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The Death of Bees

(viewed 853 times)
Book Twenty Four.

I enjoyed this book well enough. It was an easy read. With very short chapters i suffered from a case of ‘just one more…’ and finished it quickly. But as much as i enjoyed it, it wasn’t as good as i had hoped it would be. The blurb is very well written, and makes the books sound a lot more interesting that it actually is.

What bothered me the most was the feeling that this books just went on too long. The narrative style of three first person points of view and short chapters made the story move along quickly, but the story went on too long without enough actually happening. By about halfway through i was ready for the climax; i was ready to see how the story would end for these characters and i was ready to say goodbye to them. Instead a new character is introduced, who manages to eke out the book for a little longer. I hated the grandfather just as much as i was supposed to, but i was hoping for some kind of twist to his storyline, to make the extra pages worthwhile. It didn’t happen, and to me felt rather superfluous.

Overall i did enjoy the book, but i saw so much more potential in it, it was a shame. It was a nice enough way to while away a little time, but i know i won’t want to re-read it. That feeling more than anything is what disappoints me.

(Longer review at:

Native Tongue

(viewed 889 times)
Book Twenty Three.

It’s silly and funny and made me laugh out loud. The whole premise is ridiculous and only gets more slapstick as the book progresses, but the progression of the ridiculousness is so gradual, you barely notice it happening and don’t stop to question it.

The storytelling is actually very good. The small hints and subtle foreshadowing is perfection. A couple of times they caught me out completely, but often a small mention of something had me thinking, “I hope that’s…” and when it turned out it was, i could only grin with glee.

The characters i am divided on pretty much 50/50. The male characters are all well done, all interesting with diverse personalities. The females are a sack of shit.

It is immensely frustrating. On the one hand, Hiaasen seems to point at and mock the over-sexualised image of women (with a grotesquely over-large photograph of a naked woman at the nineteenth hole of a golf course or the dumbing down of a historical show in order to “show more tits and ass”), but he himself does nothing to make his female characters anything but typical clichés of this; they serve little-to-no purpose except as sexual objects for the male characters.

As much as i enjoyed all aspects of the book except the blatant sexism, i will never be able to give Hiaasen more than three stars until he writes more realistic female characters.

(Longer review at:

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

(viewed 994 times)
Book Twenty Two.

Disclaimer: I could not actually finish this book. I usually squirm uncomfortably at the idea of not finishing a book, but i was not enjoying this. I think it helped that it is a book of short stories, so i didn’t actually stop reading mid-story. I finished one, with four left to go, and just could not bring myself to continue.

Lovecraft's most frequent crime, for me, was being unable to actually describe things. The whole mood or flow is ruined by scattered and repeated insistence that things are “indescribable,” “unnameable,” “unutterable” or “unmentionable.” Occasionally he’d make the effort and declare something “hideously indescribable” or “gruesomely unmentionable.” It got to the point where i was physically cringing and rolling my eyes about it. He’s supposed to be setting a mood, creating an atmosphere and transporting me to another world of horror and suspense. Instead i was left wondering what the hell was so bad, because i can’t imagine what he won’t describe!

It wasn’t all entirely bad, though. ‘The Outsider’, ‘Herbert West—Reanimator’ and ‘Cool Air’ i actually thoroughly enjoyed. While ‘The Hound’, ‘The Rats in the Walls’ and ‘The Festival’ were also good. They all had interesting subject matter (my three favourites all being about the living dead, i’ve only just realised), genuine suspense, adequate descriptions and mood setting and they didn’t drag on too long or get bogged down in insignificant details. I would easily recommend these six individual stories.

Unfortunately a few very good stories can not make up for a book filled with a majority of bad ones.

(Longer review at:

Raspberry Muffins

(viewed 1290 times)
Not to brag, but these were bloody delicious. It ended up a high raspberry to muffin mix ratio, and i regret nothing.

Apathy and Other Small Victories

(viewed 1042 times)
Book Twenty One.

This book in one word? Hilarious. I was hooked from the first paragraph when Shane, the first person narrator, talks about stealing salt shakers and waking up in bed covered in salt. Every page made me smile, snort, chortle, giggle, cackle and, on more than a few occasions, lose control of my breathing.

For someone so indifferent, Shane paints a vivid and all too accurate picture of the world and people around him. He doesn’t judge positively or negatively (much), he simply observes.

I genuinely loved every character. Or at least i loved them through Shane’s detached point of view. I particularly liked his relationship (or lack thereof) with his landlords’s wife, whose name we never learn, because Shane really doesn’t care (he does love her, though—because she doesn’t care).

The people and the situations are 100% ridiculous, but the thought processes and delivery from Shane are perfection. If i ever need a quick gigglesnort in the future, this will be the book to pick up and randomly read a few paragraphs of.

(Longer spoiler-filled review at:

The Art of Fielding

(viewed 893 times)
Book Twenty.

This was all about baseball without actually being about baseball at all. An American college was the setting, a baseball tournament the context and the characters themselves the plot.

I enjoyed it. I was interested, invested. I wanted to know what would happen to these people, if and how things worked out for them. And for the first two-thirds of the book, it was getting a solid four stars.

I didn’t like all of the characters, at least not all of the time, but they were real enough more me to be interested in them, to want to follow their lives for a little while.

Ultimately, the end of the book was a let down to me. The first two-thirds, while enjoyable, were very long. It deserved a more satisfying, less rushed ending, or else it needed to be more heavily edited.

I enjoyed the writing and the characters, but not the construction, delivery and climax of the characters’ stories.

(Longer spoiler-filled review at:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

(viewed 958 times)
Book Nineteen.

I pretty much finished this book in one sitting, but not for any positive reasons. The hipster handbook, i knew what i was letting myself in for in regards to overly meaningful while ultimately vague one-liner quotes. But i hadn’t realised just how bad the entire book was.

Charlie is purportedly “intelligent beyond his years,” but to be totally un-PC, he just came across as “special” to me. He noticed things, he wondered things, he read books… but everything he conveyed about these things was unenlightened, simple and childlike. He doesn’t grasp the points he’s making, the reader does. His awkward use of English and his simple-mindedness often made me chuckle and snicker, but i’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to.

Constantly referencing certain books, music and recreational hobbies, this book is trying hard to be the hipster handbook it has become. For me, though, any book that tries too hard to be something is doing it wrong.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower wanted to be another Catcher in the Rye, but ultimately wound up being the next Diary of Adrian Mole.

(Longer spoiler-filled review at:

The Kraken Wakes

(viewed 933 times)
Book Eighteen.

I haven’t met a Wyndham book i didn’t love, and this one was no exception. His narrative style is wonderful for me, constantly interesting and engaging while being easy to read. And read, and read.

Really, this book isn’t about the ‘kraken’; it’s about the humans. About human curiosity and inquisitiveness, as well as human denial and inertia, not forgetting human rashness and self-preservation.

This book explores, over many years, the human reaction and development when faced with a previously unknown and increasingly hostile intelligent life form. It’s not sensationalised; it’s plausible. It's thoughtful and thorough. What we see in a realistic—and, 60 years later, still relevant—representation of the press, public and government during the time of a slowly developing crisis.

I have read several of Wyndham’s books, but the alien apocalyptic adventures told in The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes is definitely Wyndham at his best.

(Longer spoiler-filled review at: