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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2022 13:46 
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Kern wrote:
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5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton
A collection of grotesque stories from history and biology, with a high level of scatology , premature deaths, and sexual misadventures. Most of the tales I've heard before as it's ground that things like QI and golden era Cracked.com have trod many times, but Felton's retelling of them is enjoyable and each story doesn't outstay its welcome. It's clearly designed for dipping into when you're otherwise engaged.

I follow him on Twitter and there's a couple more: 52/3 times Britain was a bellend, and Sunburn, which I suspect I would like as well as this.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2022 15:07 
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Isn't that lovely?

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Malc wrote:

1) I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
2) The Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov
3) The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov


4) The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov

Elijah Baley and Daneel Olivaw are back, solving another impossible murder. (Only 1 person can possibly have done it, and they couldn't have done it) this time on Solaria, a sparsely populated planet (20,000 people, each either living on their own massive estate alone, or with just their spouse). The prime (only) suspect is the wife of the victim, but there is no murder weapon to be found.

The duo's investigations are hampered by the fact that Solarian's don't really see other people, rather they "view" them (imagine a much more advanced Zoom meeting) and the fact that the humans are outnumbered by robots 10,000 to 1.

I think this is a better book than the previous one, and I had certainly remembered more of this one than the last. Baley is still a dick, and I think it works better as the setting is no longer Earth, so the fact that it's all a bit alien helps to gloss over the outdated tech. I still wince at some of the language used (Robots are called "boy", it's all white/male centric) but that's probably not that surprising considering it was written by a white American male in the 50s.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2022 17:33 
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Isn't that lovely?

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Malc wrote:

1) I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
2) The Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov
3) The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov
4) The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov


4) The Robots of Dawn - Isaac Asimov

The 3rd Book starring Baley and Olivaw. This time a robot has been destroyed on the planet Aurora (the Planet of the Dawn in the title), once again only one person could have committed the crime, and that person insists it wasn't him. There is a backdrop of the case being instrumental in the future of Earth too.

Earth is stagnating, and needs to expand to other planets, but has no means to as the Spacer's control the rest of the settled galaxy. Spacers are also stagnating, they have a luxurious lifestyle, with all the space, and time and robots to do as they wish. One person on Aurora wants Earth to go forth and save mankind, but it is he who is accused of the robot's destruction (it appears to be frozen in a logical contradiction) . The detective duo are joined by a 3rd robot. R. Giskard Reventlov. Can the trio solve the roboticide? Can they say humanity?

It's interesting in this one that the use of "boy" is described as crude and only something that Earthers would say, I don't know if this was Asimov's plan all along, or if had some enlightenment between this and the previous book (ETA I 've just seen that this book was written in the 1980s, so it's probably the latter!) It is helped again by the alien setting I think, and I think Baley is mellowing a bit, or maybe I am just getting used to him. He's still abrasive, but you see his tender side as well, and it's more apparent that he is using the abrasiveness as a means to get the answers he wants.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2022 15:51 
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gooby pls

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DBSnappa wrote:
I photographed Stella Creasy not long after her first book came out and she’d retired from the SIS. We had a fascinating conversation

Were you 300 metres away with a super-telephoto zoom lens, and was the conversation along the lines of:

"Woody to Red Fox, has the package been delivered?"
"Red Fox to Woody, the clubhouse is open."


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2022 20:12 
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Hehe.
IIRC correctly it was mainly about the difference in operational parameters of MI5 and MI6

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2022 13:02 
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Malc wrote:
1) I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
2) The Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov
3) The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov
4) The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov


I must re-read all these. They've been up in the loft for over 20 years, so I may have trouble finding them. I think I've got the whole Foundation series up there as well. Asimov is probably my favourite sci-fi author.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2022 13:44 
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Warhead wrote:
Malc wrote:
1) I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
2) The Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov
3) The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov
4) The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov


I must re-read all these. They've been up in the loft for over 20 years, so I may have trouble finding them. I think I've got the whole Foundation series up there as well. Asimov is probably my favourite sci-fi author.



