Thursday, December 31, 2009

Life as we Knew it by Susan Pfeffer

Life as we Knew it
Susan Pfeffer
2006, 2007, Marion Lloyd, London

An asteroid hits the moon, pushing it out of orbit and closer to Earth. The following devastation is chronicled by a teenager in her diary.

Totally absorbing read - I often woke up, and in that still half-asleep phase, thought that the events in this book were real and wondering what I should be doing that day from a survival aspect. I was sad that the book ended, but I have the sequel to read now. It did take a while to get into the book - to get used to the voice of the teen (which is extremely well done) - but once it got going, I was hooked.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Big Trouble by Dave Barry

Big Trouble
Dave Barry
1999, 2000, Judy Piatkus, London

Plot: ok, um ... set in Miami ... there's Russians and weapons, an advertising executive, small time crooks, professional hit-men and a toad. It's just fun going along for the ride so I won't give too much away.

My favourite character was Roger the dog - this was a very funny book. I got part way through it before realising I hadn't actually seen the movie which I was sure I had. Now I want to, of course. I liked all the little insights into Miami culture (especially being a fan of the Dexter books). If I had to use one word to describe it, that word would be 'zany'. It's just zany ... but in a good way.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White

Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083
Andrea White
2005, HarperCollins, New York

A group of five teenagers are chosen to compete in a television show which retraces the failed Antarctic journey of Scott and his men in 1912.

This was a good teen book - a compelling read. There were a few loose ends and things that didn't quite make sense, but overall I thought it sound. The premise was interesting and I liked how it tied in with Scott's 1912 voyage.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Doctor Who: The Eyeless by Lance Parkin

Doctor Who: The Eyeless
Lance Parkin
2008, BBC Books, UK

The Doctor travels to a planet whose population was destroyed by a terrible weapon from another war. He wants to dismantle the weapon, but when he gets there he finds that there are survivors and other beings who want the weapon for themselves.

Not sure I like The Doctor being alone - he be moody. This is a fairly dark book, but a ripper story. The author obviously has a mathematics obsession!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

Double Star
Robert A. Heinlein
1956, 1986, Ballantine, New York

Out-of-work actor Lorenzo meets a space pilot in a bar and is offered a mysterious job which sees him packed off to Mars in the role of a lifetime.

I enjoyed this but it doesn't really feel like I read the book. I know that sounds odd, maybe it's just because it's such a light book with a sort of skimming writing style. It's mainly about politics, I would have liked a little more science fiction in it.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Red Sky in Mourning by Tami Oldham Ashcraft with Susea McGearhart

Red Sky in Mourning
Tami Oldham Ashcraft with Susea McGearhart
2002, 2003, Simon & Schuster, London

True story of a woman who survived being hit by a hurricane at sea while her partner was thrown overboard. She spent forty-one days at sea alone.

An amazing story of survival and very well told. Tami was a brave lady - she did what she needed to do to survive despite feeling like giving up many times.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Lane

The Tale of Beatrix Potter
Margaret Lane
1946, 1978, William Clowes & Sons, London
no isbn

This is the biography of Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter.

Beatrix Potter lead an amazingly ordinary life. I really enjoyed reading about it, even though it was dull. Sometimes the dullest lives are the most interesting, especially when they are of a genius. I also enjoyed reading a little of British domestic history which was a part of this story.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Aliens by Alan Dean Foster

Aliens in The Complete Alien Omnibus
Alan Dean Foster
1986, Warner Books, London

Book based on the sequel to the science fiction classic Alien, Aliens. Ellen Ripley returns to Earth after spending over fifty years in hypersleep and then must journey back to the planet where she encountered the alien to again face her nightmare.

Like the first book, this one had more detail than the movie (which I watched not long ago). I think maybe some of the stuff that was on the original screenplay but ended up on the cutting room floor is in the book. It's no great work of literature, just a bit of action-fun-dumbness.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live by Jay Mohr

Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live
Jay Mohr
2004, Hyperion, New York

Jay Mohr is a comedian who wrote and performed for Saturday Night Live for two years in the 1990s. This is the story of his time at the show.

This was a very easy book to read, the writing just flowed and shone with honesty. It was fascinating to read about how dysfunctional that work environment is and how Jay coped despite it all. I have never seen Saturday Night Live of course, but I enjoyed the read very much - it made me laugh out loud.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Murder on Marble Row by Victoria Thompson

Murder on Marble Row
Victoria Thompson
2004, 2005, Berkley Prime Crime, New York

A period mystery set in 18th century New York City. A wealthy businessman is murdered by a bomb and Detective Inspector Malloy suspects anarchists are involved.

Clunky writing style and very predictable until the final twist. I also couldn't stand the character of Malloy - he's not very nice at all. However, it was interesting to read about New York City in that era.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, December 7, 2009

Booked to Die by John Dunning

Booked to Die
John Dunning
1992, 2001, Pocket Books, New York

Cliff Janeway, homicide detective and booklover, is investigating the death of a bookscout called Bobby. He becomes entangled in the world of rare and collectible book stores trying to find the killer.

Literary crime. Fantastic. I loved reading about the world of the rare and collectable book seller. Janeway is a cool detective, and the constant references to other books was super.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy
1997, Flamingo, London

The story of an Indian family set in the 1960s.

It's very hard to describe the plot of this book without losing something, so I won't bother. The writing is beautiful. And the story is intricately woven. I loved how we're never given the entirety of anything, we have to be patient and read on - the plot doubles back on itself and jumps forwards and backwards with such ease.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chrysalis by Libby Hathorn

Libby Hathorn
1997, 2001, Hodder Headline, Sydney

Set in small town rural Australia, Lara is in her final year of high school, and trying to befriend a new girl who is shy. She also has to deal with family issues and boyfriend issues.

Not too bad for an angsty teen book. I wish it wasn't assumed that because a person is shy that means there is something wrong with them, and that they need to be 'brought out'. But other than that, it had some interesting issues (for teenagers) and deals with them in a realistic way.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dreamtime Alice by Mandy Sayer

Dreamtime Alice
Mandy Sayer
1998, Random House, Milsons Point

Autobiography of an Australian tap-dancer who performed on the streets of New York and New Orleans with her drummer father in the 1980s.

