Category Archives: reading

New Year, New Stuff

So it’s been 39 days since I last posted and unfortunately, there’s been some good reasons for that.

I’ve been looking for a new job and this week I have two possibilities, one is a temporary position for six months and the other is a full time position. Obviously I would like the full time position but since I am currently unemployed, I will take anything I can get.

Another reason for the lack of a writing-related post is that the monthly writing challenge run by ML Garrett has been discontinued because it wasn’t garnering enough interest and she wanted to focus more of her time on her publishable writing.

I am still writing Bluebonnet County stories. The one that I was originally writing for the January challenge was actually longer than I originally planned so I will post a link to it as soon as it’s finished, which will hopefully be sometime in the next two weeks.

On the reading front, I will gather my thoughts and post reviews of the last book I read, Star Trek: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm. I am currently reading Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions, and will post a review when I’m done.

I decided not to make any new year’s resolutions and it seems to have paid off, I have lost 15lbs in three weeks, so I’m about as light as I was a year or so ago. I’m going to try and make a goal of being 240lbs by the end of February. We’ll see if I make it.



Filed under Bluebonnet County, book review, books, creative writing, Creative Writing Challenge Game, reading, Star Trek, Weight Loss, Work in Progress, Writing, Writing Competition

From Potters Field

This is I believe is the final entry in what I have come to call the Temple Gault trilogy in the Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell.

Temple Brooks Gault first appeared in Cruel and Unusual where was responsible for killing 4 people and escaped. Gault turned up again by proxy in The Body Farm (my review of that book is here) where he used a young woman, Carrie Grethen, to gain access to a classified FBI program. In From Potters Field Gault continues his murderous rampage by setting his sights on Dr. Scarpetta and her niece, Lucy (who was Carrie’s lover in The Body Farm).

This book follows the FBI’s hunt for Gault from Richmond to New York and seemingly back and forth before his death in the New York subway. What I am most fascinated by in this book is not the title (which again is only tangentially related to the plot at hand) or the main thrust of the plot in finding Gault, but the behavior of the primary characters.

Gault has red hair and vivid blue eyes, can imitate a flawless Northern Italian accent and steals money wired to his mentally-impaired sister (an impairment he caused years earlier by making a horse kick her in the head) before he kills said sister after taking her boots and everything else that he wanted from her. I am only just beginning to write crime stories myself and I’m not sure I would wish to write about someone as innately evil as Gault, but I am still fascinated by his character (which I suppose is why I like watching Criminal Minds).

Lucy went from being a twelve-year-old know-it-all to a lesbian FBI-intern computer genius and considering that these books were written in the mid-90s I’m glad they tackle the difficulty of a lesbian lifestyle, but only as it relates to the character, and not the plot. Lucy’s computer wizardry is instrumental in catching Gault and absolves her from the problems Gault and Grethen caused her in The Body Farm.

Captain Pete Marino comes across as a chauvinist, homophobic bigoted dinosaur but he is a cynical jaded detective who knows what to look for and I find his character just as fascinating. I’ll be giving a more detailed look at Marino’s character in another post.

Scarpetta’s character seemed odd to me in this book. We see her becoming more and more paranoid (understandable considering Gault’s fascination with her) but her fascination with guns seems completely off compared to the previous books. She went from having one gun to enough for a small army. I think Cornwell went too far in portraying Scarpetta’s paranoia.

I actually really enjoyed the book and give it a 7/10.

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Filed under books, reading, Scarpetta

The Body Farm

This is the fifth Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell and I have to wonder at the title. The body farm in Tennessee which one might think was the focus of the novel barely covers two chapters (if that). The rest of the time is spent chasing Temple Brooks Gault, who was the nemesis of the previous book (Cruel and Unusual) and the next book in the series (From Potters Field). In this book, the actual killer has taken hints from Gault’s previous works of depravity and used it to her (that’s right, you read that correctly) advantage.

