Tag Archives: Books

Redshirts by John Scalzi – Review (Mild spoilers)

Redshirts – “A character in a science fiction or adventure story whose sole dramatic purpose is to get killed by the story’s villain and/or intinerant monster. ” – Urban Dictionary 

I just want to preface this review, by saying I am really getting frustrated with myself; the lack of content I am putting on this blog and just the lack of writing I have been doing in general. Hell it has been quite a long time since there has been regular content on here. I know I keep saying it in every new post I do, but I do want to post more… but I am not. So with this post please expect it to be a little rusty on the language front, also don’t expect it to be that long of a review. I am just trying to get back into the swing of things.

Redshirts is the latest book by Sci-fi novelist extraordinaire, John Scalzi. The book is not out in the UK yet, after hearing the news it was to be delayed here,  I had believed I would be able to patiently wait for the book to come out in my corner of the world….. I couldn’t. So I ended up playing more money to get it shipped over. As soon as the book came, I guilty rushed the book I was reading at the time, while enviously looking up to Redshirts – waiting to be able pick it up. Last Saturday, it came the day when I finally allowed myself to crack open the cover (I didn’t allow myself that as I read my other book). The first pleasant surprise came in the dedication section; where Brad Wright and Joseph Mallozzi were thanked for taking Scalzi to the stars. If you are not a stargate fan, this probably would mean fuck all to you. However I had a little nerdgasm, the type only one can get when two of their favourite sci-fi elements (is that the right word?) are combined, even for the shortest amount of time.

The cover, simplistic, obvious and a little bit boring

Into the book I didn’t have to wait long for a second nerdgasm, with a prologue which was infused with elements from one my favourite sci-fi books. Already from the book title, and the prologue there was the forming of a very interesting and odd story. As soon as got into the main meat of  the book , it moved at a very brisk pace, with Scalzi lead character full of the same smarts, and a little bit of snark that you see from of all his leads. The book unlike some sci-fi out there is pretty much accessibly to anyone. (as long as you can read English- that is a requirement (until it comes out in a language that you can read, then you’re fine) (obviously if can’t read English you won’t be reading this blog, so all this was kind of pointless.)) Scalzi writes a prose which is easy to read, and makes sure the book moves at a lively speed throughout.

The once the main of idea of the book is revealed, you see it is something that has been done a number of times before, and none of these times did I think it was good or well done.  So it is a real credit to Scalzi writing that he has managed to create a great novel from this premise. The book it self take a massive turn toward the end, not in terms of the story, but in the format – I shan’t say more, but I really enjoyed what he did with it. I managed to devour the book in one night (not something I usually do) and it wasn’t the story that kept me turning the pages. It was the classic Scalzi humour and dialogue that is prevalent throughout; this let me drive through the book in ways few books can.

In its self the book was great little read, but I couldn’t help but be left feeling a little cold toward the story – something that has not happened to me in a any of his previous books. I think I will give the 7.5 out of 10. Pretty arbitrary number I suppose but it feels about right. This book hasn’t dampened my appreciation for Scalzi and the fact I think it is worst of his books so far, make me even more excited for whatever he writes next.

I, Partridge We need to talk about Alan – Review

“Whereas i was flying my first sorties into a sexual territory, Carol had been hymen-free for the best part of six years” – Alan

The above is a typical encounter with Alan’s new book. Alan has had a difficult life, which has been filled with the highs and lows which are truly of epic proportions. If any story is deserving of a book then this is it! Alan already had one attempt at selling his story, with his first book Bouncing back, sadly it was  panned (or was refused to be reviewed) and the remaining unsold copies were pulped.

“My eyes filled with a burning white light and Abba drenched my brain. ‘Ahaaaaa!!!!’ I boomed” – Alan

The book tells the whole story of his life, from his humble beginning, to the height of his own BBC 2 chat show. Of course things did not stay golden for Norfolk’s joint second favorite son. Alan shoot one of his guest on stage (who dies),  and so his life soon spirals uncontrollably down from there. He is of course famously know for being a recovering chocolate addict. He goes in to detail on all these subjects in the book. My personal favorite account is of when he had a nice meal in Jail, after killed his shows guest, riveting stuff!

“I’ve been blessed with a superb personality, it translated into shit-hot radio” – Alan 

Of course I know Alan is a fictional character, a smarmy, slimy but funny character. The book is a fictional memoire of Steve Coogan’s popular fictional character. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it rare i read a biography (never mind a fictional one) so it was a departure from my normal books. The book takes what happend in the tv/radio shows and covers all aspects of Alan’s fictional life, but it is of course always from his point of view. He sees himself as always the victim and  thinks he always right (a bit like me). It is what you expect from the book, funny, awkward in places, and full of Partridgeisums. The book give me hope that we might see more of my favorite Coogan character, perhaps a movie, “Alan in Hollywood”. The only real negative that i can place on the book, is that 300 pages of Partridge can be a little, too much.

Anyway i really enjoyed the book and hope there is more of Partridge.

