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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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