What are you reading right now?

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
I’m on chapter 4 of a book that is hideously awful, I won’t name it just yet but I thought it was bad after the second chapter and it has got progressively worse.
As a rule how long does a reader of books on here give a book a chance? I’m duty bound to try and finish this one. Do you make your mind up after a chapter, maybe even after the first page? Some books just don’t have it, others really engage me from half way down the first page and by the second chapter I find it hard to put down, I hate a bad book and just wonder how they published or indeed who writes up the splendid two or three line attention grabbing reviews they put on the cover.
As the saying goes, never judge a book by the cover!
These days I ditch it. Life’s too short. Bin it and give it a bad review. Save someone else the grief and pain.
 

Gout Man

LE
Book Reviewer
These days I ditch it. Life’s too short. Bin it and give it a bad review. Save someone else the grief and pain.
It would be a shame as I have never done that, but as the saying goes, "there's always a first time" and I think this may be it. There was another appalling chapter yesterday where I can honestly say with confidence it had no bearing on the story and was in my opinion just ink filling in page after page for the sake of it. Thanks for the tip.
 

Gout Man

LE
Book Reviewer
"Executioner: Pierrepoint", the autobiography of our most famous "hangman". I have a particular interest as my father worked for the Home Office Prisons Department and met Pierrepoint more than once. A fascinating history, if one bears in mind that the author was a man of his time and did not necessarily represent modern attitudes! Well worth a read.
Is that the one where he goes into quite some detail about his young childhood? I really enjoyed that book as well and he was very professional in his dealings with the condemned who he wanted to give the quickest and most painless death possible.
 
Currently re-reading Truck Music that I picked up in a charity bookshop for pennies.

Connelly at his best
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
'The Great Mutiny' by James Dugan (1966), has £4 pencilled in but I'm sure I didn't pay that. An excellently researched and therefore deep account (500 pp with appendices) of the 1797 Spithead and Nore naval mutinies sandwiched between the stunning victories of St Vincent and Camperdown, with accounts of similar troubles elsewhere including Yarmouth and S Africa, and later single ship mutinies from the same causes - mainly pay and victuals. Also included was an amusing account of a French-led attempted rebellion in Ireland. London in the shape of the Govt and the Sea Lords never really understood the problems, and solutions were plagued by false assumptions and also personal animosities between politicians, and also between senior admirals, and there was never enough money to solve the problem. Sometimes I feared a 20th century view was being taken but usually there was reassurance further on, for instance how the 'delegate' controlled ships maintained discipline with the cat just as their officers did - it was SOPs for the age. Told with a dry humour throughout and full of little factual titbits that were new to me, as ultimately both mutineers and sodomites dangled from the fore-yard jewel block. Not like the 21st century at all.
 
D Day: Through German eyes by Holger Eckhertz

A very interesting read confirming the use of Crocodiles on D Day (surpiringly disputed fact amongst many pundits) and also showing their AT rounds were just a ineffective as ours at times - various AT against Crocodile with the AP rounds bounds off.
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer


Rommel. Life and death of a Field Marshall

The author has delved into the man as a husband and father but, also the man as a soldier who never lost his humanity even in the maelstrom of war and politics. He has in this book, been shown to be a human being and an honourable officer, by refusing the Commando Order and treating those captured soldiers as PoWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention at all times. It also shows Rommel’s growing disillusionment with Hitler, the direction of the war and his continued battles with the armed forces high command both German and Italian some of whom considered him an upstart.

Rommel’s military career is very detailed and well documented, throughout his whole military career, but in particular less is known about his death and the events leading up to it and how he acted to protect his family and close associates from the retribution Hitler demand from those who participated in the 20th of July plot. This latter part is understandable as many if not most of the documents pertaining to these events were destroyed before the end of the war and many of the participants have long died, so their memories and testimony is unavailable.

This book gives an excellent insight into the war in North Africa from the German perspective of which has been little written about by its protagonists on either side of the line. There is a myriad of detail about day to day life of Rommel whilst in action, his thought processes, and the continued battle as with his troops of chronic illness in a harsh unforgiving environment, and at times why he acted as he did at the height of the battles he fought.

I would recommend this book to those who wish to know more about Germany’s best known Field Marshall, a man who was respected on both sides of the line as a soldier and an opponent.
 
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Having read everything by Michael Connelly, John Connolly, David Baldacci and Lee Child I was looking for something in the same genre. I picked this up a couple of months ago and there are authors and characters in here that I have never heard of but look like they may be good reading, if you like that sort of thing.

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seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
'The Royal Oak Affair' by Robert Glenton, 1991, VG hardback, I think 17p + p&p from an Amazon 3rd party bookseller. An account of events and later Courts Martial in 1928 relating to the newly promoted Rear Admiral Sammy Collard losing his temper with his immediate subordinates, blasting them in front of their juniors and civilian guests and referring to the Royal Oak's RM Bandmaster Barnacle as a bugger. Glenton, a journo, very nearly got it right in depicting the high noon of the RN's Mediterranean Fleet, bone-white teak and gleaming brightwork under sun-bleached awnings, squadrons of battleships with enamelled gun turrets at the buoys in Malta's Grand Harbour etc. The only major trip is errors relating to an earlier mutiny triggered by Collard when he was a Lt which (not in the book) resulted in the railings round the RN barracks in Portsmouth having corrugated iron screening attached so that the natives could not see in. The whole thing turned into a PR disaster for the RN as the court proceedings trailed their way through the UK press. In those days CMs were about maintaining discipline, not legalities and justice.

Collard had small man syndrome in spades and his behaviour wrecked the careers of himself and his victims, both hitherto rising stars. Much, much later I remember him leaning out of his car and roaring 'When are you going to Dartmouth m'boy?!' How could I tell him I was already a Lieutenant?

He once sent for the architect Ernest Emerson (father of one of my godmothers, hence the dit). 'What can I do for you Sir?' 'Want a house built!' 'Yes, Sir, what sort of house?' 'A house with a proper forecastle and a quarterdeck!' 'What you need, Sir, is a jobbing builder' and Emerson turned on his heel and walked away.
 
Having finished 'Black Ajax' by George MacDonald Fraser (recommended) I have made a good start on this, the third in the Mike Roth series by Byron Bale:

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The blurb: This thriller, like all of Mike Roth adventures, is fiction woven around factual assignments. So, follow along as the hard-drinking, bordello-raiding social misfit unravels the workings of real-life investigative techniques designed to thwart international customs, quash privacy laws, invade the most intimate conversations, violate human rights, and stop at nothing to succeed in his usual reckless, profitable fashion.
 
This is the non-fiction book I'm starting today, looking forward to Chap 10, Gibbo names his dog.

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After hearing my mates go on and on and on and on and on about it, and there being a film, I have finally caved and started reading Ready Player One. Wish I'd done it ages ago, its chuffing brilliant. Funny, at times deep, well paced, very nerdy and absolutely chock full of 80's pop culture references.
 
This is the non-fiction book I'm starting today, looking forward to Chap 10, Gibbo names his dog.

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What?


I have just read this it is the creepiest book i have ever read and it has given me a few uncomfortable nights sleep, it is beyond anything Stephen King could write because he writes fiction this is apparently fact, well unless you are willing to call at least thirty people including a police officer liars. I came to it with an open mind and i hope it was all bullshit. If you have ever seen the film poltergiest you get the idea and once you've read this book it becomes obvious that the script for that film came from this book.


 
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Arabia Deserta, an abridged version of the book by Charles M. Doughty.

Doughty was one of those long line of eminent Victorians and later who included Wilfred and Anne Blunt, Gertrude Bell, Wilfred Thesiger and of course T.E. Lawrence who followed in the footsteps of Richard Burton in being attracted to explore what we now call Saudi Arabia.

Doughty spent two years in wandering in the Arabian Peninsular, alone and often penniless in the 1870s'. He was fluent in Arabic and was learned in medicine. Unlike Burton he made no secret of his Christianity which often placed him at risk and his health, which was never very robust at the best of times, also threatened his life. I have not yet finished reading the book but I believe that unlike Burton, Doughty did not go to Mecca although his life was in danger when he was found near the city.

The book has a long introduction by T.E. Lawrence who states that he had studied it for 10 years. His introduction is far easier to read than Doughty's book as his form of writing is early Victorian (Doughty was born in 1843 - he died 1926) and to modern eyes it does not scan easily requiring careful reading if one is to understand the gist of what is being said. For example: "And though they eat no profane flesh, yet some at Hail drink the blood of the grape, ma el-enab, the juice fermented of the fruity of the few vines of their orchards, here ripened in the midsummer season. The Moslems, in their religious luxury, extremely covet the forbidden drink, imagining it should enable them with their wives."

Doughty was a careful observer and chronicler of what he saw and experienced during his travels (starting from Damascus with the Haj and ending at Jedda) and it makes for a fascinating book, the original of which was published in 1888 but only 500 copies were produced. In its original form it was over 600,000 words and Edward Garnet produced a 2 volume abridged version in 1908. The version I am reading is a re-edited version of Garnet's single volume version of 1931. Apart from the phrasing used by Doughty the only other criticism I have is that it is lacking in dates and some more detailed maps would be useful. Despite the difficulty in reading it I am finding it a fascinating insight into a time and place that is for all practical purposes long gone.
 
Death From The Skies by Phil Plait (who does the Bad Astronomer site).

A catalogue of all the ways in which the Universe can conspire to kill us all and even physically destroy the Earth.

Covers comets, asteroids, black holes, supernovae, gamma ray bursts etc. Just about to start the Chapter on aliens.

Not exactly a cheerful or spiritually uplifting book but very entertaining and well written. He explains the science very clearly and makes even extremely complex physics comprehensible.

His description of a random travelling mini black hole the size of a marble hitting the Earth and utterly destroying it is chilling in terms of the trail of destruction it would cause and the apparent difficulty of grasping how such a tiny thing (with the mass of the Earth) could wreak such cataclysmic havoc and destruction and utterly destroy the planet. Gravity is a bitch.

The bad news is that there are dozens of ways the planet can get offed. The good news is that they are all pretty unlikely.
 
Nearly finished this






the renamed book by Lipstadt to tie in with the recent film.



Powerful stuff & really does show what an utter sh1tbag David Irving is. Thank god he’s been discredited as any sort of historian. Recommended reading.

However, I’m uncomfortable with the approach she takes to anything she doesn’t like with regard to the holocaust. There is also no mention in any depth of the other many millions of non-Jews who were murdered by the Germans.

At one point in the trial, Irving is exposed as the racist he is by his comments about not wanting ‘types to inter-marry’ & he highlights comments that Lipstadt had made about her belief that Jews should not marry outside of the faith to ensure Jewish continuity. I found that astounding as its no different from his attitude albeit without the racist reasoning. Her view that what she opined was entirely reasonable.
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Very quiet here whilst exams on, so I've been re-reading this;

and chuckling bordering on guffawing out loud.
 

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