Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Book Review - The Safe Man by Michael Connelly

I love ghost stories, and I love Michael Connelly stories, so would I love the combination of the two?

The Safe Man by Michael Connelly is a ghost story mystery NOT in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Setting. This story concerns a man whose profession is opening safes (legally) and a job that goes unexpectedly. I've experienced very few stories about legal safe openers, so this was really interesting.

Concept. This story has ghosts, time travel, and uses them in a way that hasn't been overdone. It wasn't a huge surprise at the end, but it didn't feel old either.

The Bad

Hmmm.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Hmmmm.

Overall


The Safe Man by Michael Connelly is a great story about an average man going about his job while expecting his first child. The supernatural elements were very subtle and not immediately obvious. The story is entertaining, the supernatural elements are fun, and the ending is very satisfying. I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


     

Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Review - Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly

I love short stories, and I love Harry Bosch books, so how could I not pick this up!

Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly is an anthology of three crime mystery short stories in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Suicide Run. The first story is about a potential suicide of a girl who came to Hollywood to make it big but hadn't yet. The story is very strong and interesting, but it's the twist at the end that moves this into the realm of excellent.

One Dollar Jackpot. What makes this story stand out is the way Harry is able to catch the killer, the husband of a woman who is famous for high-stakes poker and was murdered the night she won a large jackpot.

The Bad

Cielo Azul. This wasn't a bad story, it just wasn't a great story. It involves a serial killer of younger victims on death row. Harry Bosch tries to get him to reveal the identity of one of his victims. He refuses and the story ends. The concept is different and I get the point the author is trying to make. I just wish there had been more to the story. Maybe making the investigation of the cases more involved and more interesting to make up for the mild ending.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the second story had contained more.

Overall


Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly contains two excellent short stories and one very good one. All involve murdered victims, but all differ in how the victim was murdered, why, who did it, how the story is told, and what the point of the story is. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Review - The Drop: Harry Bosch, Book 15 by Michael Connelly

I've become a bit addicted to Michael Connelly's writing and the world of Harry Bosch. I just wish I could get into the TV series on Amazon Prime.

The Drop by Michael Connelly is a crime in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Story and Writing. The story was incredible. I couldn't put it down. The book contains two different cases that don't directly interact. Normally this is a turn off for me, but somehow the author managed to move from one to the other without losing any steam or interest.

Twists. This novel actually surprised me with where it went. I thought the story was over a couple of times, but it kept going, and I wasn't sure where the author wanted to go and why. But after reading the twists I saw why and was glad.

Variety. One case is a cold murder while the second was a possible suicide. Even though both involved a dead body, they were very different, the investigations went in different directions, and the fallout from both were very different.

The Bad

Main Character. The main character still isn't that interesting. He's kind of a jerk, he's not that clever, and I still have a hard time rooting for him.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Hmmmm.

Overall


The Drop by Michael Connelly was the best Harry Bosch book yet. The story really grabbed my attention and took turns I didn't see coming, but ones that made sense and didn't feel like a cheat. I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


     

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Movie Review - Bumblebee

 
I was a big fan of Transformers in the 80s, and I've been waiting for a movie that was true to the original cartoon to be released. That day finally came.

Bumblebee is a 2018 science fiction action film based on the Transformers toyline and cartoon series. It is rated PG-13 for mild violence and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Transformers Designs. The filmmakers did an excellent job capturing the look of the original toys. I almost cried I was so happy. Why couldn't they have done this 4 films earlier? They looked awesome!

Transformers Action. The film did a great job capturing the movement, transformation, and action of the cartoon. I loved classic Soundwave and Ravage! And Optimus Prime as a semi looked just like the toy.

80s Nostalgia. This movie takes place in the 80s with a lot of 80s music, fashion, film, and other references. Even the pacing and story turns felt very 80s.

Opening Scene. The opening scene looks like it came straight from my imagination. It was everything I could want in a Transformer movie.

The Bad


Charlie. Charlie is the main character, and she is so blah and unlikeable. The main story is her coping with the loss of her dad and trying to move on. The idea was good, but so poorly executed.

Story. The story was weak. It was boring, uninteresting, and uninspired. I wished I had a remote to cue to the next battle scene.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish there had been more Transformer action. The main story was pretty dull and bland. The action scenes on Cybertron were amazing.

Overall


Bumblebee is the Transformer movie fans have been waiting for for three decades. The Transformer designs and action look like they came straight out of the cartoon. Why couldn't the first four movies look like this? The opening scene looks like it came straight from my imagination. Unfortunately, the story and human characters were boring. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.

   

Friday, December 21, 2018

Movie Review - Aquaman

I'm not a huge fan of Aquaman, nor did I enjoy him in Justice League. But the

Aquaman is a 2018 superhero action film based on the comic by DC Comics. It is rated PG-13 for mild violence and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Visuals. The film looked really nice with great environments and awesome costumes.

Action. There was a lot of great action. This is an action movie first and foremost. It looked better rendered than a video game, but the movements were very video game-like.

Music. Both the soundtrack and the songs were really nice and different than what you normally hear in any film, especially superhero films.

