Books -- 12/26/11

Earlier this month I pointed out that Mark Terry's novel The Fallen was available in Kindle format for free during the month of December. Today I'd like you to know that book four in the John Lord Chamberlain mystery series -- Four for a Boy -- is available in Kindle format for just 99 cents. Now all of you who got Kindles for Christmas (or iPads if you've got the Kindle app) can download some good reading.

The John Lord Chamberlain series is written by a husband and wife writing team, Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. The stories are set in Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Justinian. This book is sort of a prequel to the first three; it tells the story of how John, a eunuch and a slave, becomes Lord Chancellor and an investigator and problem solver for Justinian. It is a good choice for getting to know John and the cast of recurring characters. If you like Four for a Boy, there are seven more books currently available (up through book eight) -- and the next book (Nine for the Devil) in the series will be published soon (early March, I think -- I've got a copy pre-ordered). If you like mysteries (that is, you prefer Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson stories as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over the current silly Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law martial arts and digital special effects movies), then I think you would enjoy reading the John Lord Chamberlain books.

Well, while I'm talking about books, I suppose you are wondering what I am currently reading. What? You weren't wondering? That's okay -- I'll tell you anyway.

On my Kindle I am reading Public Enemy Zero by Andrew Mayne. (Yes, this is the same guy who is a magician -- apparently as a side line he enjoys self-publishing on Amazon and currently has four novels available for 99 cents each.) This book is a switch on the current popularity of zombie stories. His protagonist is an overnight disc jockey/talk show host on a third-rate Florida radio station. Suddenly everyone he comes into contact with begins to exhibit zombie-like behavior and attempts to attack and kill him. (Once he leaves -- that is, escapes -- they return to normal.) The book is not likely to get a Hugo nomination, but it is a quick reading page-turner with some interesting characters. It desperately needs a decent editor (but I could say the same thing about some twenty-five dollar books these days -- and, hey, did I mention ninety-nine cents?).

In actual physical books, I am reading The Moon Maze Game by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (part of their Dream Park series). It is set about seventy years from now and I am finding it a bit light weight -- but I am not a LARP gamer (actually, I'm not really a gamer at all). I've not read the previous books in their series, but looking at the reader ratings on Amazon, it appears that their score has been declining as the series progresses. Nevertheless, I think it has some interesting aspects: Niven and Barnes are both experienced professionals and, although it may not be an outstanding novel, they do know how to keep readers turning pages.

I also have Vernor Vinge's latest novel, The Children of the Sky. It is a sequel to his A Fire Upon the Deep. Can twenty years have gone by since I read that? Amazon delivered the new book about a month ago. I read the opening chapters and realized how very long it has been since I had read the previous book and I thought I would like to re-read at least parts of A Fire Upon the Deep -- but I can't seem to find it -- so when I finish either of the books I'm currently reading, I'm just going to dive in. (Vinge, a retired mathematics professor, gained a bit of mainstream fame from his essay "The Coming Technological Singularity" -- free downloads available here.)

A quiet day here. Jeremy stopped by in mid-afternoon and he and Nancy went out and did some shopping. Now he's working out in the basement. I should FTP this to the server and go fix some dinner (leftovers from Christmas dinner) so that Nancy and I aren't going to have to rush to get to Brewed Awakenings (coffee shop) for our writer's workshop group.

Who am I? I am a 68 year old computer geek who lives in Rhode Island with my wife, Nancy. She used to be a computer person as well (we got our MS degrees in Systems Sciences together) but she has since escaped from computers to become a middle school math teacher (and, this year, has moved from teaching math to teaching science). Eldest child lives in New York City with his wife and their two boys. Daughter is currently in Ottawa with her boy friend. Youngest is a restaurant manager here in R.I. The nest is empty. I work for a big computer company (you definitely know their initials) in their education and training department. I used to write courses and teach courses for them but a few years ago I got involved in helping to set up a quality assurance group and now I work from home doing editing and quality assurance checking on courses written by others.Hobbies & interests include photography (and video), running, reading, gardening, cooking, drawing, writing, and politics as a spectator sport. (No wonder I never seem to have free time.) And I've been babbling here on a semi-regular basis for more than fifteen years.

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