August 23, 2017

Rare Earth by Paul Mason

I got Rare Earth in a Kindle sale – and I’ve been reading it on and off on the kindle.
┬áIt’s an odd story. Group of journalists go to China to film a bit of colour for an insert in a topic news programme. All goes horribly wrong, and they end up ‘discovering’ the rare earth phenomenon and getting tangled up in all kinds of stuff. Including crazy biker private security women, a crazy rich kid, and a rebellion.

An interesting story, but not that great a book. Didn’t have me hooked, seemed to go off on tagents pretty often – not one I’d recommend buying, but if you’re bored on a beach somewhere, you could give it a go!

A Cornishman at Oxford by A L Rowse

cornishman at oxfordWhilst being a Cornish person living in Oxford, I was sent A Cornishman at Oxford by my brother in Australia.

It’s now out of print, but it’s A L Rowse’s 2nd autobiography – covering his time from starting as an undergrad at Oxford right through to the end of his 1st year at a graduate at All Souls. It’s a tale of growing up, and there’s lots about understanding the world – how it all functions.

Plus, the between-war years at Oxford were fascinating, lots of really interesting people, and events get covered too.

It’s a pretty good book – but fairly slow going, don’t think you’re going to curl up in an armchair with this one.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I know a lot of people really like this series of books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, but I found The Shadow of the Wind really hard going.

The story starts out really intriguingly with a boy discovering a book in the books cemetery, a book he must look after for the rest of his life. The books turns out to be part of a mysterious series of life events. Set in pre-war Barcelona with a fascinating cast of characters.

But it moves REALLY slowly. Maybe I’ll try to read it again one day, but right now – it got so slow that I haven’t even been bothered enough to look up the ending on wikipedia.

It’s Not Me It’s You by Jon Richardson

it's not me it's youI always really enjoyed Jon’s radio show, and stand up – so when I saw his book It’s Not Me It’s You in a Kindle sale I figured why not!

It’s a ramble through the way he thinks about the world – anti people, pro organisation. Set as a timeline through a one weekend period.

Really funny, but here and there I think the editor maybe should have reined him back in a bit! It does occasionally reach the point where you start to think he might actually be insane (hiding in the bathtub because it’s clean, for example).

A good book to have sitting on the kindle for when you need something to dip into.

Divorcing Jack by Bateman

divorcing jackYup, I reading yet another Bateman – I think it’s down to the covers being easy to spot in charity shops. This time it’s Divorcing Jack, the first in the Dan Starkey series.

Set in Belfast when a journalist (Dan Starkey), gets tied up in a very thick conspiracy case and destroys his own marriage in the process. It’s highly political and very fast moving.

A good read, and full of some cool twists and turns.

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

imperial bedroomsI love Bret Easton Ellis’s style – the little skits / lens in on someone life and into their psyche.

But it ain’t as good in this one as in American Psycho.

In Imperial Bedrooms we follow Clay a screenwriter as he returns to LA having been hiding out in New York for a while.

It’s never made entirely clear why he was in New York, and you quickly learn that his “friends” are a pretty weird, twisted bunch.

The novel quickly descends into a very dark and sinister place, and you finish it still not really understanding what’s gone on.

Not one of my faves.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick

do androids dream of electric sheepI picked up Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in a great discount bookshop – picking it up because it rang some bells. Having started reading it I realised it’s the same author as THe Man in the High Castle that I read a few years ago.

It’s also the book that became Blade Runner (a film I’ve never seen, but will now be reading). The forward of the version I read said the first thing one needed to do was forget the film – so I’m glad I haven’t yet seen it!

It’s a lovely little book (under 200 pages). Although it is sci-fi it’s increadibly accessible. In it Dick explores what might happen if we developed androids that were almost impossible to tell from humans, and then had to track down and deal with the ones that went a bit crazy. That’s the obvious story, but there’s also a big exploration of empathy and is that the thing that makes us human?

It’s a great read, and subtly leaves you thinking too.

 

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

a spot of botherA Spot of Bother is told from the perspective of mum, dad, son and daughter in the leadup to daughter getting married to someone none of them think she should marry. We learn about all their personal issues, and the dysfunctionality of their family.

I like that it’s written in very bite-sized chunks, each chapter is only a couple of pages, and is told from the perspective of one of the family members. But I found it very hard to get into.

So I skipped a few pages.

Also, the end was pretty unsatisfying. It didn’t really feel like it resolved and a few things didn’t really fit right for the characters. Felt like more of a snapshot into a ridiculous period in a family’s life that’s pushed to be resolved before page x.

I don’t suggest you bother reading it.

The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin

thenamingofthedeadA freebie from the newspaper this one – The Naming of the Dead.

Inspector Rebus is investigating a serial killer during the chaos of the G8 meetings in Edinburgh and the 7/11 attacks in London. Despite all that the story moved painfully slowly. I gave up about a thrid of the way through and skipped to the last couple of chapters, as I was vaguely intrigued who dunnit.

The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

the hare with the amber eyesI was really pleased when a friend lent me The Hare with the Amber Eyes because I’d been looking forward to reading it.

However, it was really hard going and I’ll admit that I skipped a whole chunk of the Vienna part of the story, then skim read the rest.

The story of the netsuke (small Japanese cord toggles) is fascinating, but there is a lot of facts in the book and little colour to hold onto.

Maybe I’ll try it again one day.