Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Annual Reading Challenge

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Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:35 pm

It's an hour and a half to New Years, and the first resolution I will make is my 2017 book reading goal:

12 books

I know I have a very busy year ahead of me. On the non-work projects front, I'll have a lot on my plate, so I am sure that will impact on reading time...but even so, I'd like to bump up my quota from this past years' challenge, from 10 to 12.

Here's to a great new year of great reading!!! :D
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:04 pm

Book #1

The Dead Key
by D.M. Pulley

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I'm on the board! This was my first book of this new year, and it was looooooooooooong. Maybe not so much in page numbers, but certainly in tooth! It was the 2014 Winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner. Really?

It was a great premise....a bank shut closed for 20 years with deep, dark secrets in it's sealed safety deposit boxes, whose keys were suspiciously 'lost'. That had me!

Unfortunately, the characters were only mildly interesting...actually, the two lead characters were INCREDIBLY stupid. The plot was plodding and slow, jumping annoyingly between 1978 and 1998. By the end I was like, 'Come ON, man!'

I'm glad it's over, like a tooth ache being finally fixed!

From Good Read's:

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:24 pm

Book #2

Colored Pencil Solution Book
Tips & Techniques for Winning Results

By Janie Gildow, Barbara Newton

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I've recently been inspired to delve into Colored Pencil, which I've only had the most rudimentary, of not near non-existant experience in. I had a couple books on the subject, bought back around 2000....this being one of them, and the most 'basic' (the other is a rather advanced workbook). I've always been primarily, a painter (Oils); and my 'dry art' media experience has been in graphite drawing, pastels, and oil pastels. I've also had a lot of experience with pen & ink; a modicum of watercolor; and acrylics (both brush on canvas and plastic models, and airbrush on plastic models).

The book is excellent....it is exactly what it says: A solution book. What to do to get different results (the look of glass, metal, lace, etc,). But it stretches beyond that with a nice basic look at preparing a studio; some foundations of the media; and here's the cool thing....the BEST lesson on Color Theory, in roughly 14 pages! UNBELIEVABLE!

More than 70 specialized answers for common colored pencil dilemmas.

This was just the thing I needed to kickstart my latest obsession!
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Frank » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:56 pm

It is surprising what effects you can get with coloured pencils, Glynis does watercolours and she has experimented with pencils and the watercolour pencils though she much prefers the hard pan colours.
"Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check.But that is not what I have found, it is the small everyday acts of normal folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
Gandalf the Grey

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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:43 pm

Frank wrote:It is surprising what effects you can get with coloured pencils, Glynis does watercolours and she has experimented with pencils and the watercolour pencils though she much prefers the hard pan colours.


Mate, I am only now realizing! :lol: I have dabbled in watercolors and find it an EXTREMELY difficult medium to become proficient in. I would go as far as saying I am OK with it....not good by any stretch of the imagination. I can best describe it as, I knew enough to be dangerous :D My mixed media works are probably the best examples of watercolors done; but the 'only' watercolor works were always in my opinion, hacks.

I have mad resect for Glynis...I'd love to see some of her work sometime.

The thing that makes watercolor so difficult, in my opinion, is working in 'negative'. In Oils, you build opaque layers upon layers; either mixed wet in wet to make the desired color, or wet on dry for value shock. In watercolor, you have to think completely opposite....working in transparent layers (hence, the 'working in negative').

The neat thing about colored pencil is, though you are working similarly to watercolors, kind in the negative, it's a dry media so you have a ton of time to let it develop and get it right. In watercolors, the clock ticks deadly! (Oooooo, that's a cool name for a book!)
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:56 pm

Book 3

The Man in the High Castle

By Philip K. Dick

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The Man in the High Castle (1962) is an alternative history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternative ending to World War II, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—primarily, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule.

I found out later that Philip K. Dick books are traditionally confusing, and that made me feel a litle better actually, because when i read the last line of the novel, I said to myslef....'what the hell did I just read?' seriously, I was 90% clueless.

