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Book Reviews

Review: Devoted by Dean Koontz

A nice, solid cover that represents the book’s content well.

Blurb:

Woody Bookman hasn’t spoken a word in his eleven years of life. Not when his father died in a freak accident. Not when his mother, Megan, tells him she loves him. For Megan, keeping her boy safe and happy is what matters. But Woody believes a monstrous evil was behind his father’s death and now threatens him and his mother. And he’s not alone in his thoughts. An ally unknown to him is listening.

A uniquely gifted dog with a heart as golden as his breed, Kipp is devoted beyond reason to people. When he hears the boy who communicates like he does, without speaking, Kipp knows he needs to find him before it’s too late.

Woody’s fearful suspicions are taking shape. A man driven by a malicious evil has set a depraved plan into motion. And he’s coming after Woody and his mother. The reasons are primal. His powers are growing. And he’s not alone. Only a force greater than evil can stop what’s coming next.


Ah, it’s been a while since I have indulged in a Dean Koontz book and this title Devoted does deliver as expected with light and refreshing writing that is an ease to read and follow along with. With not-too-much goings on during the pages we are left with a solid story about Woody, a highly-functioning autistic 11 year old boy that is ( mostly ) mute, but very smart for his age and ends up getting wrapped up in the story line by means of hacking computers in order to find answers about his father’s death. He knows there is more than meets the eye and the answers are out there.

Kipp, the dog is special and communicates telepathically through the wire. Him and a group of dogs are apart of the Mysterium. Because of Woody’s condition, he also communicates through the medium. The looming dark presence in the book centers around a corporation and a an ex-CEO is preying on Woody and his mother and the book also explores some of Woody’s coping mechanisms for his condition which was like icing on the cake here.

Woody’s mother Megan will do anything to protect him including calling the local police in to help and it shows in these some odd 300 pages which were well worth the read. I give Devoted by Koontz a solid ★★★★☆ four stars out of five.

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.

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Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Savage: The Wild Graphic Novel

Savage: The Wild

Blurb:

Teenage heartthrob. Feral social icon. Dinosaur hunter. Born and raised on an uncharted island full of prehistoric dangers, Kevin Sauvage has a taste of home when a mutant dino threat invades England! From the mad minds of international superstar Max Bemis (Moon Knight) and powerhouse artist Nathan Stockman (Spidey) comes the craziest action book of 2020. Collecting SAVAGE (2020) #1-4.


I completed this review in exchange for a free digital copy via NetGalley.com

All-out chaos and mayhem is what you get when two parallel worlds come together to bring a zany tale of Kevin Sauvage – a celebrity that grew up hunting dinosaurs and other misc. feral beasts in another dimension. Savage now exists in an Earthly dimension in England as somewhat of a star. However, as I write this I certainly do have complaints ( once again ) about pixelated images and the horrid Adobe .acsm viewer combining to make an experience that would have been much better with just a standard PDF file. I have no interest in giving it away and / or pirating anything.

Now, on with the quality of not the digital product experience, but with the quality of the story and artwork: It’s hard to take anything with much seriousness and more than a grain of salt in this story because the basis of it is basically that Savage and his counter parts are against an evil mad scientist, a technological “Project Bizarre” ( a threat to the Earthly dimension because of the creatures it holds ). We are left with not much resolution to the story but a bit of a cliffhanger at the end for the next book. The art, ( besides the fact that the images are pixelated ) I thought was better than the story itself. I had fun reading it, but that was mostly due to the art than the story. Overall, I rate this at ★★✬☆☆ 2.5 stars out of five.

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.

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Book Reviews

Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

This digital painting cover works well and represents the source material. 👍

Blurb:

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.


Wells paints a face-paced adventure tale into a novella-in-size book that packs a punch in your jaw of science fiction. If the sound of things like beacons, androids, sentience, dystopian futures, etc. fancy your flavor then you can get a load of it packed in these . . . ~150 pages. Although I didn’t experience much poetic nature in the book, the writing was quick and detailed just enough still to not only keep my attention and it did entertain at the same time which is what I look for in a book. Number one thing = entertainment. Someone might ask a question:

Q: Well, how well did it entertain you S.D.?

A: Excellent question. It entertained me on a ★★★★☆ four out of five star scale level.

