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Thom Locked account

Joined 1 year, 6 months ago

At any given time, I am probably reading one book in paper form, another as an audio book, and another on an e-reader. I also keep an anthology or collection in my car, for those long waits. My average rating is between 3 and 4, because I try to seek out good books and authors. One goal is to read all the SF award winners and SF Masterworks. See my profile at Worlds Without End.

Finally, the "social media" info - I am a long-time reader, proud to have completed several summer reading programs as a kid. I recall reading more than 50 books one summer. When I'm not reading, you might find me gaming (board and role play) or working, either as a baseball umpire or with software.

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Gordon Eklund: Devil World (Paperback, 1985, Bantam Books) 3 stars

Voyage to Heartland. Heartland… a mysterious planet populated by a small but terrifying race of …

Review of 'Devil World' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Two Bantam Star Trek books by Gordon Eklund; both took me longer to read than they should. There are similarities in the plots, as well - in each, a solitary man who seems to be fairly powerful leads the crew to the resolution of the problem.

Also like the previous novel, the author has a pretty good command of the crew. This felt like it could be an episode. It dragged a bit at the beginning, really picking up when Spock matched wits with the problem - which was fairly close to the end. In fact, at one point I wondered if it could be wrapped up in the very thin section of remaining pages in my hand.

This is the 10th Star Trek book I have finished this year, working toward a challenge of reading 12. Abandoned one. I may finish one or two more in the next few …

Samuel Fromartz: In search of the perfect loaf (2014) 3 stars

" An irresistible account of bread, bread baking, and one home baker's journey to master …

Review of 'In search of the perfect loaf' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This is just as much a travel log (or Odyssey) and exploration of wheat as it is about bread. Each portion is interesting, and each delves a little too deep at times. Chapters are fairly focused on separate topics, not unlike articles.

It is a fairly personal journey as well, and a lot what the author learned is that the best bread is baked on a personal scale - something he finds is true about wheat growth and flour production also. There are a few recipes, and I've tried one, but I think the technique comes more from the chapter than the simple instructions given.

The most fascinating portion for me was the hint that Borlaug's wheat variety doesn't do well in warm conditions. Leon Hesser's [b:The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger|189531|The Man Who Fed the World …

Ramez Naam: Apex (2015) 4 stars

Global unrest spreads through the world, lies set off shockwaves of anger, rippling from mind …

Review of 'Apex' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This long book starts right where the second book left off, answers most of the questions from the series and explores new ground also. The scale is global, with a number of characters to match - like other reviewers, I got lost at times in this cast. A worthy ending to a solid series.

I read the first book right around the time the second came out - I think I had heard it was a duology? Anyhow, the second book did not come to a solid end, and by the time the third was available, I found myself unable to remember much about the story. Not a good sign.

For late 2022, I reread the first book and the second, and I think the reason was that global scope and the sheer number of characters and points of view. Book two also showed the stored personality of Su-Yong Shu, …

Randall Munroe: What If? 2 (Hardcover, 2022, Riverhead Books) 5 stars

The #1 New York Times–bestselling author of What If? and How To provides his best …

Review of 'What If? 2' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Physics, Math, Chemistry used to solve often ridiculous questions. Unlike the first book, these questions and answers were not published in advance on xkcd, and the result is better for it. Many cartoons also help describe both questions and answers.

I've just learned the audiobook version of this is read by Wil Wheaton, and now I need to add this version to my "to be read" pile. How is that going to work? I look forward to finding out. Is there an audiobook version of the first book? Another good question to research.

I may seem like a fan boy, rating everything Randall has written as 5 star - but to date, that is the accurate rating. Go get this today - you should enjoy it!

Dan Epstein, Ron Blomberg, Diana Munson: The Captain & Me (Hardcover, 2021, Triumph Books) 4 stars

Review of 'The Captain & Me' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Told through anecdotal paragraphs and pages, interspersed with italicized notes from Dan Epstein on the stats and situations. Free Agency, the DH, and other early 70s topics are given a very personal perspective.

This was an interesting era in baseball, and has been written about before in Epstein's [b:Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s|7534508|Big Hair and Plastic Grass A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s|Dan Epstein||9788050]. Blomberg provides an insiders perspective. In addition, he covers what it was like in a Steinbrenner locker room and the rivalry between catchers Munson and Fisk - both great topics.

The book is written in a easy-going style and was a quick read. Recommended for baseball fans and Yankee fans alike.

Joe Haldeman: World Without End (Paperback, 1979, Bantam Books) 3 stars

The menace of Chatalia. Chatalia… a fantastic artificial world, inhabited by furry winged creatures with …

Review of 'World Without End' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Of the two Star Trek adventures written by [a:Joe Haldeman|12476|Joe Haldeman|], this is the better one - probably because he wasn't working from another author's manuscript. The characters feel right, the situation is interesting - even if the ending is a bit rushed.

Fitting a full story into 150 pages may have some similarities to fitting a story into a single episode - without the advantage of imagery. A very interesting setup and unusual complications are followed by a rapid-fire conclusion with some out-of-place humor.

