Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris

Huge thanks go to NetGalley and to the publisher, Orion Publishing Group, for granting me access to a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Some time ago, I read The Gospel According to Loki, a look at the legends of the Norse gods as told from the point of view of the Trickster, Loki. This was my first introduction to Joanne Harris's writing and to some of the tales of those deities. I had considered buying Runemarks afterwards, but never got around to it. However, when the chance to read a review copy of a re-release of it, I grabbed the chance and thought "why the Hel not?!"

Runemarks follows the story of Maddy smith, a girl who, whether she likes it or not, seems to get blamed for everything. This is because of a strange mark on her hand that looks remarkably like the signs a Fiery might have. Together with her mysterious friend One-Eye, she learns the mysteries of the runes and about various spells they can be used for.

Sent on a quest to find the Whisperer, Maddy uncovers a lot more than she bargained for, including Loki, the Sleepers and the dangerous Order who want to destroy all signs of magic and gods, all to earn the respect of the Nameless...

This book was a bit slow at first and took me longer than expected to get into it. However, it built up to an epic crescendo which kept my eyes glued to the pages as I read and read. The characters are as you would expect from the Norse gods, but still Harris has managed to add a few really unexpected twists to this post-Ragnarok tale. It flows like a Dream, and I cannot fault it apart from the beginning. Loved it!

Star rating: 5 from 5

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing by James Owen Weatherall

Many thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher, Yale University Press, for granting me access to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Another physics book which cried out to me on NetGalley. The title, Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing, really grabbed my attention and after the success of Welcome to the Universe, I decided to give this a try. But one question struck me immediately, before I opened the book...how can nothing have physical characteristics? Well, I was about to find out!

This book charts the history and physics behind some of the greatest discoveries in physics: Newton's gravity, Einstein's relativity theories, and quantum physics, as well as touching briefly on string theory, all in about 140 pages. I found it to be really very interesting and, for an introduction to some of the ideas, it is quite a good book. I didn't like the lack of diagrams and charts to help with understanding and illustrating points, but it was not too difficult to read and to understand some of the fundamentals.

Another important thing to note is that it doesn't even try to explain the maths behind the theories. I understand that this would take up a lot of extra pages, but I really think it would be helpful to see at least some of the workings out, especially where relativity is concerned.

I guess this book would be especially good for people thinking of studying physics at university level and just want to get to grips early with these topics. However, the lack of maths and diagrams means that this book won't be completely helpful in the explanations for those at a higher level.

Star rating: 4 from 5

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Pink Panther Volume 1

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for granting me access to an advance readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I was a kid, I used to love watching the Pink Panther cartoons on TV. They were so colourful and crazily funny, as we saw the Pink Panther, the Inspector, the ant and the ant eater in all their mad adventures. Well, now they have been immortalised in the pages of this collection of crazy comics.

As always, when talking about graphic novels and comics, the illustrations are the key, more so than any plot. With this book, the art is as wonderful as you would expect. I could even imagine the ant eater speaking in the voice from the original cartoon. As this is a collection of comics, there are many short comic strips and stories, so the plots are very simple, usually involving some plain stupidity, which makes this really quite hilarious! It reads like watching a cartoon, and there is no loss of quality for that.

I really enjoyed this light read. It was a real pleasure to read this blast from the past, and I can only add one thing - may there be many more volumes!

Star rating: 5 from 5
This book will be published on 13th December 2016

Monday, 7 November 2016

Doctor Who: The American Adventures

Many thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher, Diamond Book Distributers,for granting me access to a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If, like with me, the American election is bringing you down, you might be looking for an escape route into some sanity. My light escape, while also relaxing with Stephen King's It, so far has been Doctor Who: The American Adventures.

This is a collection of six short stories featuring the Twelfth Doctor, as played by Peter Capaldi in the tv show. As you would expect from a short story collection, each story is very different from the next. Some I really enjoyed, others almost bored me. The plots range from a murder mystery to alien abductions, but with the Doctor on hand to save the day or solve the mysteries, you know everything will be ok.

The one major disappointment for me was the lack of a companion. No Clara or Billy, just the Doctor. I find he needs someone to bounce his ideas off of and to keep him in check when he goes a little...crazy.

All in all, it's a nice collection, well written, but it's a typical short story collection. It was, however, a light relief from global politics!

Star rating: 3 from 5