Australia Day Giveaway Winner

Giveaway winners

Thank you to all who told me their favourite Australia Day memories and past times, I loved hearing about your plans.

I have drawn the winner and I am very pleased to announce that the winner is

John

The winner has been notified. Congratulations!

Novascapes: A Speculative Fiction Anthology compiled by C. E. Page

Published: 30th September 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Invisible Elephant Press
Pages: 228
Format: ebook
Genre: Speculative Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Each story in this collection is a brief glimpse into a world both like and unlike anything we could ever imagine. The light and dark aspects of human nature are played out on the canvases of these worlds, though the players are not always human. Minotaurs, mermaids, vampires and dinosaurs compete for space alongside devils, angels, aliens and completely indescribable entities. Novascapes transports you from one side of the multi-verse to the other and leaves you breathless and wide eyed at the possibilities of simple existence.

Novascapes is a collection of short speculative fiction stories by authors either from or originally born (or connected in some major way) to the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast regions of NSW, Australia. The stories are as varied and wonderful as the authors who penned them.

There’s nothing quite as good as a great collection of short stories to give you little mini adventures and insights into strange and mystical worlds. What makes these short stories wonderful are the speculative nature and the fact that each of these authors have created stories that covers so many different narratives no two are alike.

The stories vary in length and there is a mixture of light hearted and darker stories. The speculative fiction aspect makes them wild and fanciful but not too outrageous or unbelievable. There is suspense, magic, and adventure and the range of different characters means you aren’t always reading about humans, even if it speculative humans.

There are dark tales about dark creatures and humorous exhilarating tales about magic and creatures from other world. Each author tells an intriguing story and the collection offers an array of different approaches to the speculative genre. If you are interested in short stories this is a wonderful collection, and a great chance to read some stories of authors that you may have never read before.

You can purchase Novascapes via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

Prue Theroux by Gillian Rubinstein

Published: 2001Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Australia
Illustrator: David Mackintosh
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Star

When you don’t know what to do. When you haven’t got a clue, go and talk to Miss Theroux. Who, who, who …? Miss Prue … That’s who! 

Who’s the coolest school librarian around? Miss Prue Theroux, that’s who! But when Prue Theroux falls sick and is replaced by Mr Boycott, it’s a very different scene in the library.

This is a fun book with great rhymes and repetition that kids will enjoy. It was great to show off the myriad of wonderful things librarians do, and I’m presuming Prue is a teacher librarian because she is teaching these kids a lot more than is generally possibly as a librarian alone.

The story itself was ok, it was fun to see the great things Prue did. I can see the appeal to kids and it would be enjoyable to read aloud. The rhymes were clever and made sense in context. The story was a bit long but had a few adventures, a three part kind of story which is rare in a picture book. The books listed from Prue recommendations are real books too which was clever because kids can then look up those books now if they wanted.

You can tell Prue is a Cool Librarian because the illustrations make her look cool with her clothing and design on top of the things that she does. Mackintosh’s drawings are unique with a simple colour scheme and quirky character designs.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, it might have been a bit long because I wasn’t totally into it but I still found it clever and certainly a great display of how awesome librarians are.

You can purchase Prue Theroux The Cool Librarian via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Published: 24 May 2012 (print)/24 May 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Broadway Book/Orion Publishing Group
Pages: 415/19 hours 18 minutes
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Thriller
★ – 1 Star

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

There have only been a few books that I felt cheated by, genuinely cheated by. These include The Last Battle by C.S Lewis, The End by Lemony Snickett, and to a very small degree To All The Boys I Have Loved Before by Jenny Hann. Being cheated by a book is more than disliking it, it is where I feel the author themselves have cheated me as a reader by building up my expectations and leading us to a point, only to dismiss our investment in their characters and turn the entire thing on its head with no point or purpose, ignoring everything that has come before.

Granted, each of these books cheated me in different ways, but Flynn’s crime here is not only making the book boring to read, toxic characters or not, but also because there is no satisfaction in anything that happens. The reader is not rewarded for dealing with this story, nothing to reward us for getting to the end of this long and tedious book. I don’t need a happy ending, make it as messed up as you like, but there was frustration in that conclusion, not a decent conclusion to the nonsense I had to sit through.

Irony could have played a great part, karma, justice, all these things. Instead, we’re left with these characters who I hated from page one and hated even more by page 400. It just got worse and then even when it got interesting it was still terrible. The writing was terrible which makes you hate the story they were telling. They were both poorly written, poorly expressed, and I think even though Flynn tried to give Nick some emotional baggage, the fact it is poorly explored means it all comes to nothing.

Surprisingly, the audiobook was also a bit terrible, Heyborne’s odd emphasis of some words catch in your ear and every time he said “my wife” (which, again, poor writing, is said A LOT), he sounded like Borat. I couldn’t escape into the story because having it read aloud highlights the problems even more. There is repetition, both characters constantly compare things to how it’s done in a movie, and they whine. They might have been decent characters if their story was better written.

When I hit part two I groaned because there was another chunk of this book. But luckily it somehow it managed to get more interesting. Predictable, but interesting. I got the result I expected, I was impressed that Flynn went the direction she does, but it didn’t remove the issues. The fact Nick’s narration is infuriating, and the language Flynn uses is repetitive, sexist, and boring. Even in the “exciting” part it is boring and monotonous.

When Part Three came, I rolled my eyes and prepared myself for another long boring section of this book. I can see the plan to make the ending some tragedy, some Shakespeare tragedy for us to wallow over, but it didn’t work. I could think of three better endings for this book and I wish any of them had been picked. I know this is apparently a psychological thriller in concept, it is not in execution. How Flynn has managed to make this story unentertaining is beyond me. The framework is there for a thriller, you get inside character minds and see their motives which was intriguing, but it wasn’t enough to save the story.

You can purchase Gone Girl via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon | Audible

 

What If? by Randall Munroe

Published: 24th September 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 John Murray
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If. 

Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

When I saw this I picked it up straight away because I had to read it. I have been a massive fan of Munroe’s comic XKCD for years and now with a chance to read an entire book filled with the humour and science of the comics was hard to ignore.

The premise of the book is Munro answering What if? questions submitted by people through his website. As the tagline explains: Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. Not all of the online submissions were answered and there are a few “Weird (and Worrying) Questions” highlighted to show some of the stranger ones which are a delight in themselves.

Munroe amazingly has a lot of maths and science to back up even the most absurd questions, and even when things aren’t logically or physically possible, he works around it with a slight bend of physics or realistic possibility and shows you how it would happen if all the cards fell perfectly.

What makes this even more fun is the book is filled with Munroe’s drawings, simple interactions between his stick figure characters and illustrations of how these various scenarios would play out. It’s not just comic conversations, there’s also drawings of explanations and Munroe adds tables and graphs, all in his recognisable style.

Some of the questions are common ones such as “What would happen if absolutely everyone jumped at the same time?” But along with actually answering the question (short answer: nothing) with clear and understandable science, Munroe takes it a step further and gives another fascinating yet horrifying answer which you don’t think about. This was when I first really truly realised how marvellous this book was because Munroe takes it a step further and looks at what happens after that when you have 7 billion people in one location having just jumped who now need to get back home. Short answer: chaos.

There are also some brilliantly absurd and strange questions that people have submitted and even though I had never thought about I’m really glad I now know what would happen if you set off a nuclear bomb in the eye of a hurricane or what would happen if suddenly one day all your DNA disappeared. Some are also genuinely fascinating to discover like “When (if ever) did the sun finally set on the British Empire?” and “How much Force can Yoda output?”

There is humour and excellent jokes and the footnotes peppered throughout are a delight in themselves to read, also a mixture of genuine sources and Munroe’s own thoughts. One of my favourite questions is “What would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, where each brick was made up of the corresponding element?” A question which is logical enough, but it is the drawings that go with it that add an extra layer of brilliance as Munroe tries to explain not only how some of them would just float away, but how each box would react differently with the others nearby.

If you like maths, science, XKCD or love knowing about things then this is the greatest book. If you aren’t into these things it is still readable because while it isn’t entirely dumbed down, Munroe explains it in a way that you can still understand, and with wonderful cartoons to accompany explanations you still have a lot of fun learning.

You can purchase What If? via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries