Friday 30 December 2011

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy Book 2) - Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire  (The Hunger Games Trilogy Book 2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2009
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins is the 2nd book in her "The Hunger Games" trilogy which was started by the novel of the same name, "The Hunger Games" which I previous reviewed here.

The story itself follows on a short period after the end of "The Hunger Games" with Katniss now living in the Victor's Village with her family. However, life is still not really peaceful for Katniss as her actions during the Hunger Games have drawn the unhappy attention of the government and in particular, President Snow who believes that Katniss' actions in the Hunger Games have resulted in talk of rebellion and uprisings. The story then follows her attempts to try and show the nation that she acted as she did at the Hunger Games out of love and not for any lofty goals. She therefore now has to attempt and persuade the nation and the government that her love for Peeta is real and it was for that reason alone that she acted the way she did during the Games.

This entry in the trilogy is full of suspense, thrills and the odd shock just like its forerunner, but whilst it was still incredibly enjoyable to read, it just didn't seem to engross me to the same extent. The main reason why I think this happened is that I could really see where most things were going and there is nothing much new there to really wow the reader. It was just a little bit too similar at times to "The Hunger Games".

The book does also start off a little bit slowly although the pace does at least pick up as the story progresses. The later half of the book is really stuffed full of action, adventure and some really thrilling moments that keeps you going right to the very end. However, the ending itself isn't really as successful as the previous book in my opinion because it doesn't complete the story and instead it just leaves the reader on a massive cliff-hanger. Basically, it has fallen into the usual trap of many other middle books in that the ending has been designed to set up the finale rather than to actually complete the novel as a semi stand-alone piece.

There isn't really that much to say about the characters in that they are all very similar to what was seen in "The Hunger Games". I found that Peeta is still as nice and kind as always whilst Katniss continues to be her usual rather irritating self with an astounding inability to see obvious things that are right in front of her. I have to admit that Collins has done a superb job in creating someone in Katniss who irritates me no end and yet also makes me feel for her at times and will her on to succeed.

However, the biggest issue I had with the book is probably more due to a personal dislike. I hate love triangles and in this book Collins has brought a love triangle more into the story thereby forcing me to hold down my irritation as I read. I just wish Katniss would just pick one of the guys and thereby end this stupid fawning and sulking that goes on intermittently throughout the novel. Honestly, I really wish this current fad of love triangles would die off and never rear its ugly annoying head again.

It may look from my review as if I disliked this book but in all honesty I didn't. The story was still exciting and fun to read and I will be defiantly reading the follow-up. However, I think that it just fell into the rut that nearly every other middle book in a trilogy falls into with the lack of anything really new and an ending that just leaves you irritated and wanting more. If you have read and enjoyed "The Hunger Games" then you need to go and pick this book up as I am sure you will love it, just don't expect it to capture you in the same way.

Monday 26 December 2011

Monster Story - McCarty Griffin

Title: Monster Story
Author: McCarty Griffin
Genre: Horror
Published: 2010
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

"Monster Story" by McCarty Griffin is a rather enjoyable horror suspense novel. This type of story is something I rarely pick up these days even though in my youth this genre was almost all I read. This novel like many I read in my youth was light and easy read which I felt really captured the feel of many made for TV early evening horror movies.

The story follows a young woman named Christy who has travelled back to her hillbilly hometown in West Virginia due to the death of her Grandmother. Unfortunately she has returned at the same time as vicious deaths start occurring in the woods and the police force can't be sure if it is some wild animal or even a savage serial killer. Christy and her friends soon find themselves caught up in the danger and must find a way to face this terror that is now stalking them.

I found that the story moved at a reasonable pace although in the earlier stages I felt that it did sometimes meander a little bit between different scenes without any obvious connections. The story was full of light hearted drama, suspense and at times a little bit of humour that helped really lighten the entire story beyond being a dark and savage horror tale. I particularly loved the back woods hillbilly style that the author has captured and used to bring out some of the humour in the story.

However, this book is still a horror story at its core and therefore there is violence and horror involved. However, whilst there are some graphic descriptions that some people may dislike, I felt that the author handled it all very well. There is no gore porn here and every detail utilised seems to have its place and reasoning for being there.

What I particularly liked though were the main characters, Christy and her group of friends are a superb eclectic mix of people who's wonderful and varied interactions as the suspense and danger drives them together were one of the main reasons I struggled at times to put the book down. The only issue I had was that there were also so many characters within the novel beyond the main core group. It could get a little bit confusing trying to remember who everyone was and some of them were used so little that they came across a little flat and at times seemed a little bit surplus to requirements.

Overall, I found this to be a fun and light read with some rather engrossing moments of horror, drama and suspense. I think that if you are the type of person that enjoys made for TV horror films full of thrilling build ups, interesting eclectic groups of characters and a little bit of humour then I suspect you will love this novel.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

City of Pearl (The Wess'har Wars Book 1) - Karen Traviss

Title: City of Pearl (The Wess'har Wars Book 1)
Author: Karen Traviss
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2004
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"City of Pearl" by Karen Traviss is the first book in her "The Wess'har Wars" series of Science Fiction novels and was the December read for Women of Science Fiction Book Club. As with many of the other books I have read as part of this book club, I had never actually heard of this one before. At least this time the author was also known to me via her Gears of War novels although I have to admit that I have never read them either.

The story is set at a time when various governments have merged together in an attempt to combat the growing powers of corporations. The main protagonist, Shan Frankland is a police officer for one of these governments who is preparing to retire from her duties in Environmental Hazards unit. However, when a government minister then offers her the chance to visit another world she decides to take on one more job. Her team of scientists and marines are heading out to the only habitable planet known to Earth in an attempt to find out what happened to the colonist who headed there many years earlier. When they arrive, to their surprise they find that the colony has survived, however they also discover that the planet is hot spot between three other sentient alien species that all have their own agendas and ideas of what could be defined as right and wrong.