I lost 2 boxes of books in a house move, (approx 100 books) including about half of my Asimov collection. I was reluctant to buy them again, but I found a website which seems to have all his books (not 100% sure of the legality of this, they can't all be out of copywrite). So I am plugging my gaps using that.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2022 20:10 
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1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.


Nick Hornby - Juliet Naked. Decent book of this rom-com kind, but ends very abruptly. I might have read it before, really not sure, which may just mean it's all "oh yes, that and then that".

Dalrymple and Anand - Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond. A romp through the checkered history - he begat him, who killed him, who stole his diamond, who gave it to her, who was taken by him, who was eventually betrayed to the British. The British loom large, but the tale is largely dull and depressing once they have their hands on it, with the last maharaja, Duleep Singh looked after by and loved by the Logins (a distracting name) and Queen Victoria till he became of age and realised how he'd been essentially duped, and attempted some retribution by excess spending and carousing. Pictures of Elveden Hall on maps are a fascinating example of how his style was transported into the English countryside, but boy, the frustration he must have felt being there, despite the beauty.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2022 20:14 
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Isn't that lovely?

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Malc wrote:

1) I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
2) The Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov
3) The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov
4) The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov
5) The Robots of Dawn - Isaac Asimov


6) Robots and Empire - Isaac Asimov

The 4th Book starring Olivaw, however, as this is set 200 years after The Robots of Dawn, Elijah Baley is no longer around. Some of the other spacer characters are (they live for about 400 years or so) and a descendant of Baley is present too.

This is very much a book that links the Robot series to the Empire series, and I can't say too much without spoiling the previous Robot books. What I can say is that it's very bloody good! My favourite book so far.

Now I get to decide if I move on to the Empire books, or do I read the other "in universe" books that are not part of the main series (The Positronic Man and Nemesis)? Or shall I take a break from Asimov to read something else?

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2022 23:20 
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Malc wrote:
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Malc wrote:

1) I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
2) The Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov
3) The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov
4) The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov
5) The Robots of Dawn - Isaac Asimov


6) Robots and Empire - Isaac Asimov

The 4th Book starring Olivaw, however, as this is set 200 years after The Robots of Dawn, Elijah Baley is no longer around. Some of the other spacer characters are (they live for about 400 years or so) and a descendant of Baley is present too.

This is very much a book that links the Robot series to the Empire series, and I can't say too much without spoiling the previous Robot books. What I can say is that it's very bloody good! My favourite book so far.

Now I get to decide if I move on to the Empire books, or do I read the other "in universe" books that are not part of the main series (The Positronic Man and Nemesis)? Or shall I take a break from Asimov to read something else?


Throw in something gentle as a brain cleaner? War and Peace is good, I've heard. Ulysses?


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2022 23:33 
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1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.


10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2019, so that'll be why I picked it up, but it had slipped, ignored, right to the end of the pile of things on my kindle. No good reason for it. A woman lies dying, and in the last 10minutes+ before (some argue) her brain dies, she looks back on her life in flashback. 3 sections, the brain, as described, takes up the first 2/3, then there's 2/9 or so on "the body" as her friends look to bury her properly, and 1/9 on the soul, as the consequences happen. Beautifully written, and an interesting way to frame a life.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2022 19:58 
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Posts: 2909
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1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.


Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter. An interesting and exciting story, told in the present tense which gives it a breathless air. The tense slips sometimes, the wrong 'compliment' gets used and overall it's just barely competent. It rocks along with real momentum, either because he didn't want to do the research to fill anything else in, or because we just don't know. Read the wikipedia page instead.

