Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Brian.

Brian's Book Log - Ongoing

Recommended Posts

On 6/20/2019 at 11:45 AM, Athena said:

Your shelves look really nice :D!!

 

Thanks Gaia. I used to have books literally stacked everywhere a few years ago but I had a massive cull of anything I had read. Recently I have been collecting Folio or fine press editions of the books I really loved to keep forever, they are the ones on the top shelf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been a good week for me reading wise and I have read 3 books and abandoned 1 (although I am counting as read because I gave it a good stab. I popped into the library and after a bit of a nose round I picked up a Teach Yourself book called Write A Novel (4/5). I'm not a writer, far from it in fact, but I am always interested in how a novel is crafted and this book gave a really good basic insight into the stages and different approaches to writing a novel. It may inspire me to give some short stories a go, we'll see. At the same time I started to read my copy of Cocaine Nights (4/5) by JG Ballard that I bought a while ago and has been sitting on the bookcase ever since. I read, and loved Empire of the Sun in 2014 and gave Crash a go a few years back but didn't get on with it so put it down after an hour and I'm yet to go back to it. I really liked Cocaine Nights, especially as I had no idea what it was about going into it. I like a lot of what Ballard has to say both in the book and in his interviews so I may have to give Crash another go soon.

 

Yesterday was fairly quiet at work so I managed to read one of my BCF prizes, The Fox (3/5) by Frederick Forsyth. After Milkman (more on that soon) it was just what I needed to get me going again. Very easy reading with a fast moving plot which was interesting even if it was fairly far fetched. I do have a few bones to pick with it, especially the way the Luke Jennings situation came to it's conclusion at the end but it entertained me nonetheless. Now finally onto Milkman (1/5) by Anna Burns. I bought this as it popped up in my recommendations on Amazon. I read the blurb and it sounded like the sort of thing that would keep me interested. It had also won the Man Booker prize so I thought that was another positive sign. I generally don't pay much heed to prizes but there is no doubt that some prize winning books are superb so I didn't think I could go far wrong. Well, I managed to stick with it for a few hours before throwing it across the room (figuratively, I wouldn't actually throw a book, not even Tess of the D'Urbervilles). The style just killed the book for me and I couldn't get on with it at all. Stream of consciousness isn't my bag but I can usually adapt to it as I read but in this case it was too much for me. The story seemed to really trudge along at a painfully slow pace and none of the characters have names, very annoying.

 

If anyone wants Milkman or Cocaine Nights, let me know and I'll happily send them to you free of charge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Milkman. Interestingly I find stream of consciousness novels difficult to get on with as well but loved Milkman.

 

What did you think of the overall plot and how the story dealt with The Troubles?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Angury said:

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Milkman. Interestingly I find stream of consciousness novels difficult to get on with as well but loved Milkman.

 

What did you think of the overall plot and how the story dealt with The Troubles?

 

I didn't finish it so I can't speak on the plot as a whole but what I did read story-wise was the sort of thing I really like. I always really get into book which have a basis in some historic passage of time especially when it is recent enough that I have a grasp of what happened. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second Athena's point on the nice bookshelves! That Dracula spine is very nice, what edition is that? Also (just reminded me, seeing all the folio editions!) have you seen the folio society sale? There are some really beautiful ones half price.

 

It's a shame you didn't like Milkman, it does seem to be a very 'love it or hate it' kind of book. Glad you liked The Fox though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Hayley said:

I second Athena's point on the nice bookshelves! That Dracula spine is very nice, what edition is that? Also (just reminded me, seeing all the folio editions!) have you seen the folio society sale? There are some really beautiful ones half price.

 

It's a shame you didn't like Milkman, it does seem to be a very 'love it or hate it' kind of book. Glad you liked The Fox though!

 

The Dracula is a Barnes and Noble leatherbound classic collection edition. Originally I was after a Folio one but they don't do one at the moment. I did notice the other day that Amaranthine Books have just launched 2 limited editions of Dracula which look absolutely stunning but they are really expensive. I have seen the Folio sale and they keep tempting me with emails but there isn't anything in the sale that I am wanting to buy urgently. I do need to buy the next in the Bond series but I might wait until they print the next one as well to save a bit on postage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just looked up the Amaranthine edition, that is really something special, you can see why it's so expensive. I love the quote inside the slipcase and the fact that it's a limited run of 666 copies :giggle2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the last 10 days or so I have finished another 2 books, bringing my total for the year to date to 23. First up was The Templars (4/5) by Dan Jones. I started this book back in May and despite enjoying what I read it got sidetracked for other books. It is an account on the rise and fall the the Templars. The book is really well researched and written with loads of footnotes and sources. I really enjoyed reading this one.

 

Last week I had half an hour to burn in town before an appointment so popped into the library and picked up The Outsider (4/5) by Albert Camus. I can’t really put my finger on why, but I did enjoy this one and it helped that its only just over 100 pages long. I thought I had previously read another book by Camus but a quick check of Goodreads shows that this is not the case so I will have to remedy that soon.

 

Up next for me is a forum favourite, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/12/2019 at 10:23 AM, Brian. said:

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.

 

Nice review! You're right that it is misleading that they made it out to be a zero to hero story. Glad it was interesting enough to read it.

 

On 7/12/2019 at 10:23 AM, Brian. said:

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.

 

I didn't read him as autistic to be honest, and I don't think I particularly related to him back when I read the book. I'm not sure about that theory either to be honest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have The Perks of Being A Wallflower on my pending list - and strangely I also thought it was older than it actually is. Glad that you enjoyed Rivers Of London, I love the series, and Gaiman's Neverwhere is a favourite of mine. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎12‎/‎07‎/‎2019 at 9:23 AM, Brian. said:

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.

 

Yay! Another convert!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Digital Minimalism sounds interesting. I have mixed feelings about social media. It definitely has benefits for networking and keeping in touch with people you don't live near to, but it's also got a weirdly pressured side. I think it's even worse for younger generations too. Speaking to my niece makes me extremely glad social media wasn't a thing when I was at secondary school (apart from myspace but that was basically just decorate your own webpage :lol:). Using social media does make me really appreciate this forum though. It's nice to have an online space full of genuinely nice people who share your interests - I feel like that's what social media should be, but instead it's too often competitive and judgemental.

 

I'm adding The Distant Echo to my to-read list based on your review!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@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.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Brian. said:

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.

 

I remember enjoying this when I read it a few years ago.  Whilst I do like Murakami's more bizarre stories, it's good to read the occasional story that is a little more grounded!

 

33 minutes ago, Brian. said:

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.

 

After trying several of his books, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like Dick. He had some excellent ideas, but he generally didn't round them out very well and I'm not a great fan of his writing style.

 

33 minutes ago, Brian. said:

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.

 

The only Cussler book I've read - way back in the mid/late 80s - is Raise the Titanic, which is another of his earlier books and fits in with the above pattern.  

 

They did lead to the film Sahara, however, which is also entertaining in a fairly trashy way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 05/08/2019 at 4:21 PM, Brian. said:

@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.

Thank you, that would be great if you don't mind! :) 

 

Interesting review of The Minority Report. I haven't read the book or seen the film, but I know roughly what the story is about because it's such a 'cult classic' type thing, and I imagined that it would be really good! 

 

I read The Odessa File years ago and really enjoyed it. It was one of those books that I literally couldn't read fast enough. I'm glad you liked it too!

 

Treasure Island is a book I definitely want to try too. I had a version of it when I was younger that was mainly pictures and obviously the text wouldn't have been particularly close to the original, so it would be nice to read the 'real' one as an adult! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gave up on Milkman as well. It was the style rather than the story that was off-putting. The story wasn't great, it was non-remarkable at best, but I struggled so much with the stream-of-consciousness style and those paragraphs that seemed to go on for more than a bloody page! My heart would sink when I would turn the page and I would just see solid margin-to-margin text. Maybe if I'd read it on Kindle, I would have persevered as I could change font size etc, but for a paperback it was a no-go.

 

Colorless Tszukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was an enjoyable read. Not my favourite Murakami, but still enjoyable. I'm currently reading Killing Commendatore - have you read it? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 25/08/2019 at 12:49 PM, bobblybear said:

Colorless Tszukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was an enjoyable read. Not my favourite Murakami, but still enjoyable. I'm currently reading Killing Commendatore - have you read it? 

 

I haven't read  Killing Commendatore yet but I might see if my library has a copy when I am next in town.

 

I've been a bit slack at keeping this up to date but I do have a good excuse. We had a very busy first few weeks of September at work due to the ending of the school holidays. After that I traveled to Malayasia and Singapore with my wife to celebrate our delayed honeymoon. We had an amazing time but despite taking a few ebooks I did no reading what so ever. The few books I have read since my previous update were.

 

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (3/5)

One of the '1001' books that I have had my eye on for a long time. An elderly woman and her young grandaughter spend their summer on a Finnish island. The premise doesn't sound great but I found the book pretty enjoyable. I think it may have suffered a bit from me building it up a bit too much in my own mind prior to reading it though. It's prettyt much autobiographical and gives a real insight into the way life used to be and two people getting used to each other over time.

 

Finding Sisu by Katja Pantzar (3/5)

Another book about life in Finland! There was no concerted effort on my part to read Finnish based books, this one just sounded interesting. Someone who is not Finnish moves there and goes onto explain the way of life and in particular the concept of Sisu, or everyday courage. This book was a quick enough read but at the same time a bit meh in places. I'm sure for many of us there is an ideal way to live but life's commitments don't always make it possible. 

 

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre (5/5)

I have wanted to read this ever since it came out and as luck would have it someone left a bit of a dog-eared copy at work which found its way to me. Macintyre tells the true story of Oleg Gordievsky, a senior KGB officer and a spy for the British. Having a big interest in the Cold War I already knew the basic mechanics of the story but the book taught me so much more. It's very well researched and written. The pace is really good an despite knowing the outcome it still managed to grip me as it reached the denouement.

 

For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose (3/5)

A non-fiction book about tea. Doesn't sound too interesting but there is a tale of smuggling and espionage behind the simple cup of tea. In the mid 1800's the only place tea was grown was China and they were not sharing their plants or their secrets. They were so protective of their property, intellectual or otherwise, that non-natives were only permitted in the port towns and were forbidden to travel inland. The British East India company didn't like dealing with the Chinese and decided that they could probably grow tea in India. How do you get plants and knowledge out of China? Simple, send a Scottish botanist called Robert Fortune to inland China to steal the plants and expertise from under their noses. This book was a good read even if I was left wondering how much imbellishment Fortune had put on his story as we only have his word as to what happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (4/5)

I'll start this mini review by saying that I probably wouldn't had read this if it hadn't been for two things. Firstly, its in the '1001' list, a list that I don't think I will ever complete but I do enjoy working my way through it. Secondly, it always seems to get mentioned on this forum in a favourable light. I can't really think why I have avoided it up to now apart from a bit of bias brought on by memories of my grandmother watching Christie's work on TV and my bordeom brought on by it aged 10. At 200 pages the book is short  so I thought it was worth a go as I had nothing to lose. Initially I found it a little slow going and I also found that I had to concentrate while reading otherwise I wouldn't take in what had happened. Despite this, as the book progressed I got really involved in what was going on and constantly changed my mind as to who the guilty party was. By the end I was 70% sure it was who it ended up being but I hadn't picked up on all the clues dropped in throughout the book.

 

I'm away for the next 5 days so  have a kindle loaded with reading material. Next up, probably Frankenstein.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really liked The Murder of Roger Ackroyd too, although I know what you mean about the slow beginning. Unfortunately I read something before I finished the book that really gave away who the murderer was, but it was still interesting to read it to find out how it was going to unfold. I remember it having a lot of information, so you end up wondering what's a clue and what's unrelated.  I haven't read anything else by Agatha Christie since though, are you tempted to try more of her books?

 

Hope you have a nice few days away! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I’m not against the idea of reading other stuff by Christie I cant say I will be in a rush to find more of her books to read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng (3/5)

I don't recall where I came aware of this book but I have a vague recollection of reading about it online. The basic premise is that sometime in the future people with the right genetic makeup are given the chance to live forever due to medical advances. Our story focuses on Lea, one of the 'Lifers' who seemingly has everything she could want out of life. All that is turned upside down when she has a chance meeting with her estranged father.

This book had so much potential but by the time I had finished reading it I couldn't help but feel let down by it. By no means is it a bad book, it just could have been so much more. I know that we don't need to like a character for that character to be a good one but Lea really didn't work for me. She seemed to go back on everything she believed in (for 300 years) very quickly and her back story is bizarre at best.

 

After this I made a start on Frankenstein so hopefully I will have that fnished by this weekend

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (2/5)

Last October I decided to read a seasonal book for Halloween and picked up a copy of Dracula that had been on my bookcase for years. I absolutely loved it so I decided to do something similar this year and read Frankenstein. Similar to Dracula I had a lot of preconceptions about this book based on the pop culture that has emerged related to the monster. I kind of expected a Herman Munster type character brought to life by lightning. It turns out that I was very wide of the mark but sadly I didn't particularly enjoy the book either. I found it painfully slow and the 'flowery' language made it very hard to get on with at times. It is remarkable that this was written when Shelley was 18 and it isn't without merit but it's not a book I will be re-reading in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 02/10/2019 at 6:58 PM, Brian. said:

While I’m not against the idea of reading other stuff by Christie I cant say I will be in a rush to find more of her books to read.

That's exactly how I felt about it. I do have Murder on the Orient Express on my shelf, and I'm sure I'd probably like it, but I just never get round to it!

 

1 hour ago, Brian. said:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (2/5)

I did like Frankenstein but I know what you mean about the language and I can see it being off putting. I think the biggest preconception I had before I read it was that it would be about Frankenstein making a monster, whereas that bit's actually over really fast and it's really about the consequences of making the monster. I was also surprised to find that it's actually more sad than scary, considering how it's usually portrayed.

 

I hope you're going to enjoy your next book more! 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×