Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: Voidstalker

Voidstalker Voidstalker by John Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Voidstalker is a science fiction thriller by John Graham. Here, humans have gained access to alien technology which has advanced the exploration and even settlement of interstellar worlds. How we managed to get our hands on this technology and how many unsavory deeds are committed for and with it along the way are questions for our hero, Gabriel Thorn. Thorn is sent to investigate when a distant research facility goes radio silent.

This novel is typical in the vein of 'humans have once again taken something benign and twisted it to justify doing terrible things to one another'. In this case though, Graham goes even further and shows us spreading our greed and horror across the whole of space. A proud moment, indeed. Upping the ante on evil to be fought truly makes Voidstalker a science fiction novel for science fiction fanatics and will not disappoint them in the least.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: Milestone: Project Amber

Milestone: Project Amber Milestone: Project Amber by Carl Lakeland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now that is how you write a killer opening scene, folks! No pun intended. Milestone: Project Amber, The Milestone Incident takes place in Australia. Events from 1996 preface this account of a young, idealistic journalist named Angel. She has landed the interview of a lifetime smack dab in the midst of some shady happenings concerning risks to national and global security, it's do or die time for this punchy young woman. Cark Lakeland whips up a tight thriller full of intrigue that evolves into science fiction seamlessly. I've never read anything like it. Each character, even minor ones, feel fully developed and utilized perfectly to enhance the story. Not one sentence of dialogue reads forced or wasted. I found myself nearly obsessed with the story and figuring out where it was all leading.

I appreciated the suddenness of the plot twists throughout. It was nice not to see things coming chapters in advance. There are several loose ends and those would irritate me if this weren't the first of a trilogy. I hope the author is holding some things back to explore in future volumes.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber

Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber by Various
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anthologies are beginning to grow on me. I've been a die-hard fan of the traditional novel format almost to the point of feeling like Walt in Gran Torino about anthologies. I think even the anthologie lover will find themselves thrilled with how good this one is. The blurbs attempt to prepare the reader for the elaborate range of subject matter and styles of writing. Having the opportunity to sample such a wide range of authors and types of prose is often underappreciated. Personally, I have never warmed to poetry, yet the poems here at least expose me to some styles I can honestly say I've never come across before. No one ever suffered from too much exposure to literature, right?

There is something in these pages for everyone. Genres include science fiction, drama, thriller, suspense, and tragedy.

Styles include short stories, poetry, and essays.

Topics include transexualism, autism, gender, social norms and deviance, morality, revenge, and murder.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: Make Your Own Neural Network: An In-depth Visual Introduction For Beginners

Make Your Own Neural Network: An In-depth Visual Introduction For Beginners Make Your Own Neural Network: An In-depth Visual Introduction For Beginners by Michael Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like I should preface this by saying I am the past person you would find reading a tech book. My husband is the IT guy and I'm happy to leave anything computer/technology related to him. In fact I'm beginning to think that's the secret to our marriage but I digress. Going in a novice, this book still managed to teach me something without making me feel like a fool. The writing is simple and explanatory without being boring. Diagrams throughout the book are surprisingly intelligible and uncomplicated. This is unsurprisingly necessary in a book on a topic as complicated as I find this subject matter. Now my husband read through the book and found it to be too elementary for him to enjoy but that's the difference in our levels of prior knowledge. As he said, I doubt many tech experts would find this on their reading list since it is written as a beginners guide. Serving as a beginners guide, I think it's very well written and full of clear, straight-forward information on the nuances of neural networks. The terms section in the back was especially helpful!

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: The Cross Tells Me

The Cross Tells Me The Cross Tells Me by Darren Cox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Darren Cox's The Cross Tells Me is the story of Adelphi, a small country town somewhere in America and their devotion to a large cross that sits on top of a figurative pot of gold in the form of an oil reserve. Bill McFar can't understand why these people are so against simply removing an old wooden cross. What follows is a story of this man learning about this town, their faith, and ultimately how to believe from that very cross, itself. I found the idea of the cross coming to life to show Bill exactly why the residents were fighting so hard to keep it, a brilliant idea. As I read the synopsis and got it into my head what to expect, never once did that scenario pop into my head. It's rare for that to happen when you've read as many books as I have.

The Cross Tells Me is a shorter novel and well written, save some typographical errors sprinkled throughout. I am agnostic teetering on the edge of atheism so I'll admit to bristling a bit at the subject matter. I found that I was able to enjoy the story regardless and so I imagine it would do very well in Christian literary circles.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Monarchs and Mendicants

Monarchs and Mendicants Monarchs and Mendicants by Dan Groat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Monarchs and Mendicants, Dan Groat brings to life a thriller with heart and grit. Set against the dreary backdrop of street life and homelessness, we find ourselves torn in our disdain for the killer of these vulnerable people and shame in the fact that our main character, Gilford, is among the untold number of homeless veterans in this country. The way the struggles of those living on the streets are highlighted succeeds in pounding home the desperation and unrelenting pressure a life like that brings with it. That these people, the downtrodden and discarded of society, are the ones targeted by The Homeless Hacker is only slightly more infuriating than the fact that no one but other homeless seem to care.

I couldn't tell you what specifically it is about Groat's writing that creates such a vivid image of the world of the story. It's more than just descriptive writing, of that I am sure. His characters and their worries become your friends and your own worries, their pain your pain, their fear your fear. Masterful. Monarchs and Mendicants weaves mystery, drama, and thrills with a story of one man working alongside others like him to lift himself and them out of their respective holes of life while they work to better their community with positivity.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review: Happiness for Beginners: The Power of Positive Thinking

Happiness for Beginners: The Power of Positive Thinking Happiness for Beginners: The Power of Positive Thinking by Ani Right
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tend to be a little skeptical at first of books that promise to teach me how to be happy, considering that happiness is a fluid concept and not even remotely the same for everyone. Happiness for Beginners, written by Ani Right, focuses on positivity, the power of positive thinking, and gratitude as a gateway to finding inner peace and therefore being a happier person. The book is full of exercises and honestly, common sense ideas, to teach the reader how to begin to steer clear of negativity, allowing for more positive influences to fill the mind and soul. There is much written here about gratitude and how when one begins to pay attention to the things they already have and are lucky to have, life can almost immediately look better, leading to a more affirmative point of view overall.

Ani Right has written an uplifting, no nonsense approach to steer the reader into a better perspective on life and the world. I believe in these trying times, no harm can possibly come from trying to become happy.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: Willakavillle: Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness

Willakavillle: Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness Willakavillle: Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness by Bald Guy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Willakaville is a collection of zany children's stories by Bald Guy, an alter-ego of the author, Mathew Heinecke. I can see this appealing to a wide range of readers, from young elementary school kids all the way to adults. I play an adult in my daily life and I enjoyed it! Each story is filled with an imaginative kid trying to solve a dilemma and learning valuable lessons through the ordeal. Many have some sort of supernatural aspect to them and all of them are brilliantly written with bright descriptions, whimsical dialogue, and entertainment value to spare. If you know a kid who would find demolishing giant tomatoes, talking turtles, and best of all - a mayo peddler who disappears as he farts - funny, then you have the perfect book for their To Read list.

I see there are more books in this series and I hope the author can continue to bring to life these kind of entertaining, wholesome stories for young readers.

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