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Friday, September 26, 2008

Uther - Jack Whyte

Uther is generally acknowledged as the seventh book in the Camulod Chronicles series, although it is a separate account, deviating from the point of view progression of the third book. It can be read anytime after the third book, The Eagle's Brood.

In the Foreward, the author states that he hesitated to publish this book, as it is an alternate account of the life of Uther Pendragon, father of Arthur. The previous incarnation of Uther's life in this series is told from Merlyn's perspective. But, having read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, parallel books from Ender's and then Bean's point of view, he decided to publish Uther, as it gave him the confidence that it would be well received.

The story begins when Uther is a young boy. He begins to understand who he is. He easily understands that his father and grandfather are powerful in the Pendragon tribe, but also that his mother is different. Of course, his mother, Veronica is the daughter of Publius and Luceiia Varrus of Camulod, making Uther central in the rebirth of Britain.

As Uther takes leadership, he makes strange friends, the strangest being a Cambrian of another tribe. Nemo is a short, squat, ugly and silent female that becomes Uther's celebate military subordinate....and much more.

If you've read the previous books, you know how the book is going to end, but the author fills in many gaps in the story as previously told. One large previous mystery is who killed Merlyn's wife, Deidre? That question is answered in this book.

This nine-hundred page book was full of long narrative. There was much more narrative than the previous books, it seemed, and less dialogue. At times, it was difficult to make it through a section, but much of the narrative, also, was full of information and history. Again, for the reader, it could be a slow read due to the fact that it's a parallel novel. But, the author did an excellent job at developing Uther's character along with Nemo, Garreth Whistler and Owain of the Caves. All interesting characters.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review: The Roswell Legacy by Jesse Marcel, Jr.

The Roswell Legacy
By Jesse Marcel, Jr., and Linda Marcel
With a foreword by Stanton T. Friedman

Publisher: New Page Books
174 Pages

Do extraterrestrials exist? Are the otherworldly visiting earth now? Do we have alien craft invading our airspace?

These questions have been around since the 1940’s. According to author Jesse Marcel, Jr. the answer is yes. In his book, The Roswell Legacy, he documents the events leading up to and after the alleged crash of a spacecraft found by a ranch hand in Roswell New Mexico in 1947. There has been an ocean of speculation of what actually crashed on the ranch back then, but one thing still remains constant: The U.S. Government to this day claims the recovered debris from the crash site are either from a weather balloon or a top-secrete device for detecting pressure waves from a nuclear blast in the Soviet Union. In either case according to Marcel, the debris from the wreckage do not match the materials from either a weather balloon or pressure detector would have been made of.

When he was eleven, Jesse’s life took a turn down the road to strangeness. One summer night his father Major Jesse Marcel, Sr., excited, brought in a box of debris, and scattered them on the kitchen-floor, claiming a flying saucer had crashed 75 miles northwest of Roswell. That night Jesse Jr. had the privilege of handling and inspecting the pieces of something that would forever change his life.

Major Marcel an officer in the Army Air Force, successfully trained in radar, worked as an S-2 Intelligence Officer assigned to the 509th Composite Bomb Group in Nevada. He briefed and supplied intelligence to the flight crews before the missions to drop the atom bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. To say the least Major Marcel had the credentials to identify whether or not the wreckage was a balloon or part of a secrete piece of equipment.

According to Jesse Jr. the superior officers of Major Marcel forced him to pose for pictures with a radar target, which had some resemblance to the actual wreckage but was not the actual debris.

The book is a great fast read and will keep the reader hooked from the first page to the end if they have an interest in UFO’s and government cover-ups. One thing for certain is Major Marcel knew what he saw and thought it came from somewhere else other than Earth.

I am convinced there is something that happened near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and the government did cover it up. Even if nothing happened there the City of Roswell has benefited from the story for over 60 years in the tourist industry. If you visit there today you can’t go anywhere without bumping into some sort of alien paraphernalia. I visited there last year and had a blast. If you are planning a trip there pick up this book for a great companion and who knows who or what you might find there.

Operation Blue Light by Philip Chabot

Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life Among Psychic Spies by Philip Chabot with Laurie Anne Blanchard is a coming of age story that takes an unexpected turn and just keeps going. It crosses into adventure and changes a young man's life forever.

"This is a true story" the first sentence of the Preface promises. That promise seems to be confirmed by the reactions of others to the things that Philip discovers while trying to master a gift as powerful and consuming as the one he describes. He learns to leave his own body and sense the situations of others. When he describes the experience to a girlfriend, she predictably shuns him. He publicly predicts the appearance of a rainbow, and then is ostracized as a freak. To the amazement of his employer, a newspaper publisher, he uses his predictive skill to be in the right spot to get the best pictures of car wrecks, visiting politicians, and current events.

With a subtitle like "my secret life among the psychic spies", I expected something more akin to a James Bond type of story, or even something involving the well known attempts at psychic remote viewing. Despite the tempting quotations from MKULTRA documents, that isn't what this story is about. The cloak and dagger stuff doesn't happen until the story is much more than half told.

