Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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I have to read more Gaiman, really enjoyed Coraline.

The Jones family move into a new flat which has been converted from a larger house. Finding herself bored Coraline explores the surrounding grounds, chatting with the somewhat eccentric neighbours, and on a rainy day investigating the interior of the house. Coraline’s search leads her to a locked door in the drawing room which she later opens only to find it has been bricked up.

When Coraline returns later she finds the brick wall is gone and a passage leads her to an identical flat to her own only this one is resident to her Other Mother and Other Father who have black buttons instead of eyes.

Initially this other flat seems more fun, better food, toys and more attentive parents. But when Coraline rejects the chance to stay permanently all is not what it seems…

Coraline is a dark fairy story and highly recommended for young and old.

 

4 stars out of 5.

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The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin

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After The Passage introduced bio engineered vampires (virals) who unleash the apocalypse across America, Cronin has taken this environment and made it dull…

The book is far to long with characters who just blend into each other (Michael, Hollis, Peter, it also has one of the most annoying characters i’ve read this year Lila Kyle a pregnant surgeon in denial with the collapse of America and we have pages of her deciding what paint to buy for a nursery.

The jump between era’s could have worked well but having characters fade away half way through never to return didnt work especially when it was the most interesting section of the book.

Perhaps this is just the slow middle book of the trilogy and the third will have a more epic feel, not sure if i have the will to find out.

2 stars out of 5

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

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Having read two of Jon Krakauer’s previous books (Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven) i was looking forward to reading Where Men Win Glory, The story of a professional NFL player deciding to fight for his country instead of making millions of dollars playing sport.

Combining Tillman’s backstory with Afghanistans through the same time period until they collide is an interestig way of telling the story, the rise of Al-Qaeda whilst Tillman was at college but always looking beyond just playing football.

With the collapse of the Towers in 2001, Tillman’s mind was made up finish the season and serve his country. The Arizona Cardinals offered him a new contract worth $3.6 million but he decided to become a Ranger.

For Tillman fighting in Afghanistan was the whole point of joining the services, when he was sent to Iraq instead his journals make it clear his view of this “illegal war”.

Whilst serving in Afghanistan Tillman is killed as a result of friendly fire, a fact that was hidden from his family and covered up whilst Tillman was being used wrongly as propoganda for the government, somethig Tillman would not ahve wanted (he refused to do any interviews after signing up).

An interesting read and overall Tillman comes across as loyal, honest and principled, unlike the government under Bush.

3 stars out of five.

Dark Blood (Logan McRae #6) by Stuart MacBride

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Serial rapist Richard Knox has been released from prison in Newcastle and decides to relocate to Aberdeen where his grandparents lived. DS Logan McRae isn’t thrilled to be part of the team helping him settle into life in Aberdeen.

Also on the caseload are a flood of counterfeit currency in Aberdeen, the murder of a confidential informant, and a couple of jewelry store robberies, among other side issues.

So just the usual stuff for McRae to sort out.

Fast paced and full of the usual dark humour Stuart MacBride brings to this series, usually from the chainsmoking DI Steel who’s anxiously awaiting for her wife to give birth.

Just like Aberdeen the book is bleak, interesting using Trump’s golf course to give Edinburgh gangster Malk the Knife a bacground prescence in the book.

The previous book (Blind Eye) had McRae heading towards being another alcoholic cop, good to see this wasn’t fully realised in this book and drinking was a minor side issue rather than full blown change of character.

Four stars out of five.

Mostly Harmless (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #5) by Douglas Adams

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Mostly Humourless, i’m afraid so. The fifth part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy is certainly the weakest and a sad way to finish.

There isn’t any overriding plot till about half way through, even then it’s almost inserted in just to finish the series off.

With no Zaphod or Marvin (there is an android called Colin though…) it’s like an episode of Seinfeld without George and Kramer, it just wouldn’t happen.

The ending is bleak yes but it’s a proper ending and that’s a small redeeming feature of Mostly Harmless but as a whole the series ends with a Big Whimper instead of a Big Bang.

2 Stars out of 5

The Day the World Discovered the Sun by Mark Anderson

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The Day the World Discovered the Sun covers the historical adventures involved in, and the build-up surrounding, the 1761 and 1769 transits of Venus.

It was posited by Edmund Halley that by using these transits it would be possible to calculate the distance between the Earth and Sun to a 98% certainty and so it proved, unfortunately Halley died before the transit occured.

The book details, in addition to the myriad far-flung voyages to record the transits (Vienna, St. Petersburg, Mexico, Baja California, Siberia, Paris, arctic-circle Norway, South Pacific islands, Barbados, Cape Town, Tierra del Fuego, Copenhagen, Jakarta, Cadiz, Rio de Janeiro) the critical leaps in progress made in oceanic navigation, and in astronomical calculations such as the precise distance from the earth to the sun, during this fruitful period.

As well as about the transits its the people involved and the sheer obsession to record the transits.

i didnt feel it was the most gripping of books, whilst interesting it didn’t fully engage me.

3 Stars out of Five

The Five by Robert McCammon

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The Five are a struggling rock band trying to make a name for themselves while on tour, they are about to become known worldwide just not in the way they could possibly imagine…

Whilst doing promotion for a club gig, The Five’s new video is shown, set during the Iraq War.

Former sniper Jeremy Pett, medically discharged and his only purpose is visiting a wounded colleague on a weekly basis until he sees the video by The Five and takes it as a personal insult to himself and the country. He has a new purpose to kill The Five.

This puts The Five in the news in a big way and with the FBI involved in tracking down the sniper, whilst the band struggle to stay as together as they can whilst honouring bandmates and trying to write a song together on the road.

Really well written, the characters in the band are well written as is the grind of touring small clubs whilst being confined to a small van.

The second book i’ve read by McCammon after Swan Song and certainly not the last.

An easy four out of five.