Book Review of “The Shiro Project”

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“The Shiro Project” was published in 2014 and was written by David Khara (http://www.dskhara.com). Mr. Khara has published 6 novels, three in the “Consortium” series. This is the second book in that series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Thriller novel covers from the thirties as the Japanese were expanding into China until current day. Most of the action is in Europe, but some is also in Japan. The key characters are Elena, a young, beautiful, and deadly Consortium agent, and Eytan Morg.

Mossad agent Eytan’s close friend and mentor Eli Karman is kidnapped by the Consortium. To gain Eli’s freedom, Eytan is forced to work with rival agent Elena who had shot him twice during the story told in the first book of the series, “The Bleiberg Project”. Now Eytan and Elena must work together to find who is behind the use of a biological weapon that has killed hundreds. The trail eventually leads to Japan and to those associated with medical research the Japanese military carried out on prisoners during World War II.

Elena has been an assassin for the Consortium so her hands are far from being clean. She has undergone a treatment similar to that performed on Eytan, though in her case by her consent. Her skills are every bit as sharp as his, but he has a softer side. While they start as deadly enemies, they gradually develop a friendship.

I liked the plot of this novel. It took a little more than 5 hours to complete this spy thriller novel. I thought it was a solid story, perhaps not quite as good as the first. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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

USA, Minnesota, Woodbury – Nadia Cakes

My wife had business in St. Paul a week and I tagged along as she had to stay over the weekend. We made a day of searching out interesting places and appetizing food.

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The first stop we made was at Nadia Cakes which had been recommended to us by a co-worker of my wife. The bakery is located at 429, Commerce Dr, Suite #900, Woodbury, Minnesota 55125. This bakery has earned multiple awards and they are well deserved.

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We picked out a few of the items Nadia’s had on display, and all were delicious. We regretted that we would not be in the area longer as it would take days or more likely  weeks to sample all 162 cupcakes on their menu. Then again on second thought, perhaps our waistlines are better off with us living over 1000 miles to the south.

If you are in the St. Paul, Minnesota area and looking for something sweet I highly recommend a visit to Nadia Cakes.


See my other Food articles


Review of the “NewerTech Voyager S3”

Product Review - NewerTech Voyager s3

I recently purchased a NewerTech Voyager S3 SATA disk dock from OWC for use with my Mac Mini. So what is the Voyager S3? It is a stand into which 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA disk drives up to 6 TB in size can be ‘plugged in’. The Voyager S3 has it’s own external power source and attaches to your computer via a USB (USB 3.0, backwards compatible with 2.0) connection.

Product Review - NewerTech Voyager s31

The stand has a power and activity light on the front, and a power button on the rear. An eject button on the top of the unit assists in removing drives. With the industry standard USB connection the unit is compatible with OS X, Linux and Windows systems.

Operation is simple. When I received the unit I connected it by USB cable to my Mac Mini, then attached the included power adapter. I dropped in an 80GB SATA drive and turned the unit on. My Mac saw the drive and let me know that it was not formatted. I formatted the drive using Disk Utility and the drive was automatically mounted upon completion of formatting.

I currently have three SATA drives that I have formatted and can attach any of them in minutes for data archiving and retrieval. This is a low cost method of augmenting your system storage while keeping your costs low. I have wanted one of these for a few years and now that I have it, I see that it will become an integral part of my system operation.


See my other OS X articles


Book Review of “The Bleiberg Project”

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“The Bleiberg Project” was published in 2014 and was written by David Khara (http://www.dskhara.com). Mr. Khara has published 6 novels, three in the “Consortium” series. This is the first book in that series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Thriller novel covers from the thirties as Hitler was starting to rise to power until current day. Most of the action is in Europe, but some is also in the US. The key characters are Jeremy Corbin, Jacqueline “Jackie” Walls and Eytan Morg.

Corbin is a wealthy wiz on wall street that is fighting a number of personal demons. He finds out that his father, who left he and his mother years ago, has died. To his surprise he finds that what he knew of his father was far from the truth, and now his father’s investigations are dragging him into a world wide conspiracy.

Walls is a pretty, petite CIA operative who is assigned to protect Corbin. They have hardly met before she is saving his life. He is immediately drawn to her. Based on information Corbin’s father left behind, he and Walls are soon headed to Europe to recover information left there for him.

Morg is a deadly Maossad agent, and has an unbelievable past. He is assigned to watch and protect Corbin. He follows them to Europe, but soon must reveal himself to save both Corbin and Walls. They manage to barely stay one step ahead of their adversaries, but there is a trail of bodies left behind.

This very much reminds me of something Alistair MacLean or Ian Fleming might have written. The plot was a little different and it kept me engaged with the story. I thought that the three main characters were interesting. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

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

Book Review of “Ribbons of Death”

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“Ribbons of Death” was published in 2015 and was written by Edita A. Petrick (http://editapetrick.biz). Ms. Petrick has published 6 novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Fantasy Thriller novel is set in contemporary times in several locations, but mostly in the US.

The two principal characters are Timothy J. Carter and Dr. Stella Hunter. Carter has a long military career, including time in the Special Forces. At the time covered by the novel, he is a contractor for the US government. His role is not well defined, filling the area between the FBI and CIA allowing him to go where ever a situation leads him.

Hunter is a PhD with a focus on myths and mythology. She had been a professor at Michigan, but has left after her husband left her for a younger woman. Carter shows up at Hunter’s door one cold night asking for help.

