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Joe Oak "wewillcomebackasfire" (london)

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Landmarks
Landmarks
by Robert Macfarlane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work., 10 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Landmarks (Paperback)
A book about books about nature; about people who love nature; about words; and about travelling the UK in search of the everyday. Macfarlane's book contains oodles of long descriptions of beautiful things. Each chapter is about a different book - all of which I am now about to add to my wishlist. Not just that, there's another dozen places i now need to visit. The glossaries of nature terms are pure joy for word-lovers. This book is a success - many bits of it are utterly beautiful. The only letdown for me was that occasionally it all went on a bit too much! Still, I was reading this at bedtime and a mellow waffling riff on nature, beauty, peace, and writing made for pleasant dreams!


The Lady in the Lake (Phillip Marlowe)
The Lady in the Lake (Phillip Marlowe)
by Raymond Chandler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 2 Jun. 2016
"You should read this" "have you read this yet?" "when are you going to read this?" are just three of the occasions that my partner waved this book at me and suggested that I get my face in it. What a reward it was. Chandler's writing is elegantly lovely, his story exciting and unpredictable, and his characters are recognisably human. I enjoyed this very much. Marlowe is a fine everyman, his cynicism the weary result of a life lived as a humane optimist. His wit gives you a good laugh every few pages, and I certainly didn't work out how it was done. I intend to read the rest of the Marlowe novels as soon as I can. Recommended


Heroes of the Space Marines (Warhammer 40000)
Heroes of the Space Marines (Warhammer 40000)
by Lindsey Priestly
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars A hit and miss compilation., 10 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A big of a mixed bag, some good and some bad. The Skull Harvest, like all Graham MacNeill's stories, have cartoonish characterisation but fantastic action. I enjoyed this one very much. Gauntlet Run by Chris Roberson was rubbish, his Space Marines are too ordinary, his action pedestrian. I was very bored. Renegades by Gav Thorpe lacked technical ability and nearly lost me at the beginning, but picked up later on and pulled it out of the hat. Honour Amongst Fiends by Dylan Owen never got going; and Fires Of War by Nick Kyme was as utterly boring as anything else he's done. I am told that it is Kyme who is Chief Editor at Black Library, which is odd because he can't write, and can't self-edit. The Labyrinth by Richard Ford is exciting, but makes no conceptual sense at all. Headhunted by Steve Parker was possibly my favourite. Parker can write, his characters are convincing in their behaviour and motivations for the most part, and he knows when to invent and when to use existing fluff. Darren Cox's And They Shall Know No Fear was a fine piece of battle writing, dripping with heroism and sacrifice. Peter Fehervari's Nightfall, like Ford before him, wrote a fun and exciting piece of horror, but it leaves you with too many questions that begin "why... ". Finally One Hate is a rare example of an Aaron Dembski Bowden story that doesn't hit the mark, the crime in this case being that it's not very interesting.


Half Blood Blues
Half Blood Blues
by Esi Edugyan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A moving and dramatic novel that doesn't quite hit the spot., 10 May 2016
This review is from: Half Blood Blues (Paperback)
A strong three, mind. A gripping story - Edugyan is a fantastic storyteller, her characters strong and mostly complete. She deftly flips between 1939 and 1992, keeping us searching for the betrayal alluded to on the cover. Her historicity is superb as far as my knowledge can tell, and following this I'm fascinated by the story of Jazz in Europe pre-WW2. Fortunately there's a reading list!

I hope that I'm not going to give too much away if I say that perhaps the subject of this novel is friendship and loyalty. The cover states "Two Friends, One Betrayal", but actually this isn't right. There are more than two friends here, and more than one betrayal. Maybe we;re being asked to consider which two friends this novel is about, and which betrayal. Perhaps its just rubbish design from the publishers.

I enjoyed this novel very much, though despite shedding the odd tear at the end, I found its final throes unsatisfying. Again, not wanting to give anything away, I didn't really believe it. It didn't seem to be how that character would (indeed, could) react. But that's just my opinion, of course!


Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668
Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668
by Thomas Hobbes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Windy old liberal explains why everyone should stop fighting for five minutes., 27 April 2016
A classic or liberalism, an attempt to use logic and maths to show why a stable state with a king on top and god over all is the best way to be. Far too windy for my modern thick brain, but as a historical document I can see its worth. I disagree wtih most of his conclusions, but for the 1600s it was ahead of its time. But in the end there's nothing in this for the modern reader except for the pleasure of having said "I've read Leviathan".


Keep of the Lich-lord (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks)
Keep of the Lich-lord (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks)
by Steve Jackson
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Battling the undead in deepest Kuhl!, 26 April 2016
Well, this isn't a highlight of the series. It was a pleasant enough game, exploring and fighting undead and going to the pub a bit, followed by an old-fashioned dungeon crawl. And you know, if I can be said to love, I do love a dungeon crawl. The upside was that there were some interesting and original NPCs, and some decent fighting challenges. Some great bits of art by David Gallagher. In the end though, it was a little shallow. I suspect Mssrs Morris and Thomson knocked it out quickly. The introduction was rushed, as if the young people this was aimed at are idiots- and surely the complexity and enduring popularity of Creature Of Chaos shows they're not. The baddie was a one-dimensional cliche (the dark necromancer Lord Mortis oooh scary). But the worst thing is that I finished it the first time. There were no items to collect, no fiendish traps to beat. No value for money. Still, the world is safe again, and I'm a hero, so that's not so bad.


Children of Cherry Tree Farm (Rewards)
Children of Cherry Tree Farm (Rewards)
by Enid Blyton
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars A delightful tale of four scions of the landowning classes and their magic pet tramp., 25 April 2016
What a funny old world children used to live in. I read this as a small child, and it stuck in my head over all these years and when I saw it recently it seemed like time to reread it. It doesn't really stand up to analysis these days - the painful levels of sexism for one thing would make me not want to give it to my daughters without explaining that in the old days girls were considered weak and feeble, for example. The psychology of the adults in this is what is known as authoritarian. They dispense commands from afar, which must be obeyed regardless of logic, else there is punishment. Children raised like this become punitive, seeing weakness or vulnerability as the fault of those in which these things manifest; they become petty fascists and bullies and in general the foot soldiers of Empire. But we all knew that about Blyton, the child-hating old bigot. What I was interested in here is not the parents, who disappear for months on end without explanation, nor the kindly aunt and uncle who take them in and use them as unpaid labour and let them use their free time hanging out with a tramp in the woods (who is known for his acts of violence against children); but said tramp, the misunderstood Tammylan. I get Tammylan. I'd live in the woods and be friends with the animals as well, except for the threat of being bothered by annoying posh London children all day. Tammylan can I touch a toad? Tammylan whats a bat? Tammylan can I sleep in your bed? Poor old boy never gets any respite. He does his best. It turns out that his reputation for violence is unfair - he only hurts children who hurt animals. He hates when children hurt animals, but doesn't seem too bothered by adults doing it. He hasn't a bad word for Uncle Tim's involvement in the industrial meat industry. He's willing to hide a fox from the hunters, but he won't do anything else to stop his friend being torn apart by dogs for the enjoyment of humans. Still, perhaps he knows what'll happen if the local toffs take against him. So he protects nature from children, that's all. And if you're a nice child he'll take a baby squirrel or hedgehog away from its parents so some spoilt kid can have a pet. Because Tammylan knows, as all sensible humans do, that animals and nature are there for human purposes, not their own. Like many animal lovers, Tammylan knows that there is a difference between the harm he does to animals and the harm other people do.

I'm being harsh, of course. Tammylan is a kind sweet man, and when he calls the children stupid, and other cruel names, in response to their ignorance, its because he doesn't know any better - just as our grandparents didn't know any better when they belittled our mothers and fathers. He rewards cleverness and punishes stupidity. His role is not to teach, children should just know better. Except, of course, that his role in this book is teacher. Though really he's just showing off. Any teaching done is incidental to the day's work of waving snakes around, keeping mice up your shirt, and pretending to know about weasels. It's worth pointing out here that, whilst Tammylan does correct some of the childrens misunderstandings or ignorance about animals, he also tells some massive porkies himself. Whether this is because Blyton didn't do any research on common British fauna before writing this, or because she wanted to put in some sinister undertones that imply Tammylan is a fantasist, I'll leave that for the reader to decide.

Still, there's something to be said for a story about alienated middle class children learning to get in touch with the natural world, their alienation from the countryside being an ironic reflection of Tammylan's alienation from human society. And if the children can learn to feed lambs, prod badgers, and lick toads, then perhaps Tammylan can recover from whatever trauma befell him (perhaps he never recovered from active service in the second world war, perhaps he grew up in one of those orphanages where it was a good day if you only got beaten by the priests and you dreaded the announcement that a local dignitary was coming to visit in case he took a shine to you), and return to polite society. He can have a wash and a shave and find one of the many jobs for animal lovers available under capitalism - perhaps he can breed animals for a pet shop, or set up a puppy farm, or work in a lab taking care of the rats. The opportunities are there if he's only willing to take them.

So yeah, what did I learn from reading this book. Well, I learnt that adults are liars, that DBS checks are not important to farmers, and that there is nothing worth knowing that you can't learn from a man who lives in a cave and talks to voles.

So yeah, the only thing worse than now is the old days.


Plague Year (the Plague Year trilogy Book 1)
Plague Year (the Plague Year trilogy Book 1)
Price: £2.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well but loses momentum., 24 April 2016
Starts well, oh so well. The first third of the book is tense, exciting, and original. The writing can be a bit elementary, but as a first novel that's no surprise. But the second third feels rushed, lacks dramatic tension, and consists mostly of idle conversation or exposition. The final third is action again, but action moved by an unclear plot development that suddenly appears. Why did all the exciting stuff that happened be explained in a few hundred words of exposition rather than in the third of the book that was idle conversation? Why not write all that cool stuff with new heroes and action and political development? The last few chapters are written with a movie in mind, I am sure. Won't give it away, but it's dealt with too quickly and lacks verisimilitude. I really enjoyed the first chunk of it, but the rest felt like a chore. There's enough good stuff there that I'm going to keep an eye out for book two, see if some of the problems are solved with practice. Much potential here, but the execution didn't do it for me.


Wolf Riders: Warhammer Novels
Wolf Riders: Warhammer Novels
by Pringle
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Love and death in the Warhammer World, 21 April 2016
I enjoyed this very much. Back in the early days of Games Workshop fiction the writers were very good quality, often popular sci-fi or fantasy authors writing under assumed names. Brian Craig, who contributes two stories here, is also known as Brian Stableford, and Jack Yeovil is Kim Newman. In this collection we have 8 short stories, all of which are good, and some of which are great. The title story is one of William King's best pieces of work, where he gets the language just right to suit the tone of the piece. Sandy Mitchell's The Tilean Rat is a fun read that has the feeling of being an edited version of a longer text. Craig's The Phantom Of Yremy is a study of dark magic and jealousy, a lot darker than the light fiction of mid-period GW fiction, but none the worse for that. Ralph Castle's Cry Of The Beast feels again like a bigger story chopped down and loses out to speeding the plot along. Jack Yeovil's No Gold In The Grey Mountains is a companion piece to his masterful Drachenfels novel, and a further portrait of vampirism. I enjoyed that a lot. Pete Garrett's Hammer Of The Stars is a fairly standard piece of fantasy, a little cliched, and either he's trying to make his impact on the Warhammer World, or he has been tasked with introducing a new people. Either way it doesn't feel like a Warhammer story - perhaps he's changed a few place names in order to make it fit the world? Simon Ousley's Pulg's Grand Carnival is pretty good and sets itself up for a follow up. Did this ever happen? I don't think it did, which is a shame as I want to know where Hans, Heidi, and Pulg went next. Finally Craigs other piece, The Way Of The Witchfinder, finishes on a suitably grimdark note that reminds us never to succumb to mercy! All in all, a fun collection worth tracking down if you can find one at a sensible price.


The Book Of Lists London
The Book Of Lists London
by Nick Rennison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Many facts in list format., 15 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Does exactly what it says on the front. But, you know, I've read a lot of books about London and this is hardly brimming with new and original research. So, like, one for the newb, or perhaps the toilet. I demand novelty!


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