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Figgy O'Connell

Currently reading

See You in the Cosmos
Jack Cheng
Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond
Stephen Biesty, Martin Jenkins
The Terranauts: A Novel
T.C. Boyle
A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Sara Barnard
Gumnut Babies
May Gibbs
Progress: 42/264 pages
Highly Illogical Behaviour
John Corey Whaley
Progress: 82/249 pages
Alastair Reynolds
Progress: 75/425 pages
See What I Have Done
Sarah Schmidt
The Dog, Ray
Linda Coggin
Forgetting Foster
Dianne Touchell

Is That an Elephant in My Fridge?

Is That an Elephant in My Fridge? - Caroline Crowe, Claudia Ranucci Review to come.

You Can't Eat a Princess!

You Can't Eat a Princess! - Gillian Rogerson, Sarah McIntyre Review to come.

Do Not Open This Book

Do Not Open This Book - Andy Lee, Heath McKenzie Review to come.

Children of the New World: Stories

Children of the New World: Stories - Alexander Weinstein Fans of the show Black Mirror are bound to find something to like in Weinstein’s collection of stories. Each of these stories has something to do with technology, whether that be humanity’s reliance on it, the ways in which it warps our interactions with each other, or how we deal with a sudden loss of it.

Some of the stories do cross the line into the bizarre, especially the ones where technology affects the way people have sex, and one in particular where people can add additional genitals to various parts of their bodies in order to continually amp up the sexual experience. There are also plenty of dark themes and situations in which people are pushed to their most desperate of limits. Weinstein explores that breaking point, and looks into how far people might go to fix things, hinting at some pretty awful things but never spelling it out for readers.

But there are also some really touching moments showing how, when the shit really hits the fan, people from the other side of whatever the relevant divide might be, will still reach out a helping hand to other humans in distress.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!


-- Pre-review Breakdown --

Saying Goodbye to Yang - 5/5
This one had me in tears... a feat for a story that is only 22 pages long.
- Not realising how much you love something until it's gone
- Misjudging someone who's on the other side of a major societal norm from you
- In the end, people comforting people, because although we make different choices and have very different opinions, a loss is still a loss. And a hurting person deserves comfort from another human being.

The Cartographers - 4.75/5
Haha, who am I kidding? This is so very nearly 5 that I should just give it that, but after how much the first story wrecked me, I can't quite justify it. Great story, slow build, chilling. Though very close to some plots I've watched or read before, it was artfully done.
- Addiction
- Manufactured memories

Heartland - 3.5/5
The author definitely has a way with words, and in this one he paints a stark vision in which resources are becoming more and more scarce and making ends meet is a near-impossibility.
He uses words that don't so much say the horrible things, but in a way that the reader knows.
A little less to this story, and it feels almost as though the whole point of it was to get to that end paragraph, and without the rest of it, the reader wouldn't have been able to read between his lines.

Excerpts from The New World Authorized Dictionary - (No Rating)
I don't feel I am in the right place to judge this one before finishing the book. It's a collection of definitions accompanied by examples of their uses within the world of the book. One hints at a connection to The Cartographers (story #2), so it stands to reason that the others might do the same for the rest of the book.
There was one definition (and accompanying reference) that was SO close to a Black Mirror element that it's rather eerie.

Moksha - 3.5/5
Again, a well-told story, about a world where meditation and enlightenment are illegal, and people seek ways to find enlightenment through electronic means, for 15,000 rupee or more.

Children of the New World - 5/5
Raw and emotional and well told and engaging.
This takes a closer look, again, at relationships with those who "aren't real" and takes a chilling look at online viruses and just how much our "data" can really mean to us.

Fall Line - 3.5/5
Everything is filmed and streamed on a site called The Third Eye by contact lenses people wear. Snow is melting all the world over, and washed-up extreme skier Ronnie Hawks contemplates his choices between living fast and wild or dwindling into mediocrity.

A Brief History of the Failed Revolution - (No Rating)
Another of those not-really-a-story stories, in which there are lot of references that feel as though they relate to another story, but don't do much on their own.

Migration - 3.5/5
This one starts out rather bizarrely but has a heart-warming moment towards the end.
In a world where no one has ventured outside in years and everyone goes about their daily lives online, complete with body-suits that allow them to experience sex in that virtual world in a way like never before, the kid who wants to go outside and do things in the real world is the one they're worried about.

