Thursday, 17 September 2015

Armada by Ernest Cline

"That was only on good days, of course. On the bad ones, I found myself drawing on equally compelling advice from Lords Vader or Palpatine."

I have been counting down the days for so long until I could read the new book from Ernest Cline. Ready Player One  was just amazing and I wondered whether the next offering would be just as good. My love for Mr Cline continues unabated after having dived in to Armada.

I've read some reviews suggesting that this is really just The Last Starfighter  in movie format. Yes, there are similarities, yes that is one of my guilty favourite films, yes the book references it. As someone that loves science fiction, loves playing computer games and just generally loves a rollicking fish out of water, big guns blazing adventure, this book was almost custom made.So why didn't I score it the full points? I think it suffered by comparison to Ready Player One  and the fact that my expectations had been set so high.

When Space Invaders  comes to life, things sure get hectic on planet Earth and even the moon. It isn't usual that I think a book needs a little more padding, but the imminent attack forces immediate action and perhaps draws away from fully developing some of the other interesting inter personal relationships between the world's best gamers and *spoilers* a long lost relative. I think given a little more exposition I could have felt a more engaged, that being said I do love the way Cline incorporates pop culture references to really set a scene.

So set your phasers to stun, this isn't quite as fun as his first book, but definitely worth exploring.

4 out of 5 space ships are bound to take on the kodan armada.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

"He was walking to Queenie Hennessy"

I have seen this novel around before and was not particularly drawn to it, so I am particularly grateful to the lovely Louise for introducing me to Harold Fry and his rather long walk. It is a delight and you will enjoy your own little wander through its pages, no doubt shedding the odd tear.

When Harold Fry receives the sad news from his former colleague that she is dying in Berwick-upon-Tweed, he sets off down the road and just keeps walking in the hope that she will stay alive long enough for him to visit. Is Harold going senile as his wife fears or is his unlikely journey something more?

His journey is an interesting one, full of unexpected discoveries and the remembrance of past tragedies, long hidden away.

5 out of 5 sore feet are the fault of poor walking shoes.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

"He has kind of a homicidal face. Or is that just syphilis making him insane? British monarchs do love their syphilis."

This was a delightful romp from my favourite bloggers the fug girls. They have converted their undying love for the royal family into an enticing story about the unlikely circumstances of an American Kate Middleton.
This fairytale is not all sunshine and roses, as the heroine, Bex, soon discovers. A swoon-worthy heir to the throne comes with serious baggage - not just of the Louis Vuitton kind.

While i could go on about the plot, the laughs and the intrigues.... I think these are best discovered for yourself.

5 out of 5 unlikely princesses require instruction.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

"We want a life­long wing­man/wing­woman who com­pletes us and can han­dle the truth, to mix metaphors from three dif­fer­ent Tom Cruise movies"

A really entertaining look at the current, let's be honest - quite horrific if you're stuck in it - state of dating today. I expected this to be far more tongue in cheek and more of a comedic novelty take, and yet it is considered and factual, yet still very funny.

My familiarity with Aziz Ansari extends only to his work on Parks and Recreation, which I love, so I was unsure what this little book would deliver. He mixes personal observations with supportive data sources, including the odd graph, to illustrate the unlikely circumstances for finding love in the digital age.

To be honest, this style of book is about the last thing I would normally pick up. Anything remotely self-helpy sends me running to the hills. That being said, the delivery is infectious and there were some laugh out loud moments... a few moments of schadenfreude  and yes, I admit it, a few milli-seconds of sadness at the state of the world.

His closing chapter "Conclusions" really resonated with me and I think was representative of a lot of people I know both single and in a relationship, gay and straight. I really hope he's right when he  says "Find­ing some­one today is prob­a­bly more com­pli­cated and stress­ful than it was for pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions—but you’re also more likely to end up with some­one you are re­ally ex­cited about."

5 out of 5 romance may be dead when tinder can't raise a spark.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?

Take a trip into a strange dreamlike world of missing cats,war, sexually suggestive phone calls and frantic attempts to connect with other human beings in a meaningful fashion.
This was the perfect novel for a long, long, long haul flight home. Actually I finished it on the first leg. What can I say, I was engrossed.. heck I also finished watching 4 movies (at least).

Murakami takes the everyday, the mundane events, and transforms them, highlighting the weird and other worldly moments that cross our paths. There is something deeper and ultimately human about what he brings forth and it is both amazing and entertaining, while simultaneously real and unreal.

This book calls to mind primal urges and fundamental concerns that lie behind our everyday thoughts and actions. Yet, to describe it thusly,does it somewhat of a disservice, because it is also restrained and constrained and beautiful.
Life is a constant battle of trying to encapsulate our feelings, our senses, our emotions and thoughts into easy to deal with segments, a battle which we are unlikely to overcome. Will we ever truly understand other peoples' thoughts and motivations when our own are an indecipherable puzzle that constantly taunts us?

Knowing that we are not alone in this journey of unending questions that will never be thoroughly answered is something this book delivers; well that was my takeaway in any case.

A jazz riff on unemployment, human relations, thoughts,emotions, feelings and everything in between. Read it and let me know your thoughts, I'm eager to hear.

5 out of 5 windup birds swoop and soar.