This was an interesting tale of growing up amidst the unique characters of street performers and the underworld. At times, I found Mandy/Alice to be unbelievably naive and obsessed with boys, which made me want to give up reading, but I'm glad I stuck with it because some of the characters we meet are fabulous.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, November 16, 2009

Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons

Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams
Steve Lyons
2005, BBC Books, London

The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack Harkness land on a planet which has been colonised by humans. There they find that society has not advanced as much as it should have, and that fiction is outlawed.

I enjoyed this one. The explanation of the ending was a bit abrupt and we didn't see enough of the Doctor or Captain Jack, but the premise was interesting. Plus lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Humans of Ziax II/The Drought on Ziax II by John Morressy

The Humans of Ziax II/The Drought on Ziax II
John Morressy
1974, 1978, Scholastic, New York
49p. + 55p.

A volume of two children's science fiction stories from the seventies. Toren is a boy who was born in space after his parents left Earth following an unnamed disaster (possibly over-pollution). The humans resettle on a planet they call Ziax II which is inhabited by peaceful golden-furred aliens, and not so peaceful giant cockroach monsters and killer grass.

These stories have a simple message which is very relevant today. Quit messing with the eco-system and killing is not the solution to fear. The messages are not hidden in the subtext either. The stories themselves are exciting, if a bit short (entire sequences are left out and explained after the fact).

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, November 13, 2009

Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman

Divorcing Jack
Colin Bateman
1995, HarperCollinsPublishers, London

Dan Starkey is a journalist who commences an affair with a young woman he meets at a bar. When she ends up dead, Starkey is suspected of the murder and finds himself on the run from the good guys as well as some very bad guys to boot.

This book gave some interesting background on Northern Ireland history which I didn't know much about. I think the story was good, but it suffered from inconsistency. Parts of the book were humorous, but it wasn't maintained throughout. Other parts were poignant, but not very often. And the suspense was a bit flat at times. It wasn't a bad book - I enjoyed it - it just wasn't super-great.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Coins of Murph by Leo P. Kelley

The Coins of Murph
Leo P. Kelley
1971, 1974, Coronet, London

Set in a post-apocalyptic future where people's fates are left to be decided by the toss of a coin. Lank, a true-believer in the system, meets Doll, who makes her own decisions without tossing a coin, and they each look for answers about the past and the present.

I'm not sure I enjoyed the read, but it did keep me reading. It was a very sombre and quietly threatening book. A very solid addition to the post-apocalyptic genre and the characters were three-dimensional which is not always the case in pulpy sci-fi.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll

The Wooden Sea
Jonathan Carroll
2001, Tor, New York

A police chief in the small town of Crane's View, New York takes in an old three-legged, one-eyed dog named Old Vertue. When the dog drops dead, the police chief's world goes nuts.

This is one of those books where if you try to describe the plot too much, you ruin the book for someone else. So I'll just say that it's fantastic. The characters are fantastic, the situations are fantastic, the plot is fantastic. I loved it.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

The Distant Echo
Val McDermid
2003, HarperCollinsPublishers, London

A group of four university students coming home drunk from a party stumble across a dying girl lying in the snow. They become suspects in her rape and murder and live with the shadow of suspicion for the next twenty-five years. When the case is reopened due to new forensic testing techniques, two of them are murdered in separate incidents. The remaining two fear that someone has decided to take justice into their own hands.

This is a bit of a slow burn thriller and written really well. Sometimes it didn't come across as completely convincing which was a bit of a disappointment. But I liked how we became a part of the characters lives and the sting in the tail is rather cool.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Murder with Puffins by Donna Andrews

Murder with Puffins
Donna Andrews
2000, 2001, St Martin's Press, New York

Freelance metal-worker (I think) Meg Langslow decides to have a quiet weekend in her aunt's summer house on Monhegan Island with her boyfriend Michael. However, when they arrive, her entire family is there, and when a local misanthropic artist turns up dead, Meg puts her amateur sleuthing skills to use.

This was an unusual cosy mystery in that the amateur sleuth is on holidays! Usually their day-job comes into the story somehow, but I'm not even certain I know what Meg does for a living (something to do with metal-work I think). Anyway, it was a good cosy mystery. A little convoluted at times with 'cliff-hangers' at the end of every chapter, which got a bit annoying. But other that that I did enjoy the read very much. Didn't really care whodunnit, I just enjoyed reading about the whacky characters.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mouthing the Words by Camilla Gibb

Mouthing the Words
Camilla Gibb
1999, 2002, Vintage, London

This is the story of Thelma growing up. She has a disturbing childhood and becomes anorexic and borderline with multiple personalities.

A very quick read and an interesting book. I found that the characters and situations felt very real. The ending was very abrupt but then so is growing up!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dead Babies by Martin Amis

Dead Babies
Martin Amis
1975, 1988, Penguin, London

A group of young English people living together in a house invite some American friends of theirs for a weekend of drugs, drink and sex.

I would never recommend this book to anyone. That said, I did enjoy it. All the characters are vile things, and the situations so far removed from any reality I've ever encountered. (If life was really like that in the 1970s, how did anyone survive it?) It did take a while for me to warm up to the book, then I just sped through the final chapters, eager to see what was going to happen. And I had to store this book upside down whenever I was reading it in public because the front cover is covered in drugs! What kept me reading in the early stages was the writing style. Amis has a way of drawing the reader in ... it's very intimate.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tales of Long Ago retold by Enid Blyton

Tales of Long Ago
Enid Blyton
1965, Dean & Son, London

Tales from Greek mythology and from the Arabian nights retold by children's author Enid Blyton.

I enjoyed reading these very much. I must say my Greek mythology knowledge is very poorly lacking, so to read the stories as written by Enid Blyton is a great introduction to some of the myths I have only ever heard about in passing. This book is a little un-PC and somewhat dated, but that's just how Blyton is.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Cut a Long Story Short by Jeffrey Archer

To Cut a Long Story Short
Jeffrey Archer
2000, HarperCollinsPublishers, London

Short stories written by Jeffrey Archer. Most of these are based on actual true life events and follow themes such as betrayal, love and discontent.

