From the web 10 – 15 March

I have been unexpectedly offline for a week and forgot to post this beforehand, so it is a bit late. Nevertheless, rather than leave it in draft I thought I’d press “publish”!

Some good book reviews this week: Keith B. Walters reviews Savage Run by C. J. Box, second in a very enjoyable series. As well as being a review of the book, Keith’s post examines why he was initially reluctant to read one of this series.

Fleur Fisher has written a very nice review of The Burning by Jane Casey. This is a good crime novel which suffers somewhat from inappropriate “packaging” (cover words and image). My review of the same book is here.

Other good reviews this week: Darkside by Belinda Bauer (review by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading); The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg (review by Simon Clarke at Amazon); and Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder (review by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise).

Rob Kitchen reviews The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham. This is a popular series, enhanced by a recent TV adaptation of some of the novels. Rob’s review addresses the question of formula which, however readable and exciting each new title, can have an off-putting effect for those who prefer originality.

And among the new reviews at Euro Crime this week, Michelle Peckham reviews Colin Cotterill’s latest, Killed at the Whim of a Hat, which is not about a coroner in 1970s Laos!

Michael Walters, author of a series about crime in Mongolia, reveals a little about his new book, Trust No-One (by his alter ego Alex Walters) about an undercover police officer called Marie Donovan, to be published in September by Avon/Harper Collins.

There’s an online discussion at The Guardian about whether people trust online book reviews, Amazon’s in particular. My opinion of this question is that it is a non-question. Amazon reviews have various indications of quality – “real name”, “top xxx reviewer”, and “helpful” grades by other readers, to name but three. If one is trying to decide whether to read a book on Amazon, it does not take long to distinguish which reviews are helpful, literate, and by people who have read the book, and which are ignorant, by people’s aunties, and so on. It reminds me of those sterile debates about blog reviews “versus” reviews in newspapers and magazines.

Inspired by the book A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor and associated BBC project, you can now contribute to A History of the Future in 100 Objects. It’s an ambitious project, involving 100 blog posts, podcasts and more, so worth checking out.

I am not a fan of those lists of “books everyone should read”, and this composite of many such lists shows why. According to the various polls and lists that form the data for this cloud, the book that comes second (of all literature!) is The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you are interested, you can see how many of the books you have read that make up this particular analysis.

There are lots of ways an e-reader can be used imaginatively, but this picture shows a good one – as a teleprompter on a video camera during a photoshoot. While on the subject, there’s a good but depressing post at Scholarly Kitchen about the poor quality of free e-books that have been digitised en masse, using Jane Austen as an example. I have read about 15 books in Kindle format, and every one of them has had many gaps between lines and even within a line on occasion, but not, so far as I can tell, any actual content missing. The formatting of the Kindle version is definitely not as good as that in a printed book, though of course in an e-book one can change the font size which can be an advantage.

A non-book-related post: I’m fascinated to learn that all the moaning travellers do about the tube has a basis in fact. Last year there was only one day in which all the London Underground lines ran a good service for the day. The information was unearthed via a freedom of information act enquiry, and comes courtesy of Going Underground blog.

1 thought on “From the web 10 – 15 March

  1. I ignore all those “books you must read before dying” lists like the plague but I’m not so sure that composite list (at least the cloud version) isn’t pure genius – surely a person could do a lot worse that read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE (probably my very favourite book of all time) (at least the one I’ve re-read most often) (because making me laugh is a better guarantee to making me come back fro more than making me cry), CATCH 22, 1984, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE and CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. You’d learn about tolerance and adventure and madness and being careful of your government and the dangers of living in the past (at least I think that’s what SOLITUDE was about…have to admit Marquez is a bit of a mystery to me) and the pros and cons of nihilism.

    Glad to see you back in the blogosphere and you wore me down, I picked up the first CJ Box/Pickett book from the library this week.

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