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Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Wed 8th Dec '04 8:27AM
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7th Apr '03
Inca Cola - Matthew Parris 10/10
A very genuine and insightful traveller's tale of a man's adventures around Peru with three friends. Hi adventures take him well off the beaten track, leaving the tourist spots behind and meeting an array of colourful characters on the way. He makes no attempt to paint a rosy picture of his travels, when grim things happen he says it like it is but rather than leave you feeling a little sick it simply makes you realise how much he is living his life.
It's a real travellers tale without any gloss. If you ever want a book to inspire you to get off your arse and do some serious travelling then look no further.
Second opinion by Kalb04 on 18th Jul '10 7/10
Mark Twain was a famous American writer. He wrote many stories and many of them were funny stories. These stories are still read by many people all over the world. Besides writing, billig ed hardy bekleidunghe also liked hunting and fishing very much, so one year he went to Maine for a holiday and spent three very pleasant weeks in the woods there.
When he had to go back home, he drove to the station with his baggage. There he asked a porter to put it into the train. Then he got into the smoking car and sat down in one of the comfortable seats there.ed hardy clothes The car was empty when he got in, but a few minutes later, another man got in and sat down on the seat opposite his. Mark Twain looked at the man and thought that this man looked quite unpleasant. However, it would be impolite to say nothing in that situation, so he said good morning to the man, and they began to talk.
First they talked about the weather and then they talked about Maine. The stranger said, "We have some beautiful woods in Maine. It would be a pity to come to Maine without spending some time there. ed hardyI suppose you have been in our woods, haven't you?" "Yes, I have," answered Mark Twain. "I've just spent three weeks there and I had a very good time, too. And let me tell you something. Although fishing isn't allowed in Maine at this season, I've got two hundred pounds of beautiful fish with my baggage in this train. I like to eat fish,louis vuittonso I packed it in ice to take it home with me. May I ask who you are, sir?"
The stranger looked at Mark Twain for several seconds and then answered, "I'm a police officer. My job is to catch people who hunt and fish during the wrong seasons. And who are you?"
Mark Twain was surprised and frightened when he heard this. He thought quickly and then answered, "Well, I'll tell you, sir. I'm the man who tells the biggest lies in America."
    Average Rating 8.5

Sloanio
*boingy* *boingy*
Mon 13th Dec '04 1:36PM
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12th Feb '04
Deception Point - Dan Brown 0/10
I recently read the DaVinci Code and the previous book Angels and Demons, both of which I enjoyed immensely, I highly recommend Angels and Demons especially, so I decided to read Deception Point to see how he gets on as an author without the church or any reference to the illuminati. It started off rather well, a large meteorite is discovered trapped in a glacier in the Arctic and when it is pulled up it is seen to have large bug like creatures fossilised into it! Is this NASA's greatest triumph?! The proof of life on other worlds?

Meanwhile back in Washington the presidential race is hotting up and the find of this metorite is going to be great for the struggling president. So he sends the daughter of his opponent to verify the metorite. Then she meets the love interest and it all becomes rather silly.

It started so well, i was so disappointed when it all turned into the mushyest love story ever!! "He realised he hadn't felt this way since his wife had died horribly of cancer 5 years previously" "Barriers he never knew were there all melted away"

Boke

I'll let you know about Digital Fortress when I get round to it
 

Cwgerard
The man with the peridot face
Sat 18th Dec '04 6:15PM
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon 5/10
The story of Christopher, a fifteen-year-old with Asperger's syndrome. When he finds his neighbour's dog has been killed, he decides to find the culprit. This book has been given much critical acclaim, but I honestly cannot see why. While the story is well written (you could honestly believe the book had been written by an Asperger's case) the story lacks pace. The emotional detachment of Christopher, due to his condition, also makes it hard to identify with the character.

Not entirely without its good points, but I'd reccomend you give it a miss.
Second opinion by General on 2nd Nov '05 8/10
A clever idea, well executed, but not for everyone.
  Average Rating 6.5

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Mon 17th Jan '05 2:15PM
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Digital Fortress - Dan Brown 0/10


Sloanio was bold enough to comment:
I'll let you know about Digital Fortress when I get round to it



I'll save you time: Don't. Just plain don't.

