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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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