The book interweaves many characters, it three plots that also interweave together into a bizare (for me, anyway) ending. I'd love to explain the premise better, or my thoughts on tthe book...but I got nothin'. I'm not sure I even enjoyed it, though I do know there is substance in the (maybe I needed tosmoke a sunstance to understand the substance :lol: :shock: ). I almost quit the book about a few chapters in. It was an Amazon Prime free book of the month, so no harm, no foul.

The reason I got into reading this novel was, I'd started watching the HBO series, which is almost comletely different, come to find out! I love the TV series.

The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.

If you read this book, maybe you can explain it to me!!!
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Frank » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:32 pm

I have read a few of Dick`s and I agree that you quite often finish wondering just what the hell he was on about. I think my favourite book of his is "Do androids dream of mechanical sheep", the book Blade Runner was based on.

I would have liked to watch the series but it is on a channel that we can`t get.
"Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check.But that is not what I have found, it is the small everyday acts of normal folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Fri May 26, 2017 4:29 pm

Book 4

Split Second

by Douglas E. Richards (Goodreads Author)

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Well, I'm flying now!!! :lol: Four books in the bank! I never said I was a fast reader, hahaha.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit. After the last book, which left me scracthing my head and still not a clue what the hell happened, this was a treat. Very nice, rounded characters that played very well together in the grand plot, it was part sicfi, part thriller to me, and I fouind myself quite engaged with reading it almost every day. I typically spend close-of-day with my book of choice, reading a chapter or two. If I am on travel, I'll read moe on a plane...on vacation, I'll read more chapters...but this is why (if you're wondering for some bewidering to me reason) it takes me so long to get throguh a book :D

Anyway, this had very nice pacing, and I grew quite attached to several characters. I wouldn't say it was a 'Roller causter ride' for me, as has been written in reviews, but it had excellent pace. Lots of adventure. Even a couple mad scientists, hahaha. I loved the Aaron Blake character...ex Spec Ops turned PI....and in fact, would gladly read a sereis specifically evoted o his character!

It held me right to the end. On that ending, I kept asking myself through this book, how the heck is this going to end; especially in one thread. I kinda had a suspicion....and was totally wrong :lol: ...it took a total turn than what I expected! Great stuff...love when that happens! And that ending was great. Oddly, the last page (closerout) was a tad lame, but sweet, too, so all's good.

Verdict? I recommend this read highly!!!

From Goodreads:
3.94 · Rating Details · 7,762 Ratings · 603 Reviews
The breathtaking new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author called “a worthy successor to Michael Crichton.” (SF Book.com)

What if you found a way to send something back in time? But not millions of years back, to the age of the dinosaur. Not a day back. Not even a minute back.

What if you could only send something back less than the blink of an eye? Would this be of any use? You wouldn't have nearly enough time to right a wrong, change an event, or win a lottery.

Nathan Wexler is a brilliant physicist who thinks he's found a way to send matter a split second back into the past. But before he can even confirm his findings, he and his wife-to-be, Jenna Morrison, find themselves in a battle for their very lives. Because while time travel to an instant earlier seems useless, Jenna comes to learn that no capability in history has ever been more profound or far-reaching.

Now, as Jenna fights to defeat the powerful forces arrayed against her, nothing less than the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. . .

SPLIT SECOND is a roller coaster ride of a thriller, one that will have readers pondering the nature of time, and of reality, long after they've read the last page.

“Richards is a tremendous new talent” (Stephen Coonts) who can “keep you turning the pages all night long” (Douglas Preston)
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:06 pm

Book 5

Wipe

by Joseph A. Turkot

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From Goodreads:

'I’ve seen the tower from the beach a million times.

Way out in the sea, impossible to reach.
It rises gray and bare, up and up, and then out of sight. As if the sea gave birth to something meant to connect it to the sky. I’ve never seen the top. Maze says she’s not convinced it has one.

And I’ve always taken its impossible presence for what the Fathers say it is: a relic from before the Wipe. The hubris of pre-Wipe man, and a reminder for us all as to why it is God’s Will that we never return to technology.

But Maze suddenly has it in her head that the tower means something else, something different than the history the Fathers have given us. I think she’s a conspiracy theorist.

