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review 2018-05-23 20:45
THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY by Michael Crichton
The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton

Takes the true story and uses literary license gives us a novel of how the robbery was committed.  I enjoyed the book.  The language was colorful and I needed the translations provided in the book.  I liked how history was interspersed in the book as well as the social history of that time so I could understand how the people of that time period thought and lived.  Pierce was cool and collected throughout the book. 

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review 2018-05-23 15:58
Excellent storylines with a couple bumps
Transformers: IDW Collection Phase Two Volume 1 - Andrew Griffith,Nick Roche,Alex Milne,John Barber,James Lamar Roberts

I find the switching between MTMtE and RiD, to be honest, distracting, mostly because it doesn't feel like you're reading one continuous story.   It feels like distracting POV jumps.   Still, this is such an excellent collection, I only knocked off one fourth of a star.   The other fourth is for two reasons.   One: because I always find The Death of Optimus Prime to be integral to his storyline, but a chore to read.   Also, while Barber is an excellent storyteller, I'm spoiled by knowing what's to come: RiD isn't bad - in fact, it's a lot of fun and volume two was my gateway into this continuity because Dinobots - so much as his work gets so much more refined and nuanced later on, that this feels like an excellent author finding his way in retrospect.   And this is, to be honest, not a knock-down in my opinion: some authors intuit what to write and how straight away, but most have to work at it.   And if you ask me, I'd prefer the second kind of author.   The struggle to reach that excellence can keep them from taking it for granted, or thinking that they don't have to or shouldn't hone their craft: they are the authors who, in my opinion, continue to excel.   (There are exceptions both ways, but in my experience, this is what tends to happen.)

 

I say this because I feel like I've been comparing early Barber to early Roberts, and then to later Roberts.  For me James Roberts has been one of those authors who's knocked it out of the park with a couple exceptions: some issues got too moribund for my taste and then he quickly injected the humor back into Lost Light in particular.   I feel like I've been unfair to Barber, and so I'm explaining how I think of his writing at the present.   The fact that I have changed my opinion about him as he grows means I may change my mind again: I may find him to slip, or to reach a point where he becomes, hands down, my favorite TF author.   

 

I also am taking this much time explaining this because I think the context matters: how I view his work, and how it's evolved, does go into the rating.  This works much better for me in the context of what is to come, from these storylines and from Barber himself.   Reading this, I keep wanting to get further along, to what he does to Prowl, to the Dinobots in The Redemptions of the Dinobots, to Optimus Prime.   I'm also eager to sit back and enjoy watching the evolution of his writing.   So in a way, this is so high because in retrospect, that evolution is well worth watching and reading and it elevates this reading experience for me.   Furthermore, I'm less sneer-y now that I've seen it once, and I'm just allowing myself to sit back and enjoy the ride. 

 

Anyway, this has the Death of Optimus Prime and the beginning issues of More Than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise.   A bunch of fun so far.   I'm knee deep in Autocracy which starts off the next volume.   

 

Note: "allowing myself" at one point autocorrected to "blowing myself".  Vin's just being naughty now.

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text 2018-05-23 14:50
Reading progress update: I've read 40%. -Clive Roland - AGAIN? New balls please
 An Argumentation of Historians: The Chronicles of St. Mary's - Jodi Taylor,Zara Ramm

I'm loving being back in St. Mary's and watching them muddle through with stout hearts, awful luck and a reckless excess of pluck. This time we're at a joust with Henry VIII and at the burning of Persepolis with Alexander the Great. It's all good stuff.

 

Except...

 

Clive Ronan is back as the big bad. This is a man with all of Time to choose from who still chooses to spend his energies plotting revenge on Max. He's apparently clever enough to avoid the might of the Time Police yet too dumb to kill Max on sight.

 

Enough.

 

Time for a new bad guy.

 

Or at least the slow, painful and definitively final excoriation of this one.

 

New balls, please.

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review 2018-05-23 05:10
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith

I enjoyed my visit to Africa and reading about Precious Ramotswe and how she came to start her detective agency. I loved reading about her father and was sad to hear about her marriage to a man who wasn't good to her. She drank a lot of "bush tea" so I looked it up and ordered some. I enjoyed trying something new.

 

There were just a few things that annoyed me.  The story about the doctor was obvious to me from the beginning and it isn't that I'm especially clever.  I think it was probably obvious to everyone who read it.  Also, when she assumed that the boy was dead because she found a bone from a boys hand.  Things like that drive me nuts because then I know the reverse is true.  I still enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series while drinking my bush tea.

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text 2018-05-22 22:30
Reading progress update: I've read 62%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

I will never understand quite a few things, but today, ( or lately),  the main one on my mind is the cult mentality. This doesn't only apply to organized cults, but to some churches and/or religions as well.

 

The church cult of Scientology, for instance, has fascinated me for a long while. Same thing with Charles Manson, and now: Jim Jones. Is it the charisma of their leaders? Did they start out "good", (for lack of a better descriptor), and then turn "bad", or were they bad deep down at the core to start with? 

 

My interest doesn't just stop with these "leaders", but also the people attracted to them. What draws people in? Many of these folks are not stupid, in fact some, if not many of them, are well educated. Are they missing something in their lives? Are they  missing something in themselves?

 

I watch/listen/read to/or about people drawn into these types of things, but I still can't figure it out. Why can't they see when things start to go wrong, or when things don't make sense? Why don't they rebel when asked to kill someone, or asked to commit suicide? 

 

I guess the answers to these questions would be quite valuable if we could answer them, wouldn't they?

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