27 February, 2014

Book Review: Call the Midwife

From Goodreads: Life in London's docklands in the 1950s was tough. The brothels of Cable Street, the Kray brothers and gang warfare, the meths drinkers in the bombsites - this was the world that Jennifer Worth entered when she became a midwife at the age of twenty-two. Babies were born in slum conditions, often with no running water.
Jennifer Worth describes the romance and beauty of the great port of London, the bug-infested tenements, the spectre of disease, the sense of community and the incredible resilience of women who bore more than ten children. Funny, disturbing and moving, Call the Midwife brings to life a world that has now changed beyond measure.

Thoughts: When I found out that the TV series Call The Midwife was based on books, I knew I had to read them. I did borrow it from the library, but ran out of time before I could open it. Thankfully a friend owned a copy and lent it to me. And in some ways it's a blessing that my Kindle died, forcing me to pick up something in hard copy and discovering this lovely book.
Jennifer Worth is no literary great, but her writing style is easy to read with a conversational quality. You can imagine sitting with her over a cup of tea as she tells you stories about her time as a midwife. At times I did find her a bit disingenuous, purporting to not be judgemental and then coming out with something very judgemental! But to be fair, I think it would be hard to see what a midwife of that time saw and not form some opinions about what was going on around you.
What struck me most about the book though was the way it straddled time frames. There were things happening that I considered quite modern - the description of care for premature babies took me by surprise - while at the same time conditions for the patients were something you are unlikely to see today - no running water in the house, no plumbing. You can see that the world was on the cusp of change. Obviously that change came quicker for some than others!
Call the Midwife was a great, light read. I enjoyed it and can see myself reading the other books in the series.

26 February, 2014

Book Review: The Help

From Goodreads: Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

Thoughts: I was half way through this when my Kindle broke...or more to the point, I broke it. I was devastated! However, thanks to a wonderful friend who had a hard copy I was able to keep reading! I found this engrossing. One of the things that spins me out is that the events the book drew on happened within living memory. The author has memories of "the help" in her own house growing up and while I am not suggesting there was any abuse in that house, it obviously happened in places. It astounds me people thought of African Americans as being less than they were because of their skin colour. I cannot imagine anyone today suggesting someone they employed to pretty much run their house and raise their kids use a different toilet, eat at a different table or use different crockery and cutlery. However, neither am I naive enough to think there are people who still think a persons worth can be judged by the colour of their skin - just doubt they would make it as public as the characters in this book did.
Reviews of The Help seem to fall into two categories; those who loved it and saw it as a dramatised, but based in fact, account of being a coloured maid in the American South in the 1960's and those who think it was stereotyped and the author presumptuous because she, a white woman, dared to write a book from a black point of view. I don't know who is right so I can only take the book on face value. I found it to be interesting, engaging and fitting with my very limited knowledge of this period of American history.  I for one will be looking for further work by this author.

Challenges: 5 from Forever in '14

25 February, 2014

TED Talks Tuesday - Colin Stokes

Have you heard of TED Talks? They are brilliant. Covering a wide range of topics, they are usually no longer than about 20 minutes, although many of them are shorter. I often come across a TED talk I would like to share, so I thought I would start a meme -

Welcome to TED Talks Tuesday!

I am a feminist. I make no apologies and no bones about it. We live in a world where, despite some great strides forward, women are still not equal. One of the things that really worries me at the moment is the way girls are portrayed in the media. In this TED Talk, Colin Stokes looks at movies, how they teach manhood and how the need to change.

24 February, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What Am I Reading Now

 The Carnivorous Carnival - Lemony Snicket. We've only just started this in the car - so far so good!

Breath - Tim Winton. Having finished The Turning last week, this is my new adult audio in the car.
The Science of Fear - Daniel Gardner. I first spotted this from another blogger who participates in this meme. Sounded good, so I borrowed it from the library. I think it has the potential to be interesting, but I'm not sure I'm in the right head space at the moment. We'll see how I go.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett. I am about half way through this on my kindle and loving it! Unfortunately I broke my kindle yesterday so am totally bereft!

Call the Midwife - Jennifer Worth. This is what I picked up to console myself when I broke my kindle. Loving it as well.


What I read last week.

I didn't have a bad week for finishes this week - 2 - although it might have been 3 if I hadn't broken my kindle!! (no, I'm not bitter about it at all!!)

The Turning - Tim Winton. This is Winton at his best. A collection of 17 interconnected short stories.True brilliance.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot. Fascinating read. The medical world and anyone who has every had life saving treatment, immunisations or a variety of other medical interventions owes this woman and her cells so much!

So that's my week! I've just been on the phone ordering a new kindle from Amazon - 4 to 14 days! Hopefully it will be the 4 and I'll be able to add The Help to my finished list next week!

Did you check out my TED Talks Tuesday last week? I hope so. Check back tomorrow for another amazing TED Talk - don't know which one yet as there are so many amazing ones to choose from!

So how was your week? Leave me a comment and a link - I'd love to know what you've been up to!

21 February, 2014

Book Review: The Turning

From Goodreads: Tim Winton is undisputedly one of the finest storytellers working in the English language. Now he gives us seventeen exquisite, overlapping stories of second thoughts and mid-life regret - extraordinary tales of ordinary people from ordinary places. Here are turnings of all kinds - changes of heart, nasty surprises, slow awakenings, sudden detours - where people struggle against the terrible weight of the past and challenge the lives they've made for themselves.
Brilliantly crafted, and as tender as it is challenging, "The Turning" dissects and celebrates the moments when the light shines through.

Thoughts: All the stories in the Turning are linked, either by character or place. All have some link to Winton's fictional Western Australian coastal town Angelus. As you read, you are looking for the links, smiling when you spot the familiar and settle in to see what has been going on, where on the timeline this story fits. 
Each story features an event in one of the characters lives, a turning point that has significance. Like all of Winton's work, the writing is masterful. One review I read on Goodreads described each page as a masterclass in technique.
The thing with Winton though is his technical brilliance doesn't create a text that you have to wade through. It a literary text that accessible and easy to read. It's what truly great literature should be - writing so flawless you don't realise how immersed you are in the story until it ends or someone interrupts you. Writing you don't read, but absorb. 
As I say after any Winton read - read it. The man is by far and away Australia's best writer.

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

From Goodreads: Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.
HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.
The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Thoughts:  Although you may not know it, you may owe your life to Henrietta Lacks - a poor African American woman who died in 1951. She also had cells taken from her cervix that turned out to be rather incredible and have been used in just about every medical research project since.
The big problem - Lacks never knew, and neither did her family.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks raises a raft of issues. Once tissue leaves your body, do you have any right or control over it? Should you? Should you be able to say whether or not it's used, whether is should be used for commercial purposes and if it is, should you be compensated for it?
I think very few people would not allow their tissues to be used to further medical research. What is wrong (as far as I'm concerned) is when money is made of the raw product without the knowledge or consent of the donor or their family. (ie. the cells) There are whole companies in America who have built substantial businesses based on HeLa cells and her family can't even get medical insurance.
The thing that struck me the most though, is for Henrietta's daughter, Deborah, it wasn't about money - it was about appropriate recognition for her mother. In the end, even her brothers who were all ready to sue Hopkins came to that conclusion. And really, I'm not surprised. I think very few people would see it as a money making opportunity. In fact, research cited in the book suggests it is those without an emotional attachment to the tissues (as the donor or a family member) who are more likely to want to commercialise it. 
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fantastic read and worthy of all the praise it has been given, Highly recommended.

Challenges: 5 from Forever in '14

18 February, 2014

TED Talks Tuesday - Shane Koyczan.

Have you heard of TED Talks? They are brilliant. Covering a wide range of topics, they are usually no longer than about 20 minutes, although many of them are shorter. I often come across a TED talk I would like to share, so I thought I would start a meme -

Welcome to TED Talks Tuesday!

Today I'm sharing an incredibly powerful talk by performance poet Shane Koyczan. Shane's talk is about bullying, something way too many of us have experienced. Bullying is most probably the thing I find scariest for my kids. People like Shane give me hope. Don't be surprised if you cry - I did.

17 February, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What Am I Reading Now?

The Turning - Tim Winton. Almost at the end of this now. Looking for reasons to spend time in the car so I can finish it.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot. I'm reading this as part of my Five From Forever in '14 challenge. It's fantastic. I am struck again and again about how many problems can be solved if things are just explained properly.

 The Carnivorous Carnival - Lemony Snicket. The kids and I finished The Hostile Hospital last week - in fact we missed the ferry because we all wanted to listen to the last couple of minutes! I'm not on car pool until tomorrow, but they have been bugging me since Tuesday as to when we are starting this!

What I read last week.

A few finishes last week.

My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin. Superb! If you like Australian fiction, you must read this. Absolutely wonderful.

The Hostile Hospital - Lemony Snicket. As I said before, the kids and I missed the ferry in order to finish this off. Starting The Carnivorous Carnival as soon as I can get them all in the car together!

The Exile - Diana Gabaldon. This graphic novel covers the first third of the first book in the Outlander series (published as Cross Stitch in Australia) Highly disappointing and not worth the effort.

I've also started a Tuesday Meme called TED Talks Tuesday where I highlight various TED talks I find interesting. Last week I shared a talk by Janine Shepherd, an Australian cross country skier who was hit by a bike one day when out on a training ride. It's an amazing talk about her recovery.

Janine Shepherd

Tomorrow I'm going to share a talk by Shane Koyczan. Shane is a performance poet and shares his incredibly powerful story of bullying. Come back tomorrow and check it out!

Shane Koyczan

In the meantime, what did you read this week? Leave me a comment or a link to your Monday post!

Book Review: The Exile

From Goodreads: Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gives readers a fresh look at the events of the original Outlander: Jamie Fraser’s side of the story, gorgeously rendered by artist Hoang Nguyen.
After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.
And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his  compassion . . . and arouse his desire.
But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere.
Step into the captivating, passionate, and suspenseful world of The Exile, and experience the storytelling magic of Diana Gabaldon as never before.

Thoughts: Unfortunately I think this graphic novel is a perfect case of just because you are highly successful author, it doesn't mean you should be able to do what you want.
I'm only relatively new to graphic novels, but I think I have been spoilt with what I have read. Even having read the Outlander (published as Cross Stitch in Australia)series, I found this difficult to follow. 
The male characters tended to blend into one and as many other reviewers noticed, Claire's boobs seem to have a life of their own, growing and shrinking from page to page.
In the end, unless you are a huge fan, don't bother and even then, prepare to be disappointed.


Book Review: The Hostile Hospital

From Goodreads: As you might expect, nothing but woe befalls the unlucky Baudelaire orphans in the eighth grim tale in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events that began with The Bad Beginning. Ever since the orphans' photographs were plastered across the front page of The Daily Punctilio in an article falsely accusing them of murder, they have been on the run. Only when they disguise themselves as cheerful hospital volunteers (Volunteers Fighting Disease, to be exact), do they see a possible refuge. Of course, this backfires hideously. Where is their ineffectual guardian, Mr. Poe, when they need him most? Will the evil, greedy Count Olaf be successful in giving poor Violet a cranioectomy at the Heimlich Hospital? Is a heart-shaped balloon really better than water for a thirsty patient? Is no news really good news? As ever, Snicket refuses to comfort young readers with cozy answers and satisfying escapes. And, as ever, there are plenty of rusty blades and horrible plot twists to make us shudder and shameless-but-hilarious wordplay to make us grimace happily. Bring on the next one! 

Thoughts: Tim Curry (as in Frankenfurter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show) narrates this audio book version - and brilliantly!

Yep, that's your narrator!    
I've been listening to this series in the car with my kids and another couple of boys who car pool with us. while not only being a highly entertaining story, it has the added bonus of keeping the kids quiet!
The premise of the series is the Baudelaires - Violet, Klaus and Sunny - have been left orphaned after a house fire killed their parents. In the first book they are placed in the care of their uncle, Count Olaf who the proceeds to try and get his hands on their sizeable fortune. They escape and subsequent books continue to chronicle their unfortunate events as Olaf continues to try and capture them.
One of the best thinks about this series is how well it is written. The situations the orphans find themselves in are so ridiculous you can quite happily suspend all disbelief and just enjoy the ride. However, along the way many themes are explored and discussed. In this, the eighth book in the series, the children suddenly realise the thin line between victim and villain and question which side they are on. Is doing something bad (like lying to someone you don't want to lie to) justifiable if it ultimately leads to a good outcome - even if it's only good for you?
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a funny, intelligent and exciting series, perfect for 8-12 year olds.

Book Review: My Brilliant Career

From Goodreads: This classic Australian novel was written by Miles Franklin, and details her life being born of the bush in Australia. A fantastic, well-written book with lively descriptions of a girl's life that can't be passed up by anybody who is drawn by good stories with captivating details. This novel should be required reading by anyone interested in Australia or important female writers and novelists in history.
Thoughts: I read this as part of my 100 Best Books List Challenge, covering the Australian category.
This is one of those books taht as an Australian, I have heard about over the year but somehow have never picked it up or had it set as  a text at school. Most probably the most surprising thing for me was the ease with which it was read. Franklin's writing is light and breezy, but not trivial.
Sybylla is a wonderfully complex character. I loved her refusal to compromise, to become someone she knew she wasn't. Her determination to follow her own path obviously made her mother and grandmother despair!  Given it's setting of the late 1800's, she set herself a very difficult path being against marriage (for herself) and an atheist. You want a strong female character? You've got one here! On the other side she has plenty of self esteem issues. She constantly refers to herself as ugly, stating no-one could want someone as ugly as her. This continues even when others disagree with her. It's not helped by her mother though who is more than eager to agree. I read one review which suggested she seem to have manic depressive traits - high highs and soul destroying lows - and I can agree with that point of view.
Written when she was just 16 and published when she was 21. My Brilliant Career is a literary feat way beyond the author's years. The speculation around whether the book was autobiographical caused her much grief and she put off the publication of the sequel - My Career Goes Bung. I glad she did publish it, as I look forward to read it and other titles from one of Australia's greats.

Challenges: 100 Best Books List Challenge

11 February, 2014

TED Talks Tuesday.

Have you heard of TED Talks? They are brilliant. Covering a wide range of topics, they are usually no longer than about 20 minutes, although many of them are shorter. I often come across a TED talk I would like to share, so I thought I would start a meme -

Welcome to TED Talks Tuesday!

This week sees the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Many Olympians are inspirational. To celebrate and acknowledge these inspirational people, TED have put together 12 powerful talks from Olympians and Paraplympians. You can find them all here. I chose this talk by Janine Shepherd to share today. She was an Australian cross country skier until she was hit by a bike one day when out on a training ride. I remember the accident. This is her story of recovery and soaring to new heights.

10 February, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What Am I Reading Now?

I have a few left over from last week...

The Hostile Hospital - A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eighth - Lemony Snicket -  so close to the end - onto the last disc! I do school pick up tomorrow so hopefully we can finish it off. I have number 9 ready to go.

The Turning - Tim Winton. Loving this audio when the kids aren't in the car. I enjoy a new short story starting and recognising characters from earlier ones.

My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin. I'm reading this as part of my 100 Best Books List Challenge for the Australian category. Again, really enjoying this and am powering through it. Was hoping to have it finished by now, but have just fallen short. About 30% left to read.

What I read last week.

Just one finish last week, John Flanagan's The Lost Stories. This an absolutely fabulous series and I highly recommend it. It's aimed at early/ mid teens but it is so well written I'd suggest it to anyone!

Come back tomorrow to check out my new meme

Click here to find out what it's all about.

 So what was your week like?

07 February, 2014

Book Review: The Lost Stories

From Goodreads: Will, there's something you should know. Something I should have told you long ago...There are stories about the Rangers that have never been heard before and it's time for you to hear them; stories about your parents and how you came to be an orphan; about how a Ranger's life was saved; and, about what happens next for you and your loyal friends. Are you ready to hear the truth?

Thoughts: I was a bit concerned when I first found out about this book. I always thought book 10 was the last, but then this came out. Happily I will report it didn't seem to suffer from being a tag on book.
In this, John Flanagan shares 9 stories that fill in some gaps from the series. You get to discover how Will became a ward, how Halt became a Ranger, a little more about Gilan and even a marriage or two!
One of the things I love about this series is how easy it is to read. The stories flow, there is humour and above all their is an emphasis on the importance of friendship.
A quick search of Flanagan's website shows a 12th book. The Random House site says it's the last book in the series. I've just placed it on hold at the library so stay tuned, I will be reviewing it!

04 February, 2014

TED Talks Tuesday

Have you heard of TED Talks? They are brilliant. Covering a wide range of topics, they are usually no longer than about 20 minutes, although many of them are shorter. I often come across a TED talk I would like to share, so I thought I would start a meme -

Welcome to TED Talks Tuesday!

Each Tuesday I will post a TED talk - some to make you think, some to make you cry, some to amaze you and some just to entertain you. If you want to join in, feel free! Post a TED talk on your blog and then put a link in the comments. Grab the button if you want as well..

I love Adam Spencer. I admit he loses me in this as he talks about monster prime numbers, but I love his enthusiasm. And he's Australian - doesn't get better than that!


For some reason I couldn't get the talk from the TED site to embed, so I've gone with a YouTube version.

03 February, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What Am I Reading Now?

With holidays over I've finally managed to get more than one book on the go! The school run gives me a chance to listen to a couple of audio books - one with the kids in the car and the other purely for me.

The Hostile Hospital - A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eighth - Lemony Snicket -  the kids and I have been working our way through these in the car. I didn't record any of the last year, but given I listen to them as well as the kids, I think I should!

The Turning - Tim Winton. This is my other audio for the car, continuing my love affair with Winton and his writing.

The Lost Stories - John Flanagan. Book 11 in The Ranger's Apprentice Series. The other day instead of putting my Kindle in my bag, I put my tablet in there - similar size, both have red covers and I was distracted. When I discovered my mistake I went to the library and borrowed this. My son currently has it because when he got to school this morning he realised he'd left his Kindle at home and he needed a book - aren't I a good mum?

My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin. I'm reading this as part of my 100 Best Books List Challenge for the Australian category. I only started it this morning and am really enjoying it.

What I read last fortnight.

Missed last week, so will catch you up on my fortnight - a grand total of two books!

Shift - Hugh Howey -  this is the second book in the Silo series. Highly recommended for those who like dystopian fiction.

The Madding of Daniel O'Hooligan  - Peter Wear -  Hilarious! Very off beat. About your only chance of getting a copy of this is via Kindle, but it's well worth the $4.50.

So that's me. What have you been reading this week?

Book Review: The Madding of Daniel O'Hooligan

Synopsis: 'Daniel Clare O'Hooligan - motorcycle enthusiast, failed family man and teacher of Medieval Literature - is increasingly at odds with life in the twentieth century. His other world, the fantastic realm of the Sacred Lake with its eccentric denizens, beckons ever more alluringly...This audaciously inventive novel rockets along at full throttle, steering a wild course through medieval warfare, higher education, theories of light, the music of Liberace, and the nature of doubt and belief.' (Source: back cover)

Thoughts: Delightful, left of centre, funny book that lets you into the mind of Daniel O'Hooligan as he loses it. The blurb states that the "novel rockets along at full throttle, steering a wild course" and that sums it up perfectly. If you have ever been on a motorbike, on a twisty road, you know what it's like to be thrown from one side to the other and back again as you go through the bends. Likewise, Wear's novel throws you from one thing to another and back again, barely giving you time to gather breath before being tossed in yet another direction. And it works. Through it all there is a twisted logic you can follow. You can see what O'Hooligan sees and it all makes so much sense.
I can just about guarantee if you read this you will laugh out loud, you will despair and you will delight in the characters and their lives. The Madding of Daniel O'Hooligan is a amazing gem. It's almost impossible to find it in hard copy, but the author has just re-released it in Kindle format. (http://www.amazon.com/The-madding-Daniel-OHooligan-fiction/dp/0702223417) Well worth the $4.90.

Book Review: Shift


Synopsis: In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event. At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened. This is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling WOOL series.
Contains First Shift, Second Shift, and Third Shift. (source: http://www.hughhowey.com/books/shift-omnibus-edition/)

Thoughts: I really enjoyed Wool and was thrilled to learn that Shift was actually a prequel that explained how the silos came to be.
Can I just say Howey's vision of our future is pretty bleak. Really, not much hope for humankind. I actually found his idea of our future as bleak as Orwell's and Huxley's. Really hope that none of them are right.
Shift was, for me, as good a read as Wool. I've read reviews that complain about the characters, that they were flat, one dimensional. For me, that kind of fitted with the book as a whole. Emotion must be controlled, you must not get too attached to anything or anyone and someone is always watching. At the same time, you were aware of the tension simmering just under the surface - lots of putting on a good face while questioning where this whole thing is going.
I really enjoyed the switching back and forth between Silo 1 and the others. It gives the reader the whole picture - something the characters don't have. For me, the series title of Silo alludes to more than the physical structures the characters are living in. It's about compartmentalisation - of everything. Emotions, societal roles, societal structure, communities. I look forward to reading the third installment - Dust and seeing how this all works out.