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Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, September 8, 2014
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This review is from: CyberStorm (Kindle Edition)
There’s something about snowstorms. My childhood was full of them. Pictures of me digging down to free a kitchen window form the puffy stuff is one of those fond memories.

But what happens when a tech mishap cuts electricity during one of the most massive dumps of snow and record breaking low temperatures? That’s a whole different matter. Add in millions of people struggling to survive in New York City and you’ve got a novel worth digging into.

I picked up CyberStorm after reading Atopia Chronicles, another of Mather’s novels. They are both quite different but are related. I believe this one should have been read first as I believe there are characters introduced in CyberStorm that appear in Atopia Chronicles. The novels are quite distinct from each other, using different techniques to tell a story, but a theme of technology weaves through both of them.

The story moved fast and the writing was clean and easy to read. And the action felt real. I’ve always been hesitant about action thriller stories because they tend to come across as staged and manufactured to create the most thrill for the buck, which end up feeling forced.

At not one moment did CyberStorm feel that way. Every encounter felt authentic and all too real. So many things can happen in emergencies, not all of them have to.

CyberStorm is a great read. Give it a try if you’re interested in technological pre-apocalyptic/emergency thrillers. Or if you’re looking for and exciting and engaging read on one of those cold, blustery winter nights.

Salvage the Bones: A Novel
Salvage the Bones: A Novel
Price: $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We never think it will happen to us., June 10, 2014
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To be honest, I have a hard time remembering anything about Hurricane Katrina except the big narrative surrounding it about FEMA. FEMA this and FEMA that. It’s easy to forget about the people affected by the storm. Especially when they’re part of the minority. Stories that aren’t told enough.

I also remember people saying that New Orleans deserved to be leveled. The sins of the city needed to be washed clean. I believe this is a perfect response by people that have only experienced a small slice of the story. The world is full of imperfect characters and things happen to everybody. Does anyone ever deserve it?

Enter Salvage the Bones.

Jesmyn Ward relates a story of a family living in the New Orleans area during the approach of Hurricane Katrina. Life goes on as normal because not everyone sits glued to the radio or television for each and every scrap of news. Sometimes it is a minor blip on our radar. Other times, you just do what you can and hope for the best.

The characters in Salvage the Bones are real. Ward places real faces to the otherwise anonymous lives that were transformed by the quiet powerhouse that was Katrina. The reality of the characters expands on the singular narrative that is Hurricane Katrina. They are stories that must be told so that a more complete picture can be developed from the event.

Thank you Jesmyn Ward for sharing your stories. I will continue to salvage the bones.

Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1)
Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I must know more, June 1, 2014
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Mysteries about in “Annihilation”. Jeff Vandermeer takes the reader into the depths of the tower, or pit, if that is what you believe. So much depends on perspective.

The story begins slow but picks up steam once the main protagonist encounters what she believes to be the most interesting thing beyond the barrier. But what is it? A tower? A pit? What is Area X? What are their names? How many expeditions have been sent? What is the truth?

Vandermeer tosses all these questions and more as we dive into the quandaries of “Annihilation”. I couldn’t control my curiosity as layer upon layer revealed itself to become something different. Something bigger. Something unknown.

I really enjoyed reading “Annihilation”. It was a quick read that raised more questions than it answers but it is the first in a trilogy of books that are to be released as 2014 progresses. I must discover more of the mysteries of Area X.

Falconer (Vintage International)
Falconer (Vintage International)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $11.15

4.0 out of 5 stars A slow dive into a prison sitcom, June 1, 2014
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A slow dive into a prison sitcom.

No. That’s not quite right.

Let’s begin again.

John Cheever. What else do I need to same. I guess at some level I am a bit of a fanboy. But I digress. Discussing Cheever is not easy to do. “The Swimmer” is the ultimate in Cheever, then enter “Falconer”.

Cheever’s writing has always captured me and the writing in “Falconer” doesn’t fail. The text isn’t quite as rich as “The Swimmer” but it still holds its own as a piece of art. It’s a good read. It’s a challenging read. It’s a must read.

There is a lot of subject matter in this story that is difficult to address. Most people would spend significant effort staying away from ever having to face it. Granted, prison is a place most of us will never see so we can never know what it is really like. “Falconer” forces the reader to experience these subjects with no thrills. Just matter of fact, everyday language. It isn’t exploded like some action packed summer blockbuster.

It is just this fact that makes Cheever’s “Falconer” so engrossing. Things just happen. Like life, there is no fanfare, only the commonplace realities of daily life.

It’ll keep you questioning, wanting for more, wanting the answers. But they can only be found inside you.

Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness
Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness
Price: $0.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A window to a time different yet so similar, March 7, 2014
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Do I really need to write a review about this book?


Before, during, and after reading this book I kept asking why?

Why read?

I suppose a part of me just can’t stop reading. Put a book in front of me and the words start flowing. But the other part, the part that wants to understand human interaction was intrigued.

Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette is a window to a time when relationships between the sexes was quite different. Sometimes it helps to have perspective from somewhere different so that we can understand the present. This book is just that. Somewhere else and sometime different.

While reading, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by some of the suggestions for conversation. There is good stuff. But so much of it is sexist and prejudiced.

