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2023 list

1. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Two intertwining accounts of the building of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and of a mass murderer active in the city (with his own customised and legendary murder hotel) at the same time.
The narrative switches between stories pretty regularly but never becomes distracting.
The author does have a tendency to include the written equivalent of ominous music whenever things are about to go badly to a newly introduced character. I got the sense that he enjoyed imagining and writing the circumstances of the murders a little too much, given the amount of detail and almost cinematic touches he puts into those scenes. Almost, as if, he is being seduced by the Chicago Devil too.
Let's see how long I keep it up for this year.

1. Tales from the Gas Station Volume 2 by Jack Townsend.

Jack works in a gas station at the edge of town (get it?) and weird things happen. It's basically Welcome to Night Vale: Book Version (except it isn't, because there's already a book of that, but whatever). It's funny and surreal and imaginative.

It was entertaining, not as good as Volume 1, but still good.
I won’t manage 52, or remember to post about the ones that I did read.

Still…

1) The Defector by Chris Hadfield (the astronaut).
It’s a straightforward military thriller, in the vein of Craig Thomas or Tom Clancy, but if you like that kind of thing then it’s a really enjoyable read.


https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-de ... 1529431957
Not trying to be an edge lord, but

1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin. I didn't think that much of it. I liked it in general, but the dialogue was expositional and functional, rather than real, and the writing sometimes very clunky - of the "he stood up and walked over to the counter and then he sat on the counter and was comfortable" side.
Giphy "edgelord":
https://media4.giphy.com/media/gLEGP7gzZvheNaTndp/giphy-loop.mp4
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin.


2. The Siberian Dilemma - Martin Cruz Smith. Arkady Renko investigates, while tangled up in modern Russian politics. A general sense of Soviet malaise pervades. And it's an easy read; a clipped style, just 274 pages, and every short chapter starts on the right-hand side, so there are frequent blank pages where the previous chapter ends on the right.
These Burning Stars - Bethany Jacobs entertaining enough romp where two government agents try and track down a rebel across the stars. The "drinks a lot (mainly spirits), fights, and promiscuous" portrayal of "strong women characters" is getting tired, though.
1. The Secret - Reacher (29??) - Lee & Andrew Child


Reacher has been bumped down to Captain, and assigned to a task force. It is what you expect from a Reacher book
1.) The Third World War - General Sir John Hackett, GCB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC, MA, B.Litt, LL.D

Fascinating book that I think has been talked about on here before, and was apparently an influence for World War Z. Written in 1978, telling the history of WWIII which kicked off in summer 1985. Huge tank battles in the Fulda Gap, a Jamacian-led invasion of South Africa, our stalwart allies in Iran sticking it to those socialist Saudis, Birmingham being nuked, the lot. I read it once before, years back, and like it quite a lot.
Squirt wrote:
1.) The Third World War - General Sir John Hackett, GCB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC, MA, B.Litt, LL.D


2.) Maigret and the Nahour Case - Georges Simenon
I've never read any of the Maigret books before or seen any of the TV shows, so this was all new to me. This was a nice little detective novel, short, only 162 pages, and no grand twists or crazy denouement at the end. Just a good story of a detective smoking his pipe and solving a murder. I shall read more of these!
All completed on plane journeys…

1. Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
An autobiographical tome about Fern’s life growing up as an undiagnosed autistic girl/woman in Scotland. Quite an enlightening read.

2. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Started this one (and the Fern Brady book) last year but I felt this was impenetrable so I stopped. Finally powered my way through it on the plane and I must have stopped just before the action kicked in, because the rest of it was a much nicer read and I’m looking forward to more Pratchett now!

3. Red Dwarf: Better Than Life, by Grant Naylor
The second book, and despite having read it (and listened to the audiobook) a few times I always forget just how funny and poignant it is.
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin.
2. The Siberian Dilemma - Martin Cruz Smith.


3. Trust - Hernan Diaz. A story of a fictional financier during the Great Depression. It's told through four books, two middling length, two short. First, a fictional account of his life, second his memoir as a response, third, the longest, he engages an author to write the 'real' version, and fourth, his wife's view. Bit of a shock revelation in there, and a great way to show different perspectives on life, and in effect it's a long ponder on the nature of truth.

4. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz. At some point I said I'd read all the Reacher books, and a friend suggested this series. It doesn't disappoint. Orphan X is the product of a secret organisation that creates assassins, now working as a freelancer. Action, plot, thrills.
JBR wrote:
I'd read all the Reacher books

All the Reacher books?


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You're welcome!
GazChap wrote:
All completed on plane journeys…

1. Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
An autobiographical tome about Fern’s life growing up as an undiagnosed autistic girl/woman in Scotland. Quite an enlightening read.

2. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Started this one (and the Fern Brady book) last year but I felt this was impenetrable so I stopped. Finally powered my way through it on the plane and I must have stopped just before the action kicked in, because the rest of it was a much nicer read and I’m looking forward to more Pratchett now!

3. Red Dwarf: Better Than Life, by Grant Naylor
The second book, and despite having read it (and listened to the audiobook) a few times I always forget just how funny and poignant it is.


4. Red Dwarf: Backwards, by Rob Grant
The first third book, after the Schism. Very good, even made me feel emotional a couple of times, which is new.
Have you got Last Human?
Grim... wrote:
JBR wrote:
I'd read all the Reacher books

All the Reacher books?
You're welcome!

Well, no - and that screenshot is missing "The Jack Reacher cases" which are a perfect example of how someone mimicking a style is unlikely to quite hit the mark (they're just 'fine').

I'll count those above as a maybe!
DavPaz wrote:
Have you got Last Human?

Yeah, just reading that one now.
That's the best one.
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
MaliA wrote:
These Burning Stars - Bethany Jacobs entertaining enough romp where two government agents try and track down a rebel across the stars. The "drinks a lot (mainly spirits), fights, and promiscuous" portrayal of "strong women characters" is getting tired, though.


The House at Phantom Park - Graham Masterson

Horror story about a property developer having issues with a haunted house. There's a decent story in there's but the characters are appalling stereotypes and the writing clunky at times. There's better about.
I read many horror stories last year, and the best was Episode Thirteen. It was great.
JBR wrote:
Grim... wrote:
JBR wrote:
I'd read all the Reacher books

All the Reacher books?
You're welcome!

Well, no - and that screenshot is missing "The Jack Reacher cases" which are a perfect example of how someone mimicking a style is unlikely to quite hit the mark (they're just 'fine').

I'll count those above as a maybe!

In all seriousness, The Gray Man by Mark Greaney is a great Reacher-like.
Grim... wrote:
JBR wrote:
Grim... wrote:
JBR wrote:
I'd read all the Reacher books

All the Reacher books?
You're welcome!

Well, no - and that screenshot is missing "The Jack Reacher cases" which are a perfect example of how someone mimicking a style is unlikely to quite hit the mark (they're just 'fine').

I'll count those above as a maybe!

In all seriousness, The Gray Man by Mark Greaney is a great Reacher-like.


Are the hunt for Jack Reacher books any good, they are on kindle unlimited? Just going to finish the Thrive series.
I'd be very surprised if they were.
Grim... wrote:
That's the best one.

Really? I remember reading it before and thinking it was terrible compared to what came before -- and from what I have read so far this time around, it doesn't seem different!
I thought Backwards was comfortably the worst of the 4, with 1 & 2 being the best.

Last Human was the best out of the two "solo" books.
Interesting, I'll let you know what I think when I get to the end of it!
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin.
2. The Siberian Dilemma - Martin Cruz Smith.
3. Trust - Hernan Diaz.
4. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz.