This is the 90th book finished this year, and coincidentally the 9th (of 12) in a "Star Trek reading challenge" on the website WorldsWithoutEnd. I've already completed three other challenges, reading 3 science fiction and fantasy books more than 100 years old, reading 9 sequels, and reading 12 books by female authors I haven't read before. Pretty sure I can squeeze three more of Bantam's …

Review of 'Swords & Chaos' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I backed the kickstarter for this roleplaying game, and I think it might be the best vehicle to capture the feel of the Swords & Sorcery pulp of Burroughs, Howard, Leiber and de Camp. A combination of Old School Rules and pulp theme delivers a thrilling game.

Those familiar with Dungeons & Dragons will feel right at home within the rules. Skills and saving throws use the SIEGE engine, developed by Troll Lord Games for Castles & Crusades back in 2004. The classes and races are reduced from the full set, an excellent thematic choice. This game will reflect a time of swordsmanship where sorcery was an untrustworthy thing - and often evil.

This book contains all the materials needed for play. The first half is for the players, covering character creation and extensive thematic backgrounds. It also contains a fascinating list of spells - "Xai-Tang's Evocation of Unsullied Soles" …

David Davis: Showdown at Shepherd's Bush (2012, Thomas Dunne Books) 3 stars

"The epic clash of an Irish-American, Italian, and Onondaga-Canadian that jump-started the first marathon mania …

Review of "Showdown at Shepherd's Bush" on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

A good story about three fellows and the 1908 Olympics Marathon event, then the running craze that followed, and finally where they ended up. Added this to my list after reading Davis' [b:Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku|25363384|Waterman The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku|David Davis||45107388] - but unfortunately this isn't as good.

The core of the book is the race, very well written. Coverage of the Olympics around it is also excellent - 1908 was a heck of a year. The introductions of the three characters is a little clunky, but the ending is great. It is a good history, and I'm glad I read it.

It isn't my favorite 1908 bo0k, though - that honor goes to [b:Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History|402392|Crazy '08 How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and …

Stephen Goldin: Trek to Madworld (Paperback, 1989, Bantam Books) 3 stars

On an urgent mission to a colony dying of radiation poisoning, the U.S.S. Enterpise is …

Review of 'Trek to Madworld' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I am not a fan of godlike beings, and yes, that includes the Organians. The main characters feel right here, and the Trek science fits. Might be the best of the Bantam series so far.

This might also be the first book to bring in Klingons and Romulans, and the Klingon subplot was pretty fun. Besides being godlike, the main antagonist here quotes liberally from Willy Wonka - this rubbed me the wrong way. The ending was pretty obvious, but it was a quick read.

Goldin was married to [a:Kathleen Sky|43984|Kathleen Sky|], author of the earlier book [b:Vulcan!|1779112|Vulcan! (Star Trek Adventures, #7)|Kathleen Sky||1777825] in the same series. He went on to write other novels, and is active on Goodreads. I believe this was his only Star Trek novel.

Review of 'Code Name : Lise' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

A solid book about the most highly decorated spy in World War II - who also happens to be a woman. Drawn from many sources, some recently declassified, this is an accurate portrayal of Odette's time in the war - and as a prisoner of war. Several notes tie events and people in the story to the wider war in Europe. 4 of 5 stars.

The early chapters cover Odette joining the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and training, plus her work as a courier in France. Most of the second half of the book is her imprisonment, including some gruesome torture. With most spies shot shortly after torture, I was surprised that she lived to come home from the war - and she was also. I wanted to read more details about her courier missions and their outcomes.

This is not the authors first, or last, book on spies in …

Review of 'Big Dirty Money' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A combination of depressing and angering, this book shows recent break downs in white collar laws and prosecutions, leading to growth of white collar crime.

The subtitle is "making white collar criminals pay", and most of the book it felt like there wasn't much we could do - this is all about corruption and collusion among the 1%. However, in chapter 11 (I see what you did there Jennifer) six fixes are proposed. Empowering the Justice Department and pushing to amend and clean up laws is still out of our hands, though we can reach out to our local representatives. The fifth and sixth tips are to restore funding to the IRS and improve data collection - perhaps further from our control. The third and fourth tips though - more visibility into white collar crimes, along with protecting journalists and whistleblowers is something we can more directly affect. I've got …

Review of 'One Last Kill' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Killing Rain / One Last Kill / Redemption Games is the 4th book in the John Rain series. This book brings back Dox and Delilah from the previous novel.

Fight and location descriptions are accurate and evocative. I don't remember as much of an emphasis on food and clothing in the earlier books, but those are also well described. I thought the dialog, especially Dox, was a bit clunky in the beginning, but that settled down later into a good plot.

Looking forward to another entry.

Joel Richard Paul: Without Precedent (Paperback, 2019, Riverhead Books) 4 stars

A portrait of the influential chief justice, statesman, and diplomat illuminates his pivotal role in …

Without Precedent

4 stars

A very thorough history of John Marshall - soldier, diplomat, secretary of state, then the chief justice who defined the early supreme court. This is a big book, but a relatively easy read.

His full biography is given, mostly contrasted with cousin (and antagonist) Thomas Jefferson. Marshall's time as a revolutionary war soldier is not often mentioned, but I enjoyed reading about his easy comradery and the leadership of the men he served with. This book also pulls no punches with the issues of slavery and the treatment of indigenous peoples, divisive topics from the initial Declaration all the way through the civil war.

The politics of Jefferson and the Federalists are also a major focus, and TJ is painted as a pretty serious villain here. I did appreciate the distinctions of court cases, how Marshall chose to build bridges with his majority (and often unanimous) opinions, even with occasionally …