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Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Non-Human Stories

In Book Reviews on February 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

Animal Stories

I’ve had a break from my blog for a few months, but during that time I definitely didn’t stop reading. As a result, I have a rather large backlog of books to tell you about. The two books that I’ve chosen for today have one thing in common: the main characters aren’t humans.

These books intrigued me because of their perspective. One is from a bee’s point of view and the other is from a cow’s viewpoint. Even though these stories are from a non-human perspective, they aren’t children’s books and I loved both of them, although for completely different reasons.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Laline Paull The Bees

Photo by Adrian Peacock/Ecco Press

 

This story was told from the perspective of Flora 717, a bee who was born into her hive as a sanitation worker. We join her at her birth as she kicks her way out of her birthing cell and meets her sisters for the first time.

Flora 717 is different than other bees; she’s somewhat larger than the others, but not so much so that she would be killed for it. She’s also not very attractive for a bee.

What appealed to me about this book is the dystopian feel it had to it. Everyone was locked into their roles from birth and they willingly performed the tasks they were born to do. The difference between this story and other dystopian stories I’ve read, however, is that this is nature. There is no over-throwing and revamping the system which made it significantly more interesting.

One thing I didn’t really understand was why Flora 717 was different and why she was allowed to move from job to job like a student doing work experience. Especially when everyone else was so committed to their roles.

Even thought I didn’t understand this aspect of the story, I found it gripping.

One of the things I enjoy doing once I’ve finished reading a book is to read the negative reviews on Goodreads. Sometimes I’ll read the positive ones, but usually I’ll only do that if I didn’t like the book. I like to know why someone has a different opinion to mine and to see if there’s something I missed or interpreted differently.

I only tend to read a few, but the ones I read regarding this book had a problem with the anthropomorphisation of animals. Apparently, these bees were too ‘human-like’ for some readers, which made me chuckle considering that this is a fictionalised account of life within a beehive. It’s strange to me that someone would read this book if they weren’t up for that kind of thing.

You might like this book if you enjoyed Watership Down. I saw a marketing blurb comparing it to the Hunger Games (as many dystopian books are these days) however, I feel that I must tell you that you will be very disappointed if you go into this with that expectation.

It’s a strange and wonderful tale about bees in a beehive and their relationship with each other as well as the ‘Myriad’ which are wasps, spiders, flies and pretty much all other creatures that aren’t bees.

Holy Cow

David Duchovny Holy Cow

Image from Duchovny Central

My husband posted an article to my Facebook page about this book. He knew that I would want to read this book because we are both X-Files fans and we both have a love of silliness and whimsy.

Naturally, I went to the book store and bought it immediately. I read this book in a day and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’d like to start out by saying that David Duchovny is completely bonkers. (Although delightfully so!) This book had me in fits of giggles.

This is the story of Elsie the cow who wants to escape from her farm and travel to India because cows are sacred there and she won’t get eaten. She is joined by a pig who has renamed himself Shalom and wants to travel to Israel because people there don’t eat pork. And then there’s Tom the Turkey who’s trying to slim down because Thanksgiving is getting close and he thinks that his best bet is to move to Turkey. For obvious reasons.

Okay, you reeeeeeeally have to suspend your disbelief for this story. I mean A LOT. These animals know how to buy plane tickets using an iPhone and they can get through airport security disguised as humans (a point with which a few Goodreads reviewers were not pleased). And they say things like ‘OMG’.

I loved this story. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all and I loved that about it. It doesn’t have any pretensions of being high literature or even about making a statement about animals being killed for food. It is what it is and I thought it was wonderful.

Apparently, he reads it on the audio version and while I’m not a huge fan of audio books, I would totally be down with listening to that.

If you need an injection of awesome into your day, check this book out.

Runelight

In Book Reviews on November 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Doubleday 2011

Doubleday 2011

‘Loki,’ said Frey with conviction. ‘He’s the child of demons, and everybody hates him. Plus, he was the one who opened the gate to Netherworld in the first place. Who else could it possibly be?’

