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Everything posted by ian

  1. Our kitchen is very small, so I don't get to buy gadgets these days. There just isn't room for them. That is probably just as well, so I used to be one of those people who would buy the latest kitchen gadget, which would then sit in a cupboard, unused. I don't know why, as I'm not usually a "latest gadget" kind of person. It did occur to me a few weeks ago that the money that I used to spend on stuff that got used once or twice and then gathered cobwebs, would be better spent on a quality set of knives.
  2. The World according to Garp - John Irving
  3. Actually, I'd agree with that, but he was the first person I thought of when it came to body count. I'm actually quite surprised that the internet couldn't immediately answer this question for us. There appears to be lots of websites that tell me the body count in films.
  4. Yes, I remember thinking when I read the first one; I expected more to be made of Amos Decker's Synthesia. But, apart from one instance, it's hardly mentioned at all. Still. I'm a sucker for these type of crime books, so they have to be pretty bad for me to not like them.
  5. Book 32: The Last Mile by David Baldacci (Amos Decker #2) Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime. Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth. The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now? My Thoughts Maybe I've read too many of these kind of book. It was pretty easy to spot where this was going to go. But I have to admit, I looked forward to each time I could pick it up again and read a few more pages, whereas the last two books didn't do that for me. So, all is forgiven. And while the ending is a little bit too pat, it was an enjoyable, easy read. The main character, Amos Decker is likeable, as are the rest of his "team" - I would have liked to get more of them, as they felt a little under-drawn. I'll still look to pick up more by this author so, I will still give it 4/5.
  6. I think the only books I've read because of being told about them was Stieg Larsson's Millennium series. At the time, there was just starting to be a real buzz about them. Me being me, I tend to shy away from anything that hints at populism (for which I have no excuse: it's usually the wrong decision; I end up coming to the party late, but I just can't help myself - it's a natural reaction), but I saw so many positive reviews that I gave in. Glad I did too, as they are excellent, unlike the follow up book written by someone else.
  7. Hmm, that might have to go on the wishlist - I've read the first two, but I had no idea there was another in the pipeline. I assume it weighs several kilo's like the first two!
  8. I decided to take the advice from above and make a proper list of book series so I don't accidently read a spoiler. Just picking the books of Ann Cleeves (The "Shetland" series I'm halfway through and the "Vera" series I haven't started) and Jeffrey Deaver (the "Rhyme" series and the "Dance" series) gives me a list of 22 books to read. Some might see that as a challenge - it's just 6 months of pleasure to me!
  9. And, as per Facebook, this is the book from the library that I accidently left outside in the rain! Fortunately, I noticed before it got too wet, plus it has a plastic cover (it's a paperback, so it could have been a disaster). I've managed to dry it out and it doesn't look damaged, but I'll have to face the guilt when I take it back!
  10. Book 31: The dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell. (Kurt Wallander) Second in the Kurt Wallander series. Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead. The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea, to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely veiled threats, and lies. Doomed always to be one step behind the shadowy figures he pursues, only Wallander's obstinate desire to see that justice is done brings the truth to light. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts Good, but a bit of a slow-burner this. It totters on the edge of being so slow as to be irritating, but manages to keep the right side of the line (for me anyway). What I like about Wallander is how realistic he seems. He spends most of his time being confused by other people or worried about himself (his life, his health,etc). In other words, just the majority of us real people. The book is set mostly in Latvia around 1991 - and as the author says in the afterword of my copy, it was written before the modern history of Latvia was decided. It could have gone either way - freedom, or a new cold war. This book captures that uncertainty pretty well. 3/5
  11. And it would be so easy for the publisher to put "Joe Bloggs series: book 3" or whatever on the spine or the back. Some writers write more than one series at a time, so it's hard to keep track sometimes. I should check - or make a list of my favourite series to carry with me. Of course, I could do all that - and then I'd probably forget where in the series I'd read to....
  12. Yes, Exactly! I thought I had been very careful, but I really didn't expect such a major spoiler like this. My own fault I suppose for not looking up the order of the series before I went down the library. Not a mistake I will be making again! This also - I don't read the reviews on Goodreads any more until after I posted the book (and in fact till I've written my own review on here). I remember reading a review of The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith that said " Don't bother reading this - [character name] was the murderer" . Fortunately, I had already read the book by that point, but that really made me quite angry. Fine, you don't like the book; we all have different tastes. But don't spoil it for everyone else!
  13. We've been watching the BBC adaptation of the first Strike book by Robert Galbraith. Perhaps a little bit slow, but we all enjoyed it nonetheless. Looking forward to The Silkworm tonight!
  14. Two books come to mind, for different reasons. If it's straight political allegory that you are after, then Lord of the Flies by William Golding would be a good choice. The English is probably a little more complex than Animal Farm though. If it's books about animals then Watership Down by Richard Adams is a great read. I don't think you would find the English more difficult than Animal Farm. Richard Adams always denied there was any allegorical content to the book - although plenty of people have read it into it. Both are great books and well worth reading!
  15. It started snowing shortly after ten am. (The Dogs of Riga - Henning Mankell)
  16. The Ben Elton sounds interesting. I gave up reading his books a while ago, as I found they were getting a bit preachy, but your review has got me intrigued.
  17. Nemesis by Jo Nesbo. - The blurb on the back gives away a major plot point which doesn't happen till halfway through the book. It would have been a proper jaw-dropping moment (for me anyway) had I not known it was coming.
  18. Cursing my luck - I decided to go to the library for my next book. I really wanted to get something different and out of my comfort zone. Well, I failed in that respect, as I only picked up another crime thriller. But the worst was, I picked up initially an Ann Cleeves "Shetland" book. I've read the first three and I wanted to know if it was the fourth. It wasn't, but reading the synopsis on the inside front cover gave away a major plot spoiler for one of the books to come. Gutted!
  19. Book 30: The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle This is a life told back to front. This is a man who has lied all his life. Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con? What has he had to do to survive a life of lies? And who has had to pay the price? When Roy meets a wealthy widow online, he can hardly believe his luck. Just like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, Roy is a man who lives to deceive—and everything about Betty suggests she’s an easy mark. He’s confident that his scheme to swindle her will be a success. After all, he’s done this before. Sure enough, Betty soon lets Roy move into her beautiful home, seemingly blind to the web of lies he’s woven around her. But who is Roy, really? Spanning almost a century, this stunning and suspenseful feat of storytelling interweaves the present with the past. As the clock turns back and the years fall away, long-hidden secrets are forced into the light. Some things can never be forgotten. Or forgiven. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts It took me quite a while to get into this. I very nearly gave it up after only 20 pages or so. Partly, this was because the main character, Roy, was such an unappealing character. Partly, it was the purple prose that the author uses. I could almost see the author flicking through a thesaurus for every sentence, trying to make it more and more ornate. It got on my nerves. What kept me going was knowing that this is the author's first book, and the good reviews that I had read online. And, to be fair it did get better. Yes, it is obvious from almost the first chapter that there is more going on than just a con. Betty, Roy's mark, is too knowing. And that keeps happening. Rather than springing the surprises on us, they sort of filter into us. It happens too often to be anything other than deliberate, but I would have preferred at least some surprises. There was plenty of scope for these, so that was a shame. Where the book really comes alive is in the flashbacks to Roys life, which are told in reverse. It's like going from black and white to technicolour; I did wish that the whole book was as good. Still, overall it was an enjoyable read with some very good ideas. As a first novel, there is enough here to make me want to read another. 3/5
  20. Unbelievable "romances" in books. Those particularly high octane thrillers are usually the culprits for this. Our macho hero finds himself introduced to a woman - usually the only woman in the whole book. You know they are going to end up together, and it will have no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
  21. I like the Elvis Cole / Joe Pike books by Robert Crais. Each has their own separate series of books, but they frequently turn up together. Joe Pike is almost a parody of the "strong, silent" type, but it's handled with a lot of humour so I find the interplay between the pair of them very memorable.
  22. 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
  23. 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.
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