Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Merchants Series by Charles Stross

The first I heard of this series I put off reading it for fear of getting bogged down in an intricate and plodding story of business practices in a fantasy world. When I read the The Folding Knife by K J Parker I found it enjoyable but trying at times. A series of books of this type may have been tiresome.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more of an adventure series that straddled the "Perils of Pauline" type adventure. The damsel in distress is the central character that provides the viewpoint among the parallel worlds of 14th century feudalism, 18th century industrialism, and 20th century (contemporary) infosphere.

The series takes a harsh (accurate) view of the Bush-Cheney presidency and its infrastructure. The existence of secret military excursions is disturbing and prescient.

I hope Stross finds the time or will to either put a cap on the series or at least add another novel. The multiverse is still barely understood and our protagonist is still struggling in precarious circumstances.

TheTradeOfQueens TheRevolutionBusiness TheMerchantsWar TheClanCorporate TheHiddenFamily TheFamilyTrade

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The e-Reader Industry Needs to Address e-book Content Errors

The e-Reader Industry Needs to Address e-book Content Errors(

Major publishers collectively sold 250 million e-books in 2015 and a significant number of titles fail in the quality and control department. Some e-books have spelling mistakes and others have formatting issues. Unfortunately Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google are not doing enough to empower users with the ability to report e-books who have content errors.

Amazon is the only e-reader company that allows users to report...

There has been significant improvement since the early days of eBooks but there is still a difference in quality when it comes to physical vs. electronic publications. The example in the article ("corner" showing up as "comer" in the electronic version) is a typical OCR problem. This indicates a continuing disconnect in the publishing houses where proofing and revision management is not handled as seriously for eBook releases.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Turn Your Android Tablet into the Ultimate eReader | The eBook Reader Blog

Turn Your Android Tablet into the Ultimate eReader | The eBook Reader Blog

Nice list of all the apps you can get to make your Android tablet an e-reader. The only thing missing (and absolutely necessary) is Calibre.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

BornStandingUpMartin tellingly claims that this is more a biography than an autobiography because he doesn't look on his comedy past as part of his current life. He reads the audio book himself and it is worth listening although he is a bit dull in the first half of the book.

The second half is quite entertaining, with Martin acting out some of his bits. Martin is not boastful, nor does he gloss over the low points of his personal life or professional career.

I listen to quite a few podcasts featuring comedians as hosts or guests. Many have commented on how good the book is, and several have said the audiobook is well worth a try. Its not a comedy album nor is it a roller coaster of laughs and witty anecdotes. It is an important work; an honest look into the life of a comedian who quit stand-up at the peak of his career and became a very private man.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

BadMonkeyBad Monkey is another in a series of crime novels set in Florida and its environs. Hiaasen is very good at writing humorous crime stories featuring corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and bumbling criminals (or henchmen).

While some have complained that Hiaasen may be drawing on the well too many times, his spare, clean writing style and dry sense of humor makes every new offering in this genre a pleasure to read. I'm both looking forward to more books in this genre as well as going back and reading novels I've missed.

I don't read much fiction that that isn't sci-fi or fantasy but Hiaasen is a writer I've sampled from time to time with great satisfaction.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ex-Purgatory by Peter Clines

Ex-Purgatory The Ex-Heroes series continues with Ex-Purgatory, the fourth book in the series. Clines manages to keep the series fresh and interesting while sticking to the same cast of characters.

The action/adventure aspect of the book is just of good as the previous books. The superhero vs. zombie battles are pretty much the same as the other books but I haven't grown tired of it yet. Breaking zombie teeth on impervious skin and punching right through skulls is still fun to read about. What keeps the book fresh is the quality of character development.

The alternate reality story line gives Clines the opportunity to dig deeper into the superhero characters without falling back on flashbacks. At the same time Clines gets to introduce zombies to the world again.

A fun read with a page-turning plot and characters you have a stake in. Its essentially like reading a superhero comic book but without the pictures and with greater depth. Can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

RepublicOfThievesThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is the third book in the Locke Lamora series. There was a very long gap in time between the second and third books, with the protagonist, Lamora, poisoned and dying with no known antidote available.

Republic of Thieves continues the story of Lamora with a clever solution to the poison problem and goes on to focus on the relationship between Lamora and the love of his life, Sabetha.

The book alternates between the current battle of wits between Locke and Sabetha and the past history of their relationship from the first time they met to the first time they became lovers.

The core of the story is how they are forced to oppose each other in a political contest while trying to rekindle their relationship. There is some good action and clever plot twists. While there is some good character development I think the overall story arc suffers from changing too many times while being developed. The bondsmagi sub-plot seemed wedged in to force the continuation of the series.

Overall a great read. Can't wait for the next in the series, which sounds like it will be more action adventure and less romance.

Happy Hour In Hell by Tad Williams

HappyHourinHellFinished Tad Williams's Happy Hour In Hell a few days ago. Its the second volume of the Bobby Dollar series.

Here's the blurb:

I’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m actually going.
My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me—I’m an angel.

Its to hell and back again. Dollar digs a deeper hole into the mystery of the deal between heaven and hell. Doing crime noir-style in hell is a bit of overkill. Williams strains to make the monsters as horrible as possible and hell's victims as pathetic and tortured as possible.

The mystery of the backroom dealings between heaven and hell continues and the love interest drama remains unresolved. While the whole journey to the depths of hell and back should feel like a complete story I felt that the book was too episodic, failing to meet the standards of a full novel.

Still, a pretty fun read and hope the next book(s) come out quickly.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

RaisingSteamI read Raising Steam in early January, pretty much as soon as I could get my hands on it. Its the latest in the Discworld Series and it does not disappoint. Many of the usual characters of Ankh Morpork are revived (including a 'cameo' by Rincewind).

Moist von Lipwig, Postmaster and head of the Royal Mint and Royal Bank, must usher in the age of steam by managing the creation of the first continental railway. Goblin rights and 'right wing' Dwarves also feature in the novel.

Good old Discworld fun and adventure.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

2013 British Fantasy Awards Winners

I've read Mieville and Abercrombie's offerings. Railsea was unique memorable, Red Country was fun but more of the same. I hope I get a chance to sample the winning novel and the other nominees.

Announcing the 2013 British Fantasy Awards Winners | The 2013 British Fantasy Awards were presented today at the Brighton World Fantasy convention. Nominees in each category were decided by a vote of the members of the British Fantasy Society and the attendees of FantasyCon 2012. Congratualtions to all the nominees and winners.
British Fantasy Special Award:
Iain M. Banks
Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Winner: Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Railsea, China Mi�ville (Macmillan)
Red Country, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)