Monthly Archives: June 2015
Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books Read in 2015 So Far…
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
1 – The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian is a cross between a Michael Crichton novel and a Michael Bay movie, only it’s smarter than a Michael Bay movie and funnier than a Crichton novel. Action-packed, fast-paced and scary in how believable it is, this is quality realistic science-fiction.
2- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
I wasn’t a big fan of the first novel. There was too much focus on romance even though there were some gripping fight sequences. But Crown of Midnight focused more on a mystery plot and increased the number of fight and action set pieces.
3- Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Though it’s not as good as King’s other books (Under the Dome, 11/22/63, Doctor Sleep) or the first book in the Bill Hodges series, Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers is still a crazy-well-written book with some great characters.
4 – Vicious by V. E. Schwab
I’m a big Marvel fan, and save Steelheart, this book is as close to a superhero movie in book form as I’ve got. It’s well-written, fast-paced and has some solid characters. The movie should be wicked.
5- The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
This book proves there is still some life in dystopian fiction. Action, fast-pace and some good twists.
6- Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
Easily the best high-fantasy series I’ve read. Gritty, violent and action and battled-packed. The third and sadly final book is released this month.
7- Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Like Half the World, this is gritty, violent and action-packed high fantasy. The main character is an anti-hero for most of the novel, but he’s one of the most original characters I’ve read. This book might not be for everyone, but if you’re not squeamish and like high-fantasy that’s brutal, check this out.
8- Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
The second book in the John Cleaver series is as fast and fun as the first, maybe even more. It’ll be cool to see how I am Not a Serial Killer, the first book, turns out as a movie.
9- The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
There isn’t much progression in plot in this second book in the 5th Wave series, but there is still some solid action and a huge twist I didn’t see coming. The third and final book, The Last Star, should be epic.
10- Tied between Lexicon by Max Barry, The Shining by Stephen King and NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (King’s son)
Probably King’s most iconic novel, The Shining shows him at his best, and also at his craziest–some chapters were a little tedious, but the final 100 pages is some of the best writing I’ve read.
Stephen King could have written this novel–it has his addictive writing style, solid characters and unique plot. This is one of the most original books I’ve read–having characters who use words as weapons.
I’m only 300 pages into this book (of over 600) and it’s already one of the best books I’ve read this year. Hill gives his dad a run for his money. Some quality writing, scary scenes and crazy characters.
Anyone read any of the same books, or planning to? Or can anyone recommend any similar to the ones above that I should check out?
Jurassic World Review
It’s hard to believe that it’s been fourteen years since Jurassic Park 3, and 22 years since Spielberg’s original masterpiece. Jurassic Park is my favourite movie of all time, and probably always will be…
I’ve been waiting for Jurassic World (Jurassic Park 4 until it had an official title) since the last sequel was released. Jurassic 3 was a decent movie. The dinosaurs were awesome and Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler came back. But Jurassic 3 didn’t have what the first and second movies did. Something was missing. Maybe it was because Spielberg wasn’t directing. So I was a bit uneasy about how Jurassic World would turn out when I heard a one-movie director (Colin Trevorrow would be at the helm, and not Spielberg.
I’ve been waiting for Jurassic World for 14 years, hoping it would deliver…
And it does–mostly. Once I stopped comparing it to the first movie, which Jurassic World never had a chance of rivaling, I enjoyed the movie a lot more. It’s a solid, action-packed sequel that improves on 3, almost improves on 2, and is worthy of the original.
The story isn’t all that original. It’s almost a replica of the first movie. Only this time around the Park is fully functioning. It has been for years, and like the idiots humans tend to be, we have gotten board of dinosaurs. “No one’s impressed by dinosaurs anymore,” says Claire Harding, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character–who is in charge of running the park. So to up the interest in the Park, they go ahead and give Ian Malcolm the satisfaction of being right again. “They were so busy wondering if they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should,” he says in the first movie. And here, they didn’t stop to think again, when they create a hybrid dinosaur… and it get’s out…
But the Indominous rex isn’t just a dinosaur–it’s several dinosaurs, and a few other things too. It’s fast, smart, bloodthirsty. And it’s pretty damn scary.
The story is the weakest aspect of Jurassic World, but everything else works well. The dinosaurs still look awesome, and there are plenty of them, even if there is too much CGI and not enough practical effects at some points. The first movie worked so well because the dinosaurs were there, really there. They were robots. But this time around, save a few close up shots, every dinosaur is CGI. That takes something from the movie. But the effects look epic, and there is no shortage of them.
The dinosaurs have more character than the actual characters, but Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard make a good pair of main characters. Pratt isn’t all that different from Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, but he’s different enough in Jurassic World that Owen is a character we can root for. The two brothers are decent characters, and reflect Tim and Lex from the first movie.
