Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ringworld

RingworldRingworld by Larry Niven
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

For years, I have heard so much about Ringworld, the classic, the winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best science fiction novel of 1971 and I’ve wanted to read it for a long time. I’ve finally gotten around to it. Don’t ask me why it took me so long. I have no excuses. I just never made the time. However, now that I’ve gotten a look at it, I have to say that I’m disappointed. I don’t know what the big deal is. In fact, while it’s a “big idea” book, I think not only is it rather boring, but it’s sexist as hell and Niven definitely comes from the “old school” of mid-century male sci fi writers (read Asimov, etc) who use their female protagonists as complete idiots or total whores. And that’s about it. One would hope these men changed with the times as they aged. I think Asimov did, to some degree, as evidenced by his Foundation prequels.

It seems to me that the awards are given out for “big idea” novels, ie, Vernor Vinge, Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Ringworld, The Children of Time, etc. Yet, perhaps with the exception of Dick, I’d have to say I’m not overly impressed with any of them. The authors usually try to stuff a little too much philosophy in there for my liking, a little too much Ender. Don’t get me wrong. I liked Ender. But after awhile, there’s only so much Ender one can take. After awhile, the books become a little preachy and who buys sci fi novels to be preached to? Not me. Not a lot of people. And while this novel has a moderately respectable 3.96 Goodreads rating (which isn’t THAT respectable for such an award winning book), most of the reviews I’ve read have been one, two, and three star reviews because not much happens in this book. Just two humans and two aliens sitting around talking science, philosophy, and sexuality (it was the 1970s, after all) while on this amazing planetary body. Oh, and lots of misogyny and sexism. Yeah. And that about sums it up. And the awards for this? I don’t know. I’m obviously not the best person to determine who should get these awards. I like David Weber, Chris Bunch, Philip K. Dick, Alastair Reynolds, etc. These men generally don’t line up for awards like this, although before he’s done, I think Reynolds may have a chance. I think his books are brilliant. Warped, but brilliant.

Anyway, I’m not sure what rating to give this. Since it’s a classic, I’d like to give it a higher rating out of a sense of sci fi duty to my elders, but I don’t think I can. One star. Not recommended.



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Friday, August 26, 2016

Coercion

CoercionCoercion by Tim Tigner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coercion is a very good spy/thriller set in 1990 during the Gorbachev/Perestroika Russian years. “Knyaz” is a super secret organization within the KGB that wants to gain control by ridding the country of Gorbachev and giving Russia its own version of Perestroika. With Vasily Karpov, a KGB General, as its primary leader (and his son, Victor, as another), Knyaz gains control over those who can help them attain their goal. They infiltrate American industry to gain advantages over it and surpass it in international economic competition. After all, this is where the new wars are being fought.

And this is where the Knyaz secret weapon comes in – the Peitho Pill. When injected into someone’s body (typically, the buttocks), the Peitho Pill is harmless by itself, but it can be remotely triggered, causing it to release its poison and instantly kill the target. People can live for years with this time-bomb implanted, leaving their loved ones living under total control of Knyaz. They know that if they do not do as they are told, their loved one will die. Corporate sabotage and industrial espionage are the standard for the relatives of those implanted with the Peitho Pill. It’s all about complete control and it’s disconcerting for everyone. It’s truly one of the more original and evil weapons I’ve come across in all of my years of reading thriller novels.

Alex and Frank Ferris are brothers, actually twins. Alex, the book’s protagonist, is a former US intelligence “agent” (aka spook) and Green Beret. Frank is a genius-level scientist who is working on a specific airplane engine that keeps being sabotaged. When Frank apparently commits suicide, Alex starts investigating his brother’s death. It doesn’t seem quite “right,” somehow. His investigations take him on a trip around the world to Siberia where he becomes very quickly acquainted with the Peitho Pill and Knyaz. Also, while in the US, we meet Karpov’s son, Victor, a man we quickly learn to love to hate. Turns out Alex has known Victor for a long while, but under an assumed American name. Victor is definitely not what and who he appears to be. But then, few are in this novel.

Most of the action takes place in Siberia and, let me tell you, the action is hot, even though the weather might be cold! Alex may have BEEN a Green Beret, but he apparently hasn’t lost his skills and his Knyaz “friends” have badly underestimated him. Alex will come face to face with Karpov, but Alex has an ace up his sleeve, and it’s a big one.

Some complaints though. First of all, I found the book slightly confusing at first and a little hard to get into. It took me awhile to just get into the book. However, after I basically forced myself to read through the first several chapters, it picked up and at that point, I couldn’t put the book down. It was that good. It was fast paced, was full of intrigue and tension, and had a lot of action. Another complaint, however, is that Alex seems to benefit from a lot of, well, good luck, excluding his torture scene by Karpov. He’s saved in the plane, he kills the Knyaz assassin pretty handily, he meets the one woman in town who is connected to Frank’s death and is also connected to Karpov, whom Alex ultimately is looking for. He gets into the right places pretty easily. Things seem to come to him so easily. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re an ex-spook, I don’t know. It just seemed really convenient and just a little contrived. However, the story was so good, I was willing to overlook all of these perceived flaws.

Coercion is a very good spy/thriller. I enjoyed it very much. What’s keeping it from being a five star book? Well, I guess it’s the aforementioned too many coincidences that tend to distract from rather than enhance the story. Also, the beginning of the novel could have been improved upon. Better editing, suggesting a fresher rewrite of the first few chapters, perhaps? Alex is a really good character. I kept thinking Jason Bourne. Not Bond, Bourne. I liked him. I’d like to read more books with him, but at the same time, I’m not sure making a series featuring him is a great idea. Too many authors are creating series’ these days featuring great characters and are having to make up impossible scenarios that don’t seem remotely realistic. I don’t want to see that happen to this character (not that this seemed realistic). All in all, four strong stars and definitely recommended.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Earth Alone

Earth Alone (Earthrise Book 1)Earth Alone by Daniel Arenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Earth Alone had its moments, mostly toward the end, but it seems that many of the recent, new military sci fi novels I’ve been reading lately all seem to be written by authors who feel compelled to prove their military authenticity by being able to write the longest, most detailed, most stereotypical boot camp scenes of all time, and this book is at the top of the list of those types of these books. Essentially, this book is one big boot camp book with a little action thrown in over the last third of the book to justify calling it “military sci fi” so fans might actually like it. Otherwise it’s a waste of time, space, and effort. It just seems to me that after awhile, all boot camps start sounding exactly the same. You’ve got your bad ass drill sergeants, who all have to let their recruits know that they will be known as “God” while they are there, which becomes so damn original. The drill instructors can run 30 km runs one way and 30 km back without sweating while the recruits are dropping to the ground. Again stereotypes. You’ve got the wiseass recruits who refuse to follow the rules and either A) get in trouble themselves, or B) more likely, convince the “good” recruits to stupidly get involved with them for one night and get them in trouble with the authorities. Stereotype. The fighting, brawling, rules breaking. Brilliant. You’ve got the big, dumb, scared man-child scenario. The tough-as-nails, bad ass-but-hot female recruit who will kill you if you look at her twice. Quite often, but not always, the protagonist, the recruit is an intellectual, in our case, one who wants to be a military librarian. Hah! Little does he know. It’s all well and good. Maybe I would be less jaded and more accepting if it weren’t for the fact that about five other military sci fi books I’m reading at about the same time all involve having boot camp scenarios, all with similar stereotypical scenes. I just wonder if these authors just share the same boot camp software with each other and recycle it because none of it is original. It got old a long time ago. Sci fi authors, and military literature authors, have been doing this to death for decades. Since it’s well established that boot camp is hard, difficult, a bonding experience, blah, blah, can’t we just skip over it in a few paragraphs and assume we already know all of this and move on to the real story instead of devoting 60%+ of the book, some 250 pages, to boot camp, which isn’t the damn story, or at least shouldn’t be? I didn’t buy the book to read about boot camp. I bought it to read about the Human Defense Force and battling aliens. I knew basic training was part of it, but I didn’t know it was the bulk of the novel. If I had known that, I wouldn’t have wasted my time. The action, when gotten to, wasn’t that bad. Even boot camp action wasn’t horrible. It’s just it was … boot camp. Again. Over and over. Not badly written. Just written at all. That’s the crime here.

The writing isn’t bad. Four stars for that. The plot is. Two stars for that. Overall? Three stars. Sorry, but I can’t recommend it. Since this is apparently the first in a series, maybe the sequel will be an improvement and I’m willing to give it a try. I’m also willing to bet with fucking boot camp out of the way, the next book has got to be better. So, I’m expecting better from the next book. Nonetheless, for this current book, three stars and not recommended.


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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Destroyer

Destroyer (Void Wraith, #1)Destroyer by Chris Fox
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I'm sorry for this non-review, but not only did I not finish the book, but I didn't get very far in the book.

When I started this book, the prose seemed awkward and the dialogue clunky. The actions taken by the captain during his exec's first time on a warship, while potentially admirable in trying to express confidence and help him gain experience, seem irresponsible and foolish. After all, he's toying with hundreds (presumably) of people's lives for the purpose of seeing how one officer fresh out of the academy can handle the pressure. He's really willing to risk his ship and the lives of his crew for that? Absurd! Then, the killer. The enemy ship is shaped almost like an arrow, so that its front end comes to a sharp point. Why? Because this alien race likes to ram their opponent's ships, board them, and engage in hand to hand combat. As cool as that may sound, think about that. What's the likely outcome of two warships traveling fast, very fast, typically at the speed of light, hitting each other -- and surviving? Yeah, they would blow themselves to hell. There would be a nuclear-sized explosion that would leave neither ship in anything but tiny little pieces. There would be no boarding, no hand to hand combat. You don't ram two ships at light speed and survive. It's ridiculous to even consider that. With that said, I closed this book and put it away permanently, chalking this up to another inexperienced sci fi author who needs to rethink his tactics. Of course, the last time I wrote a review like this, the author emailed me and attacked me and when I responded politely defending my position, he proceeded to relentlessly attack me on a personal level, over and over again, until I blocked him. Nothing like immature writers who can't take criticism. My hope is that Chris Fox can take criticism. As an experienced writer myself, I've learned that everyone gets criticized no matter how good or bad they are, no matter how well known they are -- everybody. It comes with the territory. So, Mr. Fox, if you read this, it's nothing personal. I just think the book had some weaknesses that I couldn't get past, so I chose not to continue reading it. With that said, not recommended.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Sentinel

The Sentinel (The Sentinel Trilogy Book 1)The Sentinel by Michael Wallace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sentinel is the first in a trilogy set in a future where humanity has splintered into largely ethnic factions, so that the English have settled several planets, centuries ago, and the Chinese, and so on. Most have lost touch with their roots. There are aliens in this universe and they have found allies with one such species. However, another – the Apex – is a buzzard-like bird species whose only goal is the eradication of all other sentient species. And when they attack ships, settlements, worlds, etc., they feast on their prey, horrifying those being attacked as they’re eaten alive.

Now, I’ve got to be truthful. The Apex are truly silly, as written. Many aliens are in sci fi. Sometimes you really have to stretch your imagination to buy into the worlds the author is painting for you. But this beats it all. These chickens have great technology, awesome starships, great armor and weapons, better comm technology than any species in the universe, and in order for them to power their ships, they have computers, thousands, perhaps millions, of years in the future. With keyboards, not voice recognition technology. Keyboards. Thousands of years in the future. Right. And they use their beaks and claws to tap the keys on the keyboards. OK, how fucking stupid is that? We’re under attack, Queen Apex Chicken! Let me peck some defensive commands into the computer to launch our missile counterattacks. Oops, took too damn long to peck those commands. We’re blown up. Sorry. See how stupid that is? Couldn’t the author have done something, anything better, more creative than that to make it moderately more believable, if spacefaring, warring buzzards are believable at all?

Anyway, the Singaporeans have their own world and fought off the Apex many years ago and established silent Sentinel forts throughout the various wormhole galaxies to guard against Apex attacks over a decade ago. Sentinel-3, led by Commander Li, has been lying silently in wait for 11 years. And it has become factionalized over time, with nearly half wanting to remain silent and complete their mission, even if that means staying until old age and death, while the others want to reach out and contact someone, anyone, thus giving away their position and risking Apex attack. Li is going crazy trying to hold the place together.

