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#5 - Firestorm by Nevada Barr

Mystery.  An Anna Pigeon novel.  307 standard pages.  See a summary here.

The mystery itself was just too contrived and obvious, unfortunately.  However, Barr's descriptions of firefighting work in national parks and of the bureaucracy of various organizations on public land was excellent.  As always, the scenery was its own beautifully detailed character.

#4 - Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

Horror/sci-fi/fantasy.  208 standard pages.  See a summary here.

A fun Star Wars zombie crawl.  Good development of some new characters.  I would have preferred to have kept the focus on them and not have Han and Chewie involved.  I guess no one believes that you can sell a book without some character from one of the movies.  I think that's not only rediculous but also helps spread the known characters way too thin.  This type of experience would scar a character in ways never apparent in Han and Chewie's future lives.  I think it's just asking too much of the reader to have them in the story.  I actually wish there had been a little more tension and creepy bits instead of gore.  And some of the subplots either felt contrived, left behind, or too quickly wrapped up.  I don't usually wish books were longer, but I'll make an exception for this one.  However, overall I enjoyed the story.  It flew right along and provided enough creep-out bits to make me leave on the light while I slept last night.

#3 - Ill Wind by Nevada Barr

Mystery.  An Anna Pigeon novel.  309 standard pages.  A summary can be found here.

If I thought the previous novels in this series reminded me of Tony Hillerman's writing, I found the feeling doubled when Anna was placed into the southwest/four corners area setting of Mesa Verde.  However, there's no "copying" involved.  Barr just writes with the same feeling for the history and the world around her characters.  I did feel that this one was a little too easy to figure out, but still enjoyable to read.  This is because the mystery plot is always equally important to the characters and the setting.  An enjoyable and quick read.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Third book in the Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy.  322 standard pages.  A summary can be found here.

This series suffered from a severe overabundance of enemies (and plotlines).  It meant there were too many small climaxes in the third book.  I also felt like the readers were being treated as if they couldn't remember a thing.  I understand that it's probably important to review important plot points in subsequent books so that readers don't have to go back and reread before each new book comes out, but this was too, too much.  Really the best example of the annoying side of this is that everyone had to keep repeating Kyp's full name.  Near the end, in fear, Han yells, "Kyp!  Kyp Durron!"  That is completely ludicris.  Regardless of this review, I did enjoy the basic plot of this series and much of the writing therein.
RPG Rulebook, 375 non-standard pages.  A description can be found here.

While I have never owned any previous Shadowrun material and have only played a previous edition once long ago, I can tell that this edition rulebook is very comprehensive.  It also seems to have an excellent layout that makes enough sense that I can generally figure out where to flip to without too many trips to the index.  The book lays out the rich history of the Sixth World and imparts a pretty clear understanding of the rules (if only I could actually remember them).  The anniversary edition includes some good short stories that help set the mood.  I often find rulebooks a difficult read, but this one was enjoyable.

Book Challenge 2011

I'm actually going to start this today, but mostly it will be 2011.  Last time, I did a 100-book meme.  Didn't even come close.  This time, I am going to try something a little different.  I am going to count and review the books I read, like last time.  However, I am also going to keep track of the number of pages I read and see how many I can do by this time next year.  So...

Book Challenge

I will keep track of numbers of and numbers of pages in:
  • Standard hardcover/softcover books
  • Comics/manga
  • Large, dense books, like RPG rulebooks
  • Any other oddity
Any books started before but finished during the challenge will count.  Any started during but finished after the challenge will not.  I figure that will actually even out fairly well.

The final day of the challege will be October 12, 2011.

I am aiming for 20,000 standard pages.  Probably will come up with some formula to add in the other books somehow.

Freebie List Analysis 2010

So, I did an obsessive analysis of the 2009 Freebie List.  Thought I'd go crazy and see how this had changed with my additions this year.


  1. My addition included both blondes and brunettes, but I still obviously like dark-haired men better.
  2. I'm not a fan of the cleft chin.  Viggo Mortensen's the only one on my list who has a serious cleft. John Barrowman, Evgeni Plushenko, Marc Anthony, and Trent Reznor have fairly small clefts.
  3. I like light eyes better...though 3 of my current top 5 have brown eyes, so this might not be a deciding factor.  Do love some beautiful blue eyes, though.
  4. The majority of guys on my list are older than I am, with only 3 in their 20s.  Some of this is an artifact of keeping men on the list that I grew up watching.  Han Solo was really my first "love."
  5. I love me some long hair...but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference on my list.
  6. The majority (19) fall within the average 5'8" - 6'0" height range.  Since most caucasian men (let's just be realistic here as to my list) fall in this range, I'm just following a population pattern.  Six fall under this range, 10 over.
  7. Whether they play(ed) a bad boy of some sort or not seems not to have made a difference.  However, playing a bad boy is more likely to land a guy a one-time place on the list.
  8. I have a thing for weird, sexy noses (Tom Cruise and Breckin Meyer, for example).  Most don't have one, but I think that is population statistics and not a personal preference.

