Required Reading

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!

Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Book Swapping or FREE BOOKS-WhooHoo!

Years ago I had a dentist who was also a scifi/fantasy fan. Every time I went to the dentist I took a bag of books and if I had remembered to remind him, he would bring a bag of books and we would swap. Sheer Ecstasy (I know, get a life) would ensue and I felt like I had scored. Well finding kindred souls is always tough, my dentist moved and my current dentist isn’t a scifi fan. The web allows easier access to kindred souls so I thought perhaps I would start a book swap. After having a survey on my blog that no one responded to, I thought I’d do it myself. So at the top of the column on the right I offer to swap books for stuff. I have lots of computer related stuff that I will happily swap. So far no one has wanted to swap.

Then to my delight I found Paperback Swap. Not only do they swap paper and hard back books, they are already setup and I don’t have to do any work but register to use them. I am not putting a link here since I have their banner on the top left of the blog. Embedded in the banner is my email address which means if you sign up and post ten books I get a book credit. A FREE BOOK!
Meanwhile if you sign up and post 10 books your willing to swap, you get two book credits…TWO FREE BOOKS! Seems like a win, win kind of thing. So I am now a convert, I am posting books on the Paperback Swap site, I have already had someone who wanted one and I have mailed it. I also used up my two free book credits. Incidentally if you do sign up, if you put some money in their pbs account through credit card or PayPal your can print the mailing labels, postage paid and not have to make a special trip to the old Post Office.
I am sold, I think it is a great idea and I wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Chantry Guild by Gordon Dickson

First Gordon Dickson is one of my all time favorite authors. The Childe Cycle is a series of books by Dickson on the future of man. Man has gone into the void in splintered cultures. These splintered cultures develop their respective strengths and weakness in their ideologically uniform environments. While the premise doesn’t sound terribly inviting, the series overall is excellent. This particular book features characters that have been involved throughout the series and is the culmination of events to that point. The series was never finished due to the untimely death of Dickson. If you are at all intrigued you should start with “Dorsai” the first book in the series. The Dorsai characters remained my favorite throughout the series.
Titles in the series in order of publication are:
Dorsai! (alternate title: The Genetic General) (1959)
Necromancer (1962) (vt No Room for Man)
Soldier, Ask Not (1968)
Tactics of Mistake (1971)
The Final Encyclopedia (1984)
The Chantry Guild (1988)

Body of work of Gordon Dickson

Overview of Dickson’s Work:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

Very interesting book, it has something in it to offend practically everyone. A good mystery, a very thought provoking plot. The protagonist is a forensic anthropologist with a cop as a boyfriend. The mystery is focused on the religious impact of an anthropological find and the ensuing murders. The book shakes the foundations of several major religions. An entertaining read in spite of the thought provoking plot.

Body of Work of Kathy Reichs
Authors site:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Firemask by Chris Bunch

“Firemask” is number two in the four book series The Last Legion. I found “Firemask” more enjoyable than the first book. I thought the detailing was better done and the story line was more inspiring. The characters are fleshed out better which was one of my complaints about the first book, “The Last Legion”. Interestingly the review below felt that the first book was better. Goes to show how subjective this stuff is. I enjoyed the book and recommend both books I have read.

Body of work of Chris Bunch

Review of Firemask:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Everyone has heard about this book. It isn’t as entertaining as you are led to believe but it may be more thought provoking than you can imagine. Two guys explore a lot of conventional wisdom and debunk some and support others. Their commitment to their work can be illustrated by the fact that one of them embedded himself in a crack gang to gain insight as to what makes that aspect of the economy function. Simplisticly they believe the root of all economics is incentives. What incentive drives you to work? What incentive drives a company to manufacture something? Considerbly more complex than these two examples, you should do yourself a favor and read the book. Certainly not a novel and not a quick and dirty read but well worthwhile.

Body of work of Steven D. Levitt
Body of work of Stephen J. Dubner

Review of the book:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Last Legion by Chris Bunch

No doubt inspired by the Roman withdrawal from England, the book details the plight of a small force left to their own devices on a frontier of a failing interstellar empire. The main characters are likeable but somewhat shallow. The story line is good. I like the book but I have hopes that as the story proceeds in the next three volumes that there is more character development and more action.

Body of work of Chris Bunch
Review of the book:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek by Evelyn Sibley Lampman

Here is another great childhood book. It is back in print. I read this book as a kid and later read it orally to my 5th grade class when I was teaching. Yes, it has a talking dinosaur but that isn’t the only reason I like it. Two kids find the dino living in a canyon on their ranch. The interplay between the kids and the dinosaur is great. The story is entertaining. It kept my 5th grade class memorized. If you have a child that wants to believe, this is a great story for them.

