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What are you reading at the moment?


ChrisN
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I've just finished The first fifteen lives of Harry August by Catherine Webb after seeing a few people be positive about it on here and I absolutely adored it.  It's like an extreme version of Groundhog Day I guess, but it's extremely polished, super tightly written and has some fabulous world building, fantastic characters and page turning tension. I didn't buy the McGuffin for a second but it really didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of wonderful story.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Over the weekend I read the new Christopher Brookmyre book The Cut. An elderly woman is released from prison after 25 years for killing her partner but she swears she's innocent. She teams up with a horror obsessed film-student who has his own dark past. Together they travel across Europe to try and solve the murder before some villains catch up with them.

 

This was pretty good but standard Brookmyre stuff. I find I really like the first 150 pages of his books then I quickly lose interest and by the end I just want the story wrapped up. The characters were well written and from the amount of horror film references I'd say CB is a proper horror buff. It's well paced and there are some laughs but there's a massive coincidence used as a plot point that was just ridiculous. 

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Done a lot of reading during y'know - The Event:

 

The Mirror and the Light (Hillary Mantel) - The Wolf Hall trilogy has become a comfortable friend, and Hillary Mantel one of my favorite authors. They're hard to recommend, I'm fully aware they're dense and dry, but I think they're very rewarding nonetheless.

 

Monkey - Journey to the West (Wu Cheng-en) - The Penguin abridged version is very readable. I guess I didn't realise how faithful Dragonball was, because it's very silly and all the daft power levels are er, straight from the text.

 

Once Upon a River (Diane Setterfield) - A genteel enough read with some excellent engrossing prose. Not normally my kind of thing, feels a bit tailor-made to be adapted into a BBC drama.

 

Piranesi (Susanna Clark) - Not really a fan, it's just a big SCP Expedition Log.

 

Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson) - Only eight year late to this one, Walter Isaacsons' biography is so good I picked up his other ones, despite having little interest in the figures they're about, he's great at giving not just an impression of the person, but the swathe of time they existed in.

 

The Everything Store (Brad Stone) - A similar book about Amazon, that's unfortunately dated by being from 2014, right at the inflection point of their exponential curve, and featuring outdated stuff like suggesting Amazon will manufacture all it's goods using 3D printers (remember them!?) as a result.

 

A Distant Mirror (Barbara Tuchman) - I'm sure this is very well-researched and thorough book on history, but reading about the Black Death in the middle of the pandemic was not exactly cosy, and in fact everything about the Middle Ages was just so unrelentingly grim that I was kind of glad to be done with it.

 

Abandoned - Sir Gawain and the Green Night - Sorry J.R.R. Tolkein, 'm sure you worked hard on this Old English translation, but this is fucking unreadable.

 

I've got Masters of Doom on the go next.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 14/03/2021 at 22:25, Naysonymous said:

Finished Utopia Avenue which has some nice passages, wraps up neatly and on the whole is "fine" but it's definitely a weak book by David Mitchell's high standards.  

 

 

I really liked Utopia Avenue (Mitchell's without a doubt my favourite author) but it was the first one of his where I thought the way he interweaves his various novels became a bit detrimental - there are a couple of sections where you are almost required to have read The Bone Clocks and De Zoet in order to make sense of it all. It makes it a hard book to recommend.

 

I'm currently halfway through The Snakes by Sadie Jones and I can't put it down. I went into it not knowing anything about it at all and it's switched gears on me about three times in terms of what I thought it was going to be about - it just keeps ramping up and up. Can't wait to get stuck back into it tonight.

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Catching up on John Le Carre some more and I've gone for The Constant Gardner which I didn't know much about beyond the fact that it wasn't a cold war story and they made a movie out of it that I've never gotten round to watching.   I think I'm getting towards the final act now and I really like it, it's a neat little mystery surrounding big pharma and corporate murder.  Feels a bit odd reading it during the largest vaccination program in all of human history, especially considering some of the tin foil conspiracies out there might have been partly fuelled by stories like this one but it's all entirely plausible (the themes in this book that is, not the pandemic being a hoax so Bill Gates could inject us with microchips) and I might watch the movie when I've finished the book because I suspect it might be one of those ones which is a pretty faithful adaptation. 

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I'm reading No Name by Wilkie Collins. Absolutely loving it. I'd honestly never heard of it until I saw it on StandardEBooks whilst looking for things to read. I'd really enjoyed The Woman In White And the Moonstone, so this was a no-brainer. Approaching halfway through it, and enjoying it a lot. Main character Magdalen is ace.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Started reading Skagboys a couple of days ago. It's hilarious so far, but I'm only about a quarter of the way through. I can't quite connect the characters in the book to those in the film, I definitely prefer Begbie in the film - it makes more sense to me that he'd be a nutter and a bit of a weedy-looking bloke, rather than a meathead like in the book. Little blokes always want to fight. 

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Just finished Piranesi, which I really enjoyed. Not a patch on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, mind you. Or, for my money, on The Ladies of Grace Adieu, but I definitely recommend it.

 

Next up will be Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets, which I bought after watching the utterly fascinating Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi.

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On 28/07/2021 at 21:47, Thwomp said:

Started reading Skagboys a couple of days ago. It's hilarious so far, but I'm only about a quarter of the way through. I can't quite connect the characters in the book to those in the film, I definitely prefer Begbie in the film - it makes more sense to me that he'd be a nutter and a bit of a weedy-looking bloke, rather than a meathead like in the book. Little blokes always want to fight. 

 

I've changed my mind, I prefer Begbie in the book now. I like that the book is a bit more realistic and fleshed out e.g. Tommy isn't a goody two shoes like in the film Trainspotting - in Skagboys he takes drugs, fights, and burgles houses. He's just the least worst of the gang. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/08/2021 at 11:09, ZOK said:

Have you read Trainspotting? It’s quite different to the film, which again is like a sketch of what you get in the book.

 

Yeah, I've just finished reading all the Renton books. Personally I thought Trainspotting was the weakest - too many characters that I didn't care about, but maybe I felt that way because I love the film. I can see why they left Second Prize out of it, he didn't have much personality. I did like that the novel is a lot less optimistic than the film 

Spoiler

Renton still being a heroin addict at the end, and never actually wanting to stop taking heroin.

 

T2/ Porno is far superior to the film version. It's ridiculous that they've rebranded the Porno novel to T2, when it's got nothing in common with the film. 

 

I think Skagboys was probably my favourite, it was gritty and genuinely funny in parts. I just loved Begbie's chapters, which generally consisted of "that cunt's gettin' a burst mooth" :lol:

 

I really liked Dead Men's Trousers too, though it lacked the humour of the other books, the storyline was great. 

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Also just another thing to add about Dead Men's Trousers. I thought the storyline was going to be 

Spoiler

When Vicky dumps Renton by email, I thought he was going to be tested for STDs and would find out he'd contracted HIV. I knew a main character died, and that seemed the obvious choice. Maybe it was an intentional red herring, or maybe I just read too much into it.

 

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Iron Coffins by Herbert Werner

 

Werner is one of the few U-Boat captains that survived WW2  and this is his account of the experience. I'm about 1/2 way through , up to about 1943 as he's a 1st officer and it's equally depressing, horrifying and fascinating.

 

Life aboard the U-Boats sounds anything but fun, freezing cold, soaking wet , eating rotten and gone off food and with the increasingly likely prospect of being sent to your death by improving allied technology and/or accidents on board.  The north Atlantic in winter does not sound like a fun environment either for the crews of the U-boats or the Merchantmen and Destroyers escorting them. 

 

Also sounds like he was a bit of a ladies man  when back on land and they lived it up as much as possible when not at sea- can hardly blame  him.He mentions the increasing impact in Berlin as the war progresses and the  lack of menu items in restaurants etc , seems like a minor detail but drives home the direction the war was taking. The losses in Africa and Russia are mentioned but almost as if they're disappointing sports scores , which , considering how far removed from both those theaters he is , may have the same impact on a day to day basis.

 

On the basis of what I've read so far I'd recommend this for anyone interested in military history or people who like the idea of being cold and wet.

 

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Just finished ‘A little life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. Probably should have read some reviews before reading it on holiday, as it starts out rather pleasant then gets progressively darker. I don’t want to give too much away but it covers some aspects of life and relationships exceptionally well - trauma, disability, poverty, as well as some lighter moments of NYC college years and navigating adulthood and careers. It’s a tough read in parts but it it sensitive rather than salacious. Would highly recommend. 

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I’ve never been much of a reader in my adult life due to time constraints and videogaming but managed to eventually get into audiobooks a few years back, I listened to maybe one book a year dedicating most of my listening time at work to podcasts (I have about 7 hours a day to listen). I love playing board games and a new board game coming out from one of my favourite designers this year was Red Rising based off the Pearce Brown book series of the same name, I figured I’d give the books a go to familiarise myself with the character and worlds before the game came out and I loved it, sure it may be YA but it was an awesome series and I churned through the 5 available books in no time (6th book still to come). It made me fall in love with reading (can you call audiobooks reading?) again for the first time in 20+ years.

 

Off the back of that I felt like my listening time was better spent on audiobooks and had then worked through a few others I really enjoyed (Kingkiller chronicles and first Dresden book). I had picked up the first book in the Stormlight Archives series by Brandon Sanderson a long time ago but could never get into it despite trying many times. About a month ago I went into it determined to push through and I’m glad I did, it’s a great series and I’m about halfway through the most recent book in that series, Rhythm of War (which is probably about 180hrs + into the series) and whilst it can be slow at times and I am feeling a little fatigued, I’m really enjoying the series as a whole and need to know where it goes.

 

I’ve picked up the first Mistborn book and a couple of others of his (Warbreaker and Arcanum Unbounded) but after seeing the trailer for the Wheel of Time show I’ve also picked up the first book of that so I think after I finish Rhythm of War I’ll give that a try and comed back to the cosmere stuff later, I’m just a little hesitant due to hearing the quality dips pretty massively in the WoT series and after feeling the fatigue in a 4 book series (granted they are massive books) I’m worried that the goliath series that is the wheel of time will be a slog but also am willing to give it a try and see how I get on with it.

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On 11/09/2021 at 11:08, Munkienut said:

I’ve never been much of a reader in my adult life due to time constraints and videogaming but managed to eventually get into audiobooks a few years back, I listened to maybe one book a year dedicating most of my listening time at work to podcasts (I have about 7 hours a day to listen). I love playing board games and a new board game coming out from one of my favourite designers this year was Red Rising based off the Pearce Brown book series of the same name, I figured I’d give the books a go to familiarise myself with the character and worlds before the game came out and I loved it, sure it may be YA but it was an awesome series and I churned through the 5 available books in no time (6th book still to come). It made me fall in love with reading (can you call audiobooks reading?) again for the first time in 20+ years.

 

Off the back of that I felt like my listening time was better spent on audiobooks and had then worked through a few others I really enjoyed (Kingkiller chronicles and first Dresden book). I had picked up the first book in the Stormlight Archives series by Brandon Sanderson a long time ago but could never get into it despite trying many times. About a month ago I went into it determined to push through and I’m glad I did, it’s a great series and I’m about halfway through the most recent book in that series, Rhythm of War (which is probably about 180hrs + into the series) and whilst it can be slow at times and I am feeling a little fatigued, I’m really enjoying the series as a whole and need to know where it goes.

 

I’ve picked up the first Mistborn book and a couple of others of his (Warbreaker and Arcanum Unbounded) but after seeing the trailer for the Wheel of Time show I’ve also picked up the first book of that so I think after I finish Rhythm of War I’ll give that a try and comed back to the cosmere stuff later, I’m just a little hesitant due to hearing the quality dips pretty massively in the WoT series and after feeling the fatigue in a 4 book series (granted they are massive books) I’m worried that the goliath series that is the wheel of time will be a slog but also am willing to give it a try and see how I get on with it.

You may or may not know that Brandon Sanderson was asked to finish Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan’s death based on the author s notes.

 

 

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Marabou Stork Nightmares has turned me right off. The premise is the main character is in a coma, and his dream in the coma is of being on a safari hunt. It switches between his real life of growing up on a council estate in Scotland, and his coma fantasy safari.

 

It was quite funny to start with, but now 

Spoiler

The main character is raping people and mutilating animals, all described in great detail. 

It's put me right off. 

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Currently reading the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, right after reading the Adventues of Tom Sawyer. Oh boy they are products of their time and place. The N word comes up from time to time in Tom Sawyer. But it's just everywhere in Huckleberry Finn. It's an odd read. Clearly a kids book. Absolutely not suitable for them. But strangely interesting. Huck seems smarter than I had him pegged. There's just enough here to kep me reading, rather than moving on to something less awkward.

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Huck Finn is an amazing book…what do you find awkward about it? It’s an extremely sharp satire on racism and racist attitudes, directed equally at adults as at children, and is really shaped perfectly as such.

 

I love Mark Twain. I think the fact he’s probably read less today than he was a hundred years ago is significant when you consider society’s broad slide into credulity and stunted thinking.

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  • 1 month later...

Thought I'd read Fire and Blood by GRRM in readiness for the Game of Thrones prequel series.

 

Expected it to be bobbins but.... I dunno, it really appeals to me.  It's written a bit like a history book but I love a good history book so that's not a bad thing.  I daresay many ASOIAF fans will read one page and bail because it's nothing like that series but there are some great stories in there.  Some of those old kings (and indeed queens) were absolute bastards.

 

100 pages down, only 500 to go!

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  • 1 month later...

Reading Dracula finally, had it on my shelf for years and years. Originally planned to read it in October but I haven't had much reading time lately and I didn't even make a proper dent in it yet :( Even if going is slow though I'm glad I'm finally getting around to it before I inevitably dive back into another Stephen King novel :D

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  • 4 months later...

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

 

The latest epic where Andy Weir plugs himself into a story and plays a hero.

 

This was a genuinely pretty excellent story, but Andy Weir's sarcastic main character in all his stories is really annoying. Like, literally, really, like, annoying.

 

I enjoyed this and was blown away by the science, but I think I've had my fill.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just finished The Book of Sand by Theo Clare.

Wandering across a seemingly endless desert , a family search for the thing that will save them whilst having to try to stay alive and avoid being caught out in the open after dark which means certain death. Meanwhile in Washington DC a young girl is being plagued with visions and memories that aren't her own.

I really, really enjoyed this . The way the two separate stories intersected genuinely blew me away and even at 600 pages , I was invested the whole way . Absolutely recommended.

 

Theo Clare is the pen name of Mo Hayder who is well known for her many crime novels. She sadly died of motor neurone disease literally after finishing this ( and possibly a sequel) having only been diagnosed last year . 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I read the new Don Winslow, City on Fire, over the weekend. It's the first in a trilogy about Irish-American gangsters fighting with Italian-American gangsters. 

 

This was decent enough. The plot was straight-forward but nothing I hadn't read a hundred times before and bits felt like they were lifted from other places. It was all pretty low stakes stuff but the characters are well written and it's easy to read. 

 

Winslow has that gift that Steven King, Lee Child and JK Rowling have where you can fly through a hundred pages without realising it but this felt a little insubstantial or something. Not worth getting at full price but if it comes out cheap on Kindle it would be worth grabbing for a holiday read.

 

I'm about 25% into the new Sally Rooney - Beautiful World, Where Are You (annoying lack of question mark in the title.) The usual SR territory here, post-college middle class people on their way through first jobs, relationships etc. I like Rooneys books and this is decent in parts but I'm finding the characters a little annoying. And when writers start writing about other writers I feel like they've run out of ideas maybe. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Over the last few days I read Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian Mcallister. A high-concept domestic thriller about a woman traveling through time trying to solve a crime that already happened. It starts with a couple waiting up for their teenage son to get home from a night out - as he gets home he's confronted by a stranger and then murders him. After doing all the police station stuff the couple go to bed but when she wakes up it's the day before the crime. When she goes to bed that night she wakes up 2 days before the crime. 


This was pretty good. The concept was interesting, sometimes the protagonist would travel 1 day into the past, sometimes months. The problem I had was that it was clear that nothing she does in the past affects the present so her actions are kind of pointless. It's well written and an interesting mix of genres (crime mystery and time travel) but I saw most of the twists coming and by the end I was flipping through the pages without really reading them just to get to the end. 


Maybe recommended for a beach holiday read.

Edited by Silent Runner
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