Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: "Icebreaker" by John Gardner

Let me started by saying that I have read all of Ian Fleming's novels in the James Bond series. The difference between them and the movies is like night and day. Fleming created a multi-faceted character in James Bond that had depth, emotions, and, most importantly, his own failings. Over the years since Fleming's death, there has been a drive to continue the James Bond saga, sometimes with excellent results. Unfortunately, it is not the case in the novel Icebreaker by John Gardner.

In Icebreaker, Bond is on a deadly assignment undertaken in cohort with a trio of agents from the United States, the Soviet Union, and Israel in the desolate Arctic wastes of Lapland. Their objective? Bring down a fascist terrorist organization that has become enemy number to all four countries involved in the mission. The premise sounded far better than the actual execution. Through the entire book, Bond seems to wander aimlessly, constantly missing vital clues and snares. I felt like Gardner had completely emasculated Bond, turning him into an utter imbecile who has to be led around by the hand through the whole book.

In all of Gardner's Bond books, he brought James Bond out of the fifties, where Fleming had left off, and placed him in the eighties, giving him all the modern conveniences of the time. It is a practice that, until very recently, has been the norm. A modern Bond for a modern time. But, I think that Icebreaker failed as a book because Gardner seems to loose track of who Bond truly is. Somewhere in the process of writing the book, he lost the original character of James Bond, and instead created a concussed dunce in its place.

Now, this is the first Bond novel by Gardner that I have read, so I don't know if this is an ongoing trend with his books. I will be interested in reading another at some point in the future to see if this is an issue with his other Bond novels. Unfortunately, Icebreaker has left me not wanting to rush out and read another of Gardner's books too soon. I still need to get rid of the bad taste that this one left.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Living in a 5-Foot Gap

I saw video pop up on one of my RSS Feeds the other day. An architect in Warsaw decided to take a 5-foot gap between two buildings, and turn it into a small living space. There is only 46 sqaure feet of floorspace in the entire house. I doubt that I could ever actually live there, but it cool to see. Check it out.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Serial" - A Podcast Well Worth Listening To

If you haven't heard of Serial, consider this introduction. Serial is a podcast spinoff from WBEZ, the makers of NPR's This American Life. But, unlike that program which focuses on a single theme each episode, each episode of Serial takes you deeper into a single story - in this case, the murder of a high-school senior in Baltimore, Maryland 15 years ago.

In its inaugural season, the podcast is hosted by the journalist Sarah Koenig and follows her as she tries to figure out whether Adnan Syed killed his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, a crime he is now serving a life sentence for. As Koenig digs through the details of the case, she finds dubious witnesses, ambiguous and sometimes non-existent evidence, and a justice system that seemed to more focused on locking someone up for the crime than getting to the truth.

Syed has always maintained his innocence, and Koenig is still reporting so she says that she doesn't know how the series is going to end. One of the things that is interesting about the series is how it brings attention to the way that memory shifts over time and how facts change when seen in a different light.

Serial is well-produced and well worth listening to. If you're anything like me, you'll be anxious to hear each new episode as soon as it becomes available. The story is compelling, and engrossing to listen to.

If you decide to listen, make sure that you start with episode one. Check out their website -  Serial.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Press the Bridge of Your Nose to Stay Awake

Who has ever sat in a boring meeting and felt like they were going to fall asleep at any second? Or, who has had to pull an all-nighter to get something done for either work or school? Caffeine isn't always available, so it is good to have an alternative plan for those scenarios.

Well, I found this interesting little article over on the website Pick Your Brain. It explains why pressing the bridge of your nose might just do the trick. According to the author, Mike Yapp, you start by "making your index finger into a straight bar, place it on the bridge of tissue and cartilage between your nostrils. Apply pressure upward until you feel a slight discomfort. These nerve endings are particularly sensitive and are a quick way to keep you from nodding off. A few gentle pushes should do it. Beware that sometimes this can also cause you to sneeze – so have a tissue handy."

The article goes on to explain four other ways to keep yourself awake, such as: tugging on your ears, and massaging the muscles under your cheek bones. You can find the whole article here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: "The Murder Room" by P.D. James

I've been working my way through the Adam Dalgliesh series for the past two years. And, it is no surprise that I am not done yet since P.D. James has written fourteen novels about the New Scotland Yard detective. I recently finished book number twelve, which is called The Murder Room. In Adam Dalgliesh, James has created a truly complex character with an intricate and compelling backstory that has made this series interesting to work through. Dalgliesh is not only a detective in New Scotland Yard, but also a published poet, a combination that perplexes many who meet him. He essentially deals with death during the day, and writes poetic verse in his spare time. He is an intensely cerebral and private person with a tragic past that includes the loss of his wife and only child, both dying during childbirth.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sneak Peek at "Beware of Greeks"

As I prepare for the release of my new book, Beware of Greeks, I thought it would be nice to post a sneak peek on my blog. Today's post contains the first chapter to, hopefully, wet your appetite.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Review: "Lost in Shangri-La" by Mitchell Zuckoff

I just finished reading Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, and I must say that it was a fascinating read. Zuckoff is a former award-winning Boston Globe reporter who recounts the exciting, and true story of an dangerous World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash drops three members of the U.S. military straight in the land that time forgot. With two of the survivors seriously injured, and a third mourning the loss of his twin brother in the same crash, the unlikely trio are stranded deep in the jungle with little food, water, or protection from the potential brutality of the cannibalistic tribes that inhabit the jungle. It's a compelling tale of survival and bravery that makes for an exciting read from beginning to end.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Artwork Reveal - "Beware of Greeks"

As you may know, I am putting the finishing touches on a new book called Beware of Greeks. The new artwork for the cover was finished over the weekend, and now it's time for the big reveal. So, it is my pleasure to now present the artwork for Beware of Greeks.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Artwork Releasing on Wednesday!!

Be sure to check back at my blog on Wednesday, November 5th for the reveal of the artwork for my new book, Beware of Greek. It will be posted at noon.