Bioinformation by Bronwyn Parry and Beth Greenhough

The Blurb On The Back:

From DNA sequences stored on computer databases to archived forensic samples and biomedical records, bioinformation comes in many forms.  Its unique provenance – the fact that it is ‘mined’ from the very fabric of the human body – makes it a mercurial resource; one that no one seemingly owns, but in which many have deeply vested interests.

In this groundbreaking book, authors Bronwyn Parry and Beth Greenhough explore the complex economic, social and political questions arising from the creation and use of bioinformation.  Drawing on a range of highly topical cases – including the commercialisation of human sequence data, the forensic use of retained bioinformation, biobanking and genealogical research – they show how dramatically demand for this resource has grown, driving a burgeoning but often highly controversial global economy in bioinformation.  But, they argue, change is afoot as new models emerge that challenge the ethos of privatisation by creating instead a dynamic open source ‘bioinformation commons’ available for all future generations.  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Why Democracies Need Science by Harry Collins & Robert Evans

The Blurb On The Back:

We live in times of increasing public distrust of the main institutions of modern society.  Experts, including scientists, are suspected of working to hidden agendas or serving vested interests.  The solution is usually seen as more public scrutiny and more control by democratic institutions – experts must be subservient to social and political life.

In this book, Harry Collins and Robert Evans take a radically different view.  They argue that, rather than democracies needing to be protected from science, democratic societies need to learn how to value science in this new age of uncertainty.  By emphasising that science is a moral enterprise, guided by values that should matter to all, they show how science can support democracy without destroying it and propose a new institution – The Owls – that can mediate between science and society and improve technological decision-making for the benefit of all.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

The Blurb On The Back:

She can’t prove he did it … But she might die trying. 

Detective Chief Inspector Roberta Steel got caught fitting up Jack Wallace – that’s why they demoted her and quashed his sentence.  Now he’s back on the streets and women are being attacked again.  Wallace has to be responsible, but if Detective Sergeant Steel goes anywhere near him, his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good.

The Powers That Be won’t listen to her, not after what happened last time.  According to them, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy.  Perhaps she could try solving a few instead of harassing an innocent man?

Steel knows Wallace is guilty.  And the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer.  The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him? 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama

The Blurb On The Back:

Five hundred and twenty people died on that mountain.

That sparkling mountain.

1985.  Kazumasa Yuuki, a seasoned reporter at the North Kanto Times, runs a daily gauntlet against the power struggles and office politics that plague its newsroom. But when an air disaster of unprecedented scale occurs on the paper’s doorstep, its staff are united by an unimaginable horror, and a once-in-a-lifetime scoop

2003.  Seventeen years later, Yuuki remembers the adrenaline-fuelled, emotionally charged seven days that changed his and his colleagues’ lives. He does so while making good on a promise he made that fateful week – one that holds the key to its last unsolved mystery, and represents Yuuki’s final, unconquered fear.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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The Woman In The Window by A. J. Finn

The Blurb On The Back:

I know what I saw.

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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The City Of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

The Blurb On The Back:

Among the swirling sands of the desert and behind gilded brass walls, lies an enchanted city of golden domes, jade roofs and marble palaces. A place where magic pours down every street, hanging in the sir like dust.

Welcome to Daevabad the legendary City of Brass

But remember, there is a reason that they say to be careful what you wish for …

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Satellite by Nick Lake

The Blurb On The Back:

Leo’s going to a place he’s never been before: home

Leo has never set foot on Earth.

Born and raised with twins Orion and Libra on the Moon 2 Space Station, they have grown up together in the most extraordinary of ways.

Now, they are preparing to make their first trip home – their first journey to Earth.

But Leo, Orion and Libra cannot possibly imagine the irreversible consequences that their return will set into motion …

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Blurb On The Back:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassins abduct all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented for being mortal, Jude realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong.

But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looking over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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In Pursuit Of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli

The Blurb On The Back:

”When I was twelve, my grandfather began to act strangely. It started with inexplicable walks. He’d leave the dinner table and we would find him, half an hour later, aimlessly wandering. His smiles were gradually replaced by a fearful, withdrawn expression; he looked increasingly like someone who’d lost something irreplaceable. Before long, he didn’t recognise any of us.”

Alzheimer’s is the great global epidemic of our time, affecting millions worldwide. In 2016, it overtook heart disease as the number one cause of death in England and Wales.

It is also a story as compelling as any detective novel, taking us to nineteenth-century Germany and post-war England, to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and the technological proving grounds of Japan; through America, India, China, Iceland, Sweden and Colombia. Its heroes are expert scientists from around the world – but also the incredibly brave patients and families who have changed the way that those scientists think about the disease. This is a pandemic that has taken us centuries to track down and now we are racing against time to find a cure. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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2017 In Books And Onwards To 2018

I don’t tend to do much “normal” blogging on this site because I figure it’s easier to just keep it to reviews but also because, if I’m being honest, I’m not convinced anyone’s really interested in reading my blathering on.  However, I’ve seen a number of book reviewers whose blogs I follow do a 2017 round up and thought it might be interesting to do the same.

I  had set myself a target of reading 150 books in 2017 and actually managed 152 – the most I’ve ever read in a single year.  The full list is here if anyone’s interested in checking it out.  The vast majority of books have been thrillers (58 of my reviews in total) – mainly because one of my “things” (I don’t do resolutions) for 2018 is to try and write a thriller of my own.  I wanted to read more non-fiction in 2017 and I succeeded in that (24 books read – so almost 16%) and I have found that very beneficial – exposing me to new ideas, theories and bits of information that I’d never normally have been drawn to and, at times discovering that sometimes the truth is indeed more fascinating and stranger than fiction.  Of the books I read, 76 were by female writers (so 50%) and 16 by writers of colour (so about 10.5%) – those aren’t bad statistics, but I’m aware that I can improve on that – particularly for writers of colour as I really need to read more diversely.

I’ve been very fortunate to benefit from being a member of the Amazon Vine Programme (119 of the books I read came courtesy of that) but I’ve also benefited from the kind folk at Faber & Faber, Scholastic, Shrine Bell, Simon & Schuster and Walker Books.  Many thanks to the PR and marketing people at all of them for thinking of me.

There’s a lot of on-line rumour about what Amazon is going to do with the UK Vine programme going forward (indeed 2017 was dogged by rumours that it was about to end at any moment).  I can’t complain if it does – I have had a very good run there and am grateful for the opportunities it’s given me – plus, it may well be better for me if it does finish because I have a massive To Read Pile for 2018 that I really need to make some inroads on (I’m not even joking about that – I’ve hidden the list behind a jump cut because it’s at the point where I’m quite ashamed about how out of control it is).

I moved my blog to WordPress from Livejournal at the end of 2017 (with a complete back up of my posts sitting on my Dreamwidth account) and didn’t really expect to get much in the way of traction.  This has always been a personal review blog that reflects whatever I want to read at a particular time so it’s a bit of a pot pourri of genres and markets when the trend in book blogging seems to be to focus on one or two particular genres.  Plus I don’t do scheduled review posts – fitting them in during my spare time so there may be a week between some posts and sometimes there’ll be several posts on the same day.  Anyway, I’ve been surprised and very pleased to see that a number of people have got enough of an interest in it to follow so hello and thank you to all 29 of you who have subscribed and another hello and thank you to the 1,664 visitors who have checked out the site at some point during 2017.  Many thanks as well to those who have taken the time to comment.

In terms of my favourite books of 2017, I’ve set out the ones I rated the most highly below:

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