Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg (Jerry) writes "nerd novels," such as The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, and Mistress of Molecules—about how brilliant people produce quality work. His novels may be found as eBooks at or on Kindle. Before taking up his science fiction career, he published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. He also wrote books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the four-volume Quality Software Management series. He incorporates his knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, and software engineers). Early in his career, he was the architect for the Mercury Project's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. Winner of the Warnier Prize and the Stevens Award for his writing on software quality, he is also a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame. The book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) honors his work for his 75th birthday. His website and blogs may be found at http://www.geraldmweinberg.com.
Where to find Gerald M. Weinberg online
Where to buy in print
VideosThe Myth of Writers Block
The University of New Mexico Law school interviews Jerry on a variety of publishing questions. (see 2 other videos for the rest of the interview).
In this interview, Jerry debunks the myth that prevents so many would-be writers from actually writing. He gives examples of what to do when you think you're "blocked."
What Did You Say? The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback
This brief and engaging book can be of use to anyone who has to interact with other people. How to offer feedback when asked or hired to do so. Why feedback tells more about the giver than the receiver. How feedback is distorted or resisted by the receiver's point of view and defense mechanisms. And in dozens of enjoyable vignettes, how humans have struggled to understand each others' responses.
Where There’s a Will There’s a Murder
What looks like an accident, sounds like an accident, and moves like an accident—is probably a murder. With a $-billion inheritance at stake, it's probably lots more than one. Enter the Residue Class, that diverse team of amateur outcast sleuths—an international team of geniuses whose social skills do not equal their skills in mathematics, computers, science, and catching murderers
The Blind Warrior
This short story captures Ember Wells learning to control her anger, so she can defend herself without using her Stringer power to incinerate her attackers.
This is the short story that inspired the novel, "Mistress of Molecules."
It shows what a little logic can do in the face of an emotional crisis.
Also contains opening chapters of "Mistress of Molecules."
Exploring Requirements 2: First Steps into Design
This is volume 2 of an innovative book that gives you the understanding you need to give people the solutions they want. The collaborative team of Gause and Weinberg tells how you can assure the requirements are right—before the product is designed.
Exploring Requirements 1: Quality Before Design
Here's an innovative book that gives you the understanding you need to give people the solutions they want. The collaborative team of Gause and Weinberg tells how you can assure the requirements are right—before the product is designed.
Roundtable on Technical Leadership
Joined by coeditors Marie Benesh and James Bullock, consultant's consultant Gerald M. Weinberg highlights forty experts' secrets for building and sustaining a leadership role in software development.
Roundtable on Project Management
This book is mostly just what good project managers do. If you are looking for a source of nuggets for that nagging problem, and for a compelling story, one like the story you're living, well, this is very probably a good book for you. Any time you get stuck, reach for this book and you will be pleasantly surprised to ﬁnd a similar situation about which the wayfarers have shared their wisdom.
Understanding the Professional Programmer
A unique insider's view of the many ways to become a better programmer and to improve job performance.
Organized as a collection of essays about the profession of programming, the book is both provocative and readable.
Anyone interested in becoming a skilled and experienced professional in this sometimes treacherous profession will benefit from Weinberg's insights
Active Regulation: General Systems Design Principles
Active Regulation is Volume 3 in the General Systems Thinking series that begins with the world-wide best-selling, An Introduction to General Systems Thinking. (also available in ebook formats) That first series volume focused on the question,"Why do we see what we see?" The second and third books tackle the next question, namely "Why do things stay the same?
Passive Regulation: General Systems Design Principles
Passive Regulation is Volume 2 in the General Systems Thinking series that begins with the world-wide best-selling, An Introduction to General Systems Thinking. (also available in ebook formats) That first series volume focused on the question,"Why do we see what we see?" This second books tackles the next question, namely "Why do things stay the same?"
Rethinking Systems Analysis and Design
Systems analysis and design have solved many problems, but they have also created many problems. This unique book tackles crucial analysis and design issues that are glossed over in conventional texts. It recognizes that while many problems are solved with systems analysis and design, many problems are also created.
Teaching People Teaching Dogs
Dani Weinberg shares her deep experience as a anthropologist, organizational consultant, and especially trainer of dogs and people who train dogs.
