Review of “Sinking Ship”

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“Sinking Ship” (aka ‘Cameron’s Crossing’) ebook was published in 2016 (original paper version published in 1993) and was written by Phillip McCutchan (https://www.historicnavalfiction.com/authors-a-z/other-authors/philip-mccutchan). Mr. McCutchan wrote 45 novels about the Navy. This is the last of the 14 novels in his “Donald Cameron RNVR” series.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This novel is set aboard a small aircraft carrier, the Charger, crossing the North Atlantic to America during World War II. Cameron and his crew are mere passengers on the ship as they have orders to crew a destroyer currently finishing refit in the US. The Charger is without an air wing and has a minimal crew as the ship is headed for refit herself.

The Charger and her small fleet of escorts encounter a severe storm that threatens to sink them all. The carrier’s captain is showing signs of mental breakdown, making questionable decisions. Severely damaged after the storm, but unable to radio for help, the ships must continue to struggle towards the west. Once the weather clears they become a target for German aircraft and submarines. Cameron is forced to become more than a passenger if he and the crew are to survive.

I enjoyed this relatively short read of 5 hours for this 156 page novel. As with other novels in this series, a good deal of the story describes the stress and strain that various crew members are going through. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Have you heard of Viv?

I do not know if you have heard of Viv yet, but if not you very likely will in the near future.

What is Viv? Viv is a new AI assistant created by the co-founder of Apple’s Siri. As with Siri, it utilizes voice User Interface (UI) to make queries and take actions. The first open demo of Viv occurred this morning at TechCrunch Disrupt NY.

While impressive in this demo, the power of Viv will be fully realized as developers are able to add more services to the platform. According to their web site Viv is:

  • Radically simplifying the world by providing an intelligent interface to everything
  • an artificial intelligence platform that enables developers to distribute their products through an intelligent, conversational interface. It’s the simplest way for the world to interact with devices, services and things everywhere. Viv is taught by the world, knows more than it is taught, and learns every day.

DARPA’s New Space Shuttle Getting Closer to Reality

An interesting look at DARPA’s XS-1 space plane.

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The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, is known for conceiving and testing some pretty advanced (read: cool) stuff. One of the projects getting closer to fruition that is drawing considerable attention, both technological as well as fiscal, is their XS-1 launch vehicle.

Billed as the next generation Space Shuttle, the XS-1 will be a reusable launch vehicle that will take payloads into space. Currently three contractors are in the mix to build the new spacecraft: Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and a partnership between private companies Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace. It is assumed that each of the three has received an equal share of the estimated $50 million spent to date on the project. Each also has its own design take.

So will it really be the next Space Shuttle? There are many differences between NASA’s iconic launch system and DARPA’s new endeavor.

XS-1 Won’t Actually Go Into Orbit

It…

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The Most Brewtiful Cafes II

A great list of places to visit.

Cafe Book Bean

lookbookThere were already so many stunning cafes in Part: I and yet
you will find in Part II that this world has many more incredibly
beautiful and interesting cafes.

Here is part II of The Most Brewtiful Cafes:

Bar Topolski (London)

Topolski gallery-bar-café-venue is a unique London space set in the railway arches near Waterloo Station, in the former studio of artist and illustrator Feliks Topolski RA (1907 – 1989).

Knoll Ridge Cafe (Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand)

Knoll Ridge Cafe is the highest cafe in New Zealand and has incredible views over the upper slopes. Serving a wide array of meals, including a fresh salad bar, hot dishes from around the world, café style snacks and espresso coffees.

Cafe Central (Vienna, Austria)

The café was opened in 1876, and in the late 19th century it became a key meeting place of the Viennese intellectual scene. Until 1938 the café was called…

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Review of “Kindred”

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“Kindred” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Steve Robinson (http://www.steve-robinson.me/Welcome.html). Mr. Robinson has published five novels, all in his “Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery” series. This is the latest in that series.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This Mystery / Thriller novel is set mostly in Munich, Germany, but bounces between World War II flashbacks and the current time. The primary character is professional genealogist Jefferson Tayte. He is in Germany follow up on a lead that he hopes will help him find his birth parents.

Accompanying Tayte is Professor Jean Summer, his partner and love interest. Tayte and Summer interview an aging World War II survivor, Johann Langner. He was in the German SS and knew a fellow SS member, Volker Strobel, who has been labeled a war criminal. Tayte is convinced that Langner and Strobel have information that will lead him to identifying his parents.

