Friday, November 25, 2011

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Cover imageThe first edition of the sci-fi classic I, Robot was published in 1950, and just this year a new version has been released. This is a cautionary tale of man vs. machines, and at the end of the book the reader is led to wonder who really won. Done in both first and third person narratives, the story begins with a famous robotic scientist being interviewed right before she is retiring. Through her memories, we learn how the first robots were manufactured, and how they evolved all the way through the year 2059. Fascinating (yet scary) stuff!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When the Thrill Is Gone by Walter Mosley

Cover imageThe third novel in Walter Mosley’s Leonid McGill series, When the Thrill Is Gone tells the story of private eye McGill taking on the case of a young woman who fears that her rich husband, whose first two wives died under mysterious circumstances, may kill her as well. There are plenty of twists and turns in the novel, including characters turning out not to be who they say they are. Mosley does an excellent job developing Leonid and many supporting characters. He is also able to bring to life the various New York City boroughs the case takes Leonid to.

While I have not read the first two books in the series, I was still able to easily follow When the Thrill Is Gone. There were a few times that the number of characters overwhelmed me a little, but it’s likely these characters first appeared in earlier books in the series and will be further developed as the Leonid McGill mysteries continue.


Monday, November 14, 2011

It Was Over When by Robert K. Elder

Love doesn’t always have a happy ending. It Was Over When shares many painful, funny, and disturbing stories of how people knew their relationship was over. There’s the guy who thinks that dinosaurs are a conspiracy theory. Or the couple who went to a wedding chapel, but made no move to get out of the car. Or the woman who broke up with a guy after he told her “he fully intended proposing to his ex-girlfriend.”
It Was Over When was entertaining. Rob Elder shares stories almost too unbelievable to be true. But truth is stranger than fiction, and these stories will provide a lot of laughs.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Waking Hours by Liz Wiehl

Cover imageWaking Hours a very interesting paranormal mystery. Here's the set-up: A high-school girl is found brutally murdered after attending a party with her classmates in the New England town of East Salem. Forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris is called in to assist on the case. An old friend of Dani's, former football star Tommy Gunderson, wants in on the investigation as he is studying to be a private investigator. The two of them come across a few very abnormal details surrounding the murder, one being that none of the kids at the party remember anything about what happened even though their DNA is all over the body. Is it a satanic ritual or something even worse? I found myself really wanting to know what happened. By the way, I am pretty sure there will be a sequel, and I for one cannot wait!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

Cover imageAlice Ozma’s The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared tells the story of the nightly ritual of reading aloud that she shared with her father. This ritual, or “the streak” as they liked to refer to it, began when Ozma was in fourth grade and ended when she started college. In fact, the last day of the streak took place when Ozma and her dad found a place to read in her dormitory the day he dropped her off at college.
                If this sounds a little strange, it in some ways is and the author freely admits it, even sharing a story of her father rather awkwardly interrupting her play practice when she was in high school in order to read to her in the school parking lot and keep the streak alive. Each chapter corresponds to a particular period during the streak. Her mother’s decision to move out is covered as well as lighter events, such as when she was little and her father tricked her into thinking that she was nearly pulled out of a crowd to be a high-wire walker’s assistant.
                                The end of the book, which takes place after the streak, takes a rather gloomy look at reading and the future of school libraries as Ozma’s dad, a veteran school librarian, is gradually phased out at his school, forced to work at an increasing number of different schools, and eventually retires a few years earlier than he would have liked to. However, the book refuses to end on a down note as her father finds a new group to read to: residents at nursing homes. The fact that the Ozma’s dad read to her for 3,218 consecutive nights is impressive, but The Reading Promise also shows the importance of reading in one’s life and how reading is not just something for children.


Monday, November 7, 2011

After America by Mark Steyn

America's most famous Canadian immigrant follows up his best-selling book about the plight of Europe with this critical look at the crisis in our own country.  He explains how America has been stagnating over the past few decades thanks to the rise of statism and the decline in production.  Comparing the fate of America to the fate of England, Steyn wonders what will happen to world stability if the next world leader lacks the Britannic traditions of the past centuries.  Despite the weighty topic, Steyn leaves the reader laughing from his own brand of comic relief.


Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer

Cover imageThe year is 2045, and beer company heir Jake Sullivan is really in trouble. He has been diagnosed with a rare and fatal neurological disease that could kill him at any moment. With that in mind, 40-year-old Jake decides to discard his potentially doomed biological body and replace it with a synthetic android body. The process, known as a Mindscan, is not quite consciousness transferring, but rather using quantum mechanics and advanced computer technology creates an instantaneous copy of an individual's mind, transporting every thought, memory, and emotion into a duplicate android body. In short, the mental "essence" of the human being is digitally copied and superimposed into the complex artificial brain of an android. An android that is never sick, does not need to eat or sleep, and will never die. Sounds great, right?

Well, maybe not so much...

Find out in Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer


Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel

Cover image Let me start off by saying "I tried, I really, really tried!" I had stopped reading Danielle Steel many years ago because I just felt there was nothing in her novels; they were the same old same old. However, the reviews for Happy Birthday were decent and the premise sounded good, so I thought I would give it another chance and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. Oh how wrong I was. No surprises; the characters were flat and the storyline was just outright ridiculous. What a disappointment and a waste of my time. I hope by writing this no one else has to endure what I did.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love falls off her bike during a spin class and ends up forgetting the last 10 years of her life. When she comes to, she thinks it’s still 1998, she’s pregnant, and she’s happily married. The reality is that it’s 2008, she has three children, and she and her husband are in the middle of a custody battle. The person she’s become is someone her 29-year-old self can’t stand, and she can’t understand how it happened.
I really enjoyed this book. Alice is a very sympathetic character. The writing is believable, without being over the top. The book is funny and thought-provoking at the same time. If you’re looking for something light-hearted and entertaining, you might like What Alice Forgot.

Area 51: an uncensored history of America's top secret military base by Annie Jacobsen

Cover image History & military buffs should absolutely love this book! It is packed with not just information about Area 51 (which was what I personally wanted to know about!) but also everything from Los Alamos to the Roswell "incident" to the Cold War and Cuban Missle Crisis to today's declassification of sensitive documents. You really need to be one of those guys from The Big Bang Theory to understand much of this, but once you get passed all the physics it is quite fascinating! Try Area 51 for something new and different to learn.