tony parsons

Books, Men from the Boys by Tony Parsons Part Two

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So, as you may have seen, I finally read through the third Harry Silver book by Tony Parson. The first was good, but provoked emotions in me whilst the second felt far weaker. This one I didn’t expect to be as good as the first but I hoped for some improvement.

Harry Silver is now happy, he has his three kids, wife and a good job and all seems to be going well. Of course, in typical fashion this cannot last and things start to derail. His ex wife reappears, he loses his job and a distance starts to open up between himself and his wife as he spends more and more time with a friend of his deceased fathers.

This all felt like the standard plot of the other books, things are going well, something goes wrong and he does something stupid. Then he gets petty and selfish and things get worse before something wakes him up and the book ends happily. 

This one was no different really, with the same predictable elements occurring in order, however this added the irritation of following an argument, key event or major thing with a ‘some weeks later’ section, skipping out all that came before.

The best thing about these books is that they provoke a response in me, this is normally frustration, anger or apathy but it gets me thinking either way. This book didn’t have much of that: there were a few moments that I noted to write about but in skimming back over them it wasn’t enough to be worth the effort of expanding upon.

This was the only one and actually makes a lot do sense. As a ‘stepdad’ of a girl who barely sees her real dad I can certainly empathise with the suggestion blood has little to do with it. Of course that should be the case, it’s not the ability to create a child but the ability to be there and support one as he/she grows and develops. Unfortunately the main character spends the rest of the book contradicting this thought as he jealously guards his son from everyone and gets more jealous about his stepdaughters occasional time with her biological father. He also completely ignores the moment his wife suggests the same thing about his son, making him seem all the more selfish.

So overall the book was a letdown. The old men weren’t needed and the plot mostly stayed the same as previous books, with some of the same storylines repeated. It felt as though it were an unnecessary addition printed solely for the money and with no real story to tell- and certainly nothing to add to what’s gone before



Books, Men From the Boys by Tony Parsons part one

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So about a year ago I read Man and Boy by Tony Parsons and wrote a fair bit about it (due to the mix of emotions it stirred in me)

Man and boy part one
Man and boy part two
Man and boy part three
Man and boy part four
Man and boy part five
Man and boy part six
Man and boy part seven
Man and boy part eight
Man and boy part nine
The book was really quite good, not only in its telling- but also in its perspective (male) of a failing marriage and a small boy stuck in the middle. It also provoked a lot of outrage and frustration in me as I just couldn’t empathise very far with the main characters (Harry Silver) actions and choices.

Having enjoyed it I soon moved on to the sequel Man and Wife with high hopes.

Man and wife part one
Man and wife part two
Man and wife part three
As you can see I didn’t cover it in as much depth (though I also condensed the posts a little more). The reason being I just didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much. Harry Silvers irrational stupid decision making began to grate a bit and the empathy just wasn’t there. It also felt a little as though the plot ‘man has good life, ruins it’ was a little too closely repeated against the previous one. There were still enjoyable moments, and it provoked more emotion and outrage in me it just didn’t maintain the quality of the Man and Boy.

By the end I was fed up and had no intention of reading Men from the Boys anytime soon. A year on I finally picked it up and went through it.

‘By far the best book Parsons has written’ said the Guardian, which I hoped was true- despite the knowledge they wouldn’t put ‘this isn’t very good’ on the cover. The subtitle for the book was ‘some shoes are hard to fill’ which felt worryingly like a premonition.

In my next post I’ll get onto the book itself.

Books, which series next?

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So, as you may be aware I’ve been unable to avoid starting series’ of books whilst leaving others unfinished. It’s now at a point where I want to get them finished in order to move on to even more books.

These are the next in line of the series of books Iv got in my pile at the moment.

Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe. Dark Angels. One do my favourite chapters of space marines, partly because they’re clearly not as ‘good’ as they’d suggest but also because of the secrecy in which they operate as nobody knows anything until they reach trusted levels and a closely monitored revealing of the truth is allowed to them. It’s a real reminder of working for games workshop. I read the first book of the trilogy Ravenwing about 18 months ago and whilst the story has largely gone from my memory I do remember the focus being on a new member of the Dark Angels vanguard force dealing with the revelations his new position has revealed to him, whilst having to hunt down chaos marine forces and fighting Orks. I also remember a cool vision of bikes racing around a space station as the mysterious dark angel Cypher evades capture or lays a trail depending on point of view. 

Men from the Boys by Tony Parsons. If you read my previous posts on Tony Parsons books you’ll know that whilst i empathised slightly with being a new dad I was outraged by the characters attitudes and bitterness. The second book was worse than the first and honestly I have low expectations of the third. I do however have a curiosity as time has moved on faster than my life has so there may be some insights for me to prepare for.

Nagash the Unbroken by Mike Lee. Warhammer fantasy books about the undead invariably follow the same plot- undead army devastates all before them before the leader is destroyed or incapacitated and everything crumbles. The first in the Nagash trilogy wasn’t much different yet I know Nagash becomes more powerful than at any point previously. Again it’s curiosity that means I’ll be reading this one soon.

The Doom of Dragonback by Gav Thorpe. Another origin of the Warhammer world, this one isn’t strictly speaking part of a series (aside from the large time of legends books) but it ties in very closely with the war of vengeance books of which Iv read two and am waiting for the third and final one later this year. These books establish the reasons for the hatred between the dwarves and elves and so are an important background to the major races of the Warhammer world.

Gotrek and Felix book 2 by William King. I’m actually halfway through this one so I suppose I should really list book 3, but as the pair have a big hand in the end times I feel it’s one of those series I need to get through sooner rather than later.

Lord of ruin by Dan abnett and Mike Lee. A Malus Darkblade book- the last of the series. Except it’s not, the end times has added a sixth (and potentially final) darkblade book, so I’m going to need to get to this one in order to read that one. So far alls gone Malus’ way- not at all as planned but he’s recovering what he needs to and has killed off a good number of his enemies at the same time, so this one will be interesting as a conclusion (even if it’s no longer the conclusion.

The Devils Graveyard by Anonymous. The anonymous books so far have been really enjoyable- the first was theBook with No Name followed by The Eye of the Moon. Known as the Bourbon Kid  series there are now four books and I have the third to read. The books aren’t linked beyond a few crossover characters and locations but they’re really enjoyable.

Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F Hamilton. This is the short story anthology I got from the in laws at Christmas, you’ll have seen previously Iv been working through it and have been enjoying them. I think because he’s keeping it simple by using the current world and changing minor things before exploring what that would do to society rather than attempting to create a whole new world.

Tales of the Old World by various authors. A fairly old anthology of Warhammer fantasy stories from a variety of settings. Being a large collection from a variety of authors the stories vary in content and quality but there have been some good reads in there so far. It’s interesting to read them because they’re from a time before there was any concerted effort to link stories and establish a timeline so it becomes something of a free for all with regards the themes and settings.

The Fall of Altdorf by Chris Wraight. The End Times books were a series I was resisting but I finally gave in and read the first one after seeing a few spoilers as well as knowing that the new edition of Warhammer fantasy this summer will require me to know what’s been going on if I’m to have any hope of continuing to read the books, let alone collect a new army. The first book The Return of Nagash was intense ade major characters started dying and major events in the future were alluded to, such as the fall of the imperial city of Altdorf, so the name of this book suggests we’ll be seeing some of this events first hand.

Hammer and bolter volume 2 by various authors. Similar to the Tales of the Old Times anthology this gives a selection of stories from both the Warhammer World and the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but from a slightly more recent selection meaning the stories aren’t so loose and are (mostly) written within a framework.

So I’m interested in your opinion, what should I read next?

Because of course Iv got these to get through too

Books, man and wife part 3

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So, another reading of man and wife by tony parsons. I’d not read it for a while but got going again tonight and it annoyed me.

The main character spent most of the previous book and now this one with completely the wrong perspective on life, and that’s grated all the way, but the most recent chapter actually had me disliking his new wife Cyd.
Now, Iv had a bit of a soft spot for her, I don’t know what it is but she’s been a really attractive character and a decent person, but recently she’s been a real bitch. The main characters son is visiting and she’s being difficult about them spending time together. Now, it’s weird that whenever the son is involved that the mum and daughter aren’t involved in their days out, given the dad wants a ‘family unit’ it’s weird to compartmentalise it all, but regardless Cyd is being unreasonable.

I fucking hate you

This has come up several times, the daughter of Cyd has said it several times to the main guy, with no visible response from anyone. Aside from the fact he should tell her it’s wrong, her mother should put a stop to it as well.

I had more to say, but the books losing me and just not having much interest in what’s happening

Books, man and wife part 2

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So, I’m speeding up my posts on this book because post 137 is approaching and my partners going to need something to read.
The first aspect of the book that grabbed me was the custody battle results. At the end of man and boy the main character had agreed he could stay with his mum, who then attended his wedding. The implication was that shared custody would be an easy thing, but apparently not, he gets a few hours every Sunday.
This leads onto a commentary of a load of dads with kids they barely know sat in McDonalds small talking through those Sunday moments. I haven’t got limited access to my kids- fortunately- but it did get me wondering about my trip to the cinema with my daughter; were other people looking at me as the part time dad getting an extra day because it’s half term, or were they seeing me as the dad I like to think I am- that I enjoy spending time with my children. My worry is it was the former, which really is ok because I really don’t care what people think of me, but it’s still a worry that any potential interactions with people are going to be affected by how they perceive me.
I don’t want them wondering if Iv cheated, or beat up the mother of my daughter, or if I’m just taking them out because I’m legally obliged to once a week.
Which brings me onto another annoyance in a bad dad. Money. The CSA is there to ensure the parents provide financial support for their children but the system is so ridiculous. I won’t go into details because it isn’t my information to share, but the real other dad of my daughter was making payments of an amount of money that was frankly less than we needed but enough to at least contribute to her clothes, food, toys etc but when he lost/quit his job (we don’t know) the amount dropped to just barely enough to buy a pint of beer a week. It’s nice of course that it’s something, but it’s such a pointlessly pathetic amount it’s stupid. Of course, he has less money whilst unemployed, but the sheer drop is dangerous. We’re lucky enough that nice as the money was we can now cope without it, but I’m sure there are a lot of single parents reliant on that bit of cash coming in, for it to drop without notice (and there was none- we found out once the low payment came in and we chased it up). Additionally, if he doesn’t pay we don’t get our money until he does, if he does.
On top, in an effort to increase the number of parents privately arranging payment the CSA is now charging an admin feel which is another reduction in the money coming in.
As I said, we’re lucky enough we don’t desperately need it- though it would help- but all those parents out there waiting on the money to buy the next meal could end up dangerously low on income, which can never be a good thing for the child

Books, man and wife part 1

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So, I wasn’t keen on reading the sequel to tony parsons man and boy just yet, but in requesting my partner to read it (to gain her thoughts) I convinced myself to give it a go.
Seven chapters in and my partners read the first and wants the second, so I’m going to be handing it over for a day or so whilst she flies through it. I have no idea how she gets through a book so quickly, probably because she sits and reads whilst I snatch moments on the toilet to do so, but anyway, giving it to her for the short time has changed my approach to covering this one in the blog.
So I’ll be reviewing it in stages- rather than going back to the sections that make me think, I’ll be covering it as it makes me think. This will likely change my thoughts as I won’t be using the overall story, just the moments so it may illicit more frustration than before, especially if the first books anything to go by.
The story picks up essentially where the other left off, or it doesn’t, as it’s been jumping a lot, but some of them start directly after the end, some as a two/three years on story. So far it feels a lot like the setup of both books is the same- ie he’s happy, but he wants to be happier. I’m waiting on him jumping into bed with an Irish girl to rehash the plot. But I’m hoping that’s not the case.

Books, man and boy part 9

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So, this is my final man and boy (by tony parsons) reflection- at least until my partner decides she wants to talk about it. This ones less about the book and more about the ending it went for

There was something of a ‘positive Hollywood ending’ to it, everything slotted nicely into place, despite the depth and potential desperation of the story up until this point it all felt far too convenient and unlikely.
It’s tough of course to end a book satisfactorily without it being convenient and crap, and really the ending was nice, but it wasn’t the ending the book needed.
As it was his life had completely changed, and after all the changes and his growth as a person father he’s given everything up and lost his girl, only for him to race after her and miss her. But then- shock horror- she appears, having changed her mind about leaving.

So how did the book make me feel? I enjoyed it as a story, but as a parent (not a single one thankfully- though it could be argued I have three children sometimes) I felt a variety of things, from disbelief to anger to empathy. I think it’s a credit to tony parsons that he’s been able to write something that can ring true to a dad, even when the situation is completely different. In an interview in the back of the book he said it’s mostly women that bought it, so I’ll be interested in hearing my partners thoughts. She read the book in two days but so far hasn’t mentioned it beyond “aw wasn’t that nice” so we’ll see how it goes.

Hollywood endings

The problem with finishing a book satisfactorily and not being too convenient and crap