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text 2017-07-18 15:11
The Andromeda Strain: 107/288 pg
The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton

Zing! I didn't see that one coming about the person who gets the key to the nuclear bomb.

 

And I'm curious about how Crichton set up this fictional study of which type of person is most likely to make the "right decision" with the key - the subjects are categorized by gender and marital status. I'd think that having a child/being a parent would have a greater impact on this kind of decision than simply having a spouse. But perhaps, in 1969, it would have just been an assumption that the parenting would be associated with marital status. Married = family & Single = no family. I suppose it just wouldn't be part of the assumption, at that time, that parenthood could be completely independent of marital status. 

 

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text 2017-07-14 16:25
The Andromeda Strain: 40/288 pg
The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton

In some ways, this is hilariously dated, but as the story is supposedly a 1968 recounting of true recent events, it doesn't detract from the story at all. It's fun reading, so far. 

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review 2017-07-11 19:37
A TALE OF TWO CITIES Review
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

I'd somehow, up to this point, never read A Tale of Two Cities. I know, I can't believe it either. 

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the years leading up to it, this is, at its very core, a romance novel. I was a little shocked by that, but I certainly didn't mind. Dickens's writing is simply breathtaking, and he never allows the characters' actions to become contrived. These people aren't saccharine cutouts, as is typical of romance novels (even from this era). Instead, it's a roomy, elegant story told with magnificent prose and populated with memorable characters. 

Most Dickens novels drag a bit (at least, the few I've read do), but this one doesn't. Not at all. From its iconic opening passage to the final chapter, the plot is pretty quick and doesn't get bogged down in an excessive amount of characters and subplots (looking at you, Our Mutual Friend). Instead, Dickens focuses on only a handful of characters and develops them fully. By the novel's third part I was truly invested in their lives, and wanted to know how everything would turn out. I truly cared! When reading most novels from the Victorian Age, I find myself a little put off by their chilliness, their dust and age. Not here. A Tale of Two Citiesfeels rather progressive and is very emotionally involving. 

If I were to critique this novel, I would say perhaps Dickens sacrificed a full exploration of the time period he was writing about to, instead, focus on his characters. I would've loved to have seen more build-up to the Revolution, though what the reader does get is fine. I could've done with more guillotine scenes myself. 

So far, this is my favorite Dickens novel — though I have many to read yet. This one certainly deserves its classic status, and I can't wait to give it a reread in a few years.

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review 2017-07-11 19:33
THE DINNER Review
The Dinner - Herman Koch,Sam Garrett
The most remarkable, and frustrating, thing about this novel is the fact that it takes place over the span of one dinner — hence the title. Our main players are two married couples, all with worries and dark motives and problems to work through. 

Paul is the main character; The Dinner is narrated by him. He is a sinister fellow, obviously with things to hide. Despite always being in his head, I didn't feel I ever really got to know him . . . same goes for the other characters, too. All of 'em. They intrigued me just enough to keep reading, but I wasn't totally enthralled. Maybe that's why it took me a week to read this 300-page paperback? 

I must award points for Herman Koch's marvelous prose, though! He (and the translator, I suppose) write beautifully, without selling the story out for pretentiousness or oversimplification. The author masterfully pulls the reader in wrong directions. I was often lulled into a false sense of complacency before having the rug pulled out from under me! I'm usually good at seeing twists coming, but a lot of the ones here were subtle and so well done. 

I would call this one a success, though I wasn't totally head over heels for it. The pacing is a bit slow, and the ending was a bit disappointing (not much was resolved? I think? this requires a reread), but I did have fun. I liked it. Hence the three stars. While I vastly preferred Summer House with Swimming PoolThe Dinner is a sinister, tasty meal.
 
 

 

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review 2017-07-07 11:46
Review: The Names They Gave Us
The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered this one ages ago, but I have a habit of pre ordering finished copies of Emery Lord books and requesting them on Netgalley as soon as I see them. Usually I start them as soon as I’m approved, but in this case it took me a while to get round to starting this one. Mainly because of the subjects it dealt with – faith and cancer.

 

While it took me a while to get into the novel, by the end I did love it to pieces, and as with every Emery Lord book I’ve read by the end I was in floods of tears. Beautifully written, and I thought it handled the tough subjects excellently. A+ points for diverse characters, transgender rep and friendships as well. The characters were fantastic and well fleshed out. The romance was adorable. The adults were likeable as well.

 

The novel tells the story of teenager Lucy who has learned that her mother’s cancer has returned. Lucy’s dad is a pastor, she’s very religious. She has a great relationship with her parents, she has a steady boyfriend of several years Lucas. Though on receiving the news, she falls to pieces. She starts to question her faith. It’s all handled very thoughtfully and manages to do it without being preachy at all. So bonus points for that.

 

Lucy’s parents run a Christian themed summer camp and she usually helps out as a councillor, but her mom convinces her to try being a councillor at the camp the other side of the lake, Daybreak. Which is a camp helping troubled children. Her mom thinks this may help Lucy deal with some of her own issue. She’s in pieces in private, but determined to put on a strong face around her parents. Though she’s acting out and getting overly amorous with the boyfriend. The boyfriend was also very religious and frankly, a bit of a dick. He was trying to be patient and understanding, but it didn’t come across very well – then – he puts their relationship ON PAUSE over the summer. Jerk.

 

Lucy is a bit reluctant to try Daybreak, she just wants to be with her mom. But she finds herself getting to know the other councillors her age, and dealing with the children, from all sorts of different backgrounds with all sorts of problems. As much as I liked Lucy and her voice I did find her to be kind of sheltered, maybe something to do with her deep religious beliefs. One of the kids, a girl of 14 is pregnant, and Lucy is quite shocked by this. She turns out to really connect to the girl and help her a lot.

 

Lucy makes friends in the camp, though the other councillors have known each other for years, she struggles to find her way into the close group of close-knit friends. It’s very sweet as she learns to accept the other kids who they are, find things in common with them, and gets to know them. She finds herself attracted one of the councillors her age, a boy named Henry. They bond and develop a close friendship with the potential for something more. Lucy has to figure out if she really wants to make the relationship with Lucas work, or go for something new with Henry. It works really well and adds a lot of depth to Lucy’s character as she struggles to make her decisions.

 

Lucy has to deal with a lot of different emotions and manages to handle them extremely well. She has her moments where she does fall apart. I did find I really liked her views on her struggle with her faith as well. A lot of it made a great deal of sense as she pondered it out. And there really were some beautiful passages on faith towards the end of the novel.

 

Tough subjects, but well worth reading.

 

I loved it.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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