Sunday, October 12, 2014

back to books of the bus

hello there

obligatory sorry for the lack of updates as such of late. i have been somewhat busy, tired and running about looking after one or two ill people. ill people in the traditional sense, that is, and not in the way expressed by the Beastie Boys, or if you like Boys of Beastie, when they use the term to describe someone. although it sort of works both ways, i guess, look you see.

also, have not read at my usual pace on the bus. why not? well, for one, i have been listening to some vibes, man. like the new U2 album, of course, and indeed the soundtrack for The Rules Of Attraction which i was all excited about getting. no, i don't read and listen to the vibes at the same time, for i am but partially educated and cannot stretch my concentration in such ways. also, one of the novels i had on the go featured small, fiddly sized print and lengthy chapter; both being traditional barriers to pleasant bus reading.

but that was then, this is now. what three books did i read this time? here you go.

what were the three like? in order as you see them there, but not as they were read; very good, so-so and absolute rubbish. that would be your spoiler-free review if you want it. as you are aware, then, proceed with some caution with the below, but i will of course try to keep spoilers away from any comments.

links, as usual, for convenience rather than a direct recommendation of either book or seller.

starting off with one that was bought as it cost a pound and looked like it might be OK, then, and The Blade Itself by a chap called Marcus Sakey.

i am trying to remember why it looked OK, to be honest. i think it was because it was a clearly self-contained novel, as in one didn't have to read another book before or after it to "get it". it's getting tough to find such novels, believe me.

any good? yes, if what you want is standard, cliche riddled stuff. two hoodlums commit a crime in some American city, one gets caught, does time without ratting the other out, other builds up a whole respectable life for himself, caught one released, expects old crime buddy to remain a crime fellow, applies pressure to commit crime as he "owes" him due to honour amongst thieves and the unwritten laws of the criminal underworld. reformed dude not too happy about it, turns to someone else from the old neighbourhood that grew up to be a copper, doesn't get help, eventually finds himself feeling forced / trapped into going along with plan for criminal stuff, although keeps looking for an angle to get away from it without being punished for previous crimes.

there is a case to say every novel requires one to take a leap of faith, or momentarily suspend thoughts of plausibility, to accept and enjoy a novel. this one asks that too often for my liking.  what were these matters? as spoiler-free as i can - cops hiring disliked ex-cops to do their work, an entire police force having no idea who the major criminal family in their area is, mentioned criminal family having one member of their family growing marijuana in the family garage without anyone noticing.

if you like American crime novels, the "Elmore Leonard" sort of thing, then this one would be for you. i didn't particularly dislike it, but it was not as "truly excellent" as this Lee Child person reckons.

this one, The Armada Legacy, was total crap. yes, indeed i do tend to read loads and loads of crap, but that's good crap. this is just bad crap to be honest.

plot? really? i need to relive this one? OK, for you. Ben Hope's on-off girlfriend goes off to some fancy dinner in Ireland with a friend, her boss and an aspiring writer that lives nearby. after fancy dinner, author in hotel drunk, but friend and boss brutally murdered, and something stolen from boss. on-off girlfriend is not killed, but kidnapped.

Ben Hope summoned by now sober author. Ben Hope decides it is the work of the IRA. Ben Hope decides that it is someone trying to get at him, due to nature of murder, so goes on a killing spree through Ireland to find who he thinks it is. who he thinks it is turns out to now be a 90 year old, disabled chap. actually, it was some sort of maniac drug dealer in Peru (or something) that kidnapped on-off girlfriend, on account of the fact that on-off girlfriend looks exactly like someone he quite liked, who is now dead. do i really need to continue with this one? i really don't think so. i am certain you get the idea, and how all of it ends rather nicely.

i like my Da Vinci Code knock offs, rip offs and what have you, but this one was truly just nonsense. as bad as the last two Dan Brown ones, perhaps even worse. unless you really, really think the Ben Hope character is awesome and want to read all 7 or 8 books (or whatever), frankly, avoid.

finally, then, a novel that i would not have picked up for myself, and one that even if i did i would not have got to read on the bus, due to small text size and lengthy chapters. however, i was sent this Restless novel, and was advised that someone i respected really rather liked William Boyd. as in similar circumstances i ended up reading that Eye Of The Tiger thing, it seemed only fair to give this a go.

plot? 1976. a single mother that's doing some sort of post-grad thing and has a strange house guest relating to the father of her child gets handed a peculiar story by her mother. the story is of her mother, and reveals both a life she did not know she had and some pretty damning stories of what British Intelligence got up to before and during the early years of World War II. it has, as i believe you may well have worked out from the cover of the book, been turned into a BBC drama thing.

strange, really. the actual plot and story was interesting, but hardly particularly compelling stuff. it wasn't like it was all that much sacrifice for me not to read it for a day or so when i had the Rules Of Attraction soundtrack available, for instance. just "it's not bad", really. written well enough, and i should perhaps have enjoyed and appreciated it more than i did, just with all sorts going on and the bus being a little too vibration and wobbly happy it wasn't easy to concentrate on all the time.

if one were to ask me "is it worth reading", the answer to that would be an unequivocal yes, but i couldn't really justify why. perhaps i am just far too tired to concentrate on this at the moment, sorry.

back of books? sure, why not since we are here.

and that's that. after a really rather rich run of some outstanding, thoroughly enjoyable novels i suppose i was "due" to get some that were not all that brilliant. hey ho, they all still helped pass some time on the bus, and i suspect i am no less intelligent for reading them. or maybe i am and no one has told me.

yes, i have not forgotten the tradition of this sort of post, and here's a sneak preview of what i will be reading tomorrow. unless i decide to listen to vibes instead.

yes, looks like a brilliant, weighty intellectual work that might well be beyond me. i shall try to concentrate and understand it all; asking questions if i do not understand something in it.

more eventually!

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