Monday, February 27, 2017

Book 20: The Purple Pterodactyls

The Purple Pterodactyls: The Adventures of W. Wilson Newbury  is a collection of short stories of the supernatural adventures of a banker named Newbury.  From lots of  ancient deities to a lake monster to a voodoo zombie to a pair of dueling djinn and more, each short story read like a tale that might be heard around a campfire on a dark night without being too dark.

The tales weren't spellbinding, but I found them entertaining nonetheless.  3 stars

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book 19: Getting Things Done

This is my second time reading this edition of Getting Things Done by David Allen.  Although the book is geared toward the working environment, I find that it applies equally as well in the home.  Since I have several projects currently going on, I mainly focused on the sections related to projects although I reread the rest to glean new tips to help improve my current system.

I experimented around with several mediums last year try to figure out what worked best.  I tried using paper lists but honestly felt a little guilty about the amount of paper I was using.  I switched to post-it notes until I lost a note or two.  Next I attempted using a whiteboard instead, and it worked quite well until someone erased it.  I still use whiteboards for dinner menus, grocery lists, or handing to a kid who I need to complete more than one task, but finally I decided I should go digital.  So for 2017 I'm using my Kindle fire to maintain my calendar and lists with a free list program called Simple Lists.  I'm still tweaking what categories work best for me, but so far it's working quite well although it will take a few weeks to capture everything.

For an overview of the main part of the program see my previous review.

Again I highly recommend this book.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book 18: The Murder on the Links

A cryptic cry for help from France bring Hercules Poirot and his friend Hastings to Merlinville only to discover their client Monsieur Renauld has been murdered via a knife to the back.  Since the Belgian detective is known to the police, they enlist his services in the investigation.  Almost immediately Poirot is struck by the fact that this particular crime reminds him of another, and as usual he takes interest in evidence that the other police disregard.  A second young French detective named Giraud, who believes his more modern forensic approach to detecting to be superior to Poirot's now outdated style, adds an intriguing twist to the investigation.  Soon, however, even Poirot is momentarily surprised at the appearance of a second dead body, but undaunted he presses on to finally discover the truth.

An excellent follow up to her first mystery novel, Agatha Christie continues to intrigue with The Murder on the Links.  Definitely 5 stars.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book 17: The Color of Magic

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett is the first published book in the Discworld series and introduces the character of the wizard Rincewind.  All of Rincewind's troubles and adventures begin when he offers to work at a translator for Twoflower after seeing his magical chest of sapient pear and his purse full of the rarest of gold coins.  Thus begins the strangest journey where Twoflower is trying to see everything, Rincewind is simply trying not to die, and the two are pieces played by the Lady (the one goddess who name no one invokes) in a game between the gods. 

After an extremely slow start, I found myself laughing over and over as I made my way through the tale.  The scenes between Rincewind and Death were particularly amusing.    I never thought I would actually like Death as a character.  All in all it is a good start to the series, and I will definitely continue reading the remainder.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book 16: The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman's Hugo award winning The Graveyard Book recounts the major events in the life of a boy who comes to be called Nobody Owens after wandering into a graveyard on the same night a man named Jack is murdering his family.  Jack follows the boy's scent to the graveyard, but the ghosts hide his prey, and Simon, who protects the graveyard, sends the man away.  The ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens decide to adopt the boy, and Simon volunteers to be his guardian and provide for his food and other needs.  The graveyard also accepts Nobody Owens, which allows him to see the ghosts and fade into the dark to hide.  He learns normal things like reading, writing, and the constellations as well as several odder bits of knowledge including the danger of ghouls, how to get help from various supernatural creatures, and dreamwalking.  All this time the man Jack continues to hunt for the missing boy to finish the job that he started.  Will Simon's help and Nobody's lessons be enough to save him in the end?

Although the tale was a bit outside of my normal range of fantasy, nonetheless I found it entertaining and well-crafted.  I enjoyed my time spent with Nobody Owens and will add Neil Gaiman to my list of authors to read.  Four stars.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book 15: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie is her debut novel featuring Belgian detective Hercules Poirot.  A refugee of war, Poirot has settled in Essex with the help of Lady Emily Inglethorpe.  While his friend Hastings is staying at the Inglethorpe home visiting his friend John, who is one of Emily's stepsons, Emily is murdered by poison.  Hastings enlists the help of Poirot in apprehending the culprit.

This is actually the first Agatha Christie book I've read since high school when we were assigned Murder on the Orient Express.  I don't know why it's taken me so long, but I'm definitely going to read more soon.  Hopefully once I get a little more used to Poirot I won't be quite as clueless as Hastings anymore.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book 14: Slathbog's Gold

Slathbog's Gold by M. L. Forman is the first book in the Adventurers Wanted series currently containing four books.  Fifteen year old Alex is mystified by a sign in Mr. Clutter's shop window reading "Adventurer's Wanted".  When he inquires about the sign, he suddenly finds himself the eighth member of a team on a quest to defeat the dragon Slathbog in a land of elfs, dwarfs, and magic.  The journey to the dragon's hoard is long and full of dangers including bandits, a troll, and wraiths as well as new friends.

Unlike many stories today where the pace is light speed and the action nonstop, Slathbog's Gold is a realistically paced tale where the journey is as important as the obstacles.  I enjoyed watching Alex grow in confidence and character and look forward reading of his future adventures in the subsequent books.  Excellent read for ages 10 and up.