Sort of a Book Review: Dodger (Pratchett)

I think the most unusual thing is this post is that I am actually writing a blog post and I have read another book.

Another book about real live people and a made up story. Pratchett is, of course, brilliant. This is very good YA fiction with an excellent in joke that is only (partly) revealed at the end.

There is a theme developing that will soon be crushed by one of the next books that I am considering reading.

It’s probably time for a classic. It may well be Dickens. It might not be.

Very busy with life (real and otherwise). I’m swimming a lot. A lot. This is fantastic news for me and very boring for you. I will soon also be cross-training a lot. Ditto.

I have hit on a writing idea that, at the moment, I am throughly enjoying spending time playing with. I mean, properly enjoying, not occasionally dabbling with and then forgetting about. This is good therapy. It really is.

For completely different reasons, I need to spend time on my interview answers and examples.

And cleaning. And getting fresh air. Once it stops snowing. If it ever stops snowing*…

Oh! Also, I am stupidly happy that PJ and Duncan AKA Ant and Dec are all set for a Number 1. Just a childhood thing. No biggie.

*Want to read a good SF book about snow? Read Adam Roberts’ aptly titled Snow.

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Book Review: Carter Beats the Devil (Glen David Gold)

And as if by magic, I finished this at about half 12 last night. What an excellent book! Thanks to the last-minute vote on my experiment and to James for recommending it in the first place.

Where to start?

I suppose I should say (as I should have said for Hudson’s The Dazzle) that Charles Carter and various other characters were real live people. There’s even a cameo by Houdini. Houdini! I have to say I find magicians much more interesting than the interwar fast set, if just because of the sheer brio you must have to spend a life on stage deceiving people. As usual, in these cases, I wonder how much of the story was true and how much a fabrication. Certainly, you can perform more outrageous magic tricks on paper than you can on stage, except that, I read in the notes that the tricks were all based on those that were performed at the time. Well…

I like this book because I was fooled into forgetting that Carter was a real person. The story has so many twists and turns that fit so incredibly well together, I was never bored (the book is over 500 pages long). In fact, I did something I haven’t done for a long time, I actually savoured reading it. It’s a romance, a who-dun-it, a coming of age story, a comedy, a tragedy but mainly an adventure. And it’s a debut book!

I had to wait until near the end to find my favourite line though, then two came along at once (discounting “Paddock’s Storage House” for obvious reasons), oh, and I learned a new word: Horripilation (Goose bumps!).

In short, I loved it and was, quite frankly, impressed. It gave me horripilations (see!).

Read it. Don’t delay. Read it now.

I’ve been waiting to read the next book since my A Level Physics teacher mentioned it 12 years ago…

Celestial Matters (Rickard Garfinkle).

Happy New Year! And the first book review of 2013!

I hope 2013 it is a good year for all.

As I sit here surrounded by all the mod-cons, a new TV, a Nexus 7, iPhone and full house insurance, I have cracked out the old laptop to write my first post in 2013. I can think of no better way to start the year than by reviewing a new book. By deft combination of espionage and extortion I managed to get my hands on a review copy from the excellent and very astute people at Jonathan Cape.

The chances of my return to the audience at Tall Tales are, for various reasons, remote so I think I am safe to be honest…

 

The Dazzle (Robert Hudson)

“Sex, drugs and tuna” is The Dazzle’s tagline and it pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin, which for a delicate wallflower like myself was a little off-putting at the start, however, the prologue had already hooked me in (and it is inevitable that, without even trying, every other word written in this review will now have fishing connotations) so I wasn’t going to give up on the book.

It took me a little while to work out who all the characters  were and what their relationship to other characters might be. Being honest, I had to go back and check that the character involved in the reveal at the end was actually mentioned earlier in the book, which, of course, they were at great length. Weirdly, having looked back, it all suddenly made sense as the excellently organised story that it was.

Some of The Dazzle was written in letter format (which shouldn’t have surprised me). Personally, I find it takes a special sort of book written in that style to keep my interest (Warhorses of Letters, picking a completely random example) and I have to admit I lost the plot somewhere near the centre. In contrast though, when nearing the end, the style of plot reveal changes and it is bloody clever. I enjoyed that the most.

The book uses some words even Google itself won’t shed any light on. I liked that and am, in a strange way, kind of happy that I still have no idea what the words mean because I can guess and my wallflower is already wilting.  That was not an intentional euphemism. The author obviously had fun with boat names as well which was enjoyable. Having finished the book, I found myself hoping that the little team of characters might be written in to a sequel.

Anyway, I maintain that any book that mentions giant squid has to be a good book by default and this doesn’t buck the trend.

The Dazzle by Robert Hudson is released next month and I really do think you should give it try.

Book Review: The Year of the Hare (Arto Paasilinna)

Weird book but then it is Finnish. Recommendation taken from a blog that I follow.

The translation was OK. I can’t say I’ve read worse because this is the only Finnish book translation I have ever read. It had a beginning, a middle and an (happy) end. And I don’t blame the protagonist for his actions.

I think I should like to move to Scandinavia.

6/10 – worth a shot.

52 Books (ish – don’t judge me) A Year

And so, after nearly a whole year, I have finally completed my resolution to read and review 52 novels. That is what I did.

Sort of.

The real (main) idea was simply to read more because for the last couple of years I’ve only read a handful of books and I love reading. The secondary idea was to have a go at a review or two because I enjoy that as well. How did I really do? Here come the stats!

I read a grand total of 26 novels, 1 play, 3 loo books, 4 (officially) kids books, my first e-book, a science book, a CV, a biography on Shakespeare, 2 autobiographies, some letters written by horses, at least 3 really bad books, a good few short stories, a Pratchett, a practical guide for wartime American soldiers, a social reading project book (mammoth count of 5 books because it was huge) and 1 non-finisher. And I reviewed them all! Even if some reviews were very short. I’ve tried some new genres and re-discovered my love of Science Fiction. More importantly I have read more! I think the most I read in a week was 4 books. Unheard of.

I have also found a plethora of weird photos online.

So, that’s that. I will continue to make more time to read. I collected a good number of book recommendations and will enjoy reading them at my leisure. I hope to continue to review the ones I like too.

Which brings me to my 2013 resolution…

Read and review 20 books AND write 13 short (or long) stories.

Geddit?

We’ll see how it goes. And, oh yes, next year… no cheating!

Book 42: A Scanner Darkly (Philip K Dick)

“Entering the phone booth, he did a phone thing.”

Is the best line of any book I’ve ever read. I also enjoyed (for very different reasons):

“If I knew it was harmless, I’d have killed it myself.”

I did like this. If there ever was an advert against drugs, this is it! It was really freaky how we know a lot more than the main character does about his motives and actions.

Of course, any book containing random German has to be excellent.

7/10 – enjoyed it, freaked me out a bit, but I found it a little difficult to understand the phrases used.