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    • 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.
ian

Ian's reading 2017

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Your reviews of the 'Dark Tower' books are really useful, @ian.  I have read most of Stephen King's other fiction (and have just finished 'End of Watch') but for some reason have never picked up the DT series - it was good to be reminded they are there waiting for me!

 

I'm glad you enjoyed the Desmond Bagley;  I read all his books in the 70s/early 80s, and liked them a lot.

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I loved the ending of The Dark Tower series; I thought it was the perfect way for it to 'finish'. A lot of King's books have weak endings (in my opinion, of course!) but I think with The Dark Tower he got it spot on. 

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15 hours ago, Ooshie said:

Your reviews of the 'Dark Tower' books are really useful, @ian.  I have read most of Stephen King's other fiction (and have just finished 'End of Watch') but for some reason have never picked up the DT series - it was good to be reminded they are there waiting for me!

 

I'm glad you enjoyed the Desmond Bagley;  I read all his books in the 70s/early 80s, and liked them a lot.

 

I was exactly the same - I had avoided all the DT books till this year, without really knowing why. It was reading Insomnia last year that finally persuaded me to pick them up.

 

15 hours ago, bobblybear said:

I loved the ending of The Dark Tower series; I thought it was the perfect way for it to 'finish'. A lot of King's books have weak endings (in my opinion, of course!) but I think with The Dark Tower he got it spot on. 

 

I would agree - it perhaps isn't the most satisfying ending, but it is the right one. Anything else would have seemed a bit of a cop out.

 

And of course, there is still one to read "The wind through the Keyhole"  which I think fits between books 3 & 4. I was also aware that the movie will be out soon. I didn't actually realise till I read yesterday that the plot has been written as a sequel to the books. So, quite excited to see that now!

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I'm glad you liked the last book in the series :). My grandparents gave me this book years ago (they bought it on their holiday in the UK), probably not knowing it was part of a series. I've been slowly collecting the other books in the series, I have a couple more to get before I can finally start the series and at the end read the book given to me many years ago. Great review :)!

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Book 20: The Crossing - Michael Connelly

 

Six months ago, Harry Bosch left the LAPD before they could fire him, and then hired maverick Defense Attorney Mickey Haller to sue the department for forcing him out. Although it wasn't the way he wanted to go, Harry has to admit that being out of the game has its benefits. Until Mickey asks him to help on one of his cases, and suddenly Harry is back where he belongs, right in the centre of a particularly puzzling murder mystery. The difference is, this time Harry is working for the defense, aiming to prevent the accused, Leland Foster, from being convicted. And not only does the prosecution seem to have a cast-iron case, but having crossed over to 'the dark side' as his former colleagues would put it, Harry is in danger of betraying the very principles he's lived by his whole career.

 

My Thoughts

A follow up to a big series like the one I've just read is always difficult for me. I would probably be better advised to wait a couple of days before starting something else. But  I never was very good at following advise - especially my own!

Sometimes this book felt a little "thin" - almost going through the motions. But, while there are any real surprises in this book, it is still very readable. I would have liked more about the accused in here, Some of Bohch's interactions, particularly that with his daughter felt forced and a little awkward.  So, all in all, not the best, but not the worst in the series either.  3/5

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10 hours ago, ian said:

A follow up to a big series like the one I've just read is always difficult for me. I would probably be better advised to wait a couple of days before starting something else. But  I never was very good at following advise - especially my own!

 

That makes sense, it would have been good advice. It's hard just after you finish a great series. You want to read another book but it will most likely pale in comparison, right?

Shame this book wasn't so great for you. I hope your next read will be better.

