Jump to content
Raven

Raven's Reads

Recommended Posts

I must admit, I have a sneaking suspicion that others might find The Difference Engine to be a better read than I did. 

 

I think part of the problem was that I read it shortly after finishing Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London trilogy and I really wanted to be reading another book in that series and not this!

I may still give Neuromancer a try at some point, but it has slipped down my priority list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it's always hard if you have been reading books you really love and then have to move on to something else!  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After the demands of The Difference Engine I've opted for something light-weight, but this is giving me problems as well . . .

 

I'm having a bit of a dilemma reading The Stag and Hen Weekend, by Mike Gayle

 

The book is the same story told from two different perspectives, they are told separately and you flip the book to read the other side, so is it best to alternate chapters between the two or read one and then the other (knowing how the story ends, I guess?). 

 

I've opted to go with the male perspective first and read the female one second; simply because the male story line starts first, but I'm wondering if this is the best approach . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've heard that that is indeed the best approach, however whether those people are correct or not I don't know. I've recently won a copy of this book (yay!) but I haven't read it yet (it's not actually in my house yet, it's at my boyfriends' house).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Half way through The Stag and Hen Weekend now (basically I've finished the story as told from the male's POV) and I can't say I'm very impressed. 

There is very little in it that Gayle hasn't done previously.  For large parts it reads like a cut-down version of Wish You Were Here, with elements of Brand New Friend thrown in and neither of those books were my favourites of his in the first place. 

I've started the other half of the book and I hope to finish it in the next few days. 

Disappointed so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear you're not enjoying it that much. I hope the second half will be better, though I don't know if it will. I look forward to read your final thoughts on it. I've won the book in a giveaway and some other people I know quite like it, so I'll read it anyway, but I'll keep your (forthcoming) review in mind when I read it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll see how it goes.  Gayle is usually better at writing from the female character's point of view than he is the males so the second half of the book may be better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished.

 

I'd definitely suggest reading the Stag Party part of the book before the Hen Night part, simply because - and for reasons I cannot go into without giving the game away - you'll throw the book across the room if you read it the other way around.

 

A difficult to write review to follow at some point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ Hmm, really need to get around to doing that . . .

 

Finished the Doctor Who novel The Silent Stars Go By and have gone straight on to Gareth Roberts novelisation of Shada, a never completed Doctor Who TV story from the 70s that was written by Douglas Adams.  Pretty good, so far!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it took me long enough, but I finally finished Shada this evening.  What do you get if you cross Old Who, New Who and The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy?  This is probably as close as anyone will ever get to answering that question.  A very good book, and I shall endeavour to write a review of it before too long!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Catching up on some reviews:

 

post-4599-0-64837200-1367668654_thumb.jpg

 

The Stag and Hen Weekend

By Mike Gayle

 

Phil and Helen are getting married next weekend, or at least that is the plan, but over the course of one weekend their convictions are tested to breaking point as they are forced to examine whether they really want to get married or not.

 

The premise for this story is fairly simple; take a couple who are about to get married and throw a series of events at them to make them question whether what they are planning to do is what they actually want.  The hook, in this case, is that this isn't two stories that are told in parallel, but two separate short stories in one book (after finishing one you simply flip the book over to read the second).  When I first saw the book I thought this was a bit of a gimmick and after reading it I can't help but think that it is and that the novel would probably have worked better had the two stories been woven together.  As it is, neither really gains enough traction to be satisfying before they come to an end.

 

I like Mike Gayle's books; as I've said before I've been reading them since his first novel My Legendary Girlfriend was published back in 1999.  His strengths have always been in his characters and his easy reading style, but his main weakness, to my mind, is his sometimes improbable plotting (events sometimes feel shoe-horned in to move the story forward, rather than being something you feel would have occurred naturally).  I guess the suspension of disbelief is part and parcel of this type of book, but there is one coincidence in this novel that had I read the two stories the other way around I would have thrown it out the window!  Also, as I said above, there's not a lot here that Gayle hasn't done before and it reads like a cut-down version of Wish You Were Here, with elements of Brand New Friend thrown in.

 

It's not a bad book, but at the same time it is also not one of his best.

 

A solid Okay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

post-4599-0-89973500-1367669855_thumb.jpg

 

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By

By Dan Abnett

 

The Doctor, Amy and Rory rock up on an alien planet hoping to find a little Christmas cheer, but instead find themselves implicated in the disappearance of young girl.  What is killing the colonists live stock at night? Why are the winters getting colder?  And what part does an old adversary have to play in all this?

 

As part of this years 50th anniversary celebrations, BBC Books have reissued a set of 11 novels, one for each Doctor, and The Silent Stars Go By is the story they have chosen for Matt Smith's outing.

 

It's largely traditional Who fare; The Doctor and Co. land on a planet, get accused of murder, escape and then set about finding out what is really going on and putting it to rights.  The story has a very definite "old-school" feel to it (you could imagine Tom Baker's Doctor ending up in a similar situation, with Leela or Romana in tow) but it is a decent enough story and well told.  Apart from that, though, there isn't a lot to make it stand out from a dozen or so similar Who stories I have read down the years.

 

Another Okay.

Edited by Raven

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

post-4599-0-88603300-1367672211_thumb.jpg

 

Doctor Who: Shada

By Gareth Roberts (from a story by Douglas Adams)

 

The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey is a book that wields enormous power.  It must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.  Skagra - who believes he should be a God and permits himself only two smiles per day - most definitely has the wrong hands. 

 

Beware Skagra.  Beware the Sphere.  Beware Shada.

 

For those not familiar with the story of Shada, this was originally going to be the story that finished the TV show's 17th series in 1980.  Staring Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, location filming on the story was completed as well as the first block of studio shooting before industrial action put an end to filming and the story was eventually abandoned.  What had been filmed was released on VHS in the 1990s and on DVD earlier this year.  An audio version of the story was also released, with Paul McGann playing the Doctor, in 2003.  The story has achieved a somewhat mythical status amongst fans and this is the first time it has been told in full as a novel.

 

Set largely in Cambridge, the story tells of the villainous Skagra's attempts to find The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey, a book that contains enormous power that he can use to take over the universe.  The book is being looked after by an old friend of the Doctor, and fellow Timelord, Professor Chronotis, but an unsuspecting student, Chris Parsons, discovers the book and sets about trying to determine its secrets . . .

 

Gareth Roberts is a veteran Doctor Who writer with several novels and TV episodes to his name.  His stories have always had a degree of humour in them which makes him a good choice for adapting Douglas Adam's script into this novel and I think he's done an excellent job.  The book is a curious mix of Old Who, New Who and Hitch-Hikers, and although initially the latter seems to be taking precedent, when the story settles down it perfectly evokes the feel of a late Tom Baker story.  The characters are well written, the story is great and it moves along at a fair old pace.  My only criticism of the book is that the end feels slightly protracted, but this is by far the best Who story I've come across (both on TV and elsewhere) in quite some time.

 

If you are a fan of Doctor Who this is a must read.

 

If you are a fan of Douglas Adams I think you will also enjoy it.

 

Highly recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not essential, but I think you'll get more out of it if you are familiar with some of the old Tom Baker stories (just to help set the tone).

 

If you haven't seen any old Who by the way, I would recommend that you try and track down some!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you say "the first series", what exactly did you buy?  (I take it you don't mean the 2005 "first" series!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just checking, there are those who don't believe a world existed before David Tennant!

 

I'll answer this in the thread you've just started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished Delicacy this evening, that's a poor seven for the year thus far.  It was a bit more light-weight than I was expecting, but not bad. 

 

I've now started on What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard P. Feynman.  Boy, he can spin a yarn . . .

Edited by Raven

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished What Do You Care What Other People Think?  A very interesting, sometimes moving and often amusing read from the memoirs of a man who was probably one of the most gifted and original thinkers of the 20th century (also an interesting insight into the investigation of the Challenger accident in 1986). 

 

Not sure what's next yet . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the sound of the Feynman book. I have "Six Easy Pieces" on my shelf which I'm looking forward to.

Edited by ~Andrea~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ Sounds interesting.

 

I went to pick up a copy of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! last Saturday, it's been in my local Waterstone's for the last few months, but the one copy they had was gone.  They did have The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, though, so I got a copy of that instead!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've started reading The Inside Track by ex-BBC F1 host Jake Humphrey. 

 

He's a terribly nice chap, so in no way is this going to be a warts-and-all exposé, but it's been interesting so far.  His recollections of being in the Brawn garage when Button won the '09 world championship in Brazil were close to bringing a lump to my throat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×