The action is full-on, and some of the set pieces are awesome. Colin Trevorrow, an indie director, handles everything like an expert. He might not have Spielberg’s eye for detail and memorable shots, but there are some epic moments to make Jurassic World stand out.
It would have been cool to see more than just one of the old character’s returning–Doctor Wu gets a decent part in the sub-plot– but the new cast are solid enough to make the film stand up. The new cast includes the velociraptors. I was worried from the trailers that the movie would turn them into something that they’re not. These dinosaurs were vicious and intelligent, and the trailers played that down. But the raptors are still what they were in the other movies, and another familiar dinosaur gets a good solid part to play in the film’s climax.
Hearing John Williams original soundtrack (adapted and expanded by Michael Giacchino) on the arrival to Jurassic World was like re-living my childhood, and all the years afterward of re-watching Jurassic Park (lost count long ago of how many times I’ve seen the first movie). And watching Jurassic World, after I stopped comparing it to the original, was a pretty satisfying experience. It is a worthy sequel. The dinosaurs still come thick and fast, like the action. The pace is relentless, the set pieces are gripping…
Jurassic World isn’t perfect. The story could be stronger, there’s too much CGI at times, Giacchino’s soundtrack doesn’t come close to John Williams’s… But it’s a great movie, and as a die-hard Jurassic Park fan, I can highly recommend it.
Has anyone else seen Jurassic World? What did you think? Are you a big fan of the original, do you think Jurassic World is a worthy sequel?
Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Books I’ll Read This Summer
Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish
1- The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant 9) by Derek Landy
I was a bit disappointed with the penultimate book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, but I’ve read mostly positive reviews for this final installment, so it should be epic.
2- Demon Road (Book 1) by Derek Landy
This sounds as cool as Skulduggery Pleasant, maybe even more so. Should be action-packed, fast paced and funny.
3- Half a War by Joe Abercrombie
It’s exactly a month today until the release of the final book in the epic Shattered Sea trilogy. I’m hoping for some gritty violence, plenty of battles and action, and a solid conclusion.
4- Duma Key by Stephen King
I’m halfway through King’s The Shining now, and have read all of his latest novels. I’m working my way back (not in any order) and Duma Key will be next after The Shining.
5- Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
I don’t like how James Frey does business with his co-authors, but I’m a big fan of the action-packed Pittacus Lore books. I’m not sure what to expect from this, save fast-pace and action.
6- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’ve wanted to read this for a while. Should get round to it this summer. With Spielberg at the helm with the move adaption, I’m already looking forward to that.
7- NOS 4A2 by Joe Hill
I’ve never read any of Stephen King’s son’s books, but the premise for this one sounds crazy and cool.
8- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
I usually read this every year. This year, I haven’t so far so it will probably be this summer. With the new Jurassic World movie out, it seems a fitting time. This is one of my favourite books of all time–the movie my favourite move ever made (and that will probably ever be made).
9- The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
Like Jurassic Park, I read the Potter series every year. I haven’t got around to it yet, and the re-read will probably run from summer into autumn.
10- Unsouled (Unwind 3) by Neal Shusterman
This series is fast-paced, creepy and well-written. The first two books were awesome, so I’m expecting good things from the third book.
Is anyone reading one of/more than one of any of these book? Do you have a book or series of books that you re-read every year?
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
(synopsis from Goodreads)
“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.
Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.
King knows how it’s done. He does it every time. He does it again with Finders Keepers, the second installment in his crime series.
Mr. Mercedes, the first book in the Bill Hodges series (there are a planned 3 books so far, but I don’t know if there will be more), was a fast, tense and gripping crime novel. King delivered his usual cast of awesome (and crazy) characters and the pace didn’t let up until the climax.
Finders Keepers is a little slower paced than Mr. Mercedes. The timeline is divided, to start with, and there a more perspectives than in the first book. Hodges doesn’t make a reappearance until well into the book. King uses that time to develop his villain. And like usual the villain is a nut.
King has a lot of gifts, but characters are what he’s best at, and like in all of his books they are developed to the point of being fully believable in Finders Keepers. Even if some of them are nuts, it’s hard not to imagine these people exist somewhere. Holly and Jerome are back, and despite everything else that’s happening with the supporting cast, King spends plenty of time developing them.
This isn’t horror, but King manages to create some pretty scary moments. The final scene made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It is the tension that makes this book more gripping than most crime novels. King builds it slowly from the start and then kicks it into gear and keeps notching it up until the ending.
Finders Keepers isn’t as fast-paced as Mr. Mercedes, but the pages still flip by fast on account of King’s unparalleled writing style. He gets into characters heads, then gets into yours.
King is the type of writer writers want to be and readers want to read more of. Nobody can emulate his writing–it’s hard to think of a writer with a more distinct or unique style. I read a King book and I’m itching to write myself, to try and get better.
King may have been writing for decades, but he still delivers punch-in-the-gut books and quality writing. King is the boss–there’s no other way to say it.
Highly, highly recommended.
Is anyone else a big King fan? If so, which is your favourite of his books?
Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Anticipated Books of 2015
Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1- Half a War by Joe Abercrombie
I’m looking forward to this more than most books, but it’s sad there will be only 3. Gritty, action-packed, this is probably the best high-fantasy series I’ve read.
2- Make Me (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child
You know what you’re getting with a Reacher book, without it being predictable. What you get is action, violence, fast pace and some of the best writing ever put on page. Lee Child is the boss.
3- The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard) by Rick Riordan
I’m not a big fan of Heroes of Olympus, but I grew up with the original Percy Jackson books. I’ve been looking forward to this series ever since Riordan started rumors about it. Norse mythology is epic, so this series should be likewise.
4- The Last Star (The 5th Wave trilogy) by Rick Yancey
The huge twist ending in book 2 made this book a no-brainer for the list.
5- Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
If these books keeps getting darker and gritter they it could turn into an epic YA high-fantasy series.
6- The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells
This series never disappoints with twists and fast-pace. The fourth book in the John Cleaver series should be great.
7- The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud
The first book was funny and action-packed, the second was both of those things but a bit similar to the first. I hope the third book changes things round, but Stroud is a genius (Rick Riordan’s words as well as mine) so it shouldn’t disappoint.
8- Demon Road by Derek Landy
Cool cover, and Landy can write humor, horror and action better than most. This new series looks promising from the extract I’ve read.
9- Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitx wrote the latest Holmes novel, House of Silk, and did the character and Doyle justice. He can write action well, so this new Bond novel should be wicked.
10- Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes, the first book in this series, was pretty interesting. If the sequel is a little darker and gritter, this could turn into a solid high-fantasy series.
Which book is everyone else most anticipating this year?
The Martian by Andy Weir
Rating – 5/5 (easily)
I’m a big sci-fi fan, both in books and in movies. But you don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy The Martian. Because it’s not exactly sci-fi.
It’s set on Mars, but there are no aliens. There’s no time-travel. The Martian is space fiction, with elements of action and thriller.
Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after an accident with the spacecraft he was on board. While his teammates leave, he is left behind. The Martian follows Watney as he tries to survive, and figure out a way to get off Mars.
The Martian is told mostly through Watney’s first person narration as he records everything he does on a log. It’s broken up by some third person action back on earth and the on the ship Watney was supposed to leave Mars on. But the most gripping and entertaining parts of the story are Watney’s first person logs. Despite being alone for 18 months, Watney is funny, right up until the end of the novel. Sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
A few of the many classic, funny lines are:
“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”
Probably my favourite line:
“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
If there was one thing I would call this novel out on, it would be Watney’s character. The humor is awesome, but after 18 months I thought he’d start to go a little crazy being alone for so long. It would have been interesting to see him crack up a bit–but in the end, the humor is Watney’s character and it worked.
For a novel that is mostly about Watney trying to survive (growing crops, building and mending things) the pace is fast, and it’s never boring. Who knew reading about growing potatoes could be suspenseful? But Weir pulls it off. He makes you root for Watney that the suspense never lets up. But there are some cool action set pieces. The split narrative could have made the pace awkward, but it helps build suspense as people back on earth attempt to rescue Watney.
The writing is sharp thanks to Watney’s first person witty narrative. But it’s Weir’s research–the sheer and detailed amount of it–that makes this novel. It’s crazy how believable this book is–almost like it really happened and this is a recording of the events. Weir must have spent months, maybe even years researching everything, and it shows on pretty much every page of the novel. But like Michael Crichton, Weir manages to balance the information, make it understandable–or as understandable as it can be for people who know nothing about space travel and survival.
I hear Weir is writing a more ‘sci-fi’ book next, with aliens, so it will be cool to see how he’ll write about the more fictional elements of sci-fi. If The Martian is anything to go on, Weir will become a classic sci-fi writer. Because The Martian deserves to be a classic.
Fast, funny, hugely entertaining and one of the most believable fiction books I’ve read. Don’t miss it.
Highly, highly recommended. Sits aside Half the World as the best book I’ve read this year.
Hopefully Ridley Scott will do the book justice with the movie adaption.
Did anyone else enjoy this book?