It will be especially helpful for any animal trainer or anyone who aspires to become an animal trainer.
Change Done Well
CHANGE DONE WELL is the ninth volume in the highly acclaimed Quality Software series. In it, renowned author, Gerald M. Weinberg, illustrates how to create a supportive environment for improving software engineering—an environment in which your organization can realize long-lasting gains in quality and productivity by learning how to manage change.
CHANGE: Planned & Unplanned
From systems thinking to project management to technology transfer to the interaction of culture and process, this volume analyzes transformation from a broad range of perspectives, providing a breadth of awareness essential for successful management of high-quality software development.
Are Your Lights On?
Whether you are a novice or a veteran, this powerful little book will make you a more effective problem solver. Anyone involved in product and systems development will appreciate this practical guide, which has become a cult classic. "...one of the funniest, yet helpful books in print. The authors do a great job in making difficulties into anecdotes while providing helpful & valuable advice"
An Introduction to General Systems Thinking
For more than thirty-five years, this book has been hailed as an innovative introduction to systems theory, with applications in software development and testing, medicine, engineering, social sciences, architecture, and beyond. Used in university courses and professional seminars all over the world, the text has proven its ability to open minds and sharpen thinking.
Becoming a Change Artist
In Volume 7 of the highly acclaimed Quality Software series, Gerald M. Weinberg illustrates how skilled people (Change Artists) work to create a supportive environment for software engineering —an environment in which your organization can realize long-lasting gains in quality and productivity by learning the artistry of managing change.
The Psychology of Computer Programming: Silver Anniversary eBook Edition
A penetrating analysis of the intelligence, skill, teamwork, and problem-solving power of the computer programmer. Topics include egoless programming, intelligence, psychological measurement, personality factors, motivation, training, social problems on large projects, problem-solving ability, programming language design, team formation, the programming environment, and much more.
Managing Teams Congruently
To be effective, team managers must act congruently. These managers must not only understand the concepts of good software engineering and effective teamwork, but also translate them into their own practices. Effective managers need to know what to do, say what they will do, and act accordingly. Their thoughts and feelings need to match their words and behaviors.
Managing Yourself and Others
To be effective, managers must act congruently. Managers must not only understand the concepts of good software engineering, but also translate them into their own practices. Effective managers need to know what to do, say what they will do, and act accordingly. Their thoughts and feelings need to match their words and behaviors.
Responding to Significant Software Events
-A software starship that has gone where no-one has gone before–N. Zvegintzov
-brimming with simple techniques & examples of their application –Computing Rev.
-required reading for anyone who cares about project success—N. Karten
-enlightening, practical, humorous, and enormously inspiring—Yourdon
-a must for all sentient software line and project managers—S/W Quality World
How to Observe Software Systems
"This book will probably make you think twice about some decisions you currently make by reflex. That alone makes it worth reading." "Great to understand the real meaning of non linearity of human based processes and great to highlight how some easy macro indicator can give info about your s/w development process." "An incredibly useful book" - Amazon Reviews
Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method
"a delight, a wise and warm book on overcoming the perils of trying to write."—Gabriele Rico, author of Writing the Natural Way
"smart, funny, memorable, wise, engaging...most important, it is all stuff that works"—Howard S. Becker, author of Writing for Social Scientists
"a gift to writers at all levels—Penny Raife Durant, award-winning author
More Secrets of Consulting
A sequel or extension to The Secrets of Consulting, but the two books may be read in either order. An Amazon reviewer says: "Just buy this book and improve your life. I add Mr. Weinberg to a short list of those authors and persons in my life that have made me a better person and provided some direction to the chaos of the universe."
The Secrets of Consulting
If you are a consultant, or ever use a consultant, this book is for you. The author draws on his 50+ years of consulting experience to share his secrets about the often irrational world of consulting. "This is a great book. Period! ...this advice is clearly applicable to more than just consulting; it is applicable to life in general." "The book is truly wonderful. A must have!" - Amazon reviews
Becoming a Technical Leader
A personalized guide to developing the qualities that make a successful technical leader. We all possess the ingredients for leadership, some better developed than others.
