Andrew Ives

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Andrew Ives

Andrew Ives’s book reviews

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3
Enjoyable, short, pacy story that reminded me somewhat as if it could be an episode of some TV series, perhaps a Twilight Zone, Hitchcock Presents or similar. The twist was clever enough, but the whole premise was a little too sleazy for my tastes and the ending perhaps not as clear-cut as I'd like. 3.5 stars.
01/06/2011
The Escaping Club is a book of two halves - the first, and most enjoyable part, being set in Germany during WW1, the second, somewhat disjointed part, set in Asia Minor just before the Armistice. The Kindle version that I read unfortunately lacked a few diagrams which would've made the German part easier to follow, Evans' story-telling made this section quite a page-turner and I enjoyed the whole Ingolstadt saga, appreciating that the quite frequent phrases of French, German and Latin were left unaltered. This is not, as one might imagine, a glorious one-sided John Bull story where British is best and that's that. Evans gives a mostly even-handed commentary on all the people of the various nationalities he met along the way, despite his own unenviable predicaments, often sympathising with their respective circumstances. This is less true of the Turks where ill treatment as a prisoner by most of them has understandably left Evans somewhat bitter towards them as a whole. The general vocabulary and sentiment may seem slightly dated to modern readers, but making allowances for that, this is essentially an enlightening book from a POW's viewpoint in WW1.
01/06/2011
Perhaps not the most riveting read in the world due to it being necessarily technical in places, and rather more like a cobbled together bundle of scientific papers than a coherent book as such. Even so, the first half, which concerns the flights, the people involved, and some technical elements is interesting enough to warrant reading a book as short and historically important as this.
12/24/2010
A very good, entertaining read, which holds the reader's interest throughout, despite being (necessarily) somewhat depressing for long sections.

There are several drawbacks, which for me, spoiled the credibility of the idea somewhat, chief of which is that all the Martians landed within only a few miles of each other on this whole planet, even though they were fired here from some kind of large gun, at daily intervals. Surely an improbability, if not an impossibility? I'm not sure such an advanced species would be entirely ignorant of bacteria, that red weed would flourish and die so suddenly, or that the Martian sentinel would be unable to seek out the narrator when he was hiding in a coal cellar, by use of thermal vision or some such gadgetry, even with the Curate shouting.

That said, I found the book infinitely preferable to any of the movie versions. I was also amused by parallels in the Artilleryman's vision of the future - two types of people, one above ground, one underground - and those in The Time Machine. Wells must've strongly believed in this outcome for future generations? Strange...
12/22/2010
A collection of five stories of varying lengths, they are very much like B-sides to Verne's better-known hits.

The 1st, set in Belgium, is faintly amusing but rather overlong, complex and tiresome for what it is. The 2nd, about a clockmaker in Geneva, despite being livelier and having a decent moral is quite ridiculous. The 3rd is the shortest - a brief tale of a balloon ride - and possibly the most enjoyable. The 4th, the main Winter Amid The Ice story is rather depressing and somewhat unfulfilling of early promise. The last, by Paul Verne, about Mont Blanc is a very matter-of-fact account of someone making an early ascent, and was for me one of the better stories. Altogether a mixed bag of well-written but somewhat average stories.
12/19/2010
I mistakenly downloaded this thinking it was a book on ornithology of some kind, when it is actually an anthology of short stories and legends, similar to Kipling's Just So stories, only about how various birds came to be like they are. As they are from all around the world from different eras, I gave them a try anyway. They are all fairly simplistic and juvenile, but nonetheless reasonably interesting for readers around the age of 8-12. None were especially memorable, but they're short enough not to outstay their welcome.
12/11/2010
This book irritated me in the extreme and I had to give up after 20% after reading the parts about Venice, then some later parts about Milan. To say this book was overly verbose would be an understatement. Reading Henry James is somewhat reminiscent of reading a long-winded Google translation of some prosaic Japanese in English. Almost all direction and meaning is hidden behind a flurry of adjectives and the kind of wishy-washy twaddle that only art critics can concoct. In addition to this, the Kindle version I read omitted all pictures and the HTML tags appeared as {i} tags all over the place. Even if you're a fan of travelogues or Italy in general as I am, chances are you won't enjoy this as I didn't.
12/09/2010
Very good indeed. Well-written, amusing in places with a fairly ingenious plot for so short a story.
11/20/2010
Very short story which is kind of a murder mystery, except for the fact that the method, motive and culprit are completely clear throughout as there are only 4 characters in it. It's ok, I suppose, but hardly captivating.
11/13/2010
The first few chapters are fantastically verbose, and whilst they do contain some very wise words and insights on the art of writing, I think they rather help the reader to appreciate good writing in others, rather than improve their own. The chapter on how Treasure Island came to be written is a far more enjoyable and interesting read.
11/12/2010