Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Progress Report - 1/28/09

As of this moment, I have read 2088 pages (7 books) since January 1. Here is my daily progress:

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amazon Kindle 2.0? The bee's knees? released an electronic reading device, the Amazon Kindle, in the spring of 2007. If you review the customer reviews of the Kindle you will see that it was overwhelmingly met with positive comments. If you read closely many of these stated that it was not perfect, but definitely a good "first step" and when the fabled second version is released that many of the bugs or annoyances will be worked out.

People have been talking about the Kindle 2.0 for a long time now, and there are countless people on the waiting list for the original since months before Christmas time in 2008. USA Today reports that there is an "important press conference" on February 9 with no details about the nature of the press conferences. Is it time to move into the next generation of electronic reading? Is the Kindle really going to be the iPod of the book world? It is hard to say since there is a legitimate attitude that you cannot replace the experience of holding a paper tome in your hand.

View alleged Kindle 2.0 images at the Boy Genius Report blog.

I keep telling my wife that we should buy some Amazon stock. Amazon (AMZN) is currently selling at $48.40. I'm going to imagine that I bought 100 shares today and see what happens in the next month or two. Will we see a huge increase in Amazon as we did when the iPod exploded on to the market?

There is one huge difference between the Kindle and the iPod, and that is functionality. An iPod can be used anytime, during any activity. People use them while walking to class, working out, or plugged into the car, whereas it is difficult to read and do other things at the same time. The iPod has become an integral part of many people's lives since it can be used anytime. The Kindle will not be as big because it cannot be integrated into everyday life except by people wanting to read, and only read.

This being said, it is important to look at the direction society is heading. We are becoming a more "green" population and paper conservation is going to become more important. Furthermore, it won't even matter since publishing companies will be able to sell books at half the cost and make twice as much profit since materials and overhead will be eliminated. There is also serious discussion going around about the Kindle 2.0 being designed with school textbooks in mind, where students will not have to buy (and carry around) $500 worth of paper and utilize highlighting functionality, text searching, and note taking capabilities. Instead of carrying 25 pounds of books, students will carry 2.6 pounds of electronic equipment.

The new Kindle 2.0 may not be the next iPod, but it may very well be the closest thing we will see in the next decade or two. Amazon is already a powerhouse in the book world, and if the Kindle 2.0 is rolled out correctly, Amazon will have a stranglehold on the literary world.

Go buy your AMZN stocks now.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold

Title: The Man Who Folded Himself
Author: David Gerrold
Copyright: 1972, 2003
Publisher: Ben Bella Books
ISBN: 1932100067

Nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, 1973
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, 1974


A Wonderful Time Travel Journal - A Saga of A Man Against Time (and Himself) - 5 stars - a book review

Brief Synopsis:
The main character (and one of the only characters), Daniel Eakins is presented with a unique belt that was entrusted to him after his Uncle Jim passed away. Daniel discovers the belt has the ability to transport the wearer throughout time, which Daniel quickly learns how to use. After using his time machine for the first significant time, he is greeted by himself, one day later. During his first temporal jump, Daniel goes with himself (referred to as Don) to the racetrack where they quickly win by betting on horses, at which point Daniel begins to understand the immediate gratification allowed by time travel. Of course, after traveling back to his original time period, Don departs and Daniel is left to become Don the next day when he waits to greet the Daniel from his past. Upon returning to the track with Daniel, he starts to wonder about paradoxes and begins to realize the awesome power, and encourages Daniel to double the initial bet, seeing what would happen to make more money. He then encounters a Don to his Daniel, who has come back in time to warn him not to attract too much attention. At the internal dialogue that follows this encounter is any indication of the confusion Daniel (and the reader) is to experience, it is only the beginning, as Daniel proceeds to live life and encounters himself all the time, and many times during his time travel he encounters several versions of himself.

THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF is a journal written by the main character about his adventures, catastrophes, close encounters, hi jinx, and personal reflection through time.

Overall Impressions:
THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF is extremely well written. With multiple permutations of the main character, Daniel, interacting with himself, there are times where there are long portions of internal dialogue and debate about time travel, which is confusing, but written in such a way that it is easy to follow the train of thought.

