Friday, 11 November 2016

Brainwalker by Robyn Mundell

BrainwalkerBrainwalker by Robyn Mundell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Fourteen-year-old Bernard thinks outside the box. The only problem is that neither his school nor his ultra-rational physicist father appreciate his unique ideas. When he reacts to a stressful situation at school by mooning the class, his suspension sends him straight to his father’s workplace. After his frustrated father leaves him unattended, Bernard does what any teen would do: wander into the particle accelerator and accidentally get transported through a wormhole!

It doesn’t take long for Bernard to realize he’s in deep trouble. Not only did the wormhole drop him in the middle of a civil war over a depleted resource, but the battle is actually taking place inside his father’s brain. Bernard has one chance to save the dying side of his father’s creative brain from the tyrannical left side. Can he use his outside-the-box thinking to save his father’s life?

Brainwalker is a young adult sci-fi fantasy novel that turns the world of neuroscience on its head. If you like incredible fantasy worlds, fast-paced entertainment, and the human mind, then you’ll love Robyn Mundell and Stephan Lacast’s amazing journey inside the brain.

MY REVIEW: An enjoyable fantasy sci-fi that is more fantasy than science. I suspect young teens will enjoy this. I don’t think it is as fast-paced as the book description implies, but it is well-paced. The author makes use of a somewhat simplistic left/right split brain idea to good effect. The creatures are interesting and the plot is original.

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley with an invitation to write an unbiased review.

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Monday, 3 October 2016

THE PAINTED BRIDGE by Wendy Wallace

The Painted BridgeThe Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A spellbinding tale of secrets, lost lives, and a Victorian woman seizing her own destiny
Just outside London behind a tall stone wall stands Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, recently-married Anna Palmer becomes its newest arrival, tricked by her husband into leaving her home, incarcerated against her will and declared hysterical and unhinged. With no doubts as to her sanity, Anna is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her story.

But Anna quickly learns that liberty will not come easily. And the longer she remains at Lake House, the more she realises that -- like the ethereal bridge over the asylum's lake -- nothing is as it appears. Locked alone in her room, she begins to experience strange visions and memories that may lead her to the truth about her past, herself, and to freedom - or lead her so far into the recesses of her mind that she may never escape…
Set in Victorian England, as superstitions collide with a new psychological understanding, this elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut novel is a tale of self-discovery, secrets, and search for the truth in a world where the line between madness and sanity seems perilously fine. (Goodreads)

MY REVIEW: An excellent read. There was real tension as Anna tries to survive and escape from her confinement. The Victorian culture was very well described and I learned a lot about what that period believed about mental health and its treatment. The experiments by a doctor that tries to work out how to read photographs to diagnose mental illness were intriguing — and loosely based on phrenology which was considered to be a science at the time. It’s a beautifully written novel with great plot development and interesting characters. Liked it a lot.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

BEAUTIFUL TO THE BONE by P G Lengsfelder

Beautiful to the BoneBeautiful to the Bone by P.G. Lengsfelder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Who can survive the siren call of beauty?

When four-year old Eunis Kindsvatter leaves her Minnesota farmhouse for the very first time, it’s because her mother drags her to a doctor . . .with the hope he’ll absolve her for Eunis’ face. It’s albino with a grotesque birthmark. “An unnaturally ugly thing,” according to Momma. Though the doctor finds nothing physically wrong, Eunis is kept isolated from the world, Momma filling her with tales of fearful gods, demons and prophecy.

Eunis begins to experience unpredictable hypersensitivity to people and places. She instinctively gravitates to water and to Freyja, the Norse goddess of beauty, Momma’s ideal. Determined to be of value, Eunis embarks on a journey to quantify beauty, to protect future generations from the pain she’s experienced, and someday “make everybody beautiful” —through science.

But Eunis’ obsessive research into beauty draws her into a world of unreliable voices, unforeseen pleasures, dangers and death. In Beautiful to the Bone, Eunis must fight for her sanity and reconcile the gap between the science of beauty and the incalculable qualities that draw us to it. (Goodreads)

MY REVIEW: I really enjoyed this book. The plot is quite different to anything I’ve read before and I was never sure where the story would lead me. The character of Eunis is deeply and richly drawn and I felt the pain of her need to pursue an objective understanding of beauty. The book is beautifully written with evocative language and genuine empathy for the characters. It was thought provoking and its exploration of beauty, and what it is, made me reflect on my own notions of beauty and the tendency I (and perhaps all of us) have to see beauty as only skin deep rather than what is at the heart and soul of an individual. An excellent read.