The book focuses on the problem-solving style–a unique blend of skills in 3 main areas: innovation, motivation, and organization. Ways to analyze your own leadership skills, with practical steps for developing those skills.
Why Software Gets In Trouble
Many books have described How Software Is Built. Indeed, that's the first title in my Quality Software Series. But why do we need an entire book to explain Why Software Gets In Trouble? Why not just say "people make mistakes"?
Why not? Because there are reasons people make mistakes, and make them repeatedly, and fail to discover and correct them. That's what this book is about.
Perfect Software and Other Illusions About Testing
James Bach says, "Read this book and get your head straight about testing. I consider Jerry (Weinberg) to be the greatest living tester."
Answers the questions that puzzle the most people:
Why do we have to bother testing?
Why not just test everything?
What is it that makes testing so hard?
Why does testing take so long?
Is perfect software even possible?
Why can't we just accept a few bugs?
Quality Software: Volume 1.1: How Software Is Built
This is part 1 of the latest edition of the classic, Quality Software Management. Its fundamental purpose is to teach how to understand the dynamics of software development organizations, to plan software projects, and to act effectively to carry out those plans.
Jigglers: Aremac A Century Later
Finally, after 100 years, Roger Fixman explains to his grandson the great secret of Jigglers, Inc., the company that Aremac built and the riches it made for Roger and Tess.
Earth's Endless Effort
LAFE doesn't live in the forest. LAFE is the forest. LAFE's size and thousands of years of experience provide the wisdom to survive. When a pipeline project threatens to slice LAFE's brain, LAFE seeks the aid of Daphne DeFreest. But first they must heal her broken body and find a way to communicate. Then Daphne must find the love of her life, and they all must cope with their common enemies.
Math Prof and former NSA problem-solver Josh Rosemont, finds a woman’s body in the woods. Rosy's team hounds a twisted trail of false clues to uncloak the Dean’s sex scandal, decipher incriminating evidence in a billion-dollar swindle, and thwart a serial killer–a deranged student who believes raping and killing a potential suicide is not really murder. But did they catch the real killer?
Mistress of Molecules
Libra has never seen a tree. On her planet, every growing thing poisons humans. Using her extraordinary powers of chemical synthesis, she terrorizes the corporations and churches that hold everyone in slavery. Across the galaxy, Andre saves a Zgaarid spaceship and is implanted with Zgaarid technology. Andre meets Libra. The reaction is explosive. The galaxy will never be the same.
The Hands of God
How Would You Live If You Lost Your Hands?
Could you feed yourself? Clean yourself? What about opening a door? How would you dress yourself, or tie your shoes? Would everyone you ever loved consider you a freak? A monster?
Pamela Ruka knows the answers to these questions, and more. When she was six years old, she lost her hands in the accident that claimed her mother’s life.
Aremac Power: Inventions at Risk
Marna has a PhD in theoretical physics. So does Tess. Marna is unhappy because nobody will pay attention to her theory of quantum displacement. Tess is unhappy because everybody is paying attention to her husband's reverse camera, Aremac. Half the FBI thinks Roger has the answer to the terrorism problem. The other half thinks he's a terrorist.
The Aremac Project
Young genius Roger Fixman invents Aremac, a machine to extracts pictures from people's minds. Everyone wants to steal his invention, yet a flaw in Aremac rendered his wife Tess unable to move or communicate.
Can Roger correct the bugs and save her before her body fails? Can he prevent Aremac from falling into unscrupulous hands? Or will age and treachery triumph over youth and hope?
Second Stringers: The Sole Advantage of Power
Six young people--each born with a disfiguring and crippling defect--possess the power to access the underlying string structure of the universe and thus violate the most trusted laws of physics. They must master their personal fears and escape pursuit by those who wish to command their powers. As they discover one another, they grow in power and sophistication, becoming more fully human.
First Stringers: Eyes That Do Not See
What happens if the physicists' String Theory is correct, and the "real" universe is nothing more than a human mental construct?
And what happens to the half-dozen young adults who, through an accident on their common day of conception, can mentally pull the strings of the universe?
And what if each of their rule-shattering powers is accompanied by a deformity shunned by society?
