Jellicoe Road by, Melina Marchetta

Another fantastic novel from an Aussie!

Jellicoe Road…where the tops of the trees reach across the street to form a canopy that the light shines through…Taylor Markham describes her almost home. Just 11 years old when she was abandoned by her mother at the Jellicoe Road boarding school, Taylor is now a senior and a reluctant leader of her dorm.

Marchetta creates vivid characters and a story that wraps you up and keeps you reading. Teens will definitely relate to Taylor who has many struggles including, authoritarian and untrustworthy adults, first love, annoying peers, and abandonment. Haunted by dreams that and hint of her past, Taylor determines to discover her roots. She sets out on a journey to find her mother and finds much more.

Marchetta tells this story through viewpoints of the past, present and future. While this tactic is interesting, builds suspense and lends itself to mystery, there were some small gaps in the story that made it difficult to follow.

It is a dense read and I would not recommend it to younger teens or reluctant readers. Overall, the story was interesting and I stayed up until 2am because I simply could not go to bed without finishing it…I especially enjoyed the Australian colloquialisms.

Posted in Books, coming of age, Fiction, love story, Romance, Young Adult | Comments Off

The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen

The Cult of the Amateur, by Andrew Keen, contests that user-generated media is ruining “our economy, our culture and our values.” The front cover of the Cult of the Amateur has a blurb of a review from, Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times boasting: “Keen writes with acuity and passion about the consequences of a world in which the lines between fact and opinion, informed expertise and amateurish speculation are willfully blurred.” Kakutani is referring to Keen’s incessant remarks about a population more willing to read blogs produced by narcissistic, self-involved, regular Joes than sully their hands with the ink of a newspaper. The problem with Kakatuani’s comment comes when one realizes that Keen too, is blurring the lines between fact and opinion. One could argue that his whole polemic is nothing but a straw man’s argument perfectly poised to take the brunt of an argument that blends informed expertise and amateurish speculation because, after all, Keen is only an amateur himself.

The Cult of the Amateur

Andrew Keen. Broadway Business 2008, Paperback, 256 pages, $7.50

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wow, I think I may have a hard time trying not to gush about this book. I loved it. It was written in a way that was interesting, the writing style was different and the words were beautiful. You know when someone is telling a story and they sometimes trip over their words? Well there was some tripping in this book. Just a enough to keep it interesting. The style was different from what I am used to, and it took me a while to get into it. Once I was accustomed to the way the story was told, I flew through it. Couldn’t put it down. It was so moving. I guess I should tell you what it’s about.

This is a story narrated by Death. He is telling the story of a young girl in Nazi Germany during the war. Already you should know that this book is not going to be a happy go lucky kind of book. How could a book narrated by Death be anything but depressing? Yet the book is not all grief ridden. It has it’s moments, but there are also moments of fun and humour. It managed to make me laugh and then subsequently, cry. But by the end of the book, I was satisfied.

For your reading pleasure, here is a small excerpt from the book, just to show how beautiful the words are:

When Leisel left that day, she said something with great uneasiness. In translation, two giant words were struggled with, carried on her shoulder, and dropped as a bungling pair at Ilsa Hermann’s feet. They fell off sideways as the girl veered with them and could no longer sustain their weight. Together, they sat on the floor, large and loud and clumsy. I’M SORRY (p. 146).

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak. Alfred A. Knopf 2007, Paperback, 576 pages, $5.93

Posted in Best Seller, Books, coming of age, Germany, Historical Fiction, World War II | Comments Off

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wow, I think I may have a hard time trying not to gush about this book. I loved it. It was written in a way that was interesting, the writing style was different and the words were beautiful. You know when someone is telling a story and they sometimes trip over their words? Well there was some tripping in this book. Just a enough to keep it interesting. The style was different from what I am used to, and it took me a while to get into it. Once I was accustomed to the way the story was told, I flew through it. Couldn’t put it down. It was so moving. I guess I should tell you what it’s about.

This is a story narrated by Death. He is telling the story of a young girl in Nazi Germany during the war. Already you should know that this book is not going to be a happy go lucky kind of book. How could a book narrated by Death be anything but depressing? Yet the book is not all grief ridden. It has it’s moments, but there are also moments of fun and humour. It managed to make me laugh and then subsequently, cry. But by the end of the book, I was satisfied.

For your reading pleasure, here is a small excerpt from the book, just to show how beautiful the words are:

When Leisel left that day, she said something with great uneasiness. In translation, two giant words were struggled with, carried on her shoulder, and dropped as a bungling pair at Ilsa Hermann’s feet. They fell off sideways as the girl veered with them and could no longer sustain their weight. Together, they sat on the floor, large and loud and clumsy. I’M SORRY (p. 146).

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak. Alfred A. Knopf 2007, Paperback, 576 pages, $5.93

Posted in Best Seller, Books, coming of age, World War II | Comments Off

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Oh, post apocalyptic novels, how I love thee. What kind of phase is this? I can’t seem to get enough. (I am getting killer tips for prepping and food storage though, ha ha.) One Second After covers the fall of American civilization as we know it after an electromagnetic pulse blast (or EMP.) The book follows John Matherson, an ex military man who currently teaches history at the local college, his family, and their small city in North Carolina. The effects of an EMP blast would fry any electronics in a very large radius including car electronics, home electronics, national power grid, communications, etc etc.

Imagine America suddenly being thrust back into the nineteenth century. Everything is very quickly in short supply as the massively fragile web of distribution across the country goes down. Neighbors turn on neighbors and martial law is enforced. Tough decisions are faced as John increasingly takes on a more prominent roll in the community and tries to navigate crime, punishment, outside threats, starvation, and the increasingly dire prognosis for his diabetic daughter. I found this novel balanced with just the right amount of large scale crisis and drama while dealing with everyday impact and personal choices. Not to sound like a horrible human being, but I found this scenario quite frightening just for the fact that no people are actually killed from the high altitude EMP blast. While most post apocalyptic books wipe out a LARGE percentage of the population in the initial attack, with an EMP everyone survives and will have to struggle through the second stage of the catastrophe and resulting die off. I noticed the film rights were sold to Warner Brothers so I will keep an eye out for the eventual release of the movie.

One Second After

William R. Forstchen. Forge Books 2009, Hardcover, 352 pages, $6.71

Posted in America, Books, Contemporary, EMP, Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Survival | Comments Off