T.C. Robson - - Reviews

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2nd Earth
2nd Earth
Author: Edward Vought, Eunice Vought
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/3/2011
Helpful Score: 1


A tale of two SEALs who find their lives and the entire world turned upside down after they fall asleep on a subway, 2nd Earth is a rather poorly-executed story with a great underlying concept. With the two soldiers, Tim and Jon, finding the world in the pits of destruction and its survivors clamoring for every scrap of food and sustenance it can find taking a little nap on a subway ride that started in a bustling , thriving city, youd think the characters would be raring to find out why and how theyre in the predicament. However, the authors seemed more content with them settling down with complete strangers instead of expanding on the intriguing base plot. Though an ambitious 460-page effort, dialogue is virtually nonexistent and the first-person perspective of Jon isnt written that well either. A brilliant concept that just never takes off.

T.C. Robson
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The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1)
The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1)
Author: Michael Scott
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 8/10/2008
Helpful Score: 3


Those who recall Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone rather vividly will perk their ears at the name Nicholas Flamel, the creator of that treasured hunk of rock that Harry almost died protecting. Now, Irish author Michael Scott brings Flamel's interesting story to the surface in The Alchemyst.

Twin siblings Sophie and Josh Newman work at a coffee shop and book store, respectively. Nothing odd about their days so far...until the book store's owner Nick Fleming and his wife Perry go head-to-head with mud men and rivel Dr. John Dee. Activity out of the ordinary, to say the least. Oh, but it gets even stranger: the fifteen-year-old twins finds themselves to be an integral part of a several hundred thousand-year-old prophecy that could save the world or destroy it.

The coffee shop and book store just got a little more exciting.

Turns out that their friend Nick Fleming is in fact a very, very, very old famed alchemist who has spent most of his immortal life protecting the Book of Abraham the Mage, or the "Codex", containing the aforementioned prophecy. And the formula for the famed philosopher's stone (English Harry Potter fans will recognize that title). And the recipe for the youth serum he and his wife so readily consume. Which means...Jaws theme song, please...Nick and Perry will age rapidly and be dead in less than a month without the book in their possession. Oh, wonderful. Just what a pair of teenagers wants to deal with.

When Perry, or rather Perenelle, is kidnapped by Dee and his tribe of followers, Flamel sets out on a quest to find a nearby Elder and their Shadowrealm (powerful mythological god and their residence, respectively) to Awaken the twins' hidden magical powers. A sword of ice is borne, a beyond-gigantic tree is set aflame, one of the twins drives a Hummer (which is pretty cool, you have to admit) - safe to say, Scott puts his characters and their enemies through the ringer.

The first in a series, The Alchemyst slowly leads the characters in adventures that they barely slide out of and provides a cliffhanger leading perfectly into the great adventures the next book, The Magician, will hold. The book is beautifully worded, providing vivid imagery quite like what Sophie experiences post-Awakening. Emotions run high, but the impactful energy of Nicholas Flamel's possibly final adventures runs even higher.


Alice 19th (Lotis Master, Vol 1)
Alice 19th (Lotis Master, Vol 1)
Author: Yu Watase
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 61
Review Date: 6/1/2011


What would you do if your words could literally affect the lives of others? Alice begins to find out exactly how it feels in the first volume of Yuu Watases (Fushigi Yugi, Ceres) series Alice 19th. Truly, all Alice wants to be able to confess her deep feelings for her sister Mayuras quasi-boyfriend and archery classmate Kyo. But it becomes increasingly more difficult when Alices discovery and rescue of a mysterious, carrot-snatching rabbit gives her the ability to use the Lotis Words (words with underlying power, pretty much) and protect herself from disruptive forces, like the sketchy archer her sister sets Alice up with. Kyo, though unsure of pursuing any romantic interests with Mayura, casts himself in the role of protector of Alice from the get-go. However, whether Kyo sees Alice in any other light than a youth subject to precarious situations remains to be seen in the future installments, which will hopefully put Alice against riskier, more dangerous foes than just a hormonal teenage kid who needs a good kick in the behind. The underlying concept of Alice 19th and its relatable characters, though, are interesting and intriguing.

- T.C. Robson
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Alice the 19th : Inner Heart, Vol 2
Alice the 19th : Inner Heart, Vol 2
Author: Yu Watase
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 43
Review Date: 6/4/2011


Cant say Ive had any cute guys come up to me and claim me as their fiancée, but I would probably be a bit wary too. Such happens to Alice right in the hallways of her schooland right in front of her secret love, Kyo. But Frey, the strange marrying guy, has a much deeper purpose and joins Kyo and Alice in their mission to save Alices sister from a strong darkness, bringing to the table a more expanded knowledge about the Lotis Words and the groups destinies as Lotis Masters. The main foe the teens face in Inner Heart isnt very scary (she comes in the form of Oishi, a prissy, stick-up clique chick with a bit of scary on the side), but it does help the group gain a better understanding of how the whole otherworld, darkness-of-heart, kidnapping spirits thing works. Sure, Freys protective presence makes things a bit confusing, but Alices unintended love triangle is an adorable one with, considering theyre illustrated manga characters, two quite hot guys.

- T.C. Robson
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Amnesia Vs I
Amnesia Vs I
Author: Scott Hetkowski
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 11/23/2011
Helpful Score: 6


Dennis, Remy and Trish are a odd trio. While bumbling through their day-to-day jobs to make ends meet, they develop scams to cheat the unsuspecting out of their money so they don't have to function as half-naked mannequins (talkative ones, at that) in a museum.

But Dennis isn't acting quite right. I mean, sure, Trish's incessant nagging and annoyingly accurate recall of the dictionary could bring the most resilient down, and add a not-quite-there mother who is more quickly losing whatever marbles she had left, and Dennis, as would anybody, is ready to spend the next few years in bed, hoping to sleep it all away. But when an entrancing specimen of a woman enters his life, his focus is shifted and his future suddenly seems brighter. But all is not what it seems...

"Amnesia Vs I" was an interesting tale, but a bit scattered in its telling. But even though it can make you backtrack to the previous chapter to see where you're at, that chapter-to-chapter shifting gives a deeper, sometimes disturbing look into Dennis's mind as his situation slowly degrades. Though Dennis's depressed murmurings can be a bit exhausting, you can't help to read a bit further to see what happens next, even if only for Remy's next round of random facts and explanations of things very few young men would even care to know.

A fascinating, disturbing tale, but not for everyone.


The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud (Amazing Tales of Max and Liz, Bk 1)
Review Date: 11/2/2008
Helpful Score: 2


Even a non-religious person like myself can appreciate the beauty of this wonderful read.

Max, a Scottish terrier, and Liz, a beautiful black cat, are called from their individual homes to lead an ever-growing group of animals to Noah's recently-finished Ark. Along the way are many obstacles that, with a little help from the Maker and his trail-blazing fire cloud, the slew of furry creatures successfully cross. But once they board the ark and settle in, a controversy starts to brew. Are the reclusive wolves causing all the chaos that is slowly severing the friendly ties between the animals and the humans? If not them, who could be responsible for such a task? It's up to the brave and intelligent pairing of Max and Liz to find out before it's too late.

This book had me flipping through chapter after chapter, anxiously following the creatures from distant and nearby lands to the Ark. Each character, no matter how big a part, has their own personality that shines through, providing humorous relief or a jaw-dropping twist to the story. Cote flawlessly links the details of the trip with the recordings of the Bible. The closing of the adventure is beautiful and tear-inducing. An amazing literary work.


Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too!
Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too!
Author: Laurie Dean
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/4/2009


What's a puppy to do when he can't find a best friend?

Laurie Dean writes of precocious puppy Baron, a family pet that, despite energetic and rowdy playing and caring from his owners, decided one day to wander into the road. Don't worry, he's okay - he just has to pass obedience school! When he finally makes it home, he finds some of his friends leaving, like Dad, who's in the Air Force, and the neighborhood kids that finished their fun and playing in the snow. Will Baron find the friend he's seeking?

This story is just too cute for its own good. Maybe it's my soft spot for dogs, but the concept is absolutely adorable. Kevin Collier's accompanying artwork just adds to the story, increasing the tale's impact. It's easy to understand and should be present on every dog-loving kiddo's bookshelf.


Beach Chair Diaries
Beach Chair Diaries
Author: Janet E Spurr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 4/26/2009


I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a beach person. I love being near a city, the accessibility to so many opportunities and activities, the busyness of it all...but I will also admit that this book has made me appreciate the beauty and calm of a beautiful, water-edged beach.

In each short recollection, Spurr takes the reader to a world of no worries or cares, telling tales of humor, sorrow and relaxation. A quick read, Spurr's "Diaries" will allow you to bookmark after each memory and explore the beach yourself. Short questionnaries and tips at the end of each chapter will further aid you in your adventures as you make memories of your own along the shores of your own nearby beach...or just in your mind. While the book is centralized on the topic of beaches, even those nowhere near a beach can enjoy it (myself included) and take advantage of its tips and suggestions (ice cream and online shopping, anyone?).

An excellent, calming read.


Beg For Mercy (Mercy Hollings, Bk 1)
Beg For Mercy (Mercy Hollings, Bk 1)
Author: Toni Andrews
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 163
Review Date: 8/9/2008
Helpful Score: 5


Please pardon the ever-so-obvious pun, but this book was begging for my readership. And it didn't fail to deliver.

Andrews puts Mercy Hollings, a hypnotherapist with a deep advantage over others in her field, through some extremely trying times in this page-turner. What starts out as a slip of her "pressing" ability, which she uses to manipulate others to do what she orders them to, on a dim-witted lug turns into an across-the-city chase to save her only supposed friend, Susan (or Sukey, and she is more widely known), from the grips of a drug dealer out to dig into Mercy's "special ability". It's all intertwined, you see - the drug deal is the lug's boss or cousin, depending on which chapter you're reading, and the snaky little drug runner has a weaker version of Hollings' ability.

It's much easier to understand when you're reading the book than the shortened version I give, and all the excitement and suspense weaved into the plot make it even better. Mercy's potential love with Matthew McConaughey look-alike Sam heats it up substantially, while Dominic (the drug dealer)'s occasional debonair entrance twists things around, almost suggesting a romantic turn in his favor.

Andrews adds many humorous bits, including a frequent camero by Hollings' cat, Fred, who favors the occasional trip to the apartment floor above her home for champagne wishes and caviar dreams (at least the latter, anyway); and the late appearance of Cujo/Cupcake, the lovable, terrorizing Rottweiler owned by a hand of Dominic's.

Mercy is a powerful character, oozing of intellect and girl power; Sukey is her perfect sidekick, fully understanding and very slightly air-headed. Sam is Mercy's handsome counterpart, creating constant sexual tension between the two. And how can you not love a big-faced, doe-eyed Rottweiler?


Best Practices: Communicating Effectively: Write, Speak, and Present with Authority (Best Practices)
Review Date: 8/8/2008
Helpful Score: 1


Fear not scared speakers and questionable writers: Garry Kranz has written a book to help you out. And college students will probably find some factual gems in this little guide as well.

This April release is chocked with tips and tricks for the perfect company manager, with nifty "do-and-don't" checklists and "knowledge assessment" quizzes that fele a bit too much like homework. Even still, those aiming towards a Business or Communications major will find this short read helpful in many ways.

Communicating Effectively covers professional writing, including the ideal approach to messages between work colleagues or subordinates (no matter how evil that sounds); the electronically-enhanced route to communication, including email, IM-ing, and videoconferencing; and face-to-face talk, from being the bearer of bad news to being the director pitching a great idea to their company. Its clear, concise wording allows for easy and speedy understanding, and thus comes to your aid in a pinch.

So if you feel a little self-conscious about that speech you're about to make, you might consider hiding this little booklet under your notes.


Black Widow (Room 59, Bk 6)
Black Widow (Room 59, Bk 6)
Author: Cliff Ryder
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 4/25/2011


Room 59, a syndicate of secret agents from all branches of operation and government, tends to stay under the radar. But when a weapons deal is foiled by a clever MI-6 agent on the inside, the organization stands at attention and goes through all means necessary to recruit the young Ajza Manaev, who is still reeling over her brothers recent death. Sneaking around stealthily and nabbing bad guys wouldve been all fine and well, but when Ajza has to surrender herself to a terrorist training camp focused on training widowed soldiers wives, she encounters more than she bargained for. Along the lines of Tom Clancy, the Room 59 series hasnt failed in delivering the action and suspense with each book covering a different operation and agent. Manaevs loss of her brother is moving, though the likelihood of two secret agents within the family does come off as a little far-fetched. Some of the characters seem to be thrown by the wayside upon the closing a quick where-are-they-now for them wouldve sufficed, but once Ajza comes into the picture, only those of uttermost importance are regarded. That aside, the latest in the Room 59 series is a suspenseful, fast-paced, cant-put-it-down home run.

- T.C. Robson
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Blood Lines  (NCIS, Bk 3)
Blood Lines (NCIS, Bk 3)
Author: Mel Odom
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 2/19/2009


Talk about a complicated father-son relationship.

NCIS's Shel McHenry's father pops up missing and McHenry recruits his fellow teammates to help him figure out what's going on. Turns out a drug ring in Vietnam has a past connection to him and he's running from a potential imprisonment or execution due to an unintended murder. Now NCIS must hunt down the decades-old corpse of the victim to uncover the truth.

Mel Odom is an excellent writer, through and through; he flawlessly injects needed shots of drama in all the right places. Each character's personality shines through, including Shel's God-fearing brother Don, an uplifting dose of religion sparingly added to the grim tale. Odom packs the tale with bushelfuls of adventure and nail-biting suspense that is a rarity in some of today's novels.


