Having just missed one hundred books in the first year of The Book Challenge, in 2010, I made the full tonne. Still reading, but without the challenge, take a look at the reviews for the books that I have read this year.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Book 60 - The Zombie Survival Guide

Book - The Zombie Survival Guide
Author - Max Brooks
Year - 2004
Genre - Handbook
Recommended by Matthew Kellett and lent to me by Laura Gillham.

Imagine that the world was slowly being overrun by the reanimated corpses of humankind. What would you do? Chances are you have never thought too hard about this. This is your first mistake. As The Zombie Survival Guide attempts to show, planning is imperitive to your survival.

If this sounds like the prelude to a tongue in cheek zombie spoof, then you have the wrong impression. This book is an entirely serious discourse on te best way to survive an outbreak o the solanum virus - in other words a zombie attack. And with he possible exception of the actual existence of zombies, the whole book makes total sense. The techniques seem perfectly researched, and the stumbling blocks in explaining how to be safe that I expected never materialise. Brooks covers things brilliantly.

This has long been one of Matt's favourite books, yet I was expecting to find the concept quite amusing but to lose interest pretty quickly - how interesting can over 250 pages of guidebook be? However, with the exception of a small dip about three quarters of the way through it us massively engaging, and you find yourself genuinely considering the best way for you to personally deal with a zombie attack.

I would leave tips here, but come a Level Four outbreak, resources will be limited so every man for himself.


(This is the first time I have used my new blogging app on my itouch as I am currently on route to The Burg for the Fringe, so apologies if things are a tad dodgy whilst I get used to it.)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Book 59 - Adam Copeland on Edge

Book - Adam Copeland on Edge
Author - Adam Copeland
Year - 2004
Genre - Autobiography

I mentioned in a previous blog how something that I dislike is the idea of an autobiography being ghostwritten.  That is not to say that I wouldn't read a ghostwritten autobiography, but it just strikes me that if you say you wrote a book, then you should do the decent thing and actually write it yourself.  If you are rubbish at writing then get someone to write a plain biography, or write a crap book.  Each of these would be better options in my eyes that pretending that someone else's words are your own.

And this is the problem with most wrestling autobiographies - they are so ghostwritten as to become awful.  Mick Foley kicked off the wrestling autobiography boom with his first book Have A Nice Day (read this year by my nemesis Bob) - a book written in its entirety by Foley himself - but was then followed up with ridiculous lumps such as the books 'by' Chyna, Kurt Angle and The Rock - the latter of which was written partly in character.

So I was instantly interested when I heard that the wrestler Edge - also known by his real name of Adam Copeland - had written his book all by himself.  This is what I was looking for in one of these memoirs!  Unfortunately, he falls ever so slightly into the dreaded camp of 'being a bit crap at writing', especially when compared to Foley, but the effort still leaves the book feeling much fresher than some of the other rubbish I have read.

Copeland has a brief overview of his childhood - essential I suppose to ones life story, but in this instance kept just the right length as to not get dull before we hear of the wrestler we have come to know - before he powers on to stories of life on the road, getting his break, and then some of the more memorable feuds he has had over the years.  Some of the stories are great, quite funny, and nice to hear about some of the real people behind the 'Superstars' of the WWE, but you feel that he could probably pushed more and given you a real insight instead of some of the stories which come off a little 'You had to be there'.  The play by play match analysis is also sometimes a little over the top, especially considering it tends to be based around matches that we have all seen so much of anyway.

But refreshingly, the book is very enjoyable and you come out of it very much liking Edge (this was written before the Matt Hardy-Lita-Edge controversy.  I know I am getting a bit wrestlegeek now, but I would have loved to have heard about that from an insiders view and see if he still comes out as likable) and as though you have learned a little of his career.  It was written when he was thirty, and before any of his nine World Title reigns, so begs for a sequel, which I hope he will again write himself in a few years time once his career comes to an end.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Book 58 - Knots and Crosses

Book - Knots and Crosses
Author - Ian Rankin
Year - 1987
Genre - Crime

One wonderful thing about working in a school is my introduction to something called the Book Club.  Contrary to my original belief, this is not just a term for a group of people who gather together in order to read the same book and discuss, but instead companies who come into schools (and apparently some workplaces as well) with a box of books which they sell at massively reduced prices.  Working in a primary school, there are a lot of kids books there, but every now and then they have something which catches my eye.

This was the case a couple of weeks back when they had a pack of ten Ian Rankin books for the wonderful cost of £10 - marked down from about £80.  All I really knew of Rankin at the time was that he wrote a series of Edinburgh based crime novels about DS Rebus, but being a fan of crime stories, Edinburgh, and ultimately, bargains, I bought the set.

And a wonderful deal this would have been, if it were not for the fact that the earliest Rebus novel of the lot is book twelve in the series.  So Knots and Crosses, the first in the series, is an Amazon buy at the price of £4.99.  The pressure was on to enjoy this, considering I would otherwise have a massive pile of books that I didn't want to read.

As it turns out, the first of the series is particularly 'okay'.  The novel is very easy to read, but lacks a lot of the intrigue that you would hope for in a crime novel, and an awful lot of the twists.  The denouement is hardy edge of the seat stuff, and the ending pretty rushed.  Yet Reus is a great character, and just by reading the first of this series, you can see that the potential to flesh him out is enormous, and considering the popularity of the series I imagine that this is something Rankin achieves over the course of the next books.

So whilst not the most groundbreaking book I have ever read, I will happily keep reading Rankin's series at roughly the speed I find the early ones in charity shops (managed to pick up the second whilst i was waiting for the first to arrive in the post).  It will be interesting to see if Rebus' hometown of Edinburgh will make that search more fruitful when I visit next week.