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The Martian: A Review

I’d been seeing trailers for the film for a while and happened to notice it was based on an Indie book. When my bookclub peeps suggested we read it I was all for giving it a chance.

MartianIf you’re offended by strong language then I want to start by saying this book isn’t for you. The F word features on the first page and it and several other words like it are used throughout the book, but to be honest, I think if I was stuck, alone on Mars, and already aware I’m likely to starve to death because no one knows to come rescue me I’d not be too picky about my language either.

That’s pretty much where this book starts. Guy, on Mars, pretty sure he’s going to die but trying not to anyway. There’s a lot of science as our hero is a botanist and an engineer, but for the most part it’s well explained even if I did find myself skim reading a few bits so I could actually find out if he survived.

Martian-Matt-DamonIt had me unsure whether he was going to live pretty much throughout the book, which is pretty good going for this sort of book. Usually the writer makes it too obvious one way or another. And for a book that’s mostly held up by one character it’s a great one character and I love the idea that Matt Damon played him in the film. I think that’s likely to have been perfect casting.

The downside of the book for me was the other characters. They really were just there to support the main character and in a lot of cases were the same sort of person. They all joked in the same way (regardless of gender) and although the writer evidently tried to give them some differences they were almost identical people with different names. It was probably a good thing all the other characters had very small parts.

All in all I really enjoyed the book, even if I was a little disappointed by the secondary cast. I couldn’t put it down and loved the main character.

Mad Tinker’s Daughter: A Review

I happened to find this book free some time and thought it looked awesome, so I nabbed it.

Mad Tinker's DaughterFor starters, that cover, just brilliat. Secondly a steampunk story, so genre for the win. Thirdly, what an awesome title.

The book wasn’t totally perfect. I’ll be honest I was a little confused and there were a few mistakes here and there, but generally it was a pretty decent book. After I’d realised that most of the main characters had to personalities in two different dimensions/worlds and therefore had two names and two jobs etc, I got a lot less confused and into the book.

There were plenty of awesome steampunk style gadgets, although my favourite thing, I must admit, was a table, but it was a big circular table that seated oodles of people (I think it was 50, it might have been more) and everyone sat around the outside of the circle. The very middle of the circle was a stairwell down to the kitchens with space around it for servants to bring up meals and serve them. The inside part of the table spun around so dishes could move past people. It’s like epic Chinese style buffet tables crossed with steampunk. What’s not to love!

I thought the pacing was good in this story, not too fast that I was confused (apart from the two or more dimensions thing at the beginning) and not too slow that I was bored. The characterisation was decent, although not epic. I still don’t love any of the characters particularly, but several are interesting enough.

I’ll keep reading but as much for the genre and gadgets as the plot itself.

Ghostwalker: A Review

I picked up this ebook by Ben Cassidy because it was free and looked amazingly interesting. My bookclub had also read one of his shorts before and totally loved it, and I wrote a short fantasy piece for an anthology raising money for him when he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

GhostwalkerThis book was no less awesome. I was grabbed by the charaters and immersed into the story from the first page to the last page. Ben has a brilliant way of describing things and his action scenes flowed well and were easy to follow. And action there was plenty of.

The bad-guys felt a teensy bit black and white but they were still villians you could love to hate and I was very much rooting for the Ghostwalker to show them who was awesome (he was totally awesome). Some of the scenes were a bit damsel in distress from the other main character but she soon bucked up and tried to help as well.

I still have quite a few questions, especially about what exactly a ghostwalker is and what happened to this one, but I still felt like I had a few answers during this book so I’m not complaining.

I loved this book so much I put the next one on my to-read list right away.

Stardust: A Review

When I watched the film of this book I must admit I had no idea there was a book, but a few months later someone informed me there was. I finally got around to reading it.

StardustI was actually very pleasantly surprised how like the film this book is. There were a few subtle differences. It almost seemed like the film had more content in some places and a little less in others.

The ending was quite different and I prefered the book ending more. It was a little sad in places. Neil Gaiman also has a very special way of looking at things and I found myself highlighting quite a few different sentences for the cute way they phrased something.

It struck me as just one of those stories. The characters were only remarkable in that one of them was a star and they sort of ended up being rulers of something, but it was told in such a matter of fact, these things happen all the time, kind of way that it feels unremarkable and I think that’s one of Gaiman’s great abilities as a storyteller, he makes the fantastic sound like the everyday happenings, almost making you believe you too could meet a star or be swept away on a flying ship.

Interlude-Brandon: A Review

This is the third book in the Game series by Terry Schott. I reviewed the first one here and the second here.

