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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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  • Reading now?
    A book
  • Location:
    SE England
  1. @Hayley I still have my copy of The Distant Echo on my "to the charity shop" shelf, I'm more than happy to send it to you if you would like it. Since my last update I have finished the following. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (3/5) In the same way that Dracula showed me where all our modern ideas of vampire lore came from this was full of the things I typically thing of as pirate related. It's a shorter book than I thought it would be and was glad of that as the language was a bit hard going for me in a few places. I found it to be really well paced with the big plot points coming in just the right places to keep everything kicking along. Colorless Tszukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (4/5) After reading Norwegian Wood in 2012 I was left awestruck and decided that Murakami was my kind of writer. This opinion has largely remained undamaged and this book is another one along the same kind of lines. You know that in a Murakami book there will be some re-occurring themes of Jazz, characters who feel listless, and mysterious women. This book ticks all these boxes and while some parts of it were really good, I was left wanting more. Reading some of his earlier work I would regularly read passages and then have to pause because of how much they struck me. This book had some of these passages but at a much less frequent rate. It felt a little bit samey. Sub by Danny Danziger (2/5) A non-fiction book about life serving on a British nuclear submarine. The author spent some time on a submarine on active service and as well as his own personal thoughts, he shares the thoughts of the crew members and their families that he interviewed. It was a quick and interesting read but inevitably the interview answers all became fairly repetitive. I felt that the book could have been cut down by 50 pages and nothing of value would have been lost. Fun fact, anyone taking the submarine commanders course/test has to pass if they wish to continue to service on submarines. Fail and you are sent to the regular navy never to work on submarines again regardless of how much experience you have. The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth (4/5) I flew through this in a few days, Forsyth really is a master at creating intrigue and tension in equal amounts. There are a lot of different strands which come together in the plot and I can only imagine how hard it must have been to make all these work properly. Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret #1) by Georges Simenon (3/5) A random selection made at my local library brought about by the mention of a Latvian in the title. I hadn't heard of Simenon and had no idea he was such a prolific writer and one of some regard. I enjoyed this enough to make me want to read more of the books in the series. I really liked the fact that Maigret is a no nonsense kind of detective and relies on hard work and intuition to get the results he wants. The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick (3/5) I'm a fan of the movie but hadn't read the source material so it made sense to read this. The inspiration is there but like many movie adaptations, the book contains more substance. Like the best Sci-Fi this really gets the mind going but it did feel unfinished to me. I think to make the most of the great idea it needed fleshing out more, especially the characters but I guess that wasn't Dick's way of writing. Nonetheless it was an enjoyable read. Pacific Vortex (Dirk Pitt #1) by Clive Cussler (2/5) I have a large bunch of Dirk Pitt novels on my kindle, the only reason being is that I always see Cussler novels in charity bookshops so thought he must be doing something right. I had collected them with the plan to get round to them at some point. I will state from the start that the premise is ridiculous and Pitt is a ocean going James Bond with all the bad character traits of the 80's movies. Women are only there for his amusement and even if they are in the enemy camp they can't help but fall for him (feel familiar). Baddies always leave an avenue for escape when they have him trapped, and he is stronger and smarter than everyone else. Accepting that it's daft, I found it entertaining in a trashy way. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (3/5) One of reviews on Goodreads from a member of BCF, Kell, remarks that "there is something quite pleasant about just sitting back and enjoying the ride as you glide from the first page to the last" and I don't think I can sum it up better than that. Not a huge amount happens by way of plot but you find yourself going along for the ride. All the of characters are strong, I found myself being drawn to all of them even if I didn't always understand their actions. Despite all this, it's not what Towles writes that will stay with me, it's how he writes. He's got that quality that I can't put my finger on but is just....pleasant I guess. I don't know how to describe it, it's just really good. I have another one of his books and I can see myself reading in very soon.
  2. Glad you liked it, it's one of my favourite books, so much so that my copy is really dog eared.
  3. I'm up to 39 now, a huge increase in my reading rate.
  4. A book to accompany...

    Hi Matt, welcome to the forum. I can't think of too many books which would fit but maybe something like The 39 Steps by John Buchan. It's not set in Canada but if my memory hasn't betrayed me there are Scottish woodlands involved.
  5. Your Book Activity - July 2019

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets like that at times. Earlier this year I must have read the first 20 pages of more than 10 books before I managed to settle on one of them. I hope you enjoy Fatherland, it was my first delve into Robert Harris and I really enjoyed it when I read it.
  6. Read-a-thon 2019

    I won’t be able to join in much this time around as I’ll be working for a chunk of it but hopefully I can manage at least a little reading.
  7. Your Wish Lists

    As an update I’ve settled on having it in 2 places, Amazon and Goodreads. I have also been adding all my kindle TBR books to Goodreads as I’ve got a habit of buying books I already own. My plan is to check my Goodreads account before buying anything in a charity shop to prevent duplicate purchases. It’s not perfect as if I have a poor data signal I won’t be able to access it but it’s the best solution I have at the moment.
  8. The Last Film You Saw - 2019

    I went to a 20 year anniversary showing of The Matrix over the weekend. It should have been a good experience but was almost spoiled by a young couple who wouldn’t keep quiet.
  9. How much do you read at once?

    I tend to read in chunks which short breaks in between so I'll read for say an hour and then go an do something else for 10-15 mins and come back to it. I can sit and read for a whole day but in chunks as I seem to get a bit fatigued if I try and sit and read for hours on end. It does depend on how easy the book is to read though. For instance I recently read Treasure Island and I had to take more frequent, shorter breaks as it's written in an old style and required more of my concentration.
  10. I travel with books to and from work regularly and having a separate compartment in a bag for books definitely helps. Another thing you could do is put the book(s) in a plastic bag and wrap it tightly around the book, that way it is held shut so the pages shouldn't get damaged.
  11. Your Wish Lists

    Bit of an odd question for people. How do you keep your wish lists? I've tried the feature on Goodreads, I have a list on Amazon and I also have various lists written on notebooks but none of them seem satisfactory to me. I'm curious as to what other people use to see if I can make something work for me. Portability would be good so I am leaning towards creating an excel sheet but I'm not convinced that would work great either.
  12. Update time. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (4/5) I read this book based off of an episode of the Rich Roll podcast featuring Cal Newport. I knew who Cal Newport is and have been really interested in his research and thoughts on focus and concentration. I've had one of his other books, Deep Work, on my TBR for a while but despite me feeling like I would benefit from reading it I still haven't got round to it. Too many books, not enough time, something I think we can all identify with. Anyway, the basis of this book is that we have far too many distractions to deal with in life as it is and this is made far worse by things like social media. Newport also explains that it's not really our fault that we become somewhat addicted to our phones and social media, they are engineered that way. He also delves into the importance of solitude and time spent thinking without distractions. All of this really makes sense to me and it was the final straw in me deleting all my social media. Most importantly I think is that he explains that social media isn't necessarily evil and you don't need to delete it but you should be careful to make it work for you and not the other way round. A Border Station by Shane Connaughton (2/5) I picked this up at the library because I liked the cover (yes I can be that shallow). The story follows a young boy and his family living and working at an isolated Garda station between Fermanagh and Cavan. The father is the local policeman and has to deal with a collection of petty crime. He is pretty negative towards the boy who wants nothing more than his father's approval. Things start to change for the family and this threatens the comfort of routine for the boy. I didn't really get on with this despite the glowing reviews it has. There is nothing wrong with it, it just didn't jive with me for some reason. The Distant Echo (Karen Pirie 1) by Val McDermid (5/5) On a freezing morning in the run up to Christmas four drunken students find the barely living body of a local woman. In the aftermath of the crime the four students are the prime suspects and despite being 'innocent until proven guilty' suspicion remains on them while the crime goes unsolved. Many years later a cold case review is opened up and we find out what has happened to the four students as the result of the suspicions cast on them for so long. This is a fantastic book and despite being fairly large I whizzed through it and just couldn't put it down, I loved everything about it. The build up is slow but because we good really good backstory for all the main characters is never feels slow. There are plenty of twists and turns and although I eventually worked out who was guilty it keep me guessing throughout.
  13. Your Book Activity - July 2019

    Just finished A Border Station by Shane Connaughton and making a start on The Distant Echo by Val McDermid.
  14. Your Book Activity - July 2019

    I am about 40% of the way through Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
  15. Time for another update. The Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (4/5) I bought this at the start of the month based entirely on the fact that I kept seeing it get favourable reviews on BCF. I purposely avoided reading the synopsis so went in completely clueless and wasn't even aware of the genre the book falls into. As it turned out, it's a fantasy novel set in London with the story revolving around a policeman who sees a ghost during an investigation. This isn't the sort of book I would probably read out of choice but I am so glad that I did. The only other fantasy book I have read in the past that I can think of is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I also really liked that so maybe I should put more effort into searching out fantasy. Just remembered I've also read Game of Thrones. Dare to Tri by Louise Minchin (2/5) I picked this up on a whim at my local library while looking for a book on triathlon training. I've always fancied doing a triathlon, I run and ride on a semi-regular basis but my swimming is really poor in comparison so I was looking for some pointers. Anyway, those in the UK will probably recognise Louise from breakfast TV on the BBC. What you may not realise is that she has represented GB in her age group in triathlon. She went from occasional exerciser to international competition in the space of 18-24 months. So far, so good but here is where I got a little frustrated with the book. The blurb portrays is as a zero to hero story and while I do not want to take anything away from her achievements, this is misleading. For many years up until the age of 17 she swam competitively and looking at her swim times she has lost little of this ability over the years. Her run times also indicate that she must have been doing some recreational running before she decided to give triathlon a shot. Despite these grumbles it is a well written book and I found it interesting enough to finish in a day. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (4/5) For some reason I thought this was a book written in the 60's instead of the 90's, I'm not sure where that confusion comes from. The plot revolves around Charlie who is an awkward, shy, introvert who is starting out at college. It's a coming of age story full of the kind of issues faced by adolescents as they start their respective journeys into the wider world. I really enjoyed this one, again it was another book which I read very quickly. My one criticism is that the book tried to cover every issue you can think of into too short a novel (230 pages). As a result it doesn't really get into the depth of some of those issues. Charlie also comes across as a much younger age than his character is meant to be. I assume this is intentional by the author and I have even read some reviews saying that he is Autistic but I'm not sure where I sit on that theory. The 'big reveal' at the end of the book was a surprise to me and hit me like a hammer. Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household (3/5) Originally published in 1939 this book tells the story of an attempted assassination gone wrong and the following escape an evasion. It is very much in the same mold as The 39 Steps by John Buchan but with a little more of a 'super spy' feel to it. Storm Front by Rowland White (4/5) This is a non-fiction book about the 1972 Battle of Mirbat and the two years leading up to it. White is well known for his non-fiction accounts of aviation history and although this book covers the RAF support of the battle it also does justice to the epic defence of Mirbat by a handful of soldiers. Like his other books it is superbly well written and researched and contains loads of really good colour photographs, some of which I hadn't seen before. I would recommend anyone with an interest in aviation and the first missions into space to check out his books.