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      Special Christmas Giveaway!   12/01/2018

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Pagemaster Brian
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About Brian.

  • Rank
    This too shall pass
  • Birthday 11/24/1980

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    A book
  • Location:
    SE England
  1. I decided to abandon Nudge for the time being as I just can’t seem to get in to it right now. I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz in pretty much one sitting today after reading a few pages a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it and I can see why it has become such a success. As Christmas is not too far away I have started The Long Shadow by Celia Femlin this evening.
  2. I also finished another book at work last night, Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor. I won't be giving it a proper review as it was an audio book. I always struggle a bit with audio books and I don't want to give it an unfair review.
  3. XPD by Len Deighton Synopsis June 11, 1940 – where is Winston Churchill? A private aircraft takes off from a small town in central France, while Adolf Hitler, the would-be conqueror of Europe, prepares for a clandestine meeting near the Belgian border. For more than forty years the events of this day have been Britain’s most closely guarded secret. Anyone who learns of them must die - with their file stamped: XPD - expedient demise (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I love the cover art on these older editions of Len Deighton books. I can't quite put my finger on why but I think it probably has something to do with the fact that they age the book into the time period it is set. Anyway, I have read a few of Deighton's books in the past, namely Berlin Game, Mexico Set, Funeral in Berlin and The Ipcress File. On the whole I enjoyed all of them and they are one of the reasons I have developed a love for spy fiction. XPD is a little different in that it is one of a collection of unrelated books Deighton wrote around World War II. This book started really slowly for me and for a while I started to seriously consider putting it aside for another time. I didn't really care for the main characters and not much seemed to be going on. A large part of the story revolves around a movie documentary being made about Nazi gold and files stolen from it's hiding place in a mine at the end of the war. The aspect of this being stolen was interesting but I wasn't sure about the movie angle. It works perfectly to tie all the different plot strands together but I still found it a little problematic. Another issue early on was the sheer amount of characters. I found myself flicking back and forward a few times to try and remember certain character's roles. Despite these issues, after about 120 pages it all started to come together and I started to enjoy it. The tension builds really slowly but when it comes to a head the pay off is worth the effort. Like the best books set during World War II it borrows actual events and uses these are a solid foundation. I liked it and I look forward to reading more Deighton in the future 3/5 (I liked it).
  4. Agree 100%. I used to struggle through books I wasn't getting on with but now if a book hasn't grabbed me within 50-60 pages it gets abandoned.
  5. I finished XPD by Len Deighton yesterday. I picked up Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein on the way out the house this morning but I haven't had a chance to start it yet.
  6. Read-a-thon 2018

    XPD stand for expedient demise which is an order given when someone is to be killed by the security services in the book.
  7. Artemis by Andy Weir Synopsis Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz's problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself - and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I picked this up at my local Waterstones a few weeks ago based entirely on the fact that I enjoyed the movie of The Martian. I never got round to reading it but I enjoyed the movie and the few people I know personally who read told me they enjoyed the book. Weir has developed a reputation as a Sci-Fi writer who likes scientific detail in his settings. This is something I can get onboard with as it generally means the writer has put a lot of thought and research into the nuts and bolts to underpin the book. Our main character is Jazz Bashara, a porter at the Artemis import dock with a sideline in smuggling things in that shouldn't really be in Artemis. She is meant to be complex character who is vastly intelligent but decides to embrace criminality rather than honest work. She is somewhat estranged from her father who is an honest, hard working welder considered to be the best in Artemis. Her father is a devout Muslim, a religion which Jazz chooses not to follow. This becomes one of the main sticking issues with me. Jazz is of Arabic descent, Artemis is, by some form of political reasoning part of Kenya and is essentially a Kenyan outpost. Many of the characters in the story are from countries other than America but yet everyone and everything feels decidedly American. I would have no issue with it feeling American if it were consistent with the background of the people who are in, and have made Artemis what it is. It all feels tacked on, as if Weir is trying to say something, but that message never comes. Other topics are mentioned such as homophobia, protectionist unionisation, and organised crime but never really explored and are just left hanging. This left me feeling like it was a wasted opportunity and almost as if Weir couldn't make his mind up what topic to explore so he threw them all into the mix and never dug into any of them. The thing that links all the people together is a heist that Jazz is paid to carry out but inevitably goes wrong. The heist is ok, it kept my interest well enough but it wasn't enough to redeem the other faults in the book. The scientific detail was fine with me. I know some reviews have found it over the top and while some of it undoubtedly could have been left out I didn't find it obtrusive. At the end of most chapters there are snippets of email exchanges between Jazz and a boy in Kenya called Kelvin which start when they are both 9 years old. As far as I can tell there is no purpose for these at all except to allow Jazz access to someone on Earth who can eventually help her smuggle and sort her out with a fake ID. Again, this feels very tacked on. Ultimately I found the book to be a big disappointment . The setting sounds intriguing but is left undeveloped and I just didn't care for any of the characters at all. If Weir had settled on one or two social issues to explore this could have been a much better book. There was fast paced enough to keep me reading but had it been longer I think I would have abandoned it. My lasting impression is that this felt like poor YA fiction and it could have been so much more. 1 star is too harsh but 2 feels generous. 2/5 (It was OK).
  8. Changed Text

    I agree with Athena, it's probably a different printing that has been converted to ebook format but the change does seem to be a very strange one to make. I would expect this in different translations if the author hadn't written in English but that doesn't apply in this case.
  9. What Are You Watching Now? - 2018

    Only Fools and Horses. I always watch classic comedies around this time of year.
  10. What's Up in December? - 2018

    Sounds like a perfect day.
  11. Christmas Holiday 2018

    Ours are now up and there are already a few presents under the tree. We don't have loads of decorations as our place is quite small but it definitely feels like Christmas now.
  12. Read-a-thon 2018

    XPD is the title of the book, I don't know if it has any other meaning, if it does it hasn't come up in the book yet after about 100 pages.
  13. Read-a-thon 2018

    I wasn't really planning on doing the readathon but I read 220 pages of Artemis by Andy Weir yesterday and finished it. Once I've put up the Christmas decorations I'm going to make a start on XPD by Len Deighton.
  14. Yeah Gravity was fairly bonkers. I finished Artemis, I'll do a proper review in a few days but to sum it up. Meh! It was a quick read and I got on with it fine but it was pretty unremarkable.
  15. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson Synopsis Touching the Void is the heart-stopping account of Joe Simpson's terrifying adventure in the Peruvian Andes. He and his climbing partner, Simon, reached the the summit of the remote Siula Grande in June 1995. A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frost-bitten, with news that that Joe was dead. What happened to Joe, and how the pair dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts One of my hobbies is hiking and hill walking, mainly in the Lake District, Peak District, and Wales. An extension of this is that I have a bit of a fascination of high mountaineering, especially peaks above 8000m. I've never done anything remotely approaching what I would consider proper mountaineering, I really hate the cold but I do like reading about expeditions. I know the story covered in the book well having watched a few documentaries and interviews on it in the past. This book is considered a mountaineering classic and I was lucky enough to be given a copy for my birthday. The book is very simple in it's layout. There is no pre-expedition fluff, we start right at base came in Peru with the 3 people involved in the story, climbers Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, and a hiker called Richard who stays at base camp. The main aim of their trip is to summit Siula Grande, at an altitude of 6344m. The ascent of Siula Grande is covered in a lot detail and although you don't need any understanding of climbing, a little knowledge is helpful. Some reviewers have said they don't like the climbing intricacies that Simpson goes into but I enjoyed it, it gives a real impression of the grind involved in an expedition or summit attempt. The book isn't all detail though, the gem is the emotion that Simpson conveys both before, and after the accident. Even though I knew the story I was gripped throughout constantly wondering how I would cope in a similar situation. There are a few small parts written by Yates where he details the mental anguish and process he went through as well after the accident. These are superb additions to the book and it clearly comes across that both men were irreparably changed forever. There are some photographs in the book and one in particular really grabbed me, a picture of Simon Yates looking haunted on his return to base camp. My edition has a revision added 10 years after the book was originally written where both men reflect on the mistakes they made, especially in their desire to carry as little as possible. They come to the conclusion that although accidents are always a risk, had they had better shelter and more gas to make hot drinks they could have avoided being in the situation that lead to the accident. I really loved this book, I think it might be a keeper. 5/5 (It was great).