So, no real change.  Second, I looked at favorite my roles (which, for the purposes of this exercise, means where they were the hottest) that I haven't already mentioned in previous posts:

  • Takeshi Kaneshiro - actually, I did like him in House of Flying Daggers, but he's just generally a beautiful man
  • Josh Holloway - Lost
  • Daniel Dae Kim - Lost
  • Evgeni Plushenko - Figure skater. One of the few non-actors on my list.
  • Mark Harmon - NCIS
  • Andy Samberg - Saturday Night Live
  • John Barrowman - Torchwood
  • Michael Trucco - Castle, though I first noticed him in Battlestar
  • Rob Lowe - The West Wing
  • Marc Anthony - singer
  • Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother, though I loved him as Doogie when I was in jr high
  • Trent Reznor - singer

So...boring-ass romp through my brain...thanks for watching.

Freebie List - 2010 Update

1. Hugh Jackman
2. Johnny Depp
3. Ewan McGregor
4. Richard Hammond (Top Gear)
5. David Tennent

Here are some runners up - I like to think of this as the pool I have from which to make my list:
Elijah Wood
Orlando Bloom

David Duchovny
Breckin Meyer
Nick Simmons

And, some new editions to the runners up (some of which I just forgot last time):
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Josh Holloway
Daniel Dae Kim
Evgeni Plushenko
Mark Harmon
Andy Samberg
John Barrowman
Michael Trucco
Rob Lowe
Marc Anthony
Neil Patrick Harris

Others have drifted on and off the list, but they do not appear because for one reason or another.

Some are not as attractive as they used to be:
Pierce Brosnan
Harrison Ford
Bruce Boxleitner
Trent Reznor

Others have become unattractive because they are insane:
Tom Cruise (otherwise, he'd be on the list every time!)
Mel Gibson

Some are situational, so would not be good general choices:
Stephen Dorff (Blade)
Scott Speedman (Underworld)
David Bowie (Labyrinth)
Gary Oldman (Dracula, Harry Potter 5)
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings)
Jaime Bamber (Battlestar Galactica)
Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man)

Others from previous lists that I'm meh on right now:
Nathan Fillion
Jake Gyllenhaal

There's a scary look into my head.  Who makes your list?

Remeber that 100-books Meme???

EEK!  It has been simply ages since I last posted and was on here.  Guess I was dismayed at how many of my friends just started posting their twitter feeds and weren't paying any attention anymore.  Well, if I'm only posting for myself and sirenslair , so be it.

I wanted to go back to pre-September 2009 and at least list the books that I read.  Didn't come close to my 100 book goal, but read a lot more than the previous few years, so it was worth it.  I won't do a full entry on each but here's a list of the book, the author, and a short statement about it.

21.  The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult (audiobook)
A family self-destructs in the face of their daughter's alleged rape.  Well-written but a bit on the extreme side of possible events.

22.  Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
I said no graphic novels but this one is so long, detailed, and thought provoking, that I had to count it.  Wonderful and amazaing trip through the history of Sunderland using ties with Lewis Carroll.  Absolutely loved it!

23.  The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips (audiobook)
Starts out interesting and has a great story premise.  However, you can see varied twists and turns coming a million miles away, the telling is somewhat tedious, and no one is really likable at all in the story so it ends up being mostly a dud.

24.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)
Hightly entertaining book utilizing carribean mythology.  Loved it!

25.  New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Not as good as the first one and a bit annoying at times.  However, I devoured it in about a day, so I still enjoyed it.

26.  Pompeii by Robert Harris (audiobook)
Historical fiction focused on an aquarist at the time of the Pompeii eruption.  Quite enjoyable.

27.  I Was Told There'd be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Enjoyable, though not earthshattering, short stories about the author's life in New York.  Comedy of errors, basically.

28.  Cat Among Pigeons by Agatha Christie
Kind of meh as far as Christie novels go.  Poirot doesn't event come in until at least 2/3 of the book is done.  The usual Christie character study is enjoyable.

29.  A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
An enjoyable Marple mystery.  Very interesting involvment of native people for the time.  One of Christie's later works; still has it's charm.

30.  Irriligion by John Allen Paulos
Good summary of the logical arguements behind atheism.  A little dry.  Book and arguements are short and presented as more of a list, so some reasoning is not as well-explained as I would have liked.

