Monday, July 28, 2014

books of the bus trips

hi there

blimey, this blog is all of a sudden hitting a useful and practical streak. sorry about that.

hot on the heels of a review of the ipod pouches, or if you like pouches for the pod of i, here are some more book reviews for you. it's a trifle presumptuous of me to assume these are any good or of use, but you never know,  it might help some decide to read, or not read, a book.

as has become the norm for some reason i don't quite understand, i have read three books since my last review sessions, so here we go. actually, four - i read something on my e-reader called The Doomsday Testament or something like that; not spectacular.

do you wish for, or desire (if that's not the same thing) a brief, spoiler free sort of review? sure. The Jonah was superb, Night Train To Rigel was awful, The Heretic's Treasure was ludicrous, preposterous and enormous fun.

i will of course try and avoid spoilers as far as possible, then, but you have been warned. and, indeed, why not, have another warning on me.


right, i cannot make it any clearer at all than that about possible spoilers. actually i could if i made a video or something but i cannot be bothered to. perhaps next time. so let's move on.

it is, as regular readers will recall, fairly recently that i have discovered James Herbert. late last year my (considerably) better half suggested i read The Magic Cottage, and it was that good i regretted not trying his stuff sooner. i am, however, making up for that these days.

i have not been disappointed with any of his novels that i have read, and The Jonah did not buck this trend.

plot? a copper, whose name escapes me, is nicknamed The Jonah because, apparently, he is bad luck for all who work with him. i am not quite sure i get the reference - Moby Dick related, maybe? anyway, after one too many bits of bad luck, he's exiled off to a sleepy, nothing particularly happens sort of coastal town; a town which now seems to have quite an issue with LSD, since a family had apparently gone bonkers on the stuff. by co-incidence, some top level government lady type is also there investigating, due to a misunderstanding between a pilot and one of them massive bomber plane things, also believed to be as a consequence of that LSD stuff.

there's all sorts of spooky supernatural stuff, too, of course, but at heart a rather brilliant detective crime sort of thing. of interest to some, i suspect, will be that this also features one of the most superbly crafted, well written, graphic yet not horrid, vile or stupid sex scenes that i have ever read. not that i have read all that many; video tends to cover that one somewhat.

do i recommenced this book? what do you think? i very much look forward to reading the next James Herbert i find. hopefully another paperback will turn up at a splendid price (this was bought as part of a 3 for £5 deal), otherwise i will just seek them out on the e-reader.

a gift from a friend, that very same strong advocate of my reading on the bus that has forwarded books in the past, presented me with this one. yes, it is by Timothy Zahn, Mr "writer of the best selling non-Star Wars Star Wars novel of all time", he who wrote that other one i read a while back about humans breeding with space whales or something.

for those interested, note number one is on the way to Spiros. regular readers will understand this and be very excited.

Manta's Gift. that was the space whale thing. that book was OK when i read it. in comparison to Night Train To Rigel, however, it seems like an unbelievably brilliant, amazing novel. yes, this one, alas, is just awful. which is a shame - not so much because i spent time reading this specially annotated version, but rather due to the idea and the plot actually holding a great deal of promise.

just how bad is it? if asked i would normally say yeah, i am quite a fan of science fiction in general. if Timothy Zahn constitutes as what you kids all think science fiction is, though, i might be mistaken in this regard. perhaps i missed the meeting where they changed the definition of science fiction? i did with R & B. one night i went to bed and R & B referred to proper music, be it The Who, or John Mayall, or similar. when i woke up MTV or someone had changed it to refer to talent-free, mediocre whiny black American singers who use tiresome samples as backing music for their chanting. hey ho.

Night Train to Rigel is ostensibly a Blade Runner type rip off, a noir thriller set in the future. it should have been a really good one too, with the man of action running about attempting to avert a war that some sort of spiders who run the space trains (don't ask) have had a vision or prophecy of.

no, the spiders and the humans do not cross-breed. well, not directly, mercy be, at the least.

why does it fail? lots of reasons. the most blatant of all would be the stupid title. although yes it features a train, it's difficult to say that it is a "night" train, for it is a super-stellar, universe crossing thing that moves at the speed of light. also, this "to Rigel" business. as far as i could work out and see, there was no place, planet or person in the novel called Rigel. as in the train, thus, never actually went there. i suspect this is all Men Without Hats. Men Without Hats, a band of some limited talent that Spiros is fond of, were called Men Without Hate. however, a typo at the record contract thing meant Hats not Hate was typed, and the label made them stick with their new name. i suspect that out there somewhere is a novel about a night train that goes to some place called Nigel, but it has a cover which suggests its name is Space Spiders And The Star Train.

it does that horrible, horrible thing that lazy science fiction does, this book, look you see. it makes up species and characters with unpronounceable names and descriptions so poor you forget who is who, thus losing all focus, concentration and idea of what the plot is and what's actually happening at any point. by the 60% or so mark i really was ready to just give up, but for some reason i always feel obliged to finish any book i start. except i don't always.

i am thrilled that Timothy Zahn sells so many books, good luck to him. but i have no wish to read any of his stuff ever again.

anyway, that ipod pouch that was not as twat look enhancing. today i tested it, right, works just fine. observe.

it did not snap, and it works lovely. granted, sure, i did change by chair at verk for luck with it, but even when i sat on the old one for a bit it didn't catch or seem likely to break.

i certainly need to get the rubber / silicone / asbestos casing for it though, for times when i take it out to select different vibes. otherwise, smart this is.

last book for now, then, and it's a load of nonsense, but enormous fun. yeah, as you can see, it's The Heretic's Treasure, with the title in a font that seems to match our current bedding in regards of colour. always a good selling point, that.

this novel is that thing i dislike, which is an unnumbered volume in a series of books. i read the first to feature the protagonist, Ben Hope i think his name is, something called The Alchemist's Secret or something similar. this is two or three novels in to the series. what did i miss? quite a bit, really, and as his previous adventures and "life events" are randomly given a summary throughout the book, there is very little point in me ever seeking them out. whoops.

what's this one all about? Ben Hope, former SAS dude and now kidnap rescue dude, gets a call off some sort of military type that had previously saved his life. he calls in a favour for having done that, asking him to go off to Egypt and totally knack some people who have apparently caused him some distress. he does this, and accidentally stumbles into all sorts of things, as in the illegal international arms trade, Egyptian fundamentalist terrorism, Australian archers, a forgotten Pharaoh and rogue Interpol agents.

you know full well that the hero is not going to die, so the element of suspense is all but gone. instead you get to read and wonder who near him will die, and what treasure that has been lost for thousands of years will be discovered in a day or so.

that Dan Brown is referenced on the cover means you know what you are getting, only better written.

anyway, if any of the above information has been of use to Will Robinson or anyone else, happy days. as a means of a sneak preview, here you go, next i shall be reading what is possibly the greatest book ever written.

'Danish crime novel of the decade' is quite a title. as i imagine Danish land, or whatever it is - Norway or something - is awash with crime novels, this must then be pretty spectacular. and it only cost £1, so there you go.

many thanks, as ever, for reading.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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