Category Archives: Reading

Bookish Stuff – Just William

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Continuing the fun time I’ve been having with children’s books lately I’m moving onto an older set of stories.

Just William

What I didn’t appreciate until I read these books was how old they are. I found them harder to read than other children’s books and I couldn’t work out what it was all about until I realised that they were first written in the 1950’s.

Don’t let this put you off though, despite some of the words being hard to understand and more than a bit old the stories are really good. William is a character that together with his gang of friends seem to somehow to find trouble, even when they’re not looking for it.

A few stories of worthy of note are:

  1. William’s birthday where he thinks he’s getting two puppies and manages to get a herd of sheep to storm the village and trash the clothing of the local ballet class.
  2. William manages inadvertently destroy the prize peaches and asparagus of two fiercely rivaled gardeners.
  3. Striking fear into a local thinking club who think the house next door is haunted, whereas it’s only William and his pals using the house for midnight feasts.
  4. Tricking his arch enemy and his gang out of their Christmas party presents in front of their very eyes.

While reading some of these I have literally been having to fight back the laughing, in my minds eyes I can really see all this going on and young William often in a state of wonder of how situations have got to where they are. In all honesty he often tries his best to be cautious and is merely the victim of time an unforseen circumstances.

In my mind they’re definitely worth a read to your kids, but I doubt they’ll be laughing like you will be!

Simon 🙂

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Bookish Stuff – Horrid Henry

I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve been reading lately and at first it doesn’t seem like much (especially when compared to the book legends that read 100 books a year and such like). But then I have been  reading a lot to my son at bed time and I have to say it’s been fun! So I’m going to write some posts on the children’s books that I’ve been reading.


 

Horrid Henry

For those of you with kids, you may well have seen the TV cartoon based on these books. After reading them it’s safe to say they’ve been faithful to the stories. The films took a bit of a departure from them but we’re interested in the books right?

Looking at the books they’re great for kids of all ages, divided into stories that can be read in about 10 – 15 minutes you’ve got great stories like:

Horrid Henry and the Computer – Where Henry locks out his entire family from the computer and blackmails them into giving him computer time and buying him games. As an added reward he gets his little brother Peter into trouble.

Horrid Henry and the Demon Dinner Lady – Henry finally gets to have packed lunches, but one of the dinner ladies makes sure that none of the kids can have so much as a crisp! Henry has to think smart of beat her!

Horrid Henry and the Fairies – Henry’s brother Peter is becoming intolerable! What can he do to get him into trouble? Making him believe in fairies could help…

The characters are great – brilliantly exaggerated but with enough realism to be able to relate to them and you can definitely feel the pain of the parents….

So if you need something entertaining for your kids, Horrid Henry is great for lots of short stories. If something longer or different is needed keep an eye out for further posts on kids books there’s going to be posts for more kids books of all sizes!

Simon 🙂

 

 

Bookish Stuff – The Martian

As my long time readers may remember, a while ago I watched The Martian and I wrote about it, it was a great story and the book was supposed to be pretty good too – so I read it and I’ve got a few things to say about it.

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The Story

Firstly the story is complete genius! As anyone who has seen the film or read the book already a mission on Mars is cut short becasue of a huge storm and in the evacuation one man if left behind, presumed dead by his fellow astronauts. The story is about Mark Watney’s survival and the challenges he faces just to stay alive.

Most of what I thought about the story is covered in my post on the film, but I want to look at the book and what made it genius.


 

Point of view

This is always the prompt for many author and writing posts on stories, what point of view is it being told from. It seems that becasue of the huge distances between Earth and Mars in the story, there are a number of points of view:

Mark’s

Mission Control on Earth

The crew of the spacecraft

Some narrative

At this point some writing purists are tutting and rolling their eyes about this but, this is how it has to be. There’s a lot going on and for the first chunk of the book you wonder if there’;s anyone else in it but Watney. Bu this sets the stage and brings the feeling of isolation so it’s needed. Mission control became aware that Mark survived and all their story on the challenges and politics around bringing him back are needed. The crew who left him behind are dealing with a lot of emotion and even more when they find out he’s alive and can rescue him, so they mutiny. There’s a whole story in itself right there! Finally the narrative is needed on only a couple of occasions when things go very badly wrong, but it explains the mechanics of what’s going on so well.