The first comment I will make about the story is that it doesn't paint a pretty picture of humanity. The author seems to take as many negative aspects about our species as she can and crams them all in to such an extent that I wonder if she even actually likes being human. Whilst, I am more than happy for novels to portray people in a more realistic way, it did all seem a little bit too negative for me. In particular I couldn't believe the way that the scientists involved in the novel have been portrayed, I don't think I have ever seen such an obnoxious, selfish, unethical group of thoroughly un-likeable people as them and I just don't believe that they would really all act in this rather self-obsessed manner.

I suspect that Traviss is trying to make a point in the novel about how we as a species act and treat our environment but I just found it all a little bit too preachy. The worst aspect of this was in regards to the way that one of the alien species seemed to be so horrified at humans eating meat or other animal products. Honestly, if there was one thing that got my back up in this book it was some of these almost blatant attempts at promoting a Vegan diet.

However, if I ignore the almost over the top negativity about humanity and some of the preachy tendencies then I am more than willing to state that this is actually a well written and interesting, character driven science fiction novel. The plot is well-paced and whilst it is quite light on the action front, there was enough there to keep the story entertaining. It really explores ecology and the way in which humanity and others can interact and affect each other without truly understanding the differing consequences for each group.

One element I really think Traviss has excelled at is in her portrayal of the different alien species. She has developed them to a level that the reader can visualise and understand some of their actions without getting bogged down in excessive descriptions. Each species has their own foibles and cultural elements that really highlight the differences between both humanity and each of them.

The characters in the story both impressed me and yet also depressed me for differing reasons. When I considered the two main characters, Shan and her alien friend Aras, I found them to have been wonderfully developed. I felt that I could really understand the various reasons for their thoughts, ideas and actions as the story progressed. In particular, I found Aras to be superb, his loneliness was palpable and the manner in which his association with humanity was affecting his personality and choices was engrossing to read. However, the supporting characters are a different thing entirely; most of them seemed nothing more than cardboard cut-outs put in place as something for Shan and Aras to complain about in some way. As I said earlier in the review, the scientists were nothing more than obnoxious nasty people, but the Marines were also on the whole nothing more than names that just followed orders. It was a shame really as the few characters that Traviss did at least provide a little development on such as a marine called Ade and a journalist called Eddie seemed like they could be thoroughly interesting to understand further. I just hope that in the future novels we get a little bit more development into them in particular.

In summary, this was an interesting and enjoyable novel that was probably slightly let down by what I saw as an over the top attempt at preaching to the reader about how bad we all are. I think this book will appeal to anyone who enjoys character driven and thought provoking Science Fiction. The way the plot has been written in my opinion also offers a lot of growth for the future and I look forward with anticipation to the prospect of future books incorporating some action and adventure to go alongside the character driven elements showcased in this novel.

Monday 19 December 2011

Classic Fantasy Challenge

YA Challenge

Runs from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
Hosted by Lurv a la Mode

To be honest the rules of this challenge are rather open in that the host hasn't actually got any rules. Therefore I am going to make up a couple of my own rules that I will follow for this challenge.

1. Classic Fantasy Books must all have been initially published prior to 1981 (My Birth Year)
2. I will only count a book against this challenge if it is a stand-a-lone or the first in a series.

My Quota
My overall aim in this challenge is to read 12 books in 2012 that meet my own rules above and those from the hosting blog itself.

You can track my progress on my 2012 Challenge Page.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Reboot - Carl Rauscher

Title: Reboot
Author: Carl Rauscher
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2011
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

"Reboot" by Carl Rauscher is an entertaining post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi novel that I managed to complete within a couple of days. The basic premise of the story is that an electromagnetic event known as "The Pulse" was set off in order to wipe out a dangerous computer virus. The result of this was that all micro-processors were destroyed, from those in high end super computers right down to those that were running elevators and doing other mundane task. Now, several years later the majority of America is utilising very low levels of technology and there is barely any communication between different areas of the country. Into this world is thrown Oscar, a man who has been sent out by the government to try and inject some more technology into various communities in an attempt help improve the lives of the people there. However, when Oscar arrives at a small town after being beaten and shot, he spends the winter trying to both help the there and deal with those who had attacked him.

I will start by saying that I really enjoyed the novel and I found the reason for the demise of civilization to be a little bit more original than some other post-apocalyptic stories. In a genre that can become a bit "samey" it was nice to read something that didn't head down in the usual dictatorial government or zombie route. The author has also put a lot of consideration into the story and has detailed quite thoroughly the issues and problems that would face people when the basic items we take for granted today are no longer available.

The plot itself moves at a reasonable pace and there is ample adventure, mystery, humour and drama to keep most readers entertained. The characters all seemed to be believable and well developed which meant that I actually found myself caring what would happen to them all as the story progressed. The only weak character would probably be the "bad guy" of the story who seems to hide and avoid the townspeople even though he could easily do what he wanted without being stopped. I still don't really understand what he was doing or why he was doing it, considering the position of importance and safety he found himself.

One negative aspect I did observe is that the plot became distracted by the fact that a fair bit of the novel is told from the perspective of a young girl called Rabbit instead of Oscar himself. In my opinion, it just meant that parts of the story become bogged down in rather mundane and uninteresting aspects like how much she liked a toy that Oscar had made for her. I just felt that there was so much more I would have loved to know about Oscar and his past but there was little time to investigate this in the novel due to the elements involving Rabbit and other side characters.

In summary, I really enjoyed this book and it was actually nice to read a post-apocalyptic novel that ended up with some real hope and a government that was trying to actually do the right thing. I read this book very quickly once I started and I really hope that there is more novels in the future that will continue Oscar's journey. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic novels that don't go into mutations, magic powers or zombies then go ahead and pick this up as it is an interesting read.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Trilogy Book 1) - Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Trilogy Book 1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2008
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins is a novel that prior to starting my book blog I had never heard of. However, I have seen it praised across multiple blogs and review sites, therefore I decided that I should finally pick it up and give it a read. What I discovered was a thoroughly enjoyable young adult novel full of action, thrills and some superb suspense.

The story itself is set in a dystopian North America that has been divided into 12 districts and is ruled by an oppressive government situated in an area known simply as the Capitol. As a reminder of the power of the Capitol, the 12 districts are ordered to provide both a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games. Theses games are set in a large dangerous arena and involve the 24 children fighting to the death whilst the entire event is being shown live across the nation.

The story is focused on Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl from District 12, who volunteers to fight in the games so that her 12 year old sister will be spared having to take part. Upon arrival at the Capitol, Katniss' team formulate a plan to try and tug the heartstrings of the audience to increase her chances of survival. However, in the end, Katniss must use her own wits, courage and intellect to try and survive the games.

I have to admit that when I read the synopsis the first thing that came to my head was "Battle Royale" which is another novel that follows a future government sending children to fight to the death in a dangerous wild arena. The plot is very similar, however after having watched the movie adaptation of "Battle Royale" I would have to say that it is much more violent and bloody and is aimed much more at adults whereas "The Hunger Games" is a little lighter on the violence front and does at times focus more on the various relationships between the central characters as you would expect from a YA novel.

Either way, the plot in "The Hunger Games" is riveting and I couldn't put it down as Katniss battles both the competitors and the arena itself with hunger, thirst and fire proving to be almost as deadly as the other children. The thrills and action scenes come quickly and often once the games themselves get underway and this section moved along at a quick pace. Some of the more violent action scenes can be a little disturbing when you consider the age of the characters involved but I felt that the author doesn't go into any unneeded details. I suspect however that some people may find the premise itself enough to put them off reading no matter how much the author may hold back on the savagery. However, the book is more than just this as some of the best parts of the novel in my opinion are the strategies, battle of wills and manipulation of the game viewers that goes on.

The main characters in the story, Katniss herself and the boy from District 12, Peeta are both likeable enough people. They are both on the whole "good" in how they act and the author has developed them into deep enough people although I have to admit that I did begin to wonder if Katniss could actually do anything badly or wrong at times. However, she did turn out to have at least one flaw in that she was as dense as a rock when it came to understanding some of the more complex emotional aspects relationships. Whilst this did lead to some rather amusing scenes it also irritated me a little bit as I couldn't believe anyone could really be that blind to what was staring them in the face.

In addition to these two main characters, Collins has also created an interesting mix of varied and engaging support characters. I specifically thoroughly enjoyed watching the drunken Haymitch alter as he realised that maybe this time he wouldn't have to just sit and watch those he was helping die without a chance.

The biggest thing lacking for me in the story was a little bit more information on the world itself and its history. The reader does get little titbits of information throughout the novel but nothing really in-depth or meaty that helps build up a good picture. It doesn't cause any issues with following the plot or enjoying the novel but I just think there is a great world here and wish that I could have found out more about it.

One other little issue I did have is that I thought it was a bit obvious how the story and Hunger Games would end although I will admit that Collins did throw a little curveball that had me thinking the book could actually go somewhere else for a few pages. I also felt the ending itself was a little bit too sudden and abrupt, it does lead well into the sequel but it isn't a very satisfying conclusion for the book itself.

Overall, "The Hunger Games" was a brilliant read that kept me entertained from start to finish with a turely riveting plot. In my opinion the violence and premise make the novel more suited at the older side of the YA market and adults than to young teens but it really does depend on what other works of fiction the child may normally read or watch. I am now looking forward to reading the sequel and hope that I will learn more about the world itself and some of its history that has only been briefly touched upon in "The Hunger Games".

Sunday 11 December 2011

Laughing Dog - D.C. Burns

Title: Laughing Dog
Author: D.C. Burns
Genre: General Fiction
Published: 2011
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

"Laughing Dog" by D.C. Burns is a rather quirky little story that follows the life of a woman named Lauren as she tries to recover from a debilitating illness. Along the way she receives help and advice from a ghost, God and her rather eccentric little dog called O'Poo.

There is quite a large amount of the novel that is based around the relationship between Lauren and O'Poo and I have to admit that early on this almost caused me to give up on the book. I am not much of a dog fan and don't really understand the relationships that some people seem to build between themselves and their dog. So after the first few chapters that seemed to mainly concentrate on this type of a relationship I found myself struggling to keep reading. However, I did keep at it and the amount of plot and story that was heavily based on the interaction between Lauren and O'Poo decreased to a level that I found easier to follow.

Besides that, I found it to be an interesting and in the end, quite a heart-warming story. The reader follows Lauren through all her traumas and problems from a woman that can barely walk into a woman who works on a ranch and has her own child. The writing was also competent enough and the story was amusingly quirky at times, I found myself smiling when some rather random events occurred such as when a Scottish ghost appeared and spoke with Lauren.

The novel does suffer a little from its short length though in that it does seem to jump very quickly from one important aspect in Lauren's life to the next. This was a shame really as it would have been nice to really see some more development of the characters and relationships that were built up around her. I specifically found that whilst the relationship between Lauren and her dog is well defined and both of them are well developed, the other characters in the novel seemed quite light.

Overall, I found this to be an interesting and quirky story that could easily have been expanded further into a longer novel. I suspect that if you are a dog lover then some aspects of this novel will really appeal to you and I would therefore advise you to give this book a read for the dog sections alone. However, if you are like me and don't "do" dogs then you may find it a little hard going at times but there is still a nice little story there for you to read and enjoy.

Thursday 8 December 2011

2012 Speculative Fiction Challenge

Runs from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
Hosted by Adventures of 2.0

Speculative fiction is my love with a particular fondness for Science Fiction so I am looking forward to this challenge.

Anyway, there are only a few basic rules for this Challenge which I have taken straight from the hosting site:

Sign Up

Anyone can join, blog or not, you just need somewhere to post your reviews to share with the world. If you have a blog, a post about the challenge would be nice! Just add your details to the linky below to sign up.

I’ve made a couple of buttons and have modified the traditional challenge button for this year. Feel free to put them in your sidebar and use them in your review posts! Just save the image of your choice to your computer first please!

Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012. You can sign up from now right up until 31 Nov 2012.

Rules: The levels are back this year! Just pick your level and declare it in your post or in the comments below:

• Nosey: 3 novels
• Excited: 6 novels
• Content: 12 novels
• In Nirvana: 24 novels
• Obsessed: 48 novels

There is no need to list your books now (unless you are like me and love making lists), just pick as you go along and have fun! Books can most definitely be counted towards other challenges.

I will post a monthly link up for you to share your reviews. There are no prizes other that a sense of satisfaction at reaching your goal (*interpretation* We are broke college students with no sneakily awesome publishing contacts).

Any book format (ebook, print, audio) counts!

And because it can sometimes get a bit confusing (from Carolyns original post), Genres:

• Science Fiction: hard/soft SF, cyberpunk, time travel, alternative history, space opera
• Fantasy Fiction: dark fantasy, urban fantasy, magic realism, quest, mythical fantasy, steampunk
• Horror Fiction: paranormal, gothic literature, splatterpunk
• Supernatural Fiction
• Superhero Fiction
• Utopian and Dystopian Fiction
• Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

My Quota
Well, I have decided to go out with this challenge and have targeted the Obsessed level of 48 books.

You can track my progress on my 2012 Challenge Page.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Life of Death - Weston Kincade

Title: A life of Death
Author: Weston Kincade
Genre: Paranormal
Published: 2011
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"A Life of Death" by Weston Kincade is an intriguing coming of age drama with a paranormal twist. However, there is more to the novel than just this as mystery, suspense and even a little romance help to make this a really memorable read.

The novel's plot is set around Alex Drummand re-telling part of his life to his son, specifically a period when he was a teenager that changed his life forever. In this period of his life, Alex has lost his father to a drunk driver and now lives with his mother and alcoholic step father who beats on him. He has become an outcast at school and his step-siblings are nothing more than an annoyance. However, one day he suddenly develops an ability that allows him to touch objects and re-live the deaths of the various people who were touching the same object when they died. Using these visions, he sets out on a mission to try and help those who had died in any manner he can, especially when one vision uncovers a possible threat to his new family.

The story is quite simply, absolutely superb and once I started reading I couldn't put the book down as it has some great intense scenes and an interesting tight plot. In addition, the tension has been conveyed amazingly well. The characters are also well-developed and realistic which really helps bring the story to life and illicit some great emotion in the reader. I have to admit that at one point the emotions raised within me almost had me in tears but as I am a "tough guy" I held them in!

Overall, I loved this book, it was an emotional and entertaining journey that had me hooked very early own. I have to say that this book is in my opinion, probably one of the best written indie books I have been asked to review. If you enjoy paranormal mystery of suspense novels then I think you would be mad to miss up the chance to read this. Personally, I hope that Weston Kincade decides to write some more mystery stories set in the world of Alex Drummand as I would be sure to pick them up.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Childhood Favourites

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish which I am taking part in. 

This week's top ten is my top ten childhood favourites which I have taken to mean anything I read prior to turning 13 and becoming a dreaded teenager.

The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton
My mother had a huge omnibus edition of these stories and I remember loving getting a few chapters read to me and my sister every night.

Help! I'm a Prisoner in a Toothpaste Factory by John Antrobus
I loved this amusing book when I was a child, the title itself was just plain superb.

Anything by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl seemed to be everywhere when I was at Primary School as all my friends seemed to read them. I don't think there was a single one I didn't enjoy although my favourite has to be George's Marvellous Medicine.

The Nome Trilogy by Terry Pratchett
My first ever experience of Terry Pratchett and I remember laughing like never before when I read them. After reading these I became obsessed with his Discworld novels.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
I was made to read this one at Primary School but I still loved it. When I read this it was probably the only time in my life that I actually thought spiders were nice.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This is a beautiful book full of vivid colours that I am sure many children have experienced. My daughter actually has her very own copy although she has pulled out half the pop up bits....

Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne
Another book that I suspect many children will have read and loved over the years. I have even asked Santa Clausto bring my daughter a copy this year. I actually think my parents may still even have my own copy sitting in their house somewhere.

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
These books were the talk of the other children at Primary School and once I managed to get a hold of a copy I understood why. They had the ability to really make me laugh.

The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick
My first taste of Point Horror novels and it was a reasonable experience that persuaded me to continue robbing them out of my sister's bedroom.

Monster by Christopher Pike
I have mentioned this book in many other top tens as this was the book that really got me hooked on reading. I thank you Christopher Pike for ensuring that just before I became a dreaded teenager this book was there for me.

So what was everyone else’s top ten books as a child?

Saturday 3 December 2011

Manhattan in Reverse - Peter F. Hamilton

Title: Manhattan in Reverse
Author: Peter F. Hamilton
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2011
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

I will admit straight away that I love Peter Hamilton; I think the Epic Space Opera he creates is superb and I am always quick to try and pick up his books. So, when "Manhattan in Reverse" was released I made sure that it was right at the top of my reading pile. This is a collection of some of his short stories and as I haven't actually read any of his short stories before I was really looking forward to seeing what he could do in this format, especially considering he is an author who normally writes massive door stop style novels.

In regards to the stories, the first one called "Watching Trees Grow" is actually the longest. I found it rather interesting in that it traced a murder investigation across several centuries in an alternate version of Earth. Basically, in this world, the Romans never lost their empire and therefore technology continued to develop at a much faster pace than reality. As the years pass we follow the investigator utilise new technologies as they appear to ensure that the perpetrator of the murder is finally brought to justice.

The second story is "Footvote" which was quite a quick read, especially compared to the previous story, "Watching Trees Grow". It takes a slightly satirical look at the contemporary politics of the UK which did bring a little bit of a smile to my face at times. The story itself looks at how the Britain copes with a wormhole to a new planet being opened. The wormhole's creator has allowed a short period for people to immigrate and has implemented stringent regulations on who can and can't actually pass through. I did find it to be one of the more limited stories in the collection though, mainly due to the fact that the ending is based around a rather chance encounter. Either way though, out of everything in this collection, I think this is the story that I would most like to see expanded out into a full novel as there is a great basis here.

Following this we have "If at first..." which was probably my favorite story in the collection outside those that were based on the author's Commonwealth Universe. This is a rather amusing story in which we follow a Detective who accidentally ends up chasing a time traveler back in time, where he then tweaks history for his own benefit. Of course, this doesn't go as well as he hopes which leads on to an ending that I found to be rather clever and well fitted to the story.

