Monthly Archives: April 2013

Top 30 Great Reads

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I’m going to Nerd Out and give you three categories of my Top Ten Books: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Fantasy as at April 2013.

FICTION

1) The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

2) Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store – Robin Sloan

3) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary – Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrows

4) The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

5) High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

6) Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

7) Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

8) Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

9) The life of Pi – Yann Martel

10) Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

 

NON-FICTION

1) Is It Just Me – Miranda Hart

2) Brain Rules – John Medina

3) Our Religious Brains – Rabbi Ralph D. Mecklenburger

4) Quiet – Susan Cain

5) Predictability Irrational – Dan Ariely

6) Life and laughing – Michael McIntyre

7) The Biology of Belief – Bruce Lipton

8) The Year of Living Biblically – A J Jacobs

9) Run! – Dean Karnazes

10) Jerusalem: The Biography – Simon Sebag Montefiroe

 

FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION

1) Sword of Truth Series – Terry Goodkind (12 books of pure AWESOMENESS!!)

2) Troy Series (actually three breathtaking books) – David Gemmell

3) Dune – Frank Hebert

4) The Kings Buccaneer (5th book in the series) – Raymond E Feist

5) The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

6) Magician – Raymond E Feist

7) Battle Axe – Sara Douglas

8) Queen of Sorcery (Book 2 in the series) – David Eddings

9) Sword of Shanara – Terry Brooks

10) The Time Machine – H G Wells


Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Everything-is-Illuminated (1)I feel like I’m doing an injustice by even attempting to write this review. I’ll say firstly that it’s one of, if not the, best written novels I have ever read. But my brain boggles at lining up the pieces, but I think that’s the point.

I fell in love with Alex on the first page, I smiled and I knew this would be good. I hoped it would be. And it became more than captivating, at times pure genius and at other times torture. And I managed to stay captivated right up until the end when Foer splattered vague symbolism and unfinished ties all over the pages. I scrambled to compile a coherent meaning of it all. Who was who? What happened and why? What was real? Why? What? What? Who?

However despite my reeling and post-story mental entanglement in such a incongruous tale I found some relief in an analytic breakdown on GradeSaver which has been a helpful tool at times in the past, when I have been ignorant of what the author is saying. I’m not even going to attempt to explain what this story is about, because (as mentioned) I just can’t even begin to give it any clarity or do it any form of justice.

Overall I rate this book 10/10 for it’s genius writing, multiple multiple layers, wonderful characters, wicked humor, obscurity and ultimately making me think, a lot. Don’t not read it. But if you do, buckle in!


Weird Things Customer Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell

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A delightful, short read for a miserable rainy day.

Customer: Doesn’t it bother you, being surrounded by books all day?  I think I’d be paranoid they were all going to jump off the shelves and kill me.

Bookseller:…

Customer: It’s amazing, isn’t it, how little we really know about writers’ lives?  Especially the old ones.

Bookseller: I guess the lives of writers have changed a lot.

Customer: Yes.  And don’t forget about those women who used to write under male names.

Bookseller: Yes, like George Eliot.

Customer: I always thought Charles Dickens was probably a woman.

Bookseller:…I’m pretty sure Charles Dickens was a man.

Customer: But who’s to say?

Bookseller: Well, he was pretty prominent in society, lots of people saw him.

Customer: But maybe that was all a show – maybe that was her brother, while Charlene was at home, writing.

Bookseller:…

Apparently the book is based on a blog and it makes for some humorous light reading to pass an hour. There is a second book too called ‘More weird things customers say in bookshops’. I think I’ll check it out.

I give it a 7/10 for being what it says it is and also being a bit of a laugh.


Back Story – David Mitchell

 

Backstory

When it comes to comedian’s autobiographic books you can’t beat the audio-book being narrated by the author. And so that’s what I did. David Mitchell – from Peep Show, Mitchell & Webb and a lot more – is one of my all-time fave comedians, along with Michael Mcyntire. It was great entertainment during my drive to work. I really love his wickedly sarcastic wit and his rant style breakdown of thought. This was a great book and in his usual style picked apart his life from childhood up to his success in comedy, and lots of rants and insights along the way. 

David seemed to avoid giving too much away about the details of his personal life and mainly focused on events that shaped him along the way. Though he did say at the end that he was not the type to give much of his personality away and that he was often associated with the characters he plays. It was a great book and I enjoyed it a lot, however I don’t really feel I know the author much more than I did from watching his sitcoms and his ‘Soapbox’. 

Overall worth a read, or a listen, and I rate it 7.5/10.


Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

mr-penumbras-24-hour-bookstoreThis is an absolute gem of a book. In fact this eclectic story has made it in to my top five all-time favourite books. I really don’t quite know where to begin a review of such a book. It has so many elements in it that I loved, however this story probably isn’t for everyone. Some of the great things in this book are:

  • Books, lots of books
  • Mysterious bookstores
  • Mysterious cults
  • Computer coding
  • Fantasy characters (like wizards and dragons)
  • Men in black cloaks
  • Google
  • Super computers
  • Frozen heads
  • Underground lairs
  • Immortality
  • Love
  • Travel
  • Evil overlords
  • 3D Modelling
  • Ancient fonts and typography
  • Unemployment

Just to name a few. It was a stunning ride and in the middle, actually almost right until the end, I was sure Sloan could not bring the story to a conclusion. But despite my skepticism of closure Sloan delivered. And it was a beautiful ending, and even had a good moral to the story. I don’t think this book is available in bookstores until July, you might be able to get a copy ordered online, so the e-book will have to suffice at this stage.

If you like the things in the list above, this is a must read. If not, well, up to you. I give this book a maximum rating of 10/10 and even a few bonus points on top for being fantastic.


The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion

 

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Don, an Autistic Genetic professor, is on a mission to find a wife.  He develops a thorough questionnaire to filter out all the women who would not be a perfect match and gets his mate Gene to help him process the applicants. However Gene sends Rosie to meet him who is anything but a perfect match, according to the questionnaire. This starts a series of events and side projects that take Don way outside of his comfort zone and routine. While Don works on the Rosie project, they together work on the Father project in an effort to find who Rosie’s biological father is.

Overall it was a nice rom-com that was a very quick read. I enjoyed it and felt connected with the character of Don and luckily the story ended well. It did however lack depth and there was not much substance to the plot or the supporting characters. In this rare case I would predict that the movie would be better than the book. The Autistic traits of Don were a big focus of the book and his struggle with perspective and emotion took a dominant role. I did feel that some of the abrupt changes were unrealistic, but I suppose it depends on how Autistic someone really is, which the book is vague on.

Overall I give it an 8/10 for a fun and enjoyable read. But you could wait for the movie, if they make one.


The Kings Buccaneer Raymond E Feist

Kings Buccaneer 09

 

Easily the best book in the series so far! An epic adventure on the high seas with my new favorite characters Nicholas, Nakor, Amos, Harry and Brisa. I really can’t even explain how good it was. I love a sea adventure story and this was right up there with the best of them (up there with David Gemmell’s Troy series). This was full of intrigue as the serpent clan and the Pantathians fight to destroy the Isles in order to free their mistress who will make them gods (but it’s so much more than that). I would go as far as saying this book is twice as good as Magician and the character of Nicholas is cooler than Pug (or at least as cool). Feist really did a great job and there was no waffle or page filler, it was all action. And what was good is that the love stories between them all had actual depth, not like Jimmy and Gamina is the previous book, which I still find ridiculous.

A whopping 10/10 and I’d rate it higher if I could.