The mix of Watney’s logs and story telling makes for a dynamic and interesting read, if you’re into science or science fiction as a genre, it’s hard to put down.


 

The Differences

As usual with any story there are things missing from the film that are in the book, that’s why I love reading the novels on films.I’m not going to spoil all the surprises but Watney rolls the rover while going into a crater, rather spectacularly doing a lot of damage. The end of the story is also very different in the book, I felt it was a little rushed maybe it had to be finished quickly of something but it was a slight anticlimax for me, the film’s ending was better I’m forced to say. But in the grand scheme of things no biggie.

 


What I loved

The detail in this book and the language used made this book the brilliant piece of work it is. With a mix of clever personal logs from the main character to the detail conveyed and the obvious painstaking research it’s a brilliant read. Add into this a mix of dark humour thrown in frequently which had me in stitches of laughter I would say that this is one of the best – if not THE best book that I’ve read.

Simon 🙂

Battle of the Books – A Warden and a Nexus

Candice Coates of candicecoates.wordpress.com has a problem that I an only dream of. She has two books to self publish. The problem comes is which one to publish first! The two books are called Warden and Nexus Gate 4037. Both of them are Science Fiction novels with a different twist. The Warden is comic adventure and Nexus Gate is a suspense thriller.

What Candice has decided is the we should get the power to decide which one gets to readers first. Look through the story teasers below and have a think. Then be a really great bloggie and click on the Battle of the Books link and vote for the one you thought was best! Simples!


 

If I had to pick one of these two stories to read first I would pick Nexus Gate. Time and paradoxes and the consequences of disturbing events in out timelines is something I have keen interest in.

BUT I being a Hitchhikers fan I also love a Sci Fi comedy advneture!

Thinking about it… do I really know?


On reading these teasers I had a few questions for Candice:

What were the biggest writing challenge(s) for each if these books?

-The biggest challenge(s) for each story I would say was initially the time crunch since I wrote them during a summer session of NaNoWriMo. Trying to make novel status in 30 days can be difficult but I’ve developed a system for it whereas I would aim for a certain number of words a day.

Another challenge that I faced was with Nexus Gate. With my first draft, I managed to write well over 150k words, but I recognized around 90k that the story had transitioned into book two. The challenge was in figuring out how to properly end book one so that it was a solid stand-alone piece.  Working out the transition for what I have with book two will happen soon.

Warden was written as a NaNoWriMo challenge wasn’t it? How did writing this differ from Nexus Gate?

-They both were summer NaNoWriMos. What made them different was that when I wrote Warden, it was my very first go at NaNoWriMo. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have a system. I was really just playing things by ear and learning as I went along. When I started Nexus Gate the following year, I knew how to develop a working rhythm which helped me to write with greater ease.

 

Which book is your favourite?

-Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. They both excite me in different ways and that is because they are so vastly different even though they are under the genre of Science Fiction. I would say it’s like having two children, they are both yours but they are very different, still you love them equally.

 


 

Book Teasers

WARDEN:
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Genre: Science Fantasy, Comedic Action Adventure

Audience: YA, NA (New Adult), Adult

Book Flap: Ever since the bizarre death of her grandmother, Maeve Grandie has made it her sole purpose to be reliable, even if that means living a dreadfully predictable life. The only sense of adventure Maeve experiences is in her dreams. The only problem is her peculiar hereditary condition that gives her rashes on her hands and arms, turning the veins of her arms a screaming azurite blue, not only gives her weird dreams but causes her to sleepwalk as well.

But what would happen if those dreams that carry her into a bizarre land where people can cause their arms to ignite with blue flames and tear open the sky with their bare hands is not really a dream at all?

What if the dream world, Maeve finds herself suddenly trapped in, is actually a true world of wonder but one she is somehow destroying just by being there?

Senior Warden Vincent Jasper of Trident finds himself facing that very real and immeasurable danger when a young woman in the ugly pink nightgown interferes with an arrest right before disappearing through an Unzoned Door in the Universe causing the very threads of the Cluster and Realms to ripple and stretch, putting it and the lives of all who live within it in grave danger. Not only is the woman unknown but she keeps opening Doors and is somehow hiding right underneath his nose.

Can Jasper and his team along with the rest of Trident, apprehend this villainous threat clad in garish pink flannel and ruffles? Or will they find out that she is not the threat at all but the weapon of someone else, all before their side of the universe collapses?

