Reviews: Books (Recent)

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Rated: 4/5

Whip It (aka Derby Girl)

Small-town life sucks when you don't fit in, and if your name is "Bliss" it's ironic suckage at that. Her mom wants her to be the next beauty pageant phenom but she's found a different calling: Roller derby! Whip It (originally titled Derby Girl) by Shauna Cross is a young adult coming-of-age story about a girl pursuing a non-traditional dream. Though it may sound cliche, the story's sarcastic snark and little human details give it a humourous authenticity, making it a fun, fluffy, and engaging read.

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Rated: 4/5

Unseen Academicals

Who's up for a game of football (of the soccer variety)? Most definitely not the wizards at Unseen University, it would interfere with their nine meals a day. Unfortunately, if they don't play they'll have to cut back to three (!) meals a day. Oh, they could keep the cheeseboard, but only with a choice of three cheeses. "Three cheese isn't a choice, it's a penance!" Nothing gets a wizard to the pitch like his stomach and thus the foot-the-ball team Unseen Academicals is born, and with it the latest novel by Terry Pratchett. Unseen Academicals has all of the humour and cleverness I expect in a Pratchett story and I devoured it whole.

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Rated: 4.5/5

The Watchmen (Graphic Novel)

The Watchmen is a comic books series/graphic novel by Alan Moore (writer) and Dave Gibbons (illustrator) set in an alternative version of the 80's. There are costumed crime-fighters, though they're mostly retired, and one of their rank has been killed. He won't be the last. The unfolding story not only presents a nice mystery it explores the morals of power. As a straightforward story it's an interesting and entertaining read, combined with the deeper questions it becomes a stunning read.

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Rated: 5/5

The Graveyard Book

It takes a village to raise a child, but does a graveyard of ghosts count? The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is the story of a boy adopted by a community of ghosts after he becomes orphaned. Under rather horrible circumstances. And still under threat of death. Gammon once again proves he's a master story teller in this fun story of ghostly and ghastly deeds.

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Rated: 5/5

The Code Book

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh is a select history of coded communication from the start of recorded history to present day. This ambitious task is not only admirably achieved, it's done so in a way that is understandable and engaging (if you have any interest in the subject). If you're curious about the world of codes, cyphers and how they're broken you'll enjoy this book.

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Rated: 3.5/5

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow is a quirky little book about an affable serial entrepreneur named Alan. If you think you have an odd family you haven't met Alan's. His father is a mountain and his mother a washing machine. Literally. Alan was doing just fine until he discovers something isn't quite right with his next door neighbour, who's missing her wings, and he receives a visit from his brothers, a set of Russian nesting dolls, who are disappearing one-by-one. Doctorow's prose reads effortlessly so even though aspects of the story might seem strange the book flows smoothly to its conclusion. It's is a fun and imaginative read.

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Rated: 3.5/5

Battle Royale

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami takes place in an alternative Japan named "The Republic of Greater Asia" ruled by "The Great Dictator". Every year as part of an ongoing research project the republic runs an event informally known as "Battle Royale" where all of the students of a randomly selected high school class must kill or be killed. While the physical story follows the students to the competition's bitter end, the psychological story is an exploration of humanity when life is on the line. And there's more going on than first appears. As grim or as silly as this concept sounds, the book worked for me. I often drifted off in reflection exploring my own morals.

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Rated: 4/5

Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is the story of a scientist named Isaac in an alternative Victorianesque city. Entirely by accident Isaac has loosed something dangerous on the city and he's desperately trying to make things right. The city has a government out of the movie Brazil, the science is steampunk with a dash of magic, and the humans aren't the only intelligent beings in the city. After a slow start, there's a lot of details to assimilate, Perdido Street Station was a hell of read! Like pop-rocks for the brain story details fired my imagination and stimulated my thoughts in sometimes horrific but mostly delightful ways. Recommended.

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Rated: 3/5

Full Dark House

Full Dark House is the first book in Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May mystery series. Arthur Bryant and John May are a classic pair of odd couple opposites partnered together in the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit. The story starts, "It really was a hell of a blast." and we discover one of the team is dead. The other sets out to solve the murder and discovers it's linked to their first case together. Fowler wove an interesting mystery and it's what kept me going to the end of the story. Unfortunately, his characters didn't click for me, making it just an OK read.

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Rated: 2.5/5

The Codfathers

The Codfathers: Lessons From the Atlantic Business Elite is a sometimes interesting, sometimes mundane look at the cadre of business leaders hailing from Atlantic Canada. Though competent, the writing did not jump off the page and much of the detail covered felt superficial. Writing aside, Codfather contains many interesting facts and presents a different perspective of Atlantic Canada than seen on the evening news. Though I can't whole heartedly recommend it, neither can I tell you to skip it.

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Rated: 4/5

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

Empire of Ivory is the fourth book in the Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik, and literally picks up where book three left off. Far from a happy homecoming, Captain Will Laurence and dragon Temeraire discover an epidemic is ravaging the Aerial Corps. As one of the few healthy dragon teams left, if falls to Laurence and Temeraire to search out a cure ... a search taking them to Africa: the dark continent.

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