Along comes HMS Blackbeard, a beat up Albion Royal Navy warship. The Chinese don’t even know of this world and they are prepared to destroy it, but there are Apex hiding there who attack the ship and the fortress opens fire and between the fort and the ship, they destroy seven of the eight Apex ships, knowing one got away to warn other aliens, who will likely come attack.

The captain and crew of the ship are hoping for help repairing and restocking their ship, but they are caught in a tether and reeled into the fortress, where Li’s crazy sister has taken over with the hardliner’s, who decide to board the ship in an effort to kill most of them and take some of the crew to press them into service. They are repelled. Meanwhile, Li sides with the other group, retakes command of part of the fortress, and watches while members of the ship invade his fortress and take over his command and much of the fortress, leaving him to surrender.

There’s more action and, yes, the Apex return in force. What will happen? That’s why there’s a sequel, and yes, a trilogy. These damned new military sci fi writers keep shortening their full length books into trilogies, forcing us to buy several mini-length books at a time, just to read the whole story, because truthfully, the stories are honestly often so good, that I’ve just got to buy and continue. I’ve got to know what happens next! And that’s what I’ve done with this book. I’m halfway through with the next book.

I loved the plot. The writing is decent. The editing could have been better, but among the new breed of self-published or micro published sci fi books out there, it’s one of the better-edited books. It didn’t seem to have nearly as many typos or grammatical mistakes as many of these books do. That usually annoys the hell out of me. As mentioned, the climax is left to the next book, but then all of the current military sci fi authors are doing that lately, so you just have to accept that. And these Kindle books are so cheap, it’s really no big deal. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, so four stars, but certainly recommended.


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Friday, August 12, 2016

When Duty Calls

When Duty Calls (Legion, #8)When Duty Calls by William C. Dietz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Duty Calls is another Legion of the Damned novel and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read. In fact, Dietz writes our heroes into some crazy situations that I swore were impossible to get out of – I knew they were dead – but somehow, someway, they survived, or at least some of them did. Written wizardry. Captain Santana is back, kicking ass with his company of biobods and cyborgs, fighting the Ramanthians on Planet Gamma-014 in the Clone Hegemony, a government and people that play a huge role in forming an alliance with The Confederacy of Sentient Beings. Santana’s love interest, Christine, is back in this book as well, although this time she falls for a clone, so there’s some tension here and she has to make a decision. Pretty unfair to Santana, if you ask me, out there getting pounded with his men, risking his life just about every minute. Speaking of risking lives, the fighting on this planet is so fierce and so bloody, it’s just a slaughterhouse, mostly of humans. The bugs are slaughtering humans and it’s mostly because there’s an idiot clone general in control of the invasion and he doesn’t know what he’s doing, first of all, and second, he’s only sending in human troops to do the fighting and he’s holding back all of the clone troops to do administrative work, which pisses the humans off and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. So, they’re dying by the tens of thousands for nothing. Things get really tense, over and over, as they have to fight mutineers, bug ambushes, while hoping to get rescued by civilian spacecraft, which is dangerous to both the civilians and the soldiers, and the climax of the book is, well … climactic! There’s a ton of nonstop action in this book. You don’t really have time to stop and think, but then this isn’t a philosophical tome. It’s a shoot ‘em up military sci fi action novel. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the book for you. Four stars and recommended.



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The Disinherited

The DisinheritedThe Disinherited by Steve White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Disinherited in really pretty good military sci fi. Aliens, the Korvaaash, are invading humanity’s worlds and the US Space Force is tasked with fighting them. Unfortunately – and this is a common theme in many military sci fi books, so knock one star off for lack of originality – there haven’t been any wars within humanity for centuries, so the military has been downgraded and downsized. Now, with a powerful new alien adversary, it has to be seriously regrown, retrained, improved, and taught to fight and fight well. Humanity is fighting for its life. The book drags at times, but has some decent action in it. It’s a good early effort by Steve White. I’d give it 3.5 stars, but I’m just going to round up to four stars and say it’s recommended.




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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Land of the Dead

Land of the DeadLand of the Dead by Thomas Harlan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Horseshit! That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say about Land of the Dead. Horseshit! I loved the first two books in the In the Time of the Sixth Sun series. Wasteland of Flint was superior and I gave it a five star review. House of Reeds was nearly as good, a little too complicated, and for that I gave it a four star review, but I really enjoyed it and looked forward to the third installment in the series. Then I read it. I wish I hadn’t. This book was a horrible disappointment. It was simply stupid. Just stupid. Xenoarcheologist Gretchen Anderssen is back, helping Hummingbird and others look for a First Sun super weapon and in order to do so, she spends the book using computers to build models. Of something. I don’t know what, but something. Hummingbird joins her in this for part of the book, but this is what she spends the majority of the book doing. Hadeishi and Susan are back too. Toward the end of the book, Gretchen emerges from ship’s cabin and helps lead a party in looking for the weapon. Using her computer. Of course. Cause that’s all she does. You would swear she’s a computer scientist. Or a hacker. Not a xenoarcheologist. The climax of the book is typical of the series, but by that time, I was so pissed off, I really didn’t care. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. For anyone reading this series, I would stop with the second book cause this will probably be a major disappointment. One star.


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Interstellar Patrol

Interstellar PatrolInterstellar Patrol by Christopher Anvil
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Seems dated, is dated. Not my cup of tea. Sorry for no significant review. Just too many other books to review right now. Recommended for fans of the author, otherwise probably not.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Man on the Run

Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970sMan on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man on the Run is an interesting biography of Paul McCartney and his family during the 1970s, as well as his band, Wings (one of my favorite bands of that decade). It is a long, thorough look at the good, bad, and ugly and pulls no punches, even while it clearly sympathizes with McCartney.
The book begins with the messy breakup of the Beatles, centering around the very public feud between Paul and John, which was part of the impetus for Paul’s decision to legally file to dissolve the Beatles. However, the legal ramifications showed that there were financial problems for the group and led to even more, thus sending Paul into a spiral of depression that led to he and his wife, Linda, to move to a farm in Scotland, out of the spotlight. During this period, he also lost a great deal of his confidence he had had in his abilities as a musician, as well as his own identity. Thankfully, Linda helped him through this crisis. Without her devoted love, who knows what would have happened to Paul?

The McCartney family became hippies and lived the hippy lifestyle, but Paul missed being in a band and missed touring, something he had tried to talk the Beatles into doing again and which they had refused to do. So he decided to start his own band – Wings. I didn’t know this, but there were actually three incarnations of Wings, three different bands over the years, all with Paul and Linda in them. And they were all comprised largely of studio musicians, mostly unknown. In my opinion, it’s frankly amazing Wings achieved the success and prominence they did with such an unassuming group of musicians. They obviously did this only with Paul’s leadership and drive.

However, first Paul put out a couple of solo albums, although one was credited to both he and his wife. They were all largely critical failures. The first Wings group met, practiced, and put out Wild Life in 1971. I don’t actually recall how it initially did, but ultimately it reached number 11 in the UK and number 10 in the US. Indeed, Paul’s first “hit” was a political song called “Give Ireland Back to the Irish,” a song that was banned by the BBC. A 1972 non-hit was actually “Mary Had a Little Lamb, literally, which left both his band and the critics confused. Not Paul’s best decision. In 1973, Red Rose Speedway was released. It ultimately hit number 5 in the UK and number 1 in the US. In late 1973, the band got its first big break with Band on the Run, which immediately hit number 1 in both the UK and the US (the previous two albums achieved high chart status over time, not immediately). Band on the Run turned Wings into instant stars. 1973-4 hits include “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It, “ “My Love,” a major song that hit number one in the US, “Helen Wheels,” “Junior’s Farm,” “Band on the Run,” a huge hit that got to number three in the UK and number one in the US, and “Live and Let Die,” a theme song to a new James Bond movie and one that hit number two in the US.