While a central function of the book, time travel is not the focus of the story. The story is about the time traveling man, and how he lives with himself (both externally as in the case of interacting with himself and internally as in the case of him dealing with his emotions). As one might speculate, being the singular time traveling agent can be a lonely existence. The story revolves around Daniel's isolation and his choices in dealing with that solitude. The author, David Gerrold, creates some interesting, and possibly controversial, situations that are still believable and created in such a way to inspire a sympathetic response from the reader. It is in these moments that literature really pushes the envelope in speculation and emotional responses from the readership. I personally guarantee an emotional response one way or another from reading this book, a quality to which all literature should aspire.

Closing Comments:
The 2003 edition of THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF has a wonderful introduction titled The Author That Folded Me, by Robert J. Sawyer (a Hugo and Nebula Award winner) that discusses the impact this book had on him when he first read it in 1972. It is near inspiring to read these few pages written by someone who has achieved such a high stature in the world of science fiction and then credits his inspiration and success to David Gerrold.

There is also an Afterward by Geoffrey Klempner that should be read by all the science nuts and those looking for further discussion on time travel and philosophy. He also includes several recommended readings for further discussion and learning.

Finally, there is an Author's Note after the conclusion of the book which is equally fascinating and interesting as he discusses the difficulty in writing the gay sexual sequences of the central character and relates it to his having (or not having) a "gay agenda" as a gay man himself. There are many negative reviews out on the internet that condemn this book and claim it is "great stuff if you're looking to push your teen boys towards the broody wasteland of Colombine" and other implications that are simply not true. As Gerrold says himself in the Author's Note:
"The story isn't about being gay or straight, male or female, or any other specific condition. It's about being human, and dealing with the transfinite possibilities of life - all the choices before us when we exist only as an unwritten tale."
If that doesn't sum it up, I don't know what will.

I go out of my way to mention these three unrelated to the main story because they only enhance the overall reading experience. The entire publication is an experience from beginning to end, and is what all literature should attempt to achieve.

Some further commentary (spoiler warning): As mentioned above, there is some negative publicity surrounding this book. I believe it to be frustrating because people latch on to a controversial idea that is presented and somehow this detracts from the true message. For example, this post on a Science Fiction and Fantasy forum I frequent:
"And yeah, it is basically a time travel story about a man who travels back in time to have sex with himself."
Now seriously, this one point that is extrapolated throughout the story can hardly be considered the focal point of the story. To suggest otherwise is simply ignorance or flaming. I would think that this would be obvious to anyone except the casual reader, but apparently, it is not so obvious. One of the fundamental charges (or expectations) of good science fiction is to speculate on possible worlds that do not exist and the reactions of humans (and humanity) given the described circumstances. I'm not suggesting that I would follow the choices Daniel Eakins made, but the speculation behind THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF regards the human spirit and need to matter and we travel through time with Daniel Eakins' solitude that chasing time, constantly correcting mistakes, playing with history, and experiencing other tragedies of time travel creates. It may be uncomfortable; but, it is believable, and David Gerrold paints this one derivation perfectly.

  • REPLAY, by Ken Grimwood - a book I read recently about time travel and also focuses on the isolation of such a gift.
  • ALL YOU ZOMBIES, by Robert Heinlein - I have not read this short story, but it is often associated with the reviewed book in discussions and recommendations. Several people I trust have encouraged me to read this and I have no reasons to doubt their recommendation.
Good reading,

Plants and Books

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Plants: Nepenthes Hybrids

Due to being overly busy with work and searching for a new job, I have not been taking as good of care to plants as I would like. However, some are still looking nice despite not being watered as often as necessary. These two Nepenthes hybrids are small, but offer great potential in mature pitchers.

N. ampullaria x ventricosa
Photobucket Photobucket

N. spectabilis x aristolochidoides:
Photobucket Photobucket

Good growing,

Plants and Books

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Army of the Republic by Stuart Archer Cohen (5 stars)

Note: Review originally posted at Amazon on November 24, 2008.

Project Mayhem on Steroids

I don't know where to start. I was completely blown away by this book. ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC is similar to FIGHT CLUB, only bigger, grander, and more organized. Everything in FIGHT CLUB is in this book, with the biggest difference being the other viewpoints in a revolution.

