Friday, April 6, 2012

E-Book Round-Up: Quickie reviews of The Good, the Mediocre and the Ugly.


Since I haven't did any e-book reviews here lately, I thought I'd collect my thoughts on a bunch o' e-books that I've read over the past month or so. As always, we begin with..

The Good:

Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip by David Antrobus.
So far, this is the best book I've read all year. The book chronicles David's pilgrimage (of sorts) from Canada to New York City in the days following the 9/11 attacks. I think the book manages to encapsulate a lot of my own feelings about those dark days, and does so in a much more uplifting than depressing way. Highly Recommended.

Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World by Mark Pendergrast.
This is an excellent book on what's really going on in Japan after their 3/11 tragedies (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown). Well-researched and very enthralling read for a non-fiction title. Recommended.

Write a Book ... and Make it a Bestseller by Ruben Amberson.
I was surprised to actually find some interesting information and ideas for writing in this book, as usually this kind of tome with this kind of title are usually completely useless from a creative standpoint. I do have to say there are some concepts and work-throughs that I may give a try myself.

An analysis of the Comic Book Industry's Business Issues by Shawn James.
With a title like that, I was expecting a snoozefest, but Shawn James' book is actually a very good analysis of what the comic book medium is doing to make itself fail. I would love to send a copy of this to TPTB at DC and Marvel Comics so they can get their heads out of their butts and start making good comic books again. Recommended to any comic book geek.

The Serial Killer Compendium by R. J. Parker.
This is a compendium of several books by the author about serial killers. It's actually fairly well-researched and contains a lot of good information on the methodology of both the criminals and the authorities who hunt them.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by J. L. Murray.
Excellent paranormal private detective mystery, with a heavy emphasis on the hard-boiled end of it. Recommended.

The St. Petersburg Confessions by Ty Hutchinson.
A rare prequel to another book that is actually very good. I haven't read the book it precedes, but I'll be on the lookout for it. Very well-written, down-to-Earth thriller set in the years before the Berlin Wall came down.

The Mediocre:

KKXG: King Kong Vs Gigantosaurus: The Adventures of Yuriko Kumage During the Greatest War On Earth by Alan Colossi.
With a title like that, I had such high hopes for this book, being the giant rampaging monster fan that I am. Unfortunately, the story falls a little flat - about the only thing we know for sure about the main character is that she has "beautiful bowl shaped eyes", because it is mentioned on almost every page of this novel. The story is a melange of bits and pieces of various monster movies, primarily King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes. It is an okay book, but it could've been so much better.

Hilda Hopkins: Murder, She Knit by Vivienne Fagan.
I hadn't expected much of this one, so I wasn't too surprised. Again, it was an okay book, using the viewpoints of a opportunistic serial killer-by-happenstance, and the officer who accidentally let her get away.

Pretense for Murder by Karen L. Abrahamson.
This had a bit of promise, but being a short prequel of sorts to another book, it doesn't really explain the framework of this particular paranormal-inhabited world to enough extent to make the reader care about any of it. Other than some asides to Doctor Who, this book is a bit of a letdown.

Classical Music Hall of Fame by Barry Krush.
This was a fairly good book, centering on the best individual compact discs to make a good beginning classical music library. There are some formatting issues and it gets a bit long-winding on things not really pertaining to the quality of the music in question. Otherwise, it does give a lot of good selection, including some modern composers (but no Varese, Webern or Zappa mentioned anywhere).

Machine-Breath Bridge by C. J. Cala.
This very short piece of prose (or is it a long poem?) doesn't really go anywhere. But maybe a second reading will shed some light on it. Cala does, for lack of anything else, put words together in a very intriguing manner.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mutilated Cattle by Philip Duke.
I'm always a sucker for a new interpretation of Holmes. The actual characterizations and basic plot was pretty dead on to the world's most famous consulting detective, but this story is a sequel to another story, and kind of falters because of that relationship.

The Ugly:

From the Ice Incarnate and Decision LZ1527 by Joe Vasicek.
Two attempts at short-form science fiction that almost works. If this were 1960, it might be a decent story. The first story is not much more than a chapter to open a much bigger novel, and the second tries way too hard to be quaint.

The Unbitten Onion by Kevin Kierstead.
One little problem with topical humor is that it often doesn't age well. The Onion is always funny, but most of these articles fall kind of flat on their faces for some reason.

Don't Come Back by James Butler.
Exceedingly routine psycho killer story, with a one-joke pony that's run into the ground. Not worth the five minutes it takes to read it.

Dumb White Husband Vs. the Grocery Store by Benjamin Wallace.
Dull not droll humor. Very boring, predictable story.

Solar Flares 2012: How to Prepare for and Survive Solar Flares by R. C. Cutler.
Your standard "Oh My Lord! The Mayans say the world is ending so it must be true!" book. Not quite as sensational as most of them, but the guy has obviously watching Knowing once too often.

Nikola Tesla's Death Ray and the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster by Sean Casteel and "Commander X". (Get a real name, kid. You ain't a super-hero.)
Complete ludicrous speculation that the Columbia was taken down by a variant on a legendary death ray device. It also speculates that the Kobe, Japan earthquake was a terrorist attack using an earthquake ray. The only redeeming point of the book is that it is well researched on the life of Tesla, though only covering his "death ray" research.  No photos, though the text refers to them quite often, and some really poor OCR work by whoever scanned this disaster into the computer.

The Dark Hunger: A Paranormal Erotic Compendium by Amanda Browning, et. al.
Not my favorite genre, but it was free. The two stories that are in it are fairly well-written, but the two stories do not a compendium make. Failing grade for not having been finished - the book is like a half-finished template for a complete work. Apparently, the wrong copy was uploaded to Amazon. Hopefully, when the book is uploaded properly, it might make it up to one of my other standards.

Th-th-th-th-th-that's all for today folks! Back to geekdom tomorrow!

APRIL 6th and 7th, 2012 
by Rich Meyer

Love watching giant monsters stomp Tokyo flat? Like seeing the mad scientist put the finishing touches on his unearthly creation that will allow him to rule the world? Amazed that it's taken this long for the zombies to whittle it down to only two people? Then you're bound to enjoy The Monster Quiz Book!

This quiz book e-book has 301 easy-to-navigate trivia questions about all kinds of monsters: Giant man-in-suit-a-sauruses, lizards with paper fins duct-taped to their backs, mystical undead beasts of the night, and even a few monsters you might encounter in real-life. If you like monster movies, myths and legends, or even the occasional (proper, non-sparkly) vampire book, you will enjoy answering the arcane queries in The Monster Quiz Book!

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