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.
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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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dragonback Bargain by Timothy Zahn

Dragonback Bargain is a bargain. It is a anthology including the complete novels: Dragon and Thief,Dragon and Soldier and Dragon and Slave. The premise of the series is a 14 year old orphan acquires a K’da warrior as a symbiote. The K’da warrior’s appearance is that of a Chinese dragon the size of a small tiger. The K’da people are fleeing the Valahgua who is perpetrating genocide on all races they meet. Jack Morgan, an orphan, is fleeing an unknown persecutor. Jack’s only companion is the computerized download of his late Uncle’s con-artist personality. Jack and Draycos team up to face their foes.

My only frustration with this series is that I thought it was three books and it is six books. In one way that is great because I really enjoying the series, on the other hand I 
don’t normally read series until I have acquired the entire series. I am now forced to track down the remaining three books.I haven’t seen that the series is characterized as young adult but that is how I would characterize it. The story is enjoyable, the characters are well done. Jack is suitably torn between his lonely desire to have a friend and his wish to placate his late Uncles computerized personality. The emotions are pretty clear and so is the conflict. There is a lot of action but it is tempered in a manner that is appropriate for the younger reader.

I highly recommend the entire series.

Body of work of Timothy Zahn

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hell’s Gate by David Weber and Linda Evans

Book one of the Multiverse series is a most engrossing 1200 pages. Evan’s and Weber portray two unique civilizations on a road to conflict. Arcana bases their technology on magic. Sharona has psychic talents but bases their technology on science. The multi-universal aspect is that both civilizations have discovered portal to alternate earths that have no populations until they confront each other.

David Weber and Linda Evans do a superb job in describing two dissimilar cultures and those cultures’ idiosyncrasies. As they alternate back and forth from culture to culture you find your sympathies vacillating as well. The beauty of their work is that you truly find things that are both laudable and stimulating for each culture. They are being drawn into conflict by serendipitous contacts and malicious behavior in spite of their root similarities. I can not wait to read the next volume, “Hell Hath No Fury”.

I highly recommend it and all of David Weber’s Work.

Body of work of David Weber
Body of work of Linda Evans


Web site
Linda Evans keeps a very low profile. I could find no website, no info or no photos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is up to his hips in naked women. Asked to be security on an adult film set, Harry discovers it just isn’t that sexy. Harry makes a discovery that changes both his life and the way he looks at life in this story.

Once again, I enjoy the self depreciating humor that Butcher imbues in his protagonist. Harry is an eminently likeable person with an admitted rough around the edge skill set. His choice of friends and foes provide the basis for entertainment. Murphy is beginning to be seen as more than just a friend and Harry’s discovery of family colors his entire outlook.

I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Body of work of Jim Butcher

Web Site:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Through The Breach by David Drake

This is the second book in the Reaches series. This book deals with Piet Ricimer and Stephen Gregg’s supposed mission to the asteroid belt that really is a pirate raid through the breach. The breach is a dangerous passage through the Mirror, a block between our universe and another. The other side holds the treasures of the defunct empire, automated factories churning out the chips that hold civilization together. Gentlemen and aristocracy are the linchpins of the society on Venus. Stagnate and intolerant they fund Ricimer and Gregg as privateers to bring home the riches (chips) so they can hold off the North American Federations attempts to pull them back under control.

Ricimer is venerated and protected by the hulking Gregg. Gregg a disposed minor noble is physically and mentally imposing and capable of any act of violence to protect his leader. Gregg is also plagued with doubt about his acts of violence. Jeremy Moore is a dilettante with cyber abilities who discovers to his dismay that he can be a cold blooded killer. The anguish the characters suffer in probing their psyches is well written and seems quite real. Willing to do anything for the cause, right or wrong, but questioning one’s soul in the process provides a realistic look at both leaders and followers. A good book as a stand alone but
I recommend you read “Igniting the Reaches” before reading this and “Fireships” after you read this. It isn’t a monumental trilogy but it is still well worth reading.

Body of work of David Drake

Web Site:

Review: none found

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is once again in the line of fire. Between his war with the Red Court Vampires and his quest for the Shroud of Turin, Harry finds a wealth of action and demands on his wizardly talents.

Reminiscent of the hard boiled detective stories but characterized by the supernatural, this series is eminently entertaining. Dresden is not a towering super hero. He is an ordinary guy trying to survive in life with what he considers his normal behavior. Always looking out for the victim, Harry is in constant danger from supernatural predators. Harry is dying to love and be loved but true love seems to be forever out of his reach.