While reading, we follow along from the first person viewpoints of a militant, a civil protest organizer, and a CEO. I am normally not a big fan of first person, but Cohen does it with such style and appreciation for the characters and their interwoven lives that I had to be impressed. Every viewpoint and every chapter was engaging. Once I hit the halfway mark through this book I could not put it down.

The beginning of ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC starts off with a masterful tone that sets the stage for the rest of the book. This book does seem to model what I would expect of a revolution in the pacing. There are times that are so high octane while others are more subtle, but still loaded with undeniable scenes that only promote the entire world and the civil unrest in that world. Furthermore, like a revolution, the books ramps up the intensity and doesn't let go. It truly is explosive.

I was engaged for every minute that I had this book in my hands. So you want a revolution? The rest is up to you.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Review: Bottom of the Ninth by Michael Shapiro (4 stars)

Historic Baseball Moments

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH is a baseball fan's dream. The book is filled to the top with historical moments, lore, and characters that shaped America's national pastime. The books spans several years in one of baseball's defining moments in history.

This book is not for everyone, as it is loaded with players, managers, political figures, prominent city people, cities, states, and their little (or big) stories and motivations. With the sheer volume of stuff going on in this book it is hard to keep track, but the mastery of the writing is almost magical. The author, Michael Shapiro keeps dumping data, quotes, stories, and reports, and accounts but it never gets lost or overpowering because the way it is all integrated into the story and the chapters. Reading this book is truly like reminiscing about the good old days of baseball, which is further supported because most of the people involved in the main two story arcs aren't even big name baseball players! It's like sitting around a bar listening to people talk about the phenomenal game of baseball in the Micky Mantle era.

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH is a tale of a sport (and the men and women associated with it) defining themselves for the next several decades. I learned so much from this book that I am amazed. I never knew that there was serious consideration for the development of a third baseball league, the Continental League. There is so much history about politics and baseball cities. The stories of Casey Stengel are classic. His personality and the way the players and public viewed him is captured perfectly. Reading the pages you can feel the disgust, contempt, and appreciation that various people felt at any given moment.

This is a wonderful tale about the people of baseball in the 50s. There are enough play-by-play of classic great games that any baseball fan, no matter how die-hard, will enjoy this book. If you get chills from hearing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" you will enjoy this book more than others. If you just like baseball, then you may be discouraged by the massive amount of information conveyed in each chapter.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Note on Statistics

In a recent post, I talked about tracking all the books I read. For the past several years I have done a simple word processing document and manually added up the pages. In the past couple of years I have become (in my opinion) quite skillful at extracting data using a spreadsheet. So, recently, as I was updating my "Books I've Read - 2009" document I realized that if I could create a workbook in Microsoft Excel with 20+ worksheets that proposes housing rates, meal plan rates, and is fully customizable down to the penny (including calculating how much institutional aid students are awarded) I could surely find a better way of collecting and tracking page data in any given year.

At the end of the year, with the spreadsheet I have designed, I will be able to tell on any given day approximately how many pages I read, how long it took me to read any particular book, whether or not I read a particular genre more quickly than others, and have a graph displaying pages read over time. Sound cool? Well, I think so; and, it gets even better than that. Over the course of several years I will be able to cross compare years and display a graph of all these years overlapped, and will be able to see trends. Do I read more in the summer? Do I read more at the end of the year? Of course, I already have a pretty good idea of these answers, but is that not what statistics do best? Manipulate data to show what we already knew?

I remember my statistics class my Sophomore year of college. It was an introductory course; and, as a side note, my spreadsheet skills did not start in this class but rather an introductory physics class called Physical Computations, or something like that.

Anyways, if you really truly think about it, statistics is truly a powerful tool. If you strip away all the political connotations and stop skewing data, statistics might be able to tell us everything. For example, as we plot data points on a graph we can see trends. Never do all the dots fall directly on the "line of best fit;" it is my conjecture that this is simply because we have not yet described the data points accurately enough. So, if we add another dimension to our graph (now making it a three dimensional graph), we have more data to look at per data point. This point is more accurately described.

Of course, we still have outliers and data points that do not fall on the line of best fit. Now I'm sure we all are thinking about those introductory statistics class and how could this accurately predict anything (let alone everything); but, if you think about the things we are comparing, how could you predict anything. For example, in a two dimensional comparison, pages over time. Just tracking pages and time is not enough. There is no way to tell how many pages I will read in any given day just based on how many pages I've read in the past. However, if we start describing these points better, we come a lot closer to being able to predict. How about adding a couple more "descriptions" like my mood after work, other engagements I may have, how satisfied I am with my current book, and even how much oxygen is in my lungs at the time (since increased oxygen may result in higher brain stimulation and a higher reading volume).

Do you see where I am going here? Give me a graph with an infinite number of dimensions and I could predict anything, at any given time.

So, statistics is quite a powerful tool, and not just for proposing budgets, proposing annual residence hall rates, and tracking books read. On the other hand, statistics also provides some fun bar tricks (if you are lucky). If you are in a group of 25 people, there is a 50% chance that two of them will have the same birthday. Sound illogical? It's not. I won a free beer once with this.

Good reading (and analyzing),

Plants and Books

Monday, January 19, 2009

Books I've Read: 2008

I am finally posting the books I read during the 2008 year. After burying the hatchet with the Amazon reviewing program and started reviewing books toward the end of the year. The links provided are currently linked to my Amazon reviews until I get all caught up with reviews on this site. In all honesty, I doubt I'll ever come back and change these to link internally to the reviews here, but in a year (provided Amazon does not make another stupid format change that makes me walk from the site again) I'll have all my reviews linked to this site with the yearly update. I suppose the entire thing about Amazon is moot since they won't be linked there anyway!

I read (and tracked) 12,558 pages this year, which equates to approximately 34.58 pages per day. Since it was a leap year my total was nine tenths higher than if I had that extra day (and did not read anything). This is still staggeringly short of my ambitious goal; but, I still have plenty of years ahead to read 50,000 pages in a single year. Anyways, without further ado, the books I read in 2008:

Shadowfall by James Clemens
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
Scream of Stone by Philip Athans (2/5 stars)
Neversfall by Ed Gentry
Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
Creepers by David Morrell
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk(3/5 stars)
Watchmen by Alan Moore
The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell
Scavenger by David Morrell
Heat Lightning by John Sandford
Fraternity of the Stone by David Morrell (5/5 stars)
First Blood by David Morrell (3/5 stars)
Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer (3/5 stars)
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (4/5 stars)
Do You Think What You Think You Think? by Julian Baggini (4/5 stars)
Forced Out by Stephen Frey (4/5 stars)
Army of the Republic by Stuart Archer Cohen (5/5 stars)
Dead is a State of Mind by Marlene Perez (3/5 stars)
Mixed Blood by Roger Smith (4/5 stars)
Peacemaker by Dan Ronco (5/5 stars)
When March Went Mad by Seth Davis (4/5 stars)
The Night of the Gun by David Carr (3/5 stars)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (5/5 stars)
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston (5/5 stars)
Six Bad Things by Charlie Huston (4/5 stars)
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Max Tucker (2/5 stars)
A Dangerous Man by Charlie Hutson (5/5 stars)
Replay by Ken Grimwood (5/5 stars)
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston (3/5 stars)

Total read: 12,558 pages
Total reviewed: 21/35 (60%)

5 stars: 7
4 stars: 6
3 stars: 6
2 stars: 2
1 stars: 0

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Review: Unholy Domain by Dan Ronco (5 stars)

It's Fiction; But For How Long?

Throughout the history of the science fiction genre authors have have crafted a story that seems completely unbelievable and remain fiction for only so many years.

Dan Ronco has crafted an energetic and fast paced thriller about the, in my opinion, inevitable collision course of technology and what it means to be a "human." UNHOLY DOMAIN ramps up the plot ten years after the cataclysmic events in PEACEMAKER, the first book in Ronco's series. Enter a world in the middle of global depression and a divided culture (sound familiar already?).

The characters, while not overly deep, are compelling in their actions and their individual encounters. Ronco excelled in crafting a world where there are those fighting for science and technology, those fighting for religion, and those in between just fighting to get by.

