Raising Steam

Raising Steam is the 40th book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

I waited a long time before starting this book because I heard from several sources that it wasn’t very good and I didn’t want to ruin what has been an awesome 39 book series. I finally bit the bullet and I’m really glad I did because I really enjoyed it. Maybe some literary types can argue some difference between the earlier books and this one, but as far as I can see it’s the same Discworld stuff I’ve enjoyed all along.

Steam trains have come to Discword and most of the world has fallen under their spell. I used to love toy trains as a kid, so I could relate to this. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Skin Game

Skin Game by Jim Butcher is the 15th book in The Dresden Files series.

For a quick recap, Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire. Look him up in the Chicago Yellow Pages. Magic is real. Ghosts are real. Fairies are tall, so beautiful it’s almost painful to look at them, and are so divorced from mortals that they seem evil. All the gods you’ve ever heard of are real. All the things that go bump in the night are real too…

In this book Harry is forced to work with some of his enemies to pull a bank job with a difference!

I love Harry Dresden and I love The Dresden Files. The books are always fast and furious, sometimes a little predictable, but in a good way, and ultimately really fun. I think every book has also had moments that have been genuinely emotional and inspirational.

If you liked the previous books you will love this. If Harry Dresden is not your kind of guy, there is something wrong with you… :)

Cheers

Tim…

Inspirational Quotes : Skin Game

I’m reading Skin Game by Jim Butcher and a couple of things jumped out at me last night. First, one about interpreting facts.

“You have an array of facts in front of you that can fit any of several truths. You have to choose what you’re going to allow to drive your decisions about how to deal with those facts.”

The next one is about fear.

“… fear is a terrible, insidious thing… It taints and stains everything it touches. If you let fear start driving some of your decisions, sooner or later it will drive them all. I decided that I’m not going to be the kind of person who lives her life in fear…”

Nothing really new here, but occasionally your hear the right words at the right time and they hit you with extra meaning…

Cheers

Tim…

Untogether Lives

A little over a year ago, I wrote a review of a book called Girl 99 by Andrew P. Jones. I got an email from the author a few days ago to say his latest book, Untogether Lives, was released on Kindle, so I downloaded it straight away. Here’s what it’s all about.

Untogether Lives is a collection of fourteen stories that peek through the curtains of an eclectic cast, struggling to keep mind, body and the world around them together. From an amputee shoe thief, to an unlikely arsonist, to a sexually frustrated quadriplegic.

Predominantly dark and occasionally disturbing, these stories are not for the faint-hearted, but neither are they without humour. Not everyone in Untogether Lives gets a happy ending, and not everyone survives – but, hey, that’s life for you.

I loved it! It seems strange saying that when the subject matter is so dark, but it’s true. The writing style works really well for me. The content is very different to what I normally read, but it was good being taken out of my comfort zone. What really amazes me is the amount of connection I felt to some of the characters, even in the shorter stories. Despite the darkness, there is humour in there too. This book is definitely not for the sensitive souls out there, but I think it is a great collection of stories. I’m looking forward to the next book from the author!

Cheers

Tim…

The Rise of Endymion

The Rise of Endymion is the fourth book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

The Hyperion Cantos is essentially two stories. The first one split over the first two books and the second split over books three and four. The two stories are separated by about 300 years, but there are some links and even common characters. Throughout the books the characters and scenarios were consistently interesting, but the books themselves were not always so consistently good to read. The Rise of Endymion is a good example of that. There are some totally excellent sections of the book and some that could just do with being cut completely. There was a section describing the mountain ranges of a planet and I just found myself thinking, “WTF is the author expecting readers to think here? It’s a string of made up names for mountains that don’t exist. What a waste of words…”

Despite the issues, I was extremely interested to see how things turned out. Who lived, who died, did the Pax/Church get exposed and overthrown… In that sense, the book delivered very well.

On reflection, the series reminds me a lot of the Dune series. A combination of exceptional high points and some rather lacklustre sections that test your loyalty. :) Both series are well worth the effort though…

Cheers

Tim…

Endymion

Endymion is the third book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

After finding the last book a little patchy at times, this one returned to the same sort of pacing and thrust that made me love the first book. This story picks up nearly 300 years after the last one ends. The daughter of one of the characters from the previous book entered one of the time tombs and appeared in Hyperion 274 years later. Since then things have changed throughout the former web worlds and the church has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. The last thing they need is a little girl, with the power to topple their stronghold on the galaxy, messing things up for them.

The timeline does jump around a little and there are always a couple of stories happening at the same time, but it is a lot more direct and easier to follow than the last book. I think this was helped by the fact I was able to read is in relatively few sittings. OK, they were spread over the best part of a month, but at least each time I picked it up I got through quite a few pages.

I’m really looking forward to the last book in the series. Fingers crossed it ends strongly…

Cheers

Tim…

The Fall of Hyperion

The Fall of Hyperion is the second book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

I’m not really sure what to say about The Fall of Hyperion. On the one hand, I was very interested to see what happened to the characters from the previous book. On the other hand, this book was much less focussed and quite disjointed at times. It didn’t help that it took me a long time to get through it, reading it in small snippets, rather than a few long sittings.

Despite my minor misgivings, I’ve already started the next book in the series and I’m keen to see how this plays out.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I’ve just checked the dates between this post and the one from the proceeding book. It took about 2 months to get through it. I’m sure that has a big factor on my perception of it.

Hyperion (Dan Simmons)…

Hyperion is the first in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

What a great Sci-Fi book! A group of seven travellers are on a pilgrimage to Hyperion. Six of the seven tell the stories of how they came to be there, with the sixth story kind-of linking things together. There is no real conclusion to the story as the next book carries on the story from the point the first one ends. It was definitely written as a series!

The timeline jumps around quite a bit through the book, but in a good way. It’s not done in a confusing way.

Definitely worth a look for any Sci-Fi readers out there.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I put the authors name in the title, for fear of confusing people into thinking this was about work. :)

Chapterhouse: Dune

Chapterhouse Dune is the last in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.

It’s really hard for me to make a judgement about Chapterhouse: Dune. On the one hand there are some excellent characters and the general story line is great. On the other, there are parts I found really boring. I got a bit sick of the teasers without any explanation. At first is was intriguing, but as they continued I just got a bit fed up with them and decided to stop second guessing the outcome and just let it happen. I think there are two ways an author can play this game:

1) Make the outcome fairly obvious from the start, but make the journey to get there exciting. Kind of like The Dresden Files.
2) Make the outcome a mystery, but subtly lead you in the right direction.

I think this book is trying to do the latter, but is quite clumsy about it. Having said all that, I’m glad I read it. The overall outcome is more than satisfactory.

I’m not going to read the books by Frank Herbert’s son. I’ve been told they are not good, and the brief snippets I’ve read seem to reinforce that.

I guess the end of a series of books like this needs a bit of a summary. I think the first book is a total classic. The rest you can take or leave. There are definitely interesting elements to all of them, but they are not nearly as accomplished as the first.

Cheers

Tim…

God Emperor of Dune…

God Emperor of Dune is the fourth book in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.

After the randomness of the previous book, this fourth one was a lot more on-the-money. There are a number of scenes in the book I really hooked into, including one I blogged about a few days ago. It’s far from perfect, but it kept me interested. Probably the worst part of the book was then ending, which was rather lackluster.

I’m looking forward to see if this direction continues into the next book.

Cheers

Tim…