Black Manta is Evil. I like the fact that Black Manta was not misunderstood, not a tragic figure, not a cartoon villain, but an evil bad guy who does things because he is bad and his wickedness punishes him.

The Bad


Story. The story was pretty thin. It was your typical action film with "twists" that weren't surprising and over the top dramatic reveals.

Black Manta is a Thug. Black Manta was basically an unlikeable thug. Where they've set him up to be in the next film, they needed to make him more interesting.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish this film had had a stronger story.

Overall


Aquaman is an entertaining action flick. It have beautiful settings and amazing costumes. The story is thin, predictable, and mostly an excuse for all the many action scenes. The music was very different than you're used to hearing in films today, but very good. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.

   

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Review - Echo Park (A Harry Bosch Novel Book 12) by Michael Connelly

I recently finished a Harry Bosch book by Michael Connelly and enjoyed it enough to pick up a second.

Echo Park by Michael Connelly is a murder mystery in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Story and Writing. The story was very solid with a lot of good twists and reveals. The writing was well done and did not get in the way of the story.

Villain. This novel has a great villain who is clever, creepy, and dangerous. I felt worried when he was loose in the story and happy when he was finally brought down.

Ancillary Characters. While I didn't like the main character, everyone else was really interesting and I found myself caring about them.

The Bad

Main Character. The main character isn't that interesting. He's kind of a jerk, he's not that clever, and I had a hard time rooting for him.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the main character had been more interesting and likable.

Overall


Echo Park by Michael Connelly is a very entertaining murder mystery with a great villain who is clever but also truly creepy and dangerous. The main character was the least interesting part of the book, but surprisingly the story was still really good and really gripping with some nice twists throughout. The other characters were all interesting. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


   

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Merry Christmas, all!


The Lights of Christmas

They twinkle thru pine, tinsel, and globes,
Strands of many tiny colored bulbs—
Crimson, amber, azure, and green:
The lights of the Christmas Tree.

They tremble, flicker, then dance
Over wicks in sculpted wax,
Flames aglow with warmth on the mantle:
The light of Christmas Candles.

It shines thru all times and all ages
Sparking goods works in all places
Even in those who don’t know His Name:
The Light of the Christmas Babe.

Jeff Thomason
12/4/2018

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book Review - Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson

Pirates have always fascinated me, both the myths created by storytellers and movie makers and the reality that wasn't so violent or glamorous. So little of real pirates and what they did is known, that every new nugget of knowledge is an exciting find.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson is a nonfiction account of an actual search and discovery of an obscure pirate and his ship that should be much more famousIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


John Banister. I had never heard of John Banister, but this book included so much of his story and character that I'm dying to see a movie about his life. He was a fascinating character, filled with brilliance and contradictions, and lived several exciting adventures that would be perfect for the silver screen.

Background on Treasure Hunting and Searches. The author did an excellent job spelling out the realities of treasure hunting, the lifestyle, the challenges, the sacrifices, and the rare payoffs. I've seen fictional portrayals of all this, but to find out what happens in real life to real people was very interesting.

The Bad

Not a Lot Happened. I enjoyed the story, but it would be hard to turn into a movie without a lot of creative license. While quite a bit happened, not at much as one would expect happened. And a lot of it wasn't unique to this particular incident, but sounded to so many other stories.

Weird "Learned from the Natives" Shoehorned in at the End. The author shoehorned in a single experience about natives using a rock and sticks to change his tire, then made it some major point of learning right at the end. It felt like pandering and trying to make the author sound enlightened and not like an experience he actually learned from. If he really was so impressed with the natives and their ingenuity, he needed to include a lot more examples thruout the book and not some quick, unnecessary side note near the end.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish there had been more to the story.

Overall


Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson is a well written account of a handful of men and a pirate that should be a lot more famous than he is. The story of John Banister, the pirate, was fascinating and would make an incredible film. The story of the discovery of his ship not so much. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.


   

Monday, December 3, 2018

Book Review - Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

In college, one of my Economic instructors often referred to Andrew Carnegie and mentioned what he would do. The version he presented made Carnegie out to be a fascinating character I wanted to learn more about.

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw is a biographyIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Research. Before he died, Andrew Carnegie started an autobiography which his wife finished and published after his death. A biography considered very authoritative was also published. Apparently both contained a lot of inaccuracies, unverifiable stories, and flat out lies. The author did an excellent job researching the man and explaining what can be verified and what can't.

Portrayal. The author focused on who Carnegie was as much as what he did. Carnegie was quite a paradox preaching one thing while practicing its opposite. He also flipped his opinion on several issues throughout his life. The author also shows him as delusional thinking he had much more influence than he did.

The Bad

Bias. The author has his own opinions and interpretation of history, and makes no attempts to be objective and hide his conclusions. Nor does he leave the reader much room to disagree or draw his own conclusions.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the author had been more objective.

Overall


Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw is a well researched biography of an important figure in US and World History. The author presents who the man was as well as what he did. He points out what can and cannot be verified and corrects many errors and purposeful fabrications from previous biographies including Carnegie's own autobiography. Unfortunately, the author has own opinions and interpretation of history, and makes no attempts to be objective and hide his conclusions. That would have been fine in a work of fiction, but not so much in a work of nonfiction. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.