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Archive for December, 2008

Galveston after Ike

My family and I visited Galveston this past weekend, our first sojourn there after Flagship Hotel, Galveston TexasHurricane Ike hit them and us in September. Our plans were to visit the Strand for some shopping, dine at Gaido’s, and see the lights at Moody Gardens.

We were unprepared for the level of damage still remaining. Since we’ve repaired most of what Ike did to our home and our neighborhood is pretty much back to what it was before the hurricane, it’s easy to forget. (more…)

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

bookrev: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson #4) by Rick Riordan

Of the three main young adult series I have read (Twilight and Potter being the other two), Riordan’s is faster paced, funnier and brings out more history/mythology than the other two. Very enjoyable and highly recommended to adults and kids alike. As with the other two series, the Percy Jackson series should be read in order. (Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, Titan’s Curse)

With Thalia (daughter of Zeus) joining Artemis and the Hunters at the end of book #3, The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick RiordanPercy (son of Poseidon) has a new concern with the discovery at the end of book #3 that Nico is the son of Hades. Though he was apparently born before the agreement between the ‘big three’ (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades) to have no more offspring, he and his now dead sister Bianca’s past is vague and unknown to them.

The campers/heroes of Camp Half-Blood know that Kronos’ army (led by Luke, son of Hermes and ex-camper) will attack, probably through the Labyrinth, created thousands of years ago by Daedalus. During a camp game of capture the flag, Percy and Annabeth stumble upon an unknown entrance to the Labyrinth that is inside the Camp’s protective barrier. Since Annabeth, as a daughter of Athena, has studied the architecture and the architect, she is chosen by the Oracle to lead the quest to find Daedalus and enlist his aid against the impending invasion. (more…)

bookrev: The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson #3) by Rick Riordan

In this third book in the series, Thalia, daughter of Zeus, brought back to health by the The Titan�s Curse by Rick RiordanGolden Fleece (her essence was put into a tree after she saved Luke and Annabeth, two other half-bloods, battling monsters getting to Camp Half-Blood), is the latest complication in Percy’s life. A prophecy says that a son or daughter of one of the big three (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades) could bring down Olympus on their 16th birthday. With Thalia back on the scene, either she or Percy (son of Poseidon) could fulfill that destiny.

With the battle with the Titans looming, the search for allies and more heroes expands. Grover (the satyr) finds two half-bloods, Nico and Bianca di Angelo, at a school, being stalked by a monster. Percy, Annabeth and Thalia launch a rescue, and are then themselves rescued by the goddess Artemis and her Hunters. During this final battle, Annabeth is apparently killed by the monster they were fighting, and the goddess Artemis goes hunting one of the monsters (as she is the goddess of the hunt) and is also lost. (more…)

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

bookrev: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson #2) by Rick Riordan

In this second of the series, Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon and a mortal mother) continuesThe Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan to learn what it means to be a half-blood, and finds that the Titans, whom the Greek Gods overthrew thousands of years ago, are awakening to take back Olympus.

Percy and Annabeth (daughter of Athena) must rescue their friend Grover (the satyr) from a large cyclops on the Sea of Monsters (which just happens to be in the Bermuda Triangle). Grover was searching for the god Pan, but instead found the Golden Fleece, which makes the land healthy just like Pan would. Camp Half-Blood (where all the half-blood’s go in the summer to be trained and educated in the ways of heroes and gods) selects Clarisse, daughter of Ares, to lead the quest to get the Golden Fleece, in hopes that it will restore to health the magical tree that protects the borders of the Camp; the tree was poisoned by Luke, a half-blood who now supports Kronos of the Titans. The tree was created out of the essence of Thalia, daughter of Zeus, who was killed trying to reach the camp. (more…)

The funniest masterpiece I have ever read

Ultimate Kudos: Lamb by Christopher MooreLamb by Christopher Moore

I occasionally snicker when reading, often smile. But rarely do I bust out laughing. I did it once reading the drill sergeant scene in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

But I almost got thrown off the plane for laughing so much the first time I read Lamb by Christopher Moore. I read it many years ago, but re-read it again just now since my wife got me a signed gift book edition (that, appropriately, looks like a Bible).

