Required Reading

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The War of The Flowers by Tad Williams

This is a unique perspective on a Faerie that sadly emulates or mirrors our own society.

You can depend on Tad Williams for both a good story and a skewed perception of normalcy.   Normalcy in regards to how we see and perceive the land of Faerie is one of the lynch pins of the plot.   Williams provided a story whose protagonist wasn’t the classic anti-hero but more of a wimpy hero.  

Theo had it all, good looks, great voice and loads of potential that he totally ignored.   Characterized by a wealth of self pity, Theo was not particularly likeable.   His involvement in the political turmoil of a very foreign world forces him into self evaluation and possibly even moral fiber growth.  

Williams provides a digital view of a strange world.  By digital, I simply mean his detailing is superb.   You can almost smell the organic aroma of natural technology, the ozone of sentient power tickles the nose and the vistas of difference stun the eye.   The author gives tons of detail but that simply provides the structure to let the imagination run amok.  

Tad Williams also drives home multiple messages in this book.   Exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few is, in my mind, a perfect mirror of our current self centered politicians refusing compromise in order to benefit their own agenda.   Of course practically any third world dictatorship also supplies a similarity of outlook to Hellbore, the main villain.  

Intolerance and exploitation are clear in this book and the devastating impact those twin sins visit upon a society is made abundantly clear.   Lots of messages in this book to anyone who wants to see them.

This is an excellent book that was darn difficult to put down and at over 800 pages I just couldn’t finish it in one sitting.

I highly recommend it

Body of work of Tad Williams

Web site:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry

 This is book one of the Matador Trilogy and I would suggest you get all three before you start reading it.  You will not be happy waiting to get the next book in the series.    This series depicts how the strength of an idea or a legend can bring an empire to it’s knees.

Emile Khadaji is the man who never missed.   Guerilla warfare is not one by open battle but by destroying the will of the enemy.    The Confed military found fighting a rebellion on the planet Greaves wasn’t what they expected.   Emile Khadaji proved that one man can make a difference.  

I highly recommend it.

Body of  work of Steve Perry</a>

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stellar Ranger by Steve Perry

Note, this is not Stellar Ranger Lone Star by the same author.
Steve Perry defies tradition by setting up a plot that depicts a future lawman in a western mode.   Oddly enough it works.

Cinch Carston is a lawman of the old school who sees himself as an arbitrator of justice not just a peace maker.   One of the more appealing aspects of Perry’s characters is a lack of ambivalence.   Good is good and bad is bad.   This is an older book that may realize a resurrection with Harrison Ford’s Cowboys and Aliens movie debuting this summer.  

This is not a taxing read but it is entertaining.

I recommend it.

Body of  work of Steve Perry</a>

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

In preparation for seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 , I recently purchased Part 1.   I did not see it in the theatre for no particular good reason.   I was not fond of the Half Blood Prince movie so I didn’t bother to see Part 1 of Hallows.   I loved the books and the first few movies were good.  

Hallows Part 1 seemed to think that to set the mood they had to have an initial portion filmed in the dark.  I don’t mean visible characters; I mean you may as well have turned the TV off and listened to the sound track.   I wonder how much money you can save if you just have voices without any visibility.    

This may seem to be the proverbial nit picking but why take such entertaining books and crap them up with scenes too dark to enjoy the action.   Scary music and low lighting can set the mood without just blacking out the screen.

That being said, I will probably shell out the cash to see the Part 2 just because it is the final movie or maybe I will just wait and by it used for $10 like I bought part 1.   

The following link  is to a good overview of the previous movies. Link

Monday, July 18, 2011

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

 Harry Dresden is a tall man dealing with narrow minded people who happen to have annoyingly powerful magic.   Harry as always is dealing with insurmountable problems with numerically superior forces intent on harming kith and kin.  In true Lewis Carrol style, Harry finds himself down the rabbit hole defending an implacable foe for unlikely reasons.

Repeating what I have written in previous reviews of Jim Butcher, Butcher causes Harry to question his value system in each and every book.  Soul searching seems to be a hallmark.   Insurmountable odds and monumental tasks are also in each book.   In spite of a similar formula, I have really enjoyed each book.   Why would you ever get tired of deep, rich, yummy chocolate cake anymore than you would the Dresden Files.  Harry’s emotional fragility in his personal relationships and his inability to recognize how much he is respected contribute to his likeability.  You see a slow maturation of Harry Dresden as the series proceeds.  I highly recommend the entire series. 

Butcher’s use of current but often obscure vernacular within Harry’s dialogue always elicits a laugh.  

I’ve mentioned my preferences for emotionally provocative writing.   Butcher’s portrayal of loyalty and perseverance against all odds is always laudable.  Harry Dresden lives his life by the Golden Rule and it serves him well.   Molly, his apprentice, shows growth in this book and Harry as well.  Mouse, Toot, Murphy, Will and Georgia display the same courage and convictions we have seen in previous stories.  

Body of work of Jim Butcher</a>

Friday, July 15, 2011

SciFi/Fantasy Readers Are Reliable

                                    I write three blogs.  

Pick of the Literate

Money Saving Tech Tips and Philosophic Musings

Azure Dwarf’s Horde of SciFi & Fantasy

I get weekly stat reports on number of visitors, frequency of visitation and returning.   I have the fewest number of visitors at Dwarf.   Keeping in mind that it is my newest blog by several years, I am not overly concerned and certainly intend to keep plugging away to get more readers.   What is interesting though is that, in spite of the smaller overall numbers, Dwarf has the most returning visitors.   From that stat I have jumped to the following, possibly erroneous, conclusions.  

SciFi and Fantasy readers are more reliable.   They tend to revel in their genre and don’t wonder (pun intended) far from its borders.   They are loyal, if they find something they like, they return again and again.   I know I love Jim Butcher’s books and buy everyone that comes out.  

One of the joys of reviewing books is receiving so many advanced reading copies from publicists and authors.   Oddly, the genre’s that are my favorite, scifi and fantasy, I get the least number of ARCs.   In fact it is rare when I get any science fiction or fantasy with the exception of books from Seventh Star Press.   For the most part, the reviews I write on SciFi and Fantasy are from books I have purchased myself.   Since I have done that for over 50 years, it isn’t a hardship.  What is mystifying is why there is such a dearth of my favorite genre being offered to bloggers.   The obvious possibility is that my blog lacks significant numbers and thusly does not attract the “main stream” SciFi and Fantasy publishers.   The flip side of that is that the readers I have are loyal and return frequently which should off set their smaller numbers. 

I digress which is one of my less favorite quirks.   Whether I get books to review by my own purchases or from publicists, I will continue to let you know what I think about books in my favorite genres.

My thanks to those of you who are here for the first time and to that core of returning readers, a huge thanks for your loyalty.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

V is For Vampire by Adam-Troy Castro

A light hearted bleeding heart look at Vampires.  

This is an adult primer for those who love the Vampire genre.   The author pokes fun at Vampires and the myths and magic surrounding them.   The illustrations by Johnny Atomic are as amusing as the prose.

This is not a lengthy read, more like an intermezzo between a Jim Butcher and a Bram Stoker.     If the author had his tongue further in his cheek he would probably choke.   It is entertaining and amusing.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Adam-Troy Castro

Web site for Johnny Atomic:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Time travel in a Victorian motif describes this book populated with well known icons of the genre.  

I found myself seeking less verbosity and yet I still had to finish the book.   The characterization of such well known legends such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and H.G. Wells made the book nearly irresistible.   Some reviews have characterized the story as Steam Punk, I didn’t get that flavor.   It seemed more historic than Steam Punk. 

The book plodded at times.   The characters appear to be crafted with a great deal of attention but still were not real memorable.   I really wanted to like the book and found myself very lukewarm in my response.

Body of work of Felix J. Palma

Web site:   (in Spanish)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Third Magic by Molly Chochran

Merlin’s magic creates a situation where a modern boy may be the reincarnation of King Arthur.  

If recollection serves me, this is a follow up to the Forever King.   Admittedly it was 12 years ago that I read the book so I may be in error.   The Forever King was co-authored with Warren Murphy.    I remember thinking it was an exceptional book and looked at my data base and saw I had rated both it and The Broken Sword as excellent.    This book was good.

Arthur Blessing was a sad character as was Gwen/Guinevere/Brigid.  Seems like as a couple they could never get a break.  That aspect was a bit sad.   The story had the Knights of the Roundtable riding motorcycles.   That was amusing.   There was a juxtaposition of Camelot’s tale with a modern story.   It was disorienting some times.   I am a sucker for King Arthur stories and I still recommend the book but it is not up to the standards of it’s predecessors.

 I recommend the book .

Body of  work of Molly Chochran

Web Site:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Remnant Population By Elizabeth Moon

An aging colonist stays behind when the Corporation abandons the planet.  She makes a life altering discovery.

Once again, Elizabeth Moon shows what a wonderful story teller should be.   Ofelia is a character study of aging and should be required reading for AARP.   The plot is sufficient to maintain your interest but the most captivating aspect of the book is once again the thorough character development.  

Ms. Moon creates characters so alive and believable that you begin to think you know them.   Ofelia’s compassion and frustration come through loud and clear.   Sadly the stereotypical depiction of corporate greed resonates so clearly with today’s MBA driven corporate obsession with the quarterly numbers.   Ms. Moon’s stories are about people regardless of her setting her characters shine.

I highly recommend the book.  

Body of work of Elizabeth Moon

SciFi, action, adventure, excitement, strong female, great story.