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Nov. 15th, 2014

10:57 pm - Books 27 & 28 - 2013

Book 27: A Song For Summer by Eva Ibbotson – 424 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
When Ellen Carr abandons grey, dreary London to become housekeeper at an experimental school in Austria, she finds her destiny. Swept into an idyllic world of mountains, music, eccentric teachers and wayward children, Ellen brings order and joy to all around her. But it's the handsome, mysterious gardener, Marek, who intrigues her -- Marek, who has a dangerous secret. As Hitler's troops spread across Europe, Ellen has promises to keep, even if they mean she must sacrifice her future happiness ...An unforgettable love story from the award-winning author of Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan.

Thoughts:
I’m not sure why this book ended up on my to-read list, but for some reason I have a ton of Ibbotson’s books on my list. I was going through a phase of borrowing library books rather than reading the 4 million books I own and haven’t read. I took this one with me on my trip to Hawaii but I took it along with a number of other books which was probably a good call, cause this was a hard slog. It wasn’t necessarily a bad story, it was just…dull. Ellen is raised by intellectual women but aspires for a more traditional career path herself. She meets a gardener called Marek and their love story unfolds against the backdrop of World War Two. It sounds really interesting but it just wasn’t. It did nothing for me, and I dragged my feet reading it. There’s nothing wrong with the storytelling itself but I can hardly remember what happened anymore, and I didn’t feel any richer for reading the book. Having said that, books set during the war are really not my thing, so if normal people war stories are your thing give it a go. It just wasn’t for me.


27 / 50 books. 54% done!


10075 / 15000 pages. 67% done!

Book 28: The Authenticity Hoax: How we get lost finding ourselves by Andrew Potter – 283 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
What does it mean to be authentic? The demand for authenticity--the honest or the real--is one of the most powerful movements in contemporary life, influencing our moral outlook, political views, and consumer behavior. Yet according to Andrew Potter, when examined closely, our fetish for "authentic" lifestyles or experiences is actually a form of exclusionary status seeking. The result, he argues, is modernity's malaise: a competitive, self-absorbed individualism that ultimately erodes genuine relationships and true community. Weaving together threads of pop culture, history, and philosophy, The Authenticity Hoax reveals how our misguided pursuit of the authentic merely exacerbates the artificiality of contemporary life that we decry. In his defiant, brilliant critique, Andrew Potter offers a way forward to a meaningful individualism that makes peace with the modern world.

Thoughts:
I stumbled across this book while picking some other stuff up from the library. I’m always up for some sociology/anthropology etc, and this seemed interesting. It poses quite a fascinating question: in our demand for authenticity have we actually attracted the opposite? Moreover, what really is authenticity, particularly in our selfie, image conscious world? It’s a reasonable question in the world of pop culture and social media, where Kim Kardahian flashes her whole naked body to the world but no one knows how much photoshop and plastic surgery has been involved. This book works through how the idea of and demand for authenticity came about and how Potter feels that we’ve compromised ourselves. It also looks out the ongoing movement of ideas and concepts and things from ‘underground’ where it is deemed authentic to ‘mainstream’ where it isn’t, and how this is a fallacy in of itself. It’s not exactly the most engrossing book but nonetheless it’s a fascinating question to think about.


28 / 50 books. 56% done!


10358 / 15000 pages. 69% done!

Currently reading:
-        Sex Drive: In pursuit of female desire by Dr Bella Ellwood-Clayton – 312 pages
-        Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After by Bella DePaulo, PH.D. – 308 pages
-        When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, his cult of fear, and the women who fought back by Stephen Singular – 305 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Faded - The Veronicas

Nov. 8th, 2014

03:38 pm - Books 41 - 50.

41. Downey (compiler) - The Little Flower Prayerbook: A Carmelite Manual Of Prayer (513 pages)
42. Harrison - Today Is The Day You Change Your Life (153 pages)
43. Baumeister & Tierney - Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength (264 pages)
44. St. Adomnán Of Iona - Life Of St. Columba (379 pages)
45. Kreeft (ed.) - A Summa Of 'The Summa' (505 pages)
46. Tassone - The Rosary For The Holy Souls In Purgatory (129 pages)
47. Sheen - The World's First Love: Mary, Mother Of God (271 pages)
48. Pynchon - Bleeding Edge (483 pages)
49. Higashida - The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice From The Silence Of Autism (165 pages)
50. the Ampilified Bible (1700 pages)

Total so far: 12 979 pages.

Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
Current Music: Otis Spann - "Walkin'"

04:51 pm - Books 25 & 26 - 2013

Book 25: Star Trek Enterprise: The Good That Men Do by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin – 446 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker was not killed in an explosion, but rather, his death was staged. With the assistance of Captain Archer and Doctor Phlox, Trip is swept up by the shadowy organization that was employing his best friend, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, and sent deep under cover. After discovering that the Romulans have a new warp drive, faster than any vessel, Starfleet sends Trip to determine if this will be a threat to the new fragile alliance.

Thoughts:
My brother lent me this book thinking I might enjoy it. It’s a retelling of sorts of the final episode of the Star Trek series Enterprise. Many a fan of the show was pretty upset and disgusted with the Frakes directed finale that killed off the awesome character of Trip. I loved Trip – he was pretty much my favourite character in Enterprise and I was devastated when they killed him off. So I was really looking forward to this book. I shouldn’t have bothered. This book was just so damn boring. I don’t read a lot of Star Trek literature (compared to how much Star Trek I watch) but I have read other books and really enjoyed them. These authors just couldn’t inspire me. It took me months and months to read this book. I’m not even sure I can put my finger on what it was that bored me so, it just did! Perhaps it was a combination of the jumping perspectives (which I normally like but found annoying in this book), the rather dull storyline used to ‘save’ Trip, and the stupid insertion of two characters from Deep Space Nine which just made it seem as if even in the case of this retelling, Enterprise wouldn’t be allowed to stand unattached to another Star Trek series. Don’t get me wrong, there was some good bits. I do much prefer the idea that Trip didn’t die, and there was a sweet reunion scene between Trip and T’Pol towards the end, but as I personally come from a fanfiction background, I feel so much more could have been done (and probably has been done by some twenty year old on the internet) with such a juicy idea. Disappointing.


25 / 50 books. 50% done!


9315 / 15000 pages. 62% done!

Book 26: Company by Max Barry – 336 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Stephen Jones is a shiny new hire at Zephyr Holdings. From the outside, Zephyr is just another bland corporate monolith, but behind its glass doors business is far from usual: the beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else to do nothing, the sales reps use self help books as manuals, no one has seen the CEO, no one knows exactly what they are selling, and missing donuts are the cause of office intrigue. While Jones originally wanted to climb the corporate ladder, he now finds himself descending deeper into the irrational rationality of company policy. What he finds is hilarious, shocking, and utterly telling.

Thoughts:
I love Max Barry’s books, and this was no exception. He writes books in a style I’ve never encountered anywhere else. Short, snappy, with diverse characters and based mostly in the business world. Syrup is a clever look at marketing, Jennifer Government an analysis of extreme capitalism. Company asks the question: how much do we actually question our jobs and what we do in them? Zephyr Holdings looks like any other large corporate, but there is something seriously weird going on. The idea itself was one thing, but its Barry’s execution, with his cast of ‘Yep, I’ve worked with one of those guys’ characters and the manner in which he gets you to care about the characters without spending years setting them up is the thing I love most about this book and Barry’s writing style overall. I read this book on a Brisbane to Honolulu flight and it was a great read for that type of environment – not too much to keep in your head, a page turner, and fast paced. The actual ‘purpose’ of Zephyr Holdings will seriously make you question the company you work for and what they do, and the things people will put up with for the sake of a job drew vivid reminders of my own chaotic job (I was an auditor with the big four at the time). A very clever book and highly recommended.


26 / 50 books. 52% done!


9651 / 15000 pages. 64% done!

Currently reading:
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket – 286 pages
-        Sex Drive: In pursuit of female desire by Dr Bella Ellwood-Clayton – 312 pages
-        Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After by Bella DePaulo, PH.D. – 308 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Current Music: Defying Gravity - Nightcore

Nov. 1st, 2014

10:41 pm - Books 23 & 24 - 2013

Book 23: The Star Queen by Susan Grant – 322 pages

Description from Goodreads:
A novella, The Star Queen takes place 11,000 years before the Star series books begin. On the decimated planet of Sienna, two lovers struggle to survive and drive out ruthless warlords who have enslaved their people for generations. Together, Romjha and Tai will rebuild their demolished civilization…and begin a star-spanning dynasty with their love.

