On the nightstand

Book Blog

August 26, 2012

The Sea Witch (Review)

The Sea Witch is a collection of three aviation short stories by Stephen Coonts, rich author guy, written between 1999 and 2003. They aren’t bad, not if you like planes, but with one exception, I’m not sure what the point of the stories are. Anyway, the three shorts are… The Sea Witch: The titular story centers on a PBY flying boat that has been tasked with a night bombing run over Rabal in WW2. Coonts demonstrates a full working knowledge of the craft itself (which is interesting). And it’s one of those “desperate crew fearfully flies the edge” deals. However, […]
August 18, 2012

Embedded (Review)

I hate Embedded. I hate Dan Abnett. This is writer’s hate, you see. It happens when a writer reads a book that’s really, really good. I just sit here hating the book, the author, all while I’m really, really marveling at it. Think I’m alone? Hemingway felt that way… Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion. Ernest Hemingway: I hate it. Gil: You haven’t even read it yet. Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of […]
August 9, 2012

The Odyssey (Review)

Odysseus’ household is in trouble, worse than an upside down mortgage. See, this King of Ithaca has been away in the Trojan war for nine years, then missing for another decade. Convinced that he is dead, a hundred suitors for his wife Penelope’s hand have flooded his hall, working through the larder like cockroaches, threatening his son Telemacus. They are insistent to wed Penelope (not for her beauty, which appears to have held up well into her mid-thirties (if not later), but for Odysseus’ riches). She’s already started one gambit, claiming that she needs to finish sewing a funeral pall […]
August 7, 2012

The Riddle of the Sands (Review)

I‘d always wanted to read this book, the 1903 grandfather of the espionage genre. Found it at Slightly Foxed on Gloucester Road. So excited. Saved it for the perfect time, cracked it open, read it slow to savor it. It was undercooked. Look, I’ve read all sorts of books out of history, books hundreds of years old. I absolutely love everything H.G. Wells ever wrote. And the book starts off well, with lonely Carruthers kicking about London during the summer vacation month. He gets a strange invitation to help pilot a small yacht around the Baltic from a one-time friend, […]
August 5, 2012

Perdido Street Station (Review)

So you’re sitting around one night, poised in that indecisiveness readers occasionally flounder into. What next? Science Fiction? Steam Punk? Magic? Fantasy? Why not all of them, wrapped together in a plot which chafes so delightfully? China Miéville is a London author – it shows. His city of New Crobuzon is a sprawling, dangerous, vibrant, cruel place, a fun-house mirror image of London. Steam-technologies work. Magic (in a limited yet practical form) works. The city is a melting pot of story types and urban fears. Presumably New Crobuzon has a positive side, a side of decent people, quiet suburbs, theaters […]
July 29, 2012

Nausicaa (Review)

It happens sometimes, with work and class and trains and general malaise, that I don’t get a book read in a week (before I had a weekly column, I was even slower). I’m currently wending through the Odyssey, which is a pretty stiff read. However, I was interested to find a character in it with the unlikely name of Nausicaa, which was also the character of an amazing translated Japanese comic I’d read over the years. Turns out that’s where it’s author/artist, Miyazaki, got it from. It’s been a while since i read it (I’ve got them all here next […]
July 22, 2012

The Time Traveler’s Wife (Review)

Got this as a loaner from a friend. She didn’t tell me anything, so I went in cold. Quite a book. Hokay, imagine that a guy has a chromosome disorder, something that when he is stressed or upset or sometimes just random, he flushes, sweats, pukes, then jumps through time. And he always leaves his clothes behind. So first off, he’s good at mugging people. And picking locks. And running. But more important are the places and times he goes to – eras and locales that mean something to him. He watches his mother’s horrible death from every angle. He […]
July 15, 2012

Battle-Chasers (Review)

There are two types of fantasy: there is the fantasy where everything is so alien, you scratch your head trying to remember what a mulack is or what the heck a void-princess does. And there is the fantasy straight out of D&D, with all the character classes and all the races and beings and whatnot. Elves and orcs and wizards and fireballs, basically saving-throw fantasy. Battle-Chasers falls into the latter. Now don’t get me wrong – that’s not a bad thing. Tigana was a super book (reviewed HERE), but it was high-fantasy, certainly an effort (and well worth it). Battle-Chasers […]
July 1, 2012

The Point of Honor (Review)

We’ve all been through high school. And we’ve all experienced the bully who will just not leave us alone, who makes our lives living hells for no reason we can discern. Nothing will stop them it seems. Not avoiding them, not standing up to them, nothing. Being in a Navy family had its advantages – I just had to endure until we moved away. And so Lieutenant Armand D’Hubert, a staff officer assigned to the 7th Hussars in Strasbourg finds his nemesis, a fellow Lieutenant, Gabriel Feraud. Feraud has just gutted a native in a duel only this morning, an […]
June 24, 2012

Troy (Review)

I like the story of Troy. I liked the Iliad. I liked the recent movie (everything but the last 10 minutes – can’t Hollywood keep a you-go-girl moment out of a movie where it doesn’t belong?). I like Agamemnon’s political manipulations. I like Menelaus and Paris squaring off, with the latter’s failings. I like the sulking Achilles. I enjoy his opt-out strike, where the Greek king is nearly chopped off at the knees when his hubris gets the better of him. It’s a story with so many things to like. And Richard’s Matturro does a fine job with his Troy, […]