E-books/audiobooks review: fiction

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 4:26pm

The Bling Ring

by Nancy Jo Sales

(read by Kathleen Mary Carthy)

Harper Audio


You'll feel caught up in the cult of celebrity Nancy Jo Sales investigates while telling the tale of a group of young adults who stole from Hollywood's A list so they could live vicariously through them. Victims included Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus; the thieves made lists of their possessions (clothes, watches, handbags, even underwear) before breaking into their homes to go "shopping". The houses of the rich and famous were a cinch to find: the Celebrity Address Aerial website provided such information for US$99.99 a year. When the occupants would be away was easy to determine: the paparazzi always snapped them at the airport. The "Bling Ring" was so brazen - Sofia Coppola recently made a film about the group based on Sales' story - that members were sometimes photographed wearing items they'd purloined. The book is narrated by Kathleen Mary Carthy in an accent you'd imagine Lindsay Lohan to have. The starlet was also a victim but, as with the others, readers will find it hard to feel sympathy for her.

Brilliant Blunders

by Mario Livio

Simon & Schuster


The book title reads like a tabloid headline but this is serious writing by Mario Livio, an astrophysicist who takes on not obscure scientists but the heavyweights: Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle and Lord Kelvin (after whom a temperature scale is named). His objective, Livio writes, is to "correct the impression that scientific breakthroughs are purely success stories". So he concentrates on obstacles the scientists faced and their thought processes, unfortunately always a dangerous area to enter because of their tenuousness. Overconfidence and hubris were to blame in the blunders of chemist Pauling and cosmologist Hoyle, who came up with the steady-state theory of the universe and to the end refused to acknowledge the "big bang", ironically a term he himself coined to describe the explosion through which the universe was born. Without giving too much away, Livio writes that Darwin's blunder was in not realising the full implications of a particular hypothesis. This is one for dedicated science fans.