Friday, October 16, 2015

read: Death Before Decaf (3 stars)

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery, #1)Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm obviously not in the intended demographic for this book: wrong gender and probably too old. Yet I didn't struggle at all reading it through to the end. There was a pretty decent mystery, some suspense and likable characters. The first-person narrator's voice was just snarky enough and never whiny. I think the comparisons being make to Evanovich's Stephanie Plum are pretty apt.

There are some rough patches. Every so often, a sentence would make me go 'huh?'. But it did not stop the story and I moved on. I also thought a few more clues needed to be dropped about actual murderer. They were a bit of a surprise.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and I can easily recommend this book to anyone in it's intended audience.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.

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read: Failure Is Not An Option (4 stars)

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and BeyondFailure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. As a child of the Space-Age, I grew up with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I thought I knew a lot about these programs, but Gene reveals some backstage drama and even some mission peril that I did not previously know about. There were some points where the litany of names became a little tiresome. But the space program was built by real people and they deserve every shout out. Recommended.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

read: The Scam: A Fox and O'Hare Novel (3 stars)

The Scam: A Fox and O'Hare NovelThe Scam: A Fox and O'Hare Novel by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun, light and quick read. Though not quite as fun and a little more light than the previous volume in the series. An on the nose call-out in the middle of the book compares events to 'The Sting', 'Ocean's 11' and 'The Thomas Crown Affair', though I would throw in 'Remington Steele' and 'Burn Notice' for the added romantic 'tension' and quick pacing.

You've still got a Federal agent working both sides of the law paired with an art thief who's supposed to be helping her pull cons on behalf of the United States government to nab criminals that are beyond the reach of normal investigations. This time around her combat skills are ramped up to Jason Bourne levels and he's got international connections that are worthy of James Bond. They bring in several of their usual cohorts to scam a casino owner who'd using his gambling operations to help mobsters, pirates and terrorists launder their money.

This paragraph is lifted from my review of the previous book: Just like a television movie, none of the story makes any sense when submitted to any scrutiny. The capers are paper thin. The characters are cardboard flat. Real motivation is missing in action. And yet, like a television movie, it's fast-paced, colorful, and eye-catching.

Pick this up for a read on a plane trip or sitting on the beach and the minutes will fly by.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Authors and Web Sites and Platform, Oh My!

As I mentioned earlier (Dehosted and Rehosted), I had to find a new virtual home for my small amount of personal web site content. The move has given me the opportunity to rethink the content of that site. Up until now, it's been a haphazard collection of widgets and links to my haphazard collection of (so-called) social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Goodreads and BlogSpot (but not yet Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr and Google+), along with a sort of personal profile in bullet-list form.

It turns out, I had already been thinking about what I should be doing with my web site to prepare for promoting my authorly activities, assuming I would buckle down and turn one of my projects into something publishable in the not too distant future. I wanted to at least polish up my bio and weed out the less pertinent tidbits and links.

That still leaves some questions to answer. How does someone who has not published a book create an 'author' web site? What should a writer who has written at least eight unfinished novels (for National Novel Writing Month and in-between) say about their creations? Should I list them? Describe them? Should I be teasing about projects that are in-progress or the worlds I have created for them? Or just wait until I have something finished and at least submitted before doing that? I know I should (and want to) spend more time writing and finishing the stories than producing 'extra' content about them.

Of course, there are plenty of folks out there with opinions on what such a web site should include. I found this one on Creating a Website as an Unpublished Author by Amanda Luedeke pretty insightful. I guess I'll keep it focused on who I am and what might make my work interesting. I'll leave a few clues about the sort of stories I've been writing (maybe super short blurbs about my NaNoWriMo work). Keep the social media links intact. And work harder to keep the blogs active.

Meanwhile, until I get my site settled and a book published, have a look at the web sites (and books!) of some my favorite authors. They give me something to aim at and I'm amazed to actually call several of them friends.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dehosted and Rehosted

I haven't put much effort into my personal web site in quite a while. There was not much point. I'm not selling anything. I'm horrible at blogging (I have a couple of infrequently updated channels). It was fun to play around with HTML and some layouts and graphics, back in the day. But it was easy to just ignore it. There were plenty of other ways to spend my time and effort (or not).

Then Comcast forced my hand.

Since I use them as my Internet provider, I have been hosting what little content I did have on their free service. It had a somewhat ugly URL (, but that was easily dealt with by simply forwarding my much easier to type domain ( there. They recently decided to discontinue the free hosting. I had to find a new place to host my stuff.

My options:
  1. As a consolation for discontinuing the web hosting service, Comcast gave their subscribers two years of a Pro subscription to Weebly offers drag-and-drop web site construction and a spectrum of features and services.
  2. Add hosting to one of my GoDaddy domain registrations. This would allow me to either upload my existing, but lame, web content or use their web site constructor to create something more interesting. Either way would cost me a little more each month.
  3. Research and find another way to get free, or almost free, hosting. Been there, done that. I'd probably wind up and someplace like (a Weebly competitor) or back at GoDaddy.
For now, I'm going with option #1. Why not? It's paid for (for two years). The functionality seems fairly reasonable. It even takes care of making the site compatible with the smartphone form factor and I can use one of my existing domains for it. The only thing is, I can't just upload my existing site content (just a bunch of HTML). I need to recreate it. I might as well take the opportunity to update what I have and make it more attractive.

More on that in a subsequent post. For now, you can find my new web site (in progress, under construction and all that) at

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

read: Of Noble Family (3 stars)

Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've mostly enjoyed this series of novels. A couple of them were very fun and all have been fascinating glimpses into this period of history (knowing full well that the magic changes things up a bit). The big draw that this episode has for me are the intrigues and details about plantation life when slavery was still quite active. The author does a good job of balancing the fine line between historical accuracy and modern sensibilities.

I did knock off a couple of stars. The first one has more to do with me than the book: I'm not in the target audience for the book. This volume swung the pendulum far into the Romance (with a capital R to the 10th power) genre and I cringed at every breathy breath, silently clenched muscle, faint, archaic euphemism and throat clearing.

The second star gets knocked off for the audio performance. While Mary does her usual excellent job. The other actors, while bringing in the island accents that were needed, always seemed insert too ... many ... pauses ... in ... unnecessary ... places. I had to put the Audible player into 1.25x playback mode to avoid losing my sanity.

If you've followed the adventures of Jane and Vincent thus far, you will want to read this closing volume of the series. Otherwise, read one of the other stories (I recommend Glamour in Glass or Valour and Vanity).

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

read: THE Star Wars (3 stars)

The Star WarsThe Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a mess. As such, it is an interesting take on one of the early drafts of what eventually became the Star Wars we all know and love (it took years and many revisions of the story and script to make that film). It's pretty amazing that the author and artists were able to make this into something as semi-coherent as it is. You should only read this if you are a giant Star Wars fan and your little fan-boy heart won't be broken when you see the names of your favorite characters attached to almost unrecognizable new characterizations. I had fun reading it.

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