8, 2018

Mark Twain for Cat Lovers (Review)

o here is the book that provoked me into traveling around the world with Mark Twain (i.e. Following the Equator) – a little collection of Twain’s essays and observations about a topic dear to me. Bikes? No, cats. Turns out the crusty ex-riverboat pilot was a lover of our feline friends, always having a couple about. He even kept a billiard table and allowed his kittens free-range across it, with a cat lurking in a hole and swatting at massing balls considered part of the game’s hazards. There are wonderful stories here, from his classics about a boy climbing out […]
April 1, 2018

Following the Equator (Review)

othing teaches us more about a person’s true self and soul than travel. I’ve had friendships end on long trips. Perhaps because we see how our acquaintances react to stress, or that we see them out of the context of their typical background, who knows? All that matters is that we’ll see them in a new light. Following the Equator was a travelogue by Mark Twain of his trip around the world in the late eighteen hundreds. The unwritten background is that he was in financial straits through bad investments, forced to go on a world-wide speaking tour (which he […]
March 25, 2018

The Great Time Machine Hoax (Review)

The Great Time Machine Hoax represents one of the reasons I love going to used book stores. It also represents the danger of going to used book stores. It was an early work of famed SF author Keith Laumer (1963). It came from a shorter work and was expanded into a longer novel (I think I know where the expansion was – pretty much a strange Kung-fu training section in the entire second half of the book). But I’m ahead of myself. So Chester W. Chester IV inherits a rundown mansion, the sole heir and sole responsible party for millions […]
March 18, 2018

Tricky Business (Review)

live in Central Florida, which means we’re always watching, in justified nervousness, the craziness of the Southern Coast (Miami and such places). Back in the eighties when I worked in a lumber yard down there, it was nothing to hear machine gun fire cutting the night (and not too far off).A house down the street from my apartment was dynamited by the mob. Miami Vice looked pretty tame to some of the things I saw. And now, that place isn’t just lurking criminal evilness – the entire city seems crazy. Carl Hiaasen was one of the first to take these […]
March 11, 2018

In the Orbit of Saturn (Review)

he problem with reading books off Project Gutenberg, and I’m talking really old books here, is that a lot of what you read was fresh and new and imaginative back then but now they’re old and stale. Okay, so our hero is aboard a liner off Saturn that gets jumped by pirates. He finds himself herded into a large cargo hold, trapped with the rest of the snivelers for ransom. But a sniveler he is not because he’s actually an undercover agent for some sort of galactic authority (forgive me – it’s been a while). And so he’s got to […]
March 4, 2018

Homeward Bound (Review)

uthor Harry Turtledove started his Game of Thrones-ish mega-series years back, the sprawling Worldwar/ Colonization series. In it, a hapless lizard race which takes everything in stride (including technological advancement) probes our world in the middle ages and decides that it will take humans thousands and thousands of years to get any sort of comparable technology. Taking their time (roughly twelve hundred years), they gradually assemble an invasion fleet (followed by a colonization fleet). And imagine their surprise when they arrive but instead of knights with white satin they find themselves in the screaming confusions of World War Two. The […]
February 25, 2018

Dark Matter (Review)

t’s been a while. I’ve read pointless SciFi, stale SciFi, and dated SciFi. After a while I was only reading SciFi to relax on the train. Nothing was challenging me. And then I read Dark Matter. The story starts out brilliantly. A middle-aged college professor is enjoying a “family night” with his wife and son. Going out to fetch ice cream from the shop a few blocks away, he sees an old acquaintance in a bar. In talking to this man, we get a glimpse of the purpose and gift our protagonist possessed, that is, before the day-to-day world sucked […]
February 18, 2018

Doom of London (Review)

eah, I gotta love Project Gutenberg. Now that I have a Brompton bike, I can commute by train and bus pretty much every day of the week. And this means I get a lot more reading done. So, sure, sometimes I slip a paperback into my bag. But sometimes I’m between books without a clear desire for anything. Happened this time. So I downloaded The Doom of London, which was part of three-short-story set. So this short story (set in Victorian London) follows a man and his weather. The man, our narrator, is a clerk for a gentleman of business. […]
January 14, 2018

Yowamushi Pedal (1-3) (Review)

kay, seen the show. And now, for Christmas, my wife bought me the Manga (first three volumes) of Yowamushi Pedal. So for those who are old, manga are Japanese comic books. They are read in Japanese fashion, right to left, which takes some getting used to. And for those who might scoff at me reviewing “kiddy comic books”, I’ll point out that Manga is big business in Japan. The top seller (One Piece) pushed over 12 million copies over the counters last year. And when you scroll down the list, you realize that we are talking about millions and millions […]
December 31, 2017

Artemis (Review)

he new one by Andy Weir of The Martian fame, a story of a crazy wild-girl living on a mundane suburban moon base. Which, as I write this, I see the irony the author was going for. And I like it. So Jasmine Bashara has been wild in the past. She’s gotten into trouble with the Dudley Doright station security chief. She’s slept around and even burned her welder-father’s shop down. So let’s just say that their relationship is distant and cold. Now working as a porter (moving cargos from ships to destinations), she’s got plans to go big. Her […]