I think the most important facets of this novel are the themes and the ideas that will only come more prevalent as we progress as a society, and reading this book makes it that much more obvious that the potential for the "fiction" may only be "fiction" for so long.

A highly recommended techno-thriller.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Plants: Three New Nepenthes

This is my first plant post of this blog. Besides reviewing and discussing books, the other goal of this blog is to showcase some of my carnivorous plants and provide information regarding their history, cultivation, and other horticultural information. My parents gave me the following three plants for my birthday. They were imported from Exotica Plants, one of the leading Nepenthes hybrid nurseries, based in Australia. Since importing plants can be expensive, oftentimes members of the carnivorous plant community will combine orders to split the import, shipping, and paperwork costs. Many times, these group orders are organized in online forums, with mixed success. With public "group orders," there is always the potential for something to go wrong. Everyone will get excited when a group order gets announced, everyone wants to get involved, but many people will fall through (for whatever reason). With good fortune, I have met (online) many reliable carnivorous plant enthusiasts, and was fortunate to get involved in a private group order. The following plants were received in this order, and were shipped from Australia, to Los Angeles, to Nebraska, to Kansas City, Missouri.

The three plants I received are all Nepenthes hybrids.

The first plant is a hybrid between N. maxima "dark" and a N. Trusmadiensis. The Trusmadienses is a very unique, naturally occuring hybrid between N. macrophylla and N. lowii. The unique features of this plants can be attributed to the following plants, with links to public access pictures of those plants):
  • Splotched coloration: N. maxima;
  • Toothed peristome (the lip around the pitcher opening): N. Trusmadiensis (the teeth in that hybrid are faded and come from N. macrophylla); and,
  • Upper pitchers: N. lowii - the plant I received does not have upper pitcher yet, but the N. lowii has very dominant traits that always are expressed in upper pitchers that will make huge mouths and very distorted pitchers.
N. maxima "dark" x N. Trusmadiensis:
Photobucket Photobucket

The next two plants are smaller, seed grown hybrids that will most certainly blossom into stunning beauties!

First, a hybrid between N. ventricosa and N. ephippiata (a close relative to N. lowii, mentioned above):
Photobucket Photobucket

And second, a hybrid between N. truncata and N. Trusmadiensis:

I hope you enjoy those pictures. I look forward to posting more and many years of growth and beauty!

Good growing,

Plants and Books

Review: The Family Bones by Kimberly Raiser (4 stars)

A Little Bit of Everything. Overall Good Read.

What do you get when you mix some horror, thriller, suspense, and science fiction all together? You get a well written novel that goes by the name of THE FAMILY BONES, by Kimberly Raiser. Raiser has crafted a short book that is hard to describe, and even harder without spoiling anything.

For a book with so many different elements and a variety of characters, it can sometimes be overwhelming. However, Raiser does a nice job transitioning between the opening terrifying chapters to moving the plot along and developing the characters. In the author's note, she talks about how THE FAMILY BONES was first a short story, and it is obvious reading how where the transition occurs.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. I almost read it in one sitting (and would have had my wife not found me at 2:30 AM in the living room telling me to come to bed). It was a quick, fun, engaging read; and, I'm glad I got the opportunity to read it.

The only drawback to this book is I felt like it should have been longer. As I mentioned, there is a lot of quick character and plot development and there are points where there are pages of information that are sort of out of context with the actions of the plot. Had THE FAMILY BONES been 300 pages I believe it could have been a stronger book.

All in all, this book is definitely worth the time it took to read.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Monday, January 12, 2009

Review: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham (4 stars)

Refreshing Fantasy. A Promising Start to a Good Series.

A SHADOW IN SUMMER was a wonderful read. It accomplished everything that a first fantasy book should. It introduced an engaging world, created interesting characters that were equally engaging, and completed the story while leaving the door open for the entire world to develop in future volumes.

I sometimes have difficulty starting new fantasy series because sometimes there is simply information overload on the world, the history, and the unique sociological intricacies. A SHADOW IN SUMMER creates a fantastic world with very unique (and refreshing) characteristics (i.e. the poets, trade and commerce, contracts, and family houses) but he does so in such a way that does not overwhelm the reader. The author, Abraham, introduces characters and things but does not fully develop them at that time. He gives you enough to be fascinated and curious, but not enough to bog the story down. Throughout the story, he continues to introduce more information in relevant places.