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Smashwords book reviews by Gerald M. Weinberg
- Dory Cove
on Sep. 13, 2010
Although I'm not what would be considered a romance reader, the story of Dory Cove hooked my interest. The principal characters are lovely people–nice enough to root for them and want to read more. I knew theirs was a romance, so things would eventually work out for Penny and Davey, but I wanted to see how it would happen. The fine writing made it an enjoyable trip.
Before the romance between Penny and Davey could work out, Penny had to come to accept Dory Cove life and overcome her fear of the sea. To me, this was the difficult task, and I could identify with her fears and other emotional reactions. This part of the story made it not just a simple romance (if romance is ever simple), but a compelling tale of life and death by the ocean.
- Shades of Moonlight
on Dec. 18, 2010
Review of Shades of Moonlight,
by Karen L. McKee
reviewed by Gerald M. Weinberg:
As a man, I used to wonder why women read romance novels. As a writer, I read a few to find the answer, but I was puzzled. They all seemed to follow a simple plot formula: lonely girl, hunky guy; meet cute; attraction; problems; problems solved; consummation. As long as the writing was cleverly funny, this formula seemed sufficient for the romantic comedies,. But I still failed to understand "serious" romances.
All that changed when I read Laura Kinsale's Flowers From the Storm. I began to see how a romance could elevate itself above the common crowd if it possessed three things: a detailed and fascinating realistic setting; characters with personal depth; and a plot that moved with engaging energy. Karen L. McKee's Shades of Moonlight possesses all three.
First, there's her luscious painting of the steamy background in Pagan, Burma, a background she provides with captivating detail. As one of the characters says, “I swear it’s this whole damned place. Pagan. Even the name spells trouble. Change the pronunciation and you have something beyond accepted religions.”
Second, she populates this landscape with a group of research anthropologists–an occupation with which I'm intimately familiar. My wife, Dani, like McKee's protagonist, Kalla Jervis, is a cultural anthropologist (and I used to play on the University of Michigan's Anthropology football team). I have many friends who McKee has modeled perfectly in Kalla and her surrounding cast.
Third, the fast-moving plot contains two romances in one--no, three: Two living couples, and one spirit couple occupying them and attempting to take control in order to save the entire culture of Burma. More than that, there are stories within the story–wonderful stories from nuns and monks that Kalla has come to Burma to capture, seeking to learn what felled this once-great civilization.
One of the characters describes the heroine this way: "Kalla—she’s a powerhouse—brilliant—gifted in her work, though she’s sort of stepped back from her career in the last while." She's also paranoid, which may be justified, because she is confronting "nats," spirits who take control of persons and make them do things they would not otherwise do. Yet through most of the story, Kalla rejects the idea that nats are real, let alone that they possess the man who she comes to love.
But ultimately, she also becomes possessed, and so she holds the fate of a country, a people, in her hands. What does she do with this responsibility? I'll leave that for the reader to discover in the thrilling climax.
- Conflict of Interest
on Jan. 24, 2011
Meg, the protagonist is a female assassin, but the murders don't start to happen until rather late in the story, though Meg has the contract right from the start. Unusually well-written, in Meg's brilliant, scheming voice, as she thinks and acts her way through one surprising quandary after another.
Grab yourself a copy of Conflict of Interest, and your only disappointment will be having to wait for Meg's next adventure. But no matter how long you have to wait, I guarantee you won't forget Margaret Harrison, aka Megan Harris, aka Meg. Emotionally detached. Businesslike. Rich.
- The Spacer's Blade & Other Stories
on Feb. 02, 2011
If you, like me, like aliens, this little collection of stories is for you.
Me, I'm not ordinarily a short-story reader, but I'd heard hopeful rumors about Annie Bellet's writing, so I (virtually) grabbed a copy of the eBook. Grabbed it and (literally) couldn't put it down. Then I decided to write this review as an attempt to figure out why.
So, what did "The Spacer’s Blade," "Crawlies," and "I, Vermin" have in common? First thing popping in my head was the lovability of the aliens. By this I don't mean cutesy lovability, like, say, ET in the movie. Rather, I mean lovability in their alien humanity.
