Month: April 2016

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

lee childAt about the 3/4 point I nearly gave this away. In the end I quite enjoyed it, but along the way I got mighty worried about Mr Reachers penchant for knocking people off right and left, his stealing and pillaging of people’s belongings and cash and his blatant disregard for the law. His rap sheet must be considerably longer than my arm! I know that these are the kind of books where you have to suspend your disbelief, but sometimes it gets a bit much for me. And the attitude to women is considerably less than satisfactory, Mr Reacher you are a dick! And yet I keep reading the bloody things.

In this one the Special Investigator team the Reacher was in charge of in a previous life, are being knocked off. The remainder of the team get together to figure out who is doing it and why. With money being no object and a little bit of romance for Reacher on the side they set about their mission. Taking cars, phones, cash and leaving a heap of bodies in their wake.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

HopeCrikey, where to start with this book.  Hope Arden is forgettable. She begins to become forgettable at 16, you can only remember her when you are in front of her. Walk away, stop paying attention and you will not know who she is. There is no explanation for why this has happened to Hope. Being forgettable is lonely, how do you go to school, keep a job, get medical treatment, have friends?  The only ones who remember her are her sister Gracie and animals. But being forgettable means you can be a thief, operate in the underground and behave badly at any time and nobody will remember.  She becomes a jewel thief and a master at winning by counting cards at casinos. This is the beginning of the story.

Then there is Perfection.  Perfection is an app, one which drives it’s users to want to be better.  They want to be richer, more beautiful, have more things, make it up the ladder higher and higher in order to reach the highest level of Perfection.  It provides incentives, products, parties, all kinds of bonuses to those who become more of the ideal of perfection.  This includes access to brain stimulations which will take away your clouded thoughts, make you more and more fulfilled and perfect.  During a party, Hope steals a jewelled bracelet and becomes embroiled in the world of Perfection.  After witnessing the death of someone she has connected with, she decides she is going to take Perfection down. We enter the world of the Deep Web as Hope endeavours to get the code to take Perfection down. She encounters two people there who will change everything.

This is a book with big ideas. The idea of a big brother app using mind control and people’s vanity to manipulate, the way technology and social media have permeated our lives, celebrity culture and a bunch of other big ideas are all explored.  We travel the world in Hope’s shoes on her quest. You learn a whole heap of things about Japanese culture and the world of spies. A book to make you think and above all a gripping story.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and I thank them and the publisher for the opportunity.

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

cover77953-mediumIt is hard to find books which appeal to reluctant high school age boy readers at the moment which are stand alone and which are not fantasy. I was excited to get my hands on this one via Netgalley and will certainly buy a copy when it is released.

This is Hank’s story. Hank’s mum and brother have died and left him with a broken heart and a broken dad.  His dad has taken up with a string of inappropriate, not teenage son friendly girlfriends. Dad drinks way too much and it seems his only interests are baseball and beer.  Hank is not into either of those things. As he tries to get on with his life Hank is making his way through high school and is very keen on the popular girl in his year. He decides to make a grand gesture and invite her to the prom.  But not just in any ordinary way, he decides that he will write his invitation in sparklers on her lawn.  Obviously, she will gaze upon this and be desperate to go with the person who made this awesome thing happen.  Unfortunately, Hank underestimates the flammability of the tree he ends up putting his sparklers under, and almost sets her house on fire.  He thinks he has got away with his stupid idea, but Peyton an odd girl who lives nearby has seen him and is using the information against him.  Thus, Peyton and Hank end up becoming friends, but it is a long road to this friendship.

This novel starts off as a fun romp and ends up dealing with lots of big issues.  Abuse, neglect and a serious case of pyromania, but friendship is at it’s heart. These kids really talk to each other. Through misunderstandings and miscommunications and a lot of racing around on bikes, Hank does a huge amount of growing and he is a lovely person and as we come to understand Peyton we feel for her pain. This is a great book with lots of good messages and I loved the humour. Great for year 9 – 11 boys and girls as well.

Cultural Pessimism

I am a fan of Marilynne Robinson, her writing is so beautiful as to be luminous. Shining its words from the page in a way that draws you in, you notice the way she writes, the way she describes feelings and things. She is just that good.

The other day I was driving home from town and happened upon this interview from the 19minute mark and have gone back to listen to the whole thing.  If you are interested in American politics and you are aghast at the rise of Donald Trump, you might be interested in listening to this interview from the BBC’s Jane Little.  I love the way she talks about Christians – while she certainly is one! I love the way she talks about the ‘language of alarm’ and says that the major threat to Christianity is Christianity. It is very interesting to her and her views. Listen to the lot if you are interested in her as a person and her religious views, and on the rise of Cultural Pessimism but listen from 19 mins on for her fantastic thoughts on current politics in America.