Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Michelle

      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.
Sign in to follow this  
ian

Ian's reading log 2016

Recommended Posts

10p?! That is a bargain :D. It's a shame this book wasn't so great :(. I have it on my TBR. I really liked A Scanner Darkly and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by the same author.

 

I actually offered more & they wouldn't take it!

I went to the trouble of reading about the ending on Wikipedia - There was some very interesting ideas from his (PKD's) ex wife about what it all meant. I don't know if it's true, but I have to admit it did make sense, and it made me want to read it again. And that's the thing about his books; while they aren't my favourite, I always feel I want to read them again, because there is something about them I WANT to understand. This collection includes "Scanner", which I have read before (I didn't like it) but not "sheep" (I think that was a short story, and I loved that one)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually offered more & they wouldn't take it!

I went to the trouble of reading about the ending on Wikipedia - There was some very interesting ideas from his (PKD's) ex wife about what it all meant. I don't know if it's true, but I have to admit it did make sense, and it made me want to read it again. And that's the thing about his books; while they aren't my favourite, I always feel I want to read them again, because there is something about them I WANT to understand. This collection includes "Scanner", which I have read before (I didn't like it) but not "sheep" (I think that was a short story, and I loved that one)

Wow, that is unusual!

 

That is interesting, I'll have to read that once I've read the book. I also feel like his books are worth re-reading (though I haven't done so as yet, because it's not that long since I read those I mentioned).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought I'd better stop by and do a quick update. I'm currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo, almost halfway, and I'm struggling. Not so much with the writing, which is easy enough, but I'm finding that the story keeps going off on detours (that eventually reconcile themselves into plot for the main story) which is a bit annoying, and I am struggling to keep all the characters straight in my head!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aw, that's a shame. I thoroughly loved every minute of TCoMC, although I recall that I also had trouble remembering which character was which. Am I right in thinking that some of the characters from the beginning of the story have changed their names by the time Dantes (re)enters their lives?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aw, that's a shame. I thoroughly loved every minute of TCoMC, although I recall that I also had trouble remembering which character was which. Am I right in thinking that some of the characters from the beginning of the story have changed their names by the time Dantes (re)enters their lives?

 

That's right, which is why I was struggling so much. In the end, yesterday I looked up  a character list, which I was able to read without giving too much away. That's helped a lot. My biggest problem was;

 

 

Who exactly was kiiled in the garden at Auteril? I got that problem sorted at least!

 

 

and I have to admit, now I know who everyone is again, I'm enjoying the book once more

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

 

'On what slender threads do life and fortune hang'

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.

 

My thoughts.

 

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I went into this knowing nothing about it. I've never seen any film or TV series version, but having recently read The Three Musketeer's, I wanted to read more Dumas.

I really liked this book. The story is great and the length of the book means that you have plenty of time to get to know them and their motivations. Negatives - I found myself getting confused about who was who for a while - one of the antagonists changes names, and the story takes what, at first looks like a huge detour to Rome. These eventually all come back and make sense, but I will admit that there were times when I wanted the book to come to the point! A couple of nice surprises made up for that: the story gets very dark at a couple of points allowing some complexity into the plot. And Eugenie Danglers, who had a character arc that surprised me, given the time this was written. I won't go into details, as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who also hasn't read this.  I've dropped one mark, for sometimes not coming to the point, but I suspect this would be a 5 on a re-read. 4/5 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have this one on my TBR pile, but unfortunately mine is the abridged version (which I didn't realise when I bought it). I might spring for the unabridged Kindle version as it's very cheap. Sounds like a good read, but I'm hesitant as I don't get on very well with classics. :blush2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a good read, but I'm hesitant as I don't get on very well with classics. :blush2:

 

Along with other Dumas novels (like The Three Musketeers) it's not a conventional classic, just a really good story. Depends, I suppose, on why you don't get on well with classics (which is, after all, a rather flexible concept).  I'm the other way now - I find it hard to get into all too many modern novels, even those by writers I previously enjoyed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's mostly that I find the writing doesn't flow (to my way of reading), and often phrases and sentences aren't as easy for me to grasp on a first read. :blush2:  Reading classics tends to really slow my reading down, as I feel like I have to really focus. Having said that, the one classic that I enjoyed was Dracula. I didn't have many/any problems with it, and loved the story. :dunno:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have this one on my TBR pile, but unfortunately mine is the abridged version (which I didn't realise when I bought it). I might spring for the unabridged Kindle version as it's very cheap. Sounds like a good read, but I'm hesitant as I don't get on very well with classics. :blush2:

 

I got my version free off Project Gutenberg. Pretty sure it was the unabridged version. It was certainly long enough - I'm glad I chose to read it on the Kindle!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Along with other Dumas novels (like The Three Musketeers) it's not a conventional classic, just a really good story. Depends, I suppose, on why you don't get on well with classics (which is, after all, a rather flexible concept).  I'm the other way now - I find it hard to get into all too many modern novels, even those by writers I previously enjoyed.

 

I do know what you mean. I found it a really easy read in that respect, but I deliberately gave myself a one day break before starting anything new, which was worth doing - book jar threw out "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" by Philip K Dick as my next read. Not sure you could get more different!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

 

In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the drug Can-D, which enables users to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z. It is far more potent than Can-D, but threatens to plunge the world into a permanent state of drugged illusion controlled by the mysterious Eldritch

 

My Thoughts

 

Once again I find Phillip K Dick both immensely talented and insightful, but also perplexing. Like his other books that I've read Dick doesn't waste any time even attempting to explain what's going on. He just goes ahead and leaves the reader to eventually catch up. In some ways I admire this; he is assuming I'm intelligent enough to work it out. In other ways, it's a bit annoying; by the time you've figured out what's going on, you realsie you'll have to go back over what you've just read.

 

The story follows Barney Mayerson, a "pre-cog" who works for a company that miniaturizes real artifacts so they can be used in a layout - something like a dolls house, so that users of a drug called Can-D can become the people there. The drug is illegal, but is tolerated on colonies across the solar system as it relieves the tedium of real life. Then Palmer Eldritch returns from Proxima with a new drug - Chew-Z, that promises better, more realistic hallucinations.

 

The book explores the nature of reality, as does most of Dick's books, and gets very complicated. There are several characters, none of which are sure, by the end if what they are experiencing is reality or hallucination. As all of them are interacting, whose hallucination is it? Frankly, I finished the book admiring the cleverness of it, rather than enjoying it. 3/5 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review :). That does sound pretty complicated / clever. Having read several Philip K. Dick books, I have to say 'drugs' seems a recurring topic. The feeling of admiring the cleverness of the book more than enjoying it, I do recognise that. I felt that way a bit about one of his books I read (though not about the other ones I read). His books usually make my mind boggle a bit :P.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Humans by Matt Haig

 

The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics, and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves. Combine Douglas Adams’s irreverent take on life, the universe, and everything with a genuinely moving love story, and you have some idea of the humour, originality, and poignancy of Matt Haig’s latest novel.

Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man--as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family, and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son--who have no idea he’s not the real Andrew--the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth. (From Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

 

I picked this up from the library (as I really don't have enough of my own books to read :P ), and initially I wondered if I had made a mistake. Those first couple of chapters, although easy to read came across to me as a little soul-less. Perhaps it was a hang-over from the last book, again I felt it was scoring points for cleverness over my actually enjoying it. However, that feeling went away, and I was left with a book that I found both funny and profound. It reminded me a little of K-pax (which is actually referenced by one of the characters), but perhaps my best description would be a "Curious incident on the dog in the night time"  - with an alien instead.  I will search out more of Matt Haig. 4/5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice review! I'm glad you enjoyed The Humans :). I quite liked it. I haven't read any other books by the author yet, though I do own the Dutch translation of The Radleys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saints of the shadow bible - Ian Rankin

 

Rebus and Malcolm Fox go head-to-head when a 30-year-old murder investigation resurfaces, forcing Rebus to confront crimes of the past

Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a demotion and a chip on his shoulder. He is investigating a car accident when news arrives that a case from 30 years ago is being reopened. Rebus's team from those days is suspected of helping a murderer escape justice to further their own ends.

