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Bartski   Thursday, 8/29/2019 8:09 AM
Older rants
June 1, 2020   Trip to the Grand Canyon (last year),
Code Talker
Mar 21, 2020   The World Famous San Diego ComicFest
and the testament to dorkness that is my cubicle
and my sad, sad little doodles
Mar 8, 2020   A return to Potterland,
Meg & Dia's Christmas album, December Darling,
some other random stuff
Feb 21, 2020   Agorafabulous!,
Emeli's amazing creations
Nov 27, 2019   David Savakerrva Volume 1
The cubicle of nerdishness
Oct 28, 2019   Art Matters, Neil Gaiman
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle
Alternate Routes, Tim Powers
Disneyland - Galaxy's Edge
Oct 4, 2019   Meg & Dia, HappySad tour San Diego 09/18/19
September 21. 2019   David Bowie - Scary Monsters,
More Adventures in Leasing,
More cubicle fun,
A new doodle
September 10. 2019   The Cranberries - In The End,
The Cranberries - Something Else,
Icicle Works, Icicle Works (vinyl),
Dia Frampton, Red,
Juliana Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John,
The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads,
Green Day, Insomniac ,
Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords Live in London
August 28, 2019   Heir of Ra (Maciek Sasinowski,
The Catalyst Series (JK Franks): Downward Cycle, Kingdom of Sorrow, Ghost Country
May 11, 2019   Goodbye, little friend
Nov 30, 2018   Fire of Our Fathers,
a Science Fiction Book Club rant
Nov 24, 2018   The Dinosaur Lords,
Dragon Teeth
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
June 24, 2018   Jake, Lucid Dreamer
June 13, 2018   Troll-stalking
May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008 usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

Back on the Book-Blathering-Bus...

It's been a few months since I've bothered sharing anything (with my future-self, if we're being honest here). I've read a stack of books (and a small stack of virtual books) over the past few months, and I've been seriously lax in commenting on any of them. And now, being so far behind in my book-blathering, I'll probably just ignore all the passages that I wanted to share from each of them and just write up a short blurb that explains why I think they're worth your time to read. I'm a terrible disappointment (to myself, since nobody else reads this drivel), and this may signal the death knell of Badbartopia if even I can't be bothered to spend time on my own web site.

But before that bell tolls, here's a post about one of my favorite topics: books. And, to be honest, also one of my least favorite topics: eBooks.

Sept 1, 2019 update - I was out looking on Google for an almost-forgotten Mad magazine spoof of Quantum Leap (Quandry Heap) that I'd seen semi-recently in the garage amongst the piles of stuff I'd kept from childhood (I have Innovation Comics' Quantum Leap books hanging in the cubicle at work right now) and found the Beauty & The Feast Cracked magazine spoof I'd mentioned a while ago - and also saw a photo of a stack of un-reviewed books I'd read way back in 2011. And it was even taller than the current stack, so I'm nothing if not consistent. I suspect that many of those very worthy books from that 2011 photo never received a well-deserved mention in this backwater corner of the cyber-universe.

Apparently my Amazon reviews are good enough that authors are still finding me, despite my recent lack of book reviews. I've reviewed a bunch of non-book stuff recently, but sadly, no books - they take real effort, while a CD or pair of headphones just takes a few minutes to praise (or not, depending on my experience). Maciek Sasinowski read my review of the George RR Martin's Westeros "prequel" to the Game of Thrones novels, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, and figured his book would be right up my alley. And he wasn't totally wrong.

Heir of Ra (Blood of Ra Book One), Maciek Sasinowski

I don't claim a single genre as my favorite (though I'd guess that around eighty percent of the many books I've acquired fall into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy camp). You can see that the stack of read-and-un-reviewed books above contains a little bit of several different genres - non-fiction / essays, mystery / suspense / conspiracies, legal thrillers, historical fiction, and sci-fi / fantasy. I'd say Heir of Ra falls somewhere between Fantasy and Historical fiction. And it also falls squarely into another category: young-adult fiction.

