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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. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory. And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham's nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now. My Thoughts Where do I start? There is so much going on in this book, and almost none of it is directly on the surface. I'm not even sure what genre you can call this. Sci-fi? Dystopian? Love story? Coming of age? In the end, perhaps it is all of these and more. I'd not read anything by Ishiguro before, and I was only really familiar due to the film of Remains of the Day. I'd wanted to read that, but when I saw this in a charity shop, I decided to give it a go. As I say, I was completely unfamiliar with the story of this. I'm glad, as what is really going on at the school these kids attend - what its real purpose is - doesn't fully come out until the halfway point of the book. Even then, with the book being a first-person narration, much of what happens is couched in ambiguity & euphemism. So I don't want to go into any detail of that. If you've not read this, I'd like to preserve that feeling for others. Makes it difficult to write a review though! All in all, I loved this book. with everything it has to say about growing up, falling in love, friendship, regrets and death. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. 5/5.
  2. Book 33: The World according to Garp by John Irving. This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the 'person of dubious parentage' son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes--even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with "lunacy and sorrow"; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries--with more than ten million copies in print--this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases." (Taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts. Perhaps inevitably with such a long book, I found some of this really easy reading, and other parts quite heavy going. Plus, as I said above, I wasn't always feeling 100%, so I sometimes found I was reading a page, but none of it was sticking; I had to read it again. This is a really clever book. It manages to be both tragic and laugh out loud funny, sometimes in the same sentence. The characters are both frustrating and endearing in equal measure - and all of them are damaged in some way. The initial chapters, about Garp's mother and him at The Steering school are excellent. It was the section set in Vienna and when he returns to America that I found more difficult to read. One of the problems that I used to have with "serious" fiction was trying to understand the books meaning. It took me a while to realise that there are no real right or wrong answers. What you think a book means, is what that book means - to you. However, I finished this and thought " What was that about?" Fortunately, my copy of this book was a 20 year anniversary issue with an afterword by the author, in which he admits that he's not sure himself what it's all about. If the author himself doesn't know after 20 years, I'm not going to give myself a hard time! Be warned, there is plenty of both sexual comedy and sexual violence in this book. Both are handled very well, but if you don't want to read about such things, best give this book a swerve. 4/5.
  3. Thanks everyone - I think I was just feeling a little under the weather. Once I was beyond that, I found my reading bug came back.
  4. The spy

    I would agree with Athena. It sounds like the first line is an opening gambit - I imagine that the rest of the book describes why and how she goes from being optimistic to sad.
  5. I seem to have hit a bit of a slump at the moment. I'm not sure if it's because of what I'm reading, which seems alternatively to be very good and then struggling to keep my attention, or because I don't feel 100%. I seem to be tired all the time and getting a few headaches, so reading doesn't seem to be much fun. Probably just need a good nights sleep.
  6. Top 5 (or 10) Wednesday

    Derelict buildings or factories - although I can't think of any specific examples in books at the moment
  7. Has anyone read...?

    I've read Red Dragon, The Silence of the lambs and Hannibal. Are there more after that? I seem to remember feeling the same way with Red Dragon. It's almost as if the author has a previous, unpublished novel in mind when he was writing this. Both Red Dragon and SOTL are excellent in my opinion, but I felt that Hannibal, having come out after the film, read like a film script rather than a novel, with Lector veering from a frightening, but somehow tasteful psychopath, to a virtual parody of his character . I was disappointed personally.
  8. Kitchen Gadgets

    Our kitchen is very small, so I don't get to buy gadgets these days. There just isn't room for them. That is probably just as well, so I used to be one of those people who would buy the latest kitchen gadget, which would then sit in a cupboard, unused. I don't know why, as I'm not usually a "latest gadget" kind of person. It did occur to me a few weeks ago that the money that I used to spend on stuff that got used once or twice and then gathered cobwebs, would be better spent on a quality set of knives.
  9. The World according to Garp - John Irving
  10. Actually, I'd agree with that, but he was the first person I thought of when it came to body count. I'm actually quite surprised that the internet couldn't immediately answer this question for us. There appears to be lots of websites that tell me the body count in films.
  11. Yes, I remember thinking when I read the first one; I expected more to be made of Amos Decker's Synthesia. But, apart from one instance, it's hardly mentioned at all. Still. I'm a sucker for these type of crime books, so they have to be pretty bad for me to not like them.
  12. Book 32: The Last Mile by David Baldacci (Amos Decker #2) Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime. Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth. The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now? My Thoughts Maybe I've read too many of these kind of book. It was pretty easy to spot where this was going to go. But I have to admit, I looked forward to each time I could pick it up again and read a few more pages, whereas the last two books didn't do that for me. So, all is forgiven. And while the ending is a little bit too pat, it was an enjoyable, easy read. The main character, Amos Decker is likeable, as are the rest of his "team" - I would have liked to get more of them, as they felt a little under-drawn. I'll still look to pick up more by this author so, I will still give it 4/5.
  13. It has to be Shakespeare, right?
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