April 2022 Reading Thread

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Rodders

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The Guns of Tanith by Dan Abnett

Book two in the Saint Omnibus. I have to say that i am thoroughly enjoying the reread.
 

Danny McG

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A mil sci-fi
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Foxbat

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Finished the Douglas Bader biography. It was okay but I felt it was not an unbiased account. A bit of research on the author (aviation historian John Frayn Turner) uncovered that he and Bader were close friends for the last 12 years of Bader’s life.

Now starting Fighting The Great War At Sea: Strategy, Tactics And Technology by Norman Friedman.
 

Danny McG

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Today a mil sci-fi by Rick Partlow:-
1st to fight (number 1 of Earth at War series)
 
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williamjm

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I read Ben Aaronvitch's new Rivers of London book, Amongst Our Weapons. I always enjoy this series and this one was no exception, even if it doesn't necessarily stand out compared to the earlier books. After the previous book deviated from the formula to some extent this one seems be back to a regular case, or at least as regular as it can get for the Metropolitan Police's department for investigating magical crimes. The mystery plotline is interesting and comes to a good conclusion, even though some aspects of it don't seem entirely resolved and presumably will be returned to in later books. We also get to see a bit more of the wider magical world explored as well as some obscure bits of the real world that I didn't know about before like the London Silver Vaults. There's also plenty of humour in it as well, I enjoyed the Monty Python references and the reappearance of the talking foxes who inexplicably seem to think they're in a John Le Carre novel.

I read the Waterstone's special edition which had a bonus short story at the end featuring a younger Nightingale on a trip to Prague on the eve of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. I thought it provided some good insights into Nightingale's history and I'd happily read more from that era.

Next up I'm going to read P. Djéli Clark's Master of Djinn.
 

hitmouse

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I read Ben Aaronvitch's new Rivers of London book, Amongst Our Weapons. I always enjoy this series and this one was no exception, even if it doesn't necessarily stand out compared to the earlier books. After the previous book deviated from the formula to some extent this one seems be back to a regular case, or at least as regular as it can get for the Metropolitan Police's department for investigating magical crimes. The mystery plotline is interesting and comes to a good conclusion, even though some aspects of it don't seem entirely resolved and presumably will be returned to in later books. We also get to see a bit more of the wider magical world explored as well as some obscure bits of the real world that I didn't know about before like the London Silver Vaults. There's also plenty of humour in it as well, I enjoyed the Monty Python references and the reappearance of the talking foxes who inexplicably seem to think they're in a John Le Carre novel.

I read the Waterstone's special edition which had a bonus short story at the end featuring a younger Nightingale on a trip to Prague on the eve of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. I thought it provided some good insights into Nightingale's history and I'd happily read more from that era.

Next up I'm going to read P. Djéli Clark's Master of Djinn.
Really enjoyed this. Aaronovitch is a clever writer: light touch but good narrative, wry commentary from the lead, strong characters, and a decent, good-natured plot. I do like the fact that the goddesses of the London rivers are West African ladies.
 

Cat's Cradle

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Dark Matter, by Michelle Paver, is the story of Jack, a depressed, 1930s Londoner trying to escape the tedium of his life. He joins an Arctic expedition put on by his social betters, and will serve as the expedition's wireless operator.
This is a beautifully written ghost story; it's a fairly short book at 256 pages, and there is a real and intense sense of dread that the author creates slowly throughout the first 100 pages. I thought the denouement was a bit weak, mainly because the explanation of what was happening seemed a little slapdash, compared to what I expected from the well-crafted layerings of dread. I enjoyed the author's Wakenhyrst more (Wakenhyrst was written nine years later, and I thought was a more mature work). Still happy to have read this, and will definitely read anything new by this author. (I say 'read', but I only do Audible now. Dark Matter had excellent narration provided by the actor Jeremy Northam; really added to the spooky atmosphere.)

Devil House, by John Darnielle. Darnielle is a musician/author - he's the creative force of the band Mountain Goats. This is his newest novel, and I've read his earlier works Wolf In White Van and Universal Harvester. His books, I think, are somehow lumped into the horror genre (maybe things need to be categorized to be sold?), but they aren't really horror, as I define it. His stories are slow and pensive, full of gorgeous melancholy (especially Universal Harvester, my favorite of his books), and are very wise about the world, and the sense of loss and loneliness so many of us feel. Devil House tells the story of Gage Chandler, a moderately successful writer of true crime books (writing on somewhat-known, infamous murders, I guess kind of like Capote's In Cold Blood). He begins a new book that will delve deeply into the murders of a realtor and a prospective buyer of a building where the brutal murders will occur.
Gage loses himself in the research for the book, loses his Self, really, and the book is a sort of non-linear trip through these murders, the people involved in the murders, and some big events in his own past.
I love how this author writes, and the sense of melancholy in all of his books really speaks to me, but I thought this book was a bit muddled, and that its middle third took some tangents that did the storytelling no favors. The ending was terrific, though, and really surprised me, so I would recommend the book. But if anyone is interested in this author, I would try Universal Harvester; I don't think these books would appeal to a wide audience, but there are some people who might love the best of them, as I do.
Oh, the author reads his own novels, and this can be both good and bad - he has a fine voice (he's a singer), and of course should best know how his characters would speak, and the rhythms/pacing that are best for the dramatic purposes of his works, but he fairly often uses unusual line readings that are a bit distracting, so it's a good reading of the story, but not always the most technically perfect rendering of the words of the novel.
 
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Hugh

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William Dalrymple "The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company" (2019)
The main focus is on India @1750 to @1800 and documents how the East India Company moved from being "a few traders who have not yet learned to wash their bottoms" (as described in 1756 by a disgruntled envoy) to unchallenged rulers. It's well researched, with access to E.I.C. original documents in the National Archives of India. A particular strength is its use of a number of contemporary accounts, both Indian and French some of which had not been previously translated. It was admiringly reviewed just about everywhere on publication.
Much like Herbert's "Dune" it took me a good few pages to get to understand who was who and to stop mixing up my Mughals with my Marathas and my Nawabs with my Nizams, but I found it very interesting reading, and a healthy counterbalance to the narrative put to me at school.
One interesting point relates to the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773, in that I hadn't realised that one of the motivating factors for the Tea Party (using East India Company tea of course) was a fear that the British Government would turn over administration of taxes in America to the East India Company. By this time, accounts of the sheer corruption and extortion of the EIC's agents in Bengal while ignoring the plight of the millions dying horrifically in the 1771 famine, had been well publicised. As a significant number of the British Parliament were in the pockets of the EIC as shareholders, anything was possible.
 
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