This book is filled with basic political intrigue. The intrigue is not overly complicated and is easy to follow, while remaining interesting and plausible. While we see only a small portion of the entire fantasy world, there is enough dialogue and actions that give the reader a taste of the overall world, which is presumed to be more involved later in the series.

Abraham is a fantastic writing. He creates a very concise and cohesive story (which is refreshing in the world of epic fantasy tomes). I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of the fantasy genre. Abraham is an author to keep on your radar.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Review: Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (2 stars)

Not My Cup of Tea; But Recommended For Some

Let me start by saying that this is one of those times when I dislike assigning star ratings to reviews. That being said, and this being a non-professional, completely consumer review, I had to give it two stars. This book, as the title of this review suggests, was not my cup of tea; however, I would not encourage people to shy away from this book. In fact, once it is published and released, I intend to recommend it to my mother.

I was unable to finish this book. I got about a third of the way through it before I stopped. When I ordered this book through the Amazon Vine Program, I was expecting to be enthralled by the characters and looking to see how they developed and engaged in the interesting situations/character traits they were presented/had. In good consciousness, I can see how others would enjoy this story and these characters; but, since I do not normally read this style of book, it was not for me.

I had difficulty caring about the characters, and was frustrated by the story that was developing and the characterizations created. The plot line is somewhat interesting, but not enough to grab me for an extended period of time.

Again, do not take this two star review as the gospel saying "do not read this book;" rather, take it as I did not enjoy it, but you might. As I said, I will recommend this book to my mother and some of my colleagues, who I'm sure would give it much higher reviews than I did.

I would normally give a book I cannot finish one star, but since I can clearly see the appeal for others and there are redeeming things about this book, I gave it two stars.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Friday, January 2, 2009

Review: Hater by David Moody (4 stars)

Paranoia at its Finest

HATER is a great mixture of a lot of themes in recent popular culture mediums. Similarities can be drawn between widespread viruses, zombies, war, and near Armageddon scenarios. However, while this book seems similar to many movies (28 days later, I Am Legend, etc.), HATER is still a unique book with a compelling and equally unique storyline.

HATER is a narrative told from the perspective of a father and husband in a world that, day by day, becomes more chaotic and dangerous. This book has an emotional element that is superb. There are times when the author, David Moody, has created an attraction to both sides of the violence that has spread through the world. Truly, at each violent encounter, the reader is left wondering, who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Were the actions justified? Who is really a "Hater" and who is not?

This book is certainly violent, but not in such a grotesque and disgusting way. It is not often that a movie is created before the book that the movie is based on is published. While reading this book, it became obvious that this could easily be adapted into a movie, which Guillermo del Toro is doing.

HATER is a fast paced account of a world gone mad and torn against itself. The pacing is wonderful, and there is action, emotional responses, fear, and sheer paranoia throughout each chapter. HATER is a compelling story that is littered with a first person account of paranoia. As the main character, Danny, becomes closer to the violence, the reader is forced to feel the pure paranoia he feels.

Highly recommended. Look for the movie in 2010.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Review: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston (3 stars)

Good Dialogue, Poor Pacing and Plot

I can't say that I am completely disappointed in Charlie Huston's latest book, THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH, but I can't say I enjoyed it, either.

Per typical Huston books, the characters are interesting and the dialogue is witty, sharp, and gritty. However, in this book, it was almost over the top and at times I was discouraged. The premise of the book is somewhat interesting, with cleaning up deaths, and opens the door for tremendous potential knowing the other is famous for noir based stories. Disappointingly enough, the plot stops there and nothing is advanced in terms of plot for the first half of the book. The first half of the book is just back and forth banter between the angry main character and the people he encounters.

When the plot does start to advance, it is not very interesting and hardly engaging. So much potential is squandered with the premise of this book. I would typically say "pass" on this book, but the dialogue and characters, while almost annoyingly "over the top," are redeeming in their own right. Fans of Huston will probably enjoy this book.

Good reading,

Plants and Books
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