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D. Roberts "Hadrian12" RSS Feed (Battle Creek, Michigan United States)
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Black Sails: Season 1
Black Sails: Season 1
DVD ~ Toby Stephens
Price: $24.99
12 used & new from $22.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the age of the pirates!, January 31, 2015
This review is from: Black Sails: Season 1 (DVD)
When people think of pirates, what typically comes to mind are the stereotypical images of a bearded captain with a parrot on his shoulder. The present series deliberately avoids such cliche' images. What a lot of people don't know is that most pirates were sailors for the British navy during Queen Anne's war. At the war's conclusion, they were politely told that their services were no longer needed. This, in turn, led to an explosion in piracy in the Caribbean. As such, many pirate captains were formerly highly educated officers in the British navy.

BLACK SAILS relays these motifs in a historically accurate manner. The series contains many applicable themes from the age of the pirates: sea battles, a pirate's cove, thugish dudes committing acts of thugery as well as pirate ships hunting merchant vessels while doing all they can to avoid engaging dreadnoughts from European navies. Instead of the usual secret treasure map, the center of gravity of the series is a secret schedule that details the travel times of a Spanish merchant ship that is LOADED with gold.

Such is an overview of the series. Everything about the series is done on a grand scale; they didn't "go cheap" on any of the details or get careless in bringing the 17th century back to life. Indeed, there were a few wide shots of a harbor full of pirate ships where I thought "Wow, I really do feel like I'm back in the age of the pirates." The acting is superb, especially Hannah New as the beautiful but tough-as-nails barkeep who actually intimidates the pirates (well, most of them anyway). As a bonus, the story also includes a few historical pirates who are mixed in with fictional characters.

If you are at all interested in pirate movies, then this one is an absolute must have. I was suspicious about whether they would make an entire series on the pirates, but they pulled it off. I am already looking forward to season #2 coming out in a yr or so!!


Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story
Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story
by Dick Couch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.22
98 used & new from $10.45

5.0 out of 5 stars For SEALs past, present & future, January 29, 2015
Books such as No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Owen, Mark, Maurer, Kevin (2012) Hardcover, American Sniper [Movie Tie-in Edition]: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper and Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Luttrell, Marcus (2007) Hardcover all detail the personal experiences, adventures & missions of the individual Navy SEALs who authored them. The present work is a bit different. Instead of focusing on an individual SEAL or SEAL Team, it offers 1st hand accounts of Navy Surface Warfare groups of the past 75 or so years.

The story begins with the Underwater Demolition Teams & Frogmen of World War II. The book does a "deep dive" (pun intended!) into their gallant contributions to the ability of Marines & soldiers to establish beach-heads @ Normandy and islands during the Pacific island hopping campaign. They would clear out booby-traps and detonate underwater mines (among other missions).

In the early 1960s, under the administration of John F. Kennedy, the UDT / Frogmen teams made the transition to SEALs who could also engage in combat missions that were inland as well as underwater sorties. I was surprised that then Chief of Naval Operations, the legendary WWII admiral Arleigh Burke, had a HUGE hand in championing the cause of Naval Special Operations. Burke had always been known as a "Destroyer man" (which is why he has an entire Destroyer class named after him!) so this was unexpected. Interesting.

The book proceeds to cover SEAL missions through Vietnam & up to their present day anti-terrorism missions. The "untold stories" include missions that went off flawlessly as well as other missions that didn't go so well at all. It does have a refreshing honesty about the latter category.

A common thread between this book and other Special Forces books is simply this: all too often the greatest enemy of a SEAL / Green Beret / Delta Force Commando or Marine Recon type is not his adversary on the battlefield. Rather, the biggest threat he faces comes from either faulty military intelligence or members of the Pentagon Brass who have no clue what they're doing. Sadly, those 2 factors can get an elite operative killed faster than anything else!

This is a thrilling read for people who have either a fascination for Special Forces (like me) or a general interest in the SF community. It is filled with exciting stories as well as sobering tales of what happens when things don't go like clockwork on an SF mission. All in all, a very worthwhile endeavor into the secret lives of perhaps the most admired and respected fighting force on planet Earth: the United States Navy SEALs.


Bucky of Belgravia
Bucky of Belgravia
by Alden Douglas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.90
16 used & new from $8.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Getting back in the game, January 18, 2015
This review is from: Bucky of Belgravia (Paperback)
Bucky is an I.T. specialist from New York who finds himself moving up the corporate ladder. From the Big Apple, he is to relocate to London with a hefty promotion. The world is his oyster and his life is coming into focus.....or so he thinks. Unfortunately, things don't always work out the way we plan them to. As Heisenberg would say, there's always a certain amount of uncertainty in play.

Bucky accidentally finds himself in the milieu of prostitution as he finds himself an I.T. worker for a cathouse. He does a great job and even comes up with a SMARTPHONE app which allows the patrons to order everything on the salacious menu with a push of a button. Still, poor Bucky does not seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation he's gotten himself into.

Everyone is aware of prostitutes who have fallen on hard times; the streetwalkers who are addicted to drugs and who are beaten by their pimps. There are also those who are sold into sex trafficking, as depicted in the "TAKEN" movie series.

On the other hand, there are women who work for High Society escort firms of their own volition. Frequently, they have college degrees ~ sometimes advanced degrees. At the high end, there are women who only have 1-2 clients who are millionaires or billionaires. These women have birthday wishlists in which they ask for a Ferrari, a $500,000 diamond necklace and a weekend @ the Hamptons. Oh, and by the way ~ they're apt to get all 3 from their Sugar Daddy clientele.

Such is the gap of the ambiguous profession of prostitution. Bucky believes that he is involved in the more "legitimate" latter type. Little does he know that there is a nexus between the two ends of the courtesan spectrum that he's unaware of.

The downside of being in a capitalistic society is that we tend to place too much focus on a person's net worth & believe there is a nexus between it & the individual's worth as a person. Like the rest of us, Bucky finds himself guilty of this. There are subtle allusions in the story to Hinduism, which is a religion that emphasizes how one should "play one's role" in life and not move up or down the socio-economic ladder. This way, of course, the poor will always be under-the-thumb of the rich.

Americans & the British, of course, frequently practice the teachings of Hinduism without practicing the religion itself. In the story, Bucky finds that there are a great many rich people who are like Mitt Romney: arrogant, elitist and born without an operational soul. On the other hand, he finds a great many "everyday" people who are erudite, profound and capable of unbounded kindess.

Such is the backdrop of this novel. At times it is humorous and other times it is somber. Occasionally it is erotic and it is always intriguing. If you're unsure whether a book about an I.T. professional can be fun & engaging, give this one a try. Bucky will be pleased if you do!


Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project
Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project
by Daniel P. Douglas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.36
25 used & new from $10.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Containment, January 13, 2015
In the summer of 1947, SOMETHING happened @ Roswell, New Mexico. On that, all parties agree. What the "something" was is a matter for debate to this day. The official government story is that a weather balloon crash landed. Government cospiracy theorists, however, are convinced that an alien spacecraft crash landed. Subsequently, so the story goes, the alien lifeforms and spacecraft was taken to the infamous AREA 51.

Like [[ASIN:ASIN INDEPENDENCE DAY]], the current novel delves into the mythology surrounding Roswell & AREA 51. Come to find out, a super secret sector of the government has, in fact, taken aliens and alien hardware to the remote outpost in the Mojave desert. This sector is known as the SAINT MARY'S PROJECT. For the past 6 decades they have done genetic experiments, splicing together human & alien DNA and they have also attempted to reverse-engineer the alien technology. Of course, the military has also been searching for vulnerabilities in the alien technology that could be exploited should an interstellar conflict ensue.

Such is the backdrop of the storyline. William is a medically retired F.B.I. agent turned Private Detective. He begins getting anonymous clues as to the truth behind the super secret SAINT MARY'S PROJECT. Unsure of what to do, he summons the assistance his former partner, Arthur, who is still with the F.B.I. Arthur has access to files that are closed-off to the general public. As a sidenote, Arthur also possesses a sense of humor unbecoming a J. Edgar Hoover G-Man.

The end result is a science fiction book that reads like a spy novel. There are some wild twists & turns as William & Arthur try to "drill down" past the veneer of government cover stories & get to the truth.

In governmentese, the protection of classified material is known as "containment." That is to say, only those with the proper security clearance AND the need-to-know are allowed access to the information. This tale revolves around the most difficult information to conceal: a multi-generational conspiracy that holds the most incredible secret ever found in the 4.6 billion history of planet Earth. If that sort of thing grabs your attention, then this book is highly recommended!


