Saturday, April 2, 2011

From The Bookshelf

— Matt Harris @ 1:28 pm

A couple of more books I have been reading, due to the good graces of the Los Angeles Public Library:

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss:
Strangely enough, I think this book is a little too long, even if it is only 168 pages. I just wanted some simple rules on punctuating. I got those, but also received a lot of extraneous humor that wasn’t very informative.
Still, I will probably buy a copy for my collection.

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average by Joseph T. Hallinan:
An informative book, it goes into a fair amount of detail on how human error occurs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give a whole lot of useful information about preventing mistakes. A good read for background info, but not something I think I will reread.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Recommendations

— Matt Harris @ 1:46 pm

Some books I have been reading, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Empires Of Trust by Thomas F Madden:

Most comparisons I have seen comparing Rome and America are comparing contemporay America to the Roman Empire. This book interesting comparison between the Roman Republic and the American Republic. An easy and informative read, with lots of easily digestible Roman history.

Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series:

This is a nice, contemporay urban fantasy. The focus is on a female mechanic who can change into a coyote. Well written, without all of the sex/death/agnst of the Anita Blake novels.

All of the above are highly recommended.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Electronic Publishing

— Matt Harris @ 6:52 pm

Ever since I started reading fanfiction, I have had an interest in following self-publishing in e-book format. After reading A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, I am thinking self-publishing electronically is about to surpass dead-tree publishing. Probably not this year, but withing the next five. Now if only I were a decent fiction writer…

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Recommendations – The Chronicles of Elantra

— Matt Harris @ 12:44 pm

Another set of books I recently read, courtesy again of the Los Angeles Public Library, are the The Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara West. The series, currently six books, with a seventh planned, follow the story of Kaylin Nera, a police officer (although that term isn’t used) in the fantasy city of Elantra.   These aren’t high fantasy novels – more urban fantasy along the lines of the Dresden Files or the Jhereg novels. Suffice it to say that I have another story addiction to feed and my next fix (Book 7 – Cast In Ruin) isn’t out until next year.

The author has posted the first chapter of each novel on-line:

  1. Cast in Shadow
  2. Cast in Courtlight
  3. Cast in Secret
  4. Cast in Fury
  5. Cast in Silence
  6. Cast in Chaos
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Book Recommendations – Skinjacker Trilogy

— Matt Harris @ 12:15 pm

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library, I came across Neil Shusterman’s Skinjacker Trilogy. The first two books (Everlost and Everwild) are quite good. The third book, Everfound, hasn’t been released yet – it is out in June 2011.  While they are not post-apocalyptic stories, they remind me of John Christopher’s novels – aimed at teenagers, but they don’t talk down to them and are enjoyable for adults to read as well.

Quick summary – a couple of dead children find themselves in a limbo (the Everlost) between life and death.  A lot of adventures occur while exploring the nature of the Everlost, themselves and looking for a way out.  Kind of a "coming-of-age" series about dead kids.

P.S. Apparently Everlost is being made into a movie by Universal Pictures.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

The Box

— Matt Harris @ 7:44 pm

I just finished reading Mark Levinson’s The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library. Normally, I wouldn’t read a history of shipping containers. Actually, I didn’t think someone would write a history of the shipping container ;-), but Mark Levinson did. I heard it recommended on a talk show (I can’t recall which one) and I thought I’d check it out.

It was a pretty interesting read. What I found really surprising is the level of transportation regulation that used to exist in the United States. The book wasn’t about that regulation, but it just kept popping up – from goverment subsidies on shipbuilding to the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).

I found it fascinating that after 1935, the ICC controlled practically all aspects of trucking. It determined what could be transported, the routes that could be used, the prices that would be charged and who could and could not compete. Much of the third chapter of the book was about how one major entrepeneur spent his time getting around ICC regulations. When reading that chapter, I kept having flashbacks to Atlas Shrugged

It is definitely worth reading. A sample chapter can be found here.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Baen Free Library

— Matt Harris @ 1:02 pm

One of the things I have been meaning to post is a link to Baen Books’ Free Library. Baen books has made available, for free download or reading online, over 50 of the books that they publish. The books are downloadable from the author’s page in the following formats:

None of the books are copy protected. Like the free CDs Baen includes with some of their books, they are freely distributable (although you may not charge money for them).

I got hooked on David Drake & Eric Flint’s Belisarius series from the free copies of the first three books and have purchased the last two from Baen Webscriptions. The Belisarius books are downloadable from Eric Flint’s Baen Webpage or David Drake’s Baen Webpage. Direct links are here if you wish to read them online:

  1. An Oblique Approach
  2. In The Heart Of Darkness
  3. Destiny’s Shield

Another series by Eric Flint worth reading is the 1632 series. The first two books are available on Eric’s Baen Webpage. Direct links are here if you wish to read them online:

  1. 1632
  2. 1633

The last author I want to plug with books in Baen’s Free Library is David Weber. All of his books are good, but his Honor Harrington books, starting with On Basilisk Station are especially so.

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