Monday, December 21, 2015

Relative Dementias by Mark Michalowski

Relative Dementias
Mark Michalowski
2002, BBC Worldwide Ltd, London

This is a Doctor Who novel featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace. They receive a distress call in the shape of a postcard from an old UNIT member whose mother is receiving treatment for Alzheimer's in a mysterious clinic. Their investigation gets them into a spot of mischief, as per normal.

Haven't been reading a lot lately, but I've been able to read this at quite a steady pace. It was an interesting storyline, and shows a bit of the dark side of the Seventh Doctor. The time travel confusion was particularly interesting.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

My Family and Other Animals
Gerald Durrell
1956, 1977, Penguin, London

Gerald and his family moved to a Greek Island from England when he was a young boy. He spends time exploring, discovering animals, insects and birds, and generally avoiding an education.

This is an enjoyable read, written in a modern style - I was surprised when I read the publication date. It sounds like a great place to be a child, and Gerald was a very inquisitive one!

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Wonder Boys
Michael Chabon
1995, 1996, Fourth Estate, London

Author and university lecturer, Grady Tripp, is a womaniser and pot-head. He impregnates his Chancellor, neglects to finish the novel owed to his publisher, steals Marilyn Monroe's jacket, kills his parents-in-law's snake, and a host of other misadventures.

Tripp is such a prick. But a readable prick. He's the asshole you just can't hate because he's also an adorable doofus. I enjoy Chabon's writing style, it is engrossing and humorous.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver
Lois Lowry
1993, 2008, HarperCollins, London

Dystopian novel about a young boy coming of age in a community where life choices are prescribed, and no one feels bad pain or strong emotions. He is selected to be the 'Receiver', a role that promises much pain but is necessary for the community to continue.

This was a great book for children, or a novella for adults. It took me a while to decide whether or not it was dystopian or not, which I guess is one of the things that makes a good dystopian novel! If I had not been reading this on camp where I had no artificial light source, I would have read it in one sitting as it's a compelling read.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wool by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey
2013, Random House, London

A dystopian, post-apocalyptic tale of a society that lives entirely in an underground silo. The outside is contaminated by some type of toxins and is said to be uninhabitable, but criminals are sent outside to 'clean' grime from view screens. A few inhabitants begin to question this, and other aspects of the society.

This was a relatively quick read and quite enjoyable. Which I found surprising because I really don't like the person who gave me the book! haha! The pace was a bit uneven at times, parts could have used a bit more editing. I also feel that some parts were perhaps not logically thought through as they made no sense if you start really thinking about it. Again, something that could have been solved by another edit pass. But overall, great story, interesting characters, and relatively unique premise.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons
1989, Headline, London

This novel tells the stories of seven pilgrims who are on a journey to a planet called Hyperion with a mission to prevent an interstellar war. Hyperion is reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales in its style.

Apart from geeking out that this is basically The Canterbury Tales set in space and in the future, I did really enjoy the individual tales and the intricate universe that Simmons has weaved. I particularly enjoyed The Priests Tale - a story of an indigenous and deeply religious tribe on a remote planet and the priest who went to study them, The Poets Tale - a story of a lost muse, and of course The Scholars Tale - a story of a young woman who is met with a rather unfortunate temporal mishap.

I ws impressed with how delicately the individual tales were drawn together to form one narrative. This is an engrossing book and, although it is much longer than I usually like, I did not want it to end. In fact, I really rather want to keep reading.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood
Margaret Atwood
2009, Hachette Digital, London
unnumbered ebook

This is book two in the MaddAdam series which began with Oryx and Crake. I was excited to see this in the bookstore as I hadn't realised there were other books! So I went home and bought the Kindle edition - haha.

The Year of the Flood follows a similar timeline to Oryx and Crake but focuses on the stories of two women, Toby and Ren. They are a part of the religious cult The Gardeners who talk of a 'waterless flood' that will wipe out humanity (the viral apocalypse of the first book). There are connections to Oryx and Crake throughout this story.

I liked learning more about the society, especially this time from a female perspective. And I am looking forward to reading the third book, MaddAdam.  In this book, there was less of a focus on the scientific side of things, and more of a societal - specifically, religious - slant. It's a very optimistic view of an apocalyptic situation.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dark Half by Stephen King

The Dark Half
Stephen King
1989, 1990, Hodder & Stoughton, London

A writer is forced to admit his use of a pen name to write violent and profitable novels. He takes the opportunity to publicly 'kill off' his pseudonym in order to fully pursue his own, less popular but less violent, writings. But the pseudonym does not stay dead.

This book starts off as wryly amusing, and then very quickly turns violent and horrible. A couple of passages made me feel almost physically ill, and the last section had to be read all at once as it was terrifyingly suspenseful. The other great passage is the opening scene in which an eyeball is excised from the brain of an 11 year old boy - King can paint with words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

The Casual Vacancy
JK Rowling
2012, Little Brown and Company, New York

Adult novel by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, The Casual Vacancy is set around a small town in the UK and its politics. When a councilman dies while in term, many local people are very intent on seeing that their favourite candidate gets into power. This book looks at not just local small town politics, but small town gossip and social issues to do with the working and middle classes.

This was an engrossing read. There was only one character I liked throughout the book, and the cast of  characters is quite considerable. I also learned a plethora of new English words! I recommend reading this with a dictionary close at hand, unless, of course, you're an English major.

It's certainly not a happy kind of book. Time have reviewed it as "... funny, very upsetting ..." and I think that is an apt description.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Insomnia by Stephen King

Stephen King
1994, Signet, New York

Sixty-something year old Ralph begins to suffer from insomnia shortly after the death of his wife. And then he starts seeing coloured auras around people, and stumbles onto a whole other world beyond normal vision.

Stephen King is always a good read, and this is no exception. It's a great premise, and quite suspenseful. I read this in my first week in Iceland, it's so nice to have time to read again. If I was at home, working, a 600-page book would take months to read.