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Book Review – Last Light (Last Light Series, Book 1) by Alex Scarrow

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Book Description:

It begins on a very normal Monday morning. But in the space of only a few days, the world’s oil supplies have been severed and at a horrifying pace things begin to unravel everywhere. This is no natural disaster — someone is behind this.

Oil engineer Andy Sutherland is stranded in Iraq with a company of British soldiers, desperate to find a way home, trapped as the very infrastructure of daily life begins to collapse around him. Back in Britain, his wife Jenny is stuck in Manchester, fighting desperately against the rising chaos to get back to their children in London as events begin to spiral out of control — riots, raging fires, looting, rape, and murder. In the space of a week, London is transformed into an anarchic vision of hell.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man is tracking Andy’s family. He’ll silence anyone who can reveal the identities of those behind this global disaster. The people with a stranglehold on the future of civilization have flexed their muscles at other significant tipping points in history, and they are prepared to do anything to keep their secret — and their power — safe.

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Last Light by Alex Scarrow had the potential to be one of the best speculative fiction novels I’ve read. It sure is one scary apocalyptic thriller (even with its faults) – seriously, it is so realistic that at one point early on when I put the book down and turned on CNN, I half expected to be greeted with a report on the harrowing events in the book (London burning! riots!)! As Alex Scarrow explains in his author’s afterword, he was inspired to write Last Light after he heard the phrase “Peak Oil” – which is the danger point at which the world pretty much runs out of oil. He wanted to show how fragile our oil-dependent society is, how quickly all veneers of civilization can descend into anarchy, how essentially helpless we have allowed ourselves to become. I mean, what would you do if there’s no power, gas, food, drinking water for the foreseeable future? There’s no need for zombies or meteors hurtling to earth to do the job – in Alex Scarrow’s Last Light, it only takes a week for the world as we know it to end completely, and that’s just from human beings turning on each other. (shiver)

To relay the disturbing events of Last Light, Mr Scarrow chose to tell the story of a civilization-in-meltdown through the eyes of the Sutherland family in Britain  – the dad (an oil engineer) stranded in no-man’s-land Iraq, the mom who has to somehow make the dangerous trek from Manchester to London, and their two kids who are home alone in lawless London.  This approach makes the events more personal, and it’s really easy to put oneself in their situation and wonder what you would do in their place.

I would have said this was the perfect thriller –  Mr Scarrow really brilliantly built up the events – really good work with generating tension and suspense. The book is really tightly written, with a fast-paced plot and characters who are easy to identify with. Additionally, the chapters are nicely short and end on cliff-hangers that keep you turning the pages to learn what happens next. Unfortunately Mr Scarrow wasn’t satisfied with a plain what-happens-when-we-run-out-of-oil plot, instead, he chose to clutter his plot with silly details like: a) a coordinated conspiracy plot by some shadowy Powers-That-Be who call themselves “The Twelve”, b) a subplot wherein a hitman is sent after a member of the Sutherland family for knowing too much, and c) a lame-ass ending that I doubt anyone was happy with.  Sigh.. these extra stuff really spoiled it for me – a pity since I really liked the premise of the book …

I’m still really interested in the sequel Afterlight  though, which is a proper post-apocalyptic book as it covers the events ten years in the future where presumably humanity has been plunged back into the dark ages. Can’t resist a post-apocalyptic yarn 😉

Last Light (Last Light Series, Book 1) by Alex Scarrow (Orion) is available on Amazon as a Paperback edition. There is no US Kindle edition, but the ebook is available at Amazon UK.


For a second opinion – here’s some reviews of Last Light by other bloggers:

  • The Guilded Earlobe – “doesn’t break too much new ground, yet it handles the tropes of the sub-genre well”
  • Reactions to Reading – “heartily recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of an intelligent romp of a thriller”
  • Petrona Book Reviews Archive – “a breathlessly exciting novel told at an incredibly fast pace.”

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Kindle Daily Deal! Celia and the Fairies by Karen McQuestion for $0.99!

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I like this new promo by Amazon! We get a special Kindle Daily Deal!

Each day we’re unveiling a new Kindle book at a specially discounted price. Check back daily to see what’s next. Deals go live at approximately 12:00 A.M., Pacific time.

And the new deal is…

Celia and the Fairies‘ by Karen McQuestion from AmazonEncore is now available at the specially discounted price of $0.99 on the US Kindle site.

Book Description

Karen McQuestion’s magical tale, Celia and the Fairies, takes a plucky girl on a danger-filled quest where she must come face-to-face with her greatest fears. The result is an entertaining story with an underlying message about the power of ordinary kindness.

When Celia Lovejoy’s grandmother moves in with her family, she tells her granddaughter magical stories of fairies living in the woods behind the Lovejoy home. Ten-year-old Celia believes they are just that – stories – until the day she receives an unexpected visit from Mira, a real, live fairy. Mira needs a favor in a matter of the utmost importance. It seems that Celia’s house and the adjoining woods are in danger of being demolished to make way for a new highway. The person behind this horrible plan? Vicky McClutchy, a spiteful woman who holds a childhood grudge against Celia’s dad. Fairy magic can counteract this evil, but it will only work with Celia’s help. Aided by neighborhood friend Paul, Celia begins a danger-filled quest that takes her out in the woods at night to face her greatest fears.  (Recommended Ages: 7-11)

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NOOK Daily Find! The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed for $3.45!

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Well… Barnes & Noble has a new promo — the NOOK Daily Find: Today’s Great Book at a Great Price! So, Nook owners need not be envious of those with Kindles! 😉

And the new deal is…

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family‘ by Annette Gordon-Reed (W. W. Norton) is now available at the specially discounted price of $3.45 on the B&N Nookbooks site. Hopefully Amazon will price match!

Book Description

2009 Pulitzer Prize in History Winner, 2008 National Book Award for Nonfiction Winner, 2009 George Washington Book Prize Winner

This epic work tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826. It brings to life not only Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson but also their children and Hemings’s siblings, who shared a father with Jefferson’s wife, Martha. The Hemingses of Monticello sets the family’s compelling saga against the backdrop of Revolutionary America, Paris on the eve of its own revolution, 1790s Philadelphia, and plantation life at Monticello. Much anticipated, this book promises to be the most important history of an American slave family ever written..

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R.I.P Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I thought it was a hoax until I went to Apple’s page. Still so young at fifty-six… he will definitely be missed. My sincere condolences.

Here’s the email that Apple CEO Tim Cook sent to all Apple employees:

Team,

I have some very sad news to share with all of you. Steve passed away earlier today.

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

We are planning a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email rememberingsteve@apple.com.

No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.

Tim

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