Thoughts:
I read the Star trilogy several years ago and then discovered that there was a prequel to the series that was only available in a compilation book with two other short stories, which I really didn’t want to buy. Then it got released as a stand alone e-book, so I broke my e-book rule and bought it. You don’t really need to have read the Star series to enjoy this short story (it’s 322 iPhone size pages!). It introduces the ancestors to the characters of the Star trilogy, who are basically hostages on their own planet, doomed to live underground and scavenger due to an alien threat. When non hostile aliens turn up, they team up to defeat their overlords. It was a good, sharp read with Grant’s enjoyable romantic angle that manages to be sweet and sexy not sickly or pornographic. An good quick little read.


23 / 50 books. 46% done!


8480 / 15000 pages. 57% done!

Book 24: Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce – 389 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE is a very English story. A story of woods and clearings, a story of folk tales and family histories. It is as if Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris had written a fairy tale together. It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phonecall from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery. He arrives at his parents' house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she's back, tired, dirty, dishevelled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent travelling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim. But her stories don't quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young women who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter's parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara's one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it's as if she's off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family...

Thoughts:
I can’t quite remember where I heard about this book, but part of me wanted to read it simply because the main protagonist’s name is Tara, which is my name and I very rarely stumble across characters called Tara (random reason for reading a book, I know, but such as life). It was a very odd book, and I came out the other side struggling to work out the point. Tara disappears as a teenager, never to be seen again. Her family and the boy who loves her spend the next twenty years trying to deal with this. And then Tara comes back. Randomly, out of the blue, one Christmas Day. But she doesn’t appear to have aged all that much in the last twenty years. She’s still young in mindset, she’s trying to work out why the world is different, and no one believes what she’s been through. The book jumps backwards and forwards between the events that lead to Tara disappearing and where she ends up, and what happens there, and the reactions of her family once she returns. Where Tara goes, and what happens there is bizarre, and to be honest, feels a little unfinished, like Joyce wanted her to disappear, wanted her to be changed, but didn’t really know how to pull it off. Needless to say, Tara struggles with the real world, and her family struggle with what she does and doesn’t tell her. The conclusion of the book makes sense, but I feel the ending was unsatisfying in some way. Maybe that was the point – what happens in the end feels like it was fairly unsatisfying for the characters too. Maybe because things happen in life that don’t make sense, and are unsatisfying for all of us. I don’t really know, but I will say one thing: the comment in the description above about the book being very English? Yeah, that part is very, very true!


24 / 50 books. 48% done!


8869 / 15000 pages. 59% done!

Currently reading:
-        The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – 457 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket – 286 pages
-        Sex Drive: In pursuit of female desire by Dr Bella Ellwood-Clayton – 312 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Hall of Fame - Nightcore version

Oct. 18th, 2014

08:49 pm - Books 21 & 22 - 2013

Book 21: Pacific Paradises: The Discovery of Tahiti and Hawaii by Trevor Lummis – 201 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A story of cultures in collision. The reality of the colonisation of Tahiti and Hawaii by western powers is a shameful catalogue of misunderstanding and betrayal. In a final irony, western society now embraces many of the qualities held by the 'noble savages'.

Thoughts:
We have this concept in Australia called ‘Schoolies week’. Its kinda like Spring Break. Basically, upon completion of Year 12 (our ‘senior’ year), most students will take a week long holiday (most of the time at the Gold Coast, about an hour’s drive from where I live). Schoolies is barely tolerated debauchery (if you go to the Gold Coast, I went to the Sunshine Coast – it was much tamer) as a result of illegal alcohol consumption. My sister graduated Year 12 last year and we decided that rather than go to the Gold Coast, we (as in her, me, our mother and one of our brothers) would go to Hawaii instead. So last November, we all trooped off to Hawaii. Beforehand however, I decided to read what I could on Hawaii. Unfortunately my local library system was pretty hopeless, and this was pretty much the only non-fiction book I could find. Still I’m glad I picked it up, because when I finally did get to Hawaii, I actually knew a number of the answers to the questions tour guides regularly ask (it also helped me correct a host at a trivia night). Captain Cook is famous in Australia for discovering us (well, for England anyway. The Aboriginals obviously were already here). But he is also found a few other places, Hawaii being one of them. This book looked through the discovering of both Tahiti and Hawaii and what is known about both cultures prior to their ‘discovery’ and what damage was done to said cultures after English (and Spanish, American etc) contact. It’s really quite disturbing to see how much damage was done to these cultures in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘civilizing the savages’, and how much we’ve come to realize that maybe their lifestyles were actually not so bad after all, and maybe we could have learnt something from them. This book is short but gives a solid overview of the main players in the discoveries of both islands and in particular, gave me a nice little understanding of the history of Hawaii’s monarchy in order to equip me sufficiently for when I was there. Definitely recommended if you don’t know a lot about either island and want to get a good overview of their history.


