Friday, 23 January 2015

Changes by Jim Butcher

OH MY GOSH! This instalment of the Dresden Files certainly hits the ground running and the pace never slows down. So many revelations, so many fights and close calls, so many great characters and so many cliffhangers! I don't know if I can bear to not pick the next up straight away, but I have to force myself to eek these out for a bit longer as now I am approaching the current end and am having to face the fact that my Dresden supply isn't endless...

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I do love a good first contact story, and The Sparrow certainly fulfilled that criteria.  The story was told both in the present and by flashbacks to the events leading up to the present situation, which encouraged an air of building tension as we slowly progress, unraveling the plot and answering questions as to what on earth had happened to the expedition in order for the situation to have reached the point that it is at in present day.

I found that this had a lot of similarities to another favourite of mine, Contact by Carl Sagan – Both involved picking up signals via a radio telescope, both involve mounting an expedition to the new galaxy and both involve first contact.  Also both raise questions of faith, what it means to have faith and to question it in the grand scale of the universe and the discovery of life elsewhere.  Sure I had a few qualms with some of the plot points but these could be easily overlooked.

It was fascinating to watch how our intrepid party coped with such a huge discovery, that we are not alone, and how things unfolded to the point where only one person returned, maimed and damaged. It was hard to imagine what could possibly have happened for things to have ended up the way that they did.  An absorbing read that involved more about the nature of belief rather than it be a book about religion, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Friday, 16 January 2015

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

This is another one where I would love a 'half-star' rating system.  Set in the 1920's Delilah Drummond is an American socialite living it up in Paris when she is embroiled in one scandal too many and exiled by her family to newly colonised Africa.  Here, she is to spend some time away from the headlines until things calm down, but it seems trouble follows Delilah wherever she goes.  Staying light hearted, it briefly touches on the conflicts between the colonists and the natives, the impact upon nature and politics of the time, but mostly the story focuses on delightfully witty and headstrong Delilah who tries her best to make the most of a less than ideal situation.  She is sharp witted, modern and fiercely independent, especially for the period and admits herself that she is broken.  It was refreshing to read a strong female lead who has many layers to her and obviously delighted in her freedom as a woman.  A touch of romance too that I was expecting to have more closure to it, but turned out perfectly in the end.

3/5 stars

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Turn Coat - Jim Butcher

Having had a break from the world of the Dresden Files for a while, I was glad to be back with Harry and Co, as chaotic as it was.  As usual, the story starts with a bang and continues this pace throughout. Poor Harry takes more than his fair share of beatings and punishments whilst trying to prove that Morgan, who has always been a royal pain in Harry’s behind, is innocent of the accusations made against him.  I loved how threads of the storylines from the previous novels were pulled together here, and can’t wait to see what happens next.

4/5 stars

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Read Harder

As you will be able to tell in time, I like to read and seem to be stuck in the realms of fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi.  Whilst I love these genres, I thought that this year might be a good time to start diversifying slightly and came across this year long book challenge set up by the guys over at Book Riot which might just encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone and try some new things.  This is what I hope to achieve this year, aiming for 1 book per task but preliminary planning shows that there will be some cross-overs:

1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 - difficult as as a rule I just pick whatever I fancy next on my Kindle without looking at the age of the writer involved. Didn't manage to do this to the best of my knowledge

2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 - Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! (yes, I'm including this one for this category as it was published when Richard Feynman was over 65 and technically it is all his own words, just collated by someone else!)

3. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) - I have a couple of collections on my 'to read' list but didn't get around to actually reading onw

4. A book published by an indie press - Again, something I don't pay attention to, to my shame :(

5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ - Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own - Changes by Jim Butcher

7. A book that takes place in Asia - Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami

8. A book by an author from Africa - Nope

9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

10. A microhistory - Yes, kinda, I mean I read Confessions of a Sociopath and Life Moves Pretty Fast which both should count, I think!

11. A YA novel - Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

12. A sci-fi novel - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

13. A romance novel - A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

14. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade - The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Specsavers National Book Award Winner Books Are My Bag New Writer of the Year 2014) 

15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) - Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (Snow White re-telling)

16. An audiobook - How To Be A Woman by Caitlan Moran

17. A collection of poetry -  I dabbled in a few but didn't read one all the way through 

18. A book that someone else has recommended to you - To Kill A Mockingbird - by Harper Lee

19. A book that was originally published in another language - ah yes, The Complete Persepolis i think counts but I included it for point 20 ...

20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?) - Persopolis by Marjane Satrapi

21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) - Quite a few but then realised that nothing should be a 'guilty pleasure' it if is enjoyed!

22. A book published before 1850 - Nope!

23. A book published this year - Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey

24. A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”) - Not really.

and see the original post on Book Riot introducing the challenge here: The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge

Will update this list as I go and also have a shelf set up over on Goodreads.

New Year, New Blog

Well, here we go, another new year, and a new blog to go along with it!

The main purpose of this will be to share some of my book reviews that are normally posted over on Goodreads, collect favourite quotes, and maybe share the odd photo or two as I also plan to improve my photography skills, having invested in a new camera a few weeks a go.

Thanks for reading, and hope you stick around!

Happy New Year :)