A short book with guidelines for writing non-fiction, including essays, reports and emails. The back of the book includes a list of common cliche's to avoid, and common grammar mistakes.
I know Rebecca Front from her work on the UK dark TV comedy Nighty night. I spotted this book of essays at the library and gave it a shot. I very rarely read biographies but I enjoyed this collection of anecdotes and observations on her life. I liked reading about the challenges of going on a holiday to a vegetarian inn in Scotland in the 1970s, how to she tries to cope with her phobias and anxieties, and I genuinely laughed out loud several times. Though her observations aren’t startling, they are very real, and I feel like I could get on very well with her if I ever got a chance to meet her. 3 stars.
There's some solid advice here. Even if Covey was a Morman, and there is a bit in this book about "natural laws" as set up by God. I still think there's some useful tools in the 7 habits. I feel I got something good out of this book, especially about seeking first to understand.
It took me a year to finish this book! Disturbing, long, but undeniably imaginative this is my least favourite of Barker's books I've read to date. I enjoyed aspects of this story, the plot is such that's impossible to summarize, I did try but it was getting so long I gave up. I'm still not sure what exactly happened, but it had it's moments and it's yet another of Barker's book's where the extra-ordinary is just under the surface of everyday life, but he's done it better.
A decent, if short, story, Yesterday's kin begins when Marianne, an evolutionary geneticist, is taken by the FBI to the UN. She doesn't understand why. Even though she's just made a discovery about human evolution - she helped identify a new sub-group of humans who share a common ancestor who lived 150,000 years ago - she knows she's nothing special. She's just a work a day scientist who made a discovery rather than proving an brilliant theory or inventing an elegant equation. She's more worried about her children, who constantly fight with each other when they happen to see each other, or with her when she gets a chance to see them when she's not working. She's most concerned about Noah, her youngest who doesn't fit in anywhere, and is addicted to a new drug that permits you to feel like someone else for a short time.
It turns out the Aliens that arrived several months ago want to see Marianne, they are very interested in her genetics research and want her to continue it inside their alien Embassy floating in New York harbour.
The aliens are friendly, or so they claim, but no-one has seen them. They eventually do show themselves, and they look a lot like us. They come baring bad news, the earth will soon be moving through a gigantic spore cloud that will kill all humans, they know as some of their colonies have been wiped out from the same cloud. They request humanities best scientists to help them find a cure that can help both the aliens and humanity, but they've only got 10 months to do it. Can the world's top scientists achieve that? Why are the aliens so secretive, why don't they share their own research with the humans? With riots, shootings and terrorists, will humanity even survive long enough to be destroyed by the spore cloud?
Kress explores genetics, family politics, and human psychology all in an easy 200 pages.
A classic of science fiction and cyber punk, this is the first Neal Stepenson I've read. It had some impressively prescient ideas for when it was published in the early 90s, but I'm not sure when this book was mean to be set. Someone reading this in 1995 would have found this even more fantastical than I did. The most interesting ideas were about virtual reality, the shrinking of the microchip and it's computing power exponentially increasing. I also liked dangerous concept of Library of Congress merging with intelligence arm of the government and turning into a warehouse of digital information. In New Zealand, our national library recently became a subsidiary of the Internal Affairs department, so this could happen to us eventually! The huge social and societal changes were less understandable, but maybe because I'm not an American this was harder to undersand. I didn't really understand any of the characters, and this seemed more like a bunch of cool ideas than one coherent novel. One of the least palatable aspects is the 15 year old character's explicit and detailed sex scene. I may eventually read some other Stephenson but if this was a good place to start I have my doubts
Water can no longer be taken for granted. Lynn, 16, lives with her Mother far away from the city. It's been years since the shortages drove them to hide away in a lonely farmhouse. She's trained Lynn to be completely ruthless killer, while quoting poetry and teaching her how to survive the unnamed apocalypse.
