The Adventures of Dodge Dalton in the Shadow of Falcon’s Wings by Sean Ellis


dodge_dalton_1_iconThis book reads is if it were written by an author in the mid-1900’s. This is made all the more fun, knowing that Sean Ellis is a modern day thriller author who has effectively revived genre fiction from a nearly forgotten age.

Shadow the Falcon’s Wings was fun and unique in so many ways. First of all, it’s a period adventure taking place in an unspecified time, apparently circa 1930’s or 1940’s. Secondly, it’s clear that Mr. Ellis had a great deal of fun with the technology of that time period while playing with what would’ve been considered futuristic technology to the people of that time. All of this plays out in a thrilling and fun adventure that is steeped in extreme creativity that is nothing short of riveting.
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The Emerald Scepter by Paul Kemprecos

emerald_kemprecos_iconThe Emerald Scepter is one of those rip-roaring adventures that I didn’t see coming.  It was a book that I found intriguing after reading its description online.  But it turned out to be one of those books that will never have a description that can do it justice.  We’re talking a 500 page novel that is cover to cover action and suspense.  The characters and interesting and engaging while the plot leaves the reader with a constantly evolving understanding of the protagonist’s past and present.

All of this is an exceptional treat for fans of the thriller genre as many will recognized Paul Kemprecos’s name from his collaborative work with Clive Cussler on The Numa Files (the Kurt Austin series).  And while it comes as no surprise that Paul is a gifted story-teller, The Emerald Scepter proves that he has saved his best work for his solo career.
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The Crypt of Dracula by Kane Gilmour

cyrpt_dracula_iconEvery once in a while I come across a book that is pure genre fun.  Being a big fan of classic monster movies, I’ve been disappointed at the way vampire fiction has devolved in recent years.  The target audience appears to have shifted and with it the content and quality of the fiction has degraded.  Whatever happened to classic vampire fiction?  I want the really old school stuff like Bram Stoker’s original novel, Dracula— or the low budget Hammer Horror films.  The current trend in vampire fiction is enough to turn me off the topic altogether.

If you’ve been feeling like I have, there’s great news!  Kane Gilmour’s, The Crypt of Dracula, is a novela that is just what we’ve been waiting for.  It’s the tried and true vampire story that gets your heart pounding and once again brings life to the things that go bump in the night.  This is the kind of story Bram Stoker would write if he were still alive and kicking.  Very much in the same vein (sorry, it had to be done) as Stoker’s original Dracula tale, this is a period story which takes place in Transylvania.  A grieving stone mason is hired by a mysterious Count to repair his damaged and neglected castle located outside a remote village populated by troubled, xenophobic farmers who have come to fear the night.
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The Problem with Star Rating Scales on Book Review Sites

Are star ratings arbitrary?

I think they are.  I have a feeling that many folks have their own idea of what the star rating scale represents when they assign a score to a book.  I think they do this regardless of the metric values of the review service they’re using and I think it’s because of two things.  First, the review services don’t agree on the rating scale.  Second, those services/sites don’t make the values of that star rating scale immediately obvious.

For example, here’s the scale from Amazon.com:
1 star: I hate it
2 stars: I don’t like it
3 stars: It’s OK
4 stars: I like it
5 stars: I love it

But here’s the scale from GoodReads.com:
1 star: didn’t like it
2 stars: it was OK
3 stars: liked it
4 stars: really liked it
5 stars: it was amazing

These are vastly different scoring systems!

What do I do when I score a book? I don’t even pay attention to each sites established scale because it requires more consideration than I want to give. Plus, I believe that a significant portion of the people scoring the books are doing it without regard for the sites supposedly accepted and established scale. I think it’s arbitrary.
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The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone

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An unpredictable series of events are trigger when hardware store owner, Bill Ferguson, interferes with the kidnapping of a teenage girl from a local highway rest stop.  The would be kidnaper turns out to be an elusive serial killer/kidnaper who has been eluding the FBI for nearly three years.

When Ferguson prevents the abduction, he puts himself and his family in the crosshairs of the deadly fugitive.  From there the story takes off as an FBI manhunt spares no manpower in the search for the famed “I-90 Killer.”  But it’s the direction the story takes after this that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Folks squeamish to child violence might be sensitive to parts of this book.  That said, the author has done a masterful job of navigating a very delicate line.  Both with his prose, and with the plot.  This is a story about a sadistic kidnaper and killer but it’s also the story of a hero and a man willing to do absolutely anything to protect his family.  So those sensitive should be warned but they should not dismiss this book outright.  This is one of those visceral empowering stories of good versus evil but it’s one you can have confidence in the outcome.  This is worth your time.  The resulting anxiety is well developed and properly rewarded.  It’s the sort of writing that makes for a successful thriller, and that is exactly what Allan Leverone has done.
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Rise of the Dark Angel by Carol Brearley

rise_of_the_dark_angel_iconA few years back, a series of books made an international splash.  The central thread of the trilogy was a young woman who was mistreated and abused in a horrific fashion.  And throughout the three book series, the central character ultimately had her revenge.  That series was ultimately known as the Millennium Trilogy and was written by Stieg Larsson.  Many know the series better by the title of the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  It was an international smash hit and, at its core, it dealt with a woman who had been horribly wronged.

