Thursday, August 27, 2015

Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training, by Karen Pryor

This book isn't really about dog training.  I don't own a dog and don't plan to. The only reason I read this book was that it was recommended by Tim Ferriss (in a podcast, blog post or tweet - I can't recall which). So if you don't have a dog or other pet please don't let that get in the way of reading this really interesting and entertaining book.

What it is about is behavioral training. She uses her experiences training all sorts of creatures (from fish and aquatic mammals to horses, fish and humans) using only positive reinforcement. She covers the gamut of methods to stop unwanted habits (but only recommends a few of them).

By the end of the book her messages all come together in a better understanding of the use of a clicker in animal training and insights into the positive only training techniques that she endorses.

This book seems a good read for anyone, pet owner or not. Highly recommended.

(By the way, there's a newer edition of the book than the one I borrowed from my local public library.)

Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training

Escape, by David Baldacci

Another in Mr. Baldacci's "John Puller" series.  I enjoyed it greatly; stayed up way to late at night to finish it.

Hero John Puller is a Warrant Officer in the Army's criminal investigation division. Prior books in the series have made reference to Puller's brother, in military prison for espionage. In this novel, the brother escapes, and Puller is surprisingly assigned to find him.

This was very entertaining even if you might guess there'd be a hero's ending.  My big complaint is in that regard: the epilogue was too abrupt and too extreme to just sit without further explanation.

The Escape (John Puller Series)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Primal Reckoning, by Jack Silkstone

In the first volume of Mr. Silkstone's series, a wealthy young businessman in the Emirates decides to fund a group of former military special forces ops to build his own vigilante organization.  My blog entry for it says, "Sketchy plots, impossible saves, and a general disregard for the law."
In this volume the good guys face corruption and a drug cartel in Mexico.  Oh, and evil forces within the CIA.

So once again I can say, sketchy plots, impossible saves, and a general disregard for the law.

PRIMAL Reckoning (Book 1 in the Redemption Trilogy, The PRIMAL Series Book 5)

(R)evolution, by PJ Manney

The concept of this book is the power of nanotechnology. The hero, Peter, invented nanorobots to cure disease. Someone stole his work, tens of thousands die and his work is blamed, and he becomes a pariah. Peter doses himself with nanobots to enhance his personal capabilities.

Then the book turns from science fiction towards political thriller. He joins the Phoenix Club, a powerful and potentially malevolent cabal.

Not bad, but for me, a C+.

(R)evolution (Phoenix Horizon Book 1)

Final Battle, by Michael Hicks

This is the final volume of Mr. Hick's trilogy featuring Reza as a human soldier trained by the alien enemy Kreelan forces.  More political than pure action, Reza tries to save both the human and Kreelan societies.  Mr. Hicks managed to keep my interest throughout all three books.

Final Battle (Redemption Trilogy, Book 3)

Confederation, by Michael Hicks

This is the second book in Mr. Hicks' series and it was as entertaining as the first.  Our hero, Reza, has grown up -- albeit as a Kreelan warrior more so than as a human soldier. He becomes a Marine for the Human Confederation.  I don't want to say more in order to avoid spoilers. About to read the third volume next!

Confederation (Redemption Trilogy, Book 2)

Empire, by Michael Hicks

This is a fabulous story.  In a far future time, the Human Confederation battles the Kreelan Empire. The Kreelan are all female and although they have technology far beyond that of the humans, they prefer personal battle (swords and the like).

Our hero, Reza, is captured by the Kreelan. This book covers his development in their culture.

Great reading and I look forward to the second volume.

Empire (Redemption Trilogy, Book 1)

Darker Things, by Rob Cornell

The hero is Craig but he uses a different name now, to hide his identity. He used to work for a government agency chasing scary creatures like vampires, obviously a secret organization. He doesn't any longer, but is brought back into dealing with the paranormal when his 15 year old daughter, Jessie, finds him.  He had abandoned before her birth in order to protect her from nefarious forces (sounds fishy to me too). She's the real hero of the book.

This is the first in the series and I suppose I'll read the sequel.

Darker Things (The Lockman Chronicles Book 1)

Love Bites, by Adrienne Barbeau

This novel proves that I have to stop reading free Kindle books via BookBub and start paying for good books instead.

The hero is Ovsanna, a 450 year old vampire who is an actress and film producer. Her friend Peter is a police officer. Together they solve a crime involve weird creatures.


Love Bites: A Handsome Cop, A Glamorous Star, and Murder (Vampyres of Hollywood #2)

The Scythe, by Jonas Saul

This is the third in a series of novels featuring a hero named Kostas. I'm really pleased that I haven't read the prior books. In this one, Kostas feels threatened by a combination of Russian, Italian and Chinese Mafia gangs. So he uses his extraordinary skills to kill many of them.

For this book, "meh" would be an overstatement.

The Scythe (The Mafia Trilogy Book 3)

Assault or Attrition, by Blake Northcott

In this sequel to Arena Mode, our hero, Moxon, has won enormous wealth, surgically repaired the tumor that threatened his life, and is in hiding from the religious cult that developed around the Russian Sergei Taktarov whom he killed in the first book.

