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Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Reviews Posted on Fri, February 05, 2016 23:15:34

Get hold of this and read it!

This graphic novel is one of the most outstanding stories going, whether graphic novel or ‘normal’ book. I bought this not long after it came out and re-read it every year or so. I must have read it twenty times by now and it never fails to engage.

I read it again this Christmas prompted by reading the newly released ‘Before Watchmen’ graphic novels. There are highly recommended too.

The film of the original is actually not bad. Obviously it misses a lot of the depth of the book and there is a glaring plot change, but still comes highly recommended from me.

Pompeii by Robert Harris

Reviews Posted on Fri, February 05, 2016 23:05:02

Hot on the heels of Imperium by Robert Harris I launched into Pompeii. (Out of order, I know.) I urge all readers who haven’t done so to do likewise. This is a great book. The craft of the author is tremendous, telling a compelling tale against the backdrop of the pending eruption. The only niggle is that you can get a bit lost in the description of the various stages of the catastrophe when it does come. No plot giveaway here though – we know she’s gonna blow! Books that are written as well as this are not that common, so embrace them!

Imperium by Robert Harris

Reviews Posted on Fri, December 25, 2015 23:07:06

What a cracking read! A political thriller based on the true story of the ascendency of Cicero told through the eyes of his secretary/slave Tiro. Apparently Tiro did write such an account, but this was lost at the fall of Rome, so this is an imagining of what he could have written. As Harris states, none of what we know really went on contradicts what is written here.
There are some authors capable of writing page turners and Robert Harris is certainly one of those. This has left me thirsty for more of his books.

HHhH by Laurent Binet

Reviews Posted on Wed, December 02, 2015 19:54:19

The best thing about this book is its title: Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich (Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich).
It’s about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the main architects of the Holocaust, in Prague in 1942. There is some great atmospheric detail about Heydrich, his assassins, and the general awfulness of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslavakia. However, the author repeatedly brings into play his own struggles and thoughts whilst writing the book. Now this could have been a positive thing, but here it is quite irritating at times. So much so that a great story becomes polluted so much as to spoil it.

A History of the English-speaking Peoples

Reviews Posted on Sun, October 25, 2015 22:08:23

Phew! I’ve finally finished this epic four-volume classic by Winston Churchill. All in all a great read and, as you might expect, I learnt a lot along the way. I already knew a fair amount of English and American history but nothing at this depth and not of this range. Some of the writing is beautiful in composition, and some of the descriptions of historical characters beautiful themselves. Others get a (presumably fair) terse going-over in terms of their character.

On a few occasions I felt things got bogged down in overly-detailed accounts of parliamentary machinations, and what I felt was lacking was a bit more about the industrial revolution.

Overall though I would highly recommend this set of books, both for the history lesson and for the prose.

The ‘Faraday series’ by Graham Hurley

Reviews Posted on Mon, August 03, 2015 22:06:11

Starting with ‘Turnstone’ from 2004 through to ‘Happy Days’ in 2012 this is a series of 12 police procedural detective novels that I found compelling. Some well-developed characters that you get to know really well as the series develops drive the stories.
Set in Portsmouth, we are also served a real slice of the life of this fascinating city.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Reviews Posted on Thu, May 14, 2015 21:59:48

This is a great book. The writing style is engaging, and the subject matter compelling. Goldacre walks us through the easy stuff – homeopathy, nutribollocks and so on – and then gives us a brief but fascinating account of one of the most interesting and under-developed ideas in health care, namely the placebo effect. Next up we look at the behaviour of ‘big pharma’, and end with a close look at the disgraceful behaviour of the media in promoting hoaxes such as MRSA and MMR. Truly shocking.

Goldacre’s bad science blog is a joy to behold and highly recommended. At times hilarious, but deeply disturbing at the same time.

Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells

Reviews Posted on Sat, January 03, 2015 00:00:39

This book was written in 1984 and I recall very well the nuclear war fears of the time. This book picks up those feelings. It was revised in 1994 by the addition of an extra chapter. Aimed at ‘young adults’, this is a frightening account of post-holocaust England in which some of our basest instincts come out. Do not expect a light read!

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