Thursday 31 March 2011

What Happened at Midnight - Franklin W. Dixon

Published : 1931
UK Price : Hardback Version £7.19 Here & Kindle Version £3.99 Here
US Price : Hardback Version $6.99 Here & Kindle Version $6.99 Here

Until a few weeks ago I had never actually heard about The Hardy Boys and the various novels that they star in. One of my facebook friends made a throwaway comment about me reviewing one of the books and I therefore looked it up and got a copy of the earliest one I could easily locate. For those who do not know, The Hardy Boys novels are basically about two teenage lads who go around having various adventures whilst solving mysteries. They are actually written by various different ghostwriters who were all published under the same pseudonym of Franklin W. Dixon.

As I never read these any of these books when I was a child I had no real memories to call upon as I read the book. Therefore, most of what I say here is going to based upon my views of the story from an adult's point of view.

The basic premise of  "What Happened at Midnight "which was the 10th Hardy Boy is that the two Hardy Boys, Frank & Joe are initially asked to break into the house of a scientist and retrieve a secret invention and keep it safe from being stolen by a group of smugglers whist he is away. After this, we get taken through stacks of ridiculous adventures that range from Joe being kidnapped to them both parachuting out of a crashing plane. Of course the Hardy Boys then manage to get through all these adventures and are involved in finally catching the smugglers, even though I am sure than any police officer would have told them to stay away after the third or fourth time that guns had been used.

To be honest, the whole portrayal of the police in my opinion is down right stupid throughout the book. I don't know how many times I wanted to throw the book away when the lads told the police or FBI about something and then they were left to go and actually deal with it themselves but it happened way too much for my liking. The example that really sticks in my mind is when they are following a man into a rail station, they stop quickly to tell a police officer what they are doing and ask him to contact HQ about it. The police officer doesn't try and actually do anything himself, he just lets these two kids head off onto the train to follow a man who was probably deadly.

One thing I did find amusing was being able to read the language portrayed throughout the novel. I can't remember ever reading a book in the past where a character would say "gadzooks" or "leaping hyenas". I kept expecting someone to say "golly gosh" next or something similar, I would really like to know if people really spoke like that back in the thirties. Or is this just the way the authors wrote a book so it was acceptable for children to read?

I also spent half the book imagining what teenagers of today would really be doing in these situations and I probably found that more entertaining than the book itself. One example of this was when the teens had a thermos with them full of milk, I couldn't help but imagine in my cynical way that nowadays it would probably have had a bottle of high strength cider instead.

Overall, I have to admit that I really struggled to make myself read the book to the end, it just seemed to be moving from one unbelievable adventure to another without any sort of realism. I am sure that pre-teen children may love this book due to this, but as an adult I have to say that I did not enjoy it as I expect more to reading than cheesy unrealistic frivolity. Maybe it is just me being an adult now, or maybe it is just a result when the book was written but I do not expect to be reading any more Hardy Boys novels unless I read this to my children when they are older and they love it.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition

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

Okay, I have to say that I really struggled with this week top ten list. For example, one issue I have is that some authors I love are well known in Sci-Fi or Fantasy circles but are unknown outside of readers of that Genre. So, defining a level of recognition is rather difficult.

Anyway, I shall do what I can!

1) Stephen Donaldson (The Gap Series)
To be honest, I suspect that Stephen Donaldson is quite well known, in Fantasy circles due to the Thomas Covenent series. However, I think he deserves more recognition on the Science Fiction front for The Gap series of novels. This series is my all time favourite Sci-Fi collection and sometimes I find that Stephen Donaldson gets forgotten about amongst the followers of Peter F. Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, Iain Banks, etc. So to any Sci-Fi reader out there, go give The Gap series a chance. I also think any other who can create a character like Angus Thermopyle and make you feel something for him as I discuss here deserves huge credit.

2) Janny Wurts
I know quite a few people who have read the Empire Series that she co-wrote with Raymond E. Feist. However, I think her individual work can get forgotten about at times. The Wars of Light and Shadow is a superb series of epic fantasy novels that any fantasy lover should try and read.

3) Michael Grant
I am assuming that plenty of YA readers have heard of this author although I have rarely seen it mentioned around blogs so maybe he isn't ever than popular amongst YA readers. Either way, his Gone series is a superb set of novels that I found hugely enjoyable. I try my best to make sure that other people do try and read them. It can be hard though because a lot of the people I know tend to see a book being defined as YA and think it will be a very juvenile story, which I think is far from the truth.

4) Robert Rankin
I find his style of humour and wackyness to be very similar to Terry Pratchett and therefore I am always surprised that hardly any of my Pratchett reading friends have actually heard of him. Anyone that writes a novel about a Time Traveling Brussels Sprout called Barry really needs to be read by more people!

5) Stephen King
Recognition here is not in regards to the recognition of his name as I think plenty of people have heard of Stephen King. I just seem to hear lots of people poo-hoo his stories, they imply that he just churns out standard horror books with little thought etc. Well I am sorry but he deserves way more recognition than that for some of the books he writes. "The Stand", "Under The Dome" & "The Dark Tower" collection are all complex and compelling reads that are much more than just a mundane horror novel.

Okay I have made it to 5 and now I am going to give up as I am struggling to think up some more. This is the first top ten list I have failed to complete and that annoys me but I can't spend my entire lunch break thinking about what else to add. I do have to eat after all!

Anyway, as always let me know if you can think of any authors that deserve more recognition. If you do have any interesting ones I may have to go check them out myself and maybe help you try and get them read by more people.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Win a Kindle courtesy of Moira Rogers!

Moira Rogers is sponsoring an amazing contest to win a Kindle as part of the "Wilder's Mate" novel release celebration! Instructions on how to ensure you have a chance to win are detailed below!

Wilder’s Mate Kindle Contest

Want to win a brand new Wi-Fi Kindle 3? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, and you can have your chance! For more chances to win, visit the main contest page. Every participating blog you visit gives you another chance to win!

This post is part of Moira Rogers’ Wild Web Adventure Promo. For full rules and disclaimers, or to hold your own kindle contest, visit the contest post. Winners will be chosen during the first week of April.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Published: 1990
UK Price: Paperback Version £4.92 Here
US Price: Paperback Version $10.19 Here

I have always been a great fan of Terry Pratchett, especially his Discworld series, but I will admit that this novel actually passed me by when it was first released. Recently, however I read and enjoyed "American Gods" which was written by Neil Gaiman who co-wrote this novel and I therefore decided to make sure that I finally put the effort in to read it.

The full name of the novel is actually "Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch" but I think this is a bit of a mouthful and thefore just tend to call it "Good Omens". The novel is at it's basic core, a comedic take on Armageddon. It is very colourful and has a superb and memorable cast of characters which includes an 11 year old Antichrist who isn't actually a bad kid, a Demon and Angel who team up together in an attempt to stop the end of the world and the last couple of Witchfinders in existence.

The story itself did sometimes ramble on due to the large cast of characters and their various sideplots that the reader has to follow. However, the overarching storyline kept me hooked so I was easily able to read through the sections that didn't really add much to the story beyond some easy laughs. I especially felt that the story did come together neatly at the end.

I mentioned earlier in this review about the superb cast of characters present throughout the book and I think I appreciated and enjoyed every one of them. However, one thing I will note is that I think the large numbers of characters present did mean that some of them were never developed fully. It wasn't a huge issue to me though as they were all valid characters, they just lacked depth.

My favourite characters, had to be the Angel named Aziraphale & the Demon named Crowley who had spent so long with humanity that they really didn't want it all to end. and therefore worked together to try and thwart Armageddon. Their rather humerous interaction with each other and the fact that neither of them is truely evil or good is one of the biggest draws of the book to me. The character of Crowley actually reminded me in parts of the character with the same name who stars in the TV Series "Supernatural". I can't find any real proof that the creaters of "Supernatural" based their Crowley on the one in "Good Omens" but it wouldn't suprise me if he was.

Overall, I found the book hilarious and I can safely say that if you like any other novels written by Terry Pratchett then you will enjoy this. It is full of his usual dry humour, satire and madcap antics that give the book a great feeling of fun. I found myself smiling for large portions of the book as the story unfolded and struggled to put it down at the end of each day.

Even if you have never read Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman before, I recommend you give this book a try. Because, if you enjoy it then it will open up a huge collection of witty and humorous books for you to explore. I will add one caveat however, if you have read any other books that feature British dry & zany humour and you disliked them then "Good Omens" is probably not going to be your cup of tea.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Project Gutenberg - Free Ebook Paradise

I have posted a few book reviews that link back to a website called Project Gutenberg and felt I wanted to actually share some information about this superb website.

Basically, Project Gutenberg was started in 1971 and it is the largest collection of free eBooks with over 40,000 now available for download. The majority of the eBooks within the collection are full texts of various public domain books, this generally means literature from the first quarter of the twentieth century and earlier. Whilst Amazon for example still charges you for a lot of these public domain books, Project Gutenberg doesn't charge a thing. You can go along to the website and download works by Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, HG Wells, William Shakespeare and many others! As for Ebook formats, they cover Kindle, Epub, HTML and other plain Text formats so hopefully all you should be able to read them if you have an Ebook Reader.

This was one of the first sites I found after buying a Kindle and it has opened my eyes to quite a lot of “classic” literature I have never thought about buying or reading before. For example, I downloaded the full Sherlock Holmes collection from here and have been enjoying them hugely. In my opinion it is one of the big selling points for Ebooks in that Public Domain novels such as these can be obtained for free as there is no costs for manufacture etc. as there is when we get printed versions of these books.

Anyway, I advise any of you with an Ebook reader to go along to the website and give it a look over. If there are classic books you have always wanted to read then look them up there and give them a chance.

Also, if any of you have been using Project Gutenberg yourself then let me know what books you have downloaded and read from there that you may never have done previously.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Peeves

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 Bookish Peeves.

1. Stickers
I hate this with a passion, how dare they scar the covers of my books with stupid stickers than never peel off properly. To be honest, I expect to see this one of many other lists as surely this is universally hated.

2. Chapter Cliffhangers
Stop doing this! How on earth can I put down a book and go to sleep if at the end of every chapter there is a cliffhanger. Of course I am going to then read the next chapter and so on, I never get any sleep!

3. Slow Writers
Now, I don't mind this when authors are doing stand alone novels. However, if they are writing a series then they need to speed it up. Surely writing a series of novels slowly must be a breach of my human rights somehow! George R.R Martin, I am looking  at you especially here! How many years does it take to write the next novel?

4. The Endless Series
Some series have good and decent recent for lasting over multiple books but not all. I hate it when I am reading a series and each novel turns out to just being a re-hash of the one before. At least try and progress the series to some sort of conclusion!

5. Instant Love
This is something that annoyed me in a couple of books I recently reviewed. I do expect some realism in books, especially in how characters act and the instant love annoys me hugely as I just never find it plausable. Maybe I am a grumpy old man, but I would rather see a proper and well built reason for a couple actually falling in love.

6. Too Much Detail
I have to be honest here and say that I don't see the need for an author to spend pages describing the clothing a character is wearing or what the weather is like.

7. Smelly Books
I have at times bought 2nd Hand books, especially for out of print novels. I do get annoyed, when these books turn up yellowed and stinking of stale smoke.. please people stop hurting your novels! Smoke outside without your books!

8. Stupid Names
This is really bad in the Sci-Fi books I read! Just because it is the future doesn't mean people will have names with a billion vowels and a couple of Z's! I like to be able to read a book and speak out the words in my mind, this is not always possible with some of the names!

9. Price of Ebooks
Ebooks should not cost more than a Hardback book! This is made especially worse when it is obvious that no one has even spent time and money even making the formatting of the Ebooks decent!

10. Changing the Covers
This is when you are happily buying a series of books and suddenly the publisher changes to format of the book covers! I suspect they know that some people like their bookshelves to look decent and change the covers hoping we will buy all the old ones again with the new cover format.

Anyway, as always let me know what you think and if you have any other good peeves you want to mention.

