Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Midnight House, by Alex Berenson

Ahh, what a wonderful thing to read a well crafted spy thriller. Berenson is consistently good; this one has less action and a lot more thoughtfulness than the last one.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prefabulous + Sustainable, by Sheri Koones

A bit of a let down after reading Johnston & Gibson on this topic: Koones is much more political, less engineering -credible, and then again, less maniacal about minimizing energy footprint. I should have known this when I saw that Robert Redford wrote the introduction: what does an actor / director know about engineering or building construction?

Still, the photos are excellent, some of the layouts are interesting, and there are some good pointers to follow up, such as on insulated concrete form foundations, rubber flooring, the use of native plants for landscaping, and the Fortified program.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Toward a Zero Energy Home, by David Johnston & Scott Gibson

This is a terrific book: interesting, credible, thought-provoking. Reading it made me very interested in building a near-zero energy home, or at least in understanding even more on the topic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chasing the Dragon, by Justina Robson

Here's how it happened: I made a brief library stop en route to the airport, grabbed a title off of the new books display, and continued to my flight.

Then I found myself on the plane, with but this one book to read, and the realization that something had gone horribly wrong.

With no good alternative, I forced myself to read the entire book.

Something about a future with supernatural forces co-existing (sort of) on earth, the hero, Lila is part cyborg, part human, married to a demon and someone else who's trapped in another world mostly as a stuffed hand puppet.... I can't write more, it brings up memories of the book...

Bottom line: I understood perhaps 50% of what was going on at any time, dropping to less than 30% understanding in spots, never approaching 100%. This book clearly addresses a niche market of which I am not a part.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Assassin, by Stephen Coonts

This was just what I want in an airplane paperback.

It became apparent pretty early in the book that there was a previous novel featuring the main characters. This didn't bother me too much though, the author handled it well (better than Graham).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One-Story Homes, Home Planners Inc

Since I was in the home styles section of the library to find a book on craftsman style homes anyway, I thought I'd scan through this just to see if there were any neat plans (and no, not in the craftsman style at all).

The fun of turning page after page of home layouts soon became drudgery as there were so few really interesting designs.

Craftsman-Style Houses, Fine Homebuilding

Since my daughter saw a house she likes which is classified as "craftsman-style," I thought I'd learn more about them. This book was, for that purpose, adequate. I don't suspect it is an authoritative reference text on the subject though, but the local library had it on the stacks, so the price was right.

Decks: Plan, Design, Build, by Steve Cory

I found this at the library when browsing for books to read while babysitting (yes, I am an optimist). There is nothing in this book to recommend it.

Basic Country Skills, by John & Martha Storey

While fun to read, this book was too high level -- broad but not really deep -- to be more than just amusing. The climate differences between say New Hampshire and Texas are too significant to be easily addressed by a single text.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Solomon Effect, by C. S. Graham

This was just the book I needed for a flight home. No, not very believable, yes, annoying when a sequel keeps making reference to the prior book, but still, it passed the time quite effectively.

And, I'll even plan to read the next installment from these authors (yes, a writing team using a single name... odd? pretentious? silly? go figure.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Dangerous Book for Boys, by Conn Iggulden

I was just curious: how fun would this be? The answer: tons of fun, for anyone about seven years old. I'll keep this in mind in case I ever run into such a person.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Godfather of Kathmandu, by John Burdett

I've enjoyed Burdett's series of Bankok novels. This one takes place six years after the last one I read, and is different: darker, and more narrowly focused with respect to the character development than before. Still, it held my interest, although the main character seemed even more distracted and introspective than usual, that usual. A borderline B / B+.

Friday, April 9, 2010

30 Energy Efficient Houses, by Wade & Ewenstein

Even if I adjust for this book being dated, it is still a bit too weird for me.

(Reference: combination toilet / shower reduces plumbing needs, optimizes water consumption, and promotes healthy muscles. Like doing squats at the gym, but different.)