Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

The Demon in the Freezer
Richard Preston
2002, Headline, London

Non-fiction about the eradication of small-pox, the anthrax attacks in America just after the World Trade Centre attacks and the future possibility of a terror attack using an engineered version of the small pox virus.

This was a scary read, and sometimes a little gross. One of the earliest scenes is of an autopsy on one of the anthrax victims - let's just say it involves a ladle! It was written in accessible language (or I thought it was accessible, but then I work in a lab). It was very hard to put down.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Running Man by Richard Bachman

The Running Man
Richard Bachman
1982, 2007, Kindle Edition, Amazon

Set in the future where the gap between the poor and the wealthy is large, one of the only ways for the poor to make money is to participate in humiliating and often dangerous games which are broadcast on "free-vee". Ben Richards is selected to be in the most dangerous game of all, "Running Man", where he is a fugitive trying to escape killers for up to one month. No one has ever survived.

An excellent book by King - not horror so much but definitely gory! The characters are so well developed, the reader can't help but to be drawn into their lives.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

The Carbon Diaries 2015
Saci Lloyd
2008, Hodder, London

Global warming due to human behaviour has caused catastrophic changes to the Earth. In order to rectify the situation, the UK government introduces 'carbon points' which limit citizens' use of transport, electricity and general consumption.

If you can get past the whining self-indulgent teenage protagonist, this turns into a good story. It is a little preachy and a bit simple at times, but it is written for children. I enjoyed the book.

Link to journal entry at bookcrossing

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
1932, 2008, Amazon Kindle

A dystopian view of the future where people are genetically engineered and socially conditioned from before birth to fit in to the role which society has ordained for them. Everyone is happy and there is no violence. There's also no art, no truth and no freedom as we define it.

I read this expecting it to be a true dystopia, however, the concerning thing I found was that the society depicted in the novel is very much like the society I find myself in. People are encouraged to not think, to be promiscuous, childhood sexual behaviour is encouraged, entertainment does not tell of truth and beauty but simply tells a story for the sake of itself. Extroverts are thought of as normal and introverts as perverted and weird. If you are feeling unhappy, you must take drugs to fix it, to make the feeling go away. Consumerism is the basis of society (Henry T Ford is God); if something is broken, we replace, we do not mend (the more stitches, the less riches).

So all in all, I found this to be one of the most disturbing dytopias I have ever read.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dinosaur Wars: Earthfall by Thomas Hopp

Dinosaur Wars: Earthfall
Thomas Hopp
2011, Kindle Edition, Amazon

A probe finds an abandoned base on the moon which was not put there by humans. It was put there by ... dinosaurs! And now the dinosaurs are reawoken and want their planet back.

This was just awesome. I mean, space dinosaurs from the moon? What's not to love? And for a Kindle Freebie, you can't go wrong.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk
2011, Amazon Kindle e-book

Madison is the overweight and spoilt 13 year old daughter of a movie star and producer, the only thing is, she's dead ... and in hell.

This was another awesome book by Palahniuk! He's so good, and so, so bad. I loved the character development in this, Madison is a fantastic character. They all are fantastic characters, the dialogue is witty and situation hilarious. I think this is my first 10 star review of the year!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Growing up Amish by Ira Wagler

Growing up Amish
Ira Wagler
2011, Tyndale, Kindle Edition

Ira is born into the Amish church but does not feel at home in that culture. When he is a teenager he leaves one night under the cover of darkness to make his way in the 'world'. Over the next few years he returns and releaves.

This was thoroughly uninspiring. It wasn't a bad book, but it didn't give a real in depth insight into Amish culture, it's more about the author's life which is fair enough seeing as it's a biography. lol. Also, at the end, it turns into a Christian book which was mildly disappointing, I don't like being unexpectedly evangelised to.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemma
Michael Pollan
2006, Kindle Edition

This is the first book I read on my Kindle. Michael Pollan decides to eat three meals from three very different ways of procuring food: the factory farm; the sustainable organic farm; and hunting and gathering.

I read this because it was recommended to me by a vegan so I thought it would be a little more powerful in the anti-meat department, but on the contrary, it gave some very logical reasons why humans should eat meat. He's a very good story teller and I enjoyed the parts of the book where he's discovering how to locate and prepare his own meals from their original sources.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ironside by Holly Black

Holly Black
2007, Simon and Schuster, London

Third in the Modern Faerie Tale series. This brings characters from the first two together into one story. Kaye is sent on a quest in order to become Roiben's consort, an impossible quest to find a faerie who can tell a lie.

I enjoyed this more than the last book - the characters are a lot more mature. And the story is interesting. I like these faeries, the darkness of the story is offset by the humanness and emotionality of the characters.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Princess by Jean P. Sasson

Jean P. Sasson
1992. 1993, Bantam, London

Biographical account of "Sultana", a Saudi Arabian princess who lives under the oppressive regime of a patriarchal society. She witnesses many offences against women whilst living in palatial opulence.

I found myself wondering if this book was truth or fiction, not in that I don't believe that this kind of thing could happen, but I guess the 'story' of how the story came about sounds fake. After googling it however, I think it must be a true story, because 20 years later, there've been no revelations about its authenticity.

I am astounded at the opulence of the Saudis' lives. And Sultana is just so casual about her wealth - it's mind-boggling. I guess it just shows that money doesn't buy freedom in all parts of the world.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk

Victor Mancini is a sexaholic, historical reenactor and ex-medical student who earns extra money to pay his mother's medical bills by 'pretending' to choke in restaurants so people will come to his rescue and feel like heroes.

This is a weird-ass book. The characters are all screwy and the sex scenes are mad! I did enjoy it very much, except I think it was trying to be a little too clever, a little too philosophical.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Misery by Stephen King

Stephen King

This is the first e-book I've read all the way through, and it's also the first book that I've read all the way through in over a month. Book reading rut over! This is a classic King novel about a writer who ends up trapped in the house of a mad woman who wants him to write a novel for her.

I had increased heart rate at times while reading this book. haha. King is very good at taking the reader along for the ride. The character of Annie Wilkes is terrifying.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Murrumbidgee Kid by Peter Yeldham

The Murrimbidgee Kid
Peter Yeldham
2006, Penguin, Camberwell

Teddy is a talented boy living in Gundagai whose mother wants him to be a star. When Teddy lands a role in a film, they move to Sydney to pursue his career.

This was an interesting story, but not very well written. There were a number of historical inaccuracies and I didn't enjoy the writing style. However, I did read to the end because I was interested in the characters.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Pirate Latitudes
Michael Crichton
2009, HarperCollins, New York

Hunter is a pirate living in the English outpost Jamaica in 1665. He gets a crew together to capture a Spanish galleon and steal the treasure it carries.

This is Michael Crichton's last novel, published after his death when it was located in his files. I don't think it should have been published as it is, it reads like a rough first draft. Sure there's pirates, monsters, sex, witch-craft and cannibals, but it doesn't feel like the quality we're used to getting from Crichton. I thought I was reading Reilly at times - a good story in there, just without finesse.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Friday, April 22, 2011

Star Trek: A Time to be Born by John Vornholt

Star Trek: A Time to be Born
John Vornholt
2004, Pocket Books, New York

The Enterprise is sent to help with the retrieval mission at the Rashanar Battle site where derelict ships float around a gravity sink. They destroy a dangerous mimic vessel setting off a chain of events which threatens Captain Picard's future in Starfleet.

I read it but didn't enjoy it. The writing is poor and the storyline is mediocre. A few of the ideas are interesting but mostly it felt like covered territory. And what is with Trek authors doing terrible metaphors??!! There were some doozies in this one.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Monday, March 21, 2011

I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy

I am Spock
Leonard Nimoy
1995, 1996, Arrow Books, London

Auto-biography written by Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in the original series of Star Trek, as well as a number of motion pictures. This is written after the Star Trek: Generations movie.

Leonard Nimoy is a talented writer. And the stories he tell in this are very interesting, there's not too much boring stuff in there as some auto-biographies have. I like the way he talks to Spock throughout the book.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point
Malcolm Gladwell
2000, Abacus, London

A look at the sociology and psychology behind the reasons certain fads and other social phenomena become very popular.

This wasn't blow-your-mind amazing, but I enjoyed it. It is very well researched and written in an accessible language. It's quite good for pop-sociology.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks
1973, 1990, Pan Macmillan, London

Oliver Sacks is a doctor who treated a group of patients with post-encephalitic Parkinsonism following the sleepy sickness epidemic of the 1920s. The patients were treated with the drug L-DOPA and gained remarkable results in which they "awoke" after being nearly motionless and statue-like for half a decade.

This is a terrifying book - I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares. The human body can give so much grief, and the drugs we give to counteract it are just as bad. I liked that Sacks did not gloss over what he did; if the patients had horror reactions to his treatment (and all did), he gave the full details. I must admit some of his philosophical musings at the end of the book were a little over my head and if I gave this book to someone to read I would show them the glossary in the back before they start!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mage Heart by Jane Routley

Mage Heart
Jane Routley
1996, Avon Books, New York

Dion is a young female mage in a world where magic is dominated by males. After her foster father dies, she becomes the magical protector of the Duke's favourite mistress.

I spent about a month reading this book, which is a very long time for me to spend on one book and yet I did enjoy it quite a bit. It had a simple writing style (almost for teenagers) and the story was interesting with good solid plot twists. I liked how the character of Dion was so unsure of herself all the time and felt no qualms with talking about her fears and naiveties.

Link to journal at bookcroosing

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera
1984, 1999, Faber and Faber, London

This is a story about loves and infidelities; about the relationships between people and the differences in them that define their relationships.

It is very hard to describe this book; I wouldn't say that I loved it but I did like it. It made me laugh out loud sometimes and sad at others. The philosophy got a bit strange but the characters were well-drawn.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Ten O'Clock Horses by Laurie Graham

The Ten O'Clock Horses
Laurie Graham
1996, Black Swan, London

Ronnie Glover is a painter and decorator living in 1960s England and is dissatisfied with his place in life. He begins an affair with a rich married dance teacher.

When I first started reading this, I couldn't get into the writing style. But I stuck with it and when I started to get the voice of the novel I really really enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. The characters are well drawn, and the dialogue is incredibly realistic. The reader can feel the emotions of the characters on a deep level.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sooterkin by Tom Gilling

The Sooterkin
Tom Gilling
1999, Text Publishing, La Trobe

Set in convict-era Tasmania, a woman gives birth to a strange creature which resembles a seal pup.

I found this to be better than what I was expecting. It's a great little story and I loved the characters. The writing style is just a little bit different but very easy to read. I really enjoyed it.

Link to journal at bookcrossing