Commonwealth - Ann Patchett. By contrast this is a masterpiece, and might be anyway. It starts with a christening, at which a guest kisses the host's wife, and they end up together. We follow the generations through the kids who end up with the resulting parents and stepparents, with a focus on that first baby, Franny, but you get to see what happens to everyone without it feeling rushed. There is inevitable grief, which made me cry, and at the end of the book it stays with me - not because the ending is dramatic, it's all just so well painted. It's also about the power of story-telling, with the title referring to a fictional novel written, based on the same situation. Now I add that, it sounds like that should be too much for one novel to cover, but I think it's brilliantly done (and not at all "oh ho, look at the power of the author. That's me!"). I have a bit of a crush on Ann Patchett, though I immediately switched to something lighter (see above and subsequent) afterwards, for an emotional break.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2022 20:40 
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1. The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
2. Cathedrals of Steam by Christian Wolmar
3. United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How It will Come About by Kevin Meagher
4. The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton

6.Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon

I last read this in 2019, but decided to re-read it as I needed something light. It's a fun biography of Agippina, the daughter, wife, and mother of Roman emperors and traditionally one of the Big Bads in Roman history, appearing as a ne'er-do-well whenever plans are afoot but otherwise another nameless woman. Southon uses these tales to make a positive case for her as someone who went beyond Roman conceptions of femininity and how you can read these stories in manner that shows a determined and smart political actor in a horrifying male (and horrifyingly male) world. She writes as if you're having a fun conversation about history in the pub. She's quite willing to curse or draw contemporary allusions to illustrate her points. It's great fun.

MaliA provided excerpts last year in 2020.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2022 17:30 
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1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.
16. Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter.
17. Commonwealth - Ann Patchett.


Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline. I thought I'd read this so you don't have to. It's full of references, all fully explained to leave me wondering "yes, but why? What about creating something new, rather than exhaustively recreating something old" And with a sense that the author is next to you, saying "isn't that AMAZING?!?" much of the time, especially in the bland ending. But mostly this is disappointing because it's not terrible, it's just, um, fine, with very underwritten action scenes - 'this happened and then it all got sorted out in a blaze of action that I won't bore you with here, but it'll look good in the film'.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2022 17:52 
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I've stopped reading Asimov, and I've stopped finishing books, (I have started two, but they are both quite heavy factual books).

I might need to re-evaluate this

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2022 18:00 
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JBR wrote:
Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline. I thought I'd read this so you don't have to. It's full of references, all fully explained to leave me wondering "yes, but why? What about creating something new, rather than exhaustively recreating something old" And with a sense that the author is next to you, saying "isn't that AMAZING?!?" much of the time, especially in the bland ending. But mostly this is disappointing because it's not terrible, it's just, um, fine, with very underwritten action scenes - 'this happened and then it all got sorted out in a blaze of action that I won't bore you with here, but it'll look good in the film'.

I was a bit more forgiving than you this time last year, it seems:
Grim... wrote:
The sequel to Ready Player One is a lot more of the same, but with all the heroes rich it's a lot harder to like them. Plenty of pop culture references if you like that kind of thing (including a big section about John Hughes, which I loved) and what felt like a really, really lazy love story. But I still quite liked it.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2022 20:04 
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Grim... wrote:
JBR wrote:
Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline. I thought I'd read this so you don't have to. It's full of references, all fully explained to leave me wondering "yes, but why? What about creating something new, rather than exhaustively recreating something old" And with a sense that the author is next to you, saying "isn't that AMAZING?!?" much of the time, especially in the bland ending. But mostly this is disappointing because it's not terrible, it's just, um, fine, with very underwritten action scenes - 'this happened and then it all got sorted out in a blaze of action that I won't bore you with here, but it'll look good in the film'.

I was a bit more forgiving than you this time last year, it seems:
Grim... wrote:
The sequel to Ready Player One is a lot more of the same, but with all the heroes rich it's a lot harder to like them. Plenty of pop culture references if you like that kind of thing (including a big section about John Hughes, which I loved) and what felt like a really, really lazy love story. But I still quite liked it.