This novel is less exciting than the first; the writing is bumpier too. But I'm pleased with it and will read more of Mr. Northcott's work as it comes out.

Assault or Attrition (The Arena Mode Saga Book 2)

Beyond The Veil, by Pippa DaCosta

This book is what I deserve when I take a free Amazon Kindle deal. In retrospect, I'm surprised I made it through.

The hero is Muse. She's a half demon. Because of this the full demons don't like her. She was abused by a prior demon "owner" but now is free thanks to a demon named Akill. But she doesn't like him either.

Stuff happens. What's the right word to use that is just below "meh" to convey lack of interest?

Beyond The Veil: A Muse Urban Fantasy (The Veil Series Book 1)

The Unforgivable Fix, by TE Woods

This is a complicated book; perhaps it would have been less so had I read the prior novels featuring the main characters. Lydia is our hero, a therapist who is also the undercover serial killer (but only in the name of justice apparently) nicknamed The Fixer.

Mort is a local police detective and Lydia's buddy. And he knows her secret.

Allie is an unlikeable young woman who is the escort of a drug kingpin. She leaves him and needs to go into hiding, so her dad (Mort) gets Lydia to take her in.

Then things go downhill.

It isn't that the book is bad so much that the people in it are so miserable.

I'm not motivated to read the two prior books in this series nor will I read any that follow.

The Unforgivable Fix: A Justice Novel (The Justice Series Book 3)

The Copy, by Grant Boshoff

Our hero is on trial for murder. Turns out, he killed his clone. The book is primarily the back story on how this came to be.


The Copy: A Suspense Legal Thriller Novella

Unallocated Space, by Jerry Hatchett

The hero of this novel is Sam. He's a combination of special operative and computer hacker who runs a private firm auditing computer systems. He's hired to do this for Space, a futuristic Las Vegas casino.

The novel takes place in the future but near future, as most of the references are current.

It was interesting enough. This could have been a better book if Mr. Hatchett didn't make several scenes needlessly violent and brutal.

Advertised as the first in a series, I'm going to pass on the sequel.

Unallocated Space (Sam Flatt) (Volume 1)

Dance with the Enemy, by Rob Sinclair

This novel was not fun to read. It was interesting enough, but the main character is not charismatic and I found myself not caring too much about him.

That character is Logan, a British spy for an a joint US and UK agency that works behind the scenes and disavows its agents should they need help. As the book starts, he's a drunk mess, recovering from a mission that had gone south. He's pulled into a new case, befriends a female FBI agent, and encounters chaos.

There was action enough, and the plot twists were good. But I never felt myself engaged with the hero. If there's a sequel I'll probably pass on it.

Dance with the Enemy: a gripping international suspense thriller (The Enemy Series)

Immortal Plague, by Aiden James

Another rather wacky novel. Our hero, William Barrow, is actually Judas, who is (for reasons not quite clear) immortal (ish), with a mission to find the thirty silver coins for which he betrayed his friend Jesus. He's up to number 22, and this book is about his attempts to retrieve it.

Oh, he looks around 30 years old. And, also has a son, Alistair. Who looks around 60 years old.

Oh, and William also does free lance spy work for the CIA. Which gets involved in his search for number 22 because it is in the Alborz mountains (in northern Iran, near the Caspian Sea).

If you're still interested: yes it was a fun and interesting read, and apparently the first in a series.

Immortal Plague (The Judas Chronicles Book 1)

Graveyard Shift, by Angela Roquet

This is a goofy novel. Suspend all notions of reality: the hero, Lana, is a reaper of souls. She lives in Limbo City. She hangs out with angels and demons. She's a slacker and a malcontent.

If you're still with me, yes, this is a very fun read. Not exactly what I'd call fine literature, but a great diversion.

Graveyard Shift (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. Book 1)

The Getaway, by Tom Barber

Sam Archer is a British policeman with dual US citizenship. He returns to the US upon learning his estranged father, an FBI Special Agent, was murdered. He gets deeply involved in the case.

I won't say more to avoid spoilers. This was an enjoyable novel and I plan to read the next one from Mr. Barber.

The Getaway (Sam Archer Book 2)

Memory Man, by David Baldacci

In this novel, Mr. Baldacci introduces a new hero -- or perhaps reluctant hero -- in Amos Decker. The backstory: Decker is a former football player who suffered a severe brain injury in a game. That injury causes him to have a unique memory; he never forgets. Anything. Decker became a policeman, and a detective. But the brutal slayings of his family pushed him into a down spin since he can never forget what he saw at the crime scene. He left the police department, became homeless and let his physical health and hygiene deteriorate.

In this novel Decker cleans up just a very little bit, but enough to participate in solving a number of murders.

At first I was skeptical about this novel, in that it felt as though too much was revealed on the book jacket. And that it would be difficult to make this interesting. I was mistaken. The novel is very interesting. And the fact that there was no magical recovery to Decker's miserable situation was a positive.

Highly recommended. And I look forward to the next book in what appears to be a series featuring this main character.

Memory Man (Amos Decker series)