Eversion - Alastair Reynolds. Kern recommended this in his end of year summary, it was 99p on Kindle that day (as a search tells me it was when Malia got it). No regrets, it's a great unfolding mystery that fits into the sci-fi category, though without it being immediately obvious why, as it starts on an old sloop (boat) heading for a mythical destination.
Dr Zoidberg wrote:

ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1) The Defector by Chris Hadfield (the astronaut).
It’s a straightforward military thriller, in the vein of Craig Thomas or Tom Clancy, but if you like that kind of thing then it’s a really enjoyable read.
https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-de ... 1529431957




2) The future of geography by Tim Marshall.
The third of his geopolitics books, explaining how space exploration with affect politics on earth.
Very interesting, though the first two about the history of nations and how they were affected by geography were better.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Geograp ... 783967242/
Squirt wrote:
Squirt wrote:
1.) The Third World War - General Sir John Hackett, GCB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC, MA, B.Litt, LL.D
2.)Maigret and the Nahour Case - Georges Simenon


3.) The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard To Be Happy - Michael Foley
Sadly not the wrestler. Somewhat annyoing book that combines some interesting thoughts about how many of the things that we find satisfying - doing things for their own sake, dedicating yourself to a worthwhile task, self-determination and freedom to make choices and see them through - can be harder to achieve in modern life, with some irksome Daily Mail style grumblings about Young People and their Facebooks and Friendsters and Rock Music. It's given me some ideas for follow-up reading though.
GazChap wrote:
Interesting, I'll let you know what I think when I get to the end of it!

I don’t quite know why I didn’t like it when I read it as a teenager… I agree with you, it’s easily better than Backwards.

Which is a bit weird — the first half of the book basically seems to be a rehash of the latter end of the “original” run of the series. Once it stops doing that it gets a lot better, for sure!
GazChap wrote:
1. Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
2. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
3. Red Dwarf: Better Than Life, by Grant Naylor
4. Red Dwarf: Backwards, by Rob Grant

5. Red Dwarf: Last Human, by Doug Naylor
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1) The Defector by Chris Hadfield (the astronaut).
2) The future of geography by Tim Marshall.


3) Curious Video Games Machines by Lewis Packwood
Bought this at a taik he did at RMC in Stroud. Very interesting tales of obscure (and sometimes nearly mainstream) hardware.
https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Curious ... ck/p/24332
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1) The Defector by Chris Hadfield (the astronaut).
2) The future of geography by Tim Marshall.
3) Curious Video Games Machines by Lewis Packwood


4) What If? 2, by Randall Munroe.
More serious scientific answer to absurd questions.
MaliA wrote:
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
MaliA wrote:
These Burning Stars - Bethany Jacobs entertaining enough romp where two government agents try and track down a rebel across the stars. The "drinks a lot (mainly spirits), fights, and promiscuous" portrayal of "strong women characters" is getting tired, though.


The House at Phantom Park - Graham Masterson

Horror story about a property developer having issues with a haunted house. There's a decent story in there's but the characters are appalling stereotypes and the writing clunky at times. There's better about.


3. Fake Heroes - Otto English a peer behind the curtain at a selection of venerated people. It's interesting, but appalling edited in places.
MaliA wrote:
MaliA wrote:
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
MaliA wrote:
These Burning Stars - Bethany Jacobs entertaining enough romp where two government agents try and track down a rebel across the stars. The "drinks a lot (mainly spirits), fights, and promiscuous" portrayal of "strong women characters" is getting tired, though.


The House at Phantom Park - Graham Masterson

Horror story about a property developer having issues with a haunted house. There's a decent story in there's but the characters are appalling stereotypes and the writing clunky at times. There's better about.


3. Fake Heroes - Otto English a peer behind the curtain at a selection of venerated people. It's interesting, but appalling edited in places.


I honestly don't know if that was a really good joke or an ironical typo. Good work either way.
KovacsC wrote:
1. The Secret - Reacher (29??)

2. Spaceship Thrive - Ginger Booth

The second of 9 books. It was great to revisit the crew to look at how they are helping the settlers. It had pirates and death :)
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


2. Around the World in 80 Games: a mathematician unlocks the secrets of the greatest games by Marcus du Sautoy

A book which promises more than it actually delivers, but is just readable enough to not give up entirely.

I liked the discussion of various traditional games from around the world, many new to me, and found the deeper sections on why we game very interesting,

It's the maths sections are the real let down. They are few and far between, and fluctuate between being too cursory as to merit attention and too detailed to be comprehensible to the general reader, especially given a lack of diagrams.

The author also will leap from topic to topic with as much grace as a truck driver's key change at Eurovision. But the diversity of games covered and his attempts to draw similarities between them and meaning from within meant that I was unable to give up on it completely.

Besides, any book that has a section on Mornington Crescent strategy can't be all bad.
KovacsC wrote:
1. The Secret - Reacher (29??)
2. Spaceship Thrive - Ginger Booth


3. Terry Pratchett- a life in footnotes - Rob Wilkins.

A lovely biography of Terry. It is quite sad as his illness took over.

I am going to have to read more of his books. I have not read a discworld in ages.
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin.
2. The Siberian Dilemma - Martin Cruz Smith.
3. Trust - Hernan Diaz.
4. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz.
5. Eversion - Alastair Reynolds.


Orbital - Samantha Harvey. Nice and short, it's about a group of astronauts in the International Space Station. And just an account of what it's like - feelings, the view, the training, reflections on home. It reads almost dreamily, though it's not at all pretentiously written. It's a meticulously researched view from inside the space station, and great.
MaliA wrote:
MaliA wrote:
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
MaliA wrote:
These Burning Stars - Bethany Jacobs entertaining enough romp where two government agents try and track down a rebel across the stars. The "drinks a lot (mainly spirits), fights, and promiscuous" portrayal of "strong women characters" is getting tired, though.


The House at Phantom Park - Graham Masterson

Horror story about a property developer having issues with a haunted house. There's a decent story in there's but the characters are appalling stereotypes and the writing clunky at times. There's better about.

3. Fake Heroes - Otto English a peer behind the curtain at a selection of venerated people. It's interesting, but appalling edited in places.


The Badger: Bernard Hinault and the fall and rise of French Cycling William Fotherington

It's a book about a Breton cyclist. It's brilliantly written ,and I recommend it even to non cycling fans.

Also, fans of the grauniad coverage of sporting events will enjoy this...
GazChap wrote:
1. Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
2. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
3. Red Dwarf: Better Than Life, by Grant Naylor
4. Red Dwarf: Backwards, by Rob Grant
5. Red Dwarf: Last Human, by Doug Naylor

6. Persuader: A Jack Reacher Novel, by Lee Child

The book that the upcoming season 3 of the TV show is going to be based on. It's much more 'in keeping' with the general feeling and style of season 1, with Reacher largely on his own except for the odd bit of help from people he meets along the way, so I'm hoping that season 3 dials back the 'group dynamic' that I felt hurt season 2 a little bit.

Nice book, easy to read, reasonably gripping. Quite graphic in parts.
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin.
2. The Siberian Dilemma - Martin Cruz Smith.
3. Trust - Hernan Diaz.
4. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz.
5. Eversion - Alastair Reynolds.
6. Orbital - Samantha Harvey.


Satoshi Yogisawa - Days at the Morisaki Bookshop. A woman has a bad time personally and ends up living with her uncle at his bookshop, despite her misgivings. Story of family and digging yourself out of a bad time. Gentle and lovely.

Linwood Barclay - The Lie Maker. A writer is employed by a mysterious organisation to make up stories. His personal and work lives collide. Extremely satisfying thriller with some great misdirection.
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1.) The Third World War - General Sir John Hackett, GCB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC, MA, B.Litt, LL.D
2.) Maigret and the Nahour Case - Georges Simenon
3.) The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard To Be Happy - Michael Foley


4.) The High Window - Raymond Chandler
Not quite as good as the others of Chandler's I've read, but a good old story of missing coins, dissolute sons marrying showgirls and men drinking pints of bourbon in run down offices.
ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
1) The Defector by Chris Hadfield (the astronaut).
2) The future of geography by Tim Marshall.
3) Curious Video Games Machines by Lewis Packwood]
4) What If? 2, by Randall Munroe.


5) The Relenless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Third book in a series telling an alternate history of the space race.

Very good if you like that kind of thing.
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