Rate the last book you read Page 20

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  • glaeken 13 Feb 2012 10:02:40 10,978 posts
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    Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene - Entertaining stuff. A vacuum cleaner salesman is recruited into the secret service in pre-revolutionary Cuba and decides to make stuff up rather than do any real spying. It's a good satire on spying in cold war though interestingly one of the things our spy makes up are secret military bases being constructed in the jungles of Cuba which is eerily close to what kicked off the Cuban missile crisis though the book was written a few years before that. It sort of reminded me of Burn after reading overal.

    Edited by glaeken at 10:03:19 13-02-2012
  • sirtacos 18 Feb 2012 08:40:12 7,205 posts
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    South of the Border, West of the Sun - 8/10

    Sad. :(
    The doses of realism about relationships, marriage, identity and life in general aren't bitter pills to swallow because Murakami coats them in sweet prose but fuck it's depressing.
  • TechnoHippy 18 Feb 2012 10:19:29 14,642 posts
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    Next by Michael Crichton

    Not one of his best, but as usual he takes an interesting idea and runs with it.

    6/10

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  • spindle9988 19 Feb 2012 20:14:59 3,384 posts
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    Just finished ready player one by Ernest Cline. A solid 8/10 from me. I can understand why some people found the constant referencing to the 80's a bit tiresome. I however found it a blast
  • cheeky_prawnking 19 Feb 2012 20:24:48 3,800 posts
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    Wiseguys & Goodfellas - Henry Hill

    The sequel to Goodfellas if you like, read the book before, quite enjoy it, fills in gaps from Goodfellas, and what happened after Henry Hill turned rat.
  • iokthemonkey 20 Feb 2012 01:09:58 4,664 posts
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    Horrifyingly MAD
    40-odd years of MAD horror movie/ghost story parodies. Bought for nostalgia value but actually it was pretty amusing in places.

    http://that-figures.blogspot.com/

  • Deleted user 20 February 2012 02:35:15
    Use of Weapons, Surface Detail - Iain M. Banks

    The last two Culture novels I hadn't picked up and to be fair, I wish I hadn't. Read them back to back due to Banks' first use of a recurring character. UoW suffers from a charmless lead and a relatively weak plot that meanders without ever seeming to really go anywhere.

    In both books it's the background characters that provide any real depth or humour and far more interesting than the protagonists main protagonists whom I was sick of by the time I got close to the end.

    UoW 6/10
    SD 7/10 (+2 for the greatest ROU Banks has even written for.)
  • TechnoHippy 23 Feb 2012 10:02:43 14,642 posts
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    I must re-read Surface Detail at some stage. I must admit the only Culture novel I didn't really get on with was Matter. Excession is my favourite, by quite some margin.

    Vanishing Point by John Nichol

    An ok techno-thriller based around Gulf War Syndrome. Easy to read and the ending was not what I expected.

    6/10

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  • disusedgenius 23 Feb 2012 10:07:42 5,142 posts
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    Saga of the Seven Suns - Kevin J Anderson

    A 7-volume sci-fi opera/epic - not usually my thing (I generally prefer smaller, harder sci-fi) but this has me absolutely hooked. He uses very short chapters thoughout, flicking between a huge amount of characters. Although the writing is pretty pedestrian the structure means that it very rarely gets stale like so many other epics as the plot is constantly being driven forward in small chunks.

    So basically: it's not going to win any awards for furthering literature, but it's great fun.

    8/10
  • TechnoHippy 23 Feb 2012 10:32:24 14,642 posts
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    disusedgenius wrote:
    Saga of the Seven Suns - Kevin J Anderson

    A 7-volume sci-fi opera/epic - not usually my thing (I generally prefer smaller, harder sci-fi) but this has me absolutely hooked. He uses very short chapters thoughout, flicking between a huge amount of characters. Although the writing is pretty pedestrian the structure means that it very rarely gets stale like so many other epics as the plot is constantly being driven forward in small chunks.

    So basically: it's not going to win any awards for furthering literature, but it's great fun.

    8/10
    Is that the one with the aliens at the core of gas giants?

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  • Tonka 23 Feb 2012 10:39:20 19,840 posts
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    @TechnoHippy Sounds like Pohl's Heechee stuff.

    If you can read this you really need to fiddle with your forum settings.

  • TechnoHippy 23 Feb 2012 17:19:29 14,642 posts
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    Just looked it up and it was the one I was thinking of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saga_of_Seven_Suns

    They were quite a fun read, it does a good job of keeping the pace going.

    I've not read the stories you allude to, they sound quite good. I'll have to hunt them down.

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  • Deleted user 29 February 2012 03:35:13
    TechnoHippy wrote:
    I must re-read Surface Detail at some stage. I must admit the only Culture novel I didn't really get on with was Matter. Excession is my favourite, by quite some margin.
    Totally and utterly agree withyou about Excession, although The Player of Games, in my opinion is almost up there too.