"The Forever Kitten" is the forth story in the collection and it is incredibly short at only 1000 words long. It basically deals with the quest for 'forever youth' and involves a rather disturbing finale that I could see coming even though I hoped I would be wrong.

The next story in the collection is the first of those set in the Commonwealth Universe and it is a nice little story detailing some of the history of Inigo who was a character in the Void Trilogy. I would say that it doesn't really tell the reader much more than you would actually learn in the Void Trilogy but it was nice to see the Inigo's history fleshed out a little. It does still work as a standalone story but I think it is something that will really appeal more to those who have read the trilogy.

The final two stories in the collections follow another character from the Commonwealth Universe, namely Investigator Paula Myo who is the scourge of criminals everywhere. I will admit that I always found her to be an intriguing and enjoyable character to follow so these were probably the stories I was really looking forward to.

The first of these is "The Demon Trap" which is set prior to the events of "Pandora's Star" and follows Paula as she investigates the terrorist activities being conducted by a group trying to enable a planet to become Independent. The story really brings out how relentless Paula is in ensuring that justice is done and I really enjoyed the political intrigue that was brought out during the investigation. This was probably my favorite story in the entire collection, but this may have been biased by the fact that I am aware of aspects of Peter's other works which really enhance the enjoyment of this story.

The final story is "Manhattan in Reverse" which is a new story created for this collection and is set after the events of the Starflyer War in "Judas Unchained". However, I do not think having read the other books really makes any difference to this story as it is very standalone with only a few references to the other novels. In this story we follow Paula and she travels to another planet to investigate why a supposedly non sentient alien species has started attacking colonists. The story itself is rather enjoyable although I am not sure Paula really adds much to this story really and I think the real stars of the show are the alien creatures themselves.

Overall, I have to say that this is an enjoyable and varied collection of thought-provoking stories that showcase many of Hamilton's strengths and skill as an author. It does show that if he puts his mind to it he can create focused and intimate short stories that still capture some of the grand ideas he infuses into his larger novels. The one weakness is minor and it is that to really appreciate some of these stories you need to be aware of the other novels Hamilton has written. I think newcomers to his work probably won't gain the same level of enjoyment and interest from the stories as longer time fans may do. So, in conclusion I would say that any current fan of Peter Hamilton's works will probably love this collection, but there are probably better books for someone new to his writing to start with.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 1985
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood was chosen as the November read for the Women of Science Fiction Book Club. I was a little bit unsure about this at first as to be honest, I knew Margaret Atwood was the author of one of my wife's books and to be honest, her books aren't always my cup of tea.

The story is set within a bleak and totalitarian, Christian fundamentalist, dystopian Northern United States. Any opposition to the regime or failure to follow the strict rules is punishable by death or deportation to the labour colonies. In this society, most people have been given specific regimented roles that no one can venture away from. None more so that the "Handmaids" who are women seen as being fertile who, due to plummeting birth rates are enslaved as breeding machines for the political leaders of the nation. The story follows one of these "Handmaids" and lets the reader witness the oppression and fears she must endure just to stay alive.

To be honest, the plot is rather standard for a dystopian novel but I did find it interesting enough and Atwood has created a society that truly is chilling and depressing. She has taken so many of the negative aspects of our world and utilised them in some great world development. What she created when she wrote this back in the 1980's is something that feels eerily similar to the stories and reports that come out about some totalitarian Islamic societies today. Personally though, I have to admit that I did find it a little bit unbelievable that the US society could have degraded as quickly and badly as it did in this manner, but as this is a speculative fiction novel I was willing to just accept the premise anyway.

The novel is written in the present tense, purely from the point of view of the main character, Offred with the overall plot being interspersed with various flashbacks of her life. At times I found this to be very interesting as it teased out some of the back story, but at other times it just irritated me as some of the flashbacks were "inaccurate" due to Offred's distorted memories. I understand that these distortions in some of flashbacks were probably there to let the reader understand the state that Offred had now fallen to, but I just got a little bit bored of the repetition of the same type of thing. In addition I have to admit that I found the transitions between present and these flashbacks weren't always the best or easiest to follow which could at times interrupt the flow of the novel.

In regards to the pace, this book really does crawl along; I am actually quite impressed I managed to finish it in as quick a period as I actually did. But this is probably because at its heart the book does have a rather interesting and meaningful story that I was willing to follow although it was a struggle at times. In addition, I think Atwood has maybe intentionally utilised a slow pace to highlight how tedious and relentless Offred's existence actually was. Basically, I wouldn't advise anyone to pick this up as a light read for the beach or train journey as it really needs some dedication in my opinion.

The writing style itself wasn't really for me to be honest; it is too full of metaphors, similes and some strangely constructed prose. In particular, I couldn't stand the lack of speech marks; it just made the book harder to read in my opinion, especially considering it is a rather deep book to try and follow anyway. There is a reason I dropped English Literature & Language classes at 16 and that is because I read to be entertained, not to marvel in the complexities of the English Language. I suspect my wife would probably love it but I can't say this experience of Atwood's style has persuaded me to pick up any of her other novels at the moment.

Overall, I felt that "The Handmaid's Tale" was a reasonable novel if a little slow going. Personally, I have to say that whilst I found the book to be enjoyable enough, I think it has a reputation way beyond what I think it deserves, however we all have our own opinions and mine may just be at odds with the majority due to my own various likes and dislikes. I will say that due to its reputation, I think that think anyone interested in dystopian novels should pick this up and give it a read. In addition I think it would also probably appeal to those who like contemporary fiction with deeper meanings and complex, novel use of the English language.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my TBR list for Winter

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish which I am taking part in. 

It has been quite a while since I did a Top Ten Tuesday but decided this was a nice one to join in on and read the other blogs for some more reading ideas. Anyway, the Top Ten Books on my TBR list for winter are below:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I just read The Hunger Games last week so this book has moved up high on my TBR list now, I just hope I  enjoy this book as much.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Yes, I enjoyed The Hunger Games so much that I know the third book will also be easily read this Winter.

