Thursday, July 30, 2009

Half a Crown by Jo Walton

Half a Crown by Jo Walton conclusion to the alternate history/mystery trilogy. It's the 1960s but, different than it is recorded in history books. Russia has been defeated destroyed by nuclear weapons, Britain is a police state. A peace conference will be held in England and the Duke of Windsor has invited himself much to the chagrin of the authorities. Carmichael now in charge of the Watch[British KGB or Gestapo] must maintain his position so that he can covertly undermine the regime. As with the other two books in the trilogy there's a split narrative. The other one follows his adoptive niece whose to be presented to the Queen. Two things bother me.

The first of these is something that goes for the other books as well. The female leads tend to be naive or well, stupid. They are quick on the uptake but there's a lot of rather obvious exposition that is crammed down our throats when it's really not necessary.

The second thing is the conclusion of the book and trilogy. I won't give it away but if you think about it it's pretty obvious. I don't believe for a second that it would be as easy as the book makes it out to be. Come to think of it a 4th volume would be fascinating.

The conclusion did bring down the series in my eyes a little bit however I'd recommend it.

North from Calcutta by Duane Evans

First off an apology I could have sworn I'd posted this about six weeks ago but instead it appears to have been trapped as a draft post.

North from Calcutta by Duane Evans is an espionage thriller involving the fight over Kashmir. Our hero a Pakistani intelligence official must fight those in his own government that wish to start a war between the two nuclear armed nations. There's also a romantic subplot which is a little over the top but it does tie in nicely with the plot. The characters do tend to talk in infodumps which was rather annoying. The action sequences are well thought out and wonderfully described. Possible plot holes are dealt with by characters discussing them head on and giving explanations. A welcome change from other thriller writers who simply ignore them. Both for the choice of heroes and topic this is an unusual work that deserves a wide audience.

Highly recommended!

Note: book was provided by a very patient PR outfit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ha'penny by Jo Walton

Ha'penny by Jo Walton second in an alternate history/mystery trilogy. England made peace with the Nazis. The society is becoming fascist. Inspector Carmichael returns this time to try to stop an assassination plot on the British Prime Minister and Hitler. The narrative also includes the perspective of the would be bomber an actress. This is a bridge between the first and third book but it is still enjoyable. Ethical decisions about loyalty and duty are at the front particularly with the ending.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Language: Bloody H-1; G/OMG-3

This is the most unintentionally funny Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie review I've come across in my wanderings. Dunn not surprisingly by a puritanical Christian outfit. I think if George Carlin was still with us he would very much enjoy the concept of "Mild cleavage".

Monday, July 27, 2009

Military history books in Edmonton

Here are some short thoughts on the bookstores in Edmonton. In no particular order.

Audreys Books independent bookstore so these are pretty close to list price. Nice selection of titles with a very knowledgeable staff. When one of their employees [unfortunately I forgot her name] realized I was looking at Osprey titles she pulled out a stack of them and brought them over.

Bellum Books specializes in military history 18th century through the 19th, some Canadian material, WWI, WWII. By appointment only I was worried that there wouldn't be anything in my price range but there was. Very nice owner we chatted for longer than I looked at the books. Cash/personal check only.

Alhambra books massive WWII section with smaller ones on Napoleonic, WWI, Vietnam and American civil war. Friendly owner she actually stayed open for a little while after closing time. Selection runs the gamut from Time Life dreck to some very unusual titles. Pricing is dead on 50% of list which for some is optimistic.

Greenwoods if you search online you'll come across many references to this bookstore. Very disappointing selection, seemed to be running out of stock in many sections books are face out.

Wee Book Inn there are 4 locations. We looked at 2 of them. Mostly paperback fiction very little history let alone military. My friend who was looking for romance and Canadian fiction did quite well.

Back from Edmonton

I have returned. I was supposed to come back Saturday but instead we had to stay for an extra day. Some thoughts on events of last week and the military history sections of bookstores in Edmonton forthcoming.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Off to Edmonton!

I'll be back on Saturday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Henry Surtees dies after F2 crash

Henry Surtees dies after F2 crash. Going by description of the accident it sounds like the wheel didn't stay with the car. I'm not sure if F2 cars have the tether that other open-wheel cars do.

Update:F2 does use wheel tethers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America." LBJ

"...And that's the way it is" Walter Cronkite, Dies at 92.

I knew they'd screw it up!

Futurama to be recast?

Quotation [occasional]

"There are a lot of Ass shots in this film."
- A friend discussing the cinematography in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wikipedia oversteps

So much for claiming they except other people's copyright. The National Portrait Gallery vs. Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Andrew Coyne is mad as hell and he's not gonna take it anymore!

Boy he is bitter.

Vatican on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

According to MSNBC they didn't out right despise it. Actually liked the good vs. evil story line. Although there was some complaining that there's no mention of the "transcendent".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Barrichello's whining

Team made me lose race. I don't think they sabotaged the fuel rig on purpose...

Friday, July 10, 2009

So what's next?

Harper bungles partisan attack at G8.

Hitler's Motor Racing Battles: The Silver Arrows under the Swastika by Eberhard Reuss

Hitler's Motor Racing Battles: The Silver Arrows under the Swastika by Eberhard Reuss you may remember my grumbling during Memorial Day coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 that Americans don't seem to understand just who else has liked racing historically. So I picked up this book. This is a decent look at Auto Union and Mercedes during the 1930s including the NAZI support for the race teams. They competed both in Grand Prixs [where they were nearly unbeatable] as well as hill climbs. There was also an attempt to take the land speed record. There are pictures on nearly every page as well as posters and the like. There's some discussion of the different drivers their personalities. As typical for books like this there's a section on post-WWII fudging of the historical record.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

El Alamein, 1942: The Turning of the Tide by Ken Ford

El Alamein, 1942: The Turning of the Tide by Ken Ford standard Osprey treatment of this key battle in the desert campaign. Made sense of the sometimes confusing different operations. Lots of pictures and maps. Frequent discussion of the different commanders, not just Montgomery and Rommel.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Emma Watson in stockings

Yes I'm a bad person for doing this to attract page views. Well at least I didn't use "nude" in the subject line. Enough stalling here you go. and here.

Seems like Harper can't do anything right

Questions Catholics demand explanation for PM pocketing communion wafer at LeBlanc funeral. One of my friends was married in a catholic ceremony. They made sure to explain to us heathens just what to do if we manage to get in the communion line.

And I thought I wasn't going to post today

Drug charge for Potter film actor. It is Jamie Waylett who plays Vincent Crabbe in case you're too lazy to click the link.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Robert McNamara dead at 93

He is most famous for being responsible for the buildup and strategy in Vietnam. Ever since the conflict he seem to do his best to come to terms with his own decisions and failures. Most publicly in the Oscar winning The Fog of War and books In Retrospect and Argument Without End. The BBC obituary can be found here.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

What is it about F1

That brings out this love of far right movements in central European nations? Ecclestone's Hitler remarks condemned. Here's the money quote:
In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people able to get things done.
As I frequently say you can't fix stupid. Maybe a breakaway series was a good idea after all. Presumably they couldn't find anyone as incompetent to run the thing as the current crew of Bernie and Max.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rupert Grint had swine flu

I'm so happy we have the BBC to tell us these things. Harry Potter star 'had swine flu'. In all seriousness here's hoping for a full recovery.

I know its Independence Day but this is ridiculous

In this week's New York Times David A. Andelman gives a blistering review to WORLD WAR ONE By Norman Stone. He whines that:
Stone ignores Gen. John J. Pershing, mastermind of a push by half a million American troopsthrough the St.-Mihiel salient two months before the end of the war.
Umm considering that Pershing was under the direct command of Foch it does seem rather debatable that it was Pershing as "mastermin".

Friday, July 03, 2009

Palin resigns!

Gov. Sarah Palin to resign her office July 26. MSNBC is already asking the obvious question. Is this equivalent to her giving up? What does it say about her "fire" for politics if she can't take the heat from being governor.

Stephen and Matilda: The Civil War of 1139-1153 by Jim Bradbury

Stephen and Matilda: The Civil War of 1139-1153 by Jim Bradbury a clear and well written military/political history on this mediaeval English war. Explains in detail how King Stephen managed to win the war but lose the peace. There's quite a bit here on 12th century warfare, tactics and fortifications. The book is oversized and on every page there's a picture or illustration. There's also info on visiting the sites today.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is the first in a projected seven book fantasy series. Locke a young con artist must steal enough money to make a sacrifice for those that through his lack of foresight he killed. At the same time the Gray King is terrorizing organized crime in the city with a series of gruesome murders. Interspersed are flashbacks where we learn more about the society and Locke's history. I really enjoyed this. The flashbacks are handled nicely. Characters are well done. The plots are intricate but laid out well and it's easy enough to believe the reactions of those involved. I'll be picking up the sequel. Unfortunately it appears that there's been some delay with the third volume.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Now that's a surprise

Jeremy Mayfield Granted Temporary Injunction. I wonder if it would have made it any different if NASCAR had been up front with the list of restricted substances and testing.

Right of Thirst by Frank Huyler

Right of Thirst by Frank Huyler the narrator a cardiologist feels empty after his wife's death of cancer. He decides to join a humanitarian relief organization that is setting up a refugee camp in an unnamed Islamic country. When he arrives he finds no refugees only villagers, a troubled army officer and a German geneticist. This is definitely in the literature category. I've found the language occasionally a touch over the top. There's actually a plot here which is nice. Much is made of the interaction between the three major characters. The characterization is excellent.


Note: this was provided by the publisher for review.

A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor

A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor this is the second book in the Southern Reading Challenge. George Carver living in New York with his girlfriend is encouraged to come home to help break up his father's looming second marriage. His sister's don't want it to happen. This leads to Carver reflecting on the various ways that his family has manipulated him over the years. There's very little plot here it's all characterization and setting. Much is made of the differences between Memphis and Nashville. For the most part I liked it although I did find the motivation for the sisters to be particularly weak. Besides greed there's no real explanation of why they're doing what they're doing. This received the Pulitzer prize in fiction.