Saturday 19 March 2011

The Valley of Fear - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published: 1915
Price: £3.39 for Print Version Here or Free E-Book Version Here

The Valley of Fear is the latest Sherlock Holmes story that I have read and I was happy to find that it was a full length novel which I prefer, rather than a collection of short stories. I ended up rocketing through the novel which in my opinion was a superb tale of mystery, fear & tyranny that stretched from an English country manor to the American coal fields.

Basically, we have the standard Sherlock Holmes mystery story with Holmes initially receiving a coded message from an employee of Holmes's nemesis, Professor Moriarty informing him that someone is in severe danger. However, before he can act, another message arrives informing him that the very man mentioned has now died. We then follow the investigation into the death from confirming it wasn't suicide to trying to pin down what had actually occurred that night and why it had happened.

It is written in a similar style to the first ever Sherlock Holmes novel "A Study in Scarlet" in that it is split into two parts, with Holmes solving the murder during the first part, before the motive behind the crime is revealed in the second. I will comment here that the second part occurs at a much earlier date in America and therefore Sherlock Holmes himself plays virtually no role in it. However, I did enjoy it as it was a fascinating story with a good twist at the end and is necessary in order to gain a proper understanding of the reasons behind the death explored in the first part of the novel.

One issue I did note with the novel however was that actually with the involvement of Professor Moriarty. The story is set before "The Final Problem", the short story in which Moriarty was actually introduced, and therefore it produces a canon timeline inaccuracy. In "The Final Problem" Dr. Watson has never heard of Moriarty, whereas according to this story he should be at least familiar with the name and character of the man. To be honest, it didn't really effect the story in itself as the Moriarty involvement is pretty small but it was an inaccuracy that I did notice, probably because I only read "The Final Problem" a month or two ago. Then again, I suppose we can maybe just assume that Watson forgot about it as I am sure we have all forgotten things before... I mean I once found myself sitting on church steps in the middle of Edinburgh at 3am on a Friday night with no clue how I got there.

All things considered, "The Valley of Fear" is a decent Sherlock Holmes book. The Murder and investigation portions are well written, the flashback is enjoyable with a strong ending and the epilogue adds well to the legend of Professor Moriarty. So, I would therefore advise anyone interested in the Holmes stories to make this one a definite read as it is probably one of my favourites.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Weekend - Christopher Pike

Published: 1986
Current Cost: Looks to be out of print now but Amazon do have various 2nd Hand copies for 1p as per link Here

Well after reading “The Whisper of Death” by Christopher Pike recently, I was rather wary about trying to read another one of his books. I don’t want to harm my fond memory of his books anymore than I already have. However, one of my readers did pester me to read and review another Christopher Pike book, so I decided to fulfil her wish. 

Anyway, "Weekend" was one of his first books published back in 1986 and there are very few supernatural aspects to it unlike some of Pike’s later books. The basic premise of the book is that there was an “accident” to a beautiful young teen who doesn’t actually die, but is now very ill. Then the very people who were with her when the accident occurred get invited to a weekend party at a luxurious mansion on the Mexican coast.  Whilst there, various strange incidents occur, and a couple of people attempt to use rather dodgy means to try and find out what exactly caused the accident. 

I have to say that “Weekend” is more of a mystery story than a work of horror in my opinion. Like all mystery novels you do end up spending a lot of time wondering about what happened in the past and what is happening now in the present.  Overall, Christopher Pike does do a good job of keeping the suspense going right until the end.

The characters within the book itself are the usual Christopher Pike fare with a mix of good looking women and smart and yet “cool” men. Come on Christopher, I want to see some variety in your characters just once! In addition to this usual mix of characters, we have main character herself who was probably the weakest of all the characters in the novel which was rather disappointing. I actually think there was better characterisation of the witch doctor type character who only seemed to be there for filler!

In addition, the aspect of the story that annoyed me the most was the ending itself! I mean, we finally find out who has been causing the issues at the weekend and who caused the “accident” that started the whole set of affairs. However, nothing happens to them, everyone seems to just decide not to tell anyone else about what happened.  I am sorry but there were cases of poisoning, exploding dynamite and other issues yet they all decide to be “nice” and not report any of it. Way too convenient and ridiculous an ending for me to take very seriously! 