Malcolm Fox, in what will be his last case as an internal affairs cop, is tasked with finding out the truth. Past and present are about to collide in shocking and murderous fashion. What does Rebus have to hide? And whose side is he really on? His colleagues back then called themselves "The Saints," and swore a bond on something called the Shadow Bible. But times have changed and the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer -- and may also play a role in the present, as Scotland gears up for a referendum on independence. 

Allegiances are being formed, enemies made, and huge questions asked. Who are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other? (Taken from Goodreads)

 

My thoughts.

 

Sometimes I think of books like food. Some are like fast food - quick, easy, tasty - but not very refined. Others are like a gourmet meal - to be digested slowly and appreciated. For me, an Ian Rankin Rebus book is a welcoming plate of stodge, in only the best ways - comforting & rich!

 

Perhaps this was the bo0k Rankin should have written after Exit Music. I don't think the first Malcolm Fox book was as well received as it could have been. Perhaps introducing him alongside Rebus would have been a better idea. Whatever. This book works.  The story doesn't rely on violent descriptions or gore, but on the interaction of the various characters. There is space for you, as the reader, to try to work it all out before you're taken there. Excellent stuff. 5/5 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Martian Time-Slip by Philip K Dick

 

On the arid colony of Mars the only thing more precious than water may be a ten-year-old schizophrenic boy named Manfred Steiner. For although the UN has slated "anomalous" children for deportation and destruction, other people--especially Supreme Goodmember Arnie Kott of the Water Worker's union--suspect that Manfred's disorder  may be a window into the future. In Martian Time-Slip Philip K. Dick uses power politics and extraterrestrial real estate scams, adultery, and murder to penetrate the mysteries of being and time. (Taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

 

I've read a few PKD this year, and to be honest, this one is the weirdest yet. On the face of it, the story is fairly straight-forward. It concerns a scheme by a Union boss on Mars to make a land-grab before the UN can buy up all the land so he (the union boss) can make a fortune. Sounds simple? Not when to do that he involves a boy with the ability to manipulate time in order to get what he wants. The book uses both schizophrenia and autism as devices to consider how we experience reality and time. PKD suffered from schizophrenia, so I imagine some of this is based on his own experiences - which are horrific. But, be warned; this was written in 1964, and the way that both this and autism are portrayed aren't sympathetic or modern. The native Martians, who seem to closely resemble aboriginal natives or native Americans are for most of the book, referred to by other characters as ni**ers. It was obviously satirical, but was still a little bit of a shock to me. 3/5 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be honest - I cheated to pick my next book. I needed something easy after that, so on the third choice out of the book jar, I got The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if I'd like Martian Time-Slip to be honest, it doesn't sound like my sort of thing. I realise it was written in an earlier time, but I think it'd be one of the last PKD books I'd read (of course, the next ones I'll read are likely to be the ones I already own, anyway).

 

I hope you enjoy The Impossible Dead :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if I'd like Martian Time-Slip to be honest, it doesn't sound like my sort of thing. I realise it was written in an earlier time, but I think it'd be one of the last PKD books I'd read (of course, the next ones I'll read are likely to be the ones I already own, anyway).

 

I hope you enjoy The Impossible Dead :).

 

No, I'll be honest, Gaia - although plot-wise it was the simplest to follow of those I've read this year, it wasn't my favourite.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Girl in the Spider's Web - David Lagercrantz

 

My Thoughts

 

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I loved the original trilogy of Stieg Larsson's and maybe there is the problem. Anything was going to have a lot to live up to. But really, the first half of this is sooo boring. The second half does pick up, and you begin to see glimpses of what could have been. I posted elsewhere that reading this was akin to hearing a poor cover version of a song that you have loved for years. 

 

Positives? The story does make sense as an extension of the original trilogy - I would love to know how much is based on Larsson's original notes.  - I can only hope that any future novels are better than this. 3/5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm never sure about series books written by someone other than the original author.  I might give this a go if I spot it in the library, but I don't think I'm going to buy it at this stage.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a shame it wasn't so good, but then the high expectations probably didn't do it any favours. I still have to read the original trilogy, it will happen, some day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×