Thursday, March 17, 2016

mini-reviews: Redshirts, Storm Front, Carry On and Flowers for Algernon


Written by: John Scalzi

Published: 2012

My thoughts: This was a book I'd heard a lot about over the years since it was published. Some good, some bad but almost everyone commented on just how nerdy it was. And nerdy it is, it is an incredibly meta joke about Star Trek and the unfortunate role the 'redshirts' play within that series. If you don't have a bit of a history with Star Trek and the preponderance of quick and sudden deaths for newly introduced characters on the show (which series? Take your pick) then I don't think you'll get much joy out of the book. And even being in on the joke as I was, it did feel like the meta jokes took precedence over actual narrative flow and structure at times. Overall I enjoyed the book and had fun reading it, but like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I did feel a bit like the joke had run its course about 100 pages in.

Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)

Written by: Jim Butcher

Published in: 2000

My thoughts: I actually read this ages ago, but never got around to finishing a review for it. It's a lot of fun, it's about a modern day magician living in Chicago and working as a P.I. Harry Dresden is sarcastic, grumpy and a little bit incompetent, but also clearly was a much better person and magician at an earlier point in his life (we learn a little about this as the book goes on). There's a lot of rules to how magic is used in this particular world and it's governed by a magical community who stamp down pretty heavily on anyone with a history using black magic, as Dresden once did. This makes Dresden's life and career very tricky when a murder is committed and it looks to both the magical and non-magical communities as though Dresden is the prime suspect. I do intend to read some more of these books, apparently they get really good from about book 7. That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of the next 6 books I have to get through, but if they're at least at the quality of this first novel I think they'll be interesting enough to take along on holidays or long rides on the train.

Carry On

Written by: Rainbow Rowell

Published: 2015

My Thoughts: I'm a little scared to say (in front of all of you, my fellow RR fans) that I wasn't too excited for Carry On. Fangirl was easily my least favourite of Rainbow's books so I wasn't sure that this book would deliver anything I was after. I was pleasantly surprised. I probably won't head back to reread it like I will Attachments or Eleanor and Park, but I found it funny, heartwarming, compelling and narratively sound (which sounds douche-y, but considering it was essentially Drarry fan-fiction I wasn't sure it would really stand up as a story of its own). I liked this a lot more than the extracts in Fangirl led me to believe I would enjoy it, so my sincerest apologies to Rainbow for daring to doubt her.

Flowers for Algernon

Written by: Daniel Keyes

Published: 1958

My thoughts: Though I hadn't read Flowers for Algernon before last October, I knew the story pretty well and as  there were at least 2 shows  (It's Always Sunny, The League) last year which spoofed the concept, I figured it was time I read the source material. Flowers is fairly short but it hooked me in from the start. Telling the story of a man with below average intelligence the book is written from his perspective literally, taking an epistolary approach to tell Charlie's story as he undergoes surgery and testing to increase his intelligence. You end up incredibly close to Charlie because of the way it is written and it is a real gut punch to interpret things about his life that he's never been able to recognise because of his intelligence and general innocence. It's a very simple story but the takeaway is huge and immensely emotional.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trailer: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

I feel like it was only yesterday I heard that they were making Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children into a film and now we have a trailer? I wasn't super impressed with the book when I read it, so I don't really mind the obvious changes to the characters and plot because I hope they've been made to fix some of the roughness of the book. But I imagine if you were sucked in with Ransom Rigg's story you might have some mixed feelings, so here's hoping the changes are for the best. Also I feel like this is the first time I've seen Eva Green in a non-villain role? Which I am totally on board for, even if at the back of my mind a tiny kernel of distrust leaves me waiting for a duplicitous switch half way through the film.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Holiday Photo Diary: New Mexico and the Grand Canyon

Guys! I had the most wonderful time travelling around the South West! So for anyone not in on the whole backstory, I had a conference to attend in Albuquerque and I decided to make a trip of it and bring Tom along. We rented a car in Texas and hit the road and traveled across to New Mexico and hit Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument (Los Alamos), Albuquerque, Roswell, White Sands National Monument, Las Cruces before driving into Arizona and up to the Grand Canyon South Rim. And after that it was a drive through the desert to California and back on a plane to Australia. So obviously LOTS happened. The best thing though was how different it was from our previous US trip. Not only were we in a different section of the States, but we were travelling differently and aiming to see a different side. Outside of San Francisco (which was only a pit stop before the airport) we didn't really see any big cities this time, but we did get a chance to see so much more of the stellar US outdoors. And even though we did see a teeny bit of snow up around Santa Fe and in southern Arizona, this time we were seeing a totally different type of American winter. Loved it. Absolutely loved it all. Since I'm cramming everything into a single post I'm going to leave my description short and let the photos do the talking. But I will happily deconstruct the holiday in the comments section and give countless recommendations or chat about the best parts of my holiday (oh, perhaps Tom proposing? :P).

Santa Fe:

Took a brief stop on route 66 on our way to Santa Fe

Our stunning home away from home

Bandelier National Monument:

Spot the Tom!

I fell in love with the colours and textures up around Bandelier



White Sands:

Grand Canyon:



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