In the end though, I actually enjoyed this book as a light easy read that would be able to pass the time during the bus or train journey to work etc. Also, I think it is a good entry book into the wacky world of Christopher Pike novels if you want to give them ago.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Characters I'd Want As Family Members

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 Book Characters I'd Want As Family Members. 

The problem I had with this Meme was that I was trying not to just fill it up with Fantasy characters who could just magic me out of everything :-p. In a way it was good that I tried to do this as it helped me remember loads of cracking characters I would love to have in my family.

Ron Weasley - Harry Potter Novels by JK Rowling
Who wouldn't want Ron as their younger brother? The kid knows magic for a start and that always going to be helpful in any family. More so though, he has Hermione as a GF and surely it wouldn't be to hard to steal her away from him after he has brought her home a few times and met me!

Pug - Riftwar Novels by Raymond E. Feist
The ultimate grandfather, saved multiple worlds so many times that you would always love him visiting to tell you his stories. Plus he seems to live forever and so would always be there for you!

Nigel Sheldon - Commonwealth Novels by Peter F. Hamilton
The guy invented the technology that created an inter-stellar human civilisation. He would bring in enough money into your family as a father that you would never need to worry about anything ever again. Plus, he seems to be a pretty good guy and does know right from wrong!

Jacob - Twlight Novels by Stephenie Myer
Everyone would want a cousin out there who would be able to defend you from harm. Jacob's abilities and decent heart would ensure he would be able to protect you as part of his family. But you don't want to be much more related that a cousin as he does have a temper so you need to make sure you can get away from him if needed!

Kahlan Amnell - Sword of Truth Novels by Terry Goodkind
If Kahlan was your mother then no one is going to mess with you, why risk it when the Mother Confesser could easily make them suffer. I know that as a man I would be in trouble if I was born to her according to the storylines but let us ignore that problem! She has a good heart and would be always there to help you do the right thing!

Willy Wonka - Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Would anyone not love to have a nutty Uncle who lived in the ultimate chocolate factory? I think not!

Nanny Ogg - Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett
This witch within the Discworld novels is liked by everyone and always willing to offer advice and help when needed. To me, she always seems to be the stereotypical grandmother character!

Dr. Watson - Sherlock Holmes Novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This man would be a steadfast and loyal family member in all thing! His strong morale fibre and belief in goodness would be great to have in an Uncle. Also, can you just imagine him and Willy Wonka around the Christmas Table.... it would be superb!

Greyfriar's Bobby - Greyfriar's Bobby by Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson
A little bit of cheating here possibly, but Greyfriar's Bobby has to be the most loyal pet a family could ever hope to have. If you die he will sit at your grave for evermore... loyalty like no other!

Sookie Stackhouse - Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris
She is great sister material, she has a great sense of self-respect and determination. She would be great to have cheering me on in anything I chose to do.

There was actually quite a lot more sister material I could think of, but a the same time if they were my sisteer then I would have no chance of dating them so I just had to keep them out of the list! Anyway, lets here from yourselfs on any characters from novels you think would make great family members.

Saturday 12 March 2011

My Favourite Villain - Angus Thermopyle

Have you ever read a book and found yourself hating a character hugely? Has an author created such a loathsome and vile creature that you looked forward to what you expected would be his fall? Well I read a series of books that introduced me to a character that ticked those boxes. This character would go on to become more than just a hated figure to me, he would become my all time favourite villain, be it from book, film, game or any other media.

The books in question form The Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson and I think they are also right up there as some of my favourite novels of all time. I think that my love for these books is in some part due to the villain "Angus Thermopyle" and how Stephen Donaldson actually utilises him throughout the books.

I have to admit, as I began to read the series Angus Thermopyle came across as probably the worst, most disgusting evil character I had ever read about. He did some despicable things that I have never read about in a book before or since. Therefore I wanted him to meet his doom, suffer for what he had done and the people he himself had hurt.

