SpecOps: Expeditionary Force, Book 2 by Craig Alanson

book cover

Continuing the adventures of Barney and the Beer Can… I mean Joe Bishop and the great and all powerful Skippy. The feels in this one are real and plentiful.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this book other than that it is a continuation of the last book with lots more Skippy doing his thing. If you read or listened to the first book and didn’t like Skippy so much, then maybe this series is not for you. But if you loved Skippy then I think you will love this book.

R.C. Bray continues doing an amazing job bringing the snark to life.

From the publisher:

Colonel Joe Bishop made a promise, and he’s going to keep it: taking the captured alien starship Flying Dutchman back out. He doesn’t agree when the UN decides to send almost 70 elite Special Operations troops, hotshot pilots, and scientists with him; the mission is a fool’s errand he doesn’t expect to ever return from. At least this time, the Earth is safe, right?

Not so much.

©2016 Craig Alanson (P)2017 Podium Publishing

I rate SpecOps an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who liked Columbus Day.

Columbus Day by Craig Alanson

Columbus Day Book Cover

I am always looking for a new Sci-Fi series that has a lot of humor in it and after the Bobiverse series I wanted to keep the laughs going.

Columbus Day is the first in the Expeditionary Force series of books by Craig Alanson.

With narration by R.C. Bray, you can never go wrong, and his portrayal of Bishop, Skippy, and the entire Expeditionary Force crew is fantastic.

This the story of a man and his super-duper intelligent beer can of AWESOMENESS. If that doesn’t get you to read the book, then nothing will.

From the publisher:

We were fighting on the wrong side of a war we couldn’t win. And that was the good news.

The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon came ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There went the good old days, when humans got killed only by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits.

When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn’t even be fighting the Ruhar; they aren’t our enemy. Our allies are.

I’d better start at the beginning.

©2016 Craig Alanson (P)2016 Podium Publishing

I rate Columbus Day an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone looking for fun sci-fi.

P.S.

An 8 out of 10 may seem a bit low, but the books and the stories get better and better.

Where the Hell is Tesla? by Rob Dircks

Where the Hell is Tesla Book Cover

This had been sitting in my Audible Wish List for some time, after listening to The Wrong Unit, I wanted to continue the goodness with another Rob Dircks novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Where the Hell is Tesla? which was made even more charming by the author’s reading of the tale.

There is not a lot new in this story, I feel like I have experienced all of the tropes before, but they are used to great effect in this time and space traveling experience. And it has Tesla!

From the publisher:

Sci-fi odyssey. Comedy. Love story. And of course, Nikola Tesla.

I’ll let Chip, the main character, tell you more: “I found the journal at work. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it work, but that’s where I found it. It’s the lost journal of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors and visionaries ever. Before he died in 1943, he kept a notebook filled with spectacular claims and outrageous plans. One of these plans was for an “INTERDIMENSIONAL TRANSFER APPARATUS” – that allowed someone (in this case me and my friend Pete) to travel to other versions of the infinite possibilities around us. Crazy, right? But that’s just where the crazy starts.”

Chip’s Official Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The events depicted in the collection of emails did not happen. I have never been in contact with a covert government group attempting to suppress knowledge of the lost journal of Nikola Tesla. I have not been threatened with death if I divulge the secrets contained inside. They did not buy me this handsome jacket (oh crap, you’re listening to this – trust me, it looks great on me). They did not come to my place, and liquor me up, and offer to publish this book as a sci-fi comedy novel to throw the public off the trail of the real truth.

Or did they?

I’m kidding. Of course they didn’t.

Or did they?

God, I can’t keep my big mouth shut.

©2015 Rob Dircks (P)2015 Rob Dircks

I rate Where the Hell is Tesla? a 7 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun sci-fi time-travel romp.

The Wrong Unit by Rob Dircks

The Wrong Unit Book Cover
I really needed something humorous to read and The Wrong Unit really paid off.

There is a lot of humor and humanity in this story of a… well wait. This is yet another one of those stories where I don’t want to give too much away. Even telling you the main plot idea in the book would be giving to much away.

Let’s just say it is a very humorous story of the distant future where machines have… You’ll have to read or listen to it yourself to find out.

