All 11 entries tagged Book Reviews

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February 28, 2006

Ought to have been better

3 out of 5 stars

I found this book a bit weak. I googled Dean Koontz and expected to find that he'd been writing for a couple of years at the most. Instead it turns out that he's been writing for decades. Thus furthering my astonishment at the low quality of the writing.

The premise is hugely exciting: "If tyou don't take this note to the police, I will KILL a lovely, blonde school teacher. – If you do take this note to the police, I will instead KILL an elderly woman."
Now what would you do? You can't not take the note to the police, but then everyone would think that you just wanted to condemn the old woman to die, rather than the pretty woman. Sadly, that's where the exciting plot stops. The rest of the book is strung together strands of story, which seem to have no connection with each other.

The ending, I'll admit is surprising, but only, because it is based on the fact that something entirely unbelievable happened beforehand. I know that I'll be annoying a lot of Dean Koontz fans here, but I'm sorry, I just didn't like it. 3 stars.

November 30, 2004

Unlike anything you have read before!

5 out of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book written by an autistic boy? Me neither, so this book is probably the closest we will ever come. Someone once described this book as being new-age childrens' literature, because it contains a lot of swearing and has no happy end. I would agree with that and hope that we will see a lot more of this genre and definitly by Haddon.

We follow the life of Christopher, an autistic child and see the world through his eyes. It's a marvellous story and one which makes you want to stand up and applaud Mark Haddon for his inspiring and deeply insightful book, which has the power to teach all of us a little about how society behaves towards those who are different. Seeing the world through Christopher's eyes also gives us an insight into how strange and surreal human behaviour is to anyone who is not accustomed to it. Don't expect this book to be happy and cutesy, it isn't; it's downright tearjerking at times.

This book successfully manages to combine a look at autism with the story of a little boy and his quest to solve the murder of his neighbour's dog. In a word: Brilliant.

Tight rope walking the Second Amendment

5 out of 5 stars

Watched Bowling for Columbine? Interested in the gun control debate? This book will answer all your questions and more. Richard North Patterson presents the second amendment to the american constitution from both sides in this action packed, political thriller.

The plot is well conceived and the twists and turns aren't always predictable, giving us an ever changing perspective on gun crime and American's freedom to carry guns. Balance of Power marries political intrigue in the American Senate with personal tragedy arising from gun violence.

If you find this book in Waterstone's, don't be put off by the 800 pages! It's a quick read and guaranteed to hook you right from the start. You find yourself drawn into the process of eradicating gun violence with all the characters, whether they are goodies or baddies.

The only negative comment I would make is that the gun debate, though presented from both sides, is not argued as strongly from the gun enthusiasts point. It may just be that they generally have weak arguments, but I think that Patterson was biased, which he admits in the post scriptum.

If you are at all interested in the Second Amendment debate, or in American politics or indeed in a good thriller then buy this book.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

4 out of 5 stars

I know the book is the german version, but that does not mean it's less funny!

Ok, so I'll admit, it's probably less funny than in the original, but that's because of translation difficulties, not because germans don't have a sense of humour.

I have to say that I found the Guide quite funny. However, that's where it stops for me. It's hilarious at the beginning and then manages to loose pace towards the end, when it just becomes strange. I found myself wondering more than once, where the hell the story was going. That's not necessarily always a bad thing, but in this case, I thought the humour didn't quite cover for the deteriorating story line.

I would rate it as funny, but certainly not funnier than Pratchett! I will, however, read the otherones in the series, hoping that Adams was just finding his feet on this one.

A good sequel

4 out of 5 stars

Well, what can I say about "Good Wives" that hasn't been said about "Little Women"? The two books are pretty much the same style and are, of course, about pretty much the same characters.

Good Wives is a good (pardon the pun) sequel to Little Women and that's about it. If you enjoyed the first one, you should read this one. If you didn't, spend the £1.50 elsewhere!

On the good side, however, the character development in Good Wives is excellent. While reading, you can literally see all of them evolving into more mature "ladies" rather than staying "girls". I won't summarise the plot (because I never do!) but I can say that the title suggests what will happen in the end.

A word of warning though! If you're a fan of "Friends", do not, I repeat, do not watch the episode where Joey and Rachel swap books. Rachel will spoil the end for you as well!

That said, the book deserves a shiny four stars, for not slacking off but not being better either! A good read.

October 28, 2004

Vivid, imaginative, thought–provoking

5 out of 5 stars

I doubt that I would ever have picked up this book in a shop. The premise of a young boy in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan and a royal bengal tiger sounds interesting, but I just couldn't imagine it being any good.

Though I don't agree with the assertion at the beginning that "this story will make you believe in god by the end", I still found it to be such a good book that I could hardly put it down.

At first, I could hardly conceive reading a book about a castaway in a lifeboat (at least Robinson Crusoe had an island to live on!) but I discovered that being shipwrecked in a lifeboat with a tiger is not necesseraily over after a couple of hours. Indeed the whole story of how Pi survives his time on the lifeboat is both tragic and breathtaking.

