Thursday, January 22, 2009

Of Presidents and Technology.

Whether you agree with him or not the new website design for the White House is better then President Bush or Clinton's websites:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Well it's much better then President Clinton's. President Bush? A little better. President Clinton's site was basically a list of links. President Obama's has better graphics... Not sure if it's easier to navigate then President Bush's site.

There is a certain amount of hilarity in the President using YouTube for his weekly address. I mean back in the old days it seemed like the Government hosted just about everything for themselves, and now the President is just using YouTube. They do have a copy for download... But still... YouTube! I think someone needs to found GovTube or something.

Government websites usually have the worst design ever. I do have to hand that to President Obama, at least he's got good website designers. Now, let's just hope the trend spreads to the rest of the Government websites. Some of them still look like they were designed in the 90's... Probably were!

-Shane

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: D. Barkley Briggs: The Book of Names - Day II

I was not planning to do anything beyond the first day of the tour but I thought this afternoon that I would list the things I do like about the book.

One of the more interesting aspects of the story line is the use of runes. I won't say what they are for, but a quick wikipedia search did bring up some interesting stories about some of the places mentioned in the book.

There is one character with a clever sword that I found rather amusing.

Despite already having encountered a similar concept in Christopher Paolini's Eragon books, I love the idea of the word being the thing. I imagine this will come into play a lot more later in the book and be revealed to be more important then it appears at first glance. Lovely idea, if fully realized, we could be in for quite an adventure.

In my review I did fail to mention one character who is not a villain and yet is complex and interesting. A young lady named Asandra, a very interesting character with quite a bit of potential.

I liked the preview chapters for the next book, nice setup for the rest of the book. :-)

-Shane

Links of importance:

The Book of Names on Amazon
D. Barkley Briggs’s Web site
D. Barkley Briggs’s blog

Sunday, January 18, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: D. Barkley Briggs: The Book of Names

I generally don't like writing negative reviews, but I have to be honest, I really did want to write a positive review, but I was less then impressed by the book.

I must say that I came to this book, like I do for all books, with high expectations. Perhaps for a satisfying story or at least some kind of great philosophical point to chew on for a few days. Perhaps I had expectations that were to high and missed the joy of the storytelling as a result.

The Book of Names, a novel by D. Barkley Briggs, is the first book in the Legends of Karac Tor series. It reads similarly to Madline L’engle, though less polished, and not as deep as L’engle’s work. Still, it is a moderately good start to a series, but not an excellent one. The first four chapters proved to be interesting and meaningful, but from then on it failed to fully capture any sense of wonder, though there were some things to think about from time to time.

For much of the book it felt as if the characters were wandering about in a fog. I never felt I could get close enough to the character’s either, they seemed very distant, remote. The exception to the rule being the villains, which often was given in the very intimate first person point of view. I felt a closeness and personality to them, why not the heroes? The villains were well done enough, having more depth then most villains, they are the ones that leave you thinking at the end of the book, not the heroes, which by contrast felt very flat. One character, of whom I got the impression was playing the teacher role in the book kept conveniently forgetting some important and very obvious details that one of his station and occupation etc wouldn’t be very likely to overlook on several occasions, a plot device far overused.

In truth, I was disappointed. I hope that perhaps I will receive the wish for more depth in the rest of the series, the first two chapters to the next book are at the back of this one and they seem promising in that department. I am hoping that it won’t got back into wandering around in a fog, which really was this books biggest failure. It seemed to lack an overall shape. What was the overarching definition of the story? It didn’t seem to have any kind of set beginning and more importantly an end, even if it’s not the end of the series it felt like it was just cut off one day when it seemed like a good length for a book. I was holding my breath for the again in the “There and Back Again.” that we read in The Hobbit. Perhaps there isn’t meant to be an again, I don’t know. The story isn’t over yet, I will give it that possibility. Still it fails to stand as an individual book apart from the rest of the series.

I really did wish to like the book and had a number of high expectations, but they were left unfulfilled and disappointed. I hope that the rest of the books will redeem the first one and help clear out some of the fog the characters were wandering in, or maybe it simply needs a second reading on my part. I will allow that a brilliant overall narrative is a possibility, and the fog wandering is just some kind of “set up” for the rest of the series.

Overall, despite my complaints, I did enjoy it a bit. Just not nearly as much as I would have liked to. Mostly for the simple reason of not feeling like I’ve had the chance to actually get to know the main characters, at the end of the book they still seemed like strangers. The exception being the villainess, her I felt like I knew a bit and she stands out in my mind as the most distinctly different character.

We’ll have to see how the story plays out. I will not say that it isn’t worth the time to read, but it isn’t as good as it could be. It may just need a re-reading on my part, I hope to do so eventually, when I do and if I find it better, I’ll post another review of it. I’ve had that happen before, a book turn out to be much more enjoyable on the second reading then the first. So there is still hope! I do applaud D. Barkley Briggs on the tremendous amount of effort put into the story, despite my feelings about it, I must acknowledge the depth of the work involved. Writing a story isn't easy, and it was a good effort.

-Shane

Links of importance:

The Book of Names on Amazon
D. Barkley Briggs’s Web site
D. Barkley Briggs’s blog

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy Birthday...

J. R. R. Tolkien!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well it's here, after about 2008 years of waiting in line...

2009