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      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.


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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 21 The City & the City by China Mieville Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad finds deadly conspiracies beneath a seemingly routine murder. From the decaying Beszel, he joins detective Qussim Dhatt in rich vibrant Ul Qoma, and both are enmeshed in a sordid underworld. Rabid nationalists are intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists dream of dissolving the two into one. My Thoughts This book, and indeed the author, only came to my attention because of the recent BBC adaptation. That TV show is significantly different from the book, but I'm glad I saw it first. Imagine two city states existing within one actual city. Like Berlin before the wall came down. Or Jerusalem, or perhaps Belfast to some extent. But instead of a physical wall or barrier keeping the two populations apart, there is nothing. Even the border is tenuous: some parts of the city are in Beszel, others are in Ul Qoma. Some are actually in both. And so the populations of both have to live ignoring the presence of the other: to do otherwise is a crime, called Breaching. No of which is explicitly explained in the book; it becomes apparent eventually. Which is why I was glad to have seen the TV show - I felt it gave me a heads up. Beneath all this strangeness, is a noir crime story. A good one. But it's that strangeness of the situation that drives the story. The ending I felt was a little confusing, and a little un-satisfying, but it certainly left me wanting more. 4/5
  2. Book 20. Missing You by Harlen Coben It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years. Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable. As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there. My Thoughts I started off not liking this very much, and very nearly gave up on it. I didn't, however, and I'm glad I did...just. My main problem with the first half of the book is that it concentrates more on Kat's ex-fiancé. I'll be honest, I didn't find that part of the story that riveting. Then there are the host of minor characters that seem to be there solely to be colourful, but add nothing much to the plot. Admittedly, after the focus of the book shifts to the crimes that are being perpetrated, it became much more interesting (to me at least). The reason for some of those colourful people becomes clear and the pace shifts up a couple of gears. I enjoyed it from them on, but I have say that I found the denouement a bit rushed. At that point, a chapter or two similar to the slower-paced start of the book would have made more sense. So overall - 3/5
  3. Great reviews! These both seem like just my kind of book. I've read the first Peter Grant book (Rivers of London?), but have just never got around to the others. I've not heard of L.J.Ross before; I shall have to look into that series.
  4. Alexander's Literary Odyssey 2018

    I think I had similar feeling for American Gods. It's good, but it seems to lack something to send it over into excellent. I couldn't put my finger on what. What I can recommend is Anansi Boys, which isn't a direct sequel, but shares the same universe - in that some of the characters are gods. That is excellent, in my opinion of course, probably because it is very funny (and maybe that's what's missing from American Gods; it's a bit lacking in humour, unusually for Neil Gaiman).
  5. Good review - I've read 3 or 4 of his books, but I've not picked one up for a while. This one sounds intriguing - I'll have to give it a go.
  6. Book 18:Xenocide (Ender's Game book 3) by Orson Scott Card Book 19 Children of the mind (Ender's Game book 4) by Orson Scott Card. My Thoughts It made sense to me to review both books at the same time. There is so much going on in these books. The author throws pretty much every science, pseudo-science, religion and pseudo-religion at this story. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, that's for sure. So - plot. Humans have a colony on a planet that has a native, sentient species. These species have an unusual life-cycle that is controlled by a virus, without which they will die. The problem - the same virus nearly wiped out the human settler's and without regular doses of the antidote, it will kill them all. If any of the population want to leave, they risk infecting and killing all of humanity. The rest of humanity, meanwhile, have launched a taskforce to do exactly that - exterminate all life on the planet. So, it's a race against time to either learn how to beat or coexist with the virus. Oh yes, the virus itself might be sentient. The majority of the book grapples with the question - is it morally acceptable to exterminate an entire species to save another? I love it when sci-fi tackles big moral issues like this, so this was great. There's a sub-plot involving another human colony. The most revered people on this planet are the "Godspoken". But are their religious rituals caused by something more down to earth? (no spoilers!). Xenocide edges it for me as the better book. COTM is good, but I felt that the ending was slightly rushed - I would have preferred an extra chapter or two. Xenocide - 5/5 COTM - 4/5
  7. Book 17: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Dark allegory describes the narrator's journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad's finest, most enigmatic story. My Thoughts This is difficult for me to review. On the one hand the language used to describe the journey up the river is absolutely beautiful, and is very full of dark imagery. But on the other, the story is thin to the point of vanishing. I realise that this is meant to be the point, but a book that is all sub-text and very little text seems very odd to me. Maybe I just need to read more books like this, as I did feel when I'd finished that I was missing the point. I'll admit, I read up on it immediately afterwards: I'd picked up on some of the allegory's, but not all. All in all, I wonder if I needed to let this one stew in my brain a little more before reviewing it. I'll admit, some of the imagery has stuck. It's probably worth pointing out that, as a book written in the Victorian era and set in Africa - there is a fair bit of racially offensive language, so avoid if that is something you don't like reading. 3/5
  8. Be prepared - the book of About a boy is very different from the film. Naturally, I prefer the book!
  9. Book 15: Slam by Nick Hornby For 16-year-old Sam, life is about to get extremely complicated. He and his girlfriend—make that ex-girlfriend— Alicia have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble. Sam is suddenly forced to grow up and struggle with the familiar fears and inclinations that haunt us all. Nick Hornby’s poignant and witty novel shows a rare and impressive understanding of human relationships and what it really means to be a man. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I really couldn't get into this. My main problem was that Sam is irritatingly stupid. I mean, he is obviously meant to be that way, but he has been created so stupid, that it goes beyond a parody. Instead of finding him funny, I just found him irritating. 2/5 Book 16: How to be good by Nick Hornby In Nick Hornby's How to Be Good, Katie Carr is certainly trying to be. That's why she became a GP. That's why she cares about Third World debt and homelessness, and struggles to raise her children with a conscience. It's also why she puts up with her husband David, the self-styled Angriest Man in Holloway. But one fateful day, she finds herself in a Leeds parking lot, having just slept with another man. What Katie doesn't yet realize is that her fall from grace is just the first step on a spiritual journey more torturous than the interstate at rush hour. Because, prompted by his wife's actions, David is about to stop being angry. He's about to become good--not politically correct, organic-food-eating good, but good in the fashion of the Gospels. And that's no easier in modern-day Holloway than it was in ancient Israel. Hornby means us to take his title literally: How can we be good, and what does that mean? However, quite apart from demanding that his readers scrub their souls with the nearest available Brillo pad, he also mesmerizes us with that cocktail of wit and compassion that has become his trademark. The result is a multifaceted jewel of a book: a hilarious romp, a painstaking dissection of middle-class mores, and a powerfully sympathetic portrait of a marriage in its death throes. It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry as we watch David forcing his kids to give away their computers, drawing up schemes for the mass redistribution of wealth, and inviting his wife's most desolate patients round for a Sunday roast. But that's because How to Be Good manages to be both brutally truthful and full of hope. It won't outsell the Bible, but it's a lot funnier. My thoughts I've read "About a boy" and "High Fidelity". Both of those were funny. This isn't. Mostly. Katie's husband, David is, at the start of this, so vile, that how she hasn't killed him before now is a true mystery. Then he meets DJ Goodnews, a spiritual healer, and he's no longer angry. And if anything, he becomes more irritating. And that's it. From that point on, the book goes absolutely nowhere. There is the occasional funny bit - the two page rant of people David regards as "talentless, overrated or just plain w**kers" is very funny, but it isn't enough to sustain 240 odd pages of interest. And it just ends, with nothing resolved other than Isn't it difficult to be a good person. 2/5
  10. One more thing about Heart-shaped Box - something I read in a newspaper review after I'd finished it. It's like Stephen King (Joe Hill's father of course) wrote a book with Neil Gaiman. I couldn't agree more or think of a better recommendation
  11. Book 14: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill My Thoughts No synopsis copied from Goodreads on this - beware; it gives too much of the story away for my liking. I really did enjoy this. Judas Coyne is a self-obsessed ageing rock-star who has a collection of macabre things: The Cannibal Cookbook, sketches by serial killers. So when he finds a ghost for sale on the internet, he can't resist. But it seems he's got more than he bargained for. My edition of this book came with a foreword by the author. He explains how this should have been a short story, but he didn't understand why Judas was so angry. And, if he was an angry, descendant rock star; why did he love his dogs so much? This was good to know, as the first part of the book seems to happen very quickly, with minimal character development, just as you might expect from a short story. As it continues however, I got more and more into it. The ending is very neat - some people may find it a bit too pat, but I enjoyed it. And the dogs are awesome in this book as well! 5/5
  12. Book 13: No Middle Name by Lee Child Get ready for the ultimate Jack Reacher reading experience. No Middle Name includes eleven previously published stories and a thrilling new novella. This pulse-pounding collection marks the first time that all of Lee Child’s short fiction starring Reacher has been available in the same place at the same time. My Thoughts It was a bit of a mixture this. Some of the stories were very good, but a few seemed to go nowhere. It felt almost as if some of them were ideas for whole books that ran out of steam after a few pages. Enjoyable, but not essential reading. 3/5
  13. It's not something I would keep track of, but for me, debut novel is first published. Different genres wouldn't count for me (although I always like to know). The only fly in the ointment with this is when an author gets a previously unpublished work published. I think this happened to Harlen Coben. A previous unpublished book was released that he actually went on record as saying he was embarrassed about - he thought it was a bad book.
  14. Book 12: The Thirst by Jo Nesbo In Police—the last novel featuring Jo Nesbø's hard-bitten, maverick Oslo detective—a killer wreaking revenge on the police had Harry Hole fighting for the safety of the people closest to him. Now, in The Thirst, the story continues as Harry is inextricably drawn back into the Oslo police force. A serial murderer has begun targeting Tinder daters—a murderer whose MO reignites Harry's hunt for a nemesis of his past. My Thoughts I almost gave this 5 stars - my first of the year; but I was just slightly let down by the ending. Anyway... What I really needed to have done was read the previous couple of books. I've read these all out of order, not helped by the fact that the first book (The Bat) wasn't released in English till quite recently. There is a lot going on that clearly was explained in the previous book, but I haven't read the last 3 or so. Still, after a few pages, I was able to get the jist of what was going on, so I won't say that it's essential to read these in order, just a better idea than how I'm reading them! Reading this straight after a Rebus book, I can see the parallels. Both good cops, but not such good people. Consumed not so much with justice as needing to know. There are a few misdirection's and twists too. Not in Jeffrey Deaver league perhaps, but satisfying anyway. But the ending did have this misstep. I won't say what, as it would be very spoilery, but it was something that just made me stop reading and think " I don't see that happening in real life". It was too convenient. What I need to do now however, is go back and read them all, in order this time. 4/5.
  15. Thank you! I know I've read at least one of the Jack Harvey books, but at this point, I couldn't tell you which. I do remember that I enjoyed it. Like you say, good writing. I'll definitely be reading the new book. Good or bad, I'm too invested in the series now: I have to know what happens next!