Bridgey's 2018 Reading

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Bridgey's 2018 Reading

Jan. 3, 2018, 10:15am

Another year and my 8th on Librarything. :) (2011) (2012) (2013) (2014) (2015) (2016) (2017)

As before I will keep a running book total at the top and add review posts as and when I find the time.

I have been struggling to find the time to read lately, but going to try and get 50 in this year. Fingers crossed and all that..... Feel free to leave me a message and a link to your own 2018 list

Bearbeitet: Aug. 25, 2020, 11:35am

1 - Dry Guillotine - Rene Belbenoit ****
2 - Wreckers Must Breathe - Hammond Innes ****
3 - To Open the Sky - Robert Silverberg ****
4 - Collar for the Killer - Herbert Brean ****
5 - Dark Moon - David Gemmell ****
6 - Scavenger - David Morrell ***
7 - Last Bus to Woodstock - Colin Dexter *****
8 - Night Probe! - Clive Cussler *****
9 - The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams **
10 - Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer ***
11 - Landslide - Desmond Bagley *****
12 - Last of the Summer Wine (Coronet Books) - Roy Clarke *
13 - Rendezvous South Atlantic - Douglas Reeman *****
14 - The Heart of the Valley - Nigel Hinton ****
15 - First Blood - David Morrell ****
16 - The Hopkins Conundrum - Simon Edge ****
17 - The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly *
18 - The Island - T M Wright ***
19 - Ghosts - Ed McBain ****
20 - Dog Blood - David Moody ***
21 - The Penal Colony - Richard Herley *****
22 - Red Dragon - Thomas Harris *****
23 - The Fall and Rise of Gordon Coppinger - David Nobbs *****
24 - Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk *
25 - The White South - Hammond Innes *****
26 - Farewell my lovely - Raymond Chandler *****
27 - Beyond the Black Stump - Nevil Shute ****
28 - Q Clearance - Peter Benchley *****
29 - Shout at the Devil - Wilbur Smith ***

Jan. 20, 2018, 2:02pm

I have just read your review of It in your 2017 thread and thought I might just as well react here. Although I have read many of King's novels I have to admit that I have never read It. After your review it will go right on my list, though. I challenged myself to read a book with more than 1,000 pages so It will go on the list of possible candidates.

Feb. 15, 2018, 11:07am

I hope you like IT if you get around to reading it. I haven't read that many books of over a thousand pages, but if I had to pick one that stood out it would be The Stand (the uncut edition).

Feb. 17, 2018, 10:46am

>4 Bridgey: I loved The Stand the as well!

Mrz. 1, 2018, 8:17am

Dry Guillotine - Rene Belbenoit ****

My favourite book of all time is Papillon, but there has always been the question of whether or not it a factual or fictional account of life in the French penal colony (or something of a mixture). One of the people cited as a source of inspiration/material has been Rene Belbenoit, interestingly he also wrote a biography about his time there called Dry Guillotine (the nickname given to the islands by prisoners). It seems that at the time of publication in 1938 it was a fairly popular book, but these days it is quite difficult to get hold of a hard copy.

Belbenoit was arrested and sentenced to penal servitude after a number of theft convictions, during these years he kept a journal that amazingly survived his various escapes and ocean dunking’s due to being wrapped in an oilcloth. We learn of the hardships and the really awful conditions that prisoners had to endure, with many not surviving to see freedom again. However, as with all situations there is always an opportunity for the crafty to survive and Belbenoit is no exception. He is always on the lookout for the next escape and in between makes sure that he ingratiates himself with the right people. Interestingly his relationship with the author Blair Niles really stood out for me, and she actually incorporated his experiences in her novel called Condemned to Devil's Island: The Biography of an Unknown Convict, it just seems unimaginable that she was able to arrange meetings with him during his imprisonment, and actually played an indirect part in a number of the escape attempts. Expect to hear about men at the very end of their tether, where a person who finds himself dying in his ramshackle bed suddenly becomes surrounded by convicts waiting to lay claim to his worn out boots and lice ridden blanket.

I suppose that this book may be more factually accurate than others from the same period, but we will never really know whether or not Papillon was totally truthful, but because of the inevitable comparison this book seems a little tame and repetitive at times. Well worth a read though, even if just to acquaint yourself with a darker side of the French judicial system of the early 20th century.

Mrz. 1, 2018, 7:13pm

Wreckers Must Breathe - Hammond Innes ****

For me, Innes is one of the greatest adventure writers of the last century, it’s a shame that he seems to be largely forgotten in the 21st century and must surely be due some sort of resurgence. Wreckers Must Breathe (Trapped in the USA) was published in 1940 when tensions of a possible invasion at the start of the Second World War in 1940 were running high. Innes is a rarity in as much as he can write just as an exciting plot based around the jagged coastline of Britain as when he sets it his novel in far flung exotic locations.

Wreckers Must Breathe is set in the South West of Britain, the author seems to have a soft spot for the Cornish coast and you can tell just how much he respects and loves the landscape and it crops up in a number of his works. The plot follows a journalist called Walter Craig who happens to be holidaying in the area when he makes the startling discovery that the German navy may be spying in the area. Not one to let a potential story pass by he decides to investigate further but soon becomes embroiled in an undercover mission that could lead to the invasion of mainland Britain. We encounter the full force of the German navy and the U Boats that patrolled the waters and Innes really captures the desperation of the times. Ok, the plot may at times seem a little implausible, maybe even a little stiff, but it should be read in the context of the time it was written and to be fair I think it has weathered the last 70+ years well. The action scenes are well described and the twists of the plot are still fairly hard to second guess, the author also splits the book into 3 sections where each is written different to the one before which allows the reader to have additional information not known to main protagonist(s).

This is really a type of ‘boys own’ adventure novel, but unlike many other authors leading men, Walter is no James Bond type figure and is just as fallible as the rest of us, and this is what makes Innes books so compelling. They really make you believe that these types of adventures could happen during our boring daily routine. Definitely not his strongest book, but it is no let down either and well worth a look.

Mrz. 5, 2018, 11:23am

To Open the Sky - Robert Silverberg ****

Robert Silverberg is one of the authors I usually turn to when I am in the mood for a bit of science fiction, the only problem is that I find him a really marmite author. I either really love his books (Tower of Glass) or hate them (Son of Man), it is really rare I find an author where I have such an extreme variation, but the books I enjoy are more than enough to keep me interested and dip into him now and again.

Luckily, To Open the Sky is one of his books that I really enjoyed, and even though it was published in 1967 it still seems fresh and innovative today. Written as 5 separate novellas, each section is linked to the others by a number of central characters and written in chronological order that details the development of a new religion on an Earth that is bursting to the seams. At first the religious group (known as Vorsters that worship the energy of the atom) are a small bundle of dedicated followers, but soon the momentum grows and it attracts people from right across the spectrum. As with nearly all religions across the world the cult soon has a breakaway faction (Harmonists) that interpret the founder’s words in a different way and hostilities increase across the timeline. With the Vorster’s seemingly offering immortality on an already crowded planet, mankind must reach out to inhabit Earth’s neighbours and Venus and Mars soon have a colony on their surface, but Venus has an atmosphere that isn’t compatible with man, and to survive there you need to be surgically altered. The main body of Vorsters stay on earth whilst the Harmonists live on Venus, both sides over the decades have developed techniques that can help mankind reach even further into the galaxy, the Vorsters have developed a way that allows the human body to become rejuvenated, offering an extended life with the ultimate goal of immortality, whereas the Harmonists have ESPers whose mental abilities allow them to propel matter through space in a way that resembles teleportation. If these two factions could be brought back together then mankind could be almost unstoppable in his quest to explore the universe, but can their differences be put aside for the greater good? And when the Harmonists seemingly lost prophet Lazarus returns will the religion survive or will it be strengthened?

This isn’t your average science fiction book; in the 222 pages an awful lot of content regarding the big questions of spirituality and man’s limits are explored. When this book was released in 1964, Scientology was around a decade old and just starting to gain recognition in the world, looking back over 5 decades later it is easy to speculate where Silverberg may have gained the inspiration for the novel. I loved the way that Silverberg is unafraid to tackle the big questions that many other authors in the same genre seem unwilling to touch and it really does make you think about what the future has in store and more importantly how our civilisation has been shaped over the millennia by religion.

Although not as strong as some of his other books this is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in 60’s sci-fi or as an introduction to the author. A solid 4 stars.

Mrz. 5, 2018, 12:54pm

Collar for the Killer - Herbert Brean ****

This was one of those books where I saw the cover and thought it looked interesting, put it in my bookshelf, forgot about it for a couple of years, picked it up and wished I had read it earlier. The author wasn’t someone I had ever heard of, and trying to buy any of the eight novels he wrote is a fairly difficult task, it just seems I was lucky to come across this in a second hand book store. Published in 1956 (under the name ‘A Matter of Fact’ in the US) it was written when the world was still enjoying the Noir type thriller so brilliantly made popular by James M Cain, so it is no surprise that Brean has followed in the same footsteps. Collar for a killer may not be as sparse in its language or as hard boiled but you can definitely see where the author’s inspiration lay.

The plot is fairly straight forward; Jablonski is nearing retirement and with a fairly undistinguished career is placed with a rooky partner called Ryan when a murder is committed on their patch. Sighting a well-known petty criminal called Derby in the area they both come to the conclusion that he is responsible and put a plan in place to nab him. The arrest is made and both officers receive great acclaim in both the force and the press, but then something happens that makes the rooky question both the morality of their actions and the guilt of the prisoner, so he decides to investigate further under his own steam. Jablonski has other plans and is happy for Derby to face the chair regardless and wants to retire on a high and is furious at having a seemingly resolved case looked into again. This is made this more than apparent to Ryan and he continually trys to undermine him with his replies becoming more and more threatening. Will Ryan risk his career before it has even barely began? Will he risk tarnishing his partner’s lengthy service? And even more importantly, will he allow a man that may be innocent get fried in the chair?

This book really has it all, gritty action scenes, beautiful women and a fairly intricate plot. Brean really creates the atmosphere of the time and you can imagine yourself sat in those smoky bars amongst the night time drinkers in the city’s murky underbelly. The plot moves quickly enough, but not so quickly that you glance over the clues Brean scatters throughout the novel, although more than once I thought I had the ending sown up only to find how wrong I was.

I will definitely be looking out for his other novels, and surprisingly he also wrote a few self-help books on quitting drinking and smoking, but they do seem to be a scarcity these days. Hopefully someday a publisher will reissue his entire catalogue because they really do deserve to be read again with a new audience.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 7, 2018, 3:47pm

I enjoyed your reviews. I had never heard of To open the sky, but then Silverberg wrote many books. It has been years since I've read a book by him.

Mrz. 29, 2018, 11:12am

Dark Moon - David Gemmell ****

After Tolkien, Gemmell is my author of choice for fantasy. I have read a number of his books and rarely been let down. Dark Moon was no exception and anyone that is familiar with the author will know what to expect. The basic storyline follows a fantastical world that once inhabited 3 races, Oltor (healers and poets), Eldarin (peaceful nonviolent race) & the Daroth (think evil, sadistic and strong). Today though is primarily the time of man, and the ancient races existence has almost lapsed into mythology… as usual man is at war with himself and the world is divided into sectors, the latest conflict is named ‘The War of the Pearl’ and finds opposing armies nearing depletion, in a last ditch attempt at victory Sirano of Romark tries to harness the power of the mysterious Eldarin pearl, but in doing so summons a force from the past that could destroy all civilisation. It is left to three heroes to try and save the world Karis, a female warrior with a major lust for the men ; Tarantio, the deadliest swordsman of the age; and Duvodas who is able to heal through his music. Expect plenty of action and for those that like bloodshed, there is more than enough gore to go around.

As always with Gemmell the characters are far from 1 dimensional and each has their own personality and quirks that really draw the reader into another world. I think his strength as a writer is that even though his stories are set in lifetimes and worlds so far removed from our own he still manages to make the characters human enough that you feel as if you could also be living in that existence. Although not my favourite novel by him, this is still is a really good read with a few unexpected twists. Unusually for many of his books, this is a standalone novel, and is as good an introduction to the author and his worlds as any.

Aug. 19, 2020, 8:02am

Scavenger - David Morrell ***

Really enjoyed Creepers when I read it a few years so when I found out there was a sequel I thought I would give it a try.

Scavenger follows the same characters as the first book but for me it has lost the atmosphere that Creepers created. I think the author has gone for a more conventional story this time and that has taken the edge off for me.

Apart from the characters, I would really struggle to call this a sequel and feel it would be better as a stand alone novel.

Frank and Amanda both attend a time capsule lecture, both are drugged and she is captured. both must pit their wits against a guy called the Gamesmaster, with the prize being her life.

There are enough plot twists to keep you interested although some seem fairly far fetched, and you can tell the author also did his homework and must have researched a great deal so that adds to the enjoyment level. I would be fair and give 3 stars as although it wasn't a book I really enjoyed I can see why others have.