Alien humanity? Isn't that an oxymoron? Not to Ms. Bellet, whose carefully crafted stories seem to tell us: "Look beneath the surface. So what if that surface doesn't display pink or brown skin? What if it lacks two eyes with a nose symmetrically between them? What if it fails to match ten fingers—or has no fingers at all? No, even if you've never seen or felt or smelled such a surface down below you will find those lovable qualities."
And what qualities are they? How about curiosity? Desire to communicate? Respect and care for the sick, wounded, and dying? Understanding, patience, and protection for young creatures? And, perhaps most of all, the love of life and the eagerness to live?
If you're like me, Ms. Bellet's stories will help you experience the full breadth and depth of your love—love reaching far into the unknown universe.
- Kickin' It South of the Border
on Feb. 03, 2011
Just a brief comment from a reader who seldom reads (and more seldom likes) short stories. I like this one. I envy Mr. DeLee's ability to put so much color and so many nifty twists in so few pages. I think you will, too.
- First Impressions
on Feb. 03, 2011
For me, one trouble with short stories is they're either too long or too short. If they're not very good stories, they're too long, but if they are good, they're too short. I want a novel, at least. Maybe a trilogy, or a never-ending series.
After reading Mr. DeLee's "Kickin' It South of the Border," I decided it was one of the too short variety. I simply hadn't had enough of bounty hunter, Grace deHaviland, so I bought "First Impressions." My only problem with that decision was that the two stories together are too short. I want more of Grace.
So get busy, Mr. DeLee. Let's make a collection of Grace Notes—even a novel probably wouldn't satisfy me. In the meantime, you readers can at least have two fine reads, then maybe we'll both pester DeLee for a third. A fourth. A ...
- Gabriel & Mr. Death
on Feb. 05, 2011
If you've ever faced death, or ever had a dog, you'll understand Susan Kroupa's story—as told by Gabriel, Sally Ann's black-and-tan hound. And you'll cry, as I did—tears for what was and tears for what might have been. But also tears for what is, and what is to come.
- Courtesy Call
on Feb. 05, 2011
I've had a rough few days, what Peter Mallick would call "disappointment days." Cause of the rough days was the icy weather, colder than it's ever been here in the past twenty years. We have a heater that keeps our well pump from freezing, but the fan expired and the device overheated. So, we had no water for three days, all the stores were out of heaters, and all the plumbers were taking appointments for next week.
But I finally grew clever and rigged a fan for the heater. It was slow going, and one of the frozen lines broke and gave me a shower—fully clothed, in zero-degree weather. More disappointment, but eventually everything thawed and I shut off the broken line. Now we had water. Water to wash people and dishes. Water to flush toilets. And water to drink as I read "Courtesy Call" about Mr. Mallick's experiences trying to thaw some frozen parts of himself.
It was the perfect story for me, and would have been even in mid-summer. Ms. Kroupa is just the kind of magical storyteller who can thaw the coldest hearts without a heater or fan—just with a few more than 5,000 words.
- Walter's Christmas-Night Musik
on Feb. 05, 2011
I sometimes cry while reading, but not often—except when I'm reading the work of Susan Kroupa. Somehow, she knows the secret of fabricating tears out of mere words.
It's not simply one brand of tears. Walter Gunther's little Christmas-Night story starts with tears of sadness, sprinkles in tears of laughter, followed by tears of excitement, and then, in the end, tears of purest joy.
Why all these tears? I don't want to spoil the surprises of this wonderful tale, but I will tell you that Walter receives the greatest imaginable Christmas present. Don't wait until Christmas to gift yourself with one little night music.
- Almost a Bride (Wyoming Wildflowers Book 1)
on April 13, 2011
One of the (many) reasons I like reviewing romance novels is that I don't have to worry about spoiling the ending. We all know what the ending will be—must be or it wouldn't be a romance. Indeed, we know that Almost a Bride will end with impulsive Matty Brennan marrying steady Dave Currick. In fact, I knew that after reading the first 35 words—and I knew, to boot, that Matty would wind up saving her beloved Flying W Ranch.
Right now, I have to say I loved the story, lest my opening paragraph loses readers. That paragraph is true, but it might make Patricia McLinn's novel sound ... But, no, anything but that. You see, what counts in a romance is the journey, not the destination. And what a journey this was, with surprising twists and turns in every chapter!