Ok, ok, for those of you who really want to know, here's why it fully sucks:

It's Dan Brown's first novel and it reads like it.

The first quarter or so of the book gives studies of all the major (and some of the minor) characters. This has no real bearing on the story, it's just introducing them all. In detail. You might as well enjoy this as its as close to character developement as you're likely to get. It also includes an explanation for why a proto-Robert Langdon is busy doing something he's wholly unsuited for when more able characters should be available.

The character studies then end [[and a minor character explains what's really happening.]] All the major characters then [[ ignore him and]] spend the rest of the book doing dull, stupid things for illogical reasons [[until they realise he's right]]. The final denouement is nearly exciting [[until the proto-Langdon kills the hitman and explains to the expert cryptologists how the code works]]. Then they all live happily ever after.

In other words, don't. Just don't.
   

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 9th Feb '05 8:39AM
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Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card 9/10
An absolutely brilliant morality play in space. The story focuses on Ender, a brilliant six year old who is being groomed to become the world's miliatry commander against the buggers (space bugs basically). He is trained through the use of the battle room, a mock zero-gravity war between teams of six to sixteen year olds that is gradually being twisted against him, becoming harder and harder for him to win.
At times unremitting and rarely funny, we are slowly drawn through his victories and defeats. A must read for everyone.
Second opinion by Diziet on 22nd Nov '05 9/10
excellent space opera. as is the sequel, Speaker For The Dead
   Average Rating 9

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Mon 18th Jul '05 8:47AM
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The Long Way Round - Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman 8/10
The story of two friends trip from London to New York on motorbikes, this is a funny and interesting story about being far, far from the beaten track. Involving some interesting characters, situations, it mainly focuses on the fears and hopes of two friends around the world.

My only slight problem is that some of the dialogue reads false - you can tell it's been edited for swearing ("I'm really annoyed with you Charley, that upset me").
   

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Mon 18th Jul '05 8:50AM
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Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card 9/10
A companion book to Ender's Game, this is the story of Bean, one of Ender's Lieutenants. Ender's Shadow starts at the same time as Ender's Game, ends at the same time as Ender's Game and covers the same events from a different angle. It's written so that either of them can be read first and explains events from a different viewpoint, giving them a different slant.
   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Thu 28th Jul '05 12:37AM
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7th Apr '03
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver 7/10
A novel told in the form of a sequence of letters sent from Eva Khatchadourian to her husband Franklin detailing the life of their son Kevin who recently commited mass murder in a colombine style masacre and the age of 15.

At the core of this story is the issue of blame. Eva feels guilt that she was a bad mother who never loved her son, but also that Kevin was born bad and she cannot be held responsible for his actions. Most of the key scenes in the book involve the minutae of the daily grind of Kevin and Eva's life togather and the battle of wills between Mother and Son.

As you might imagine the book is less than a barrel of laughs.

Much has been made of the frank admission in the book that some mothers feel invaded by pregnancy and fail to develop a bond with (or even like) their offspring despite their best efforts and this taboo pushing is to be commended.

What I found difficult in this book was establishing the intent of the author. As the whole narative is told from Eva's perspective we are lead to belive that Kevin was intrinsicly bad and her lack of love for him made no differnce to his outcome. What is left ambiguous in the book is if Eva's telling of the story can be trusted (She is after all the subject of a court case for parental neglect) leaving you clutching for resolution.

Supprisingly readable for such dark source material.
    

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Sun 31st Jul '05 5:03PM
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The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage - Cliff Stoll 10/10
This book is a true story written by the guy it happened to back in the mid-eighties during the frontier times for computer policing and security.
He is a computer support technician for Lawrence Berkeley University who, by a simple 75 cent accounting error on a computer billing system is alerted to a hacker trying to use his systems as a mid-point to access secure military networks.
Although non-fiction he weaves the story so well that even the most technically inept person can understand what's going on and get involved in the story as he tracks the spy, set up his own spying programs and liaises with network admins around the world as they close the web.
Also you'll learn a load about hacking and network architecture without even realising it.

So so good
    

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Sun 16th Oct '05 9:54PM
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7th Apr '03
Perfume - Patrick Suskind 10/10
Every so often you read a book that is entirely unique and I would say that this is such a book.

