Wednesday, October 10, 2007

#69 - The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert

Brian Herbert is the son of famous Dune Author Frank Herbert. After Frank Herbert's death, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson took the story notes and outlines that he had left behind and began to write prequels to the Dune series.
The Machine Crusade is the 2nd book in the Legends of Dune trilogy. The human race is fighting a Jihad against a race of thinking machines that have taken over the known universe, led by a computer evermind called Omnius. This trilogy also gives the beginning background of the major families in the Dune saga, and the development of certain key planets like Arrakis and Corrin.
There are those who don't like Brian Herbert's Dune books because his writing style differs from his father, but I disagree. I like the background information that comes from these prequel books, and I'm eager to read the 3rd book to find out the ultimate fate of some of the key characters. The writing style is different, but I don't mind it. I find Brian Herbert's writing much less tedious than his father's, and the storyline is much less convoluted than the core Dune books.
Following this Jihad Trilogy is another trilogy of Prequel books, the House Trilogy, which gives the history and background of the 3 major families in the Dune Saga: House Atredies, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino. The House trilogy was also written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
50 Book Challenge 2007: 49/50

#68 - Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Lover Eternal is the 2nd book in J.R. Ward's vampire romance series. The books are well written, but as for subject matter.....well, this is a series that you just have to say, "It is what it is.''

To me, there isn't much that's romantic about vampires. Monsters that attack and suck blood from humans, or even other monsters, aren't exactly at the top of my list of dateable people. But Ward's main characters appear sexy, athletic and available....but they still get into hellacious fights with vampire hunters, kill people, and drink blood.

The sex scenes are graphic. The fight scenes are graphic. The concepts of blood lust, vampirism, erotic torture, etc., are graphic. This book is just.....well, graphic. If you are faint of heart, or one who is easily scared by horror stories, then don't read any of the books in this series when you are home alone, or just before bed.

If you like romance novels, and want to try something just a bit on the edge, then this series would be an enjoyable read for you. I don't usually read romance novels, but since it's October, I felt like reading a good vampire story. Ward didn't let me down. :)

50 Book Challenge 2007: 48/50

Friday, October 05, 2007

#67 - Mountain Ghost Stories and Curious Tales of NC by Randy Russell

This book really contains more stories involving Cherokee Indian Legends than it does Ghost stories. It was still a very interesting read though.

I live right in the area this book is about. Several places mentioned in the book are just minutes from my house -- Rutherfordton, Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, Hickory Nut Gorge. For me, that made the stories more enjoyable because I knew the area it was talking about. But the legends would be interesting even to someone who isn't familiar with Western North Carolina.

The book has 18 short stories, and is well written. But I was a bit disappointed that nearly all of the stories were indian legends when the book title says "Mountain Ghost Stories''. I think a better title would have been Western NC Mountain Legends and Ghost Stories, not the other way around. :)

50 Book Challenge 2007: 47/50

#66 - Yucatan Deep by Tom Morrissey

If you have any interest in Scuba diving, or Cave diving, or just like a good adventure story -- then you'll love this book!

Mike Bryant is a deep diver -- meaning he scuba dives to depths that are dangerous. One mistake can mean death. And he also enjoys cave diving, one of the most dangerous sports. Bryant wants to set a deep dive record by diving to the bottom of a very deep sinkhole (or cenote), but someone doesn't want him to be successful. Equipment is sabotaged, a diver dies, and things seem to constantly be going wrong. Why is someone so against Bryant seeing what lies on the bottom of the cenote??

I really enjoyed the diving sequences in this book. Morrissey writes very well, and obviously knows about scuba diving and deep water dives. Add in the extra adventure of sabotage and murder, and this is a really enjoyable book. It reminded me a bit of a Clive Cussler novel.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 46/50

#65 - Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

This is the 2nd book in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen Mystery Series. The First book in the series "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder'' is also reviewed on this website.

I'm really enjoying this series. It's lighthearted, contains some yummy recipes, and I like the main character.

Hannah Swensen owns a bakery. In between baking cookies and making coffee, she gets tangled up in some interesting investigations. In "Strawberry Shortcake Murder'', one of the judges for a cooking contest is murdered. The police immediately suspect the man's wife, who happens to be a close friend of Hannah's. So, in order to help her friend, Hannah starts investigating the killing.

There are 7 dessert recipes included in the book, but the one dish mentioned in the story that I really am curious about isn't included because it's not a dessert recipe. Hannah and a friend go to a restaurant and the owner makes a spicy chicken dish that has chocolate in the sauce. It sounds really good!!! I was much more interested in the chicken recipe than the cookie recipes included in the book! I will have to research and find a similar dish and try it out on my family. I won't tell them that there's chocolate in the sauce until after they eat it. :)

This is a fun series! And I'm looking forward to reading the next book "Blueberry Muffin Murder''

50 Book Challenge 2007: 45/50

Monday, October 01, 2007

#64 - One Night Stands with American History by Richard Shenkman

I enjoy historical anecdotes, especially when they are about little things I was taught were true, that actually aren't. Richard Shenkman has written several collections of historical tidbits, and I really enjoyed this one.

This version of the book has been updated to contain some anecdotes from the last 30 years, including the fact that former President Carter once appalled the British Queen Mother by kissing her on the lips instead of the cheek. It also has a few little bits about the first President Bush and President Clinton, but mostly deals with American history from the 1700's to the 1960's.

Not all of the historical accounts in this book are about politics though. One non-political tidbit is: The ice cream soda was invented by accident in 1874 when Robert M. Green ran out of sweet cream and substituted vanilla ice cream in sodas he was selling at the semicentennial celebration of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. And, the average life expectancy of Americans in 1876 was about 40.

Of course, there are plenty of political anecdotes as well. While president, Grant was arrested for speeding in his horse carriage. The first black man elected to congress was Hiram Nevels from Mississippi. Prior to Nevels, the seat was held by Jefferson Davis.

This book was an enjoyable, quick read.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 44/50