But Stephen Donaldson had another idea about what would happen and it is this reason that Angus will forever be my favourite villain. He basically decided that this villain would become a hero. I remember how I felt as I realised that I was beginning to feel sorry for him as the story progressed. I wanted to hate him, but I couldn't help beginning to hope that he would survive the cruel way he was being treated. I began hoping that Angus would win as he had become a victim of evil that could be interpreted as being worse that what he was guilty of.

This villain became the victim and then become a hero in his own way. I have never found myself so invested in a character before and I thank Stephen Donaldson for creating Angus Thermopyle and the story he progresses through.

In the end I won't tell you what happens to him and how it all turns out as I don't want to spoil the story, but I would advise anyone who can  to read the Gap Series of novels. They are a truly enjoyable and engrossing read!

So, who is your favourite villain and why do they hold this lofty position? Is it because, you find them funny, or are they cruel in a way you can't imagine, or is there some other reason?

Thursday 10 March 2011

Darkship Thieves (Darkship Book 1) - Sarah A. Hoyt

Published: 2010
Price: £5.20 for Print Version Here

I will admit right now that the only reason I read this book is because it is the March read for Dreams and Speculation's Women of Science Fiction Book Club . To be honest, I am not sure I would have picked up if it hadn't been for the Book Club. The Brief synopsis on Amazon told me pretty much nothing about what the book would really be about and the cover just confused me as to me, it appeared to be a naked woman being grabbed by some sort of tree. Anyway, I was glad that I did end up reading it because I found it rather enjoyable overall and it is an example of not judging a book by it's cover or blurb.

In brief, the story starts with Athena Hera Sinistra fleeing a mutiny on her father’s ship in a lifepod before she manages to collide with a "Darkship" and is picked up by it's pilot. The story then opens up and leads us on a merry adventure that slowly adds pieces of information about the society, people & history as it progresses.

Just to let everyone know as I was curious myself about it, the title of "Darkship Thieves" is referring to the crew of the "Darkships" who "steal" genetically engineered powerpods which grow in Earth Orbit. These pods are the power source for both Earth & the Darkship Thieves colony of "Eden".

It didn't take me to long to get through the book, as I was desperately reading to find out where the hell the story was going to take me next as it did capture my interest. I will admit though, that I did struggle in the middle of the book during the time spent on "Eden" when Athena beings to learn about this culture and people and tries to find her place there. I just felt it slowed down the story quite noticeably compared to the rest of the novel. I am not overly sure how important some of this section really was to the overall story, but I think it was there to try and flesh out some of the characters a bit more and give us an excuse of learning some more history of the Universe that Sarah Hoyt had created. I won't really complain about it though as I did find the Universe it revealed really interesting, I just wish it could have been done in a little bit more of a dynamic manner at times.

The last section of the book is set on Earth and I think it was this section that I enjoyed the most as we finally followed an action packed sequence of events to discover the real truth about Athena herself. I will add though that I did note the way that some obstacles were so "easily" overcome, but I am pretty much used to that from many books that create a strong lead character like this.

The only thing I really didn't like was the Romance plotline, I just felt it was rather weak and felt tacked on to try and ensure that various events could occur. Since reading the book, I have checked a few comments and several people actually talk about how much they like the Romance part of the novel. I just can't see it myself, maybe though I am just being a bitter unromantic git or something....

In regards to the various characters within the book itself. Well, we do learn and understand throughout the book things about Athena herself and the pilot who saves her named Kit. Other than them though, I think the characterisation is rather light at times. I have no real issues with that however as the entire book is told from Athena's point of view and to be honest, I get the feeling from reading this book that Athena doesn't actually give a crap about most people bar herself and Kit anyway. As for the "bad guys" in the novel, well they turn out to be pretty typical "bad guys" without any redeeming features.

As said earlier however, despite some of my comments here, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys the more light-hearted and adventure aspects of the Sci-Fi Genre. I just hope that Sarah Hoyt decides to create more novels in this Universe because I am really interested in knowing what happens on Earth after the events Athena set in motion there.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos

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 Top Ten Dynamic Duos. 

These are books who have Best Friends, Partners in crime, powerful couples, etc. that you just can't forget about.

Dirk Pitt & Al Giordino - Dirk Pitt Novels by Clive Cussler
The comical banter between Dirk Pitt & Al Giordino is also part of what makes these books enjoyable. But also, they are very skilled people who trust each other hugely.

