Review: Makers

8 08 2011

048. Read 50 books (19/50)

I finished reading Cory Doctorow’s Makers last night and while I enjoyed it, to be honest I’m ready to move onto something else. It had some good ideas as far as technology and consumerism is concerned, but overall it was quite a depressing read (particularly the last third of the book). Doctorow’s Little Brother was one of my literary highlights of 2010, so I had high hopes for Makers as well.

Still, it wouldn’t stop me from seeking out other books by this author, so it’s not a write-off completely. 😉

My Recent Reading List

2 12 2010

048. Read 50 books (9/50) [more info]
049. Read 10 books that aren’t from the sci-fi or fantasy genres (3/10) [more info]

November is usually a pretty busy time for me (work tends to consume my life) and this year has been no exception. However, I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and December means it’s time to wind down for the year.

When I get the time to unwind lately, I’ve been reading and cooking (see previous entry for some of my food endeavours). Here are the books I have finished reading recently (keep in mind that I like to savour books instead of rushing through them as fast as I can).

7. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:  A Trilogy in Four Parts – Douglas Adams (finished 04/10/10)
The ‘Hitchhiker’ series has been on my to-read list for a couple of years now, and it wasn’t until recently that I actually got around to reading it. Theoretically I could have counted each of the four stories as a book, but since they were in a single volume the rules I set for the challenge applied – it was one book. Adams’ style is eccentric, peculiar and downright silly most of the time… but in a way that makes for light reading, laughable storyliens and compels you to want to read on. Admittedly, by halfway through the fourth book I’d nearly had enough, but kept going to see the characters reach their ultimate end-games. Good, fun reading. 🙂

8. The Evolutionary Void – Peter F. Hamilton (finished 14/11/10)
This book is the final in the ‘Void’ trilogy, and I had been waiting two years since reading its predecessor. It is a combination of space-opera and fantasy at times, and two storylines have been interweaved to leave the reader hanging for more of one part when another begins. If you like physics, mathematics, spaceships and the odd sarcastic joke, then this is the series for you. If anything, the ending let me down a little bit (a touch too saccharine), but overall the series has been among the best I have read in recent years.

9. The Nanny Returns – Emma McLaughlin & Nicole Kraus (finished 30/11/10)
After reading a truckload of science-fiction back to back, it was time to intersperse soemthing a little different – introducing one of my first forays into chic-lit (which I never thought I’d do!). While I haven’t read the original The Nanny Diaries, I’ve seen the film a couple of times and when seeing the sequel book in the library I thought I’d pick it up. What I thought was light reading turned into quite heavy reading, as the dramas and he-said, she-said conversations unravelled. Kind of like being in the workplace amongst gossiping women, actually! Is this what most of the chic-lit genre is about? If so, then I’ll probably stick away from it in future.

Next up on the reading list? Zombies, of course (to counteract the girliness in the last book).

Recent Book Reviews

15 08 2010

048. Read 50 books (6/50) [more info]
049. Read 10 books that aren’t from the sci-fi or fantasy genres (2/10) [more info]

Over the last couple of months I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading (or more than I’ve done in the last year). Sitting on public transport and waiting for appointments at hospitals will do that to you… but at least I’ve used the time well. 🙂

One recent book I’ve finished is Ringworld (Larry Niven), a story of space exploration and distant races written in the 1970s. The story revolves (pun intended :P) around a narrow band of substance orbiting around a star that appears to be long-abandoned by its creators (the ‘Engineers’), but inhabited by an ancestor of a humanoid species. The story is quite humourous in parts, making droll mentions of a race of giant parrots and interspecies intercourse, to name a couple of instances. Well worth the read, even if it’s a little slow to get into and if you can ignore some scientific and physics-based inaccuracies).

Another book is a collection of tales of Australians who find themselves childless, not by choice. An Inconceiveable Notion: Stories of Infertility and Childlessness (Justine Davies) focuses on the stories of women (and men) who live with infertililty. Interestingly, this book popped up on my COLLECT list from the local library shortly after finding out that I was pregnant (after a long battle with infertility myself, through endometriosis). I wondered whether to pick it up and decided to in the end. Some of the stories were ones I could relate to – IVF or endometriosis, while others related to PCOS, age or finding a partner later in life. While infertility seems like a depressing read, it was actually uplifting to see people working towards acceptance and that life brings so many other opportunities. Do I consider myself out of the infertile backwaters simply because I’m pregnant now? No, I don’t – infertility is something I will identify with for the rest of my life, regardless of where life might lead.


