Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

I didn't know what to expect from this book when I started reading it, it seemed like something that might catch the attention of fans of the movie Gravity (not having seen it so I can't really compare them). However, it turned out to be the most compelling book I have read in several years. I literally could not put it down, and on the odd occasion I did have to do something else, I couldn't wait to get back to the story and find out the latest catastrophe that had befallen the main character, astronaut Mark Watney, and how he dealt with and over came it.

On the third manned mission to Mars, a dust storm forces the astronauts to abandon the mission and escape into space, ready to return to Earth. Unfortunately Mark Watney is left behind, presumed dead. He is however, very much alive and well aware that he is on his own... The only opportunity for rescue will be the next scheduled mission, due to arrive on Mars in four years time.

The story is rousing one where no-one gives up even though the odds seem completely insurmountable.

There is quite a lot of luck involved in the the story, that quite frankly is completely skimmed over, it is lucky that the astronaut left behind is both the engineer and the botanist on the crew. Several times is extremely lucky that plans work perfectly first time and that no major obstacles are encountered. However, it is easy to forgive these points and to just go with the flow of this heart pounding ride of a story.

I read and advance ebook copy of the book, and I must admit that the moment I finished reading it I got straight online and ordered a hardbacked copy, as I really want to own this book and read it again at some point in the near future!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Book Review: Robin Hood from Osprey Publishing

This book covers just about everything you could need when researching Robin Hood. It gives a  good general overview of most of the common legends and tales surrounding the Lincoln Green clad outlaw and his band of Merry Men. It also looks at the evolution of the legend, from it's earliest beginnings right through to the latest incarnations as seen in film and on TV.
The book is well written and easily consumed. To be honest there is not a lot more to say about it! If you are interested in learning a little more about Robin Hood, whether it be the original legends, the locations they took place in, or the recent TV appearances this book is a great place to start.

Monday, 21 October 2013

A - Z Book list Survey

I ruthlessly pinched this idea from another blog, Glue in the Carpet, who had already pinched it from another blog, so i don't feel quite so guilty...

Here is my A-Z book list survey:

Author you've read the most books from

David Gemmell, I have read all of his books, whether they be Gritty Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic or detective fiction (White Knight Black Swan written by Gemmell using the pen-name Ross Harding). I am happy to say that at least half of them are signed Mr Gemmell himself. I have read a lot of Terry Pratchett too, but I lost track of his books somewhere around Hogfather.

Best sequel ever:

The King Beyond The Gate, Gemmell's sequel to his first novel Legend. Mainly as it confirmed DG as more than a one hit wonder.

Currently reading:

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis. A Weird War novel with superhuman Germans and British warlocks)
The Mongoliad Vol.1 by Neal Stephenson (amongst others). The story of a group of Knights fighting the Mongol invasion of Europe.

Drink of choice whilst reading

Decaf Tea with a splash of skimmed milk.

E-reader or physical book:

Both. I still love real books, both paperback and hardback, but I also have a Nook HD+ on which i use the Kindle app for most of my reading!

Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:

Oh, I don't really know for that one...

Glad you gave this book a chance

Conan of Cimmeria.Bought in 1977 from a second-hand bookshop, while in full Star Wars fan mode. It changed my reading list completely...

Hidden book gem?

The Berlin Memorandum (Aka The Quiller Memorandum) by Adam Hall. Not so much of a hidden gem as a forgotten one. Spy fiction at it's best!

Important moment in your book life

Dune by Frank Herbert, my first serious Sci-Fi novel, the longest book that I had read at the time and I wolfed it down in less than a week.

Just finished:
Path of the Warrior by Gav Thorpe

Kind of book you won't read

I would say biographies of celebrities, as I have tried a couple recently that I should have enjoyed but I couldn't get into - Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg for example, it just didn't click with me. However I have read a couple in the past that I enjoyed and just this morning I bought the kindle edition of a Horatio Nelson biography (OK probably more of a history book than a biography).