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.

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Book Reviews

Review: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

Blurb:

Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. Substance D doesn’t just alter the mind, it splits it in two, and neither side knows what the other is doing or that it even exists. Now, both sides are growing increasingly paranoid as Bob tries to evade Fred while Fred tries to evade his suspicious bosses.


Like a snake eating its own tail, A Scanner Darkly delivers a humorous but paranoid tale of Bob Arctor’s downward spiral through being the prey and the hunter at the same time. Seemingly, no one else besides Arctor falls and because of that, Arctor falls himself into a pit of despair and a classic case of reaping what one sows.

A Scanner Darkly is the second full length book by PkD I’ve read and it worked really well for me, just as expected with paradoxical content that is easy to read, but themes that are muddy to say the least and could be confusing to some readers.

Personally, having watched the film several times ( and it being a favorite ), this was an easy read for me and my familiarity with the story made it just that much better. Like most book to film adaptions, this 300 odd paged book delivers more content than the movie with added scenes and insight into the story PkD writes for us. If I could pick one thing that makes me mad about this story is how the people around Bob Arctor simply let him fall the way he did. However in same sense he became what he wanted to.

If you ever wonder what people act like when under the influence, several scenes in A Scanner Darkly I’m assuming, paint an accurate picture and a humorous one at that. At the back of the book, Dick dedicates the book to his friends that either have died from drug use or suffer permanent, detrimental effects from “playing” in the game and admits to having played himself at times.

Recommendation:

As a distinguished piece of American culture, A Scanner Darkly explores topics surrounding a game of drugs where the hunted and hunter are the same person. The story follows a path of self destruction that should prove a moral of the story consisting of “Drugs are bad. M’kay.” and “You should be number one in your own life”.

Drugs are bad, m’kay

★★★★★ – Five stars out of five for A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick and if you like mind twisting tales, I think you’d agree.

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

Dual Review: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

I’m excited to announce, in cooperation with Tales From the Neon Beach, I present you with our dual review of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said:

Sneak peak at dual review of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick.

It was a great honor to complete this study with Tales. He was excellent to work with and made the experience that much better seeing this work of art from another side.

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: 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.

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Resources

Massive One Book Haul: Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City

Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City: Sitting under my Christmas haul, for scale.

How do you have a massive one book haul? With Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City, that’s how. I didn’t realize how big this book was until I had it in perspective. It’s ridiculous! A weapon, even, at that. With 1300 some odd pages and weighing in at around 12 pounds. This thing is mad heavy. I won’t be digging into this one quite yet, but it will be posted about at some point.

I ordered this along with the Bluray movie, extended cut ( extended cut is mandatory for this movie ) because I love the movie so much, I figured I would delve into where the inspiration for the film came from.

This is not for kids! First thing I noticed is that there’s quite of bit of illustrated-partial nudity in this thing, which is NOT why I’m reading it. I had no idea? Moving along, when I get around to this thing, you’ll get to see a couple of bits of the lovely black and white art style along with what I think about the story and art.

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.

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Resources

What I’m Reading: Flow My Tears, the Police Man Said by Philip K. Dick

It’s no secret, Colin ( from Tales From the Neon Beach blog ) and I are working on a duel review of Flow My Tears, the Police Man Said by Philip K. Dick and I just got a chance to dig my claws into the story, in which an acclaimed TV star wakes up in a different reality where he is a normal person. Like most other books by Philip K. Dick, it reads easy, but presents complex problems which fits my reading bill just great, at least so far. I won’t go into any more details about the book ( in which it seems like there is a lot of things to talk about ), so be on the look out for that duel review, on Tales from the Neon Beach, coming ( not very ) soon.

“Fear can make you do more wrong than hate or jealousy. If you’re afraid you don’t commit yourself to life completely; fear makes you always, always hold something back. You shouldn’t be alone. It’s killing you; it’s undermining you. All the time, every day, you should be somewhere with people.”
― Philip K. Dick, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

I’m also reading 10 Years of Darkness by Kristen Chambers and Viktor H. Strangewayes, in which I started on the eBook, but that won’t last long because I gratefully received a hard copy with a nice, signed note attached, then I will feature this book next week on What I’m Reading, so you may get a good look at it, the formatting, etc.

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.