Category Archives: Entertainment

TV, Film, Music & Books – Opinion & Reviews

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb


Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1)Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great start to what is clearly an epic saga. Fitz is the bastard son of a (now deceased) Prince, his mother didn’t care for him well, and his Grandfather wanted nothing more to do with him, so he dumped him to be brought up within the household of the royal family. Fitz grows up a stable boy, until he is recognised to have more useful skills, both physical and magical, and is trained in various arts of deception, poisoning, and eventually the psychic communication and influence that is part of his Royal heritage.

With a lot of character progression, and many trials and tribulations, this book is a hefty novel that does keep you well engaged throughout. With many many sequels already published, I’m a bit late to the party, but it’s never too late to pick up a good book! I will certainly add the next one in the series to my list. And the next..

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book can be summed up in one word: Harrowing.
With only some very small changes in rules and culture, women are forced into servitude for their own “safety” and for the “good of humanity”. Triggered by the need for the human race to continue to procreate once fertility rates drop to near zero, “Handmaids” are provided to powerful couples in order for them to have children. These are the few fertile women, who are regularly raped and exploited.

Under the cover of the Christian religion, America is now “The Republic of Gilead”, using fables to allow the government (or what passes for government in this dystopian vision), to enslave and mistreat women. Their borders are closed. Anyone could be an “Eye”. Trust no one.

We only know the main character of this tale as “Offred”, her real name is never revealed; if she were to be moved to a different household, then her name would also change. The “Of Fred” being the indication that she is the property of the man of the house. The narrative is told through the internal viewpoint and thought processes of Offred herself. How she has to behave to survive, and the alliances that she makes along the way. How will society mend itself? Can it?

It’s very easy to see the world tipping to extremes of behaviour. In some countries women still have no rights. The human race needs to be better than that.

Nolite te Bastardes carborundorum.

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Soulless by Robert J Crane (The Girl in the Box #3)


Soulless (The Girl in the Box, #3)Soulless by Robert J. Crane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The last in this series. Sienna and her cohorts at the Directorate finally have an assignment that isn’t specifically for training. The investigation leads them across state borders as they pose as FBI. The criminal investigation of a “meta” on the loose, becomes more of a (SPOILER) family affair, and Sienna has to make her own choices regarding the relationships in her life. There is the added complication of the “Omega” organisation who are also out for their own nefarious goals.

As with the previous two in this series, it’s a fairly standard “whodunnit” story, with some teenage/young adult drama, and a supernatural angle whereby the main characters all have some sort of power. It’s pleasing enough for an afternoon’s distraction, but there are more gripping stories out there.

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Untouched by Robert J Crane (The Girl in the Box #2)


Untouched (The Girl in the Box, #2)Untouched by Robert J. Crane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second of three in “The Girl in the Box” Series. Now that Sienna is aware of her abilities, she has to learn to stow her attitude and work with a team. A new threat emerges in the shape of Aleksandr Gavrikov, who has the power to basically explode like a nuke, and threatens a whole city. Sienna also struggles to understand why her mother disappeared and left her alone, and continues to search for her.

A fair continuation of the story. The tone remains very similar throughout this entire series, and Sienna herself only makes marginal progress in terms of character development and learning from her experiences. Still an interesting enough read to keep you going on a slow afternoon. A little bit of a cat and mouse game with this new threat.

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Alone by Robert J Crane (The Girl in the Box #1)


Alone (The Girl in the Box, #1)Alone by Robert J. Crane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sienna Nealon was kept hidden from the world by her mother for her entire life. She had no contact with anyone or anything outside her house. Forced to train combat relentlessly with her mother, and being told that the outside world is unsafe for her. But when her mother doesn’t come home for weeks, and she starts to run out of food, then she has to make some decisions for herself.

To force her hand, there appears onto the scene a number of shady organisations out to either kill her or recruit her. Of course.

This is a fairly standard “Chosen One” type story. A girl is mistreated for her entire life “for her own good” and to “teach her a lesson”; which instead of being dealt with as the psychological trauma that it is, becomes nothing more than fuel to spur her on. Sienna manifests a number of superpowers, and has to work out whether the organisation (of similarly powered people) that has taken her in are the good guys or one of the bad guys. We are taken from one action set-piece to another, with only minimal character development taking place, most of which is teen-drama.

An enjoyable story, but not a particularly taxing one.

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