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Book 21: Void Moon - Michael Connelly

 

In L.A. Cassie Black is another beautiful woman in a Porsche: except Cassie just did six years in prison and still has "outlaw juice" flowing in her veins. Now Cassie is returning to her old profession, taking down a money man in Vegas. But the perfect heist goes very wrong, and suddenly Cassie is on the run--with a near-psychotic Vegas "fixer" killing everyone who knew about the job. Between Cassie and the man hunting her are a few last secrets: like who really set up the job, why Cassie had to take the change, and how, in the end, it might all be a matter of the moon... (taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

This book is a much earlier one than the one I just read. There is a very noticeable difference in style; this one has more much detail, and is less intent on moving the story along. As such, I enjoyed this one more. There was more development of the major characters. It also doesn't spell everything out straightaway - we have to read it all to get the whole story on why Cassie was in prison (although, it was easy to guess the majority of it beforehand).

My only negative - the main antagonist, Jack Karch has an interesting back story, and I would have preferred if he had stayed a more sympathetic character. As it is, he descends into a  more usual "baddie". Still, 4/5 

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Book 22: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

 

It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is foreign, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecuter who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve. (taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts.

An odd book this. One the one hand, I liked it's slow, methodical pace. It really seemed to capture the sometimes frustrating nature of a police investigation. One the other, I came away feeling that sometimes, the author was more interested in Wallender's bowel movements than the crime! Still, it did have a slightly exotic feel to me - Swedish life, it appears from this book, it different from England, and it got that across to me.  My biggest negative is the rushed ending. It almost seems like the author got tired of writing about this, so decided to wrap it all up in the last chapter. But, first book in the series, and I've not read any of these before. I would still pick up more. 3/5

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22 books, I had no idea there were so many Wallander books! I've read Het Graf, of which the English title is An Event in Autumn, a novella (book 9.5 according to GoodReads). I liked that one, though I didn't love it (but I usually don't love novellas) and plan to read more in the series. I'm glad you enjoyed Faceless Killers, though I hope you'll enjoy the other books in the series more than a 3/5.

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Sorry Gaia - my bad - That's 22 books I've read this year, not book 22 in the series.

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Book 23: White Nights by Ann Cleeves

 

It's midsummer in Shetland, the time of the white nights, when birds sing at midnight and the sun never sets.

Artist Bella Sinclair throws a party to launch an exhibition of her work and to introduce the paintings of Fran Hunter. The Herring House, the gallery where the exhibition is held, is on the beach at Biddista, in the remote north west of the island. When a mysterious Englishman bursts into tears and claims not to know who he is or where he's come from, the evening ends in farce. The following day the Englishman is found hanging from a rafter in a boathouse on the jetty, a clown's mask on his face.

Detective Jimmy Perez is convinced that this is a local murder. A second murder Biddista only reinforces this belief. But the detective's relationship with Fran Hunter clouds his judgement. And this is a crazy time of the year when night blurs into day and nothing is quite as it seems (taken from Anne Cleaves website)

 

My Thoughts

First of all - I took the synopsis above from the authors own website, as the synopsis on Goodreads is far too spoilery in my opinion. If you want to read this without knowing the identity of the second murder victim; avoid.

Not only did I really like this book, but it also threw into sharp relief the things that I didn't enjoy about the last book.  On the face of it, the two books are very similar. Both are set in bleak, rural landscapes with policemen who are unconventional. The difference here is that Jimmy Perez is warm & sympathetic, and so the whole book becomes a much more comfortable read. The writing is excellent. There is a whole net of red herring for you to pick through, and while some outcomes are easy to see coming, Ann Cleeves cleverly throws the whole thing so wide open, that I spent the last third of the book constantly changing my mind about who the murderer was and their motives. And in the end, I was wrong on both counts. This really was murder mystery writing at its best. 5/5

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11 hours ago, ian said:

Sorry Gaia - my bad - That's 22 books I've read this year, not book 22 in the series.

 

Ah whoops sorry, I misunderstood your post! Isn't it interesting how some things can be understood multiple ways.

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I loved White Nights too, I think it's the best of the Jimmy Perez/Shetland series.

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On the Steel Breeze by Alistair Reynolds

Synopsis

Chiku Yellow is earth bound:living a peaceful life on a changing world, as humanity explores a thousand new ways to experience life.

Chiku Red is space bound:blasted into deep space to investigate  Eunice Akinya's last journey, and maybe unlock the final secrets of the physics of space travel.

Chiku Green is planet bound:travelling thousands of light years in a vast ship to the planet Crucible.

 

My thoughts

This is a follow on from the excellent Blue remembered earth, and like that, this book is jam-packed with ideas. Sometimes I find hard sci-fi a bit cold. Too much science and not enough fiction. This for me gets the balance just right. It's a great story that zips around the galaxy flitting between the 3 different Chiku.  I loved this and need to read the final book in the series. 5/5 

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I've got Blue Remembered Earth on my TBR, glad to know you enjoyed the second book in the series as well as the first one. I hope you enjoy the last book too :).

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Book 25: End of Watch - Stephen King

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.
Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.
In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

 

My Thoughts

 Am I allowed to say that I'm a little disappointed? And here's the thing: it's because there's a supernatural element to this. I remember when the first book came out, and it was billed as the first book in a "straight" trilogy. Well, he managed two, but I guess he couldn't help himself. But, that aside, this is a thrilling read. I've got a lot going on at the moment, and it's taken a really good book like this to keep me interested, as I think otherwise, reading would have taken a back seat. As an end of a trilogy, it's got everything you want (except maybe just a little bit more!)  4/5

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Shame it was a bit of a disappointment! I'm glad you enjoyed most of the book though. Nice review :). I should really read more Stephen King at some point (though I don't own End of Watch).

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Book 26: The Fireman by Joe Hill

 

Synopsis

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe. (taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

First up - please by aware, the synopsis above is only part of the whole thing on Goodreads. The whole thing is very spoilery.

So, my first Joe Hill book, and I was aware going in that this is actually Joseph King, Stephen King's son. This is very well written. As the viewpoint throughout the whole book is from the character of Harper, we don't see the wider, worldwide  view of how the plague is spreading. This gives a nice sense of claustrophobia. I did initially take a very strong dislike to Harper's husband, Jakob. I don't know if I was meant to - if not it was the only mis-step of the whole book for me. That soon resolved itself for me anyway.

The author seems to have learnt the knack of epic storytelling from his father (and presumably his mother; I've never read any Tabitha King) and there are a couple of nice references to his father's books - twice a character says he has " forgotten the face of his father" and once a character comes home with a six pack of Nozz-a-la (both Dark Tower references). I'm also quite impressed that an American can write an Englishman with believable English Idioms.

 

As you can tell, I was quite impressed - I need to read more. 5/5

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I've read Horns by Joe Hill, and plan to read The Fireman someday. It sounds like an interesting book. I'm glad you enjoyed it :).

 

Btw, I really don't like it when GoodReads (or something like Amazon) spoils too much in their synopsis. That is just annoying *shakes fist*.

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On 02/08/2017 at 7:02 PM, ian said:

My Thoughts

 Am I allowed to say that I'm a little disappointed? And here's the thing: it's because there's a supernatural element to this. I remember when the first book came out, and it was billed as the first book in a "straight" trilogy. Well, he managed two, but I guess he couldn't help himself. But, that aside, this is a thrilling read. I've got a lot going on at the moment, and it's taken a really good book like this to keep me interested, as I think otherwise, reading would have taken a back seat. As an end of a trilogy, it's got everything you want (except maybe just a little bit more!)  4/5

 

My feelings exactly. I finished this one last month, and it was my least favourite of the three, largely because of the supernatural element. 

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Book 27: Poseidon's Wake by Alistair Reynolds

 

This novel is a stand-alone story which takes two extraordinary characters and follows them as they, independently, begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of our universe.
Their missions are dangerous, and they are all venturing into the unknown ... and if they can uncover the secret to faster-than-light travel then new worlds will be at our fingertips.

 

My Thoughts

Really enjoyed this. This follows on from the previous two books (Blue Remembered Earth & On the Steel Breeze), despite what it says in the synopsis above! If you can fight your way through the increasingly arcane physics, and indeed metaphysics, then there is a great story underneath. As I expected from other Reynolds books, there isn't really answers to all the threads of the story; that isn't his style. What I liked is the humanity of the story - this isn't a cold, humourless hard sci-fi tome. There's plenty to think about: about the nature of how to live your life in a universe that could cease to exist at any point leaving everything you have ever been lost forever. Quite a depressing thought perhaps, but the characters manage to find their own ways through that, in quite an uplifting way. (Apparently, it's a real Quantum Physics theory - Vacuum Fluctuation, which I admit I looked up, cos I thought it meant your Hoover was playing up!)

I like to have my world-view challenged, and this book did that (in a mild, non-confrontational way). Some Sci-fi tropes are turned on their head (religion vs science, but in this case it's the scientist who goes into the argument with the closed mind; an interesting take from a writer who is a scientist). But at the heart of it is just a great story about people trying to understand the universe.

Oh, and there are talking elephants in spacesuits.

4/5

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Book 28: Speaking in Tongues by Jeffrey Deaver

"Two men of words... One seeking only peace. The other, violence." Tate Collier, once one of the country's finest trial lawyers, is trying to forget his past. Now a divorced gentleman farmer, land developer, and community advocate in rural Virginia, he's regrouping from some disastrous mistakes in the realms of love and the law. But controversy -- and danger -- seem to have an unerring hold on Tate. Even as he struggles to rebuild his life, his alter ego is plotting his demise.
Aaron Matthews, a brilliant psychologist, has turned his talents away from curing patients to far deadlier goals. He's targeted Tate, Tate's ex-wife, Bett, and their estranged daughter, Megan, for unspeakable revenge. Matthews, ruthless and hell-bent, will destroy anything that inhibits his plans. When their daughter disappears, Tate and Bett reunite in a desperate, heart-pounding attempt to find her and to stop Matthews, a psychopath whose gift of a glib tongue and talent for coercion are as dangerous as knives and guns.
Featuring an urgent race against the clock, gripping details of psychological manipulation, and the brilliant twists and turns that are trademark Deaver, "Speaking in Tongues" delivers the suspense punch that has made this author a bestseller. It will leave you speechless. (taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

I only got a few pages into this and thought "Is this really a Jeffrey Deaver"?  Where is the tight plotting? The smart, witty dialogue? The twists, turns and double bluffs? By about 50 pages I was ready to give up. This was just awful. The main characters were very unsympathetic, and not particularly well drawn. In the end I googled the book, as I was having real problems in believing he had really written this. Turns out this was an early, unpublished work, that found the light if day only after he got some success. And, while the second half of the book does pick up a little, it was only my bloody-mindedness that meant I finished the book at all. 2/5 

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Oh, there was one interesting thing from the book that I forgot to mention. The main character, Tate, lives on a farm near a Civil war battlefield. He's interested in that period of history, and muses a couple of times about it. There are also a couple of references to a sometimes underlying current of racism within the town this book is based in. Not a town I (as an Englishman) had heard of till very recently. The book is set in Charlotteville.

Edited by ian

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Book 29:Red Bones by Ann Cleeves.

 

An island shrouded in mist and a community with secrets buried in the past . . .
When a young archaeologist studying on a site at Whalsay discovers a set of human remains, the island settlers are intrigued. Is it an ancient find - or a more contemporary mystery?
Then an elderly woman is shot in a tragic accident in the middle of the night. Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called in by her grandson - his own colleague, Sandy Wilson.
The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. Mima Wilson was a recluse. She had her land, her pride and her family. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations.
Surrounded by people he doesn't know and in unfamiliar territory, Jimmy finds himself out of his depth. Then there's another death and, as the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Jimmy must dig up old secrets to stop a new killer from striking again . . . (taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

 

Really enjoyed this. A nice, slow-burning mystery with plenty of red herrings. This is the third book in the series, so I've got familiar with the characters. What I liked - the character of Sandy is expanded on, so we see things from a couple of different viewpoints. 4/5

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