Book Reviews: Choppers, Drummers, Be Kind to Books

Garrison Keillor once said, “Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn.”
I love corn, but I wonder how he feels about bacon. . .

Airwolf: Airstrikes
I’m gonna try to come at this as simply a book, albeit a graphic novel, but the thing is I was a huge fan of the TV show as a kid—probably would not have bothered reading this otherwise—so I can’t help comparing it.
The first thing is getting used to the changes, as this is technically a “reimagining,” as in Battlestar Galactica, definitely not a continuation. Santini is now young and black rather than old and an Italian cliché; it takes them quite a while to explain it’s his son, and then go further to say he was adopted. Also different is Archangel, now a beautiful young woman rather than an older one-eyed guy. However, since that’s more of a position than a name, and the guy shows up later, it isn’t as jarring. At one point I wondered if it was really Stringfellow or his brother, but thankfully that didn’t last long.
One thing I enjoyed was that, unlike a lot of graphic novels, this isn’t one overreaching arc, but rather each of the collected comics is a separate episode. We get our heroes saving a Pakistani scientist from prison; taking out some Indonesian bad guys; battling an Arab warlord in what looks to be Somalia but could be Qatar or such; rescuing a supposed teen drug lord. . . okay, that one stretched things a bit much.
They’re even going up against a militia on home soil who’s gotten their hands on a stealth aircraft; too bad about that brave female agent. This was most likely the weakest entry, as it featured the stealth in a dogfight with Airwolf, which is completely impossible, as anyone familiar with stealth technology would know. The writers might have some knowledge of military operations, but the use of an obsolete Warthog—the plane, not the animal—in Indonesia is also a miss. The Indonesian military guy uses the phrase “Crispy critters,” and I really do hope it was intentionally funny. In fact, all the foreign officers speak Big Word English.
As one would expect of a woman drawn in what is essentially a comic meant for men—or more likely teenaged boys—Archangel is drawn hot, but there’s a good reason nobody likes her. The writing is pedestrian, the plots simple. . . but then I don’t remember the original winning any writing Emmys either. The best line had to be: “Queen of Deceit in a kingdom of liars.”
For this fan, a bit disappointing. As an objectionable objective observer, it’s okay.
3/5

Cultural Repercussions
First of all, great title for a study on a drummer (icymi, re-percussions).
And yet the emphasis here is not on Neil Peart’s drumming, but rather a chronological history of his life with an emphasis on his lyrics. The author is as much a fanboy as me and everyone else reading this, which is refreshing, but for the most part he still manages to make this sound somewhat scholarly. There’s a lot more philosophical ramblings than I think anyone has ever tried to make of the lyrics, especially the Stoic school, as he breaks the career of Rush into parts according to when one era of music stopped and another started; I do that too, but mine don’t quite mesh with his.
There’s quite a bit here that reminds me of the documentary made of the band, with special attention given to all the famous musicians they’ve inspired. I don’t think this broke any new ground other than the philosophical musings mentioned above, but it’s still an interesting addition for those who have to have everything Rush-ian.
3.5/5

Tips, Tools, and Tactics For Getting Your Book Reviewed
I’m not looking to be a published author, so I came into this with a different mindset. It amazed me how many suggestions mentioned here have been used on me, and I had no idea that listing a book on NetGalley could be so expensive.
As the title implies, this is more for authors than reviewers, but I nevertheless found some interesting things. The main body is about the different ways authors can get reviewed—again, there’s the title—and classifies them according to how much effort it’ll take, average results, potential results, and secondary benefits.
On the downside, especially at the beginning, there were small chapters with plenty of facing blank pages, no doubt in order to pad what is already a thin book anyway. It’s more probable the publisher did that, but annoying that they think readers won’t figure that out.
My favorite intriguing note is a direct quote: “I know when I was blogging, I was always hesitant to leave below a three-star review for an author I had interacted with directly. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings—but maybe I was being too Canadian about the whole thing.” Since I am a born and bred Southern Californian who thinks of himself as an honorary Canadian—just gotta ace the test—I could see where she was coming from, because the very same day I read this I went through the same thing.
The most important takeaway here is that the author is earnest and genuinely seems to want to help, which I found refreshing. This more than anything, as I wouldn’t be trying out the suggestions, is what sold me on this book.
4/5

