Book Review of “Shanti and the Magic Mandala”

“Shanti and the Magic Mandala” was published in 2014 and was written by F. T. Camargo. This is their first publication.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as slightly ‘R’ as there is some Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is primarily set in contemporary New York, New York and Peru. There are six teenagers from various countries and backgrounds. These are brought together to form the North and South Alliances. They meet to form a world alliance in Peru.

The six teenagers are reincarnations of people from long lost Atlantis. They are being brought together again at long last to confront a dark magician’s plan to dominate the world. In their former lives they had fought the same black magic in Atlantis.

This is a Young Adult Fantasy novel. The six primary characters come from a multicultural background. Having a mix of characters from diverse background was interesting, though I was not impressed with the plot. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

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Book Review of “Nine Planets”

“Nine Planets” was published in 2014 (November) and was written by Greg Byrne. This is Mr. Byrne’s first publication.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. This novel is a Fantasy and it is set in the near future United States. This is a slightly different timeline than we are on. Over 1700 years ago a malaise fell across the planet and people began to take their own lives in despair. The Brotherhood of Poor Men was clandestinely formed to provide gifts to all, to give them something to live for. Thus was born Father Nick’s Day.

The Brotherhood has constantly been at war with the dark forces that brought the malaise over the Earth. It all comes to a head in this story. Peter Blackwell wakes up with no memory. Those around him lead him to believe that he is a US Army enlisted man working in an intelligence gathering center. As the story develops, he finds that he is much more than that. As the Brotherhood is openly attacked in mass for the first time in history, Peter finds himself drawn into the conflict.

This was an odd thriller. I did enjoy the 6.5 hours I spent reading the story. I think that the alternative time line starting in the distant past was an interesting plot twist. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Knife’s Edge”

“The Knife’s Edge” was published in 2014 and was written by Matthew Wolf (http://roninsaga.com). This is the first book of “The Ronin Saga” and Mr. Wolf’s first book.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there is Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in a fantasy world where there is magic. The primary character is Gray, also known as Kirin.

Kirin is a young Devari Warrior. Arbiter Ezrah, Kirin’s grandfather, is forced to block Kirin’s memory and tells him to take the name Gray. This is done to protect Kirin as he is implicated in murder after a mystical incident.

Gray wanders the kingdom and eventually becomes a student of Mura. He lives for two years with Mura, without regaining any of his memory. Suddenly mythical, monstrous creatures, the Verg, attack Gray and Mura, thus thrusting Gray into a quest he had not asked for. Along the way the equally mystical Ronin, powerful warriors thought dead for the last 2000 years, cross paths with Gray. Gray allies with the Ronin and the Elf Queen Karil to confront the Verg and the dark forces that lies behind them.

I enjoyed the 11+ hours I spent reading this story. It seemed a little ragged in places and I feel that the story could have been easily expanded to smooth things out. I liked the plot, and the characters that Mr. Wolf created. The story does remind be a little of the “Wheel of Time” series. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “A Vision of Fire”

“A Vision of Fire” was published in 2014 and was co-authored by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin. This is Ms. Anderson’s first novel, while Mr. Rovin has published more than 15 other novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. The novel is written in the third person and is set mostly in contemporary New York, New York. The primary view point is from Caitlin O’Hara a well known child psychologist. India and Pakistan are on the brink of what many feel will be a nuclear war. Ganak Pawar the UN representative from India is a prime driver in the the on going peace process.

After a thwarted attack on his life, Ganak’s teenage daughter begins to have violent and strange visions. Dr. O’Hara is called in to quietly treat the girl. Discretion is required in order for the peace negotiations to not be disrupted. Soon Dr. O’Hara discovers that there are other young people in far flung locations around the world who are suffering in similar ways to Ganak’s daughter. She also finds evidence of strange behavior by animals in various locations.

As you may recall, Gillian Anderson played a significant role in the ‘X Files’ TV series and movies. This story fits rite into that vein. There is intrigue, suspense and and the touch of unknown powers throughout this story. I found the plot to be very engaging and I liked all of the characters. The way the books ends, I would be surprised if there was not a sequel. I thoroughly enjoyed the 6 hours I spend with this novel and give it a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Exidon: The New Captain”

“Exidon: The New Captain” was published in 2014 and was written by D. A. Workman. This is Mr. Workman’s first publication.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there is Mature Language and Mature Situations. The novel is written in the third person and in contemporary times. The primary characters are Jill and Sally Williams.