The Expanse by J.M. Dillard
This is the next novel in my Star Trek reading challenge and I am looking forward to read it and push on towards at least completing the Enterprise novels sooner rather than later.

City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
This is the last book in the Women of Sci-Fi Book challenge that I have been reading over 2011 and I am looking forward to it. I just hope some of the challenges I join in 2012 reveal some other interesting reads.

The Two Faces of Tomorrow by James P. Hogan
This is actually the first book I am reading in the 2012 Sci-Fi challenge I have joined and I am excited about what it could hold. This is supposedly quite a hard sci-fi novel which is a sub-genre I haven't read in a while.

Port of Errors by Steve V Cypert
This is a book that I have been asked to review that looks rather interesting. This adventure novel set around pirates and the seas should hopefully keep me hooked.

Containment by Christian Cantrell 
I won this book in a competition and picked it because it was the highest selling low value Sci-Fi ebook on Amazon at the time. It sounded like I might enjoy it and hopefully there was a good reason why it was selling well on the charts at the times.

Project Ultra by James Michael White
This is another book I have been asked to review but this one sounded like it might be an enjoyable paranormal thriller. Set in the 1940's it follows the intelligence agencies using psychics to combat each other.

The Last Man on Earth Club by Paul R. Hardy
This book sounded very interesting in that it follows the last people alive being rescued from parallel worlds where an apocalypse has occured. I just don't know how well this will work but I look forward to finding out.

Monster Story by McCarty Griffin
This will probably be the next book I actually read and as I haven't read a good horror story in ages I hope that I will enjoy this. There is nothing in the dark cold nights than curling up with a good scary book. As long as my wife is also there to help keep me warm!!

Anyway, is there anything interesting in your own TBR list for Winter? Anything I should maybe check out? Let me know!

Sunday 27 November 2011

The Game of Pawns (Darkness Series Book 3) - Leonard D Hilley II

Title: The Game of Pawns (Darkness Series Book 3)
Author: Leonard D Hilley II
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2010
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"The Game of Pawns" by Leonard D. Hilley II is the third book in his excellent Darkness series which follows the previous novels; Predators of Darkness and Beyond the Darkness, both of which I have previously reviewed here & here. I do have to say that whilst I enjoyed this book immensely, I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the first two books. I just don't think that the multiple plot lines came together as well as they did in the previous novels.

The story itself is set mainly around Kat Gaddis who was introduced as a minor character in the last book and Lucian the clone. They are investigating a series of murders in Newark, New Jersey after they discovered that several of the victims worked for a Biotech company called GenTech. The strangest aspect of the crimes is that a red pawn is left on each of the bodies as a signature. When a body then appears with a black pawn, Kat and Lucian get dragged into an explosive secret war being fought between two companies who are using genetically engineered clones and cybernetic killing machines.

Whilst I don't think it was as good as the previous books, this was still an exciting, action packed thriller than I struggled to put down. The pace moves along at a breath taking speed right from the first chapter until the very end. I did feel that in this novel, Hilley has tried to delve even more into the emotions of his characters with even more emphasis being placed on the various relationships involved which was quite nice to see.

In regards to the characters, most of the previous main ones do show their faces but this book does mainly concentrate on the newer or those that previously only had minor roles. I have to admit that I didn't really love these newer characters as much as I had the original ones and those very same original characters didn't feel quite "right" when compared to what was seen in the earlier novels. In addition I found that all these new characters on top of the quite large collection of previous ones did further complicate the multiple plots which did make the novel a bit unwieldy at times.

One thing about the novel though that I really did love was the vast amount of humour that filled the story. Morton the cat once again steals the show when it comes to witty one liners, but in addition there are now some talking rats that have some brilliant scenes that ensured the novel never became over burdened with gloom and seriousness.

Overall, I have to say that the "Game of Pawns" is another great Sci-Fi Thriller from a talented author that really knows how to get the reader hooked. If you have read the other novels in the series then I doubt I need to recommend you go out and pick this one up as you probably already have. If you haven't read this series then I recommend that you do so, it is a thrilling adventure that really deserves to be read by more people than I expect it has been. For myself, I now have to wait and hope that the little teaser at the end of the book actually leads on to another book in this brilliant series.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Star Trek Enterprise: Surak's Soul - J.M. Dillard

Title: Surak's Soul
Author: J.M. Dillard
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2003
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
Amazon UK
Apple iBookstore UK

"Surak's Soul" by J.M. Dillard is the latest book in my ongoing saga to read every Star Trek book in chronological order as per my Star Trek Reading Challenge. Whilst it is a reasonably well written original Star Trek story, the overall plot isn't that complex, deep or really anything we haven't seen before. It actually reminded me of the type of plot we would have seen on the original series. In fact, I could easily visualise the talking alien energy life form, present within the story, in Technicolor glory like we would have seen on the TV show! It also wasn't helped by the fact that, as with the previous Star Trek books I have read during this challenge, I was able to figure out what had happened very quickly thereby destroying any suspense that may have been built up.

Anyway, in regards to the story, it follows the Enterprise responding to a distress signal that leads them to a civilization on the brink of extinction due to a mysterious illness. As the crew explores the planet, T'Pol is forced to kill the last remaining survivor to ensure the survival of Hoshi. This leads to a type of identity crisis for T'Pol as she begins to suspect that spending her time with humans was leading her to go against the teachings of Surak regarding non-violence.

As T'Pol tries to get to grips with her thoughts and choices, the Enterprise remains to investigate what happened to the planet's inhabitants. As the investigation progresses, a mysterious energy based life form known as the Wanderer turns up and offers to assist, which is greatly appreciated by the crew. Especially when they also begin to fall foul of the same illness that claimed the inhabitants on the planet below.

My biggest disappointment with the story though was actually the very little attention actually given to T'Pol and her inner struggle to come to terms with what she did and if is really against Surak's teachings. She just seems to meditate once and then decide that she is going to give up all violence, even if it would save a member of the crew. It was a big let down as the book synopsis had left me thinking it would be a good character driven story exploring T'Pol's character and the guilt she was suffering which it really wasn't.