Kindness on a Budget
A lady writes about all the encounters she has in a regular day and how easy it is to make even a stranger’s life a little brighter, if only momentarily.
It’s hard for me to say anything negative here, as I really believe in the message of this book and some of the ideas she puts forth. Still, I would be remiss if I did not mention she’s at least middle class if not upper middle-class; even though she rents her home, it has a pool and hot tub. Not everything done here is within the reach of a lot of people, and I don’t particularly mean monetarily. In addition, since she doesn’t have a regular job—yet manages to fly all over the place—she has a lot of time to do crafty things at home and run errands; people who have to deal with rush hour and then go to the market might be too tired and frazzled to pay attention to the niceties as she suggests.
Despite that caveat, there’s plenty here to like and emulate.
4/5

;o)

Book Reviews: A Trio

As always, got to read them early in exchange for telling you what I think about them. Doesn’t seem like an equitable exchange rate, but I’m not about to complain.
Finding that these three books didn’t generate enough words for me to blog about them individually, I came up with the idea of combining them into one writing. Amazing! I wonder why no one ever thought of that before!
Okay, fine. On with it. . .

Rodeo Red, by Marypat Perkins
Had no idea this would be a children’s book when I electronically picked it up; you know how I am with redheads, so I couldn’t resist taking a look. Glad I did, though. It’s told as a Western, with appropriate dialect, and has great drawings. The basic story is of a little girl who gets a baby brother who wants her favorite toy, and how she figures out how to compromise and live happily ever after. . . or at least till the baby gets to the terrible twos. Actually, the end is written as “happier than two freckles on a sunny cheek,” which is simply awesome.
My fave line: “I thought for sure anybody who hollered that much would be hauled to the edge of town and told to skedaddle. But the Sheriff and her Deputy seemed smitten.”
5/5

Battlestar Galactica 2: The Adama Gambit
{Note: this is original series, not “reimagining”}
A collection of comic books which were a bit tough to read on the computer screen, but I persevered. The first story was my fave, with Athena in command on the bridge. There’s also a bit on Adama losing his confidence before growing a pair, and an intriguing take on Baltar and how he became such an ass. {Spoiler: it was Daddy’s fault.}
4.5/5

Far and Near, by Neil Peart
I’m pretty sure that even if I wasn’t a Rush fan I would enjoy reading his books, be they fiction or travel, or even journals, as this is. What’s most interesting to me is that, even though I’ve already read all of these stories off his website—albeit with months in between each one—perusing them now, as chapters of a greater piece, made for a completely different experience. I’m reminded of something he said in one of his interviews, pertaining to music but also valid here: “What I want the listened (reader) to take away is that care has been taken here.” When I post a blog about one of my many trips I prefer to let it live as a stream of consciousness, straight from my memory to the page or computer screen. Not so with him; it is obvious care has been taken here. I’m particularly enamored for his reason for journaling, as he writes in the outro (which was never posted on his website): “When reviewing the stories to prepare this book, many times I came across a passage of description, action, or conversation, and thought, ‘I would have never remembered that.’ Sobering to reflect that if a time and place do not exist in memory or in art, they might as well have never happened.” Exactly.
4.5/5

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: Clockwork Angels

As happened a few months ago with Egyptology, I am inspired to do a poetry entry by something I went to see. Last night I went to the movie theater to see a Rush concert on the big screen, or as it turned out half of one, but that’s another blog. As far as reviews go, this is what HD and Dolby sound were made for; the experience was at times better than live. More to the point, it inspired me again to think that song lyrics are today’s poetry.
So with all that said, some of my favorite excerpts from Clockwork Angels

I was brought up to believe
The universe had a plan
We are only human
It’s not ours to understand.

You promise every treasure
To the foolish and the wise
Goddess of mystery
spirits in disguise
Every pleasure
We bow and close our eyes

Sometimes the angels punish us
by answering our prayers

Canyons and cactus
Endless and trackless
Searching through a grim eternity
Sculptured by a prehistoric sea

All I know is that sometimes yuo have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew.
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
‘Cause sometimes the target is you

Believe in what we’re told
Until our final breath
While our loving watchmaker
loves us all to death

And of course the point of the whole endeavor:
In a world where I feel so small
I can’t stop thinking big.

;o)