Worst Book I Have Ever Read.

25 04 2012

I have just finished Assassins Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden, it is without doubt the worst book that I have ever read.  I am not going to go into why.

The only reason that I picked it up was because I wanted something easy to read and to be fair it did look quite exciting.  I guess that will teach me to read a book based on a computer game



9 01 2012

The Twitter reading list continues.  After reading Elephants on Acid by Alex Boese (now I can’t help thinking about a White Bear), I was then chosen The Great Gatsby (by @Teawithlemon) which suprised me by being actually pretty good.  I have an uneasy relationship with Classic Literature and books that are so-called must reads.  More often than not I end up not finishing them but only after I have struggled with them for a while, as in the case of Moby Dick by Hermann and On the Road.

Anyway, digressing a bit there.  The outcome is that the next book is Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (chosen by @onedrunkbrit), a book that I have been meaning to read for a while.  Its 800 pages long, so it will probably take a while to get through.  What I have read of it so far has been excellent, but I may be basing that on the fact that I loved the TV series and I can visualise the characters.  It will be good to see how close an adaptation this was.

I also have a hashtag now #choosemyreading2012

Twitter Reading

2 01 2012

It always takes me so long to pick the books that I am going to read, so I came up with a good idea (possibly) and that is for other people to tell me what to read.  The idea came from the Dice Man where I would make 6 choices and then put it up to fate (well, my followers on Twitter to decide what I read for the coming year).

Here is what happens, I take a photo of the 6 books that I can’t decide between, this way I can at least make sure that I read series in the correct order) and then put it on Twitter.  The first reply that I get telling me what to read, is what I read.  Simple.

It’s working out so far.  The 1st book that was chosen was Adventures on the High Teas by Stuart Maconie, and the 2nd is a book about odd science experiments called Elephants On Acid.

I’ll keep you informed about how this turns out. 

If you want to join in @andyspex

My Reading List Explained

21 12 2011

I think its fair to say that this year I have read a shed load of books (well, maybe not a shed, but definately a shelf of my Ikea Billy Bookcase).

By the Time Christmas arrives, I will have read 33 books this year.  This is probably a normal year for me, as I read a lot, but then again 16 of those books came from 4 authors.  This definately won’t be happening next year though.

I have now read all 7 of Stephen Kings Dark Tower series since September and as much as I liked them I am not really a fan of Stephen Kings books having read a few others in the past.

3 of them Came from Bernard Cornwells Winter King series, 3 John Carter books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and 3 Flashmans by George Mcdonald Fraser.

Next year I will attempt to finish the John Carter series (only another 5 to go) and a few more of the Flashman series, but I suspect I will read a few more of them.

Next year is the George RR Martin Year.  The Song of Ice and Fire (or Game of Thrones if you like).  These are all primed on my new bookcase and ready to go but I need a break from epic series after finishing The Dark Tower.  I definately have a few more on my list.  for starters Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich which comes highly recommended to me, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley has been begging me to pick it up for a while now, as well as Keep the Aspidistra flying (my George Orwell phase continues as I am currently reading Burmese Days).



How I Won The Yellow Jumper

7 11 2011

On Friday, I started reading the first chapter of How I Won The Yellow Jumper by Ned Boulting.  I had some time, so I thought I might read the first 7 or 8 pages to see what it was like.  On Sunday I finished the book.  It is a brilliant recollection of anecdotes of Ned’s time working on The Tour De France, from 2003 as a complete beginner, with no knowledge and probably even less interest up until  the 2010 tour, by which time he had become a convert and obsessive, which is why I will be making H read it.  maybe she will catch some of the excitement that July brings.  You never know.

However, this book isn’t really about cycling.  This is really a behind the scenes look at what happens to make the tour what it is and to be broadcast around the world.  It gives you a bit of a look into the world that we never see, of the hundreds of people working behind the scenes, not just the thin men in Lycra, and that world seems like hard work but a lot of fun.
The fact that I read it over a long weekend will tell you how much I liked the book, but it helps that the narrator is a fan of the race, just like I am.

Down and Out in Paris and London

25 10 2011

I have just finished reading Down and Out in Paris and London, the true story of George Orwell’s time living in poverty in the capital cities of France and England.  The book provides vivid tales of working when he could in the worst hotel jobs in Paris, and surviving as a tramp in the doss houses of London.

The true story is full of great characters and humourous moments despite the poverty, but you never really get the feeling that Orwell is truely in poverty, rather that he is living on the edges of it.

I am a massive fan of Orwells 1984 and Animal Farm, and this is a good way of seeing what formed the 25 year olds ideas in later life.  I would give it a read if I were you.

Sorry its short, but my head is full of cold and if I wrote anymore it would be rubbish.

The Dark Tower (Contains spoilers)

6 10 2011

I am now over half way through Stephen Kings Epic “The Dark Tower” series of books.  I have read the first 4 and I can’t make up my mind whether I really like them or not. There are parts of them that are superb, and parts that I really am not keen on.  But I suppose you will always get that when you are talking about 4000 pages of text.  If you intend to read these books, probably don’t read any further.  I will try and keep this as generic as possible, but some spoilers will be unavoidable.

I first heard about them this summer with rumours of a film trilogy and TV series and I thought the idea sounded good.  Luckily I managed to pick up the complete set of 7 books at a car boot sale for £3.50.

The story takes place in a world that has “moved on”, where once powerful civilisations have crumbled and the Gunslingers, peacekeepers and warriors have all but died out.  The first in the series introduces the rader to Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger on his search for the mythical Dark Tower and following in the world of the Dark Stranger.  Along the way he meets Jake, and 11 year old from Our world who had died here but arrived there. On their journey through some dark tunnels, Roland has to make a choice and sacrifices the life of Jake to carry on with his search for the Dark Tower.

Stephen King himself says that The Gunslinger isn’t the best introduction to the world he has created and I agree with him, I really didn’t get into the story, but I did with the second book, “The Drawing of the Three”.

This starts with Roland maimed and distraut on a beach after the death of Jake and a tangle with some giant Lobster type creatures.  The Gunslinger travels along the beach and comes across 3 doors, which lead him to New York and into the mind of a people to become his companions the Junkie Eddie, and the schizophrenic Detta/Odetta, as well as meeting the man who killed Jake in our world and pushed Odetta infront of a train removing her legs and leaving her in a wheelchair.  Roland uses the man for what he wants and then brings him back to the beach where he is killed by the Lobstrosities.

So we move on to book 3, “The Wastelands” where the group or Ka-tet as they are known in mid-world where Jake is reintroduced to the story, promptly kidnapped and then won back by Roland.  Meanwhile, Eddie and Odetta/Detta (now called Susannah) set off in search of the train called Blaine, who turns out to be a psychopath who runs on Riddles.  At the start of Wizard and Glass he challenges the Ka-tet to a riddle contest, which is won by Eddie with a series of bad jokes, but this sets the group on a path towards a glass Palace. 

Along the way Roland tells his back story, through his beginnings as a Gunslinger and first love which firstly sets him on the path towards the tower. When his story is done, the group end up in the sourcerer Martins glass palace, a more macarbe version of the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.

This is a bit of a brief run through of the 2500 pages that I have read so far.  I’ve had to take a bit of a break from reading The Dark Tower though as Its all I seemed to be doing.  I will start again after a couple of books, but I think it needs to settle in my brain first and everything seems to have blurred into one. 

I am looking forward to reading the final 3 books, because I really want to find out what is actually happening.

One criticism of Stephen Kings writing is that he uses the word “Apt” far too much.  In his stories, people are always “apt to do things”.  But still, if you sell as many books as him I guess you are able to do whatever you want.

Book Addiction

4 08 2011

I seem to have gone a little mad with buying books recently.  Damn you ebay and Car boot sales, so now I have about 30 unread books lying around.  Including George RR Martins complete epic Song of Ice and Fire (on which Game of Thrones is based), 6 more of Stephen Kings Dark Tower Books (I have read the first one, The Gunslinger now) which I bought at a car boot sale for a bargain £3.50.  I still have 3 more John Carter of Mars books to go (a series which  I am still loving), 5 of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser. 

Others include Orcs by Stan Nicholls, Pies and Predjudice by Stuart Maconie, The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, The Last Templar (by somebody).  Its quite a mix.

I am trying to get through them, but finding that I am buying more than I am reading, and I am reading quite a lot.  H however isn’t pleased with this.  Mind you, not that there is anything good on TV at the moment, and an addiction to words is better than an addiction to most other things.  The only problem is that I might need a new book shelf.

Sorry, a bit of a random one,

The Warlord Chronicles

2 08 2011

I have just finished reading Excalibur, the final book in Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy.  The three books, The Winter King, Enemy of God and Excalibur are a re-telling of the King Arthur legend (I guess the last one gives it away) setting the stories in the Dark ages and dealing with the Saxon invasion.

Told from the perspective of Arthurs 2nd in command Derfel they deal heavily with Oaths that are made and broken between men and kings, as well as the rise of Christianity and fall of the old Pagan Gods.  They take well known characters from the King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table stories, mix them with a bit of historical fact and voilá, you have a set of excellent books.

Now I know in some circles, Historical Fiction is seen as a bit of a joke, taking fact and bastardising it to your own ends, but he- ho, I like it and Bernard Cornwell must spend most of his time researching before actually writing.   If you like the original King Artuhur story, you might like these, but then again, what you already know of Arthur and his Knights is all historical fiction anyway. 

By the way, St. Derfel, on whom the character of Derfel Cadarn was based, was a 6th Century Christian Monk.  Mind you, this has come from Wikipedia, so this may be fiction too.


Giving up on Books

24 05 2011

I have been doing a lot of reading lately, actually, who am I kidding, I always read a lot.  My point being I read a lot, and I hate giving up on books, I would rather read them one at a time from start to finish (not in one sitting). 

I have a problem with leaving books unfinished, I just don’t like doing it.  I would rather an unsatisfactory ending than just stopping half way through, but there are just some that I have to.

I can think of 3 in particular Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Berniere, Moby Dick by Herman Melville and On the Road by Jack Kerouac.  Both books that appear in must read lists, but both that I have had to give up on because they have just bored me senseless.  I spent a month on “On the Road”, getting half way through where I realised that I had wasted my time, I wasn’t enjoying the book and never would.  It is full of people making strange noises, mind you, that is just one of my bug-bears with the book.

I like lots of different types of book, and have read plenty of classics in my time, so don’t think I have an aversion to them, but I do feel guilt about not finishing these books, but should I?  I guess that is the question.  Shall I stay happy with my decision to give up on these books, or shall I leave the Book marks in and go back to them?