Interlude-brandonI wasn’t sure that I’d enjoy a sort of mid series prequel, but I was so glad I was wrong. I think this is the best book of the series so far.

Without giving away spoilers there were a few nice surprises in this book and some great info about Brandon himself and how he got to where he is. I found myself confused at a few points by the events, but it’s probably because I’ve read so many books in between the books in this series that I’d slightly forgotten who everyone was.

It’s fairly fast paced again, and still has plenty of interesting action in it, although most of it is focused around games and virtual reality stuff.

I have to say though that the editing and formating leaves a lot to be desired. The last sentence of Chapter 55 just doesn’t finish and there’s two chapter 56’s, one of which is only a couple of paragraphs long and makes little sense in the context of the rest.

If all the mistakes were corrected this would be one of the best series I’ve ever read.

Something in the Air: A Review

This is a short story in the Something series by Ben Starling, and was given to me in return for my review.

Something in the airWhile quite short this story is very sweet. It’s a fairly typical romance story but there was just something so gentle yet poignant about this one, that I found myself really routing for the couple after only a few pages.

The characterisation is definitely the strong point of this story, something that always makes a book good for me. If I can understand the characters and find a way to like them then I can read pretty much any genre out there and Ben doesn’t waste his words when it comes to making you adore his characters.

I was left feeling a little disappointed by the end but with a short that often happens. A good short is always far too short. It may have been a little rushed with the ending and not quite finished, but given that this is meant to be an introduction to a series and a short to boot that could just be because of the style. I’m definitely not going to knock it down any stars because of it.

I really can’t wait to read more by this author.

The Song of the Jubilee: A Review

This was an ebook I was given by the author, Raeden Zen, in return for my review, and is the first book in the Phantom of the Earth series.

Song of the JubileeThis is a science fiction sort of story with strong dystopian elements which unfortunately the cover and title don’t make obvious. I’m quite a science fan so found I enjoyed the book but there was a lot of science and complicated genetics type stuff. The book also had quite a few statistics pictures and tables to help the reader try and get immersed in the story with plenty of information which was an interesting way to handle backstory without actually giving any backstory.

For the most part this worked but I must admit at a few points I found myself confused with who was who and what motivated them and why. I liked the characters once I actually got to know them but it took a while and did make me a little frustrated. Motivations and character backstory was very lacking.

This did mean the book was very fast paced, which is something I prefer. There wasn’t a lack of action and plot within this book for sure and it was an interesting story. There were several things hinted at about the scoiety and I got to the end with plenty of questions and desire to keep reading despite the few flaws, so there’s something awesome in this book for sure.

I’ll keep reading the series (there are 5 books in the series out as of today). I just hope the later stories explain a bit more and I can properly get to know the characters.

A Legacy of Light: A Review

This is a fantasy ebook by Daniel Arenson that I picked up as part of a seven book fantasy collection for only 77p. I know, a total bargain!

Legacy of LightFor starters, this book has dragons. Usually this is a sign of a good book, but this one goes a whole step better. It had people who can turn into dragons! I totally loved the premise for this book with a proper fantasy dictatorship kind of start where a couple of young dragons end up caught up in things bigger than both of them.

Did I also mention that these people could turn into dragons? Right yeah, I think I might have. The plot was pretty fast paced and had me reading along without wanting to put the book down and bounced between quite a few really interesting points of view.

The bad guys were a little on the two dimensional side but the book felt like it was aimed at a younger adult, mature teenager sort of age so this wouldn’t be too much of a problem for the target audience I don’t think.

It is part of a series and I felt like it was a bit of a cliff-hanger ending but not as bad as it could have been, and it tore my heart apart with what happened to the characters. Thankfully the rest of the series does seem to be out there so there’s no danger of getting to a point where you are desparate for more and can’t get it.

All in all I loved this book (people can turn into dragons!) and I will be reading the rest of this series, and probably everything else this author has ever written.

The Professor: A Review

This was another book on my classics list.

ProfessorI decided to try this because it was another offering by the Bronte sisters, this one from Charlotte. I adored Jane Eyre and wanted to see what else the wonderful author had penned.

This is her first published offering and it does show a little. The book dragged a little more and seemed to have less feeling in it but it was still a wonderful classic romance. Having a book evidently written by a woman with a male lead is not an easy sell even now, back then I can understand why the Bronte sisters published under a male pseudonym.

Not the easiest classic to read (I maintain Jane Austen is still one of the easiest) but not the worst either (Dickens, definitely Dickens), but it has the all important happy ending and plenty of witty lines.

All in all, another reasonable classic I’m very glad I read.

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.