Blue Jean Baby: One Girl's Trip Through The 1960s L.A. Music Scene
Review Date: 8/16/2009


If, at any point, you've believed today's rock stars and starlets to be the pioneers of sexual promiscuity among themselves and their fans, all you have to do is look back to the 60s' to be proven wrong.

Sally Palmer takes the reader on a wild ride through the music scene of the era, dominated by the Beatles and the Stones. No detail is spared as she, in efforts to escape her mother's heavy drinking and find her own identity in her early teens, follows her first love Ringo Starr from performance to performance, looking into new and creative ways to get ever closer to the music-makers that inspire her. Through these seemingly innocent adventures with her 'network' of groupies come unexpected firsts and evaded encounters with the law, every one of which would make a devout Jonas Brothers fan seem like a sedate hermit.

Through every bad relationship, unexpected pregnancy (and abortion to follow), wild night of sex, and drinking game comes a lesson few others can say they've learned firsthand - the 60s were an era like no other in the existence of music and set the standard for today's Coldplays and Nickelbacks...in every single detail.


Body Marks: Tattooing, Piercin (Single Titles)
Body Marks: Tattooing, Piercin (Single Titles)
Author: Kathlyn Gay
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/24/2008
Helpful Score: 1


A good read, based mainly on body modification's history and evolution through the ages. Somewhat informative on expectations regarding first tattoos, tattoo removal, and other modern procedures relating to the practice, but provides an extensive list of sources from the Internet and other books that can further elaborate on the separate subjects covered in this short book.


The Book of Names (Legends of Karac Tor, Bk 1)
The Book of Names (Legends of Karac Tor, Bk 1)
Author: D. Barkley Briggs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 12/11/2008
Helpful Score: 1


An excellent young-adult tale of mystery and fantasy, Briggs writes of brothers Haydn and Ewan Barlow, whose strange discovery of a rune-carved archway on their father's land leads to the entrance into a world of magic and wonder. Once found in the land, Karac Tor, the two are said to be destined for greatness, but only if they can survive the tragedies and battles that befall them while seeking their route back home. If they do live to tell their story, will the Brothers Barlow truly be the rumored 'champions' of the mysterious land?

Briggs has an excellent way of writing a detailed tale without too much being revealed. True friends and enemies are anyone's guess as the brothers lose, find, and lose each other on their journey through the land, but only an atom of a large and complicated truth is unveiled in the ending, flawlessly leading into another twisted and meandering tale of adventure and suspense.


Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Author: Steve Martin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 132
Review Date: 8/10/2008
Helpful Score: 3


The funnyman behind the ubiquitous King Tut gets serious in his 2007 memoir, Born Standing Up, highlighting his rise to fame and the pitfalls and heartaches that came with it.

Martin speaks of his many struggles to obtain steadiness in performing, including unenthusiastic crowds and unrequited opportunities. Add in a few anxiety attacks, Saturday Night Live skits and sparing relationships and liaisons, and you have yourself the life of one "wild and crazy guy".

But before Martin hit the stages of some of the biggest U.S. arenas with his stand-up comedy, little Steve of the '50s began his antics with magic. His fascination with visual trickery quelled his performing bug for a few years, but his gift of the funny ultimately won him his appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and various television programs, sold-out headliner gigs and countless adoring fans.

Behind the fame and fortune, though, lay an entirely different person, suffering from never-ending anxiety attacks night after night, unintentionally putting his entire life on display under the spotlight, and receiving anything but raves about his career and gigs from his father. Years after breaking away from the intimate skits and inspiring audiences of his younger days, Martin sought a return to anonymity. His choosy, thorough approach to his inspiring movie career has ensured just that. But you have to admit - if the guy is so private, why is he writing a memoir?

Good question. But that's what makes this 200-page read interesting - it isn't like many other memoirs that spill scandalous secrets by the truckload. He instead allows his forgotten past to take center stage. Only a few juicy romantic tidbits are available in this book, and the youthful will find no mention of his later works such as Pink Panther, or the tale of his own making, Shopgirl. Martin just scratches the surface of these years with the '79 flick, The Jerk, and no matter how much I wanted to hear about its filming, there was only one mention of the comedic Three Amigos.

His bouts of loneliness throughout his whirlwind tour of the nation are sad, but not despondent; he doesn't attract sympathy because of his success, but you do want to give him a hug.

All in all, Martin knows how to write a good story, even his own. While his narration is fluent, detailed and wise, the occasional quip (especially the ones regarding former roommate, comedian Gary Mule Deer) help fans and foreigners alike relive the comedic magic that has captured a million laughs.


The Bouncing Boy: A Modern Day Fairy Tale for Kids 1-100 Years Old
The Bouncing Boy: A Modern Day Fairy Tale for Kids 1-100 Years Old
Author: ILIA .
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/20/2009


A boy confused for a bouncing ball helps save a village from a disease of head-grown flowers and sour-puss attitudes. Awkward concept, but it surprisingly works.

ILIA's unique tale of Jack, a full-faced and -bodied kid and victim of quite a jab and insult in his small village, leads the child to a life of glutton after being cast out of his village and into the wilderness beyond. But an old man, witness to the birth of the Sad Situation, a sudden growth of odiferous flowers atop the villagers' heads, seeks the boy's assistance in finding the disease's cure. The unlikely duo head out from the village into the unknown in search of the antidote, encountering many an obstacle along the way. But will their efforts be enough to save the villagers?

There's good moral behind the story, but it seems a little weirdly emphasized. The first few pages are almost dedicated solely to the teasing and insulting poor Jack receives from the villagers, highlighting the cruelness of the villagers and the slim likelihood that Jack would ever put one pinky finger towards helping them. But I guess that is the moral...not do unto others as they do unto you, but rather do unto those with stinky flowers on their heads.


Breaking a Sunbeam
Breaking a Sunbeam
Author: Geoff Hunter
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/8/2008


Just how far would you go for the person you loved? Jake proves hard to beat with his steadfast love for Kay in this action-packed, horror-tinged thriller.

In response to his wife's ransom kidnapping following a robbery-gone-awry, Jake agrees to assist a trio of law-evading gun-wielders in their leader Juel's quest to seek revenge on the enemies of her past. But what seems like a simple house-burning leads straight into a chain of shoot-outs and murders that even CSI would be puzzled by. And while the plot seems relatively straight-forward, the inner turmoil of each character is anything but.

The book starts off a bit slow, but much like a rollercoaster ride, once it reaches the top and starts speeding downward, the speed picks up and it will be hard to put down. The details of each person's past tribulations make for gruesome, Krueger-ready altercations, including a medieval approach to beheading. Those particular parts may not mix well with your lunch.

That aside, Hunter's twisted tale of tested love is worth a read. Those who favor Tom Clancy's writing will love the minute-by-minute gun-shooting action, while those who favor a unbreakable love story will enjoy the story's underlying drive. A great novel, just begging for a sequel.


Breaking Dawn (Twilight, Bk 4)
Breaking Dawn (Twilight, Bk 4)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 3515
Review Date: 8/7/2008


Though I enjoyed the first three books more, I think Breaking Dawn provided a satisfying end to the series. There were certain elements that were left open for a possible future continuation, but the majority of the story was brought to a comfortable closure. It was worth the time I spent reading it.


The Brief History of the Dead
The Brief History of the Dead
Author: Kevin Brockmeier
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 99
Review Date: 8/8/2008
Helpful Score: 2


When you die, are you really dead? Can you keep on living through memory? Kevin Brockmeier's January release is built solely on these questions and many more, delivering a thought-provoking, deep and powerful novel unlike any other.

The Brief History of the Dead revolves around Laura Byrd, a wildlife specialist employed by the Coca-Cola Corporation that is sent out to Antarctica to find uses for the slowly melting ice for the popular soft drink. However, a slight snag in the plan occurs - the world is wiped out by a lethal virus while she's freezing her buns off (now that is some bad luck for ya), and her accompanying colleagues Joyce and Puckett, in a helpful sense, abandon her and their station to seek help across the icy depths. Hold up - it gets better.

Every other chapter deals with another world entirely - one housing those who have passed from the Earth. But it isn't the heaven-or-hell afterlife the majority of the population had envisioned - it is yet another city that expands on its own to house the bloating census. Confused? Be patient.

While these stories seem to have little to do with each other, Brockmeier gingerly intertwines them about half way through the book, making two worlds one...in a sense. Turns out this parallel city the dead folks are shacking up in is powered by the memories of those on Earth. And, since a lethal virus rarely shows mercy to its victims, Laura winds up being the last remaining person on Earth. Only her memories and the people retained in them remain in the city. But what if Laura dies? What will happen to the city and its occupants then?

You'll have to read it to find out. But even still, Brockmeier's mind-bending writing skill is so interesting and twisted, one will have a hard time putting this 252-page novel down. And his intriguing insight into the afterlife and this supposed memory-driven plane may give even the most religious of people something to contemplate.

But be forewarned: You may never look at another Coca-Cola can the same way again.


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