Death in the Family

apology

Due to the above, there will be no book reviews this week as I have to travel to the funeral.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you all, I will be back soon.

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Fridayitis ~ Adrian Dobson

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Fridayitis

The doctors don’t know
Why the symptoms just grow
Especially towards the end of the week
But there’s just a strange feeling
Something rather appealing
A sensation that we all want to seek

We all need the weekend
To go out and to spend
Time or money. For yes what’s right is
That doctor’s it’s simple
Not a spot or a pimple
It’s just that we aall have Fridayitis!

Adrian Dobson

 

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Review: Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center ~ Ray Monk

oppenheimerISBN ~ 978-0385504072
Publisher ~ Doubleday
No. Of Pages ~848 pages
Links ~ Random House, Amazon

Robert Oppenheimer was among the most brilliant and divisive of men. As head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, he oversaw the successful effort to beat the Nazis in the race to develop the first atomic bomb—a breakthrough that was to have eternal ramifications for mankind and that made Oppenheimer the “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” But with his actions leading up to that great achievement, he also set himself on a dangerous collision course with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch-hunters. In Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center, Ray Monk, author of peerless biographies of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, goes deeper than any previous biographer in the quest to solve the enigma of Oppenheimer’s motivations and his complex personality.

The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Oppenheimer was a man of phenomenal intellectual attributes, driven by an ambition to overcome his status as an outsider and penetrate the heart of political and social life. As a young scientist, his talent and drive allowed him to enter a community peopled by the great names of twentieth-century physics—men such as Niels Bohr, Max Born, Paul Dirac, and Albert Einstein—and to play a role in the laboratories and classrooms where the world was being changed forever, where the secrets of the universe, whether within atomic nuclei or collapsing stars, revealed themselves.

But Oppenheimer’s path went beyond one of assimilation, scientific success, and world fame. The implications of the discoveries at Los Alamos weighed heavily upon this fragile and complicated man. In the 1930s, in a climate already thick with paranoia and espionage, he made suspicious connections, and in the wake of the Allied victory, his attempts to resist the escalation of the Cold War arms race led many to question his loyalties.

5 Thumbs-UpI don’t read many biographies as I tend to come out of most them with more questions than answers about the subject; this was not the case with this superb biography of Oppenheimer.

Through careful and extensive research the Author paints the picture of a man who was not only a puzzling character but a man of many contradictions. The only continuous thread that seems to run through the whole of this man’s life was his undeniable love of America, and it was this love that appears to have had an influence in many of the choices he made.  However, as the reader progresses through this large book, even this love of America is open to contradictions and leaves the reader wondering if Oppenheimer actually had loyalty to anyone but himself.  In my opinion the only consistent thread in Oppenheimer’s life was his love of physics.

This is a meaty book will definitely make a reader a think; about the justification of the Manhattan Project, about the issue of identity in America, about the morality of using Fat Man and Little Boy on the Japanese, and above all about the motives behind Oppenheimer’s actions. There is no doubt that it is exceptionally well-written, and is definitely not a book to be dipped in and out of, it is serious reading at its best without the dryness of many biographies.

I would highly recommend this Oppenheimer biography both for clearly laying out the man behind the myth that was Robert Oppenheimer and also to reveal some of the mystery that was the United States in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

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Review: The Stingy Minion ~ H.M. Marson

stingy minionISBN ~ 978-1475997866
Publisher ~iUniverse
No. Of Pages ~260 pages
Links ~ Amazon, iUniverse

Educated by her imprisoned hacker father, and dumped on her grandparents’ doorstep by her distraught mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Carson brings big problems to small-town Ellisville, Missouri. Rooted in a broken family and conflicted by her own awakening femininity, she fails to recognize that help is all around—a caring community, a musical prodigy named Jereme, and loving grandparents.

As if family problems were not enough, Elizabeth’s curious nature finds more trouble. She brings her father’s hacking program, the Stingy Minion, back to life, and soon finds herself staring at a highly classified NSA blog site used by the president of the United States. Trouble escalates to danger when a power-hungry investment firm tries to steal the Stingy Minion and threatens her life and the lives of newfound friends.

In over her head, Elizabeth continues to hack and discovers a plot to attack Iran’s nuclear development sites. The world is on the verge of nuclear war. With hired thugs on her tail, only time will tell how long she and her friends will remain safe.

3 Thumbs-UpHaving not read a book about hackers for a very long time, this one caught my eye and I thought I would give it a read.  I didn’t have any real expectations of what would be waiting for me within the covers, so I didn’t leave myself open to any disappointment that might have been waiting but I wasn’t disappointed, in fact I found it quite and enjoyable and fun read.

With the internet, and hackers being a big part of everyday lives now I found the characters to be very realistic.  They had a depth to them that is often lacking in YA fiction, and there were none of the ‘perfect’ people in this novel that seem to be the norm in many books.  The main protagonist, a 16-year-old female, is full of all the insecurities and anger that seems to be the norm for young adults but, rather than it becoming annoying and whiny, the Author is able to pull on all the characters different personality traits and the problems encountered at this age and make them work, creating a character that the reader can relate to and care about.  I usually find teenage angst to be an irritating and over used back story in YA novels, but it actually adds to the book in this case.

The plot in the book is very real world too, and could almost have been taken from the news headlines.  As expected in a book about computer hackers there is a lot of computer terminology which some readers may find a little daunting if they are not familiar with it.  Rather from detracting from the novel though, this adds yet another dimension to the book which makes it more gritty and realistic.  T he reason behind the three thumbs rating is that at times the book seemed rather childish, aimed more at the middle school age group rather than the young adult; overall though it is a fun light read.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little different, or a reader interested in the hacking world.

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Review: The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn ~ Suzannah Dunn

queen of subtletiesISBN ~ 978-0060591588
Publisher ~ William Morrow Paperbacks
No. Of Pages ~ 320 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Anne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis: queen and confectioner, fatefully linked in a court rife with intrigue and treachery.   She was the dark-eyed English beauty who captivated King Henry VIII, only to die at his behest three years after they were married. She was both manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood mélange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn.

In The Queen of Subtleties, Suzannah Dunn reimagines the rise and fall of the tragic queen through two alternating voices: that of Anne herself, who is penning a letter to her young daughter on the eve of her execution, and Lucy Cornwallis, the king’s confectioner. An employee of the highest status, Lucy is responsible for creating the sculpted sugar centerpieces that adorn each of the feasts marking Anne’s ascent in the king’s favour. They also share another link of which neither woman is aware: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician—the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne’s downfall hinges.

1 Thumbs-UpI picked this up in the local thrift store, and it will be heading back there just as quickly as it came home.  After my seemingly bad run of luck with books recently, I was hoping that a historical piece of fiction might help break the dam; it was not going to happen with this book and, to be honest I didn’t finish it either.

I had many issues with the book as far as I read.  The character of Anne Boleyn was rather insulting when compared to what is known of her from historical documents.  In this interpretation of her character she is portrayed as being the innocent pawn of her Families’ ambitions to rise higher within the Tudor Court, rather than the driven and confident woman who readers are used to.  As one of the narrators of the book, the language she uses is far too modern for the time period in which it is set, and this was the reason for my not finishing the book.  The language used by both Anne and the other narrator was extremely distracting and, I can’t help but feel the Author wrote this book in this manner to make her work more accessible to the modern reader.

I wish I could say something good about the contents of this book, but the only saving grace about it for me was the cover image, which I kept returning to look at time and again and this was the reason for my 1 thumb review.  I will not be reading anything else by this Author, and find it a hard book to recommend to anyone who enjoys a good historical novel.

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March Madness

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March is an extremely busy month in our house.  Not only does my Husband come back from his deployment, but I have exams and a whole heap of other stuff going on that isn’t going to allow much reading time unfortunately.

With this in mind there will be very few, if any, reviews posted during this month.  If I get the time I will write something, but just in case I don’t I thought I would let you all know so you don’t think I have abandoned my blog.

Thank you for understanding and bearing with me during this hectic month.

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Review: Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson ~ Lyndsay Faye

Dust and ShadowISBN ~ 978-1416583301
Publisher ~Simon & Schuster
No. Of Pages ~325 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster

From the gritty streets of nineteenth century London, the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson offers a tale unearthed after generations of lore: the harrowing story of Sherlock Holmes’s attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper.

As England’s greatest specialist in criminal detection, Sherlock Holmes is unwavering in his quest to capture the killer responsible for terrifying London’s East End. He hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims; and he relies heavily on the steadfast and devoted Dr. John H. Watson. When Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel during an attempt to catch the savage monster, the popular press launches an investigation of its own, questioning the great detective’s role in the very crimes he is so fervently struggling to prevent. Stripped of his credibility, Holmes is left with no choice but to break every rule in the desperate race to find the madman known as “the Knife” before it is too late.

2 Thumbs-UpFor a debut novel, this book was OK.  Yes, I said OK as I had a love hate relationship with this book from the very first chapter.

For anyone to take on writing about the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson takes guts, but if it is pulled off well as in the case of the House of Silk (reviewed here) it can be a glorious thing, that was not the case here.  Despite a valiant effort, this Author was unable to capture all the character nuances that combine to make the detective readers of other Holmes missives have come to know and expect.  By writing the book from the perspective of Dr. Watson a lot of the internal debates and musings Holmes has with himself are lost along with a lot of his eccentric qualities.  In this book Holmes comes across as an arrogant, pretentious ass that has no lovable qualities to his name at all.  Unfortunately, Dr. Watson does not come out of this novel unscathed; as a character I’ve always seen as being the stable and steadying force behind Holmes, here he is depicted as bumbling fool who would be well pressed to dress himself in the morning.  The portrayal of Jack the Ripper was also flimsy, and would have benefitted greatly with a lot more fleshing out and back story.

The novel is extremely dry, the language at times definitely at odds with the era in which it is set.  The Author does a good job of portraying Whitechapel at the time of the murders but apart from that there was very little to keep me interested, and this was definitely not the page turner that had been promised.  For me there was not enough tension, and the discovery of who the Ripper was became obvious about partway through the book; surely not a mystery worthy of calling in Holmes to solve.

If you like Sherlock Holmes, you may enjoy this book; as for me I don’t think I will be reading anymore by this Author despite their valiant attempts to recreate the works of Arthur Conan Doyle.

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