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      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.
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ian

Ian's reading log 2016

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Child 44  - Tom Rob Smith

 

  In a country ruled by fear, no one is innocent.

Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law, but when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State's obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer--and a country where "crime" doesn't exist.

 

My Thoughts

 

I only have one criticism of this book, and that's the blurb above you've just read: it gives away too much. The exile is nearly a third of the way through the book.  That aside, this book is great. Set in Stalinist Soviet Russia, this effectively captures the paranoia of the time - it feels almost claustrophobic at times. I also liked the moral ambiguity of both main characters; Leo and his wife, Raisa. There is a wonderful passage as they are sitting on the train awaiting exile - each is wrapped up in their own thoughts, and we see how difficult it must have been to trust any other person under such a regime.  I really can't recommend this book enough 5/5  

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I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's one of my pet peeves when the blurb on the back cover/Amazon gives away too much. I think writing a well-crafted blurb that is enticing yet sufficiently ambiguous is a challenging thing to do.

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Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K Dick

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.

By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.

Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in. 

Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

 

My Thoughts.

 

This is actually the second time I've read this, the first time was probably nearly 20 years ago. I think I understand it a bit more this time around! Once again, PKD uses the story to examine the nature of reality. Androids look human, but they have no empathy which is how to tell them apart from "real" humans. But what if they become so advanced that they start to have empathy? Meanwhile, radioactivity affects some of the human population's IQ, so they have problems understanding the world around them. Mixed in with this, everyone is desperate to own a real animal - as a way of showing your social standing. Those that can't afford a real animal get an "electric" one instead. Hence the electric sheep of the title. There is also a religion - Mercerism that has another sub-plot. 

 

There's a lot going on in such a short book, and sometimes it does feel like PKD was making it up as he went along. However, there is an undercurrent of humour in this book that keeps it all quite light - even though there is such a lot here to make you think. It remains one of my favourites of all his books 4/5

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This is one of my favourite PKD books too, I'm glad you enjoyed your re-read :).

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It worked out quite well - the book has 5 stories of his, of which that and "A scanner Darkly" were the only two I had read before. "Scanner" I barely made it through last time, so I'm not looking forward to it too much. But the order they've come out the book jar has been, the three I hadn't read before, then "androids", leaving me only with "scanner". I want to enjoy it more this time (I think I will certainly understand it more, knowing more about how the story came to be written) but it is hanging over me a little, until it comes out of the jar which is a bit silly of me.

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I hope you get along better with it this time :). I liked A Scanner Darkly, it was the second PKD book I read.

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Child 44  - Tom Rob Smith

 

  In a country ruled by fear, no one is innocent.

Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law, but when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State's obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer--and a country where "crime" doesn't exist.

 

I thought Child 44 was brilliant, and definitely a cut above others in the same genre. I haven't read any other Tom Rob Smith books yet, but there is one I keep seeing at the library. For some reason, I never get around to borrowing it - it always goes back on the shelf. :doh:

 

Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K Dick

 

Great review! I've read it twice, but I don't think I've grasped it fully. I've seen the movie a couple of times as well, but I also think that I don't fully 'get' it. I want to read it again, but I find PKD books a bit difficult to get into. I have a week off, so maybe I'll watch the movie as a compromise. :blush2:

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Great review! I've read it twice, but I don't think I've grasped it fully. I've seen the movie a couple of times as well, but I also think that I don't fully 'get' it. I want to read it again, but I find PKD books a bit difficult to get into. I have a week off, so maybe I'll watch the movie as a compromise. :blush2:

 

It's one of those isn't it? I put it in the same category as 2001 - which I've also read and watched the film - I just don't get it! 

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The Travellers by Chris Pavone.

 

It’s 3:00am. Do you know where your husband is?

Meet Will Rhodes: travel writer, recently married, barely solvent, his idealism rapidly giving way to disillusionment and the worry that he’s living the wrong life. Then one night, on assignment for the award-winning Travelers magazine in the wine region of Argentina, a beautiful woman makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Soon Will’s bad choices—and dark secrets—take him across Europe, from a chateau in Bordeaux to a midnight raid on a Paris mansion, from a dive bar in Dublin to a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the rugged cliffs of Iceland. As he’s drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear that nothing about Will Rhodes was ever ordinary, that the network of deception ensnaring him is part of an immense and deadly conspiracy with terrifying global implications—and that the people closest to him may pose the greatest threat of all.

 

My Thoughts.

 

​I think this book was a real opportunity missed in my opinion. A fairly good idea for a book ruined by a protagonist I disliked from the start and other characters I just didn't care about. It was only through dogged determination that I bothered to finish it. The surprises come as no surprise at all, and I'd pretty much worked out what was going on early on.  I believe there is an "award" for books with badly written sex scenes? Oh boy, this could could win that!   The book does pic up slightly by the second half, but frankly, by then I'd given up. 

 

Perversely, I do think this book would make a good film: as I say it's a good idea for a plot. With a more likable protagonist, I could see this being a competent, if undemanding thriller.

 

2/5    

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Blue Remembered Earth  - Alistar Reynolds

 

One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished. But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel.

Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything.

Or shatter this near-utopia into shards..

 

My thoughts

I loved this book. It's a great SF story, with plenty of believable science, taking in pretty much the whole solar system, but also strangely rooted in Africa. Sometimes I struggle with hard sci-fi like this. They can concentrate too much on the science part and not enough on the fiction for my liking. This got the balance just right in my opinion. The story is more interested in the family of Eunice than anything else, which for me makes the book warm. I also enjoyed how the sci-fi parts weren't immediately explained; you're left to judge for yourself.  There are maybe a couple of plot-holes that made me think ," well, why didn't they just...", but they were minor. In all, every time I picked up this book, I didn't want to put it down, and couldn't wait till the next time I could read the next bit. 

 

Having read some others of his books, I wasn't expecting a neat ending, and it isn't , but I only just found out that this is part of a trilogy (not even sure at this point if it's finished!) I must get these! 5/5

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Great review :). It's nice you really liked this book. I have it on my TBR. Can you tell me if it ends on a cliffhanger?

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Great review :). It's nice you really liked this book. I have it on my TBR. Can you tell me if it ends on a cliffhanger?

 

Not really. Most of his books that I've read don't really have "proper" endings. The story finishes and while most of the threads do come together, you are left with many questions. This book is no different, but I didn't feel that I'd come to the end of a book in a series. It wasn't until after I'd finished it that I found out that it's actually a trilogy, and I was quite surprised.

 

If I was to speculate, I'd say that this book was written to be a stand alone book, but he later decided to write about these characters more.

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Blue Remembered Earth  - Alistar Reynolds

 

Great review! I've seen Reynolds' books around quite often but never stopped to look at them for some reason. I'll be adding this to my wishlist. :)

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Finders Keepers by Stephen King

 

My thoughts

 

I think I'll like this book better the next time I read it. Unfortunately, my liking of the book was coloured by the fact that it wasn't the book I was expecting to read. 

 

I should explain. This is the second book in the trilogy following a retired cop called Bill Hodges. In the first book, he (Hodges) is taunted by the perpetrator of a very nasty crime  - the Mr Mercedes of the title. The associated characters in that book are great, and I couldn't wait to find out what happens to them next.  But you don't get that. The majority of the book focuses on a different crime/criminal (I won't spoil any of that here), and Hodges doesn't really come into the book until over half way through.

 

Don't get me wrong, the way the crime pans out and how everything spirals out of control is wonderfully done, but I do wish it either could have been wrapped up a lot quicker, or the book had been longer. As I say, when I come to re-read this, knowing the structure of the book, I probably won't feel as impatient with it. 4/5

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1222 by Anne Holt

 

1222 is the story of how a small group of people find themselves stuck in a hotel during an apocalyptic snow storm. Following a dramatic train derailment at Finse, the conflict between the survivors escalates while a furious hurricane threatens the unprotected village. Nobody is there to help, and there is no way out of the inferno for the survivors hiding out. On the first night at the hotel, a man is found shot and murdered. The victim is Cato Hammer, a priest known nation-wide for his ability – and desire – to get in the papers. Hanne Wilhelmsen, retired Inspector at the Oslo Police, is drawn into a race against time, a murderer, and the worst storm in the Norwegian alps on record. 

 

My Thoughts.

 

I picked up this book in a charity shop and was sold by the interesting premise on the back. The fact that the writer is an ex-Norwegian government minister added to that interest. Sadly, it didn't live up to its billing.  The protagonist, Hanne Wilhemsen who is meant to be irritable and misanthropic, unfortunately comes across as boring.  She (Hanne) is an ex-police detective, now in a wheelchair, a lesbian with a Muslim partner, so I was very disappointed to find the book riddled with gender, religious & national stereotypes. The other characters that she finds herself trapped in the hotel with feel one-dimensional and woefully under-utilised.  This could have been a really good book - but the execution of the writing just wasn't there for me, and I struggled to get to the end. 2/5 

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Finders Keepers by Stephen King

 

My thoughts

 

I think I'll like this book better the next time I read it. Unfortunately, my liking of the book was coloured by the fact that it wasn't the book I was expecting to read.

 

I should explain. This is the second book in the trilogy following a retired cop called Bill Hodges. In the first book, he (Hodges) is taunted by the perpetrator of a very nasty crime - the Mr Mercedes of the title. The associated characters in that book are great, and I couldn't wait to find out what happens to them next. But you don't get that. The majority of the book focuses on a different crime/criminal (I won't spoil any of that here), and Hodges doesn't really come into the book until over half way through.

 

Don't get me wrong, the way the crime pans out and how everything spirals out of control is wonderfully done, but I do wish it either could have been wrapped up a lot quicker, or the book had been longer. As I say, when I come to re-read this, knowing the structure of the book, I probably won't feel as impatient with it. 4/5

I felt exactly the same. I enjoyed it, but I didn't feel I was reading one of the Hodges trilogy.

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Shame about Finders Keepers, it makes sense it's not as enjoyable when you were expecting something different from it.

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I finished Finders Keepers recently, and I remember wondering where Hodges was, as I thought it was the sequel to Mr Mercedes. I wouldn't say it detracted from my enjoyment of it though, but then again it wasn't a read that I was looking forward to...I'd stumbled across it at the library, without purposely looking for it.

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I have 1222 on a tbr pile somewhere, bought years ago at an airport bookshop.  I did read one of her other books, Fear Not, and found that quite boring, so I'm interested to read what Ian said about 1222, a shame as the premise sounds great.

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The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

 

When Special Agent Kathryn Dance -- a brilliant interrogator and kinesics expert with the California Bureau of Investigation -- is sent to question the convicted killer Daniel "Son of Manson" Pell as a suspect in a newly unearthed crime, she feels both trepidation and electrifying intrigue. Pell is serving a life sentence for the brutal murders of the wealthy Croyton family in Carmel years earlier -- a crime mirroring those perpetrated by Charles Manson in the 1960s. But Pell and his cult members were sloppy: Not only were they apprehended, they even left behind a survivor -- the youngest of the Croyton daughters, who, because she was in bed hidden by her toys that terrible night, was dubbed the Sleeping Doll.

 

But the girl never spoke about that night, nor did the crime's mastermind. Indeed, Pell has long been both reticent and unrepentant about the crime. And so with the murderer transported from the Capitola superprison to an interrogation room in the Monterey County Courthouse, Dance sees an opportunity to pry a confession from him for the recent murder -- and to learn more about the depraved mind of this career criminal who considers himself a master of control, a dark Svengali, forcing people to do what they otherwise would never conceive of doing. In an electrifying psychological jousting match, Dance calls up all her skills as an interrogator and kinesics -- body language -- expert to get to the truth behind Daniel Pell. (Taken from Goodreads)

 

My thoughts

Just a quick word of warning - there is another paragraph on Goodreads of the above. I've left it out as I feel it gives too much of the plot away.

I've not read any of this series before, but like other Deaver, the attention to detail and twists and turns of the plot make this an exciting book to read. The characters are interesting, but especially the antagonist, Pell, who is quite a complex creation  - I did find myself having some sympathy with him at times. Great stuff. 5/5

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The Revenant by Michael Punke

 

A thrilling tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass

The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out, crawling at first, across hundreds of miles of uncharted American frontier. Based on a true story, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution. (taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

My brother lent me this book. He'd just got the Blu-ray, and it came with a free copy of the book. Not having a Blu-ray player, I went with the book.

It's probably worth mentioning that I haven't seen the film.

It's an excellent book. I see that this appears to be the author's first "fiction" book, (this is a fictionisied account of a real event) the others being histories of the mid-west of the US in the frontier era. The danger was that this book could come across as very dry, and while it does have a very matter of fact narration; it certainly doesn't go down any road to sensationalism, it is a very compelling story, told in a very straightforward way. 

 

What comes across here is the relentless cruelty of the environment and how what seems like a simple theft (the taking of a gun and knife) has such a pivotal affect on Hugh Glass's life. It's really good stuff, and I highly recommend this. 5/5 

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I'm really keen to read this, and also watch the movie. Sounds like you really enjoyed it. :smile:

 

I've just logged on to Amazon and the Kindle version is only £0.99! Needless to say, I bought it. :boogie:

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I'm really keen to read this, and also watch the movie. Sounds like you really enjoyed it. :smile:

 

I've just logged on to Amazon and the Kindle version is only £0.99! Needless to say, I bought it. :boogie:

 

Money well spent! (But then, every book is money well spent :D

Edited by ian

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(But then, every book is money well spent :D

Agreed haha :D. (unless maybe when the book is extremely terrible)

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