By Rob Boffard
Official/final Cover Reveal
A few weeks back I got a chance to read an ARC of Rob Boffard’s fast paced sci-fi debut Tracer. I’m an action junkie–both in books and in movies, and Tracer delivered action on almost every page. But it’s a smart read too, and fast paced, with a twisty plot and some awesome set pieces.
You can read the full review here.
The fire blurring the text on the final cover below is pretty apt. This book is a searing read. Somewhere between Blade Runner, the TV show The 100, and with the intense action of a Michael Bay movie.
I’m a big sci-fi fan, but this novel holds appeal for anyone who likes a solid, action-packed read. There’s mysteries, murders, action, humor–in essence, something for everyone. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Tracer is released on July 2nd by Orbit. Look out for it.
Does anyone have a favourite book of the year so far?
Top Ten Tuesday – Books that should be Movies or TV Shows
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
1- The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co.) By Jonathan Stroud
This series is funny, fast-paced and has some great action set pieces. It could make a great movie series or a TV show. Somewhere between Harry Potter and Ghostbusters.
2- The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials) By Phillip Pullman
A lot of people didn’t like the Golden Compass, the adaption of The Northern Lights, the first book in the Dark Materials series. But I thought it was a pretty good movie. The Subtle Knife would make a epic movie, and the film series could have been as successful as Potter.
3- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
It’s hard to decided if this would make a better movie or a better TV show. A lot happens in the books, so like Game of Thrones, a TV show would probably work better to make sure all the different plots and agendas make sense.
4- Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy
At one point, Johnny Depp was rumored to be playing Skulduggery, but plans for the movies have been pretty slow. This series is funny, fast-paced and action-packed–the books are almost like watching a movie.
5- The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
The Edge Chronicles would be pretty expensive to make into movies. Most would probably have to be done with CGI, but the movies could be epic if done right.
6- The Bartimeaus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud
This is as funny as Skulduggery and plans for a movie have been in the works for a while. I can’t understand why a movie hasn’t been made yet, because there is plenty of cool material in the books.
7- Gone by Michael Grant
This could work well as a TV show and a movie series. There are almost as many mysteries and questions in Gone as there are in LOST, so it would make an addictive TV show.
8- Half a King (Shattered Sea Trilogy) by Joe Abercrombie
TV or movie, this series would be epic both ways. The gritty action on page is already cinematic, so the battle sequences would be awesome.
9- Mortal Engines series by Phillip Reeve
Peter Jackson, director of Lord of the Rings, was going to adapt this series at one point. The series is set in the future, where the world’s cities move around like huge vehicles. There are some epic action set pieces and the pace is fast from beginning to end. A movie would work best for this series.
10- Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
This would make a good short crime TV show, each of the (so far) planned three books being a different series. The villain is crazy and King keeps the pace fast all the way to the climax.
Does anyone agree with some of these, or do you think some should be movies rather than TV shows, or the other way round? Also, it’d be interesting to know if anyone else enjoyed the Golden Compass movie?
This book has recently been released in paperback and renamed The Third Testament. Biblical is a deceptive title. This book touches on religion, but it focuses heavily on science… among other things. If you’re worried this will be a preachy, religious book, don’t. It’s a science mystery thriller.
Some books leave you staring at the last page with narrowed or wide eyes, with jaw slack and fingers scratching heads. This book did all of those things.
Biblical’s plot is a bit hard to summarize. A pandemic of visions on a global scale affects everyone on earth. People start seeing things from the past, people that are not really there, things that have happened sometimes millions of years ago.
The narrative is divided into several perspectives around the globe. The main narrative, John Macbeth is first person, and it’s through his eyes we see most of the story unfolding. Galt’s writing style is sharp, even if some of the science went over my head. The story is somewhere between Michael Crichton and Stephen King.
Biblical raises some interesting issues, and some scary ones about our future. Creating synthetic brains, artificial intelligence, alternate realities… People might not understand everything in this book– I didn’t–but barely half way through and the book is making you think hard about Earth and humanity.
The pace could be faster, but Galt likely didn’t intend this to be a full-on action thriller. It’s more of a slow-burner, with some decent action set pieces along the way. The characters are pretty two dimensional–though the final twist goes some way to justifying why the characters are underdeveloped.
One of the strongest things about this book is Macbeth, the main character. He’s an unreliable narrator and it’s hard to know if he’s stable or crazy.
The final twist took me a few attempts to understand, but when I got it, it blew my mind. Not only is it one of the best plot twists I’ve read in a book, it made me think about the real world… and (MILD SPOILER) if it’s actually real.
Biblical is a well-written thriller, with some awesome twists. It’s a book that makes you think and question. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been faster paced, with some more action.