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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

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  1. I've currently got two books on the go. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien and Candide by Voltaire. I'm only a few pages into Candide but I've been utterly charmed by The Hobbit and I'm about 2/3rds of the way through it.
  2. The Last Film You Saw - 2021

    I just got back from No Time To Die and although I have some reservations about it, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
  3. Folio Society

    I'd love to run my own bookshop. I've just placed an order to fill up my Bond collection.
  4. To Kill A Mocking Bird Help

    Hi and welcome to the forum. We don’t allow help with homework or assignments on the forum so this post will be locked. Please feel free to engage in book discussions and debate on the forum but no more homework questions please.
  5. Folio Society

    I've just gone through and updated my wish list on their site. I think I'm going to need a second mortgage
  6. I've spent a fair bit of time reading over the last five or so days and as a result I have finished 4 books. Tornado by John Nicol (4/5) This is another non-fiction book, there is a pattern emerging to my reading at the moment. This book is about the Tornado aircraft and specifically about it's use during Operation Desert storm. Nicol relies mainly on interviews of those involved of which he was one. This lends some real insights to the stories behind the pilots that other books would undoubtedly failed to get. The details about how the missions panned out are an eye-opening read, especially when you find out how much danger the pilots were exposed to in the early days of the campaign. Up to this point I thought the book was pretty good but nothing better than 3/5. However, the later sections of the book about the aftermath were where the book really shined for me. It is pretty emotional stuff when you read about how the families of the pilots who were shot down lived with not knowing if they were dead or alive until the war ended. The stories of reunions, and the families dealing with loss were tough to read at times. The descriptions of PTSD and how Nicol himself was initially against the idea of a psychologist were something you rarely see in modern military biographies. I had two minor niggles. Nicol can be overly dramatic in his writing at times, especially when describing the aircraft. The other gripe I had was Nicol equating the Tornado pilots to the Lancaster pilots of the Second World War. Without doubt both had levels of bravery that far surpasses my own but the Lancaster pilots operated under such conditions for years and years, not weeks. The Ghosts of K2 by Mick Conefrey (3/5) Most people can name who completed the first successful ascent of Everest but very few can do the same for the second highest mountain in the world, K2. Although Everest gets all the mainstream coverage, K2 is seen by mountaineers as the mountain, a climbers mountain. For a long time it was believed to be unclimbable and even with the modern advances in equipment and weather forecasting, the mountain still claims 1 life for every 4 people who manage to reach the summit. Over the years I have read a lot of books about high altitude climbing but I hadn't read much about the early attempts to climb K2 so I picked this book to fill thay gap. Overall I found the book an interesting read if a little dry in places. Conefrey does a good job of explaining technical details without dumbing it down too much. One thing he does particularly well is to present the facts as they are while also highlighting where there are differences of opinion or differing accounts. I really like this way of dealing with history as it delivers what is known and leaves all judgement up to the reader. So, all in all I enjoyed this book and I think those with an interest in climbing or K2 would also enjoy it. By the Rivers of Babylon by Nelson DeMille (2/5) I saw an old copy of this on the bookcase of a B&B we stayed at the start of the year and was intrigued by the blurb on the back. " Two Concorde jets, bound for a UN conference that will finally bring peace to the Middle East, take off carrying dignitaries and a bomb. Forced to crash land, the men and women of the peace mission must make a stand against Palestinian commandos. " It all sounds quite daft but also potentially a lot of fun so I found a copy online I bought it. Although I wasn't expecting anything amazing with this book I was left pretty disappointed. In fact I was so disappointed by this book that I abandoned it at roughly the halfway point because as much as I tried, I just couldn't get into it. There are far far too many characters and as a result I found none of them to be in the least bit interesting. Although there is nothing wrong with prose it failed to grab my attention, and in a book which is meant to be a thriller that is never a good combination. High by Michaella McCollum (2/5) Michaella McCollum is one part of the infamous (at least in the UK and Ireland) Peru two who were arrested at Lima airport attempting to smuggle 11kg of Cocaine out of the country. This book is McCollum's account of what happened, her time in prison, and how she came to be released. I'll start with the writing, and then talk about McCollum's account. The writing is functional but no more than that. I don't know if a ghostwriter was used or not but there is little in the way of tension built into the telling of the story. The book starts with an attempt at a dramatic introduction but it is very awkward and clunky in nature. If I compare this book to another in the same genre, Marching Powder by Rusty Young, then there is no contest. Young's book is far better and the writing is heads and shoulders above High. So that's the writing dealt with, now onto the account itself. McCollum portrays herself as the victim at every single opportunity in this book. She comes across as a spoiled hypocrite who can't understand that actions have consequences. I am willing to accept that she was naive but I don't believe that she had no idea about what she was being asked to do. During the build up to her arrest she constantly tries to pass responsibility for the plan on to her accomplice Melissa. Once they are arrested she claims that Melissa came up with the false claim of gun-point abduction and that she only went along with it because she was scared. While in prison everything positive is because of her doing, every negative is down to Melissa and her family. She claims that Melissa constantly wanted the media involved while she just wanted to keep her head down. Since their release I've not seen a peep out of Melissa, whereas Michaella is constantly seeking out opportunities to cash in on her notoriety so make of that what want. I think the part that annoyed me the most was an event that she recalls when they were moved between prisons. Someone she had befriended asked her to pass on some stuff to her brother in the new prison. This brother was claimed to be struggling to adjust to life inside and had be wrongfully accused of being a drug dealer when in fact he was a very quiet innocent kind of guy. Michaella sees the brother at the new prison but before she hands over the items discovers that he is one of the prison crack dealers. She is so disgusted about the harm his dealing is causing she keeps the stuff instead. This is the same girl who got caught with 6kg of Cocaine but never reflects on the harm this would have caused others had it reached its destination. The book is a tie in with a BBC documentary series so my wife and I decided to watch a few of the episodes when I had finished the book. Parts of her account in the book differ from what she claims in the TV series, and other people who were involved in her life who are interviewed don't exactly corroborate her claims.
  7. Folio Society

    They didn't do a Dracula edition last year so I bought a Barnes & Noble fine print edition instead. Do I really need two fine print editions of the same book? No, but I might have to indulge as it looks really nice. I was planning on treating myself to a new fountain pen for my birthday but I think Folio Society will be getting my money instead.
  8. Time for a few updates. Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard (2/5) I have read two of Ballards other books with postive results. I loved Empire of the Sun, and really enjoyed my time with Cocaine Nights. In this book we follow the story of Robert Maitland who manages to crash his car over a divider and onto a high-speed traffic island below. I got on well with the book as a whole but it failed to grab me in the way that the previously mentioned books did. Ballard's favourite themes are all here and he does a decent job of keeping the story flowing in a compact setting. I find it interesting that this was published a year after Crash because to me it reads like an expanded experiment he may have worked on before or during writing Crash. The 2/5 rating isn't a negative one. I'm glad I read this, but at no point does it reach near to his best work in my opinion. Harrier 809 by Rowland White (4/5) Roland White is another author whose work I have read a lot of. I'm pretty confident that I have read all his previous work and he really knows how to write engaging aviation non-fiction books. As with his other books, this one is exceptionally well researched and leave no stone un-turned. The focus of this book is 809 squadron who were formed to operate Harrier's during the Falkland's conflict. This isn't an area of military history that I know loads about but I was still left surprised at how much new information White manages to squeeze into his book. Some non-fiction historical books can be dry or full of facts and figures but White turns all the research into a really good tale. The dog fighting scenes are especially good and really impart a sense of drama. I would recommend this book or any of his others to anyone interested in the subjects he writes about.
  9. I'm currently a good way through two books, Tornado by John Nicol, and By The Rivers of Babylon by Nelson DeMille. I am also almost finished with The Ghosts of K2 by Mick Conefrey.
  10. Has anyone read...?

    I haven't, but if it's as good as his other work then you're in for a treat when you do read it.
  11. Too Much Internet

    Its been down in my area since at least 5pm uk time.
  12. Too Much Internet

    I wasn’t aware of the outage until a friend who usually messages me using WhatsApp sent me a text message instead.
  13. From what I can gather people either really love the style of writing or don’t get on with it at all. Fingers crossed that you like it. I got a bit carried away in Waterstones this morning and came away with a rather mixed bag of books. Fiction Candide - Voltaire The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller The Plotters - Un-Su Kim The Gates of Rome - Conn Iggulden Knife - Jo Nesbo Non-Fiction Soldier - Jay Morton Agent Sonya - Ben Macintyre Zonal Marking - Michael Cox High - Michaella McCollum Angels with Dirty Faces - Jonathan Wilson
  14. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (5/5) It's been a few days since I finished this book and I still don't know where to start with it. When I bought this book I knew nothing at all about it and I hadn't even read the blurb on the back cover. I thought the title sounded familiar and due to it's relatively small size I decided to take a chance and see where it took me. This gamble really paid off and by the time I had finished it I was left thinking that I probably won't read a better book this year. The book is a stream of consciousness tale narrated by a man called Piranesi who lives in a massive building with interconnecting halls. The building is very old in style and extends in all direction. Certain rooms have sea in them and others have birds etc, basically everything we have in our world, contained in one huge building but without any modern technology. Piranesi lives there alone apart from one other person he meets on a regular basis who he knows as only 'The Other'. The Other claims he is trying to work out the Great and Secret Knowledge and needs Piranesi's help with his research. Everything is a mystery which is slowly unveiled over the course of the book and I think the best way I can describe the experience is that it is like watching a Christopher Nolan movie. You have to really think while you are reading and when you think you have a handle on what is going on you probably don't. I haven't read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell yet but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for a copy of it next time I am in a bookshop.
  15. Attempts by Dan John (3/5) I'll start this mini review by saying that I don't know why or how this book ended up on one of my many 'to read' lists. I must have heard about it on a podcast or read something about it online because I have no idea how else it would have come into my awareness. The book is a collection of essays on what Dan John has learned while coaching strength training over the last 3 decades. The book is a mixture of thoughts on what works in training and what doesn't and how these things link into our everyday lives. The essays are very simple and the essence of his training approach is to do something, regularly, for a long time. Consistency is the key and will win out every time. He argues that people spend far too often looking for the perfect training approach instead of just sticking to the basics and sticking to it over a long period of time. I don't think this is a book which will appeal anyone else on this forum but for those interested in strength training it gives an entertaining insight into Dan John andhis philosophy.
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