Oh yes! I am behind, not ahead. I don't really disagree with any of that, but I don't remember the original seeming as clumsy. Maybe it just isn't a novelty this time.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 17:11 
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Posts: 2909
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.
16. Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter.
17. Commonwealth - Ann Patchett.
18. Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline.


The Gathering - Anne Enright. A member of a large Irish family dies, and they all gather for the funeral. Lots of introspection and retrospection, and it's lovely.

Better off Dead - Lee/Andrew Child. Reacher does what he does, all pretty competently. Annoying had/has typo right near the end dropped me out of the action.

Call for the Dead - John le Carre. The debut of George Smiley, from 1961. It does what it does very well, but I've always struggled to get on with Le Carre. Perhaps he was the first the do this kind of pared back stiff-upper-lip style, and I'd appreciate it more if I started with him, but I've read a lot of Gerald Seymour who is similar. I liked it, it was good - and short.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 19:06 
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JBR wrote:
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.
16. Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter.
17. Commonwealth - Ann Patchett.
18. Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline.


The Gathering - Anne Enright. A member of a large Irish family dies, and they all gather for the funeral. Lots of introspection and retrospection, and it's lovely.

Better off Dead - Lee/Andrew Child. Reacher does what he does, all pretty competently. Annoying had/has typo right near the end dropped me out of the action.

Call for the Dead - John le Carre. The debut of George Smiley, from 1961. It does what it does very well, but I've always struggled to get on with Le Carre. Perhaps he was the first the do this kind of pared back stiff-upper-lip style, and I'd appreciate it more if I started with him, but I've read a lot of Gerald Seymour who is similar. I liked it, it was good - and short.


I've been re reading the smiley le carres and I thought the first couple were quite average. It's once you get to the Spy Who Came in From the Cold that it starts getting good.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 21:32 
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I'll keep my eyes open for some later ones, then. The Constant Gardener is the other one I've read and thought "meh", to, and maybe that's not a highlight either.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 22:10 
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JBR wrote:
I'll keep my eyes open for some later ones, then. The Constant Gardener is the other one I've read and thought "meh", to, and maybe that's not a highlight either.


If Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Looking Glass War or Tinker Tailor don't do anything for you, then they just aren't for you I fear. But hopefully you find one of those and enjoy them. I found them to be intensely enjoyable.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 23:27 
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JBR wrote:
I'll keep my eyes open for some later ones, then. The Constant Gardener is the other one I've read and thought "meh", to, and maybe that's not a highlight either.

The Constant Gardener isn’t his best.
I’m re-reading the early stuff chronologically at the moment, in between other books. The first two books are quite dated in narrative and style, I think. I read Tinker and Smiley decades ago as a teen, so I’ll be interested to see how I find them now.
His style is very restrained, if not dry, but when it clicks, it’s quite quietly intriguing.
I still prefer Deighton, particularly the Bernard Samson series of books. They are sublimely textured, plotted, charactered etc, and it’s quite a narrative arc over the 9 books

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2022 11:19 
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DBSnappa wrote:
JBR wrote:
I'll keep my eyes open for some later ones, then. The Constant Gardener is the other one I've read and thought "meh", to, and maybe that's not a highlight either.


I still prefer Deighton, particularly the Bernard Samson series of books. They are sublimely textured, plotted, charactered etc, and it’s quite a narrative arc over the 9 books


Ooh, I haven't read any of him. Added to the list!


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2022 15:31 
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Findus Fop wrote:
DBSnappa wrote:
JBR wrote:
I'll keep my eyes open for some later ones, then. The Constant Gardener is the other one I've read and thought "meh", to, and maybe that's not a highlight either.


I still prefer Deighton, particularly the Bernard Samson series of books. They are sublimely textured, plotted, charactered etc, and it’s quite a narrative arc over the 9 books


Ooh, I haven't read any of him. Added to the list!


If they click, you’re in for a treat. I’ve re-read all nine books several times now.
They are, in order.
Berlin Game
Mexico Set
London Match
Spy Hook
Spy Line
Spy Sinker
Faith
Hope
Charity

Don’t read the wiki page for the character. It contains huge plot
Spoilers

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2022 19:39 
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Prince of Fops

Joined: 14th May, 2009
Posts: 4110
DBSnappa wrote:
Findus Fop wrote:
DBSnappa wrote:
JBR wrote:
I'll keep my eyes open for some later ones, then. The Constant Gardener is the other one I've read and thought "meh", to, and maybe that's not a highlight either.


I still prefer Deighton, particularly the Bernard Samson series of books. They are sublimely textured, plotted, charactered etc, and it’s quite a narrative arc over the 9 books


Ooh, I haven't read any of him. Added to the list!


If they click, you’re in for a treat. I’ve re-read all nine books several times now.
They are, in order.
Berlin Game
Mexico Set
London Match
Spy Hook
Spy Line
Spy Sinker
Faith
Hope
Charity

Don’t read the wiki page for the character. It contains huge plot
Spoilers


Brill, thank you


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2022 21:17 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 2909
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.
16. Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter.
17. Commonwealth - Ann Patchett.
18. Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline.
19. The Gathering - Anne Enright.
20. Better off Dead - Lee/Andrew Child.
21. Call for the Dead - John le Carre.


Frank Skinner - Frank Skinner. His autobiography, though as it's from perhaps the height of his fame, 20+ years ago, there's room for another one. He alternates between the past and present, using the present to reflect on what he has already written, which is very engaging. He is keen not to bore us with the early stuff, but it's the later that is less interesting - he splits up with a girlfriend near the end, and is obviously hurt/defensive/angry about it, and it lets him bring out the lad. That makes the whole thing seem dated much more than any other content. The middle, though, is funny and he comes across well. I suspect, from listening to his radio show/podcast, he's a generally better-rounded person now, but he develops through this book, too.

The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz. A murder mystery. Horowitz likes to do something different with these, and in this case there's a fictional detective and case, but they're partnered by the author, who names himself and his work to date. It's quite effective at giving a little balance, and allows him to commentate on the process of writing this book as he goes. I'm not so into murder mysteries as to squeal with excitement at someone messing with the form, but it's well done. Title to be read in a Scouse accent, unless someone has one that works even better.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2022 8:07 
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ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
2. Cathedrals of Steam by Christian Wolmar
3. United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How It will Come About by Kevin Meagher
4. The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton
6.Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon

7. The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke

Enjoyable look at some of the most misunderstood animals, such as eels, sloths, hyenas, pandas, and storks. I really enjoyed the discussions about ancient beliefs, folklore, and legends about our favourite critters, and how reality is even stranger. As with Felton there's a lot of sex and scat, but Cooke goes into far more depth with her discussions of the animals whilst remaining very readable.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2022 8:41 
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Oh, I quite fancy reading that. I’ve just bought Bitch by the same author.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2022 8:47 
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Mimi wrote:
Oh, I quite fancy reading that. I’ve just bought Bitch by the same author.


I read an interview with her in the New Statesman recently and it sounds like a really interesting book. It's on my list and might shoot up to the top because I really enjoyed this earlier one.

I found the folklore aspect just as fascinating as the zoological part: it's amazing how these myths last and can form part of culture (eg "licking into shape" coming from the view that mummy bears lick cubs into existence).


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 11:17 
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Posts: 16928
Location: Oxford
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
2. Cathedrals of Steam by Christian Wolmar
3. United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How It will Come About by Kevin Meagher
4. The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton
6. Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon
7. The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke


8. Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy by Tim Hartford

I've long been a fan of both Tim Hartford's books and his radio work. This book is the companion to a radio series from a few years ago about transformation inventions and ideas. It's an eclectic mix and he's good at putting everything in context but I felt it was just a transcription of various radio scripts rather than using the book format to expand and develop on his thoughts about the fifty things.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 18:35 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
Posts: 6301
Squirt wrote:
1.) Seveneves - Neal Stephenson.
2.) Neuromancer - William Gibson.
3.) Sharpe's Tiger - Bernard Cornwell
4.) Chess 101 - David Schloss.
5.) Count Zero - William Gibson.


6.) Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson
For some reason this took me about a month and a half to read. Probably the weakest of the trilogy but still pretty awesome. It all comes to a head with voodoo Internets and the ghost of a psychopath that lives in a big memory chip. The whole series is blinking fabbo.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 21:50 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 2909
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.
16. Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter.
17. Commonwealth - Ann Patchett.
18. Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline.
19. The Gathering - Anne Enright.
20. Better off Dead - Lee/Andrew Child.
21. Call for the Dead - John le Carre.
22. Frank Skinner - Frank Skinner.
23. The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz.


Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte. I saw the stage show, visited Haworth (where the Brontes lived) and read the book while I was there. It's very good, without too much of the worthiness you sometimes find in a classic. The family relationships are complicated, which they took the Mickey out of on stage (and that helped me follow it), and people die with alacrity, but it is a good, dark study of character that holds up.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2022 12:52 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
Posts: 6301
Squirt wrote:
1.) Seveneves - Neal Stephenson.
2.) Neuromancer - William Gibson.
3.) Sharpe's Tiger - Bernard Cornwell
4.) Chess 101 - David Schloss.
5.) Count Zero - William Gibson
6.) Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson


7.) White Gold - Giles Milton.
History of the North African slave trade, told through the experience of a cornish chap who got captured as a 12 year old, "Turned Turk", managed to stay alive through civil wars and Palace coups, and then escaped and made it home. Whilst not as big as the trans Atlantic slave trade, the one in North Africa was every bit as brutal and nasty.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2022 8:11 
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Joined: 12th Apr, 2008
Posts: 16928
Location: Oxford
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
2. Cathedrals of Steam by Christian Wolmar
3. United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How It will Come About by Kevin Meagher
4. The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton
6. Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon
7. The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke
8. Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy by Tim Hartford

9. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Bucan

Wanted to read some fiction so picked up this classic thriller. It's a very easy page-turner, and amazing how the hero meets the right people at the right time and finds the right way out of every scrape.

If you can look past the casual racism and imperialism, it's enjoyable but quite disposable.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2022 10:03 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
Posts: 6301
I like a bit of John Buchan! When he's writing chase scenes or adventury bit's he a lot of fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:26 
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Sleepyhead

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 27280
Location: Kidbrooke
I finished a book for the first time in over a year (I think).

1 - Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
Non-fiction! I can't even remember the last time I read one of those!

Basically a book about how people breathe wrong, and how it damages health. Breathe better and be more healthy, innit?

Actually quite interesting, though his journalistic style can be annoying at times; he flits all over the place in terms of time when I think a chronological telling would be better. Likewise he sometimes uses phrases like 'wisdom of the ancients' which is a bit cringe.

That said, I think there's something in it all; lots of medical studies referenced, and whilst it might not be life changing, it could help with a few things. I have some exercises to do, and if nothing else they are easier than actual exercise!

I'll let you know how it goes. If you're into yoga or anything like that then you'll love this shit.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2022 10:11 
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Joined: 12th Apr, 2008
Posts: 16928
Location: Oxford
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
2. Cathedrals of Steam by Christian Wolmar
3. United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How It will Come About by Kevin Meagher
4. The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton
6. Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon
7. The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke
8. Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy by Tim Hartford
9. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Bucan

10. Meet the Georgians by Robert Peal

Between the turmoils of the Civil Wars and the bleak industrial properness of the Victorians was the Georigan era, named after the Four King Georges of Horrible Histories fame (bad; sad; mad; and fat). Meet the Georgians is a collection of tales about various inhabitants of this overlooked period, from pirate queens to debauched aristocrats via political firebrands and Welsh lesbians.

It's a fun diversion, and avoids the usual "great men" approach, with a much more diverse range of people and stories. I particularly appreciated focusing a chapter on India from the position of Tipu Sultan rather than the invading British.

This book's stories would work well as an audiobook or Radio 4 serialisation as each chapter is a pretty easy read and not too long. It might have benefited had there been some unifying theme or connections between the subjects, but nonetheless I learnt about the lives of people I hadn't heard about before and some new things about those I had.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2022 10:36 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
Posts: 6301
Squirt wrote:
1.) Seveneves - Neal Stephenson.
2.) Neuromancer - William Gibson.
3.) Sharpe's Tiger - Bernard Cornwell
4.) Chess 101 - David Schloss.
5.) Count Zero - William Gibson
6.) Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson
7.) White Gold - Giles Milton.


8.) Memoirs of Field-Marshal Montgomery - Field-Marshal Montgomery, obviously.

Military genius, single-minded and obsessive and strangely fond of writing long, bullet-pointed memos to people and then reproducing them in full in his memoirs. An interesting book, with probably more of the post-war stuff than I imagine most people care about. I'd have not wanted to be his boss, he seemed like a fairly annoying person to have as an underling.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2022 10:41 
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Posts: 16928
Location: Oxford
So you get ...

....

....

wait for it

....

....

....

....

the full monty?


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2022 10:45 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
Posts: 6301
Giphy "golf clap":
https://media0.giphy.com/media/3kswnxCkoczPlPFiCn/giphy-loop.mp4

:DD :DD :DD


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 8:32 
User avatar

Joined: 12th Apr, 2008
Posts: 16928
Location: Oxford
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
2. Cathedrals of Steam by Christian Wolmar
3. United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How It will Come About by Kevin Meagher
4. The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
5. You Don't Want to Know by James Felton
6. Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon
7. The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke
8. Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy by Tim Hartford
9. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Bucan
10. Meet the Georgians by Robert Peal

11. Houdini: the Man who Walked Through Walls by William Lindsey Gresham

One of the earliest biographies of Ehrich Weiss, first published in the late 1950s.

The book goes into detail about the development of his acts, how he achieved some of them, and his knack for self-publicity. There's some discussion of his relationship with Conan Doyle, which could probably be a full length study on its own given their fundamental differences over spiritualism. The book hints that Houndini's reputation as a great debunker of mediums might in part have been mutually beneficial to spiritualists as those who believe would just discount it and go to the people he attacks. It also discusses if this part of his career came about if Houndini wanted spiritualism to be true and was annoyed that it wasn't.

Although there's probably later and better biographies of Houdini out there, I was fascinated interested by the old stories and the descriptions of European and North American stage acts. I didn't realise that he made his name and his greatest successes with extensive tours of Europe rather than the US vaudeville circuits. I particularly enjoyed the comment that during his regular "challenge" part of his act, when he invited members of the audience (and a few plants) to bring on stage their own restraints, if his crew saw something they didn't recognise the audience member would be beckoned off stage and shown the stage door, sometimes with the help of a blackjack to facilitate co-operation.

Houdini comes across as an obsessive, emotionally immature, and highly egotistical showman, but one who knew his craft inside out and how to build an audience.

Unfortunately, whilst the book does contain many interviews with those who knew him and is an easy and gripping read, the author does dwell a little too long on the physicality of many of the women in the story, even in the bibliography and footnotes! With modern eyes, this all comes across a little uncomfortable.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 11:41 
SupaMod
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Grim... wrote:
1) Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
2) The Medium-Sized Book of Boring Car Trivia Volume 2 by Sniff Petrol

3) Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

I just didn't get on with this book at all, which perhaps explains why I've been reading it since fucking January :o Sure it's a fairly long book, but it's not that long (160,000 words).

It has a very slow-moving main story, and then several side stories that pop up, get resolved, then vanish. It had just enough good ideas to keep me reading it (especially the chapter where they summoned a demon) but yeee it was a slog.