Body of work of Evelyn Sibley Lampman

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Dark Sleep by P.N. Elrod

I like old time detective stories. I am a Mickey Spillane and John P. McDonald fan. “Empty Copper Sea” by McDonald and “The Big Kill” by Spillane are good examples of their work. So when I ran across a detective series set shortly after prohibition with a hard nose by soft hearted P.I. as the main character I tried it out. Now there are some differences between Elrod’s work and the aforementioned Spillane & McDonald, primarily that Jack Fleming the main character is dead and he is a vampire. This in no way detracts from the entertainment value of the series. I have enjoyed every one I have read and

Body of work of P.N. Elrod

Site of P.N. Elrod:

The Book of Jhereg by Steven Brust

I’ve mentioned before I enjoy books with telepathic animals, the lead character in this fantasy, Vlad Taltos, is a witch/sorcerer and assassin. His familiar is a Jhereg which is a parrot size poisonous, telepathic, scavenger, predator mini dragon. Jhereg is also one of the 17 houses of the Empire. Trust me, it isn’t that complicated once you start to read. “The Book of Jhereg”, contains three complete novels, “Jhereg, Yendi and Teckla”. Since I am always looking for good prices on my books, this threesome is substantially cheaper than buying the three stand alone novels. These are the first three of Vlad’s adventures. First three is a bit of a misnomer as future books actually fit in better between some of these rather than a strict linear progression. It doesn’t hurt the story line though. Another interesting twist is that humans in these stories refer to a race of Elves and Easterners/Whiskers refer to what we would consider the normal human genome type. This is a fairly long series, so far I highly recommend it. Fantasy, sorcery, teleportation, murder, violence, love is all in there. I found it difficult to put it down. Brust is reasonably prolific so there is a wealth of good stuff out there to read.

Body of work of Steven Brust

Review of “The Book of Jhereg”.,%20Steven%20Brust.htm

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Intruders by Stephen Coonts

You may note that I generally like the book I am writing about. That is because I only write about the ones I have read and frankly why read something you don’t like. I liked “Flight of the Intruder” which is the prequel for this book better. Not that this is an entertaining book, it just wasn’t as entertaining. Coonts books are all high octane, peddle to the metal type of reading, full of manly men and womany women. (womany??) I have noted that friends of mine who happen to be either pilots or marines or god forbid both have a tendency to be a tad overblown macho wise. You’ll see a lot of that in this book. An entertaining read, hardly taxing, probably won’t make you ponder the inevitability of fate or anything but still worth reading.

Body of work of Stephen Coonts

Coonts’ site:

Prey by Michael Crichton

The thing about Crichton’s books is that they always make me think. One of my son’s is going to a seminar in Boston this week on micromachining and nanotechnology. He tells me that talking to some of his old profs, where he got his Masters in Engineering, tell him that unless there is some reference to nanotechnology in the grant requests they don’t get the money. If you haven’t figured out where this is going, Prey is about nanotech running amok. It is a good mystery and an exciting read. I have yet to read a book by Crichton I haven’t liked.

Body of work of Michael Crichton

Review on Prey

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Reluctant King by L. Sprague De Camp

This book contains three complete novels, “The Goblin Tower”, “The Clocks of Iraz” and “The Unbeheaded King”. De Camp is in the old school of science fiction. He writes classic fantasy and if you have never read any of his stories you really must. Please do not miss the “Complete Enchanter” even if you don’t try and dig this particular book up, it is one of my all time favorites. De Camp is somewhat responsible for the entire genre of Heroic Fantasy.

“The term heroic fantasy . . . refers to a sub-genre of fantastic literature which chronicles the tales of heroes and their conquests in imaginary lands. Heroic fantasy emphasizes the conflict between good and evil, and often casts a reluctant protagonist (human or hobbit) in the role of champion. Though he may not always be saintly, the hero's strength, wit, and resourcefulness help him triumph over evil forces. The background for that struggle is almost always an exotic one, the settings are sometimes as important as their mythopoetic narratives. Often confused with sword and sorcery, weird fantasy, science fiction or historical romance, heroic fantasy is as old as the first stories told (and written down) about heroes and their legendary deeds.” From John Flynn, qtd. In Josep Parache, Howardiana #1 (Robert-E-Howard: Electronic Amateur Press Association, 2001)

Body of work of L. Sprague De Camp

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Apprentice Adept Trilogy by Piers Anthony

The books in this trilogy are #1 “Split Infinity”, #2 The Blue Adept and the final “Juxtaposition. Piers Anthony is a mystery to me. I have greatly enjoyed some of his books such as “The Source of Magic” and “If I Pay Thee Not in Gold” with Mercedes Lackey. I just didn’t find any thing to identify with in this trilogy. I didn’t care for the story line or characterizations. I wouldn’t discount him out as an author though. He has written some very entertaining stuff. The Xanth fantasy series had some truly funny books.

Body of work of Piers Anthony
Piers Anthony’s site:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Horse Clan Series by Robert Adams

This is a long series in a post-holocaust world. I enjoyed it. Adams get a bit preachy at times. He may not have an agenda but you are definitely subjected to proselytization. Regardless they are enjoyable books and entertaining to read. I am always a sucker for telepathic animals. I always wondered what the heck my dog was thinking when he did that. It also amused me when she stuck her nose in inappropriate places and seemed to enjoy the discomfort it engendered. Since I wasn’t lucky enough to have a telepathic dog, I always enjoy stories with telepathic/intelligent animals.