8/10

The Other lands – Acacia trilogy (book 2) A Review

I’m just sat here listening to music, browsing the internet looking at complete crap and then something made me think of my blog; that i have been ignoring the poor thing. It’s just sat here. I had no plans for a new blog, i was shocked at the realisation. I have been away playing a new game (mass effects 2 (on ps3)) , also getting prepared for a new job that starts soon. I go to look at my favourites to find the next page I should view when I see my blog. I know it has not been an age since my last update, but i normal had a plan for the next blog; however lose the plan. Anyway i sat bored, ass starting to go numb thinking of something to write here. I looked down to a pile of books that was scattered on a pouffe,Ii saw the brilliant cover art for the most the recently read book “the other lands” which is the middle part of Acacia trilogy, it is a epic fantasy book series. I say recently read, i mean it, I read the last 40 odd pages this morning. Hey presto a blog idea so crazy that it would make the man in the padded room squeam, A BOOK REVIEW.

So here it is my first book review on my blog!

The Other lands – Acacia trilogy (book 2) A Review

The other lands, is set I think around 9 years after the first book “War with the Mein”. It follows the three remaining Akaran children, now Queen Corinn, Prince Dariel and Princess Mena. All of the children (now adults) have their separate tales which all interlock with each other in to an epic story of a large force who hail from “the other lands”. I love maps of fictional worlds so when I first opened up the book I spent a good while looking at every location of the known world, and of the other lands. That done I look further in the book to find a very helpful “story so far” section, it had been more than a year since i read the first book; this give a refresher of the story and I’m sure would do the job for a new reader as well. I wish more books had them.

The first book was set in a world where magic had existed in the form of the giver tongue. But by the end of the first novel the now dead Akaran son Aliver brought back some magic to the world, which he used to defeat his enemy. He died though, very sad. The queen Corinn had now learned the givers tongue though. Magic (or whatever) is used lots more in this second book; it’s not used overkill though. The world is not filled with Gandalf’s. It makes the use of magic that much more powerful when she uses it. I don’t read all that much fantasy so not all that much magic is a good thing for me!

A good middle book of trilogy normally will set up the third book, which this did do. It did it too well. As that was more or less all it did it started a story that had no end I am sure it will start in the second book and then move in to the third, seamlessly. I would have liked a little more of a closed story in this book, like the first had. The story though was as epic as ever. Huge distances were traversed (In getting the other lands). The way David Anthony Durham built up the inhabitants of the other lands was great, using small mention in the first book and building such a large mystery around them . I was so happy when Dariel was told he would get the chance to travel to see them and their lands. The answers were all given in this book. I won’t spoil it but it’s a great dark story which  is sending shivers down my spine when thinking back on it. There is no innocents in this book; it’s not black and white, with the good side (the Akaran family) having a have a dark past, which involves giving child slaves to the other land for a drug, the drug that will make the people of the empire more subservient. While not the children (now adults) fault it created an interesting dilemma for the reader; when a rebellion pops up.

In many ways this book is better than the first; darker, not as many unanswered question, a sweet big bird/reptile and it carried on with great characters. I would have liked a little more action; I’m an 18 year old boy after all. The story is well paced; it’s not in a genre I would normally read either so it not being too hard core fantasy helped me a lot. The world is so believable too, a great mix of real life and made up things that make up this world.

The book built up slowly and an epic battle looks to be coming in the third book, which I am sure will amazing. But I can’t help but feel like the third book should have been added to end of the book though. What I mean by that is that when I finished the book it did not feel like I had just finished reading a book. Yeh I know there has to be a bit of a tease and be left open for the third one, while there was a big story twist in the last words of the book, it still just seem to end a little unnatural. That only my own opinion and you know by now that I don’t read much fantasy.

Guess i have to give it a score out of 10 or something along those lines.

SO i will give it a ………………………………………………… 8.8 very good, a must read, i would suggest after you read the 1st book of course.

Want more book reviews? tell me?!

Top 5 post of 2010 from yours truly

Yeah January is all focused on me, what I liked, what I want to happen and now what I felt was the best post that I posted (How else) throughout the few months i blogged.
There have been 38 blogs in the 4 and a half months that i have bloged in 2010.
It’s been a funny year for my old blog the views have massively out weight the comments (comment more you plonkers).
Over the course of 2010 I  have gained around 1500 view, not great, but it’s not like i’m famous, why would any one read my blog?

5. https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/how-to-cope-with-blogging/ – I’m still starting in this bloging world. And this was my inner monologue of how I planed to create a plan of semi regular content for my little corner of the web. While not an enthralling read it is my most commented on blog with a MASSIVE 6 comments! (1 by myself).

4. https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/fat-tim-a-short-story/ – A crap little story I wrote with hardly any views. It was a strange surreal tale of a obese man who has an encounter with a, floating, glowing object. Not amazing but I liked it. I wrote the whole story on my I-pod touch, which I still find a very cool fact.

