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Over the weekend I read The Anomaly by Michael Rutger. This is the third name used by the writer Michael Marshall Smith. He started out as MMS and wrote some amazing sci-fi books then published a few decent thrillers as Michael Marshall and now is writing as Michael Rutger.

 

It's the story of a YouTube guy, Nolan Moore, who investigates mysterious phenomenon - I picture the guy from the Ancient Aliens meme not Indiana Jones. And tries to uncover whatever 'secrets' he can in these sites. It goes without saying that he's a spoofer and that he's only in it for the money. But while investigating a cave in the Grand Canyon he finds something properly weird. And soon Nolan and his team are trapped and some real weird stuff is happening.

 

This is aimed at the Clive Cussler/Dan Brown market. Chapters are short and every chapter ends on a cliff hanger. But Rutger is an excellent writer and his characters, plotting and location work are superb. The central mystery is really good and he times the reveals perfectly. Some of the twists are telegraphed but there's enough genuinely weird stuff happening to elevate this above the rest of the genre.

 

Not as good as his sci-fi work but definitely worth a read if you're into this kind of thing. I'd read more from this series if they come appear. 

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I just started Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, by all accounts one of the masterpieces of twentieth century Russian literature - which wasn't published or widely read until much later thanks to the KGB - it had to be smuggled out on microfilm! Looking forward to it. 

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I read Stephen King's The Outsider over the weekend, having seen it on someone or other's recommended list. It's an odd one - I went into it with no info beyond the vague details in the recommendation, so I wasn't sure if it was a supernatural book or a straightforward mystery or what. And the first half is very compulsive reading - short chapters that briskly set up a really intriguing situation. But after a few of those I started thinking well, this is going to go one of two ways. Either it's a mystery book and King is going to have to come up with a really clever resolution, or it's a supernatural book and he'll be able to just sweep it all aside. And these two options are in fact discussed by the characters, and I don't think it's really a spoiler to say it's a supernatural book, and he just sweeps it all aside. So from about halfway, and certainly in the final third of the book, it's firmly spooks and ghouls territory. Which means that all the careful setup is arguably a waste of time - when you know the answer is going to be supernatural, you can safely be as baroque and byzantine in your construction as you like, safe in the knowledge that you won't have to write your way out. It was a disappointment, and felt a bit cheap on King's part, even though it was typically well-written - although he does flirt with self-parody with the small-town ramblin' dialect in the police transcripts that feature heavily early on. This is excused by a brief detour into luchadore b-movies.

 

An easy, enjoyable read, as you might expect, but the second half can't cash the cheques written by the first. It does make me wonder if I'd enjoy the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, which this is partially spun off from. I'm not really up to date on recent King books.

 

 

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Cheers. Looking back, the first half of The Outsider was a genuine couldn't-put-it-down experience, but it's like being drawn in by a well-told joke that doesn't have a punchline. It also has one of those faintly annoying real-life cameos when Harlen Coben pops up, and one of the characters imagines how he would resolve the case if it was a book. As it turns out, he might just as well be wondering how Shaun Hutson would resolve it (throw his typewriter at it, most likely).

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Oh, man, mentioning Shaun Hutson made me go off and see if his website had been updated, which before long led me to rereading the summary of Slugs on Wikipedia, which is much quicker and just about as much fun as reading the book itself. And there I found this slice of gold:

 

Quote

At a business lunch that day in the City Hotel, David Watson tries to secure a new contract with Edward Canning and Kenneth Riggs. David is overcome by a terrible headache until finally blood gushes from one of his nostrils and a long white worm slithers out of it. David falls onto a table dying as another slug bursts out of one of his eyes. A waiter from the restaurant calls the Local Health Inspector.

 

Brilliant! I wonder if he wrote the synopsis himself.

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I'm reading Don Quixote at the moment on my Kindle. It's enjoyable, but very, very long.

 

As light relief I've started to read Penguins Stopped Play by Harry Thompson alongside it. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but it's been brilliant so far. It's about an amateur cricket team's attempt to play cricket in all 7 continents on the planet, and it's wonderfully funny and charming. Knowledge of cricket is beneficial, but it was heartily recommended to me by someone who cares not a jot for the game, so don't let that put you off. I only find time to read when I'm out walking, and I've already had several strange looks after sniggering a bit too hard in public whilst reading this. This bit about a prank played on a team-mate (Bob) who liked a bit of a drink had me chuckling for ages:

 

Quote

He forged a letter to Bob from a mythical official of his golf club, Mr C. Lyon, threatening him with disciplinary action if he did not call immediately to explain his drunken behaviour on the greens. An abject Bob rang the number on the letter, and found himself on the phone to the sea-lion enclosure at London Zoo, asking a weary keeper if he could speak to 'Mr C. Lyon'.

 

 

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Funny that Stephen King is momented, I realised the other week I've never read The Shining. Got it the other day and for some reason I thought it was a novella, it very much isn't. I wanted a quick read prior to The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn arrives.

Liking it so far, only about a hundred pages in, but the backstory not told in the film is very interesting and gripping, which adds an extra layer of detail.

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I finished Malice by Keigo Higashino last week. It's not so much a Whodunnit or even Howdunnit but more a Whydunnit about the murder of an author. You know who's committed the murder by page 100 and the rest of the book is spent trying to untangle their motive with plenty of twists and turns along the way. I absolutely flew through it. Would recommend to Silent Runner and anybody else into their crime fiction

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The_Beach_Alex_Garland.jpg

 

People have been pestering me to read The Beach by Alex Garland for ages, so I did so over the weekend. I was extremely surprised - in a good way. It's a very easy read but it's an entertaining one nonetheless. I think I've been put off it due to how incredibly bland I found the film (scenery excepted - including Virginie Ledoyen) but this is a rare example of me using a phrase I hate - the book is WAY better than the film. So much so that I have absolutely no idea why they decided to deviate so much from the novel, when there are so many really good scenes in it.

Anyway, it's a good read and I whizzed through it in a couple of days which I never do. And it's made me want to book a holiday in Thailand.

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I read The Handmaid’s Tale last week. It was the first of Margaret Atwood’s books I’ve read but I will definitely read more. Even though I’d already seen it on TV (and the series follows the book incredibly closely) so I knew what was going to happen, I still found it gripping and tense, and the first-person narrative gave a much deeper insight into the protagonist’s feelings. I also liked the epilogue with the future academics discussing the narrative as a historical document (and its inherent unreliability), and found myself wondering whether Alan Moore nicked the idea for Halo Jones, or Atwood nicked it from Moore - I’m not sure which was published first - or whether they both ripped off the same common antecedent.

 

Now I’ve started Catch 22 which is one of those classics I’ve been meaning to read for years but never got round to. I’m enjoying it so far and thinking Douglas Adams must have been influenced by it.

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Just started reading The Meg by Steve Alten.

 

It's completely OTT, wholly lacking in scientific accuracy/belief, the characters are two dimension and predictable, it's just a non stop yarn about a big fuck off huge monster that destroys all and sundry.

 

It's BRILLIANT.  I'm flying through it.  

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Currently reading these:

 

51VY35B-IDL._AA300_.jpg

 

It's very interesting, scary though. And it is making me worry about how much sleep I'm getting which was actually negatively affecting how much sleep I was getting.

 

And:

 

51qUuX4UFuL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

This is sort of a counter to Why We Sleep. I read it in bed and then bask in the luxuriance of a full belly and nice warm bed and knowledge that I don't have to work for fifteen hours in negative thirty degrees, and I find it helps me get a good night sleep.

 

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I've just polished off Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb, which is the end of the second Fitz Farseer trilogy. I had read the first two over the past few months and they're like an old pair of comfy slippers at this point. I love this series and I'll be gutted whenever I get to the end of the next one. My wife has one book left  in the final trilogy but she can't bring herself to read it and is saving it. I might take a break before I get started on Fool's Assassin. 

 

I had previous posted about loving Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, so I followed that up with Authority and Acceptance. I wish I had stopped after Annihilation. The last 2 books were a bit of a slog and somewhat ruined the experience of the first book. Annihilation worked really well as a standalone, so my recommendation would be to stop there.

 

I also read Holding by Graham Norton. It was a nice little palate cleanser between trilogy books - quite a nice, gentle little story about a mystery in a small town.

 

Another "in between" book was Win Or Learn by John Kavanagh. I am biased in this case, as I was a member of his gym in 2012 before his most famous student took over the MMA world, and the time period covered in the book between 2012 and 2016 is already very nostalgic for me personally (including the great UFC event in Dublin in 2014). I'm currently rehabbing a knee injury and itching to get back to training so this was a good one for my motivation.

 

Currently reading Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. I really enjoy his financial stuff like The Big Short and Liar's Poker, and this one is up there as well. I won't claim to understand everything that's going on in these books but they're so well written, and he does a great job of still telling a story around the more technical aspects of the financial world. In Flash Boys, it's a story where a team of renegades are taking on a broken, corrupt system and trying to close the loopholes where the average investor is getting skinned.

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On 15/08/2018 at 00:10, Raoull duke said:

Currently reading these:

 

51VY35B-IDL._AA300_.jpg

 

It's very interesting, scary though. And it is making me worry about how much sleep I'm getting which was actually negatively affecting how much sleep I was getting.

 

Cheers, just bought this. As someone who has very disturbed sleeps it sound very interesting.

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I've just finished Y is for Yesterday the ultimate Kinsey Millhone book - unfortunately Sue Grafton died before writing what would have been Z is for Zero and she doesn't want the series completed by someone else .  I've really enjoyed the books in part because they feature a PI who is ordinary and not battling with addiction, childhood abuse or other issues which seem to befall this particular profession along with police etc.  Y is one of the better books, featuring a sort of Donna Tartt historical mystery at a private school intwined with a current day blackmail attempt and the seriously creepy stalking of Kinsey from the psychopath who features in X.

 

 

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I've just finished reading The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Attacks on the United States by Jeffery Lewis.

 

https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_2020_Commission_Report_on_the_North.html?id=wEowtAEACAAJ&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

 

 

 

It's very chilling and also (from my non-expert view) pretty plausible. It's written as an official report by a nuclear weapons expert on the build up to and the aftermath of some nuclear attacks carried out by Kim Jun IL against the west. It's based on known facts and also extrapolates from actual tweets from Trump and his circle. It very cleverly done. The descriptive sections about the aftermath of a nuclear attack are transposed from accounts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks by the US on Japan.

 

Trump does not come out of it smelling of roses, unsurprisingly. 

 

Highly recommended to anyone (like me) who laps up post apocalyptic fiction, but this one is a bit different in that it could very easily come about. It's pretty scary.

 

Observer book review: 

The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States by Jeffrey Lewis – review

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/06/2020-commission-report-north-korean-attacks-against-united-states-jeffrey-lewis-review?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

 

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12 hours ago, Kingpin said:

I've just polished off Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb, which is the end of the second Fitz Farseer trilogy. I had read the first two over the past few months and they're like an old pair of comfy slippers at this point. I love this series and I'll be gutted whenever I get to the end of the next one. My wife has one book left  in the final trilogy but she can't bring herself to read it and is saving it. I might take a break before I get started on Fool's Assassin. 

Dont rush for the last three. There’s only so many tears in a human being. 

 

12 hours ago, Kingpin said:

I had previous posted about loving Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, so I followed that up with Authority and Acceptance. I wish I had stopped after Annihilation. The last 2 books were a bit of a slog and somewhat ruined the experience of the first book. Annihilation worked really well as a standalone, so my recommendation would be to stop there.

 

What? 

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Can't remember if I read it because it was recommended here, but I just finished Blindness, which I thought was absolutely brilliant. It's about social breakdown following a contagious blindness epidemic. Great story, brilliantly told.

 

In a way it's a bit like I'd imagine the Walking Dead (TV show, I've not read it) could have been if it weren't shit.

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