I love twists—which is fortunate, because Almost a Bride almost turned me into a Bavarian pretzel. To begin with, Matty and Dave get married to begin with—in Chapter 2, three days after meeting for the first time in six years.
Well, that's not exactly true—it's a half twist. Dave marries Mattie, but Mattie isn't really married to Dave. She won't really marry him because he loves her too much?
So maybe Dave needs a knock on the head so he won't love Mattie excessively. There's nothing sure in Almost a Bride until almost the end. You never know.
But in the end, she might marry her husband for real. Her husband? You know, that guy she has the irresistible hots for.
There's much more to tell about this wonderful, wacky, sexy couple, but I'm not giving any more away. I will tell you that on every other page, these two lovable people put each other through the romance wringer and turn the crank. So, if you love to laugh; love to cry; or love to laugh and cry at the same time, then you'll definitely want to read Almost a Bride.
- Night of the Aurora (Salmon Run - Book 1)
on May 14, 2011
In my long life, I've visited many countries and 49 of the 50 United States. My one significant omission is Alaska, which was always the one state I thought most worth seeing. Well, I may not manage to reach Alaska physically, but J.A. Marlow has taken me there—and on an alien spacecraft, to boot. I couldn't have asked for more of an adventure than joining the Callahan boys as the arrive in the frozen north to claim their inheritance—a "haunted" lodge in the wild, wild wilderness.
I could go on with my praises, but I'm now rushing off off to read the second book in this fun adventure series.
on June 01, 2011
I read Doggirl because I've read other books by Robin Brande, and loved them all. My love of dogs was just a bonus, but a huge bonus. Without the slightest doubt, I know that if you love dogs, too, you're going to adore this book.
Doggirl is certainly a winner among dog books, but it's much, much more than that. It's also a touching story of a young girl growing up and coming to terms with feeling like an unappreciated stranger among her contemporaries. I'm sure there are thousands of teenagers out there who can identify with Doggirl's feelings.
But there's more. Doggirl's story is not just for young adults. It's for Doggirl's parents as well as the those of us adults who can remember those feelings when they were the "strange" one growing up. I'd definitely one of them, so thank you, Robin Brande.
- The Detective & The Unicorn
on June 24, 2011
Three years ago, when Morning Land was discovered, Detective Derek Ridder didn't pay much attention. Wallowing in grief over the death of his wife, this hardnosed detective cared nothing about the colorful creatures of ancient lore—until he discovered his own latent magic. Now confronted with his own latent powers he neither understands nor accepts, he must decide whether to use those powers against creatures of evil who threaten to rob him of the ones he loves—and the world he cares deeply about.
He finally realizes those enemies cannot be defeated in his own world, and plunges reluctantly into the Morning Land to fight the warlock Teach and his pack of fanged yena with their own weapons on their own ground. But Morning Land is filled with unicorns, dryads, and other exotic creatures—who might be friend or foe—depending of Derek's ability to master their exotic cultural rules and rituals.
The battle rages between worlds and among races, making a story that you won't be able to put down until the final clash—and won't be able to forget for many a long night.
- The Adventures of Amanda Love by Devlin Church & Michael Angel
on July 17, 2011
We don't see many novels with heroines who are criminals, but Amanda Love is a first-class and classy swindler. She's so good at it, you've got to love her, even though she's literally shocking.
The Adventures of Amanda Love are just that—a space opera full of quick, racy adventures of a flaming redhead with a chip on one shoulder, a mystery in her heart, and a brain in her head. All packed in a body no healthy man could resist fantasizing about.
If you love seriously funny science fiction, complete with aliens, forcefields, divine spacesuits extraordinare, and other hi-tech, you're going to love Amanda Love's adventures as much as you love this cheeky babe herself.
- Bad Agent, No Catnip! Bad Career Advice and Questionable Misinformation from the World's Worst Literary Agent, Sydney T. Cat
on Aug. 10, 2011
I love it, but my literary agent German Shepherds don't like Sydney giving away the secrets of our game. Of course, they don't care for cats anyway, except for desert, though they love their litter boxes.
