Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Forge of God (Greg Bear)

Bear, Greg - The Forge of God

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: The Forge of God
Author: Greg Bear
Genre: Science Fiction
First published: 1987
Edition: Legend Paperback, published by Arrow Books Limited in 1989

Now, I am not a big science fiction reader, but when I was tidying our bookshelves I found three books by Greg Bear, all belonging to my other half. I know he really likes them, so figured I would give one a try.

I probably should have picked Eon, but I went with this one. I really struggled with the first half. It felt really bitty and choppy. I just found it hard to get into. Combine that with a complete disinterest in aliens and spaceships and really, why did I ever start this book?

It feels quite dated, technology wise, but it was written in the 1980s, so I cannot really blame it for that. I mean, same goes for Back To The Future and I bloody love those movies! I just thought I would make that note. 🙂

About half way, stuff started happening that was a bit more interesting and I suddenly found myself actually wanting to know what would happen. That was a nice surprise! Low and behold, the feeling did not last and it started dragging again. At the end it picked up again as ends must and when I finally closed the book I was reasonably satisfied.

CONCLUSION:

This is a decent book in a genre that does not quite agree with me. The plot is interesting enough and there were a couple of characters in this book I did feel invested in, especially Arthur Golden and his family, but overall this book dragged on too much, especially in the first half.

3 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Waterloo Story (Peter Prince)

Prince, Peter - Waterloo Story

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: Waterloo Story
Author: Peter Prince
Genre: Fiction
First published: 1998
Edition: Paperback, published by Bloomsbury in 1998

This is a rather peculiar book written from the perspective of a young man who is recovering from mental health problems. This is his story about a company and the people who work there in the department with him.

It is not the kind of story I normally read and I cannot remember why I bought this book back in the late nineties. Maybe because I liked the cover? Or the title? Maybe both…

Fact is, nothing much happens in this book and yet, I did not mind reading it. It’s very strange. I liked the narrative voice of a middle aged man reminiscing after a chance encounter, and the descriptions of the characters that peopled his younger days at Hughes & Hughes.

Waterloo Story is not a bad book. I did not dislike it and it is an easy enough read, but I do wonder at its purpose. I just don’t quite get the reasons for its existence.

3 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Talking To The Dead (Helen Dunmore)

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★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Talking To The Dead
Author: Helen Dunmore
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
First published: 1996
Edition: Hardback, published by Little Brown and Company, 1997

I bought this book many years ago because of its beautiful cover and can I just say that without its dust jacket the book is still so so pretty!

I finally picked it up to read it and it has been an easy enough read and there were aspects I really enjoyed. I love the author’s prose and how natural the words seem to flow. Her descriptions of food especially make your mouth water!

All the characters are very human, with flaws and fears and desires. The story is told from Nina’s viewpoint and we follow her to the Sussex countryside where her sister Isabel has just had a baby. She is a few years younger than her sister. They are both haunted by events from their past. Nina’s actions are morally very questionable and she is a bit of a twit, but you cannot help but kind of like her. The romance in this book I did not feel at all. I mean… at all… No!

The end feels a little rushed to me as well and is that really the way people react to such a tragic event? I have no idea, but I bloody hope I wouldn’t!

The writing saves this book for sure. I will keep this book as it is a pretty little thing and I maybe I will re-read one day…

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

Morgenstern, Erin - The Night Circus

★★★★★★☆ 

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 2011
Edition: Paperback, published by Vintage Books in 2012

WARNING! Minor spoilers.

This book had been on my to-read list for a while. Its artwork as intriguing to me as its title.

As soon as I started reading I knew I would love this book. The images it weaves are as magical as the circus it is set in and I found it a joy to read.

However, throughout I kind of felt the characters could do with fleshing out a bit more, and I felt disconnected from some of them. I cared about them, but not as much as I sometimes felt I should. I felt myself most drawn to characters such as Bailey and the Murray twins rather than Celia and Marco, whose romance I sometimes did not quite believe enough.

This is a minor gripe though and I am glad I finally read this book. I will be keeping it on my shelf as I am sure I will be reading it again in the future.

It would give bonus points for using the word ‘discombobulated’ on page 422, but I think six stars is quite enough!

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: I, The Aboriginal (Douglas Lockwood)

Lockwood, Douglas - I, The Aboriginal

★★★★★★☆ 

Title: I, the Aboriginal
Author: Douglas Lockwood
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
First published: 1962
Edition: Paperback, published by Rigby Limited, Adelaide, in 1973

I found this book in an old box with books that had sat in my parents’ loft for at least ten years. I have always been fascinated by Australia, its animals and its indigenous people and I must have gotten this book for that reason. I never got round to reading it though.

This is the story of an aboriginal man called Waipuldanya or Phillip Roberts which is his ‘white-feller’ name, written by Douglas Lockwood, who spent a lot of time with Waipuldanya getting his story right.

The memoir was first published in 1962, so it was never going to be politically correct, but having read it, I do not really think it matters. It gives a frank picture of Aboriginal life in  the 1950s in the remote bush in the Northern Territory and how contact with white people changed one man’s life.

Overall I found this book a joy to read. I loved reading about aboriginal culture (even if it’s a highly sexist one!). Tribal life was explained, matter-a-factly, without making excuses and you could almost taste the kangaroo meat and barramundi, and hear the feet dancing and voices singing. I felt sad reading about the diseases white people brought that ravished the natives and amazed at how the narrator embraced western medicine to help his fellow aboriginals.

This is largely a positive story of change. This is an account written by a white man, but told by an aboriginal, and I would hope it is true to the stories he told.

I have been to Australia, and I have seen forlorn aboriginals sitting by the side of the road, smoking and drinking. The Western world has treated them harshly, forcing change upon them.

Years ago I stood on the banks of the Roper River, where large parts of this book are set, and it reminded me of the magic of the bush, of the great big skies where the milky way shines bright.

I would thoroughly recommend this book if you’re interested in different cultures, because this is a fascinating look into a culture that is rapidly disappearing…

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Wheel of Time #1: Eye of the World (Robert Jordan)

Jordan, Robert - Wheel of Time #01 The Eye of the World

★★★★★☆☆ 

Title: Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1)
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre: Fantasy
First published: 1990
Edition: Mass Market Paperback, published by Orbit in 1992

It’s hard for me to be objective regarding this one. I have read the whole Wheel of Time series before, even marathon reading all 14 (!!) books a couple of years ago. When a buddy read on Goodreads came up, I felt it was a terribly good excuse to re-read it at a slower pace and I have really enjoyed it.

We start at the Two Rivers, where our three friends Rand Al’Thor, Perrin Aybara and Mat Cauthon have led a sheltered quiet life. Of course all of that changes as they are thrown into the middle of the approaching battle of good and evil.

The pace of this first book in the series is not the briskest, but most of the book moves along just quickly enough. The chapters where Rand and Mat are travelling between Whitebridge and Caemlyn are a bit on the slow side, but never irritatingly so. The pace picks up again at the end and the story surges forward towards a conclusion that sets up for an epic sequel.

A criticism is that every now and then it not quite clear what is happening or whether you missed something, as if something has happened outside the narrative, but it does not bother me that much.

There were many things I had forgotten, for instance what the Eye of the World was! It was definitely interesting to re-read knowing what happens in the end. And knowing that, I guess so much of this first book is about getting to know the characters, especially the three male leads. We will learn much more about the female characters in subsequent books.

This is not a book series for faint hearted, but if you are into grand fantasy series, I would thoroughly recommend to give it a go!

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

Coelho, Paulo - The Alchemist

★★★☆☆☆☆ 

Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Fiction
First published: 1988 (Original title: O Alquimista)
Edition: Paperback 2009 (Translator: Alan R Clarke)

I read this book over a month ago, but I sort of felt I needed to share my brief thoughts on this book while it was relatively clear in my mind still.

Maybe I was expecting too much from this book? Maybe I was not in the right frame of mind when I read it? I have tried to figure out why this book, which so many labelled as profound or life changing, did not really touch me.

It is story about a shepherd boy following omens to find his destiny and it is a nice enough story simply told that I quite enjoyed, but nothing about it was new or exciting to me. It never really seemed to go anywhere. Maybe that is the point? I have no idea, but I really did not get how this book could change people’s lives, as some claim it has.

Anyway, I do not feel like I would have missed out had I not read it. I did not hate it, but t did not capture my imagination either…

This is one to go into the guest library.

3 out of 7 stars