Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Farewell, My Lovely

by Raymond Chandler

This is the second Phillip Marlowe novel--a classic mid-century detective tale with tough talking, hard drinking and people getting slugged a lot. The story was okey--I suspected the murderer about halfway in and the dialogue was a bit obtuse at times. What I really enjoyed about the book was the setting and atmosphere. Throughout the book I was envisioning 1940s Los Angeles. Of course, my mental images were an amalgamation of Perry Mason and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I've been lax in watching classic movies.

You may want to check it out.
LibraryThing link


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wings

by Michael A. Martin

I tried to think of a concise way to relate the initial plot of this book. The problem is, (besides my lack of writing skills) is that this novel is half a story that takes place after one or two other novels. (Not to mention four seasons of television episodes.) Although Mr. Martin does bring the reader up to speed, I'm a bit stymied as to how to pull off a similar feat here. So let me simply put it this way: The crew of the Earth ship Enterprise (NX-01) fight against Romulans. Mr. Martin tells the tale in a way I liked from Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series, capturing the events of the larger conflict from the viewpoints of different characters around the galaxy. However, I didn't find many of the characters very compelling and would much rather have read a tale that only featured the Enterprise crew.

There's a lot of waiting in wartime, so it's appropriate to rate this waiting room material.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Green and Ancient Light

I'm tempted to call Frederic Durbin the master of setting. I loved his description of an October evening in Dragonfly. I wanted more stories that explored the world of the Rake in The Star Shard. Now, in A Green and Ancient Light, he dropped me into a small seaside village and a secluded grove filled with bizarre statues that I delighted to explore with the hero. It's a tale of a nine-year-old boy who is spending the summer with his grandmother while his mother cares for his infant sister and his father is away with the war. Which war is never specified. Neither are the names of the country, village or even the characters.* An enemy pilot is shot down nearby and is discovered by Girandole, a friend of the grandmother. Girandole has a name because he's somewhat unusual. Since Grandmother doesn't consider the wounded pilot an enemy, she treats his wounds and the trio hide him out in the grove. The grove itself is a puzzle, perhaps connected to a world of legend. The story then is a blend of the task of hiding the pilot and unraveling the mystery of the statuary.

I didn't find the story as compelling as Mr. Durbin's previous novels. However, I can't help but love how Mr. Durbin made it all so real, mixing in small little mundane details while still keeping a sense of mystery and magic. It's definitely a book worth checking out.
* I don't know why he redacted all the names, but it does make for a second mystery to unravel. The clues are all there, though I have to confess that I didn't really puzzle out where the story took place before I read the answer in the acknowledgements.

LibraryThing link

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Friday, August 05, 2016

Prisoners of Geography

by Tim Marshall

I recently figured out that the thread that ties together most of my reading is that I want to know how stuff works. Whether I'm perusing a book of maps, reading a magazine article on bird migration, or delving into the history of America in the 1850's, I'm driven to find out how things are put together and what they do once they're running.

I figured this out while pondering just why I had to read this book. Prisoners of Geography attempts to explain how the physical landscape has affected the history and will shape the future of different areas of the world. Of course, when Mr. Marshall speaks of geography, he not only covers the natural formations of land and sea, but also those lines that governments have drawn on their maps, sometimes to the detriment of the people living in the regions depicted there. It was an interesting take on history and politics, well worth reading.

Check it out!
LibraryThing link


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