Sunday, 19 April 2015

Bite Sized Fun

Hell Island sees my first foray into the works of Matthew Reilly, which as a fellow Australian really is not good enough. I decided on trying this bite sized read first  after several friends recommended it.

I have to say the book did not WOW me as much as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong all the elements for a great action read where present but the premise of the story as a whole seemed a bit tired to me.

It was like I had read it or seen it play out on the Silver screen before. What was written on the page was definitely a page turner if not a tad predictable. This did disappoint me but at the end of the day I was overall entertained. I think that to get a better feel for this author it is time to try one of his more substantial works.
3 Stars

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Great Read That Stands Apart From The Rest

This short but highly satisfying read is my second book by this author and like the first it delivers a fresh take on the apocalypse scene. Be warned if you are after a book full of action and stuff blowing up and going splat then give this book a miss.

What this book delivers is a very realistic view of what the world would be like if all hope is lost and the human race is on the way out. As the title might suggest this book centres on a teacher whose students can be counted on one's hands and whose numbers are dropping every day. As one can imagine this is a very depressive state of affairs as life and Society as we know slowly fades away.

Chris Dietzel manages to deliver a deeply engaging narrative that does not rely on action to keep one engaged. As a reader you are made to feel uncomfortable as you think of what you would do in similar circumstances, and this is what makes this book stand out. It's than ability of the author to touch something in the reader that gives the book a very frightening feeling of reality to it. I for one will be returning to the world that is The Great De-Evolution series.
5 Stars

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Sociology In The Projects

Sudhir Venkatesh once again shows his ability to take academic learning from the classroom to the streets and put a real life spin on it. In this book he takes sociology to a whole new level by becoming a part of the community he was studying. Ignoring all safety warning Sudhir enters the projects to see how it works from the street level.

I can hear all the academic minded screaming "NO, NO, NO" you cannot become a part of what you are studying. To them I say this book is a shining example of what can be produced when you immerse yourself into your subject why maintaining an objective view.

The inner workings of the projects are truly mind-boggling and had me thinking how can society turn a blind eye to the goings on in these lower social economic areas. Often left to look after themselves the communities developed are complicated and the line between legal and illegal are blown away. This book goes way beyond the gangs and lets the readers into the inner workings of a part of society many would prefer to sweep under the carpet.

4 Stars

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Quick History of the Easter Egg

Easter Egg Tradition

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The egg has long been a symbol of 'fertility', 'rebirth' and 'the beginning'. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg.

With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regarded the egg as a symbol for the stone being rolled from the sepulchre.

Eggs as an Easter Gift

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colours with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, 'plush' and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates. The ultimate egg-shaped Easter gifts must have been the fabulous jewelled creations of Carl Fabergé made during the 19th century for the Russian Czar and Czarina, now precious museum pieces.
Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking, as the moulds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Remarkable Memoir


Working Stiff tells the story of a young Medical Forensic Examiner in her first two years of training in NYC. Judy Melinek does not hold back in this memoirs and the result is a fascinating and heart felt look into her life and profession. At times this book had me in tears as I read some of the cases she had to work on.

Yes she has some very firm views on suicide that may not sit comfortable with some of the audience. But with her personal experience in this matter one cannot blame her for that view.

What I truly found humbling about this book was how she wrote about her experience with the 9-11 tragedy. She did not down play its horror but neither did she allow it to dominate the book or overshadow the everyday tragedies she bore witness to. The couple of chapters dedicated to 9-11 where harrowing and some of the images that where conjured up in my imagination will stay with me for a very long time.

Overall Working Stiff delivers a deeply personal account of one Doctors induction into the world of Forensic Medical Examiners. I for one thank the author for giving us a view into this very difficult and technical line of work and the impact it has personally on her.
4.5 Stars

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Hell To Read

This is the second book this year I have not been able to finish. The book started off well enough giving a great overview of the Gulag system in Siberia. It gave very good insight into the reason behind setting these camps up in some of the most inhospitable places in the world.

So where did it all go wrong? For me it was the referencing system used in this book. It made no sense and made the read so frustrating that in the end I gave up. For example quite often he would write as “described in the book (9)”. This drove me so crazy I felt like pulling my hair out. It would have been bearable if (9) actually linked to the reference section so I could see what the book was. Sorry if I sound fussy, but really how hard would it have been to write the actual book title.

Apart from this the book started to wonder around the subject with no real clear direction. I hate not finishing a book but time reading time is at a premium for me at the moment.
1 Star  

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The End Of Evolution ?

The Atlantis Plague is the second offering from A.G Riddle in his Origin Mystery series. Like the first book A.G Riddle delivers a story full of twists and turns that keeps you engaged to the very last full stop.

What really impresses me about this book is how all the individual story threads are weaved into very strong tapestry worthy of the label epic. I was truly impressed at the depth of the narrative and the fullness of the world created by the author.

For me though, there was one glaring issued that kept me from giving five stars. Unlike a lot of other follow up books in series this one starts off exactly where the first book finished. Now that probably does not seem too many an issue. But for me those little tit-bits of back story so often used in the beginning of books in other series was missing. What this meant for me that it took a while for me to get back in the story as I felt I was playing catch-up.

With all that aside The Atlantis Plague is very fine example of intelligent and entertaining Science Fiction writing. I would encourage all to experience the Origin Series.
As an audiobook the narrator Stephen Bel Davies employs the perfect cadence that draws you right into the story. Running at 13 hrs. and 11 minutes I was surprised how quickly I finished this listen. I found myself listening to it as I brushed my teeth as I did the dishes. All signs to me of a great marriage of story and storytelling.
4 Headphones