Review: The End of All Things by John Scalzi

The End of All Things (Old Man's War, #6)The End of All Things by John Scalzi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love John Scalzi’s books, his sarcastic writing voice just resonates with me. I have read all Old Man’s War books, they are my favorites.

However, I found this one somewhat disappointing. I expected a book similar to the previous ones, but I actually got three novellas. They are connected and complement each other, but I for me they didn’t make one complete novel. Maybe a hint in the Publisher’s Summary would have been useful.

The entertaining quality varied through the three stories. I found the first one grabbing and I enjoyed it much, but the second one was too heavy with political intrigue and lacked action. The third one was better again, featuring one of my favorite characters, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson.

In places I got bored. I rolled my eyes when CDF soldiers were chatting about what day it was and what the menu in the mass hall would be. Seriously? And I almost skipped parts in the middle, because of too much politics. As always, the writing voice grabbed me, and kept me listening to the audio version in places where the story was stalling. That alone earned one star.

Other reviews claim that this book was a nice wrap up of the OMW story line. Certainly, there was a kind of resolution, but I didn’t have the feeling that it could be the last book. Is it even possible to wrap up a story-line like this one? I don’t know if Scalzi wants to write another book in this series, but I would be interested, for sure.

William Dufris did an excellent job, kudos for him. Other reviews complain about Tavia Gilbert’s performance, but I found it fine for a voice of an alien woman.

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Review: Gods of Earth by Craig DeLancey

Gods of EarthGods of Earth by Craig DeLancey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this audio book during a promotion, which is a good way to try new authors. This is how I discovered Larry Correia, who became one of my favorite authors. In this case, though, I’m not sure I would jump on Craig DeLancey’s next fantasy book.
I liked the basic idea of the story, because usually I’m interested in a quest type adventure. However, there were a few things that threw me off balance.
My biggest issue was that there were too many strange creatures, and at certain points it was hard to follow who was who and who did what and why. For example, what was the function of the modegast? (Sorry, if I misspell it, I write it after hearing.) It felt as if the writer wanted to include them only because he found them cool, and anyway, they could just chase the heroes giving some excitement. Also, a (kind of) vampire? Really? In this sense I think less would have been more.
Talking about writer’s intervention – you know, when something isn’t really consistent, but happens anyway to move the plot forward – I found a few events sticking out. For example killing the parents without hesitation (instead of only immobilize them) and kidnapping the girl just to have a motive for the hero to go on the quest.
At certain points I got bored, and tapped the “skip 30 seconds” icon quite a few times.
Besides that I found the writer’s voice enjoyable, and the characters were drawn well enough for me. I also found the mythic base interesting and I liked the names a lot. (Though, after a while I half-expected Thor to appear, but it was just me, watching too much Marvel films.)

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Worth reading this week

There are a lot of articles this week worth reading, here is my sampling. Enjoy!

How to write a book in five drafts
In his podcast Jeff Goins talks about his way of writing a book. May not be suitable for everyone, but who knows, maybe it’s the method you were looking for to write your bestseller.

How to Create an Irresistible Incentive to Join Your Email List
I see it everywhere I look for writing advice: build a mailing list of readers. So here you are, some good advice from Copyblogger.

First person POV vs. third person POV
Which one is right for you? Some writers feel at ease when writing in one or the other, but it takes time to experience which one suits you better. Care for some advice?

Writing prompt: Why is She Fleeing?
Take a look at the picture and answer the question. It can be just some excercise to practice your writing, but it easily could be the theme for your next writing piece.

For sci-fi writers: Squid-inspired tape could help camouflage soldiers
Now you have one more idea for your military sci-fi story. I love Popular Science, because it makes my imagination go wild.

Two short book reviews

Assignment in EternityAssignment in Eternity by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sometimes I treat old books as if they were old wine, savoring the story matured during decades. But sometimes they go sour, lose their flavor, and I just spit them out. I mean I give up reading. This is what happened to me reading Assignment in Eternity.
It took off well, the first story, “Gulf” was promising. I like fast paced action, so I followed the story with interest. Then the fast flow of events slowed down like a river leaving the mountains and spreading out wide on the plains. What followed was a boring discussion about people with super abilities. I found myself falling to sleep. By the end it started to be interesting again, but then BAMM, the protagonist died. End of story. I was left dumbfounded.
I found the next one, “Elsewhen” better. Interesting way of travelling in time, alternate Earths, different stages of evolution.
I gave up at the third one, when doctors started to discuss supernatural abilities. The subject itself was interesting, but the scene was so boring, I just didn’t care to continue.
Heinlein is a fine writer, but this book isn’t up to his writing talent.