The book's primary protagonist is a sixteen year-old girl who is very much like a younger, less-wealthy, Lara Croft (of the Tomb Raider game and movie franchise) named Alyssa. Alyssa's dad is a distracted archeologist (so now we also have an Indiana Jones, National Treasure, or maybe The Mummy vibe going) and her mom, another archeologist, died mysteriously when Alyssa was young. Alyssa is good at just about everything, exceptionally attractive, very intelligent, and just a wee bit rebellious.

"A dig in Masada," she said after a while. "A misunderstanding with the local authorities required a quick getaway." She chuckled. "I crashed our truck. Kade - my dad - and I spent two weeks in a detention facility before the U.S. consulate finally bailed us out. When we got home, he insisted on tactical driving lessons for me. He wasn't satisfied until I could do a four-wheel drift and J-turn on a dime... blindfolded."

In addition to tactical-driving, free-climbing, base-jumping, and leading a team of archaeology students, she's also apparently a kickboxer and an exceptional chess player.

Alyssa stood up. "A computer did beat me at chess once," she said, "but it was no match for me at kickboxing." Paul stared at her for a moment then laughed. "I believe I'm detecting a pattern here. Should I be worried?" "You should be safe - as long as you don't jam on me," she said. "But I may go ninja on your phone if it rings in the middle of the night."

Alyssa also digs 80's tunes, which I fully appreciate.

A-ha's Hunting High and Low blared from her earbuds

The dialogue/writing style of the book is unmistakably oriented to teen readers. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it's just a thing. I've never read the Percy Jackson series (my kids have), but I've seen the films. And I'm guessing the novels read an awful lot like Heir of Ra. Which is a great thing, if you're a fan of those young adult novels. Here's a scene that's about as far from the supernatural elements of the book as possible, and doesn't even involve any kids. And I thing the target audience is pretty clear.

"Let me get this straight," he said, his voice strained. "We had our best London asset pitted against three kids." Tasha Mendeva regarded him in silence and swallowed. She forced her head up, meeting his glare. "Yet somehow, those pathetic nerds not only got away with the item from the site -" he took a deep breath - " but they sent our well-paid man to the hospital."

And then there was this. I don't know if this is teen slang or something that the author picked up from that 80s computer documentary, The Net.

"Probably a software flab"

Speaking of the supernatural elements of the book, there's plenty of that. We have Egyptian Gods (or do we?), Atlantis, cursed tombs, and also non-supernatural elements that add to the action: conspiracy theories, international espionage, possible alien technology...all kids of fun stuff. Much of the story takes place thousands of years ago.

I turn to him, straining to focus. His ageless eyes mirror the pain in my heart. His lined face speaks of hard life and labor. My breathing slows and my words now come in a whisper, yet each word strikes his ancient heart like a dagger. "The blame lies with you as it does with him. Was it not you who counseled peace between our people? They deserved death for killing our flesh and blood decades ago, yet you spoke of peace. They do not know the meaning of that word!"

He studies me with a distant stare. When he opens his mouth, his voice is trembling and quiet. "I have failed you, Horus, my grandson. I have failed to protect you and your kindred blood. The night we fled our home, I vowed to keep you and all whom you shall love safe from harm. Yet I failed you." His voice cracks as he remembers the night that will forever be engrained in our memories. "But my greatest failure is that I did not succeed in freeing you of your anguish - and hatred." He pauses, taking a deep, pained breath. "For that night I also vowed never to kill again or wage war."

The memories awaken once more in my head in agonizing detail. Once again, I am haunted by the bleeding faces of the men as they died, their screams piercing through the night air. I stare into the distance, wrestling the memories from my mind. I am Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. A welcome numbness spreads through my body. I shall know no fear.

Sadly, the book does contain a smattering of profanity. Including at least one F-bomb. So there's that to be aware of. If it wasn't a book intended for a younger audience, it might not have seemed so conspicuous. At least the writing is free of grammatical errors, is well-edited, and moves at a good pace. The story does seem to drag a little bit in some of the early way-back-flashbacks, but as you become more aware of what you're reading about, the pace of the story becomes even and really enjoyable.