6 05 2010

051. Learn to play a strategy boardgame [more info]

My hubby took great delight in helping me to achieve this goal. He loves boardgames, and we’re not talking the regular kind – like Monopoly or Scrabble. I’ve tried to get into a couple of the ones he has (Carcassone and Race for the Galaxy) with only a little success. But when he bought home Pandemic it instantly appealed.

The idea is about working together (2-5 players) to beat The Game. Plagues are threatening to take over the world map, and you’re attempting to cure all four diseases before they take over. Using a card-draw system cities are given disease markers and if they gain more than three then the disease spreads. Random cards result in ‘epidemics’ or cities being overloaded with markers. Each player has a unique role in the game (you draw for ‘role cards’ at the start) from a Medic – quite useful! – to scientist, Operations Expert or Researcher.

It took a few weeks but finally hubbby and I beat The Game. Now to play on the next difficulty setting (more epidemics).

Our winning game board!

Inconceivable (Ben Elton)

6 05 2010

048. Read 50 books (2/50) [more info]
049. Read 10 books that aren’t from the sci-fi or fantasy genres (1/10) [more info]

Recently my naturopath let me borrow the book Inconceivable from her bookshelf, commenting that it may help me come to terms with a few issues I’ve been going through. Since I’ve always been an avid reader (although, these days, not as much as I’d like — life can get in the way) the thought of reading about a couple’s fertility journey interested me, particularly written from a comedic point of view. (note: It’s also a movie called Maybe Baby, which I didn’t realise until a friend pointed it out to me – I plan on downloading it)

This tale had everything – it made me laugh, it made me cry, it hit home how irrational I’ve been about things at times (oops!) and I could relate to it a heck of a lot. Sure, it’s based in the UK but there are parallels to Australian life (and procedures). My hunch is that either the author and his wife went through an IVF journey, or he did an enormous amount of research on the topic (it lists in the foreword that he has twin children so it’s a likely possibility…).

However, what let the story down for me was the ending. The book went from being realistic quasi-realistic to quite unbelieveable. Maybe I was after a more fitting ending? Instead there was some Hollywood cheese (and not in the way that you think, when you look at the synopsis). I won’t spoil it for anyone, but it’s definitely worth a read. The book wasn’t even science-fiction and it hooked me right in.

And that’s a rarity.

Review – Amazing Adventures: The Lost Tomb

23 03 2010

046. Complete 20 video games (1/20) [more info]

I finished the main quest of a puzzle game this week, the first as part of my Mission 101 challenge!game logo

A find-and-click hidden puzzle game, Amazing Adventures: The Lost Tomb reminds me very much of the I-Spy books where the object is to find… well, objects. Introducing the interactive version and you must keep your eyes peeled to find a myriad of modern-day and old-fashioned items (ten per puzzle) amongst a very convincing background. Sure, it looks and feels like an Indiana Jones rip-off from the title screen alone… but ignore that – the textures are lifelike and it is difficult to discern what is background and what is a foreground object to find at times.

What surprised me was the length of the game – twenty ‘missions’ made up of anywhere between 6-10 levels each, and between each level is a mini-game (memory, spot the difference, jigsaw puzzle or picture-slider). Although it says I took eight hours to complete the game, because of playing it in short stints it felt a lot longer. Great for winding down before bed or for quiet gaming time, immersive yet peaceful.

The negative? It can be quite repetitious (especially the mini-games, when you’re just wanting to get to the next level), and maps can be hard on the eye.

No fanfare for completing the main quest (simply a You Have Won-style screen), but mode unlocked for finding up to 70 objects per map.

While I probably wouldn’t play through it again, it has made me interested in other similar games in the franchise (I downloaded Amazing Adventures: Around the World. Pop Cap have created some great games in the past, and you’ll probably read about a few more of them (among others) during the course of this project.

Last and First Men (Olaf Stapledon)

13 02 2010

048. Read 50 books  [more info

My love affair with Olaf Stapledon’s First and Last Men started when I was a teenager, picking up his epic novel from the local library. I adored the concept of the book – the evolution of humankind upon our planet, written in the mid-1930s, but never finished it because of how complicated and difficult to read that it was (there are ‘cycles’ in each of man’s evolutionary career, most climaxing with breakthroughs in society, science or spirituality – before a plague/de-evolution; these cycles can be predictable and uninteresting at times).

Nevertheless, it was a book I put on my to-read-again-one-day list, when I was older, wiser (debateable!) and more receptive to the subject-matter. In November I found that a few paperback edition had been published, and used the end of a voucher given to me on my wedding day in 2008 to purchase it (along with a recipe book…but that’s a story for another day). Read the rest of this entry »