Category Archives: Books

The Lilliput Legion by Simon Hawke

The Lilliput Legion (Time Wars, #9)The Lilliput Legion by Simon Hawke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been crunching a lot of numbers the past few weeks and have reader’s block, which is problematic because I owe feedback to an author whose book I downloaded a couple of months ago and I’m only a quarter through it! So…I turn to standbys when that affliction surfaces.

Hawke’s books are such, though I’ve only read the last 4 books of this series once through. Been a while since I’d read this. Enjoyable distraction even if this one seemed rushed and sparse on literary overlap. I keyed something this time that is one of the few things I do remember from the first time (able to recognize correct answer when shown, and all): a character says “When one routinely deals in light years, one doesn’t sweat the occasional ten minutes.”

Hawke (yes, originally a pen name but he made legal) did such a great job writing pseudo-scientific explanations for his time travel theme but didn’t make the units agree?! Still, block nearly broken (not done crunching those numbers…)

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Sign of Chaos (The Chronicles of Amber #8)Sign of Chaos by Roger Zelazny

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Finishing this series is taking an effort. Zelazny was all over the place…incoherent, stream of consciousness (my favorite style…yeah, no), vague…and then painful overly detailed minor scenes, like a wrestling match (not exactly…but I don’t like to spoil fiction), or his shadow shifts…and throwing in new characters, which shouldn’t be a problem in a lengthy series but kind of is with this one. I think I need to take a break before trying the penultimate, but I don’t know if I’ll come back…on one hand, I would like to see how this mess ends; on the other…it’s a mess.

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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss – review (not really)

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On ItNever Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be the best book I’ve read this year. I’m not going to list the plethora of great points Voss makes…read it. It will help you.

Seriously. Read it.

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Traveling Music: The Soundtrack to My Life and Times by Neil Peart – review

Traveling Music: The Soundtrack to My Life and TimesTraveling Music: The Soundtrack to My Life and Times by Neil Peart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found this and another Peart memoir in a used book store and snapped them up because I really like his writing. Interesting format, this…Peart says “Since childhood, music has had the power to carry me away, and this is a song about some of the places it has carried me.” Interwoven with the songs he loaded into his CD changer on a solo road trip in 2003 from California to Big Bend National Park in Texas (and back), this is part playlist, part memoir. He talks about the songs he chose, sharing the history of the music and his history with them. And he talks about other extraneous experiences, musical and non…cycling in Africa, motorcycling between gigs in America.

There is a lot here that speaks to me…when young, he wanted something exciting to talk about at the family dinner table, and “I guess I spent the rest of my life making sure I always had something to talk about […]” and a later observation that ties to that:

How could anyone ever be bored in this world, when there was so much to be interested in, to learn, to contemplate? It seemed to me that knowledge was actually fun, in the sense of being entertaining…

So true! How could anyone ever be bored? (I cringe when I hear that word…and fell sorry for the lack of imagination that allows it to be said.)

Apart from one specific … act…he has interesting and eclectic tastes in music, and I liked reading about how he came to enjoy Sinatra, Gene Krupa, the Beach Boys, Dusty Springfield, and more. How he held little appreciation for groups like the Rolling Stones who only pretended to be rebels because they conceded to changing their lyrics on the Ed Sullivan Show where The Doors, who were true rebels, refused to change their line in “Light My Fire” about the girl getting “much higher” (and were subsequently banned.) How he saw Woody Herman in a backwoods restaurant gig in the decline of his life, having to play those gigs because of IRS troubles. How he got rid of all of his vinyl LPs, holding onto maybe 100 of his treasures (I did the same, losing my 100 or so treasures to a fire in 2013…)

Reading how he hears Sinatra on Watertown is something I sadly can never seem to get (but I appreciate any insight to help me try):

Sinatra’s subtle, sincere expression of that character’s life carried all the emotional subtext Jake Holmes had woven into the lyrics so skillfully, reinforced by Bob Gaudio, Charles Callelo, and Joe Scott. For this listener, Watertown had more than stood the test of time, it had grown stronger, and remained not only a personal classic (the whole album perfect for in-helmet singing on a long bicycle or motorcycle ride), but also a great American work of art.

Okay, now I have to go find it and listen to it! I most likely won’t have the same reaction, but who knows? Same as with both Moby Grape and The Grateful Dead’s eponymous debut albums: I’ve never listened to Moby Grape and could never get into The Dead, but now I’m going to give them a shot. Same as with Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis…Peart piqued my curiosity.

He likes The Macallan…bonus points for that. He also …and it hurts to type this…likes..I can’t say it…{cringe} …Coldplay. Major points subtracted for that.

Something to ponder (on Jann Wenner on George Martin – the Beatles Martin – commenting on Brian Wilson…Wenner in the negative, Martin, the opposite):

Everyone’s personal opinion is worth the same, in religion, music, and politics, but some expert opinions are definitely more informed, more reflective, and more valuable.

I would say, probably on informed, possibly on reflective, but highly debatable on valuable. And on his reviews of his own performance, he asks himself What would I think of this if it wasn’t me? I keep seeing five-star rating “reviews” from authors on their own books and wonder if they’ve ever asked themselves that question!

So many well turned phrases pepper the text, one in particular I’ll share. When talking about Pasty Cline’s Heartaches collection album and a wandering soul slave to a sound of an “outward bound”

And what a sound that is, too, the distant blare of a train’s horn dopplering away in the night, and it echoing right back to my own childhood and all the way forward.

So, I have music to explore, and another book to read in a little while. I’ll thank Mr. Peart for the tacit recommendations.

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