The Pyramid and the Ass - 4/5
Another one that has a rather bizarre sexual element to it, but in which reincarnation has been perfected into a science people pay big bucks for, and the Dalai Lama is seen as a terrorist.
The ending of the story didn't seem to fit in with the main character's goal.

Rocket Night - 5/5
Every year, a child from each school is launched into space. They're always the loners or the most annoying of the year, and the voice of the story is rather chilling in its coldness.

Openness - 4/5
An exploration of how technology changes our interactions and might take over normal conversation in the future, and how vocalisations might become old-school.

Ice Age - 3.5/5
In a future where an Ice Age has taken many lives and evicted people from their homes. A look at how desperation can lead to flaring tempers and a consumerism helps soothe a tortured soul.

Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World: Famous Artists and the Children Who Knew Them

Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World: Famous Artists and the Children Who Knew Them - Laurence Anholt Review to come.

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle

The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle - Justine Clarke, Arthur Baysting, Tom Jellett Review to come.

A Day with Dogs

A Day with Dogs - Dorothée de Monfreid Actual Rating 2.5

Things that this book has going for it:
- It’s cute
- It explores daily activities but in a cute way, with dogs and the main characters
- There are pages within that include counting exercises, the alphabet, and the mixing of primary colours to create secondary colours
- It has common, everyday items for young readers to find
- It’s not something you see every day
- It has nice sturdy pages without them being that thick, board book type
- It’s a little bit Richard Scarry

Things this reviewer didn’t like about this book:
- It’s a little all over the place, what with the switching from daily activities to counting and listing animals, colours, names, types of transport, and so on
- It doesn’t seem to know exactly what it wants to be
- It doesn’t have much of a story to it
- There are depictions of anthropomorphised dogs eating things that are REALLY BAD for dogs to eat

The rest of this review can be found HERE!

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else - Gus  Gordon Review to come.


Pandora - Victoria Turnbull, Frances Lincoln Ltd Review to come.

My Perfect Pup

My Perfect Pup - Sue Walker, Anil Tortop Review to come.

Billie's Great Desert Adventure

Billie's Great Desert Adventure - Sally Rippin, Alisa Coburn Review to come.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

The Twelve Dancing Princesses - Anna Walker, Jacob Grimm, Margrete Lamond, Wilhelm Grimm Review to come.

Actual rating 3.5.

The White Fox

The White Fox - Jackie Morris The White Fox is another great title put out by a Barrington Stoke imprint. This is gorgeous package, complete with tinted pages with font and spacing that are great for dislexic readers, a handful of gorgeous illustrations throughout the story, dust jacket, and placeholder ribbon.

Inside the gorgeous external package, this is also a story with a lot of heart.

This is a story about a variety of relationships within one emotionally wounded family. There's the relationship between the main character and his dad who works too much and finds it painful to be around him; the relationship between the main character and his grandparents, who he hasn't seen since he was two, with whom his main form of contact is the weekly card they send him; and the relationship between the grandparents and the dad who didn't feel he could face them after the loss of their daughter; and of course, the relationship between the boy and the fox who are both alone and away from their normal habitats.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!

Reading progress update: I've read 23 out of 469 pages.

Feedback - Mira Grant

'Makes sense.' Ben paused. Then he started laughing helplessly.
I gave him a sidelong look. 'What?'
'My mother would be so offended right now. How dare I get attacked by zombies at her funeral? I should have had the decency to do it tomorrow.'
'Technically, you're not at the funeral anymore. The funeral ended when the last of the mourners went home.'
Ben shook his head. 'Nope, I'm supposed to go home, eat casserole, and be sad.'
'Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't know.' I looked down at the zombies. 'You hear that? You're getting in the way of casserole!'
The zombies moaned. Ben laughed. We waited for the police to arrive.

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 469 pages.

Feedback - Mira Grant

My eyes adjusted. The movement in the field became a man: tall, dark-haired, wearing a brown suit that looked like it had seen better days. He was walking through the knee-high grass with an unsteady lurch that would have confirmed his status as one of the infected even if it hadn't been for the drool on his chin.

Reading progress update: I've read 5 out of 469 pages.

Feedback - Mira Grant

The world isn't so good with funerals anymore.
Deaths, sure; we have plenty of those. We can give you death in any shape or size you want. Good death, bad death, slow death, fast death - the modern world is the fucking Amazon.com of dying. Maybe it wasn't like that before the Rising hit and the dead started to walk, but hey, guess what: All that shit happened, and now we're the rats in the wreckage, living and dying in the aftermath of our parents' mistakes.