1984
Book Review / March 31, 2017

Title: 1984 Author: George Orwell Genre: Speculative Fiction Publisher: Plume Release Date: 2009 Format: Hardback Pages: 294 Source: Library First Published: June 8th, 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four (mostly written 1984) is a 1948 dystopian fiction written by George Orwell about a society ruled by an oligarchical dictatorship. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control. Oceania is ruled by a political party called simply The Party. The individual is always subordinated to the state, and it is in part this philosophy which allows the Party to manipulate and control humanity. In the Ministry of Truth, protagonist Winston Smith is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party’s propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct, yet his meager existence disillusions him to the point of seeking rebellion against Big Brother.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   It’s obvious why 1984 is considered classic literature. Originally published in 1949, Orwell’s story projects a future for post-war England right at the start of the Cold War. A 1950’s atomic war transformed the globe and now is divided into 3 super-countries which control their population through shortages, surveillance, torture,…

A Darker Shade of Magic
Book Review / March 21, 2017

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic Series: Shades of Magic, #1 Author: V.E. Schwab Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Tor Books Release Date: February 24th, 2015 Format: Hardcover Pages: 400 Source: Library Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now. Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves…

Never Let Me Go
Book Review / October 17, 2016

Title: Never Let Me Go Author: Kazuo Ishiguro Genre: Speculative Fiction Publisher: Vintage Books Release Date: August 31st, 2010 Format: Paperback Pages: 288 Source: Owned First Published: 2005 As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. GoodreadsAmazon   I have never read a book like Never Let Me Go. Why? There is something about well praised literary and speculative fiction that turns me off. I think it’s years of being forced to read these genres in school, never understanding it, and never appreciating it. I tend to drift away because the genres make me feel stupid. If only I could learn from my mistakes. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel…

The Shadow of the Wind
Book Review / September 22, 2016

Title: The Shadow of the Wind Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1 Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon Genre: Fiction Publisher: Penguin Books Release Date: January 25th, 2005 Format: Paperback Pages: 487 Source: Library First Published: 2001, in Spanish Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   If only I knew how to write this book review. The Shadow of the Wind enraptured me within paragraphs. I was immediately pulled into a beautiful world of well-woven words. Eventually, I even gave up writing down all my favorite quotes. There were so many great moments and sentences that I…

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Book Review / April 25, 2016

Title: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Series: Hercule Poirot, #4 Author: Agatha Christie Genre: Mystery Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Release Date: September 1st, 2006 Format: Hardback Pages: 288 Source: Library First Published: June 1926 In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study–but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd’s wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim’s home. It’s now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd–a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard’s ingenious sister, Caroline. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the book that made Agatha Christie a household name and launched her career as a perennial bestseller. Originally published in 1926, it is a landmark in the mystery genre. It was in the…

The Martian
Book Review / March 7, 2016

Title: The Martian Author: Andy Weir Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Crown Release Date: February 11th, 2014 Format: eBook Pages: 369 Source: Owned Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth. As he overcomes one seemingly…

Freakonomics
Book Review / February 29, 2016

Title: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Series: Freakonomics, #1 Author: Stephen Levitt; Stephen Dubner Genre: Non Fiction Publisher: William Morrow Release Date: November 15th, 2001 Format: Audiobook Pages: 320 Source: Library Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head. Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of…

Ready Player One
Book Review / December 31, 2015

Title: Ready Player One Author: Ernest Cline Genre: Gamer Fiction Publisher: Random House NY Release Date: August 16th, 2011 Format: Hardback Pages: 372 Source: Library In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   This book hooked me on the first page when one of my favorite Ghostbusters quotes appeared: “Cats and dogs living together… mass hysteria!” – Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters   At that moment, I knew this was a book for me. I was immediately addicted and thought about canceling long-standing plans so I could stay at home and…