If the best way to deliver painful messages is in humor, Sydney's done the best job of revealing the pain a bad agent can inflict on a cowardly writer.
Thanks, Sydney. You may not earn the rest of your fees, but $4.99 is a bargain.
- The Cartographer's Daughter
on Sep. 26, 2011
Here's a recipe for a novel I simply loved:
1. Start with a unique and powerful idea: instead of making maps to follow the changes in the way the world is, the cartographers in this sensitive novel reverse the process. They change the world by making new maps of the way it will be.
2. Add a title character who is beautiful, intelligent, and caring—but young and inexperienced, without any real understanding of the cartographic powers born into her.
3. Mix thoroughly with her ambitious young fisherman boyfriend, against the status-striving wishes of her wealthy but cowardly uncle-guardian.
4. Add an explosive combination of arrogant bastard prince and humble outcast alchemist.
5. Place all these ingredients in the richly drawn crucible of Lagos, Portugal, in the Year of our Lord 1432.
6. Season with a dangerous voyage of exploration, and illiterate angry crowd of peasants, a crusade, a plague, and power that redraws the map of the world and remakes the world to fit the map.
7. Finally serve up with lush but accurate prose, to make an unforgettable literary meal, so delicious I couldn't leave the table until I had savored every bite.
In short, I believe you will cherish and remember this scrumptious book.
- Dead Hypocrites
on Dec. 13, 2011
I'm frequently asked to explain why I take the "easy way out," rather than fight my way through life's difficulties without the "crutch" of my religion. Well, anyone who thinks faith is the "easy way out" ought to read Dead Hypocrites. It's a brave work, confronting the issue of professing to be a Christian and yet preaching against your very own secret sins. Perhaps, as a Quaker, I take another "easy way out—by eschewing preaching altogether. Dead Hypocrites gave me plenty to think about.
First, of course, it's a moving mystery, and can be read as entertainment without needing to serve any higher purpose. But at the same time, it does an extraordinary job of showing one person's struggles to retain his belief in God, in the face of a devilishly murderous world.
Each of us has times when our faith is put to the test. Author Laura Ware has constructed what might be the ultimate test for her protagonist, detective Dave Hill. When you read Dead Hypocrites (and you should), you'll definitely be grateful you will never have to face this test yourself. And you'll be inspired to read how one person wrestled with his own test and ... Oh, but I'd better not give away the ending. That would be a sin.
- Shadow Life
on Dec. 21, 2011
Some books you can't put down until you reach the end. Those are rare enough, but even more rare are the books you can never put down. Their stories stay with you for the rest of your life. You might say they live a sort of "shadow life" inside your head, becoming active when triggered alive by some scene or event. Shadow Life is such a book.
Shadow Life started me thinking deeply about a number of serious issues in our modern society, such as,
- The truly important things in a person's life are the same whether the person is gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual.
- How a simple label, once given, can change a life forever, and never be entirely erased.
- How weak a lonely individual is, and how strong he becomes when he teams up with another lonely individual.
Shadow Life's writing is movingly clear, its protagonists truly alive, and its lessons unforgettable.
on Jan. 12, 2012
Do you love dogs?
If so, read no further. You'll love Bed-Bugged: a Doodlebug Mystery, so just buy it without delay.
Do you love mysteries?
If so, you're going to love Bed-Bugged, but you might need more convincing. Why? Because you may never have read a mystery with a dog as detective. Or with a dog as detective narrator. Or especially with a bedbug sniffing dog as detective narrator. But that's exactly what Doodle, the Labradoodle, is.
I loved many thing about the book, not the least of which was the mystery itself, which concerns a number of crimes from simple theft to complex theft to kidnapping. (No murders, no awful language, and no explicit sex, so your kids can enjoy it, too.)
I enjoyed all the characters, but I couldn't help falling in love with Doodle and his owner's daughter, Molly.
But in a way, I most loved watching a story from the low-down, smell-based point of view of a working dog. For me, a mystery reader and writer, it opened my mind to many new ways of observing a crime and its solution.
