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Review: Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

I wanted to read something a little lighter after the last physical read – Chernobyl Prayer – and this has been on my list for quite a while.

What a book! It was so funny and contained the humour and wit of both authors that I have come to expect. This book would have kept me reading late into the small hours if I hadn’t fallen asleep while trying to do so.

I am not entirely sure where to start with it. The characters. I love well written characters and this novel is packed with them! They are all relatable – even the demons – and they are all individuals. There were no sterotypes, and they were all in keeping with the slightly off the wall feel of the novel. Don’t get me wrong, that off the wall feel is what kept me reading.

The structure and pace of the book are good too. As I mentioned earlier, I really wanted to know what happened so kept ‘turning the page’. The Chapters are arranged into the corresponding days rather than strict Chapters, which made one of them rather long, however there were plenty of logical places to stop so that worked for me.

There are plenty of funny – ironically so – details within the novel as well, which are so typically Pratchett. I have read less Gaiman in my time – something I am now going to change. I laughed out loud on several occasions at some of the thought patterns.

Read this book because it has amazing characters, is a new take on the dichotomy of good and evil, and is honestly a funny read!

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Book Review: Know No Fear – Dan Abnet

This was a fantastic book. It contains some of the best description I have read in the past forever. Let me explain without giving away too many spoilers for the story itself.

The tale centres around the actions of the Word Bearers against the Ultramarines to eliminate them from the Horus Heresy. One of their actions is to destory planetary defense systems and orbitals around the planet of Calth. The description I found amazing was how the destruction of the orbitals and ships affect the planet itself. The scope of the thought that has gone into this part of the novel are exceptional and the devastation of such is just mindblowing!

The pace of the novel keeps you wanting to know more. The stakes for the characters are expectionally high and the story pulls no punches in that regard. Characters are developed swiftly and are very relatable in my opinion. As a reader you care about what happens to them. Of course, there is the appearance of some old favourites as well and yes, you still want to call them jerks on reading this.

One thing I will say as a niggling point of contention is that some of the Space Marine Characters say things that seem mroe appropriate to the Guard. It is a minor point but I can understand how some people would find this jarring. I did, but the strength of the story, plot and pace glossed over this for me.

This is a fantastic read, a good step forward in the Horus Heresy and completely on point. Give it a read, it’s awesome!

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Book Review: Chernobyl Prayer – Svetlana Alexievich

I won’t lie, this is one of the most intense books I have ever read. It is a collection of memories, stories, thoughts and feelings of the survivors of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

This book pulls no punches when it comes to telling the stories of those who were involved in some way with the disaster. Some of them left me in tears, some of them left me horrified. All of them were moving in some way.

I am unsure where to begin with this one, it is not my usual read! I picked it up because I wanted to find out the personal stories of the people – to get a bit deeper than the HBO show went. This book certainly delivered that. The story of the Fireman who was first on the scene was far more graphic when told by his wife – they omitted some gruesome details in the show – and it was difficult to read from an emotional point of view.

What hit home in this book was how little the people actually knew about what was going on. They had no idea how dangerous the disaster was and that is down to the political environment at the time. It is a very alien way of thinking – to me at least – and seeing people volunteer for what was essentially a suicide mission seems insane.

Then I reached the stories of the people who moved TO the exclusion zone to escape the civil wars that was a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I think, how awful must life have been for those people if moving to an irradiated death-trap was a positive move?

The tales of the surviving children is also hard hitting. A lot of them are unwell, a lot of them spend time in hospitals and know they are going to die.

The book is certainly enlightening, and bleak, however it is very much worth reading. I’d recommend it – the translation is good and language wise, it is easy to follow. The content however, that can be difficult to swallow.

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Review: Spear of the Emperor – Aaron Dembski-Bowden

I have been thoroughly spoilt this year with books I have read, I’ve not had a bad one yet, and they keep getting better. This one is no exception.

I am trying to think of the best point of this book and I really am struggling to select just one. The plot, pacing, characters and language contained within this book is all fantastic.

Let’s start with the plot and pacing. The book does take a while to truly get going, but the time spent at the start of the novel is essential. None of it drags, all of it is well crafted and a good introduction to the setting of the story. The plot is masterfully crafted, twists and turns in most unexpected ways and honestly, leaves you reeling from the side-swipes it takes. I don’t do spoilers in my reviews, as you know, but I am still trying to wrap my head around what happened – go and read it, you won’t regret it.

Characters – there are some amazingly written individuals in this story. The narrative is written from the Point of View of a Chapter serf. She has an interesting history herself, and the story is told through her. I really enjoyed reading about how she uses her augmetics, and how she serves her Master. Some of the details of the Mentor Legion are left out as they are ‘secret’ and not for any reader to learn. Through her eyes, the reader is witness to exceptional interaction between some very different cultures. All the characters go through an emotional journey and are not the same as they were at the start of the story.

Technically, the novel is brilliant. None of the language is overly technical, but nor does it skimp on detail. The novel still feels like a 40K Science Fiction novel, but the details are not overwhelming. Nor are the more ‘poetic’ devices, such as simile and metaphor. The whole read is balanced and thoroughly enjoyable. There were some late night sessions because I was unable to put it down, which hasn’t happened for a while.

I also hope that there will be a follow up story to this one, it is hinted at that it is the first chapter of a longer tale, and I eagerly await the next installment!