I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Body of work of Jim Butcher

Web Site:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Coming Back by Marcia Muller

Sometimes I feel like I live in a cave. I am frankly shocked that I have never read a Sharon McCone mystery before. Marcia Muller seems to have a ton of books out there and I have missed them all. I intend to remedy that situation.

Coming Back details the recovery of private investigator Sharon McCone from a gun shot wound acquired in a previous book. Her introspection as to her recovery is interrupted by a double kidnapping. Who is responsible and what transpires is the meat of the novel.

Ms. Muller does an excellent job in providing a reality check on her characters. They are multi-dimensional and quite human. They could be friends or family they seem so normal. She allows them to be frail, frightened and extraordinary, simultaneously.

The story had enough twists and turns to satisfy every Machiavellian obsessed reader. Torn from the pages of corporate scandals and Black Water covert ops, this mystery keeps you guessing until the very end. Sharon McCone’s tenacity and compassion make her a very likeable protagonist.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Marcia Muller

Web Site:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hell’s Corner by David Baldacci

Baldacci has the ability to grab your interest by the throat and hold on until you pass out. This is another Camel Club book with a complicated and convoluted conspiracy.
John Carr aka Oliver Stone is comfortable in his graveyard abode when conspiracy finds him again. The primrose path or the yellow brick road, neither leads in the direction that Carr expects. The usual suspects are here sans Milton Farb. The President invites John Carr’s involvement in the war on drugs which soon turns into so much more. Once again Baldacci touts personal relationships over bureaucratic authority.

The inter-agency friction posed by Baldacci is truly frightening in this age of global terrorism. If congress’s inability to develop any bi-partisan agreements is indicative of the state of Washington’s overall bureaucratic climate, it is a wonder any of us are still alive. Baldacci’s stories always entertain but in addition they make you think.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of David Baldacci

Web Site:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Drop Shot By Harlan Coben

Again Coben’s Mryon Bolitar reminds me a bit of Parker’s Spencer in this novel. Although Win, Myron’s border line psychopath best friend only resembles Hawk in his ferocity and lethalness not his unsurpassed cool. A classic whodunit focused on the tennis world even though it is a tad dated still holds your interest. There is plenty of action, violence and wise assery to satisfy the most demanding hard boiled detective fan, in spite of the fact that Myron is an attorney and a sports agent not a detective. The who and the why are very satisfactorily saved for the last few pages. All in all, a very good mystery and I recommend it.

Body of work of Harlan Coben

Web Site:


Friday, November 5, 2010

Cool Nook Coming

Barnes and Noble’s Color Nook May Not Have A Niche
See my post at Money Saving Tech Tips.
Looks cool and may be cool but is it priced right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why YOU should read and why YOU should encourage reading!

In an email with Jim Jennewein, co-author of Rune Warriors, I mentioned the following experience. He strongly suggested I should post the experience.

I was on the board of VITA which is a local non-profit that promotes literacy. VITA also was the largest provider of literacy training in the Bucks County Prison system. We had a board meeting in the prison one time to discuss the program with some of the inmates. A very scary looking 30 something guy was so proud of the fact that our program had gotten him to the point that he could read at a 6th grade level. He said that just that week he had finished the first book he had ever read. He ascribes illiteracy as a major factor in crime. He said his inability to read made people think he was stupid and they treated him like he was stupid. He said that made him angry and made it easier to steal from them. Between the demeanor, tattoos and attitude this was a guy you would cross the street to avoid and yet he was so grateful for our program and his learning to read. He said he had a three year old daughter and when he got out he was going to make sure she learned to read because he didn’t want her ending up like him.

Being a life long, early reader and making sure my kids and grandkids love to read, I frankly was flabbergasted listening to this career criminal. It is just amazing that there are so many people out there who can’t read. VITA estimates there are 60,000 functionally illiterate people in Bucks County which is one of the most affluent counties in Pennsylvania. The stats are staggering.

Please read and encourage all the children you have contact with to read. If you teach a child to read recreationally, to really enjoy curling up with a book, you will positively impact that child’s entire life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vermillion Drift by William Kent Krueger

This is much more than a murder mystery. It is a murder mystery in both the past and the present but in addition it is an anthropological cultural exploration of conflict and enlightenment.

Cork is a troubled soul who discovers as much about himself as he does the murders in the book. Cork is a likeable character fraught with self doubt. Keeping one foot in his cultural roots and the other in “normal” society proves difficult.

Krueger posed an intricate mystery with implacable and in some case pathetic foes. The mysticism was well done and not overblown. His characters were painted with clarity and panache.

It is easy to see why Krueger's work sells well, it was an intriguing book that captured my interest and held it until the end.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of William Kent Krueger