Rate the last book you read Page 24

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  • glaeken 23 May 2012 09:55:02 11,138 posts
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    Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. Rather enjoyable story of a 19th century solider in the 1st Afghan war. Flashman is the protagonist and is a total self-centred racist misogynist coward who puts self-preservation above anything else and he somehow comes out a hero through blind luck. He is a great anti-hero and the whole thing actually reminded me of a more serious Blackadder. It's that sort of character but in a real life setting. In fact I am sure the writers of Blackadder must have read this (it was published in 1965).

    The story itself centring on the first Afghan war is great stuff and just goes to show it's never wise to try and control the affairs of Afghanistan. I almost skipped this as the cover of the book makes it look like itís going to be akin to Carry on up the Khyber but itís really not as silly a book as the cover would suggest it is. Much recommended if you can accept a protagonist who is such a cad and has extremely un-politically correct views from a modern perspective.

    Edited by glaeken at 12:20:27 23-05-2012
  • delbert 23 May 2012 11:23:27 2,889 posts
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    Always fancied giving Flashman a try (I think I saw its a series?)

    Just finished "Moon Over Soho" by Ben Aaronovitch (a Doctor Who screenwriter) after he was recommended somewhere on this forum. This and "Rivers of London" before it are very easy reading but very enjoyable. It follows the tale of a rookie PC who becomes apprentice to the only wizard in the London Met Police, lots of pop culture references and the in depth descriptions of London would probably make it an even better book for someone more familiar with the big smoke. Looking forward to the 3rd book released next month..
  • glaeken 23 May 2012 11:34:51 11,138 posts
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    Flashman is a series of books. I think there are something like 10 of them. I guess itís similar to something like Sharpe or Hornblower but with a total cad as the main character. If you start with the book just called Flashman that is the first one and should give you a good idea of if you like it. It's all presented as Flashmanís memoirs where he tells the unflinching truth about himself and how much of a git he had really been. I loved it though some people may be put off by how un-pc it is. It's meant to be the memoirs of a 19th century gentleman solider though and I would expect such people would have been very un-pc to modern sensibilities.

    Edited by glaeken at 11:39:47 23-05-2012
  • MetalDog 23 May 2012 11:56:58 23,697 posts
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    Flashman's lots of fun. He's supposed to be repellent, so his un-PCness just adds to that. It wouldn't work if it wasn't so funny - I can only take him in small doses, but I have enjoyed dipping into his world-o-bastard from time to time.

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

  • delbert 23 May 2012 12:03:54 2,889 posts
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    I've added Flashman to my Kindle specific wish-list, if I get through Gaiman's American Gods and still have time before Aaronvitch's 3rd I'll pick it up then..
  • glaeken 23 May 2012 12:05:02 11,138 posts
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    @MetalDog Yeah I only mention it because looking at a lot of reviews it seems some people won't read the books or give up on them due to how un-pc they are. They seem to expect an English 19th century gentleman solider to not be a racist misogynist git.
  • Wacko_AK 23 May 2012 12:07:52 182 posts
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    Just finished Stonemouth by Iain Banks (note the lack of the M for his non Sci-Fi stuff)

    I'm a huge Banks fan, he's my favourite author but it's definitely his weakest book yet. Far too short and not enough going on. I really hope this is a blip as his last Sci-Fi novel was one of my favourites (Surface Detail).
  • BinaryBob101 23 May 2012 12:17:42 22,635 posts
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    glaeken wrote:
    Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. Rather enjoyable story of a 19th century solider in the 1st Afghan war. Flashman is the protagonist and is a total self-centred racist misogynist coward who puts self-preservation above anything else and he someone comes out a hero through blind luck. He is a great anti-hero and the whole thing actually reminded me of a more serious Blackadder. It's that sort of character but in a real life setting. In fact I am sure the writers of Blackadder must have read this (it was published in 1965).

    The story itself centring on the first Afghan war is great stuff and just goes to show it's never wise to try and control the affairs of Afghanistan. I almost skipped this as the cover of the book makes it look like itís going to be akin to Carry on up the Khyber but itís really not as silly a book as the cover would suggest it is. Much recommended if you can accept a protagonist who is such a cad and has extremely un-politically correct views from a modern perspective.
    Brilliant book and series of books, Flashman's Lady is my favourite, it's bloody hilarious. Cool books as you get history lessons too along the way.

    Sir_Walter_Rally wrote:
    Many films are based on phone charge running out and being trapped somewhere...

  • Metalfish 23 May 2012 12:27:36 8,819 posts
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    The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. Oliver Sacks.

    Non-Fiction. This is an oldish collection of case studies of the unusual conditions of the brain from a neuroscience perspective (as opposed to say, the more classical psychiatrist approach).

    I started reading this some time ago but put it down a little way in for some reason. One science degree later, it's a lot easier for me to understand, and I'd say that some enthusiasm for scientific terminology is necessary to navigate Sacks' professorial prose. But if you at least a bit versed in biology or at least the sort of reader who gets a kick out of learning new words from an online dictionary, there is treasure in this book.

    The warmth with which Sacks describes every one of his patients, unjudging but with a sharp, clinical eye, allows him to describe incredible conditions whilst maintaining the humanity of the sufferers. Indeed, even the most afflicted are never obscured by their pathology.

    I think the author's careful attention to the narratives and (in his own terms) "souls" of the subjects allows this to be more than a skate across the surface of neuroscience, I found it quite uplifting.

    12 gnus out of Honduras.
  • MetalDog 23 May 2012 12:31:05 23,697 posts
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    I keep meaning to give that a go. I've read one of Ramachandran's book on neurology cases, but I'm not massively up on the technical terms. Might try it anyway.

    @edit - spelling

    Edited by MetalDog at 12:32:26 23-05-2012

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

  • disusedgenius 23 May 2012 12:33:35 5,272 posts
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    Yeah, I read that a while back and agree with the review. It's a very fascinating/scary book.
  • dr_swin 25 May 2012 14:23:34 4,887 posts
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    @Metalfish

    I read that at med school. The case that I often end up thinking about is the guy that ended up having the supercharged sense of smell and how depressed he got when he was 'cured'.
  • Oh-Bollox 9 Jun 2012 23:06:56 5,194 posts
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    The Wind Through The Keyhole, Stephen King. 5/10

    Certainly wind through some type of hole, anyway. Self-indulgent, and interrupts one story just as other gets going with the other, which is hugely frustrating. Well written, but he needs to get a fucking grip.
  • TechnoHippy 11 Jun 2012 09:40:23 14,707 posts
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    The Reality Dysfunction -by Peter F Hamilton

    It takes a while to get going but once it does it is a fine bit of sci-fi. I have the next two books on there way to complete the trilogy. Excellent book.

    9/10

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  • Tonka 20 Jun 2012 13:08:10 20,202 posts
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    @TechnoHippy Fantastic books all in all. Hi jinx space adventure.

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

  • GuiltySpark 27 Jun 2012 06:28:58 6,355 posts
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    Just finished Fahrenheit 451, for obvious reasons.

    Never having read it before, was not sure what I was expecting. I'm not going to lie, the stream of conciousness style it sometimes lapses into confused me sometimes, even if the flowery prose kept me reading. If I had to write a character analysis on any of the characters, I honestly don't think I could, not with any great conviction anyway. It's like events in the book have a strange ethereal quality to them, and things like the war (What war? Is that even explained? That is probably the point, I guess) are apparently just glossed over, to the characters, but also to the reader. Characters like Beatty don't make a lot of sense either (not that 'making sense' would have enhanced the novel at all, it just aids the strange nature of the narrative).

    Overall, good/10.

    (To clarify, I fully understand why these things may happen, but it doesn't necessarily mean that a book full of metaphors is a book that I enjoyed)

    Edited by GuiltySpark at 06:32:35 27-06-2012

    Get bent.

  • glaeken 27 Jun 2012 09:46:01 11,138 posts
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    That is Bradbury for you. I like it personally. I love the weirdness and general other world feel of it. I find JG Ballard similar. Their stories tend to take place in slightly twisted realities and most of their characters seem to be slightly insane.
  • Blerk Moderator 27 Jun 2012 10:14:59 48,225 posts
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    I read Fahrenheit 451 just the other week while I was on my hols and totally loved it from start to finish, one of the best things I've read in ages. The stand-off between Montag and Beatty practically had me shouting and leaping out from under my poolside brolly and into the sunlight, which shows just how awesome I thought it was if I'd risk burning up like a vampire. :)

    For me, the war is pretty much the classic example of how information is 'managed' in Montag's world. It's actually very serious and everyone is in tremendous danger, but it's mentioned only in passing because the people don't need to know about it, they just need to know that it's "going to be alright". Indeed, not knowing about it is crucial in order for order and control to be maintained. Because the reader basically only knows what Montag knows, I think this helps the reader to "feel" the world better (and makes the consequences of some of those decisions all the more terrible in the end). If everything had been explained, I don't think the story would've had the same impact - as it is, it does a superb job of putting you into his shoes. He's in the dark, confused and full of questions - and you end up much the same.

    Amazing stuff. I wish they'd get their arses into gear and sort out a UK Kindle release, then I'll buy it again.
  • Deleted user 27 June 2012 10:33:05
    Sons and lovers - DH Lawrence.

    Really, really didnt like this book. Its an almost autobiographical account of Lawrence's early life and centres around his mother whose all consuming love for him will not allow her to let him have any realtionship of his own aside from with her. Its set in a mining community near Nottingham and is full of poverty, drinking, illness, discord and misery. I was really unable to warm to any of the characters in the book.

    The mother I found to be selfish and devisive and the sons I found to be spineless wimps. The husband was portrayed as a dumb, thuggish drunk and the other female characters were either one dimensional or vacuous. What really annoyed me about the book was the way that people seemed to "hate" people for the least thing. Emotions seemed to be ridiculously exaggerated so that there was terror and hatred and mortification of the soul over a simple act of reading a french book. It felt just "wrong" and left me swearing at the CD player for th peopl eto just get on with it and stop being such pathetic drips. Paul spends longer looking wistfully at flowers in the sunset than any bloke from a colliery ever has a right to.

    Anyway, if you're into a miserable version of a ye olde Mills and Boon, then it might be for you. Me, I'm off to find something else... something with some humour in it somewhere... this was the most dreary book I've ever read. At least Dickens puts some humour in his books.
  • Deleted user 27 June 2012 10:34:25
    PS...anyone know any "classic" that I can download from Librivox that has some humour or action or a fantasy element? Dreary stuff is sickning me off now...those Victorian were a bunch of miseries.
  • glaeken 27 Jun 2012 11:18:24 11,138 posts
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    Possibly some HG Wells might qualify. Something like The First men in the moon is fairly enjoyable and light hearted. It's actually really fun seeing what they thought the moon might be like and definitely has become fantasy.

    I personally find HG Wells very readable and would say the below are worth a read as they are fairly fantasy like now days.

    The First men in the moon
    The Invisible Man
    The Island of Dr. Moreau
    The War in the Air

    This is obviously missing out the Time Machine and War of the Worlds and although they are brilliant they are also not what I would call light hearted. Still maybe they come under the action/fantasy banner.

    Oh and while I am at it try Coming up for Air by George Orwell. It's very different from normal Orwell and I actually found it pretty funny. It's also one of my favourite books. It kind of reminds me of Catch-22 a little.

    Edited by glaeken at 11:26:48 27-06-2012
  • Deleted user 27 June 2012 11:29:47
    Thanks Glaeken. I'll see which of those Librivox has tonight and download one or two. I've read the time machine and war of the worlds, so know what they are like.
  • DaM 27 Jun 2012 11:48:29 12,985 posts
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    Wacko_AK wrote:
    Just finished Stonemouth by Iain Banks (note the lack of the M for his non Sci-Fi stuff)

    I'm a huge Banks fan, he's my favourite author but it's definitely his weakest book yet. Far too short and not enough going on. I really hope this is a blip as his last Sci-Fi novel was one of my favourites (Surface Detail).
    Didn't realise he had a new one out.

    I love Flashman, I was angry when GMF died and his last book wasn't another Flashman! But I forgive him :)
  • Oh-Bollox 2 Jul 2012 00:47:53 5,194 posts
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    Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. A re-read, and I don't remember it being this excellent. Absolutely superb mix of mystery, sociology, and adventure, with a fucking hardcore protagonist.
  • spindle9988 10 Jul 2012 14:37:27 3,528 posts
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    The Shining

    Have always been a fan of the film but never got round to reading the book until recently. It is a very different tone to the film and I can see why King wasnt overly happy with Kubricks adaptation.

    I still really enjoyed the book though and I am going to give the film another viewing to compare the two.

    8/10
  • Deleted user 10 July 2012 14:56:18
    My dad just read the shining as well, he really enjoyed it as well. The endings are meant to be quite different.
  • Metalfish 10 Jul 2012 22:30:37 8,819 posts
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    Game of Thrones -Georgey RawR Martin

    Have you missed my reviews of fantasy books? No? Well, they're back. Hooray.

    I'd been avoiding this one, 'cause I iz well cool. This was probably a mistake. This is a real slab of a book, one could beat a man to death with it, probably. In terms of writing style it shares a lot with Abercrombie (I detect some pollination of Joe's work actually) but with a whole lot more archaic language that just stops on the safe side of the "forsooth-line".

    The setting is remarkably medieval-faithful with a real Arthurian bent to it. As in a lot of the time it takes itself pretty damn seriously. Unless we're dealing with Tyrion the show-stealing dwarf. Which brings me to the characters: they're really rather good for what should be borderline clichť medieval archetypes. It follows the golden rule of everyone having understandable motivations. Another feather in its cap is the lack of predictability: I couldn't see where he was taking the majority of the plot points.

    Less in its favour is the sex scenes, though I think Abercrombie (I might as well compare them) edges him out in the 'I'm just going to skim read this whilst cringing' stakes by a fair margin. Sometimes I found myself raising an eyebrow at the random info-dumps (that seem to be there to mess with your predicting potential as a lot of checkov's guns either don't go off or fire in opposite direction).

    If you can cope with saying "I don't really care who the children of this minor lord are" every hundred pages or so, you'll probably be able to chug through pretty easy going text pretty happily.

    Too many characters, perhaps and a few too many stands happily left dangling for the sequels, but undoubtedly deserving of its reputation.

    2.8 Pinecones out of Lord Byron.
  • TechnoHippy 11 Jul 2012 19:04:50 14,707 posts
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    The Neutronium Alchemist

    I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the first book. I wasn't keen on the use of historical characters, although it does make sense in context. I liked the increased involvement of the aliens, but I wished he had more. Still it has wet my appetite for the final book which I shall start this very evening.

    7/10

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