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jsdunk "jsdunk" (Camas, WA USA)

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Solitary Man
Solitary Man
by Jeff Mariotte
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and fun, July 18 2004
Solitary Man is a fast paced, fun Angel story. Set in the fourth season of Angel, relationships are falling apart all around -- Fred and Gunn are pretending they don't have a problem, Angel is pretending that he isn't in love with Cordelia and that he isn't upset that Connor has moved out and Wes is pretending that he isn't involved with Lilah.
Jeff Mariotte, an experienced Buffy/Angel writer portrays all the drama and angst realistically. The characters and their interactions with each other ring true, providing the perfect backdrop for any story.
And the story is a unique one. Imagine a seventy-something widow, Mildred Finster, who decides that she wants to be a private investigator and that she wants to work for Angel investigations. When Angel and company decline her services, she sets out to prove that she can do the job. After getting results where Angel can't a couple times, Mildred gets herself into more trouble than she bargains for and everyone comes together to save the day.
This book was totally unexpected. The story was a little fluffy, but it was loads of fun. I highly recommend it.

Worse Than Watergate
Worse Than Watergate
by John W Dean
Edition: Hardcover
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Who could more credibly destroy Bush than John Dean?, July 18 2004
This review is from: Worse Than Watergate (Hardcover)
Worse than Watergate has to be the best expose of the Bush Administration that I've read. And Worse than Watergate is written by an insider in what had previously been the most corrupt administration in this country's history. Dean was a Republican (although he's given up politics) with no reason to bash Bush.
And, to be clear, the purpose of Dean's book is not to bash Bush, but rather to try to warn Bush and the American people what a dangerous road the Bush administration is on. And by drawing parallels to the Nixon administration, he warns of what is likely to happen if Bush is elected for a second term.
In Worse that Watergate, Dean walks us through the secrecy, double dealings and hidden agendas of the Bush Administration. As I mentioned, he then extrapolates those behaviors into likely scenarios for Bush's second term - if he is elected. Next, Dean provides a list of eleven scandals likely to emerge from the Bush administration in the coming years. Finally, Dean disects Bush's argument for going to war in Iraq, listing each lie and exaggeration.
This book is meticulously researched, with hundreds of footnotes citing primary sorces. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to become better educated on the Bush presidency and make an informed choice in November.
This book will scare you. After reading this book I understood that some of my worst fears about the Bush administration were completely true. ANd that the truth was worse than my fears.
Now, if we could only figure out how to get Bush's supporters to read this book and understand the truth!

Tales of the Slayer: Volume 3
Tales of the Slayer: Volume 3
by Various
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.19
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Four quality novellas, July 18 2004
Unlike the first two Tales of the Slayer books which consisted of 8-10 short stories, this one consists of four fairly meaty novellas.
The first novella was set in a Native American community in 1229. While I didn't enjoy this story immmensely, it was extremely well executed. Its the story of a slayer who was trained without understanding her calling. When she was called she still didn't understand the rules of the game. The story follows her frustration and angst and she realizes that she has failed to fulfill her duty because she doesn't understand her duty.
The second story is set in China in 1856 and revolves around yet another Slayer who doesn't really understand her calling. She has been trained. But when her Watcher died she ran away from the monastery where he trained her and posed as a man to survive on her on in the city. Her new Watcher finds her and they (reluctantly) set out to destroy an extremely powerful vampire. Another excellently executed story.
The third novella is set in Hollywood in the 1940s. The then current slayer and her Watcher set out to find a Watcher that has gone AWOL from the council. In the process they encounter a bar full of demons and stars, someone who is killing demons - both dangerous and peaceful - indiscriminately, and vigilante demons who want to find and punish the demon killer. This story is particularly captivating for the amount of gray in it. In this story, the slayer spends a lot of time tredding in the space between black and white, between good and evil.
The final novella is set in Tokyo in 1993 and involves Buffy's predecessor, India. India is able to move freely around Tokyo with her Watcher because her parents don't have the time to pay much attention to her. She has a bit of a crush on her handsome young watcher, Kit, only adding to the dramatic tension of the story. India and Kit have been called to help a clan destroy their ancestor who was turned into a vampire, along with over 50 of his fellow warriors. Another ancestor vowed that no one in the family would rest until the vampire samauri was destroyed. But, they're running out of descendents and time. So, India is called in as reinforcements.
As with any short story (or novella) collection, the topics and writing are varied. So, one story may not appeal to you simply because you're not interested in China in the 1800s or in Samauri stories. But all the stories are well written, with the well developed characters allowed by this longer form. If you're interested in exploring the history of the slayers, this collection is for you.

Sewer, Gas and Electric
Sewer, Gas and Electric
by Matt Ruff
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, irreverent, a wild ride, July 18 2004
Sewer, Gas and Electic is one of the strangest, most off-the-wall books I've read in years. And I loved almost every bit of it. If this is representive of Matt Ruff's work, he's a brilliant writer.
The only reason that I didn't give the book five stars is that the ending is a bit weak compared to the rest of the book. But, regardless of the ending, the ride was worth it.
The cast of Sewer, Gas and Electric includes a Multi-Billionare businessman, Harry Gant. Harry wants to do the right thing, but doing the right thing is boring -- it just doesn't hold his attention. So, he hired an environmentalist that he'd dated in college, Joan, as an executive in his company to keep him honest. They battle over company decisions and eventually marry and then divorce, all the time where the story occurs.
Other characters include a non-violent eco-terrorist with a submarine decorated with pink polka dots that he docks under the statue of liberty, the crew of the submarine, including a mixed Israeli/Palestinian family, and a few war veterns suffering from serious PTSD. Oh, and we can't forget the VERY evolved, very dangerous shark that has escaped from the NY City sewers. And the Queen of England...
Early on in the book, it isn't clear whether the plot revolves around Gant's quest to build a mile-high tower or the eco-terrorists efforts to stop Gant industries from drilling for oil in the Antarctica. It turns out that its neither.
I really don't want to give anything away. If you like science fiction and you enjoy off the wall plots and don't mind a bit of politically incorrect humor, you'll LOVE this book.

Nemesis
Nemesis
by Denise Ciencin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but could have been much better, July 18 2004
This review is from: Nemesis (Mass Market Paperback)
Nemesis was a fine read, but ultimately I found it disappointing.
Nemesis starts with two parallel stories the ultimately converge Fred has been contacted by an old friend from Grad school. When they plan to meet her friend is gunned down in the middle of a restaurant. Meanwhile a supernatural entity takes out an entire club full of bad guys.
Angel and Gunn set out for the "Nemesis" that killed a club full of baddies and end up tangled up with a bunch of sorcers in a sort of anti-Hogwarts where powerful mages hold each others children hostage. But, hey, they do educate them in the process.
While Angel and Gunn are trying to find "Nemesis" Gunn indulges in some very out-of-character complaining about his relationship with Angel and pens a ridiculous comic book parody of Angel. A convenient, if ridiculous, plot device.
While Gunn's characterization is completely off the wall, most of the other characters are drawn very accurately, as one would expect from two writers so experienced with Angel and Buffy.
Overall, its a solid and engaging book, but the plot was a bit convoluted. At times I found myself looking back as I tried to figure out if I'd missed something.
If you're a fan who wants to read everything or even most things in the Angel cannon, read this book. You'll still enjoy it. If you're looking for ONE Angel book to read, pick another one.

Apocalypse Memories
Apocalypse Memories
by Laura Burns
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Original Plot, but could have been better developed, July 18 2004
Apocalypse Memories is certainly the most original of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels.
The premise of Apocalypse Memories is that the REAL Apocalypse is coming -- you know, the one in the book of Revelations. Where the good and evil are judged. That one. The BIG one.
Unlike many of the Buffy books where it is fairly obvious how Buffy will save the day, Apocalypse memories kept me wondering until the end just how Buffy was going to get out of this mess.
And, there are some excellent plot devices, such as the literal interpretation of the wolf-in-sheep's clothing and the unfightable bad guy.
The major subplot of this book, set early in Season Seven, is Willow's struggle with her magic and her fear that she'll return to the dark side if she starts using magic again. Willow's struggle with magic is realistically drawn as are most of the major characters.
My major complaint with this book is that it was too short for the ground it tried to cover. Under those circumstances, there really wasn't the depth of plot development that I would have liked. In addition, there were a couple places where seemingly important details were never tied back into the story.
All in all, a good, short read and faithful to the Buffy-verse.

