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 Post subject: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2023 21:03 
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Joined: 12th Apr, 2008
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Location: Oxford
1. The Confidence Men by Margalit Fox

Absolutely gripping tale about two POWs in World War 1 who escape their captors by claiming to be able to speak to the Beyond. Not only is the story itself an absolute pageturner, but Fox also talks about how people fall for such tricks, the art of the magician, and the history of spiritualism to show how the audacious plan worked.

A strong start to the literary year!


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2023 12:48 
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1. The Confidence Men by Margalit Fox


2. Maus by Art Spiegelman

Despite knowing of Maus for years I've only just read it. It's hard-hitting and uncompromising in its depictions of the Holocaust. I had to take a few breaks to get through it and the starkness of some of the frames will linger with me for a while.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2023 20:06 
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Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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Corruptible - Brian Klaas Why we get the leaders we do, and how it is all our own fault, but there are ways to make it better. It's engaging, readable, and makes one think. There's a few ideas I I have seen elsewhere, but worth the time to go through it. Pair with How To Rig An Election for maximum eye row raising.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2023 20:33 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 3061
The Midnight Library - Matt Haig. This book was a bit of a 'thing', certainly in sales, and I followed the author for a while, but it, and his "you are enough" type messages are not for me. Glad I read it, it's an interesting idea - that before death people see a repository (like a library) that lets then explore other lives - but I thought it clunky.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2023 9:18 
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1. The Confidence Men by Margalit Fox
2. Maus by Art Spiegelman


3. The Hunger by Alma Katsu

I needed something light and easy to read so picked up this thriller for the library. A wagon train is crossing the great western trails to reach the sunny shores of California in the 1840s, but the journey is rocked by division, hunger, extreme weather, mystery illnesses, murder, and possible attacks by skin-walkers, wolves, or just rabid men.

The whole thing felt like a rushed-to-print novelisation of a movie, and I wouldn't be surprised if it appeared at the local multiplex soon. I found it plodding, the characters boring and predictable (oh look, each has a flashback telling their back story!) , and not particularly atmospheric or creepy. I did have nightmare about skin-walkers in Bicester so I suppose I have to credit the book for that.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2023 13:53 
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Joined: 31st Mar, 2008
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1. Crash Annual 2023

Does this count? For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, Crash was a Spectrum magazine that ran from something like the mid-80s to the early 90s (spending its final years as a logo in the corner of a rival magazine).

A mixture of memory and hindsight tells me that Crash was probably the middle of the three main Spectrum magazines, with Your Sinclair being the kind of precursor to Amiga Power, and Sinclair User being mostly shite (ironically that was the magazine that would "save" Crash

Anyway, a few years ago, there was a Kickstarter for a Crash annual, and I've picked it up since whenever the first one I got was (2020?) I was going to skip this years as I'm trying to a) not spend too much money, and b) avoid acquiring more tat, but there's a nice pre-Christmas element to reading this (I didn't finish it until this year though, so it still counts, right), so when a last minute email offered another chance to buy, I folded.

The annual itself mostly reads like an issue of Crash, and involves many of the magazine's writers, with articles, tips, and lots of reviews of newly written Spectrum games, many of which look very impressive given the machine's limitations, and probably none of which I will bother to play.

This annual closed with a tribute to Oli Frey who was responsible for the artwork on many of the covers of Crash (and I think Zzap, the Commodore stablemate), and passed away late last year.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2023 16:31 
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Gogmagog

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 48122
Location: Cheshire
MaliA wrote:
Corruptible - Brian Klaas Why we get the leaders we do, and how it is all our own fault, but there are ways to make it better. It's engaging, readable, and makes one think. There's a few ideas I I have seen elsewhere, but worth the time to go through it. Pair with How To Rig An Election for maximum eye row raising.


Spare - Captain Wales Christ, this is a ride and a half. It's very poorly written, and he comes over like Holden Caulfield without the whimsy. Really picks up in the final third with ALL THE GOSSIP. I ended up feeling some sympathy for him.

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He gets the girl

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2023 21:11 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 3061
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1. The Midnight Library - Matt Haig


2. Educating Peter - Tom Cox. Started following Tom Cox on Twitter, read 21st Century Yokel and loved it. He's moved into writing the sort of books he wants to, rather that this one, and you can feel this difference. This is a nice, whimsical trip into music, as he takes a friend's teenager under his wing and introduces him to music and musicians. But it's a smidge without passion. Good, well written, but I could see why he talks about the industry the way he does - this was written to sell, rather than because he was compelled to write it.
3. Carnival of Snackery - David Sedaris. The US' Alan Bennett's second volume of diaries, covering 2010-2020. Gets a bit sombre in places near the end, as he hits and passes 60 and his family ages too. Plus 2020 happens. But it's funny throughout, and his responses when people challenge him to startle him are pretty amazing. Plenty of jokes reported from other people, but they work. He's also rich now, and has a refreshingly American approach to just saying that and enjoying the perks.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2023 20:30 
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Joans wrote:
1. Crash Annual 2023


2. Luke Haines - Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in its downfall

I think this was in someone's list last year, and they obviously made it sound interesting enough to pop on my Amazon wishlist.

The Auteurs probably weren't even on my radar until it was too late, I don't think I even heard of them until I went to university, and by that point Haines was starting to form Black Box Recorder.
The timeline of the book leads up to this point, so while I wasn't exactly reliving many of the events discussed, it was still an enjoyable trip through the early-mid 90s, made more entertaining by Haines' disdain for, well, pretty much everything and everyone.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2023 21:28 
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Gogmagog

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 48122
Location: Cheshire
Joans wrote:
Joans wrote:
1. Crash Annual 2023


2. Luke Haines - Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in its downfall

I think this was in someone's list last year, and they obviously made it sound interesting enough to pop on my Amazon wishlist.

The Auteurs probably weren't even on my radar until it was too late, I don't think I even heard of them until I went to university, and by that point Haines was starting to form Black Box Recorder.
The timeline of the book leads up to this point, so while I wasn't exactly reliving many of the events discussed, it was still an enjoyable trip through the early-mid 90s, made more entertaining by Haines' disdain for, well, pretty much everything and everyone.


I loved it.

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:47 
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Joined: 25th Sep, 2008
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1. No Plan B - Lee & Andrew Child

Reacher sees a woman murdered and he sets out to find out why.

The usual Reacher book, you know it will be good and along to same format :)

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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 20:45 
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Joined: 12th Apr, 2008
Posts: 17386
Location: Oxford
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1. The Confidence Men by Margalit Fox
2. Maus by Art Spiegelman
3. The Hunger by Alma Katsu


4. Ask a Historian by Greg Jenner

The podcaster and author answers readers' questions. An enjoyable mix of questions answered in Jenner's usual charming style.
Highlight is the one about the historical accuracy of the Flintstones.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2023 20:23 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 3061
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1. The Midnight Library - Matt Haig
2. Educating Peter - Tom Cox.
3. Carnival of Snackery - David Sedaris.


The Children of Dynmouth - William Trevor. A relatively short novel of a small English town and the lives of its children, in particular one odd friendless but well-informed boy, who lets slip secrets to get what he wants. Nice creepy atmosphere.

The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind and Almost Found Myself on the Pacific Crest Trail - Dan White. A book with a "He said it! He said the title!" moment. Dan and his girlfriend set off to walk the trail. Dan is a twat. They go through things, some funny, more testing. It wanders a bit at the end, as any tale of an expedition done in bits and incompletely remembered is likely to do. At its best for the first half or more, when the walking and discovery are at their heights, though I think the opposite is probably true for the author, who got more out of the latter stages.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2023 10:43 
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Soopah red DS

Joined: 2nd Jun, 2008
Posts: 3061
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1. The Midnight Library - Matt Haig
2. Educating Peter - Tom Cox.
3. Carnival of Snackery - David Sedaris.
4. The Children of Dynmouth - William Trevor.
5. The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind and Almost Found Myself on the Pacific Crest Trail - Dan White.


No Less the Devil - Stuart MacBridge. A thriller but not about Logan, the author's long-running series. Still a dark police story with gore aplenty. It takes a bit of an odd turn that I didn't think quite worked, and I wasn't totally convinced, but it just about sticks the ending.

The Foot Soldiers - Gerald Seymour. Unusually for Seymour, it's a follow-up, to The Crocodile Eaters, 'starring' the same unlikely grey hero, Jonas Merrick. Known as "The Eternal Flame" because he never goes out, he's unassuming but excellent at catching traitors as he has to here when a defector is nearly killed. Who is the leak? Seymour has a very particular way of doing dialogue that makes everyone clipped and a bit odd, but once you're into the world it works. This one is just a little baggy towards the end, but I was clammy handed as the tension built in various sub-plots before that. One of the best thriller writers *if* you can deal with the style.


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 Post subject: Re: Finish 52 Books 2023
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2023 18:13 
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And IN STROLLS GRIM..., BITCHES

I have read some books. Prepare to be entranced!

1) Hell Train by Iain Rob Wright
Look at that title! HELL TRAIN! HELL TRAIN! CHOO CHOO IT'S THE HELL TRAIN! Etc.
Anyway, a train goes into a tunnel that never ends, and weird shit starts happening. People hallucinate, people die, people vanish. It's a fairly easy read and some approriately freaky things happen, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It's part of a bigger series of books that are mostly stand-alone, so I then read

2) Maniac Menagerie by Ian Rob Wright
So this was a large departure from the previous book. Absolutely nothing supernatural happened and it didn't seem to tie into anything, which is odd. It was a very J A Konrath-like book about serial killers (most of whom were basically superheroes) and a rich man who had built a theme park where they were the main attraction. Wouldn't you know it, things go very wrong very quickly.
It was an okay (if absurd) book, but I was expecting ghosts and shit.

3) The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
Space-ship AIs make tea so people can survive in warp space. A strange detective hires a ship to take her to look at stuff. It was wierd and far too flowery and I didn't like it very much. Fucked if I know what happened, TBH.

4) Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
British psychics set up a system during World War I in which soldiers who are killed report in and tell them what happened. Good shit! Soon it turns into a murder mystery and I somewhat ruined it for myself by deciding that a certain character was a traitor and then ending up being right, but I can't hold that against it.

5) The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
Remember that boring film? Well, this is the book series it was based on, and it's fucking great. If you like Jack Reacher but want to read about a Jack Reacher who isn't actually Jack Reacher (and has the worst fucking luck in the world) then this is well worth your time.

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