Translated from German, but set in in 18th century France it tells the story of Grenouille an orphan with the unique gifts of having the most finely attuned sense of smell in the world and having no smell of his own. He is completely without morality and sickened by what he perceves to be the stench of humanity.

The book is amazingly descriptive filled with grotesque characters and dazling descriptions of the world of scent in which Grenouille enhabits. At the surface it is an interesting and readable tale of the fantastic, but has a great deal more depth with a religous subtext if you are so inclined. The book transports you to a parallel and nightmarish world where the body is just a vessel whose only worthwhile trait is it's scent.

Kurt Cobain was apparently obessed with the book in the last years of his life and it isn't hard to see why.

I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have ever read.
Second opinion by Spanners on 20th Dec '05 10/10
I've just finished this book and it is mighty, quite unlike any book I have ever read. The story was amazingly compelling and extremely well written, so much so that even the section where the main character spends 7 years sat in a cave keeps full control of your attention. Read it.
    Average Rating 10

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Sun 16th Oct '05 11:28PM
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The Vesuvius Club - Mark Gatiss 6.5/10
The debut novel by the League of Gentleman star and writer who also notibly penned an episode of the most recent Dr Who series.

The Vesuvius club is set in edwardian London and centers on Lucifer Box a famous portrait painter and playboy who has a secret double life as a government spy and assasin.

Box is called to investigate the murder of a series of preminent geologists, during which he journies through a depraved London underworld filled with rent boys and opium.

Unsurprisingly the book is a action comedy with most of the humor coming from an expert use of edwardian attitudes and language and is essentialy a parody of the "Ripping Yarn" school of book from the era (Think of John Bucken's "The 39 Steps" or "King Solomons Mines" if you need a reference point)

The book declares its self to be "A bit of fluff" on the inside of the cover and is indeed a pleasure to read barreling along at a brisk pace and at no point are you far away from sex, violence or a gag or two.

I was tempted to review the book whilst I was in the midst of reading it, but I am glad that I didn't as the book disapoints in the later stages. Towards the end the book loses focus and ends up going through a low rent Bond/Austin Powers (Photographer/Spy or Portraitist/Spy) pastiche of an ending lacking any excitement or a novel twist with a standard tacked on extra bad guy Bond ending.

Asside from that the book is a short and fun novel and I would recomend it as a holiday read etc.
    

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 19th Oct '05 5:39PM
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Thud! - Terry Pratchett 5/10
The latest discworld book is about the Watch and so it's exactly the same as all of the others. Apart from the bits that are completely different. Obviously. Somehow though, this book does seem to manage to stay fresh (unlike, say the fifth elephant).

It focuses on the events of Koom Valley (where the dwarfs ambushed the trolls and the trolls ambushed the dwarfs). So it's a little bit about Northern Ireland, a little bit about the Gaza strip, and somehow nothing like them either.

I guess my real problem here is I can't bring myself to be enthusiastic about reviewing it. I read the book pretty much straight through from start to finish (I had to work in the middle annoyingly) so I know I enjoyed it. There's enough twists and turns to keep things interesting and there's a couple of weird and random paragraphs that aren't really explained until the end to it fresh and different.
Second opinion by Diziet on 5th Sep '06 3/10
the city guards used to be my favourite pratchett characters but he's bled them dry and now uses them to comment on current affairs in increasingly surrel and not very funny ways. Detritus used to be hilarious - these days he has emotional encounters with Vimes and then apologises for them later. dull.

i stopped reading 10 pages from the end.
Second opinion by General on 20th Jan '07 7/10
Read it on holiday and quite enjoyed it. Not a patch on Mort, but then what is?
   Average Rating 5

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 26th Oct '05 11:19AM
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Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell 10/10
This is one of those stories that's almost impossible to properly describe. It takes the form of six stories. Each story is completely separate and yet totally entwined. The first story deals with an American notary's travels to the Chatham isles and home again. The second is about a penniless english muscian finding work for a famous composer. The third has a young american journalist uncovering a political conspiracy. The fourth is an aging english publisher attempting to escape a nursing home. The fifth is an interview with a Korean genetically-engineered slaves attempts at revolution in the near future. The sixth is an american's life story set in a post-apocalyptic future.

