Monday, May 28, 2012

Brighton Belle - Sara Sheridan

As Britain huddles under the grey mantle of post-war austerity, broken-hearted ex-Secret Service employee Mirabelle Bevan moves into semi-retirement in Brighton. But intriguing details keep intruding on Mirabelle's lonely existence and it isn't long before she's asking dangerous people difficult questions and challenging the mysterious shadows of World War II that begin to rock her new life.
Not terrible, but nothing spectacular either. I'm not really sure what to say about this book. It had its interesting moments, but overall it just wasn't there. In reading, you feel like you are just skimming the surface of what could possibly been a much more fascinating story. The book failed to envelope me.

The premise of the book was quite intriguing, all the ins and outs of it. But at times I found it a bit confusing.

I must applaud Sheridan's writing style, as it absolutely thrusts you into the 1950s. It can be difficult to get the tone of an era across in this manner, but Sheridan has achieved it well.

Mirabelle and Vesta were definitely redeeming aspects of the story. These women were simply wonderful characters. I truly enjoyed them.

Overall, if a friend asked me about this book I'd reply with a shrug and a "Yeah I guess you might like it. Maybe."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

'What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?'

Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed?
Vicious! The resentment and hatred that fills these pages is absolutely vicious! Shocking! Wonderful!

This book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a true mind fuck (pardon the expression). The twists and turns and loop-de-loops; it blew my mind.

The characters are so real, frighteningly real. Believable characters of this degree of excellence is difficult in the best of times, but to interweave them into such a labyrinth, Gillian Flynn I must applaud you. Amy made me laugh right from the start (her very first paragraph sounds exactly like a younger me). She may actually be my new favourite fictional female.

The alternation of perspectives was intriguing and amusing, seeing both sides of the story. However, I did find it occasionally difficult to follow the timeline when characters began reminiscing. I would flip back and try to see if another had mentioned it in a memory yet, and where it fit in their overall history.

I wish this book hadn't ended. I could have continued reading it for forever and a day. It was just too fascinating to stop; but then it did. I would have liked to glimpse a further six months or a year ahead, just to see if all went according to plan. I guess we will just have to assume everything worked out the way it was intended. But I still want more!

This is a book I am definitely going to read over and over.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, it reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
This book is fascinating. So well written. A friend recommended it because I have very little scientific knowledge and he thought I should broaden my mind a bit, and boy did it ever!

This book is everything that intrigues us about science without the dry-as-dust teachers droning on about it and making us abhor its very existence.

Bryson has a way of writing that immediately draws you in and keeps you connected to him the whole way through. You feel as though you're simply talking to a friend who is explaining the plot of a movie you missed. He doesn't assume any prior knowledge on the subjects he discusses, yet he doesn't talk down to his readers either.

There were the occasional dry patches that were a struggle to get through, although these were more likely due to my predisposition to dislike the particular topics of the section (blame my science teachers). However, I pushed through because I wanted to keep learning more.

If you're uncertain about reading 500-plus pages on all things science, then just read the introduction. It's less than ten pages but it hooks you and gives you a taste of the style in which the entire book is written.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science (even just a tiny bit), but was turned off it because of school teachers.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Palm Reading - Bridget Giles (ed.)

A clear introduction to the ancient art of palmistry.
Find out how hand shapes, fingers and thumbs, fleshy pads and hand-lines can all be read to discover more about yourself.
Photographs and colour drawings show clearly how to read all the different elements.
This is the most comprehensive yet easy to understand books on palmistry I've encountered in a very long time. Most books assume too much prior knowledge, have too many or too few pictures, or are just plain unexciting.

But this book, this book was perfect! It starts off with a very brief background then walks you through, line by line, mount by mount, describing everything in just enough detail to give you a base idea of what your future holds without getting you completely lost.

This little book was so well written it had me reading my palm and my friend's as we took the train home (to the amusement of the elderly couple across from us). It was such fun and really gives a good feel for the intricacies of palmistry, while making it simple enough that even I can do it.

This book is pocket-sized so no matter where you are you can be learning how to give a proper reading.

Whether you take it seriously or not, it is a fascinating book that consumes hours of your time without you even realising it. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to delve into their future, or examine their past. It is pocket-sized perfection.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Currently Reading...

At the moment I am about half way through Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's so packed full of knowledge that I literally feel my brain expanding. But incredibly readable, unlike the science textbooks we had to read in school.

George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings just arrived, so it will likely be the next one I read. Well, either that or Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) or Brighton Belle (Sara Sheridan). Oh the choices! I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

The first book of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must...and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
This book was incredible! I couldn't put it down.

I'll admit, I first discovered this series as a direct result of the TV show, which I also love. I decided to check out the book to see just how far the show strayed from the original story. Conclusion: not far at all.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, royal intrigue, and, of course, dragons. Even if you have seen the show, I'd still recommend reading the book. You will not be disappointed.

The characters were so diverse and evolving. Refreshing, considering many authors have only a handful of developing characters, the rest just remain static. Tyrion, Arya, and Jon are my favourites.

The moral dilemmas were wonderful. At times it was hard to say who was in the right because Martin shows so many perspectives. It makes you stop and really think about what is going on and put yourself in their shoes.

My only issue with this novel was that it ended. I just wanted to keep reading! However, I'll be getting my hands on the next installment very shortly. Can't wait!