And on it continued. After starting its career playing impromptu college student union tours for something like 50 pounds, Wings were now doing international stadium tours. And Paul could finally gloat over John, who had been taunting Paul publicly for years, basically calling him a giant failure while John, of course, was a musical genius. Not anymore. While John turned out the occasional hit, Paul McCartney and Wings were international stars selling out stadiums with superstar hit albums, something John couldn’t say. Paul could, temporarily, put his demons behind him.

However, there was a problem. Pot. He and Linda loved their pot. They smoked a lot of it. And they got it shipped to whatever country they were visiting on their tours. And in one country, Finland?, they were caught and it made international headlines. Of course, it was hugely embarrassing, but the couple actually embraced the moment and came out in favor of pot use and said they were in favor of legalizing it. Later in his career, Paul would be arrested in Japan for possession and it could have been a very serious situation. You should read the book to find out what happened.

Meanwhile, there were band personnel changes. Paul was a cheapskate and while he raked in millions, he paid his band members practically nothing at all. Finally, these session musicians would get fed up and state that they could make more doing session work back in New York or London, so they’d leave. Paul never really got the hint. It’s a shame. Still, he continued to put out good albums and tour with his new musicians.

In 1975, Venus and Mars was released and would ultimately hit number one in both the UK and US. 1975 hits included “Venus and Mars/Rock Show” and “Listen to What the Man Said, “ which would hit number one in the US. In 1976, Wings released two albums: Wings at the Speed of Sound and a live album, Wings over America. Both hit number two in America. They contained “Silly Love Songs,” which hit number two in the UK and number one in the US and “Let ‘Em In,” which hit number two in the UK and number three in the US. In 1977, “Mull of Kintyre” was released, instantly a huge hit in the UK, remaining at number one longer than any other song in British history until that time, I believe. However, in America, it didn’t fare so well, just getting to number 33.

It was at this time that Wings peaked. Already there was a third group of musicians and maybe it was chemistry, maybe Paul was burned out from the nonstop, frantic pace of the decade, I don’t know, but the following two albums weren’t nearly as good as the preceding albums by most accounts. In 1978, London Town was released. It didn’t do as well. Only Paul, Linda, and the lead guitarist were on the album cover because those were the only people in the band. It actually happens to be one of my favorite albums of all time, because I was a youngish kid when it came out and it was one of the first albums I had and my best friend and I listened to it over and over while building model planes. I love that album, but most critics do not. It’s not considered one of the better Wings albums, but it did hit number four in the UK and number two in the US. There were three singles released from this album, but the only one that really charted high was “With a Little Luck,” one of my all time favorite songs, which hit number five in the UK and number one in the US. Wings’ last gasp in the studio came in 1979 with Back to the Egg. It hit number eight in the UK and number three in the US. Its’ biggest single was “Getting Closer,” which made it to number 60 in the UK and number 20 in the US. And aside from some more solo work over the years, Paul was done and Wings were definitely done as a group. It was the end of an era. A highly successful era, a great decade of music, one of my favorite groups, as I said. And while the rest of the Beatles went on to do solo work and while John achieved some success, clearly Paul McCartney ended up the most successful Beatle of them all, post-Beatles. The best musician, the one who taught John and George how to play, ended up teaching Linda and helping his studio musicians put out a series of commercially successful albums and successful world tours, something the other Beatles rarely, if ever, achieved.

John sniped at Paul throughout most of their post-Beatles lives and Paul, on occasion, sniped back. Paul never really understood where John’s hostility came from, his utter hatred. Paul tried to make peace a number of times. There were a few times John seemed to accept the olive branch, only to blindside Paul later with public attacks that hurt Paul deeply. Fortunately, some time before John’s premature death, they buried the hatchet and reconnected, so that’s a very good thing and even though the author implies John was the major one to start things between the two, he treats all of the Beatles with reasonable respect and points out Paul’s faults when necessary.

