For a phone, I use Android. (Specifically, an HTC One M8, which is now very old).

For my personal computers, I use Windows.

At work, I use a MacMini.

For reading, I use a Kindle Paperwhite (which I cannot recommend enough).

That is to say, I’m not an Apple fan. But, since I’ve recently started reading graphic novels, I realized that my Kindle Paperwhite was just not big enough. After practically putting the (300 DPI) screen on my eyeballs to read dialogue, I decided it was time to invest in a better comic reader.

All of my Internet research pointed me to the iPad (3 or above) with its Retina screen. The only comparable Android tablets either received terrible reviews or were extremely expensive.

At first, I was reluctnant to go down the Apple path but, at $90-$100 on Swappa, I decided to take the plunge with an iPad 3.

After unwrapping it and updating I realized there is one major problem: Apple prevents anyone with iPads 3 and under from downloading all the major apps by demanding you have iOS 10.0 or above, even though you cannot update iPad 3s or below to iOS 10. 

Google Chrome? Nope.

Amazon Kindle? Nope.

Google Play Books? Nope.

For some reason, this isn’t actively discussed or issued as a disclaimer and appears to only come up when you specifically search for the problem.

Now you know!

It’s already 2017 and I’m not much closer to finishing Jake Highton’s five-year reading plan than I was when I started back in the summer of 2013.

(Read the original post here and read the revised, shortened post here.)

I’d just been laid off from the Nevada Appeal, along with a part time person. I had the least seniority in the newsroom, so I was the one to get the ax and go on unemployment.

It was summer, I had a kegerator in the house and I lived next to the river in Reno.  I rode my bicycle up to the university to visit with my former journalism professor, Jake Highton.

Highton gave me two columns he wrote for the Sparks Tribune outlining the list of books, movies, music and plays he thought young journalists should consume, set to a plan of five years.

While I haven’t been doing much to finish off the list, I have made some progress.

At least two years ago now, I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Considered a masterwork in its time, I found a more critical reading of it took away some from the bluster it is normally buoyed with.

Although it is about environmentalism, chemicals, and the havoc we’ve been wreaking on the planet, I was really worried about some of Carson’s claims because they did not represent the whole truth.

I think the best example is her bemoaning of the havoc certain chemicals had on the lowly earthworm.

We all love earthworms, right? They’re fantastic. They do all sorts of things for the environment.

Except. Well, most of them are not native to North America, the place Carson was writing about. They vastly change the ecology, and according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, they’re really bad, especially in forested areas.

Farad Power Plant in California on the Truckee River

But Carson never acknowledges the lowly earthworm as an invasive species, or that it changes the ecologies of the places it is introduced to, or anything else. She only talks about how bad it is that chemicals are killing them.

While I certainly agree that the widespread use of chemicals is a bad thing, her complete and total lack of either understanding or acknowledgement of their invasive nature casts her entire book into doubt, at least for me.

As a critical reader, I now question every single premise she puts forth. I think to myself, what else is she holding back? What else is she ignorant about?

In short, her credibility is severely damaged for me, and as a result, so too is her book.

There are more examples, but, alas, I have lost or given away the copy I annotated.

Nonetheless, the only answer is to keep on, keepin’ on through Highton’s five-year list.

This review was originally posted on and on July 19, 2015.

Tony Hillerman’s Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir is both sorely disappointing, for how badly and boringly it is written, and how much of a sell-out shill Hillerman, despite still calling himself a “journalist.”

Please, let us be clear: I do not just mean “shill” as a put down. I am being exact in language here. Hillerman is a shill and he should feel deeply ashamed and ethically compromised for it.

Even if Hillerman weren’t a shill and a disgrace to the journalism profession, his memoir is still a terrible and boring read.


This review was originally posted on (truncated) and on July 5, 2015.

There are two kinds of violence in Among the Thugs.

The first is the violence we, the reading and civilized public, are supposed to abhor: violence perpetrated by the football (soccer) hooligans.

The second kind of violence is that perpetrated by the police forces against protesters of all stripes, including those football hooligans, American author Bill Buford all but outright states is an entirely acceptable form of violence perpetrated by state actors.

Don’t get me wrong: Among The Thugs is an enjoyable read and the violence is certainly disturbing.
However, Buford falters many times and a large portion of his falters are the sanctioning of state terror and violence.


This review was originally posted on and on May 31, 2015.

Dear Life: Stories is, as one reviewer posited, a bad place to start reading such an acclaimed author. This may very well be true. Either way, I have no intention of continuing to read any of Munro’s work after reading what amounts to an extremely over sold and boring set of stories.

I honestly have no idea where Munro earned her reputation from, earning the Nobel prize and all. Then again, Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow earned the Pulitzer and I’m stuck a third of the way through that. So, yes, I can see the award winning, I just can’t understand it.


This review was originally posted on and on Jan. 17, 2015.

A fast-paced novel, Clans of the Alphane Moon has a little of everything: a meditation on the civil rights of the mentally ill and the freedom of free will and free agency; the trials of marriage and divorce; the insanity of a paranoid security apparatus.

Far from being the failure or claptrap Barry Malzberg calls it (sci-fe being a lesser genre in his not-so-humble opinion) in at least one edition (Bluejay Special Edition) of the book.

Worth the read.

On Goodreads

This review was originally posted on and on March 26, 2015.

Certainly a valiant and well-written first attempt, The Broom of the System falls short. It’s not a classic, it’s not a great, but it’s more or less enjoyable. It is, partially, a story about stories. Also, the use of different forms of media forms (transcripts, journal entries, etc.) is a welcome touch that has not, unfortunately, caught on.

On Goodreads

This review was originally posted on and on March 25, 2015.

Samaritan, the first Richard Price book I’ve read, reminded me why reading can be so enjoyable. Plotting, pace, dialogue, characters, it’s all brilliant here. Easy to look over are the beautiful turns of phrase.

I will admit, at the end, the morality starts beginning to feel less like a revelation after the fifth or sixth time and more like hammer banging on an already flush nail.

Leading up to that morality, and the play itself, was not something I realized until I finished the book, was not something I was cognizant of. Brilliant.


This review was originally posted on and on March 17, 2015.

The sequel (in a planned series) to The Long Earth is a disjointed, unbelievable and internal-morality questionable series of vignettes, too many characters and, worst of all, no actual plot.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I love Terry Pratchett’s books, to a fault, and I feel sacrilegious writing this review after his early death.

The Long War is, however, an un-plotted bore that breaks the suspension of disbelief and has an uneven moral grounding.


This review was originally posted on and on March 1, 2015.

Detroit is a great pseudo-memoir by the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Charlie LeDuff. It mixes new material with articles from his time at the Detroit News, a newspaper, that is, his personal observations and story with the stories he was covering.

I thought it was a great read, but that does not mean it is a perfect work of non-fiction by any means.

He’s certainly a great journalist and a great writer. At one point, he pokes a frozen dead man with his pencil. He’s carrying that around because pens freeze. (This is true. And it’s terrible when it happens and one has no pencils.)