From the publisher:

I don’t know what the humans are so cranky about. Their enclosures are large, they ingest over 1,000 calories per day, and they’re allowed to mate. Plus, they have me: an Autonomous Servile Unit, housed in a mobile/bipedal chassis. I do my job well: keep the humans healthy and happy.

"Hey you."

Heyoo. That’s my name, I suppose. It’s easier for the humans to remember than 413s98-itr8. I guess I’ve gotten used to it.

Rob Dircks, author of Where the Hell is Tesla? and Don’t Touch the Blue Stuff!, has a “unit” with a problem: how to deliver his package, out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to guide him. Oh, and with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. It’s a science fiction tale of technology gone haywire, unlikely heroes, and the nature of humanity. (Woah. That last part sounds deep. Don’t worry, it’s not.)

©2016 Rob Dircks (P)2016 Rob Dircks

I rate this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone looking for a good story with plenty of humor.

The Frequency of Aliens by Gene Doucette

The Frequency of Aliens Book Cover

This is the second book in the Sorrow Falls series. The first was The Spaceship Next Door which I read and reviewed last year.

I really enjoyed The Spaceship Next Door and The Frequency of Aliens continues the adventures of Annie Collins as she heads off to college. I really don’t won’t to tell you much more about the story, I feel that the less you know, the more you will enjoy it.

Suffice to say Steve Carlson does an amazing job narrating the book bring all of the characters to life including men, women, ghost, and aliens alike.

From the publisher:

Annie Collins is back!

Becoming an overnight celebrity at age 16 should have been a lot more fun. Yes, there were times when it was extremely cool, but when the newness of it all wore off, Annie Collins was left with a permanent security detail and the kind of constant scrutiny that makes the college experience especially awkward.

Not helping matters: she’s the only kid in school with her own pet spaceship.

She would love it if things found some kind of normal, but as long as she has control of the most lethal – and only – interstellar vehicle in existence, that isn’t going to happen. Worse, things appear to be going in the other direction. Instead of everyone getting used to the idea of the ship, the complaints are getting louder. Public opinion is turning, and the demands that Annie turn over the ship are becoming more frequent. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to think Annie is giving them nightmares.

Nightmares aren’t the only weird things going on lately. A government telescope in California has been abandoned, and nobody seems to know why.

The man called on to investigate – Edgar Somerville – has become the go-to guy whenever there’s something odd going on, which has been pretty common lately. So far, nothing has panned out: no aliens or zombies or anything else that might be deemed legitimately peculiar…but now may be different, and not just because Ed can’t find an easy explanation. This isn’t the only telescope where people have gone missing, and the clues left behind lead back to Annie.

It all adds up to a new threat that the world may just need saving from, requiring the help of all the Sorrow Falls survivors. The question is: are they saving the world with Annie Collins, or are they saving it from her?

The Frequency of Aliens is the exciting sequel to The Spaceship Next Door.

©2017 Gene Doucette (P)2017 Gene Doucette

I rate The Frequency of Aliens the same as I did The Spaceship Next Door, a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to everyone.

The Phoenix Project by George Spafford, Kevin Behr, and Gene Kim


It’s been awhile since I used Safari Books Online, O’Reilly’s online subscription service, to read something, so I picked The Phoenix Project which was recommended to me on my login page.

The Phoenix Project is a “novel” about DevOps and all that entails being implemented in manufacturing and retail environment where IT had always been seen as a necessary evil. I think a lot of people, both inside and outside of IT can relate to that. The back of the book is full of resources and information about where to learn more about DevOps, continuous deployment, and automation tools.

I have yet to work somewhere where DevOps is a reality, not sure that I ever will, but a boy can dream. I have worked somewhere that was able to deploy multiple times a day, which was pretty great. But most places I have worked only deployed once a month, or a quarter, or in one instance only once every 18 months, when they were lucky. It really shouldn’t be like that.

From the publisher:

Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. It’s Tuesday morning and on his drive into the office, Bill gets a call from the CEO.

The company’s new IT initiative, code named Phoenix Project, is critical to the future of Parts Unlimited, but the project is massively over budget and very late. The CEO wants Bill to report directly to him and fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill’s entire department will be outsourced.

With the help of a prospective board member and his mysterious philosophy of The Three Ways, Bill starts to see that IT work has more in common with manufacturing plant work than he ever imagined. With the clock ticking, Bill must organize work flow streamline interdepartmental communications, and effectively serve the other business functions at Parts Unlimited.

In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. Readers will not only learn how to improve their own IT organizations, they’ll never view IT the same way again.

I rate The Phoenix Project an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone in IT, anyone who manages people in IT, and to everyone who is sick and tired of late-night deployments that always seem to have a lot of problems.

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette

The Spaceship Next Door audiobook coverI really liked The Spaceship Next Door, it is the first of Gene Doucette’s books I have read and now I look forward to reading/listening to his other books.

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

The characters Annie, who is overflowing with teen energy, and Edgar with his G-man attitude are a wonderful mix that makes this a wonderful sci-fi story even though there is really nothing new or ground-breaking.

The narration by Steve Carlson works well, his voice is perfect for Edgar and he does a great job conveying Annie’s energy and nosiness.

From the publisher:

The world changed on a Tuesday.

When a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. With that realization everyone freaked out for a little while.

Or almost everyone. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a certain local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door.

Sixteen-year-old Annie Collins is one of the ship’s closest neighbors. Once upon a time she took every last theory about the ship seriously, whether it was advanced by an adult or by a peer. Surely one of the theories would be proven true – if not several of them – the very minute the ship decided to do something. Annie is starting to think this will never happen.

One late August morning, a little over three years since the ship landed, Edgar Somerville arrived in town. Ed’s a government operative posing as a journalist, which is obvious to Annie – and pretty much everyone else he meets – almost immediately. He has a lot of questions that need answers, because he thinks everyone is wrong: The ship is doing something, and he needs Annie’s help to figure out what that is.

Annie is a good choice for tour guide. She already knows everyone in town, and when Ed’s theory is proven correct – something is apocalyptically wrong in Sorrow Falls – she’s a pretty good person to have around.

As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

The Spaceship Next Door is the latest novel from Gene Doucette, best-selling author of The Immortal Trilogy, Fixer, The Immortal Chronicles, and Immortal Stories: Eve.

©2015 Gene Doucette (P)2016 Gene Doucette

I rate The Spaceship Next Door a 9 out of 10 and recommend it anyone looking for a fun sc-fi story.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher


I have re-listened to this series a handful of times now and it just gets better every time. I burnt through my credits on Audible faster than usual this year so to delay spending more credits I decided it was about time to listen to all 15 books in the series, I skipped Side Jobs this time.

Harry Dresden is such an amazing character and the world Jim Butcher has created is fantastic. But what makes the series so wonderful are the supporting characters, they are as unforgettable as Dresden.

James Marsters does an AMAZING job narrating these books, you owe it to yourself to listen to the audiobooks even if you have read the books yourself. He adds so much to them!

“PARKOUR”
“Polka will never die!”

I rate the series a 10 out of 10 and recommend everyone give Storm Front a try.

The Fold by Peter Clines

What the heck is Joe Ledger doing in a Peter Clines novel, haha, I jest.

I really enjoyed 14 by Peter Clines and when I saw his new novel The Fold in Audible I grabbed it and gave it a listen. The audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter who also narrates the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry so when I hear his voice I hear the voice of Joe Ledger. But this book is not much like the Ledger series.

The lead character, Mike Erikson, is a really smart guy with a photographic memory and Peter Clines does a great job of making him likeable and relatable.

This book didn’t get me too excited, I enjoyed it, but it fell like a compilation of other sci-fi books and movies. There is nothing new here if you have been reading and watching science fiction for awhile. But it is a solid effort, the narration is great, and the characters are fun if a bit predictable.

From the publisher:

Step into the fold. It’s perfectly safe.

The folks in Mike Erikson’s small New England town would say he’s just your average, everyday guy. And that’s exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he’s chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence. That is until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve.

Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to "fold" dimensions, it shrinks distances so a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step. The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems – and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.

As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may be only a matter of time before the project destroys…everything. A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you’ll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuine pause-resister science-fiction thriller. Step inside its audio and learn why author Peter Clines has already won legions of loyal fans.

©2015 Peter Clines (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

I rate The Fold a 6 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who has run out of other books to read.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I have been hearing about The Martian from a lot of friends over the last couple of months and it sounded to god to be true so I put it off. I really shouldn’t have.

I bought the audiobook from Audible and listened to it about as fast as I could. It has a lot in common with the many recent stranded stories like Gravity and Cast Away, but it is so much better than them.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever dreamed of Mars, being an astronaut, an engineer, or a space botanist. Really I recommend it to anyone at all, it is a great story and R. C. Bray does a fantastic job narrating the audiobook.

From the publisher:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive – and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills – and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit – he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

©2012 Andy Weir (P)2013 Podium Publishing

I rate The Martian a 10 out of 10 and recommend everyone give it a read.

Hard Luck Hank: Basketful of Crap, Book 2 by Steven Campbell

Hard Luck Hank is turning into a great series; Steven Campbell keeps the action and the humor coming in the second installment.

There really isn’t much more to say about Basketful of Crap, it is more of what made Screw the Galaxy so good.

From the publisher:

Hank was a dying breed on the space station Belvaille. The criminal gangs that had once made their homes there were forced out by the corporations that had taken over since the facility became an Independent Protectorate. Instead of the gentlemanly gang wars that had once dominated the scene, and made Hank’s services prized as a negotiator, the city was now plagued by the clash of corporate armies using heavy weapons. Even tanks roamed the streets regularly. Most everyone from the olden days had either fled the station or was killed due to the organizational changes. Changes that Hank personally brought about when he had negotiated Belvaille’s status with the Navy. As Hank contemplates whether he can survive in this increasingly hostile environment, he realizes that things aren’t as bad as they seem – they are quite a bit worse. The constant power plays among corporations might have further reach than just the alleys of a backwater space station at the edge of the galaxy.

©2014 Steven Campbell (P)2014 Steven Campbell

I rate Hard Luck Hank: Basketful of Crap an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the first one. I am really looking forward to the next one.

Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy by Steven Campbell

Hard Luck Hank by Steven Campbell really scratches my Sci-Fi itch. Straight-forward science fictiony goodness with plenty of humor and action.

The writing reminds me a lot of the Stainless Steel Rat series of books. Lots of good nature humor, although with Hank there is a lot more smashing and crunching involved instead of the happy go-lucky larceny of the Rat.

The narrator Liam Owen does a great job with Hanks character, he brings a sense of toughness to him without taking away his humanity.

I really enjoyed Hank and the other citizens of Belvaille and I am excited to have found another series of books to dive into.

From the publisher:

Hank is a thug. He knows he’s a thug. He has no problem with that realization. In his view the galaxy has given him a gift: a mutation that allows him to withstand great deals of physical trauma. He puts his abilities to the best use possible and that isn’t by being a scientist.

Besides, the space station Belvaille doesn’t need scientists. It is not, generally, a thinking person’s locale. It is the remotest habitation in the entire Colmarian Confederation. There is literally no reason to be there.

Unless you are a criminal.

Because of its location, Belvaille is populated with nothing but crooks. Every day is a series of power struggles between the crime bosses.

Hank is an intrinsic part of this community as a premier gang negotiator. Not because he is eloquent or brilliant or an expert combatant, but because if you shoot him in the face he keeps on talking.

Hank believes he has it pretty good until a beautiful and mysterious blue woman enters his life with a compelling job offer.

Hank and Belvaille, so long out of public scrutiny, suddenly find themselves the epicenter of the galaxy with a lot of very unwelcome attention.

©2013 Steven Campbell (P)2014 Steven Campbell

I rate Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone that enjoyed The Stainless Steel Rat books.

Code Zero: Joe Ledger, Book 6 by Jonathan Maberry


Jonathan Maberry and Ray Porter do it again with another Joe Ledger audio book. Code Zero is everything I love about the Joe Ledger series, action, action, and a bit of angst.

The highlight of Code Zero for me was the inclusion of DragonCon, I met Mr. Mayberry at DragonCon 2014 and got a couple of great photos of him. His panels were very interesting if a bit heavy on the talk about zombies and meeting him just made me want to read more.

From the publisher:

For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons – designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?

Code Zero, a Joe Ledger novel from Jonathan Maberry, is the exciting direct sequel to Patient Zero.

©2014 Jonathan Maberry (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

I rate Code Zero an 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to anyone that has been reading the Joe Ledger novels.

The No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide by Dan Romanchik

To legally use a 5.8GHz video transmitter in the U.S. you need at least a Technician Amateur Radio license. It is not a hard test, but I wanted some study aids to make sure I only had to take the test once.

A little bit of searching on Amazon led me to The No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide (2014 edition): For tests given starting July 1, 2014 [Kindle Edition] for a very reasonable price.

It is a very good book covering only what you need to know to pass the test without a lot of fluff that many of the other study books include.

I rate this book a 10 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who wants to quickly learn what it takes to pass the Technician license.

P.S.
I passed my test only missing 2 questions after reading this book twice and using an iPhone app to take around 100 practice tests.

Tokyo Raider: A Tale of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

I really love the characters and world that Larry Correia has created with the Grimnoir Chronicles and Bronson Pinchot has done an amazing job bringing them to life.

I didn’t think there was much new ground covered here, but Tokyo Raider is a solid addition to the series.

From the publisher:

With the Japanese Imperium at war with the Soviet Union, and the United States watching cautiously on the sidelines, Second Lieutenant Joe Sullivan of the U.S. Marines is sent on a dangerous mission to Tokyo. The Russians have Summoned a demon of epic proportions to attack the city, and all that stands in its deadly path is an untested Japanese super-robot. Now, Joe is at the controls, his gravity-spiking Power at the ready. But that is one huge, mean Demon….

©2014 Larry Correia (P)2014 Audible Inc.

I rate Tokyo Raider an 8 out 10 and hope there are more Grimnoir Chronicles to come.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

I love me some Veronica Mars, it was one of the few non-sci-fi shows I watched in real time. Kristen Bell and her friends just work for me.

Kristin Bell narrates the audiobook and does an amazing job, I felt like I could hear the actors from the show laughing about her impersonations of them. She really nails some of them and gets close enough with the others that it made the story even better.

The story written by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham is a solid one that could have easily been of handful of TV episodes. The Veronica Mars vibe is alive and well.

From the publisher:

The first book in an original mystery series featuring 28-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends – Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas – Veronica is ready to take on Neptune’s darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

©2014 Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (P)2014 Random House Audio

I rate this audiobook a 10 out of 10 and recommend to anyone who loves Veronica Mars!

For The Win by Cory Doctorow

Changing pace yet again I decided to binge on some Cory Doctorow goodness. If you don’t know who he is check out Cory’s Wikipeida entry, he is an interesting character. His politics are about as far from mine as they could be, but he is a really great storyteller.

You can download and read Cory’s books for free and even remix, mash-up, re-write, and mangle the contents to your hearts content following the Creative Commons Attrivutions-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. You can get his books at Craphound.com.

For The Win is an attractive story to me because I enjoy playing video games, have played a lot of different MMOs in the past and look forward to playing them again with my son when he is old enough. I also really like the international viewpoints the story presents, the U.S., China, India, and Russia all come together.

I found the book to have a lot of lectures in it, at times I felt like I was being treated like a child in a schoolroom sitting at one of those little desks with the attached chairs. I tried to tune a lot of that out because the story itself is really good, the characters have a lot of depth and I found myself rooting for most of them. This is a really good story if you can get through the lectures.

