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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Coyote Rising by Allen Steele

Coyote Rising picks up where Coyote left off. A new planet being dictated to by a remote by time and distance government has the story potential for rebellion. Steele depicts the different types and personalities of the citizens of the planet and what leads them to making their very personal choice regarding their future. Steele does good characterizations of people you could know and like or despise. I don’t feel the book should be read as a stand alone. I would advise you to read Coyote prior to reading Coyote Rising. A good read, I look forward to the end of the trilogy and the ensuing two books that follow it. I recommend the book.

Body of work of Allen Steele


Web site:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion

I Like To Whine by William G. Bentrim is now available for purchase at Blurb.
Personally, I probably whine too much but this is my book for kids on whining and it’s consequences. It is my first attempt at selling a book. I have books I give away at under free books. A long time desire to actually publish something is the motivating factor on putting I Like to Whine on Blurb. If nothing else check it out and let me know what you think. Of course, if you want to buy a copy, WHOOHOO!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Reformer by David Drake and S. M. Stirling

This is the 7th book in the series the General. This post galatic Armageddon series is the attempt of a self aware battle computer trying to speed the recovery of civilization. The computer is joined by Raj an artificial personality created by one of the computer’s first successes. If this is confusing, imagine how the individuals in agrarian societies who hear the voices of these two civilized mentors. The series is the mentoring of societies to speed their return to civilization and prevent a dark age lasting a millennium. This book in particular deals with a displaced, effete Greek type of civilization trying to reclaim the sun from their Romanesque type conquerors. As all the previous six books, an excellent read. I highly recommend the entire series.

Body of work of David Drake
Body of work of S. M. Stirling


Give Thanks

Read some blogs from other countries and give thanks you don’t live there. It takes no courage on my part to write what I think or feel. I am able to express opinions on my government or church with no concern for reprisals. There are folks in other nations that express their opinions and get beaten, have their homes torched or suffer even worse fates. Give thanks that in the gold old US of A we can freely express our thoughts, verbally, on paper or on the net.

Give thanks that you have the mind and the computer to even read this missive.

Give thanks if you are fortunate enough to spend the day with family and folks you love.

Give thanks for the many small blessings that fall into your lap each day.

Give thanks for children, for they truly are our future.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Into the Darkness by Harry Turtledove (Book 1 of the Darkness Series)

Again, Turtledove is a master of alternative history. This series is a mixing of WW1, WW2 and magic. It was not as fun a read as I find many of his books. His goal is admirable but his enormous number of short characterizations becomes confusing. Many countries, many characters and many situations provide an opportunity to get lost. Most books I can visualize the situation without referring to the occasional accompanying map. I referred to the map in this book constantly. I accept that the scope of a world war is daunting but I would be happier with fleshing out the characters in more depth before introducing another new character. It was not a quick read, I put it down and picked it up multiple times. I intend to plow through all six volumes but it may tax my tenacity. I suspect it will be worth it but it may be a struggle. If you are looking for a quick entertaining read, look elsewhere.

Body of work of Harry Turtledove



Monday, November 24, 2008

Can’t Read If I Can’t See

I recently noticed that I was having a hard time getting my book to a spot where it was comfortable to read. Too close, too far, it was never in the right spot. Arrgghh, I bit the bullet and made an appointment with my eye doctor. It was time for a new pair of spectacles. (if that term doesn’t date me, it should)

The last time I got new glasses it was over $500.00 and I didn’t get anything fancy. In fact, the pair of glasses ended up being one of the worse I ever had gotten. Don’t know how I missed the flexible hinges but I didn’t get them. Flimsy, uncomfortable and impossible to keep clean all comes to mind. I found out later that the anti-glare treatment which didn’t work anyway, makes it impossible to keep the darn things clean.

So I went with trepidation to my appointment and got new glasses. I spent a lot less this time but…then I found the Optical4Less web site and although I am not kicking myself too much, I wish I would have seen it sooner. The site has all the normal accoutrements you would expect, including all types of eyeglasses and features at a surprising price. Two things I especially liked were the Virtual Fitting and the testimonials. I create web sites for small businesses and I always encourage them to use testimonials. I guess I always feel more secure when I see real people responding to how they were treated. The Virtual Fitting was very cool, you upload your photo and can see how their glasses look on your face. You have got to check it out and play with it, even if you don’t need glasses. When I got my new glasses, I put them on, pulled out my phone, took my own photo in the mirror and emailed it to my wife to see if she thought they looked ok. Glasses and haircuts are similar to me, their appearance is basically for others since you really can’t see them yourself. There are many discount, internet eyewear sites out there. This site looks pretty good and I will probably be shopping it for some golf glasses come spring, assuming I can find a pair that will improve my game.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber

I loved the book and strongly recommend it. That is how I usually end a review of a David Weber book. Once again the man amazes me. He grabs you on the first page and squeezes your imagination and attention until you finish the book. This has to be the opening novel of a series. Please David, let it be the opening book as I want to read more!

