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Cool Japan Guide (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 03 December 2017 00:00

ought this one for the wife, a sort of statement of intent thing for our trip next year to Japan (which I want to do cold in Tokyo and she wants to do prepped on a tour. So yes, still sorting out things). But it’s a very interesting approach to trip-planning, a girlish comic book of traveling to Japan, all filled with bright burn-your-eyes-out color and girlish comics of all the things you’ll need to know.

Look, it’s not Fodars, but it’s a lot of fun.

So Abby’s been to Japan lots. Of course she has – she’s young and into Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen (sez so right on the cover). But she has traveled the island nation up and down it and has all sorts of advice, from language tutoring to train ticket purchasing. It was actually lain out in cleverly organized order (the section on food has me wanting to try a lot of different dishes, and for people who know how food-finicky I am, that’s saying a lot).

And it’s not long, just a colorful first step. But I kinda have a better expectation of what JB and I are getting into. So yes, there is that.

Anyway, for people prepping for a trip to that wonderful land on the other side of the globe (or simply for older people who’d like to know how young people think and view the world (and yes, she is one cheerfully-positive girl)) this one’s for you.

Can’t wait to go now!

>>>IF YOU WANT MORE SERIOUS TRAVEL BOOKS, PICK UP ONE OF MY HISTORIC NOVELS. YOU’LL TRAVEL TO AN ANCIENT TIME AND NOT HAVE TO HASSLE WITH TSA<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 November 2017 09:47
 
Tom Jones (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 26 November 2017 00:00

ix weeks. That’s how long it took me to get through this thing. Six weeks. 874 pages of tight, olde-english text. My literary albatross.

So this classic is not what you’d expect a classic to be. It’s like falling in love with a substance abuser, a love-hate relationship. And it’s massive and sprawling, but also repetitive and editorial. But what (or, better yet, who) is Tom Jones.

Tom is the son of unknown parents, smuggled into the bed of Mr. Allworthy, local landowner and (as his name implies) a just and charitable man. Well, up to the point where he believes the absolute worst about Tom (supplied by his scheming nephew Master Blifil and some toad-sucking clowns Allworthy permits to freeload in his mansion) and casts him out. But, see, Tom is in love with Sophia Western, the beautiful girl from the next estate over (who Blifil would like to marry, as well).

Now, point in fact: Tom isn’t a very heroic hero. Let me put it this way – he’s like a literal tomcat in that he fights and most certainly screws everything within thirty miles of Allworthy’s estate. Yet while he is a libertine, while he associates (and even beds) all the lower orders, he actually cares for them. Yes, he’s a corrupted fellow yet he still sacrifices for the good of those less fortunate then himself (such as Black George, the gameskeeper and poacher, who rewards Tom’s goodness by stealing from him). But suddenly he’s tossed out of doors and left to wonder and wander, a penniless drifter.

But, as luck would have it, Sophia the love intrest is fleeing to London, attempting to escape controlling forces at home who would see her advantageously wed to the despised Master Blifil. And so much of this novel is a travelling one, with Tom attempting to overtake his love, bypassing his love, just missing his love, or being caught in his usual uncompromising circumstances by his love. It’s got all the misunderstandings and misjustices classic English novels have and through it all, Tom does good deeds and ill-corruptions at every turn.

Eventually Tom gets to London where things grow quite dark. Tom saves a little family from disaster, yet gets caught in a duel and framed for a murder (though “he’s not dead yet”) he did not commit, while Sophia absolutely rejects him. Can you even save a hero at this point? But rest assured, happy endings when it all comes around to that final much-sought-after page.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m just bitching because this was such a difficult novel to get through. Scenes tend to be (as was the style) overlong and overdialogged. This isn’t helped by the author editorializing on anything that peeved him – essentially blogging – at the start of each book. So yes, I limped through the long passages and machete-hacked through the author’s overgrown verbosity (and I’m saying that, knowing what he thinks of critics). And you know what?

I still liked this novel. Very much. It was wind-baggery of the highest order, but it was also a great deal of fun. And I had to like Tom, with all his carousing and wenching  - he was breath of fresh realism in this world of stilted convention. In fact, I felt sadness when I got to the author’s final editorial, at which point he admitted that this was it, we were done, and that we would soon part like travelers who have shared a carriage on a long and bumpy journey.

