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Rob M. (caladan) - Reviews

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100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What you Can Do About Them
Review Date: 5/11/2012


A fun little bathroom reader. Some things are a (big) stretch but some make you think!


America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation
Review Date: 7/30/2019


The stories are interesting looks into the small back stories of Washington, Benedict Arnold and others. They add a little flavor to history. It is interesting that other than selling out West Point, Arnold was a highly ethical and very respected man. Unfortunately his ethics led him to support the British in the end.

The titles are a bit odd, but the back stories are interesting. If you live on the east coast, you might even find some local history you were unaware of. Fort Ticonderoga, Richmond, New York, even Paul Revere's family history. Definitely worth the time to read.


Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000
Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000
Author: Stephen Kotkin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 6/9/2016


A good history of Russia in the Soviet era. It tracks the seeds of it's collapse back to the 1970s when policies began to fail to deliver results and people, including high level communists, began to work around the system as if they could see the writing on the wall ("sticky fingered managers"). In a dysfunctional system, opportunism ruled. Russians have a history of very strong loyalty to "mother Russia" but never to the government.

The book makes clear that the old guard kept the Soviet Union going until the death of Chernenko and the rise of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Factoid: by the 1990s, 2/3 of factory equipment in Russia was judged obsolete. A lot of facts like that throughout the book make it an interesting read.

A good book well worth the time for anyone interested in history, economics and government.


Back to the Moon (Space Excursions, Bk 1)
Back to the Moon (Space Excursions, Bk 1)
Author: Travis S. Taylor, Les Johnson
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 6/26/2020


I was unable to get into this story. Following my usual rule of giving a book 60-80 pages to grab my interest and then skimming through it, I found nothing interesting in the story. The writer was trying to develop the characters and lay a foundation for a story using tired sounding astronauts just glad to finally be going back to the moon. Then a Chinese ship crash lands on the back side of the moon and the American mission changes to a rescue mission. Some of the writers characters are ok in the middle and end of the book, but it felt like it was a struggle to develop the story and keep it moving.


Calculating God
Calculating God
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 68
Review Date: 7/15/2011


Interesting way to present God, from an alien's perspective. The whole story is about an alien visiting earth as part of a study to find God's purpose for creation and sending civilizations on similar paths of development. Good characters, pretty good story writing. The main character, an anthropologist sought out by the alien(s), is a bit of a moron, but the writer makes you feel for him. Not a great book, but not bad either. A fun little read.


The Cardinal of the Kremlin (Jack Ryan, Bk 5)
The Cardinal of the Kremlin (Jack Ryan, Bk 5)
Author: Tom Clancy
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 85
Review Date: 11/23/2013


A classic spy story. I love the Russian character, Filitov. Tired of life, loving his country but recognizing it's wrong-headedness, he seeks to balance the scales by giving the enemy enough information that they will feel confident enough to pursue peace and not war. The book is just a joy to read, easy in pace, plenty of twists and turns, good rich characters, a very plausible story. I wanted this hard cover to add to my permanent library where it joins Red October and Patriot Games as 3 Clancy books worth keeping.


Cradle of Saturn (Cradle of Saturn, Bk 1)
Cradle of Saturn (Cradle of Saturn, Bk 1)
Author: James P. Hogan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 4/3/2012


Kind of a nice little read. Moves too slow in places, but the SF is fantastic. The military and Armageddon aspects are ok too, I guess. The author really tried to develop the characters, but they seemed weak to me. Dreaming up the new angle on the origin of Venus makes for good sci-fi. A new planet is born, ejected from Jupiter (I did say it's fantastic sci-fi, didn't I?).


Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War
Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War
Author: Rick Atkinson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 1/25/2019


Provides the big picture of the war, battle strategies and some good stories of personal experiences without getting bogged down in them. Seems a well balanced praise and criticism noting as in all wars, mistakes are plentiful, but planning and preparation pay off. A super-sized, driven ego like General Schwarzkopf is also valuable despite their prima donna rantings (admittedly under great pressure that would have crushed others).

For the most part, he accomplished the main goal and did it fairly well with minimal allied casualties, once again proving dictators have to be dealt with with overwhelming force.


The Dig
The Dig
Author: Alan Dean Foster, Sean Clark
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 7/10/2010


Ok read. Interesting story. Good character development. Kind of fantastic with it's premise of being transported to another planet, but what the heck, it's a good story.


Dinosaur Summer
Dinosaur Summer
Author: Greg Bear
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 17
Review Date: 11/3/2020


This was a nice little story about a teen boy working with dinosaurs that are being moved back to the wild after years in a circus. It was a fairly good book as Greg Bear is usually a good writer. The second half where they are in the jungles of Columbia after returning the dinosaurs get's kind of weird, but the first half was entertaining.


Earth Abides
Earth Abides
Author: George R. Stewart
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 84
Review Date: 9/10/2014


A classic book by George Rippey Stewart, an American historian, toponymist, novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. Earth Abides is a post-apocalyptic novel written in 1949. It won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. Mr Stewart also wrote another great book, Pickett's Charge in 1959 (a detailed history of the final attack at Gettysburg, it was called "essential for an understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg".), among others. He is a history professor with excellent writing skills and winner of many awards. I also recommend his Ordeal by Hunger about the Donner Party. His scholarly works on the poetic meter of ballads (published under the name George R. Stewart, Jr.), beginning with his 1922 Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia, remain important in their field. Read his Wikipedia entry. His professional history is interesting proving often that he could write as a professional and an author.
This story draws you in with it's frequent explorations of the impact of an apocalyptic pandemic and how the world's ecosystem adjusts. The characters are very well done, the story credible and the action just enough to keep you entranced by Ish's adventures. A few revelations open your eyes like "Wow, didn't see that coming". It can get kind of deep as you become lost in Ish's fog of his thinking,but it is a great story about mankind's recovery from this disaster and how that might happen. Sleepy's review above describes the story very well.
I highly recommend this book!


Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Bk 1)
Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Bk 1)
Author: Jim Butcher
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 213
Review Date: 6/16/2018


In spite of Mr. Butcher's enthusiasm for this new series of his, I am disappointed. Applying my rule of 100 pages to capture my interest, it would have failed. Because it was Mr. Butcher, I am struggling through it. It is not nearly as engaging as the Wizard PI series, lacking the cheesy but fun dry wit that I enjoyed from Harry.

The story is well written as one would expect of Mr. Butcher's well-proven skills, but the story itself never grabbed my attention. Of course, fantasy has rarely been of interest to me. So I am disappointed and moving on to other writers. Sorry Mr. Butcher, I really enjoyed your Wizard PI series, but this new story disappointed me.


Here There Be Dragons (Star Trek The Next Generation, No 28)
Here There Be Dragons (Star Trek The Next Generation, No 28)
Author: John Peel
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 1/29/2020


A shallow but nice little story that has little to do with "dragons" and more to do with a village moved millennia ago by an ancient race, perhaps the ones who seeded planets throughout the galaxy. It's a typical shallow time-killer ST story that is just ok.


Little Brother (Little Brother, Bk 1)
Little Brother (Little Brother, Bk 1)
Author: Cory Doctorow
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 9/7/2016


A very good story of teenage rebellion in a dark future that is not that far off. Set in San Francisco, it follows a young man, his family and his friends in a journey to expose and defeat American security forces that have gone too far with extreme paranoia and suspicion. The boy has a good knowledge of American history and sayings from important figures of the past. The characters are well developed, the story believable, and the pace just right. I highly recommend this book!


The Lives of Dax (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
The Lives of Dax (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Author: Marco Palmieri
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 7/25/2017


It's an ok collection of short stories. I just could not get into any of them.


Love's Enduring Promise (Love Comes Softly, Bk 2)
Love's Enduring Promise (Love Comes Softly, Bk 2)
Author: Janette Oke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 11/24/2010


Good Christian book. Heartwarming story with Oke's usual excellent character building.


Love's Enduring Promise (The Janette Oke Collection)
Love's Enduring Promise (The Janette Oke Collection)
Author: Janette Oke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 3/31/2020


Good story but definitely a young girl's type story. Simple story with good morals, though not nearly as entertaining as the movie. Still, a good backstory for the movie if you need something to read.


Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces
Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces
Author: Linda Robinson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 4/13/2016


Pretty good. Just a bit dry. The author's dedicated attempts to take us into the personal experiences of his team in various encounters is a good effort, but he's just not an engaging writer. The action bits were a bit disjointed and many parts felt rushed, especially the ending as if the author were tired of the effort it was taking to write the book.

All-in-all though, an ok book and a good effort to give readers a look into the lives of these people who take on the bad guys. They are a special breed who deserve our respect and this nation's awards for bravery.


Orphanage (Jason Wander, Bk 1)
Orphanage (Jason Wander, Bk 1)
Author: Robert Buettner
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 6/21/2018


ok story even if it is a bit of a reach. Fairly good character development, good writing skills - grammar\spelling, etc. It is ok if you have nothing else you're looking forward to in your TBR pile.


Pathfinder (Pathfinder, Bk 1)
Pathfinder (Pathfinder, Bk 1)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 11/17/2018


This was a strange story, rather different from what I usually expect form Mr. Card. It was ok, but not as riveting as some of his other work. Still and all, it was an ok read once I got in to the characters (which was a bit of a chore getting to know them). It is definitely an odd story, but it has a good story line and character development as you would expect from Mr. Card.

I recommend it if you want something different than Mr. Card's usual flavored stories. Just be patient and stick with it as the story will grow on you.


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