Monday, 31 December 2012

Goodbye 2012

So 2012 is drawing to a close today and it seems that an end of year blogpost is pretty much obligatory judging by my blogfeeds.

I know that I've been rather absent on this blog this month, but with the festive season, I just haven't felt like spending time on my laptop. I've been reading, crafting, playing LEGO Lord of the Rings and spending time with family and friends.

I can proudly say that I completed my GoodReads challenge!! I've read 52 books this year.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Tesni has
completed a goal of reading 50 books in 2012!

I've got a busy year coming up with accountancy exams but I hope to be a more reliable blogger, and actually review a book just after I've read it. This blog is just for fun, and something I really enjoy doing but it does come second to actually going out and living life.

Expect a few posts in January as there are several books I want to review, including Unwind by Neal Shusterman, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick and Reached by Ally Condie.

Wishing you all a very happy new year. See you in 2013!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

WWW Wednesday

This is a meme hosted by MizB- I thought I'd play along.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading? The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson - This is the sequel to  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I really enjoyed. Not so keen on the sequel, but still interesting.
• What did you recently finish reading? Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. I was disappointed with this book. :(
• What do you think you’ll read next? Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I loved Anna and the French Kiss so I immediately ordered Stephanie Perkins' second book.

Join in and tell me your WWW for this week either on your blog or in the comments.

Monday, 19 November 2012

REVIEW: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Sorry it's been awhile. I've been revising for exams and I have longs days at work, so time has been a little sparse lately.  I was also in a reading slump and this book brought me out of it. I read this book then Catching Jordan in the same day! I'm on target still with goodreads, having read 44/50. Need to get reviewing! 

What's it about?
"Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her co worker at the movie theatre, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's not too pleased when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. Despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new friends, including the handsome √Čtienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately he's taken- and Anna might be too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's been waiting for?"  Blurb from the book cover.

What did I think of it?
I loved this book. I'd heard a lot of bloggers express their love for this book, but I never bothered to read it. Then I was in the mood for a good chick lit romance book and so I made a quick online order! I started reading this the moment it dropped through my door and didn't stop until I'd finished it. It was wonderful! I was completely swept into the story and the setting. I've never been to Paris, and never had a big urge to visit, but this book made me want to! I also love a boarding school book. I liked how the characters are always in the same place, I think it's an interesting concept, as there really is no escape from school. So boarding school, combined with Paris was a hit with me.

The main delight of this book is its characters. I found I could really relate to Anna and I dare you not to fall in love with St. Clair!! Anna's narration is a joy, and she made me laugh and dream along side her.  I really liked the supporting cast of characters though I wish some of them had a little more air time, so I could know them a little better. Especially Meredith- I felt that although she's the one who introduces Anna to her group of friends, you actually learn very little about her. Some more Josh would have been good too.  

The romance in this book is divine. The relationship between Anna and St Clair has so many twists and turns, but I loved how they interacted.  Their relationship is wonderful to watch develop through many iterations. There are a few moments of "Arghhh when will this happen already! St Clair you're an idiot!" type thoughts, but that's to be expected in a plot of this type. St Clair shows Paris to Anna, and makes her feel at home, whilst Anna helps St Clair when his world begins to crumble. 

One little thing that I really liked about this book was Anna's love for film. I love films, and I just really liked reading about her interest in it, and her desire to be a film critic.

So to sum up this slightly waffle-ly ramble, this book is a must read for a romance loving YA enthusiast. It's cute as well as serious, and it will warm you heart. 


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 14 out of 50

Sunday, 21 October 2012

REVIEW: 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky

Since the film recently hit the cinemas I thought it would be timely to review The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I haven't seen the film, but I do really want to. Please let me know in the comments what you thought of it if you've seen it.

What's it about?
The main character who calls himself Charlie is about to begin his first year of high school and feels apprehensive due to the recent suicide of his only good friend Michael. He doesn't feel he can talk to his parents or siblings, as the only person in the family who understood him was his Aunt Helen who died on Charlie's seventh birthday. At school he soon befriends two seniors- Sam and Patrick, who along with his English teacher, introduce Charlie to many new experiences.

What did I think of it?
This is an extremely popular and well loved novel, but it fell a bit flat for me. I found the idea that a rather weird and shy freshman had become such good friends with seniors rather unrealistic, and I think that disconnected me from the novel a little. Also it reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye which I hated, and Before I Die which I wasn't blown away by either. It's a genre that I don't seem to get on with too well.  Despite this, I did like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is something special about this book, and I can understand why it is a favourite book for a lot of people. 

The novel is presented in form of letters from Charlie to an anonymous friend, who he hears the girls at school talking about fondly.  I thought the epistolary form of the novel worked very well, and I soon felt I was the 'Friend' that these letters were addressed to.  In these letters you learn about the personal growth of Charlie through the many new things he experiences, leading to him feeling that he doesn't have to be a wallflower. The letters document all all Charlie's observations, feelings and activities. The letters are jammed pack with popular culture, with songs, films and literature playing a large part. I really liked the use of literature and songs in the book. The letters also deal with friendship, suicide, abuse, sex, drugs and depression. From the letters you can see the development of Charlie's relationships with the other characters in the novel. I particularly liked seeing the relationship he had with his sister change and develop, and gradually learning about his past. I'm still unsure how I felt about his relationships with Sam and Patrick. I enjoyed the scenes between them but in the back of my head I constantly had that nagging feeling that in real life it would never happen. 

It's is a very commonly quoted novel, and I understand why. It contains lots of beautiful and sometimes quite deep quotes. Charlie's voice is very striking, and is a highlight of the novel for me. It is child-like yet at the same time wise and adult. Charlie makes observations which we often take for granted and it is quite moving to hear his remarks on these occasions. For instance: 

"The fact that one of these ladies was my mom made me particularly sad because my mom is beautiful. And she’s always on a diet. Sometimes, my dad calls her beautiful, but she cannot hear him."

This quote rings incredibly true for a lot of women and I know it frustrates and saddens me. Probably the most common quotes  from Perks are : We accept the love we think we deserve.” and  “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.

Chobosky's writing is excellent. The humour is very dry, and the whole novel is incredibly touching. I found the second half of the book far more enjoyable than the first. It took awhile to get used to Charlie and let my doubts go, but by the end I was definitely moved, and feeling rather emotional!  I think this is a novel that requires a re-read to appreciate fully.

I think everyone should read this book, you may not love it (I didn't) but I think it is an experience that one should have, especially adolescents.


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 13 out of 50

Friday, 12 October 2012

REVIEW: 'The Casual Vacancy' by J. K. Rowling

One fact you probably don't know about me is that I'm a gigantic Harry Potter fan. I would say I was part of the original HP generation, aging at a similar rate to Harry and his friends, as the books were released. Since I am such a huge fan of Harry Potter, there was no way I would be able to resist reading The Casual Vacancy. Part of me wanted to resist but I was curious and I was going to see J.K Rowling at the Cheltenham Literary Festival read from The Casual Vacancy, talk about the book and answer audience questions. I had to read it!

I had a wonderful time at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, meeting J.K. Rowling and having my book signed was a dream come true, and it was fascinating to hear her talk about her book. Whilst I was there I also saw Benedict Cumberbatch talk about making BBC Sherlock. A great event, and I recommend the Cheltenham Literary Festival to all book enthusiasts.

What's it about?
When Barry Fairbrother suddenly dies in his early forties, the outwardly idyllic village of Pagford is shocked. Behind closed doors of Pagford, there is always a war going on between husbands and wives, parents and teenagers, teachers and pupils. Barry's death leaves a casual vacancy on the parish council, which causes the largest war that Pagford has ever seen. 

What did I think of it?
I had no idea what to expect with this book. I simply read it because it was written by J. K. Rowling. I knew it would be nothing like Harry Potter and I was proved correct. The foul language was one of the greatest surprises.  I didn't expect so many F words or C words!

At first I wasn't sure if I'd get into it, but after awhile I was sucked into it all. There were some characters' storylines that I preferred, and some I struggled to care about (Gavin). I thought the book brought to light some challenging issues, for instance one character is the troubled daughter of a drug addict, trying desperately to prevent her younger brother being taken into care, whilst another teenage character is struggling with self harm. There are also some very unpleasant family relationships and the old mother-in-law issues. I didn't expect any of that but gave the book a bit of grit.

In essence this book is a character study similar to old nineteenth century literature. There isn't much in the way of plot other than the election of a new councillor and the debate over who should be responsible for the council estate on the edge of Pagford called the Fields and it's addiction clinic. The novel focuses on around 17 or 18 characters of several different generations and upbringings. It examines the theme of responsibility, and the impact each action has on others and the character themselves.

There is also a theme of redemption. J.K. Rowling herself said that she thought only two of the characters beyond redemption- Simon and Obbo. The others all have some sort of goodness in them. Her favourite character is Fats, who is a rather unpleasant teenage boy trying to deal with the fact his father possibly hates him. I was somewhat surprised as I disliked Fats- I felt sorry for him, but not enough to like him as a character. My favourite character in the book is Krystal, who is a teenage girl living in the Fields, with a heroin addicted mother.

The novel is fairly heartbreaking in places but there are definitely plenty of funny and comical moments.

This book is very much for those who enjoy delving into characters and are not plot driven readers. If you like a linear fast moving plot with a few central characters (much like Harry Potter), then this is not the book for you. If however you do like a slower book that examines characters more intimately then you'll probably enjoy it.  


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 12 out of 50

Thursday, 20 September 2012

REVIEW: 'Throne of Glass' by Sarah J. Maas

Sorry for the absence of posts! I've just started a new graduate job which has been wiping out my energy and keeping me busy. However I'm getting into the routine now and I have adjusted to my new sleeping pattern, so ready to blog again! I've been doing lots of reading to relax after work, so plenty to review. I'm currently a book ahead on my goodreads, so done really well to catch up from being 5 behind.

Onto the review of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas which was released last month (Aug 7th).

What's it about?

'When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from prison. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend. But something evil dwells in the castle–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the source of evil before it destroys her world.' Summary from Sarah Maas' website.

What did I think of it? 
I admit I didn't even read the blurb before buying this book as I'd heard good things, and it was a genre I knew I enjoyed. Not normally an overly smart move but thankfully I did really like this book.

When I first started reading I wasn't sure whether I had made a good choice due to the references to faeries (not normally my reading cup of tea!), but by the second chapter I was starting to feel invested in the story and curious. The main character, the master assassin Celaena was fantastic. She was a moody, witty and kick ass! I liked the development of Celaena and her relationships with the other characters, notably the Captain of the Guard and the Crown Prince. I also enjoyed the relationship between the Captain and the Prince. It was a great friendly rivalry, especially with them both falling for the assassin.

The plot was engaging, and although I guessed who/what was murdering the champions quite quickly, and worked out who was not to be trusted, it didn't impair my enjoyment in the slightest. I really liked how magic was incorporated in the story, and I'm not a fan of a lot of magic fantasy. It was subtle and not the main focus of the plot, despite playing an important role in the novel. 

I wish there was a bit more time to hear about the tasks that the champions had to undertake to stay in the running to work for the king. The time line in the novel moves along swiftly and covers a period of several months. Due to the swift nature several events seemed summarised, which I would actually have liked to hear more about. Despite my mini grumble about the time line, the novel is well paced (because it doesn't stop to satisfy some of my minor curiousities!). 

I really recommend this book and I'm already really looking forward to the next one to hear more about the infamous assassin Celaena. 


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 11 out of 50

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

WWW Wednesday

This is a meme hosted by MizB- I thought I'd play along this week.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading? Crossed by Ally Condie. - This is the sequel to  Matched which I really enjoyed. I found the concept of the world in Matched very interesting, and got attached to the characters, so I eagerly awaited the arrival of Crossed  in the post.
• What did you recently finish reading? Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. I really enjoyed this book!! I thoroughly recommend it if you want a poignant summer read. 
• What do you think you’ll read next? Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I've heard a lot about this book, and it looks like one I'll really enjoy. Can't wait to read it.

Join in and tell me your WWW for this week either on your blog or in the comments.

REVIEW 'The Hobbit' by J. R. R. Tolkien

Today's review is The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien which I actually read as a child, but since I couldn't remember the plot very well I decided it was time for a re-read before the first film is released.  I will be comparing it with The Lord of the Rings which is one of my favourite books, and by the same author, as I'm sure everyone knows (unless they've been hiding under a rock!)

What's it about?
A hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is roped into an adventure with thirteen Dwarves by the wizard Gandalf. Their aim is to  reach the Lonely Mountain in order to rescue the treasure and old home of Thorin the dwarf from Smaug the dragon. It is set in the spectacular world of Middle Earth, and the reluctant hero has many adventures and meets a whole host of colourful characters on his quest to defeat Smaug.

What did I think of it? 
The Hobbit an incredibly charming children's adventure story. Bilbo Baggins is a fantastic character, and far more likeable than Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. He is full of charm and very amusing! The host of Dwarves each have their own personality, though you don't learn too much about them. Every character in The Hobbit was a joy to read about and I'm looking forward to seeing them portrayed on screen in a few months. I think Bilbo would have to be my favourite character but there are a whole host of characters in this book who are almost as wonderful.

The book is told by a narrator in episodic fashion, which is something I really enjoyed. Each chapter, especially in the first half of the book recounts a little adventure or meeting of a new character. This leads to Bilbo having an action packed trip to the Lonely Mountain, and perfect for bedtime reading, as each chapter reads almost like a mini story. The writing is less complicated than The Lord of the Rings, as The Hobbit is clearly written for children. The writing style gives such charm to the book. I found it a little slow going at first, and I know a lot of people are put off but as it continued I found myself getting more absorbed and reading for pleasure rather than duty.

The plot of The Hobbit is very basic in principle but nonetheless enjoyable. Many unfortunate events take place during the quest which keep the plot fresh and exciting. The sense of danger that is portrayed in Mirkwood is fantastic, and the spiders were terrifying!

I really recommend this book, especially for children. For me, it wasn't as good as The Lord of the Rings plotwise (I'm a plot driven reader!) but the charm and style of The Hobbit is makes it something special. I would have given it three stars but I feel that I'm a little old to enjoy it fully, and there is something magical and special about this book so I gave it four.


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 10 out of 50

Thursday, 16 August 2012

REVIEW: 'Pushing the Limits' by Kate McGarry

I know I said that the next post would be reviewing the 'Song of Ice and Fire' series but that is taking longer to put together than I expected. Instead I thought I'd review some less epic books for you.

Today's review is Pushing the Limits by Kate McGarry which I was inspired to read after hearing so much praise from the blogging community.

What's it about?
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with all the right friends and the jock boyfriend, to being the outsider with scars on her arms. Echo doesn't remember the truth of what happened that night and is desperate to remember. She hates her stepmother and her father is controlling- Echo just wants to be normal again. When Noah Hutchins, the foster kid with issues, is thrust into her life by her guidance counsellor, things begin to change for them both. Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk to be normal again.

What did I think of it? 
I loved it!!! It's the first contemporary young adult book I've read in awhile, and it reminded me just how much I like them. I also bawled like a baby during this book- so be prepared that it's does tug on the heartstrings a lot. The book is written in alternate point of views of Echo and Noah, which I thought worked very well. Both characters were well rounded and  very well written.  It was probably the two lead characters that made this book for me. I fell instantly in love with them both, and their relationship.

Noah! I loved Noah. I thought he was realistically written, and believable. I thought he had an interesting back story, and I felt the desperate desire he had to be with his brothers again. 

Echo. Echo is desperately wanting to be normal, she is changed from the incident which leaves her unable to work out where she belongs and what she truly wants.  She was an interesting character to follow as she had quite a few issues to sort out.

There were times where both characters frustrated me, but their actions weren't out of character, just designed to frustrate the reader as part of the plot. I loved the relationship that McGarry creates between the two lead characters. I thought it was great that she was realistic about teenage boys sexual desires and that she made Echo decide to wait, unlike many other YA books. Their relationship was the highlight of the book and it was what kept me reading, more so that the mystery of Echo's forgotten night.

The mystery of Echo's traumatic night gradually unfolds throughout the book, though its possible to have a good guess fairly early on from the information you receive but Echo takes awhile to put the pieces together. This was in no way a bad thing. I did want to know the truth as there are so parts that still need clarifying, that I was intrigued to continue reading. I thought Echo's reaction to the truth was realistic and well done. 

Bad points?  Well the overuse of cutesy nicknames annoyed me (nymph etc) and but other than that I can't think of anything I disliked. I thoroughly recommend this book!!!


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 9 out of 50

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

'The Windup Girl' by Paolo Bacigalupi

I've been a little MIA of late due to getting to grips with a new job and watching the Olympics here in the UK non stop. I've just finished The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, and that is what I'm reviewing today. Next up for review will be the Song of Ice and Fire books. I want advice- should I review as a whole series, book by book in one post? Or do a separate post on each book? Let me know in the comments please. Thanks!

The Windup Girl has won numerous awards so I had high hopes for it, despite being a genre that I haven't tried before. The genre is described as bio steam punk. Bacigalupi is well known for Ship Breaker which I have on my lengthy books to buy list. 

What's it about?
 I'm going to include more background than usual, describing the world and the plot.  I think Wikipedia does a good job at setting the scene:
'The Windup Girl is set in 23rd century Thailand. Global warming has raised the levels of world's oceans, carbon fuel sources have become depleted, and manually wound springs are used as energy storage devices. Biotechnology is dominant and mega corporations like AgriGen, PurCal and RedStar (called calorie companies) control food production through 'genehacked' seeds, and use bioterrorism, private armies and economic hitmen to create markets for their products. Frequent catastrophes, such as deadly and widespread plagues and illness, caused by genetically modified crops and mutant pests, ravage entire populations. The natural genetic seed stock of the world's plants has been almost completely supplanted by those that are genetically engineered to be sterile. The current monarch of Thailand is a child queen. The capital city is below sea level and is protected from flooding by levees and pumps.'

That's the background, now what about the plot? This is from Amazon:

'Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich. What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution?'

What did I think of it? 
I found that it took me a long time to get into this book. It throws you in at the deep end, in the middle of a world you know nothing about. Frequent use of foreign, non translated languages in the inital chapters made it tough to understand what was happening. So many new concepts are thrown your way in the first few chapters, it all becomes rather bewildering and not overly enjoyable.  The Windup Girl is set in the same world as Bacigalupi's short story The Calorie Man and The Yellowcard Man, which I didn't realise when I began this book. I'm not sure if reading those short stories would have helped me to get into the story faster or not. I did find that by around chapter 10, I was starting to get into the plot, but it is a slow plot builder. For a long while you just have lots of questions and not many answers in terms of where the plot may be going. This was a disappointment for me, as I struggled at the beginning not to give up on this book. I'm glad I didn't, but it wasn't immediate enjoyment, which I think is important for books. 

The book is told by five narrators- Anderson Lake (the calorie man), Emiko (the Windup girl), Jaidee (a captain of the whiteshirts), Kanya (whiteshirt) and Hock Seng (a yellowcard). I enjoyed all the narrators once I managed to get my head into the world that Bacigalupi created. I personally found Anderson and Emiko the most compelling, and I cared the most for their stories and well being. Emiko was fascinating to me; it was highly enjoyable learning about the attitudes to windups, the mindset of the windups themselves. Hock Seng wasn't overly likeable at the beginning, but I found I did start to root for him in as the plot continued and I came to understand him a little better.

Once the plot got going I found myself quite absorbed by the story, intrigued as to what was going to happen, as it was very slowly unveiled. I also thought the world that Bacigalupi described was incredibly interesting. It raised lots of questions about the ethics of the world and the dangers of the future. It paints a very depressing picture of the future!  The whole gene hack and genetic engineering was interesting, especially the windups who have a large  design faults and are sterile to stop them taking over from humans. The whole future that Bacigalupi envisioned was very clever, and I plan to read Ship Breaker and quite possibly Bacigalupi's short stories too.


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 8 out of 50

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

REVIEW: 'Bad Science' by Ben Goldacre

I have just finished reading 'Bad Science' by Dr Ben Goldacre, and I wanted to review it straight away.

Ben Goldacre writes the 'Bad Science' column for the Guardian newspaper each week. The Guardian website has the following to say about the 'Bad Science' column: 'Each week Ben Goldacre skewers the enemies of reason. If you're a journalist who misrepresents science for the sake of a headline, a politician more interested in spin than evidence, or an advertiser who loves pictures of molecules in little white coats, then beware: your days are numbered.'

I think this is a very good introduction to what to expect from the book!

What's it about?
'How do we know if a treatment works, or if something causes cancer? Can the claims of homeopaths ever be as true – or as interesting as the improbable research into the placebo effect? Who created the MMR hoax? Do journalists understand science? Why do we seek scientific explanations for social, personal and political problems? Are alternative therapists and the pharmaceutical companies really so different, or do they just use the same old tricks to sell different types of pill? We are obsessed with our health, and yet – from the media’s ‘world-expert microbiologist’ with a mail-order PhD in his garden shed laboratory, multiple health scares and miracle cures, to the million pound trial that Durham Council now denies ever existed – we are constantly bombarded with inaccurate, contradictory and sometimes even misleading information. Until now. Ben Goldacre masterfully dismantles the dodgy science behind some of the great drug trials, court cases and missed opportunities of our time, but he also goes further: out of the bulls---, he shows us the fascinating story of how we know what we know, and gives us the tools to uncover bad science for ourselves.' summary from Amazon.

What did I think of it?
'Bad Science' was a fascinating read! Although I had some knowledge of  problems with several of the topics discussed, I was still constantly amazed at what the media is allowed to get away with in terms of reporting science, what individuals could do with their own crazy ideas, what poor trials are conducted and what the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries really get up to.  Goldacre does a great job of teaching us to spot the failures of Big Pharma, alternative medicine, dodgy statistics and journalism. He manages to do this in an entertaining way using real life examples from the the newspapers, television and scientific literature. 

Goldacre begins by describing some totally bogus science that has infiltrated into society, and it's such a great example to give you a taste of this book, I'll summarise it here. Goldacre saw someone on daytime TV dipping her feet in an 'Aqua Detox' footbath, releasing her toxins into the water, turning it brown, he thought he'd try the same at home, but instead of using his own feet- he used his girlfriend's Barbie doll. He gently passed an electrical current through the warm salt water. It turned brown. In his words: 'before my very eyes, the world's first Detox Barbie was sat, with her feet in a pool of brown sludge, purged of a weekend's immorality.'  A clear demonstration of some of the nonsense people will believe when they can't spot bad science or simply do not have any common sense. 

I think this anecdote also helps to illustrate the easy, witty and humorous writing style of Goldacre. You are learning in this book as Goldacre takes a fair amount of time and effort to truly explain what makes a good, fair scientific trial, and how to spot bad science yourself, but the learning is very easy to understand and follow, and it never felt like a chore. The book is clearly laid out, easy to understand, and doesn't assume you're an idiot. Goldacre takes the attitude that if you explain something difficult clearly enough, you'll be able to understand it. 

I particularly enjoyed the chapters on homeopathy, Gillian McKeith and nutrition. It was hard to pick just a few as the whole book was incredibly engaging and interesting. The book is filled with examples of stupidity that made me cry out in horror (Brain Gym for instance!) and examples of events that are truly evil (Matthias Rath- this chapter is available  on the Bad Science website hereI recommend you read it! You will be disgusted).  Actually, it's worth pointing out that all of Goldacre's newspaper columns from 2003 are on his website if you want to read more about any of the particular topics I've mentioned, but haven't time to read the entire book. 

I really recommend this book, it was a real eye opener and it also made me laugh! One thing to note, is that I think several of the examples used to illustrate points in the book may only be known to the British audience, but there are plenty of chapters where this is not the case, and the book has something to teach people worldwide. 


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 7 out of 50

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

WWW Wednesday (July 11)

This is a meme hosted by MizB- I thought I'd play along this week.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. - This is a non-fiction book which is unusual for me- it criticises mainstream media reporting on health and science issues and is very interesting, and even amusing in parts.
• What did you recently finish reading? Alex Rider: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz. Yep, I'm aware this book is a children's book, but been reading the Alex Rider books for years and this one has been on my shelf waiting to be read for quite a while, and after finishing 'The Song of Ice and Fire' series I hit a serious reading slump- all I wanted was more books for that series. I eased myself back into reading with Alex Rider! 
• What do you think you’ll read next? The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.  I bought this awhile a go, and I think it's time to give it a whirl. It's won lots of awards so should hopefully be good. Wikipedia describes it as BioPunk science fiction, and that's something I reckon I'll enjoy reading.

Join in and tell me your WWW for this week either on your blog or in the comments.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner

I got bored with reviewing my goodreads list in order, so I thought I'd jump ahead to 'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner, as this was a very different reading experience for me, as I don't usually gravitate towards slightly frightening thrillers, despite the fact I always enjoy them. I really should learn to pick them up more often!

What's it about?
'When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them, open. Every night they are closed tight. And that every 30 days a new boy is delivered in the lift.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets that are buried within his mind.' Goodreads summary. 

What did I think of it?

I was really surprised by this book. It was not what I was expecting at all. The booktube community kept recommending this book for fans of 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins, and saying that is was a brilliant book. I was looking for something similar to 'The Hunger Games' so I thought I'd give it a go. Personally I wouldn't compare the two. Okay, the concept of being trapped in an arena/maze idea can be considered similar, but the feel and ideas of the books were very different. 

I started reading 'The Maze Runner' about 10:30pm and I only planned to read until midnight, then I would get some sleep. This did not happen! I had to keep reading as I found it a little scary and I couldn't sleep until I knew what happened. Plus, once I got past the fear, I was hooked on the plot. I just had to find out what was going on, and how the Gladers were going to resolve the situation. I found this an incredibly addicting read, and I was left feeling rather worn out after this book. It is a great thriller! 

Dashner creates a creepy yet enthralling world that the Gladers live in. The book has a real sense of urgency, and continually builds the suspense, revealing small plot points whilst at the same time creating even more mysteries as the book goes on. I think Dasher does an excellent job in describing the forbidding maze, and letting you picture the dark and foreboding place in your head. 

I thought the characters were a little under developed and that the remembering memories at convenient moments was a slightly contrived plot device but none of these things ruined the book for me.  I am very much a plot driven reader, I empathise and get attached to characters fairly easily so it doesn't usually matter too much to me if characters aren't as developed as they could be, as long as the plot interests me. I was so intrigued by the plot of 'The Maze Runner'- what was outside the maze? Why were they in the maze in the first place? Where did the monster Grievers come from? Why does the Changing occur? Why is the maze stepping up a notch? Who are the 'Creators'? 

It is a fairly cheerless, unrelenting and dark book in many respects but it drags you in, and compels you to read more.  From reading other people's reviews, I have found that it splits the jury- a lot of people seem to have gripes with the made up slang, and 2D characters, though everyone seems to love the idea of the maze runner. I personally thoroughly enjoyed 'The Maze Runner' and I would recommend it to my friends. 


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 6 out of 50

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Inside & Out tag

Time for another tag post. I saw this on elizziebook's youtube channel but it was created by Mathom Books. Both great channels and booktubers.   I thought it was a fun idea for a post and a great way to understand reading habits.

Let's get started! 

I Inside flap/Back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough (Discuss) 
I think it really varies. Most books I think the blurb is usually sufficient to give enough information to make me read a book. Occasionally I do come across books, which people have recommended to me, that I am at first reluctant to read based on the blurb as the blurb didn't entice me. That said, I don't like to know too much before I begin a book, I like it to be a nice surprise when I'm reading.

N New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: Audiobook, E-Book, Paperback, or Hardcover?
Paperback! I prefer paperbacks. Hardcovers look nicer on the shelf but I find are more awkward to read. They are often heavier and more difficult to hold. Audiobooks- great for the car, but not a huge fan as I read so much faster than the audiobook reads.. I really should get some for the car though. I used to love listening to Harry Potter in the car with my friend's family. E-books - I don't have an e-reader, otherwise I would consider buying the e-book version if I knew it wasn't a book I would re-read a lot and really adore, as those I like to have on my shelf

S Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books, taking notes, making comments, or do you keep your books clean clean clean? (Tell us why)
No I don't write in my books. It never occurs to me to make a note of anything, I am too busy enjoying the plot. During 'The Fault In Our Stars' by John Green I did have a few moments where I found beautiful quotations that I wanted to make a note of, but didn't as I wanted to keep reading! I think when I re-read it (which I will soon) I'll pop a few page markers in. Perhaps I should start jotting down a few thoughts on paper as I read though, as could be useful for reviewing. 

I In your best voice, read for us your favorite 1st sentence from a book.
 This is more a video question... and I haven't the foggiest idea what my favourite first sentence is otherwise I would record it and post it.

D Does it matter to you whether the author is male of female when you're deciding on a book? What if you're unsure of the author's gender?
To me it's completely irrelevant. I'm choosing on the plot and the genre, not the gender of the author. Maybe if it was a chicklit book like the ones that Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella write, but I don't think I've ever seen one written by a male author.  

E Ever read ahead? or have you ever read the last page way before you got there? (Do confess thy sins, foul demon!) :)
Occasionally. I may skip ahead a few chapters and skim a line or two if I'm fearful of something happening to the characters and I want to know they are still alive. I never read the last page though! If I want to know how many pages it has, I look at the number on the last page but make sure I don't even glance at the text.


O Organized bookshelves, or Outrageous bookshelves? 
Outrageous with some patches of organised -you could argue that my shelves are amorphous in that respect (geeky chemistry joke...). Moving on! I try to put series together but I haven't organised by genre or alphabetically. I would like to organise alphabetically but I've never got around to it.

U Under oath: have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)? 
No I don't think I have. I can quite often be influenced the cover when in the shop if I'm just looking around for a book, but I won't buy it if the blurb doesn't interest me.

T Take it outside to read, or stay in?
Stay in usually. I find outside can be less comfortable and bit distracting, apart from on holiday, where I love lounging by the pool and reading a book a day. 

So those are my answers. Leave your own responses in the comments or on your own blog!