Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"The Pirates in the Deep Green Sea" by Eric Linklater

This is a children's book written in 1949. I remember my Dad reading it to me and my brother when we were about 10 years old, from an old hardbound book he had been given when he was a child. It is such an immaginative and wonderful adventure story, and I find myself with the urge to re-read this book every 5-10 years. I recently discovered it is now available in Kindle format for approximately $5, and although it doesn't have the lovely illustrations that the print version had, it is still an awesome book that I would recommend anyone looking for a good kids adventure story consider. I reckon this book could be made into a spectacular movie, especially with all the special effects and ability to bring fantasy creatures to life that modern movies like The Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean have done so well.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Barracuda" by Christos Tsiolkas

This is the second book I have read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge in 2014. Unfortunately I found it to be a really disappointing read. The story is about a young Australian teenager, Dan/Danny/Daniel from an immigrant family in Melbourne who is an athlete swimmer. He wins a scholarship through his swimming achievements and attends an elite boys school (referred to as C**t's College throughout the book), continuing to train in the hope of Olympic Gold. I thought this would be a really interesting book to read, to learn a bit more about the focus and drive and dedication required to become an elite swimmer especially at such a young age. However I found the main character extremely unlikeable....very selfish/arrogant, self-destructive, stirring trouble, and also uncaring or antagonistic towards any family member or friend who was trying to help him. His young life seems to be a collection of immature failings which he then seems to blame on anything other than himself. Apart from being unable to sympathise with the main character (or any of the supporting characters really), I also found the structure of the book hard to follow (it seems to jump back and forth erratically in time from when Dan was a young teenager, to being in prison, to the aftermath in his twenties. While I am all for Gay rights, this book also has elements of Fifty Shades of Grey, homosexual style which may be confronting if you are not expecting it when you pick up a novel about a teenage swimming athlete.

Started reading on my kindle: 15th January 2014
Finished: 25th January 2014.
My score 4/10

Aussie Author Challenge 2014 Stats: Male author, who is new to me, book published in 2013, Genre is probably considered 'contemporary fiction'.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Summary of books read in 2013 :-)

2013 was a great year of reading for me. I read 32 books in total (including 1 audio book), and I read a lot of different authors and genres I might not have read in the past due in part to participating in the Aussie Author Challenge of 2013. I find it hard to pick a single book that is a 'stand out' winner since I read so many AWESOME books this year! But if I had to pick it would be a tie between "The Rosie Project" and "The Book Thief". Two very different books, both by Australian authors. However, there were many books I read this year that were wonderful in different ways, I really enjoyed "Burial Rites", "People of the Book", "Sisters of Mercy", "The boy in the striped pyjamas", plus the highly popular 'Game of Thrones' books and 'Hunger Games' trilogy.

On the flip side, the books I did not enjoy and don't recommend reading are "The girl with the cat tattoo" and "Antidote to Murder". The first of these was just a brainless read (like a junior teenager romance), the second book had promise but I just couldn't finish it, and it is VERY rare that I start reading a book and get so bored with it that I can't finish it. I also was not overly impressed with "Tsunami and the single girl", "All Good Things" or "A short story of tractors in Ukrainian". 

I am setting myself the Challenge to read more than 32 books for fun in 2014 if possible (not counting all the scientific reading I do for work), and am attempting the Aussie Author Challenge in 2014 too.

Happy Reading everyone :-)
I'd love to hear what other people thought were their favourite books that they read in 2013 and why?

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Chasing the Light" by Jesse Blackadder

This is the first book I have chosen to read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge for 2014.

According to the publishers it is "A fictional recounting of the little-known true story of the first woman to ever set foot on Antarctica, and her extraordinary fight to get there". http://www.harpercollins.com.au/books/Chasing-Light-Novel-Antarctica-Jesse-Blackadder/?isbn=9780732296049

This is an historical novel, and I found it to be very interesting from the historical perspective of learning something about whaling in Antarctic waters in the 1920-30s as I knew nothing about it really, despite being a supporter of anti-whaling campaigns in modern times. The author (as part of her arts thesis) actually did a lot of historical researching and quite a few little known details and facts of the first women to land on Antarctica are embedded in this novel. However, being a novel, there is lots of speculation and invented angles and interpretations, hyped up romances etc. Some of the invented 'dramas' irritated me, making me think 'really, are you, like, at high school, or in your 30s?' even though I know some 'liberties' and 'equalities' we take for granted now were more taboo in the early 1900s.
Overall I enjoyed the book and feel like I now know a little bit more about that slice of history involving Norwegian whaling in the early 1900s in Antarctic waters and a little more of the adventures of the first women to land in Antarctica. I recently saw a really interesting exhibition on Antarctica and Australian exploration of the continent at the South Australian Museum, and although I dont recall any mention of women explorers or adventurers in the exhibition, it was still fascinating. So if you live in or will be visiting Adelaide soon i recommend you visit the museum and check it out (it's free entry too).  

"Chasing the Light" by Jesse Blackadder
Started reading on my kindle on 6th January 2014
Finished: 15th January 2014
My score: 7/10

Aussie Author Challenge Stats: 
Male Author, New to me, First published in 2013 or 2014.
Genre: Historical fiction