Nigel Sheldon and Ozzie Isaacs - Commonwealth Saga Novels by Peter F. Hamilton
These two characters managed to discover wormhole technology and create a long lasting friendship even though they were like chalk and cheese. But beyond that, they showed throughout the books that they cared about humanity and worked hard to ensure that humanity would survive the various trials and tribulations thrown at them.

Frodo Baggins & Samwise Gamgee - Lord of The Rings Saga by J. R. R. Tolkien
Two innocent friends from a small village head out together to save the world, the recipe for epic novels everywhere. Their support and friendship with each other throughout their travels is an eye opener and leads to many comments about their sexuality and other such things!

Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson - Sherlock Holmes Novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I think everyone knows about these two characters, Sherlock and Watson's assistance to the police force strike fear into criminals everywhere.

James T. Kirk & Mr Spock - Various Star Trek Novels
I could be cheating a little bit here but Kirk and Spock are present in a lot of novels as well as the TV show. The logic of Spock and the willpower of Kirk work superbly well together in solving the problems of the Federation.

Rincewind & Luggage - Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett
I remember reading the Discworld novels as a young adult and always looked forward to the books that included Rincewind & Luggage. The idiotic antics of Rincewind and the rather violent but yet good natured luggage passed many hours with laughs.

Michael & Bubba - Final Friends Trilogy by Christopher Pike
My all time favourite book as a teenager and I loved this pair of friends. They were part of a gifted group at school, but besides their intellects they were so different from each other but yet they supported each other through everything. I found myself loving both of them hugely and was so happy that the two smart guys got the girls in the end!

Fred & George Weasley - Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
This pair are always up to no good with their mischievous escapades always the talk of Hogwarts!

Romeo & Juliet - Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare 
I am not sure how you could comment on any duo out their in the literary world without mentioning this infamous couple.

Harry Dresden and "Bob" - Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
I will admit here that I have so far only read the first novel in the Dresden Files collection  but the banter between Harry and "Bob" can at times be superb. 

I have to admit that I found it difficult to think up a list here, I can think of loads of groups or individuals but specific duos wasn't so easy. Let me hear if any of you have similar duos to mine or if you can think up so other good examples. 

Thursday 3 March 2011

The Return of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published: 1905
Price: £1.99 for Print Version Here or Free E-Book Version Here

I would be surprised if none of you have heard of Sherlock Holmes before, however just in-case I will give a brief synopsis. Basically, the Sherlock story's are about a detective in Victorian London who uses his deductive reasoning skills, formidable abilities with disguises and his use of forensic science to help solve various cases, both criminal and civil. They are mainly narrated by Holmes's fictional friend, Doctor John Watson whom acts at times as the "normal" man trying to understand and describe the seemingly amazing things that Sherlock can achieve.

Anyway, since getting my kindle I have been slowly working through the various Sherlock Holmes novels & short story collections that you can pick up from Project Gutenberg for free. I have to admit right here that I am enjoying the full length novels more than the short story collections. Whilst the short stories are all good, I just prefer the longer drawn out mystery shown in the novels.

In regards to "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" itself, well it is a collection of 13 Short Stories set 3 years after the final story seen within The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, in which Sherlock Holmes was seen to have supposedly died. The history behind this is that after killing off Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was put under great pressure from the public to revive him and in the end he relented and started writing again.

I was a little bit wary of this collection as I was curious to know how Sherlock would be brought back to life. I mean, I have seen enough stories of people returning because they had amnesia until then, or they were in a coma or they fell asleep and were actually dreaming their death. However, I didn't need to worry because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle managed to work the false death very well showing that Holmes had been missing for a valid reason, one that actually tied into the very story that he had "died" in.

