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Everything posted by Brian.

  1. This update should bring my up to date with what I have read so far this year. It has felt like I've barely picked a book up this year but I've still finished 31 books so far. The Snakehead by Patrick Radden Keefe (3/5) Last year I read another book by Keefe, all about Northern Ireland and the troubles. I really enjoyed it and felt that it was very well researched and written. This book is about New York's Chinatown and the underground crime bosses who ran not only the area but the immigration routes from Fujian to America. I found this a fascinating read which is equally as well written and researched as the previous book of his that I've read. The story is pretty harrowing at times and presented 'as is', warts and all. I will be keeping an eye open for his other books whenever I'm in a bookshop as I really like what I've read from him so far. Barbarian Days by William Finnegan (3/5) This book won the 2016 Pulitzer prize for Biography and Autobiography which is how I became aware of it. I don't know much about surfing but I have read the excellent Stealing the Wave by Andy Martin. Barbarian Days focuses on the life of Finnegan and his obsession with surfing. As the book progresses the story travels from youthful exuberance, to adventurous young adulthood, all the while anchored by his love of waves. I thought in the main this was a pretty good read but I felt like I wanted more from it. As expected there are loads of descriptions of surfing and places he surfed but these start to become repetitive. He also expects the reader to already know some of the terms associated with surfing, a glossary would have helped. I can see why this book won the prize but it didn't wow me in the way it has wowed others. The Man from Barbarossa by John Gardner (2/5) After the crushing disappointment of Brokenclaw I decided to plow on with the extended James Bond series. This is the 11th book written by John Gardner and I hoped it was better than his previous effort. This book starts at the end of WWII to set up a story which revolves around a terrorist group called The Scales of Justice who are causing havoc in the Soviet Union. Bond is assigned to a joint operation involving the KGB, French, and Israelis who pose as a camera crew covering a mock war crimes trial. This book is equally as bad as Brokenclaw and in some aspects probably worse. I almost abandoned this in the early stages as the story just meanders along in a total mess. It is boring, confusing, and the characters are awful. There are so many different characters who are barely developed that it's impossible to care about any of them. The only saving grace is that the ending picks up and finishes with a bit of a flourish. I have read that some people dislike the Gardner books as they move away from the movie Bond and return to the Fleming Bond of the books. I have no issue with this, in fact I like it as the movie Bond often feels too cliched. However I feel that Gardner presents and entirely different Bond from either of these at times with certain things that go entirely against the core characteristics of Bond. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomas di Lampedusa (3/5) I read a few posts on here recently which mentioned this book in positive terms so I decided to pick up a copy to read. The story is about Fabrizio, the Prince of Salina in Sicily who must deal with the changing way of life during the unification of Italy. Throughout the book we see a man trying to come to terms with a world that is changing around him. He knows that when he dies, his role as prince will never be what it once was. This leaves him in a quandry. Does he become a moderniser and go with the changing times, or does he stick with what he cherishes and risk losing out. His favourite nephew, Tancredi, has joined the rebels and tries to encourage Fabrizio to do likewise but Fabrizio is unsure what to do. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, especially given that it focuses on a period of history I know little about. It didn't grab me in the way it has some here but I am glad I read it. I know there have been several movies made of the story and I really want to watch one of them now.
  2. 670/890 pages into 2666 by Roberto Bolano and the final part of the book. I'm not sure how I will manage to collate my thoughts about the whole book into something coherent when I do finish it but I'll try. Part 4 is by far the longest part of the book but just like the other parts it stops rather abruptly with no proper finality, and then jumps to another place or time completely. It really throws me off the rhythm of the book and always takes me a bit of time to get going with the new part.
  3. Ah ok, I misunderstood. Personally I would change the kb to the equivalent number of pages in a physical edition of the book.
  4. I just tried to add a few kindle books and the information isn't self populating so I suspect the data being pulled for ASIN numbers isn't great. You should be able to edit the data fields before you submit the book to change the number of pages etc. If you can't, drop me a PM and I can edit the data for you. I don't know if this will be an on-going fix, it all depends on how many issues we have ASIN going forward but it will do for the moment.
  5. I access this site on both mac and windows computers and on my iphone using a combination of Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge without issue so it may be a local issue rather than a site one.
  6. I wonder how much a wedding or funeral in a church costs. I can't imagine that brings much in the way of profit but I'm assuming there is a charge associated.
  7. Despite having a box full of unused notebooks I have just ordered another two. What makes it even dafter is that I’m only about halfway through my latest notebook/journal. Some things will never change I guess 😆
  8. I am pretty much exactly at the halfway point of 2666 by Roberto Bolano. I'm well into the sub-book The Part About the Crimes and it's just as dark and oppressive as I had heard about. There is a particular sentence which is repeated for just about every murder and it's grim just how matter of fact it becomes after while. I've tried to read this book a few times in the past but never got beyond the first section. I don't know why it is sticking with me this time but I'm glad it is.
  9. I've just gone through my reading records and I'm now at 88/1001 from the 2008 edition of the book.
  10. Updated to include. Sri Lanka - The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje Iran - What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde Singapore - The Suicide Club by Rachel Heng Finland - The Summer Book by Tove Jansson Romania - Night by Elie Wiesel Algeria - The Stranger by Albert Camus Iceland - The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson Ukraine - Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
  11. Currently reading a bit slower than I had expected so I'm about 30% of the way through 2666 by Roberto Bolano and about 35 pages into The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. 2666 was written as 5 interlinked books which Bolano wanted to be released separately. However, upon his death his family opted to publish as one complete work. I'm not one to judge on the merits or otherwise of this decision but each time a new book starts it's fairly jarring as most of the characters change completely. It takes a while to adjust to the new characters each time but once it gets going there is definitely something of interest there.
  12. I've been listening to quite a bit of 'world music', especially Afrobeat and stumbled across this superb performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUnKDK1iklo
  13. If you are sure you wish to delete your account send Hayley a PM and I’m sure she can sort it out for you.
  14. As this is going ahead I will move the topic into the group reads section.
  15. I've got 4 books on the go at the moment. The Man from Barbarossa by John Gardner 2666 by Roberto Bolano A Storm of Steel by George R.R. Martin and inspired by comments on this forum I am about to start The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  16. Part 2 of the update, part 3 to come. Brokenclaw by John Gardner (2/5) While in British Columbia, Bond comes across Lee Fu-Chu and is intrigued by this strange man. He is half Chinese, half Blackfoot, incredibly wealthy, and as is common for villains (and I hate the stereotype) has a deformity. After this chance encounter Bond is tasked with investigating the kidnapping of several scientists who were working on a submarine detection system. This is the worst of the Gardner Bond books by quite some margin and I seriously considered giving it a 1 star review. The last few books, and the one I am currently reading are very poor efforts and if I wasn't a completist I would have given up on finishing the series by now. Brokenclaw is a pretty terrible bad guy. Add the fact that Bond is now falling in love with all the women he meets and you get books which are inconsistent with who Bond is meant to be. I am currently reading the next book in the series and I think I dislike that even more than this. Living Better by Alastair Campbell (4/5) I heard a podcast interview with Alastair Campbell a few years ago where he talked about writing a book detailing his experiences with depression. This is that book. I have never suffered with depression but recently have had personal experience with the devastating effects of the illness on those who suffer from it and those around them. I've had this book for a while and decided this would be a good time to read it in an attempt to understand it a little better. Campbell is brutally open in his telling of how his depression manifests itself and how it has impacted on others in his family. This wasn't a book I could read in public as it had me in tears on multiple occasions. It is hard reading but thoroughly recommended.
  17. I've read a few books since my last update and despite thinking I would stay away from the Bond books for a while I have read another two in the extended series. Scorpius by John Gardner (3/5) This book starts off with the death of a young woman. When the police search the body the only thing she has on her is a bit of paper with a phone number on it. That number belongs to James Bond. James is called into HQ by M to be told the news and on the way somebody tries to run his car off the road. It turns out that Bond only knows the woman in question a little but further investigation shows that she is a member of a cult called The Meek Ones. As James digs deeper into this group they start to unleash terrorist attacks across Britain. Like many of the Gardner written Bond books I've read so far, this works well in places and not so well in others. As we learn about the ultimate goal of The Meek Ones towards the end of the book it feels pretty rushed and runs out of steam a little bit. This book also straddles the Fleming/Movie Bond line without really deciding which side it wants to come down on. This isn't a bad thing but it's not handled as well as it could have been. We are Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins (4/5) This is a non-fiction book all about how the investigative reporting agency Bellingcat came about and how they developed their internet based techniques. I picked this book up based on the blurb on the back as I hadn't heard of Bellingcat. The author started out using social media posts and online sources available to all to confirm stories cicrling around the internet. The book is really well written and I found it very interesting reading about how the techniques developed over time. Bellingcat is now a successful company but it is clear that Higgins wants to keep going in the same spirit and without compromising their initial aims. The cases are also fascinating and include the Salisbury Novichok incident, Assad's use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the Charlottesville attacks. SAS Italian Job by Damien Lewis (4/5) In the winter of 1944 the Allies decided to parachute a small team into Italy to work with, and train local partisans, in an attempt to turn the battle for Italy in their favour. As with the other Damien Lewis books this is written just like a thriller and I couldn't help but love the main characters he picks to base the book around. One of the officers was to fly with the soldiers but told under no circumstances was he allowed to parachute into Italy. He felt that he couldn't allow his men to go into Italy and do something he wasn't to do himself. So he decided to parachute with his men and told the flight crew to report that he fell out of the aircraft knowing full well that no one would believe it. It is stories like this that really bring the SOE operations of WWII to life and the kind of people who were asked to carry them out. Win, Lose, or Die by John Gardner (2/5) Book #8 in the Gardner Bond series. In this book James Bond rejoins the Navy to serve on an aircraft carrier as head of security during the visit of British, American, and Russian admirals during a NATO exercise. While the exercise is under way there will be a vital security meeting by the leaders of the UK, America, and Russia. This book definitely lines very far into the movie side of the Fleming/Movie Bond line. The story is packed with action and involves Bond flying a Harrier on more than one occasion. This is one of the weakest Gardner books so far and feels like he has gone through a list of Bond tropes and ticked them off in order. I don't have a major issue with Bond books leaning or borrowing style from the movies but this goes far too far into movie land. I'm really starting to miss SPECTRE as well because although the organisation in this book, BAST, isn't terrible they never have the menace that SPECTRE carries.
  18. In my experience across a few different Kindle models the battery lasts a pretty long time. The way the tech works is that as long as you don't have the back light turned on, it only uses power to change the page. Once a page or image is on the screen it uses no power.
  19. The first time I saw them in Berlin was probably my favourite. They played loads of tracks that I like and the sound quality was top notch. I always find it hard to believe that they are all well into in their 60’s now (and one 70) and still manage to put out such a high energy show. Every time I see them I always think it will be the last.
  20. It's the 5th time I've seen Iron Maiden, the 3rd time in Germany (once in Belgium, once in the UK) and they were great as they always are. The did indeed have a giant Eddie, this time as a demonic samurai.
  21. Yes, this topic is active. It's a log of what I've read and my thoughts about my reading. I welcome comments from everyone so feel free to post.
  22. I'm a fan of all kinds of music but especially metal but I'm I can't say I've ever come across the term jazz-metal before. There are a lot of bands who do play some impressively complex heavy music, Meshugga, for example. Digging around I a thread on Reddit with loads of recommendations which you may find helpful. https://www.reddit.com/r/Jazz/comments/pe1070/metal_fusiondoes_what_i_am_looking_for_even_exist/
  23. I travelled back to the UK from Germany yesterday after a short trip to go to an Iron Maiden gig in Berlin. Although it wasn't as bad as some stories reported in the media I would avoid Gatwick airport if you can, especially during the up-coming school holidays. Once we landed it took an hour for an airbridge to be attached to the aircraft to allow us to get off. Today I will be having a good tidy up, doing some laundry, doing a workout, and if I get time I will pop out with my new camera to use it it for the first time in the wild.
  24. Someone on here may be able to help you but we are a book forum so you might find more luck on a music production forum or somewhere like Reddit.
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