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ChrisN
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Sorry, accidental neg there Rudi.

Now you mention it, that is a weak aspect of the dénouement. It's difficult to imagine Abercrombie leaving it half-finished deliberately, as their story is such a rich seam, so I hope it gets returned to in the next series.

Fixed that neg for you.

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Still can't believe Rudi hasn't read any culture books. So jealous in a way! Totally remember nerding out reading Phlebas for the first time, playing Ascendancy and listening to Mansun.

never got on with fearsome engine.

Anyway I've been trashing out with Nick Carey and his Felix Castor series. basically john Constantine in London, except with john apparently harder than jack bauer given the number of beatings he gets. no where near as good as the Night Watch books but fun still.

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Took a break from Arnold Schwarzenegger's book (which I was really enjoying) to read This Book Is Full of Spiders, which is the follow up to John Dies At The End.

It's a frustrating read because I kept wanting it to be like the predecessor but it isn't. It lacks a lot of the humour and really ramps up the brutality and pretty graphic violence. It makes the fatal mistake of having three likeable leads and then splitting them up for nearly the entire book - and more frustratedly, having them continually missing each other, or going to the complete wrong location because of a simple mistake. (For example, a character takes a picture of an event on TV and sends it to another character, who then thinks the first person is actually AT the event - setting that person to go back to the event and try to find them...) There are way too many near misses/how the hell do they get out of this. The device that made the first book so interesting (the 'Soy Sauce' and its effects) is barely touched upon here - apart from the after effects of taking it in the first book allowing the characters to see the spiders that others can not in this one.

It jumps about so much because the characters are separated and there's a lot of Person X is about to die....but then the next chapter jumps back three hours to see how Person Y set things up so Person X doesn't actually die. I'm about 80% through it now and the only thing keeping me going is that I have no idea how it is all going to resolve itself. A real disappointment because I enjoyed John Dies At The End a lot and was hoping for more of the same. There was so much scope for adventure but instead the author goes down the infected/zombie/quarantine route and all that provides.

That mirrors my views of it. It started off well enough, then just forgot what made the first novel so fun.

It turned into a surprisingly rote zombie town under siege story (despite reminding you every 10 minutes that they're not zombies, because zombies are dumb) with the occasional 'Hey, did you know this?' interjection - I know he writes for Cracked, but it still came across as contrived the way he'd find excuse to suddenly copy one of his articles there wholesale into the middle of a chapter (see the bit about the Goliath Bird Eating Spider) . Then in the last couple of chapters he suddenly tries to steer it back towards the goofier style of its predecessor and it's a jarring change of tone at that point. He also resolves the problem with one of the laziest plot devices I've ever seen committed to the page. Yes, he did technically introduce it in the first chapter, but it still comes across as him writing himself into a corner and resorting to 'A Wizard Did It', which might have worked with the lighter and more surreal John Dies at the End, but doesn't in the grimdark sequel.

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Currently reading Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison. Surprisingly much better than I was expecting. Nothing deep or meaningful but nice and easy to read

http://www.amazon.co...etails_o03__i00

Rachel Morgan lives in a world where a bioengineered virus wiped out most of the world's human population – exposing the existence of supernatural communities that had long lived alongside humanity. It’s her job as a white witch working for Inderland Security to protect the humans from things that go bump in the night.

For the last five years Rachel has been tracking down lawbreaking Inderlanders in modern-day Cincinnati, but now she wants to leave and start her own agency. Her only problem: no one quits the I.S.

Marked for death, Rachel will have to fend off fairy assassins and homicidal werewolves armed to the teeth with deadly curses.

Unless she can appease her former employers by exposing the city's most prominent citizen as a drug lord, she might just be a dead witch walking.

Forum warning. The author appears to like vampire rumpy pumpy but apart from that it's fine.

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Just finished Live by Night, Denis Lehane's follow up to The Given Day. It's an odd one. I enjoyed it, but it's not what I would have expected from a sequel to The Given Day. That novel was a sprawling period piece, with an emphasis on the viewpoints of multiple characters and how they were affected by historical forces. I thought it was one of the best things he's ever written. This novel is a much more straightforward pulpy gangster book. The main character must be the nicest mobster in history, and to be fair Lehane does acknowledge this and it is noted by other characters and does have some impact on the plot, but it still stretched my suspension of disbelief at times. It's fun, but definitely nowhere near his best writing.

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I’m reading the second Jimmy Perez novel, ‘White Nights’ by Ann Cleeves. This is a series of detective novels set out on the Shetland Islands. A couple of people have been murdered in strange circumstances and the island cop Perez has to investigate.

I enjoyed the first in this series and this one is also good. Nice pace, good characters and a satisfying mystery. I’ll finish this one tonight and I’ll probably go straight onto the third one in the series.

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Finished Excession by forum fave Iain M Banks. I don't know why, but I completely failed at reading this within an acceptable time frame - been at it since September! It's great, but I really need to do that again. I was losing track of the different minds along the way due to lack of concentrated reading sessions. Busy over the past few months.

As usual though, fantastic new details of the Culture society, awesome Mind chat and gruff aliens. I just need to follow the plot next time.

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I’m just about to finish Where the Bodies Are Buried by Christopher Brookmyre. It’s about gangsters in Glasgow, PIs, bent cops, missing people and a little bit of police procedural throw in. I find Brookmyre a bit hit and miss – the last one of his I read was Pandemonium and I didn’t finish that. This is much better. The story is tight, the central mystery is strong and unusually for Brookmyre none of the main characters are irritating. It’s the first in a series of books featuring a new character – I’m sure I’ll read the rest.

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The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.

Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn't invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.

Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city's underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive...

The first book is The Lies of Locke Lamora which is great, and the second book Red Seas under Red Skies blows it right out of the water

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I second the recommendation of Lies, but Red Seas felt like a lazy retread of the first book with the emo cranked up and most of the fun sucked out. Fuck knows where Lynch is planning to find another *five* books worth of story from, assuming he ever finishes the damn third book. :(

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I second the recommendation of Lies, but Red Seas felt like a lazy retread of the first book with the emo cranked up and most of the fun sucked out. Fuck knows where Lynch is planning to find another *five* books worth of story from, assuming he ever finishes the damn third book. :(

It's actually been dated on Amazon for next July.

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It's actually been dated on Amazon for next July.

It's been dated a few times now (I think the original planned release date was 2009?). I'll believe it when I see a physical copy (or a digital equivalent on a Kindle).

Lynch has been fighting depression and that has been cited as the main reason for the delays, but Gollancz have done themselves no favours by fucking around with the release date on Amazon. Bah.

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Just finished John Le Carré's The Honourable Schoolboy. I read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy over the last year, so I was looking forward to it.

What a pile of overlong, tedious, shit. It's put me right off any more books of his.

Now for Great North Road, by Peter F. Hamilton.

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I finished A Christmas Carol over the weekend, it's been sitting on my Kindle since January and I finally had the spirit to read it. Great story, of course, but I couldn't help but see Michael Caine as Scrooge! :D

I'm waiting for xmas for new stuff, so thought I'd go back to the old. Dusted off The Player of Games and realised why i fell in love with the Culture in the first place. He's just got on the Limiting Factor.

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I parked the latest Brookmyre after he spent/wasted 100 pages telling the back story of a bunch of insignificant, second string characters. I've stared the third in Ann Cleeves Shetland Quartet, Red Bones.

This follows the same pattern of the first 2 in the series; a body is found and detective Jimmy Perez has to investigate. The locals all have secrets and gradualy they are revealed.

She seems to have changed approach with this one. Normally we get about 80% of the book from the POV of Jimmy Perez and the rest from the other people involved in the investigation. This time we see very little from Perez' POV and most of the book is other peoples perspective. Interesting.

Very good so far.

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Aye man

So I finished Great North Road last night. It was good! Towards the end, it did start to drag. There's a point in the story where everything has been made clear to half the cast and the reader, but the mystery is being dragged out for the other half of the cast through some poor pacing. And then a series of super-happy, tying-everything-up Scooby Doo endings that don't really need to happen.

Apart from that though, I really enjoyed it. It's exciting, and fast moving and expansive, and a nice sci-fi world. All the Geordie lingo grated after a while, and felt a little artificial.

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Barrel Fever by David Sedaris.

An early collection of Sedaris’ short stories and a few essays. I only really know of him as a This American Life contributor, and his reputation as a humourist. All indications point to this one not being his best with “Me Talk Pretty One Day” taking that prize. Still, there’s enough laughs to keep trucking along. Also, some of the short stories are completely disturbing in ways I was not expecting, a bit like Chuck Pahlaniuk in places. Hands down the best essay is from when Sedaris worked as an Elf in Santaland in Macy’s department store. What a bloody horrible job, but I laughed more reading those 30 pages than from the rest of the book combined. It’s made me want to pick up some of his better-regarded collections for sure, and also have a look through the archives of This American Life for more of his stuff.

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I read The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg recently, since it was a big obvious gap in my knowledge of the canon of Scottish literature and also because I'd absolutely loved James Robertson's The Testament of Gideon Mack, which was essentially a modern-day retelling in some ways (and explicitly borrows the structure while making nods of the head in character names and the like). For a book written in 1824, Confessions is surprisingly post-modern - two separate unreliable narratives, the conceit of it being a 'found' document with an editor's introduction and epilogue; it was even published anonymously, and Hogg appears as a 'character' in the book at the end where an authentic letter he sent to a magazine is used as evidence for the truth of the events in the book. Extremely meta-textual stuff going on. The storyline itself is great, and very compelling especially if (like me) you grew up surrounded by the culture of Calvinism. Seeing the 'justification through grace alone' stuff taken to its logical conclusion by a man whose constant companion is the devil makes for great reading. It's pretty funny in parts, too - especially the whole thread where the 'sinner' at the centre of the book is convinced the Devil is in fact Tsar Peter of Russia, who he has heard is travelling Europe incognito.

In news that is sure to delight some people in this thread, I bought Iain M Banks' Consider Phlebas yesterday and made a start on it. It's pretty great thus far.

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