Friday, November 06, 2020

Book Review - Brainrush

In reading the quick synopsis of Brainrush, you're made aware that you're in for a different kind of thriller novel.  Indeed, the story is an international, millitary-esque thriller but it expands into other genres as well ranging from sci-fi to paranormal and filled with bits of romantic and buddy comedy.  To a large extent, this is a cinematic novel filled with lots of action and quick takes but it also slows down and plods through a lot of detail and information.

The premise involves a terminally ill man named Jake.  During an MRI, an earthquake shakes the machine and rattles his body and mind and apparently unlocks some amazing mental and physical abilities.  Before long, these abilities get Jake caught up in a global adventure with high stakes.  The story continues to get more and more intricate with new threats and revelations showing up every few chapters.  Many sections read like something caught between James Bond and Jason Bourne.  As you reach the climax of the book and work through the final few chapters, you get a bit of X-files or Indiana Jones (and the Crystal Skull).

In terms of believability, the story stretches things as paper thin as many adventure movies.  As such, the general character and plot development is a little weak, but an entertained reader can employ their suspension of disbelief to ride alongside Jake and his friends.  As more and more outrageous plot elements showed up, I found my willing to suspend disbelief to be waning but I continued on and generally enjoyed the story.

Books Reviewed in 2020

Each year I try to read and review a bunch of books. Some years I do better than others. Some years life gets too crazy and I either don't read as much as I'd like, or I don't write reviews on as much, or a combination of both.

Below are the books reviewed during this year.

Here are links to the past few years (2019, 2018, 2017, 20162015, 2014, 20132012, 2011, 2010, 2009)

  1. The Hand of Fu-Manchu
  2. The Four Just Men
  3. The Murder on the Links
  4. Dept. of Speculation
  5. Brainrush

Friday, October 09, 2020

Book Review - Dept of Speculation

I had heard and read a fair amount of praise for Jenny Offil's Dept. of Speculation so I was excited to finally pick it up and give it a whirl. Among the reviews and details I'd heard was a lot of commentary about the style and structure of the book so I jumped in with a decent sense of what to expect. Having read the book, I can say that the plot of the book is fairly straightforward and somewhat unremarkable (at least In My Opinion) so it makes sense that most of the praise is about the structure, style and technique of the book. 

The story tells about the life of a woman over the course of a few years. It describes her dating life, her work life, her married life, her life as a mother and (*spoiler*) her life as a divorcee. The course of her life is often rather mundane, though she does have numerous sparks of interest that come off as humorous or at least a little intriguing (for example, her work as a fact checker or ghost writing for an 'almost astronaut'). Even though it's not entirely predictable, the plot line felt very familiar and didn't really strain the reader too much to dive into the life of the narrator.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Board Game Review - Cosmic Factory

As a family, we don't always enjoy "real time" games as they tend to stress out some of our players. But we do generally enjoy tile placement games such as Carcassonne as well as drafting games like Sushi Go or 7 Wonders. So we decided to give this a try.

In Cosmic Factory, you are drafting tiles which you will then try to place in such a ways as to create clusters of different types of planets grouped between strings of asteroids and blank spaces.
You will score each color group depending on the number of planets (and the length of your asteroid path) and then at the end of the game your final score is based on the combined total of the score for your asteroids and the LOWEST scoring color.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Book Review - The Murder on the Links

I've taken a very random approach to my reading of the Hercule Poirot stories so it felt very interesting to read Murder on the Links (the second in his series?) after having read some of the later ones.  It was fun to see ways in which Poirot's character and stories evolved over time.  The most notable feeling I had was that Christie was still working out the nature of the relationship between Poirot and Hastings. Their interactions in this novel felt closer to a Holmes/Watson pairing than in later books.  At the same time, I appreciate the points in which Hastings took a more central role in the plot (even if he did make a mess of it *spoilers*).

As you might expect, the writing is fantastic and the plot is tight.  From the initial few chapters you are knocked off balance while thrown into the thick of things.  Poirot receives a mysterious letter from a man worried for his life.  

The day Poirot arrives, the police are there investigating his murder. The French inspector, Giraud, is resentful of Poirot's help and treats him with antagonism and condescension, claiming that Poirot's methods are outdated and useless and that he should leave the job to the professionals and their modern training and methods.