Book Review 2018 – Part XVII

In my first book review of 2017 I blogged about a book by Tim Moore, The man who came in from the cold (here) and then earlier this year I read another of his books, Oh you are awful but I like you. It does appear that Tim has become a little more prolific, as here I am reviewing yet another of his books.

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This book has a simple premise; road trip across America. From the cover you might notice that the difference is that Tim plans to travel coast to coast in a 1924 Model T Ford. He also plans to attempt to navigate via the reddest of red counties and states, the ones that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. The car opens plenty of doors for Tim, as people are readily happy to chat with him, and, on a few occasions, repair it.

Tim wanted to meet ordinary Trump supporters and find out why they voted for him and what makes them tick. What he found was regular people, eager to help, kind, warm and friendly. Many of them don’t particularly like Trump, but really didn’t like Clinton, especially when she called Trump supporters deplorables. A deeply divided nation.

It’s a very good book with the usual humour and hoplessness we’ve come to expect from Tim. As an aside, today Trump is in France and was supposed to visit one of the cemetaries where thousands of American soldier were laid to rest. He decided not to go because it was raining. The sooner that this Trump sized stain is removed from office and locked away the better.

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Book Review – The Immortalists revisited

A few weeks ago I blogged about The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (you can read my blog here). When I had finished with the book I gave it to my wife to read, as I thought that she might like it. My wife is very talented, so when she had finished the book she wrote a review, although unlike me she doesn’t have a blog. I have therefore copied her book review, word for word, and added it below so that you can read how a decent book review should read, instead of my random ramblings.

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Book review
The immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
My husband read this book before me, I noticed when he bought it because it wasn’t the usual kind of book he bought in that it wasn’t about traveling or cycling or both.
When he finished it he handed it to me and said ‘you’ll like this’, so it was stacked in my pile of reading material to read at my leisure.
It was a week or two before I got around to picking it up, and from the first few paragraphs it had me gripped, I read it all eagerly in just a few sittings.
The story takes us through the life’s journey of four siblings who were told at a young age by a ‘fortune teller’ at what age they would die.
Essentially the story is about how that information impacted them, each sibling reacting in a different way to the unwanted knowledge that was so harshly thrust upon them.
How would you live your life if you knew the date of your death? Was the question arising from the narrative.
The book was extraordinary in its ability to draw you to certain characters and their lust for life, their self awareness and determination to be themselves whatever the cost.
Beautifully written, thought provoking and intelligent.
Highly recommended.
If one day I might write something half as good as my wife’s book review, then I will be happy.

Book Review 2018 – Part XVI

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I wasn’t going to buy any more books until I had managed to read a few from my bedside stack of books (here). It was going well until I heard an interview on Radio 2 with Eric Idle. He has a book out, a ‘sortabiography’, as it’s called. The interview was brilliant, so I knew that I would be buying his book.

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As expected, the book is great fun to read, focusing on the good stuff. The Monty Python stuff is glossed over a bit, but as Eric states, there are more than enough books and documentaries already. He goes into more detail on the films that the Pythons made, especially how George Harrison, the former Beatle, mortgaged his mansion to help finance The Life of Brian. The eponymous song from the end of the film obviously gets more than a few mentions, especially as Eric performed it at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

It’s not all a laugh, as there a few deaths, George Harrison and Graham Chapman to name two. Eric also writes about how bad a husband he was during his first marriage, blaming himself solely for their break-up.

Once again delayed trains meant that I finished this book in less than a week, putting aside another book that I had bought ages ago. It’s a great read, not too long and not too serious, or not serious in the slightest.

Book Review 2018 – Part XV

Early last year I reviewed the fourth book in the Millenium series, and the first one not to be written by Stieg Larsson. (Read the review here). As I recall I was quite complimentary about it. I’ve now managed to get around to reading the fifth book in the series.

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I had blogged about the stack of books next to my bed a couple of weeks ago (here) and how I was planning on making a start on the hardback books, as some of them were now available in paperback. This was one of those books that I had had for a while, and the only good thing about having to use Northern Rail for my commute is that because of the delays I get plenty of time to read. This book I whisked through in less than a week.

Once again we follow the lives of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is in a maximum security prison and no surprise there are other prisoners out to get her, while Mikael is trying to get her release. Lisbeth’s twin sister isn’t featured in this book, although one of the main threads through the book does involve a pair of twins.

I am gripped by this series and David Lagercrantz has written two good books, although this one didn’t feel as deep. Maybe a little too mainstream. A holiday book bought at the airport. That might be a little harsh as the original three books sold over 82 million copies.On reflection this is probably the weakest of the whole series.

Hanging over the series though is Stieg larsson’s partner, who lost a court case over his estate with his brother and father stated that Stieg would have hated anyone else to take over his writing. Many authors have had books written by other people, including Ian Fleming (James Bond), Douglas Adams (The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot).

If and when there is a sixth book in the series, I will definitely wait until it has been released in paperback, or try to find a cheap copy in a charity shop.

Book Review 2018 – Part XIV

Rushing through the books at the moment and it was definitely a good idea to start with the books at the bottom of my stack of books (here).

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I had listened to an interview with Andy Weir on Radio 2 with Simon Mayo, and thought that the book sounded good, but I forgot all about it. A few months later, me and my beautiful wife were looking for a film on Netflix and The Martian was listed as a new release. We watched it and loved it, with it’s mix of science and humour. The following week in Waterstones I remembered about the interview on the radio and bought Artemis. I then promptly left it languishing at the bottom of my stack of books.

I should have started this book the moment I bought it, as it had me hooked from page 1. With a couple of delayed train journeys I polished it off in less than a week. It’s set on the moon in the future, where there is a small city of 2,000 people permanently living there, including the star of the book, Jazz. She is clever, intelligent and a smuggler. Andy Weir has been unapologetic about the amount of geeky science in his books, and this sci-fi thriller definitely had to be set on the moon for the science bits to work. I particularly liked the passage where he describes why coffee tastes rubbish on the moon.

The book is a light-hearted sci-fi romp and I loved it. I will be purchasing The Martian, even though I’ve watched the film, and I’m sure that at some point in the future this will also be made into a film.

Book Review 2018 – Part XIII

I’m not a fan of Trump. This isn’t new. I’ve never liked him, mainly for his business practices of trying to stiff regular people, the bluster, and pretending to be a successful businessman. If you inherited $400 million from your father and still declare bankruptcy half a dozen times, you are not a successful businessman.

You might have guessed that this book review is reviewing a book about Trump. Earlier in the year I read Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (read about my review here), which definitely pandered to the Trump haters.

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As expected from a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Fear is a far more measured account of Trump’s time in The Whitehouse. It is less salacious than Fire and Fury, and even praises Trump when he gets things right, although those moments are few and far between.

The total chaos in the administration is laid wide open, along with the general ineptitude and short attention span of Trump. As with other books, there is plenty of talk about trying to manage Trump in much the same way that you would manage a very spoilt toddler. His close staff and family try to limit the amount of cable news that he would watch, as left to his own devices he would watch hours at a time. There is no doubt that he is a moron, a racist, and a liar, along with being  corrupt, treasonous, lacking in any kind of empathy and more than likely a full blown sociopath.

The books ends with the resignation of Trumps lawyer John Dowd, who states that he couldn’t defend Trump because “he is a fucking liar”.

If you’re only going to read one political book this year then this is the one to read. Well written, well researched and by an author who has written a dozen books about the last few presidents.

Bedside Stack of Books

I’m sure I’m not the only person with a large pile or stack of books next to the bed which you are going to read.

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I’ve decided that I’m going to start at the bottom and work my way up, as my most recent purchases are all at the top. A couple of the hardbacks at the bottom have been there so long that the paperback version has been released. The stack of books isn’t helped by the fact that it was my birthday last month and among the many gifts that I was given, was a Waterstones voucher and a Book Token. This coupled with the One4all vouched that I was given at work, which confuses some shops, so I generally only use it at Waterstones. They will probably send me a Christmas card this year I’m in there so often.

I should probably not buy any more books until my stack is slightly less dangerous, although my excuse is that the One4all vouchers are only valid for one year, so I really should spend it quickly.

A couple of other books on my stack were handed to me by my wife, who thought that I would like them, and another couple of books I borrowed from Little Free Library on the next street (read about it here).

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I’ve almost finished Fear by Bob Woodward and next after that will be Artemis by Andy Weir, a heist on the moon. I really enjoyed the film version of his earlier book The Martian, which I will look for if Artemis lives up to the reviews.

How large is your stack of bedside books?