On the nightstand

Book Blog

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 […]
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 […]