A fairly well-paced, (generally) gripping tale with somewhat of a predictable twist-that-wasn't at the end, this book combined a few things I've enjoyA fairly well-paced, (generally) gripping tale with somewhat of a predictable twist-that-wasn't at the end, this book combined a few things I've enjoyed in the past and, while it was fairly well set up from the word go, jumbled them together with a somewhat tired plot-thread that has seen so many usages before that it is becoming transparent with use.
There were only two things that really bothered me about this book, but they were big enough to make me give it the rating that I did. One was the racist warden - what purpose did such a character serve, and what purpose did the scene he was in serve? The other was the ending itself, which I shall not spoil for those of you with no ability at predicting the ultra-predictable. ...more
I'd never heard of the Bob Lee Swagger series, nor had I ever read anything from this particular author. I picked up the book as a 'what the hell' purI'd never heard of the Bob Lee Swagger series, nor had I ever read anything from this particular author. I picked up the book as a 'what the hell' purchase to pass the time recently, and the praise on the back dustcover of the book seemed rather glowing and effusive.
I really should learn to ignore critics.
While this book was a good read, well researched, and about a subject which I am generally enthusiastic (samurai, katana, Japan, etc.) without sliding into full blown 'weeaboo' status, it wasn't anything to crow about.
My biggest gripe was that the dialogue was overblown and corny, and I just couldn't see anyone speaking the way the characters did. Why that bothered me more than the improbability of a sixty year old man learning how to sword fight competently against life-long yakuza murderers and nationally-ranked kendo competitors in the space of a week, I couldn't say. But it did.
While I'd recommend this book as a quick, brain-light read, there's not much to recommend it for any kind of in-depth discussion. It's brain-fluff, pure and simple....more
This book reads something like a poor man's version of the Harry Potter series, mixed in with dashes of Oliver Twist. The tropes used are fairly commoThis book reads something like a poor man's version of the Harry Potter series, mixed in with dashes of Oliver Twist. The tropes used are fairly commonplace and expected (Put Upon Youth With Grit, The Astonishingly Evil Adult, The Mysterious Benefactor), but this is no way a bad thing. I enjoyed the book for what it was: a kid's book written to entertain kids, most of whom don't look for deeper meanings in their books....more
This is a truly fascinating read about the American spy-plane projects of the middle-to-late 20th century, and the amazing technological breakthroughsThis is a truly fascinating read about the American spy-plane projects of the middle-to-late 20th century, and the amazing technological breakthroughs that were achieved during that time. I've always found the SR-71 Blackbird to be a true testament to the heights that can be reached when creativity and engineering are combined and given free reign to do whatever they like.
But more than this, more than just the 'boys and their toys' side of the book Skunk Works also contains an interesting business and political statement about the way things are, and the way things could be. For more than forty years, the original Skunk Works made some of the greatest aerospace industry innovations without interference from bureaucracy, oversight committees, or meddling politicians. The engineers and designers of the Skunk Works plant were allowed to act on their own behalf, without governmental meddling. While this kind of independence would most likely be strangled in today's world, I think it is a perfect example of that phrase that is bandied about by corporate consultants who have no real idea of its true meaning - "thinking outside the box" - and for American ingenuity to survive the coming days, it is entirely possible that this is the kind of thing that is needed once again: a company without consultants, headhunters, bureaucrats, or political oversight muddling things up. A company that truly believes in and loves what it does, and can produce something truly astounding without having to kowtow or bend to the pressures of individuals who have no real part in what the company is producing. ...more
I find it amusing that a book like the Necroscope series is lumped into the same category as that POS 'Twilight' series by Stephanie Meyer. The only tI find it amusing that a book like the Necroscope series is lumped into the same category as that POS 'Twilight' series by Stephanie Meyer. The only thing they have in common is the word 'vampire', and even that's a tenuous connection. Brian Lumley's books aren't necessarily much more than thriller-fluff, but at least they're entertaining. I couldn't even get past the first chapter of 'Twilight'. Vampires do not sparkle in the sunlight, children; THEY BURST INTO FLAME!
My point is that I'd love to see the look on some tweener's face when they just get done turning their brain and reading comprehension to mush with 'Twilight', then try to soothe their Nosferatu jonesing by picking this series up because Goodreads or Amazon recommended it. It would be priceless, frankly. ...more
There are a certain brand of books that scream to be made into movies, and James Rollins seems to have made the commitment to write all of his books iThere are a certain brand of books that scream to be made into movies, and James Rollins seems to have made the commitment to write all of his books in just such a style. Michael Crichton took a similar approach.
This is both a benefit and a flaw, however. It is a benefit because you know exactly what you're going to get: fun, light, entertaining action that doesn't require a lot of effort to understand what's going on.
But the hindrance is the same - you know exactly what you're going to get. The villains lose, the hero gets the girl and saves the day, and everything goes back to the way it was - even if the plot involves an extinction-level event that was seemingly impossible to stop. Another flaw of this style of writing is that I tend to see the protagonists as Nicholas Cage (complete with his horrible hairdos), no matter what ethnic background they're supposed to be in the book. This, however, is a personal flaw, and should in no way reflect on anyone else's personal enjoyment of the book.
Overall, I liked this book (and the other books from Mr. Rollins' catalog that I've read), but I wouldn't qualify this book as anything more than a light, summertime fluff-read. It's unpretentious and doesn't claim to be anything more than it is, but what it is isn't much more than the literary equivalent of the Matrix movies without all of the ponderous philosophizing...and sometimes, just sometimes, that's exactly what you need....more
This kind of dystopian, no-hope-left kind of roleplaying game is right smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone. Problem is, no one wants to play itThis kind of dystopian, no-hope-left kind of roleplaying game is right smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone. Problem is, no one wants to play it with me.
Kult is set in the modern world, but as the tagline says, reality is a lie. Beneath the sometimes grungy world that we all see, feel, and live in is a darker, sinister reality that reflects the true nature of humankind.
I won't give away any spoilers by explaining the premise of the game (there are a lot of interesting ideas on the nature of god, ascension, mankind's role in the fabric of magic and reality, and even how cities reflect the kind of paradigm that we once lived in, thousands of lifetimes ago), but suffice to say that if you're looking for a game that can combine dark-edged philosophy with gritty, gore-noir battles against creatures of darkness, then this is the game for you. Not as oppressive as Call of Cthulhu, and far more highbrow than games like City of Violence, Kult has remained on my list of "Top Ten Unplayed Roleplaying Games" for a long time, and will probably remain there for quite a while longer, but not because of any lack of trying on my part....more
This book, while not excellent, shows the budding ability that Thomas Harris perfects in his later books. Occasional glimpses of the delightfully undeThis book, while not excellent, shows the budding ability that Thomas Harris perfects in his later books. Occasional glimpses of the delightfully understated prose that appears in Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs peek out of the text which, due to the subject matter and the timing of the book, seems somewhat dated when compared to the timeless quality of Silence or Red Dragon.
While I might not have gone on to read any of Harris' other works if I'd started with Black Sunday I'm happy to say that I've read it, if only to have a chance to compare and contrast the development in style and form that Mr. Harris has worked with....more