Friday, 6 November 2015

What I've been reading

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The Valley of Fear
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

narrated by Simon Vance
"A brutal murder in an English country house leads Sherlock Holmes to unravel the grim and gruesome story of the Valley of Fear."
I imagine Conan Doyle still resisting the pressure to produce yet more of these dratted Sherlock Holmes stories, so in this book he created a mystery murder that is solved by the end of the first half of the book, and then spends the second half writing a story that he actually wants to write. Which is perfectly fine by me, even though the fact that it is set in America makes the narrator's job a bit more difficult.

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by Stephenie Meyer
"When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable."

I picked this up on a whim from a big box of free books, because in its day it gained a reputation for being as good as Harry Potter and because the films made of the story are supposed to be excellent. Well, it is not as good as Harry Potter, nowhere near as good. It is actually quite boring for 80% of the way through, then there is one huge exciting action-packed event for about 20 pages, and then it gets boring again. I really won't be reading any more of the series and I will be putting it back into the box of free books where it came from.

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Equal Rites
by Terry Pratchett

narrated by Celia Imrie
"Right before the wise old wizard Drum Billet died, he passed on his magical staff of power to the newborn eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately, Drum Billet never bothered to check the gender of the newborn baby, and it turns out it was a girl."
After all those years of attempting but failing to read his works, I've turned into someone who actually likes Terry Pratchett. However, Audible should be ashamed of the audio quality of this book, which sometimes sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a well, and at other times includes strange pauses in the narration. Despite these issues I did enjoy the overt and the implied humour - at one point I got the distinct impression that he was describing Discworld magic in the same terms as particle physics.

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The War of the Worlds
by H. G. Wells

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"Giant cylinders crash to Earth, disgorging huge, unearthly creatures armed with heat-rays and fighting machines. Amid the boundless destruction they cause, it looks as if the end of the world has come."
To be honest, it isn't really a very good book, even though it's well known enough to be called a Classic. The story is told in a rather pedestrian way, nothing much happens and there's virtually no change of pace from start to finish. I wouldn't have minded much if the Martians had won, I didn't care about the narrator's missing wife, and it wasn't even a War - certainly the native humans did nothing but get killed or run away. It highlighted a bit about life at a time when horses pulled buses and flying machines hadn't been invented, but that's all it has to commend it.

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Reverse Your Diabetes
by David Cavan
"Based on the latest research and proven results, this clear and effective programme outlines the key steps you need to take to turn around your health, and tackles the myths and misinformation that surround type 2 diabetes."
Obviously this is a work book, but it recommends something that is causing some controversy in the world of diabetes and lifestyle - reducing or limiting dietary carbohydrate. [I think the subject might need its own blog post quite soon, maybe after a study day I'm attending this week.] Apart from the carbohydrate thing, it covers every relevant aspect of Type 2 diabetes in a readable and not over-long book, and encourages people with the disease to take control by learning what they can do to improve their own situation, and then planning and making sustainable changes where they can. This is the textbook for my approach to diabetes. If only change were as simple as reading a book.

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