Book Review: Leonardo Da Vinci A Life From Beginning To End

There are few people in the history of the world who evoke as much curiosity and wonder as Leonardo Da Vinci. This book serves as a combination of mini-biography and highlights reel of his career. However there is little here that you won’t already know if you’ve read about him before.
In addition, some of the writing is of a low quality (I wonder if English is the authors first language?) and certain items are written about out of order chronologically.

The descriptions of some of Leonardos best known works are interesting enough but it’s disappointing that the book contains no illustrations to accompany.

Favourite Quotes:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”-Leonardo Da Vinci

“there is something supernatural in the accumulation in one individual of so much beauty, grace and might.”

In summary this book is well worth a read as an introduction to Da Vinci just to learn some quick facts and it’s so short (and FREE) that it can’t be considered a waste of time but is by no means definitive.

Book Review: Black Blood by John Hennessy

In a post WW3 future the human survivors live in an underground Sanctuary under the care of aliens who are trying to save the planet and undo the nuclear destruction. The only price the aliens ask is that humans labour to build the machinery necessary and that they take Emotin, a drug that completely prevents emotions. 

Aberdeen Dareday is different to the people around her, having to pretend that the medication is working on her too but when she wakes to find herself transformed with black veins her time is up and she must run to survive.

Upon escaping the Sanctuary and emerging into a world showing little sign of the nuclear destruction she expects to find she realises that the aliens haven’t been truthful..

Black Blood is a combination of Dystopia, Sci-fi, Fantasy and supernatural. The plot is pretty different with Abby discovering more about herself and her powers as the story progresses and there’s plenty of action too. One aspect I liked is that her magic wasn’t enough to survive with, she needed to learn how to use weapons and hand-to-hand combat too. I found that more believable, particularly as she lacked control over her magic.

The side characters were interesting too although Ash tended to run a bit too unemotional and thus came close to being boring. The animal companions are a good addition though – I want those dogs!

I really enjoyed this book and disagree with the reviewers who say the end is rushed however I have to say that Abby’s preoccupation with penises whenever they’re visible was a bit OTT – the first instance where she immediately starts thinking about how it would look engorged seemed particularly uncharacteristic.

These instances as well as one of a male being sexually violated mean this book is definitely for the older section of YA rather than younger ones.

** I received a free Kindle edition of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

Chalk by Paul Cornell 

Andrew Waggoner has always hung around with the losers in his school, desperately hoping each day that the school bullies will pass by him in search of other prey. But one day they force him into the woods, and the bullying escalates into something more; something unforgivable; something unthinkable.

Broken, both physically and emotionally, something dies in Waggoner, and something else is born in its place.

This is a dark and disturbing read. Dealing with bullying of a young schoolboy at a time when it was accepted as “Horseplay” and teachers would comfortably ignore it or even blame the victim

‘But there’s a sort of boy,’ he continued, stepping closer to me, ‘who’s always going to get picked on, no matter what. In those cases it’s often more the fault of the bullied than the bullying. You take my advice. You don’t want to become one of them.’

The author explores bullying and it’s effects from a variety of angles: the bully, the victim, parents and the cycle of abuse leading to bullying behaviour. 

But this is no ordinary tale of bullying and domestic violence as Andrew’s desire for retribution awakens something ancient in the chalk hills and the story becomes a compelling tale of folk lore.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and it’s treatment of the subject matter was interesting and realistic. The characters were well established and felt “real” and recognizable. The significance of the pop charts felt a bit silly in comparison to the other things going on in my opinion however and really impacted on my enjoyment of the last few chapters.


* I received a free Kindle edition of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *

Chemistry by Weike Wang

This is not the book I expected to read. I picked it out thinking it was going to be full of nerdy humour and there is certainly some of that here.

“The optimistic sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The chemist sees the glass completely full, half in liquid state and half in gaseous, both of which are probably poisonous.”

But what really makes this book something special is the beautiful description of the central character’s struggle with life’s (and parental) expectations, a stalled career and a failing relationship. The depression and loneliness is heartfelt and emotional. Another unusual but welcome aspect to this story is the way everything just kind of continues on – there’s no great cathartic Moment or Turning Point – life just goes on to the incredibly sudden end of the book.

Reading this back I’m really not making the points I want to – just get it, read it (it’s only short) and you won’t be disappointed I promise!


* I received a free kindle edition of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *