September 24, 2012

Review: Charlie's Trips by Jack Felson

Product Description: A tornado sweeps through an area of the deep Midwest and takes away a teenage soldier, Charlie Bradshaw, who's hurled into space-time and ends up 21years later, on the West Coast, off San Francisco. He's found on a beach, alive but unconscious. As he emerges from a 2-day coma, he has a vision and prediction: another disaster, a big earthquake. But he doesn't know he's on TV camera. He doesn't know either that his memory has gone 'reverse'. There are many other things he's still unaware of...

Written in a straight, very cinematic style, "Charlie's Trips" is an insolent tale of science-fiction that plays with several literary and cinematic myths (notably "The Wizard of Oz") as it introduces us to a new kind of hero: an 'amnesic psychic', able to see into the future when he lost his past. As it also asks us this question: is it possible to live in 'reverse' mode?

My Thoughts: Initially I was a little disturbed by how young Charlie was and thought it was way too unrealistic that he was in the military at the age of 16. I wondered why the author didn't make the character just a couple of years older to make the story more realistic but when the rest of the story unfolded I could see the reasons behind the author's decision to make him so young.

I really enjoyed the storyline and turn of events however I didn't rate the book higher because the writing didn't flow very well in my opinion. It was a bit choppy and the dialogue seemed very forced in some instances. Also the ending was just a bit too abrupt. I actually thought some of the book just got chopped off of the ebook version I was reading instead of leaving a cliff hanger.

My Recommendation: I recommend Charlie's Trips for anyone who loves sci-fi but I'd possbly wait for the next book in the series so it's a seamless read instead of being left wondering if the book is really over.

September 5, 2012

Review: Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie

Day after day, Jacob Boyce – faltering academic and failing husband – visits a 17th century allegorical painting which hangs in a Glasgow art gallery. By using a series of measurements and calculations, he attempts to create a mathematical theory that will decipher the code locked into its canvas.

As more of the painting’s hidden secrets are revealed, and he meets a mysterious young woman, Jacob’s life spirals into chaos.

The object of his obsession has begun to move.

Painting by Numbers is a dark, surreal thriller that follows one man’s relentless pursuit into an old truth buried deep within.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever read a book that makes you want to read it all over again once you get through to the end? Painting by Numbers is just such a book. I read the last page and I immediately wanted to start over again so I can see if there was anything that pointed to the shocking ending.

From the opening scene I was sucked into the story and was eagerly turning the pages. Jacob is such a tragic character and even though you can see where his downward spiral is heading you can't help but hope that things turn around for him. When they don't your left guessing how he pulls himself out of the mess he's made.

It's been a couple of weeks since I finished Painting by Numbers and the ending still haunts me. I recommend this one for anyone who loves a shocking suspense thriller.

September 3, 2012

Review: The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter & Terry Pratchett

Product Description:

The possibilities are endless. (Just be careful what you wish for. . . .)

1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong and the wind in the leaves. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive—some say mad, others allege dangerous—scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson find a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and . . . a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.

My thoughts:

The book synopsis doesn't really explain what the book is all about but in a nutshell it's about the invention of a box that allows anyone to shift into a parallel earth which becomes known as "stepping". The story follows a few characters, the main one being Joshua who actually has the ability to step naturally.

Joshua and a computerized being called Lobsang, set to stepping to find out just how many earths there are and learn more about the different beings who populate these other worlds.

Having only read one other Terry Pratchett book and none from Stephen Baxter I didn't have any expectations other than a great sic-fi read. I was very disappointed with The Long Earth because the story was hard to understand at first and when I finally was able to make sense of the storyline the authors seem to go in too many directions at once. Then when things are finally getting good there isn't any inkling of a climax or resolution to the story, just a weak cliff hanger.

My Recommendation:
Since I am not familiar with either author's works I don't know if being a fan would be a pro or con for reading this book but as a light sci-fi reader can't really recommend The Long Earth as a must-read. I'd save this one for a library read or borrowed from a friend.