Friday, July 27, 2007

Macromedia Flash Professional 8 Hands-On Training by James Gonzalez (5/5 stars)

I wasn't planning on reviewing any of my school books on here. This was a great school book though so I couldn't resist.

I got this book for a course that I was taking on Flash. It is a great book and I am happy the teacher recommended it.

The chapters are arranged in easy to follow exercises that teach all the basics of Flash. I really liked this style of teaching because it forces you to open up Flash and do the exercises. Much more useful than a book that you just sit and read.

The author of the book is also very good about telling you multiple ways of doing something. In the course of the exercises there are little colored boxes that will talk about how you could have done the above action this way or this way or this way. The fact that these tips are usually separate is nice if you don't care and want to skip the additional information.

So far I am about 3/4 the way through the course and the book and have been very happy with it. A great book; especially for a newbie that doesn't have any programming background.

Shadow (The Trilogy, Book 1) by K. Parker (3/5 stars)

I read this book last year but was upset by the inaccuracy of the other reviews posted so here is the review that I posted on it.

I ordered this book based on the other reviews I was seeing on Amazon. I have to admit the book is a very interesting concept and really keeps you guessing. Neat concept, very thought provoking. Definitely not what I would call a "candy" book (all good action, entertaining, but you never think twice about it after reading it).

Unfortunately I feel that it could have had more depth and more action. As you follow the character through the book you end up looking at everything very dispassionately. Which may be the way you would see things if you had lost your memory I suppose...but I feel you would still have very strong opinions and views. This approach to writing made it so I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters, I didn't like them, I didn't care about them. I believe these are very important things to make a book engrossing.

The other thing that was lacking was good pacing. The middle of the book plods along...vvveerrryy sslloowwly. I really didn't care what type of buttons the lead character, Poldarn, ended up selling, I mean who really cares. It had no benefit to the story except to show that Poldarn was lost and confused and I picked that up in the first half. If you had cut out about 100 pages and given the characters some passionate opinions then I would rate this book 4-5 stars.

All that being said I will probably read the 2nd book. If you had asked me if I was going to continue the series 3 chapters before the ending of this book I would have told you I am selling this book and shame on me for purchasing the next two in the series. But, the last few chapters were enough to re-spike the curiosity that the first part of the book generated. I am hoping the pace and depth of the characters picks up in the second book.

White Night - The Dresden Files Book 9 by Jim Butcher (5/5 stars)

Another book that I finished a few months ago. My memory wasn't the best on this book so I didn't have a ton to say about it.

As a big fan of some other long series (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter come to mind) I've noticed that series that go on past 6 or so books seem to have a tendency to fizzle out and end up poorly written or uninteresting. Not so with this series! This series continues to be refreshing and fun. I just can't wait for the next book in the series!

Danse Macabre by Laurell Hamilton (2/5 stars)

This is another book which I finished about 3 weeks ago. Once again I have posted by review from amazon below.

I have to start out with saying what many other reviewers have said. I love the Anita Blake novels. I have devoted a great part of my life into reading and re-reading the series. That being said the latest books have been a disappointment. The sex involved in them doesn't really bother me; it's more the lack of story. Unfortunately I am a bit behind on the series because I have been waiting to buy the latest Anita Blake books until I can get them in paperback...used. That's how valuable these latest books have been to me; that being said there were some positives to this book. I just can't seem to give up the series yet. So I will try to create a quick list of negatives and positives.

- What does Anita do for a living? There is no police work and no animating in this book.
- How many more strange relationships can we handle? The number of weird relationships that Anita is involved in is getting so ridiculously complicated that I am going to have to start keeping a character map to keep it all straight.
- Do we care about the sex scenes between her and all the men? Okay the men are tasty sounding and it's nice that they are having fun; but the sex scenes are all the same. If you are going to have that many lengthy sex scenes they should be more imaginative.
- Are we ever going to span more than a few days in these books? The plot (what there is of it) is moving incredibly SSSLLLOOOWWWW.
- Is anyone else sick of Richard? I know I am.

- I really did enjoy some of the character development for Nathaniel. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I love that he had more of a main role in this book.
- I also enjoyed some of the character development between Anita, Jean-Claude, and Asher. Some of this was really interesting; albeit a bit drawn out.
- I do find Anita's growing powers interesting.
- I liked the inclusion of some additional supernatural races; the mermaids and were-lions.

All that being said. Will I read the next book? Of course I will; I am 14 books into the series it will take more than 3 bad books for me to let go. I have high hopes for Harlequin as I have heard there is *finally* more action in that book.

House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (3/5 stars)

This is a book I finished reading a couple weeks ago. The below is a copy of the review that I left on amazon.

I've had a copy of the House of Seven Gables sitting on my bookshelf for a number of years. The poor little book is slightly out of place between a plethora of fantasy and science fiction novels. Every once in a while I try to venture into a different realm of subject. That's the reason I finally picked up this book to read. I would have read it sooner but I was forced to read "The Scarlet Letter" in high school and never had the heart to read another Nathaniel Hawthorne novel.

Not expecting much, I have to say I was very impressed with this book. The details got to be a bit much at times. I have to admit there were parts of the book that I scanned quit quickly because I just didn't need to know that much description about a certain thing.

That being said, Hawthorne was very good at clearly painting a picture in my head. I could smell the mustiness of the house, feel the joy when Phoebe entered a room, and feel Clifford's sadness and confusion. What took me by surprise was the sharp wit throughout the book and intellectualness of this wit. Quit often I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dry humor in this book. Also of course there was the mystery of the book which kept you hanging on until the end.

I don't know that I will read any additional Hawthorne novels but I would recommend this as a good example of his work. It is much more interesting and engaging than the Scarlet Letter.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

After a number of inquiries I thought why not???

I am an avid book reader. A couple of people have asked me if I keep track of the books that I read and if I ever go (for example onto Amazon) and review them. I have done a couple of Amazon reviews for books but only if the book really ticks me off or is surprisingly good.

My husband and I have another blog relating to our day-to-day life with our newborn son at:

Since the blogging's been so easy to do I thought I would set up another blog just dedicated to books that I have read. Whenever I finish reading a book I will add an entry on that book. So hopefully people will enjoy this. If not; well at least I will remember what I read!