Goodreads book challenge

2 07 2013

So I finally decided that I might liek Goodreads a little bit more if I ever actually used it.

I know hey, rocket science!

So after adding a few books I have read recently I came across a link whereby you can create a challenge for yourself to read a certain number of books during the calendar year.

Of course I had to give it a go and have settled on the very achievable target of 100 books throughout 2013.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Tom has
read 26 books toward a goal of 100 books.
hide

Give it a go, the site of a little line increasing in length might encourage you to read more than you ever though possible.

Or not.

 

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Discworld reading order

11 06 2013

I was having a discussion with a colleague at work this morning about Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Discworld series.

He has only just stumbled upon Discworld and was wondering what order to read the books in.

I was busy drawing up a little flow chart when I realised that someone, somewhere on the internet had probably beaten me to it.

Lo and behold the good people at lspace.org have indeed created such a chart which is really very good.

the-discworld-reading-order-guide-20

Suffice to say I am very, very impressed!

 





HBO Developing Series Based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

22 04 2011

The series based on Gaiman’s 2001 novel would showcase his new pantheon of deities based on American culture.

 The details are scarce, but HBO is currently in talks to write and film a pilot for a new fantasy series. Interestingly, the series would be produced by Playtone – the outfit of Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman who made Big Love and Band of Brothers. Gaiman first gained notoriety as a comic book writer with his Sandman series in the late eighties but he’s since branched into writing novels, short stories and movies (Beowulf). Gaiman’s works are no stranger to adaptation as his novella Coraline become the 2009 animated film and his Graveyard Book is also tapped to be a feature film. No one knows who would write the script for American Gods or when production would begin, but it seems that HBO is becoming more interested in genre content with the success of True Blood and the imminent Game of Thrones.

The main character in American Gods is an ex-convict called Shadow, who starts working as a bodyguard for a mysterious con-man named Mr. Wednesday. As Wednesday travels across the United States meeting with strange people, Shadow eventually figures out that his employer is an incarnation of the Norse god Odin and that he is recruiting other mythological figures whose power has diminished to fight a war against new American “deities” such as the Internet, media, and mass transportation.

Typically I don’t watch a lot of telly but I really have to take my hat off to HBO who in recent years have pumped out some absolute crackers;  Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Six Feet Under to name a few.

Having watched the first episode twice so far it seems that Game of Thrones is set to be another classic and if they do even half as good a job with American Gods it will be outstanding.

Original source Hollywood Reporter




The Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

20 12 2010

The Magicians' Guild (Black Magician Trilogy, #1)The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

Seeing as the story revolves around a pre-teen child who has no knowledge of her magical abilities but ends up being whisked away to a magicians guild and ends up being pretty much the top of the pile there were always going to be similarities drawn between this book and the Harry Potter series.

I really can understand how on the face of things it all seems a bit of a coincidence. Especially when in the second book of the trilogy we discover that the real enemies were believed defeated years ago but are back in secret and it will take huge sacrifice to defeat them…

Ok so I lied –  the similarities aren’t just on the surface. This really does read in parts like a mild re-write of some of the HP books.

But that didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment, not just of this book but of the trilogy as a whole. The story is different enough that you don’t feel like you should just be replacing the name Sonea with that of HP himself and for the most part is well written, if a tad simplistic.

The class issues that Canavan brings up are a little bit clumsy and play out much as expected but even so it is a nice touch and helps keeps things fresh when otherwise you could be about to swap the Magicians Guild for Hogwarts.

There are however two big problems for me that keep me from scoring this book higher and unfortunately they carry on pretty much through out the latter installments of the trilogy.

Firstly there is the characterisation which is a little bit lacking on occasion.
The principal characters are surprisingly two-dimensional and formulaic and you never really find yourself building any attachment to them or indeed giving two hoots as to whether they all die in a fire.

This is a real shame as there is plenty of potential to really build some tension between the main protagonists right from the start.

 One prime example of this is the relationship between Sonea and her friends in the slums; it is obvious that Cery, one of the thieves, has strong feelings for Sonea but rather than build this up into anything too deep or emotive Canavan has the character dismiss his own feelings and cast them aside quite casually over the space of two or three paragraphs.