Aug. 19, 2020, 11:10am

Last Bus to Woodstock - Colin Dexter *****

As most people will already know this is the first Morse book to have been released. Like me, I think most people will have discovered the books via the brilliant TV series with John Thaw.

I think I was lucky when I started as I couldn't remember the exact details of the story-line which meant I wasn't prepared for any of the twists and turns.

The plot is a fairly simple one, Sylvia Kaye and a friend are hitching a lift home from Oxford to Woodstock. Later in the evening Sylvia is found murdered in a pub car park. Morse is asked to investigate and soon discovers that not much is as it seems and a number of illicit affairs complicate the case even more.

The book was written in 1975 and the language is exactly as you would expect from a realistic police drama of that time. Morse is a proper mans man and not shy when it comes to sexist remarks, this may turn some people away from the book, especially given today's ultra PC generation, but I love it. It adds to the realism and also gives a portal into how things actually were back then.

Well worth a read and I will definitely read the next in the series.

Aug. 19, 2020, 11:56am

Night Probe *****

Night Probe is Cussler's 6th instalment featuring his Bondlike hero Dirk Pitt.

As seems to be something of a recurring trademark the book deals with a modern day Pitt researching an event that has happened in the countries history. This time we are taken back to a railroad crash featuring American and British diplomats that were carrying a document detailing the sale of Canada to the USA. Only two documents were in existence and both lost. A beautiful naval officer finds a reference to this after a decades long cover up and Dirk is assigned the task of recovering the papers before a national scandal erupts.

Fast paced and full of action, I always enjoy a Cussler novel. If you are a fan of the Boys own type of adventure give them a try.

Aug. 24, 2020, 8:41am

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams **

I suppose there comes a time when most people come across a book that has been universally acclaimed but they just cannot see what even a tenth of the fuss was about.

This that book for. I honestly cannot see what the 5 star reviews saw that I didn't. I found the plot boring, the jokes unfunny and reading it was more painful than dragging my nutsack over twenty yards of broken glass.

I love science fiction/fantasy books, I also like comedy books.... maybe I struggle with the combination of the two? I just felt as if it was trying to be too clever and the humour just seemed a bit pointless and mostly passed me by:

“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”

“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.”


Anyway, I know I am in the minority and it is a very small majority, but this tale of Arthur Dent and his quest to find the legendary planet of Magrathea following the Earths destruction, just didn't do it for me.

Maybe 42 was the page I should have stopped reading at.

Aug. 24, 2020, 12:41pm

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer ***

I had never heard of Chris McCandless or seen the film when I came across this book. For me, just striding out into the wilderness has to be the ultimate adventure and to try and piece together his final days before he eventually succumbed to hunger and the elements.

The author of the book originally discovered the story whilst working as a reporter and published a story in a magazine, but later decided he wanted to research further and release a book.

It follows the life of Chris who to be honest doesn't exactly come across as a particularly nice person and seems at time arrogant. But he is a young man with his own path to lead. He treks across America pretty much as a loner until he decides to tackles the Alaskan wilderness. Various 'friends' are interviewed that he met on his travels and bit by bit we build up a picture of Chris and routes taken.

I enjoyed the book, however I'm not sure it wouldn't have been better as a more of an extended essay rather than a full novel, sometimes I just felt as if there was too much filler to try and pad out the pages. Obviously the author has done his research and this shines through, it is just that the book failed to interest me as much as I'd hoped.

Aug. 24, 2020, 2:47pm

>16 Bridgey: I struggled with that one as well. I had trouble coming to terms with Chris's motivation and as someone who's done a lot of camping found him to be kind of dumb.

There has been a fair amount of controversy around it as well with the influx of tourists who want to go to the bus. They finally removed it earlier this year:

Aug. 25, 2020, 7:19am

I agree. It made him seem like almost a hero when in reality he just came across as naive at best and arrogant at worst.

Aug. 25, 2020, 9:05am

Landslide - Desmond Bagley *****

I have a soft spot for Adventure stories, especially those of seemingly ordinary men overcoming difficulties and coming out on top. Bagley is one of the best writers of the genre out there, yet seems to be overlooked in favour of the better known names like Ian Fleming and Alistair Maclean, which is a great pity. Over the years his legacy seems to have dwindled and I rarely see anyone with a copy of his books. There needs to be a resurgence.

Landslide features Bob Boyd, a geologist who discovers that he may not be who he thinks he is, as he digs deeper into his past he realises that there is a massive chunk of his younger days he cannot remember. He is offered a job for the Matterson Corporation surveying an area for minerals before it becomes flooded to make way for a large hydroelectric dam. When the finding rub against the needs of the corporation there is tension that soon escalates into a fight for survival.

