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ian

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About ian

  • Rank
    Constant Reader
  • Birthday 04/13/1970

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  • Reading now?
    keep forgetting to update this, but definitely something!
  • Gender
    Not Telling
  • Location:
    Birmingham, England
  • Interests
    Rock music, hiking, Sci-fi

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  1. Book 5:Past Tense by Lee Child This book was a Christmas present. Ina way, if you've read one Reacher book, you're read them all. But there is something I find very, very readable; almost comforting about these. Reacher drifts from place to place. He doesn't look for trouble, but it always seems to find him, and he doesn't back away. He stands up to the bullies of this world, however they present themselves, which, for me, is always a good thing to read. This is probably one of the best of these I've read in a while. The plot has plenty of interest in it - 2 or 3 different plots threads going on. (no spoilers for me!)Not all of them are resolved, but as that is deliberate, that's not really an issue. I really enjoyed this one 5/5
  2. Book 4: Villain by Michael Grant I borrowed this book off my son. We've both enjoyed this series of books The Gone series form a six-series of books about a group of teenagers with special powers. This is the second book of a follow up trilogy. Some of the characters are in both series. A number of people have either been forcibly injected with or willingly taken a mutagenic virus that gives them special powers but also changes their physical appearance. They are able to turn these off or on at will. I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as others in the series. It took me a while to get to the bottom of this. In the first series, most of the special power that people had were quite easy to picture - super speed, the ability to control gravity, etc. In this series, the powers are accompanied with extreme physical changes - and these, I felt the author struggles to describe. Which means it's hard for me to imagine. Apart form that, this is just a straight adventure: there are plenty of fights and huge amounts of violence. But, unlike some books aimed at adults, most of the characters are not morally black or white. They make mistakes and question their motives. It's this that, for me, lifts these books above other similar series. 4/5
  3. Book 3: The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman I brought this book with the book token I had for Christmas, and picked it solely on the fact it was by Gaiman. This book is actually a children's book, albeit a very dark one, about a boy who is raised by the dead inhabitants of a graveyard when the rest of his family are murdered. He his given the freedom of the graveyard, meaning he can walk through solid objects in the graveyard and fade from view. He also has a guardian - Silas, a mysterious character, that you find more about as the book progresses. I won't give any more away, but this has all the imagination and wit that anyone can expect from Neil Gaiman. My only criticism, if it can be legitimately called a criticism, is that these ideas are so good - I wanted to know more. In reality, this book could have been twice as long for me. So characters that only get a few pages; I wanted to know much more about them, so they perversely feel (to me anyway) a bit wasted. I realise all this is bit unfair of me. It's just that his throwaway characters are better than some authors main characters. The upshot is really enjoyed this book, so I'll still give it 5/5.
  4. It's well worth a read
  5. Outside the forum, if it's a writer I'm not familiar with, I will go on Goodreads or similar and take a look at the over all score, just to give me an indication. Bitter experience has taught me not to read the actual reviews till after I've finished the book. One is because people can inadvertently put spoilers in ,and sometime I find my own thoughts can be coloured by others. The worst review I've ever seen (for a murder mystery book) consisted of one line "Book was rubbish. [character name] was the murderer". I mean, why? On the positive side, I can find other people's reviews really helpful. Sometimes I find insights I hadn't considered or worded far better than I could hope to do.
  6. Book 1: First Man In - Ant Middleton. I borrowed this book off my brother, who reads much more non-fiction than I do. For those who don't know Ant Middleton is a former British special forces soldier who came to public attention when he was in a TV programme that put ordinary members of the public through the sort of training that these soldiers endure. To say this guy has led an interesting life is a massive understatement. In the book he takes you through the sections of his life, starting with his first day of basis training, and highlighting the lessons in leadership that he learnt from his successes and failures. As you would expect, he doesn't pull his punches and is brutally honest, especially about his own failures and weaknesses (he ends up in prison at one point). A pretty good read. 4/5 Book 2: The Wrong Side of Goodbye - Michael Connolly This is one of the recent "Harry Bosch" series. I've read a lot of these, and never in the correct order, but to be honest, that doesn't seem to matter as much as it does in other series. I think this is one of the best of his I've read in a while. The story, which centres around Bosch being asked to look for possible heirs to an extremely wealthy, elderly industrialist in his role as a P.I, whilst also working as a reserve officer in the San Fernando police, is well described, believable and nicely paced. There are a few references to Vietnam, which I think are really well handled. So much that I thought that the author must have served there during the war. Turns out in the acknowledgments that he got all this from research. In which case I am very impressed: as he says, he wanted that to be the emotional heart of the book. It certainly does that, and makes you care about the characters. I really enjoyed this book. 5/5
  7. I'm looking forward to another years reading. I read 42 books in 2018, which is great, but more importantly, about 74% of those I rated either 4 or 5 out of 5. I got 2 books for Christmas, plus a book token, which I converted into 3 more books over the break. I'm currently reading the second of 2 books that my brother lent me (the first being the Michael Caine book), so all in all, things are looking good, book-wise, I hope you all have a great new year, with lots of good books!
  8. I've just finished book 42 - I won't start another till New Year's Day. Not a bad total, although it's all about the quality, not the quantity!
  9. Ian's reading list 2018

    Book 42:The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes This isn't my usual reading material at all, but my son had read it as part of his English Lit course, and was looking for my opinion. As it's only around 150 pages long, this didn't seem like a big ask. The story revolves around Tony Webster, a retired man remembering his three friends growing up at school together, particularly his more intelligent friend Adrian. They go to university and try to keep in touch, and Tony meets a girl, Veronica. The rest of the book shows the outcome, some 50 years on of the fallout from that relationship. I won't give any more away. As I say - this isn't my usual sort of thing, and I found the 2 main characters annoying: Tony because he seem almost wilfully stupid about relationships, and especially women; and Veronica for never actually saying what she means, then complaining that they " just don't get it". Obviously, that's one of the points of the book, but... annoying! Having said that, I can appreciate that this is a very well written book (it won the Man Booker prize 2011), and its characters and situation will stay with me a long time, I think. A good way to end this years reading. 4/5
  10. Ian's reading list 2018

    Yes, I must admit - I've read several Robert Goddard now, and they nearly all have slightly disappointing endings. The best of his that I've read is Sea Change, which is an historical book - I found this one the most satisfying.
  11. Ian's reading list 2018

    I've read two more books since I was last on here. Panic Room - Robert Goddard. I enjoyed this, a nicely paced thriller/mystery, that was only slightly spoiled by a bit of silly ending. 4/5 Blowing the Bloody Doors Off - Michael Caine. Michael Caine tells stories from his fascinating life, and uses them as examples of how to succeed, or cope with disappointments in "normal" life. It really is a good read, but is a bit repetitive. Still, he doesn't take himself too seriously, and he doesn't take what he's got for granted. 4/5
  12. Ian's reading list 2018

    The Other Hand - Chris Cleave From the author of the international bestseller Incendiary comes a haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers---one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London. My Thoughts I had to leave the review of this for a few days, as I really couldn't get my thoughts clear on this book. What I liked - the author goes between an Nigerian immigrant woman voice & a middle-class English woman voice, and both those voices feel pretty authentic to me. It also manages to go between humour & pathos, sometimes in the same sentence, effortlessly. The plot is good, and highlights some important points about how we (British society) treat immigration and sometimes wilfully ignore some of the implications for our own convenience. What I didn't like - sometimes I felt that my emotions were being deliberately manipulated. I'm sure the author wanted me to be, by turns, angry or upset: it's an emotive subject that really happens in the real world, but I could feel that I was being led, which I didn't necessarily enjoy. I didn't always find some of Sarah's reactions rang true. Again, what happens is far outside of anything of my experience, so perhaps I shouldn't judge. On the whole, I did enjoy this book, and I would recommend this - he's a good writer. 4/5
  13. Ian's reading list 2018

    The Handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwwod Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now... (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I struggled with this. It is, of course, a very difficult subject matter. But I struggled anyway. I found I could only read a couple of pages at a time. Because there is so much going on, sub-text, that I found I had to take a break to consider it. The writing is beautiful. I loved how the words echo the calm, sleepy summer whilst still describing, almost without emotion, the horrific things that are being done to Offred and those around her. I also liked how the "Commander" is drawn. Lesser writers would have made him a monster. He is, of course, but he also seems oddly small; pathetic at times. At times I felt his wife was the more monstrous of the people in the house. The ending leaves you with more questions than answers, which was my one disappointment (at the same time knowing that this is EXACTLY how it should end). 4/5 Well timed as well, me reading this - I see that she has announced a sequel.
  14. Karen.d's Reading List 2018

    Ooh, that's a big question! I love the short story "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank redemption" , IT, Cujo & Under the Dome. Taken as a whole - the Dark Tower books are excellent too. Not sure I could pick one book as an absolute favourite.
  15. Karen.d's Reading List 2018

    I'd not heard that about Dreamcatcher. I read it some years ago, and I wasn't keen - not one of his best.
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