    I just don't like Zakalwe and never will. He's such a charmless and one dimensional character with no redeeming social graces. There's occasional flashes of great writing for him, but I just find in both UoW and SD it's the Drones and Minds that have the more interesting personalities. I think that is highlighted if you compare them to Excession when the insight in to the Minds gave Banks probably his' greatest characters; Gurgeh and Mahwrin-Skel excepted!
  • TechnoHippy 29 Feb 2012 10:32:44 14,642 posts
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    I quite like how the Minds are more interesting than the organics around them. Although the main thing I like about most of Bank's books is that he takes a single (usually big idea) and runs with it. EXcession does that with the excession event itself and Surface Detail does that to an extent. For me Surface Detail is one of his better recent books.

    I love the ship names too :-)

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  • glaeken 29 Feb 2012 11:11:03 10,978 posts
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    Shooting an Elephant: And Other Essays by George Orwell - A bit of a mixed bag really. Some truly brilliant essays mixed up with some that have lost their relevance or just did not really work for me (the critique of Charles Dickens was way too long for someone who has never read any Dickens). The best of the essays though really are great. In particular "Politics and the English Language" is a fascinating essay that really shows the routes of newspeak in 1984 as well as giving me a new perspective on what might be meant by bad English. You can actually read it on-line for anyone interested.

    http://orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit

    For anyone with ambitions of being a writer I would say that essay is almost essential reading.

    Of the book probably 50-60% of the essays are still worth a read and when he is on form Orwell is a genius.

    You can actually get most of these essays on-line now via Gutenberg project.

    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300011h.html

    I would recommend the below as particulary worth a read.

    The spike
    A hanging
    Shooting an Elephant
    How the poor Die
    Politics and the English Language

    Edited by glaeken at 10:17:05 01-03-2012
  • TechnoHippy 2 Mar 2012 09:13:11 14,642 posts
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    Wish You Where Here

    A biography about Douglas Adams, an interesting rather than a good read.

    I also read a little booklet about Life in Nelson's Navy, again interesting.

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  • Oh-Bollox 4 Mar 2012 00:50:54 5,094 posts
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    The Looking Glass War, John le Carre. 8/10

    About twenty years after WWII, the Cold War is in full swing, and a hopelessly outmoded British intelligence section launches an operation in East Germany. It's fascinating, in a way, because it's horrifically hypnotic, there's a constant sense of impending doom, of people failing, things going wrong, without respite. Although it's 100% spy fiction, it's basically a horror story. It's easy to see how writers like Charles Stross and Tim Powers took that sense of dread and used it for their own supernatural spy novels.
  • Metalfish 4 Mar 2012 01:25:01 8,693 posts
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    @glaeken I would definitely agreed both about Orwell being a mixed bag and something of a genius. I haven't read any of his essays bar his slightly pedantic treatise of the English cup of tea. I have read 1984 and Keep The Apistdaria Flying. Both were excellent, if a little of their time.

    If I may be allowed to be indulgent (and I'm drunk, so I will be anyway) I'd say that 1984 is some of the bleakest prose ever committed to the English language. None have created the most brutal sense of futility in railing against a dominate power in the form of Winston's diary where he realised that not only would thoughtcrime result in death, it and of itself was death.

    Nothing compares to the horror of the moment where the reader realises the protagonist is utterly and entirely doomed. Every moment following is a lesson in the sheer monstrosity of power mongering for power's sake. Hammered into the skull of humanity, a jackboot stomping on a human face, the future, forever.

    Edited by Metalfish at 01:36:00 04-03-2012
  • Deleted user 4 March 2012 16:11:20
    Shooting an Elephant (the essay itself) is ace. We had to analyse it for my English course. Can't remember exactly what I ended up writing now. But it was something wanky about how it's a reversal of 'Bread and Circuses', the power of the mob, reinforcement and repetition of themes (mostly in saving face), etc etc.
  • RobTheBuilder 4 Mar 2012 16:19:15 6,521 posts
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    A million little pieces - James Frey 9/10

    Putting aside the controversy over whether it's true or not, this is a powerful book that is at times very hard to read. Yet it manages to put together the characters a way in that you really care about them, even when you in many ways dislike them. In many ways I want it to be a real story to cement the ideas in it, but then certain things (a certain death...) make me hope it's fake.
  • mortal_wombat 4 Mar 2012 23:23:38 3 posts
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    Metro 2033 - 8/10

    Overall was really good, I read it after I had played the game. It captured the feelings of claustrophobia and desperation really well, and it was pretty scary in places. However, it felt a bit like the author focused more on the atmosphere rather than the story, the ending felt pretty rushed.

    Surprisingly, there were a few places in which the game actually improved on the story, which I was surprised at. Worth a read if you like post apocalyptic stuff.
  • glaeken 5 Mar 2012 10:36:33 10,978 posts
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    @Metalfish I have pretty much read most of Orwell now and itís really interesting to see the formation of 1984 coming together. You can see it really start in a Homage to Catalonia where Orwell became completely disillusioned with communism and just the general way that political movements work. The essay I linked politics and the English language is one of the next steps along towards 1984 as it particular ties into new speak. Itís actually become more relevant now than it ever was in Orwellís time with the whole concept of spin developing so far beyond the 1950ís level. The idea that stilted over complicated ambiguous language can make the saying of unpalatable things easier for politicians is something we constantly see these days.

    If you read nothing else of Orwellís I would say read Politics and the English language. Itís one of those rare bits of writing that makes you think about something in a different way

    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300011h.html#part42

    I think I may just be an Orwell fan boy.

    @meme Shooting an elephant is great. I think Orwell's take on it was it showed how he had to act up to the image the natives expected of him so his freedom to act was controled by the expecations of how he should act. I can see that tying into the wanky reversal of 'Bread and Circuses' explanation.

    Edited by glaeken at 10:57:48 08-03-2012
  • TechnoHippy 8 Mar 2012 19:58:12 14,642 posts
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    Joint Force Harrier

    Interesting book about a Navy Harrier squadron in Afghanistan.

    7/10

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  • Deleted user 12 March 2012 10:31:09
    We need to talk about kevin - Lionel Shriver.

    A superb book. Took me a while to get through the first half of the book, but the second half i couldn't put it down.

    About a mother relationship with her son whom goes on to commit a high score tragedy - this isn't a spoiler its the concept of the book. She writes letters to her husband starting from the beginning as anayles what went wrong. Its a bleak look on modern day america. Its heartbreaking in places and really does play with your emotions and your loyalties.

    Right if you have not read the book. Don't read this. as soon as i mention the word ending you will know there is a twist or something. It will ruin it. The ending, i felt like a fool for not seeing coming earlier. But instantly as you learn about the deaths of the husband and daughter your whole perception of what happened is uneasily unravelled.. and i was left a bit gobsmacked.

    The book flaws, are cleverely hid behind the format of the book. They are a series of letters so you are taken her word , mothers, for everything. Does she embellish anything? etc etc, and any problem you can have is sort of hid behind that. Cheap ? maybe but clever.

    The book start is slow, but i think its like one of those tv shows, the wire or game of thrones, were all the details submit to the sum of all parts. And its worth the trawl.

    A majestic book, dark, and in places really really funny. Will stick with me for a while.

    9/10

    Edited by joelstinton at 10:33:21 12-03-2012
  • glaeken 16 Mar 2012 09:31:51 10,978 posts
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    High-rise by JG Ballard - The story of the residents of a luxury apartment building reverting to a more primitive state and turning on one another. At first this takes the form of a new class system divided between those on the lower floors, middle floors and upper floors but things soon get a lot darker. The opening passage is rather nice and sets the scene well.

    Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.

    Much recommended if you like a bit of dystopian fiction.

    Edited by glaeken at 09:54:21 16-03-2012
  • MetalDog 16 Mar 2012 09:47:19 23,706 posts
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    High Rise sounds interesting - I'll give that a whirl!
    I love this thread.

    -- boobs do nothing for me, I want moustaches and chest hair.

  • Vice.Destroyer 16 Mar 2012 19:54:42 5,791 posts
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    Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham. 8/10.

    That rare beast. A Grsham book that isn't a legal thriller. Easy to read, like all of them are and a hilarious look at how one married couples decision to skip Christmas, pocket the cash and go on a cruise instead can have hilarious consequences. I laughed until I ached at the funny bits.
  • localnotail 16 Mar 2012 20:02:14 23,093 posts
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    High Rise is brilliant, really darkly funny. I think it was inspired by the Trellick Tower. Always wondered why no-one has adapted it into a film.

    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

  • Immaterial 16 Mar 2012 20:37:05 1,260 posts
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    Miracles of Life (Ballard's autobiography) is an awesome read-† helps put his books in context. Fuck it, anything he wrote is well worth checking out. Massively influential on some of my favourite authors, and a truly original angry voice.

    Think I'll just switch everything off.

  • RedSparrows 18 Mar 2012 11:49:42 20,760 posts
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    glaeken wrote:
    @Metalfish I have pretty much read most of Orwell now and itís really interesting to see the formation of 1984 coming together. You can see it really start in a Homage to Catalonia where Orwell became completely disillusioned with communism and just the general way that political movements work. The essay I linked politics and the English language is one of the next steps along towards 1984 as it particular ties into new speak. Itís actually become more relevant now than it ever was in Orwellís time with the whole concept of spin developing so far beyond the 1950ís level. The idea that stilted over complicated ambiguous language can make the saying of unpalatable things easier for politicians is something we constantly see these days.

    If you read nothing else of Orwellís I would say read Politics and the English language. Itís one of those rare bits of writing that makes you think about something in a different way

    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300011h.html#part42

    I think I may just be an Orwell fan boy.

    @meme Shooting an elephant is great. I think Orwell's take on it was it showed how he had to act up to the image the natives expected of him so his freedom to act was controled by the expecations of how he should act. I can see that tying into the wanky reversal of 'Bread and Circuses' explanation.
    I think the essay on the English language more makes the point that language is a fundamental of control. The linguistic points he make are about English in general use, whereas the actual fine points of Newspeak are clearly derived from Soviet mangling of Russian. But yeah, the core point about the importance of language is what matters, finer points aside.

    Edited by RedSparrows at 11:53:32 18-03-2012
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