The Rebel Within
The Rebel Within
by Lance Erlick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.72
23 used & new from $3.98

4.0 out of 5 stars A new kind of rebel!, January 1, 2015
This review is from: The Rebel Within (Paperback)
In the not so distant future, there is a 2nd civil war in the United States. Instead of being a war between the states, this one is between the genders: it's man vs. woman. The outcome of the conflict is a utopia for militant feminists: a world where the women control the urban sectors while the men are banished to the countryside (known as the Outlands).

Women compensate for not being able to match men's physical strength by invoking technology to their advantage; they have it & the men who are left do not. The females have mechanized suits that women can wear to enhance their strength & agility and the women who become members of the so-called mech units are revered by all.

The main character in the story, Annabelle, is a 16 year old girl who is coerced to being a member of the mechs against her will. As such, she ends up in something akin to a Roman gladiatorial school (what the Romans called a Ludis). The school is a science fiction version of a Ludis where young Annabelle is trained in martial arts and other forms of hand-to-hand combat.

Where Annabelle differs from the other young girls is her lack of animosity for men. She has been exposed to precious few men in her life and she has a curiosity for them that is not shared by the other mech trainees. She finds it a bit repugnant that the world she lives in is trying to eradicate men altogether. In fact, women are artificially inseminated and there is genetic manipulation that arranges the X/Y chromosomes in such a way as to only have female babies. Meanwhile, men who are captured by the female provinces are used as cannon fodder for training mechs. The extinction of male homo sapiens is on the horizon.

This is a tale with a fresh new vision of a future that is both creative and disturbing. People who enjoy this book may also wish to read Gladiatrix, which is about female Roman gladiators training in their Ludis as well as "on-the-job-training" in the arena. There are some similarities in the stories.


Sihpromatum - Backpacks and Bra Straps: Backpacks and Bra Straps (Volume 2)
Sihpromatum - Backpacks and Bra Straps: Backpacks and Bra Straps (Volume 2)
by Savannah Grace
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.00
10 used & new from $20.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The journey continues, December 13, 2014
The present book is the sequel to Sihpromatum: I Grew My Boobs in China (Volume 1) which detailed the journey of a Canadian family to Hong Kong, into China and then into Mongolia. Volume 2 picks up with the family in Russia and follows them back into western China, Tibet and finally Nepal. While it is helpful to have read Volume 1, it is not absolutely necessary as Volume 2 could be read as a stand-alone book.

Our travelers consist of the mother, her son Ammon and her two teenage daughters, Breanne and Savannah (the author of the work). Both volumes share the anguish of being so very far away from Vancouver and at the same time the truly wonderful opportunity the family has to travel the world. In the present book the family visits somber Russian WWII memorials, long forgotten Chinese cities that were wiped out by Kublai Khan, the sacred Buddhist oasis of Tibet and they finish up by viewing a sunrise over Mount Everest.

The above is an outline of the book, but the best thing about the book is the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [illustrated] feel to the book as a naive young Canadian lass discovers that the world is a much bigger place and is a great deal more grandiose than she ever imagined.

Some reviewers have complained that too much time is spent in the book focusing on the travails that hikers face. For myself, these topics "bring home" the many sacrifices the family has made to embark on this epic journey. As Clint Eastwood would say, Savannah tells it like it is: the good, the bad & the ugly. This Canadian band is made up of humans, just like you & I; Savannah does not shy away from pointing out both the positive traits as well as the shortcomings of all the members of the group ~ including herself. I find this honesty to be refreshing.

There is another angle that is worth bringing up as well: this is not a wealthy family. They travel on a shoestring budget and can rarely afford the 'luxury' of a real-live hotel room that has a shower. They endure through some rather squalid living conditions, and tensions within the family can flare up from time to time. Again, this goes back to what I said: it's an honest account of their trip and it's not sugarcoated.

In that respect, it is much more interesting than an account would be of, say, Paris Hilton traveling across the globe while being cocooned inside a bubble of servants and bodyguards. This is a tale of normal people making a worldwide trek. As such, they cherish their experiences much more than a Paris Hilton type ever would.

So, if you're looking for an enjoyable read that is both raw & visceral as well as being beautiful and enlightening, then I would urge you to take Savannah's hand and let her lead you across the wonders of what Carl Sagan called the pale blue dot. Someday we, too, will pass into history; it would be prudent to see what our beloved planet has to offer before we reach that juncture.