3. https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/just-the-prologue/ – A first draft and a little taster of the prologue of my novel which i’m writing at the moment. While my novel has changed lots since I originally posted that little segment. But I still think it’s an OK peace of writing which introduces the reader to my universe. The great thing about creating a sci-fi novel; is a feeling that you have create a whole universe, all in my little mind.

2. https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/my-top-5-science-fiction-books/ – My first of many top 5’s. It’s also my most viewed post. I love book, all types of books, of course as a sci-fi nerdling (i’m still young). I do love my science fiction and here is a list of my favourite one. Sure in a year or two I will hopefully have to change it but it’s a pretty god dam good list of books. ALL must read books.

1 . https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/a-short-story-3-ls/ – The second short story that I put up on my blog. And in my opinion a much better one. Still has room for improvement, but I have had  a few complements about it. Well a couple. It is a totally made story, contrary to the beliefs of some people i know. I think it’s a sad little story. When you read remember i’m a new writer still learning my trade, and of course there is lot of things I need to improve. Hopefully theses will come with more and more practise.

It is was my first half a year of bloging, i felt it was OK. I can’t wait to blog some more. DO some more proper articles, some book reviews and who know some more short story’s.

Other news of note

Today i had a nice day out in York with one of my friends.

The big news this week in my household is that my sister is back, you may remember from a past blog that she was going travelling around Asia. She is safe and sound and more importantly is she had a great time. The only bone she broke was her toe.

My top 5 science fiction books (so far)

I wanted to put a list up on here, of the 5 science fiction books i have read in my life, since i’m still in life mode it is so far.

First here are a few books that just missed out on the list.

Stephen Baxter -Flood, Ark
John Scalzi- The Ghost Brigade, The Lost Colony and The Android’s Dream
James Patterson- Maximum Ride novels 1-3

And in at number at number 5

Children of dune

The third book in the Dune series

The most recent books i have read that got in to the list. Dune as a series is a well thought out SF masterpiece, in my opinion . There has been many, many dune books but Children of Dune is the climax (eyy!) to the original trilogy that started with Dune. This book unlike the first 2 does not follow the story of Paul, it is the story of his two children Leto and Ghanima, both of the kids of inherited the same strange power that his father had. The book follows Leto as he tries to make his vision of the golden path come true. I would not recommend this book until you have read the first two either.

Frank Herbert is a very smart author and i can’t wait to read the other books he has written.

Coming in at number 4

The Forever war

The Vietnam war in space

An Action packed book. It reminds me a lot of Starship trooper. Joe Haldeman book has widely been seen as a comparison of the Vietnam war in but in the ‘Space Opera’ setting. Its more than that though, its one of the few books i have read that has shows, how much time would pass on your home world, when a person travels such vast distances. Ohh and there is device called a stargate  in it, not the same stargate as from the show but still cool never the less.

Riddle Scott is apparently making a movie of the book, its meant to be the next Avatar type film, so read up before it comes out.

Number 3 is

Lord of Light

Buddha step aside Sam is here.

A strange book, one that took me a while to get in to, but one that once i  did get in to it; was impossible to put down.  The book is set in the far future. Earth has been abandoned many years before, colonist that escaped from Earth have found a new planet and have started to seed life on the planet. There is a twist though, the original colonist use there advance knowledge to become gods to the new human life seeded on the planet. They limit the knowledge of the new humans to keep them in check. However Sam one of the first colonist wants to change that. What happens after that is an epic story of his life, which reads like parables of a holy book .
The book infuses religion and Science fiction in a way that i have never before seen, but hope to see again.

In the second spot is

Old man's war

The first book of the trilogy

John Scalzi is one few author that i have read every book of, I plan to read any future books. Old man’s war is the first book of trilogy however it can be read as a stand alone novel. Scalzi is the only author, I have read that puts together Comedy, Action and hard Science into one book. Set in a Universe, that when you get to be 75 you have a choice you can either live out the rest of your life or you can join the army and fight in space. This book truly has everything for a Sci-Fi fan and i mean everything, it has an orgy of old people that have been transferred in to green skinned humans, and who would not want to read that. If your not interested in Sci-Fi (why are you reading this?) I would still recommend this book but as a soft way to get in to the genre.

And finally at number 1……….

Dune

A classic

A classic and obviously the first book in the series. This book tells the story the Atreides family on the planet of dune (Arrakis). Paul the son of Leto Atreides discovers he has strange powers that allow him to tell the future, so what do with his powers, he uses them to kill the emperor of the know Universe (It’s a lot more complex than that, just trying to put the basics on here). He takes over the empire using his powers and the brute strength of the fremen of dune, who end up worship him as a god. I have decided to put two dune books in this list because they are just so damn good! There is not much i can say about the book other than it is a must read. Give it a few chapters and you’ll be hooked. The series is set so far in the future that its hard to find connection to the humans as we are now, but that makes discovering about the the Dune Universe that little bit more exciting.

My computer is been stupid so it took me a long time to write this blog ,a bloody long time. Its only 2 days till my A-level results day, shall keep you informed.