Review: A Trail Through Time

A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Trail Through TimeSt Mary’s is back and is facing a battle to survive in this, the fourth instalment of the Chronicles.

Max and Leon are re-united and looking forward to a peaceful lifetime together. But, sadly, they don’t even make it to lunchtime.

The action races from 17th century London to Ancient Egypt and from Pompeii to 14th century Southwark as they’re pursued up and down the timeline, playing a perilous game of hide and seek until they’re finally forced to take refuge at St Mary’s – where new dangers await them.

As usual, there are plenty of moments of humour, but the final, desperate, Battle of St Mary’s is in grim earnest. Overwhelmed and outnumbered and with the building crashing down around them, how can St Mary’s possibly survive?

So, make sure the tea’s good and strong…

I love this series, although this one wasn’t quite as good as the first three. It s a hard book to review without giving away spoilers.

Max is a fabulous protagonist: a strong, intelligent, funny but flawed woman. In other words: real!

The book is extremely funny, but also sad in parts and poses interesting moral questions about how society would react to the discovery of time travel.

I’m not quite as keen on this time-line as the original one but I will still read the next book to see what happens.

British book challenge

Review: Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma

Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma by David Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma
Alan Mathison Turing.
Mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, a founder of computer science, and the father of Artificial Intelligence, Turing was one of the most original thinkers of the last century – and the man whose work helped create the computer-driven world we now inhabit.
But he was also an enigmatic figure, deeply reticent yet also strikingly naïve. Turing’s openness about his homosexuality at a time when it was an imprisonable offense ultimately led to his untimely lo death at the age of only forty-one.

A short but interesting and thought provoking book.

I was aware that Alan Turing was instrumental in helping the allies breaking the German enigma code during the war and that he was prosecuted for homosexual acts, said prosecution probably leading to his suicide.

I was also aware of the ‘Turing Test’ as a measure of a machine’s capacity to ‘think’. I had not put two and two together to realise it was the same man.

The book contained many interesting facts of which I was not previously aware but being so short, did not explore them in the detail that I would have liked.

For example, I knew the Victorian, Charles Babbage was one of the first to conceptualise the computer, but not that he was interested in code breaking, although logically that does follow.

I certainly did not know that Turing, and other mathematicians, were fascinated by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Why?

It seems highly ironic to me that a man obsessed with whether machines could think was pushed to suicide by the blind, unthinking prejudice of humans who mostly, it seems to me, spend very little time thinking.

LGBT2015_mini_zpse734642bBritish book challenge

Review: The Hystery App

The Hystery App by V.T. Davy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘That’s not female liberation; we’re not really doing as we please but as the CEOs and marketing men of mega-corporations please; women are being boxed into yet another stereotype that pleases or teases men in exchange for our advancement. It’s prostitution on a global scale. It is as if the feminism that you and I know never happened.’ 

When the biophysicist Dr Brogan Miller and her partner, the women’s historian Dr Honor Smith, stumble upon a cosmic phenomenon that enables them to film the everyday lives of women from the past, they believe it will bring about a revolution in the way that women’s history is taught and studied. 

On the release of the Hystery app, their initial euphoria is not dampened as astonishing uploads from all over the world pour in showing women from all centuries at home, at work and at play. But, as the uploads take a more sinister turn, they realise that, in their excitement, they overlooked society’s appetite for new technology that bends each innovation to satisfy its basest cravings. It is only when tragedy strikes the couple and the extraordinary Erin James enters Brogan’s life that she finds the courage to put right what she has let loose on the world. 

In the second of V T Davy’s ‘state of the lesbian nation’ novels, he blends science fiction, lesbian romance and women’s history to ask whether the rights that women espouse today are those that were fought for by the pioneers of feminism or whether they have become distorted beyond recognition.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and would rate it as 4.5 stars. It was great to have a story with lesbian characters that wasn’t just a romance. There was romance but it was secondary to the science fiction and feminism issues.

The book is set in contemporary England where Dr Brogan Miller’s private satellite is orbiting a cosmic string which has allowed it to transmit images from the past to connected webcams and mobile phones. Obviously all science fiction requires some suspension of disbelief and I was able to do that quite happily but if I thought too hard about it the viewing of history, and especially the fact that only deceased women could be seen, was rather spurious really. However, it made for an interesting premise in which to explore the way women are treated in our patriarchal society.

I liked all of the characters, although some of Brogan’s behaviour annoyed me. Erin, in particular, was great. A strong woman shaped by her tragic past. How she used the app was incredibly brave. I’m not sure I could have done it, had I been in her shoes.

A couple of negative factors: firstly, the tragedy that strikes was dealt with rather abruptly I though. Secondly, the sex scenes had a bit too much ‘she did this and she did that’. Hard to avoid with two women, I know, but a bit more use of their names would have helped.

Although the book explores complex issues and raises interesting questions, it is no dry, academic treatise. It is an exciting tale that I found hard to put down. Society’s reactions to the app seemed realistic and I was glad Honor and Brogan made the decisions they did.

I would definitely read more of Davy’s books.

LGBT2015_mini_zpse734642bBritish book challenge

British Books Challenge 2015

I’m signing up to the British Books Challenge 2015

Great British Books Challenge 2015I will be reading and reviewing at least 12 British books this year. You can see the list of those I’ve reviewed on the British Books Challenge page.