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Book Reviews

Review: Borderless by Eliot Peper

I’m absolutely loving this cover artwork. What a blessing.

Blurb:

Information is power, and whoever controls the feed rules the world in this all-too-plausible follow-up to the science fiction thriller Bandwidth.

Exiled from Washington after a covert operation gone wrong, Diana is building a new life as a freelance spy, though her obsessive secrecy is driving away the few friends and allies she can count on. When she’s hired to investigate the world’s leading techno capitalist, she unknowingly accepts an assignment with a dark ulterior purpose. Navigating a labyrinth of cutouts and false fronts, Diana discovers a plot to nationalize the global feed.

As tech and politics speed toward a catastrophic reckoning, Diana must reconcile the sins of her past with her dreams of tomorrow. How she deploys the secrets in her arsenal will shape the future of a planet on the brink of disaster. Doing the right thing means risking everything to change the rules of the game. But how much is freedom really worth?


It literally took me about four pages in this work to realize that I would love this book if it could only keep up with the foundation I had laid eyes on. And it did, filled to the brim with modern affirmations and epiphanies of realization, Borderless moves forward with all the things that wrap our current society with conundrums of . . . how do we move forward in a world where technology is trying to tell us too much?

Diana is an former CIA spy and is wrapped up in a swirling mission to take over a megacorporation called Commonweath that built a system that gives people all their information called the feed and their plan to form a one world government. The feed tells you when your friend is walking toward you down the hallway and that’s just the brunt of it. Every institution is a computer and the feed has all the information about everything. But, is the information being curated in disfavor? Are things being selectively hidden? What will they do to keep America running in this fictional world when this technology is trying to free itself? How will you be free when you are relying on bent, hand fed influences?

“The only way to fight someone that knew your weaknesses was to feign indifference.”

Borderless Pg. 109, Eliot Peper

I learned tons of words and phrases in this book and that makes me excited when they are used properly and put in place like a carefully set stone. While some words were repeated and just fancy names for foreign yogurt ( this was the worst, but still great example of the variety in flavor ), I thought it was great. I have a big long note in my note taking app that has a lot of the words I learned, but here I will pick four of them so that you may get a taste of what Borderless has in store as far as verbiage:

  • in·dom·i·ta·ble
    /inˈdämədəb(ə)l/
    adjective
    impossible to subdue or defeat.
    “a woman of indomitable spirit”
  • key·stone
    /ˈkēˌstōn/
    noun
    a central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together.
  • re·al·po·li·tik
    /rāˈälpōliˌtēk/
    noun
    a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.
  • feign
    /fān/
    verb
    pretend to be affected by (a feeling, state, or injury).
    ARCHAIC
    invent (a story or excuse).
    ARCHAIC
    indulge in pretense.

Make no mistake, I am no salesman so when I gloat simply for the fact that this is book #2 in the series, it worked so well despite my jumpy list-add clicking fingers, AND the fact that I found it in the first place makes me an extra happy camper today in the reading department.

Recommendation:

Presented with more than plausible real-world problems in a not-too-distant future spanning places all over the world, Borderless not only delivers a solid story, bringing all the moving pieces of international adult playgrounds together together quite nicely, it has style, knowledge, form and continuous breaths of fresh air and a perfect pacing to match. There wasn’t a single page I didn’t highlight something of worth or was tempted, then giving in to research a reference to people, places and things. This story deserves ★★★★★ five stars out of five, all day long.

Music Bonus:

Dub FX with Not Cool – Lyrics @ Genius.com – Get down with the feel good jimmy jams!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews

DNF @ 37% Review: Quantum by Patricia Cornwell

Very well done cover . . . with space balls of some sort.

Blurb:

International bestselling author Patricia Cornwell delivers pulse-pounding thrills in the first book in a series featuring a brilliant and unusual new heroine, cutting-edge cybertechnology, and stakes that are astronomically high.

On the eve of a top secret space mission, Captain Calli Chase detects a tripped alarm in the tunnels deep below a NASA research center. A NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator, Calli knows that a looming blizzard and government shutdown could provide the perfect cover for sabotage, with deadly consequences.

As it turns out, the danger is worse than she thought. A spatter of dried blood, a missing security badge, a suspicious suicide—a series of disturbing clues point to Calli’s twin sister, Carme, who’s been MIA for days.

Desperate to halt the countdown to disaster and to clear her sister’s name, Captain Chase digs deep into her vast cyber security knowledge and her painful past, probing for answers to her twin’s erratic conduct. As time is running out, she realizes that failure means catastrophe—not just for the space program but for the safety of the whole nation.

Brilliantly crafted, gripping, and smart, Patricia Cornwell’s cliffhanger ending will keep readers wondering what’s next for Captain Calli Chase.


Let me start out by saying I have read some Patricia Cornwell books and loved them mucho construto. I started reading this yesterday and made it over a hundred pages in, which I can say this is an easy read, so that’s not the reason I DNF’d this book.

The Kindle edition has media embedded in it, which was neato-torpedo, displaying some animated images at the start of some chapters. This is apart from the fact that I couldn’t change the background color for this book on my Kindle Fire, assumably caused from the embedded media which was all-together absent from Kindle cloud reader.

This book started out well for me. It was quick, punchy and intelligent. However, Captain Chase turned into a squirrel on assumable hallucinogens and coke, ( not the kind in the bottle ) feeding me every detail that ran through her mind whether it was relevant or not . . . and, it’s filled with ADHD-ish ( coupled with my own ADHD tendencies, it proves to be a bad mix ), panicky inner-dialog that I’m assuming is suppose to be thrilling, but just gives me more anxiety than I already have and a need to know what to pay attention to and what not to, which does become decipherable as you read. I comprehended and processed, but not in a way that I prefer.

A word I learned in this book was:

This is a rambling book, which I didn’t mind in itself, but even rambles need to be organized to become coherent to the reader. There’s not much abstract thoughts of the protagonist’s mind other than “what the hell is happening to me and NASA” and “OMG, something is happening to me that someone else just referring to in passing” ( quotes are sarcastic, summarized version of Captain Chase’s thoughts, not actual quotes from the book ), at least of what I read. Sentence structure could use more variation, at least for me – it felt like I was being pelted with little thought-darts. However, the book does give some background to NASA, which I didn’t fact check and won’t.

I don’t have anymore to say about it other than the people at NASA should have given Captain Chase a sedative or two, in order to counter-act those over-stimulated thoughts way, way earlier in the book.

★★☆☆☆ Two stars out of five and a big-fat DNF for Captain Chase’s first book titled Quantum by Patricia Cornwell.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews

Review: Gridlinked by Neal Asher

Gridlinked by Neal Asher

Blurb:

The runcible buffers on Samarkand have been mysteriously sabotaged, killing many thousands and destroying a terraforming project. Agent Cormac must reach it by ship to begin an investigation. But Cormac has incurred the wrath of a vicious psychopath called Pelter, who is prepared to follow him across the galaxy with a terrifying android in tow.

Despite the sub-zero temperature of Samarkand, Cormac discovers signs of life: they are two ‘dracomen’, alien beasts contrived by an extra-galactic entity calling itself ‘Dragon’, which is a huge creature consisting of four conjoined spheres of flesh each a kilometre in diameter. Caught between the byzantine wiles of the Dragon and the lethal fury of Pelter, Cormac needs to skip very nimbly indeed to rescue the Samarkand project and protect his own life.

Gridlinked is the first sci-fi thriller in Neal Asher’s compelling Agent Cormac series.


This book is a prime example where it’s just not possible for a blurb to sell the book like it was ever intended to do in the first place. In fact, a long synopsis would even be sinful. Agent Cormac thinks whoever came up with these downright nasty ideas should eat a sharp beetle. Sometimes while reading . . . I wanted to tear this book in half. However, great care was taken not even to dog ear this bad boy. I absolutely fell in love with the story of Agent Cormac and the punchy, humorous way the words are laid down on each page. With break neck speed through space with spaceships, atmospheric re-entry and sadistic androids are some of the wettest, pulpy slap-stick environmental constraints of being in the future where things aren’t always as they seem. Your first inclination about why this is, is most definitely wrong, with a tag line of “The Hunter Becomes the Hunted” and things like chameleonware all the way to the neat little lore-type-blurbs at the start of many chapters that explain the human condition in relation to this beautiful, far-out space world.

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Book Reviews

Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

Dual cover for Film and book – John Dies at the End by David Wong. I like this 70’s vibe.

WARNING: This book contains adult themes such as violence and drug use, even if that drug is named after a condiment. And, if you are apt to be offended, this book will probably offend you.

STOP. You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands. NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late. They’re watching you. My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was my fault.

If you were to mish-mash the American party scene with the supernatural and an anything goes story of impending doom you get John Dies at the End. It’s a satirical, quick page turning parody adventure with plenty of humor and supernatural scares and it tackles these two with a main over-arching theme of science fiction. It’s punchy, sarcastic, fun and the best part – unpredictable. Wong creates fresh ideas that include, just like the blurb says – bratwurst in a special kind of configuration that is not well. With twists galore on not so common life turned into fiction, like characters with celebrity names, but aren’t celebrities and these are executed with finesse and David Wong gets away with literary murder via pen and paper.

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Book Reviews On Art

Review: How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One by Stanley Fish

How nice. This cover is in a classic, perennial style. It transcends time. . .maybe?

In this entertaining and erudite New York Times bestseller, beloved professor Stanley Fish offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure. Drawing on a wide range of  great writers, from Philip Roth to Antonin Scalia to Jane Austen, How to Write a Sentence is much more than a writing manual—it is a spirited love letter to the written word, and a key to understanding how great writing works.

