Monthly Archives: June 2013

Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne


Where have you been all my life Jules Verne? How have I been so ignorant to not have read this fantastic book before?

This story is fantastic, and, now, one of my all-time favorites.  For those unfamiliar with him, Jules Gabriel Verne (born 1828) was a French poet, playwright and novelist; best known for his adventure novels. And what an adventure this story was. It’s the journey of Phileas Fogg and his French valet Passepartout, who set out from the London Reform Club in a circuitous attempt of the world in 80 days. It’s fantastic and Fogg is brilliant in his resourceful calmness. He’s one of my favorite characters in the book and his valet is also delightful. Along the way they meet many obstacles that threaten his wager. Not only was it a brilliant read, with a fantastic ending, but the way it was written was a pleasure to read; inspiring actually.

I think Jules Verne and I will get along well; I am also currently halfway through 20,000 leagues under the sea which I am also really enjoying. I give this a maximum rating of 10/10. Brilliant.



Wool by Hugh Howey


This is one of those rare books, one where you feel tangibly involved with the characters, and the racing plot will have you on the edge of your seat. It reminds me a bit of when I read 1984 and also Dune; it’s got that feel of being a work that is destined to become a classic – It has a plot that is both far fetched but poignant to us today.

This is a great post-apocalyptic story set in gigantic silo’s that go for hundreds of floors down, where humanity lives ignorant of life outside of their own silo. They can’t go outside either due to the toxic atmosphere and criminals are sent outside to clean the cameras, they never return. It took about five minutes of reading for me to become totally intrigued and I was swept up into this great story told in a unique and dark setting. At times I felt completely claustrophobic as we descended into the deep down, and even more so when doing it alone in the dark. This book works on so many levels (excuse the pun), it’s part detective story, part love story, part conspiracy, part personal redemption and quite a bit more. What Howey does really well is focus on a handful of characters and brings them to life. He also does a great job of ending a chapter with a wicked cliff-hanger and making the reader hunger to know what happens. A few times I shouted ‘COME ON!’ as he left me hanging at the end of a chapter, but I really liked that it wasn’t ever a long wait to get back to the character he’d left off with (I hate authors that leave a chapter with a cliff-hanger and then it’s about a hundred pages until we get back to them).

I won’t give anything away about the end, especially because my wife is now reading it and I’ve recommended it to a few people already, but I will say that Howey definitely leaves room for expansion. He’s already written a prequel and another book about it too, I also noticed on the kindle store that a few others are even writing stories based in the silo’s.

It’s a gripping, stunning, terrifying and beautiful read, well worth it. I give it a 10/10 for making me feel like I was living in the story.


Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan


I was very excited to read this short book based on my experience with Mr Penumbra’s, however this was confusing. And not confusing in a good piece-things-together way, but more in a I’m-totally-lost way. Not too sure if it was just me, as other reviewers seemed to like it, but I struggled to get into it.

I do love his other book, and am glad others liked this… just not for me; not a lot else I can say on the matter.

Rise of a Merchant Prince by Raymond E. Feist



Definitely better than it’s predecessor; this is the story of Roo and his rise to riches in Krondor. But it’s more than just Roo’s wheeling and dealing, it’s the financial foundation for what will be the biggest war we have seen yet, according to Lord James.

Erik and Roo part ways for a time. Erik goes off to do some damage to the Pantathians, and Roo stay’s in Krondor to accumulate riches, which he dies fairly easily. But there are others who wish he would come to ruin and others who are out to divide him both morally and financially.

Pug plays a very minor role, but we glimpse him at the end as things start to rev up for the next book. Miranda is still there, just hanging around, and we are still not quite sure what her part in all this is. It seems like it’s been a slow build up to the coming war, very slow, and I am hoping that the Rage of a Demon King brings about some intrigue and action, which the first two Serpentwar books seem to have lacked.

Overall good, I give it a 5.5/10. Not amazing, but steady.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison



I’ll be straight up with you, this book made me a tad tearful, twice. It is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it. It’s moving, very funny, deep and well written. I read the blurb and was enticed, I read the first few pages and was intrigued, I read the first few chapters and was hooked. I finished it in three days and only because I had to read it, I had to finish it today. I had to know what would happen. It is a beautifully bittersweet tale of redemption.

Here is the low down from Goodreads: “Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything; his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider.
But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large.
Though begun with mutual misgivings, the relationship between Trev and Ben evolves into a close camaraderie, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev’s ailing father. A series of must-see roadside attractions divert them into an impulsive adventure interrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark.”

I rate this book a 10/10. A solid and emotive work that had me on the edge of my seat.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain



A good book. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I liked it. It probably didn’t help that I can’t quite relate to the era and the geography it was written, although there was lots of great moments, and even some that made me laugh out loud. My fave character from the book is definitely Huckleberry Finn and I really enjoyed the funny little superstitious banter between him and Tom.  

There were some interesting things in it, and especially the concept of ‘outsourcing’ when Tom get’s the fence white-washed without doing any of the work. Not only that but manages to get the boys to pay him for them to do the work. I also enjoyed his infatuation with Becky Thatcher and his attempts at being ‘cool’ were a giggle. Tom did a great job of acting the hero too when they were lost in the caves. 

Overall good, I give it a 5.5/10. I know it’s a classic, but it just isn’t quite my cup of tea. I think I would have been terrified reading it as a kid too, with all the murders and haunted houses.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho



Initially I wondered what all the hype was about, but pretty soon it became apparent. I saw someone describe this book as being like getting up just before the sun rises. It’s the best description I think; while everyone else sleeps and the earth is still, that is where we find ourselves. This is an incredible book, beautiful and poignant. It’s fairly short (167 pages) but quite often the best stories are.

“The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

A beautifully written metaphoric philosophy about dreams and love, I would highly recommend this book to everyone as it brings us back to what is really important in life. I just can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to reading it.  A 9/10.