21 / 50 books. 42% done!


7766 / 15000 pages. 52% done!

Book 22: The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot – 392 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is. With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse--until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up. Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.

Thoughts:
This appears to be the final of the Heather Wells mysteries (after a several year publishing gap between books three and four; this is the fifth). I really liked this series (except the rant about not having children in book four), and the mysteries are solid. This one is the lead up to Heather’s wedding to her beau, Cooper, who appreciates Heather’s Size 12 body (a recurring theme of the series – body size and image – to be honest, she’s goes on a bit, but at least its probably remotely realistic – I know I go on a bit and obsess a fair bit about my body) and is a bit of a rogue, which Heather seems to appreciate. Of course, Heather works in ‘Death Dorm’ and of course, another murder occurs not long before the wedding. And Heather’s long lost mother (who swiped any money Heather made when she was a pop star – Heather’s career before she put on weight and got replaced by the next dime-a-dozen pop star) turns up too, which throws poor Heather into a spin. Consequently, whilst still trying to finalise her wedding preparations, Heather also throws herself into solving the murder, whilst trying to ignore all the abandonment feelings stirred up by her mother’s return. This was a nice conclusion to the series, and a satisfying little murder mystery. It was nice to see a fictional wedding actually go off without a hitch (the disrupted wedding - a tried and true method of creating drama in both television and literature), and for the not so perfect girl to get her man in the end. Personally, I think Meg Cabot should stick to this kind of fiction – it’s her strong suit.


22 / 50 books. 44% done!


8158 / 15000 pages. 54% done!

Currently reading:
-        Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – 495 pages
-        The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – 457 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket – 286 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Once Upon A Time In Wonderland

Oct. 6th, 2014

05:20 pm - 2012 Summary and Books 19 & 20 - 2013

So firstly, I have finally finished writing up my 2012 book reviews - in October 2014 (can't rush these things). I had to do some digging but have discovered that I actually did a 2012 Summary/Reading Round up in early 2013, so instead of doing a new one, I'm just going to share the link below, should anyone want to read it:

http://50bookchallenge.livejournal.com/12678680.html

And now I'm going to actually include below reviews for two of the remaining 2013 reviews I still have to do (I have about 10 to go - I'm up to number 19).


Book 19: Insatiable by Meg Cabot – 451 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
From the best-selling author of PRINCESS DIARIES comes this supernatural romance with real bite...Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. Meena Harper is familiar with the supernatural. After all, she knows how you're going to die (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.) But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for Lucien Antonescu-who she meets and then makes the mistake of falling in love with-a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side for which an ancient society of vampire hunters would prefer to see him dead. The problem is Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met with whom she could imagine herself having a future. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's destiny, she's never been able look into her own. Lucien seems to be everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, though he might turn out to be more of a nightmare. So now would be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future ...if she has one.

Thoughts:
Meg Cabot’s adult fiction is streets ahead of her teenage fiction. Maybe its because she’s trying to channel a more immature voice when she writes teen lit, but both her writing style and her plot devices in those books are really repetitive and very grating after awhile (is this the part where I realize I’m an adult now, not a kid?). There are slight elements of this in her adult lit but its nowhere near as heavy handed. So for a book that is both Meg Cabot and a vampire novel, this was a good book. Meena can see how you’re going to die, which is a rather useless ability to have because no one ever believes her when she tells them. When she meets Lucien, she is baffled to discover she can’t see how he’ll die. Which might be because he’s already dead. Meena doesn’t work out on her own that she’s dating a vampire. No, its not till Alaric, demon hunter with a group called the Palatine Guard (which I found hilarious because I used to live on Palatine Hill) turns up and quite forcefully makes her aware of her poor choice in dates. Lucien’s kind of important in vampire world, but Meena’s not immediately convinced her new man is that bad. What ensues is what Twilight should have been: funny, semi-realistic (people reaction wise) and well paced. The resolution was satisfying (though it probably didn’t justify the sequel, but I’ll get to that in my review of that), with a nice balance of sad, happy and funny. Overall, definitely one of Meg Cabot’s better reads.


19 / 50 books. 38% done!


7290 / 15000 pages. 49% done!

Book 20: Overbite by Meg Cabot – 275 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The sequel to Meg Cabot's bestselling paranormal romance with bite - Insatiable Meena Harper has bitten off more than she can chew ...Meena has a special gift, but only now does anyone appreciate it. Her ability to predict how everyone she meets will die has impressed the Palatine Guard-a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican-and they've hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. Sure, Meena's ex-boyfriend was Lucien Antonescu, son of Dracula. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames, and now she's sworn off vampires for good-even though she firmly believes that just because they've lost their souls, it doesn't mean they can't love. Convincing her new partner, Uber-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf, that vampires can be redeemed won't be easy ...especially when a deadly new threat arises, endangering not only the Palatine, but Meena's friends and family as well. As she unravels the truth, Meena will find her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare ...and temptations she never even imagined before nearly impossible to resist.

Thoughts:
Some stories are better off left as stand alones. Not because the sequels aren’t necessarily good – cause sometimes they are – its just that they aren’t quite up to the level of the first book/movie etc. Sometimes I’d rather not know what happens next. Sometimes a decent epilogue would be enough. Overbite, whilst a reasonable book, is one of those kind of sequels. I read it, and I enjoyed it, but I think the world would have been perfectly fine if no sequel had ever been written (I have a hopefully irrational fear of this happening with the movie Frozen which I adore). There is nothing hugely unresolved from the first book, so a sequel feels like a money spin. Unless you’re going to lay down the questions the sequel needs to answer in the first book its always going to feel like a money spin. There was maybe one bit of this book I was glad for, and the rest, whilst enjoyable, was unnecessary (kind of like the middle two Twilight books). Meena is no longer with Lucian and the Palatine Guard Alaric continues to be a pain in the butt. Bad things start happening and they appear to point to Lucian and alas we’re off. I will say I did learn a little tidbit about New York City in this book, and I will probably try and visit the place in question when I’m in NYC next year. An enjoyable sequel to a book that didn’t really need one.


20 / 50 books. 40% done!


7565 / 15000 books. 50% done!

Currently reading:
-        Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – 495 pages
-        The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – 457 pages
-        Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga by Maureen Callahan – 225 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: Can't Help Falling in Love - Il Divo

Sep. 28th, 2014

09:36 am - Books 41 & 42 - 2012 (last update for this year!)

Book 41: Royal Observatory Greenwich: Souvenir Guide by National Maritime Museum, Greenwich – 78 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
No blurb – its about the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in London. What more is there to say?

Thoughts:
This was another of the various ‘tourist’ books I picked up while living (and therefore travelling) around the UK. This one is obviously about Greenwich, which is the home of the prime meridian of the world (the line differentiating east from west) and the establishment of a system to measure longitude and keep time in a simple and easy fashion. It’s fairly high level, covering off a variety of topics related to the site and the understanding of time and positioning, particularly for sailing. Fascinating and provides enough information for casual interest without expecting the reader to have a lot of background knowledge.


41 / 50 books. 82% done!


11614 / 15000 pages. 77% done!

Book 42: The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich – 255 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The high-energy tale of how two socially awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook. Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were Harvard undergraduates and best friends-outsiders at a school filled with polished prep-school grads and long-time legacies. They shared both academic brilliance in math and a geeky awkwardness with women. Eduardo figured their ticket to social acceptance-and sexual success-was getting invited to join one of the university's Final Clubs, a constellation of elite societies that had groomed generations of the most powerful men in the world and ranked on top of the inflexible hierarchy at Harvard. Mark, with less of an interest in what the campus alpha males thought of him, happened to be a computer genius of the first order. Which he used to find a more direct route to social stardom: one lonely night, Mark hacked into the university's computer system, creating a ratable database of all the female students on campus-and subsequently crashing the university's servers and nearly getting himself kicked out of school. In that moment, in his Harvard dorm room, the framework for Facebook was born. What followed-a real-life adventure filled with slick venture capitalists, stunning women, and six-foot-five-inch identical-twin Olympic rowers-makes for one of the most entertaining and compelling books of the year. Before long, Eduardo's and Mark's different ideas about Facebook created in their relationship faint cracks, which soon spiraled into out-and-out warfare. The collegiate exuberance that marked their collaboration fell prey to the adult world of lawyers and money. The great irony is that while Facebook succeeded by bringing people together, its very success tore two best friends apart. "The Accidental Billionaires" is a compulsively readable story of innocence lost-and of the unusual creation of a company that has revolutionized the way hundreds of millions of people relate to one another.

Thoughts:
I go through phases where I want to read about particular events or topics. Towards the end of 2012 I went through a phase where I want to read more non-fiction and I zeroed in on non-fiction related to the tech industries. This was the first of the books I read on that topic, after having seen the movie based on the book. If you’ve been living under a rock since about 2006, you won’t know that this insidious thing called Facebook now exists, slowly taking over every facet of our lives (I shouldn’t be so harsh – Facebook has many positives: the ability to stalk people you hated in primary school and know you are better than them, the ability to brag about all your holidays overseas while your friends labour along with their snotty little children, keeping in contact with relatives in distant countries so you have somewhere to crash when you end up there, etc). This is the story (how much is true is up to who’s side you’re on) of how Facebook came to be. Its pretty clear the movie follows reasonably closely to this book, but nonetheless its an interesting read. Anyone who’s anyone knows the ‘creator’ of Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, but the Zuckerberg of this book comes across quite differently to the one you see in those little facebook posts he makes or in interviews (he seems less personable in the book). The treatment Eduardo cops seems pretty crap and those two giant rowing twins – I can’t decide if I feel sorry for how stupid they were, or annoyed at how arrogant. Its obvious why the story wound up as a movie, as the whole thing has a bit of a Hollywood feel to it. An interesting read about the creation of the most prolific social networking site in the world.


42 / 50 books. 84% done!


11869 / 15000 pages. 79% done!

Currently reading:
-        American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 588 pages
-        Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – 495 pages
-        The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – 457 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: amuse
Current Music: Interviews with the Once Upon A Time cast

Sep. 17th, 2014

10:56 pm - Books 39 & 40 - 2012

Book 39: The Pact by Jodi Picoult – 451 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Until the phone calls came at three o'clock on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, the Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone when their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was moving beyond that of lifelong friends. But now seventeen-year-old Emily is dead—shot with a gun her beloved and devoted Chris pilfered from his father's cabinet as part of an apparent suicide pact—leaving two devastated families stranded in the dark and dense predawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never really knew. From "New York Times" bestselling author Jodi Picoult—one of the most powerful writers in contemporary fiction—comes a riveting, timely, heartbreaking, and terrifying novel of families in anguish and friendships ripped apart by inconceivable violence.

Thoughts:
Ah, Jodi Picoult! One of the most frustrating and engrossing (and prolific) storytellers in the Western world. I have an enormous collection of Jodi Picoult books, but I’ve only read four of her titles. I read one, get back into her, pick up another, and then maybe another, and then I’m done – too frustrated with her plots, with her infuriating characters. I’m torn. I can’t decide if she writes people so close to reality that they are actually genuinely annoying (as I tend to find most people – I’m not a tolerant person when it comes to individual people. Ideas, concepts, the very idea of tolerance, I’m totally cool with. Individual people – ugh!), or if her characters and her plots (particularly her often used ‘twist at the end, a ha, gotcha!) are so clichéd and cheesy that I can see right through to their cheddar bones. So after getting through two of her books in the space of a few months, I decided to pick up this one, which appears repeatedly on top 100 book lists (at least here in Australia!). And unfortunately this was the book that made me put Jodi down for awhile.
It’s not that I didn’t like the book, or the story. It’s a real kind of story, if you know what I mean. You can imagine it happening in real life (which is maybe why I prefer sci-fi.). But each and everyone of the characters, except for perhaps Chris (who is just gutless), is obnoxious. The actions of Emily are so infuriating (I never liked teenagers even when I was one – making working in a university all the more frustrating) that I really felt no sympathy for her. The fact that Chris goes along with it, and lands himself in such trouble, said not so much about his devotion but about his naivety. But I did feel sorry for him, despite this, and at least by the end of the whole debacle, not only was he at least spared but actually learnt from it. Overall, it’s the parents that amazing me the most, particularly Emily’s. The fact that they were so blind to what was going on in their daughter’s life, and the fact that both sets of parents so pushed the relationship between Chris and Emily without actually thinking such things through really annoyed me. Is the average parent this ignorant? I certainly know my parents weren’t. Yes, sometimes teenagers can be so very good at hiding things, but come on! And really was Emily so consumed in her own emotional angst that she couldn’t see her options? In that case, what had her parents set her up to think and believe? Why was their relationship so poor that she didn’t feel she could come to her parents with her problems?
I know situations, maybe not exactly like Chris and Emily’s but elements of it, happen, and its unfortunate, and I by no mean want to denigrate those situations, but for me, coming from my own childhood, it certainly raises a lot of questions. And perhaps an element of gratefulness for my own parents. It can certainly be said that it’s a book to get you thinking!


39 / 50 books. 78% done!


11175 / 15000 pages. 75% done!

Book 40: Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot – 361 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy! Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself--who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim. Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright--who just happens to be Heather's "new" fiance. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, "this" reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.

