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Book Blog

August 25, 2013

Sketches Old and New (Review)

Mark Twain’s Sketches Old and New, first published in 1882, is an anthology of his earlier works, sweepings and scrapings of his various observations and lampoonings from thirty years as an editor and writer. In that, it’s very interesting how similar it is to the collections other artists might offer today. Among them are observations of specific professions (watchmakers, barbers, doctors, chambermaids and newsroom hangers-on), races (Irish, Chinese, and those who bait them) as well as stand-alone bits. That Twain was anti-government is apparent in his many mockeries of its massive size and complexity (even for its day, particularly in […]
August 18, 2013

Astounding Stories July 1931 (Review)

Another dip with the iPad Kindle reader in the pool of Project Gutenberg, this time a pulldown of Astounding Stories, July 1931. Astounding Stories was the pulp monthly that later grew and grew, becoming Analog, whose existence, with the closing of our local scifi shop and the general inability of the current generation to read anything longer than 144 characters, is a fact just short of amazing these days (yes, monthly for eighty years). So it’s a nifty and back-laughing view of the “past’s future”, six stories of plucky heroes (all of them men, all of them sterling and bold, […]
August 11, 2013

The Red Room (Review)

Short stories are often a neat little side-jaunt from longer and windier stories. And sometimes it’s a delight to discover a story from a collection by an artist crossing a genre into something he normally does not do. So that’s why I delighted in The Red Room, an old H.G. Wells story I discovered in the collection The Plattner Story and Others, easily obtainable via Project Gutenberg (right here). Maybe because I’d had a long week and was comfortably tired, perhaps that’s the reason this “ghost” story appealed. Maybe because I had a beer in my gut, that it was […]
August 4, 2013

The Serene Invasion (Review)

Finally, a book for the left! I’ve grown tired with right-leaning sausage-grinders. I’ve also grown tired of the old plotline, that aliens who come to earth have a hidden agenda. I got through Live Free Or Die with bleeding eyeballs. So it’s nice, sometime, when aliens ARE beneficial, when communication and coexistence and cooperation actually work. It’s just too bad that in doing so, The Serene Invasion loses a bit of its edge. The the race we name as the Serene come to Earth and make big changes. I’m not sure why they dome some of our cities, since they […]
July 28, 2013

A Storm of Swords (Review)

It’s 1am, I’m in the epilog, and com’on, George, let’s wrap this thing up. 924 pages. Not that it isn’t good. The Storm of Swords is the third installment (some 1800 pages in) of The Song of Ice and Fire saga, a massive and sprawling tale from George R.R. Martin. It moves well, and most chapters always have a reason for being. Better yet, he engages in a practice I most fully approve of – killing off main characters. But that’s the joke I’ve seen on the net – “Whenever a fan asks Martin when the book is coming out, […]
July 21, 2013

Stories of the Sea (Review)

I‘m really slanted on this book. See, it led to the resolution of a wonderful life-moment for me, just before it was too late. I picked this up at Slightly Foxed. Published by “Everyman’s Pocket Collection”, it is truly a pocket collection, dozens of great sea stories packed into a small hardcover – pocket-sized – book. I’ve read collections before – rather like them. A good collection will give you a wide range of selections; perfect for airplane rides – you get one you don’t like, skip to the next. And this, let me tell you, is one of the […]
July 14, 2013

Cannibal Reign (Review)

I can’t tell for certain if author Thomas Koloniar was influenced by the story The Road. There, something happens, something that causes earthquakes, clouds the sky, and slowly kills off all plants and animals. As for the humans, well, they are forced to snack on the “other white meat”. Here, we know it’s a meteor. We see it coming as we establish our characters and then it hits – boom, and that’s pretty much it. One group is in a well-stocked missile complex, one set is in Hawaii (with the US Fleet and controlled borders) and a smaller group is […]
July 7, 2013

15 Views of Orlando (Review)

Carl Hiaasen sneers at Orlando, making it the butt of his Florida-bashing jokes. My model train club (based on Orlando) models Jacksonville (since it’s railroad-sexier). Orlando is a sprawling, simmering, distracted city. To those who use it for nothing more than the home-work drive, it’s little more than a blur beyond the I-4 guardrail. But I’ve lived here for thirty years, bicycled its streets, explored it from end to end. And when I heard about this collection of short stories punch-pinned across the city’s map, I had to check it out. In this collection, fifteen local authors have a go […]
June 30, 2013

Dick Trevanion (Review)

Readers talk about “junk novels”, novels they read for low effort and high pleasure. My brain surgeon sister reads bodice-rippers. Everyone below the age of thirty reads Harry Potter. And me? I read old adventure stories. That’s why Project Gutenberg is such a find. You can get anything there. I touched on that in my recent Dog Ear piece about a test download that caught my interest. The only thing I regret about my choice is that I couldn’t recommend it to my late father. He’d have loved this one. You see, Dick Trevanion lives on the Cornish coast in […]
June 23, 2013

The Enlightened Cyclist (Review)

Hey, I like BikeSnob’s writing – he’s a blogger who is going big with his books. Good for him. He also writes in a witty, flowing fashion. But…. (You knew there was a but coming) The Enlightened Cyclist is a look at the idea of commuting by bike (something I do two to three times a week) (see my bike blog on this site for my postings). I love cycling in the worst city in the United States for bikes. The weather is hot and/or rainy, the motorists are reckless, pushy and distracted. But it’s riding, and that’s brilliant. Beats […]