Friday, April 25, 2008

The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook.

Firstly, my apologies for forgetting to write this up earlier. Its 10:30 on Anzac Day and I have nothing better to do than write a book review. How sad.

Moving on.

The book I chose for this month was The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook by Matt Dunn. From picking up the book and a quick perusal of the blurb I surmised it would be something like Bridget Jones' Diary, from a male perspective. I wasn't wrong.

Edward has been happy in his rut of a life. Until his girlfriend (a bitch, by any definition) leaves him. In an attempt to win her back he overhauls his whole life. And in the space of three months goes from dud to STUD, overhauling the a to z of his life with the aid of his friends.

A variety of his adventures show us different aspects of Ed. And the characters contrast and promote his personality. Best mate Dan, is a player so shallow that he would make a mouse fart seem deep. He provides insight into what women want, how to read them and how not to be to keep one. Wendy the barmaid keeps Dan's rediculous ego in check, and provides insightful but witty one liners. And Sam is the glimmer of hope that keeps him going and gets to know Ed during his transformation, providing gentle encouragement along the way. And Natasha is a man eater. She allows Ed to see the vulnerable positions a woman puts herself in when she's in a relationship. And then she shags Dan. Which is pretty much a full circle of characters. Except for Billy the homeless guy who's too smelly or drunk to care if he's in the list.

One thing I would have liked out of this book would have been a little more closure with Jane. Yes, there was some but I wanted her to see him and talk to him, and realise that while she has gained in her life, she has also lost.

Overall I found it a nice book, good for a holiday read. Something you can sit at for a few hours on end or not pick up for a few days if you're busy. It was easy to read and very entertaining. I know I'll be looking for more of this authors work.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Polar Star

I should start by saying that i'm normally not a detective / crime novel kind of guy, but Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park Series has me totally hooked

Polar Star follows our hero, Arkady Renko, after he has essentially been exiled from Moscow by the KGB. He is working on the slime-line of a Soviet Factory ship which is buying fish from smaller, more skilled, American trawlers.

Like all Renko novels; there is a murder which he is to investigate. Like all novels, there is an attempted cover-up by everybody else and like all Renko novels, he persists when everybody is trying to force him not to.

What I love about this series (from what i have read) is the picture that Cruz Smith paints of life in Soviet Russia. It's as if he has been there and experienced it. In Wolves Eat Dogs, i have never read a better description (whether it be entirely accurate or not) of Chernobyl and surrounding villages. I just can't get enough of it.

The Gorky Park / Arkady Renko Series

Gorky Park *
Polar Star *
Red Square
Havana Bay
Wolves Eat Dogs *
Stalin's Ghost

*I have read these, and plan on reading the rest very soon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Long Way Down

By Nick Hornby.

A Long Way Down is the sotry of four people who randomly meet after deciding to kill themselves, by throwing themselves from a building, on new years eve. Except they all choose the same place and a bond / pact is formed so that they can help each other.

The story is narrated by all four characters (Maureen, Martin, Jess and JJ) who have completely different reasons for trying to do what they all wanted to do. The group (or 'gang' as they put it) are sometimes led down a completely unbelievable path by Jess' antics.

I could not stand the character of Jess, not one bit. If you read it i am sure that you will agree too, the only problem is, she is essential to the story.

Maureen's character, for that matter, was rather boring.
The only real entertainment i received from reading this book was through JJ and Martin, which is just over half the book.

The book also doesn't achieve anything at the end. it just ends, like that. done. None of them are feeling any better (except Maureen), but at least none of them have committed suicide (i don't think that gives anything away).

Having said all this, i couldn't put this book down and read it in 3 days (i was a bit over it from about 3/4 of the way through though).

It's entertaining, it's easy and it is very well written.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Long Way Down

Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman.

This book follows on from their success from their Long Way Round adventure. It's more of a diary than anything else. Put together by the two of them, telling the almost day-to-day activities of their adventure.

There are two main things i picked up from this book.

1. They are selfish and
2. Charlie Boorman is a real dick (which was further highlighted to me after seeing some of Long Way Round on dvd).

There is no doubt about it. Riding what they rode is a phenomenol task. They tell us how hard it is and how awesome the two of them are for doing it.

But what about Claudio??

Claudio is one of the cameramen. He rides just as much as they do (in both adventures) but he films it all too.
Does he get any credit? No.
Does he get mentioned often? No.
It's almost like he is Tenzing Norgay or something and it really pissed me off.

This isn't as good as LWR as they have to complete it faster (and, boy, don't they let us know about it).
They are both constantly whingeing and complaining about things that, especially after LWR, they should have semi-factored in.

Don't bother reading this book. It's boring and painful and there is the obvious impression, for me, that Charlie Boorman is a real tosser.