To give you some background. Kay Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner for the state/Commonwealth of Virginia and is part of a crime solving troika which also includes FBI Special Agent and forensic profiler Benton Wesley, and Richmond PD Homicide detective Peter Marino. Wesley and Marino were part of a local VICAP (Violent Criminals Apprehension Program) initiative and at the end of the previous book Scarpetta became an FBI consultant.

So a body of a little girl turns up in some backwater town in N. Carolina and everyone thinks it’s Gault so they chase their tails for half the book until Scarpetta realizes that nothing fits (especially as Gault’s been seen in London). The local cops drop like flies and Marino gets involved with the dead girl’s mother while Scarpetta and Wesley start to have an affair. To cut a long story short, the killer is the girl’s mother and it appears as though she’s responsible for every death in the town from her husband and daughter to one of the local cops, and tries to kill Scarpetta.

The B plot revolves around Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy, whose mother is children’s author, lousy mother and obnoxious human being that deserves a slap every time she opens her mouth. Lucy is working for the FBI’s research division and supposedly steals sensitive information. The truth is far more sinister: Lucy’s girlfriend is working with Gault to get into the FBI’s worldwide computer database called CAIN and uses Lucy’s thumb print to gain access. The plots dovetail as when the killer mom tries to kill Scarpetta she almost succeeds in killing Lucy instead who’s actually driving the car.

I would give this book a 5/10. It could have been a lot better but it could also have been a lot worse.


Filed under books, reading, Scarpetta

Updates on Writing and Books

Wow, 2 months since my last post.

I really have to get better about maintaining this blog or it will fall into the internet abyss.

OK, let’s see, what happened in the last two months. Instead of shopping the short story around to the magazines, I submitted it to the Jim Baen Writing Contest, the winners of which will be contacted on/around March 15th. There was nothing more I could do with that story so I started writing another one…and I’m still writing it.

It is the second story set in my Commonwealth universe, though this time about twenty years earlier than the first story was, and it looks to be significantly longer than the first story, perhaps even a novella.

In other news, my wife and I finally moved into a new apartment in a much better neighborhood than the previous place was, though transport is more tricky, but we have worked out a suitable arrangement, at least for now.

I have not read much in the last two months but I did just finish reading a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Grounded by David Bischoff. It was set during the series’ run (1987-1994) and is therefore a cookie-cutter novel, with no major changes occurring to upset the status quo, but that said it was rather enjoyable.

An alien life form based on silicon almost causes the Enterprise to be destroyed, but one of the B plots saves the day with Picard, Data and Geordi’s assistance (Riker and Worf are both knocked unconscious). Sentient or quasi-sentient clay is not original to science fiction, I’m sure, but it is my first association with it and I found the use of the clay quite intriguing. It was deadly to the people on the outpost, being on a planetary surface, but seemed to grow while attached to the Enterprise. Apparently a simple magnetic field shift is enough to render the clay relatively harmless, and thus renders the A plot just as harmless, in my opinion.

While the A plot was interesting, I found myself more drawn to one of the B plots, where an autistic child needs help to prevent her from going catatonic at times, and an interesting speculation came forward, that perhaps autistic children are telepaths of some degree but they are unable to process all the external stimuli that come with this and retreat into themselves, becoming almost catatonic. It is an interesting notion and one that I have filed it away for later use in my Commonwealth universe, though I don’t currently know where it might fit.

I have just started reading the next Star Trek: The Next Generation novel I have, The Devil’s Heart by Carmen Carter. I will probably post my thoughts on it here once done.

Provided I don’t forget.

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Filed under Autism, book review, Commonwealth universe, Home, Original Fiction, Psychics, reading, Star Trek, Writing Competition

Welcome to the Word Racket!

In the coming months I’ll be posting comments on subjects I find interesting, updates on how my numerous stories are going (both fan- and original fiction) and generally anything else I think anyone else might be interested in.

Stay tuned!

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Filed under books, games, reading, Writing