Saturday, 24 December 2011

The RowanThe Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this as an adult and not the conventional audience, I didn’t think that I would like this work. But, I did. It is a charming well written work. The story is simple but well structured and you are quickly drawn into the narrative. The characters are well drawn and come alive off the page.

View all my reviews

Friday, 16 December 2011

reading Australian women

I am doing the Australian women;s writers challenge next year. Genre challenge - science (purist) fiction  fantasy , horror. Franklin-fantastic (read 10 and review at least 4 books)* next year. Whose with me.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Zoo CityZoo City by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why did I read this book

I have wanted to read this book for some time. However, The hype that surrounded it made me hesitate. But, It's constant appearance on award lists encouraged me to finally dig it off the to be read shelves and read it.

enjoyability 1 star
I was pleasantly surprised. For once, the book lived up to the hype. It was an interesting, disturbing and emotive read.

Accessibility 1 star

This is a relatively new book and therefore it's available in most formats. The E book (Kindle version) was good quality.

world building 1 star

The world of this book is a believable one. You are instantly immersed in the dingy, corrupt, future world, that will be South Africa.

language 1 star

The language mirrors the narrators character well, being grungy (street) enough to be believable, and of place, while still managing to be understandable.

Thematic Content 1 star

This books looks at issues of guilt and identity

View all my reviews

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Life of an Unknown ManThe Life of an Unknown Man by Andreï Makine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is beautifully presented and I love the cover. The typeface is very accessible. Looking at Amazon, I found that this book is available in all formats (excepting audio). So, it gets a good mark for accessibility. I give it 5/5.

It is difficult to discuss the language of this book. Since, it is in translation. But, whoever deserves the credit, this book is beautifully written. The descriptions put you in the world and is heartbreakingly beautiful. The structure of the book time hops between the siege of Leningrad and today's Russia/France. The two main characters are: an ageing Russian write, who is living in France, going through a mid-life crisis and who returns to Russia to recreate a youthful love affair; and a elderly man who survived the siege of Leningrad and now sits quietly in a flat which he no longer owns. The scenes in the siege are heart breaking. This book encourages you to think about the themes of history and loss - For story and writing -5/5.

View all my reviews

Monday, 31 October 2011

Ragnarok: the End of the Gods (Myths)Ragnarok: the End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will begin with accessibility. This is still in print and looking at Amazon ( it is available; in hard cover, paperback, Kindle and audio editions. It is a beautiful book. The cover and images really add to the reading experience. The type face makes the book really readable. The references at the back of the book allow you to follow up the themes mentioned within this text. Therefore, I give this book 5/5 for accessibility and presentation.

The structure of this work is unusual. It combines the story of a young girl surviving WW11 with the story of the Nordic Gods to create a new tale. If the reviews on Goodreads are anything to go by, many readers find the structure problematic. But, I really like it. I thought that the combination of history and myth made the myths seem more alive and relevant. The structure weaves a web of stories, bringing to life our; mythological past, Historical experience and our dystopian future. My only reservation is that the style of this book could feel messy. But, it works for me. Therefore, I give this structure 5/5. The language is typical Byatt. If, like me, you respect her style of writing, then you will like this. But,If you don't like Byatt's writing style, then you won't like this work. I give this book 5/5 for language.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Bones of TimeThe Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I blame the Coode Street podcast for my addition to the this author. They raved about the Nanotech quartet and they motivated me to find the first book Queen City Jazz. I loved it and now I am reading the writers work. I will review Nanotech quartet when I have completed it. But since this is a single book, I will review it now.

I will begin with accessibility and presentation. The cover is great but the font is small. I had to get a second hand copy. So, I imagine that this book is out of print. (If publishers stumble upon this review. REPUBLISH THIS BOOK NOW.) So, the accessibility score will be quite low and will not reflect my feelings for this book or the author. I give 2/5.

The structure is complex, flying between two, or three, different eras. This could have made it a complex read. But, Goonan's artistry makes this book readable. Therefore, I give the book 5/5 for structure.

The world is futuristic but, in some-ways realistic. If you're one of those people who ask for absolute realism in predictions, then you might have issues with this book. We're now living in one of the time periods of this book. But we don't have all the technology. However, I do not judge sci-fi by its predictive abilities. Despite their futuristic dilemmas, the characters are well drawn and you care about them. The world seemed real and interesting even though I am not qualified to judge the realism of her descriptions of Tibet. I give the book 5/5.

The science, and the ethical issues that arise from it, made me consider the issues of; time, identity, imperialism and the limits of science. So, I give this book 5/5 for thematic content.

View all my reviews

The Island of Dr. MoreauThe Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am adding a new section to my reviews. In future, I will look at accessibility. This section will cover everything from size of print, to book size and if the book is still in print. The type of things which an author has little control over but that are very important to the reader. Well, this is a classic and therefore is still in print. Looking at Amazon, there are plenty of editions to choose from. It is available for Kindle and it looks like there are several audio versions. The book is short and the copy I read was paperback. The type face was Okay. So, it was a fairly convenient read. Therefore, I will give the book 5/5 for accessibility.

This is a classic and you can tell. The writing is impeccable. But, there's something about Well's writing style that seems to alienate me from the text. I can't put my finger on why. But, the writing seems to distance me from the story and the characters. Here's a question for you; do you think that this might have been intentional? Was Wells trying to alienate the reader from the story? Or, is it just that his writing style doesn't suit me? So, I give the language 3/5

The themes timeless and universal. It looks at the issues of vivisection and the limits of science. While, exploring the deeper conceptual questions of what makes a human and what are our responsibilities to each other. In addition, like much of the Wells cannon it questions class relationships within a capitalist society. These themes seems just as relevant today as they were in Well's time and therefore I give it 5/5 for thematic contact.

I always have problems with Well's characters. I either have no sympathy for them or they irritate me. The main character of this book is no different. I did not feel any sympathy for him and I found him irritating. I thought that he was a weaker version of Guliver Gulliver's Travels. In fact the ending of this book, when the protagonist begins to hate humanity and isolates it seems to mirror the ending of Gulliver's Travels. Therefore, I give it 3/5 for character. But, This maybe my own personal blind spot coming into play.

According to China Miéville, this is one of the key works of weird fiction and therefore one of key inspirations of his work and weird fiction. So, therefore, this will be of interest for those, like myself, who are interested in these sub-genres.

What do you think of these longer reviews? Have you read this book? What did you think?

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Kingdom of Gods (The Inheritance Trilogy, #3)The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since this book is so new, I will keep this review as vague as possible. I fell in love with this series when I read the book for a goodreads reading group. Jemisin hooked me on page one, of book one, and kept my interest tilt the last page of this book. The world is big enough to be fantastical and yet small enough to be intimate and character driven, this book has its roots within epic fantasy while modernising, and diversifying that sub-genre. The imagery, whether it’s the Castle of Sky or slums that surround it, is magnificent. The reader places you firmly in the moment and grounds you in the location.

View all my reviews

Friday, 7 October 2011

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first post following my Booker Journey and this was just what the doctor ordered. After all that literary fiction, I was craving some science fiction. This acted as a perfect tonic. It’s light touch was just what I needed after heavier books that make up the booker list. This book is a roller coaster of a ride. It has your heart racing from the first page. It is a page turner that never lets you go. This writer knows how to pace a story. His main influences are eighties pop-culture and this shows in his work. This will make this book a nostalgic read for someone, like myself, who grew up in this decade. This is a fun read

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

SnowdropsSnowdrops by A.D. Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This the last book from the booker short list and it left me cold. I could see that it had merit. But, it did little to move me. It covers a westerners view of modern day Russia. I could see that the main character was having a rough time but did not care for him. The other characters seem to be stereotypes; the corrupt, party oligarch come tycoon and the gold digging Russian women. I know these people exist but there must be more to them than this. Russia itself comes across as a stereotype, full of corruption and stupid western business.

View all my reviews

Monday, 26 September 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Online

I know that I have already posted today. But, I thought you might be interested in this. Call it a bonus.

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Online:

JERUSALEM — Two thousand years after they were written and decades after they were found in desert caves, some of the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls are available online.

Israel's national museum and the international web giant Google are behind the project, which put five scrolls online Monday. The scrolls include the biblical Book of Isaiah.