There are themes of slavery, immortality (and reincarnation) and pacifism. There are... lots of really, really good things in this book that I don't want to spoil It's beautifully written (every story has it's own style and language) and they're so wonderfully entwined, while being separate...

It's actually pretty damn hard to explain why this is so great!
Second opinion by Mrsham on 16th Mar '07 10/10
I read it, then immediately read it again, partly cause it's so good, partly cause it's so confusing. Beautiful, and takes on difficult stuff without flinching, but remains hopeful (sort of).
   Average Rating 10

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Tue 22nd Nov '05 1:43PM
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Terminator 2 Trilogy - S. M. Stirling 9/10
Book 1 - Infiltrator, Book 2 - Storm Rising, Book 3 - Future War

These three books were written before Terminator 3 was made, and so thankfully they completely ignore that poor excuse for a film. They start approximately six years after the end of Terminator 2 and follow the adventures of John and Sarah Connor, as well Dieter Von Rossbach - a human counter terrorist whose body was used as the form of the T-101's.

Following their attempts to stop the rise of skynet, and on into the war against skynet, these books create a huge and rich tapestry of events that are times exciting and enthralling. The only reason I only gave them a 9 rather than a 10 is because Future War, which covers the actual war against skynet, is a little bit short, and you get the feeling they could have made much more of this story.

Still, as a follow on to two great films, they make a cracking read, and I highly recommend them to any fan of the original film!

Much better than that shoddy excuse for a movie they released afterwards...
   

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 30th Nov '05 10:49AM
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The Meq - Steve Cash 10/10
This story follows Zianno Zezen, it starts on his twelve birthday when his parents are killed, and follows him as he starts to learn who and what The Meq are. It starts in 1881 and spans the next few decades, introducing a delight of colourful characters, both human, and not so human.

Perfectly entwining historical events with a world spanning adventure, this is a beautiful, dreamlike book. The only compliants I've heard about it are that it is quite slow - although personally I'd have to say that was a bonus for me, as it allowed the author to take his time explaining different parts of the world as years pass.
   

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Sat 7th Jan '06 4:51PM
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Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 1 9/10
by Dan Harrington

First in a 2-volume set (2nd volume covers the endgame). An incredibly thorough and well-written discussion of Texas No-Limit Hold'em Poker as played in tournaments. Might not be ideal for the very beginning player (try 'Poker for Dummies' for a good starter book), but these 2 volumes will explain all you need to know to play tournament hold'em at expert levels. All the maths is clearly explained and described in easy-to-understand terms so even non-mathematical types shouldn't find it too difficult. Each chapter concludes with a set of problems to test your undertanding of the material so far. Also, both volumes together cover 750 pages, that's a lot of good information for your money!
  

Diziet
optical moose
Sun 2nd Apr '06 3:42PM
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past mortem - ben elton 10/10
this book combines a serial killer murder mystery with the friends reunited website. the result is gripping, funny and entertaining. i couldn't put the book down and i especially loved all the 80's references.

detective newson (spewsome newson to his old classmates) has to track down a killer who murders his victims in very unsettling ways (one victim is hit repeatedly on the head thousands of times with a telephone directory until his brain literally turns to mush). newson also has to deal with the fact that he's in love with his colleague and his impending class of '84 reunion.

i can't recommend this book enough. its fab.

Diziet
optical moose
Sun 2nd Apr '06 3:44PM
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dead famous - ben elton 10/10
another one that i couldn't put down.

dead famous is about the Big Brother game show. during the show, one of the contestants is murdered by a housemate - but which one?

this book is absoloutely hilarious, particularly because ben elton nails the characters perfectly. each one of the housemates is a superficial, self-obsessed fame hunter and the more you get to know them the more you wish all of them would be murdered.
Second opinion by Amanshu on 10th Apr '06 9/10
This is indeed a truly glorious read! he end is result is both surprising and brilliantly done.
Average Rating 9.5

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Sun 9th Apr '06 11:26PM
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The Automated Alice by Jeff Noon 9/10
If you're familiar with Jeff Noon you'll already know the remixed Manchester the book is set in, this time focused more around Didsbury and the City Centre. It's the third part of the Alice in Wonderland series by Lewis Carroll, which suits Noon's style perfectly. Puns, riddles and word games abound, as Alice meets an array of downright peculiar people during a series of bizarre adventures. Described as 'Vertigo' fiction, it cheerfully disregards most conventions of literature to take the reader on a mind-expanding journey through language and thought itself. Bound to put a smile on anyone's face!

One point deducted as it's altogether too short.
  

Diziet
optical moose
Sun 18th Jun '06 6:47PM
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Everything Can Be Beaten - Chancre Scolex & Crab Scrambly 10/10
this is a storybook my girlfriend found in a comic shop.

its dark. very, very dark.

its a tiny 24 page comic about a strange little creature called IT. IT lives in a boring door-less room. every day he has to squash the kittens that come out of a chute in the wall with his hammer.

this is the first page...


'IT stands away, interrupting himself from the incessant hammering of the kittens dropping from the chute, and asks himself, "Is this all that there is?"'

one day a door appears in the room and IT is able to escape into a new world of wonder and joy. IT wanders through this land with his hammer and after many adventures realises that everything can be beaten.

Second opinion by Ginger fury on 5th Sep '06 10/10
Ohhh yes, it's an odd one all right.
Average Rating 10

Ginger fury
i sing chaka khan songs while wearing my white stilettos
Tue 5th Sep '06 6:40PM
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The Dark Tower by Steven king 10/10
This is an epic story of The Lord of the Rings proportions. It covers several books and has been an ongoing chore/love for Mr King.

The main character is Roland a cowboy Night of sorts whos sole purpose is to save the Dark tower and the many worlds that spin on its axes supported by "Beams" that are being erroded by telepaths being controled by nasty summits who provide them (the telepaths) with the stuff that they sucked out of Twin barins to strenghten their telepathy.

I truely fell in love with Roland (clint Eastwood I'm sure) whilst reading these books and my boyfriend wanted to be him (hell I did too).

I did however consider taking a point off for the end, which I felt could be different but after much consideration it was the only logical ending and it was the only way Mr King was about to get the world off this back as we demaded more and more of the Tower.

Mmmmm Roland of Giliad

Second opinion by Diziet on 5th Sep '06 10/10
i did NOT want to be roland of gilead....i want to be clint eastwood PLAYING roland of gilead in the film in my head.

excellent series. the ending is a bit poo but i'm not taking points off coz i've followed this series and loved it since i was 14 (i'm now 33 - thats a whole lotta love!)
Second opinion by Amanshu on 11th Sep '06 10/10
I haven't really read the last book, so I can't comment on the ending, but this series is enthralling! It took King a ridiculous number of years to write and everything is so deeply entwined in such a wonderful way. Hell characters from other stories pop up, as does King himself at one point. Well worth a read!
Average Rating 10

Diziet
optical moose
Sun 29th Oct '06 1:05PM
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World War Z - Max Brooks 10/10
this is a fictitious account of a 'zombie apocalypse' that affects the entire world.

brooks delivers the story through a series of 'first hand accounts' from everyday people right up to vice-presidents and members of the UN.

i'm a massive zombie fan, so this book was right up my street. however, even if you don't like the shambling undead, and aren't a fan of incredibely gory face-ripping horror, you may still like this book. it gives a highly believable account of how the world may react to a global invasion from an unknown quarter. also, its bloody good fun to read!

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Thu 2nd Nov '06 4:56PM
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All fun and games until someone loses an eye - Christopher Brookmyre 10/10
If you haven't read a Christopher Brookmyre book before then this is definitely a good place to start. He is the king of Scottish comedy action adventure and this is a fine example of what he does.

The story revolves around Jane Fleming, a 46 year old grandmother. Now Jane had a bit of a bum deal in life. She got pregnant a bit earlier than she wanted and was forced to change from a punk to a wife over night. Since then she's lived the role as best she can daydreaming about just once having a chance to live a James Bond life. But she's never cheated, or stolen, or even hurt someone. She's never broken the law. She's never even had a parking ticket.

But she's about to make up for all that. In a big way.

This book manages to be hilariously funny, and if the idea of a grannie as a spy seems a little implausible to you, just remember the words of the former head of MI5 Stella Rimington: "being a mother is the perfect apprenticeship for a career in espionage".
Second opinion by Diziet on 3rd Nov '06 10/10
brookmyre is indeed fantastic. i'd also recommend A Big Boy did it and Ran Away and One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night.

   Average Rating 10

Diziet
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Sun 10th Dec '06 3:51PM
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the zombie survival guide - max brooks (18 rated review) 9/10
every right thinking person knows that sooner or later the dead will rise and begin to feed on the flesh of the living. you just have to see simon pegg's recent documentary to know this it true.

max brooks (son of mel) is to be commended on his forward thinking where the coming undead apocalypse is concerned. in fact, brooks may one day be honoured as a hero for collating, organising and producing a survival guide that will no doubt save thousands of lives.

the zombie survival guide does exactley what it says on the cover - it tells you how to survive a zombie attack (whether it be a class 1, a class 2 or even a class 3).

imagine if this was to happen to you:







how could you have stopped this? brooks' guide will tell you how to avoid this exact situation. a cunning use of every day household objects and a bit of shrewd thinking could well stop this from happening:







and avoid you turning into one of these:







every aspect of surviving a zombie apocalypse is covered, from the exact selection of weapons to carry, to the amount of people you should have in your survival group, to surviving the attack from the comfort of your own home ('stockpile food, water and weapons in a bedroom and then destroy the stairs').

i urge you to buy this book and read it religiously. it could not only save your life, but the lives of those around you!




General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Sat 20th Jan '07 5:34PM
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The Weight of Numbers - Simon Ings 0/10
One of the worst books I've ever had the misfortune to have read. It is one of those typical overtly "literary" novels that is too high on concept and sadly lacking in content. It follows a number of two dimensional characters over about 50 years and all over the world from London, to Florida to South Africa with a set of parallel story that are supposedly some kind of amazing spider web of interconnectedness, but in actuality the story creaks under the improbability of all the artless and improbable ways that the characters interact across the times.
I forced myself to read to the end to see if the story came together at any point into a consistent and coherent form that could be referred to as a plot, but somewhat predictably it came to an arbitrary stop when the author got as deathly bored with writing it as those of us who have suffered to have read it.
A moment after I completed the last page the book sailed in a graceful arc into the waste paper basket across the room never to be seen again.
    

Diziet
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Fri 16th Mar '07 11:17AM
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quicksilver - neal stephenson 10/10
this is the first book in the Baroque Cycle. each book runs close to one thousand pages and if quicksilver is anything to go by then every one of those pages is a work of art.

set during the 17th and 8th century, quicksilver tells the story of three disparate characters - daniel waterhouse (natural philospher, member of the royal society and friend of isaac newton), half-cocked jack shaftoe (king of the vagabonds) and eliza (a girl jack rescues from a turkish harem. she goes on to become a member of the court at versaille, gets involved in many plots and intrigues, and helps usher in the new concept of 'finance')

the plot is far too huge to describe in a mini-review. basically, daniel is called back from america to help resolve an argument between newton and leibniz over calculus. jack and eliza roam around most of europe and north africa having the kind of swashbuckling adventures that would make captain jack sparrow proud.

if you're into science (a lot of the book focuses on the birth of the royal society) and hugely entertaining adventures on the high seas, then you should read quicksilver.


Swoop*
CHIMPO
Wed 15th Aug '07 7:28PM
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9th Apr '03
The Dumas Club 9/10
This was turned into a film, The Ninth Gate, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Johnny Depp. Wow, you might think, sounds like a pretty good line up, I'll be having a bit of that.
Please don't. It was not only a rushed ending due to something or other, but it also missed out an entire half of the novel. It's not a bad film really, but you're spoiling so many twists and turns it's just tragic.

It features an unscrupulous seeker of rare books, mostly at the behest of rich clients, who is set the task of retrieving two editions of a dark and occult book detailing how to summon the devil and conaring them with a third. Alongside this task, he is attempting to research an unknown manuscript by Alexandre Dumas (Three Musketeers, Man in the Iron Mask and suchlike) The sinister Dumas Club is just the start of his worries as the entire voyage gets darker and weirder as he goes.

The book, by Arturo Perez-Revete is a deeply intriguing mystery. The are many layers and many of those are joined or kept separate in very clever ways indeed. The style is quite gentle, it's not an action packed thriller, but it's fascinating in a slow burning way, and manages to be a bit of a page turner.

An added treat are the illustrations, which I had bookmarked by the end for ease of reference. I'll not go further because this really does not need spoilers.
 

Diziet
optical moose
Mon 5th Nov '07 3:05PM
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20th Jul '05
Porno - Irvine Welsh 1/10
the sequel to Trainspotting.

its utter shite from beginning to end. why i chose to re-read it i have no idea.

every single character is devoid of redeeming features and the plot is non-existent. this turd of a book is an insult to Trainspotting.

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Mon 4th Feb '08 2:22PM
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7th Apr '03
Derren Brown - Tricks of the Mind 9/10
I should probably start the review by saying that I haven't been a long term fan of Derren Brown. At the time of his Russian Roulette stunt I had him tarred broadly with the same brush as David Blaine. However I have had his book recommended to me a number of times and was interested to hear that his outlook on life is much like James Randi whom I greatly admire.
Tricks of the Mind is the first book by Derren to be aimed at a mainstream audience (He has previously written a couple of textbooks on close up card magic). It's quite a hard book to nail down into any particular genre other than being a book about the things Derren is interested in, but covers three main themes. Firstly as you would expect it delves into the techniques that Brown uses to perform his tricks on stage. There are sections dedicated to Card Tricks, Improving Memory, Hypnosis and Suggestion, Mind Reading and determining when people are lying to you. To his credit he doesn't fob you off and claim that by reading the section in question you will develop any significant level of skill in the techniques described, but he provides an introduction and background to each technique along with a few examples for you to try that should be sufficient to pique your interest for further study should you be so inclined. One of the most valuable aspects of the book is the extensive bibliography which provides an excellent resource for further study. Intertwined with the first section are semi autobiographical passages that cover the development of his own interest in hypnosis and magic which also chart his transformation from a very devout evangelical Christian to a committed rationalist sceptic. The third theme which makes up the majority of the final section of the book is a scathing attack on alternative medicine, the psychic industry and all other forms of superstition and dogma. He illustrates this section with some excellent examples of how fake psychics and healers can trick you with Barnum statements, Cold Reading and the Placebo effect. People expecting nothing more than a book about mind reading may be surprised by some of the content where he espouses Dawkins and Bertrand Russell. However don't be fooled into thinking this book is a rationalist polemic in the style of Dawkins. Brown writes in a very light and witty style with a sense of whimsy that at its best is reminiscent of Stephen Fry. I laughed out loud at several occasions while reading. The best thing that I can say about this book is that it has started more conversations and requests to borrow than any book that I've reads since Freakonomics and for that reason I whole heartedly recommend it.
    

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Mon 4th Feb '08 5:33PM
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25th Aug '04
The Dresden Files - Jim Butcher 10/10
This was a short lived tv series for a while, but forget about that and concentrate on the books.

Harry Dresden is a Wizard. In fact according to the phone book he's Chicago's only Wizard. He's also a private investigator who helps people find things and does not, under any circumstances, provide love potions or unending purses. His main client is the Chicago Police. They tend to call him in on all the really weird cases and between the two he just about manages to keep himself afloat. All he has to do now is try to keep himself alive, cause there's some bad stuff going down and it keeps on getting worse.

The great thing about this series is the sheer depth of it. Each book properly delves into each subject and really makes it come to life. Magic is not really limited and can be used in many ways, whether it's incantations, potions, thaumaturgy, ritual, canonical... As for the bad guys, well they too take many forms. There's one book about werewolves that contains three or four different types and they all have their own powers and agenda. There are three basic types of Vampire, and then for each type there are more subtypes. Friends and Villains recur and repeat, constantly changing in power and tactics but somehow remaining consistent throughout.

And generally each character isn't just a character. They're people/creatures/things that are just trying to make their life better. They might be small fry in one or two books, but then all of a sudden they'll be given a chance to shine and you get a chance to see what really makes them tick - whether it's good or bad.

In the centre of it all is Harry, a guy just trying to protect those around him from the things that go bump in the night. He doesn't always make the best choices, but he does his best and he's generally made to pay for it all. He spends three or four books effectively disabled because he's so badly damaged.

Basically if you like fantasy I highly recommend you pick up the first one - StormFront. I picked up the latest one on Saturday and ten hours later I decided I needed some food now that I'd finished it.
   

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