I found this to be an interesting collection, especially the real life stories. My favourite story would be 'The Endgame' in which a wealthy widower pretends to be destitute in order to discover how he should split up his fortune.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
John Godey
1973, 1975, Hodder & Stoughton, Hornby

Book upon which the movie, and the movie, and the movie, is based. A group of four armed men hijack a New York City subway train demanding one million dollars for the release of hostages.

I enjoyed both versions of the movie I have seen (the Walter Matthau and Vincent D'onofrio versions), and now I have really enjoyed the book as well. The book does a great job of describing the culture and attitudes of 1970s New York City. It's very dated, but that's to be expected.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Seeds of Time by John Wyndham

The Seeds of Time
John Wyndham
1956, 1969, Penguin, Middlesex

A collection of science fiction short stories from John Wyndham written in the 1950s. They are stories of the future concerning space travel and the future of humanity.

These stories had some strong and interesting themes. Wyndham has a very smooth writing style.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Love You to Bits and Pieces by Gillian Helfgott

Love You to Bits and Pieces
Gillian Helfgott
1996, Penguin, Sydney

This is the story of Australian pianist David Helfgott. It is told by his wife Gillian who recounts her time with David and of David's past before she met him.

A very interesting biography of an amazing man. Gillian obviously knows her husband very well, and I liked the non-linear style of the book as we went along on the journey of discovery Gillian herself was on.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man
Ray Bradbury
1952, 1991, Heinemann, London

A man meets another man who has 'illustrations' all over his body - these illustrations move and tell stories of the future.

More great short stories from Bradbury. These were terrifying and horrifying stories of what's to come. My favourite was 'The Rocket'.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Jules Verne
1864, , Wordsworth Classics,

On discovering a parchment from an Icelandic explorer which claims that the explorer had travelled to the centre of the earth, an eccentric scientist and his nephew embark on their own journey.

As always, Verne is superb. He is my favourite author, yet I've never read this book in full before. It's such an adventure!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi
2003, 2008, Vintage, London

Auto-biography of an Iranian woman told in graphic novel form. Marjane grew up in the time of the revolution and the war with Iraq.

I liked the way the reader got a feel for Iranian culture through the telling of the story. Marjane was not a really likeable character - at times you just want to slap her, but I think because this is a tale of growing up, stuff like that is going to be in the book and it's great that she didn't leave it out or gloss over it. It's a very honest book.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Tower by Richard Martin Stein

The Tower
Richard Martin Stein
1973, 1974, Pan Books, London

The book on which the movie The Towering Inferno is based. A new skyscraper bigger than the World Trade Centre is built in New York City. At the opening, a bomb explodes leaving 100 people trapped on the top floor with fire burning below.

A bit of a sombre read considering what has happened in the meantime. The cover art is especially poignant. The story itself was interesting - not at all what I was expecting. It's more of a philosophical little book, rather than an action adventure.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs and Steel
Jared Diamond
1997, Random House, London

This book discusses human history and the evolution of different societies in the world. It attempts to answer the question of why Europeans dominate the modern world, rather than Australian Aboriginals or Africans.

A very heavy read, but interesting topic. I found it a bit repetitive once the basic facts were established. One tiny annoying thing was the author's assumption that the reader was North American.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Diaspora by Greg Egan

Greg Egan
1997, Orion, London

A hard-science fiction novel set post-flesh-humanity where sentient beings are part of a computer complex. When two colliding neutron stars threaten to destroy Earth, they begin a journey of discovery.

And then some!

This was an amazing book. It covered topics as varied as virtual reality, xenobiology, astrophysics, mathematics, evolutionary theory, chemistry, and a lot more which went well over my head. The setting of the story is so different to our world - usually it's hard for an author to separate a created universe from our own, but this attempt has been highly successful.

The ending was the most beautiful ending I have read in a long time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beyond Star Trek: The Physics of Star Trek, The X-Files, Star Wars, and Independence Day by Lawrence M. Krauss

Beyond Star Trek: The Physics of Star Trek, The X-Files, Star Wars, and Independence Day
Lawrence M. Krauss
1995, 1998, HarperPerennial, New York

Krauss discusses physics theories used in modern science fiction and explains where they work and where they don't.

As I was reading this, I couldn't believe that it was making sense. Krauss is obviously very talented at writing popular science to make it accessible to common man. I loved the theories of quantum mechanics - it's all so fascinating.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Child's Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper

A Child's Book of True Crime
Chloe Hooper
2002, Random House, Milsons Point

Kate is a teacher in a small school who is having an affair with the father of one of her students. The man's wife is the author of a true crime novel about a local murder of an adulteress and Kate begins to confuse this story with her own life.

I didn't enjoy this book. I think the main problem was that I couldn't identify with the narrator at all, her motivations were mysterious and inexplicable. She is too juevenile, too melodramatic, and she doesn't learn anything despite being given the opportunity. I'm not sure what the author was trying to achieve with her character.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, August 14, 2009

Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan

Apathy and Other Small Victories
Paul Neilan
2006, St. Martins, New York

Shane's dental hygienist is found murdered and he's a suspect. Or something. A description of this book's plot is not going to give any real sort of indication as to what sort of book this is.

This was a hilarious read. The sort of book that makes you laugh out loud, then when someone asks what you're laughing at, you mumble incoherently because it's just so wrong. I loved the narrator's insights and cynical view of the modern world. You know you're reading a good book when every single character is stark raving loony and yet the whole things makes perfect sense.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Valiant by Holly Black

Holly Black
2005, Simon & Schuster, New York

Val runs away to New York City where she encounters a group of homeless youths who are in contact with faeries. She gets dragged into a world of drugs and monsters as she fights to free herself from the binds that have tangled her.

This certainly is an angsty book, but it's a good yarn. I liked it better than Tithe. I loved the setting of New York City - it's great to have faeries in the middle of a modern city.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stiff by Shane Maloney

Shane Maloney
1994, 2004, Griffin Press, Melbourne

Murray Whelan is a political fixer working for the Minister of Industry when an accident at a meat-packing plant threatens to put a spanner in the works of an Industrial Relations Bill. Investigating the incident, Whelan finds himself in the middle of something far more sinister.

This book is very Victorian. I'm not sure how accurate it is, as I wasn't in Melbourne in the early 1980s, but the reader certainly gets a feel for the culture. Whelan is a great character, he's just trying to do a good job, to stay on top of everything, yet gets himself in deeper and deeper.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stardust by Robert B. Parker

Robert B. Parker
1990, 1991, Berkley, New York

Spenser is a private detective hired to find out who is threatening TV starlet Jill Joyce. The stakes are raised when Jill Joyce's body double is murdered.

I quite liked this when I got into it. I think I was thrown a little by the gaudy cover, this is a classic American detective novel and reminded me of Chandler's Marlowe. Spenser is a brilliantly sassy character, I will try and read more of these books.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Imbalance by VE Mitchell

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Imbalance
VE Mitchell
1992, Pocket Books, New York

The Enterprise is sent on a diplomatic mission to review the possible entry of the Jarada people into the Federation of Planets. While on an away mission, Riker, Crusher, Worf and Keiko become separated and trapped without contact with the ship.

This was a solid little entry into the Star Trek universe. It followed all the conventions and introduced some interesting xenobiology concepts. I really liked the way the author gave each of the aliens an individual personality, which a lot of Trek fiction fails to do even remotely.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley
1818, 1993, Modern Publishing, Australia

When young scientist Frankenstein is exposed to new theories of nature at university, he discovers a way to animate a being he has created from parts of deceased persons. The being is hideous - a monster feared and reviled by all who see him. This of course makes him a mite put out and he begins a rampage of violence against his creator.

This was as fantastic as I was expecting. The seminal horror novel, I can see why this has inspired story-tellers for years since it was first published. I was surprised at the level of understanding of the human mind as rendered by the author.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fortress by Gabrielle Lord

Gabrielle Lord
1982, 1988, Corgi, London

Sally is the new teacher at a one-teacher school in a small New South Wales town. One day, three men in frightening masks kidnap all 12 students and their teacher and hide them in the bush.

Wow what a thrilling little page turner! I loved that this was set in the Australian outback because I could identify with the characters and the setting. It's a bit of an unlikely story, but the reader is along for the ride all the way. It never lets up. There are similarities to Lord of the Flies which is another book I loved.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Crossover by Michael Jan Friedman

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Crossover
Michael Jan Friedman
1995, Pocket Books, New York

When Ambassador Spock is captured with a group of Romulan unificationists, Admiral McCoy joins the crew of the Enterprise D to rescue the Ambassador. At the same time, Montgomery Scott decides to attempt a rescue mission of his own using a stolen century-old starship.

This had all the ingredients for an excellent Trek novel. The three great officers from the original Enterprise teaming up with Picard's crew in order to fight Romulans. However, the writing style was dull and the story dreary. I was disappointed in this one.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Covet by Tara Moss

Tara Moss
2004, 2005, HarperCollins, Sydney

Makedde is a Canadian model whose best friend was murdered in Australia by the notorious Stiletto Killer. When she comes to testify at the trial, the killer escapes from custody and comes after her.

This was a bit of a pedestrian thriller, but quick to read. The characters and their motivations were unbelievable at the start, however, as the story continued, they became more real. I'm not sure if that's because they were more fully fleshed out, or because I was just getting used to them.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Star Trek: Captain's Peril by William Shatner

Star Trek: Captain's Peril
William Shatner
2002, 2004, Pocket Books, New York

This is two stories interwoven in the one book. One story is of Picard and Kirk who go to Bajor for an archaeological holiday. The other is back when Kirk first commanded the Enterprise and encountered an alien with incredible powers.

Fantastic. I didn't know Shatner could write so well. And yes, he had a little help from the Reeves-Stevens but the story is exciting and the prose is effortless, with some interesting astro-physics and tech placed seemlessly into the story. By far the best Trek alumni novelist I have read so far.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
2004, 2005, Phoenix, London

When Daniel's father takes him to a labyrinthine library and tells him to choose one book, he comes back with The Shadow of the Wind. Daniel becomes intrigued with the book's mysterious author, Julián Carax and with the strange individual who is burning every copy of Carax's novels.

This was a great book to curl up with these last few days of cold weather. I enjoyed reading a little bit about Barcelona which I knew nothing about. The story is mystical and well woven. A little predictable, but then there was one thing I didn't see coming! I found the terrifying and thrilling scenes were written far better than the romantic, emotional scenes.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Seventh Secret by Irving Wallace

The Seventh Secret
Irving Wallace
1986, 1987, Sphere, London

Dr. Ashcroft is an historian writing the definitive biography of Adolf Hitler when he receives correspondence indicating that Hitler did not commit suicide in 1945 and in fact, survived the war. When Ashcroft begins to investigate these claims, he is killed in a hit and run, and his daughter continues the investigation in this place.

A very unlikely story. And I thought that the writing style was stilted when it came to dialogue. I don't mind a bit of faction, but it needs to believable, which this wasn't. However, the action and pace of the story was enough to keep the reader interested. The way the author weaved the different characters stories together was clever.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dr. No by Ian Fleming

Dr. No
Ian Fleming
1957, 2002, Penguin, London
no isbn

James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of fellow agent Strangways and his secretary. Bond's investigations lead to the mysterious island Crab Key and the even more mysterious caretaker of the island, Dr. No.

Bond books follow a formula: maniac+torture+girl+henchmen+strange-death-for-the-bad-guy. And this novel delivered on all counts. I'm surprised at how much like the book the movie is, usually they only take a few elements out of the book, but the Dr. No movie (which I just watched the other day) is very similar to the Dr. No book. Well, apart from the strange-death-for-the-bad-guy, which I would have LOVED to see in the movie!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by Kimberley Starr

The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies
Kimberley Starr
2004, UQP, St. Lucia

Madeleine Jeffreys is a Rockhampton psychologist who is brought in by the Brisbane police to interview a paedophile and serial killer. She narrates the story which switches between the present day and a summer she spent as a teenager which has repercussions on the case.

I thought the author did a really good job of capturing the voice of an angry fourteen year old girl. This was a slow-burn type thriller and extremely readable. There were a few continuity errors that I saw so it could have done with another edit.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Tinder Box by Minette Walters

The Tinder Box
Minette Walters
1999, 2006, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest

Siobhan's Irish neighbour Patrick is accused of a terrible crime in which two elderly women were beaten to death. She doesn't believe he did it, so looks into the crime seeking the truth.

Disjointed, hard to follow and clumsy writing style. Lucky this book was short (more a novella really) or else I never would have bothered to finish it. I put it down about ten minutes ago and have just about forgotten it already. Not sure how it got to be a best-seller ... I think this is the Bridges of Madison County of mysteries.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson

Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast
Bill Richardson
1993, Wyatt, New York

Virgil and Hector are twin brothers in their mid-50s who run a Bed & Breakfast in a small Canadian village. Their establishment is known as a place where people come to relax and read. This book is written in part by Virgil and Hector and in part by their visitors who write little stories about their lives.

I want to visit this place! It sounds like a perfect retreat - a bibliophiles B&B with laid-back proprietors. The story is humorous and clever, full of witticisms and poignancy. Loved it.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, June 29, 2009

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading
Sara Nelson
2003, 2004, Hodder, Sydney

Sara Nelson is a writer living in New York City who decides to read at least one book a week for a year and chronicle her reads in a journal.

I don't know why I thought I wouldn't enjoy this. It's a book about books for goodness sakes! And I loved it! I loved reading about another book obsessed person and her theories on readers. I've come to many of her conclusions myself.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Moonwalk by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
1988, 1989, William Heinemann, London

This autobiography of Michael Jackson focuses on his career, from being the youngest member of Jackson 5, up until the book was released in 1988.

I enjoyed reading this, the language was simple and easy to read. But there were a few important messages in there. In light of recent events, parts of this book were poignant, particularly where Jackson talks about death. If you want an exposé and sensation, this is not the biography for you.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, June 26, 2009

Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl
Terrance Dicks
1979, Target, London

The Doctor and Leela are brought to Earth by the TARDIS when she senses a disturbance in Space/Time. There they discover the Fendahl, a creature which lives on death and threatens to devour the planet.

A great Doctor Who story with everything. The Fendahl is an interesting creature and I could just picture the worm coming to eat the characters. At the end of every chapter I got the theme song in my head. :)

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

True Lies by Dewey Gram and Duane Dell'amico

True Lies
Dewey Gram and Duane Dell'amico
1994, Signet, London

Book based on the movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a special agent who has kept his life as a spy secret from his wife for fifteen years. A terrorist organisation obtains nuclear weapons and threaten to detonate Miami.

This had a lot more detail in it than the movie did, but in fleshing out the story, the wit and dry humour that made the movie great has been lost. Also, I didn't like the characters in the book - Harry was just an ass, but I think that is a reflection on the authors more than anything. The book was teeming with prejudice, it got rather tired rather quickly ... I think this was written by sociopaths with little respect for human life. Plus they obviously hate dogs.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Star Trek: How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford

Star Trek: How Much for Just the Planet?
John M. Ford
1987, Titan Books, London

A Starfleet survey vessel finds a planet with an abundance of dilithium. But the Klingons also want the dilithium and the Federation must compete with the Klingons to gain trading rights with the planet's inhabitants. The planet's rather eccentric inhabitants.

Crazy, crazy story. This was simply an insane book - brilliant but insane. I loved it.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Nugi Garimara

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
Nugi Garimara
1996, 2002, UQP, St Lucia

The true story of three aboriginal girls removed from their families in the 1930s and taken to a native settlement where they were to be taught the European ways. They run away from the settlement and trek 1600 kilometres home following the rabbit-proof fence which runs from south to north in Western Australia.

This is an incredible story - these girls trekked further and in harsher conditions than many of our heroic European explorers. It is beautifully told too, the author is very talented.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Dragon of Mith by Kate Walker

The Dragon of Mith
Kate Walker
1989, Allen and Unwin, Sydney

One morning the residents of the village of Mith discover a great dragon in the middle of their town! Only Krissy, an eleven year old turkey-herder, is brave enough to confront the dragon.

A funny, cute book. I liked how it had little lessons in it that weren't too obvious - like not jumping to conclusions and not letting others rule your life. This edition had quite a few spelling errors which is not too good for a children's book.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Balyet by Patricia Wrightson

Patricia Wrightson
1989, 1990, Red Fox, London

Jo is a fourteen year old girl who goes camping with her neighbour Mrs Willet - an old aboriginal woman. While in the bush, Jo is called by the spirit of a girl who has lived in the mountains for a thousand years.

What a scary story! This kept me up all night. Balyet is an interesting character, and her story really resonated with me. It reminded me of Picnic at Hanging Rock ... the same supernatural beckoning of the bush that takes people.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ace Ventura Pet Detective by Marc Cerasini

Ace Ventura Pet Detective
Marc Cerasini
1995, Random House, New York

Book based on the movie in which Jim Carrey plays Ace Ventura a pet detective who is hired to investigate the disappearance of Miami Dolphins missing mascot Snowflake.

Very cool. Just like the movie - it's a silly story but very entertaining.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Fifteen Plus and Sunburnt by Vince Jones

Fifteen Plus and Sunburnt
Vince Jones
1993, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne

David is fifteen when he gets the news he has melanoma, the same disease which has affected his best friend Gary. While in hospital, he finds a statue of a horse and makes a pact to get through this part of his life and to change things in the future.

This is a coming of age novel told from the perspective of a boy who has a rough time getting there. While I wasn't entirely convinced with the 'voice' of the novel, I felt that the experiences and feelings of the characters rang true.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seth and the Strangers by Jenny Nimmo

Seth and the Strangers
Jenny Nimmo
1997, Mammoth, London

Seth and his foster sister Anne-Marie watch a swirling mass of lights come down out of a mysterious dark cloud over the moor. Seth then feels a presence in his house.

A beautiful little book - I was sad at the end. I thought the characters were very well written, and the issues dealt with in a delicate but upfront manner.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Priceless Volume 1 by Lee Young-You

Priceless: Volume 1
Lee Young-You
2002, 2006, Tokyopop, Los Angeles

Lang-bee has to work three jobs in order to pay off the debt her con-artist mother left her with. She gets her eyes on Dan-Won, the richest boy in school, with hopes that he will lift her from her poverty.

This is a cute little manga in an American style (ie - reads from front-to-back). I like the panels where everyone is a soft toy (one of Lang-Bee's jobs is making soft toys). It's very much for the teen market - it's so angsty!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Star Trek: Dark Passions: Book Two by Susan Wright

Star Trek: Dark Passions: Book Two
Susan Wright
2001, Pocket Books, New York

Set in the mirror universe where Terrans are slaves to the Klingon-Bajoran-Cardassian alliance, this story centres around all the female characters from the modern Trek incarnations. Kira Nerys is overseer of the alliance, and Seven tries to depose her using the help of B'Elana, Janeway and Worf.

Holy mixed metaphors Batman - this book is full of them! It sure could have done with a final edit. I'm not sure if I really enjoyed this story or not - it's nice to read from the mirror universe, but the characters seemed a little underdeveloped to me. That said, Kira Nerys is fantastic in this story. And I liked the inclusion of Iconian technology.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe

The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Edgar Allan Poe
1841, 1995, Penguin, London

A woman and her daughter are found murdered in a house in Paris. The daughter throttled and jammed up a chimney, the mother's throat slashed. As Paris reels from these horrific murders, an amateur detective and his friend go through the evidence to solve the crime.

A great little murder mystery from Edgar Allan Poe. I like reading these old mysteries, they give a feel for the time in which they were written. This story is quite clever and the solution unpredictable.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Home Truths by David Lodge

Home Truths
David Lodge
1999, 2000, Penguin, London

Novella treatment of a screen-play written by David Lodge and set in 1997. Retired author Adrian Ludlow is convinced by his old friend screen-writer Sam Sharp to get back at a reporter who wrote a negative article about Sharp.

I knew the ending was coming from nearly the beginning of the story, and it made me not want to read it. I got very upset on page 5 when I saw what was coming, but I did continue on. This was very well written, I can see it as a play. It has a great depth of character, and the exploration of the themes of media and celebrity was brilliantly conceived. And knowing what was coming in the end just heightened this.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time
Josephine Tey
1951, 1995, Scribner, New York

While recovering in hospital, Scotland Yard Inspector Grant begins to research the story of Richard III, popularly believed to have murdered his nephews. But upon looking deeper into the history of the time, cracks in this otherwise established fact begin to appear.

What a brilliant little book! I didn't know anything about this story, and I find British royal history confusing at the best of times, but this was written so well. And we never left that hospital room ... I thought that was a clever literary device. Purely academic detective work.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

The Tiger Rising
Kate DiCamillo
2001, Scholastic, Cambridge

Rob lives in a motel in Florida with his father after his mother died from cancer. One day he finds a tiger locked in a cage just behind the motel, and also meets a new girl on the school bus. They become friends and decide to let the tiger go free.

This is a lovely little story, if a bit sappy. I liked how the characters had to work through their problems, and that it showed that it's ok to change. The imagery of the little green bird flying free at the end was beautiful.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

City in Love: The New York Metamorphoses by Alex Shakar

City in Love: The New York Metamorphoses
Alex Shakar
1996, 2002, Perennial, New York

Book of short stories set in the city of New York. Included stories are The Sky Inside; A Million Year from Now; Waxman's Sun; Maximum Carnage; On Morpheus, Relating to Orpheus ...; A Change of Heart; City in Love.

This is a whimsical collection of stories, showcasing a vast imagination and true understanding of the human beast. The characters were very real, and I found myself not wanting to leave them. Waxman's Sun was especially poignant.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Body Double by Tess Gerritsen

Body Double
Tess Gerritsen
2004, Random House, Sydney

When Boston ME Dr. Maura Isles returns home from a holiday in France, she is faced with a murder which occurred right outside her front door. And the victim is her exact double.

Another great thriller from Gerritsen. What it lacks in believability, it makes up for in sheer pace, twists and gruesomeness.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, June 1, 2009

Animals in Translation: The Woman who Thinks like a Cow by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

Animals in Translation: The Woman who Thinks like a Cow
Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
2005, 2006, Bloomsbury, London

Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who works with the meat-packing industry to ensure animal welfare standards. This book talks about her research into animals of all kinds, and her findings and ideas on how they think, feel and act, and how that relates to humans both with and without autism.

This is a very special book. It contains oodles of information, mostly of an academic nature, about animals and their behaviours. It is written as though Grandin is standing up giving a lecture, which means it tends to be a bit repetitive. However, it is easy to understand, and the content is interesting enough to keep the reader hooked.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, May 22, 2009

Victims by Dorothy Uhnak

Dorothy Uhnak
1986, 1987, Arrow Books, London

A young woman is murdered on a quiet middle-class street in New York City. Her violent death is witnessed by a street full of people who watched the events unfold from their front windows, and yet did nothing to help the woman.

Victims is now a bit dated, but it was interesting to read what things were like in the city during the 1980s. Things did end up a bit far-fetched and I thought the characters were not that believable - their motivations seemed stretched. However, the story about a street full of witnesses neglecting to help a dying woman was an interesting premise, and I would like to have seen this as the focus of the story.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, May 18, 2009

e. by Matt Beaumont

Matt Beaumont
2000, HarperCollins, London

A book told in email-format. This is the story of the Miller Shanks advertising agency's London branch who are trying to land the Coca-Cola account.

e. is a hilarious book! I was a bit wary of the email format, but it really worked. Sarcasm is hard to get right in the written word, but Beaumont sure has a talent for capturing the passive-aggressiveness of everyday life in an office.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Breaking Ground: Adventures in Life and Architecture by Daniel Libeskind

Breaking Ground: Adventures in Life and Architecture
Daniel Libeskind
2004, John Murray, London

Daniel Libeskind is the architect who has conceived the master plan for the World Trade Center reconstruction. This book is a memoir of his life and his thoughts on architecture and the meanings of buildings.

This book is written as if Libeskind has sat down before you and is retelling the story of his life. He recounts parts of his life with no real chronology, but this by no means makes the book disjointed. Rather, it draws the reader into his life, and into his way of thinking. A very enjoyable book.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Ghatti's Tale: Finders-Seekers by Gayle Greeno

The Ghatti's Tale: Finders-Seekers
Gayle Greeno
1993, DAW, New York

A colonising expedition from Earth becomes stranded on a planet when their technology goes awry. Their society evolves to incorporate ghatts - mind-melding giant cats native to the planet - who bond with a human mate and together read the truth behind disagreements in court.

I haven't given the plot justice with that description, this truly is a brilliant story.

Finders-seekers is a beautifully written book. The author has a real way with words - a way of drawing a picture with her evocative prose. I was entranced by the story of the ghatti and their bondmates - it was a long book, but so finely honed unlike a lot of other longish fantasy. Every part of this book added to the story as a whole

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Automated Alice by Jeff Noon

Automated Alice
Jeff Noon
1996, 1997, Corgi, London

The 'third' Alice in Wonderland book - this novel sees Alice transported into the future (1998) through a grandfather clock. There she has to find her way back by collecting 12 missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle she had started in 1860.

What a weird and wonderful crazy book! Noon has captured Carroll's style perfectly ... this just reads like a Carroll novel except for the 'future-nods' such as cars, helicopters and Jimi Hendrix. This book is for adults who adored Alice as a child. I wish there was more.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The War Against the Rull by AE van Vogt

The War Against the Rull
AE van Vogt
1959, 1973, Panther, Aylesbury

Humans have expanded throughout the galaxy and face one major foe - the Rull, an energy-based being. This story follows a man named Jamieson as he fights for humankind on strange planets and in space.

This was originally a bunch of short stories which have been condensed into a single novel. I've read one of these short stories before in an old anthology of classic science fiction shorts. Jamieson is a great character - heroic but in an intelligent way. And the different alien beings and cultures are so very imaginative as most of van Vogt's creations are.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, April 6, 2009

How to be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Plans, Master Lairs and More!!! by Neil Zawacki

How to be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Plans, Master Lairs and More!!!
Neil Zawacki
2003, Chronicle Books, San Francisco

A little book which gives details on how to be a classic literary bad guy.

It's a villainous little book! I loved the retro artwork, I think without the art this book wouldn't work. The author seems a little passive-aggressive at times, but that's what makes it so fun.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, April 3, 2009

Catch Me if You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit by Frank W. Abagnale

Catch Me if You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit
Frank W. Abagnale
2000, 2002, Bantam, Milsons Point

This is the story of Frank W. Abagnale who, at the age of sixteen, impersonated a pilot in order to score free flights and to pass off counterfeit cheques. This begins a career of forgery and counterfeiting all around the world.

This is an amazing story. Abagnale is certainly intelligent and confident, and a good writer too although I note that there is a ghost writer attached to the book. The parts set in the French prison were heartbreaking, but the Swedish prison sounded like heaven!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Truth About Past Life Regression by Florence Wagner McClain

The Truth about Past Life Regression
Florence Wagner McClain
1989, 1994, Llewellyn, St. Paul

A very short overview of past life regression - theories concerning the phenomenon and its implications.

I guess this was a good little guide - but way too short! I wanted more information - more practical things to do, and more exploration into the phenomenon. I suppose this book is just to whet your appetite, but I think it would be more successful if they put more in this volume instead of assuming you'll go out and pick up another.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unlocking the Meaning of Lost: An Unauthorized Guide by Lynette Porter and David Lavery

Unlocking the Meaning of Lost: An Unauthorized Guide
Lynette Porter, David Lavery
2006, Sourcebooks, Naperville

This book was written half-way through season two of the TV show Lost and takes an in-depth look at the show, its characters, hidden meanings, and fandom.

I thought this was a good guide to the show, even if it's now terribly out of date. But it was good to read about some of the stuff I'd forgotten especially now that we're currently looking at the history of the island in greater detail.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia by Christ Stewart

Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia
Christ Stewart
1999, Sort Of Books, London

Chris Stewart is an English-born sheep-shearer who decides to move to Spain and buy a farm in Andalucia with his wife. The farm they purchase has no running water, road access or electricity and is on the other side of a temperamental river.

This is a beautifully told story of a foreigner making a new life in Spain. Stewart exquisitely describes the beauty of the country, and the true enticement of the idyllic rural culture. It sure makes me want to pack up and try!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester

The Surgeon of Crowthorne
Simon Winchester
1998, 1999, Viking, London

This is the story of the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary. One of the most prolific contributors to the dictionary was Dr. WC Minor, a murderer and inmate of an insane asylum.

I really loved reading about this story. The author writes coherently and with great precision ... he also uses some nice big words! I thought the writing style and the research was brilliant - the story was certainly done justice.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson

Carole Wilkinson
2003, 2005, Black Dog Books, Fitzroy

A small slave girl with no name and no family helps a dragon escape from the Imperial Dragonkeeper. They go through many trials in their quest to reach the ocean.

It's a fantastic story for children, and very well researched. I felt like I was constantly learning something, whether it be Chinese history, or little morals at the end of every chapter! I guess children aren't supposed to notice that though.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Last Oracle by James Rollins

The Last Oracle
James Rollins
2008, Orion Books, London

Russian scientists have been researching the genetics of a rare gypsy tribe, and discover that the children of this tribe have extra-sensory savant talents. They attempt to bring destruction to the Earth by nuclear radiation, and use the children to begin a new world order.

Sounds like a James Bond novel, and reads a bit like one. Plenty of fun action sequences, and paper-thin plotlines. I thought it could have done with a final edit, as it tended to repeat itself in places, but I did enjoy the story.

Link to journal to bookcrossing

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad Twin by Gary Troup

Bad Twin
Gary Troup (Touchstone Television)
2006, Hyperion, New York

This is the manuscript written by one of the victims of Oceanic Flight 815 and read by Sawyer in the first season of the television show Lost. It tells the story of Paul Artisan, a private detective who investigates the disappearance of a rich man's twin brother.

This was great as a stand-alone story. And I enjoyed all the references to Lost. I'm not sure it helped explain anything, but it sure was fun to spot them all.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Merde: Excursions into Scientific, Cultural and Socio-Historical Coprology by Ralph A. Lewin

Merde: Excursions into Scientific, Cultural and Socio-Historical Coprology
Ralph. A Lewin
1999, 2000, Aurum, London

This book deals with many wide-ranging aspects of defecation.

I think I now know everything worth knowing about shit. This is an incredible little book - so much detail, so many topics covered. Parts are very conversational, other parts are scientific. Overall, it's just a fascinating book. Makes me want to become a coprologist!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, February 19, 2009

World War: In the Balance by Harry Turtledove

World War: In the Balance
Harry Turtledove
1994, Hodder and Stoughton, London

It is the 1940s, during WWII, an invading fleet of reptilian aliens disrupt the sparring humans who then must unite against a common and technologically superior foe. But the reptiles are underprepared, as their scouting probe had sent back images of the Middle Ages, and when they arrived on Earth, they found humans had advanced more rapidly then they could have anticipated.

This book has an interesting premise and it's well executed but frankly it's far too long. I think if I knew more about WWII I would have enjoyed it more, but I'm a hard sci-fi fan and need a fair bit of action involving technology or sociological commentary to keep me interested. This was just a war tactics books with intelligent reptiles.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood

Wilderness Tips
Margaret Atwood
1991, 1992, Virago, London

A collection of short stories written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. This collection tackles themes of relationships and human behaviour.

This is classic Atwood. Her characters are so fragile and beautiful, and I love the intellectualism of her writing. I felt this collection was a little too repetitive, it could have been more rounded.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Abduction by John E. Mack

Abduction: Human encounters with aliens
John E. Mack
1994, Macmillan, New York

John Mack is a psychologist who has been investigating the alien abduction phenomenon. In this book, he interviews 13 people under hypnosis about their experiences of abduction.

I like how the people Mack chose for this book are from diverse backgrounds and have diverse encounters with aliens. It is interesting to read each person's reaction to and interpretation of events. As the author is a psychologist, the book did get a little dry at time. But overall, it has given me some new perspectives on the issue to ponder over.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, January 26, 2009

Therapy by David Lodge

David Lodge
1995, Penguin, London

Laurence Passmore is a TV sitcom writer living in London. This book is his journal as he goes through therapy, divorce, sexual encounters and an obsession with Kierkegaaard.

Passmore is a bit of an annoying character, but you can't help but love him! I really enjoyed all his philosophical theories, they were so amusing. The reader becomes a part of Passmore's life as he goes through his highs and lows. I think that this author captures people really well - all the characters are believable.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Walking Ollie by Stephen Foster

Walking Ollie
Stephen Foster
2006, 2007, Short Books, London

Writer Stephen Foster decides to adopt a dog from a shelter. He brings home Ollie, a Saluki-Greyhound mix, with a number of personality problems.

This author is very British! I enjoyed reading about the dog-ownership culture in Britain, which is a bit different to here in Australia. He nearly lost me with the "real dogs are big dogs" swipe early on, but it's a delightful story about an obviously traumatised puppy.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Child Called 'It' by Dave Pelzer

A Child Called 'It'
David Pelzer
1995, 2001, Orion, London

This is the story of David Pelzer who was a victim of brutal child abuse and neglect.

It is a shocking book to read, but it's not too intense which I think is a good thing as this is an important book that most people should read.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Day of the Storm by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Day of the Storm
Rosamunde Pilcher
1975, 1991, Coronet, London

When Rebecca Bayliss' mother dies of leukaemia, Rebecca goes in search of her extended family whom she never knew. Whilst staying at her grandfather's large Cornwall mansion, dark family secrets are revealed.

This is a seemingly simple story with shades of complexity. The prose is very descriptive. I enjoyed the English seaside village setting, however, the main character of Rebecca is such an idiot. And then there's that whole cousin thing ...

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blood Heat by Jim Mortimore

Blood Heat
Jim Mortimore
1993, Doctor Who Books, London

The TARDIS goes haywire, taking The Doctor, Ace and Bernice to what appears to be pre-historic Earth. But it turns out to be modern-day Earth, and the Silurians are ruling.

This was an action-packed story, and I enjoyed the premise of alternate timelines. The Silurians are great characters, it was interesting to see what a different outcome for them would look like.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Masuto Investigates by Howard Fast

Masuto Investigates
Howard Fast
1967, 1977, 2000, ibooks, New York

This book contains two stories featuring Masao Masuto - a Japanese-American Beverly Hills cop. In the first, a film producer is murdered, followed by an actor; investigations lead to an incident - a gang rape - which occured years before. The second story is of a stamp-dealer who is murdered with no apparent motive.

The character of Masao Masuto is annoying, though after reading two stories in succession, you kind of get used to him. He never says what he is thinking, which I guess is good for the plot progression, but highly unrealistic.

I found the second story to be far and above better than the first - perhaps that's because it was written ten years later and is a little more modern, although both stories are a bit dated.

Despite characters you want to throttle, unlikely plot progression and dated police procdures, these stories kept me reading as I wanted to know the ending!

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, January 5, 2009

Red Dwarf by Grant Naylor

Red Dwarf
Grant Naylor
1989, Penguin, London

Lister gets drunk one evening and when he wakes up he finds himself stranded on one of Saturn's moons. In order to get back home, he enlists in the Space Corps and ends up on an ill-fated vessel called the Red Dwarf.

I never really watched much of the TV show, I only had pictures of the characters in mind and not much else. So I went into this book without much expectation and was totally surprised. This is an excellent stand-alone science fiction novel. It has a few hard sf concepts, a few lessons for humanity, and so much poignancy it makes you smile. It's always nice when a books blows you away like that.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Way to Dusty Death by Alistair Maclean

The Way to Dusty Death
Alistair Maclean
1973, 1975, Fontana, London

Grand Prix champion Johnny Marlow is involved in an accident in which another driver is killed. The world blames Marlow for the death, but he knows it was not his fault and goes after those who are truly responsible.

My first foray into Alistair Maclean and I rather enjoyed it. It reads like a James Bond novel, car chases and everything. However, the book is a little dated in both attitude and writing style. Maclean uses a large vocabulary and sure does have an interesting way with words.

Link to journal at bookcrossing