This book flows like a stream of consciousness. It is personal, interesting and fast paced. Some of the details in the story are challenging. The rationale for Mr. Chabot's time in a psychiatric ward is troubling. He discusses becoming an agent for the communist block at the height of the Cold War. The biggest challenge for me by far was an arranged marriage with the granddaughter of Chairman Mao. Nothing specific about her is ever mentioned, not even her name.

I recommend this book because of its personal and gripping story of a young man coming of age with a powerful and impressive gift. Its magnitude overwhelms him. The best part of this story is how Philip reconnects with his father. Philip makes the choice to lay down this gift and just walk away. It is believable and understandable. That is compelling reading.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life Among Psychic Spies - Philip Chabot

Can you hear me now? Good.

Looks like Miss Cleo has some competition in Philip Chabot, a now-retired photographer who records some of his pivotal experiences with his psychic and telepathic abilities in "Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life Among Psychic Spies".

Based in the sixties, Chabot (which is a pen name) speaks of the mental out-of-body sensations he receives when his best friend Brian gets to second base with a girl (Chabot was in his bedroom, Brian in his own home) and his is-she-or-isn't-she girlfriend Ann sleeps with another guy (Chabot says he was "feeling and seeing things from Ann's perspective"). Oh, and let’s not forget Chabot’s prediction of a rainbow two months ahead of time (which apparently came true). And amidst all this, Chabot struggles to find a job as a photographer, eventually ending up as a specialty advertisement artist under his father’s rule. One things leads to another, and he’s eventually in a motel room have a telepathic conversation with the British, Russian and Chinese via a one-sided telephone call.

Sound strange? It is. Sound farfetched? Definitely.

But the way Chabot writes his story is too intriguing not to pay attention. It reads like a lost-boy-finding-himself sort of tale, but with an interesting and unique twists and turns. Some of the tale seems a bit too outlandish to be entirely truthful, but certain things, such as his smart-ass attitude with the FBI and CIA after the infamous international phone conversation, are just too funny and powerful to mark off as fictitious.

It’s an interesting book, definitely worth a look, but I’m not convinced it’s entirely true. That would really suck if he could read my mind right now…

Port of Entry: Agents and Lovers - John P. Lintz, Sr.

24, it ain't.

John P. Lintz, Sr. tries, he really does. But not much can be saved from this clustered mess of a story. All the happenings are so muddled together, the book loses most all its purpose less than twenty chapters in (and they are short chapters).

We've got JJ, a former pro soccer player, who becomes an agent paired with Mexican beauty Elena for a mission something. Then, somewhere in the mix, a David Koresh wannabe (despite what he says) runs a sorry excuse for a religious movement just so he can smoke some dope and get laid. Oh, wait - then it switches to a fire fight between the rogue Zetas and some other people who have a deadly dislike for their commander. Bang, bang, four are dead, and instanteous new lovebirds JJ and Elena are assigned to take fingerprints and photographs of the corpses wile resisting any chance opportunity to have sex...okay, and we're back to the Koresh dude, who's been found out...

I just couldn't sort through the mess of tales to find the core purpose of the book. The stories have potential and Lintz had a great idea going, but he just couldn't their unfolding as well as I had hoped.

Sorry, JJ - you're no Jack Bauer. Head off with Elena and find something else to do for a while.

Johnny Big Ears - John Paul Padilla

Youngster feeling unhappy and down? Give him a haircut.

It sure helped Johnny Big Ears, the character in John Paul Padilla’s inspirational children’s tale of the same name, in which Johnny, as you can pretty much guess, has big ears. He’s starting his first day of kindergarten and, thanks to Mom, now has a spiffy, curly new ‘do to make a good first impression. However, some recess bullies find humor in Johnny’s augmented lobes, teasing him and calling him names. But does that get Johnny down? No, sir! In the midst of paying no attention to the bullies, he befriends other friends, like Charlie Freckles, who, like him, are unique in there own special ways. (I do love how their last names reflect their special qualities – really, what are the chances of that?)

A well-constructed tale with a beautiful message, Johnny Big Ears is a delightful story that all kids (and a few adults) should read or – and pardon the extremely obvious pun here – lend an ear to. Perhaps there should be a sequel called Sally Big Nose? Just teasing.

Divorcing Dwayne ~ J L Miles

Divorcing Dwayne
J L Miles
Cumberland House Publishing

Divorcing Dwayne is the first book in an upcoming trilogy about the life of Francine Harper and the man in her life - Dwayne. Francine has chosen the man who made her father roll his eyes and her mother proclaim he "wasn't worth loosing her pants over."

Francine's life unfolds with the consequences of bad decisions - the primary one is Dwayne, and all of the secondary ones revolve around him, too - the jail time, the murder trial, driving the bulldozer into the mini mall, getting a role in a movie and being chased by the mob.

Francine, with the help of her best friend, Ray Ann, lives her life in living color in the small town of Pickville Springs, Georgia. One can say that Francine never had a crazy thought go unfulfilled, as she races through her days.

As Francine said, "Well, gee, Ray Anne, my husband's been cheating on me, I have reason to believe he's a hit man for the Mafia, and now he's doing the soundrack for some Hollywood movie! .... I feel like I've been asked to join a parade and told to march behind the elephants."

This book is laugh out-loud funny. It is a definate must read for any woman who can look back on her life and question some of those decisions made in her youth (that would be all of us - right?).

J L Miles has a gift of story telling. This is a delightful book - funny, poignant, real. I am looking forward to the next two books - Dear Dwayne and Dating Dwayne.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Never Surrender by LTG William G Boykin

Never Surrender
A Soldier's Journey to
The Crossroads of Faith and Freedom

LTG (Ret) William G Boykin

My first introduction to General Boykin was amid the slime campaign of the left in the early years of the War on Terror. I had never heard of him before - most had not - after all, he was a member of Delta Force, became the commander of Delta Force and finished his career as the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence at the Pentagon.

Reading General Boykin's book is taking an action tour of the history of the last decades of the 20th Century. He takes you through Ranger School, the end of the Vietnam War, the qualifying for the new unit, Delta Force, the Desert One action during the Iran Hostage Crisis, the Sudan, the War in Greneda, Panama and the capture of Noriega, Columbia and the hunt for Pablo Escobar, Waco, Mogadishu and the event known as Black Hawk Down and hunting war criminals in the Balkans. Boykin was in the center of the action at all of these historic events.

I learned a great deal that I did not know about these historic events, including the source and reason for the rock music while Noriega was hiding in the Vatican Embassy. No, it isn't any of the reasons the press told us about. The events are given clarity and reason.

Throughout the most dangerous conflicts in the world, good men are wounded and good men die. General Boykin shares their heroic stories. He also shares the story of his faith - the thread that kept him moving forward and doing the right thing while he was protecting our country.

This is a book full of noble stories and heroism. It reads with the tension of a well crafted novel. Anyone interested in history or the military should read this book.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


NEVER SURRENDER: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom By Lt. General William "Jerry" Boykin.

I have been given the opportunity to host an online giveaway here and on my Cluttered Eclectic Mind blog for LTG Boykin's wonderful book.

If you would like to be entered into the drawing, leave me a reply here. There will be five winners chosen at random.

Lieutenant General (Ret.) William "Jerry" Boykin recounts the battles fought, and the faith that has sustained him through his amazing career in the Army Special Forces, Delta Force and The Pentagon. The legendary battles, one of which was portrayed in Black Hawk Down and other similarly life-shaking experiences laced through his true-life story make it read like an action adventure novel.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unholy Domain - Dan Ronco

In the year 2022, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cultic religious fanaticism have gotten out of hand. The world is still recovering from a deadly computer virus that killed many thousands of people 10 years ago. Since then, a religious cult sprang into existence with a zealous purpose of getting rid of all advanced technology. From this landscape, Unholy Domain comes forth.

David Brown is the college-age son of, supposedly deceased, Ray Brown, who was accused of releasing the virus that wreaked worldly havoc. As the furor between the extremists builds again, David is caught in the middle, not wanting to be involved, even though is has hacking and AI talents like his father, and ashamed of his name because of his father. Then he receives a post-dated message from his father which turns his world upside-down.

As David looks for secrets to his father's past, he finds danger close on his heels. Someone does not want him to find out the truth.

Unholy Domain is a fast-paced thriller about what could happen if technology gets too smart and cultists overreact to technology. It was a good, quick read with lots of action, intrigue and a little romance.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Last Days of Krypton - Kevin J. Anderson

Before Superman, there was Smallville...and before Smallville, there was Krypton. While the CW Network has the first precursor covered, Kevin J. Anderson has taken on the task of the second - and has done an excellent job.

Anderson's story follows the father of future Earth dweller Clark Kent (Kryptonian name Kal-El) as he seeks to improve and secure the stability of Krypton and its many cities with his undeniable scientific acumen and clever inventions, most all of which keep getting confiscated and destroyed by the Kryptonian Council and its commissioner, Zod. (Sound familiar, Smallvillians?) But when an friendly alien visitor sends the population into a tizzy - oh, and the city of Kandor gets scooped up and taken away by yet another slightly-more-unwelcome alien visitor - Zod seizes the reigns of power and begins his quest for Kryptonian domination. And while Zod erects statues of himself and basically strokes his ego, Kal-El daddy Jor-El spots an historic meteor that is more likely headed in Krypton's direction, resulting in total chaos and planetary destruction and considerably less time for Zod to brag about his so-called "good intentions".

Confusing? Oh, yeah. But it is equally enthralling, especially when you incorporate the mess of personalities present in the story, like future Zod wife Aethyr and his faithful, silent golem Nam-Ek. The detail is masterful, leaving questions up in the air that the popular television show may consider addressing before series' end. (What was up with Donodon's tentacle beard? And was Zod really that stuck on himself?) It all adds up to an action-packed, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-laser-beams story that'll whet the appetite of any and all sci-fi lovers.