Again you have a very strong female protagonist. (kind of) A new universe, a new group of villains and heroes entertain you for the whole book. Big old pussycat that I am, Weber once again brought tears to my eyes with the willingness to sacrifice that his larger than life characters often demonstrate. Weber has successfully combined high tech tools with a setting than Horatio Hornblower or Frodo would be happy traversing. Read the review at the link if you want, but if you like Weber, just go get the book. If you have never read Weber, this is a great book to begin a love affair. (strictly platonic) I loved the book and I strongly recommend it.

Body of work of David Weber


Web site:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Deathstalker Rebellion by Simon R. Green

Simon R. Green may be an acquired taste. Apparently I haven’t acquired it yet. I was lukewarm on Deathstalker and not even that excited about this book. Oddly enough I am experiencing the same disinterest in the Turtledove Darkness series. There seems to a common theme of let’s not spend more than a page or two on each event and then move along. It is difficult to get attached to a character when you get so little to sink your teeth into and then onto a different and sometimes new character. It is almost like Green has written in sound bites. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that many of us have an attention span longer than two pages. What really annoys me is that I anticipated I would like the series and didn’t start it until I acquired 10 out of the 11 books of the series. I am stopping now, I guess if I can’t get interested in 780 some pages, it just isn’t going to happen.

Body of work of Simon R. Green


This site is a tribute site, well done but not owned by Simon R. Green

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Alabama Bookworm Meme

BookCalendar has tagged me with a meme.

She was tagged by Alabama Bookworm.

Here is how the meme works:
Open the book closest to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.

I am holding The Tyrant by Eric Flint & David Drake

He had forced Thicelt to abandon the captain’s cunning tactics and try to mix it up directly with the Confederate forces.

The Confederate navy was notoriously clumsy, with none of the superb seamanship of the Islanders.

But no one in their right mind ever tried to “mix it up directly” with Confederate naval forces.

Those forces consisted mainly of marines, who were the world’s experts at turning a sea battle into a land battle.

Pass this on to five blogging friends, the people I am tagging are:

Surprise!, Nice People Do Exist

A local newspaper column by Phil Gianficaro recently detailed a incident in which a mailman extended himself to help a 93 year old woman. Said infirm woman, lives alone and her only contact with the outside world is her telephone. One morning, upon arising, she discovered her phone wasn’t working. Her “life line” monitor is also dependent on a working phone. She realized the only constant person in her life was her mailman. She put a not on her mailbox asking for help. Her mailman saw the note and tried to reach Cavalier, her phone company to remedy her phone problem. Unable to get a human being, he assured her that he would not forget her and continued his route. He notified the police so they would know she was alone and frightened. He also called his supervisor who was finally able to get a human being at Cavalier and they sent someone out the next day to fix the phone problem. The mailman’s only comment about his efforts was that the 93 year old woman was somebody’s grandmother and he hoped if his grandmother was in need, someone would help her. Congratulations to the mailman, Brian Carson and to the columnist who recognized that we are really in need of hearing some good news for a change.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Discrimination Against Our Military?

I have mentioned I am into book swapping. I got a request this morning for a book to be shipped to an APO address. APO addresses are military addresses and I figure this is going to a service person. I’m appreciative of the folks who serve in the military so I agree to ship the book. Imagine my surprise when I try and do a media mail label through the US Post Office web site and discover you can not print out a media mail label to a an APO address. The PO message is:
APO/FPO Restrictions Apply
The destination ZIP Code supplied is an APO/FPO ZIP code. We regret we cannot provide a service commitment to this location. Please contact your local Post Office for assistance.
Ok why can’t the US POST Office provide service to an APO address? Is there a problem with mailing books to our service people?

So I try PayPal. I use my PayPal account to mail books all the time. I attempt to create a media mail label (or any other label) for an APO address. The PayPal system doesn’t accept an APO address.

What the hell is going on that it is so difficult to simply mail a book to someone in the service of their country?

PayPal says they are working on it. WhoHoo, why isn’t it in the system already? The PostOffice knows it is an issue, why isn’t it fixed? That is the United States Post Office, right, shouldn’t that indicated that the United States military personnel should be reachable through the United States Post Office media mail?

I have no clue why this discriminatory behavior is occurring. I have sent my Senator and my Congressman emails asking why this is occurring. Perhaps if you read this, check it out, if you find out that I am accurate in what I have found, please contact your elected representatives and find out why it isn’t easier to send a book to someone in the service of their country. Maybe we can get it fixed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Act of War by Dale Brown

One thing you have to give Dale Brown is the action theme. There is great action in this book. Brown takes snippets of military gossip and extrapolates them into full blown novels. His imagination creates plausible situations, sometimes implausible solutions in an easily digested format. One of the many things I like about his books is that his characters are often believable. He doesn’t make the assumption that a hero has to have bulging muscles, low intellect and brash behavior. He allows ordinary seeming characters to aspire to heroic and often brash behavior. This book deals with current fears of terrorist activities, corporate greed and military technology. The dismaying aspect is that some parts are entirely too believable.