The themes and ideas discussed in this book are engaging and thought-provoking. Especially when you reach the end of the book you understand that the story is not all it seems. Furthermore, I have never pondered the end of a book more than this one.

The book is imaginativly written, filled with vivid descriptions which bring everything to life and immerse you in the fate of young Pi. You could never otherwise imagine just how much there is to discover when you are alone in the Pacific with a tiger.

I look forward to the next book that Yann Martel writes, since I thoroughly enjoyed this one. If you're looking for an up and coming author, Yann Martel would be an excellent choice.

October 19, 2004

Great Adventure Story

4 out of 5 stars

Imagine the latest blockbuster action movie in book format. Add a dash of intelligent plot and a sprinkle of creative descriptions. Now set the whole thing in africa and have the main characters look for King Solomon's Diamond Mines, whose location is marked by a secret map.

Sound good? Then you'll love this book. Written at the end of the 19th Century it has retained its cult status with its fast-paced storytelling and vivid scenery. The story is imaginative with lovable characters, especially Allan Quatermain, the narrator. It struck me as funny and yet endearing that he, the main character (the star) is somewhat of a coward, thrust into the whole situation by the thing that drives us all: money!

The book is a very good read and very informative (you'll pick up a few Zulu words on the way). I felt though that sometimes, especially at the battle at the end, it was lacking in plot and I felt bored at times.

Verdict: Definitly worth a read and it's not too long either!

October 06, 2004

Good, but not good enough

4 out of 5 stars

So, if you know me, you will know that I have only the paperback editions of any Terry Pratchett book. This stems partly from the fact that buying them all in hardcover is expensive and partly from the fact that I like continuence.

The latest Discworl book is a sad continuation of, lately, at most mediocre books. Don't get me wrong, I love the Discworld series, but lately nothing he wrote has really thrilled me. It still makes you chuckle, but it almost seems as if Pratchett is making a point and uses the book to do it. That's fine by me, if only he wouldn't sacrifice the style and humour that has made his previous books in the series a hilarious roller coaster ride.

Some things that irritated me are the recurrence of the Watch in an otherwise independant Discworld Novel. What happened to books like Pyramids, which were completely seperate from the witches, the watch, Death or Rincewind? Why does everything have to revolve around the Watch, Vimes and Ankh-Morpork all of a sudden?
I didn't like the end either, it didn't have a nice finish, perhaps that was the poing Pratchett was trying to make, that not all stories have a happy end, but I still would have preferred one. Another thing that has disappointed me was the plot line. It seemed far-fetched at best and slightly 'assembled' from various things Pratchett wanted to tell us.

All in all it is a good book, but not a good Discworld book. I enjoyed then read, but I really hope that Going Postal will be better.

September 30, 2004

Scary, but believable view on privacy

4 out of 5 stars

Lury.Gibson isn't an author, but a collection of writers and this book is their first published work. And hopefully not the last.

Dangerous Data centres around an obscure Data Detective, who, using more or less illegal methods, can find out anything about anyone. People employ him to find information on people, such as a cheating husbands and run-away daughters.

The book is about The Dogg's latest contract: Finding out everything he can about the people living at a specific address. We then follow The Dogg as he uncovers clue after clue about these people's history, their lives and their routine. The slant on this book is the fact that this Data Detective never leaves his office and still tells the story of these three people as if he knew them intimatly.

The book is written in alternating pages. One page tells part of the story, the other contains either the information that The Dogg has found, or relevant websites to something The Dogg is talking about.

All in all, this a pretty good book. In my opinion it's ahead of its time and I think, had the authors waited for a couple of years, the book would have been more relevant then. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks that shopping online is secure and that you're safe at home.

An unbiased book about technology and religion

5 out of 5 stars

You would think that a book about religion and technology would involve a lot of science bashing or heretic thought. That's where my fascination for this book came in. I have to admit that when I bought the book, I bought it purely for its title (which is "Illuminati" in german). As I started reading though, I discovered that this book tries (and succeeds) in showing that there is a way for science and religion to co-exist.

I won't go into too much plot detail here, since you should definitly read this book anyway, but suffice to say that the plot twists and turns and keeps you guessing at ever point. I have read my fair share of twisty books, but this one actually made me guess completely wrong, until I gave up in the end and just waited for the next plot line to turn around 180 degrees.

The book is written at a nice, fast pace and visits some of rome's most interesting and well known locations, such as the St. Peter's Basilica and the Piazza Navona. You have the feeling of being taken on a thrill ride that just won't stop. I have been to Rome recently and of course, checked all the locations described in the book, which Dan Brown claims are all authentic. They are! I've been to all the churches on the Path of Illumination and they really exist and look like in the book.

All in all this an extremely well researched book, which can be read for either its entertainment value as a racy thriller or as a balanced look at the century old battle between the church and science, and it even gives us a middle way.
The only downside to this book are the characters. For my part, I found Robert Langdon slightly unbelievable and Vittoria was not developed throughout the book. Apart from that this book is a cracking read! Recommended to all!

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