Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: Hire Me or Fire Me

Although author Alexander McDonald seems to think that the first in his series of books, Hire Me or Fire Me, is a novel, it is pretty clear that he is writing more of a memoir of his life as a resentful Canadian immigrant from Scotland. As a young lad his parents moved the family for job reasons, and a young McDonald deeply misses his romanticized Scottish boyhood. The rest of the book details his dislike of Canada both in the school system and the employment situations.

As the title suggests, the bulk of the book focuses on his many jobs in the sales field, starting with the typical short-lived and ill-fated teenage jobs at a gas station, a funeral home and McDonalds, and continuing with cars and pharmaceutical sales. Largely, the book suffered from a lack of focus, as it seems to be a memoir posing as a novel, but also tries to bring in little tidbits of wisdom gleaned from the sales world and constant interaction with people. He can’t quite find the voice he wants, as it is largely first person with a lot of references to pop culture - that don’t add any value, in my opinion - but also tries to tell the story of people he encounters. Most of them seemed to be from a rather narcissistic, holier-than-thou (or more Scottish than thou, anyway), slimy salesman perspective that only served to heighten my irritation with the man, until the last story. The story of Walter had a completely different tone, the voice was humble and appreciative of the experience. I would have preferred the whole tone of the book to be written like that last story. Hopefully, Mr. McDonald will decide to edit his books either into a completely fictionalized account of a salesman, write a sales technique and people-reading book that gives tips and tricks illustrated with stories from his experiences, or an actual straight and acknowledged memoir, because the combination just doesn’t work.

Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: Meritropolis

MeritropolisMeritropolis by Joel Ohman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charley has just achieved a score of 118, one of the highest in Meritropolis. That score will afford him a lot of perks, but seeing a little girl about to be zeroed brings back memories of his brother, Alec, who was also zeroed as a child, and sends him into a blind rage. He saves the little girl, for now, but at the expense of his best friend, who is chosen to be put outside the gates in her place. Charley vows then and there that he will fight the System, because he knows all life is valuable, regardless of what the System dictates. But should he fight the system from within or attack from the outside? And are they really the only people left after The Event, or is that just another lie perpetuated by the System?

Set in the post-apocalyptic AE 12, author Joel Ohman explores what would happen if we were all assessed only by what we could contribute to society, and how we would make the decision that some are worth saving but others are just too much of a drain on society’s resources, such as the elderly, the sick children, the disabled, and even those of questionable genetic lineage. His main character has the advantage of being one of the higher intelligence, physical strength and character, but has watched the innocent suffer for too long. In a very thought-provoking manner, he explores how a society can go about exterminating the weak and undesirable, a sort of world-wide holocaust, and how one person can make a difference. I loved the blatant value of life and the defense of it, as well as the setting and larger story. Charley’s motivations are good, but he is still human and makes mistakes, and has to weigh whether starting a revolution - which will lead to more loss of innocent life - is worth it to change a flawed System. I think this is a solid basis for a series, and am looking forward to seeing more of Charley’s quest come to life.

View all my reviews Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Lights of Madness

Lights of Madness: In Search of Joan of ArcLights of Madness: In Search of Joan of Arc by Preston Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As fascinating historical figures go, Joan of Arc ranks up there among the most inscrutable and the most tragic. Convinced that she was hearing the voice of God and a few saints, Joan of Arc took off to take back France from the English, and reinstate Charles VII to the throne. While she enjoyed early success, and even had the British on the run, she was eventually captured at Compeigne and burned at the stake in 1431 after a lengthy and far from fair trial. Eventually, Charles VII was successfully reinstated, he initiated a trial of reclamation to clear her verdict of heresy, and centuries later Joan was decared a saint in the Catholic Church.

Joan of Arc has been examined from many different perspectives and millieus. She has been the subject of theater, feminist essays, religious festivals, and medical models. Author Preston Russell begins with a blow-by-blow of her trial, and delves a little deeper into her religious motivations (which given the times were also intertwined with her political motivations) and continues with a literature review of her evolving persona and concludes with some medical theories regarding her mental health state, particularly captivating to the author as he is himself a physician.

Like everyone else, a medieval teenage girl leading armies because of voices in her head fascinates me. The fact that there is no Joan of Arc disorder or real medical explanation further bolsters her religious acumen, and I enjoy pundits trying to explain the unexplainable. I found Lights of Madness to be a really thorough and well researched book, and I loved the references to the source material. That being said, it read more like a thesis than a book, and I think it could benefit from some reorganization, or at least clearer sections and author interjections. In fact, I think that rather than just an introduction from the author on how he discovered and was enthralled with the subject, the book would benefit from his description of exactly how he went about finding everything in each section - religious, medical, literature, etc. I know it’s scientifically trendy to pretend to be objective, but everyone comes from somewhere and has reasons to be pulled toward different subjects, and, for me, that helps my own evaluation and conclusions. The author’s personal story is just as important as Joan’s, and just as it was critical to describe how Shaw and Shakespeare treated her story differently, he needs to add his to the pile.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: Lonely Heroes

Lonely Heroes by Eddie Upnick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lonely Heroes, a spinoff to the Time Will Tell series, is set present day, so between Time Will Tell and Future Tense. The book follows Roger, a CIA agent who fashions himself as the American Bond. He proves his worth in an Iranian nuclear bunker, and is plucked from the planet by Defender to complete a special mission to prevent an alien race from destroying Earth. Aided by a couple super genius friends, including the lovely Zera, he is able to move up in mission status to help some off-world negotiations that don’t directly affect Earth….yet.

While I was intrigued by the plot of Lonely Heroes, I found the writing to be dry and unemotional, almost as if someone was describing a movie they had seen rather than immersing yourself in a good novel. It was mostly rote narration, even description of dialogue and actions rather than main character POV. I also thought that it was a bit unfocused, as the first part is almost all Earth and CIA subterfuge, rather than sci-fi, save the Earth from the aliens kinda stuff. But the story and related series seems like a really good concept; the book just seems to really be in need of some editing.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Hook Up

Hook Up: A Novel of Fort BraggHook Up: A Novel of Fort Bragg by William P. Singley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hook Up follows newly drafted recruits and a couple RAs as they start jump training in the 82nd Airborne Division in that nebulous time between the Korean and Vietnam “conflicts.” Their time training as paratroopers matures them all into men, but as it is in life it reveals the kind of men they are. Also as it in life, not all of the recruit’s outcomes are just or fair. In the late ‘50s the military was a different experience than the modern military - in some ways. In some ways it seems nothing has changed.

I enjoy history, and Hook Up reveals aspects that we don’t often record. Everyone has heard of some of the heroism and sacrifice of war, but how that individual came to be able to make that sacrifice or what his training was is often glossed over, when in fact without that the heroism would have never been exhibited. I appreciate that author William P. Singlely showed some of the unsavory aspects of the military and didn’t paint everyone in the hero swath. My civilian self also really appreciate the glossary at the end and the scene setting at the beginning of each chapter that detailed aspects of military life that I would not know otherwise. However, I did think the story dragged a bit and needed to focus on fewer characters as it got confusing when jumping from soldier to soldier. I also think that there might have been some issue with the Kindle formatting, as generally when switching to a different character perspective in the narrative there is a longer space than a single line, which added to the confusion when I wasn’t sure which character was being followed. However, I did find it an overall intelligent read, and appreciated the perspective and personal history shared that shaped the events in the novel.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Glory Dogs - Forged Through glory

GLORY DOGS Forged Through GloryGLORY DOGS Forged Through Glory by DeZré Storm
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After years of successfully flying under the radar, Yoland “Kitten” Sleek is not happy about being discovered. Her deal is being honored, but she was not expecting the surge of pheremones from a Helion like Dog. As it turns out, most of Dog Team Four has a secret agenda, but will her secret be the key or the undoing?

I love sci-fi, and the actual sci-fi plot was interesting and unraveled well. Storm’s descriptive imagery is artfully written, and really helps the reader engage with the story. I also found the concept of modified humans well executed and would love to see more of that back story. I expected the sexual tension, but I felt like the amount ended up detracting from the rest of the story; or perhaps I’m just an unusually fulfilled sci-fi nerd and didn’t need that fantasy aspect. Perhaps it’s needed to set the stage for the rest of the series and it won’t be as big a plot point in th series as a whole. In any case, if off-world sci-fi romance and intrigue is your thing you will love this book.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: Artist

Artist, book three in the Remote Psychic Thriller series, follows Cassie Reynold as she picks up her life following the tragic events of the previous book, Fatal. She begins training for what she feels is her destiny, and in the process follows a handsome detective in the NOLA police force, Kurt Dupond, as he tracks a local serial killer whose signature are the mysterious letters, CLV. She feels compelled to catch this evil man, even if she has to use her powers and kill him herself. However the feelings she has for Dupond force her to deal with her past while trying to move on with her life.

I really enjoyed the descriptive imagery in the book; in fact it seems that is author Eric Douant’s strong suit. As a reader you are able to visualize exactly where the scene is taking place and observe. This also goes for emotional internal monologue, which I always appreciate. Unfortunately, the actual dialogue was a little stilted in parts, particularly when dealing with personal aspects of the characters interaction rather than professional. Readers also should note that although this is part of the Remote Psychic Thriller series, there is really very little in the way of psychic abilities. Although there is an excellent brief but informative summary of the previous two books that details exactly how her powers can be used, it’s pretty clear that in this one Cassie is trying to see if she has what it takes without her abilities, so anyone hoping for a more supernatural thriller will be a little disappointed. As this is a series however, I trust that this is a link in a larger story and that subsequent episodes in Cassie’s life will fit the series title a little better.

Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.