It's Still the Economy, Stupid: George W. Bush, The GOP's CEO
It's Still the Economy, Stupid: George W. Bush, The GOP's CEO
by Paul Begala
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.29
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in truth-telling, July 18 2004
Paul Begala's book, It's STILL the Economy Stupid, is more relevant than ever as we approach the 2004 election. It is clear from his editorializing that Begala is no fan of George Bush, but that shouldn't stop any thinking person who wants to understand who "the only President we have" is and what he stands for from reading this book - Democrat or Republican. The book is well written and well documented. Begala does not make unsupported accusations. He carefully lays out the evidence that makes his case.
In this book, Begala goes through Bush's speeches and his record and uncovers a number of disturbing patterns, including George's habit of making promises and then disregarding then days or weeks later and his systematic efforts to cut taxes for ONLY the rich, with the super-rich receiving the vast majority of the benefits.
Begala also carefully explains how the Republicans in Congress blocked Clinton's efforts to put reforms in place that would have curbed big business and avoided both the Enron and accounting scandals among others. This was especially interesting to me, as the Republicans have laid the blame for these things at Clinton's feet.
Don't take my word for what Begala says. If you want to make an educated choice between Bush and Kerry in November; if you want to understand who you're voting for; if you want to understand the record of the incumbent President, read this book.

Why CEOs Fail: The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb to the Top  - and How to Manage Them
Why CEOs Fail: The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb to the Top - and How to Manage Them
by David L. Dotlich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.05
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid advice, but a bit shallow, July 18 2004
Why CEOs Fail identifies 11 traits that all have one thing in commen. These traits, in moderation, can help managers be successful. But, taken to an extreme, can destroy a career.
The authors provide examples of people suffering from each derailer and then provide diagnostic tools to help you identify whether you suffer from the derailer and advice to help you manage the derailers that you do have.
The descriptions and the advice are excellent, but the treatment is a little shallow. So, if your derailer manifests itself in some way other than the 'classic' pattern you may not recognize it from the information in the text. And, if you decide you have a derailer, you may need to look elsewhere for more detailed advice about how to work through it.
Overall though, the book was a fun, thought-provoking read. It caused me to think a bit about my weaknesses as a manager and I had a chance to see what derailers I could recognize in others!

The Darkening
The Darkening
by Yvonne Navarro
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating look at the world of Evil Willow, May 29 2004
I've read most of the Buffy books. I'm big fan of the show and got hooked on the books early on. I have to say that this is one of the best of series.
Imagine if Giles, Xander and the gang hadn't been able to turn Willow back to good. Imagine a world where Willow is the new 'big bad' in Sunnydale. Imagine that Buffy's next mission is to stop her best friend. Having seen Willow go so far down the evil road during the season six finale, its not hard to imagine. And, Yvonne Navarro does a brilliant job of bringing that possible world to life.
The Darkening tells the story of Willow's grief. She turns her back on her friends and desperately tries to both make those responsible (in her mind) pay for her loss of Tara and to bring Tara back.
The Darkening captures the motivations and behaviours of the characters perfectly -- from Willow's grief and angst over her loss of Tara to Anya's pointed truth-telling. We get an incredible look into the world that might have been.
The Darkening is a 'must read' for any Buffy fan.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
by Cory Doctorow
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.26
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking light read, May 16 2004
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a short book. At 204 pages (with large print) its a quick read. It was a fun book, although I didn't really find it as laugh-out-loud funny as some of the other reviewers seemed to. And, I actually expected something better. I didn't close the book thinking it was one of the best books I'd ever read. But I did think it was one of the more thought provoking books I'd read in a while.
Fir all that, Down and Out is a good bit of sci-fi. It brings up some interesting ideas as all good sci-fi should!
The premise of the book is that scarcity and death have both ended. The big concerns of the future are overcrowding and bordem. Under these circumstances where courtesy and interesting ideas would become of paramount importance, the world (or most of it) has transformed into a reputation economy.
The idea of a reputation economy, which we argueably have to some extent today (think credit ratings, time served in jail, where you went to school) is taken to the extreme. You purchase goods, services and experiences not based on how much money you earn but how much Whuffie you have. And you gain Whuffie by being a decent person and by doing cool things that others like. The more Whuffie, the better your life is -- the best restaurants, places to stay, cars, etc. That premise by itself made the book interesting. Imagine living in a world where your behavior is mediated by what people think of it. You can't get rich by swindling others. You have to do it by doing things that people like -- the more people the better.
The other fascinating premised of the book, and certainly one that isn't new, is that no one dies. People backup up their brains regularly and if their bodies dies, they're just restored from backup. I found myself thinking about the ultimate question here. If you're restored from backup are you the same person? Certainly, you think you are. But, is it the same consciousness or did one person die and another one get created?
As I said -- its a fun read and deeper than it looks. Cory Doctrow will have you thinking about the meaning of life and of your life if you let him.

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