The story starts when Jill and Sally are 14 and have just started High School. Both girls are being constantly accosted by all the boys around them – groped at in the school halls, subjected to lewd calls. Jill’s stepfather is being overly attentive and she runs away before he can force himself on her. She is abducted by aliens and she continues to be pursued by them after she has been released.

Sally missed her friend Jill. Sally attracts one domineering, looser boy friend after another. She finally gets engaged, but he is controlling and abusive. Sally has dreamed of having her own space craft and exploring the universe. She has always been interested in space and alien abductions, but the boys around her have beat her down, never letting her pursue her interests. Sally runs away from her abusive finance and is herself abducted by aliens. With them she finds the ship of her dreams.

I found this book rather odd. It could have been a Young Adult book, but I believe there was far too much implied sex for that. Also, while it started when she was 14, the majority of the story happens when she is 20. The story seems to end abruptly and there is no clear plot – Just Sally and Jill surviving with no particular end goal. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Willful Child”

“Willful Child” was published in 2014 (November) and was written by Steven Erickson (a pseudonym for Steve Rune Lundin) (http://www.stevenerikson.com). Mr. Lundin has published more than 20 novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there is Mature Language and some Mature Situations. The novel is written in the first person and is set in a far future where space exploration is underway. The primary character is Hadrian Sawbuck who is the new captain of the starship Willful Child.

The novel starts as the ship leaves Earth on her multi year voyage of exploration and conquest. Captain Hadrian and the crew run into many precarious situations. The novel is a satire of Star Trek. It is more like “Galaxy Quest”, but in my opinion is not very funny. Captain Hadrian’s actions are simply just stupid. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “A Penny for the Hangman”

“A Penny for the Hangman” was published in 2014 and was written by Tom Savage (http://tomsavagebooks.com). This is Mr. Savage’s seventh novel.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there is some Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in 2009 St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The primary character is Karen Tyler, a young writer.

In 1959 two teenage boys, Wulf and Rodney, brutally murdered their parents and a cook. The boys were caught jailed, but have been released. Fifty years after the murder, Karen is writing a series of articles on the incident. She has been anonymously contacted by a man who says he knows more about the incident than has been previously published. At the request of the mysterious man, Karen travels alone to St. Thomas to for an interview.

I thought that this was a good mystery with a bit of thriller thrown in. The plot had some nice twists and I enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading the story. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

OS X Automator

I have been using the Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) program Vienna to read the various RSS feeds I have subscribed to.

I fired up Vienna on Monday morning after being out of town for the
weekend (SIDE NOTE: I was in New Orleans where the 13-14 Year Old Girls Flag Football team I am associated with was competing in
one of the eight Regional competitions. I am happy to say that they
won their age group and will be going to Nationals, for the third
consecutive year, in Phoenix in early 2015.) and found that some
articles were not loading. Since each of the RSS feed providers sets the length of time their articles are available, I believe that some
had simply expired.

I wanted to resolve this so that anytime I am out of town in the
future, Vienna will pull all of the articles. I would also like to
have mail downloaded daily so that I do not fill up my ISP’s
mailbox. Of course I could leave the applications running all of the time, but that takes up resources.

I found a better way handling my need through the use of Apple’s Automator which was first introduced with OS X Tiger (10.4). Automator is an application that can be used to automate repetitive tasks under OS X. Apple includes a suite of ready-made actions, but others are available from developers and through the App Store. With Automator you can use drag-and-drop to create, then run a Automator script.

I started Automator by going to Finder >> Go >> Applications >> double clicking on Automator. I was then prompted to select the type of the Automator document that I was creating. I chose ‘Application’.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.50.45 AM

I then found and dropped the ‘Launch Application’ action into the right window, then changed the application to launch to be ‘Vienna’. I then dropped the ‘Pause’ action into the right window below the Launch Vienna action, and set it for 90 seconds. I then dropped a ‘Quit Application’ action below the Pause, and set it also for Vienna. Since I also wanted to download my most recent email, I added a ‘Launch Application’, ‘Pause’, and ‘Quit Application’ for Mail, setting the pause for 4 minutes. I saved the resulting application into my ‘Documents’ folder. I tested the script I had created by clicking the ‘Run’ button in the top right corner of the screen.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.58.07 AM

Satisfied that the script did what I wanted I tried to set it up to be run from the Calendar. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the App file to open and run. After a little further investigation, I found that creating a ‘Calendar Alarm’ instead of an ‘Application’ when I created the Automator script was recommended. I clicked on File >> New within Automator, then selected ‘Calendar Alarm’ this time. I then recreated the Automator script as described above, then saved it. Saving it caused Calendar to open, and the newly created ‘Calendar Alarm’ to be placed in the Calendar at the current time.

I tested it by double clicking the event in the Calendar and changed the time to a few minutes in the future. When the selected time came, both Vienna and Mail ran as programmed. I then double clicked the event again, then set it to run at 0400 every morning.

Now if I am traveling or otherwise do not have time to log in, my email and RSS feeds are downloaded every morning.


See all of my Mac OS X related posts


 

Book Review of “Ryder”

“Ryder” was published in 2014 and was written by Nick Pengelley (http://www.nicholaspengelley.com). This is Mr. Pengelley’s first novel as well as the first of the “Ayesha Ryder” mystery/thriller series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as it contains Violence and Mature Situations. The novel is written in the third person and is set in contemporary London, England. The primary characters are Ayesha Ryder and Judah Ben David.

Judah Ben David is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He is in London to make a joint announcement with Sayyed Khalidi, the current Palestinian leader, at the Tower of London. Noone knows what the two are going to announce. There is great hope that the long violence will be set aside, but there are those ultra right wingers in Israel, the Shamir, who will do anything to stop peace. They are both waiting to hear from Sir Evelyn Montagu, Judah Ben David’s close friend, on the outcome of his research.

Dr. Ayesha Ryder is a the director of research at the Walsingham Institute for Oriental Studies. Now a recognized academic, she had been a member of the Fedayeen in her teenage years. She suffered through torture by Israelis after being captured, then fought her way to freedom. Many years later her body is still covered with the physical scars.

Ayesha has been called in before by Scotland Yard to consult on cases that concern the middle east. She is called again, this time to consult on the murder of Sir Evelyn Montagu. Unknown to the police, she and Montagu had been lovers a few years earlier. Ayesha has a personal debt to settle in finding Evelyn’s killers. Ayesha soon finds a trail of clues left by Montagu that not only leads to his killers, but to long lost documents concerning Palestine.

I enjoyed the five hours I spent reading this thriller. It felt like a combination of James Bond, Indiana Jones and Laura Croft as Reysha followed the trail of clues and fought her way clear of the Shamir. I liked the historical elements of T. E. Lawrence threaded through the plot. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Lost Empress”

“The Lost Empress” was published in 2014 and was written by Steve Robinson (http://www.steve-robinson.me). This is Mr. Robinson’s fourth novel in his “Jefferson Tayte” mystery series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there is a little Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in contemporary London, England, as well as in 1914 London. The primary characters are Jefferson Tayte and Alice Dixon Stilwell.

Tayte is a genealogist who is hired to research an American woman’s great grandmother, Alice Dixon. He has reason to believe that she survived the sinking of the steamship Empress of Ireland. Then had taken on a new identity, changing her name from Alice Stilwell.

Tayte travels to England to look further into Alice Stilwell. He encounters anger with Alice Stilwell’s remaining relatives as Alice Stilwell was branded a spy and traitor in the days leading up to World War I. Tayte is run off the road when he leaves the relative’s home, then the next stop he tries to make is with an antique dealer who he finds has recently been murdered. Tayte soon decides that there is more to Alice’s history than meets the eye and there are those who are willing to kill to keep it secret.

Alice Stilwell is married and has two young children. Her father is an Admiral working at the Navy Department. She is forced by a German to start spying in order to protect her family. She finally has to flee to Canada in order to avoid the Germans and the police who want to arrest her.

The novel bounces between 1914 when Alice is forced to become a spy and present day. The threats to Alice’s family and her misadventures form an exciting sub-plot. Tayte’s investigations place him in peril on more than one occasion. I liked the final plot twist of the novel that connected the 1914 sub-plot with the current day plot. I enjoyed the 8+ hours I spent reading the novel. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).