Review: Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this story on audiobook so I could listen to it on my way to and from work. The quality of narration is excellent and on a par with other Stephen King audiobooks I’ve listened to.

The story is cleverly written to link into the previous novel in the series being a direct sequel. If you hadn’t read the previous book you wouldn’t be at a huge disadvantage reading this one as King fills in the gaps and brings you quickly up to speed.

The story starts in the past and flicks between past and present as it sets the scene for the story and introduces the characters. Gradually the plot picks up steam and the pace starts to increase, and it isn’t until more than half way through the book that the link to the previous book in the series becomes clear and the characters meet.

I enjoyed this book but there isn’t a lot to it compared to some of King’s other novels and once again the ending is a bit of an anti-climax. I’d still recommend this book to others but I hope that King’s next book has a little more of the supernatural in and a better ending 🙂

View all my reviews

Review: The Martian

The Martian
The Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The measure of a good book is how much you want to read it (or in this case listen to the book – my copy came from Audible). I looked forward to the next installment to find out how our astronaut (Mark Watney) would survive being abandoned on Mars.

The book is quite technical and there is a lot of science in there. Most of it seems plausible and you should perhaps be more concerned about the number of times luck is on the side of Mark Watney than the accuracy of the science. The book does a fairly good job of exploring how it would feel to be left behind and to be the only living organism on the entire planet. There is plenty of Martian geography in the story and even reference to old Mars rovers that are not longer in use.

I would like to know what happens after the story – there were a number of plot lines that I felt would lead somewhere only to be abandoned at the end. The audio book is extremely well read and around 11 hours in length making it a good buy. I would recommend this book without hesitation.

View all my reviews

Update – my daily speed tests @virginmedia




I posted a short while ago because I had been experiencing poor speeds with Virginmedia on my 50Mb connection.

Over the course of this week I realised I couldn’t remote into my home connection and realised I had been given a new IP address.  As this rarely happens I wondered if this had fixed my poor speeds.

It’s early days yet and whilst not perfect it’s great to have a useable connection back in the evenings.  You can see from my speed test results above that there is a noticeable difference in the connection speeds at peak times.

The utilisation fault referred to in my last post wasn’t due to be fixed until November so I’m not sure what has changed,  hence the uncertainty over my recently improved speeds.  My ego would like to think that my efforts on social media made a difference but it was probably just a scheduled upgrade.

I won’t be posting any more daily speed tests unless there is a deterioration in my download speeds again.

Of course this doesn’t excuse the act of over-selling capacity in my area, or the fact that so many people all over the country aren’t getting their promised connection speeds with Virgin.   Competition is the best motivator for companies to improve and people experiencing poor speeds need to be vocal about them if anything is to be done.

Review: Blake’s 7: Lucifer

Blake's 7: Lucifer
Blake’s 7: Lucifer by Paul Darrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is really mostly for us ageing Blake’s 7 fans. The book starts with the story of Avon and his current location. Throughout the novel (which is about the right length and easy to read) the story explains a little about the Quartet which rules after the fall of Servelan and the federation. We find out how Avon escaped death (I’ve waited 30 years to know how this happened!) and what he is up to now. The character of Kerr Avon is in keeping with the tv series and the writing (which is surprisingly good for Paul Darrow) is also in keeping with the series.

Perhaps only for hardcore fans of the TV series but a good complement for my growing collection of audioplays etc from Big Finish.

View all my reviews

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brilliant idea for a book let down slightly in execution. Slow in parts and full of characters that have problems or personality disorders. I think Rachel’s landlady is the only “normal” person in the book. The plot twists and narration were enough to keep me listening to the end (I got my copy from Audible) but unfortunately I predicted the ending about three quarters of the way through the book (pretty obvious as you know the author is constructing a plot twist with a limited number of options or characters). I still enjoyed the book – and I’m glad I don’t have nearly as many problems as the characters in the book!

View all my reviews

Review: The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness

The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness
The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Steve Peters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I heard Professor Steve Peters speak at the ASCL conference about his work and his book. As well as being a very entertaining speaker his ideas seemed to make sense, essentially a model for how your brain works and how to learn to work with the primitive aspects to the brain.

I’ll confess I didn’t read the book in the traditional sense but I listened to the book, read by Prof Peters himself (courtesy of my Audible subscription). I find non-fiction books hard to read and thought an audio book would be easier than reading. With a hundred minutes in the car each day the audiobook was indeed better than a paper copy although I did have a tendency to let my mind wander (probably because you don’t get the same kind of imagery in your brain as you do reading a fiction book).

The first few chapters of the book covered the material Steve used in his talk about the chimp, the computer and the human in your brain (SEN teachers will be able to relate to the concept of the chimp being in control!). As well as giving a model to explain how your brain works, the purpose of the book is to train you how to program the brain, replacing the things that happen instinctively with things that you would prefer happen. This is then extended into target/goal setting for yourself and for working with others.

The book avoids using terminology that would bamboozle readers and keeps things simple, explaining why you have to set and follow the strategies set if you want to succeed (and some excellent advice about finding a partner). I would recommend this book to people from all walks of life who want improve their lives by achieving success, happiness and confidence!

View all my reviews

Review: Revival

Revival by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not one of his best books, I gave up on this and came back to it a month later.

So what’s wrong with the book? Whilst the story telling is up to his usual standard, the story being told is not. It lacks pace and the characters don’t grab you and hold your interest like a regular King book. The plot is slow to develop and consequently the story takes place over the lifetime of the characters involved. The ending is when King chooses to pull the threads together and is adequate but not one of his best.

There are a few chapters where you want to read on and find out what happens next but these are few and far between. I have to say I’m disappointed by this book, it contains the smallest of ideas stretched out to fill a whole book and King is capable of much more…

View all my reviews

Review: The Silkworm

The Silkworm
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book after enjoying the first in the series and this is more of the same. Whilst not quite as good as the first as the first book, this book follows a similar formula with a high profile murder and lots of twists and turns.

Although we are familiar with the characters, Galbraith manages to weave more information about them and their lives into the narrative of the story. The story crafting is good and I found it easy to visualise the characters from the detailed description and attention to detail.

As with the previous book, this is an adults only book with the occasional piece of strong language (thrown in to make a point?). However the pace of the story and the twists and plot developments held me until the end.

I look forward to reading the next in the series!

View all my reviews

Review: Malware

Malware by Stephen J. Sweeney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d rate this book as a 3.5/5

Whilst the first book was more about hacking and a little less far-fetched, this book is what happens after the hacking and when things have all gone wrong. Much of this story happens in cyberspace and it has a number of similarities to the Matrix in that respect.

This isn’t a bad book by any means but it doesn’t live up to the first book. A little far fetched and with a few plot holes (not to mention a very convenient and rosy ending) it lacks the believability of the first instalment.

Read it to find out how the story ends, but it won’t make much sense without the first book to fill in the back story.

View all my reviews

Review: Firmware

Firmware by Stephen J. Sweeney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The scary thing about this book is that it isn’t too hard to imagine…

At the moment people are concerned about the loss of privacy associated with the internet and smart phones. Some people hack and root their phones to get extra features or make them better (including improving privacy). This story tells of a future where people have chips implanted in their head. A few people have learned how to hack these to give extra abilities and talents.

Unfortunately the company running the chips (and the software) aren’t as transparent as we would like, and it is down to a group of hackers to guess what they are up to.

I enjoyed this book and whilst it isn’t very long (or it didn’t take long to read) I would recommend it to my sci-fi fans. Unfortunately you have to be prepared to read the sequel to find out how it ends but don’t let that put you off!

View all my reviews