Archive for » September, 2015 «

Digital Heretic: A Review

This is the second story in The Game is Life series by Terry Schott. I reviewed the first book here.

On TopThis book starts off pretty much where the first one left off, following the characters both in the game and outwide of it. It has the same sort of feel to the first although I think the writing is a little improved and it flows better than the first in the series.

As I loved in the first one the chapters in this open with snippets of information written by fictional people as well. Something that helps the world outside the game feel real and reactive to the events in the book. I still have lots of questions though and feel like very very few of the ones I had from before were answered. Mostly I just have a bunch of fresh new ones that I want answering.

My favourite character is still Danielle, although I really quite liked Carl in this one too. The book felt like it was heading a bit in the vein of the Matrix but that might be inevitable given the setting. It did make things feel a teensy bit predictable in the sense that there was always some sudden extra something that meant the character could survive everything thrown at them, which took away from the suspense a little.

All in all another good book in the series, if not quite as good as the first, but also ends on a cliff-hangar.

Print Book Sale

I’m clearing out some of my old print book stock to make way for the new books coming out late this year and early next year so that means it’s sale time! Below is the current price for buying signed copies of my print books.

These prices will stick until Christmas (I know it’s a bit early to think about Christmas but signed books make great presents) or until I run out.

With Proud Humility: £7

Chains of Freedom: £6

Historical set (the two books above): £12 (£3 off list price, and a 20% saving)

Sherdan’s Prophecy: £6

Sherdan’s Legacy: £6

Sherdan’s Country: £7

Sherdan trilogy (the three books above): £18 (£6 off list price, and a 25% saving)

All five books above: £28 (£11 off list price, and a 35% saving)

I’m also now taking pre-orders for my next release – a triplet of Mycroft Holmes adventures in one paperback.

Special pre-order price: £8 (£1 off list price)

All six books (the five already in print + the pre-order, which will be ready in time for Christmas): £35 (£13 off list price, and a 37% saving)

These prices don’t include postage, which will vary depending on number of books, plus location delivered too. For the UK:

1 book add £2, 2-3 books add £3, 4-5 books add £4, and for 6 books add £6 (this may well be cheaper, but it will depend on the exact weight of the six books, if it’s over 2kg it’s significantly more expensive than under so it makes sense to send in two packages, if it turns out that it is under and can be sent as one package the difference will be refunded)

Email books@jessmountifield.co.uk or comment below with the email address line filled in to place your order, ask questions or enquire about postage possibilities and prices in other countries.

Dust: A Review

This is the third book in the Silo series by Hugh Howey and finishes the series.

DustThis was shorter than the other two books in the series and tied up at least some of the loose ends the previous book had created, but still wasn’t quite as good as the first, I don’t think.

It was better than the second in that it finally moved forward the timeline from the end of the first combining characters pov’s from both the first and second books in the series, but it still didn’t explain what has happened to silo 40, or if it did then it was only a passing remark that they might have been bombed.

It was pretty typical in style for Hugh Howey and had a similar pacing and build up towards the end of the book, but once again the ending felt a little too anti-climactic. I liked most of how the ending was portrayed but felt there were a few people who really didn’t need to die to make it happen, and I also don’t like how quickly the peole in silo 18 unraveled when they found themselves somewhere else. It felt too much like it happened without masses of warning.

With that said, I think the main characters were great. Donald’s regrets and decisions were great. Also loved Solo and his character progression.

Still five starring this book because it’s a great read, just not quite good enough to be one of my all time favourites.

Fifth Estate: A Review

I blogged on Tuesday about the current situation with Assange and while I was researching some of that it brought back to my memory the film hollywood decided to make on wikileaks and Assange last year. I happened to find it on Netflix and figured I’d finally watch it now that it wouldn’t directly result in more money for the makers.

fifth estate I won’t deny there was a small part of me that hoped Hollywood had done a good job of making this film and capturing the Australian behind Wikileaks in some kind of fair way, while rising above all the swirling propaganda and hate the US politicians were spouting because it was their secret crimes Wikileaks exposed, but I was quite quickly disappointed. Hollywood has bowed to the pressure and created a story so far gone I almost despaired and gave up watching.

The film’s plot is a bit like a bromance gone wrong. Daniel Domscheit-Berg quite quickly meets Assange, sticks him up on some Messiah-like pedestal and then gets pissed off when he falls off it, like any human probably would (because believe it or not we’re not gods and perfect) and betrays him.

Fifth Estate duoThe film is pretty much from the point of view of Daniel, and rarely focuses on the actual work of Wikileaks, which Assange has dedicated a large number of years to. The few times it does mention the leaks it shows the possible negatives of the information getting out into other people’s hands, including the US government scrambling to save sources in middle-eastern countries because their cover had been blown and not entirely succeeding (despite the fact that the pentagon declared that no lives had been put at risk by those cables in the real world). Very occasionally it showed some of the positive results of the leaks, but it mostly glossed over them and always had them on the back of the negatives as if it was a sort of after thought.

fifth estate Cumberbatch AssangeAbout half way through watching I found I had to grab my laptop and take a look at why Benedict Cumberbatch took this role. He’s an actor I have a lot of respect for, I love his Sherlock and many other characters, but this isn’t a performance I can respect him for. I soon found that he’d said this.

“I wanted to create a three-dimensional portrait of a man far more maligned in the tabloid press than he is in our film to remind people that he is not just the weird, white haired Australian dude wanted in Sweden, hiding in an embassy behind Harrods.”

The trouble is the film’s scenes didn’t allow Cumberbatch anything but making Assange look like the weird white haired Australian dude wanted in Sweden. About the only thing they got right was his looks. But the also obsessed over some really really stupid details.