The author stresses certain things that are important to Paul, such as family. He brought his family on the road with him, kids included. This sometimes made his band members uncomfortable, as it limited their abilities to lead the stereotypical 1970s rock and roll lifestyle (i.e., groupies), and it led to tension, but Paul was dedicated to his wife and kids and that’s generally a good thing. He was the only Beatle to have a 100% successful marriage/relationship. That’s impressive. He was also committed to financial honesty, at least in his dealings with the Beatles and in management’s dealings with the band. He figured out quite quickly that the manager the other three had hired had been screwing the band out of millions while paying the band crap, so he sued – and won – and was vindicated in doing so. The only difficulty with his financial honesty was in his dealings with his band because he stuck with his commitment to pay his band members their agreed upon wages, but when they struck it rich with their new number one hits and their world tours, he wouldn’t share the riches and it was truly rather greedy of him, unfortunately. A McCartney wart.

This hardback I read isn’t long, just over 250 pages. However, it’s packed with so much information and trivia, it takes longer to get through than your average 250 page book. Still, it’s informative and exciting and exactly what I’ve been looking for. I know a lot about the Beatles. I know a lot about John during the 1970s. What I didn’t know was what happened to Paul during the 1970s and the story of Wings and I didn’t know a book like this existed. So I’m elated to have discovered it and read it. I learned a ton of new information, some good, some bad, but all fascinating, and it answers a lot of questions I had about these people, that band, and that decade. For anyone who’s a fan of McCartney and Wings, this is a must read for you. Even if you’re just a Beatles fan or a 1970s music buff, this will be a good read for you. Four stars and definitely recommended.


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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The End of Liberty

The End of Liberty (War Eternal, #2)The End of Liberty by M.R. Forbes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The End of Liberty is exciting and action packed, quite tension filled too, but it’s honestly not quite as good as the first book in the series, which I said was really excellent and gave four stars to. This book is nonstop action, but its weakness is it stretches believability to the max. Too many impossible escapes are made to be realistic. A solo assault ship bearing a small group of military “invaders” dives toward the planet, through unbelievable defenses, barely lands with survivors intact, and then these survivors are supposed to find one woman crucial to the plot alone on the whole planet that is controlled by a gigantic alien AI controlling the world and everything in it, including all of the military, presumably hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of troops. It also constructs its own weapons, robots that attack out of the blue, and yet Mitch and the Riggers fight on to find this woman. You want to talk unbelievable, Mitch meets an android-like construct of this alien AI that has superman-type strength. It stabs him in the stomach five times. Anyone else alive would collapse and likely die. Not Mitch. No, he kills the android, goes back downtown, finds a couple of allies and charges 70 stories up a high rise to rescue an important person. Later, as he is getting medical attention, he realizes he’s been hurt, but after he’s patched up, he’s fine and ready to go. It’s this bullshit that really ticked me off about the book and provoked me to drop this book from four stars to three. Otherwise, I largely enjoyed the book, as crazy as that sounds. Again, if you like nonstop military sci fi action, it’s pretty good. It’s just not realistic or believable at all. I have the next book in the series and I’m hoping it will be an improvement over this one, much more like the first one in the series. I obviously won’t know until I start it of course. For this book, three stars. This is a decent series, I think, so cautiously recommended if you’re reading the series. Otherwise, not recommended.



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Blackhawk

Blackhawk (Far Stars Legends #1)Blackhawk by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blackhawk is a pretty good book that I enjoyed reading. It is a fast paced, tension filled, action packed adventure story that combines the cold barbarity of the past with some interesting weapons of the future. It is also about the ultimate warrior, a cold, brutal killer who hates the monster he had become. “Had,” because he escapes into the Far Stars, the farthest location of planets in the galaxy, home to pirates and mercenaries, yet also the last bastion of freedom. Here, he is hoping to find himself, his “true” self, atone for his sins, and escape from his past. On the world of Celtiboria, he finds himself in the middle of a war for a worthy cause, yet every time he picks up a weapon, he is drawn closer and closer to his past, to the creature he once was. The struggle is very real. The war is a little too much of a case of black and white, good against evil, far too simplistic, and not overly realistic, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book. The book’s main drawback is its repetitiveness, as in once a character states something, either he or another character explains the statement as though the author is automatically assuming the reader is too stupid to understand the meaning of the original statement. For that, I’m knocking one star off. However, this is an exciting military sci fi novel with plenty of intrigue and action and it’s a good start to a new series. Four stars and recommended.

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