Rate the last book you read Page 70

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  • Tonka 6 Oct 2016 07:45:46 25,273 posts
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    Underground Airlines
    Set in an alternate history dystopia where slavery hasn't been abolished in the American south. Crushingly depressive. Very tense at times. I can't say much about the plot because it would spoil it but it's cleverly set up to explore as much of the miserable future the story portrays without it becoming a fake history book.

    Well worth reading.
  • boo 6 Oct 2016 07:50:23 13,110 posts
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    :o)
    Don't look to JK Rowling for great literature, but to be fair, she's pretty good at plotting, setting some some up way in advance.
    For me the books are a bell curve, getting better, peaking with Goblet of Fire and then trailing off. Final one was in desperate need of an editor, but by that time, who was going to tell the money machine what to do?

    Currently reading 'Armada', Ernest Cline's follow up to 'Ready Player One'.

    Seems to be 'the difficult second album' so far.
  • RichDC 6 Oct 2016 07:52:15 7,358 posts
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    @Malek86 They get better at the third book when the overall story starts to take shape. They're enjoyable but don't expect any great character development and remember they were written for children.
  • PazJohnMitch 6 Oct 2016 08:03:48 12,564 posts
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    Prisoner of Azkaban was the best in my opinion as I thought it was very cleverly linked within itself.

    All the HP books are kind of pointless once you have seen the films. There is more in the books which broadens the story but all the characters remain pretty one dimensional. Very few characters have personality archs and those that do are more straight lines with a kink at the end.
  • Malek86 6 Oct 2016 08:33:31 5,601 posts
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    Not that I would necessarily mind reading more, but I noticed that the books become a lot longer starting with Goblet of Fire, and I don't think I'm up for that. Children's books are better when they aren't five hundred pages long.

    Well, I'll think about it later. Now I want to read The Monk, by Lewis. It's near Halloween after all.
  • LittleSparra 6 Oct 2016 08:37:18 6,042 posts
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    HP is all about the intricate plot. It's a good read. Not a work of genius or owt but it doesn't need to be.
  • Mola_Ram 6 Oct 2016 08:43:22 15,156 posts
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    I've watched the movies, and never felt like I needed to read the books in order to really "get" Harry Potter. I'm not against reading it as such, but kind of feel like I've missed the boat already. That and I have so very many other things to read.
  • simpleexplodingmaybe 8 Oct 2016 21:56:11 2,885 posts
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    We're all agreed that Harry is the least interesting of the major characters, right?

    He's driven wholly by plot rather than being as rounded a character as the others
  • Malek86 8 Oct 2016 22:35:19 5,601 posts
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    Well, he was definitely the least interesting of the major characters in the first book. And the first half of the second book. Dunno about the rest, and I'll probably never know.
  • boo 26 Oct 2016 20:24:04 13,110 posts
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    Has anyone read the 'Bryant & May / Peculiar Crimes Unit' books by Christopher Fowler?
    I'm reading the first one, Full Dark House, and I have to say it's a bit of a slog.

    The fact that there's a dozen or so in the series makes me think it's a popular series, so I wonder if it just had a slow start but picks up in subsequent books?
  • mal 28 Oct 2016 20:43:58 27,580 posts
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    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu. His debut and so far only novel is a sort of sci-fi thriller. It throws enough ideas at the plot to throw most Robert Ludlum readers off the scent though. It almost manages to be poignant at a couple of points, but those sci-fi twists mean that never builds to anything really meaningful. It's an experience, but I'm not sure the payback quite met the investment, however if he ever writes another novel I'll be sure to at least check out reviews.

    Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller is a book that was banned in the UK and US between it being published in 1939 and when it was first published in english speaking countries in 1982. It's semi-autobiographical, covering the years following those covered by Tropic of Cancer (which I've not read), but the lucid bits are presented as mere vignettes that aren't really linked, so I'm not sure it matters what order you read them in. What fills those lucid moments is prototypical stream of consciousness stuff that mostly covers the sexy bits, if you squint a bit. For example:
    Cold energy trapped by cunning brutes and then set free like explosive rockets, wheels intricately interwheeled to give the illusion of force and speed, some for light, some for power, some for motion, words wired by maniacs and mounted like false teeth, perfect, and repulsive as lepers, ingratiating, soft, slippery, nonsensical movement, vertical, horizontal, circular, between walls and through walls, for pleasure, for barter, for crime, for sex; all light, movement, power impersonally conceived, generated, and distributed throughout a choked, cuntlike cleft intended to dazzle and awe the savage, the yokel, the alien, but nobody dazzled or awed, this one hungry, that one lecherous, all one and the same and no different from the savage, the yokel, the alien, except for odds and evens, bric-a-brac, the soapsuds of thought, the sawdust of the mind.
    Yeah, me neither. And that's one of the shorter sentences, believe it or not. Once you get the hang of letting those streams wash over you, until you hit a more lucid patch, it's a fun enough read though.

    And for something lighter for dessert, how about Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a mere novella perhaps more famous these days as being adapted into Coppola's Apocalypse Now. This is set amongst employees of the ivory trade up the Congo, rather than military men in the Vietnam War, but the battle is more with the terrain and the atmosphere than anything else in both cases. There's some debate about whether the opening sections are racist, and the editor of the Penguin edition from the 1990s I've read goes quite some way to defending it, claiming it as some satire of the prevailing culture, but either way once he's on his boat it's hard to say everyone doesn't get an even hand, whether they're of european heritage or not. I don't rate the film that highly, so I'd rate this book higher, if that makes any sense cross-media.
  • cov 28 Oct 2016 22:17:36 1,661 posts
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    the whole heart of darkness racism reading is very poor very lazy criticism and stems from an article by chinua achebe

    the novella is actually an indictment of colonialism and slavery but by presenting the natives as devoiced Conrad has been accused of devoicing them himself because he was a white European male apologist for empire

    All really slipshod but still a common (mis)reading - when the critique of empire colonialism etc... is clear in voice, plot, character, symbolism jeez all through it.
  • mal 28 Oct 2016 23:02:57 27,580 posts
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    Yeah, the intro referenced that article directly. But you can be against colonialism and slavery yet still view those with darker skin as somehow subhuman. I think the eulogy given to the ship's pilot who I think was a local, probably defuses that claim, but either way, it's a book and I have my own critical faculties thanks very much.
  • cov 29 Oct 2016 00:09:45 1,661 posts
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    whoa steady tiger not aimed at you... aimed at 40 years of misinterpretation, was talking about the common misreading which you didn't seem to fall for.

    colonialism dehumanises the colonised and this is a representation of that - author caught in the trap of representation being taken as polemic (plus all the colour symbolism is inverted). Don't know if you linked where the root of this hatred of colonialism originated for Conrad (he was polish under russian autocracy father died in gulag he was exiled to Siberia with his mother) but it is signposted (Russian acolyte, Kurtz as Tsar/messianic autocrat) - I recall that intro and it didn't make the connection even though it included the relevant biographical detail. Having said that most critics missed it.
  • mal 15 Nov 2016 13:24:56 27,580 posts
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    The Earth, an intimate history by Richard Fortey

    Pretty much the old man's magnum opus I suspect, it's some distance from a dry textbook despite being some 500 pages long, yet while the language is easy to read, I found the sheer density of new words and concepts a little taxing. As such, I found myself putting the book on the back burner after a few chapters. More recently I committed to reading a chapter in between each other book I read, and I've finally finished reading it.

    I think I started reading it in 2006, judging by the rail ticket I'm using as a bookmark, so that makes it a ten year read. As such, I can't really recommend it for everyone - if you've more of a natural interest in geology than me, you probably have this book already, and if you have less then you'll definitely struggle.

    Still, I'm glad I have read it, and I suspect I'll be dipping back into it from time to time thanks to its exhaustive index.
  • glaeken 15 Nov 2016 13:51:34 11,846 posts
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    First Light by Geoffrey Wellum. The personal account of the youngest battle of Briton pilot. Really rather good and surprisingly well written considering I think it's the only book they ever wrote.

    Some of the descriptions of flying a spitfire are real edge of the seat stuff and that's just keeping the thing in the air and trying to land it. The combat parts are nuts. It really communicates how chaotic the whole thing was and half the time it was impossible to know if you actually shot another plane down or not due to the speeds involved.
  • PazJohnMitch 17 Nov 2016 01:03:24 12,564 posts
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    Dune by Frank Herbert

    Excellent

    9/10
  • JoelStinty 24 Nov 2016 18:37:55 5,202 posts
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    The Son by Phillip Meyer.

    Follows 3 different generations of the same family that settles in Texas in the mid 1800's all the way through to the big oil boom of the late 80's and even beyond.

    Really good. It's a big book, but utterly compelling, and masterfully laid out, and one that is quite hard to talk about in a small review!

    The story interleaves between the three generations, and it deals with the politics of family life, Texas and even on a national level. It is quite all encompassing but by the end you felt that everything has been tied together.

    5/5
  • DrStrangelove 20 Jan 2017 00:48:40 10,628 posts
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    The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

    There are two reasons why I read it. A) cultural significance and B) being an obvious major influence on the story of Mass Effect 1.

    It's an interesting if somewhat sensationalist story that largely relies on adjectives of horror and fear. My main gripe is that I hoped it would go on to a major story dealing with Cthulhu, and instead it remains a small collection of experiences told by some people until it comes to an abrupt end. There's no main story, just a few third-hand tales without consequence. I also missed the teller's turning development that made him actually believe in all that stuff. It just seems to be taken for granted.

    A bit lukewarm to be honest. 7/10.

    Edited by DrStrangelove at 00:49:40 20-01-2017
  • DrStrangelove 20 Jan 2017 00:58:34 10,628 posts
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    But I still can't get around how it told of the odd coincidence of one person's horrible dreams with the horrible experiences of another on the opposite side of the Earth. Just as I finished the book, I learned about a new Call of Cthulhu game on EG. Coincidence? Yea, sure. /shudders
  • Tonka 20 Jan 2017 06:55:33 25,273 posts
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    JoelStinty wrote:
    The Son by Phillip Meyer.


    The story interleaves between the three generations, and it deals with the politics of family life, Texas and even on a national level. It is quite all encompassing but by the end you felt that everything has been tied together.

    5/5
    Really? To me it felt as if there was an entire generation missing in the narrative. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book but I felt as if I had missed some important chapter where it was explained who Jeanne Anne’s grandparent was.And her mother come to think of it.

    Edited by Tonka at 06:55:51 20-01-2017
  • Mola_Ram 28 Jan 2017 07:05:49 15,156 posts
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    I'm reading Jerusalem, by Alan Moore. I think I might regret this decision, but I hope I won't!
  • devil_badger 28 Jan 2017 13:04:27 729 posts
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    Currently reading through Devil in the White City. Finding it fascinating, the architectural stuff just as much as the H H Holmes chapters.
  • simpleexplodingmaybe 28 Jan 2017 13:15:48 2,885 posts
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    The Power by Naomi Alderman

    Contemporary set sci-if in which women develop to shoot electricity. Without going into spoiler territory too far there are comments on a lot of current social and political issues.

    Really well paced, decent characters and some real nastiness and genuinely horrible moments.

    It's really good and the tv version should be a must watch.
  • JiveHound 28 Jan 2017 13:26:02 7,764 posts
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    Hex

    Interesting spin on a Witch's curse type horror. Originally Dutch but translated into English with a different ending.

    A witch has cursed an American town for hundreds of years, to the point where the town has got used to her comings and goings. They have an app to monitor her movements and a strict ruleset so as not to doom the denizens by upsetting the apparition. This is policed by HEX, the main authority in the town and given total autonomy from the government to maintain the equilibrium.

    This indoctrination has caused the teenagers to rebel against it, with the intent of spreading the word about the Black Rock Witch which starts everything unravelling.

    A fun and absorbing read, not scary per se but made me a little uneasy at times. It's been criticised for misogyny by some quarters. It certainly has its sexist characters but there is also a peculiar vein of sexual violence that permeates lending credence to this thinking.

    The tv and film rights have been sold to Warner Brothers, it's ripe for adaptation.
  • simpleexplodingmaybe 28 Jan 2017 13:34:00 2,885 posts
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    Mola_Ram wrote:
    I'm reading Jerusalem, by Alan Moore. I think I might regret this decision, but I hope I won't!
    Had you read Voice of Fire?
  • Mola_Ram 28 Jan 2017 15:12:24 15,156 posts
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    I have not.
  • craigy Staff 28 Jan 2017 17:17:31 9,209 posts
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    Anyone read the new Argos catalogue yet? I hear it's the best one yet.

    Just devoured Conclave by Robert Harris. All his stuff just clicks with me. I can't get enough of his writing.
  • wuntyphyve 28 Jan 2017 17:50:22 8,621 posts
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    @JiveHound so is Hex worth a read then? Had it on the Kindle for some time...

    Currently reading vellum by Hal Duncan.

    Erm.

    What the fuck is going on.
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