Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review - The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know (Felix Castor)
"I guess I am the anally retentive Ghostbuster, after all"

Pretty accurate. Stiff and slow action with an attention to details that was uninteresting. Worldbuilding is a bit too easy. We have ghosts and other supernatural creatures but there is no impact on the landscape of London and the secondary characters.

Felix is not a particularly likeable character. The noir style quips and humor that make the Dresden Files a fun read is not present or poorly rendered. He seems to do his job without passion.

The writing style doesn't cross the ocean quite as well as other British authors. I can enjoy learning a bit more about British culture and history if it adds color to the story and British slang can be picked up jest as easily as frack'n made-up slang. Theat being said, when stuff like Rorke's drift is referenced theres an awkward pomposity introduced that makes the book a bit stiff.

After a moment or so, inspiration came.
“I’ve got this trench coat,” I told her. “One careful owner.”

Fast paced ending and decent hook at the end saves what was sometimes a tedious plot. Big magic is possible but lightly used. Felix is a bit of a lightweight but he puts himself at risk to save the day.

The twist at the end is a strong enough tease to get me to read the next book. I'm reminded of the unevenness of first bunch of books of the Nightside (Simon Green) series. Like the Nightside, I hope the Felix Castor series finds a unique identity and tone while steadily improving quality of writing.

How Ebook Buyers Discover Books - The Digital Reader

How Ebook Buyers Discover Books - The Digital Reader:
As of this writing, 206 people answered the survey. Click the image to enlarge it.

Key findings, plus my observations

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kindle Library Ebooks & the Law of Unintended Consequences - The Digital Reader

Kindle Library Ebooks & the Law of Unintended Consequences - The Digital Reader:
A library can only lend a Kindle ebook if Amazon already sell it.

Put yourself in the place of a librarian who is looking to buy more ebooks. If you had to choose between 2 titles, and only one was available for the Kindle, which would you choose? I would think for economic reasons alone that a librarian would chose the title that could be read on the Kindle over one that could not. It’s a better value for the library to support as many readers as possible.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking - The Digital Reader

Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking - The Digital Reader:
Kindle without ads: $109.00.

Kindle Touch without ads: $139.00.

That’s a $30 difference.

Stop to think about that for a minute.

If Amazon is giving you a $30 break like that, how much more are they making over that $30?

You’re no longer a reader.

You’re a product they’re selling to others!

And Amazon’s X-ray feature? That’s not to enhance your reading experience. That’s to figure out where the future ads can go!

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding is the second book in the Tales on the Ketty Jay. It is a tale delivers on the promise of the first book and guarantees that future books in the series (two have already been announced) are going to be worth getting.

In the first book, Retribution Falls, we are introduced to the captain and crew of the Ketty Jay. They are a sorry mess of misfits settling for a life of petty crime and brigandage. They all leave lives irretrievably damaged by character flaws that they are still . Their character flaws are played up: alcoholism, drug abuse, cowardice, whoremongering, even murderer. The captain and crew manage to stumble and connive their way to win in the end despite their shortcomings. They survive but not much more than that.

The second book continues few months later. The resolution of the fragile nature of the group is set against the personal demons that each crew member struggles with. I enjoyed Black Lung more than Retribution Falls because while the worldbuilding and plot were just as effective the character development was much more satisfying. The characters did not become a kinder, gentler crew thus engendering sympathy. Wooding drives deeper into character development giving everyone a unique personality instead of a cookie-cutter stereotypes.

The plot is fine, leading to some solid worldbuilding and secondary character development. It's not surprising that its not called a trilogy. There's certainly room for a long series with a caper alongside the ongoing themes of the supernatural, religious and political wthough finding out what blacklung was all about was both icky and disappointing. The benefit of having stronger characters in the second book was that the humourous elements were quite good. Wooding may have taken a page from Pratchett when decided to play up the crazy cat scenarios.

Captain Darian Frey's Kirkian flirtation with pretty women and addiction to gambling took a smart turn with the continuation of the bride left at the altar story. This subplot along with the crew as family theme provides a weight to the story missing from the first book. Fleshing out the knights as characters also guarantees more interesting stories.

Overall the quality of Black Lung Captain makes reading the first book well worth it. Kinda the opposite of Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by Jemisin where the first book was great and complete in and of itself. But the second book, while entertaining, felt a bit like gilding the lily.

The Wertzone:
Readers of that book will feel immediately at home here, as Wooding continues his Firefly-meets-steampunk story of a clapped out aircraft and its crew struggling to make ends meet in a hostile world of shady deals and, at the fringes of civilisation, hostile savages.

Speculative Horizons:
Verdict: Perhaps predictably, The Black Lung Captain doesn't match the brilliance of its predecessor. The characters are as strong as before, but the sense of excitement just isn't quite there. Perhaps this is merely because of expectations heightened by Retribution Falls, but it's equally likely to be due to the plot, which doesn't allow for the surprises that the first novel managed to fling the reader's way. That said, aside from the good characterisation, the events are supplemented by some interesting revelations about certain people and other aspects of the world, while the humour - again, as before - is well observed, with plenty of amusing moments to lighten the tone (which is perhaps a little darker this time around). In all, an enjoyable read - it just lacks the panache that made Retribution Falls exceptional.
This one was a joy to write, lovely and smooth, as by now the crew of the Ketty Jay were beginning to feel like old friends. But instead of me telling you about it, I’m just gonna quote this rather wonderful review in the Guardian:
“This is a steampunk romance full of battling aerium-fulled aircraft, villainous buccaneers and hordes of ravaging ghouls, held together by an expertly orchestrated plot which uses every trick in the book to keep the reader hooked… Marvellous.”
A third and fourth instalment are coming soon. Oh yeah.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DVD Review: Going Postal – Grasping for the Wind

DVD Review: Going Postal – Grasping for the Wind:
Actors: Richard Coyle, Charles Dance
Writers: Terry Pratchett
Format: Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Acorn Media
DVD Release Date: September 20, 2011
Run Time: 252 minutes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A List of eBook Readers and Their Font Choices | The eBook Reader Blog - eReader and Tablet Reviews and News

A List of eBook Readers and Their Font Choices | The eBook Reader Blog - eReader and Tablet Reviews and News:
Everyone has their own tastes when it comes to fonts, so having choices is definitely a good thing. Plus having more font options can be a real benefit for those with poor eyesight, in which case a nice bold font can work wonders.

I'm a DejaVu Serif fan myself.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Search inside ebooks: why readers look & what they’re finding, by Peter Meyers

Search inside ebooks: why readers look & what they’re finding, by Peter Meyers | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics
Reader software still has a way to go. In many cases the same mistakes are made over and over again. Its frustrating when the search feature on my old Ebookwise 1150 is way better than all the reader apps on my new Android tablet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding - A made for TV novel?

Finished Retribution Falls last night. It's a Steampunk-ish novel set in a world where lighter than air craft rule the skies. Its not really Steampunk because it's set on a different world, but there's alot of brass fittings and goggles all over the place.

Basically it's a story of a pirate crew getting set up as the fall guys for a political assassination and their journey to get out of trouble. The story moves along pretty well and the world-building and character development keeps it interesting. The main character, Captain Frey, comes off as a mix of Captain Kirk and Bret Maverick, but the ensemble of characters make the story worth reading.

The mad-for-TV vibe is probably due to the relatively mild language used to describe the scenes of sex and violence. A little more grit would go a long way to making the books more enjoyable.