A Reader's Diary

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Recent reads and review of Pandemic by Daniel Kalla

Books read since last entry:
STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (non-fiction)
Pandemic by Daniel Kalla (thriller)
The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley (fairy tales)
The Secret Country by Pamela Dean (fantasy)
The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park (children's historical fiction)

Today's review:

Pandemic by Daniel Kalla (medical thriller)

Summary: A deadly new flu virus emerges in rural China, and Islamist terrorists move in to exploit it. The story follows the efforts of many characters to stop the spread of the virus, or in the case of the terrorists, to carry out their deadly plans.

This novel provides a realistic story with lots of detail, although all that detail could also become a bit cumbersome if you like a more fast-paced thriller. The medical and scientific aspects of the story are especially interesting. The author does very good job of making each character a unique individual with his or her own story. The subject is familiar to those who went through the SARS outbreak. One warning: as you can imagine, some passages were pretty shocking and gross (ie, many references to "bloody sputum").

New additions to my To Read list:
Hotter Than Hell by Mark Tushingham
Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Bones: Buried Deep by Max Allan Collins and Kathy Reichs
Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan (non-fic)

~Happy reading!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Reviews: Blood and Chocolate and Persepolis 2

Today's reviews:

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (horror/fantasy/youth fiction)

Summary: Vivian is a teen girl and a werewolf, member of a pack. When her father, the pack's leader, is killed in a fire and the pack is forced to relocate after two human girls are killed, Vivian meets a human boy in her new town. She begins to fall in love with him, even though her pack tells her that humans and werewolves cannot be together. She hopes that this boy is different.

My thoughts: I decided to read this novel after having it recommended to me a dozen times. It's an interesting story. The character of Vivian is a bit distant from the reader; it's hard to get too close to her, to really understand her and to empathize with her. She is moody, swinging from angry to violent to lovesick. The way the pack members are described made me not like them, yet Vivian seemed to care for them very much, which could be confusing. I just couldn't get too into the story, and found it hard to understand why this novel is a favourite of so many people. I hear there is a movie being made, and it will be interesting to compare the two. Overall it's an interesting story, especialy for horror, werewolf, or even vampire fans, but not a great as I had the impression it would be.

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi (graphic novel)

This book, the sequel to Persepolis, tells the story of a young woman who travels from her native Iran to Austria, lives in various places including a home run by nuns and on the street, makes friends with punks and anarchists, and takes up smoking. She then returns to Iran, tries to fit back in but is still different, gets married, then in the end gets divorced and realizes that she will need to leave Iran once again, as it is not the place for her.

My thoughts: A more mature book that the first one, which is fitting as the first was about growing up in Iran and the second is about Marjane becoming an adult. It was an enjoyable read, interesting and humorous, though at times sadder than the first book even though the death and violence of the first was more obviously tragic, making the contrasting humour funnier. I'm really getting to like the graphic novel format.

Happy Easter! And remember to post *comments* if you would like to see book giveaways here!

~Happy reading!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Contest info and Review of Hybrids

I'd like to start doing some contests for free books, but I need to have a certain level of readership here first. So, if you would like to see book giveaways on this site, please leave comments on the entries, and spread the word about this site: post in discussion forums, mention it on you LJ, or put the Reader's Diary banner up on your webpage (available on the Bookends website, link at right). And clink on the Google advertisements; if I can get enough click-throughs, I will put any money earned towards more giveaways.

So keep those comments coming!

A favourite quote of mine: "How many a man has dated a new era of his life from the reading of a book." ~Henry David Thoreau (applies equally to women, girls, and boys) :)

Today's review:

Hybrids, Book 3 in the Neanderthal Parallax triology by Robert J. Sawyer (science fiction)

Setting: Ontario, Canada; New York, USA; and the corresponding locations on the parallal Earth of the Neaderthals.

Summary: Mary, the Homo sapiens genticist, and Ponter, the Neaderthal physicist, are stuggling to find a way to be together between two different worlds, and a way to have a hybrid child together. When they learn of the existence of a banned technology that would help them to conceive, they are forced to deal with the dilemma of selecting the traits that the child would have - including the capacity, or lack thereof, for religious belief. Meanwhile, this same technology catches the attention of someone with less peaceful intentions. As the Earth of H. sapiens experiences a magnetic pole reversal, it appears that one or both worlds may be in serious jepardy.

My thoughts: A very good read. So many different aspects to the story: magnetic fields, religion, genetics, social behaviour, etc. The plot kept me guessing at every turn, while still maintaing a strong direction. Very dark at times, yet at others almost too rosy. This novel has the ability to appeal to a wide audience. I enjoyed this trilogy so much that I will likely seek out more modern science fiction to read (I normally stick to the fantasy side of the fantasy-sci fi genre).

~Happy reading!