Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recording my Reading

One of my goals for 2012 was to make a record of every book I read. I do read somewhat voraciously, and I found that I’d read books and then they would just drop out of my head completely. No more, I thought.

Fortunately, Goodreads provides me with the means to keep a record. So now, every book gets a rating out of five, a quick review and the date I finished it.

How do I decide on what rating? I had to come up with some kind of scheme. All reviews and ratings are done as soon as possible after the book is finished (or given up on), so there’s little hindsight involved or deeper musings – it’s all about the most immediate reaction.

No stars – So bad I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.
1 Star – At least I finished it. But that’s about all I can say.
2 Star – Not recommended, fails to entertain but there is something that redeems it from being something I actively dislike.
3 Star – Solid, I’d say give it a go if you like that sort of thing – essentially, the book does what it says on the tin.
4 Star – Above the call of duty – pushes the barriers a little more. Go on, read it, even if this not usually your thing.
5 Star – Go and read it now. You have no choice, you must read this. Hits all the right buttons and then a bit more.

A few examples...

No stars – “Star Wars – I, Jedi” – it had a great premise, the first person narrative of a man on a revenge mission who has Jedi powers, hence conflicted between the light and dark...but it was just dull, was going nowhere. Gave up.
1 star – Kevin J Anderson Star Wars books – I finished them just to see what would happen, but sort of regret doing so.
2 star – Dragonlance – unoriginal, fantasy pulp with very annoying main character that managed to all come together at the end. Unfortunately it was only at the end.
3 star – The Da Vinci Code – a thumping good read, but your life will not be incomplete without it.
4 star – True Grit – a western, with outlaws, gunslingers, chases and shootouts. And a terrific first person voice and character that shines through. Maybe you don’t like cowboy stories, but you will like powerful characters up against each other, their enemies and the frontier itself.
5 star – The Grapes of Wrath – JUST GO AND READ IT NOW.

A recent 4 Star book was "Antithesis" by New Zealand author, Pat Whitaker. My review:

"Intelligent science fiction - there's a novelty. No hyperspace, no big robots, no time travel, just a well thought out story about ants.
Well, there's a fair bit more than ants going on, although, as Whitaker clearly enjoys his research you will learn a lot about the creature that makes up possibly one fifth of all the biomass on Earth.
One of the book's strengths is the sense of location - Whitaker really makes Namibia come alive, and brings a sense of history and how that has affected and continues to affect local communities.
If the book has a fault, then the main character is perhaps too good (at her profession, morally, socially) and a touching subplot about a local girl is resolved a little too quickly.
The ants are the stars of the story, Whitaker keeps it tight and efficient - much like the insects themselves."

I do recommend seeking it out - first of all, its simply a good piece of intelligent sci-fi, and secondly, it's good to support independant authors and publishers. Click on the link above to go to Smashwords where you can download a copy.

And today's drabble is a shameless trailer for the upcoming "Royal Wedding from Hell":

It is 2011. The world suffers from the worst economic meltdown in decades. Millions of people are       struggling.
Goddamnit, we need a party. Luckily, there’s a big one coming.
Prince William is about to marry Kate Middleton in the biggest show of British pageantry since Charles married Di.
Hundreds of thousands will line the streets.
Millions will watch on TV.
Nothing can go wrong.
But Harry has lost the rings.
And an ancient evil is stirring.

All of the romance,
All of the pageantry,
All of the flesh hungry beasts of the abyss,
“The Royal Wedding from Hell”
April 2012

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