Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Short Story Review: The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

Science fiction is at its best with short stories. This medium is just long enough to present the basic outlines of the setting, but short enough to pack an emotional punch. The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin was an amazing sci-fi the likes of which I haven't read in a long long time.While I usually review novels or novellas only, this deserves a mention on this blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

I bought this book because Sam Sykes told me to on twitter:
"Hey, this cereal says there's a free prize inside!"
*children cheer as they empty cereal box*
*my disembodied head rolls out*
Buy my book
* @scalzi at book signing*
"Who am I making this out--"
Buy my book.
*he looks up*
*fan is me*
*whole line is me*
*looks down*
*book is me*
*family at beach*
"Look, a shell. If you hold it up to your ear, you can hear the ocean."
*child does so*
*hears my voice*
Buy my book
Sam Sykes is hilarious on Twitter and I recommend following him even if you don't read his books. Every so often he would come up with a crazy/weird/surreal twitter-length story ending with "Buy my book." He probably has hundreds of these. I wonder if anyone managed to collect all of them? These gags were funny and served to constantly remind me to buy his book. In the end, I bought the book and I don't regret it one bit.

Continue on to read my (mostly) spoiler-free review. ("Mostly" because a few minor points are mentioned).

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: The Fear Index by Robert Harris

The Fear Index by Robert Harris was the latest book selected in our Santiago book club. This is a thriller and a very fast read. Different from what we've read recently, hence the selection.

Here is the Goodreads blurb:
Meet Alex Hoffmann: among the secretive inner circle of the ultra-rich, he is something of a legend.
Based in Geneva, he has developed a revolutionary system that has the power to manipulate financial markets. Generating billions of dollars, it is a system that thrives on panic - and feeds on fear.
And then, in the early hours of one morning, while he lies asleep, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of his lakeside home.
So begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts - with increasing desperation - to discover who is trying to destroy him - before it's too late ...

And now for my spoiler-free review.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Book Review: Sixth of the Dusk by Brandon Sanderson

Sixth of the Dusk is Brandon Sanderson's latest novella. As a huge fan of Sanderson's work, I bought this without even reading up on what it's about. If it's Sanderson, it has to be good. And indeed, I was not disappointed. It is short, as it's a novella, so my review will just present a basic overview of what it's about. One of the great aspects of reading a Sanderson novel is discovering the world. I mildly spoil that, but not too much and certainly avoid direct spoilers concerning the story and the mysteries of the world.

Read on for my full review.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

This is the latest book we've read for the book club here in Santiago. It is very different from everything else I've read and reviewed here mainly because it is a straight up autobiography. As such, I will not review it in the same fashion as other books and instead give my overall impression as I briefly summarize it.

The book details the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born Ayaan Hirsi Magan in Muslim Somalia and how she ends up with a political career in the Netherlands. It's a book of a painful life as she struggles through cultural and religious oppression and achieves her freedom, a freedom that costs her dearly and places her life in mortal danger. It is not a light, easy book and will instead force you to think about some potentially controversial subjects.

Now, on to the review.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Journey to Northern Patagonia

The Marble Caves / Las Cuevas de Marmol

A week ago, I took a brief journey with my good friend Jackie to part of Northern Patagonia in Chile. I realize I haven't always written summaries of my trips and that's a shame. I'll have to remember to do this more often as it's fun to have it written down.

This trip consisted of a drive across various small towns as well as experiencing how the people there celebrate the Fiestas Patrias (the Chilean independence holidays), a boat trip to the fabled Marble Caves, and lots of traveling across beautiful rivers, valleys, and mountains with waterfall after waterfall. It was a great journey and my first time in these parts of Chile. In this blog post, I'll briefly recount the adventures we had, both to keep it as a memory and to perhaps help future travelers thinking of visiting Southern Chile.

As always, the pictures can be clicked to see larger versions.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder

I picked up this book a long time ago, when Amazon was having a sale. The blurb sounded interesting, so I got it without really checking what the book was about, a truly spontaneous purchase. Because of that, however, I left it in my Kindle for a long time instead of reading it. Here's the blurb:

It is the distant future. The world known as Virga is a fullerene balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter, filled with air, water, and aimlessly floating chunks of rock. The humans who live in this vast environment must build their own fusion suns and "towns" that are in the shape of enormous wood and rope wheels that are spun for gravity. 

Young, fit, bitter, and friendless, Hayden Griffin is a very dangerous man. He's come to the city of Rush in the nation of Slipstream with one thing in mind: to take murderous revenge for the deaths of his parents six years ago. His target is Admiral Chaison Fanning, head of the fleet of Slipstream, which conquered Hayden's nation of Aerie years ago. And the fact that Hayden's spent his adolescence living with pirates doesn't bode well for Fanning's chances...

For my full review, read on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites is the third book in the Discworld universe. That being said, it little to do with the prior two books (The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic) and can be read on its own. I've read very little into the Discworld, yet I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Some people claim that Terry Pratchett's early work isn't that good, which is incredible since the ones I've read (the first 3) are excellent! I can't wait to get on to his later stuff.

This book deals with all the craziness of the Discworld, again. The story revolves around a young girl who wants to go to the Unseen University, the venerable institution that teaches magic to young men in order for them to become wizards. It makes it sound like lots of deep, abstract thinking is required to succeed. But hey, if you have the talent: nothing is stopping you! But this is Discworld, where nonsense and crazy is the norm. So there's one extra rule: you have to be a man to be a wizard. Good thing such gender biases do not happen in the real world! Oh wait.....

Read on for my full review!