Longest book you've read

I imagine that this would be The Lord of the Rings, followed closely by a couple of Peter F. Hamilton's space operas.

Major book hangover because of

The Winds of Gath by E.C. Tubb, the book just end with no real conclusion, still at least it was a light read.

Number of bookcases you own:
One, most of my books are stored in boxes. I hope to correct this soon and gt a decent book case for the living room so that I can at least display some of my favourite books

One book you've read multiple times:

Dune by Frank Herbert and Legend by David Gemmell both read three times.

Preferred place to read:

I usually read as I commute, but my preferred place to read is in bed at night. I can't sleep without reading every night. Even if it is only half a page, before I drop the book!

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read

Not a clue on this one...

Reading regret

Not enough time to read all I want to, in fact probably not enough time to read all the books I own let alone the ones I would like to read...

Series you started and need to finish

Stephen Hunt's Jackelian steampunk fantasy series, I have all six so far and have read the first three, which i love. I really must read the rest soon.

Three of your all-time favourite books:

Dune by Frank Herbert, The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt, Reilly Ace of Spies by Robin Bruce Lockhart

Unapologetic fanboy for:

Robert E. Howard, David Gemmell, Stephen Hunt, Adam Hall and Jonathan Green

Very excited for this release:

Jonathan Green's next Pax Britannia novel

Worst bookish habit:

Buying books on a whim and then forgetting about them. I have many, many unread books because of that. (This is lifted from Glue in the Carpets list, but I can't really re-write it any differently).

X marks the spot - Start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:

I am not at home I am going for the 27th book in my Kindle account. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercombie. An aothur I have been meaning to try out for a couple of years now...

Your latest book purchase:

Horatio Nelson by Tom Pocock (Amazon 99p book of the day on Amazon today).

Zzz snatcher book (the last book that kept you up waay too late)

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Friday, 4 October 2013

Book Review: Dumarest of Terra 01 - The Winds of Gath Audiobook

Dumarest : The Winds of Gath

I recently received a copy of the audiobook from Wildside Press (released through Audible). E.C. Tubb's Dumarest series was a long running classic pulp Sci-Fi space opera. Back in the early 1980s I remember browsing through the paperback sections of second-hand bookshops and seeing quite a few of these books, usually with wonderful artwork on the covers (mainly the British publisher Arrow), but I had never gotten around to picking one up. They seemed to be a strange mix of science fiction and fantasy which to my young mind didn't really make much sense, of course that was before I discovered the Sword and Planet genre. Dumarest has a lot in common with S&P, but it also seems to fall into the Space Opera category too.

 The first book in the series is The Winds of Gath. It tells the story of Dumarest and his
adventures on a desolate planet by the name of Gath. Tubb certainly writes in a nihilistic and often quite joyless fashion, his future is one of dystopian civilizations (somewhere between Imperial Rome
and medieval Europe), but with high technology available to those that can afford it.
The average person scrapes an existence trying to feed himself and his family, while
the rich and powerful have all they want and have the power of life and death over their

Dumarest is a traveller, originally from the semi-mythical planet Earth. As he travels
about looking for the way back to Earth he seems to fall into one new misfortune after

I must admit, the book is not the easiest to like, other than Dumarest himself, most of
the characters are generally depressing or sly and often self centred. Finally the book
finishes without resolving much of the tale. Nowadays we are more than familiar with TV
seasons ending on a cliffhanger, but I expected more of a resolution from this pulp Sci -
Fi tale. Clearly with this first book Tubb was already aiming at a series.

Did I enjoy the audiobook? Yes, it is not overly long (just over 4 hours). The plot move
at speed and the world that Tubb creates is well rounded (if not that jolly a place).

However, I don't know if I would want to read any more of the series, unless the tone
changed somewhat.
It is great to see Wildside Press bringing these near forgotten pieces of Sci-Fi back, and
I hope that they continue to seek out more of this type of thing for future releases. I will
certainly be keeping my eye out to see what comes along next.
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