- Jessica Falls
on Feb. 22, 2012
I had promised to review Terry Hayman's novel, Jessica Falls, but as the
story drew me into its web, I was having trouble figuring out how to
communicate with my readers. To begin with, Jessica Falls is not your usual
plain vanilla mystery. I didn't know how to describe the book--until I ran
across a quote from the protagonist/narrator, Weston Long. His own words
pretty much told the story:
"...a big part of why I was still here, now chased and threatened by
gun-wielding types, was because I needed to understand what made Jessica
Pollard tick. What made her who she was that she could twist me around her
baby finger? What gave her that power? Or maybe it was just part of my own
psychic Dumpster diving. I needed to go deep into her decadence to
understand the dark patches of my own soul."
I don't know how women readers will respond to this story, but as a man, I
responded to virtually every page with memories of that mysterious beautiful
woman who "could twist me around her baby finger." Like Wes Long, I endured
beatings (both physical and psychological) as I pursued my own "Jessica."
But unlike Wes, I didn't have to contend with every crime in the book:
murder, embezzlement, fraud, rape, assault, drug dealing, incest, and even
cruelty to animals.
No, Jessica Falls is not a comfortable story, but it's one you won't be able
to put down until both you and Wes have learned about "the dark patches" in
your own soul.
on May 28, 2012
For the first few pages, E. M. Prazeman's Masks had my mind reeling—much the same feeling as culture shock. I read on, carried through my puzzlement by the luscious writing, until I realized that the feeling actually was culture shock. Young Mark Seaton, dreaming of becoming a sailor like his father, lives in a world similar to an archaic version of ours—similar but for the culture shock.
For Mark, there is nothing shocking about his world—until his mother is murdered, his father disappears, and he is kidnapped and sold into a world of perverted nobles to be trained in the masked arts of seduction, treachery, and murder.
Mark grows to manhood unable to escape this immensely rich, exotic world, but never quite accepting its immoral premises. When a duel kills both masked opponents, he seizes upon one of their identities and escapes to an island world in which he feels more at home. But this new world is just as beset with intrigue as the one he escaped, but now he finds himself at the conspiracy's center.
His hope for a good, honest life is not yet to be fulfilled. To save his new home, he must return to the one from which he escaped. Luckily for the delighted readers of Mask, Mark's adventures will be continued in Confidante, Book Two of The Lord Jester's Legacy.
- Exotics #2: Xanadu House
on June 25, 2012
As an adult, I'm not supposed to admit that I enjoyed reading a book for younger readers. But as a grandfather, it's okay for me to tell how much my grandkids will enjoy De Kenyon's book, Xanadu House.
Xanadu House is Book 2 of The Exotics, and it's a bit hard to get started if you haven't read Book 1 (a problem which is readily solved). A bit hard, that is, if you're an adult with the adult kind of mind that insists on every question having a logical answer. On the other hand, Xanadu House has all the kinds of things kids love--as the cover promises, spies and magic. Plus likeable kids galore, and hateable ones, too. And mysterious characters doing incredible things.
The Exotics are shape-shifters, each one having an animal side to call upon, sometimes intentionally and sometime by accident. Rachel's mom turns into a bee. Her friend, Babra, a cute cocker spaniel. Digger is a mole, and Rachel, our heroine, discovers her alter-ego is a gecko. Her gecko-form allows her to walk on ceilings and slip through small spaces so she can escape traps and also spy on plotting adults and kids.
Xanadu House is a refuge for exotics, but in this sparkling adventure, there's really no place to hide that's entirely safe. That's just another reason kids will love the book.
- Naero's Run
on April 30, 2013
It was with some trepidation that I began to read Naero's Run. It is well and truly a space opera, and over the years, I've become more demanding of space operas. They're like the little girl with the curl: When they're good, they're very very good, but when they're bad, they're horrid.
Well, much to my delight, Naero's Run is one of the good ones. It has all the usual fantastic tech, plus some original stuff to spice up a fast-moving story. To top it off, I fell in love with Naero, as she made her run to save the galaxy from unspeakable tyrants.
It's pure entertainment, and that's exactly what I want my space opera's to be. As a bonus, the story raises some important philosophical questions, but doesn't slow down a bit for them. If you're a fan, you'll be pleased you read Naero's Run.