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Sunday, 31 July 2016

DIVINE HIDDENNESS AND HUMAN REASON by J L Schellenberg

Divine Hiddenness and Human ReasonDivine Hiddenness and Human Reason by J.L. Schellenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Why, if a loving God exists, are there "reasonable nonbelievers," people who fail to believe in God but through no fault of their own? In Part 1 of this book, the first full-length treatment of its topic, J. L. Schellenberg argues that when we notice how a relationship with God logically presupposes belief in God, we have grounds to conclude that there would be no reasonable nonbelievers if theism were true, and thus given their existence grounds for atheism. This argument, he maintains, is not defeated by any of an array of counterarguments seeking to justify divine hiddenness drawn from the work of such writers as Pascal, Kierkegaard, Butler, and Hick, and from the author's own imagination arguments meticulously scrutinized in the book's second part. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason has generated a great deal of interest and discussion since its first publication in 1993 and continues to set the agenda for work on its issues today." (Goodreads)

MY REVIEW: A fascinating argument against the Christian God's existence. This book is a challenging philosophical read but worth every minute. It's a detailed, rigorous argument. The author has an excellent understanding of the various Christian arguments and counter-arguments. In fact, in order to ensure he has considered every possible opposing arguments he even comes up with new ones that haven't been developed before - and then responds to them. This is a must-read for Christian and atheist apologists alike. Should generate a long and interesting conversation!

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

THE WARLORD'S SON by Dan Fesperman

The Warlord's SonThe Warlord's Son by Dan Fesperman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In a riveting tale of intrigue and betrayal, a journalist and his aide infiltrate Afghanistan on the eve of the American invasion.  Skelly, a jaded war correspondent, is looking for one last scoop.  Najeeb, his translator and guide, is an educated young man from the Pakistani-Afghani border with a secret past, a history with the Pakistani secret police, and his own motives for this risky adventure. Together they join a Warlord’s caravan as he seeks to start an uprising that will liberate the country from the Taliban. Along the way, they stumble onto what they think might just be the story of a lifetime. What they find is a shady world of hidden agendas, shifting allegiances, and sudden betrayals--a world where one wrong move would get them both killed and the only hope for survival lies in their loyalty to each other.

MY REVIEW: Really enjoyed this engaging story. The writing is excellent and very evocative. The descriptions of the various aspects of Afghan culture, politics, and history are informative but never overwhelm the narrative which moves along at a good pace. The characters are interesting and the story is intriguing.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM by Marcus Ferrar

The Fight for FreedomThe Fight for Freedom by Marcus Ferrar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The fight for freedom – waged by warriors, democrats, politicians, slaves, civil rights leaders, free-thinkers and ordinary human beings – has stirred passions for thousands of years. This moving narrative recounts the exploits of leaders such as Spartacus, Boadicea, Lincoln and Gandhi, through to heroes of the modern age – Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. Their enemies have been despots – for example Persia’s Emperor Xerxes, Stalin and Hitler – but sometimes also religions, ideologies, and even liberation movement leaders who became new tyrants.

MY REVIEW: This was a great read and I learned a lot. It is disturbing that so many people in the world, through history, have had to live under such oppression and had their human freedoms ignored or deliberately taken away from them. This easy-to-read history read like a novel and I found it inspiring and informative.

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

MURDER IN WASILLA by Mary Wasche

Murder in WasillaMurder in Wasilla by Mary Wasche
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A chilling tale of crime and romance in small town Alaska. A Boston law school graduate, new to Alaska and in over his head with his first big case, must defend an innocent man accused of murdering a kindergarten teacher whose naked, half-frozen body he spotted along the shoulder of an isolated highway. As Preston Mills adjusts to life on the Last Frontier, he falls hard for the defendant's spunky and appealing daughter. The crime very nearly goes unsolved due to the unique method of murder.

MY REVIEW: A fairly straightforward, easy to read, crime romance with more romance than crime. It’s a fairly mild read compared to a lot of modern crime fiction but it was enjoyable. The relationship at the centre of the story was more interesting than the crime itself — although the method of the crime was intriguing.

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