Body of work of Dale Brown

Review of the book:


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Audio Books

Exercise, you love it or hate it, there is so little middle of the road feelings on it. I like sports but at my age, my knees are not so fond of anything that involves running, jumping or going sideways. That limits my options somewhat. I play gold and no matter what your opinion my be, it is too a sport. I lift weights and I do Pilates to stay flexible. Frankly a big part of my motivation to exercise is I like to eat. Matter of fact, I love to eat. Thusly exercise is necessary to keep from turning into a blimp. What the heck does this have to do with free audio books?

I walk and I ride the exercise bike. I find both boring. Audio books are the saving grace. If I can keep my mind occupied, I can exercise. The library has lots of audio books but it isn’t close. I have found some sites where I can download audio books for FREE. I put them on my Clip (Samsung’s answer to the Ipod Nano. I can walk, ride the bike and still prevent screaming boredom. Audio books also keep me awake, with out them, put me on a freeway and I immediately go comatose. So here are a few links for free audio books.

Veterans Day

I don’t care how you feel about our current wars. I don’t care if you hate or love war. I do care if you honor our Veterans. Regardless of your political position, our Veterans have protected your right to have a position. Our Veterans have faced things most of us can not or will not imagine. These are people who have put their money where their mouth is, their life on the line. Please take a moment today and thank whatever deity you believe in for the sacrifices our Veterans have made for us and our country. If you know a Vet, thank them. If you are a Veteran, Thank You!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Refugees, Not Just A Word

We rudely discovered after our own Katrina disaster that refugees is not just a word. Today, Bloggers Unite are blogging about refugees. First, you don’t want to be one. Imagine losing your home, running in fear, watching your family disappear, too horrific to contemplate? Thousands of people daily go through those emotions, not just victims of genocide, but victims of natural disasters as well as political incompetence.

Bloggers Unite

If blogging about an international problem can jump start some caring, then let’s blog away. Take some time, click on some of these links, maybe you will discover that Refugee isn’t just a word.

UK Refugee Services

Lutheran Refugee Services

Aotearoa-New Zealand Refugee Services

United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrant Children

Church World Service Immigrant & Refugee Program

Women's Commission for Refugee Women & Children

Additional Links/Resources

Friday, November 7, 2008

Where Should You Host Your Website?

My other blog is Money Saving Tech Tips and Philosophic Musings. Since there is often a distinct dichotomy between book lovers and geeks, I doubt many of you are cross over readers. However if you are here you are definitely a reader and maybe a blogger. You may want to have a web site. How do you know where to go and what to do? is a site that ranks host companies. Host companies are the people who have the server on which your web site will reside. There are thousands of them so it helps to have a site like to sort things out. What is particularly nice is that they have multiple categories which let you identify what you plan on doing with your site and provide the hosts that do that the best and with the best price. Comparison of host to host enables you to make a good decisions. Below is a sample table comparing hosts.

I also like the resource section. You should read the Beginners Guide to Web Hosting even if you don’t do another thing on the site. Overall the site should help you make good decisions on where to host.

A Voice of the Retired, Labels Don’t Fit.

Retired still has a connation of old. I may be retired but in no way do I think of myself as old. In some ways I am physically challenged, I can no longer dunk a basketball. Realistically, I was never that good at basketball anyway. Retired means unemployed to me, not old.

Senior, to me, still means of high school. Somehow I have difficulty ascribing that term to myself. Age wise I may qualify but mentally, not a chance. It may be genetic. When my 93 year old mother was rehabbing with her new hip she declined to eat in the dining room because she didn’t want to hang out with those “old” people. I would guess that she was the oldest person on her floor by at least 10 years.

2005 TV Land Awards - Arrivals
If neither senior or retired is a label I can accept, what is? I have no clue, I answer to old guy, poppop, hey you and other nom de plumes but I think we have to accept that labeling is in so many ways demeaning. Look at Jacqueline Smith, does that look senior to you?

Admittedly I have little interest in going out to play football or even to shoot hoops anymore but decrepit isn’t in my vocabulary. Let some hoodlum with ill intent address my grandchildren and he would no doubt be surprised at the successful violent reaction of an old guy who lifts and works out 7 days a week.

So for you “young’uns” who most likely are the only folks, who are reading blogs, keep in mind that if you want your voice to be heard, you may want to listen to the voices of others, regardless of age or label.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who Can Make Change Happen?

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This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman

This book appears to be a logical extension for the computer geek fantasy. A future in which the ability to interface with the computer is limited only by your willingness to accept a level of intrusion commensurate with your desire for cyber immersion. It is also a though provoking piece on inclusion or exclusion based on differences. If you saw the premier of Amanda Tapping’s new show Sanctuary, she give a clear explanation as to why we need to accept those how may appear different and perhaps frightening. I found my self struggling to get into this book. It certainly doesn’t grab you and pull you in, you have to persevere to get hooked. I generally go between 50 and 100 pages before I cry uncle on a book. I struggled through over 150 pages before I was sufficiently intrigued to finish the book. If I hadn’t absolutely loved her Coldfire Series; Black Sun Rising (1991), When True Night Falls (1993), Crown of Shadows (1995); I wouldn’t have bothered to persevere. I enjoyed the book, I did not find it as compelling as the Coldfire series.

Body of work of C. S. Friedman


Web site: