Thursday, May 25, 2023

read: They Called Us Enemy (4 stars)

They Called Us EnemyThey Called Us Enemy by George Takei

George Takei is most well-known for his role as Mr. Sulu in Star Trek. This recollection of growing up in the Japanese internment camps of WWII is powerful, disturbing, haunting, chilling and inspirational. This dark hour of United States history must not be forgotten, and George's graphic novel brings it too life through a little boy's eyes.

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Monday, May 1, 2023

read: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (4 stars)

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionThe Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fairly well-rounded account of computing innovations from Ada through the present.

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read: The Overstory (4 stars)

The OverstoryThe Overstory by Richard Powers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had really hoped for this Pulitzer Prize winning novel to be 5 stars. But it never got there for me. At first it surprised me by not being a novel, but several seemingly unrelated short stories (except each one is about trees). The writing also seemed oddly perfunctory for such an artistic endeavor. I stuck with it and they grew on me.
Then the author started weaving those stories and their characters together into a more engaging epic. Here we go, I thought. Except we didn't go. At least not quickly. Perhaps the author intended the stately pace of his prose to reflect the history-spanning subject of the story: trees. They do not move or think (in the eyes of the story) quickly, relative to human experience. Yet the characters in the novel discover that they do both.
Thus, the book is actually a science fiction story. We have been surrounded by aliens all this time and did not realize it. The trees, and the rest of life on Planet Earth that they are linked to, preceded us and will succeed us. Perhaps they even harbor a bit of sentience, even if we do not understand it. Or they don't. It doesn't matter. It is still life.
For me, all of that would be the foundation of a 5-star story. Especially when it includes eco-warriors and computer geniuses and unrecognized artists. But I have to knock off a half star for the writing being just a bit too artsy and drawn out. And take off another half star for being printed in a font that's just too small for such dense prose (trying to pack 128,000 words into 500 pages). I feel enlightened for reading this book. But it was more of a chore than it probably should have been.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

read: Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life (4 stars)

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining LifeElderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a big, ambitious book that is worth reading by anyone facing old age, which is everyone. San Francisco geriatrician Louise Aronson mines her decades of experience working with elderly patients to reveal nuggets of wisdom and hope, as well as a challenge for the American Healthcare System to do better. Unfortunately, the book is at least 150 pages too long. While the insights are keen and the anecdotes and case studies rich with illustration, it is often repetitive and gets sidetracked into like a memoire.

Those closer to (or in) the third act of life (after childhood and adulthood), should benefit from a better understanding of what to expect and plan for. I hope younger readers will gain a better understanding and appreciation of their possible future and what their elders are facing now.

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Monday, March 20, 2023

read: Her Deadly Game (4 stars)

Her Deadly GameHer Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's no wonder that I will pick up any book that Robert Dugoni writes. He had me hooked with his David Sloane courtroom dramas, kept me going with the Tracy Crosswhite detective series, intrigued me with his Charles Jenkins spy adventures and pierced me to the heart with his standalone alone novels. Now he's back in the courtroom with a new lawyer and another impossible case.

This one is a classic locked-room mystery. A woman is shot. All of the clues say she must have committed suicide. Except she's an invalid and could not possibly have done it without help. The police are convinced that the husband must have done it. With a bit of circumstantial evidence and apparently strong motive, they arrest him and he's put on trial. Enter our lawyer, Keera Duggan. Everything is obviously stacked against her and her client. His life is on the line. But so is her reputation and the family law business. Dugoni knows how to pile on the complications and complicated relationships. Bit by bit, Keera and her team chip away at the evidence, uncovering the truth and some allies that may or may not be trustworthy.

The plot is complicated. But the writing is not. Dugoni keeps the reader grounded in the story and the characters at every turn, even when information is found that flips everyone's understanding of what happened. Recommended.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

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read: Travel by Bullet (The Dispatcher #3) (4 stars)

Travel by Bullet (The Dispatcher, #3)Travel by Bullet by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Scalzi understands that many people read fiction largely for its entertainment value. He gets me. This latest novella featuring Tony Valdez, The Dispatcher, is yet another entertaining story that I dispatched in just a few days (see what I did there?). Tony lives in an odd, parallel universe where almost everyone that is killed comes back to life, restored to some previous level of health and in a safe place. Tony is also our first-person narrator and he's just likable enough (despite being essentially a paid assassin, a dispatcher) and snarky enough to keep us engaged as he works his way through the latest mystery that came his way.

This one begins with the arrival of another dispatcher at the emergency room of the hospital where Tony works. Mason's in bad shape and dying, having jumped out of a moving car and gotten run over, and would seem to be a good candidate for a dispatch. But he refuses the services of the on-duty dispatcher and asks for Tony. He just wants Tony to be with him, as the closest thing to a friend he believes he has. After Tony hears Mason's story, he whispers a suggestion to Mason and suddenly dispatches (kills) him. Mason disappears and we're off to the races to discover what secrets they shared and why Mason is on the run.

Scalzi keeps the story lively, deftly introducing a wide variety of characters from all manner of social strata and brings the story to a quick and amazingly satisfying resolution. Even though this is the third entry in the series, reading the previous stories in unnecessary. Recommended.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 Week 1 - A Quick Review

On the plus side, I am managing to write every day and have managed to push the story forward in what could be interesting ways.

On the other hand, I have not been able to build any kind of momentum yet.

Yet, I remain hopeful and invested in the process. I am enjoying the time I have been able to spend on the project.