Fans of the Millennium Trilogy are likely to appreciate the visceral drama at the heart of Rise of the Dark Angel.  Only where Stieg Larsson literally spent hundreds of pages slowly spinning his tale and taking lengthy side trips, Carol Brearley tells a tale that is much more on point while equally gritty and engaging.  It’s the story of Aingeal, a young woman living in New York City.  The story opens strong and hits the reader hard as we experience how Aingeal is wronged first hand, through her eyes.

In many ways, this is one of the things that makes this story so powerful.  It’s told in the first person.  The reader experiences everything through the character’s eyes.  The fear, the pain, the need to heal, and ultimately the thirst for revenge.  The author, Carol Brearley, puts the reader there, front row for the roller coaster ride that is both Aingeal’s pain and her road to recovery.
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ShareMouse: The Software KVM That Works

sharemouse_iconMac users looking for a software solution that allows them to share a single keyboard and mouse with multiple computers have had a likely experienced a great deal of heartache over the years.  Synergy has been around for a long time but it’s always been a bag of hurt.  It’s cross-platform but not user-friendly, let alone Mac-like.  If you can get it to work you should count yourself lucky.  But don’t worry, your luck won’t last long.  One day that setup will just stop working and then the real pain begins.  The problems with Synergy were what made me a big fan of a solution called Teleport.  At one time it was a great solution and far easier than Synergy to configure.  But then the Mac OS was updated and updated again.  And either the developers of Teleport weren’t interested in maintaining support or they just weren’t up to the challenge.  Teleport hasn’t worked properly for me in years!  Looking at the support forum and searching Google quickly proved I wasn’t the only one having trouble.

So where does that leave us?  If you’re a computer user who has more than one computer on your desk, in a perfect world, all of those machines could be controlled using a single keyboard and mouse.  For example, I have a Mac Mini with 2 monitors attached.  But I frequently need to use my MacBook Pro at the same desk.  I want to control both the Mac Mini and the MacBook Pro from the same keyboard and mouse.  And while Synergy and Teleport have either proven unreliable or outright failures, an alternative software solution called ShareMouse, thankfully, has proven an extremely viable solution.
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Review: Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson

island_731_iconJeremy Robinson comes through again with another great action/thriller. While the chilling danger faced by the characters of this novel is fiction, shockingly it is grounded in fact. The infamous Unit 731 was obviously the inspiration which fueled this novel. And while the book shines a light on many outrageous atrocities, few readers are likely to realize how many historic references are factual.

Island 731 is a chilling thriller and a troubling cautionary tail warning of what might happen scientific advancement is put ahead of human decency and morality.

Looking for more information on Jeremy Robinson?  Find it on his web site, at www.jeremyrobinsononline.com. You can also find him on Facebook as well as Twitter.

Network— Your Digital Footprint Is NOT Out To Get You

The info surfaced in this 3 minute video is fascinating. It details the sort of information that can be surfaced by evaluating an individuals aggregate digital footprint.

But in the video’s final moments it takes a wrong turn and tries to explain that all of this information is somehow malignant. I disagree. I think that summation is unfair. Yes, the data is out there. No, it is not inherently destructive or damaging. In the end, all of this information is a part of what we commonly refer to as the internet and that is a resource that has benefitted mankind in ways far greater than the sum of its detriment.

Roll Your Own Fusion Drive: Benchmarks

fusion_drive_iconApple’s new so-called Fusion Drive technology is interesting.  The cost of SSD drives is falling but not at a rate that consumers (or apparently Apple) would like.  To that end, Apple engineers have come up with a novel solution that is proving to be a surprisingly effective middle-ground initiative.  A Fusion Drive is comprised of two separate drive mechanisms.  The first is an SSD drive 128GB or greater.  The second drive is a conventional spinning hard drive, either 5400rpm or 7200rpm, now typically referred to as an HDD.  The HDD can be pretty much any size, currently all the way up to 3TB.

What turns these two disparate drives into a Fusion Drive is the way they’re formatted.  Apple’s Core Storage API includes the ability to effectively stripe the two drives into a single logical volume.  Think of the single volume as a hybrid: the best parts of SSD (fast, fast, fast) with the best parts of the HDD (lots of cheap space).  But what makes the Fusion Drive truly remarkable is what happens to the data on the drive automatically and invisibly once formatting is complete.  Once the SSD and the HDD have been merged into a single Fusion Drive, the Mac OS becomes responsible for distributing the data across the two separate drive mechanisms.  It does this allocation with intelligence.   The most used data files, or files that benefit most from faster access times are stored on the SSD.  Larger or lesser used files are stored on the HDD’s spinning platters.  The idea being that the files on the SSD can be accessed more quickly, having vastly superior read and write times.
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