From the publisher:

It’s the twenty-first century, and all over the world, MMORPGs are big business. Hidden away in China and elsewhere, young players are pressed into working as “gold-farmers,” amassing game-wealth that’s sold to Western players at a profitable markup. Some of these pieceworkers rebel, trying to go into business for themselves—but there’s little to stop their bosses from dragging them back into servitude. Some of them, like young Mala in the slums of Bombay—nicknamed “General Robotwallah” for her self-taught military skill—become enforcers for the bosses, but that only buys them so much.All the way over in L.A., young Wei-Dong, obsessed with Asian youth culture and MMORPGs, knows the system is rigged, knows that kids everywhere are being exploited. Finally, he and his Asian counterparts begin to work together to claim their rights. Under the noses of the ruling elites, they fight the bosses, the game owners and the rich speculators, outsmarting them with their street-gaming skills. But soon the battle will spill over from the virtual world to the real one, leaving the young rebels fighting not just for their rights, but for their lives…

I rate For The Win an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to any Cory Doctorow or gaming fan.

Freedom by Daniel Suarez

Freedom is book 2 in the Daemon series of novels. It continues right where Daemon left off, more of the same.

I enjoyed Freedom, there are a lot of subplots in it that I really enjoyed, but it is not as good as Daemon and I found the end wanting. I would like more, I would like more of the subplots to be wrapped up. I just want more.

From the author’s website:

In one of the most buzzed-about debuts of 2009, Daniel Suarez introduced a terrifying vision of a new world order, controlled by the Daemon, an insidious computer program unleashed by a dying hi-tech wunderkind. Daemon captured the attention of the tech community, became a New York Times and Indie bestseller, and left readers hungry for more.

Well, more is here, and it’s even more gripping than its predecessor. In the opening chapters of FreedomTM, the Daemon is firmly in control, using an expanded network of dispossessed operatives to tear apart civilization and rebuild it anew. As civil disorder spreads through the American Midwest, former detective Pete Sebeck, now the Daemon’s most influential yet reluctant-operative, must lead a small band of enlightened humans in a populist movement designed to protect the new social network. But the private armies of global business are preparing to crush the Daemon once and for all.

In a world of conflicted loyalties, and rapidly diminishing human authority, what’s at stake is nothing less than democracy’s last hope to survive the technology revolution.

I rate Freedom a 6 out of 10 and recommend to anyone who read Daemon.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

I don’t remember how this series by Daniel Suarez came to my attention. It could have been as simple as the title of the first book, “Daemon”, or my proclivity for techno-thrillers that get most of it right.

I burnt myself out reading Jack Campbell space battles one after another for a couple of months and needed a break. Daemon is about as far away from The Lost Stars as I could get.

Daemon is a great story of a madman who leaves behind a legacy of malware that has infected thousands of machines around the world holding corporations and governments hostage.

I really enjoyed this book, the pacing is good, the characters are believable, and the technology is pretty sweet. Suarez takes many liberties with the details of the technology, but they all worked for me. The security issues that are highlighted by the author don’t really bother me that much, apparently many people find it controversial, it just feels like a near-future reality with better internet.

From the author’s website:

Daemon brings readers on a harrowing journey through the dark crawl spaces of the modern world. It’s a cutting-edge high-tech thriller that explores the convergence of MMOG’s, BotNets, viral ecosystems, and corporate dominance—forces which are quietly reshaping society with very real consequences for us all.

It all begins when one man’s obituary appears online…

Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer—the architect behind half a dozen popular online games. His premature death from brain cancer depressed both gamers and his company’s stock price. But Sobol’s fans weren’t the only ones to note his passing. He left behind something that was scanning Internet obituaries, too—something that put in motion a whole series of programs upon his death. Programs that moved money. Programs that recruited people. Programs that killed.

Confronted with a killer from beyond the grave, Detective Peter Sebeck comes face-to-face with the full implications of our increasingly complex and interconnected world—one where the dead can read headlines, steal identities, and carry out far-reaching plans without fear of retribution. Sebeck must find a way to stop Sobol’s web of programs—his Daemon—before it achieves its ultimate purpose. And to do so, he must uncover what that purpose is…

I rate Daemon an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who likes techno-thrillers or sci-fi.

Learn Raspberry Pi with Linux by Peter Membrey and David Hows

This is the Raspberry Pi book I have been looking for. Instead of trying to push some advanced scripting language or Linux distribution, this book shows you how to use the most widely used distribution, Raspbian, and good old Bash scripts to do useful things with a Raspberry Pi.