Other than this, I have to admit it was pretty standard Sherlock Holmes fare with him using his deductive reasoning to solve plenty of crimes and issues of importance. At times because of the length of the stories, the plots can be a little weak but they usually keep you guessing right until the end about what has actually happened and I did enjoy them all. If I had to pick one that I preferred the most then it would be "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange". This is simply because Holmes in this story shows a little bit more of the man himself and his moral compass. He decides from what he has learned that the crime committed may have it's own valid reasons. Therefore, he does not tell the police any further information to assist them beyond what he has already done. I just felt that it added a little bit more that some of the other stories in the collection due to this. I will admit however, that the following story in the collection "The Adventure of the Second Stain" also goes in a similar direction with Holmes not telling his client the full story in order to protect someone else. The reason why I preferred one over the other was because in "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" I was actually able to deduce one aspect of the "crime" myself before it was revealed and I felt mighty proud of myself!

Overall, I am going to recommend anyone with an E-Reader download this collection and the other Sherlock Holmes books. They are free on Project Gutenberg and are all a great read, I mean how anyone can not like Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson? If you are buying the paper books then I would advise you look into some of the full length novels first as I think these are better rounded and more in-depth.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy...But Are Still Sitting on My Bookshelf

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 Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy...But Are Still Sitting on My Bookshelf.

The books I have listed range quite wildly from some classics to some random pulpy type novels that I just felt I had to buy on the spur of the moment.

Foundation - Isaac Asimov
A lot of my friends raved on and on about the Foundation series and how I had to read them. I therefore did go out and buy this “must have” and it has sat on my shelf ever since. The problem is that for all the people telling me how great it is, the story synopsis has never been able to grab my interest enough to read it.
Motorworld - Jeremy Clarkson
I flew to Belfast on work and whilst waiting at the airport I decided to pick up a Jeremy Clarkson book and read it on the flight home. I know people either hate him or love him, but I find some of his rants rather amusing and found the book very enjoyable. I therefore quickly went out and picked up another one his novels hoping for more of the same but have just never found the time to read it.
The Last Vampire - Christopher Pike
Anyone who read my first ever book review on this blog will know that Christopher Pike was my author of choice as a youngster and it was his books that really introduced me to the joy of reading. A few months ago, I was actually discussing this with a woman I car share with and she mentioned how she had also read Christopher Pike books, particularly The Last Vampire series of books, these were books I never read. After reading a little bit more it seemed that this series seemed to be one of the most popular Christopher Pike collections so I decided I had to pick the first one up. Since then it has sat there always getting pushed back for some other read.
A Lion Among Men - Gregory Maguire
I read “Wicked”, the first in the Oz series of novels by Gregory Maguire after hearing the soundtrack from the broadway show. I loved it so much that I felt I had to go out and buy the next two novels. Unfortunately, the second novel, “Son of a Witch” didn’t really bring out the same enjoyment and therefore I have never found the desire to now read the third.
Hunters of Dune - Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
I loved the original Dune series when I was younger and when I heard his son had decided to conclude the story I felt I had to pick up the book. The problem is that I read the original set so long ago that I want to read them again before I start on this one. As I have read them before I always end up putting original reads before them.
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
I heard about the new HBO series being made and looked into it further. What I read made me really keen to pick up the book that the series was based on so that’s what I did. What then happened was I found out it was the first in a series that had been waiting for the latest instalment for quite a long time. I have therefore left this one alone until I actually find out when the series will continue.
Star Trek Enterprise The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing - Michael A. Martin
I am a bit of a Star Trek fan and I was one of the few people who seemed to like Star Trek Enterprise. When I found out that they were going to do a set of novels about the first Romulan War I just felt I had to pick the first one up. Alas, it has sat there since and this Meme may actually drive me to go pick it up and give it a read.
Halo is a great game, it also has quite a good sci-fi storyline in my opinion and I was really interested in reading the prequel to the games. I therefore went out and picked it up and placed it on my shelf where it has just sat there since.
I read “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman which I completed very quickly and then found out there was another book featuring one of the characters. I enjoyed the first one so much that I wanted to find out more about what happened to this character and went out and got a hold of “Anansi Boys”.
The Dark Tower - Stephen King
The Dark Tower series of novels was something I enjoyed hugely and when the final one came out I went out quickly to pick it up. At the same time however, my future wife moved in with me and I never got around to actually reading it.

Anyway, I would be hugely shocked if any of you have similar books like mine in this category but feel free to let me know!