 

NEXUS GATE:

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Genre: Speculative Science Fiction, Suspense Thriller, Time Travel

Audience:  NA (New Adult), Adult

Book Flap: Most important rules of time surveillance; never disrupt your host timeline and never step into the future. Decorated Surveillance Specialist Vivian Leona of 6037 has broken both.

Losing her husband, John Joseph Spruce, in the Nexus of time past, Vivian mistakenly pulls the wrong man into the future, a man recorded by history as having died on that very day in 1837. The consequences for keeping him alive in the future could prove far worse than Vivian bargains for, especially in the American South’s New Golden Age, 4037, where any overt emotion or cause of such, like racism, is seen as a deadly contingent—‘conditions’ cured only by euthanasia.

Slave foreman and bounty hunter ‘Tucker’ John Josephus Spruce of 1837 is called ‘The Animal’ by those he hunts, and a ‘necessary evil’ by those who enlist his skills, but are his ‘talents’ enough to keep him alive when he steps into a deadly snare set twenty-two hundred years in the future where he is now pawn and prey?

Will Tucker John’s instincts lead him towards retribution for his abduction, or will they make Vivian his only ally while setting him on an unexpected hunt for the one not only out for his blood, but the very woman’s he’s purposed to destroy?


 

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BIO: Candice Coates is a fiction writer, jumping from genres ranging from Speculative Science Fiction and Fantasy to Comedic Clean Read Romance and Drama, all with touches of her Christian faith. She is a lover of Ireland, tea, and just about anything with pistachios. When not writing she is creating visual art with pen or paint, or she is creating new designs for her handmade polymer clay jewelry line, Shizen Brook. To read more of her work you can find her at her author site, candicecoates.wordpress.com or icameforthesoup.com. You can also find out more about her and how to stay connected by going to www.about.me/candicecoates

About you:

 Where does your love of Sci-Fi come from?

-I think because I am a visionary at heart. I am constantly imaging and romanticizing about the possibilities of what could be. Science Fiction is all about possibilities. There are limits and yet there aren’t any at the same time.

 

What other story ideas do you have?

-I currently have a folder with over 143 different titles that I have ideas for. Some of them I’ve done work on, others I just have the generally idea saved and tucked away. I do play around with different genres though, hence why my author site tag is “The Novel World of a Genre Jumper.” I play around with Clean Read Romance, Coming of Age, Science Fantasy, Drama, etc. In short, I just love to tell a story and I aim to do that in as many ways as I can.

 

Where does your inspiration to write come from?

-Just about anything gives me inspiration. I got the ideas for both Warden and Nexus Gate from dreams that I had. Sometimes I get ideas and inspiration for images or random phrases that hear people say. It really just depends for me. A muse can be find in anything.

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Battle of the Books

I hope you guys will look as what Candice is doing and support her and help her with this decision and eventually buy her books like i will.

Simon 🙂

Hanging Tough – How tough was it?

A while ago on Twitter a call for readers and reviewers caught my eye from a new author – Lisa Bush. I responded and found out she’s relatively local to me and she kindly sent me a copy of her book Hanging Tough for me to read and let her know my thoughts.

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Hanging Tough is a gritty crime novel following the life of a man called Tony in 1980’s London. It starts a first in a modern setting, then flashes back right to the beginning and from a small boy the reader follows how Tony deals with life, loss, a tough neighborhood, love, drugs and everything else in between.

From a young age Tony learns to fight to get by, growing up in his tough London community. With everyone wanting to challenge Tony or cause trouble for him, he quickly makes himself a reputation as trouble for the police and as the local hard lad, not to be messed with.  I found myself being able to easily side with Tony’s character. Despite his violent nature Tony is often fighting against the bullies and the trouble makers, his loyalty to his family and friends always at the top of his mind. There also the other side to Tony’s character, despite his violent nature, he’s not a thug – behind it all is an intelligent young man and he uses this to great effect. Sometimes dishing out his own brand of non violent justice where it’s necessary.

The story plot doesn’t hold back, with trouble around every corner. The language is raw, the scenes described are very gritty and not for someone who enjoys romantic novels. But from beginning to end the story grabs you as you want to  know what happens next and how Tony gets through each situation. There are a few small sub plots that are put into the main plot on their own, I’m not sure if these will make sense later or if they’re just there to explain what happens to the characters involved. As there are planned to be three books, we will see.