Extracted Blub, from Amazon

This is a non-fiction, self-help, novella-in-size book for writers. Then, Fish adds the part on the end of the title about how to read one. I’m thinking that yes, if you don’t understand how to read an English language sentence before you get to the end, you certainly will if you study, as not only are his references stylish – so is his flow and structure in his own writing.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Yattering and Jack ( Books of Blood ) by Clive Barker

The Hulu rendition for both the re-release of the book and the movie.

This Volume includes: “The Book of Blood” • “The Midnight Meat Train” • “The Yattering and Jack” • “Pig Blood Blues” • “Sex, Death and Starshine” • “In the Hills, the Cities”

This review covers the third short story titled The Yattering and Jack in Books of Blood Vol. 1 by Clive Barker.

This is a fast paced, knock your socks off hilarity of a story where the lines get definitively blurred of who plays the roles protagonist and antagonist, and this story successfully justifies that as a quality of style. While this factor, until my brain discovered it as such, proved confusing at times and the level of complexity this brings to story demands attention and deserved a re-read. Entertaining it is and we have the Yattering which is a demon enslaved to hand down some terror to a spiritually indebted person named Jack. It is the characterization of a demon and this Yattering certainly has character. It’s unpredictable, fun and electrically terrifying.

Categories
Book Reviews

Review: The Book of Blood by Clive Barker

Cover for the newly released edition of Books of Blood Vol 1 by Clive Barker

This Volume includes: “The Book of Blood” • “The Midnight Meat Train” • “The Yattering and Jack” • “Pig Blood Blues” • “Sex, Death and Starshine” • “In the Hills, the Cities”

The Book of Blood, the first short story in this volume, is the one we are reviewing here in this article and not the whole Volume 1 book titled Books of Blood.

This first short story in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood Vol 1 titled The Book of Blood, that sets the stage in truly the best way possible for this tour de force, completely knocked my head off. The titles between the main book and the first short story are confusing at first, but make total sense after reading which adds value. It delivers wonder and vivid imagery with eloquent writing style matched with elements of true horror. There is some questionable sexual content looming that brushes the bleeding edge of an urge to also to be questionably judgemental and I love that.

In one sense, you could tell every bit of this story verbosely and not spoil it due to the nature of Clive Barker’s curated writing style, but the elements and ultimately the way this short story ends would be spoiled very easily because of it’s weight for the rest of the book which ties the rest of the stories together.

Honestly, I had to re-read this mere 25 pages a couple times ( and not at fault of the book ) to get the full swing and just to make sure I had the message tightly in my grip, but it ultimately left me in a a state of my jaw having to be picked up off the floor and with a vat of curiosity for the rest of the book. This paradoxical quote and play on words from the blurb says a lot for what’s in store for this first, short story in this book:

Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three by Stephen King

This cover, on the paperback version of the book is well put together. We have another photoshop type collage image, but is certainly convincing. I like the wider format, although the dimensions of this book are a bit odd: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.38 inches.

Summary:

Evaluation:

So far I have a couple of other Stephen King reviews here ( really just one, because the other is a graphic novel adaptation with other artists ) on SDMcKinley.com that aren’t so great. 🙄 Well that’s okay. Let’s go ahead and even that out here with The Drawing of the Three as this is one of my favorite books I have ever read.

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Book Reviews

Review: Black Clover #1 by Yuki Tabata

Quite peculiar, but I couldn’t find this particular cover anywhere on the web, so I took a picture myself. Even more strange, I did a reverse tin eye image search of this and only saw variants of this, all in another language. I wonder what the chance of me getting a rare variant cover? Anyone have any ideas? Let me know in the comments.

That sword is hitting me in the face! I appreciate the black and white art inside better than the colored, water color-ish version of art here.

Summary:

( Extracted from Amazon )

In a world of magic, Asta, a boy with anti-magic powers, will do whatever it takes to become the Wizard King!

Asta is a young boy who dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the kingdom. Only one problem—he can’t use any magic! Luckily for Asta, he receives the incredibly rare five-leaf clover grimoire that gives him the power of anti-magic. Can someone who can’t use magic really become the Wizard King? One thing’s for sure—Asta will never give up!

Evaluation:

I first heard of Black Clover from a friend talking about the Japanimation ( most of the time it’s better than Afghanistanimation ) series. He raved about it. I tried the anime show, but stopped because of the high-pitched yelling that probably got on my girlfriend’s nerves more than mine.

Categories
Book Reviews

Review: Elevation by Stephen King

This digital version cover of the book is nice, but not quite as nice as the paperback version which has a foil cover to give it that reflective, shiny look.

Summary:

( Extracted from Amazon )

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face—including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

Evaluation:

Reading Stephen King’s Elevation at first was not my cup of tea. I put the book down after reading a couple of pages at first, and it wasn’t because my ADD was kicking in – not a good sign. Then it became a little more tasteful as I read further, but not what I expected at all. I’ve read another short story / novella by Stephen King – The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon ( EDIT: I looked it up and the story mentioned is NOT a novella or short story, it’s a full length novel ) I liked the latter story better.