redfiona99: (books)
An Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond book set during the Long Night.

It's a fun book, with a nice line in good ridiculous and some wonderful descriptions. There's a wonderful bit at the beginning of the book that makes New York seem as alien and awesome as a completely different world. I thought the ending was a bit rushed, but that might just be me.

But the real stars are the Vykoids, who are just the most glorious, impossible-to-do-on-TV (or impossible to do well) villains. They're just ... listen, I know they're actually horrible and mean but I too am short so I am taking notes. They're just so well done.

In terms of continuity, there's a nice call back to the Daleks of Manhattan, and a wonderfully sinister reference to Nile penguins who I presume )

Librarything Suggestions )

I think a couple of those are lurking on my to be read pile.
redfiona99: (Default)
Books:

The Custodian of Forgotten Books - http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-custodian-of-forgotten-books

Business:

Silicon Valley Brits: 'We had to leave the UK behind' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37417758

Culture:

The night the clubs fell silent (for a minute) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/37378138/the-night-the-clubs-fell-silent-for-a-minute

Health:

St John's Wort 'stops emergency contraceptive pill working' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37375388

History:

Broadside ballads: When the news was spread through song - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37386026

The pilot who stole a secret Soviet fighter jet - http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160905-the-pilot-who-stole-a-secret-soviet-fighter-jet

Miscellaneous:

Solitude, Space Junk and Sea Monsters: the Eerieness of Point Nemo - http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/solitude-space-junk-and-sea-monsters-the-eerieness-of-point-nemo

The rare Afghan deer that survived wars - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-37171964

The Free-Time Paradox in America - https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/09/the-free-time-paradox-in-america/499826/

Why Do Tourists Visit Ancient Ruins Everywhere Except the United States? - https://priceonomics.com/why-do-tourists-visit-ancient-ruins-everywhere/ Title should be 'why do American Tourists visit ancient ruins everywhere except the United States?'

The Painstaking, Secretive Process Of Designing New Money - https://www.fastcodesign.com/3063512/the-painstaking-secretive-process-of-designing-new-money

Why Luck Plays a Big Role in Making You Rich - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-01/why-luck-plays-a-big-role-in-making-you-rich

The village building homes for young families - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37374308

Why Americans don't take sick days - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-37353742

Music:

Larry Kane: The reluctant Beatles fan - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-37355216

Politics:

5 Ways Losing The Presidency Sucks Even More Than You Think - http://www.cracked.com/article_24315_5-ways-losing-presidency-sucks-even-more-than-you-think.html

Science:

Scientists reveal most accurate depiction of a dinosaur ever created -
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/14/scientists-reveal-most-accurate-depiction-of-a-dinosaur-ever-created

University study will examine long-term health of rugby players - http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37362461

Grasshoppers - the new sushi? - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37352190

Technology:

How do you charge your phone when the sun doesn't shine? - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37257242
redfiona99: (books)
I know I said I was going to expand my reading horizons but when I find myself in times of trouble, Agatha Christie comforts me. I also owe the Gutenberg Project for putting it online.

The Mysterious Affair At Styles is a solid book, and a good introduction to Poirot.

What I find most interesting about it however is how much you can see Christie developing from it. It's got all the building blocks of your average Poirot, the country house, the summation in the drawing room, but it's lacking some of the small character bits that the later Christies have.

It's also clear how much Hugh Fraser brings to Hastings in the adaptations, because this Hastings is nowhere near as charmingly adorkable. He really is just dim.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

Are all Christies, several of which I have read.
redfiona99: (Default)
For the Pratchett fans, imagine the wizards investigating a murder, and you're pretty much there. To the extent that I imagine Windle Poons in place of Professor Wilkie.

That is the great joy of the books, it's frantically silly done well, with moments of real tension. The resolution of the mystery is a bit throwaway, which is the book's main weakness. It's great fun, but not a particularly solid plot.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

A very solid set of suggestions, as it contains books by authors where I've loved other books of theirs.
redfiona99: (books)
Which is a collection of short stories written around the time of the Sherlock Holmes stories. (This edition has the picture of Holmes and Watson that I desperately hope they've given Peter Wingfield some money for because he's obviously the model for Holmes.)

The introduction by David Stuart Davies is particularly worth reading because it sets Holmes in context of other detective stories, in context of Conan Doyle's life and trying to explain the effect of the Holmes stories on modern detective stories.

There is a reason why most of these characters are less well remembered than Holmes but most of the stories are worth a read if you like your crime stories.

As to the short stories themselves, I've divided them somewhat roughly into three categories: the good, the bad and the ish.

The good:

The Purloined Letter - Which along with the other Dupin mysteries codified a lot of the detective tropes that were later used in the Holmes stories.

The Biter Bit - Which is Wilkie Collins doing fun character stuff, so I am always going to be in favour.

A Princess's Vengeance - A little slight but fun, with some neat touches.

The Absent-Minded Coterie - Pleasingly self-mocking with some very neat touches.

A Clever Capture - Which could actually be a minor Holmes, so closely does it stick to the formula.

The Stir Outside the Cafe Royal - Decidedly slight but I <3 the main character so.

The Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds - sneaky and fun and mostly makes me want to read more Simon Carne stories.

The Problem of Dressing Room A - is the detective a bit too good? Yes. Is it a bit too pat? Yes. Is it scientifically improbable? Yes. Is it still worth reading? Yes.

The Hundred-Thousand-Dollar Robbery - A bit of a different take on the detective, this one being more of a tracker, and I like it because I've not read anything like it before. If you have, you may not like it as much.

The Surrey Cattle Maiming Mystery - Another one where the reveal is a little too pat, but the writing of the sidekick is so much fun.

The Ghost At Massingham Mansions - Which is my favourite short story in the collection. It's detailed and fun and has a nice twist.

The bad:

The Stolen Cigar Case - Which is a Holmes spoof. And I like good Holmes spoofs. This is not one. Because most of the ticks it spoofs are Dupin's, not Holmes's.

Sexton Blake and the Time Killer - Too much going on. Any one of the three mysteries would make one good story. All three of them lead to over-convolution. (Yes, I know I am not the target audience.)

The ish:

The Swedish Match - where I like everything but the resolution which feels rushed. But the character stuff is marvellous.

The Secrets of the Black Brotherhood - Again, short-changes on the explanation of the how they catch him, which is always the most fun bit of the mystery.

The Episode of the Diamond Links - the twist is too obvious.

Nine Points of the Law - okay, confession time, I am not a big Raffles fan. It's really well written, and I should love everything about Raffles, I just don't quite dig it.

One Possessed - I am reasonably sure psychiatry doesn't work like this, not even Edwardian psychiatry. Some of the character details are marvellous, and I think Doctor Dollar would make a marvellous set of stories to adapt for TV, but ...

The Great Pearl Mystery - This is another one that short changes the explanation.

LibraryThing Suggestions: )

I have read the beginning of the Hentzau Affair, and my Mum has a stash of Holmesiana which may well contain some of the others.
redfiona99: (books)
There is nothing wrong with this book. It's well-written and characterised, it just lacks whatever it is that changes a book from being well-written to being a good read.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

I have read one of those :) so it's a reasonable set of recs.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I did warn you there'd be more of these Torchwood book reviews.

The actual review

The plot is a bit flimsy but it's more than made up for by the excellent characterization of the main characters, Owen and Tosh. Ford really does capture the brittle anger of Owen and Tosh's brilliant intelligence and weaknesses in other areas. The remaining Torchwood crew are well-drawn, especially Gwen and Rhys.

It reads a lot like an unfilmed season 2 episode, and I mean that in all the best ways since season 2 rocked my socks.

Spoilery stuff that will only interest Torchwood fans )

LibraryThing Suggestions )

All of them are Torchwood books, several I might well have.

No unsuggestions.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Normal people don't give books about syphilis to their friends for their birthdays. Then again, normal people don't then go on to write book reports about books about syphilis so I think L and I are equally weird.

Mostly Pox: etc left me curiously unsatisfied. It's not that I believe or disbelieve that various historical figures had syphilis (although I'm highly unconvinced by the Schumann chapter), it's the author's methods I have issues with. Syphilis is referred to throughout as the 'great imitator' and yet most of the time, other suggestions for what could be the cause of the symptoms shown in each "case" are not mentioned, never mind being discussed and shown to be unlikely. The one exception to this is the chapter about Hitler where the discussion about the symptoms he had that resembled Parkinson's disease is ended with "just because he had Parkinson's doesn't mean he didn't have syphilis." Which is a fair enough point, but when you're claiming all the symptoms are due to syphilis, it's a bit rich.

The symptoms are another problem. A list of them is in appendix A. Not only would I have preferred them earlier in the book, but they're so spectacularly vague and at the same time, wide-ranging. Do not give this book to a hypochondriac who has ever had sex because they will convince themselves they have syphilis.

The other problem is that a lot of the symptoms resemble those of heavy metal poisoning, particularly mercury poisoning. Now quite obviously, being poisoned by mercury doesn't rule out having syphilis, especially given that mercury was used as a treatment for syphilis, but it was also used as a treatment for a great many other things.

One of the other aims of the book was to examine how on-going syphilis, or more particularly the parts from secondary syphilis onwards, affected the work of the various "patients". I have never really appreciated the idea of focusing on one aspect of an artist's life and using it to explain everything they've ever dine and I found this book had the same problem as most works in this vein. It takes the attitude that this one thing explains all the great masterworks (and excuses the drivel) but never mentions the average. If having syphilis was so much on the minds of Oscar Wilde and James Joyce that it was their idée fixe when they wrote the Picture of Dorian Gray and Ulysses, then why was it not on their minds when they wrote other things?

(There's a highly cryptic remark about Nora Joyce "but the future of another woman he met that month, his life partner and the mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, is known." (pp 241) Now, I've given her a quick wiki and can see no sign on that of doom and dread, so I'm none the wiser. Does anyone have any idea what they could be referring to?)

Hayden does something quite clever by interleaving the "known cases" where the suffer has made admission of their disease with the "suspected" cases. I recognise a good rhetorical trick when I see one, because it enables you to go, 'see how x had the same symptoms as y, and we know x had syphilis, so y *must* have had it too' without quite being so blunt about it.

I've left the Hitler chapter till last for a reason. One, no matter how well researched the rest of it is, you get a distinct feeling that the author was working up to that chapter, it being 54 pages, when the next longest (about Oscar Wilde) is 29 pages. Now there's perfectly good and sound reasons to stop after the Hitler chapter, because the book is mostly chronologically ordered, and after 1945 penicillin became available as a treatment for syphilis, reducing the number of people affected in total and almost entirely preventing tertiary syphilis from developing. Two, I can't actually compete with the criticism that Hayden, to her credit, includes in her book, which says it is unfair, "to put the whole weight of the holocaust on the frail shoulders of that poor woman of the streets if she ever existed." (Pox pp 257, which gives a reference to Ron Rosenbaum 'Explaining Hitler' pp 197) Because it does seem to be a rather simple-minded attempt to explain Hitler's hatred of Jews so that it makes sense, rather than being a product of the times. Because obviously, if there was a reason, it can't happen again, right?! Three, she quite often cites David Irving, without mentioning his lies on some other World War 2 related issues. We're talking about a man who was described by a high court judge as someone who "for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence." (Mr. Justice Charles Gray, Irving v Penguin Books Limited, Deborah E. Lipstadt) I'm just going to suggest that, if possible, you find someone else to cite.

So yeah, I may have had issues with that chapter too.

In short, it's a lovingly crafted, well-written book, with excellent sourcing and footnoting, with the exception of David Irving, but I feel it's rather too hasty to make its cases without providing a bedrock in some of the "maybe" cases.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

I've read none of those but they do sound awfully tempting.

Unsuggestions )

I have read one of those (Hitchhiker's Guide), but I've not written it up for LibraryThing so I can't complain.

Book bingo

Sep. 14th, 2014 11:56 pm
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Meme pinched from [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte

548606_600

Also using only books I've read so far this year, and that I've written up for LibraryThing/GoodReads because I do a lot of re-reading of books.

I read less than he does ;) )
If I do manage to actually read anything else, I'll try and fill in the blanks.
redfiona99: (also by fileg)
I actually read this because GoodReads recommended it. I've read it once before, before the TV adaptation so pre-1998, and I didn't think much of it. I couldn't remember why I hadn't liked it so I thought it would only be fair if I gave it another go.

I still didn't like it )

It's not actually a bad book, it's solidly written and does a reasonably good job of scene-setting, I just didn't enjoy it.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

I've not read any of those but I might keep an eye out.

LibraryThing Unsuggester )

I've not read any of these, but several of them aren't books I'd automatically avoid.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I really enjoyed the first of the Thursday Next books, so I picked this one up.

This one I didn't enjoy so much, mostly because it all seems to be set-up with no pay-off. I suspect we'll be seeing more of the Jurisfiction squad in the next one, which I will be getting because the book is still fun, even if it's not particularly satisfying.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

Since I've read one of these already and 6 others are parts of series I am slowly getting through, I think that it's reasonably accurate.

The Unsuggestions are all evangelical Protestant theology so I suspect that might be spot on too.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I picked up a bunch of Torchwood hardbacks from one of the local charity shows so there might be a few of these in the next few weeks.

Not actually part of the review, just some notes )

On to the actual review:

A good solid book, which uses an interesting and plausible premise, and is pleasingly creepy in places. I loved a lot of the little details about the alien (and the alien tech). The characterisation of Toshiko was spot on and Jack, Gwen and Rhys were also very well done, even if a few of Jack's speeches made it clear we really haven't given John Barrowman enough credit for making some really bad dialogue sound like human speech. I thought the characterisation of Owen was a bit broad. The lack of Ianto made sense since the book is from the period where Ianto was just the teaboy.

Definitely worth a read.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

LibraryThing Unsuggester )
redfiona99: (also by fileg)
Many, many moons ago, the Three Men In A Boat chapter about the cheese was in an anthology of funny books for kids. Thus encouraged, I listened to an audio version with Hugh Laurie, but I was most distressed to find that it had been abridged.

I was at home for fencing, and looking for something to read. Cue me at 1 am, having to bite my lip and cover my face with a pillow to stop me waking the house up because I was laughing so hard (it was the bit about Uncle Podger).

So I went to buy Three Men In A Boat and I got the Oxford World Classics version that also included Three Men On A Bummel.

Three Men In A Boat )

Three Men On A Bummel )

LibraryThing Suggestions )

Lots of Wodehouse and Connie Willis.

LibraryThing Unsuggestions )
redfiona99: (also by fileg)
Re-read it on Friday.

This is not my favourite Christie, it's not even my favourite Poirot, but it's definitely a masterwork. This is where Poirot gets to show he doesn't need the cigarette ash and bits of cloth to solve a mystery as he re-investigates a murder that occured 16 years before. It's also a nice antidote to those mysteries where the detective is given more information than the reader. Here we are given exactly the same information as Poirot and allowed to try to figure out whodunit along with him.

It's not perfect, I found the characterisation of Philip Blake a bit flat, but I love all the little character details for Poirot, like when he tells himself off for thinking in nursery rhymes (again) and how he chooses to present himself to the five people present on the day of the murder.

Definitely worth a read.

LibraryThing Suggestions )

Not unexpectedly, I have read several of these. :)

LibraryThing Unsuggestions )

Rather more unexpectedly, I have read one of these. Hunter S. Thompson would be proud that he breaks algorithms :)

Links

May. 5th, 2014 06:59 pm
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Books/TV:

Game of Thrones: Discover the real Westeros - http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2014-04-29/game-of-thrones-discover-the-real-westeros Or the Northern Ireland tourism board now has consultant dragons. Link care of [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte.

Films:

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan Speculate On Their Characters' Futures 25 Years after 'When Harry Met Sally' - http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/billy-crystal-and-meg-ryan-speculate-their-characters-futures-after-when-harry-met-sally

Science:

The strange case of the 'time travel' murder (and other tales from the UK Forensics service) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26324244

Antibiotic resistance now 'global threat', WHO warns - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27204988 That sound you can hear is lots of scientists going "we've been trying to tell you this for years."

History:

The Man Who Made South Africa's Flag - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27155475

Music/Music Industry:

Cee-Lo Green Originally Recorded 'Happy' (and other could have beens) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/27234842

Politics/Economics:

Legal aid row leads to halting of serious fraud trial - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27238201 Where the Prime Minister's brother is on the side of right and good.

UK Cost Of Living Changes Over 10 Years - http://www.politicshome.com/uk/article/97214/cost_of_living_.html

Sport:

World's oldest surviving Olympian, and sharp-shooting FBI agent, dies aged 106 - https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/olympic-games-worlds-oldest-olympian-sharp-shooting-fbi-112828806--spt.html

Snooker:

World Snooker Championship: How to survive Crucible marathon - http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/snooker/27048713

Football:

Crystal Palace: How Tony Pulis achieved Premier League survival - http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/27253266

Footballer Fabrice Muamba launches defibrillator campaign - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-27237737

Rodney Marsh cleans Stoke City players' boots after losing online argument - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-27210196

Formula 1:

Senna's death: Hill still full of disbelief 20 years on - https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/formula-1-sennas-death-hill-still-full-disbelief-074615188--f1.html The whole article is worth reading, because Damon Hill is honest and capable of great insight.

Senna's death: The practical joker whose laughter is still missed - https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/formula-1-sennas-death-practical-joker-whos-laughter-074245068--f1.html

Formula 1/Football:

Brazilian footballers pay tribute to Ayrton Senna by wearing helmets - https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/world-of-sport/brazilian-footballers-honour-ayrton-senna-wearing-yellow-helmets-031717505.html
redfiona99: (Thinking)
As I said, I'm a sucker for pretty cover art, and the book before this in the series (The Osiris Ritual) finished on such a cliff-hanger that I had to have this next one.

The problem is, the cliff-hanger is only resolved about 3/4 of the way through the book and given how big of a problem the thing was (sorry for lack of clarity, I'm trying not to spoil), it was very emotionally unsatisfying. For those who don't mind spoilers )

The other problem is that the time-line of Newbury & Hobbes mysteries now seems very squashed, because I'd assumed that, by the start of the third book, they'd been a team for ~18 months, but apparently it's not quite a year and that seems to be a lot to pack in. What happens in this book explains why book 2's main villain was such a let down after a book and a half of build up, because the author appears to have decided to turn spoiler ) into the main villain of the series.

I will read the rest of the books, but not with the same "must read, must read".

LibraryThing Suggestions )

Two of which I've read.
redfiona99: (also by fileg)
Inspired by this post of [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte, this is what my bookshelf looks like
P1010075

Yes, it's more of a book/DVD/CD/computer game case, and is urgent need of organisation.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
A friend who writes books and can be found here (http://davidbridger.com/) earlier today posted a request to see if anyone could identify a book he remembered from school. No-one's been able to identify it yet so I was wondering if anyone on my f-list could.

>>It’s about a boy who spends the summer holidays staying with his best friend’s family in their isolated house on a beach. There are legends of pirates in the area, and the boys discover they’re both dreaming the same dreams in which they’re taken back in time and actually meet the pirates. They take sides, the hero on the side of law and order and his now ex-friend in with the pirates. They fall out in real life, but try to keep their mutual antagonism hidden from the family.<<
redfiona99: (Thinking)
On the sites that want you to give a star rating, I've given this a 5. I feel it's a 4.75, but, quite sensibly, they don't let you make such small fractions. The only reason I don't give it the full 5 stars is that there's a few diagrams where you can tell the book was originally printed in colour and not much thought was given the the shade of grey it becomes when you press the grey-scale button, there's a couple of places where an extra diagram would have been a good idea (the section on genetics was crying out for a Punnet square) and there's a couple of minor typos that, although they are small, are in the worst possible places.

Other than that, I loved the book, because it explained some tricky concepts incredibly well, and in a way that meant I could transfer the understanding to other things (I'm thinking particularly of the 4D cube). I was a bit dubious about the structure to start with but, once you got to chapter 6 and 7 it started to make a lot more sense.

Thoroughly recommended.

Librarything Suggestions )

I have already read and enjoyed one of the books on the list, which is a nice confirmation that the algorithm works.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte I do the Librarything and Goodreads thing (I'm this name over on Librarything and my rl name over on Goodreads) and there's one thing I don't get, not in the "it's a bad thing" way, just in the "huh?" way.

I don't get how you (plural you) can compare books and comics using the same rating scale and system. Because with books you just have to like or dislike the writing, whereas with a comic the pictures matter almost as much.

For example, I am sure that Code Geass is fantastically interesting, but I can't tell two of the characters apart so I didn't carry on after the first volume. Meanwhile, I like the art in Trigun, and I've been told the story is interesting, but it didn't go anywhere within the first three volumes so I dropped that too.

When it's a comic adaptation of a book, I have the same problem. For instance, the 2000AD adaptation of a couple of the Stainless Steel Rat books do a reasonably good summary of the stories in terms of the text and the dialogue, but much though I love Carlos Ezquerra's art, I know what Jim Di Griz looks like and that's not it and it throws me out of stories something chronic, although I doubt it would be a problem if I hadn't read the books first (all hail my high school library). I bought myself the adaptation with my ill-gotten birthdaymas gains and I was thinking of reviewing it but I realised all I was talking about was the art and not the story and I felt weird putting that up on Librarything which is about books.

To me, they're just two too different media to be compared.

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