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.

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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

Review: Spender’s Guide to Debt Free Living!

The Spender's Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record TimeThe Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time by Anna Newell Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised at a few of the negative reviews here; obviously never even tried this method of getting out of debt.

The author is a photographer, writes blogs and wants to help others but has a problem with money. And I’m sure we can all relate to the false info about money out on the web and elsewhere. I picked this one up at the library (yes, free!) and learned quite a few things about this method and I bet it would work for most.

It’s called the Spend Fast. Rather than fasting on food you’re fasting on spending money. it’s part finding out what exactly you owe, what you’re spending money on every day, and making a Needs (rent, food) and Wants (latest iPhone!) and only spending on the Needs for, in the author’s case, a full year! In this journey she found out a lot about herself, her friends and her money habits. But you can’t argue with success; she actually paid off a lot of her debt.

Easy to read book and she has a free Facebook group for support. I’m giving it a shot. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Octavia Gone (Alex Benedict Series Vol 8)- Jack McDevitt

Always liked Jack McDevitt’s adventures with Alex Benedict and his girl Friday Chase as they explored the universe in search of solving mysteries of the galaxies.

In this story we have a missing space station, gone the last 12 years, as it orbited a black hole.  Originally this was a science mission, but much in the way of speculation happened here.

Alex’s uncle Gabe, found after 7 years in a time warp (Yikes) searchs for an alien artifact left by one of the now gone space station above, the Octavia.  What’s the connection?

Unlike Chindi, Echo, Devils’ Eye, the story and plot are interesting but so slow, it’s like Jack is writing and so much exposition, not a lot of story, only at the end we get a quick yet somewhat unsatisfactory ending.

Recommended for Alex and Chase fans, but don’t expect gripping action or suspense.