 

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Hanging tough ends on a cliffhanger, with several leads into Lisa’s new story An eye for an eye, which is the next book in the series and is due out soon. The release date is yet to be set for an eye for an eye,but it’s imminent and I’m looking forward to it!

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I’ve enjoyed reading this as it divided me, on the one hand Tony, the hero of the story is someone you want to see do well and succeed. On the other hand, much of what he gets involved is not only illegal, but blatantly violent an intending to inflict as much damage as possible. What this story cleverly does is challenge your idea of what someone might could consider to be a bad person or someone who’s trouble and see life from their point of view. It also makes you wonder – who really are the bad guys?

This was not my usual reading, but I enjoyed it. If I was going to be completely critical there are odd points in the story that took place before the technology was about – like texting. But I get it, it served the plot and only a geek like me would have picked this up (sorry Lisa, I think I’ve just highlighted it).

Have a look, see what you think, let me know. If you want to let Lisa know too find here website:

Lisa Bush Website

And Twitter:

Lisa Bush Twitter

I’m sure she would be happy to hear from you and look out for her new book coming out soon.

Simon 🙂

Arthur C Clarke

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Arthur C Clarke is a person that I can say definitely inspired into me a deep love of science fiction. As a child I was always intrigued by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I didn’t watch the film I was older and I could understand the story line. Once I had, I was gripped (the film is brilliant and for effect stand up to today’s standards, even though it’s perhaps 50 years old), the story was brilliant and I wanted it to carry on.

I read the book, which gave me the story in a deeper dimension than the film. Clarke captured the loneliness and isolation of the space travellers as they carried out their everyday existence within the confines of their spacecraft. The terror that would have been felt as their computer (HAL) malfunctioned and and was intent on killing the crew and almost succeeding. The desperation and sheer persistence of a man determined to survive and shut down this computer, withstanding the vacuum of space for a brief time. All of this was captured in an easy language, clearly put across so you could picture every aspect of the story.

The the deep mysteries in the story are what intrigued me:

  • Why had HAL malfunctioned and tried to kill the crew?
  • What had become of Dave Bowman?
  • What was/were the Monolith(s)?
  • Who made the Monolith(s)?

Despite having gone through the whole story, these were still unanswered questions – I hoped there was more to come.

The story was a piece of art, not written to necessarily be a big money maker, but Arthur C Clarke’s vision of future space travel, his sense of mystery in the alien Monolith and how he thought computers would become. Despite the relative simplicity of his vision, most of them have not yet come true, man is not exploring the solar system in person, a computer like HAL has not yet been built. Put this into perspective – Star Trek technology is being chased and has been realised to much greater effect (I’m forgetting a faster than light drive when I say this). Many other sci-fi stories and films I’m a fan of are more about space wars, action and intense adventure. This story almost goes against the grain of popular novel writing. The story line progressed at a far more modest pace, no laser weapons, no wars or evil empires and yet still gripped me with it’s many dimensions.

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The story carried on to the second book, 2010 Odyssey 2, again I watched the film and read the book. The story carried on, continuing where it left off, some things were answered but still with many questions, some old and some new, but with no ending just a another beginning of possibilities. Two other books carried on the story, even with the last one 3001 – The Final Odyssey was left with the possibility on continuing, many questions weren’t answered. The biggest questions on what the Monoliths were and who made them were still largely unanswered. Passing references were made to the mysterious alien race, but nothing more.

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The intriguing way in which Arthur C Clarke wrote these books showed in his other books too, like Rendezvous with Rama and the Ghost from the Grand Banks. Many of the mysteries in reality don’t have a conclusion and he captured this very well. This is what I believe is the power behind his story writing, there always remained mystery or a story thread left for you. He gave the reader a part of his story to fill in with their own imagination, almost like giving them permission to finish in their own way.

The vision that Arthur C Clarke had and wrote in his stories were something that had never been seen before and will probably not be seen again for a long time. Like many genius’s he was a man out of his time. I hope that his vision extends far into the future to keep on inspiring not only writers, but the inventors,  problem solvers and explorers that will come in generations to come.