The little bit that did focus on T'Pol's thoughts was something that I did actually enjoy and it was quite nice to see her comparisons between Surak & Gandhi. However, besides this comparison there is nothing really in this book about Surak at all. It really appears to me that, with this and what I highlighted in the last paragraph, this book should be 'done' for false advertising! Or maybe it was my own fault for reading too much into the title and synopsis.

Now that I have got my disappointments out of the way I will talk about some of the merits. The story does move at a good pace and whilst the story isn't anything special it is entertaining enough. I also think that the author's characterizations were probably the best I have seen so far in an Enterprise novel although I would expect this to be the case as it is currently the latest one that I have read.

Overall "Surak's Soul" was another reasonable Star Trek Enterprise novel that won't win any awards but kept me entertained enough. It was especially nice to see an author really capture the characters form the show well. It is a shame that the book didn't really live up to what I was expecting in regards to really going into T'Pol's soul searching or give us some more information on Surak as I think that I would have really loved the book had this been the case.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

2012 Free Reads Challenge

Runs from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

What It’s All About
Are you one of those book lovers who receive lots of books for presents? Have unread books lying around that you won in giveaways, received as ARCs, were given second hand, or even found lying around in the street! Then you might want to join in this challenge because we’re aiming to read all those unread books received as freebies in some form.

The Deets
  • The Main Rule: Read books you’ve received without purchasing, gifts, ARCs, prizes (not library books), that you haven’t read yet.
  • Running Dates: 1st of January – 31st of December 2012
  • When Can I Sign Up: All the way up to the last two weeks of December!
  • Crossover Genres: Anything! As long as they were free when you got them, it doesn’t matter..
  • Mr Linky: To use the Mr Linky you’ll need to click on the graphic held at the hosting site then enter your link. These will be updated and posted into the host page every couple of weeks or so.
  • Further Details: Crossover challenges are fine, you can change levels at any time, this is eBook, short story, and graphic novel friendly, and you don’t need a blog to join in (read further for details).
The How To
  • Choose Your Level: These are listed further down and you can change levels at any time.
  • Grab The Badge: Place it somewhere on your blog, profile, or in a signature where possible and link back (main host site or the hosting challenge page, it’s up to you).
  • Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (only if allowed) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
  • Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic on the hosting site challenge page and enter your link!
  • Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube, Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment!
  • Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional! But if you do review we’d love for you to share them by submitting them on the hosting site Review Page (including social networks).
  • Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the hosting site Completion Post page!
Challenge Levels
  • For Me? – Choose 5 books to read
  • On The Cheap – Choose 15 books to read
  • Bargain – Choose 30 books to read
  • Presents – Choose 50 books to read
  • So Free – Choose 75 books to read
  • Gift Addict – Choose between 76-135 books to read
  • Speechless – Choose between 136-200 books to read
Extra Challenges
If you feel like that extra kick to your reading challenges here’s a couple you can choose from.
  • World: Choose a country as your theme, reading only books from that country or where it’s the setting. For how high you go you can choose more than one country;
  • Level For Me? and On The Cheap: Choose one country
  • Level Bargain and Presents: Choose two countries
  • Level So Free to end of Gift Addict: Choose three countries
  • Level Speechless: Choose four countries.

  • Gender Battle: Read books only by female or male authors. Another alternative is to read equal amounts of both.

My Quota
I have decided to target the Bargain level as I am pretty sure I can manage 30 books considering the number of review books I get sent from indie authors. I may actually be able to meet the next level but I do like to try and read books I bought ever so often so won't try and aim to high.

You can track my progress on my 2012 Challenge Page.

Monday 21 November 2011

Beyond The Darkness (Darkness Series Book 2) - Leonard D Hilley II

Title: Beyond The Darkness (Darkness Series Book 2)
Author: Leonard D Hilley II
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2008
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"Beyond The Darkness" by Leonard D. Hilley II is the 2nd book in his "Darkness Series" and it is set a few years after the events of "Predators of Darkness" which I have previously reviewed here. I am happy to say that just like the first book, this one is stuffed full of action, thrills and a fast paced plot that never seems to let up. However, it is also a little different in regards to its sub-genre; basically the first novel was very much a dystopian horror novel whilst I found "Beyond The Darkness" to be more of a futuristic thriller.

The story itself follows the lives of the survivors from the first book and how they are dealing with the trauma. Daniel, them main character from "Predators of Darkness" for one is having nightmares about his time in Pittsburgh and can't shake the feeling that something else is still to come. Then, out of the blue his friend Lucas is caught on camera killing a senator, but when Lucas calls Daniel from police custody and informs him that it must have been his clone, Daniel realises that there is something sinister at work again. Before he knows it, Daniel and the other survivors are all drawn into a nefarious scheme that once again puts all their lives in danger.

I will admit that I really wasn't sure where this story would go at first; I felt the ending to "Predators of Darkness" was pretty solid and couldn't easily see how much could be made of any loose ends. However, I quickly found that those odd loose ends grew into a superb thriller with various inter-linked plot lines that both intrigued and entertained. The pace was also once again superbly balanced, with the exciting action and various plot twists keeping me hooked right up to the end.

The characters from the previous book have grown and adapted to their new lives and this has helped enhance them into really interesting, dynamic, multi-faceted characters. It really felt like they had learned something in the past and were now acting in a way to avoid the same mistakes. Even some of the characters I wasn't that bothered about in the previous novel really began to shine in this book; Lydia & Johanna being two of the characters that spring to mind. The best character though had to be Morton; this shape shifting cat really stole the show with his wits, charm and loyalty to his new family. Even if the darkest parts of the story his humorous comments ensured that I still had a wry smile on my face.

Overall, this has been another enjoyable book in what is really turning out to be a great series. The superb characters, enjoyably twisting and multi-faceted plotlines and great pace have been brought together well to create a book that should appeal to anyone who has already read the first book. For myself, I am now looking forward to where the sequel "Game of Pawns" will take the series and already had it sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave - Paul Ruditis

Title: Shockwave
Author: Paul Ruditis
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2002
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
The Book Depository
Amazon UK
Apple iBookstore UK

"Shockwave" by Paul Ruditis is the latest book in my Star Trek Reading Challenge and it is a novelization of two Star Trek episodes; namely the Season 1 Finale and the Season 2 premier. I have to admit that I found Shockwave to be one of the better stories in the initial few seasons of the show so I was looking forward to refreshing my memory with this novel.