Thoughts:
I’ve read most of Meg Cabot’s library of books, and the stories of former pop star Heather Wells are by far my favourite, as they actually don’t feel like they are rehashing the same characters over and over again like her teen novels do. This one is set not long after the previous one in respect of the story’s timeline, but given its been about three years since the last book came out, I’d forgotten aspects of the story. Basically, Heather is now engaged to her P.I. roommate Cooper (who reminds me a little of Booth from Bones) who also happens to be the brother of her former boyfriend, and fellow pop star, Jordan (who I picture as Justin Timberlake in my head, though he’s pretty daft compared to Justin). This book in the series sees Jordan and his wife, latest pop sensation Tania Trace, decide to host a reality show in the NYU dorm that Heather works in. Of course, nothing goes to plan, and there is inevitably another murder for Heather to solve along the way. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and it was nice to get back to the fluff that is Meg Cabot after reading a couple of intense Jodi Picoult books. Perhaps my only grievance with this book was the sub plot with Heather’s fertility issues. Meg Cabot talks at the end of the book about her own fertility issues inspiring this aspect of the novel, and whilst I have no issues with this, I really felt that Meg shoved down her readers’ throats that one doesn’t have to have children to validate their lives. I don’t necessarily disagree with Meg, but it felt pushy, like wanting to have children was almost wrong. It was the way someone who is trying too hard to project that they are okay with the situation would talk. Frankly, I wanted Heather to get upset with the situation, work her way through the stages of grief and come out the other side okay. That would have felt more real to me. A small grievance, and I’m sure other people will view it differently, but my opinion nonetheless.


40 / 50 books. 80% done!


11536 / 15000 pages. 77% done!

Currently reading:
-        American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 588 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Books the Eighth: The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket – 255 pages
-        Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – 495 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor

Sep. 13th, 2014

12:00 am - Books 37 & 38 - 2012

Book 37: Delete this at your peril: The Bob Servant Emails by Neil Forsyth – 210 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
This is an hilarious collection of email exchanges starring the anti-hero of spam, Bob Servant, now republished with previously unreleased material. Spam is the plague of the electronic age, comprising 90% of all emails sent and conning over GBP150m a year from British victims. Into this wave of corruption steps the brave figure of Bob Servant - a former window cleaner and cheeseburger magnate with a love of wine, women and song as well as a keen sense of fair play. This wickedly funny and original book features the anarchic exchanges between Bob and the hapless spam merchants. As they offer Bob lost African millions, Russian brides and get-rich-quick scams he responds by generously offering some outlandish schemes of his own. The spammers may have breached his firewall, but they have met their match as Bob Servant rises heroically to the challenge, and sows confusion in his wake.

Thoughts:
My Dad leant me this book after having read it himself. ‘Bob’ gets sent a spam email. Rather than deleting it like everyone else, ‘Bob’ decides to respond. So begins the first of a series of exchanges with Nigerian princes, Russian brides, and various other internet con artists. And ‘Bob’ doesn’t disappoint. He drags these internet menaces through all sorts of pain: fights with the postman and his best mate, disagreements at the pubs, delays getting to the postman, all sorts of elaborate stories made up to drag out these email exchanges and to drive the Nigerian princes of the world mad. He gets a number of very angry replies from some of these email con artists before they all eventually give up. The persistence of both the con artists and ‘Bob’ is truly hilarious. ‘Bob’ is a warrior for our times. A great fun little read giving us all the chance to see the internet bad guys get their comeuppance.


37 / 50 books. 74% done!


10608 / 15000 pages. 71% done!

Book 38: Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block – 116 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
But this is what I could not give up: I could not give up myself. Psyche has known Love--scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.

Thoughts:
I love the Greek myths, and the story of Psyche is one of my particular favourites, because I borrowed elements of it (and the name Psyche) for one of my characters in my own novel series. Having said that, this is a very odd book. It is a modern retelling of sorts of the myth of Psyche and Eros, but its done in such a whimsical and altogether confusing fashion that I got rather lost. I’m sure to the right reader, this style of writing is wonderful. To me, it just doesn’t gel. I like my books more explicit. I like hidden meanings only so much as they are decipherable without hours of deliberation. I like reflections on the world and its people but maybe I’ve lived a different kind of life and some reflections just don’t make sense to me. I like philosophy and philosophical meanderings, but I also like explosions, if you know what I mean. A very good retelling of the myth for the right kind of reader – just not me.


38 / 50 books. 76% done!


10724 / 15000 pages. 71% done!

Currently reading:
-        American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 588 pages
-        Mortal Remains by Kathy Reichs – 306 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Books the Eighth: The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket – 255 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Once Upon A Time on TV

Sep. 5th, 2014

10:41 pm - Books 35 & 36 - 2012

Book 35: Windsor Castle: Official Souvenir Guide by Jonathan Marsden – 72 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The official guidebook to the Windsor Castle Illustrated with 130 color images including paintings, drawings, works of art, historic documents and beautiful photographs of the State Rooms These new, fully revised official souvenir guides, published in partnership with the Royal Collection to mark the Diamond Jubilee, include titles on the magnificent palaces and residences, on the finest working stables in existence, on the largest dolls house in the world and on the enthralling history of the royal line of succession. Written by specialist authors including the curators of the Royal Collection, beautifully illustrated and containing details of the works of art, the architecture, stories of occupants, photographs and plans, each book gives a fascinating insight into these famous sites, their history and contents. Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, is one of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen. The Castle's dramatic site encapsulates over 900 years of British history. It covers an area of 26 acres and contains, as well as a royal palace, the magnificent St George's Chapel and the homes and workplaces of a large number of people. This fully illustrated official souvenir guide details the history of the Castle from its founder, William the Conqueror, to the present day, including the fire of 1992 and the superb restoration of the damaged rooms, and presents a beautifully illustrated tour of the Castle, including the State Apartments and Semi-State Apartments and their treasures.

Thoughts:
This was another tourist book I purchased, while I was touring Windsor Castle (i.e. where Queen Elizabeth lives). It’s a decent read, with some interesting information, particularly about the Royal Collection (so much stuff, not stuff anyone would necessarily want, but still so much!) and the various rooms of significance (so many rooms, why would one person require soooo many rooms!). It’s a nice enough place, Windsor Castle, and it’s in a cute little village in West London. I’d highly recommend a visit should you be in London. Sometimes the Queen is even in!


35 / 50 books. 70% done!


10190 / 15000 pages. 68% done!

Book 36: Ave Judas by Cassian Brown – 208 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Ave Judas: An SF Conspiracy Thriller. It is the year of our Lord 2449. The Pope believes he has just forty-four daysto avert a galactic Armageddon by discrediting anew the most reviled man in history ...Owen Stonehaven is leading the strangest of lives. As a child, his mother gives him to a huge and fierce rat kangaroo; as an adult, the Church has him shut into a derelict and lightless spaceship. Freed, he returns to his home planet, a surreal place that is roamed by lizards of barely imaginable size, towering thunderbirds and ferocious marsupial lions - for on New Yamba a master cloner has been at work re-creating the megafauna of Australia's past. Owen's plan is to find the mysterious coin his mother stole on the day she died, a well-worn piece of silver he hopes will help reveal his true identity, and to await a visit by the brother he loves, Henry, a priest. Extremists detonate a bomb and Henry is hurt. Owen realises he is the subject of a conspiracy engineered by an all-powerful and ruthless man. As he begins to understand his origins, he finds he cannot shake the darkness at his core. Is betrayal in his genes?

Thoughts:
I won this book as a goodreads giveaway. I can’t quite remember why I put my name down for it, and it’s the last (and one of only two) Goodread giveaways I’ve won. It was a very odd story. I think its supposed to be a sort of modern day Judas story (hence the title) but set in Australia (I think!), with some sci-fi thrown in the mix. Whilst the writing itself is solid, and the story is paced reasonably well, I couldn’t really tell what the whole point was. Particularly in respect of the megafauna that seemed to inhabit the weird maybe-Australia place. There was some backstory, flashback business with Owen and Henry’s mother, and a rat kangaroo, and a sort of Jesus/Judas relationship between the story, but by the end I was left confused, and not really feeling it. I’m a pretty big fan of sci-fi, and maybe I was supposed to read more into the concepts and critical analysis behind the story, but I didn’t really get any drive to, nor were they obvious enough to me. Maybe I just prefer sci-fi that involves aliens or blowing up things. The books has some rave reviews on Goodreads, so if non-space related sci-fi is your thing, give it a go. I’ll stick to Star Trek and my own personal sci-fi ramblings.


36 / 50 books. 72% done!


10398 / 15000 pages. 69% done!

Currently reading:
-        American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 588 pages
-        The Sexual Paradox: Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference between the Sexes by Susan Pinker – 308 pages
-        Mortal Remains by Kathy Reichs – 306 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Once Upon A Time on TV

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