Friday, April 20, 2018

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Even though this book is really famous (and for good reason), I only got around to reading it today because my brother went and watched the play with his school and I wanted to be able to talk about it with him.

The Curious Incident About the Dog in the Nighttime is a book ‘written’ by Christopher. Christopher is crazy smart when it comes to math, and like my brother, doesn’t like bananas and doesn’t have much people skills.

The story begins when Christopher finds Wellington, the next door neighbour’s dog, dead and decides to investigate. His investigation brings up a revelation - namely that his mother, who he thought was dead, is actually alive and living in London. So this is slightly less of a mystery and more of a story about Christopher trying to make his way in the world.

Of course, I really, really liked Christopher because he reminded me so much of my brother! I think the characterisation of someone with relatively high-functioning autism was well done and I really felt all his pain. And the last line of the book! Seriously those lines could make me cry (look away if you don’t want spoilers):

"And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of Who Killed Wellington? and I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything."

Yes, Christopher, you really can do anything (‘:

And I asked my brother for his thoughts on the story and he says that he liked it very much because he could relate to Christopher but his classmates kept turning to look at him. I hope the play taught them a bit more empathy.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gutenberg's Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds

I chanced upon this on the library and it was an immediate borrow for me! Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is a story about how a book is made and the history of books (and ebooks).

Gutenberg’s Fingerprint starts when Marilyn teams up with Hugh, from Three Hellbox Press, to publish a limited edition run of her collection of flash fiction called The Paradise Project.

As Marilyn digs deep into the process of making a book - from making the paper to typesetting to stitching the papers together - she talks about the history of the book. At the same time, she’s preparing an ebook version of The Paradise Project, which gives her opportunities to muse about ebooks and the future of books.

Merilyn is clearly passionate about books, both as an object and for the things they mean. When she talked about picking a font, I started getting interested even though I’m normally a default font kind of person (although I admit that I like to write in Garamond).

She’s also even-handed about ebooks too. While she loves the printed word, she also talks about the advantages of ebooks as well.

That said, she’s not very accurate when it comes to self-publishing. The stats she cites are those that don’t include Amazon, although it would have been easy enough for her to go to Author Earnings (and the book was published in 2017 so the data should have been available when she wrote it).

Plus, she makes the claim that it’s harder to survive as a writer now when a quick look at people like Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn, or even the people at Kboards make a convincing case that it is, in fact, easier than ever to make a living as a writer.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. This book is basically an exploration of the book with a fellow bibliophile, making it a very fun read. I’m glad I read this in the printed form too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Down to Oath by Tyrolin Puxty


When I was invited to join the blog tour for Down to Oath, I immediately said yes because I’ve loved every single one of Tyrolin’s books so far!

Down to Oath proved to be no exception as I got sucked into Codi’s world. Codi appeared, fully formed, in Oath, a drab, boring town. But unlike the other residents, Codi wants something different. She wants colour and she wants pattern and she wants to shake things up. One day, she meets a child version of herself and realises that there are three other worlds. From there, the story really takes off as Codi and her other selves (Little Codi, Thorn) try to discover why their there and what it means to leave their worlds.

And I must say, the world building here is fantastic! I really loved the concept of the four worlds - Oath, Pledge, Bond, and Word and the idea that each world has its own distinctive characteristics.

As for Codi (Creative Codi), it was pretty interesting to see her come to terms with her selves. Little Codi could be a bit of a brat but was mostly adorable. Thorn (warrior Codi) and Creative Codi quarrelled a lot so the way their friendship developed was exciting. The last Codi, Willow, I didn’t get to see much of, which was a pity.

The story is told from Codi’s point of view. Truth be told, the beginning reminded me of the narrative style in the Broken Dolls series, but the story soon grabbed me and I stopped comparing it with [broken doll character]

If you’re a fan of weird worlds and exciting adventures, you definitely have to pick it up. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, April 16, 2018

How to Make a Zombie by Frank Swain

My brother spotted this book in the library and asked me to borrow it because in his words, “I don’t want to attract suspicion.” But I ended up reading it first and it’s really interesting!

How to make a zombie is all about the science of the undead (or living dead). From Voodou zombies that use fugu poison to induce a state similar to death to Russian experiments reviving a decapitated dog’s head, the book takes a look at the various ways people have tried to raise the dead and the ways we may be zombies. The latter part is more on the insects and animal kingdom and there are a surprising number of insects who not only lay their eggs in a living host but who can manipulate the host to act in ways disadvantageous to its survival. Which makes my fear of insects seem a lot more rational now.

I really liked the later chapters, which were about how 'zombies' are being created today. The first part, which is on zombies created the natural way, is more on whether you can resuscitate a dead body. It's pretty interesting, but one can only read about so many failed methods. I thought the chapters on how brains can be taken over and actions influenced to be much more interesting, although they aren't really traditional zombie stuff (although I suppose if you take a traditional zombie as the "fake death than hypnotised to be a slave then it's somewhat similar).

Not a science major so I can’t speak to the accuracy of its contents, but this was an engaging read. I liked the humour mixed into the book (especially the Japanese-based pun) and chuckled more than a few times. This is definitely pop-science but it's enjoyable and that's what counts.

Definitely for aspiring mad scientists or people who like weird pop science books.