Yes, it was long and epic and scandalous, a vast novel with dozens of characters and millions of words. But it was also great fun. I recommend it only for my most serious of fellow readers. You’ve been warned – this is not simply a read, it’s an investment on adventure. Good luck with it.

>>>OR, YOU COULD READ PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WRITTEN AND STILL TAKE LESS TIME AT IT. AND FOR THAT, YOU’LL NEED THE FULL RAYMOND LIBRARY, AVAILABLE HERE!<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 November 2017 09:28
 
Patriots (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 19 November 2017 00:00

haven’t read David Drake in a while – not seriously since college and his Hammer’s Slammers break out novels. And here we have another one written in 1996 (which is more than twenty years ago, a fact that continues to surprise me). Saw this in a used book store and figured why not.

So this story is a thinly veiled allegory (so I’m told) of the Revolutionary War, and what took place in Vermont with Ethan Allen (whom I knew just from the PR he gets in America and if it’s anything like what Sam Adams got, then yes, it’s wildly inaccurate). But in this case, it’s the planet of Greenwood which is being threatened by developers who are getting tracts of lands claimed by off-world authorities (which also occurred in Vermont). So settlers come in and clear, adding effort and value to their homesteads, only to have it snatched up from them by outside interlopers.

Standing for the locals is Yarby Bannock, a tavern-smashing mountain of a man (apparently just like Ethan Allen). And while he’s big and wily, he’s just saved an offworld student lawyer from a beating. Of course, with will all come together when the offworlders try to push the settlers off their homesteads. The heroes are bold and true, the invaders vain and posturing, and it’s what you’d expect from classic Space Opera.

Patriots was a fun enough novel, a little light and breezy in places yet not attempting to be otherwise. I did enjoy it. It did feel (and this is my own personal inclination) that for a novel written by a military scifi guy, the forces of good and bad never quite came together, not in the jungles of the edge of space, in the frontier battle I was half-expecting. There were one or two inept tries at a landing, some courtroom drama, all that stuff, but no back-woods fighting. But outside of that, yes, it was a good read, worth picking up if it comes to a used bookstore near you.

>>>FIRE AND BRONZE IS ABOUT THOSE SAME INTERLOPERS, THIS TIME DISPLACED PHOENICIANS SETTLING IN NORTH AFRICA. YOU CAN GET IT HERE!<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 November 2017 09:02
 
Utah Blaine (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

amilies have dark secrets. My sister likes romance novels. Me, I love an occasional Louis L’Amour western. It’s all wide open spaces and honest heroes who have to fight against massed opposition for the sake of good and right (rather like my own life, seems to me). L’Amour can hold an audience; that’s been proven around the world.

So the hero with his cool name, Utah Blaine, is on the run after springing himself from a Mexican jail (for attempting to help a revolution). He’s moving north, back into the states, on foot, without a gun. Then one night he wakes up to hear a band of dishonest men hanging an older fellow out in the nowheres – thankfully they don’t rig him so he breaks his neck. Like Batman villains, they dangle him all choking, laugh at him and leave him to die alone. Of course, Blaine decides that the secrecy of the act speaks of its illegitimacy and saves the gasping rancher. Turns out this guy runs the largest cattle spread in the territories. Also turns out that a vigilante squad he helped established is now intent on killing him and breaking his land up.

In gratitude, the neck-rubbing guy accepts Blaine’s proposition – the rancher will hide out like the king in chess while Blaine goes after his enemies (and if he pulls this off, he’ll be the ranch foreman). Of course, it means taking on a band of thugs backed by rich ranchers and town dudes, all who can import all the mugs, pugs and thugs money can buy. So, with his own small group of good castoffs, Utah goes head to head with wealth, power and human evilness. Yeah, slap leather, partner.

This is just another book from a long-established author, a great read for a rainy day. Unlike the massive Tom Jones that I’m digging my way through, this one is a breezy 160 pages, short and sweet. If you haven’t read westerns, just pick up this book (hell, any book) from this master. You’ll find yourself really enjoying the ride, and you won’t have saddle sores by the end. Guar-o-tee it, Partner!

>>>SUPPORT THIS SITE. PICK UP ONE OF MY OWN BOOKS OF HISTORICAL FICTION RIGHT DOWN HERE!<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 November 2017 08:27
 
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