Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Book Review: Artemis

June 24, 2021 Leave a comment


Artemis: A Novel by [Andy Weir]

There was a lot that was okay with this book. The lead character/narrator was mostly entertaining, though sometimes veered into annoying. The moonscape descriptions were interesting enough, but after talk about the low gravity, the fear of fire, the dusty surface, and the lack of atmosphere outside, we’re pretty much stuck with a caper was a little far-fetched, but it moved along nicely. The ending was a bit too pat for me, especially Jazz’s remarkable EVA recovery. The most interesting thing for me was that I read Artemis at the same time I was reading First Man, The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. I’ll round up from 3.5 stars. (4 of 5 Stars)

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

June 10, 2021 Leave a comment


The Studies and Observation Group was a most interesting group of warriors fighting…well, fighting near Vietnam. Lynne Black’s triple-layered narrative—via the after-action debrief, events as they happened on the ground, and his internal stream-of-consciousness thoughts—about the ambush of RT Alabama by the NVA and its Prairie Fire rescue makes you stutter in disbelief—but it really happened. But what really amazed me was Black’s photo after his bio at the end: he looks normal. An incredible memoir. (5 of 5 Stars)

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Plum Island

May 27, 2021 Leave a comment


Plum Island (John Corey Book 1) by [Nelson DeMille]The main character, Detective John Corey, is a hit-or-a-miss kind of guy. He was sometimes endearing and sometimes obnoxious, but maybe that’s the way it is with a Manhattan cop stuck out on Long Island, recuperating from gunshot wounds. The mystery was okay and I even bought into the whole Captain Kidd’s treasure scheme, but I lost my willing suspension of disbelief at the end when Corey and Detective Beth Penrose—both non-boaters—ventured out into the ocean on a cigarette boat in the middle of a hurricane. (3 of 5 Stars)


Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War


Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by [Karl Marlantes]

Matterhorn wasn’t quite up to my expectations. It seems a fairly accurate portrayal of Marine infantrymen in Vietnam, but it was long–a bit too long. And it became a bit repetitive. Lt. Mellas was an okay hero. He certainly “grew” during the story, but his early yearning to seek out battlefield glory put me off. At the end, having a fake fragging before the final real one diluted the ending of the story for me. (3 of 5 Stars)

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King–The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea

April 16, 2021 Leave a comment


The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea by [Walter R. Borneman]

Admiral Earnest T. King Elementary School is only two blocks from my building in Lorain, Ohio—where he was born and raised. And while I had heard of “Bull” Halsey and Chester Nimitz, Admirals King and Leahy were pretty much mysteries. I really didn’t know much about any of them, especially not like Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, and Patton. I’ve read bios of all the Generals, but nothing about the Admirals.
So, Walter Borneman’s book leads us through their lives prior to entry into the Naval Academy, their careers, World War II commands, and their deaths. The best part of the book is how he contrasts their very different individual personalities, as well as their interactions with other Admirals and Generals, particularly Douglas MacArthur. As much as I’ve read about World War II and all the sea battles in the Pacific, this book filled in a huge history hole in my understanding of the leadership on the Navy side of things. (5 of 5 Stars)

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The Sins of the Fathers

March 25, 2021 Leave a comment


The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder Mysteries Book 1) by [Lawrence Block]

They’re all damaged goods—the Private Investigators, that is, aren’t they?  Matthew Scudder’s cross to bear is as tragic as it was unavoidably accidental. So, now he’s a hard-drinking  former NYC detective who makes ends meet by doing “favors” for folks who show their appreciation with “gifts,” so he can avoid the whole official P.I. stereotype.  In this case, it’s a father trying to make sense of his daughter’s death and the suicide of the boy who lived with her and brutally murdered her.  As Scudder methodically unravels the mysteries of the “why” for the father, he discovers the open-and-shut case holds other mysteries that he judicially deals with in the end.  A good, gritty noir story that doesn’t follow the usual paths. (4 of 5 Stars)
Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: You’re Doing Great

February 19, 2021 Leave a comment

You're Doing Great!: And Other Reasons to Stay Alive by [Tom Papa]

Tom Papa’s book reads just like he sounds. Almost as if it’s one of his stand-up routines—which some parts feel like at times. And that’s okay. He’s just riffing on the murky, underside of stuff we know we shouldn’t do but, you know, we do it anyway…with relish: 7-Eleven snacks, Oscar Peterson, baking and eating bread, dogs, coffee, DNA, iPhones, Doritos, red wine, and, of course, more eating. And he’s right, we are doing great. (4 of 5 Stars)



Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The First Deadly Sin

February 12, 2021 Leave a comment

The First Deadly Sin (The Edward X. Delaney Series Book 1) by [Lawrence Sanders]

The First Deadly Sin…has…a…long…slow…start… Sanders certainly fills it with exposition needed later and Daniel Blank is definitely a creepy enough serial killer. The novel begins to pick up with Captain Delaney’s shadow investigation into the case, using unofficial amateur sources. Since this is a Columbo-type tale where we know the evil-doer from the beginning, the narrative definitely works well having the perspective shift back and forth between Delaney and Blank. (4 of 5 Stars)



Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The Puzzle Palace

February 5, 2021 Leave a comment

The Puzzle Palace: A Report on NSA, America's Most Secret Agency by [James Bamford]

The Puzzle Palace suffers because it is locked in time. First published in 1984, it was no doubt a revelatory expose of the NSA, following on the Church Commission reports, but it really pales compared to what is happening today. The book does a great job of laying out the history of the organization going back to the work of original cryptologist, Herbert Yardley, in the early Twentieth Century, following through the Agency’s official establishment by President Truman in 1952, and the years of growth and public deception, as its employees happily eavesdropped on telegrams, telexes, and phone calls from all over the world. The narrative bogs down quite a bit with sections that just seem to list name after name after name of people who occupied this office or that in an alphabet soup of organizations. It’s not James Bamford’s fault, but what is really needed is a Puzzle Palace 2.0, which picks up on the government funding of Google in the 1990s and follows through the establishment of the 1.5 million square foot NSA Data Center in Utah. (4 of 5 Stars)


Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Ready Player One

January 29, 2021 Leave a comment

Ready Player One by [Ernest Cline]

I went back and forth with this one. For the Gen-X folks, all of the Eighties pop culture references were no doubt fun. Not being a huge John Hughes fanatic, it was okay for me. The plot was basically Star Wars IV (the very first one): hard-scrabble young rebels (gunters) taking on the evil empire (Innovative Online Industries) for control of the Universe (OASIS—”the globally networked virtual reality most of humanity used on a daily basis”) where all of the action is fought. And, yeah, (spoiler alert) the Luke Skywalker hero gets the girl—in the real world. I’ll put 4-stars on Goodreads and LibraryThing, but here I’m splitting the difference.  (3½ of 5 Stars)


Categories: What I've Read
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