Blog Archives

Saturday Snapshot – January scenes

A couple of pictures from January 2012

Moon over Askøy

Our mailperson hard at work earlier today

Modelling

Saturday snapshotThis meme is hosted by Alyce from At Home With Books

To participate in Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken. Photos can be old or new, and can be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. All Alyce asks is that you don’t post random photos that you find online.

Surface Detail – Review

Title: Surface Detail
Author: Iain M. Banks

Publisher: Orbit
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 627
Originally published: 2010

Genre: Science Fiction
The dice landed on: 5
Did I finish?: Yes.
Do I like the cover?: It’s OK.

Short summary: Some societies have hells while others are very much against keeping those kinds of afterlives. To settle the matter a virtual war has been going on for a long time. But now, one side is loosing, and the war is moving into the Real.

The short summary isn’t even close to describing all the things that goes on in this novel. The war of the hells are the framework, but in it we have the academics who’s entered a hell intending to get back out again and testify about it, the young woman who is murdered by her owner/rapist only to come back to life on a Culture ship far away, the soldier in the virtual war who keeps getting killed, the Culture agent, the evil businessman, the sweet looking and scheeming against everyone aliens, and a bunch of Culture ships with vastly different personalities.

This book has a wide scope, from galaxy wide politics to individual misery. As all Culture books I’ve ever read this one too is wildly complicated with lots of characters, both pan-human, alien and ship AIs. So, it requires a bit of concentration to keep them all straight in your head. But, if you manage to do that this is both a very entertaining and thought provoking read. The need some cultures have to maintain hellish afterlifes (yes, they are virtual) as treats for their citizens, are of course abhorrent to the Culture, and to most of us I should think. I certainly find their reasons awful and is firmly on the anti-hell side.

I think it’s an advantage to have read several other Culture books, as I would probably find the universe a lot harder to grasp if I wasn’t already familiar with it.  But I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone already familiar with and enjoying the Culture or anyone who likes science fiction with big ideas, complicated stories and the odd space battle. At times it’s also a very funny book.

If you want to familiarize yourself with the Culture I would recommend starting with Consider Phlebas, that’s were I started.

Booking through Thursday – Writing or Riveting

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme in which we answer a question about books or reading.

What’s more important: Good writing? Or a good story?

(Of course, a book should have BOTH, but…)

Yes, a book should have both, but…
It doesn’t help that the story is great if the prose is dismal, and it doesn’t help if the writing is great if the story is uninteresting. So, I guess the difference comes when the one thing is great and the other is passable.

Through the years I’ve figured out a few facts about myself. One of the is that I’m an action driven reader. If the story doesn’t grab my attention a book will never get top marks from me, however luminous the prose is. Sometimes I read a book, and I can gush about the language to anyone willing to listen (mostly Kristin), but if there’s something lacking in the story it still won’t be a favorite. On the other hand, a wonderful story with language good enough not to annoy me, might get top marks. That usually means that the prose is good, but not good enough to deserve special attention when I read.

The best reading experiences are when both the language and the writing is great. Thinking back to last year I can remember at least three books that had it all: Among Others by Jo Walton, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

So, yes, both is better. But if I have to choose between two evils, passable language and great story.

Book Beginnings on Friday – Surface Detail

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.

Iain M. Banks write long science fiction novels, so it’s always a bit daunting to start a new one by him. Surface Detail has been sitting in Mount TBR for a while, but I joined a few reading challenges for 2012, put it on the list so I should get my act together and start reading it. I’m just about halfway through and enjoying myself, like I’ve always done when reading one of his books.

It begins thusly (Sorry, I’ve overdosed on Big Bang Theory and couldn’t resist. Thusly is now a part of my vocabulary.):

“This one might be trouble.”

She heard one of them say this, only ten or so metres away in the darkness. Even over her fear, the sheer naked terror of being hunted, she felt a shiver of excitement, of something like triumph, when she realised they were talking about her. Yes, she thought, she would be trouble, she already was trouble.

Good beginning. Don’t you think?

Booking through Thursday – Skipping

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme in which we answer a question about books or reading.

I saw this article the other day that asked, “Are you ashamed of skipping parts of books?” Which, naturally, made me want to ask all of YOU.

Do you skip ahead in a book? Do you feel badly about it when you do?

I sometimes do skip ahead, for a few different reasons.

Descriptions of how people look tend to make me impatient. I really don’t care about that kind of information, at least not when it takes more than two sentences, so I skip it.

Relationship angst, loves me, loves me not…. – aaaargh!!!! Skip.

When a book is really exciting I tend to skip ahead because I can’t wait to see what happens. At those times skipping is really a sort of compliment to the book.

I don’t feel bad about skipping. I don’t do it that much, and when I do it makes me happier with a book than I would otherwise have been.

Blood Red Road – Review

Title: Blood Red Road
Author: Moira Young

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 464
Originally published: 2011

Genre: Dystopia
The dice landed on: 4
Did I finish?: Yes.
Do I like the cover?: It’s OK

Short summary: Saba’s brother Lugh gets kidnapped and Saga, followed by their younger sister, sets out to rescue him.

Saba is an interesting heroine. Brave, strong, short tempered, unfair, infuriating, afraid and crazy determined. Saba and several other people in this book are worth getting to know. The villains are also rather interesting and really, really bad. Jack, the young man Saba meets on her journey, is someone I hope we get to know better as the series move along.

It took a little time getting used to the language in this book. The spelling of some words are changed to make it plausible that Saba is telling the story. There’s also a lot of dialog, but no quotation marks, something that took a little while to get used to. As soon as I got used to it I liked it. It fit the way an uneducated young woman might write.

So, I liked this book, but not as much as I wanted to. Frankly, it reminded me too much of The Hunger Games. The world isn’t the same, but it had some similarities. So does our young heroines. And The Huger Games are better. But, Blood Red Road is the first in a series, and the series might grow to be very good, and a lot different from The Hunger Games, as it goes along.

So, it’s an exciting read. It’s certainly not even close to being bad, and it might be the beginning of an excellent series. We’ll see.

Sunday Fog

On Sunday there was a river of fog running out the fjord. I took these photos at different times during the day, fascinated by the way the fog was moving.

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