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Thread: The Book Thread

  1. #11
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    53. The Stand ---------- Stephen King

    This will be tough to review without giving too much plot away but here we go. You've probably read my other thread on the mass outbreak of a virus wiping out the vast majority of the worlds population. This is that book, focusing on a subset of characters who are drawn into to groups, good and bad. Think of people with good morals and hearts against those without. It really is a fantastic book and covers so many things without boring you. You will end up thinking about the what-if's. There's a strong set of references to good and bad, God and the Devil etc, but it's done remarkably well with no preaching or judging. Think about Pullmans books and then write them in such a way that they aren't shite.

    It's a huge book, around 1200 pages and is probably the biggest I've read without giving up. The last couple of chapters are a little boring as the plot is played out and it's back to normal'ish life, but necessary to close the plot. If you like post apocolytic studies of human nature and the various things that can impact that then get this. There are some decent twists in there, the end game can feel a little short in hindsight, but fits nicely with the story. It's so close to being far fetched, but remains completely plausible, and all the what-if's hang well.

    Should you read it?
    Absolutely, it's a superb book and fires the imagination.

    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes, without a doubt, it's one of the best pieces of fiction I've read.

    top post updated - marker
    ===============
    Master of maybe

  2. #12

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    89. Magician ---------- Raymond E Feist

    Since several of the books I know are on list I thought I'd contribute.

    Magician was originally released in two parts ("Apprentice" and "Master") in the US, but has always been a single volume here in the UK.

    The story follows the life of Pug, an orphan living in the remote coastal town of Crydee. After a storm he finds artefacts from a ship washed ashore, however the ship is no ordinary wreck, but is the first incursion into Midkemia of the warlike Tsurani and heralds invasion from another world. Through the eyes of Pug, his adopted brother Tomas and the ruling family of Castle Crydee you are immersed in the lives of a generation and the fate of two worlds. From the politics of the Palace at Rillianon, the abject misery of a slave's life in the swamps of Tsurania to the lands of the elves and the eerie history of the Valheru, Magician is a book of enormous scope.

    The narrative starts off with a linear tale following Pug's life, but as the war begins and Pug is captured, the book beings to follow divergent paths as events unfold for the main characters. The pace of the story is measured, but doesn't let up. It's hard going at first because the characters, places and races are all unfamiliar, but by the time Tomas has taken up the Valheru armour and Pug is on Tsurania, you can't put the book down. This book can only be described as an epic.

    If Peter Jackson were to make this into a film, it would have at least eight parts and none of them padded (Hobbit, I'm looking at you!).

    I re-read this book every couple of years followed by it's enjoyable, but less impressive, sequels. More serious than David Eddings, more precise than Robert Jordan, this book is top of the genre.

    Should you read it?
    If you have any love of fantasy fiction YES! - It is an amazing epic and probably the best book in the fantasy fiction genre.

    Is it a classic and does it deserve to be on the list?
    Definitely - If you enjoy this, you'll also love the "Empire" trilogy Feist co-wrote with fellow author Janny Wurts. The story runs parallel to the events of "Magician", but follows the life of a woman in one of the ruling houses on the Tsurani homeworld.

    Top post updated - checkpoint
    Last edited by Benny; 13th February 2013 at 10:24 PM.

  3. #13
    208. Northangar Abbey........................................... jane Austin

    It seems to me that Jane Austin is a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to writing. Again we have a thoroughly decent young heroine, a dashing but initially disliked hero, a misunderstanding, despair, revelation and finally a reunion and confirmation of love. Different names, different location, same story. I didn't find Northanger Abbey particularly bad and the characters are interesting and well written but it was obvious what was going to happen from the start. So it was a light comfortable read that never really came to life but also never left me bored. It sailed a safe middle ground of being fine but not great.

    Should you read it?
    Not unless you're really into period romantic stories

    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    It is supposed to be a classic and in it's day it may well have been, but today it's really just a glorified Mills and Boon.


    Comment
    Quote Originally Posted by Penfold
    I guess its literary success stems more from its parody of Gothic novels (all the rage in the late 18th early 19th Centuries) rather than the story itself. From Walpole's Castle of Otranto to Lewis's The Monk, the genre went mad. Some it it - Allen Poe, Mary Shelley etc is great but there was a lot of dross.

    But I do agree it's not a patch on Emma or P&P.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smilo
    It was her first so I guess that's fair. Her later works definitely had stronger stories and a wider group of characters that help drive the stories along. I still feel they are all a little too similar and predictable. While there is often a secondary character who surprises us in some way, we're never in any doubt about who will end up happily in love and married at the end. Her writing is very good but her stories less so, if that makes any sense
    Last edited by Benny; 14th February 2013 at 12:06 PM.
    smilodon
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    Sent from my Motorola DynaTAC 8000x

  4. #14
    108. The Wasp Factory ---------- Iain Banks

    I first read this a few years ago, but since I noticed it was on The List™ I figured it was worth sharing my thoughts. It's a book written from the perspective of Frank, who lives with his father on an otherwise uninhabited island. Frank passes the time by inventing bizarre and often violent daily rituals, with the first half of the book establishing his eccentric life on the island and his... unusual, relationship with his father.

    Then Frank's brother escapes from a psychiatric hospital, arrives on the island and.. well, I wouldn't want to spoil it for you

    Should you read it?
    It's (very) darkly comic, well-paced and I found it utterly absorbing when I first read it. Possibly the best plot twist I've ever read.

    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list

    In my opinion, yes. I've never read anything that stayed with me like this book did, it's brilliantly written but certainly not for the faint of heart.


    Comment
    Quote Originally Posted by Benny
    Goes to show, I hated it, I thought the twist was purile. I enjoyed the build up but the end was flat, the sheep were interesting and there was some tension in there, but I'd never rate it on this list....Ah well, viva las vegas or la difference or whatever it is..
    Last edited by Benny; 14th February 2013 at 12:08 PM.

  5. #15
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    36. All Quiet On The Western Front ---------- Erich Maria Remarque

    This is a stunning book. I had little hope to be honest and was expecting some dated war prose and possible whimsical meanderings. I haven't read any other reviews anywhere and I'm glad I didn't. It's a short book, readable in a week relatively easily but there are no breaks and no respite throughout. It tells the tale of one unlucky conscript in WWI in the first person. The story weaves around the futility of the war and the constant push and pull of trench warfare. It raises some questions around why we go to war but it's done in a way that isn't forced nor political.

    It treads the line between giving a non fiction account from a fictional character with absolute perfection. I prefer non-fiction and this kind of based in reality fiction ticks all the boxes.

    Should you read it?
    Absolutely, this is one of the best books I've read in the last 10 years.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes, without doubt. Top 10 for me a this point.

    top post updated - marker

    SECOND REVIEW - GORTEX


    141. All Quiet on the Western Front ---------- Erich Maria Remarque

    The book describes the German soldiers (Paul Baumer) extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front. It covers Paul and his fellow class mates and comrades in arms and their experiences and how this changed and brutal life of a very young man affects him when visiting home and coming to terms with what civilians think about the War and the soldier’s involvement.

    This is a short Novel and throws you straight away into the world of trench warfare of WW1 and be warned is incredibly powerful and in some cases disturbing reading. It holds nothing back and brilliantly delves into the physiological effect this kind of environment would have on a 19 year old lad. It is also fascinating as it is written from the point of view of the German side and not like most books I have read on the great Wars from the Allied and often American view, and covers the question “Why do we continue to fight”?

    This is possibly one of the best and most interesting, entertaining and emotional reads I have ever come across and in my opinion jumps straight in to my top 10 books read and has me asking the question why it has taken me so long to pick it up.

    Should you read it?
    Yes. One of the books you really have to read at some point.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes. This book should be in the top 10 if not 5 as it is just that good.
    Last edited by Benny; 26th March 2013 at 04:23 PM.
    ===============
    Master of maybe

  6. #16
    20. War and Peace ---------- Leo Tolstoy

    This is close to possibly the longest single book that I have ever read although it is really made up of 16 books over 2 volumes and between 19 – 38 chapters in each book. In other words this makes up to create the 7th longest Novel ever written in "originally in Russian" the English language and boy is it good.

    In many ways it can’t decide if it is a Political, Social, Historical, Romantic, Philosophical, Artistic or Scientifical work as it covers all these subjects in great detail and really gets inside the world of aristocratic Russia during the early 19th C invasion of Austria and Russia by France under Napoleon. It covers both the points of view from the Russian and French side of things and criticizes all those in power and the faults/errors carried out. So a very unbiased work which makes me respect the writer as so many times do I read something like this where they take just one side and from a narrow minded point of view.

    It does take a while to get going as it takes a long time to introduce all the characters and where 1 word might do Tolstoy uses 3 but in such a way it makes for excellent reading and beautifully written. Half the book is in fictional novel style with lots of characters most of which really existed with the other half covering the situation the wars had on everyone involved from the rich to the poor and how this effected life and why Napoleon destroyed his army who is generally known as a genius.

    I loved and still enjoy reading the Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell but always felt there was something that Cornwell missed in his description of what all the actions Sharpe, Wellington and the rest had on life in general. Tolstoy captured this and much more so. If you enjoyed Sharpe or this sort of historic writing then you will enjoy this but be prepared to take some time in completing it.


    Should you read it?
    Yes you should and definitely read it if you like history and late 18th early 19th C French wars. But not a book to take on hols and stick with it.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes, Absolutely and should be higher than 20.
    Last edited by Benny; 6th March 2013 at 11:00 PM. Reason: top post updated
    -=[dMw]=- Gortex

  7. #17
    182. Oliver Twist ----- Charles Dickens

    Set in the first quarter of the 19C, it focuses on the difficult and trouble life of a young orphan Oliver Twist who is brought up in a work house and eventually escapes and ends up meeting and mixing in with the criminal underworld of London in that period of history. A good deal of the characters he meets treat him badly and use him to their own good, as was often the case for children of those times. A roller coaster of events and adventures await with some of the best sub characters ever written in the English language.

    My second Dickens book review and quite frankly this is an absolute gem and helps me understand why Dickens was held Then and Now in such high esteemed as a one of the greatest writers that ever lived. This book in my opinion sums up everything I would class a Novel to be and I enjoyed reading every moment of it. His use of support characters like The Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes and Mr Bumble are of pure genus and really make the reader feel like he is involved in the novel. My favorite character by far though is the evil and sinister Fagin who the reader ends up loving and hating at the same time.

    It surprises me to see this Novel so far down the list of greatest books ever written, but as I have other Dickens works to read then perhaps The Great Expectations (highest on the list) will prove me that this is not his finest work although at the moment I find that hard to except.

    Should you read it?
    Yes. This is a perfect example of what a Novel should be and if you only ever read 1 work by Dickens make it this.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes, Absolutely and puts to shame other books on the list which are higher.
    Last edited by Benny; 16th March 2013 at 03:50 PM. Reason: top post updated
    -=[dMw]=- Gortex

  8. #18
    23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ---------- JK Rowling

    This is the second novel in the Harry Potter series and it kicks off pretty much straight off the back of the first book and forms the new term for Harry, Ron and Hermione and pretty quickly everything is going wrong.

    This novel like the first book keeps its charm of young people going to a wizard school and the descriptions of lesson time are so well written that you really feel like you’re in the room when they carry out the spells. Like wise the introduction of the Weasley family and Mr Weasleys fascination in the muggle (our) world with questions like “what is the point of a telephone” had me in stitches.

    It tends to be a little more serious and a bit darker as you would expect from young people growing up at school which is captured well, and the characters greater understanding of magic with many more spells being used often with funny outcomes keeps it entertaining.

    I personally really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the series but I would encourage people to read the books in order as it has lots of references to the previous book which might make it confusing to the reader if just picked up at random. Even if not all the books are in the Great Read (most are) I will continue to read the other novels and give my opinion.

    Should you read it?

    Yes. If you enjoyed the first novel then you will love this one.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes, but not as high as 23 and I wonder why they are in separately rather than just come under the one entry for the whole series.
    -=[dMw]=- Gortex

  9. #19
    13. Birdsong ---------- Sebastian Faulks

    The focus of the novel tells of a man called Stephen Wraysford at different stages of his life both before and during World War 1. While most of the novel concentrates on Stephen's life in France before and during the war, the novel also focuses on the life of Stephen's granddaughter, Elizabeth, and her attempts to find out more about her grandfather's experiences in World War 1. The story is split into seven sections which cover three different time periods.

    The pre war period focuses on a love affair between Stephen and married wife of his landlord and employer Isabelle. This is how the book starts and to be honest takes a while to get going in setting the scene and introducing the characters. It is not until the affair really starts to develop does it really grabs the attention and goes into some very graphic and descriptive love scenes which would often be found in Porn Magazines, except better written. Along with this it tries to show how turmoil the situation of life was for the rich and poor before the war started.

    Once the War is declared Stephen joins up in the English army and is dispatched with the regiment to the Battle of the Somme. He befriends and gets involved with some engineers / Miners who aim to dig tunnels under the German defenses and set mines off. This a bit like All Quiet On The Western Front makes for very powerful and in some parts emotional reading. It is just brilliantly put together and like All Quiet holds nothing back in going into the details and descriptions of how hard war in the trenches was. It also goes into great detail how dangerous the miner’s job was and in some cases more dangerous than being shelled at by the big German guns on the surface.

    I can not say that it is better than All Quiet On The Western Front as it is just different and covers other subjects like his love life, home life and also how his Grand daughter (1976 period) goes looking for information on her Grand father. There is if anything more to it than just War and if you enjoyed All Quiet then you will love this. I personally (once it got going) really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone as a must read book.

    Should you read it?
    Yes. Excellently written, interesting and powerful reading.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    Yes. Fantastic read and deserves to be right up high on the list
    -=[dMw]=- Gortex

  10. #20
    108. The Wasp Factory ---------- Lain Banks

    This short novel is written from a first person point of view told by sixteen-year-old Frank Cauldhame, describing his childhood. Frank observes many Shamanistic rituals of his own invention, and it is soon revealed that Frank was the perpetrator of three deaths of children before he reached the age of ten. It also focuses on his brother and his escape from a mental institution and his aim to return home to their (Frank & Father) deserted island connected by bridge to a larger island in Scotland.

    A word of warning should be given to anyone about to read this book that it has extremely dark humour and often very graphic a disturbing treatment of animals and humans. Not for the faint hearted that might get disturbed by this sort of material but once read something that is not likely to escape your memory quickly.

    It takes about half to two thirds of the book to actually start really getting to the point of the plot and taking structure to the novel and once it gets there ends all to quickly. The first half of the book talks about Frank’s obsessions, interests and things he has done in the past that he is proud of and often masochist and psychotic behaviour in violent acts. The second half starts to explain his brother, father and friend’s evolvement and what The Wasp Factory actually is and why he is this way he is with a quite shocking ending.

    Personally I think it is ok… not that bad, but not that great either. Definitely something that would create good debates and conversations with others who have read it over a pint. At points I was shocked at what I was reading but then found myself chuckling about it afterwards.

    Should you read it?

    Yes a short novel that will have you thinking about it later and worth a read.
    Is it a classic and does it deserves to be on the list
    No. Not a great novel and definitely not a classic.
    -=[dMw]=- Gortex

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