Monday, July 28, 2014

Books I've Read This Week

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell. Look I love Bruce Campbell, probably more than the next guy, I mean he's been making movies and TV shows since the early 80's so there is something there for everyone to love. But read a memoir of a B movie actor, seems sketchy.

It isn't, it is every bit as hilarious and charming as Bruce Campbell. It is an amazing look at his life starting with him making independent films as a teenager, meeting his friend and frequent collaborator Sam Rami and all the way up to his rise to somewhat stardom.

This is a really funny book and a very cautionary tale of what it takes to get into the movie business. Highly recommended.
Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko is the first book in a 5 book series of this translated from Russian urban fantasy series. In this world all of the magical beings and creatures we read stories about are real but they are hidden from regular humans. The magical beings or "Others" as they are called are split into two factions, predictably, light and dark.

There are two groups, The Day Watch who police the light others and The Night Watch, which this book focuses on, who police the dark others. The two groups are in a bit of a stalemate. You see if a light magician does some great good then it gives a dark magician the license to do great evil.

This books is split into three stories where we follow Anton Gorodetsky, a light magician and member of The Night Watch. Anton is a member of the technical staff but due to events out of his control he has to step up and assume more responsibility. Throughout the novel we see Anton struggling with the differences between good and evil.

I enjoyed this book and I'm interested in reading the next novel, The Day Watch, to see the story for the opposite viewpoint.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Books I've Read This Week

London Falling by Paul Cornell is an urban fantasy novel featuring a good old fashion witch but I'm getting ahead of myself. In London four police officers are closing in on a mobster. During the course of their investigation they bump up against the supernatural. Now they are all cursed with the ability to see the shadowy underbelly of London. This brings them into conflict with a real witch. This particular witch loves one of London's football teams and is part of the legend where any opponent who scores 3 goals against her beloved team will die.

This is a really entertaining book. I love the idea of a police force that protects us from the supernatural. It reminds me a lot of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series that way. Plus it is full of Cornell's wit which is British so that's always a plus.
Stuff of Legend Omnibus Two written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, lavishly illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III. As we rejoin the story our intrepid toys are still looking for their boy in The Dark in order to save him from the Boogeyman. After the events of the first omnibus they are separated as the first half of the book deals with the Jester and the second half focusing in on getting all the toys back together.

I really do love this series. If I had any complaint it would be how long it is between books but I shouldn't complain as all of that extra time is poured into the art. The toys just leap off the page and the sepia colouring they use invokes the World War II time period in which the story takes place.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Books I've Read This Week

Skin Game is the latest novel in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I've been a fan of this series for a long time and each novel is an enjoyable fast paced read. In this outing the wizard Harry Dresden who became the Winter's Knight a few books ago must obey Queen Mab and pull a "bank job" with one is his most hated enemies. Obviously Harry is going to get backstabbed but he's gotta play by the rules until his enemy makes a play then all bets are off.
All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka is now adapted into the movie Edge of Tomorrow. I am such a sucker for reading a book before going to watch a movie. It really is the best way to jump a book to the top of my queue. I'm not even sure if I'm going to go see the Edge of Tomorrow but I figured I'd read this first.

This is actually a pretty damn good book. It reminds me a bit of the older power armour books like Starship Troopers by Heinlein and Armor by John Steakly with a dash of the Ken Grimwood's Replay. Anyway in it we follow a Jacket Jockey (power armor) as he fights the invading aliens, then dies only to wake up 48 hours earlier with all of his memories in order to do it all over again. Each battle he gets a little bit better until he is a combat wizard. That's where he runs into another soldier who is experiencing the same thing as he is. Will they be able to figure it out and use this power to defeat the invading aliens?

Anyway, this is a greatly entertaining short (200 pages) or so read. Has anyone seen the movie yet?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Books I've Read This Week

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is the multiple award winning debut novel in the Ancillary series. In it we are following Breq, the last vestige of a massive star cruiser the Justice of Toren, who's bodies or ancillaries one numbered in the thousands. We follow along with Breq as she attempts to obtain a device which will allow her to get revenge on the killer of the Justice of Toren.

This is a fascinating novel exploring what it means to be human in a world where you can have multiple bodies and artificial intelligences run most things. I don't want to give too much away but I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the sequel.
Dad Is Fat is a hilarious memoir of raising 5 kids by stand up comedian Jim Gaffigan. If you are a parent you this material is rolling on the floor laugh out loud stuff. Even if you don't have kids you will find this book genuinely entertaining.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Books I've Read This Week

Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey is my new favourite space opera. I'm glad there is two more books in the series with a fourth one coming out soon. Anyway, in the future humanity has colonized Mars as well as the outer asteroid belt. In this universe where tension between Earth, Mars and the belt, the ice mining ship, Scopuli, responds to a distress signal. Now XO James Holden is in possession of a huge secret that multiple forces are pursing while he attempts to keep himself and his crew alive. At the same time Detective Miller is looking for a missing girl who's investigation will cause him to cross paths with the Scopuli.

Can they figure out what the hell is going on an advert an inter-planetary war?
Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner is the third book in their Freakonomic's series. This book is a bit of a departure from the first two. Instead of diving deep into a number of different topics the author's instead try to teach the reader how to think like a freak. There is some good stuff in this book especially the chapters on how to admit "I don't know", how to think like a child and the upside of quitting.

The bad is the book is pretty short clocking in at just over 200 pages. The actual book is 256 pages but I'm only counting the actual content and not all the Notes and Index sections. That's not a lot of content for $34. Additionally if you are a listener of the Freakonomic's podcast, and you should be it's great, you will find much of the content of this book is a rehash of the podcast.

If you want to save the cash you can get the book from the library or listen to the episodes on How to Think Like a Child and The Upside of Quitting.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Most Expensive Starbucks Rewards Coffee Ever

I haven't posted a coffee related link in awhile but this one is too good to pass up. From Boing Boing:

Most expensive, caffeinated Starbucks drink ever

Andrew Chifari of Dallas, Texas used the free drink earned with his Starbucks Rewards card to get a $54.75 frappuccino containing 60 shots of espresso.

What makes it even more awesome is it was his "free" drink. As well this post brought the website Caffeine Informer to my attention.

Books I've Read This Week

Homeland by Cory Doctorow is a follow to his previous novel Little Brother. Once again the protagonist, Marcus Yallow is caught up in events surrounding shady government agencies. Marcus is given a set of documents by a hacker acquaintance that contains startling wikileaks/Edward Snowden level information and the instructions to publish them on the internet if anything ever happens to her.

This causes no end of problems for Marcus as he's recently been employed as a web master for a crusading politician. How does he get the word out without getting fired or worse getting snatched up by a shadowy government organization.

You don't need to read Little Brother to enjoy this book but I'd recommend that one to anyone as well. This book is part entertainment and part warning of the surveillance state. Based on all of the revelations coming out about the global surveillance infrastructure it is a excellent but chilling read.

As with all of Cory Doctorow's books you can download them free from his website.
Revival Volume 3: A Faraway Place TP by Tim Seeley, art by Mike Norton continues this rural noir tale. Officer Dana Cyprus is closing in on the killer of her sister Em, a reviver, while at the same time Em is looking further into the mystery of the ghostly figures in the woods.

This continues to be one of my favourite series being published. Can't wait for volume 4.