The second big issue that I have with this series is that I never really get a sense of immersion into the world the story is set in.

The slums and the guild are outlined reasonably well but even they are rather thin on detail and everywhere else we venture is so sketchily outlined that you are squinting to see it.

I am not asking for Tolkien like levels of detail about every blade of grass crushed underfoot but I would like to feel some sense of connection.

If I had to give an example of a fantasy writer who manages to pull this off to perfection it would have to be Terry Pratchett; on one hand I haven’t a clue what colour the second daffodil to the left of the buttercup and indeed don’t want to know was but on the other hand I can walk the streets of Ankh Morpork in my head without having to fill in huge chunks of blank canvas.

When I read that Sam Vimes stops and buys a sausage in a bun off of C.M.O.T Dibbler I can not only see Sator Square where they are standing I can smell the sausage.

In contrast to this I can read that some Bolhouse (a pub in Sonea’s world) is about to be destroyed by marauding Sachakan magicians (the bad magicians) and I really couldn’t give two figs. I haven’t a clue about the place in question other than the mere fact that it is a kind of pub and that they better have insurance. 

I am probably coming off sounding more displeased with this series than I mean to; it really isn’t bad but I feel that it lacks depth and a bit of originality and I am hoping that Canavan’s next installments will give me a bit less Potter and a bit more sense of her world and what she wants the reader to see.

View all my reviews





Man Walks into a Pub: A sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown

18 11 2010

Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of BeerMan Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read quite a few books on beer in the past and have found that typically they all have one thing in common: they are either monumentally dull or a total farce.

Weighty volumes that document the complete history of a particular brewery right down to what tiny changes were made to a particular recipe and when are all very well and good. No doubt they are of great interest to men with big bushy beards who wear cable knit jumpers and who carry note books around with them but they are a bit too serious and stodgy for the more casual reader.

On the flip side of the coin I don’t want to read a book written by some tracksuit wearing chav who just wants to brag about how he can drink 20 pints of Stella, fight some rival football fans and still drive his barely legal Vauxhall Nova that should have been scrapped before he was born.

That is where Pete Brown has got things bang on the money, he treats the subject seriously and manages to convey a lot of useful information whilst keeping things light and smattered with humour throughout.

By choosing to focus more on the social history of beer brewing and drinking he avoids bogging the reader down with some of the useless minutiae that a lot of the more serious beer books pride themselves on.

I am also very impressed with the way that Pete Brown handles the often tricky real ale vs. lager issue. A lot of writers fall heavily on one side of the fence or the other and as such we often hear lager being decried as tasteless or a children’s drink or ale being slagged off for being a drink for fat, bearded weirdos who need to get out more.

Whilst I have my own views on the matter I realise no one really wants to hear them, and in return I don’t really want to hear their views rehashed over and over again either.
So it was certainly pleasant to come across an author who wasn’t using their book as a soapbox to take pot shots at their target of choice.

If you have anything more than a passing interest in beer and have ever considered reading more about beer and drinking then you could do an awful lot worse than to take this book as a starting point.

View all my reviews





Reeding is for faggots…

3 11 2010

I don’t really need to explain anything about this I don’t think…





Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins

1 11 2010

I am  a little behind the times on this as I have been up the walls recently and haven’t been looking at the entertainment news as much as I normally would so

But there it was in black and white Martin Freeman (no relation to Morgan) of The Office fame is to play Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hoobbit movie!!!.

Personally I think that he will be perfect for the role, not only is he English and I have always visualised Hobbits as being essentially fat little Englishmen, but he looks exactly like a Hobbit!

This is going to be a really big step in the right direction for Freeman, who has come a long, long way from his days as Tim in The Office or as John; the actor who is filming a sex scene with the oh so appealing Joanna Page of Gavin and Stacey fame in Love Actually.

I am now even more excited about these films then I was previously and that was fairly excited let me tell you! As much as I love the Lord of the Rings and have read it far more times then I should probably admit to the Hobbit has always held a special place in my heart.

I had always enjoyed reading, even as a small child but it was Tolkien’s story about a Hobbit that lived in a hole in the ground and the adventures that he had that really started my life long love of fantasy books.








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