Book Review – Hornet’s Nest, Patricia Cornwell & others

It’s probably about time I got around to tapping out another book review post. So, here goes.

Hornets Nest – Patricia Cornwell

I’ve just finished this one. It’s an interesting book, although slightly confused. It starts off with a serial murder, introducing the main antagonists slowly. The murders, however, are not the books real aim, you know ‘who-dun-it’ by 75% of the way through. It’s more a social/character discourse, with elements of romance mixed in.

The book does start slow, because of the focus on inital character building. However, it doesn’t grab me as similar books have, I assume because I have already become too used to that world, so am not being introduced to much I’ve no experience of.

The book did annoy me though, for one abuse of technology-speak. Yes, techy-speak may be confusing for those not used to it, but email is not passed through more than two UAs, and normally no more than 2 MTAs; a UA is a User Agent, i.e. your email client, so Outlook, Thunderbird, or your web-mail. MTA stands for Mail Transfer Agent, and is one of the computer programs email is passed through as it transits the internet. Specific abuse stems from trying to fill out a 1-dimensional computer tech character.

The book finishes on a slightly strange note, murders solved, good guys slightly victorious (with requisite battering), but the relationships we’ve been following throughout not yet tied off or stable. I assume this is leading to a possible follow up book, but it just annoys me. It’s one reason I like Elizabeth Moon’s work, she does tie up immediate stuff, and leaves characters stable, whilst allowing the greater narrative to hang for the next book.

It’s a good enough read, though not one I’d particularly recommend or lambast.

Killashandra – Anne Macaffrey

This is the second in a trilogy from one of the masters of sci-fi/fantasy. It’s basically a sci-fi romance, but the story is enthralling. One in my permanent collection, this would have been a third re-read. Follows Killashandra as she leaves Ballybran to save a lover’s life, gets caught up in planetary political wrangles, and finds a love she’ll never forget. If you’ve not read this series, and are into Sci-Fi, I’d recommend picking it up. First in the series is ‘Crystal Singer’, Killashandra is followed by the finale, ‘Crystal Line’.

Devil May Care – Sebastian Faulks (As Ian Flemming)

Meh. I finished this book in a day. It’s not a hard read. I saw one of the major twists coming too early, and it’s a pointless boring twist. I can think of at least 3 different better ways to finish this plot.

Basically, read if you want another bond story, but don’t expect it to be a particularly challenging or rewarding read. Of course, the good guys win, but I do like in when they win in a bit more style!

That’s the books I’ve read this week. Now I’m starting to run out of fresh ones. I’m going to be mainly re-reading stuff I guess. Any suggestions in what to look out for gratefully received. Sci-Fi/Fantasy is my preference, but I’ll read almost anything apart from horror. (And mills and boon types.)

Books

I’m a bookworm. I love curling up with a cup of tea and aΒ  good book, to read.

So far at the moment, I’m re-reading two books, “The fifth elephant” – Terry Pratchett, and “Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone” by you know who πŸ˜‰

Two books, because I got a bit into Terry Pratchett’s book, and then got bored, and I try to re-read Harry Potter every couple of years. Seems I am always re-reading it around Christmas.. πŸ™‚

The majority of my books I get from charity shops. A few I get from bookmooch.com, the rest I buy from amazon, or am given by relatives for christmas and birthday (The Company, by Max Barry was a Christmas present πŸ™‚ )

Where do you buy your books?

Book Review: Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon cover courtesy of Amazon
Altered Carbon cover courtesy of Amazon

I finished Altered Carbon, the first book by Richard Morgan, Sci-fi, a couple of days ago. It’s taken a few days for my ideas upon it to crystalise..

It’s a complex weaving book, very, very good for his first. The plot moves thick and fast, set in an ugly futuristic society. The technology of the sci-fi not that new, but its a novel implementation.. what happens when humans can be digitally stored, but set in a plot. My most stringent criticism would be that the primary character shows borderline superhero syndrome, or of being a “superhero” in a world that should have none. Mostly explained in the story well, but borderline. If I want to read a superhero story, I’ll go read a superman or batman comic πŸ˜‰

The book touches on our societies current quest for immortality, and it’s something I’ve thought of recently as well. Our society is broken, and still reeling from the changes that computers have brought upon it. We can now communicate a lot further a lot faster than ever before. It is unlikely, that had I been writing this 20 years ago, that this post would have been able to exist, let alone be able to be read by people living almost anywhere in the world. We seem fixated with our human needs; you just have to go on google, and be a little careless to bring up an example of rule 34 1 .

Believing as I do in a world beyond this, seeing everyone so fixated on their needs now, rarely thinking about others, rarely thinking about the future beyond their deaths hurts. Some humanists are changing this, and I am probably using too big a brush in some cases, but still.. worth thinking about possibly.

  1. Internet axiom created by the 4chan community. If it exists, there is porn of it (normally on the internet).

Day 1: NaBloPoMo

What a strange name for an event. Anyway, yes, this is my second attempt at the interesting experiment, of posting once a day, every day during this month.1 I expect quite a few of these posts will be small, random and useless. Sorry about that, just to warn you!

Anyway, onto more interesting things. Book review πŸ™‚

Completed the “The Business” By Iain Banks the other week. Good book, though not one of his best… Gripping read from about ~60-70% of the way through. Predictable up to that point.
All about a large, democratic company, and the machinations and politics within it, as it looks to buy a small country, to attain a seat on the UN council.

Interesting and enjoyable enough read, but not spectacular by any stretch. I’ll not keep it for my book collection πŸ™‚

Some other thoughts I had whilst talking to someone at church today… Working with the people I do, it’s easy to forget the fear and lack of knowledge a lot people have with computers. For me, they’re simple, far easier to understand than a human by any stretch of the imagination!

If you are ever afraid of a computer, the best thing you can do is to make a backup of all your files onto a USB stick, and then just play with your computer. Don’t be afraid of breaking anything, let your fear go. Just explore all the menus, options and settings, see what happens when you change things around. Right click on everything!

Day 3 – Web Comics

Good Evening happy people πŸ™‚ I do so like Mondays πŸ˜€

For those of you who are reading this from the Ubuntu-UK planet – I’ve limited my blogs feed, so that I don’t spam you all with rambling on other subjects than Ubuntu (mainly), especially whilst I’m trying to blog once a day this month. I’ve sent this one, as I think it might be interesting to you. If you want to read my full writings, head here: https://kirrus.co.uk/ or get your RSS here: https://kirrus.co.uk/feed/

So, Web Comics. This is going to be a list of the ones I read. If you know of any good ones I’ve missed out, let me know!

http://www.xkcd.com – Nice fun stick men comic, which has a large following amongst geeks. I expect that most people reading this blog will have already seen this. (sudo sandwich!) Updates Monday / Wednesday / Friday.

http://www.cad-comic.com – Gaming / Youth / Odd / Interesting. That about sums it up. Updates Monday / Wednesday / Friday

http://www.crimsondark.com – Sci-Fi comic, another basically CG, but lots more hand-work involved than dreamland. Has got a very catching storyline. Updates Mondays

http://www.freakangels.com/ – Updates Fridays with 5-6 pages, nice one to end the working week with. Created by a professional, and is very good.

http://www.thedreamlandchronicles.com – Basic good v.s evil storyline, graphics are all CG. Updates Monday – Friday.

http://www.jaydenandcrusader.com – Hosted by me (so I’m biased), but still, its very good. Its also quite fun watching as the artist getting better at his work. (And quite amazing – look at the first comic, and the last!) Updates Mondays.

http://www.gpf-comics.com – A good comic by a sysadmin. Expect lots of technical computing themes and references. Of late, I’ve been ignoring the updates – the current storyline just doesn’t catch me. Maybe I’ve read Harry Potter too many times πŸ˜‰ Updates Monday / Wednesday / Friday

A couple of comics, I’ve started reading and dropped. Two examples would be misfile and earthsong.

Hancock, Books and photographs

Hancock

I went and saw this film with my brother and a couple of mates today. Was good, up to a point. Certainly, Will Smith is getting better – he appeared to play the part flawlessly, at a level I’ve not seen him act at before.

My one, slight moan, is that they included a brief, guarded and pointless sex scene. I guess, it *may* have been included to make a point, but it felt more like a box-tick exercise than anything else. Apart from that, an enjoyable way to while away a bit of time.

Books

Stack of booksBooks, I finished a Colin Forbes book this week. Awful. I had to put it down mid-way, and read a completely different book as a break before I picked up again. It felt so rough! And to think, I used to like his books. Fit his usual formula to a T, felt contrived, with a few instances of what PBEM RPG players call “SuperHero Syndrome“. In a Matthew Reily book, I can forgive SuperHero syndrome: he does it with such flair! However, it is not forgiveable in a Colin Forbes book. Which is a shame.

I started to read a Clive Cussler book “Dark Watch” a few weeks back. I got half way through, an OK book, till I got to a line of pure placement advertisement, which put me off completely and utterly. Here’s an extract. (For the copyright fiends out there, this is fair use!)

“Juan found a parking spot a few blocks from the court and spent the next two hours walking the neighborhood, sipping black coffee from a Starbucks. He felt he should have bought his coffee from a local vendor instead of an international franchise, but it had been months since he’d had a taste of his favourite brew. He made a mental note to contact the company’s Seattle headquarters and see if it was possible to buy their special equipment for the Oregon.” [Oregon is the wet-merc ship he captains.]

Oh dear. What an abysmal excuse for an advert. At the very least, it could have been subtle! Stopping at “it had been months..” would have been fine. I have stopped reading the book. I’ll finish it sometime, but not yet. When I’m not so irritated at that advert. At least on the web, it is generally fairly easy to spot, and ignore, them. A bit harder to when you’re engrossed in a story.

Photographs

I’ve been trying to use F-Spot on my laptop to manage photos. Unfortionately, it has a nasty habit of freezing my laptop totally, when I click “OK” on certain dialog boxes. Quite frustrating. So, another question for those reading, what image management software would you recommend ? It has to run nativly on Ubuntu Hardy, but apart from that, pick whatever you like (including web-software). I have a large collection of photos (my camera’s counter recently went over the 1,000 mark), which I want to tag and organise. An effective search function is a must, so that I can add relevant photos to my blogs from my collections.

Books going free!

Hello all. I seem to be gaining books at an alarming rate, what with my current commute. So, I am going to give you first refusal (before I put these up on Bookmooch) on two sets of Elizabeth Moon books. Both of which I would love to be able to keep, but which I don’t have the space to.

So without further ado, I am offering these books to the first person who emails/comments for them. Full postal addresses if you please, UK preferred, but I will send to the US if asked.

The Serrano Legacy – 3 compendiums (paperback)

Vatta’s War – 5 books (paperback)

I also have Kevin J Anderson’s the Saga of the Seven suns, collection or close only (All 7 books. Its big. I live near London. Email for more info)

James Patterson’s Four Blind Mice. As this came from the US, I’d be quite happy to ship it back there.

My Email address is: kirrus@kirrus.co.uk

In unrelated stuff, I let my 5-a-day launchpad group subscription expire this weekend. Boy, it doesn’t half nag you! I got an email every day for _7_ days, saying “you’ll get one more email, when its expired”. Annoying by half. Unfortionatly with my nasty commute, I’ve not got the energy required for triage πŸ™

Reading

I’ve been reading a lot of novels (on my commute) recently, so I thought it was probably about time I reviewed a couple of them.

Elizabeth Moon

I’ve been reading a lot by Elizabeth Moon recently. She mostly writes Space-Opera/Sci-Fi, athough she has one fantasy trilogy and one Autism related book.

Vatta’s War is a series of 5 books, set in a well-described universe. Some themes and technologies are reminicient of her earlier works, mainly the Serrano Legacy, but it is different enough to be a good read.

Her autism book is called The Speed of Dark, and it has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Its very emotional, but based on the authors own knowlegde of Autism. (Her son is Autistic.) If you want to know more about what makes autism different (and why it is part of a sufferers’ [for lack of a better term] identity), read this. Well… just read it anyway. Excellent book.

James Patterson – Four Blind Mice

This is a murder mystery, with a number of twists. A continuation of his “Alex Cross” series… A good read. Not something to shout from the rooftops about, but a good read. Hard to guess the ending πŸ™‚

John Twelve Hawks – The Dark River

The second book in his trilogy. Preceded by “The Traveller“. Awesome book. He has quite a lot of knowledge about surveillance technologies. He’s made a couple of mistakes (one, for example, relating to the technical bits of “ip addresses”, but the only reason I picked that up is because I’m a computer geek, who understands the some of the basics behind the internet.) But, nothing too serious. Most of this technology exists, or is in final stage of development. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7433128.stm < scary.

For a book (and the series) its quite interesting, a mixture of sci-fi and reality. Makes you think deeply, so its true sci-fi.

Round-up

I’d recommend reading Elizabeth Moon‘s The Speed of Dark,Β  John Twelve HawksThe Traveller and The Dark River, to actually get something from the books. The others are just pure pleasure reading, but none the less enjoyable πŸ™‚

I’ll stop rambling here, as my mind is swiming somewhat, and this screen seems to be filling my vison. Its been a long few weeks….