Author, Fantasy, Science Fiction, AD&D

Book Reviews

Hero Engine

By Alexander Nader

I just finished reading Hero Engine Thursday of last week. A friend suggested it to me who knows I like watching many of the Superhero flicks out there, and I tend to keep a personal collection of them in blue ray as well. *Shrugs* I prefer to watch them whenever it suits me. I’m also an all-around Science Fiction fan, so that helped this book glean my interest. Now that I have read it, I’d also suggest it for teen, YA and anyone with interests in Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Mystery.

Mr. Alexander did a great job making the story believable. He presents a down on his luck cop, Quig, A hero, named Gravitess, and a prim, although not entirely proper, partner named Ann, all tied in an inescapable war that takes its toll on everyone it comes in contact with.

He did a great job explaining the hows-and-whys of the superpowers, which for me, an avid D&D fan, is important. I’ve read books with psionic abilities so outrageous, I couldn’t believe it made it past whoever it was who published it, to stories written by authors that clearly didn’t do their research. Mr Nader is neither of these. Here’s a taste of teleportation that is right on the mark in my opinion:

“…head spins, equilibrium fucked; my stomach turns like I’m mid-all night bender. I puke on Miles’ loafers. My ears thrum with a constant ‘wvumph’ sound. Couple that with blurred light tracers and I feel like someone’s waving a lightsaber in front of me. I blink and try to focus on Miles’ face, upper lip curled up to his eyebrows.”

I found the first ten chapters or so a bit slow. From there on, it was a good and worthy ride. His story moves well, weaving through a variety of dialogue driven short chapters while jumping from character to character.  He does well with balancing tension and action while keeping the reader guessing right up to the end. Here is an excerpt for your snacking pleasure:

“Would you like me to come in as backup, Sir?”

“Nah, I’ve got Ann and Old Faithful here.” I turn to flash the driver the gun on my hip.

He smiles appreciatively. Dudes with guns always have an appreciation for dudes with guns. That’s written in a law book somewhere. Murphy’s or Newton’s or Attraction’s; someone’s.

I clear my throat. “But, uh, you wouldn’t happen to have an extra piece, would you?” The driver wiggles in his seat and hands over a Glock holstered in a belt clip.

I hand the gun to Ann. “You know how to use this?”

“Do I know how to use that?” She drops her head to the side with a smirk. “The Initiative has the strictest training regimen of any group in the world, and that’s before you go into the Engine. I have more weapons training than you do.”

I nod in appreciation. Dudes with guns always appreciate girls with guns.

All–in-all this was well worth the read,and the price I paid for it. I’m not a particularly detective-type-story-reader, and I rarely get through such a book. I think that fact speaks volumes. But don’t take my word for it, formulate your own opinion by experiencing it for yourself!

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

By Reza Aslan

I finished Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth about a month ago. It took me the better part of one to read it.   As a lover of Philosophy and Theology, I was very interested in what this book would offer.  I quickly learned, to my pleasure, that this was also based on history. Not history that has been clumsily rewritten for social education or re-education, nor for fear of losing followings who support a system that embraces their historical inaccuracies rather than correct them once found. It took me little time to realize that Reza Aslan had painstakingly done his research.

I found the book a dry read. That said, it isn’t that much of a surprise.  Zealot isn’t a Fantasy or Sci-fi novel, and it took me a bit to shift gears.  The language could be challenging at times depending on the reader’s level of comprehension. It’s full of information that many readers may find offensive.  Zealot isn’t for most practitioners of orthodox western religions. At least, not for those who aren’t seeking the truth.

I loved this book.  It took into consideration the historical environment of the times.  Reza provided clear proof of the inaccuracies of current biblical texts; then followed them back through the years to the root of the original writings. He then found Roman, Greek, and Middle Eastern documents written during the time of the initial occurrences by those that witnessed or participated in said events.  Yes, there are areas that yet remain unproven and questionable.  Although Reza didn’t explore all the possible options in seeking to discern the truth of many biblical, Old Testament and new, miracles that are not consistent with normal everyday experiences, he also openly admits to places where his findings do not add up, and therefore, remain inconclusive.

I learned a huge amount from this book. It helped clarify for me many things I found as contradictions in the bible growing up, the virgin birth, the wedding, the baptism, the missing years of Jesus’ youth and twenties, just as a few examples.

If you are seeking a book that inspects western religion with both an open heart and an open eye, this is for you. If you are seeking an honest measure of Christianity’s and Catholicism’s evolution, this book is for you. If you have ever wondered why Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic followers seem so similar in their religious practice, this book is for you. I gave it a wholehearted five stars on Goodreads, and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth earned everyone them.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to make any comments you desire.

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The Martian A Novel by Andy Weir

I recently finished the book, The Martian. As an epic Fantasy and Sci-Fi lover, I figured this would be a good book to read. The praise for this book moved my book club to choose it, and I expected it to really shine. I like to study the tools and craft of an accomplished author to see what I may be able to add to my own style. Truthfully, I’ve never written a Sci-Fi novel before, but I’ve been jotting down some ideas for awhile now.

I really enjoyed The Martian. Mr. Weir’s vision is believable and not far from becoming reality. I think situations like those presented in The Martian can be expected as we begin to branch out into our solar system, and the rest of the universe. I liked the insider’s view of NASA, and the manner in which they operate.

There was a great deal of terminology I had to learn which slowed down the flow of the story; still, I have a much better understanding of all the things they have to work out and why things are built the way they are, and why they operate the way they do. For me, a little drag on the momentum for knowledge is a worthy sacrifice.

In truth, this was more a science science-fiction than a science-fiction fiction. I bring this up because if you are the kind of person that enjoys the fast driven adventurous science fiction of Star Trek, Transformers, Avatar, and Star Wars for example, you’re probably going to feel the protagonist’s pain early. The book itself was quite dry.

The protagonist, Watney, is a botanist and engineer. He is interesting in his own way, but I didn’t feel any significant character curvature in terms of personality growth. He did, however, grow greatly where his professions were concerned while learning how to overcome the many problems he faced. There are many other characters as well, and I found their character growth more evenly spread between personality and profession.

One thing I noticed fairly early on that did not work well for me was the number of times that Watney repeated himself while recording messages on his computer. At first, I thought, “Quit nitpicking, there’s going to be a point to this, and it will present itself later.” That didn’t happen. Here’s my thinking. If someone was receiving Watney’s messages, and he knew that, there would be no reason to repeat anything from the previous message. It would make more sense to simply provide new information, saving time and energy for a variety of other more important tasks. Unless there was something causing him to not remember things well, such as thin atmosphere, lack of air, water, food, or something else that is above my head, there would be no reason to repeat messages for himself as he could just go back and listen to what was previously recorded. For myself, rereading things repeated from the previous chapter detracted from the flow of the story’s momentum in this case. The other thing that began to grind on me around chapter ten was the sheer predictability of the main plot line.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the many amazingly brilliant and creative solutions that Watney and others came up with to solve his many problems. There are plenty of personalities, and they were all quite believable. The secondary plots bounce back and forth so as to regulate a balance between dry and damp. Mr Weir did a great job with this in my opinion. He also did a very good job at making me feel the joy of the characters as they overcame boundaries that they thought impossible and the frustrations when things weren’t going well. He also added a good amount of humor throughout the book which helped in some of the slower spots.

Overall, The Martian was well-written and held my interest to the end. I openly suggest The Martian to anyone that likes space-odyssey SciFi. I’m guessing that this story will resonate best with teen and adult readers. The opening pulled me right in, and the ending was very satisfying. Finally, in the defense of all author’s works, I hasten to remind you, the readers, that books are like shoes and opinions are like raindrops.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to make any comments you desire.

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