Jul 17 2007

Apologies Once More – But Do Read H. Turtledove!

Category: Books,PersonalChrisM @ 1:22 am

I know, I know, it has been weeks and weeks since I did a book review, and sadly this is not actually going to be a proper one.
The reason for the delay is that the next few books in line are in a series. Unfortunately I can not actually remember which book is which in my head, so I will need to go away and either re-read them or at least research them. The details of each merge into each other, and I do not want to post confused information. Well, no more than usual 😉
Anyway, the point of this post is to recommend you go and read some of Harry Turtledove’s books now. They are basically alternative history novels, and I had not read too many of those before reading his. I am currently reading a series based around the premise of what would have happened differently if an alien race had invaded the earth during World War II.
Well, thats enough of a taster for now, you will have to wait, umm, around 3 years if current progress is anything to go by, but I will get around to them eventually, I promise.


Jun 20 2007

Ira Has A New Hair Colour

Category: Books,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 1:38 am

Last week I meant to post a picture of Ira’s new hair colour. She went to the Salon after work finished, had a cut and then the colouring process finished.
Ten past eleven, she got home! Yep, almost four hours it took to apply the colour and a styling. I just hoped they offer tea and biscuits there…

Iras New Hair Colour

As a side note, apologies for the lack of book reviews recently, I need to remember which book was which in the series I started a while back, and I also need to start those posts I promise within the neglected categories in this blog.


Jun 05 2007

A Game of Thrones

Category: BooksChrisM @ 2:17 am

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) – George R. R. Martin

I went back to the fantasy genre at this point, and really got into this series. This planet is loosely similar to ‘our’ medieval times, where different gods are worshipped in different areas. Magic plays a part in the series, but not to the point of suspending belief, from my point of view at least. This series probably wouldn’t suit those who tend not to like Fantasy – you need to have a lot of patience to keep going for thousands of pages (over the four books so far), and the action is rarely fast paced.

The author switches from describing the goings on from one character to another, each chapter. This style can take a while to get used to, and I wouldn’t personally recommend reading this book over several months, unless you have a pretty good memory.

This first book really sets the scene for the following novels, and is loosely based on the English real life ‘War of the Roses’, a long running conflict that went on to mould the shape of England’s history. You won’t find any typical good vs. evil tale here – things often take an unexpected twist…

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Jun 04 2007

Out There Thinking for DHS

Category: Books,PersonalChrisM @ 8:12 pm

The American department of Homeland Security recently called on the skills of respected SciFi writers to assist them in brain storming on new ways to defeat contraband smugglers, illegal aliens (of the human variety, at least publicly 😉 ) and, of course, terrorists.

A spokesman at the Homeland Security’s Science and Technology sector stated that “we need to look everywhere for ideas, and science-fiction writers clearly inform the debate”.

The writers attended a conference, were not paid and presumably had to pass internal security reviews before being allowed to attend

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Jun 02 2007

The Call of Cthulhu

Category: BooksChrisM @ 1:56 pm

The Call of Cthulhu – H.P. Lovecraft

Here we have a book split into three sections, with the links between them presented via someone who is searching for the truth behind the mystery of the death of his great uncle (or it may have been great great uncle – I intend to go back and skim all my books again when I have finally caught up to real time reviewing 🙂 ) when returning from the docks.
The narrator pieces together informaiton from the three sets of notes he discovers, and figures out that there were once beings on this planet, pre-human, whose power is almost un-imaginable, and whats more, these god like characters have followings in isolated areas around the planet, starting from when inter-continental travel was almost an impossibility.

If you find Stephen King’s books over the top or too direct when it comes to horror & suspense, I think you will find this author, and this book in particular, more your cup of tea.

Many people cite Lovecraft as a major early influence in the genres of horror, fantasy and science fiction. If you read this book, you’ll see why that is so. It will also help if you want to read other H.P. Lovecraft books – Great Cthulhu appears, at least as a plot device in quite a few other stories.

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Jun 02 2007

The Call of the Wild

Category: BooksChrisM @ 1:38 pm

The Call of the Wild – Jack London

Set amongst the heady times of the American gold rushes, the main character in this book is a dog. We see the dog well looked after, and enjoying his position as alpha male dog in his vicinity, and all seems well. Very quickly things take a turn for the worst – he is dognapped! (Hmm is that one word or two?)
Taken for his power, Buck soon discovers that many humans are not as king and well meaning as his old master. Slowly he begins to return to his most base instincts – he could afford to share food back in his comfy original home; when he ends up pulling sledges through harsh environments, he must use all his cunning, as well as his strength, to stay alive.
Without giving away too much, life does improve for Buck, as he is sold from one person to another, and eventually he settles down to a more sedate life with his new master. Until the indians arrive on the scene that is!

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Jun 02 2007

Martin Eden

Category: BooksChrisM @ 1:27 pm

Martin Eden – Jack London

This is definitely a book for budding writers to read and try and take some heart from. The main character is actually a sailor, who sees a particularly one-sided unfair brawl starting. He steps and saves the honour, and possibly life, of a well to do young gentleman. As way of thanks, the gentleman invites the sailor over to his parents’ house for a nice meal.
Although Martin has an active brain, and enjoys learning more whenever he can, he feels out of place in high society, and his discomfort is not helped any when the sister of the man he saved turns out to be a charming, beautiful young lady.
Determined to better himself, Martin sets out to better himself, learning as much as he can in Maths (that is Math to my American readers ;>) and grammar, and hopes to go on to start earning some money, and respectability by writing books. He suffers a great deal of rejection, in both the literary and romantic sense, but perseveres.

Despite being written nearly a century ago, I found the style to be very readable, and could happily recommend to this anyone in need of a good book to read.

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Jun 01 2007

The Mist

Category: BooksChrisM @ 4:06 pm

The Mist – Stephen King

Unlike the last review, I actually enjoyed this book a lot. Ever one for a helpfully descriptive title, a mysterious mist does indeed largely feature in the story. Again, the main character is a professional artist (hmm, think I may have forgotten to mention that in the Cell review, sorry).
Following a powerful storm, a family finds their house survived pretty well. Heading into town to pick up supplies, the mist on the lake seems to be moving with some sort of purpose. Arriving at the supermarket, things start to get even stranger. For fans of suspense, I don’t want to reveal much more, other than to say a thick mist can hide the identity of all sorts of strange characters.
If Alex happens to be reading this, leave me a message and let me know what you thought of the book yourself.

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Jun 01 2007


Category: BooksChrisM @ 1:41 am

Cell – Stephen King

OK, I may just be in a bad mood as I write this review, but I did find this book formulaic, especially compared to The Mist (see the next book review). That said I still would have read it if I’d known the style used, just with lesser expectations perhaps.
I found myself questioning some of the technological plot devices in this story a little too often, and also felt the zombie descriptive scenes were a little tired. A quick summary is that a signal is sent out over the mobile phone networks (cell=mobile phone for any non-native readers persevering this far ;> ). The signal severely effects the brains of anyone using their phone at the time of these transmissions.
The scenes that involved people jumping from hotel windows on non-ground floors did seem a little too transparent in their reference to the sad events around the WTC almost 6 years ago now, though I suppose that is simply a lazy connection to make on my part.
Eventually the brutal zombie like pulse-effected humans curtail their random violent out-bursts, and appear to all follow one goal, somewhat like the Borg in StarTrek:TNG. The zombies start to display mild psychic powers, and eventually invade the relative safety of our hero’s dreams. I did like the ending of the book… Why? Read it and find out…

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May 31 2007

Flowers for Algernon

Category: BooksChrisM @ 8:48 pm

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

If you enjoyed the first Forest Gump book, you are quite likely to enjoy this book. The main character in Flowers for Algernon has severe learning difficulties, and encounters the possibility of greatly increasing his intellect. This leads to him becoming a lot more self-aware.
However, the increase in his intellectual powers does not lead to a long term increase in his happiness. Previously mis-comprehended actions by his work colleagues quickly come into focus as heartless mockery of someone not previously able to defend himself mentally.
Although a little corny in places, I was happy to read this book whenever I had a spare moment. A must buy/read? No, not in my opinion – worth a read from a library/cheap bookstore/friend’s collection? YES 🙂

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