Required Reading

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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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Clone Elite by Steven L. Kent

The implacable foe is absorbing the galaxy and mankind is on the ropes. Clone Wayson Harris continues to annoy the natural born with his irreverence regarding their supposed superiority. The symbolism of repression and intolerance is more obvious than symbolic. Harris and Freeman, his 7’ freebooting companion are deeply in the fray. The aliens seem unstoppable and it appears that civilization is over. Harris, Freeman and a cast of thousands throw themselves into the breach. The story is action filled, laden with symbolism and very entertaining. I enjoyed the series and was delighted when the author made note that he has accepted a contract to do three more books about Wayson Harris. A good series, I recommend it.

Body of work of Steven Kent


Web Site:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Honor Our Armed Services

My wife got this email as one of those ubiquitous forwards we all receive. She usually deletes them on my advice as so many forwards have been contaminated by malware. She opened this one, read it and thought I would want to read it. She forwarded it to me, I did read it. I pulled it out of the email, cleaned up the formatting and am posting it. I don’t know who wrote it. I don’t know if it is true or not. Even as fiction, it makes a good point. I am not sure I agree with the author as to the disappearance of honor. His actions defy his assertion. Many, perhaps most people today respect the sacrifices our troops and their families are making. We may not agree with why they are in foreign locales but we HONOR their willingness and commitment.

The Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read, perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought. Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan. After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time.

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base, his friend agreed.
I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill.
'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.' Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars. Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars! Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Chalice by Deborah Chester

This is the conclusion to the trilogy of “The Sword, The Ring and the Chalice”. Things get wrapped up nicely but the last 50 pages seemed kind of rushed. I think the book could have been another 50 pages and fleshed out the action of the last 50 pages. Overall the protagonist matured, discovered what was really important to him and found his true love. This was while fighting the forces of evil, dealing with severe bodily injury and rallying reluctant allies. I will be reading more of Chester as I found the trilogy excellent.

Body of work of Deborah Chester


Web Site:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

James Bond in Seafire by John Gardner

James Bond is always entertaining and seldom intellectually challenging. This book certainly fits the mold. The book is mildly entertaining and certainly not intellectually challenging. Typical Bond, there is a monomaniacal villain with sexually charged female sidekicks. There is also a moronic giant who wants to rip off Bond’s body parts. A difference here is that Bond is monogamous. His paramour is an ex-Swiss intelligence agent, Frederical von Grusse (Flicka). The villain sees himself is the second coming of Adolph Hitler. It is a very quick read and moderately entertaining.

Body of work of Deborah Chester


Web Site:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Legend of the Seeker

This isn’t a book but it is based on the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. The series website doesn’t really point out that the series is written by Terry Goodkind but he is listed as the writer in several other places. If you have enjoyed any of the books in this series, I recommend the TV series. I just found the show and went to Hulu to watch the episodes I have missed. The TV show seems to follow the books story line far more accurately that what you normally see on TV. Of course, it helps it the books author is also writing the TV show.
Incidentally if you are not familiar with Hulu, you should get familiar. It is a terrific way to watch video on your schedule. See my blog on Hulu. Again, I am enjoying the TV series and recommend you watch if you are a fantasy fan.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Clone Alliance by Steven Kent

The title is misleading. I expected to see the clones recognize the discrimination they face and rebel. Wayson Harris does lose his awe of the United Authority government and their representatives. His suspicion that his innate respect for the U.A. was genetically programmed may be incorrect as events lead him to reject their authority. The rebellion appears to be thwarted but leads to the creation or discovery of an even greater threat. The interaction between the Marine clones and the Seal clones is a microcosm reflection of minority interaction in our own society. There is enough detailed conflict to satisfy the action buff and enough thought provoking prose to give the intellectual pause. I enjoyed the book and recommend it.

Body of work of Steven Kent


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Killing Man by Mickey Spillane

Ever since I stumbled on to a John P. McDonald story that was serialized in a newspaper, I have been a fan of the hard boiled detective. Glen Cook’s Garret combines two of my favorite genres, fantasy and hard boiled detective. Spillane is known as a mainstay of this type of story. The book was dated, the technology was obsolete and the vernacular was outmoded. Nevertheless the story was very entertaining. Mike Hammer has a clear picture of how justice should be served and he does his best to give the bad guys their just deserts. A brutal murder in his own office with his faithful Velda injured sets the tone of the book, retribution. A very quick, yet entertaining read.

Body of work of Mickey Spillane


Web Site:

Not really his web site, but a good bibliography. I use this site a great deal to make sure I buy and read series in order. (I know, anality runs amuck.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

International Woman's Day March 8, 2009

I guess everyone has their own take on stuff like this. I like to think that I look at women as friends and partners rather than objects. Admittedly I look at women different than men, mostly based on personal preference. I won’t launch into an ode of what I love but my life would be infinitely more bleak without the woman with whom I share it. Perhaps I should say women since I am lucky enough to have many women in my life. I stand in awe of some of their accomplishments and their ability to be so much to so many people. I lament over my brethren (by gender not necessarily by choice) who see women as less than themselves. Truth be told if that is their belief then they have demeaned themselves, their gender and the women around them.

Women of the world, I salute you! I hope that countries and societies where you are treated as less than equal that you will triumph over your adversity and win your freedom. In my own society I suggest that those of you, both men and women, who feel that there is gender superiority of any type to grow up and recognize without each other we have nothing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rogue Clone by Steven Kent

Kent’s work is an entertaining read with a thinly disguised thorough look at discrimination. Do clones have souls? Why do people hate clones? You can replace clones with whatever group you fear and examine you own prejudice. In spite of a very well done attempt to promote thoughtful contemplation, I enjoyed the book. It is the second in the series. The galactic empire as he knows it dissolves into civil war. The impact of isolating the components of the empire, due to the destruction of the broadcast network, is not immediately apparent but sets up the direction of the next book. I liked this book better than the first one.

Body of work of Steven Kent


Web Site:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Born In Death by J. D. Robb

Mysteries are good, I always enjoy a good mystery. I have read J.D. Robb once before and discovered that Norah Roberts and J. D. Robb share the same body. Hmm, who knew? There is a tiny touch of scifi in the book. The setting is sometime in the near future since the glitzy, tech stuff is not overwhelming. The mystery surrounds murder, adoption, kidnapping and general mayhem. The protagonist and many of the characters are women who appear to be the butt kicking variety. The interaction between the protagonist and her hubby has a couple of steamy pages for those of you who enjoy a tiny little bit of titillation. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the last book of hers that I had read. I recommend it.

Body of work of J. D. Robb


Web site: