Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick update: Sale's over on Amazon

Sadly the book's back to a whopping $12.99 now. Honestly, had I not caught it and still wanted it, I'd be more tempted to get the multimedia edition for the extra two dollars. Anyone actually bought this? I'd be fascinated to know how much the video/audio inserts add to it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book sale: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition

This isn't a full review by any means, but it's come to my attention that the 10th anniversary kindle edition of this book is available on Amazon is available for only $1.99.

I really can't stress how excellent an author Neil Gaiman is, and this one of his best novels. I have bought family members this in hardback and stressed they had to read it, or they'd be missing out on something special. It seems as though Harper Collins have the same idea; Gaiman himself seems bemused on twitter that the publishers have set the price so low. Curiously, the non-anniversary issue is still on sale for $9.99...

Seriously, if you don't already own this, and have the slightest liking for urban fantasy stories or mythology or the like, get it now. If you have a a Nook or similar, it's apparently the same price on Barnes & Noble and other major ebook sellers. The sale might also end soon, I've seen nothing official on Amazon, but I hear rumours, so grab it while you can.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years

Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years
Back in the days before the name 'Palin' was synonymous with vice-presidential candidates apparently chosen as the result of a bet, we had Michael Palin. Michael is probably best remembered as being 'the nice polite one' from the Monty Python team, though Brits will also remember him travelling all over the place on the telly.

Turns out he's quite the diarist as well, diligently filling notebooks on an almost daily basis; by coincidence, he'd started writing them again after a lull a few weeks before the first series of Flying Circus. From there, you get a blow by blow account of the whole of the 1970s, which covers the four TV series, the first three movies, ripping yarns, his appearances on Saturday Night Live, and absolute reams on the writing and performing of all these.

Not to mention the dynamics of the Pythons. I don't know about you, but I can read all day about how, say, Pennon and McCartney hated each other, or how the four members of Queen, well, actually got along with each other really well. With the Pythons, there's definite (if very polite) camps; Cleese and Chapman writing in one very specific style, Palin, Jones and Gillian on another, with Eric Idle somewhere off on his own. There's no fisticuffs (at least not that Palin records), but you get the feel that every sketch that made it to the screen had an epic battle to get there; until all of them agreed something was funny, it didn't get done.

Interspersed with all this are entries about Palin's personal life; his marriage, the children growing up, his father's long illness. The sort things you would get, in other words, in a diary. These moments are perhaps what make the book stand out from other, drier biographies of some celebs. There's some genuinely touching moments in there. Not that Palin, perhaps one of Britain's best loved TV figures, needs to be presented in a more human light, but still...

Price? Last time I looked, ten bucks, give or take a cent or five. Probably at the high end of books I'd review, and probably only if you're a Python fan (which, if you're a big enough nerd to be reading a blog about eBook reviews, you most likely are). The sequel I refuse to buy while Gollancz insists on pricing it at $16.99, which is something like a whole dollar cheaper than an actual hardback copy of the book. They must think I was born yesterday or something.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book reviews

So that's basically something new I'm trying; I read an enormous amount of books, and it's only gotten worse since I got the Kindle Fire. Hoping to put these up fairly regularly, and the reviews will fall into one of two categories: Either books that aren't well known (or aren't well known nowadays), and/or are remarkably cheap, or even free, on Amazon's website. They'll inevitably be eBooks, as I buy nothing else nowadays, and there'll no doubt be a heavy bias towards sf and fantasy, as that tends to be the mainstay of what I read. I'm planning to keep the book reviews fairly short, and about as spoiler-free as is possible.

So, enjoy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Short reviews: The Complete Works of HP Lovecraft

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft
Note that there are several different versions available on Amazon of Lovecraft's works; the quality varies dramatically, some being badly formatted, even missing whole paragraphs, with little in the way of italics or indexing. The link to the one above is the best version I've found to date.

HP Lovecraft's work can come across  as a little dated; to jaded modern horror enthusiasts, his scares can seem somewhat insipid and cliched, especially in some of his shorter stories. His influence on modern horror writers cannot be denied though, with several masters of the craft openly acknowledging his works influence on theirs, among them being Stephen King, Clive Barker, John Carpenter, and comics writers such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.

The collection above contains practically every story Lovecraft wrote. Over that length of time, naturally, there's some stinkers, and others which have dated badly, but some stand out as gems even now. Personally? I'd recommend the Color out of Space, the Shadow out of Time, The Shadow over Innsmouth, the Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and, of course, the Call of Cthulhu, the story which gave us his most famous character.

The price can't be beat; 99 cents for pretty much everything the man ever published, and worth much more just for the stories listed above.