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ChrisN
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9 hours ago, MarkN said:

I just finished The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas. A fun little book, that I read mainly because I adored The Count Of Monte Cristo, and because I found it on Standard Ebooks, which meant it would probably be in good nick for my Kindle. Well worth a read. Also does some interesting kinda fourth wall-breaking that surprised me (I'm not sure when 4th-wall-breaking started, but there are bits in here that definitely made me go - "wait, what?", because I just wasn't expecting it. Will read up on it later...)

 

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/alexandre-dumas/the-black-tulip/p-f-collier-and-son

 

I read it years ago shortly after Count of Monte Cristo. I remember really liking it, but don't recall the 4th wall elements. What were they?

 

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There were 3 or 4 moments, but the one I remember most clearly was this which is the very start of chapter 17:

 

Quote

 

On the following evening, as we have said, Rosa returned with the Bible of Cornelius de Witt.

Then began between the master and the pupil one of those charming scenes which are the delight of the novelist who has to describe them.

 

 

I'm no expert on these things but if he's not breaking the 4th wall there, he's definitely giving it some very funny looks.

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I think breaking the fourth wall probably goes back as far as the novel does. Don Quixote is often held up as the first modern novel but if that's the case then it's definitely also the first postmodern novel. Many of the characters in the second part of the book are aware of what was written in the first, as well as in other real world books written to cash in on Cervantes' success.

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I've just started reading the new Adrian Tchaikovsky book Cage of Souls. I've barely got a chapter in so far but it seems interesting

 

The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle's darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, mutants.

The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07DPRW17S/

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Just started The Last Wish - a short stories collection and the first book about Geralt of Rivia.

 

Wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm REALLY enjoying it - I'm getting through it rapidly.  I'm sure that after I've got through a few of these books, it'll FINALLY make me return to The Witcher 3, which I'm shamefully neglected for over 2 years now.  I'll probably just start a new game and write off the 20 hours or so I've already put into it.

 

It's not hard to read at all, the supporting characters are really good too.  I only wish there was a map at the start because I love these kind of books when there's a map to give the land it's based on some kind of focus.

 

Anyway, I'm halfway through and I have the 2nd instalment - Sword of Destiny - ready once I've finished it.

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On 11/04/2019 at 17:44, Flub said:

I've just started reading the new Adrian Tchaikovsky book Cage of Souls. I've barely got a chapter in so far but it seems interesting

 

The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle's darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, mutants.

The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07DPRW17S/

 

I'm just over a 100 pages in so far. I don't know where it's going but it's easily as good as his other stuff.

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I've just started reading the Complete Uxbridge English Dictionary (CUED). I don't listen to "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue", but apparently it's taken from there. It's basically a dictionary full of definitions based on what the words sound like. I've already laughed out loud several times (which could be a problem because I tend to read when I'm out and about walking). I also fear it may destroy my ability to communicate with other people, because some of these will stick with me forever.

 

So you have things like:

 

Acoustic - Scottish cattle prod

Bacteria - to return feeling more upset than when you left

Bakery - resembling a baker

Barrier - even more like Barry than Barry is

Comforting - Jamaican lost property office

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I picked up the new Ben Elton book Identity Crisis to read in the sun yesterday. A young woman has been murdered and as the police investigate they’re drawn into the World of identity politics, intersectionality, Russian interference in western elections, #metoo, Harvey Weinstein and a whole lot more. 

 

I enjoyed Eltons early books but found his recent output a bit dull - he’d left comedy behind and was writing serious fiction. He’s back writing satire now but this feels a bit weird. Like he’s kicking back at the ‘political correct’ reputation he had at the start of his career. 

 

This feels like it’s aimed at the kind of person who finds ‘I choose to identify as an Attack Helicopter’ funny or who thinks putting a load of extra letters at the end of LGBT is the height of wit. It’s all a bit ‘old man shouts at cloud’. 

 

There’s a lot of plot delivered in very broad strokes but I'm 70% in and the story strands haven’t started to come together yet. This is his first attempt at satire in over 10 years so maybe he’s lost his touch or something. Has anyone read it? It’s possible I’m totally missing the point. I will finish it but it’s not very good.

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I'm about 40% of the way through Don Winslows new one The Border. It's the third part in his Dope War trilogy and picks up immediatley where the previous book, The Cartel left off. The first two books in this series are amazing and I was a little worried this was going to be a book too far but I was wrong to be concerned - this is just as good. 

 

The anti-hero of the first two books Art Keller has spent his life fighting the drug war mostly along the Mexican border. He's just been appointed head of the DEA. The book follows his attempts to re-focus the war and to acknowledge it can't be won. He comes up against American politicians (thinly disguised versions of Donald Trump and Jared Kutshner) while at the same time the Cartels are fighting for territory all across Mexico and Central America.

 

I think anyone who has read the first two books in this trilogy will have already picked this up but if you haven't then it's highly recommended. Violent, fast-paced, political but mostly just a superb thriller with real heart. 

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Awesome - I'm glad to hear that it's up there with the previous two. His last book was a real disappointment after all.

 

I recommended the Power of the Dog to my wife and she was really pissed off at me for recommending a book where

 

those kids get chucked off the bridge

:(

 

but she ultimately agreed it's an amazing book!

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Well, I finished the first Dune book (from that 99p set of 6 books on Kindle), and really, really enjoyed it.  I knew someone when I was a teenager who told me it was all about clever politics, and it really put my off, so I never read it in my teens like I probably should have, but I'm glad I've finally read it now.


Read the second one.  Hmm.  Not sure I enjoyed that. It was mostly just a fella sat on a throne worrying about a future that was never explained until it happened at the end.  Nowt else happened!  Started the third last night.  Hope it improves, or I doubt I'll bother with the other three.

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On 23/04/2019 at 09:44, Silent Runner said:

Finished Identity Crisis last night - it was pretty terrible. You could almost see the moment he gave up and just wrapped everything up in one info-dump chapter. The final 'twist' was totally predictable with about 150 pages to go.

I read your two posts back to back and it does sound truly ghastly. It's a pity cos he was a genuinely groundbreaking writer but I don't think I've enjoyed anything he's done since I saw him live in Oxford in about 2005 and even that was mostly unfunny or rehashed material aside from one achingly funny dismissal of Guardian headlines like 'How the iPod generation is relocating to Tuscany"

 

I've picked up another Leon Uris, Exodus. Should be an interesting contrast to The Little Drummer Girl which also read recently for the first time

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15 hours ago, linkster said:

I read your two posts back to back and it does sound truly ghastly. It's a pity cos he was a genuinely groundbreaking writer but I don't think I've enjoyed anything he's done since I saw him live in Oxford in about 2005 and even that was mostly unfunny or rehashed material aside from one achingly funny dismissal of Guardian headlines like 'How the iPod generation is relocating to Tuscany"

 

 

Yeah, I’m the same. I loved his early books and even some of the more recent stuff was good – the one set in the Big Brother house was a great read. I’ll be in my mothers house over the weekend and if I can find my old paperbacks I’ll grab a few for a reread. But this new one is really poor stuff.

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2 hours ago, Silent Runner said:

 

Yeah, I’m the same. I loved his early books and even some of the more recent stuff was good – the one set in the Big Brother house was a great read. I’ll be in my mothers house over the weekend and if I can find my old paperbacks I’ll grab a few for a reread. But this new one is really poor stuff.

Have you read any Charlie Higson?

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On 23/01/2019 at 09:09, Silent Runner said:

I'm about half way through Good Samaritans by Will Carver. A nice, bleak little thriller that got some good reviews last year. Seth can't sleep, depression and insomnia have him at the end of his rope. To pass the time he plays a game - he rings random people from the phone book and tries to start a conversation with them. One night he gets talking to Hadley, a suicidal young woman who thinks she's speaking to the Samaritans. Their chat goes well and soon they start meeting IRL during the day. At the same time there's a serial killer on the loose so we also follow the cops as they try to find him.

 

This is well written and plotted and fairly rattles along. The characters are nicely drawn and there's a couple of outrageous twists I never saw coming. It reads like an episode of The Office written by Jason Starr. 99p on kindle and definitely worth picking up. I'll be reading more from this writer for sure.


 

 

Loved this book! So much so that I got up early this morning to finish it!

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2 hours ago, Silent Runner said:

No. Anything you'd recommend?

Not especially. Happy Now and Full Whack I read back in the day. He’a clearly a very clever guy like elton but similarly better suited to fewer words

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On 30/04/2019 at 19:59, Ste Pickford said:

Well, I finished the first Dune book (from that 99p set of 6 books on Kindle), and really, really enjoyed it.  I knew someone when I was a teenager who told me it was all about clever politics, and it really put my off, so I never read it in my teens like I probably should have, but I'm glad I've finally read it now.


Read the second one.  Hmm.  Not sure I enjoyed that. It was mostly just a fella sat on a throne worrying about a future that was never explained until it happened at the end.  Nowt else happened!  Started the third last night.  Hope it improves, or I doubt I'll bother with the other three.

 

The third Dune book is much better than the second one...

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I've also been reading the Dune books in anticipation of the Villeneuve movie. It's a proper weird series, absolutely unfilmable.

  1. A fast paced adventure serial, basically "Avatar with muhidjideen" with a bit of self-awareness about it being a white saviour fantasy (i.e the main character lamenting that everyone around him goes from well-realised characters to one-dimensional followers).
  2. A heavily introspective book where nothing really happens until the end, while important events occur offscreen or in the timeskip, etc.
  3. A mix of the above too, heavily introspective journey of an 8 year old who does fast paced adventure things while avoiding assassination, until the end where he makes a suit of Iron Man armour out of fish and starts running around at 50mph and punching through rocks, which solves the conflict. Daft.
  4. Another heavily introspective book where nothing really happens until the end, although this one is kept interesting by just how peculiar the Tyrants perspective is. I think it's probably the best one?
  5. This is like the most disconnected, it fleshes out a lot of different aspects of the setting, retcons stuff that's never mentioned before (no- ships?) and gives us perspective characters that we haven't really seen before, while being set thousands of years later (yet the book keeps bending over to tell us these characters are just like the ones we know). Also someone just becomes the Flash near the end. It does feel like it ties in with a larger arc, just.
  6. I don't know where you thought the previous book was going, but we're not going there, most of the characters are dead offscreen in a timeskip and the setting is almost destroyed. Not finished reading yet.

Overall a weird mix of bold decisions and weirdly like, fan pandering ones? (Like Idaho going from a small role to almost the most important invulnerable character in the series due to his popularity). I don't know if this series would really still be talked about if it weren't for the weird Hollywood adaptations.

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On 30/04/2019 at 15:04, Silent Runner said:

I'm about 40% of the way through Don Winslows new one The Border. It's the third part in his Dope War trilogy and picks up immediatley where the previous book, The Cartel left off. The first two books in this series are amazing and I was a little worried this was going to be a book too far but I was wrong to be concerned - this is just as good. 

 

The anti-hero of the first two books Art Keller has spent his life fighting the drug war mostly along the Mexican border. He's just been appointed head of the DEA. The book follows his attempts to re-focus the war and to acknowledge it can't be won. He comes up against American politicians (thinly disguised versions of Donald Trump and Jared Kutshner) while at the same time the Cartels are fighting for territory all across Mexico and Central America.

 

I think anyone who has read the first two books in this trilogy will have already picked this up but if you haven't then it's highly recommended. Violent, fast-paced, political but mostly just a superb thriller with real heart. 

 

I’m reading this at the moment. Amazing. Book of the year so far.

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On 18/10/2018 at 19:14, Darren said:

@Boothjan if you’re interested in that era then try Daughters if the Dragon that I mentioned on the previous page. It’s about the women who were just as much prisoners of war as their male counterparts. It’s regularly 99p in Kindle deals.

 

Bumping this because I just noticed Daughters of the Dragon is £1 on Kindle today.

 

I've bought it on your recommendation - you've not let me down yet, so let's see if that stretches beyond Star Wars....! (Thanks for the heads up)

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  • 2 weeks later...

'Bringing It All Back Home' by Ian Clayton, a charidee shop find; author seems to be a professional Yorkshireman and this is like meeting a guy in the pub who regales you with odd moments from his life.

 

Effectively, just a series of broad personal reminisces, but all centred around music, and associated trivia; think Nick Hornsby. Not my normal kind of read, but I'm enjoying it in a low key, deprecating northern kind of way. Probably helped by my being an old Northern git, so I recognise quite a few of the cultural mores.

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I read the whole Samson series of books by Len Deighton over the last few months - 10 books if you include Winter. I'd recommend them as readable and entertaining if you like spy/cold war stuff even if they can be a little cliched at times and perhaps occasionally seem a little old fashioned in certain areas where things have maybe moved on. They're set in the '80s so you can forgive a lot of it but some of the author's attitudes can seem occasionally questionable to modern sensibilities - though that's as far as it goes, 'questionable', rather than being obviously at odds.

 

I followed that up with his Bomber book which was perhaps less enjoyable, being more a demonstration of his in-depth knowledge, rather than much of a story. He can come across at times like Alan Partridge reciting the details of his new car's features. This is true of the Samson series too but there's enough plot there to overlook that.

 

I read a couple of other things in between but wanted to find an author with a lot of work to get through and have now discovered David Sedaris whose diary/memoir style observations I've been enjoying.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This Is Going To Hurt - Adam Kay

 

Bit late to the party on this one. Still, it’s an at times fascinating read, albeit most of the exchanges in the diary feel akin to when you think of something witty to say 10 minutes after the moment has passed. But the gallows humour more than makes sense as the book progresses, and can imagine reliving a lot of the incidents was pretty painful for Kay. Some grim imagery in there... the degloving incident... oh my, and that’s at the lighter end of things.

 

Much more importantly though, makes me appreciate those holding the NHS together. Will be a national tragedy if it’s ever ripped apart.

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