Asking questions about Strobel, who has been in hiding since the end of the War, seems to stir up the anger of those who still believe in the Nazi party. The effort by Tayte and Summer to ferret out information leading to Taytes ancestry slowly yields one small piece of information after another.

It comes down to whether Tayte will be able to find his family before he and Summer are forced to leave Munich. I thoroughly enjoyed the 7.5 hours I spent reading this 352 page novel. This is the second of Robinson’s novels I have read and this is every bit as good as the first. I have dabbled in investigating my family ancestry, so I found an interesting link to the story. I liked the characters of both Tayte and Summer and look forward to reading more of their exploits. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

The Most Brewtiful Cafes I

Interesting list of places to stop for a cup of coffee

Cafe Book Bean

lookbookPart I of my little guide to some beautiful and unique cafes/coffee houses from all around the world:

The Grounds (Alexandria, Australia)

Located in a former industrial precinct from the 1920s, The Grounds of Alexandria is a landmark coffee roastery, café and sustainable organic garden known for its abundance of fresh produce and hands-on experiences.

Caffè Greco (Rome, Italy)

This café has a rich history; it has been around since 1760 and was a known meeting place of artists, poets, and writers of all countries. Byron, Shelley, Goethe, Keats, Thackeray, Thorwaldsen, Mark Twain, Canova, Gounod, Bizet, Berlioz, Gogol, Wagner, King Ludwig of Bavaria and many other world celebrities having been regular patron of the Caffè Greco.

Mirrors Cafe (Gifu, Japan)

Covered in beautifully polished mirrored surfaces this building reflects the landscape surroundings. A row of cherry trees is planted at an embankment at its basin. The best time to visit is during the cherry…

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Review of “Spare Me the Truth”

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“Spare Me the Truth” ebook was published in 2016 and was written by C. J. Carver (http://www.cjcarver.com). This is Ms. Carver’s eighth novel.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and some Mature Language. This Mystery/Thriller novel is set in contemporary Britain.

The primary characters are Dan Forrester and Lucy Davies. Forrester has suffered a metal breakdown after loosing his son. He has put his life back together but has suffered amnesia that prevents him from remembering much about his life. He is approached by a woman he does not remember, but who claims she used to work with him.

Davies was a Metropolitan London police officer, but because of her rebellion against authority, has been reassigned to a rural area. A girl has gone missing and Davies is among the officers looking for her. She pursues a lead that results in the young girl being found alive, but tortured and beaten. As she continues to investigate, she finds evidence that there might be other bodies.

Forrester begins to have doubts about his former life. He feels that his wife, father and close friends have all be lying to him. Davies keeps digging and is shocked when she discovers what connects the victims, for she too seems to be connected.

These two story lines swirl around one another, but finally come together towards the end of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 528 page novel. I liked the characters in the novel and the way the two different story lines did not converge until near the end. There was plenty of suspense and action over the course of the story. This is definitely an author that I will keep an eye open for in the future. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “Casimir Bridge”

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“Casimir Bridge” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Darren Beyer. This is Mr. Beyer’s first novel.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This Science Fiction novel is set in the future where not only has the Solar System been colonized, but outposts on nearby stars have as well.

The primary character is Mandi Nkasi, a reporter. She is trying to find the details that will give her an exclusive, ground breaking story. Instead she is almost killed and must flee if she is to save herself.

What she had stumbled on was a power struggle between Jans Mikel, CEO of Applied Interstellar Corporation (AIC) and Gregory Andrews former CEO of TSI. Andrews, having officially given up the reigns of TSI, still wields plenty of power. He is willing to do anything to obtain the technology that AIC has develeloped.

Mikel had move much of his corporate offices and research to another star system. He knows there will be a confrontation with Earth, and AIC has already lost a few ships under mysterious conditions. He thinks that his preparations will keep AIC safe, but does he know the full extent of the powers arrayed against him?

It becomes a race to see if AIC can clear itself of allegations that it is aligned with terrorists, before Andrews manipulates things to take AIC over. There is considerable action, as well as a touch of romance as the story unfolds. I liked the characters in this novel and look forward to the next installment in the “Anghazi Series”. Without giving away any spoilers, I can say that the book ends in a cliff hanger promising an exciting sequel. 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/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Tolkien Maps

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If you are a fan of Tolkien’s sagas of Middle Earth, then the map above (I found it through a Google search for free to share images) will be familiar to you. Recently though, a map of Middle Earth with annotations by Tolkien himself has been acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The map, along with some other images, can be viewed in the article “Tolkien annotated map of Middle-earth acquired by Boolean library“.