Kind of search through the drift to find the Horse Clan Robert Adams

A good site for the horse clans.

These are the horse clan books I have read and I recommend them.
A Man called Milo Morai
A Woman of the Horse Clans
Bili The Axe
Cat of Silvery Hue
Champion of Last Battle
Coming of the Horse Clans
Death of a Legend
Friends of the Horse Clans
Horse Clan Odyssey
Horses of the North
Madman's Army
Memories of Milo Morai
Revenge of the Horse Clans
Savage Mountains
Swords of the Horse Clans
THe Clan of the Cats
The Patrimony
Trumpets of War
Witch Goddess

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

Sometimes I find Stuart Woods thought provoking. Others times I find his books merely entertaining. I guess realistically sometimes it is good to find a book that provides you with entertainment and doesn't really make you think. I spend a lot of time thinking so auto pilot isn't all bad. Delano, Georgia gets mentioned once again by a character. That small, quaint Georgia town would have to be several hundred thousand to encompass every character who originated there. Stone Barrington is always amusing, amazingly attractive to every member of the opposite sex and always lands on his feet. He is never faint of heart when it comes to challenges. I like Stuart Woods' books and recommend this one as well.
Amazon link to body of work of Stuart Woods
Link to Stuart Woods Home page

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver

This is the first Deaver book I have read. The main character is a quadriplegic ex-detective with a devious mind and an astounding ability to make intuitive leaps. I find that many mysteries I read aren’t terribly mysterious. Jeffrey Deaver’s plot is stupendous, superb, simply awe inspiring. He gave many, many clues. This was a good story, an outstanding read and a fiendishly clever plot. Well done Deaver!
Amzon link to body of work of Jeffery Deaver
The author’s site:
Book Reporter review:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Live Ship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb (a.k.a. Megan Lindholm)

This trilogy was the first of Robin Hobb’s work that I have read. It knocked my socks off. I couldn’t believe I had never read any of her work before. She tells a story that grabs you by the shorts and gives you an atomic wedgie. I jumped on the web and tracked down her Farseer Trilogy and loved it just as much. The Tawny Man Trilogy is the third work of hers that I admire. “Alien Earth” was published under Megan Lindholm. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the trilogies. I did find a page on the internet claiming to be her sentiment regarding blogging which she seems to feel is only for those who are not motivated or too lazy to write. I don’t know if it actually is her sentiments, if so I would beg to disagree. Perhaps a day to day diary may be indicative of a lack of interest in writing but I read a lot of blogs that are literature regardless of someone else’s opinion. However whether Robin Hobb actually believes that that Bloggers are the Vampires of the Internet, I still admire her writing, her skill and her ability to stir my emotions and intellect. I recommend her books.
The ones I have read:
Alien Earth
Assassin's Apprentice, The Farseer Trilogy #1
Assassin's Quest, The Farseer Trilogy #3
Fool's Errand, #1 Tawny Man Series
Fool's Fate, #3 Tawny Man Series
Golden Fool, #2 Tawny Man Series
Mad Ship, Liveship Traders Trilogy #2
Royal Assassin, The Farseer Trilogy #2
Ship of Destiny, Liveship Traders Trilogy #3
Ship of Magic, Liveship Traders Trilogy #1
This is an Amazon link to the body of work of Robin Hobb

Cross by James Patterson

Alex Cross is a likeable main character with a wealth of crap in his life. I enjoy the Alex Cross books. I definitely wouldn’t want a steady diet of them but sneaking one in between other reads works out just fine. As in most current novels there is too much gratuitous violence without balancing nobility. Patterson is prolific the following are the only books of his I have read.
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
5th Horseman
Beach Road
Black Market (Also known as Black Friday)
Cat & Mouse
Cradle and All
Four Blind Mice
Hide and Seek
Jack & Jill
Kiss the Girls
Mary, Mary
Maximum Ride
Midnight Club
Pop Goes the Weasel
Rose are Red
See How They Run
The Beach House
The Lake House
Violets are Blue
When The Wind Blows
A link to Powell's Books that list all of James Patterson's work.

The Mushroom Planet Series by Eleanor Cameron

My first love in books is Science Fiction/Fantasy. I love to read and will read a phone book if nothing else is available. However good planning generally makes that unnecessary. A book in each room you frequent, one in the car and your PDA loaded with Baen Free Book downloads means you seldom need to read phone books. The first book I can recollect reading,that was definitively Science Fiction was “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet”. Tyco M. Bass was a scientist who had wonderful adventures. For some reason I remember “Mr. Bass’s Planetoid” as my favorite of the Mushroom Planet series.
I was impressed enough with the series that when I was a 5th grade teacher 14 years later I read it to my students. They too, seemed to derive a great deal of pleasure out of the series. The series appears to be still in print and available several places. A good site to find the series is:

If you want a great introduction to the genre for your children, this is a terrific series to start their adventure.

Nice review of “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet”.

Good overview of the author and the series.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Coming Attractions

Off for a night out, come back soon to see what is new.