Elf Saga: Doomsday (Omnibus Edition)Elf Saga: Doomsday by Joseph Robert Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read some of the Joseph Lewis’ other books as a beta reader, and I have received an ARC of this one in exchange of an honest review.
I like the author’s stories, because he puts so many interesting ideas in them. Doomsday was another fine piece when his imagination went wild.
The first thing that made the book interesting is that the protagonists are five elven ladies. Yep, the ones with the pointy ears. They were funny and original and intriguing. I think the author nailed the characterisation quite well. Just to give an example: Lozen, the elf woman warrior had a boyfriend, Wolfram, who took care of her by cooking, carrying her things and occasionally fighting for her.
Besides the elves, there were dragons and witches, even unicorns in the story, so prepare yourself for a non-traditional fantasy.
I could go on, mentioning the amazing artefacts and the talking animals – but instead I say: go and read it yourself. It’s worth it.

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Shada by Gareth Roberts and Douglas Adams

Doctor Who: ShadaDoctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is no hero like the Doctor. Though, he isn’t super strong, nor he can fly, he doesn’t have a big gun, so he’s nothing like Superman or Hulk or Thor, he even doesn’t come close to Ironman. However, he has exactly twice as many hearts as a normal human being, and he is a Timelord. Oh, and he can regenerate. Well, that one may count as a superpower. Instead of a giant spaceship he has a blue police box. OK, I have to admit it’s capable of more crazy things like a spaceship, and it’s super space-savvy. Because it’s bigger inside. Really. I’m serious. If you don’t believe me, let me put it this way: it’s smaller outside. See now?

The story of Shada is totally Doctorish: full of surprises, twists and turns, sad and happy moments, and on top of all, full of humor. Just like the Doctor himself.

I started to watch Doctor Who when he regenerated into a new body which looked like Christopher Eccleston, and later, when he took the image of David Tennant I couldn’t stop watching the show. So I’m not familiar with his previous looks, this is why the colorful scarf confused me for a while until I decided that I just should stick to the David Tennant image.

I really enjoyed the writing, Douglas Adams’ wit shone through the whole story, Gareth Roberts did a fine job putting it together. Though, he could have spiced it with more descriptions, sometimes it felt like reading a screenplay.

You should read Shada if you want a few hours of good entertainment. Or if you want to travel in time. Or if you want to save the world. Or if you want all of these the same time.

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Writers suffer because of Amazon-Hachette dispute

I’m watching the buzz around the Amazon-Hachette dispute for a while. I don’t know who is right, I’m too small fish to see all the cards in play. However, I can see that it affects writers. Take the example of Michael Connelly’s new book The Burning Room. As of writing this post there are 53 reviews on Amazon, 24 of them gave one star. That’s almost the half of the opinions! The sad thing is that many reviewers didn’t even read the book, they didn’t buy it because of the price.

At the moment the Kindle version costs $15.02 while the hardcover is $16.94, but many people complains about the Kindle price being higher than the hardcover, so I suppose that was the case before. Some time ago I wrote a post about e-book prices, and I still hold on to my opinion: it’s not a rule carved in the stone that e-books have to be cheaper. It’s Amazon who planted this idea in the readers’ minds by making it possible for writers to set their own prices. When self-publishing became possible the number of published books skyrocketed, the competition went crazy, so the e-book prices dropped off like Newton’s apple.

At this point I have to make it clear that I’m not against low e-book prices. It is good for the readers, because they can buy more books. It can be good for writers, because they can have more sales. I’m totally love low e-book prices. But it doesn’t mean that they must be low. It’s the choice of the publisher / writer. If the publisher sets the price high, it’s a business decision. We could argue if it’s a good or bad one, but one thing is sure: they have to bear the consequences. In this case the one star reviews.

One could say that these people haven’t reviewed the book itself, their opinion doesn’t tell anything about the story or the quality of the writing. The question is, though, whether we can separate the price from the book. I don’t think so. They go together. Read my other post about the prices and reading value. As the publishers have the choice to set the prices, the readers also have their own choice: to buy or not to buy.

Michael Connelly’s The Burning Room is another book I just don’t buy yet. Right next to Lee Child’s Personal. I’m fine going through my one hundred item reading list and waiting until they reduce the prices of these ones.

The Apex Book of World SF 3 edited by Lavie Tidhar

The Apex Book of World SF 3The Apex Book of World SF 3 by Lavie Tidhar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anthologies usually gather stories with different kind of writing style. This is good and bad the same time. Good, because I can read stories written with different authentic voices. It’s an experience like going to another country with unique culture. Bad, because some of the authors’ voices I find so strange that sometimes I give up on the story. It was so with this anthology too.

I liked several stories. The City of Silence was interesting to read, it allowed me a glimpse into the spirit of the government censure, and it projected what could happen if it goes wild. Brita’s Holiday village was also an interesting piece, which made me think. And I enjoyed the funny story about landing on the Mars and coming out of the ship dancing.

However, there were stories I started to read, but couldn’t finish. Some of them was written on a strange voice, it was hard to read them, so I gave up. Other stories lead nowhere. Maybe it’s only me, because I like fast paced stories and ones with twists, so a story about a drug addict trying to find his way in the world doesn’t appeal to me. And I don’t like horror, so I skipped a few stories.

The Apex Book of World SF 3 is an interesting anthology, bringing together non-native English writers from all around the world.

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