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ChrisN

What are you reading at the moment?

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I've just recently finished reading Ready Player One (prior to watching the film which pales in comparison) and it's gotten me into the reading bug, so randomly went online last night and had a look for a new one. Was going to go for Armada, also by Ernest Cline, but went for something called Dark Matter instead as it was cheaper and gives me a break to read something from a different author. I Have a feeling I was looking at this too in Fopp the other week thinking about buying it but didn't. 

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12 hours ago, lolly said:

I, robot

 

Always knew that itvwas an anthology  series but never realised how many stories there were. Just moved through 3 or 4 and some of the scenarios, wit and banter are fantastic. 

 

Getting a slight Lovecraftian vibe from it as well, mainly  because  of  the  strangeness  or otherness of the robot characters.

 

It’s fantastic, pretty much the only essential Asimov for me. 

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Over the weekend I read Asking For It by Louise O'Neill. This came out a couple of years ago but it could have been written last week because it almost parallels a court case that was in the news here recently.

 

I don't know if the Belfast rape trial made the news in England. There were a couple of international Irish rugby players accused and acquitted of raping a girl at a house party. In Asking For It a girl at a house party is raped by several GAA players. The book covers the rape, the fallout and the build up to the trial. It was uncanny how this book mirrored real life right down to the hash tag campaign (#ibelieveher after the Belfast trail #ibelievetheBallinatoomgirl in Asking For It).

 

I thought this was excellent but quite a hard read at times. It's written from a first person perspective so the assault is described in a lot of detail. Apparently this was first published as a Young Adult book and then re-issued as a regular book. It's definitely in the adult part of that market. 

 

Recommended.

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I've got a few books on the go at the moment but mainly enjoying Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. Hugely-detailed and scary history of the safety, or lack of, the American nuclear arsenal divided largely between a detailed account of the Titan 2 missile incident in 1980 and a general history of weapons development and the politics behind nuclear war since WWII. I'm impressed so far by how balanced the account is, it isn't too pro or anti, although the natural inclination would be we'd naturally be safer without them. The Titan 2 section is written a bit like a novel and is genuinely exciting and is all the more chilling knowing this actually happened. The book does go into a bit too much detail about inter-service machinations about planning and procedures but generally a very interesting read.

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This is one of the most harrowing books I've read in years.  I'm always fascinated by documentaries on North Korea and god know how the population are able to cope - if this book is anything to go by, the simple fact is that they don't even get close to coping.

 

Some truly shocking anecdotes in this - and it doesn't sound atypical of rural North Korean life.  There are no concentration camps or anything like that being described by the author, just year after year of terrible suffering, cold, near-starvation and a desperate worry that no matter how hard you work, it's not even enough to feed you or your family.

 

I've read plenty about the bizarre ideologies forced upon the entire population by the state but I hadn't really read many first hand accounts on how it effected everyday life for people.  Ishikawa and his family suffered more than most as they were Japanese migrants who moved over to North Korea because of his father, who was originally born there.  But they were always seen as outcasts, and when you're already at the foot of the social classes, being Japanese simply made things worth, with discrimination rife throughout their lives.

 

It's not a particularly long book and I got through it in under a week just on my half hour commutes to and from work, and whilst it's interesting, it's also emotional and incredibly harrowing.

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Just finished this collection of short stories by Kevin Barry. It was very good. 

 

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Also finished this. Was decent enough. Liked the film better though. 

 

Not sure what to read next. 

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I just finished Eleanor oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman.  I only picked it up for something to read for working nights, and in all honesty I thought it probably was not going to be to my tastes.... But I absolutely loved it. It was sympathetic and well written and I absolutely recommend it. 

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Just finished Meddling Kids. Essentially Strangers Thing focused around  Scooby Doo / The Famous Five with lots of IT and Lovecraft thrown in. It was interesting but I felt it failed to develop some of the more interesting threads and the finale didn't satisfy at all - if anything it perhaps strayed too close to the source material. 

