Jump to content


Advanced Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by ian

  1. Book 4: Villain by Michael Grant I borrowed this book off my son. We've both enjoyed this series of books The Gone series form a six-series of books about a group of teenagers with special powers. This is the second book of a follow up trilogy. Some of the characters are in both series. A number of people have either been forcibly injected with or willingly taken a mutagenic virus that gives them special powers but also changes their physical appearance. They are able to turn these off or on at will. I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as others in the series. It took me a while to get to the bottom of this. In the first series, most of the special power that people had were quite easy to picture - super speed, the ability to control gravity, etc. In this series, the powers are accompanied with extreme physical changes - and these, I felt the author struggles to describe. Which means it's hard for me to imagine. Apart form that, this is just a straight adventure: there are plenty of fights and huge amounts of violence. But, unlike some books aimed at adults, most of the characters are not morally black or white. They make mistakes and question their motives. It's this that, for me, lifts these books above other similar series. 4/5
  2. Book 3: The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman I brought this book with the book token I had for Christmas, and picked it solely on the fact it was by Gaiman. This book is actually a children's book, albeit a very dark one, about a boy who is raised by the dead inhabitants of a graveyard when the rest of his family are murdered. He his given the freedom of the graveyard, meaning he can walk through solid objects in the graveyard and fade from view. He also has a guardian - Silas, a mysterious character, that you find more about as the book progresses. I won't give any more away, but this has all the imagination and wit that anyone can expect from Neil Gaiman. My only criticism, if it can be legitimately called a criticism, is that these ideas are so good - I wanted to know more. In reality, this book could have been twice as long for me. So characters that only get a few pages; I wanted to know much more about them, so they perversely feel (to me anyway) a bit wasted. I realise all this is bit unfair of me. It's just that his throwaway characters are better than some authors main characters. The upshot is really enjoyed this book, so I'll still give it 5/5.
  3. It's well worth a read
  4. Outside the forum, if it's a writer I'm not familiar with, I will go on Goodreads or similar and take a look at the over all score, just to give me an indication. Bitter experience has taught me not to read the actual reviews till after I've finished the book. One is because people can inadvertently put spoilers in ,and sometime I find my own thoughts can be coloured by others. The worst review I've ever seen (for a murder mystery book) consisted of one line "Book was rubbish. [character name] was the murderer". I mean, why? On the positive side, I can find other people's reviews really helpful. Sometimes I find insights I hadn't considered or worded far better than I could hope to do.
  5. Book 1: First Man In - Ant Middleton. I borrowed this book off my brother, who reads much more non-fiction than I do. For those who don't know Ant Middleton is a former British special forces soldier who came to public attention when he was in a TV programme that put ordinary members of the public through the sort of training that these soldiers endure. To say this guy has led an interesting life is a massive understatement. In the book he takes you through the sections of his life, starting with his first day of basis training, and highlighting the lessons in leadership that he learnt from his successes and failures. As you would expect, he doesn't pull his punches and is brutally honest, especially about his own failures and weaknesses (he ends up in prison at one point). A pretty good read. 4/5 Book 2: The Wrong Side of Goodbye - Michael Connolly This is one of the recent "Harry Bosch" series. I've read a lot of these, and never in the correct order, but to be honest, that doesn't seem to matter as much as it does in other series. I think this is one of the best of his I've read in a while. The story, which centres around Bosch being asked to look for possible heirs to an extremely wealthy, elderly industrialist in his role as a P.I, whilst also working as a reserve officer in the San Fernando police, is well described, believable and nicely paced. There are a few references to Vietnam, which I think are really well handled. So much that I thought that the author must have served there during the war. Turns out in the acknowledgments that he got all this from research. In which case I am very impressed: as he says, he wanted that to be the emotional heart of the book. It certainly does that, and makes you care about the characters. I really enjoyed this book. 5/5
  6. I'm looking forward to another years reading. I read 42 books in 2018, which is great, but more importantly, about 74% of those I rated either 4 or 5 out of 5. I got 2 books for Christmas, plus a book token, which I converted into 3 more books over the break. I'm currently reading the second of 2 books that my brother lent me (the first being the Michael Caine book), so all in all, things are looking good, book-wise, I hope you all have a great new year, with lots of good books!
  7. I've just finished book 42 - I won't start another till New Year's Day. Not a bad total, although it's all about the quality, not the quantity!
  8. Book 42:The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes This isn't my usual reading material at all, but my son had read it as part of his English Lit course, and was looking for my opinion. As it's only around 150 pages long, this didn't seem like a big ask. The story revolves around Tony Webster, a retired man remembering his three friends growing up at school together, particularly his more intelligent friend Adrian. They go to university and try to keep in touch, and Tony meets a girl, Veronica. The rest of the book shows the outcome, some 50 years on of the fallout from that relationship. I won't give any more away. As I say - this isn't my usual sort of thing, and I found the 2 main characters annoying: Tony because he seem almost wilfully stupid about relationships, and especially women; and Veronica for never actually saying what she means, then complaining that they " just don't get it". Obviously, that's one of the points of the book, but... annoying! Having said that, I can appreciate that this is a very well written book (it won the Man Booker prize 2011), and its characters and situation will stay with me a long time, I think. A good way to end this years reading. 4/5
  9. Yes, I must admit - I've read several Robert Goddard now, and they nearly all have slightly disappointing endings. The best of his that I've read is Sea Change, which is an historical book - I found this one the most satisfying.
  10. I've read two more books since I was last on here. Panic Room - Robert Goddard. I enjoyed this, a nicely paced thriller/mystery, that was only slightly spoiled by a bit of silly ending. 4/5 Blowing the Bloody Doors Off - Michael Caine. Michael Caine tells stories from his fascinating life, and uses them as examples of how to succeed, or cope with disappointments in "normal" life. It really is a good read, but is a bit repetitive. Still, he doesn't take himself too seriously, and he doesn't take what he's got for granted. 4/5
  11. The Other Hand - Chris Cleave From the author of the international bestseller Incendiary comes a haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers---one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London. My Thoughts I had to leave the review of this for a few days, as I really couldn't get my thoughts clear on this book. What I liked - the author goes between an Nigerian immigrant woman voice & a middle-class English woman voice, and both those voices feel pretty authentic to me. It also manages to go between humour & pathos, sometimes in the same sentence, effortlessly. The plot is good, and highlights some important points about how we (British society) treat immigration and sometimes wilfully ignore some of the implications for our own convenience. What I didn't like - sometimes I felt that my emotions were being deliberately manipulated. I'm sure the author wanted me to be, by turns, angry or upset: it's an emotive subject that really happens in the real world, but I could feel that I was being led, which I didn't necessarily enjoy. I didn't always find some of Sarah's reactions rang true. Again, what happens is far outside of anything of my experience, so perhaps I shouldn't judge. On the whole, I did enjoy this book, and I would recommend this - he's a good writer. 4/5
  12. The Handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwwod Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now... (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I struggled with this. It is, of course, a very difficult subject matter. But I struggled anyway. I found I could only read a couple of pages at a time. Because there is so much going on, sub-text, that I found I had to take a break to consider it. The writing is beautiful. I loved how the words echo the calm, sleepy summer whilst still describing, almost without emotion, the horrific things that are being done to Offred and those around her. I also liked how the "Commander" is drawn. Lesser writers would have made him a monster. He is, of course, but he also seems oddly small; pathetic at times. At times I felt his wife was the more monstrous of the people in the house. The ending leaves you with more questions than answers, which was my one disappointment (at the same time knowing that this is EXACTLY how it should end). 4/5 Well timed as well, me reading this - I see that she has announced a sequel.
  13. Ooh, that's a big question! I love the short story "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank redemption" , IT, Cujo & Under the Dome. Taken as a whole - the Dark Tower books are excellent too. Not sure I could pick one book as an absolute favourite.
  14. I'd not heard that about Dreamcatcher. I read it some years ago, and I wasn't keen - not one of his best.
  15. I like the sound of both Fireside Gothic & the LJ Ross series. Thanks for the reviews!
  16. Ah, the wish list - every readers nightmare! I've refused to make one for several years now. Of course, the result of that is; I walk into a bookshop and think " what was that book called? You know, the one by the author whose name I can't remember"!
  17. Great review! Moby Dick is one of my "didn't finish" books, but your review has made me want to give it another try! I'll also be interested to see your review of Don Quixote. It's another book on my "read it one day" list, but the size of it has out me off so far.
  18. In a House of Lies - Ian Rankin Everyone has something to hide A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still - both for his family and the police - is that his body was in an area that had already been searched. Everyone has secrets Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now - after a decade without answers - it's time for the truth. Nobody is innocent Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead - and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus. (Taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I found this book to be a bit of a slow starter, but once it does get going, it had its hooks into me. I've read enough of these books now that John Rebus, Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox feel like old friends. Initially, I thought it might by unbelievable - Rebus has been retired some years now: how is he still able to walk into current investigations? Malcolm Fox, who at first looked to be Ian Rankin's choice of new lead has taken a more supporting character role. Siobhan Clarke seems the obvious choice as the new lead character - (perhaps Rankin doesn't feel he can write a female lead successfully?). But, apart perhaps from the final interview that Rebus gate-crashes - this felt utterly believable to me. All that aside, I found this to be an excellent read, and one that I was quite happy to stay up till after midnight last night to finish. 5/5
  19. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett The plot centres round Mary Lennox, a young English girl who returns to England from India, having suffered the immense trauma by losing both her parents in a cholera epidemic. However, her memories of her parents are not pleasant, as they were a selfish, neglectful and pleasure-seeking couple. Mary is given to the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. She travels to his home, Misselthwaite Manor located in Yorkshire, a vast change from the sunny and warm climate she was used to. When she arrives, she is a rude, stubborn and given to stormy temper tantrums. However, her nature undergoes a gradual transformation when she learns of the tragedies that have befallen her strict and disciplinarian uncle whom she earlier feared and despised. Once when he's away from home, Mary discovers a charming walled garden which is always kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle's vast mansion. The kindly servants ignore her queries or pretend they haven't heard, spiking Mary's curiosity. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I find myself in two minds about this book. On the one hand, it's an uplifting tale about the restorative power of positive thinking and of nature, and also a warning perhaps to parents to treat their children with love and attention. It's an easy read and a light read, and its positivity can't but help to make you smile. But... how many chapters can you fill with descriptions of flowers growing? I did occasionally get impatient and want the story to get to the point and move on. Still, overall I did enjoy this book. 4/5
  20. The problem with reading some classics - particularly ones like Dracula, is that the "brand" is so strongly represented in film, TV and popular culture, that going back to the original source can seem a little tame. I know I did this trying to read Frankenstein when I was 13. I actually did much better with those that were closer to films I'd seen of them - So A Christmas Carol would be a good choice IMO. I started making serious attempts at reading classic novel once I was in my 30s, which was much better for me, and I have found my favourites to be those that had not been "spoiled" by seeing a TV or film version before - so Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights & Pride & Prejudice all became favourites. Of course, having read them, I them immediately wanted to see the films I'd never seen, but that's another story!
  21. I was going great guns this year, and well on the way to beat last years total of 40...and then I decided to read Bleak House. Loved, it, but a 900 odd page book does set you back! So, at the moment I'm on 36 for this year so far and I'm trying to ignore the longer books on my TBR pile!
  22. ian


    Personally, I think a few adverts is a very small price to pay for getting the forum back.
  23. One more thing I forgot to say - I'm pleased that I can again post here. I discovered that I didn't want to post book reviews on Facebook. Although everyone who knows me, knows that I'm always reading... well, I work in a factory and some people do look at me like I'm a bit strange, especially when they see me reading Austen. Reading is something women do , in their view. I can take all those type of comments in person (which I know are mostly light-heartedly meant - there is a rich vein of mickey-taking in our factory, which I wouldn't want to stop), but the possibility of reading them at home was something I wasn't prepared to ley myself open to. I'll be honest, that reaction surprised me. I thought I was beyond caring what other people thought or said. Clearly not!
  24. It's good to be back! Just before this site was temporarily down, I seem to have got out of the habit of posting reviews for the books I had read. Not just here, but also on Goodreads, which I was using just as a log of books read. As usual for me, that was fine while I knew that I could always come back, but once it looked like the site was closing, I was gutted! Now would be a good point for me to thank Michelle for all of her hard work on the forum up to this point, and to Hayley for taking over. And of course, for all the other Admins & moderators who keep this running. I won't bother trying to review all the books I've read since the last one I posted, but here's a list; The Venetian Game - Phillip Gywne Glass - 4/5 Life after Life - Kate Atkinson 4/5 The Fix - David Baldacci - 4/5 North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell 4/5 Demon Dentist - David Walliams 4/5 Jamaica Inn Daphne Du Maurier 5/5 Gone - Michael Grant 5/5 Hunger - Michael Grant 4/5 Lies - Michael Grant 5/5 Plague - Michael Grant 5/5 Fear - Michael Grant 5/5 Light - Michael Grant 5/5 Monster - Michael Grant 4/5 Bleak House - Charles Dickens 5/5
  25. Book 21 The City & the City by China Mieville Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad finds deadly conspiracies beneath a seemingly routine murder. From the decaying Beszel, he joins detective Qussim Dhatt in rich vibrant Ul Qoma, and both are enmeshed in a sordid underworld. Rabid nationalists are intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists dream of dissolving the two into one. My Thoughts This book, and indeed the author, only came to my attention because of the recent BBC adaptation. That TV show is significantly different from the book, but I'm glad I saw it first. Imagine two city states existing within one actual city. Like Berlin before the wall came down. Or Jerusalem, or perhaps Belfast to some extent. But instead of a physical wall or barrier keeping the two populations apart, there is nothing. Even the border is tenuous: some parts of the city are in Beszel, others are in Ul Qoma. Some are actually in both. And so the populations of both have to live ignoring the presence of the other: to do otherwise is a crime, called Breaching. No of which is explicitly explained in the book; it becomes apparent eventually. Which is why I was glad to have seen the TV show - I felt it gave me a heads up. Beneath all this strangeness, is a noir crime story. A good one. But it's that strangeness of the situation that drives the story. The ending I felt was a little confusing, and a little un-satisfying, but it certainly left me wanting more. 4/5
  • Create New...