24 August 2014

Book Review: The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson created a whole new world for this novel (1st of 10 projected books). It includes various human and human-like beings as well as spren (beings that appear to show various states — fear, pain, glory, wind, anticipation, etc.), crab-like creatures that are used as beasts of burden but also produce valued crystals, and plants that are alive and move in response to stimuli. He also created legends and religion and mythology. Some humans and others are able to take advantage of powers contained within spheres and chips. These powers don't give new abilities, but greatly enhance existing abilities. It took some time to get into the story, primarily because of all the new terminology and cultural references that had to be absorbed.

In the end, the story seems to revolve around 3 primary characters. Kaladin, a surgeon's apprentice turned warrior turned slave turned bridgeman, turned Brightlord protector. Kaladin may be the most complex of the characters and, in some ways the most human of the characters as he struggles with trust and bigotry and figuring out who he really is.

A second primary character is Shallan, a girl from a once powerful family who convinces the king's sister to take her on as a ward, ostensibly to become a scholar but with the intent of stealing Jasnah's Soulcaster, to replace her family's broken soulcaster, and using it to restore her family's fortunes and position.

The third primary character is Dalinar, a Highprince and uncle of King Elhokar. Dalinar is thought to be going crazy because he has lost his passion for war and is intent on uniting the highprinces of Alethkar in order to restore the glory of past kingdoms. In that, he is opposed by all of the other highprinces because they want to retain their individual power and position and ability to gain wealth. He is also resisted by Elhokar because of fear.

These three may not continue to be the primary characters in subsequent books as Wit, Szeth (assassin), and Taravangian seemed to be ascending at the end of the book. Characters well developed and acted reasonably consistently. The worlds are strange. Legends aren't quite clear but Sanderson has a habit of introducing something as if it were clear and then over multiple flashbacks, revealing details. Definitely kept my attention but the length of the series is a bit daunting to even consider.

I read the Kindle edition and really appreciated the X-Ray function for this book!!

Book Review: The Confession, Robert Whitlow

It's always easier for a prosecuting attorney if he has a confession ... or is it? The Confession (link to Kindle edition on Amazon), by Robert Whitlow, is a lawyer story — actually an assistant DA. As a teen, Holt Douglas was drunk but not as much as his friend. He refuses to let his friend drive and takes the keys himself. In the subsequent wreck (didn't see that coming, right?), the friend dies but Holt lives. He makes a decision to tell the police that the friend was driving and lives with the secrecy and guilt of that decision for years afterwards.

As an assistant DA, Holt begins to suspect that the death of a prominent and powerful businessman, Meredith, was not suicide as was reported. Then, with the help of Trish, a detective assigned to locating and bringing to justice men who have defaulted on alimony or family support payments, begins to uncover evidence that Greg, a supporter of the DA and huge contributor to Trish's church, was involved in the death of Meredith and decided that the DA and the Sheriff and some deputies were involved in a massive cover-up. The story involves some conflicted attraction between Holt and Trish that causes trouble between Holt and Angelina, Holt's girlfriend. Whitlow does a good job of weaving in Holt's guilt over hiding the truth about his role in the wreck that killed his friend. Trish's father was killed by a drunk driver, and Whitlow does a good job of weaving in the tension of Trish's anger, especially when Holt tells Trish the truth about his own wreck. The Bishop becomes a key part of the story as Holt moves toward faith. Then, there is a twist or two in the story.

While not great book, The Confession was an engaging read. I rate it 4/5 stars.

(EDIT: I deleted the comment about page numbers not being in the edition I read. In communication with the BookLook Bloggers administration, they said that the review edition does not come from Amazon and may not be formatted the same.)

(DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of their blogger review programme, BookLook Bloggers. I was free to write the review I thought the book deserved and receive no compensation or other benefit except continued participation in the review programme.)

Run well, y'all,

PS — I've started back running in Kampala. It's known as the city of seven hills and the hills are KILLERS!

18 August 2014

Book Review: Known and Loved: 52 Devotions From the Psalms

Written for Moms by a Mom. I didn't realize that until I started reading — I apparently got it as a free book some time back and found it on my Kindle when I was looking for a devotional guide for the Psalms. I'm glad I didn't realize the "for-moms" part because I would not have read it. There were some really good insights into some of the Psalms. Some chapters less applicable to me since I'm a non-mom. I used it as a daily devotional supplement, reading one per day.

10 August 2014

Traffic in Addis Ababa

This video was supposedly taken at the Ring Road in Addis Ababa. Throughout all the years I've been in East Africa, I've heard that the craziest traffic is, in order of craziest to crazy but less so:
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Based on this video, they're all about the same!

Run well ... especially if you have to cross traffic like this!
 Bob Allen Kampala, Uganda