They guard their small pond of water against wanderers, and their nearest neighbor, Stebbs, who lives across the field. Mother refers to him as asshole, but the closest she gets to him is through the scope of her rifle.
Lynn begins slowly to make friends with neighbours, who had escaped recently from the city. She finds she has a conscience after all
When Lynn quotes William Butler Yeats, and her love interest, Eli, recognizes it, my suspension of disbelief evaporated like the water in this story. It also turns out Lynn is gorgeous, but since she'd never met anyone before, she's so modest. She doesn't understand small talk or flirting. But Eli's there to teach her, and teach her that she's so good looking. Luckily he's good looking too.
The book has several moments of shocking violence, that don't fit the tone of rest of the book, but make it less run of the mill, and overall more bearable. Lynn is a cold stone killer, but I'm glad she does have moments of happiness, or else this book would have been too bleak.
I listened to the audiobook and it was well read by Cassandra Campbell, who voiced several distinctive characters and could believe they were different people.
Nancy Kress sets up a fascinating premise in this novel. Aliens, who refer to themselves as Atoners, set up a website and email address for humans to apply to become "Witnesses" to a mysterious crime the Aliens committed against humanity 10,000 years ago. Millions apply, but only 21 are selected, 15 coming from the United States. This seems to be a theme in Nancy Kress's books, briefly mentioning other areas of the world (a greater acknowledgement than some other US writers) but ultimately focusing on the importance of the United States influence on events, sometimes even on an interstellar scale.
It transpires that the Atoners kidnapped our ancestors and took them to various star systems. Each system has one A planet and one B planet, the earth serving as the control in an epic experiment. The witnesses find primitive cultures on each of the planets and it takes the first half of the novel to discover what it is the Atoners did in their experiments and what they are trying to fix.
The second half of the novel is the fall out of the revelation on Earth and how we cope, or fail to cope, with it.
Throughout the story we switch between key witnesses’ perspectives. After their initial thrill about being chosen as witnesses, most have to contend with their frustration over not knowing what they are meant to be witnessing, then eventually once they discover what the Atoners have done, what the Atoners want the witnesses to do or say about it. The Atoners never set foot on earth or any of the other experimental planets, and remain largely mysterious throughout. I did have some sympathy for Soledad, a witness who has to deal with a lot of crap, but I didn't feel much for the other characters. While I did enjoy the book, and Kress is a solid writer, this story could have been much shorter and had the same level of impact.
I listened the audiobook and Kate reading did a good job distinguishing between male and female voices, and overall it was professional if not standout, performance.
John Meaney has rich and vivid imagination. He's created an alternative universe where cities are powered by the bones of the dead. Wraiths exist inside cars, motorcycles, even lamps, and seem to be a de-facto for artificial intelligence. I was often caught out by a description that was strange not only to me, but was impressive or different for the main character. I never felt I had an understanding of the rules of this world, I know show don't tell, but there wasn't enough showing. Things were strange, people died, and sometimes they came back. There was also a police procedural and hunt for a cadre of killers, but that was the least interesting aspect of this book.
In New Zealand slang, "box of birds" means you are feeling well and happy. It's an expression to answer the question "How are you?". After reading this book, that expression is a bit ruined for me now!
The main character, Malorie, finds herself pregnant just as the world comes to an end. The end starts with mysterious acts of brutality and suicide becoming more and more common over the world. The one thing that links them is that people see something that turns them violently insane. The book covers two time periods, when Melorie enters a safe house set up for survivors, and 4 years later with two children "boy" and "girl", that she is caring for by herself. The premise is terrifying, and had me thinking of The Happening, The Others & the Dr Who episode Blink. Some aspects stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point, power is on, with the blasé explanation it's hydro so it works all the time, & telephones still work. Without power, it'd have made the world a lot harder to live in as they could never look outside, and inside had to be completely cut off with blankets on the windows (hello, did they not have curtains? Would blankets be much better then secure curtains?)
Well written and full of suspense, Box of birds is worth it if you overlook a few flaws.