Meltdown by Ben Elton – Book Review

I love it when you’re in an op shop and you come across a book you’ve not seen before by an author whose work you’ve always enjoyed. It’s less good when you read the book and cannot quite figure out what the point of it is.

Meltdown is Ben Elton’s take on the financial crisis, following a bunch of folks who met in college and went into various careers where they were able to make a whole heap of cash. Then, when things went wrong, their lives and friendships are tested.

I think the reason I didn’t like this book was that the characters are painted as such unlikable wankers that I had no sympathy for them when things go wrong.  Plus, it was really repetitive, and I just wanted it to end. It’s annoying, because I recently read Two Brothers by Ben Elton, and that was wonderful, and he has written other absolute gems, and so when I find one that I don’t like, I’m deeply disappointed.

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Maestra by L.S. Hilton – Book Review

Judith works in an auction house in London, somewhere down the bottom end of things, barely able to cover her living expenses, but she has ambition. However, this is an erotic fiction and before long, she’s finding some sexy ways to pay the bills. But then (because this is also an erotic suspense) she comes across something unusual happening at work and finds herself out of a job.  Rather than swelling on this, she convinces a man to take her and a friend to France for an erotic getaway, but things go terribly wrong.

This is not a book I would typically choose, but when a friend told me that she had stumbled across it at a friend’s holiday house and told me of how ridiculous it was, I had to have a go. I think erotic writing is really hard to do without it seeming silly, and this book indeed did seem silly. There is a plot that works quite well, and there is a female protagonist who is generally taking control of situations. It was a quick read, and a fun read, but not something I’d recommend to most people – unless you’re after a kinda sexy laugh.

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Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Book Review

This is the third book in the Tearling series. In the first, Kelsea became queen of the Tearling, stopped the human trafficking to their evil neighbouring queendom hence starting a war. In the second book she tries to work out how to win the war whilst having all-encompassing visions of a woman from the past – who managed to escape from a dystopia and establish the first civilisation in the new world and ends up handing herself over. In this third book, her visions continue in the new world, with all of the magic and strangeness in this new world. Can she figure out how to save everyone?

It took me a while to get into this one – in fact, the only way I could do it was to re-read the second book to remember what the world was all about, and then take it from there. And it got really strange, but I found the characters so compelling that I couldn’t put it down. And the end was somewhat strange, but yet somewhat perfect.

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Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous – Book Review

An ex-alcoholic advertising executive reflects over his time destroying women. Once, he was in a relationship but the alcohol led him to destroy it, and then an anger led him to cause pain to as many women as possible. He would get them into a relationship and then, just when they were the most in love, he would break up with them in whatever way would hurt them the most. Finally, he quits alcohol and leaves for the US, where he gets himself together, and then falls in love. Only, it seems it is time for his comeuppance.

It’s  horrible idea, but really a great concept for a book, however I feel this was a bit underwritten. I wanted more of his horrible actions, even though it would have been unpleasant to read. I also felt that the final sequence where he is finally given a taste of his own medicine was somewhat unclear, and because of this, I didn’t really get why it was so bad. It claims to be an autobiography, and perhaps this is why he doesn’t go into more detail. Why would you want to admit to being such a nasty bloke?

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Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini – Book Review

Jeremy Heere is a loser. He keeps a list of all of the terrible things that people do to him, and is mortified when he finds out that all the other kids at school know about it. Plus he has a crush on Christine, and takes part in a school play to find a way to be close to her. And then he hears about the squib. A squib is a little electronic bug that you swallow, it makes its way into your brain and directs you to actions that allow you to reach your goal. Jeremy gets one and follows the instructions, although is hesitant to cut ties with his best friend, Michael. But technology is not perfect, and things start to go wrong.

Thank goodness this is not a technology. The idea of something inside your body making you do things – that is sci fi terror to me. But given that we our lives are now driven by technology such like smart phones and watches and the like, maybe this is a logical step? What this book really addresses is the world of teenagers and the want to not be an outsider. Some of us never minded being an outsider – people like Michael who have passions and don’t care what others think. But most of us want to be relatively ‘normal’ and will do things that we regret to be accepted.

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Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume – Book Review

To many women of my generation (and the generation before, and I hope the generations below), Judy Blume was a beacon of light, the women who wrote books that let us know that what we felt was normal. She wrote about friendships and families and divorce and what we feel inside. And I recently learned that she was banned from many libraries because she wrote about things which were controversial – menstruation and masturbation and birth control and the like. I now not only love her as an author, but as a hero.

Stephanie is starting middle school and is fearful that her relationship with her best friend Rachel might change, especially as they are not in the same classes and there is a new girl, Alison, who she quickly becomes close to. In addition to this, things are happening at home, she’s becoming interested in boys, and her younger brother is having nightmares about nuclear war.

This is what Blume is all about. Through Stephanie, we see the fear to face the changes that are out of control in our lives, the rose-coloured glasses view of other people and the confusing emotions of teenagers (and, let’s face it, older folks too!). This isn’t my favourite Blume (as a Margaret growing up in a world with few Margarets of my own age, it would absolutely have to be Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.) but it’s a good one!

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The Handmaid’s Tale – TV Review

Amazing. Just amazing. This is the adaptation of the wonderful Margaret Atwood book. Starring Elizabeth Moss as Offred, the main character whose life was changed from the life that would be recognisable to most of us to that in a dystopia where woman of youthful breeding ages were forced to become handmaids and to breed for the wealthy, powerful couples who were unable to conceive.

It is such a great interpretation, receiving widespread critical and popular acclaim. The show covered the book and it has been commissioned for a second season – and with Atwood as a consultant, I can only hope that it is great as this first season.

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