Saturday, 30 January 2016

Review: Radiance

Radiance Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I would like to start with the disclaimer saying that the time that I took to read Radiance in no way reflects how much I enjoyed it - I seemed to take a long time to finish this one due to stress at work and being overly tired when I got home in the evening.

Now, that being said, I can't explain how much I LOVED Radiance! It was so refreshing and unique to read, the setting being an kind of alt-history hollywood heyday era where mankind has colonised the entire solar system. It isn't a continuous narrative; the story is told in a series of film scripts, newspaper articles, personal letters and recordings from a variety of characters which reminded me very much of the story telling in some video games, such as the Bioshock series, where the story unfolds by the player listening to a series of audio logs. Also numerous themes and storylines unfurl, the primary of which being the disappearance of film maker Severin Unck who was investigating a disaster that had taken place in a village on Venus.

In my mind Radiance is (amongst other things) a commentary on social media, living life in the public eye, and the glut of "reality" TV programmes that dominate our channels, where personal dramas are shot and reshot until that perfect moment is captured and shared with the world. Indeed, poor child-Severin is more at home with a camera as a companion rather than an actual mother.

It wasn't an easy book to read initially as it did take a little while (until around the 30% mark on my Kindle) to get to grips with the storytelling style and settings but I was certainly glad that I persevered with it.

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Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A funny, entertaining and informative look into our guts (literally!) and all the little bacteria that live within. I certainly learned a lot about how to look after and protect my precious innards and admit that things did get a tad icky in places.

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Monday, 11 January 2016

Review: The Siren

The Siren The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Difficult to give this one a star rating, from the premise this should have been a trashing romp like 50 Shades of Grey, but turned out to be more mature and grown up, and a hell of a lot darker. I really liked the characters here, which were fully fleshed out and varied, from Nora the erotica writer trying to get herself taken seriously as a proper writer so that she can give up her night job of being a dominatrix, to the creepy-ass dominant Soren who Nora has recently left, to the gorgeously innocent Wesley, Nora's live-in intern. Throw a repressed Englishman who happens to be Nora's editor into the mix and we have a whole range of characters who, to me, represent the different struggles that Nora faces in her life. I'm sure I'm reading too much into this really, but it was a good read and you can read as much or as little into it as you want which is why I am tossing up between 3 or 4 stars. I'm feeling generous, so 4 it is!

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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Review: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought that it was about time that I actually got around to reading this essay, which is basically a summary of Chimamanda's TED talk from back in 2012, especially as it has been all over the news recently after Sweden has decided to make it compulsory reading for all 16 year old students. It is a very brief insight into life in Africa and modern day attitudes towards women and the societal pressures placed on both males and females and how this needs to change. Insightful and humorous, it has also encouraged me to read more of the author's work as well as think about my own views on feminism and human rights.

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Friday, 1 January 2016

Review: Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun romp with a group kick-ass female adventurers who make up your traditional role-playing group consisting of a cleric (who in this case in atheist), dwarven tank (who shaves her beard), elven magician and halfling (smidgen) thief called Betty who was my personal favourite with her love of booze and candy. Throw in some fantastic warcrys ("Rat Queens! Put the sexy back in large wholesale slaughter!") and swearing ("fucktarts!") and this was a great way to spend an afternoon where my brain was mushy due to being in the throws of a nasty cold and lack of sleep. This volume collected the first 5 issues of Rat Queens, but I found that just as I was getting into the swing of the reading and involved with the stories, it ended all too quickly. I will definitely look into inventing in future issues.

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Read Harder Challenge 2016

And here we are with another year and another challenge list!  Courtesy of those kind people over at Book Riot here is a list of this year's very cunning Read Harder targets.  Lets see how we'll do this year!

  1. Read a horror book 
  2. Read a nonfiction book about science - Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated organ
  3. Read a collection of essays 
  4. Read a book out loud to someone else 
  5. Read a middle grade novel 
  6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography) 
  7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel 
  8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born - Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award 
  10. Read a book over 500 pages long 
  11. Read a book under 100 pages - A Case of Spirits by K J Charles
  12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender - All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  13. Read a book that is set in the Middle East 
  14. Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia 
  15. Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900 - Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
  16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color 
  17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years - Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
  18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie - High Rise by J G Ballard
  19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes - We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction) 
  21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction) 
  22. Read a food memoir 
  23. Read a play 
  24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness - Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh