Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category

Inversions by Iain M. Banks

Inversions (Culture, #6)Inversions by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not your typical Sci-fi book. If you are not familiar with the “Culture” Series by Iain M. Banks then you probably won’t even notice the science fiction that is going on behind the scenes. If you are familiar with the series then, like me, you will probably find this book simply brilliant. “Culture” often meddles with less advanced worlds, helping them evolve into a more advanced civilization.

Since the story is told from the point of view of person from the less advanced world there is no direct mention of the real story, because “culture” helps without the people they are helping having any knowledge.

If you are not familiar with “Culture”, you still get a get an enjoyable story (but will miss the sci-fi aspect of the story). If you are familiar with the “culture series”. You get 2 stories, the one that is told and the one that your insight will allow you see. Brilliant!

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The Prey by Brett James

The PreyThe Prey by Brett James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading “The Prey” my first impression was that I was going to hate it. The characters seemed more like caricatures. The main character is an unlikable spoiled rich “kid”. After reading a few more pages all the characters became believable and fit perfectly into the story (but still not that likable). Brett James pulled it all together and managed to tell an interesting and entertaining story.

The book itself is small (fits into my shirt pocket) approximately 4×6 inches. My first thought on seeing it was “where’s my gum?”. My second thought was what a brilliant way to publish short stories. I can picture people (kids) collecting and trading short stories. They would also be great to have on hand for those times when we have a few minutes to kill (short trips, waiting rooms etc.).

The book actually got a solid 3.5 stars but since it left me wanting more I rounded up to 4 stars (sometimes I round down).

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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe that I have never read this before. “The Little Prince” was brought to my attention when I read “What if?”. When I mentioned “The Little Prince” to Deb she said she read it when she was young and remember loving it.

Well I’ve read it and she (Deb) has reread it and we both absolutely love it. The story is about a little prince that leaves his small planet and the people he meets on his journey. “The Little Prince” is a parable that teaches us what is truly important in life, to be attentive not only to the things we love but also to the problems in our lives.

I’m happy that I read this when I was older (and Deb is happy she reread it). Even though I think this is a good book for children I also think that like youth it is wasted on the young.

One of the few books I recommend reading over and over through the stages of ones life.

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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of my favorite reads of the year. Humor was the fabric that his book was written on. Every question and answer was interesting and entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

This book has the ability to make science (and math) interesting and fun. Randall Munroe does a great job of explaining the answers using the science and math in a way that anyone can understand.

I would recommend this book to anyone especially young teens.

As mush as I enjoyed this book there is one story I would like to hear. The story about a NASA Roboticist (Randall Munroe) telling his friends and family that he is going to become an internet cartoonist, you know drawing stick figures and stuff… (after reading the book and visiting his internet cartoons site, I think he did the right thing).

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The Quarry by Iain Banks

The QuarryThe Quarry by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Iain Banks being my favorite writer, this being his last book, and the circumstances (Banks finding out he was dying of cancer after he wrote the book). “The Quarry” holds a little more meaning for me than most books I have read. On the Surface “The Quarry” is about a man dying of Cancer and one last weekend spent with his friends. For me the story is about more than dealing with dying it’s also about the living and life going on. All the character in “The Quarry” are complex and real. Most are not likable and all are flawed. Guy (the one dying) sort of blackmails his friends to visit him by mentioning an old video that would be embarrassing to all, he mentions they might want to look for it before he dies. The story is mainly told through Guy’s adult son/caregiver who is slightly autistic or has asperger’s syndrome. A point of view that allows you to see the situation from both the inside and the outside. The story from the inside is about his dad dying and what it’s like to deal with it up close and personal, the outside is watching how his dad’s friends (several are “A” holes) deal with it and with each other. I liked “The Quarry” a lot and really enjoy the depth of the characters and their flaws.

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Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver

Blue Horses: PoemsBlue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this book as a “first reads” from Goodreads. This is also the first book by Mary Oliver that I have read, but it won’t be the last. The poems in “Blue Horses” are short, sweet and have a Zen like feel of mindfulness. As a reader I was able to feel and experience her connection with nature, the beauty, and peace that surrounds her. After I read the last poem I did something that I had never done before, I didn’t close the book I just turned back to the beginning and began again. I shared the book with my wife and she loved it as much as I did, now we both are looking forward to reading more of Mary Oliver’s work.

If there is a negative to “Blue Horses” it is that it is too short (less than 100 pages). Recommend to anyone who likes poetry or would like to start reading poetry.

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An orphaned German boy and a blind French girl, whose lives are on a collision course during World War 2. “All The Light We Cannot See” is a lengthy (over 500 pages) but fast read. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The writing is exceptional and the story is beautiful. A couple small fragments of the story were predictable but, it did not matter because the path of the story more than made up for the one or two things I had figured out before I got to it. There is so much about this book to love. I especially loved where the title came from and what it means (straight up and metaphorically) and I also loved how the ending of the book she was reading (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) related to the end of “All The Light We Cannot See”. Well done from the beginning to the end.

There is some darkness to the story (violence, cruelty, and death) but it is a story that took place during World War 2. I would still recommend this book to everyone YA and older.

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