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Picked up Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, which is his debut novel as far as I'm aware. It's my fourth or fifth Mitchell book, the guy certainly knows how to write and this is thoroughly enjoyable. It seems to use a similar structure to the more famous Cloud Atlas where it's a collection of individual stories tangentially related to each other which ultimately form something bigger.  I'm not sure whether this one ties up as neatly as Cloud Atlas, I suspect it wont given how it's been going so far but even so it's a fun romp around Asia bouncing from a kid working in a record shop in Tokyo to tribal people in Mongolia.  Thumbs up so far. 

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The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. Only about a third in but its good so far. Secret British organisation using mutants to defeat supernatural foes. 

 

No Laundry files mind. 

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I'm about 4/5 through Infinite Jest and I'm still not sure if it like it. It's masterfully written and has many, many great moments but it feels incredibly pretentious at times. About a third of the time I'm not even sure what's going on. I don't think I'll ever regret reading it though and it has fascinating insights on so, so many things.

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I'm about six hours into The Shadow World: Inside The Global Arms Trade by Andrew Feinstein. It goes into great detail about all the dodgy arms deals between governments, shady arms brokers, and everything in between, corruption, bribery, riding roughshod over state and international law. It's certainly an eye-openner, and if you really didn't know how dodgy the Saudi leadership were when it comes to arms deals this book goes to great lengths to demonstrate it. Only another 19 hours to go!

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On 24/04/2018 at 22:18, Miner Willy said:

Really enjoying Circe - high hopes matched so far. 

 

Finished Circe and really loved it. The way the author retells the classics in such a fresh and modern way is just really impressive.

 

Also finished Reality is not what it seems, which I liked, though I always seem to finish popular science books feeling incredibly stupid.

 

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Can't remember why I started reading 'Sealed'; perhaps it was recommended on here? Either way, it's really good so far: does a great job of setting the scene through hints and insinuation.

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Over the weekend I read Take My Hand by MJ Ford. A police procedural/thriller set in Bath. 30 years ago a child was kidnapped from a funfair by a man in a clown mask and never seen again. Now a body has been found that matches what the child was wearing when he disappeared. But another child has been kidnapped by a person also wearing a clown mask. Are these two incidents linked?

 

This was an excellent read with a solid central mystery over a split time period. I thought it had painted itself into a corner at one point but there were a couple of late twists that meant the plot worked itself out nicely. It’s well paced and the locations are atmospheric. The protagonist is a great character and I hope to see more books from this writer featuring her.

 

I paid a pound for it on kindle, definitely worth it at that price. One for thriller or police procedural fans.

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I wanted to take this opportunity to have a rant.

 

The other day I started Troubleshooter by Gregg Hurwitz, a fast-paced pulpy thriller involving bikers and US Marshals. It was the third book in the series but I always assume that, unless it's SF or Fantasy, they're generally stand-alone. I was wrong. It made absolutely no effort to reintroduce characters, it would just name people assuming you knew who they were. And it would make copious references to the previous books even though they weren't integral to the plot, or what I read of it anyway.

 

So I had to go back and read the first book - The Kill Clause - which, so far, is okay, if a bit too verbose for a thriller (I have the feeling it'll feel a lot longer than it should).

 

Life is too short and there are too many books out there for me to have to commit myself to a series in linear fashion, especially for pulpy books like this. I can understand it for an expansive SF or fantasy epic with complex time lines, relationships and maybe a history that covers millennia. I had the same problem with these Peter James crime novels that would similarly make reference to the previous books without adding the current story.

 

Whatever happened to the quality one-off book?

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On ‎02‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 23:24, Naysonymous said:

Picked up Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, which is his debut novel as far as I'm aware. It's my fourth or fifth Mitchell book, the guy certainly knows how to write and this is thoroughly enjoyable. It seems to use a similar structure to the more famous Cloud Atlas where it's a collection of individual stories tangentially related to each other which ultimately form something bigger.  I'm not sure whether this one ties up as neatly as Cloud Atlas, I suspect it wont given how it's been going so far but even so it's a fun romp around Asia bouncing from a kid working in a record shop in Tokyo to tribal people in Mongolia.  Thumbs up so far. 

 

It's brilliant. I've not read a better debut novel from a modern writer. 

 

 

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Maybe reading Cloud Atlas first lessened the impact, I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I don't think it's Mitchell's best work. As for best debuts as a little aside, I think I've got to mention The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. 

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