Until she shows me the map. Just the word mirror scribbled in red ink, next to a marking, and she expects me to go into the Deadlands with her. As long as I’ve known of her recklessness, and as much of a bad influence as she is on me, I can’t say no. Because while she doesn’t know they exist, I can’t stop my feelings for her.

And I start to realize, when we first pass over the rotting gates, into the ruin that was a city, that it will take something much more than either of us ever knew we had in order to survive the truth.'


I have mixed feelings on this book. First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed it! ...it grabbed me and held me to the end. It filled me with a 'inner conversation' on a similar experience on the romantic angle of the story, of trying to capture the love of someone I knew I fell in love with but alas, hadn't figured that out on the same level, and wondering if it ever would indeed happen.

So yes, there is romance in this scifi tome, and I knew right away I'd downloaded a young adult-type novel, which is generally fine by my regards as, I've read some damned-good fiction in that genre of late!

The storyline is fantastic...GREAT premise! But the wring really jarred me in tow ways:

One, the author did not use quotation marks ANYWHERE!!! The story was tough to bite into at first because, I didn't know when the characters were thinking something, or saying something. It is truly the most bizarre thing I've ever encountered. I'd wondered it this was some stupid Millennial thing...that maybe this is a young author. I got used to it as I went along, but it sucks. There are also a LOT of typos and broken sentences. I hate when people don't thoroughly edit their stuff.

Two, the writing was juvenile in many aspects and annoying repetitious in the unrequited love segments, which are many. I just wanted to slap the shit out of this kid! In the beginning, I'd thought he and the woman were about 20 years old, but as I got into it and the way he acted, they were more likely around 18.

Some really great ideas here: A headstrong girl and the boy who adores her venturing boldly into the wreckage of human history. They seek out the truth of what really happened to mankind. The planet is primarily governed by two polar-opposite remnant societies, based on God worshippers (with the Fatherhood) and the Devil worshippers (the Nefandus)....both of which are servants to reductionist fairytales. In that, it drills down interesting into God and Faith vs Evolution and progress/science.

I have to admit, I didn't see the ending coming! Though, the very last couple paragraphs point to a specific conclusion but I felt it a wasted moment that could have been played out a little more.

The book was free (Amazon Prime), and I was extremely glad I didn't not waste even a dollar on it. That said, the premises touched upon were so moving to me in ways that having read it, I can't say I wouldn't pony up a couple bucks for it to be in my collection.

I recommend it with the words of caution above.... I think it is definitely worth the read, if ypu know what you're getting yourself into in its failings.
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Re: Emery's 2017 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:17 pm

Book 6

Vessel
By Andrw J. Morgan

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Excitement is high when the crew of the International Space Station discovers a mysterious object in orbit around Earth. But something goes wrong, and contact with the station is lost. Is it a massive radiation storm that fried out communications? ...or the mysterious unidentified object that appeeared just before?

A crew is hastily asembled, including a communications expert, to make their way to the ISS and not only investigate what happened to the crew, but also to try and make contact with a mysterious vessel trailing the ISS. And of course, there's more behind the story!!!

When journalist Sean Jacob gets wind of the situation, he embarks on a journey to reveal the truth, winding his way into the biggest conspiracy to ever face mankind. This is the other major plot thread in the story.


I liked this book a lot. You can tell it's by a burgeoning writer, but it was a lot of fun to read. The tome spent on the ISS was particularly intriguing.

I didn't necessarily see the ending coming the way it did....and it was a good enough one, though I would have preferred not so cliche. However, it dies leave room fr a sequel that I'd like to see played out!

I gave this book 5 stars on a book review on Amazon....for one reason....it was a story that held me all the way through, and found extremely entertaining. It's been many books in between this level of literature, that kept me so wrapped up in story and engaged with great characters.

Pace was great, and moving between the story threads was seamless. I liked how I was taken on architect the International Space Station, and it all felt quite authentic to me. It gave me the inspiration to look into the ISS more, and its joint nation program.

Though I could sense that this is an author polishing his craft, I also have the sense that he is going to be a mega star on the literary world.

Loved this book, and would love to see where the story goes beyond this point!!!
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