Months earlier a riot had broken out at a peaceful demonstration in Cairo, Egypt. Hundreds were killed and injured. Carter was there and was uncontrollably drawn into the mayhem. Now, he is trying to track the cause. Similar deadly periods of mayhem break out in a few US cities. After talking with Hunter, they believe that the events are tied to a myth she had included in her book. Seeking to stop further deaths, Carter, with Hunter in tow, try to track down those behind the incidents.

They spend nearly a month traveling across the US trying to track down leads. They soon face deadly opposition to their investigations, but every step brings them a little closer to the source of the trouble. This 9 hour read was interesting, though the plot was not unusual. Unlike so many tales like this, there was no romance between the two major characters. I thought both of the characters were interesting, and the story compelling. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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

Apple TV Software Updated, ‘HBO Now’ Available

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Apple released version 7.2 of the Apple TV software along with iOS 8.3 on April 8. This new software only applies to the third generation Apple TV hardware (see “Identifying Apple TV models” below). Not a lot changed with the update as it mostly addresses performance and stability improvements.

I checked my Apple TV just as I was writing this article and it had not been updated yet even though I have it set to Auto Update. I kicked off the update manually (see “How to update software on your Apple TV” below) and it took nearly 70 minutes to download, apply the new firmware and reboot the Apple TV, far longer than I had expected. I’m not sure if that was due to the speed of my local network or to Apple servers trying to keep up with all of the iOS,
OS X and Apple TV updates.

Another recent addition was the new ‘HBO Now’ App which allows users to subscribe to HBO programming directly via the internet, no longer requiring a cable subscription. You can now subscribe to HBO for $15/month through iTunes. New subscribers will get ‘HBO Now’ a one month free trial period for the service. Subscribing to ‘HBO Now’ will also allow users to watch programming on iOS devices and Macs. There is no contractual commitment, so the service can be stopped and then restarted at any time. HBO Now gives access to all of the original HBO programming, as well as its other shows. As of now this does not include a live feed to programs.

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Book Review of “Joe Steele”

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“Joe Steele” was published in 2015 (April) and was written by Harry Turtledove. Mr. Turtledove has published over 100 books.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are some instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Alternate History novel is set starting in 1932 and then continuing into the 1950s.

Son of Russian immigrants Joe Steele is a US Congressman with higher political aspirations. He is contending with Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination for President, when Roosevelt dies in a fire. Steele sweeps into office on a campaign to pull America out of the depression. His methods are ruthless, but his actions start to bring America back. Soon though, he is faced with the growing conflict of World War II, followed by the rise of Communism.

Bothers Mike and Charlie Sullivan are both reporters, Charlie based in Washington DC and Mike in New York. Mike does not like the steps that Steele is taking to control America, and speaks out in his columns. Before long, Mike is arrested, convicted of being a “wrecker” and sentenced to 5-10 years in a work camp. The outbreak of WWII offers Mike an opportunity to leave the camp and fight for the US.

Charlie sees the threat Steele is posing, but knows better than to openly say anything. Before long, Steele “invites” Charlie to join his staff as a speech writer. Knowing that saying ‘No’ may send him to join his brother, Charlie joins Steele’s staff.

I have read many of Turtledove’s other novels and have enjoyed them. I thought this alternate history was interesting but not as good as some of his other novels. The 13 hour story shows the US taking a very rigid, dictatorial path. It is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it was an interesting read if you like Turtledove. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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

Book Review of “Second Activation”

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“Second Activation” was published in 2015 (April) and was written by Darren (http://dampwearmouth.com/home/) and Marcus Wearmouth. This book is the second of their “Activation” series. Darren Wearmouth is the author or co-author of seven novels and Marcus Wearmouth shares two of those.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Post-Apocalypse Thriller novel is set in the contemporary eastern United States and picks up immediately at the end of the first novel of the series “First Activation”.

Brothers Harry and Jack confront one of the leaders of the Genisis Alliance and amazingly escape. They meet others who are not happy with what Genisis Alliance has been doing and find that another activation is scheduled within a few days to draw all survivors in for processing to essentially become the slave workers for the new order. Harry and Jack set out to prevent the second activation, but they encounter danger and death at every turn.

I spent a little less than 6 hours with this novel and found it to be about the same as the first. At this point most of the ‘killers’ are gone and the opposition comes mostly from the Genisis Alliance. The plot was OK and really this is just the second half of the story begun in the first novel. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

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

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

Book Review of “Heir to the Jedi”

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“Heir to the Jedi” was published in 2015 (March) and was written by Kevin Kearne (http://kevinhearne.com/). Mr. Kearne has published 8 novels, this being his first in the Star Wars universe.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are a few instances of Violence. This Action Science Fiction novel is set in the Star Wars universe. The primary characters are Luke Skywalker and Nakari Kelen.

The story is told by Skywalker in the first person, and is set between episodes IV and V of the movies. Kelen is the pretty young daughter of a well to do business man. She has a very well equipped ship that seems perfect for a secret mission Skywalker must undertake for the Alliance.

Kelen and Skywalker set out to rescue a brilliant mathematician who is being forced to work for the Empire. Skywalker encounters a series of challenges and begins to develop feelings for Kelen. Their mission takes them to several planets and they are never far from danger whether from local wildlife, the Empire, or bounty hunters. Kelen also nurtures Skywalker some in his efforts to grow more familiar with the Force.

This was a relatively good 6.5 hour read in the familiar Star Wars universe. I think that this story shows a little different side to Skywalker than we have seen before. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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