31.  Shamen's Crossing by Robin Hobb (audiobook)
Mostly a very good book about a soldier's son who has a brush with the supernatural that we know will change is life but still goes off to the academy hoping to live normally.  Gets bogged down at times, but pretty enjoyable.  I truly appreciated the divergence from normal fantacy cliches and tropes.

32.  Mother Ocean, Daughter Sea by Diana Marcellas
On the other hand, female fantasy cliches and tropes abound in this book.  The story of a secret witch who is found out, finds love (with complications), and finds the home of witches past.  I would have devoured this as a teenager.  However, the characters and the world in the story were interesting enough that I will probably give the second book a try.

33.  Stronghold by Melanie Rawn (reread)
Fourth book of six tomes.  The first trilogy in this series is the better of the two.  However, there are enjoyable moments in this book and the characters you love from the last books are still there.  But this series is about Pol, rather than Rohan and Sioned, and Pol is not a super-likable character, so it's a bit rough at times.  Generally, the second trilogy is worth reading once (and here I am doing it again).

34.  Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (audiobook)
Even though I hated the Da Vinci Code, I thought I'd give another Dan Brown book a try.  This book was better.  I enjoyed the chase of the clues more.  However, the background story was silly and the characters, dialog, etc. were the bad kind of NYTimes Bestseller.  I give it a meh at best.

35.  Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls (here) production by Yuri Rasovsky (audiobook)
Reading of the original weekly publications that made up the story of Sweeny Todd.  Quite wonderfully dark.

36. Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell (audiobook)
Historical fiction following Uhtred, a half Saxon, half Dane (born in England) during the time of King Alfred.  This is the fourth book in the series and is quite enjoyable.  Uhtred is a lovable character, despite his grusome warrior ways.  This book covers the time after he has settled down to help protect the Wessex frontier and must go to London to protect it and Wessex from Viking invasion.  The series of books put together is fantastic!

37.  The Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (audiobook)
The book that inspired two movies directly and many other indirectly.  Better than all of them.  This is a well-told, fast-paced, suspensful book.  The scene on the empty street, which is just hinted at in the movies, made my hair stand on end.  Has a bit of a War-of-the-Worlds quick ending, but does not detract from a great book.

38. Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis (reread)
I could read Marcus Didius Falco mysteries over and over.  They are all fantastic.  This book, taking place in the Pompeii area tells a great story and looks at the life of different Roman classes at the time.  However, the centerpiece, as always, is the main character and his saucy telling of the case.

39. The Dragon Token by Melanie Rawn (reread)
Really, just see the review of Stronghold above.

40. Skybowl by Melanie Rawn (reread)

So, 40 books.  Not really that terrible, considering the lenghth of the books I generally read.  At least 100 200-page-books worth of books.  I may start this up again mid year this year.  We'll see.  I'm a little too addicted to my podcasts right now to listed to audiobooks.

Just as a note, here is all the Manga and Comics I read during that same period:

1. Fables Vol 1 by Bill Willingham
2. Fables Vol 2 by Bill Willingham
3. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Vol 3 by Ei Itou
4. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Vol 4 by Ei Itou
5. Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden Vol 7 by Yuu Watase
6. Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden Vol 8 by Yuu Watase
7. JSA: The Golden Age by James Robinson
8. Return to the Labyrinth Vol 3 by Jake T. Forbes
9. Locke & Key: Vol 1 by Joe Hill
10. Secret Invasion by Brian Michael Bendis
11. MeruPuri Vol 3 by Matsuri Hino
12. MeruPuri Vol 4 by Matsuri Hino
13. COWA! by Akira Toriyama
14. Looking for Group Vol 1 by Ryan Sohmer (reread)
15. Looking for Group Vol 2 by Ryan Sohmer
16. Secret Invasion: Inhumans by Joe Pokaski
17. Death Note vol 3 by Tsugumi Ohba
18. Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa
19. Case Closed Vol 3 by Gosho Aoyama
20. Pet Shop of Horrors Vol 1 by Matsuri Akino
21. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Vol 1 by Kou Sasakura
22. Death Note Vol 4 by Tsugumi Ohba
23. Case Closed Vol 4 by Gosho Aoyama
24. Pluto Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

If you want to see everything I am reading, join Goodreads and add me to your friends (by my actual name).

#020 - Lost World by Tom Koppel

Full Title: Lost World : Rewriting Prehistory---How New Science Is Tracing America's Ice Age Mariners

Nonfiction.  Find summary here.

Well-written, well-paced account of discoveries made in recent years that cast doubt upon the idea that humans walked over the Berengia land bridge to the Americas during the last Ice Age.  A very powerful arguement for humans coming by boat.  Many articles I read while taking Paleoecology cause me to think this theory much more likely.  Also a very interesting description of archeological finds from underwater and the logistics of making these finds.