Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Book sales: told ya!

There is nothing better than to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. The other thing that is quite nice is to be right.

In fairness a lot of people were right. Konrath has been saying for years that e-books will replace DTB (dead tree books). I posted a prediction here about what the market will look like by the end of the decade. I said that e-books would win. Guess what: they are starting their winning streak.

The figures are in for the publishing industry (source: Association of American Publishers). The year to date shows strong growth in e-book revenue, declines in anything you can’t download, and that there is a growing market for Christian fiction. Maybe I should write a Christian thriller, with Jesus as the central protagonist, a man who had been forsook, turned to alcohol (well it starts out as water), and investigates paranormal phenomena in the wake of his death. I smell best-seller!

Something that jumps right out at me with these figures is that numbers don’t jump. The other thing is that e-books have essentially replaced the other mediums (if you ignore kids books). E-books have grown from 7% to 18% in 12 months – I hate the 144% figure as it is misleading, I’ve always preferred quoting figures as a proportion of the total. The change in kids books then accounts for the decline in the industry of $100 million.

E-books are doing very well.

Book Review: Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly

Scarecrow and the Army of ThievesScarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is a small quote at the start of this book that sums up this fantastic new installment in the Scarecrow series:

The President looked at a wall clock. I was now 5 pm, or 6 am at Dragon. ‘Are you telling me that in five hours an unknown force is going to set off some kind of superweapon that will ignite the atmosphere or the northern hemisphere?’
‘That’s correct sir,’ Gordon said. ‘We have five hours to save the world.’

I was looking for a fast paced adventure/thriller novel a few years ago, I was recommended James Rollins. His books are fast. Then I discovered Andy McDermott; his books are Rollins on caffeine. Matthew Reilly books are what you get from the amphetamine addicted, ADD offspring of both authors. Simply, Matt is in a class of his own in terms of intense and fast paced thrillers.

Sure these are a big budget action movie on the page, a veritable Michael Bay blockbuster on speed, but that is exactly what makes these books so great. Unlike a Bay movie, however, you don’t feel cheap and dirty afterwards.

Scarecrow is my favourite of Matt’s series of books. The Jack West Jnr books have become steadily better adventure novels, but Scarecrow is a straight up thriller, and only becoming more intense with each outing. Fans have had a long wait for this latest adventure. The Army of Thieves book was an eight year wait, but the 10 hour non-stop thrill-fest was worth the wait.

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Book Review: Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

NemesisNemesis by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


All of Jo Nesbo’s translated works have a giant sticker on the front saying, “The next Stieg Larsson.” You obviously expect that the sticker is indicating that Jo Nesbo is a dead Swede, rather than a healthily alive Norwegian. You also obviously expect that reading one of Jo’s books will bring you another boring, long winded, needlessly detailed, “thriller”. Clearly the first 50 to 100 pages will spend more time describing flowers, boats and home renovations than actually introducing the characters and plot.


Thankfully this isn’t the case. Nemesis was actually worth reading. At +700 pages it packs in a lot of plot, sub-plots, mystery and intrigue. This book reminded me of other crime novels by the likes of Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin. Although, at least Jo refrains from including a street map description of Oslo like Rankin does for Edinburgh.


The only complaint I have with this book is that it felt over-written. Nesbo and his translator have done a fantastically skilled job, but there are times when you feel a little lost with tangential prose.


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12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music

I had to share this list with everyone, mainly because it says a lot about quality being arbitrary.

  • 1. Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

    Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

  • 2. Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

    Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

  • 3. Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

    Ke$ha's “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

  • 4. Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

    Flo Rida's “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles' “Hey Jude”

  • 5. The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

    The Black Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

  • 6. Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

    Celine Dion's “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

  • 7. Same with Shania Twain’s “Come On Over”

    Same with Shania Twain's “Come On Over”

  • 8. Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

    Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

  • 9. Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

    Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

  • 10. People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus’ album “Some Gave All…” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

    People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus' album “Some Gave All...” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

  • 11. The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

    The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

  • 12. This guy exists.

    This guy exists. That is all.

We all need an editor

I knew the NSW Police were corrupt, but they also seem proud of it.

The standard of Australian schooling is fantastic.

If you don’t have an editor you are likely to end up being made fun of on the internet!

Shark attack

I don’t normally comment on current affairs or the news in this blog, because normally the news can be summarized as: war, death, famine, kitten in tree, sport. Of course that is the 24 hour news channel version, the network news shows are more along the lines of: human interest, war, kitten in tree, tragedy, dog puppy in tree, sport, sport gossip. But this news is somewhat baffling.

Apparently Western Australia is going to have a shark cull in an effort to try and kill a white pointer believed to have killed three people recently (article here).

Not too difficult to understand is it? Three deaths in a short amount of time when the world averages 5 deaths per year is something that people start worrying about. What is baffling though is that we are concerned about 3 deaths. People are 300 times more likely to drown than die from a shark attack in Australia. Or put another way, if you wanted to get rid of that jerk at work, you could save the expense on the shark and just use water.

Human Deaths in Australia Between 1980-1990, Inclusive (from Stevens & Paxton, 1992)
Cause of Death
Total Deaths
Average per year
Crocodile Attacks
8
0.7
Shark Attacks
11
1.0
Lightning Strikes
19
1.7
Bee Stings
20
1.8
Scuba Diving Accidents
88
8.0
Drownings/Submersions
3,367
306
Motor Vehicle Accidents
32,772
2,979

Last time I checked the Great White Shark was an endangered species and humans are at near plague proportions, especially Americans – the shark’s favourite food. Sixty one percent of the world’s shark attacks are in North America and American’s are making popular shark food in Australia as well. See the big mistake here is that sharks keep mistaking Americans for food.

Now I’d be the first to admit that Americans are very tasty, something has to come of that high fat and sugar diet. But what we really need to do is help Americans to stop looking like food. Is it just that Americans are tastier than the rest of the world’s people? Is it genetic? Or are is it just that the people who were attacked by a shark looked too much like a seal? Either way it is clear that the worry over sharks is more about them not being cute enough, maybe Spielberg should do a revised Jaws movie that focuses on the danger of mosquitoes: When you hear them buzz, you’re DEAD!

Your reading chair

Here’s mine.

What does yours look like?

Sir Ken Robinson – Do schools kill creativity?

I have found memories of school. I fondly remember coming home from it each day. I remember English class: ‘I want to write a story about robot spys.’ ‘Well you can’t, we’re writing about the Eureka Stockade.’ Ahh, good times.

So today’s blog is about how schools are designed and operated. If anyone has any idea how they are actually designed and operated I believe there is a highly underpaid position available for you to take up to improve the situation. Sir Ken Robinson presents an interesting polemic in the video below, essentially saying that creativity is beaten out of kids in order to make it easier to manage them in a class. What are your experiences?

The only part I wholly disagree with is the bit about multitasking. The research on that is fundamentally flawed. That research has usually compared people who multitask all of the time with people who don’t at all, i.e. they compared pot addicted college students who needed the study participation fee to buy beer with people who actually did stuff, usually housewives. Real multitasking is largely a myth. You can do several tasks at once but you will do them all poorly in comparison to focussing on them one at a time.

So did you have your creativity killed off by going to school like I did?

Book Review: The Affair by Lee Child

The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16)The Affair by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was a little perturbed when I found out this year’s Reacher novel would be a prequel to the series. Since Killing Floor, Lee Child has evolved Reacher into a one man wrecking ball for truth, justice and hot women. Reacher has essentially become Superman without the need for external underwear and the ability to actually have a broken nose. This doesn’t exactly mesh with the Reacher before his adventures in Killing Floor.

This aside, Lee has served up another fantastic Reacher tale. The mystery unfolds, the intertwining clues and events are right there for you to pick up on and only implicitly used later – something I like about Lee’s writing. Reacher makes good use of the local train and his characteristic walking everywhere is in no short supply. In short, this is another fine Reacher novel.

Despite having pre-ordered this book it didn’t arrive until quite a while after its release date, something that has annoyed me for several books now (Matt Hilton’s Dead Men’s Harvest arrived late, Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves still hasn’t arrived). It was worth the wait though, as 50 pages in I was reminded why I had pre-ordered The Affair in the first place. I’d hazard a guess and say that next year’s releases by my favourite authors are more likely to be received on their release date, straight onto my Kindle, just as soon as Amazon starts selling the new Kindle Touch outside of the US (bastards!).

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E-book Prediction: Buy Your E-reader Now!

Do you have an e-reader yet? Well best go out and buy one in the next year. Books are going digital!

Want proof? Well how about Mike Shatzkin’s speculations from his blog.

Here’s an assumption that is not documentable; it is my own speculation. I think we’re going to see a US market that is 80% digital for narrative text reading in the pretty near future: could be as soon as two years from now but almost certainly within five. We have talked about the cycle that leads to that on this blog before: more digital reading leads to a decline in print purchasing which further thins out the number of bookstores and drives more people to online book purchasing which further fuels digital reading. Repeat. Etcetera.
We’re already at the point where new narrative text units sold are well north of 25% digital (percent of publishers’ revenue is lower than that, of course) and we are still in a period that has lasted about five years (soon to end) where the penetration of digital has doubled or more annually. (I italicized that to emphasize that what I’m talking about doubling is the percentage of sales that are digital, not the absolute number of digital sales. Several people misinterpeted that when I made to it previously.)
Of course, penetration will slow down before it reaches 100%. I’d imagine we get to 80% in 2 to 5 years, then then to 90% in another couple of years, with the last 10% stretching out a long time. How long did it take after the invention of the car before the last person rode their horse to town? – Mike Shatzkin (Source)

Of course that is in the USA. In down-under land we like to be on the dull edge of technology and trends. I’m sure many of you are in a similar situation in your countries (UK, Germany, Canada, India, Netherlands, Russia, Malaysia, Philippines – who round out my top 10 visitor countries). So whilst we as individuals may be on the cutting edge, many of our compatriots are still wary of the idea of books that aren’t made of paper. Suffice to say we will probably need to add a few years to these predictions and subtract the price of milk (full cream, not that white water stuff).

What do you think of these predictions? I think most countries will be e-book dominant in 5 years, I’m not sure about 80% though.

Paradox – another word for idiocy

Yes this is a real book.

This is like dividing by zero.

Book Review: Wyatt by Garry Disher

Wyatt (Wyatt, #7)Wyatt by Garry Disher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I’ve been an Australian reader for this long and not read a Garry Disher novel. Sure, I’d heard of him, he’s a perennial favourite of the Australian Crime Thriller awards and community. But it was only his appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival – with Shamini Flint and Michael Connelly – that convinced me to buy Wyatt.

Of course I got Garry to sign my copy and dutifully put it on my shelf of “To Be Read” books. I really should have picked it up earlier to read. I should have read more Wyatt novels. I should have read Garry’s other series. Wyatt is crime noir, gritty and fast paced. If that is what strikes your mood then this book should entertain you nicely.

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RIP Steve Jobs

RIP

I was saddened to learn of Steve’s death today. He has brought us so many products with a small “i” in front of them that I think he has reached into many people’s daily lives and made them that little bit better.

Personally I’d like to thank him for bringing us the iPod and the associated store. It took Steve and Apple’s vision to give consumers what they had been hungry for in the music industry: an mp3 store and a music player to play them with. It is safe to say he did what all the other industry players were either too scared or too recalcitrant to do.

I love the iPod.

Condolences to his family and friends. I hope Apple continues with Steve’s legacy and continues to bring us innovative and useful “i” products.

Yeah, it’s tasteless, but somehow touching.

Actresses you don’t want in your book adaptation

I previously posted about some of the actors who were most likely to ruin a perfectly good book adaptation. The movie of a book is always going to be hard. You take an intricate plot, interesting characters, and throw them out to make room for 90 minutes of mindless violence and teen appeal: not an easy task. So, as to not be labelled a sexist by men pointing out that there are heaps of untalented female actors, I’m presenting the follow-up list of actresses whom you don’t want in a book adaptation.

Former models, singers or “celebrities”

Was she even a singer?

Yes this is a generic category rather than a specific actress, but we see it all of the time. Is it too much to ask for there to be more to an actress than looking good? Remember that this is a red-blooded male asking this question, if I’m complaining about these clothes horses in films it must be bad. Even worse is the Elvis road that singers want to take. To quote Eddie Murphy “Elvis was so good they put him in movies. Mother@#$%er couldn’t act.” Unfortunately the modern day singers aren’t Elvis and their acting is worse.

Jessica Alba

All acting sins forgiven!

There is a common marital clause, the freebie. Basically if you ever happen to be in the position to have sex with someone completely unobtainable, then it is okay. For me it is Jessica Alba, for my wife it is Ryan Reynolds. No offense to this hottie, but she has been acting since she was a child and yet she still manages to only bring her hottness to the screen.

Katie Holmes-Cruise-Xenu

Pre-midget.

I don’t know what’s worse, her acting or her choice in husbands.

Lindsay Lohan

Underwear not included.

Lindsay almost fits under the category of “celebrities” rather than actresses. I am struggling to name a film she has been in, let alone one that she acted in. On the plus side I’m struggling to name a film she has been in.

Jennifer Aniston

Hairstyle, no acting included.

Has she done anything other than Friends that was decent? Yes she was in the movie gem Office Space, but you could have replaced her with just about any other actress, she did so little with the role.

Katherine Heigl

At least she isn’t Helen Hunt.

There are two things you can count on with a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy: it won’t be funny and no one will have seen it. Heigl has the honor of staring in a $2 million film that only grossed $20 bucks, one of the biggest flops in film history.

Heather Graham

Her talents are showing.

Who needs talent when you’ve got big boobs and you’re willing to show them? Graham has made a career out displaying her, um, talents on screen. Wide eyed and bland, watching Graham on screen is like watching adorable paint dry.

Jennifer Love Hewitt

She sees dead people.

According to a study of ratings at Rotten Tomatoes, Jennifer is the worst actress of all time. Now this seems a bit hard to swallow given her successful TV career, but you can’t argue with science, even when arbitrarily applied with no proper standardisation of data. Also, at least Bill Murray apologised for making Garfield and has made some good films to make up for his appalling mistake.

Megan Fox

She’ll have diva with that.

Washed up at 24 is not exactly something you expect in Hollywood, well, not in the movies that include clothes at least. But when all you have going for you is your looks and you manage to annoy everyone you have worked with and then badmouth everyone, your career tends to be over.

Kristen Stewart

The one on the right.

A proud graduate of the Steven Segal School of Acting. She has one facial expression for every occasion. I know she was hired to be boring and insipid in Twilight, but that doesn’t mean you get to play Joan Jett that way too.

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