‘I’m not sure I like the term demons,’ said Angie, interrupting. ‘Some people might find it offensive.’

‘So what would you rather?’ Heimdall said.

‘Persons of chaotic origin?’

Gods!‘ exploded Heimdall. ‘Maddy’s lost, Loki’s escaped, the End of the bloody Worlds is at hand, and you’re lecturing me about political correctness?’

Nutshell blurb: The old regime is gone, but there is nothing in its place. The old gods are trying to rebuild the sky citadel and reclaim their place, but an old enemy and a new one will thwart their attempts.

This is the second book in this series. If you would like to read my thoughts on the first one you should go ahead and do that first.

Like the first one, I really enjoyed this book. I probably enjoyed it even more. I’ve found that sometimes the first book in a series will serve to set up the characters and world whilst being short on story and plot. I didn’t think that too much of of Runemarks, however I felt much closer to the characters in the second book and by this time knew a bit more about how the world in these stories works. I think that the characters were much more interesting in this book. (They are the same characters, by they way.) I really liked the characters in the first one, but I guess it’s that thing where you finally get to know who they are and what they’re all about and then the book ends. Then you pick up the second book and they are much more like old friends. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast rather than anything to do with Ms. Harris’s writing.

It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of my own writing. I’m world-building as well so I’ve been trying to figure out how to go about making it a place that a reader can understand without too much exposition whilst seamlessly merging it with the story.

One thing that was confusing for me was that there are two girls in this book and the view point shifts between them. One is Maggie and the other is Maddy. (Maddy is from the first book.) I didn’t really realise this because, again, I didn’t read the back of the book. So the prologue starts in Maggie’s PoV which didn’t make sense to me because I was thinking that it was in Maddy’s point of view. I read the whole thing and was like ‘wat?’. And then I realised my mistake and had to reread it with the correct person in mind. It absolutely makes sense the more you read the story and realise their origins, but it was confusing from time to time.

This was also helpful to me for my writing purposes. You see, I have sisters in my story and they have very similar names. I’ve now decided to change them as I’m thinking about having the story told from both PoVs. I don’t want to confuse people. Please don’t think that I’m criticising Joanne Harris for this, however. She’s written a few more novels than I have. (And by ‘a few’ I mean ‘oh so many’!) Once I twigged what she was doing, I was ok with keeping the two straight throughout the rest of the book.

I consider it a good thing any time a book leaves me thinking about it long after I’ve finished it. She’s given me a lot to think about with regards to my own writing, which can only be a good thing. She’s also given me a charming and delightful story that I may decide to read again one day.

Rogue: The Clone Rebellion 2

In Book Reviews on October 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

Hello there! So, I’ve had to take a few weeks off from blogging. If you have a blog, you’ve probably suffered at some point from a severe lack of motivation. That’s what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks. It’s certainly not from a lack of books to write about. I’m still reading like crazy and now I’ve got a stack of books to write posts about. I’m not really sure what has prompted this reluctance to write posts, but the way I figure it, if it isn’t fun what’s the point? I went from being like “Oooh, I’ve finished a book so now I can do a blog post!” to “Ugh, I’ve finished a book and now I have to do a blog post.”.

I’m going to do this post and see how I feel about getting back into the swing of things.

I’d like to start off by saying that I love the covers for these books. I know that it’s a pretty superficial thing, but there you go. I love looking at them in the bookshop when they’re all displayed together. Here’s what the first 4 look like together, so that you can get a feel for my book cover love:

I love bright colours!!

I love bright colours!!

Nutshell blurb: We follow Lt Wayson Harris as he travels the universe and decides which side to fight on while he simultaneously struggles to overcome his conditioning.

This is the 2nd book in this series. If you would like to read my post on the first book, you can find it here.

As I suspected in that post, the first book was all about setting the scene for what was to come in subsequent books. That’s kind of a risky tactic as I found that the first book lacked focus.

This book was much better. I actually knew what was going on and never felt confused. I love the universe that Mr. Kent has created with the exception of one thing…

Where my girls at?????

Again, this story suffers from an extreme lack of estrogen. I guess that with so many clones, there isn’t as much of a need for procreation which has perhaps lowered the birthrate in the galaxy? I don’t know. I’m speculating. There is a real, living, breathing, talking female in the last 1/3 of the book but I found her to be unsatisfactory as a character.

And this might be spoilerific, just so ya know.

My problem with her is that she’s a love interest who belongs to a society of religious people who don’t take advice when someone trustworthy says “Oh hey, I think that the military are coming to exterminate you.” and they’re like “It’s ok because God will protect us.”. So, unless Mr. Kent decides to surprise me (and I kind of have the feeling that he won’t with this part) I think that she’ll end up being killed with her kin which will spur the main character on to great feats of heroics as he’ll have lost everything that he loved etc etc…

I think that my biggest problem with not having any interesting females in this story is how it makes me feel when I read it. I love the story and the main character but as I read I know that I am not the demographic for which this series was written.

It makes me really sad and I feel left out. Sort of like being the last person picked for dodgeball in gym class back in school. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME, STEVEN L KENT????

I’m really hooked on the stories though, so I’ll probably carry on reading them. I want to read what happens with this woman and find out if I’m right or if I’ll be surprised.

Oh, and if you’ve read the next book, please refrain from spoiling it for me. Thanks! 🙂

 

Zoo City

In Book Reviews on October 5, 2014 at 10:28 am
Angry Robot 2010

Angry Robot 2010

“You play golf now as well as Blood Skies?” Des says mockingly.
“No, I hate golf. It’s the genteel version of seal-clubbing, only not as much fun.”

Nutshell blurb: Zinzi December is a criminal. In this particular society, criminal are lumped with animal familiars and have certain powers. Zinzi’s power is that she can find lost things. She ends up on a mission to find a missing person and from that point everything goes wrong.

I fell in love with the writing style of this book. Lauren Beukes has a wry sense of humour as well as a knack for description, both of which greatly appeal to me. I put the golf quote up there, incidentally, because that’s exactly how I feel about that particular sport. There were so many lines in this book that I could relate to which made my reading experience that much more fun.

The main character isn’t a very likable person. She actively participates in email scams. You know the ones. Some tribal princess is in dire need of help. She can’t access her vast fortune and needs your help (and money) to do it. Of course, you’ll get a cut of her considerable wealth once she has access to it. That sort of thing. However, Ms. Beukes somehow makes her likable. It was very easy to overlook her criminal activity and sympathise with her. That takes skill.

The animal aspect was very cool as well. (A lot of people have likened the concept to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I’m not going to do that here because I’ve never gotten around to reading those books. I just wanted to let you know that in case you decided to say ‘Oh hey, this sounds like Philip Pullman’s books.’) It was interesting that only criminals get ‘animalled’. I would love to have an animal that went everywhere with me. Zinzi has a sloth, which is pretty darn cool. Bad things happen to you if your animal gets killed, though. It kind of reminds me of this (skip to 1.30):

Not very nice.

Overall, this was a really good book and as I said, I love her writing. However, the ending was a bit much for even me. I can sum it up in two words: BLOOD BATH. Now, I read lots of zombie, dystopia and horror books so I have a pretty high tolerance for blood, guts and gore but this exceeded what even I find acceptable. I found myself cringing quite a lot, but not in a good way. The violence was excessive, wanton even, and I didn’t think that it served the story in any way. It left me with feelings of disappointment and sadness when I finished.

It is a good read and I definitely don’t regret spending my time and money on it, however, if you are at all squeamish, approach this book at your peril. It won’t deter me from buying any of her other books, though. She is very talented and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

Poppet

In Book Reviews on October 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm
Transworld Publishers 2014

Transworld Publishers 2014

I saw advertisements for this book all over the Underground when it first came out and the cover freaked me the heck out. I love it. I knew that because of the cover I would eventually read this book. I was talked into reading her first book in the Jack Caffery series (Birdman) and did so first. While I did enjoy it, I had more negative things to say about it than positives so I refrained from doing a blog post about it. This book was much much better than that one.

Nutshell blurb: Jack Caffery is called in to investigate some disturbing events which happen in a high security unit for the mentally ill. And then bad stuff happens.

I can’t help but compare Ms. Hayder’s writing in both of the books that I’ve read. It’s interesting to see how her style has progressed from book 1 to book 6. (I’m trying to ignore the fact that I’ve skipped from book 1 to book 6 but now I’m looking at it in black and white and I’m horrified. I actually skipped four other books. How could I let this happen????) Anyway, her style has improved.

I’m not sure if I like Jack Caffery very much, though. I found the other characters, particularly A.J., a nurse in the nut house, much more interesting as he has more personality and isn’t under a lot of pressure to be a super cool detective with lots of secrets.

Being cool is totally over-rated, by the way. I realise that I’m biased on this statement as it points in my favour. I mean, I’m pretty much the opposite of cool. Perhaps this is why characters who try really hard to attain a sense of mystique annoy me. I can’t relate. I could never imagine myself as a gritty, hard-boiled detective. I would be out with my friends, having cocktails and I’d say something like ‘Oh my God, you guys. I have to tell you about the awesomest case I’m working on. So, I was visiting this looney-bin, right…’

Yeah, so I have a really hard time with the inscrutable mysterioso who suffers from extreme emotional poverty yet whom all females seem to be attracted to. This archetype doesn’t work for me. However, as I just mentioned, the other characters are pretty interesting. I was intrigued by the woman who thought that she could unzip herself out of her skin to make herself invisible. I mean, who doesn’t want to do that sometimes?

Ok, actually I don’t. It was pretty freaky.

I must admit that I saw the plot twist coming from miles away (and I’m not really one of those people who says ‘I saw the plot twist coming from miles away’) so that was a bit dissatisfying.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was difficult to put it down and even though I don’t particularly like the main character, I would be interested to see how his story unfolds in other books.

Plus, I have to read at least 4 of her other ones because I skipped them and that just isn’t the done thing. And yes, I’m a little bit obsessive about these things. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Drowning Pool

In Book Reviews on September 28, 2014 at 11:07 am
The Drowning Pool

HarperCollins 2011

Nutshell blurb: Sarah Grey and her son, Alfie, have moved to a small coastal town in Essex after she lost her husband in a traffic accident. She starts seeing visions of a ghost who has the same name as her as well as a dark past.

This book was pretty good. I had one of those baffling experiences whilst reading it where I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, however, I didn’t think that it was an amazing story.

Upon further reflection, I realised that I didn’t really connect with the main character. She is quite the ladette who likes being in a constant state of drunkenness. That’s not really something that I can identify with and it began to annoy me that she was constantly reaching for a drink during the story. No wonder she was seeing ghosts!

To be fair to her, she was still grieving over the loss of her husband and she had a little boy to take care of.

Before you think that I’m being all judgmental towards people who like to get drunk for recreational purposes, I want to say that I love cocktails but I just don’t like being drunk. I don’t enjoy going out and ending up being the only sober person in the room. I think that’s why I didn’t really connect with her. I couldn’t identify with her motivation much of the time.

The things that I liked about her: she’s highly intelligent and seems to always have Latin American music in the background.

The story was pretty interesting. The author seems to be well versed in the witch-hunting history of Essex, which I know pretty much nothing about. If that makes you wonder why I think that she’s well-versed in the history, it’s because I read the first chapter of another book that she’s written which is at the end of this book. It’s a completely different story, but also focuses on witches in Essex, so I’m guessing that this is a passion of hers.

That kind of passion seeps into the story and I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

The other problem that I had with this story is the unbelievable romantic entanglement that happens mid-way through. (Perhaps this part is a bit spoilerific, just in case you planned on reading the book…) I think that my problem from that stemmed from a lack of description of what the male character actually looked like. I remember him being described as being attractive, but maybe my mind tacked on ‘back in his day’ to that descriptor. So I pictured him as a craggy and thoroughly unlikable guy in his mid-sixties and all of a sudden she fancies the pants off of him. My reaction:

Which is not to say that it’s improbable that a 30-something woman would be attracted to a 60-something man. This man in particular was described in a way that I pictured him as a grumpy old git, so it totally threw me off that he turned out to be a few decades younger than I thought and that he was all of a sudden super dreamy and that they became involved with each other.

I feel like I’m really stepping in it here so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’ll just sum up by saying that this book has quite a few good points and that I was really sucked into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though there were a few things that niggled at me.

Zombie Apocalypse! Fight Back

In Book Reviews on September 21, 2014 at 10:39 am
Constable & Robinson Ltd 2012

Constable & Robinson Ltd 2012

Nutshell blurb: The zombie apocalypse is in full swing because of an excavation in an old churchyard in Kent. In this book we learn a bit more about how it started as well as what our plans are for the future.

This is the second instalment of the Zombie Apocalypse series. If you want to read my thoughts on the first book, please feel free to go ahead.

In case you don’t feel like reading it, I’ll let you know that I loved the first one. I thought that the style was fantastic. I loved the minute by minute accounts of what was happening to various people in London.

Zombie Apocalypse! Fight Back has the same sort of format but flashes back from time to time in order to give us an idea of how the whole thing started. We finally get to meet the Thomas Moreby that was talked about so much in the first book.

He’s not a very nice person.

We were told about him in journal format by a young woman who gets to know him quite well. I think that that was my favourite part of this book. There are so many stories that one can’t help but pick favourites.

We also learn more about the quirks of the infection. Some of the zombies are sentient and memories are passed to them from the people that they eat. That actually creeped me out quite a bit. One of zombies ate a man and was able to find out where the man’s wife and children were hiding because he then possessed the man’s memories. The gore factor in this book was definitely cranked up a few levels.

I enjoyed this book a lot but I found that I didn’t devour it as quickly as I did the first one. I’m not really sure why it didn’t grab me as much as the first one did. Perhaps the first one was novel and the second one was more of the same.

I suspect that it’s more likely that I just didn’t really connect with many of the characters in the second one.

I saw another Zombie Apocalypse book in the shop (I think that it has to do with an insane asylum, but I don’t want to look it up for fear of spoilers) but I might leave it alone for now. I’ll probably read it one day in the future, but not today.

Nothing to Envy

In Book Reviews on September 14, 2014 at 6:00 am
Granta Publications 2010

Granta Publications 2010

North Korea invites parody. We laugh at the excesses of the propaganda and the gullibility of the people. But consider that their indoctrination began in infancy, during the fourteen-hour days spent in factory day-care centers; that for the subsequent fifty years, every song, film, newspaper article, and billboard was designed to deify Kim Il-sung; that the country was hermetically sealed to keep out anything that might cast doubt on Kim Il-sung’s divinity. Who could possibly resist?

I actually had two books to write blog posts on before this one but I finished this book the other day and I decided to bump it up in the queue. I’ve never in my life been so affected by a non-fiction book and I really want to tell you about it.

Nutshell blurb: This book contains the stories of 6 people and how they lived in North Korea until they eventually defected to South Korea.

I feel that I need to tell you that I don’t really read much 20th century history. I love history but for some reason have never been interested by pretty much anything that has happened in that century. I began to think about why as I read this book and here’s what I came up with. The covers always look so drab (I know that we aren’t supposed to judge books by their covers but I can’t help it!!!) and they are usually in various colours of camouflage which puts me right off. Also, they seem to be written about various battles, areas where battles took place, tactics and weapons rather than about the actual people involved. They are also, frankly, intimidating. Just looking at books like these makes me think that they will be talking about things that I know nothing about and therefore won’t be able to absorb half of it and end up feeling really stupid.

Yes, I realise that these are really dumb reasons.

When I boiled away all of the rubbish, what I came up with is that I would prefer to read a book about specific people rather than just a country and it’s economy/politics/etc… I’m really glad that I came to this realisation because I think that it will open up a whole new set of books for me to read. I’ll be more inclined to read biographies and other books such as this that take place during that time period.

This particular book was recommended to me by a friend. She and I have these great conversations where we talk about historical stuff and then realise that we know absolutely nothing about what we’re talking about which then inspires some Googling and a subsequent trip to the library to find more information. One particular day, earlier this year, there was an article on the BBC News website about a new law in North Korea which meant that students had to get the same haircut as Kim Jong-un. My friend and I talked about it, decided that we knew nothing about North Korea and then she found this book.

Seriously, considering my intense love of dystopian regimes in books, how on earth have I not had sense enough to read more about North Korea until now? Shocking, really.

So anyway, this book.

Ms. Demick tells the story in an interesting way. Instead of telling one person’s story and then moving to the next, she intertwines them with what is happening in the country over the space of many years. It’s quite gripping and I found myself getting emotionally attached to the people whose stories they are. Because they are more than just characters in a book. They are actual people and these things actually happened to them.

What blew me away is the amount of mind-control involved in keeping the people so ignorant of what’s happening in the rest of the world and actually vilifying pretty much everyone outside of their country.

To a certain extent, all dictatorships are alike…all these regimes had the same trappings: the statues looming over every town square, the portraits hung in every office, the wristwatches with the dictator’s face on the dial. But Kim Il-sung took the cult of personality to a new level. What distinguished him in the rogues’ gallery of twentieth-century dictators was his ability to harness the power of faith…Once in power, Kim Il-sung closed the churches, banned the Bible, deported believers to the hinterlands, and appropriated Christian imagery and dogma for the purpose of self-promotion.

One of the most difficult parts to read about in this book was the famine that swept through the country. People were still expected to work, but the government could no longer afford to pay them or provide them with food. People had to find other ways to find food and many became reluctant capitalists by providing services or selling things in order to survive. Many people still starved:

Yet another gratuitous cruelty: the killer targets the most innocent, the people who would never steal food, lie, cheat, break the law, or betray a friend.

One of the people interviewed for this book was a teacher and much later, after she defected, she looked back and felt guilty for not being able to help the dying children who surrounded her.

What she didn’t realize is that her indifference was an acquired survival skill. In order to get through the 1990s alive, one had to suppress any impulse to share food. To avoid going insane, one had to learn to stop caring.

Life didn’t suddenly become easy once they defected. It seems as though the South Korean government is quite keen to see them integrate into society but the defectors have trouble getting over the constant shame and guilt that they feel for pretty much everything. I can’t imagine it being that easy to get on with life. Especially if you leave people behind. One woman left her grown daughters behind as they were married with children and fully supported the regime. Those daughters were later taken away to a gulag once it was learned that their mother defected.

As I said earlier, this book had a profound effect on me because of my concern for the people involved. It broke my heart to read what they went through and it breaks my heart further to know that there are many people who are still going through the same things that they did.

Also, I’m not ashamed to tell you that this is the first non-fiction book that actually made me cry. (Ok, I didn’t actually shed tears but I teared up and got all misty.)

It brings to light my ignorance of what is going on in other parts of the world that are outside of my insulated and comfortable life and I want to read more stories about extraordinary people who overcome difficulties to survive. It’s inspiring and humbling.

Bedlam

In Book Reviews on September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

When Ross heard the voice speak softly from only a few feet behind him, he deduced rather depressingly that he must no longer have a digestive system, as this could be the only explanation for why he didn’t shit himself.

Nutshell blurb: Ross Baker is a scientist who works for a huge corporation called Neurosphere. He volunteers to help test out a new technology only to find that he’s been transported into a videogame.

This was my first ‘trapped in a videogame’ book. I think. Now I’m wracking my brain to remember if I’ve read any others…I actually have a story idea for a novel that takes place in a videogame, which is what drew me to this book. My idea is too nebulous to discuss but I can say that it is nothing at all like this book.

