Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Title: Unholy Domain
Author: Dan Ronco
Publisher: Kunati
ISBN: 978-1-60164-021-5
Genre: Science Fiction
Presentation: Hard Back with Dust Jacket

For those who read Dan's first novel, "Peacemaker" this will be a must read sequel. For others, it will be a good introduction to Dan's excellent writing skills and an invitation to go and get Peacemaker and look forward to a sequel to Unholy Domain.

Dianne Morgan continues her stop-at-nothing attempts to take control of the whole world through her Domain and is being opposed by an equally ruthless opponent Adam Jordan. Adam tries to mold common man's aversion to technology after the bitter experience with Peacemaker (a ghastly malevolent computer program that was intended to shut down all internet systems and give Dianne power over the world but which was aborted albeit with a huge loss of people and property) into a religious cult and he too stops at nothing to gain control over people (that is the aim of all power hungry people isn't it?). David Brown, son of Ray Brown, a colleague of Dianne is the hero in this sequel which takes off where Peacemaker ends and we know what happened to Ray Brown in this book. But new readers need not worry since the story is self-standing without reading Peacemaker.

The story is excellently written and the style is as usual gripping. The editing and printing are again excellent. All in all, an excellent read and we are kept anticipating the release of Dan's sequel to Unholy Domain to know what happened to David Brown and to Adam Jordan, whom Dianne succeeds in capturing and whose religious cult is more or less broken thanks to some brilliant technological successes of Sentinel, the next generation Artificial Intelligence System developed by Domain.

Dan's books are disturbing because what he describes is possible and plausible with today's technology. So, if you are either a technophile or a technophobe, read Unholy Domain.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Title: Archy The Flying Dolphin And The Vampire's Curse
Author: Alan Williams
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
ISBN: 9781425131517
Genre: Fiction/Children/Fantasy

About the Book (From the Back Cover): Archy The Flying Dragon & The Vampires' Curse is a children's fantasy/adventure... a roller-coaster ride of fun and excitement, where eleven year old Thomas Parkinson and his sister, Suzy, embark on a perilous voyage of discovery, where they confront the most powerful forces of evil and where danger lurks around every mysterious corner.

My impression: It is a good read, and as expected, the forces of good and love win over the forces of evil (which help to bring out the universal love and are not thus really evil!). It being a fantasy, don't expect logic (I had to keep repeating to my grown up adult ego). I could not appreciate the parents flying off to Honolulu leaving the children in that isolated place with their Uncle, but then I am an Indian and my values are different.

Editing and printing: Good.

Recommendation: Good reading for children of ten years and above.
Title: Virus Games
Author: G. L. Sheerin
Publisher: Synergy Books
ISBN: 978-1-934454-04-6
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Children

About the Book (From the Back Cover):

Peter Dempsey hates computers. He detests looking at monitors, can barely type with two fingers on a keyboard, and considers his PC 101 class a torture chambers. But when a fateful bolt of lightning gives him the ability to see just who lives and works inside our computers, Peter might have to change his mind.

Peter befriends the "packets" who live in his computer and begins to learn about the secret world alive inside the Internet. Packet World isn't always friendly, though. A new super virus has just been unleashed, and Peter and his packets realize they might be the only ones who can stop the "bullies" from shutting down the internet, and Packet World, forever.

My own impression from a reading of the book:

Though the author himself is a computer expert, he has not fully succeeded in using the power of the story to teach how computers and internet work. While he might have succeeded in holding the attention of young techno-phobes like Peter through the use of some ingenious substitutes for the normal technical terms, he has not attempted to convert the story into a good lesson on the working of internet, data packets, Protocols etc. He could have used the book to discuss computer viruses, how they are detected, how they are studied and how they are deactivated etc.

Editing and Printing: Good.

Recommendation: The book is a good effort to make technical topics like computers interesting but the end results could have been better.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Title: F.A.T. Balance Diet
Sub-Title: 10 Steps to Weigh Loss Freedom
Author: Kevin Jones
Publisher: Fitness Lifestyle
ISBN: 978-0-9768998-3-9
Presentation: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction/Health and Fitness

The title is catchy in the sense that it gets read as FAT Balance Diet and almost all the struggle of those who are trying to lose weight is with the fat in the body. The author has imaginatively created an acronym from that simple word. F.A.T. stands for Frequency, Amount and Type. And it is applied to Food and Exercise, the two key factors that affect our intake and expenditure of calories and thus decide our weight.

An innovative approach of using life stories of ten different people to explain the important concepts of life style management (weight and fitness management finally comes to that only) makes the book very readable. In fact, I liked the stories far more than the following explanations, which are readable but appear like lecturing at places. I felt that the life stories could have been expanded a little more and the points incorporated therein.

The book is edited and printed well, except for one error on page 102 (Iris decides to take stairs instead of elevator and not as written).

The book comes with a glossary, 50+ recipes (typical american recipes since the book is meant for US readers though the principles are useful to others too) etc. and is a good value for the money.

I would have preferred to see this as a hard-cover book and also as an e-book, with links to an online journal.

That in spite of good advice from many people including US government, nearly 65% of people are overweight indicates that life-style management has become a big issue in USA. It is hoped that this book will help some of them regain the control over their lives.