A Million Ways to Die in the West
A Million Ways to Die in the West
DVD ~ Seth MacFarlane
Price: $11.99
77 used & new from $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The funniest western parody since BLAZING SADDLES!, December 10, 2014
Not too many comedies are able to make me burst out laughing. This one did. It pokes fun at everything that had to do with living in the old west and it does so in what many would call a distasteful manner (so what?). It's truly the funniest film I've seen @ least since Wolf Of Wall Street [HD]

Liam Neeson does a caricature of his usual "tough guy" personas as he plays a gunfighter who wears a black hat (literally & figuratively!). Charlize Theron is the sexiest cowgirl since Madeline Stowe & Andi McDowell starred in Bad Girls. Seth Mcfarline injects a heavy dose of goofiness into the flick, and Neal Patrick Harris is terrific as the pompous "sophisticated" cowboy.

One of the most surprising things about the film is that the cinematography of the southwest United States is downright stunning. One would not expect to see great cinematography in a film such as this, but Mcfarline wanted it to have the "feel" of a real live western ~ with the slapstick comedic portions thrown in just for fun.

If you liked Blazing Saddles then you're bound to enjoy this flick as it's cut from the same cloth. It's obvious that the thespians had a good time filming the movie & that's always a plus. And, of course, you can never go wrong with ANY movie that stars Charlize!!


1001 A.D.
1001 A.D.
by Wes Wetzel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.79
18 used & new from $7.95

5.0 out of 5 stars The Viking before the Spaniard, November 23, 2014
This review is from: 1001 A.D. (Paperback)
In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. That's the story all of us as schoolchildren were taught as the discovery of America insofar as Europe was concerned. This is not entirely accurate on a couple of different points. First, Columbus 1st landed somewhere in the Bahamas; a short time later the continent was discovered by an Italian named Amerigo Vespucci (for whom the continent was named).

Secondly, nearly 500 yrs < Columbus there was a Viking by the name of Leif Ericson who is said to have landed in what is modern day Newfoundland, Canada. Our knowledge of who he was and the routes he took are fragmentary at best. It is widely believed that he stopped over in Greenland on his way across the north Atlantic. Some people have even questioned as to whether a person named Leif Ericson ever existed @ all. However, in the last 30yrs or so, archeologists have disinterred relics in Newfoundland that scholars have called "undeniably Nordic in origin."

Such is the backdrop of the current novel. It is a specious attempt to piece together the travels of Leif and his men (and women!) who made the voyage west > 1,000 yrs ago. When most of us think of Vikings, we think of a brutal lot with a lust for battle. Conversely, the breed of Vikings depicted in this story are much more interested in exploring than they are in raping & pillaging villages.

The center of the story are (fictional) scrolls that were found that belonged to a fellow by the name of Eric Thorson. Eric, in turn, was Leif Ericson's right-hand-man. It offers a plausible account of how things COULD have happened, especially with the interactions the Vikings had with the natives of what is modern day Canada.

The author was a helicopter pilot in the Navy for many yrs and he creatively integrates his familiarity with helicopter detachments into the fabric of the storyline. It is true that the military is called upon from time-to-time to help out with scientific research projects.

People who are interested in reading another book about how scientific expeditions are conducted would do well to check out Shadow World. Also, readers who would like to read another historical fiction novel that invokes the Vikings (and also takes place right around the same time period as the present book) would be admonished to peruse Hawk Quest.

This is a compelling novel that does a fine job of taking the reader back to the age of the Vikings & the time of global exploration. In addition to Leif, there are other characters in the book who actually lived and the author is able to breathe life into their story.


Cosmos
Cosmos
by Carl Sagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.79
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sagan's magnum opus, November 18, 2014
This review is from: Cosmos (Paperback)
As I was raised in a conservative environment, the name Carl Sagan was demonized in my younger years. Just as his pupil, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is eschewed by religious groups today, so too was Sagan despised back in the 1980s. So, what was Sagan's crime? What is Tyson's crime? Both are one-in-the-same: a yearning to bring science out of its esoteric domain and make it more accessible to the general public. In short, they wanted to make science (gasp!) mainstream.