Simon

Keep looking to the stars to inspire 🙂

I claim no ownership of the images on here, all courtesy of google image search. Please feel free to re-blog. Come an find me on Twitter @Planet_Simon

Book Review – The Beauty Thief

Chronicles of the Twelve Realms

I rarely write book review posts, that becasue it takes me son long to read one you guys would get bored between posts and forget me. But I have just finsished The Beauty Thief, written by my bloggie friend Rachael Ritchey. The premise of the story is about where real beauty comes from and that outer beauty is superficial and without inner beauty we are an empty shell. The message is powerful and the imagery in the story around this is powerful.

The story is set around the betrothal of a young princess to  a high prince and a mysterious character that has the ability to steal beauty to stay alive for many centuries. The story start off in a very chilled out way, there is a lot of familiarisation with the events, people and their backgrounds. Events in the book change when treachery and the key event of the story takes place.

After this the plot splits into different sub plots as honourable knights and dastadly villains play their own part. Setting against each other and finding their way around all the problems thown ni their way. There is more treachery and battles as the characters start to converge towards the story climax. The pace picks up a lot in the second half making it hard to put down as I found the different plot threads knitted together.

The final climax ends in a surprising way, I’m not going to say how because I want you guys to read it for yorselves. But as with any good story there are questions left which need answering and the inevitable thread which my or may not lead to a follow on.


 

This was not my normal kind of read, I approached it with an open mind and I was pleasantly surprised  with the story. It’s something that would appeal to many, it’s simple language appealing to younger and older readers alike. Sure, some purists may think that the language is newer than the time the story is set and doesn’t work. But that’s not the point. This didn’t set out to be Lord of the Rings and only a very brave person would set out down that path. Its aimed at being a read that could be easy for young or old. It’s an enjoyable read and I would suggest all you reader bloggies should give it a try! Have a look at Rachaels website for details on where to get it.

Simon 🙂

 

Classic Book Tag

 

Hello bloggies,

I was nominated for the classics book tag by Charley of BookandBakes1. I’m not a typically classic book reader, but nonethe less, let’s see how we go. I have to apologise to Charley now, becasue she tagged me so long ago on this one and I’ve not been my diligent self and done it quickly. But as always thanks to Charley, she is a book addict and a great blogger!

Here goes! (All images are from Google.)

An overhyped classic you didn’t really like:

Ive tried to think of one here, but I can’t think of one. *sigh*

 

Favourite time period to read about:

I learned a lot about Victorian Britain from the Sherlock Holmes novels. They’re a great glimpse into how the world was working and functioning in those days and the fascination with the time period and these stories shows in the TV and film work going on around the stories.

 


 

Favourite fairy tale:

I’m not a great fairy tale person myself…

 


 

 

What is the most embarrassing classic you haven’t read? 

I have to go with Charley on this one, I would like to read Moby dick and I haven’t got around to it yet. I’ve heard a lot about it and about how the author has put in a lot of information about whale hunting. But I know there are some stunning quotes tucked in there too.

 


 

Top 5 classics you’d like to read soon:

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

 

 

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess


1984 – George Orwell

 

 

Robot Dreams – Isaac Asimov

 

The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov

 


 

 

Favourite modern book/series based on a classic:

I am currently loving the BBC version of An Inspector Calls. They’ve made some changes (with Priestley’s son’s help) but it’s still dramatic and intense. It still makes you question your every move.

 


 

 

Favourite movie version / TV series based on a classic:

On ITV at the moment is this awesome amalgamation of a number of Dickens classics. It’s called Dickensian and it’s just amazing. I’m LOVING it so much. I can’t work it out either, but it’s so clever how so many classics have been weaved into one.


 

 

Worst classic to movie adaptation:

How about the modern Romeo and Juliet? I wasn’t a fan of this, hate me as I’m sure many of you love it!

 


 

Favourite edition(s) you would like to collect more classics from:

I’m not really a collector of book series as such. I buy a book that I like or want to read.

 

An under-hyped classic you’d recommend to everyone:

I’m not sure I’ve got one here – I think many classics are unerrated. I also think that schools and the education system don’t encourage children to read the classics that would be best for them, or to have the reading freedom they need.

 

I’m going to nominate a few people for this tag, if you don’t want to do it don’t worry, but I’m passing on the tag love!

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Teresa

Nya

Simon 🙂