Review: Dune by Frank Herbert

I have always wanted to read Dune. I have a weakness for good old fashioned science fiction and I had recently read some Asimov books that I had really enjoyed. I also remember as a child listening to my father talking about how much he enjoyed reading Dune.

So, when it came time to choose my next book I thought that the time had finally come for me to pick it up and give it a read.

Dune is a difficult book to summarise but I will do my best.

The story is full of political intrigue. The Atreides family are awarded a lucrative contact mining the planet Arrakis for melange, a drug that also happens to be the most valuable resource in the universe. The contract had previously been held by the Harkonnes family who also happen to be Atreides family enemies.

With the support of the Imperial Majesty, the Harkonnes rebel against the loss of their valuable contract. Duke Leto Atreides is killed and his concubine Jessica and their son Paul escape into the dessert on the planet Arrakis where they are supported by the native population called Fremen.

The Fremans see Paul as someone sprung out of a legend. Paul takes on the mantle he was destined to wear, that of Muad- Dib, essentially the Messiah of the Fremans. His goal is to take back Arrakis from the Harkonnes and turn it into an ecologically sustainable planet.  In the end he gets even more.


I was really ready to enjoy this book and maybe that was the problem.

Read on for the review.

Review: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

I’ll bet a lot of reviews about Ian McEwan novels start out like this but there is no getting away from it. Ian McEwan is polarising. 

Yes, there are readers who will either love his books or loathe them. 

A more common phenomenon, I think, is that there are readers out there who love some of his books and loathe others. I am certainly in that latter camp. Atonement took me many attempts and a long time to get into it but when I did I loved it. The same could be said for Enduring Love. Saturday and Solar, on the hand, I have never been able to finish, no matter how many times I have started them.

So, it was with great trepidation when I started reading Ian McEwan’s latest book, The Children Act. 

Read on for the review.


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How do you choose which book to read next?

It's one of the problems of being a book hoarder - how do you choose which book to read next?

I haven't been reading much lately. What I have been reading definitely hasn't been anything taxing.

I think I've read about a quarter of Agatha Christie's bibliography and I've read the Harry Potter and Twilight series at least times each. I'm expecting baby number 2 and so between the morning sickness, work and looking after my toddler those books have been just about all I can manage.

 Now that I'm starting to feel more like myself I've started to read a little more widely. A little while ago I read An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy. More recently I re-read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (oh my goodness, how amazing is that book!).

I am currently half way through The Children Act by Ian McEwan. I have a love-hate relationship wtih Iam McEwan. Some of his books I love. Some of them, I don't love at all. I must say that, so far, I am really enjoying The Children Act. It is well written, easy to read and I feel very drawn to the protagonist, a Family Court Judge. It helps that I am currently working in a very specific area of international family law so it's content is spot on the sort of issues I have to consider at work on occasion. I feel like I am actually having an insight into what it is like being a Judge. Soon, though, it will be finished.

So here is the question - what do I read next?

Read on for more.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling: book club discussion Part 1 (contains spoilers)

This Part 1 of the book club discussion that took place in relation to JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. For more information see "Review: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (something a little different)"

Was there one character in particular that you felt strongly about? Pity, sympathy, disgust? And did it change over the course of the book?  

JD I felt very sorry for Tessa. She tried hard to keep her family together and do the right thing by her husband and son. She obviously had a deep desire to have a baby even though her husband was unwell. I really wanted a happy ever after for her and I also wanted her to step up and take care of Krystal and Robbie. I wanted someone (anyone) to take care of them. The way it went was more realistic to today's society and that made me very sad and made it hard to read at times. Give me a happily ever after book now please!!

SH I really felt something for Krystal but mostly Robbie. Even though he wasn't a main character... I felt like the outcome of the vote would make or break his family. I was hoping Krystals little plan would work out. It's ironic that while trying to fall pregnant, to protect her brother, it actually ended in him dying 

JD agree SH. What did you feel towards theeir mum?  

SH Can I also say... It go to the point where if I had to read 'authentic' again I was going to scream!!!!! I just felt really sad for her JD. Sometimes in the book I felt disgust but mostly I felt pity.  
Read on for more discussion. 

Review: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (something a little bit different)

Here I am after another long absense. In that long absense, amoungst changing nappies and giving baths, I have managed to do some reading.

A couple of months ago I read JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. As a big Harry Potter fan, I was curious to see what else she could produce and whether it would live up to the expectations I held after her previous success.  

Sadly, for me, it didn't. Whilst I can intellectually see what Rowling was trying to achieve, the narrative pace was just too slow for me. I was reading the book because I had to read the book, and it felt like pulling teeth. Until the end, that is, when all of a sudden I found that I had been hooked and couldn't put it down until I had finished it. Did that end make up for the first 3/4 of the book that was as dull as staring at a brick wall? Not for me.

The story is based around the small town of Pagford in rural England. When one of the members of the Parish Council, Barry Fairbrother, passes away local politics becomes nasty as a local election is called to see who will take the position. Factions form according to whether candidates are supporters of or detractors from the local housing estate "The Fields".

We see this drama unfold through the eyes of a host a characters from a range of ages, backgrounds and political views. There is Krystal, a young girl being raised by a drug addict mother in The Fields, trying to keep her family together. Tessa, the school counsellor who has to act as a barrier between her teenage son and her husband, also the Principal of the local High School. Parminder Jawanda, a local doctor who sits on the Parish Council, supports The Fields and is in love with Barry Fairbrother.

That is only to name three of the many characters JK Rowling has filled her book with. I found that with so many characters, the bulk of the first half of the book was spent just introducing them and it became very difficult to remember who everyone was and how they were all related to each other. This distracted from what else might have been going on in the early parts of the story, although to be fair from I could detect it wasn't much.

Read on for more of the review.

Review: Blind Faith by Ben Elton

He worked in the DegSep Division of NatDat. DegSep was short for Degrees of Separation and it existed in order to establish and catalogue the connections (no matter how tenuous) between every single person, every other person and every single thing that happened. 
~Blind Faith by Ben Elton

The "he" referred to here is Trafford, the protagonist of this comic dystopian novel. Blind Faith is set in a future where the world as we know it has been wiped out by a disastrous flood bought on my mankind's carelessness toward the environment. In its place is a world ravaged by plagues, where only 50% of children survive past their 5th birthday and vaccinations are illegal because they contravene God's Will.

In fact, there is now a single world religion in which the entire population participates with blind faith. In this religion, people are told that they are the embodiment of God and that to respect God they must worship themselves. Privacy is seen as a perversion and everything one does is recorded and shared with everyone else via all forms of social media. People must blog daily and place footage of everything from childbirth to sex to shaving their bikini line on You Tube for everyone else watch. This is a world where it is sinful for women to have natural breasts, g-strings are every day dress and McDonalds is the fanciest restaurant around.

Trafford, a conservative man who wears shorts as long as half way down his thigh, secretly despises the world in which he lives and desires the ability to reason for himself. Blind Faith is the story of Trafford's attempt to reason for himself and share his knowledge with the rest of the population.

Read on for the rest of the review.