I was tempted to take the lazy way out and just summarize parts of the plot, but I don't want to ruin the book for other readers, so I'll just say that Heir of Ra is an interesting combo of Egyptian mythology meets archeology-adventure meets The Matrix (didn't see that one coming, did you - The Matrix is a reference to the book's ending. Or maybe it's a Percy Jackson ending - if I'd read any of those novels, I might know). Either way, The Matrix, Daughter of Ra (book 2) should be really interesting.

Oh, and one last comment - the "about the author" smiley-laced blurb was written by the author's teenage daughter (who, I'm guessing, was a major influence on the character of Alyssa). It's a lot of fun.

About the Author From the Point of View of his 15-year-old Daughter (that's me! :) Some say that M. Sasinowski writes until 4 am... fueled by a single cup of decaf coffee. Others say this Polish-born American hyper-nerd absorbs energy from late-night TV space shows. No matter the truth... he's my dad. He will never be cool. He loves archaeology, Star Wars/Trek, martial arts (especially women who kick butt), and impromptu father/daughter (that's me! :) science debates or music jam-sessions. He's kind of smart, I suppose (he has a physics PhD, and an MD, or whatever) and likes to build computers for fun. His teenage daughter (that's me! :) is occasionally a handful to deal with and also served as the inspiration for the main character in his debut young adult novel Heir of Ra. You may recognize him from his glorious hair or his tendency to do the "vacuum cleaner" dance to embarrass his daughter (that's me... :(. If you ever see this man, approach with care and greet him in a language he understands, like in Klingon or, better yet, in Wookie. Guurrghghgh!


A couple of months before I started Heir of Ra, I finished a few eBooks in one of my favorite book genres: post-apocalyptic survival stories.

I mentioned one of the books in this series about a year and a half ago, American Exodus. It was an enjoyable post-apocalyptic survival adventure so I had high expectations for the rest of the series.

Catalyst 1 Downward Cycle, J.K. Franks

Downward Cycle is a more detailed origin of the post-apocalyptic events of American Exodus and like American Exodus, Downward Cycle is also set in the southeastern United states. The events of this book closely mirror many of the events of American Exodus, but also provides a lot of the details that were missing from American Exodus and a whole different cast of characters. As with most eBooks I've read, there's no shortage of typographical errors, but if you can get past the errors, you're in for a well-executed post-apocalyptic adventure. Also in line with American Exodus, there's no shortage of profanity, so it's not a book I'd recommend for younger readers.

Downward Cycle starts out during the solar storm of 1859 - a storm that didn't have quite the same impact then as a solar storm of the same magnitude would now have. With almost no electronic devices in existence yet, most people didn't even notice anything was amiss other than a curious occurrence of the aurora borealis (in areas that don't see this light show normally) as the charged atomic particles slammed against all of Earth's the atmosphere, not just the poles.

The lights he had seen up north were pale compared to what he saw now. The brilliant ribbons of color shimmered and danced with highlights of bright pinks, reds, and vivid blues, before settling into a green which paraded out over the Gulf of Mexico like a ballet of light

The primary protagonist of Downward Cycle is, in my opinion, much more likeable than the car salesman from American Exodus. So that helped with my investment in the story.

Scott's mind began to race; the power was probably out due to a massive solar flare. Wasn't that one of the doomsday scenarios? He remembered reading several novels about a terrorist EMP blast leaving the world in perpetual darkness.

Grabbing the EDC bag out of the trunk, he headed back inside, beginning to feel like the man in the old Omega Man movie, wondering if he would be one of the last men left alive, wandering the planet in search of other survivors. Glancing up at the two bicycles on the wall, he thought that if he had to wander, it would probably be on two wheels.

As with all these stories, the bad guys band together and do their best to steal and kill their way across the countryside. To be honest, the events of this story aren't a whole lot different from One Second After by William Forstchen, but that doesn't make me like them any less. The pandemic angle and government conspiracy theory (which is shaping up to not just be a conspiracy in book two) are interesting detours from the collapse of the power grid/survival in a world full of fried electronics nd almost no electrical power generation.

Mobile County was home to over four hundred thousand people, with nearly twenty percent of those living below the poverty level. Ron said the city had been dealing with a growing gang presence, the ranks of which had now increased with the thousands of newly released prisoners. In the days after the CME, they appeared to be in a feeding frenzy. The addicts could no longer get drugs from dealers, so they were looting drugstores for prescription meds as well as from houses, hospitals. Food, drugs, fuel, ammo and even sex were the new commodities with any value. Fires raged around the city, and armed gangs patrolled the roads looking for hapless travelers. The law quickly had become irrelevant and now was non-existent. Those officers who were not killed or injured in the early hours of the crises simply had no more ammo or working patrol cars. They also had no place to put anyone arrested. Chaos and anarchy had become the rulers of this once proud southern port city.

The events of Catalyst book one lead right into book two, Kingdoms of Sorrow, which I quickly read after finishing Downward Cycle.

Catalyst 2 Kingdoms of Sorrow, J.K. Franks

Kingdoms of Sorrow wastes no time addressing one of Catalyst book one's barely-mentioned plot lines, an outbreak of a vicious pandemic somewhere in Europe/Asia that makes all the misery from the collapse of the grid just that much more miserable. We meet a whole new cast of characters, scientists and mercenaries who know a lot more about what's going on than the rest of the completely unprepared citizenry of the world. Though even they were not completely aware of what was going on.

He was on permanent assignment to Praetor, full name Praetor Paramilitary Battlegroup 9. No one used a real name or rank. He was simply Skybox-5: five for his rank, something close to a Captain in the Army, though any comparison to the normal military was irrelevant.

The ID documents they provided got him through every checkpoint without incident, and his compact go-bag included almost anything he could possibly need to move across both hostile and friendly territory with ease.

Another thought that kept creeping in was that someone at command had known the CME was imminent. The original instructions on the call had said as much by its specific travel instructions.

This disease spreading quickly becomes very familiar to fans of The Walking Dead - except the dead don't become slow, mindless shambling killing machines. They're more like the zombies of Z Nation or Zombieland.

The victims are only partially aware of themselves and their surroundings at this point. They appear to lack all ethical judgment and become filled with the desire to attack prey - an effective short-term method of spreading. The subjects experience acute rage, they attack violently . . . at times they kill, though more often it is simply to wound. Whatever, or whomever they attack are, of almost always infected in the process.

Not zombies sir," Genghis replied. "They're not brainless. They're not slow. And they're not trying to eat us, although they certainly bite. If you shoot them, they will die. You need to shoot them someplace vital, but they will die. The agent that's driving them is primitive and efficient. It wants to grow, reproduce, and survive like any form of life. Think of it more like rabies, but amped-up a hundred times. Given enough time I think it may find a better way for replication . . . and that will be worse.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. (the above events are taking place in the middle east), our intrepid survivors from book one are fighting off marauders and when not defending themselves, they're doing their best to survive in a world without clean water, refrigeration or a very ample supply of fuel for vehicles. Book two ends with another character who is only briefly mentioned for most of these first two books making his way from the smoldering ruins of the north-eastern U.S. to his friend Scott's bastion of survival. Thing are looking desperate for all the survivors as roving gangs of murderous bandits and a disease that wipes out entire populations is making waste of the few survivors.

Oh, and one last mention-worthy tidbit - there's a very brief Hitchhiker's Guide mention...

"Pretty sure the answer to life and the universe is forty-two," Scott retorted in amusement.

I wasted no time before starting book three, Ghost Country.

Catalyst 3 Ghost Country, J.K. Franks

Our beleaguered survivors are scrambling to develop a cure of the zombie virus, fight off hordes of bandits, and take down a secret faction of the US Government plotting against them. Multiple battles ensue, people die all over the place, plots get very twisty, and the story comes to a dramatic conclusion. I'm running out of gas, so I'm not going to share any quotes from this book (most of what I'd marked sounded too spoiler-ish, anyway).

If you read the first two books (or three, counting American Exodus), you won't need my encouragement to read this one. You'll tear through it.

I'm going to ramble on about some awesome musical-type purchases I've made over the past few months in the next few days (in theory), so that's it for now. Maybe I'll even get to my Grand Canyon adventure, concerts, or any of the zillions of other things I've been planning to mention of these days.

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