Bobby loved it though, so :shrug:

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 12:01 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
Posts: 6301
I have a similar deal with China Miéville's books. Very clever and well written, with loads of cool ideas and neat concepts and such, but I'm not sure I actually enjoyed reading them at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 12:09 
SupaMod
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Est. 1978

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Squirt wrote:
I have a similar deal with China Miéville's books. Very clever and well written, with loads of cool ideas and neat concepts and such, but I'm not sure I actually enjoyed reading them at all.

Yeah, that's sums it up really well. It's really well-written, but I don't think I'll be checking out either of the sequels.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 12:42 
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Excellent Painter

Joined: 30th Apr, 2008
Posts: 7248
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Grim... wrote:
Grim... wrote:
1) Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
2) The Medium-Sized Book of Boring Car Trivia Volume 2 by Sniff Petrol

3) Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

I just didn't get on with this book at all, which perhaps explains why I've been reading it since fucking January :o Sure it's a fairly long book, but it's not that long (160,000 words).

It has a very slow-moving main story, and then several side stories that pop up, get resolved, then vanish. It had just enough good ideas to keep me reading it (especially the chapter where they summoned a demon) but yeee it was a slog.

Bobby loved it though, so :shrug:


I hated it and gave up 300 pages in. I think he’s a fucking appalling writer, whose prose style is masturbatory. It just screams “look at my impressive vocabulary”. I was constantly aware of his writing and frankly, I don’t think writing should ever get in the way.

I did wonder if it was me, so I showed it to Gillian (my ex) who has an Oxbridge English degree, and she concurred that he’s an appalling writer as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 13:18 
SupaMod
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Having a Kindle that can tell you what words mean helps a lot with that, I find :D

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 13:58 
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Excellent Painter

Joined: 30th Apr, 2008
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It does, true. That in and of itself wasn’t the issue. It’s the florid prose that got on my nerves. Why use a sentence to describe a scene, when you can take 10 pages. The whole narrative is buried under his word smithery.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 15:52 
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Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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He’s great and y’all suck. Embassytown is the best SF written about language ever.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 16:07 
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And that's a famously high bar

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2022
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2022 13:29 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 2909
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik.
2. Sad Little Men - Richard Beard.
3. The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu.
4. Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World - Otto English.
5. The Blade Itself: Book One (The First Law 1) - Joe Abercrombie.
6. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah.
7. Duty of Care - Dominic Pimento.
8. Find you First - Linwood Barclay.
9. Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma.
10. Normal People - Sally Rooney.
11. I'm a Joke and so are you - Robin Ince.
12. All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle.
13. Juliet Naked - Nick Hornby.
14. Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond - Dalrymple and Anand.
15. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World - Elif Shafak.
16. Severus: The Black Caesar - Steve Exeter.
17. Commonwealth - Ann Patchett.
18. Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline.
19. The Gathering - Anne Enright.
20. Better off Dead - Lee/Andrew Child.
21. Call for the Dead - John le Carre.
22. Frank Skinner - Frank Skinner.
23. The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz.
24. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte.


I've read many books, but started second-guessing whether any of you would be interested, and stopped listing them. A bit mad. At any rate, two good ones recently:

The Silence of the Girls - Pat Barker. The story of Achilles, Hector, Priam and all of those - only told from the other side of the camp, from Briseis, whose city is ransacked and she taken into slavery. It's excellent, with no false hope but also avoids long lists of tragedies or focussing so much on the horror that it is hard to read. Just from time to time, a woman's fate is decided in a casual chat between two men, which is such an effective way to stamp home where the power is.

The Last Graduate - Naomi Novak. The second and latest in the Scholomance series, a story set in a wizarding school where, although the odds are better for children than outside, you're very unlikely to survive to graduate. It's also the story of El, who is a miserable loser, fated to be a great bad maleficer, with not a good word to say about or to anyone, but who still finds a way to do the right thing. It should be hard to make that believable - she's so grumpy and miserable, but is really finding out she's a good person (without noticing it herself), but the writing brings it home deftly and is often very funny. And the world is well described and believable through her eyes, too.


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