Book Review: The Tramp!

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21371407The Tramp

Interesting Hubbard fantasy about a tramp, Doughface Jack. Jack is a bum who lives off trains and wanders about looking for the basic necessities of life. However this day, in escaping the law and running from a sheriff, he has an accident. An accident that nearly kills him but thanks to an old country doctor who knows a thing or two of surgery, puts his left and right hemispheres together and tops it off with a silver bowl. This somehow creates a man who puts out “meta rays.”

If Doughface is happy, people around him get cured of illnesses, the old become young again. But if he glares at you in anger or fear, you’re dead!

Interesting that through most of the story Jack is completely unaware of what he can do although others are certainly aware. Jack wanders about New York, starts accidentally killing animals, then the majority of New York’s finest. Not sure what to do, he cures a blind woman who can now see, is young and strong, and seeks revenge on those who wronged her.

She easily cons Jack into following her lead and soon she uses him as a weapon to take over the US government! What will the good doctor do now?

Typical pulp fiction of the day, but not just a story of power corrupting absolutely but with power, properly applied to help others, can perform miracles. A two-edged sword that keeps you guessing how this will end.

Recommended. Love to hear how the audio version of this sounds.

Where can I buy this?

Simple:

Try these Amazon links:

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2CA6Wip

Paperback: https://amzn.to/2CA741n

New Edition Compilation: https://amzn.to/2Sg5TJN

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Alternatives to your smartphone camera!

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Instax MiniI know I wrote something on this earlier today, but felt that you need to know more about instant cameras such as Fujifilm Instax and Polaroid’s instant camera.

Why?

Yes, film is not dead.  Yes there are ways of sharing photos with actual PICTURES that you don’t have to wait forever to see.  It pops out of the camera.  And are a lot of fun! See Kodak’s instant camera for example.

Polaroid tried to have a analog/digital clone but it didn’t work out due to the battery life.  Polaroid was the original instant camera maker.  Remember the Land camera?

Fuji went for a younger audience that never had memory of film.  This was something new!  The current model I’m promoting, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 camera, is the top of the line model, with manual controls, can shoot black & white, and comes in many crazy colors.

  • Per their ad:
    Takes 2 – AA Batteries. Picture size-62 x 46mm. Viewfinder-Real image finder, 0.37x, with target spot
    New Selfie Mirror,Shutter Shutter speed:1/60 sec.
    New Macro Lens adapter for close-ups – 35cm to 50cm
    Automatic exposure measurement. The camera signals the recommended aperture setting with a flashing LED. This helps capture the perfect photo every time.
    Takes 2 – AA Batteries (best with Polaroid AA batteries)

    Just click on the Amazon link and check them out, read the reviews.  I’d appreciate that!

Stylish, Fun at Parties & It’s Not Digital!

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Film is Not Dead!  Fujifilm!

Rather than have Nikon and Canon give up on film altogether and concentrate on their DSLR and mirrorless line of cameras, there is one plucky company that is bucking the digital trend.  Fujifilm.  Yes, Fujifilm makes some amazing DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but they also make film for the analog photographer.

But there’s something else.

  Instant Cameras.

You may remember the old Polaroid Land camera that was discontinued some decades ago.  The concept to taking a photo with instant analog gratification is still a selling idea.  In fact Polaroid makes instant film cameras now in many fun colors: Polaroid Snap Touch Portable Instant Print Digital Camera

I mean, what is more magical than taking a photo and holding it in your hand?

Of all its array of instant cameras, I suggest the Fujifilm Instax Mini90 Neo Classic!

Why?

It’s the most full-featured of the Instax Mini family of cameras.

  The Instax Mini 9!  Flamingo Pink, Icy White, and many more colors.

See the YouTube video showing a quick overview and specifications of the Fujifilm Instax cameras:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFiTHZjCRsA

Film Is Not Dead!

 

Star Trek New Earth: Belle Terre

Star Trek: New Earth Series #Two of Six (click on link, get a novel!)

First Thoughts:

downloadI’ve enjoyed and am enjoying Deal Wesley Smith’s time travel novels, Thunder Mountain series but I didn’t know until recently that in the year 2000 he had co-written a few Star Trek novels. I admit I have not read all of this series but the books do seem to stand on their own and to catch up the reader nicely to what had happened in previous books, usually!

Story:

Essentially the colonists on the newly discovered planet, Belle Terre, find a planet with Earth-like conditions that everyone seems to love. But the snake in Paradise is their own moon, which has a core full of a quantum material that is highly prized by the Federation and others to have more power than dilithium crystals. It has a bad habit of being unstable and is about to explode, raining radiation on the planet and make it uninhabitable.

Our original Star Trek crew must figure out a way of either stopping or mitigating the explosion before it’s too late. Some good action sequences here, and the reading is easy and fast. You could easily finish this story in a matter of hours.

Dean Wesley Smith and Diane Carey put together a plot that is fast-paced but they leave up in the air whatever happened the starship The Rattlesnake, which had an interesting mission of checking out other planets in other star systems and they discovered an energy-sucking anomaly floating through civilizations and destroying them. Fascinating premise. Then the authors dropped it! Yikes!

Final Thoughts:

Interesting novel series, though written 19 years ago I just found out about it. Some of the six-novel series are strong, others not so much. Recommended, especially for fans of the Original Series.

Book Review: Sand & Stars, Star Trek!

downloadGet your copy on Amazon.com today, right here:  https://amzn.to/31vlmcV

First Thoughts:

Writers Diane Duane and A.C. Crispin have both written great tales of space adventure and adaptations of movies for decades. However, I found the first part of the book somewhat tedious to get through with the history of Vulcans I didn’t see as a contributive part to the overall plot. The second part was much more engaging though does require some knowledge of Star Trek lore.

Story and Plot:

The first part deals with Spock and McCoy and their handling of the planet Vulcan wanting to leave The Federation and how T’Pau and T’Pring are involved, but the story often transgresses into a history lesson of Vulcan, which I didn’t find all that necessary.

Best part of the first tale had to do with our Federation friends Kirk, Spock and McCoy giving their impassioned pleas for Vulcan to stay in the Federation. They also uncover a plot to create this division of planets due to one woman’s anger and jealousy against Spock! Wow!

The only real interest for me was the second part: Amanda and Sarek, their relationship with themselves and with Spock. Spock growing up. Spock dealing with the death of his mother and blames his father for doing his job of diplomacy lightyears from his dying wife. The revelations of Amanda’s journals is especially fascinating as it explores in greater detail a few moments between Amanda, Sarek and Spock on the TV series.

The Klingon threat is getting worse and they are being manipulated by Romulans and their long-term project of taking Vulcan children, using them to develop on Romulus and Freelan and use their mental abilities to create havoc on the Klingon home world and The Federation. And we meet Peter Kirk, who we met briefly when James Kirk’s brother was killed on that planet by flying amoebas. Remember that?? (Operation Annihilate!) 

Much of the story depends somewhat on your knowledge of the original series and some films such as Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country which a few plotpoints from the film are revealed in this novel.

Final Thoughts:

Overall an enjoyable tales for the Star Trek fan!

Taken from Amazon.com:

About the Author

Diane Duane is the author of The Door Into Fire, which was nominated for the World Science Fiction Society’s John W. Campbell Award for best new science fiction/fantasy writer two years in a row. Duane has also published more than thirty novels, numerous short stories, and various comics and computer games, several of which appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. She is best known for her continuing Young Wizards series of young adult fantasy novels about the New York–based teenage wizards Nita Callahan and Kit Rodriguez. The 1983 novel So You Want to Be a Wizard and its six sequels have been published in seven other languages, and are now routinely cited by librarians all over the US as “the books to read when you run out of Harry Potter.”

 

Book Review: Devil’s Deputy

AMAZON LINK: here

Death's DeputyDeath’s Deputy by L. Ron Hubbard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fun little classic novel I picked up with the Premise that Death itself grants those who want some luck to be impervious to death and yet those around him drop like flies. Clay is a pilot for the Canadian Air Force, helping Britain fight off the Nazis and one day he nearly dies in a crash. However he miraculously is cured by a doctor and he falls in love with a stray by the name of Laura who he meets somewhere in a park in NYC. After a horrific plane crash where everyone else dies except him, he realizes this is more than coincidence.

Short and sweet fiction though this 1970 reprint does have a few typos here and there. Ignoring that it’s a quick enjoyable read. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Thunder Mountain

41i8fD2p-XLFirst Thoughts:

Dean Wesley Smith, writer of Star Trek and some Marvel Comics characters such as Spiderman and a few others, has written a series of books under the title Thunder Mountain, a time travelling duo who contact bright, educated historians and others and tell them a secret – a crystal cave that if properly manipulated will take you to one of possibly billions of alternate realities on the timestream.

The Thunder Mountain book series by Dean Wesley Smith includes books Thunder Mountain, Monumental Summit, Grapevine Springs: A Thunder Mountain Novel, and several more. 

Story & Plot:

These time travelling pair are named Duster and Bonnie, two mathematicians who stumbled onto this cave and built a machine to travel and have adventures in other times and places. Interesting that not a lot of explanation goes into this, not a lot of background either. Interesting tidbits are thrown out by the author to keep me interested but nothing of real substance.

The pair could live an entire lifetime in another century but return to present time with only two minutes having passed since they disappeared from the cave. Not only that, but if you die you immediately return to present time, alive and well as you were when you left. They claim they’ve been living many lifetimes, thousands of years’ worth.

So, they take two folks, historians, Dawn Edwards, a woman who has no love life, lives on campus basically and is deeply interested in the histories of the Old West, especially in the Idaho area. We follow her along as she wonders what life was like for that time period.

The other, Madison, we don’t get as much characterization for, and when they meet the “romance” is too pat. And same phrases are repeated repeatedly to a point of being annoying.

“Best looking woman on the planet,” he thinks. “Best looking man she’s ever seen,” she thinks. It goes on like this for a few pages. Sigh.

The other interesting aspect is these two, once they go to the past, interact with the locals only sparingly, which is too bad. The novel could have been more interesting and more conflicting with this aspect.

People die in this novel, but not to worry. They’re back in present time alive and well. OK then.

Final Thoughts:

Bugged me some the simplistic writing and slapped together plot, the simple and repetitive words and phrasing when some ten-dollar word Merriam Webster would have proudly added is missing.

And the Kindle version has some spelling and grammar errors that any good editor should have caught.

Regardless, the concept of two time travelling mathematicians interacting with historians to give them a tour of some past historic time to help them write accurate papers of the time they’re exploring. At least that seems their purpose.

The other Thunder Mountain books are standalone novels with I’m assuming Duster and Bonnie and whatever else they’re planning with other historians. Other novels in the series. Next up: Monumental Summit.

Book Review: Girl Who Kicked Hornet’s Nest! – Stieg Larsson

downloadThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Series – by Stieg Larsson

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” was for me the most uneven of the trilogy. Larsson’s novel does not really start picking up until around page 300, when Blomkvist hooks up with yet another woman, this time a bodybuilder ex-cop who joins a government police force. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

The first part of the novel picks up where the last one left off with Salander, after having been shot in the head is flown to the hospital and put through surgery. And her father Zalachenko, who somehow survived her axe attack, is sent to the same hospital!

Larsson’s characters are really interesting in how he writes them. I mean he’ll write practically a full biography. If we meet his character in the bathroom, say, then we can be assured of the brand of shaving cream and who owns the building.

Despite this maddening detail, the book is an interesting one, once you plow through all the unnecessary history of Swedish politics.

To summarize briefly, the reader knows of a secret organization within the secret police of Sweden called The Section, or as Blomkvist calls it, the Zalachenko Club. They can’t seem to deal with the current crisis so they call in old spies from the 1960s, one on dialysis and the other dying of cancer, who both feel they have nothing to lose and so proceed to take over and push their weight around. They are above the law.

Larsson criticizes incompetence in many ways as well as writing to what extent the quirkiness of his characters will take them.

Several points of interest:

The author makes a big deal of Salander’s part of the brain getting damaged by a bullet but that damage only pertains to her mathematical ability. She can no longer remember some math theorem eluded to in the second book. Nothing is really made of this.

Second, a story within a story I found fascinating, with Berger’s new appointment to SMP, how the reader is lead to believe that her stalker is one of the crew of her new paper, but we are shocked as to whom it turns out to be.

Third, the book really picks up when we see Blomkvist’s journalistic muscles flex, and Salander’s return to the computer to hack her way to freedom from threats and false accusations.

Larsson’s Criticisms:

Much is made of the media and its propensity to grab a news story, usually on the back of someone else’s work, and run with it, making things up as they go along. Salander was painted by the media to be some kind of lesbian Satanist if you could believe that!

Larsson also criticizes the arrogant presumptions of those in authority: the police detective at the beginning, who does not believe Blomkvist’s assertions and through the cop’s incompetence let’s a murderer go free.

Or Teleborian, a psychiatrist to whom others worship and can do no wrong, until Salander’s hacking crew find some interesting photos on his laptop!

Or Clinton, the spy ring master, who feels those around him are incompetent and soft and starts a murder spree across Sweden.

Bottom Line:

Worthy continuation from the second book. Many points are finally wrapped up but it takes some time to wrap them. Even the escape of the murderer at the start of the story is not even confronted until the end of the book!

Strong women pepper the book in a positive way: Figueroa, Berger, Giannini (Blomkvist’s lawyer sister) and Salander all show some aspect of women that is prideful and fascinating as they make their way through a Swedish man’s world.

And the Blomkvist womanizing, journalistic genius and Salander’s hacking skill from the first book is reprised here, which is what made the book interesting.

Ah, now if we could only have downloadedited out about 200 pages of Swedish politics!

Suggestion:

  • Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy Deluxe Boxed Set: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Plus On Stieg Larsson
    The Man Who Left Too Soon: The Biography of Stieg Larsson
    The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time

Avengers: Endgame – Worth the Hype?

teen-choice-awards-nominations-movies-1175725-1280x0First Thoughts:

Overall I enjoyed the film. Lots of fan service, and even if you never read a Marvel comic book (for shame!) you should enjoy this sequel to Avengers Infinity War.

Story & Plot:

Based on the comic book of the same name (read the graphic novel, cheap on eBay), We see a few characters from the Infinity War. The film starts on a somber note. Antman comes back thanks to a rat playing with his Quantum machine in the back of his van. If you saw Ant Man you would know what was happening.

The film depends on you having watched the previous films but that’s OK since we revisit several fo the the past Marvel films. And it’s no secret that the Russo Brothers use time travel and the “quantum realm” to get back at Thanos.

66996680Getting Used to Fat Thor:

The God of Thunder has crashed and burned. Now he rules over the remnant of Asgard on Earth, and loves the rum and beer. And he’s chunky and not nearly as noble as he was in previous films. Captain America has not given up hope. Tony Stark has but gets a wake up call. Black Widow is depressed but finds her purpose in the film, sadly.

And we see that Dr. Strange has brought back all the folks who disappeared though this is not made 100% clear how.

Getting used to Smart Hulk:

This aligns with the comics in the 70s and 80s where Hulk keeps his intelligence and even wears geeky glasses. His meeting with the Ancient One and their debate over the time stone was awesome.

Getting used to Red Skull:

Red Skull still takes some getting used to as the administrator over the Soul Stone. I wish more was explained here. Plot thins out here. And I noticed no more knowing looks and love between Hulk and Widow, now it’s between Hawkeye and Widow. Takes some getting used to.

Battle Scenes;

These are OK, too much really keeping track. You could have edited out an hour of this film and still made for an exciting plot and story.

I thought the bravery and ‘don’t give up’ attitude on most of the characters’ parts was relaly well done.

Humor:

Going back to the 70s and seeing a young Stan Lee was fun – that’s actually how he looked back in the day! Some of the humor fell flat, other humor was slapped in there to prevent the characters from losing it.

Final Thoughts:

Yes, could have been shorter. But the Russo Brothers succeeded in tying up loose ends. Can’t wait for the Blu Ray release.

Recommended.

Suggested Films before you see this one!

  • • Captain America: The First Avenger. …
    • Captain Marvel. …
    • Iron Man. …
    • Marvel’s: The Avengers. …
    • Guardians of the Galaxy. …
    • Captain America: Civil War. …
    • Black Panther. …
    • Avengers: Infinity War.
    • Thor: Ragnarok