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Review: Thunderdrop

I must say I was rather disappointed with how this story developed. It has a somewhat unique premise, and the author’s style lends itself to a fluid reading experience. However, it felt as though the author herself had some uncertainty as to the pace and prose.

A bit too much of the page is devoted to trivial things, while the sorts of minutiae that in other works find themselves expounded upon with clarity and meaning were left all but unexplored. It became a common thread–no pun intended–that an expectation of deeper meaning would be met summarily with vivid descriptions of banal themes.

This is the sort of tale that could easily have been spun into Herbertesque science fiction mastercraft, but the nascent epic was stifled by what felt rather much like a hurried wrap-up before it could r...

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Review: Learn SQL in 2 Hours

As an old hand at SQL myself, I found positives and negatives in this title. It is ostensibly written for those new to the field, but the material has more value, in my opinion, as a good reference and refresher than a true primer. It is fairly clear and concise, and the author does a great job of packaging a good deal of material into a short read.

That said, the delivery seems to suffer from the sort of blind spots one might expect from a tech guru attempting to explain specialized concepts to a neophyte. There seems to be a lot of assumption regarding the expected level of comprehension and little in the way of context or relational exposition to really solidify the information given into concrete understanding of the material.

If you have a technological background, this title will lik...

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Somnambulist

Devils are winsome on a moonlit eve, when filigree skies with stars belight.
Angels, too, are known to weave their dance steps to the song of night.

It was upon one such occasion I myself witnessed in silence,
As an unknowing liaison, their employ of tender violence.

Calling wildly, madly, to me, devils all cavorted ‘round.
Singing mildly, sadly, gloomy angels used persuading sound.

Little could I fight seduction from unearthly pleasure sources,
One mere mortal in abduction by such otherworldly forces.

Madly, thought did beat against me, remembrances of rationale.
Never thought I to escape the captors of my meek morale.

On and on their midnight tremble weighed upon my fleshly mind,
Faerie wine poured in a thimble awakened lust, desire did find.

Soon I fell into the dances, raised my voic...

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Bestselling Author Trope

Typewriter and notebooks

Disclaimer: I have a sneaking suspicion that this post may garner some criticism from my fellow authors, and so I should like to begin by stating, unequivocally, that what follows is in no way meant to be interpreted as a disparagement of the character, substance, or work ethic of any author. It is opinion only, and it should be taken as such—with a grain of salt, an open mind, and, one might hope, some small consideration.

Naturally, I welcome any dissenting opinions to the comment section.

That being said, let us examine for the moment what I have become fond of calling the Bestselling Author Trope. The reader has, I’m sure, at some point experienced the phenomenon of meeting or conversing with an author, usually of obscure origin, who introduces himself or herself as Bestselling Aut...

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Struggling With Compassion

Zhuangzi dreams of a butterfly

Once, there lived two monks. Deep within the forest, they sought solitude from worldly troubles and spent each day in quiet contemplation of the Great Mystery. The elder of the two, a venerable and aged man, had always upon his face an expression of equal parts joy and sorrow, a sad smile that perplexed his young apprentice.

While out one day, wandering the arboreal paths, gathering nuts and berries, fallen branches for firewood, roots, and medicinal herbs, the old monk sat down to rest and meditate beneath the shadow of a great tree. The apprentice, impetuous in his youth, resolved to explore a bit of the forest and to wonder at the marvels of the natural world.

The day slipped away, and the younger monk found himself intently studying a cocoon that he found hanging under a broad leaf...

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Grandfather’s Wooden Bowl

Grandfather's Wooden Bowl

Long ago, there lived a man in the Middle Kingdom who had come from humble beginnings. Through careful spending and an industrious character, he rose to become a merchant of some renown, and in due course he married and fathered a son. Life was good.

War, however, takes its toll, and in the spring of one year the merchant’s mother left the world of the living amid failing crops and poor health. Fearing the worst, the merchant brought his venerable father out of their ancestral village to live in the city, where he could be cared for by his son and daughter-in-law. Daily, the old farmer supplemented his grandson’s education with scraps of wisdom borrowed from the Sages...

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How to Write a Book

Typewriter

New authors are given no shortage of options when it comes to deciding how to write. The sheer number of conflicting methodologies–each of them usually touted as the end all, be all, tried and true approach–boggles the mind, as one must immediately wonder why there should be so many “foolproof” formulae if any of them really help. Truth be told, none of the popular methods do anything by themselves.

Mad Hatter

`Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, `and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’

However, all of the methods work. There are a thousand ways to write a book, because there are a thousand kinds of author, a thousand kinds of book. Here we begin to get into a murky area, as a writer only knows how to write once he’s written...

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Review: Secret Codes and Cryptograms

Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms

Satisfies a Sweet Tooth for Logic

I had the great privilege of interviewing Elonka Dunin for an unrelated project and managed to snag a copy of The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms before the day was out. For anyone who likes to see things unfold under careful scrutiny (fans of The Da Vinci Code rejoice), this book will not disappoint.

The relative difficulty of the ciphers varies, of course, with the complexity of the set, but the savvy reader will find perseverance to be useful. Every detail of this book must be regarded with some suspicion from the start, as in true cryptographic fashion it holds secrets within secrets. In addition to the practice ciphers and tutorials on codebreaking, the book contains several famous cryptographic quandaries that mostly remain unsolved.

O...

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Review: Grunts!

Grunts! by Mary Gentle

Bloody Good Fun

If you are a fan of fantasy, you may have found yourself at times feeling less than satisfied with the standard fare. A great evil rises, darkness falls over the land, and brave heroes ride valiantly into combat against a mindless horde that seems almost complicit in ensuring that good always triumphs over evil, yeah? Author Mary Gentle says, “I’m sorry, I’m just not having it.”

Grunts! paints the picture from the other end of the canvas, in a world reeling in the aftermath of the Final Battle, and just as in every Final Battle before it the Dark Lord has once again been vanquished by the Light...

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Review: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

Beautiful, Descriptive Storytelling

I first read Young Fu nearly twenty years ago, and it has been one of my favourite books ever since. Ostensibly a title aimed at young readers, it nonetheless has a depth and breadth of story that is not often found today, riddled with sayings plucked out of the Classics and subtle story arcs that may not be immediately apparent. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis did well to lend this novel an earthiness that draws the reader in without ever letting you forget that, beyond the boundaries of the limited stage upon which our heroes act, the world keeps moving.

The story follows its titular character, Fu Yunfa, from tragic beginnings as he and his mother leave their ancestral village for the bustling metropolis of Chongqing after the death of Yunfa’s father...

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