The basic premise of the story is that the Enterprise manages to vaporise several thousand people in a major accident whilst visiting a planet. Then, as the Enterprise prepares to be recalled back to Earth, Captain Archer is visited by a time traveller who explains that history had never recorded this incident and it is all part of the temporal cold war that was previously mentioned in the first Enterprise novel; Broken Bow. Thus begins an adventure through time, ranging from several months back to thousands of years in the future as the crew tries to unravel what has occurred and why.

The first thing I have to comment on is that it does stick very closely to the TV show and there isn't really anything new added in terms of the story or characters that you couldn't have gained by watching the show, but to be honest that is not a new issue when it comes to novelizations. I did note that various flashbacks to earlier episodes in season 1 have been added to the story. It is a nice way of ensuring that people who haven't seen the show will still understand aspects of the story. I actually appreciated it myself as it was many years ago that I watched the show and can only vaguely remember some of the episodes.

Paul Ruditis, has written the story well enough with his descriptions really bringing you into the centre of the story and the plot is well paced. Basically, I found the novel to be just as entertaining and interesting as I remembered the episodes were.

In summary, this book is a very faithful adaptation of a very enjoyable double episode. However, in a way this is its flaw as I still believe Star Trek books mainly appeal to those who have watched the TV show. Therefore, most people who pick this up will already know the story and it doesn't really add anything new to the experience. So, if you have already seen the Shockwave episodes, the only real reason to pick this up is to re-immerse yourself in this enjoyable story in another form which is perfectly reasonable. If you haven't seen the TV series then I think you will find this a fun and light Sci-Fi adventure book, although I would advise that you read Broken Arrow first as it does give some background and set-up for the overall plot.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Another 2012 E-Book Reading Challenge

Runs from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
Hosted by Workaday Reads

Well, I had already signed up for another 2012 eBook reading challenge so though I may as well sign up to this one as well. Mainly because this one has allowed to me to target a higher number of books.

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. Anyone can join, you don't need to be a blogger. If you don't have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  1. Floppy disk - 5 ebooks
  2. CD - 10 ebooks
  3. DVD - 25 ebooks
  4. Memory stick - 50 ebooks
  5. Hard drive - 75 ebooks
  6. Server - 100 ebooks
  7. Human brain - 150 ebooks
At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. If you forget, feel free to add your reviews in the following month. Any reviews submitted will be entered into the draw for that month.

Yes, there will be draws every month for participants. As long as you are signed up below, every review you add to the monthly roundups will get one entry into the giveaway for that month.

There will also be a grand giveaway at the end of the year for eveyone who achieves their goal level (or higher). There may be different prizes for different levels, but that is not decided yet. If you are an author and want to contribute to the monthly or grand prizes, please contact me.

My Quota
I have decided to target the Memory Stick level as I am pretty sure I can manage 50 ebooks this but the next level up may be pushing it a bit. Afterall, I do still read some paperbacks now and then.

You can track my progress on my 2012 Challenge Page.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

2012 Science Fiction Reader Challenge

Runs from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
Hosted by Working for the Mandroid

I love Science Fiction so it was probably expected that sooner or later I would sign up for a 2012 Sci-Fi reading challenge sooner or later. And so, when I saw this challenge pop up I just had to sign up for it, especially as it seemed to offer a decent way to read a range of different categories within the Science Fiction genre.

Anyway, there are only a few basic rules for this Sci-Fi Challenge which I have taken straight from the hosting site:

1. The challenge begins January 1, 2012 and runs through December 31, 2012. Books started before January 1 don't count towards the challenge. Re-reads do count, but a new review must be written. Any format of book counts - hard copy, audiobook, e-book - we're not picky.

2. A review has to be written and posted for each book in the challenge. If you don't have a blog, they can be posted on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon, Shelfari, Facebook, anywhere else book reviews are accepted and can be linked to.

3. Any books read for another challenge that fit into a category here can count towards this one. One book, however, cannot fill multiple categories in this challenge. For example, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game technically fits into at least four of the categories. It can only count for one though.

4. A post will be set up on Working for the Mandroid beginning January 1 for participants to add their review links. I personally will put up a post at the end of each month to track my own progress. That's where you can comment, brag and/or complain about how impossible it is to get through Dune.

5. At the end of the year, I will put all the people who signed up for the challenge and finished 6 of the 12 categories in a contest for a not yet determined prize. Those who finish all 12 of the categories will be entered into a different,better contest. Additional contests throughout the year might also become available depending on participation of readers and availability of prizes. Note: The more participants, the more likely I can get some science fiction friendly sponsors, the more contests.

There are twelve categories to this challenge, so essentially a book for each month.

The categories are:
  • Young Adult/Middle Grade Science Fiction title
  • Adult Science Fiction title
  • Hugo Winner
  • Pre-1950s Science Fiction Classic
  • Modern Science Fiction Classic (1951-1992)
  • Steampunk
  • Robots/Cyborgs/Androids
  • Spaceships/Aliens
  • Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe
  • Apocalyptic/Dystopian/Utopian
  • Cyberpunk
  • Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

If you aren't sure what one of the categories are, or can't thing of something to read for a category, just visit the host site, Working for the Mandroid for some inspiration! Under each category header on the main post for this challenge, there are links to lists of titles that will fulfil the requirements.

My Quota
Well, twelve books shouldn't be to much of a problem, the biggest issue was actually trying to decide what book to read for each category as there are so many interesting books out there. However, I settled on the following:

Young Adult/Middle Grade Science Fiction title:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Adult Science Fiction title:
The Two Faces of Tomorrow by James P Hogan
Hugo Winner:
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Pre-1950s Science Fiction Classic:
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Modern Science Fiction Classic (1951-1992):
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Star Trek Enterprise: The Expanse by J.M. Dillard
Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe:
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
The Postman by David Brin
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster:
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

You can track my progress on my 2012 Challenge Page.