The subtitle tries to give a clue about the storyline: “The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”. Lamb covers the first 30 years of Christ’s life, which are not covered in the Gospels. And, though there is no doubt this is a comedy, Moore obviously did his research (read the original afterword and the new one for this special edition to get a glimpse of Moore’s writing process), and recreates the atmosphere of the places and times. This book is truly a masterpiece of craftsmanship, with Mr. Moore skillfully weaving in comedy (including sarcasm AND it’s creation), history and a playful reverence of the boy who will be the Messiah…once he figures out how. (more…)

Nominated for the AmazonClicks.com Reader’s Choice Award

Since it is a British web site, it was undoubtedly one of the five and a half readers of my novel in the UK, but someone nominated my novel for the AmazonClicks.com Reader’s Choice Award. So thanks to either Mark, Marty, Hugh, Margaret, Margaret’s dad or Margaret’s Dad’s dog. I appreciate it.

It could have been some of my extended Italian family cause they buy from Amazon.co.uk. I tell them to get the book from Amazon.fr, but even though shipping is less, they tell me they’d rather not buy from the French. But we won’t start any international incidents here, will we??

The awards are based on reader votes, so if you are so inclined, go and vote. Here is how from their web site:

Your Vote !

Simply send an email to vote@AmazonClicks.com to support one of the listed entries opposite. Enter the full book name as shown under each icon without the authors name in the subject bar of your email and press ‘send’.

Mucho Mojo by Joe R. Lansdale

bookrev: Mucho Mojo by Joe R. Lansdale

The novel is one of a series featuring Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, a white day laborer Mucho Mojo by Joe R. Lansdaleand a black gay man who end up solving gruesome and violent crimes in East Texas. Both have some martial arts training (probably from the Vietnam war, but that is not mentioned in this book) and both hail from East Texas (where Mr. Lansdale is from).

I certainly didn’t mean to read this book straight through. I grabbed it because Mr. Lansdale is a Texas author (and a martial artist). But I glanced at the first couple of pages, then read the first chapter and, before too long it was done. (more…)

bookrev: Tengu by John Donohue

Tengu is the third novel in John Donohue’s series of Connor Burke: anthropologist, martial Tengu by John Donohuearts student and instructor. It is an excellently paced read, tough to put down, and describes the martial arts involved from a realistic point of view: no levitating kicks with wires here, just hard work and lots of blood and sweat. The book title refers to a Japanese martial artist (nicknamed after a mythical Japanese mountain goblin) who holds old grudges against Burke and his sensei, Yamashita.

The Tengu puts in motion a complex plot, involving Muslim terrorists in the Philippines, the kidnapping of embassy marines and a Japanese student from a wealthy family, and various other players connected to Burke. This plan ultimately leads to Yamashita getting kidnapped and Burke (along with his brother, cop Mickey and partner Art) are sent to the Philippines to rescue the sensei. Burke is well portrayed as an unemployed academic who spends the majority of his life immersed in martial arts, looked upon as somewhat of an outcast (i.e., weirdo) by his family and society. (more…)

We’ll all have smartphones soon

A confluence (or is it a convergence or a singularity or one of those other large impressive words) of events in the wireless world point toward yet another technological inflection point. While most people in the US have cell phones, according to NPD the group they classify as “consumers” purchased smartphones 19% of the time from January to July of this year; we can easily assume that the group classified as “business” purchasers had a much higher average. See worldwide smart phone market chart from Canalys by way of computerworld.com for comparable worldwide trends.Smartphone sales from Canalys

The convergence happens as people move ‘up’ from candy-bar phones and ‘down’ from laptops to smartphones for most of their needs. It is looking more and more that smart phones will begin to take the majority of functionality of laptops in the very near future, similar to how laptops supplanted many of the jobs desktops were required for. The main features that have been lacking have been battery life (with GPS, bluetooth, WiFi and all other functions always on), application availability and general acceptance of smart phones (which makes many things easier, including IT support, development, etc.). Several factors point to solutions to these shortcomings: (more…)

Grasping for the Wind’s SF and Fantasy book review list

John Ottinger is updating his list of blogs with book reviews. Click on Grasping for the Wind in the list below if you have a site that you think is missing from his list Here is his list so far:

A Dribble Of Ink
Bookspotcentral
The Book Swede
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Dusk Before the Dawn
The Galaxy Express
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review
Grasping for the Wind
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Debut
Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin’ Blog
Jumpdrives and Cantrips
Neth Space
NextRead
OF Blog of the Fallen
Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist
Realms of Speculative Fiction
Rob’s Blog o’ Stuff
ScifiChick
Severian’s Fantastic Worlds
SF Signal
Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic
Walker of Worlds
WJ Fantasy Reviews
The World in a Satin Bag

Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo