Non Fiction / Food & Health: "An expose into the most popular foods we eat at home to show how the food industry in Britain causes ill health, environmental damage, urban blight, starving smallholders in Africa and Asia, and illegal labourers smuggled and exploited in Britain."
Published in 2002, this investigation into Britain's food industry can be considered out of date, but having re-read it recently for a Uni essay, I can sadly confirm that very little of what's discussed in this book has actually changed or improved. In Not On The Label, Lawrence uncovers the many problems that occur when the methods of how we produce food are intensified and most importantly, it illustrates in plain english how the global supermarkets are controlling the supply chain from the bottom up. It doesn't make for easy reading. The chapters include information on cross contamination in chicken factories, the loss of nutrients from packaging and shipping so called 'fresh' produce, the insanity of countries importing and exporting the same food, the boom in pesticides usage, how bread is really produced and its links to the rise in allergies, the unethical treatment of coffee bean farmers, the unsustainability of prawns, and the numerous health issues with ready meals, to name but a few. The book is fully accessible and one I'd recommend to anyone who wants to start reading more about what's in their food and how it's produced. [4/5]
(2) Cell by Stephen King
Horror / Science Fiction: "The deadly cause is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone's cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him, suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization's darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature...and then begins to evolve."
Having read World War Z last month, I wanted to pick up another zombie themed horror story. Cell sort of gave me that fix I was after and ticked most of the boxes, but it just wasn't as gripping as I hoped it would be. The concept was interesting (a deadly virus, The Pulse, infects people via their mobile phones), and the story starts off supercharged, filled with a crazed frenzy, but it soon runs out of steam after the first few chapters, and peters out into a more wishy-washy reality. Ultimately, there's not a lot that goes on or grabs your attention which was really disappointing. Definitely not one of King's best books. [2/5]
(3) The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas
Fantasy / Time-Travel: "Ariel Manto has a fascination with nineteenth-century scientists; especially Thomas Lumas and The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read. When she mysteriously uncovers a copy at a used bookstore, Ariel is launched into an adventure of science and faith, consciousness and death, space and time, and everything in between."
Stories based around cursed books have always intrigued me, so I had an inkling that this was going to interesting. The End of Mr. Y follows what happens to Ariel Manto, our intelligent yet dirt poor student protagonist, as she finds a rare copy of The End of Mr. Y, an obscure book by the mysterious Thomas Lumas. The story reads like a mish mash of The Matrix, The Shadow of the Wind and Alice in Wonderland, as Ariel discovers the curse surrounding the book and delves deeper into the strange world of the 'Troposphere.' It's an almost perfect slice of fantasy escapism mixed in with events of the real world, but the ending felt very rushed which is my only slight criticism. [4/5]
(4) Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H Lawrence
Classics / Literature: "Notoriously banned upon its release, this is the infamous story of the physical (and emotional) relationship between a working-class man and an upper-class woman, complete with its explicit descriptions of sex, and use of then-unprintable words."
Oh Lady Chatterley's Lover, where do I begin? I read Lawrence's The Lost Girl last year and I wanted to read some more of his prose. Obviously I can see why the book was banned when it was first released, but by today's standards it's very, very tame which is what I was expecting. The infamous sex scenes are many, and hover between the steamy and cringey lines. Lady Chatterley (Connie) is a very annoying character but her lover, Mellors, has a lot of down to earth charm which helps to shape the novel into a bit of a guilty pleasure. I'm glad that I finally managed to read it to see what all the fuss was about, but it's certainly not a lifechanger in this day or age. I would have loved to have read this when it first came out! [3/5]
What books have you been reading lately?
For more short book reviews, ratings and to see what I'm reading next, add me on Goodreads.