Now 3 years old the lessons in Learn Raspberry Pi still hold up. Raspbian has been through some major updates and the new Model A+ and B+ computers have added to the Pi’s capabilities, but the Linux/Unix commands, SSH and VNC techniques, network information, Web Server installation (LAMP), and a decent chapter covering compiling XMBC on your Pi.

This book does not cover any topics in depth, but it includes enough information to give you an idea of what to enter into Google to find out more. This is one of the greatest features of Linux and the Raspberry Pi, once you know what to search for, there is more information available for free. The community is made up of millions of people from all over the world that want to share what they have learned and what they have created.

From the publisher:

Learn Raspberry Pi with Linux will tell you everything you need to know about the Raspberry Pi’s GUI and command line so you can get started doing amazing things. You’ll learn how to set up your new Raspberry Pi with a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and you’ll discover that what may look unfamiliar in Linux is really very familiar. You’ll find out how to connect to the internet, change your desktop settings, and you’ll get a tour of installed applications.

Next, you’ll take your first steps toward being a Raspberry Pi expert by learning how to get around at the Linux command line. You’ll learn about different shells, including the bash shell, and commands that will make you a true power user.

Finally, you’ll learn how to create your first Raspberry Pi projects:

  • Making a Pi web server: run LAMP on your own network
  • Making your Pi wireless: remove all the cables and retain all the functionality
  • Making a Raspberry Pi-based security cam and messenger service: find out who’s dropping by
  • Making a Pi media center: stream videos and music from your Pi

Raspberry Pi is awesome, and it’s Linux. And it’s awesome because it’s Linux. But if you’ve never used Linux or worked at the Linux command line before, it can be a bit daunting. Raspberry Pi is an amazing little computer with tons of potential. And Learn Raspberry Pi with Linux can be your first step in unlocking that potential.

What you’ll learn

  • How to get online with Raspberry Pi
  • How to customize your Pi’s desktop environment
  • Essential commands for putting your Pi to work
  • Basic network services – the power behind what Pi can do
  • How to make your Pi totally wireless by removing all the cables
  • How to turn your Pi into your own personal web server
  • How to turn your Pi into a spy
  • How to turn your Pi into a media center

Who this book is for

Raspberry Pi users who are new to Linux and the Linux command line.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to anyone looking to make a project with a Raspberry Pi.

There & Back Again To See How Far It Is by Tim Watson

I think a review in CycleWorld led me to buy this hardcover book; it tuned out to be the most disappointing “motorcycle” book I have ever read.

The full title is “There & Back Again To See How Far It Is: Cultural Observations of an Englishman Aboard a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Across Small-Town America”

Just a really boring read with lots of semi-interesting tid-bits pulled from Wikipedia and Google Maps. I found very few “Cultural Observations”, information about a “Harley Davidson Motorcycle”, or feel that the author and his wife had travelled very far throughout the book.

Take a pass on this one.

I rate this book a 1 out of 10 and do not recommend it to anyone.

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

I was looking for a book to read and found What the Dog Saw on the office bookshelf. I have really liked the Malcolm Gladwell books I read in the past so decided to give it a try.

This book is a collection of articles that Malcolm Gladwell wrote for the New Yorker covering a wide variety of topics.

My favorite articles include Cesar Millan the “Dog Whisperer”, the story of Grey Poupon, and Enron.

Gladwell’s writing is superb, witty, and never strays to far from the point even when it is taking a winding path to get there.

From Gladwell.com:

What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard-but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century?

Here is the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling inventions of the pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the “dog whisperer” who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and “hindsight bias” and why it was that everyone in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate.

“Good writing,” Gladwell says in his preface, “does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.” What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary.

I rate What the Dog Saw a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone.

The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet is a science fiction series written by John G. Hemry writing as Jack Campbell and consists of 6 novels centered around Captain “Black Jack” Geary and the Alliance Fleet. This is good old military science fiction space war stuff.

I listened to these novels as audiobooks from Audible. Christian Rummel does a great job narrating all 6 of the novels and brings all of the characters to life. When adding up the playtime of all six novels you get 60 hours of space battles, political infighting, and military atmosphere.

This is not my ordinary type of reading, I usually go with something lighter, but The Lost Fleet had been recommended to me so many times that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I am glad I finally picked it up, they are pretty great for what they are. Military space battles with some real military thought put into them.

I listened to all 6 of them one after the other, just couldn’t stop myself. And now I am on to Jack Campbell’s Beyond the Frontier series.

The books that make up The Lost Fleet are:

  1. The Lost Fleet: Dauntless
  2. The Lost Fleet: Fearless
  3. The Lost Fleet: Courageous
  4. The Lost Fleet: Valiant
  5. The Lost Fleet: Relentless
  6. The Lost Fleet: Victorious

What the publisher has to say about Dauntless:

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndics for a century, and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is a man who has emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized beyond belief.

Captain John “Black Jack” Geary’s legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic “last stand” in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.

Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance’s one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic “Black Jack” legend.

I rate The Lost Fleet series an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who loves science fiction and has a taste for the military.

Lock In by John Scalzi

Here is something new, an single audiobook with 2 performances. Not 2 narrators in the same recording, but 2 narrators with their own recording. Kinda cool.

I bought the audiobook from Audible as a pre-order that came with the added benefit of giving me the Amber Benson recording of the book.

I first listened to the Wil Wheaton recoding and really enjoyed it. Wil Wheaton has turned in some great performances as a narrator of audiobooks and this is no exception.

I am familiar with Amber Benson primarily from Buffy the Vampire slayer that I thought she was great in. I didn’t know that she is also an author and has narrated audiobooks.

After listening to the Wil Wheaton version of the book I decided to wait a month or so before listening to the Amber Benson version. During that break I read a blog post by John Scalzi that was pretty cool and shines a new light on the book. It makes the story kind of gimmicky, but I don’t believe it ruins the book.

WARNING: This link contains SPOILERS that will absolutely impact your enjoyment of reading or listening to Lock In. So don’t follow the link unless you have already read the book. If you have read it, please check it out, it is a cool aspect of the story you may have missed.

I HAVE READ THE WARNING, TAKE ME THERE

I enjoyed the story in Lock In and hope to read more stories that take place in the same universe. There is also talk of a TV series or a Movie, that could also be cool.

From the publisher:

"I love working with Audible, in no small part because they’re committed to doing what’s right, both for my books, and the people who listen to those books. There’s a really excellent reason for Lock In to have two entirely different versions, so when it came time to make the audiobook, Audible did an ingenious thing: they asked both Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson to record entire versions of the book. As the author, I’m impressed with Audible’s commitment to my narrative – and I’m geeking out that both Wil and Amber are reading my book. This is fantastic." (John Scalzi)

A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as "Haden’s syndrome", rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But "complicated" doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined.

BONUS AUDIO: Audible’s audio edition of Lock In contains the bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, written by John Scalzi and narrated by a full cast.

©2014 John Scalzi (P)2014 Audible Inc.

I rate Locked In a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who enjoys police thrillers or science fiction.

Extinction Machine: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 5 by Jonathan Maberry

In Extinction Machine Jonathan Maberry has Joe Ledger and Echo Team delving into the mysteries of ancient alien artifacts.

This is yet another, the fifth one in fact, exciting adventure of Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Science. I hope there a dozen more. I enjoyed Extinction Machine more than the last one, I find the subject more interesting and a little bit different than other books I have been reading lately.

From the publisher:

Audie Award Finalist, Science Fiction, 2014

In Extinction Machine, the fifth Joe Ledger book by Jonathan Maberry, the DMS must go up against someone – or something – in search of new technology that could bring about world war.

The president of the United States vanishes from the White House. A top-secret prototype stealth fighter is destroyed during a test flight. Witnesses on the ground say that it was shot down by a craft that immediately vanished at impossible speeds. All over the world, reports of UFOs are increasing at an alarming rate. And in a remote fossil dig in China dinosaur hunters have found something that is definitely not of this earth. There are rumors of alien-human hybrids living among us.

Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences rush headlong into the heat of the world’s strangest and deadliest arms race, because the global race to recover and retro-engineer alien technologies has just hit a snag. Someone – or something – wants that technology back.

©2013 Jonathan Maberry (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

I rate Extinction Machine a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone following the Joe Ledger series.