Still, I have no regrets. I learned a lot from the Handbook of Etiquette. I think it is most valuable as research to a time and place much different yet eerily similar to our own.

Bridge to Terabithia
Bridge to Terabithia
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A slice of childhood, March 7, 2014
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I read a book. It was enjoyable, heartwarming. As time passed, mingling thoughts kept returning to that story, that memory that felt so real to me. So real that I thought I lived it.

Turns out I did. Well, at least something like it. Paterson writes young characters the way I remember being young. Swinging on a rope across a stream to enter another realm. That happened. Plan to be the best and get dominated by the new kid. That happened. Scrounge money for a gift. Yep.

Bridge to Terabithia relates a compelling tale of childhood curiosity and woe. the author weaves the story with and ease that catches the reader off guard. The characters are believable and they crawl into the corners of you brain, refusing to let go.

Read it and revel in a small slice of childhood renewed.

The Atopia Chronicles (Atopia Series Book 1)
The Atopia Chronicles (Atopia Series Book 1)
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The future is Atopia., February 28, 2014
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The Atopia Chronicles was a random read I picked up on a whim. Lately, playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution sparked an interest in how humanity will cope with new technologies. Fiction is always a wonderful place to explore speculation and illustrate it viscerally. So much better than pure conjecture.

The Atopia Chronicles explores future technology through the absolute integration of networking, social media, and manufactured worlds into our neural network. Entrancing ideas, to say the least.

Mather tells the story through a series of seemingly unrelated character vignettes that slowly begin to unravel the story and each has their part to play in the larger sequence. The story begins slowly but once it picks up there is no putting it down.

I recommend The Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather to anyone interested in science fiction or speculative fiction. Or even anyone that perhaps questions or welcomes the future of technology. Technology is revolving around us faster than we can process and Mather has his finger on the pulse of future technology.

Dystopic. No.
Utopic. No.
Atopic. Yes.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.57

4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging perspective, November 24, 2013
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History. So much of it is told by the victors. The stories we hear frame so much of what we know. But sometimes, the stories we are told come from the defeated. Suddenly, conflicting narratives torture our constructed world.

Across the globe, the 13th century proved to be an intriguing period. So much was happening. And the Mongols nearly ruled all of Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe. Lots of history to learn.

Weatherford weaves a spectacular narrative illustrating the rise and fall of the Mongols. It is well-told and entertaining. Weatherford makes history engaging.

"Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" is a nice introduction to an exciting historical period. I recommend it to anybody that would like a primer about Ghengis Khan, the Mongols, and some Asian history. As with any history, it is important to find a variety of perspectives. Weatherford's book does just that.

Cat's Cradle
Cat's Cradle
Price: $8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't blink, November 8, 2013
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This review is from: Cat's Cradle (Kindle Edition)
What can I say about Vonnegut that hasn't already been said? Nothing, I'm sure. Everybody has opinions about him that are as strong as his own opinions about the world and writing. I find it strange to talk about the author in a book review but it can't be helped. Vonnegut the writer seems to overshadow the book. I guess some personalities come across that way.

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up "Cat's Cradle". The book had an air of mystery to it and I only read it because I wanted to read more Vonnegut. Sometimes you just need to.

"Cat's Cradle" feels like a series of interconnected, bite-sized, vignettes. The writing is slim and direct yet still manages to enthrall. It made for a quick read. Almost too quick because I find reflecting on the book difficult. It feels like Vonnegut walked by and slapped me, leaving a stinging red palm print on my cheek.

Not that it is a bad thing. Sometimes a brisk slap is good. The sparse writing hits hard. The story hits hard. But the characters feel as thin as the writing. None of them engage my sensibilities to care for them. This is the one flaw in an otherwise interesting book that tackles one of the grandest narratives: the end of the world.

But then, maybe that is part of it. What is a person compared to the world?

Look Homeward, Angel
Look Homeward, Angel
Price: $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Give it time. Let is sweep over you., November 3, 2013
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Early American literature. It was a time when writers were struggling to create unique voices suitable to reflect the burgeoning power that the nation was becoming. There were many movements. There was much experimentation. But this is a book review, not a history lesson. Having said that, a sprinkling of history can be a good thing.

I first became interested in Thomas Wolfe when I encountered a beautiful quote by him.

"All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken."

So I decided to read one of his novels. I must admit that it has been a while since I read fiction written prior to 1960.

As I dove into "Look Homeward, Angel" I was frequently lost in the expansive, historically referenced, flowery prose. My first reaction was frustration. I thought he should just get on with the story already. Contemporary English novels tend towards a very forward, simple style. It just goes to show how storytelling has shifted.

The first few chapters were difficult and the going was slow, but as I adapted to the style and engaged with the characters, a flow began to emerge. At times, it felt like I was in a rowboat lost far from shore searching for a way home. In the end, I'm not sure if I ever found it.

That isn't a bad thing.

I continue to reflect on the ranging prose, the familiar yet strange story, the insane yet stable characters, and the rapidly changing environment of the early 20th century.

I must say "Look Homeward, Angel" isn't for everybody. Contemporary readers might look on it with disdain because of the indirect storytelling. It reflects life at a different pace. But I would recommend it to anybody searching for a few moments about life at a slower pace.

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