I had so much fun reading this. I’m adding Mr. Brookmyre to my list of authors whose styles I totally dig. As a side note, I would be curious to know how this book would be received by someone who didn’t play videogames.

This book spanned so many games and if you are one who plays or has played videogames in the past, you will recognise many of the ones mentioned. I particularly enjoyed reading about what the character went through when faced with various game mechanics that those of us who play games would recognise.

Respawning, having crappy weapons during the early levels of a game, being dealt damage that is inconsistent with what is dealing the damage…

It was a strange anomaly of certain first-person shooters that you could take a grenade blast and multiple bullet-wounds to the face and yet still limp home for a couple of Paracetamol and a warm bath, but if you stayed under the suds for more than thirty seconds while washing your hair, you would drown.

I was a bit disappointed that no mention was made of how one can kill a mosquito which could then potentially drop a broadsword. But then, the character seemed to spend most of his time in first-person shooters and strategy games. The double jump was mentioned, however:

Back in the day, there had been an odd glitch in the game that meant you could do this double-jump trick on the edge of a rock that would propel you a height disproportionate to your efforts. It was a handy shortcut to higher ledges that the level designers hadn’t intended you to reach without first negotiating other parts of the landscape. Ross tried it when he reached a suitable spot, the impulse coming almost instinctively as soon as he realised he was in a place he recognised. He succeeded only in repeatedly rattling his thankfully metal-clad shins off the edge of a low outcrop and falling on his face a few times. If anybody had been looking, they’d have assumed his internal motivational and guidance circuitry was on the fritz. Or that he was a twat.

As I mentioned, I really like Mr. Brookmyre’s style of writing. It’s quirky (always a plus for me) with a great sense of humour and it’s obvious that he really loves videogames.

My one complaint about this book is the ending. I felt that it was a bit rushed and that it was perhaps a bit too clever for itself. I had a moment of ‘Wha….?’ until I reread it and understanding dawned. Feeling rushed and too clever isn’t the greatest combination but I was able to forgive that because it was a really fun book.

 

Ancestor

In Book Reviews on August 31, 2014 at 6:00 am
Hodder & Stoughton 2010

Hodder & Stoughton 2010

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book. This seems to be happening to me quite a lot recently. I must be on auto-pilot when I’m in the library these days. I’m a lot more careful when I’m buying books. Well, obviously. I suppose it’s different when you’re actually spending money. Anyway, the claw marks on the front cover made me think that it was a werewolf book. I’m not sure what it is with me and werewolves lately. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a book that featured them so maybe this is my brain’s way of telling me that I need to. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this book isn’t about werewolves. It’s about something much worse.

Cows.

Nutshell blurb: So there’s this island in the Great Lakes and there are these scientists who are using DNA from extinct species to create a new species to be used as organ donors. Of course, it’s all going to go horribly wrong.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to pick up a book without knowing anything about it only to have it blow you away. This was one of those books that made me want to stay on the tube to the end of the line just so that I wouldn’t have to stop reading. (I would like to state for the record, that I have never been late to work as a result of reading a book even though I’ve been sorely tempted on many occasions. *sigh* It’s hard being conscientious.)

Ok, so I know you’re wondering about the cows. These scientists have created a new species from old DNA of something that was wiped out millions of years ago. Obviously, they needed an animal in which to incubate the tiny widdle eggs and so they chose cows. As it turns out, a mistake was made in the creation of these things and they turned out to be waaaaaaay bigger at birth than they were supposed to be. Like 200 pounds at birth. If you can imagine, this would make it exceptionally difficult when it came to giving birth, even for some big ‘ol cows. I’m not going to go into detail. It’s possible that you could be eating a hamburger while you’re reading this and I don’t want to put you off your meal.

I’ll just say that it’s pretty grim.

So, you’ve got these huge animals that are hungry as well as a couple of homicidal maniacs loose on the island (there are a few branches to this story) and it makes for really tense reading. It was quite exciting and I really want to read some more of Mr. Sigler’s work.

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