More on Israel

Jamrach's MenagerieJamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I’m nearly done with the booker shortlist, only one more book after this one. I must say that this has been my favourite book on this list. The story had me gripped from page one and kept me within its clutches right until the end. Its structure, beginning in the characters childhood, makes you really get to know the characters and therefore makes you care about what happens to them in later life. It makes you even more heart broken when things do not go their way. I don’t think that this will win but I am hoping that it does. It deserves it.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Half Blood BluesHalf Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story is played on a large geographical and political stage. It has Europe as it canvas. It covers the experiences of ‘Black’ and ‘Mixed Race’ individuals, living in Europe, during the reign of the Fascist Government. But, it also looks at the lives of individuals. This book is voiced from the perspective of an elderly African American who is looking back on a time when he was living in a racist, Nazi, Germany. He speaks of the lives of his band mates as they; formed friendship, played music, found that they were not as talented as they thought they were, betrayed each other and tried to keep one step ahead of the Nazi police.I loved the lightly poetical language, and the beautiful descriptive passages that make you feel that you are in the scene with the characters. You were with them as they hid in different, uncomfortable rooms in which Louis XIV chairs looked like “geese hiding from the hatchet”. (p.6) in a flat that was so empty that it was “... only depths, like you stranded at sea. Whole place nothing but darkness...” (ibid). You felt their fear as they fled from one country to another. This is an important book that should be read by many people

View all my reviews

Friday, 16 September 2011

Pigeon EnglishPigeon English by Stephen Kelman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I just finished Pigeon English. This was the third booker prize short-listed (2011) book that I have read. I must say that it didn't seem to have any impact on me at all. I scan read the final chapters. Perhaps, It was due to my allergy to books which have young working class boys as their main narrator/character. I had to read Kes and Billy Liar for my school exams and hated them. This has led me to have an allergy to these kind of books. Will this win the booker? My money, if I were a betting type, would still be on Julian Barnes. But, this stands a chance. It's what they like. It might remind them, as it does the blurb writer, of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It may also remind them of Kes, Billy Liar and other books in the long tradition books about working class boys, including Oliver Twist etc., Have you read this book? what did you think?

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Sisters BrothersThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, this is the second book from the Booker Prize Short list. Let me first admit that I am not a big fan of either westerns or comedy. I would not have read this book except for the fact that it is on the Booker Short List. So, if you like comedy or Westerns, ignore this review and try this book. The idea that lies behind the work is novel and interesting. But, for me the book itself doesn’t fulfil the potential of the ideas on which it is built. I just didn’t feel that I knew the characters. I couldn’t empathise with them. And, therefore didn’t really care what happens to them. I am not sure if this will win. The Julian Barnes stands a better chance. Since, he is a tried and tested author. But, a comedy won last year and this is a historical novel of sorts. They’re usually a safe bet. Next book Pigeon English

View all my reviews

Monday, 12 September 2011

Booker Short-list Review number 1 -The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes-

This year I have decided to read, and blog about, the Man Booker prize short listed books. I will do this in the order that they arrive from the library or Amazon. This is the first book that I have read. The first thing to say about this book is that it is short, weighing in at 149 pages. It really is nothing to write home about. It is standard literary fiction stuff. Pseudo intellectual, pretentious unknowing young lad grows into cynical, unknowing, apathetic retiree who learns that he never actually understood what was happening to him. What do you think of this work? Have you read any of the Booker shortlist? What did you think?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I have wanted to read it for a long time and was glad that I did. I found it be well written with captivating characters, a strong plot and ideas that really made you think. The book crossed genre borders, being at once magic realism, science fiction, 'weird fiction'? and literary fiction.

View all my reviews

Man Booker Prize 2011 shortlist announced: Man Booker Prize news

Friday, 1 July 2011

SF Signal: NOMINEES: 2010 Shirley Jackson Awards

Not a full blog post today. That will happen some time next week. But this is just to tell you that the Shirley Jackson Award finalists have just been announced. SF Signal: NOMINEES: 2010 Shirley Jackson Awards

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Changes in social media focus

I have recently realised that my social media strategy is a mess: too many blogs; many of which are inactive; too many twitter accounts, too much cross posting and too little focus. Changes have to be made. Therefore, this is the plan.

@agentofchage will be political stuff
@Vizk will be writing related stuff
@uniquecomunica will be my personal doings

Vikz Richards will remain as it is

Life Journal will be basically what it says on the tin. It will be my daily doings.
Blogger will be now two accounts this will mainly focus on political stuff will as the name implies will deal with writing, new media and books

Tumbler – will be a general site and carry highlights from all and maybe video and audio extras
Word press- I am unsure what to do with this. It may be deleted or become disability specific.