Sagan wrote his book for all people to gain a sense of awe of the universe that surrounds us. This review, on the other hand, is geared towards people who have a genuine interest in science. Sagan has had a profound influence on my life and he coerced me to "grow up" from the simple minded religious paradigm I was told to adhere to as a child and instead look at the world through the rational paradigm of science and logic. For that, I am indebted to the late Cornell professor of astronomy.

One of the pressing questions that many might have is this: if they have seen or if they even own (as I do) the 1980s PBS series COSMOS on DVD, is it still worthwhile to read the book? The answer is.....YES!! To be sure, there is much overlap between the PBS series & the paperback, but there is also stuff in the book that is not in the series (and vice versa).

Since the 1980s, there are some updates that Sagan would make were he to write the book today. First off, exoplanets were a scientific hypothetical 30yrs ago; nobody knew for sure if they existed. Starting in the mid 1990s, exoplanets were realized as being a scientific fact. First, astronomers could only locate very large exoplanets (some of which are several times the size of Jupiter). Over time, they have refined their techniques and have found much smaller exoplanets ~ some of which could possibly even harbor life. The discovery of exoplanets has led to the fastest growing field in the realm of astronomy today.

Clearly, even to we laymen, exoplanets should not be a surprise. It is only religious types who have wanted to think of our solar system as "unique." For people who are alive right now, just think about this: future generations will look back @ this time in which we located exoplanets in the same manner that we look back upon Galileo and his jubilation at finding the moons of Jupiter. Sagan muses about the possibility of exoplanets in the book; oh, if only he could be around today to share in the process of their discovery!

Sagan also expresses how he would like to send a probe to the moon of Saturn known as Titan as well as sending a rover to Mars. Both of these dreams have been realized since his death in the early 90s. Recently, the Cassini spacecraft released a probe named after one of Sagan's heroes: Van Huygens. It safely touched down on Titan and we have pictures & data from one of only 4 rocky worlds in our solar system which have an atmosphere (Venus, Earth & Mars are the other 3). We have also sent the CURIOSITY rover to Mars & it has taught us much.

When it comes to the notion of extra terrestrial intelligence, we don't know anything more about the topic than we did back in the 1980s. That is, with the exception of the fact that we have located expolanets that are the correct size that reside in the so-called "Goldilox Zone" of their respective yellow suns. One correction that does need to be taken is with the Drake equation which Sagan summoned with the efficacy of figuring how how much life there could statistically be in the Milky Way. The Drake equation did not factor in plate tectonics, which is critical for the evolution of life on Earth.

None of this is meant as a criticism of Sagan. To the contrary, Sagan relished advancements in science and embraced refinements to the scientific paradigm. Unlike the religious types who have always loathed him (and always will), Sagan prided himself on being an open-minded scientist. If only the rest of us could attempt to be more like the late Carl Sagan, the world would be a much, much better place.

The very fact that there are myriad more people who are scientifically literate today than back in the 1970s is a testament to the pioneering efforts of Carl Sagan. His colleagues such as Stephen Weinberg, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Hawking, Stephen J. Gould, Richard Dawkins, Harold Morowitz and others have all followed his lead in writing books on science that are written for the layman. That fact alone makes Carl Sagan one of the most notable scientists of the past few hundred years.


Jailbait
Jailbait
DVD ~ Jailbait
Price: $10.19
25 used & new from $7.55

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best women-behind-bars movies ever!, November 18, 2014
This review is from: Jailbait (DVD)
Sara Malakul Lane has the leading role in this film as a coy young musician named Anna. Sara has an exotic & yet innocent beauty, which makes her PERFECT for this part. She is incessantly molested by her stepfather and one day accidentally kills him in self defense (this is hardly spoiler material as it happens in the opening moments of the story). As a result she is sent to prison; a grave injustice.

Like Pepper in Orange Is the New Black: Season 1, Anna wants to keep a low profile, be left alone, do her time quietly and get out. Unfortunately, also like Pepper, her stunning beauty makes her the "center of attention" in a prison where none of the other women can really compete with her lovely visage.

Such is the backdrop of the story. Sara has an exquisite body and is not shy about showing it off. It has a higher ratio of nudity than a lot of WBB movies, and in my book that's a very good thing! This is what also gears it towards being a more "mainstream" softcore women's prison flick than what ORANGE is.

If you're a fan of the WBB genre, then this 1 should be @ the top of your list. It is erotic, sexy, disturbing and alluring all in one. If you're not in love with Anna by the end of the film, then you must not be anything like me!!


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