Julian Assange August 2014Several times during the film, Assange’s character stopped ranting about something releveant to mention why his hair went white. This was done several times to Daniel with a different explanation each time. It reminded me of the joker played by Heath Ledger and how he explains the scars on his face several different ways. Right at the end of the film Daniel happens to tell a British reporter, who is also pissed off at Assange, that Assange dies his hair white, like this is some all important massive revelation on his character and life goals.

Who gives a rat’s ass why Assange has white hair? Why would you spend so much of a film’s time fixating on the colour of someone’s hair? Also, really? You want to tell me that the man is so completely fixated on his personal image of having white hair that in the photo to the right and up he’s dyed his hair and beard but not his moustache? I don’t know about any of you but the photo makes it look very much like the guy has just gone white (and in a very graceful and suave way, I might add) and his facial hair is still catching up a bit. You also only need to do a google images search on Assange to quickly notice that all the photos of him looking younger have a brown/sandy coloured hair and only the more recent ones have his stylish white, so it’s definitely not something he’s been doing since he was a teenager.

fifth estate assangeThis brings me to the very end of the film. I actually thought the film might redeem itself a little at the end. It had Cumberbatch facing the camera as if he was being interviewed and talking about all sorts of different things. After making a few odd comments about films about him and generally being a bit strange he started to make a speech that was actually quite good.

“If you want the truth, no one is going to tell you the truth, they’re going to tell you their version. So if you want the truth, you have to seek it out for yourself. In fact that’s where power lies, in your willingness to look beyond this story, any story. And as long as you keep searching, you are dangerous to them. That’s what they’re afraid of: you. It’s all about you.”

The bit above is awesome, it’s true and it’s wonderful, but then it’s ruined by seven little words they tag right after.

“And a little bit about me too.” Honestly! There are so many things wrong with this. Firstly, from a sotrytelling point of view, it’s unrealistic. No matter if someone might think this, they’ve never say it in a serious interview if they had a brain, and I think it’s clear Assange does. Secondly, it smacks of agenda, as a writer there’s no way I’d ruin the speech above with these words unless I really didn’t want you to believe them but actually hate the guy who said it. and thirdly, even if someone was this egotistical in actions, in real life people just don’t tend to think like that. For Assange to be doing what he’s doing with Wikileaks I’m sure he must have a strong conviction that he’s right about needing to get these secrets out there and protect people from the lies their governments are telling them. Someone like that doesn’t think these things, let alone say them. Even in the off chance that they act that arrogantly, it’s never a conscious thought.

So to sum up. The film sucks and I’m glad I never paid for it. but the one good thing I’ll quote again for emphasis.

“If you want the truth, no one is going to tell you the truth, they’re going to tell you their version. So if you want the truth, you have to seek it out for yourself. In fact that’s where power lies, in your willingness to look beyond this story, any story. And as long as you keep searching, you are dangerous to them. That’s what they’re afraid of: you. It’s all about you.”

An update on Assange: One room in an Embassy

It’s been several years since Julian Assange took up residence in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and during that time he’s had to live in one room, an office that’s had a small bed, kitchenette and shower added. There’s no window so no natural light and no where to particularly do anything like exercise. In short it’s actually worse than a prison.

On top of this the UK government has spent well over £10 million on police to make sure he stays there. Something that seems to be a complete waste of time given that he’s only wanted for questioning regarding allegations of sexual abuse and rape, and the prosecutor could fly to him and conduct the interview right where Assange is, or alternatively give him the reassurance that if he comes to Sweden they won’t just hand him over to the US, but they won’t do that either. It just seems odd to me that this prosecutor has been so stubborn given that 44 other cases of possible extradition have resulted in swedish prosecutors or equivalent officials coming to the UK to interview people here rather than extradite them. If they can do it for the other 44 why can’t they for Assange?

Something also seems to be incredibly wrong about this whole scenario given that 3 of the 4 allegations are now impossible to bring to court because of the statute of limitations. In plain speak, laws governing the length of time that a crime can be tried for after the event, has led to the bulk of the charges expiring completely. Whether Assange is guilty or not, this is no form of justice for anyone involved, and all it would take for this awkward stalemate to end is for the prosecutor to come visit Assange.

The final allegation of rape has a statute of limitations that runs out in 2020, twice as long as the previous three, and I find myself wondering if this is going to string out that long. If Assange is innocent of the alleged crimes, then this is wrong on every level, but even if he is guilty (although we’re meant to assume innocence until proven otherwise), this is no justice for the victim’s either.

It’s costing the UK a ridiculous amount of money and gaining no one anything. I personally feel like it’s getting time to send the bill to the swedish prosecutor and asking her to either finish what she has started or cough up our expenses for the mess she’s made.

 

Shift: A Review

This is the second book in the Silo series by Hugh howey, and I’ve reviewed the first one, Wool, here.

ShiftThis book starts off in the past and from the perspective of a fresh set of characters at first and I found it was a little difficult to keep reading everything as I really wanted to get back to the characters in the first book rather than past characters, although I did really like the look into how everything began.

It felt like it had a slower pace and seemed to build up to an ending that never really quite happened. Almost slightly anti-climactic really. I can only assume it was setting up for book 3, Dust, but I felt it was weaker than book 1 and I can only hope the final book restores the series.

Some of the information dotted among the story was useful to know, especially that there was ten metres of concrete between each level of the silo, as I found myself wondering when reading book 1 why it took so long to climb up and down the entire thing. Having that between each level is a detail that makes it all so much more sensible.

All in all, not as good as the first but probably because it’s setting up the next book. Still a reasonable read.