A really good adventure story that proves with a talented writer you don't need the high octane spy chases that so many others rely on. Bagley has obviously done his research, how accurate some of the events are I don't know, but makes me believe it and that's what counts.

Aug. 25, 2020, 9:18am

Last of the Summer Wine (Coronet Books) - Roy Clarke *

Not a great deal to say.

This has always been one of favourite programmes and I had really hoped to enjoy the book (I didn't realise there were any). Unfortunately it just didn't transfer well. The humour was lost and although all the usual characters were present without the on screen persona they seemed flat.

This no doubt about Clarkes genius as a scriptwriter, but I can see why he published few novels.

It may be worth a purchase if you are a mega fan, and maybe you will enjoy it more than me.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 25, 2020, 9:52am

Rendezvous South Atlantic - Douglas Reeman *****

My first book by Reeman, I had seen his novels numerous times but always overlooked them. Although I like seafaring plots they just never really appealed to me. I am glad I decided to pick it up and am sure I will look for more of his books.

We find Commander Andrew Lindsay taking on a former cruise ship, 'HMS Benbecula', now converted to an armed merchant vessel. He is being blamed for the loss of his previous vessel and now as some sort of punishment has to oversee a sort of motley crew. Taking to the seas against the German war machine he must whip them into shape whilst also coming to terms the potential death of a new love interest.

Most of the novel is spent sailing the oceans and with very little in shore, it really gives you a feeling of life aboard during the war and may other ships/events are factual. Obviously this is because Douglas Reeman joined the Navy in 1941. He did convoy duty in the Atlantic, Arctic and the North Sea, and later served in motor torpedo boats so has plenty of his own experience to draw upon.

Well worth a look.

Aug. 25, 2020, 11:08am

The Heart of the Valley - Nigel Hinton ****

The last time I saw a book by Hinton I must have been around 10 years old, that book was Buddy and I studied it in school. I never realised he had also written books for adults so when I spotted Heart of the Valley I had to pick it up.

We follow a year in the life of a family of Dunnocks(Hedge Sparrows) and all the trials and tribulations that follow. As with other great tales of the genre (Tarka the Otter springs to mind) it isn't all nice and fluffy, and the grim reality of being a small animal in the Kent countryside is brought home. Predators and weather threaten your life at every moment and it's a wonder that anything really flourishes, after all, how many sparrows do we all see everyday and never give a thought to their little lives?

I suppose my favourite thing about Heart is that it manages to be thought provoking without being preachy, a skill many of today's authors could do with acquiring. It makes you realise the impact your own actions have on surrounding wildlife, for instance the lady who feeds the birds everyday, when she falls ill and cannot get to the garden then go unfed which results in the death of some. But the biggest realisation for me came in the form of when humans intervene and rescue animals. I have never really thought that if I rescue an injured owl then you are saving that one life but in all reality condemning hundreds of its prey to their death. Would those animals have otherwise survived and helped their own population flourish?

It lost a star for me only because of when it detoured into the personal lives of the human family, I really wanted the book to remain with the animals and it slightly sidetracked me.,

All in all, this book will stay with me a long time, and has given a whole new appreciation of the British countryside. What more could a book do?

Aug. 26, 2020, 11:29am

First Blood - David Morrell ****

Unlike most people I have never seen the film Rambo, so although I knew the basics of the plot I starting reading the novel with no real knowledge of what to expect.

My favourite type of books are those where someone is being pursued through the wilderness, where they have to pit wits against nature and
the men following them.

Rambo is all of this and more. He is an ex veteran in his 20's and drifting from town to town, with long hair and an unkempt appearance he is soon spotted by the local police and escorted out of town. Not willing to be treated unfairly he soon makes his way and ends up imprisoned. Confined to the cell he starts experiencing flashbacks to the Vietnam war and as soon as an opportunity arises he breaks out. With nowhere to go he heads into the mountains. Using his survival skills he proves a hard man to pin down frustrates all the efforts of the local police, this causes them to call in Rambo's ex-commanding officer,Sam Trautman. This all leads to cat and mouse chase that can only result in a grand finale.

A really fast paced adventure thriller that deals with PTSD probably before it became really as well known. This was my third book by Morrell and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Aug. 26, 2020, 12:37pm

The Hopkins Conundrum - Simon Edge ****

I studied Hopkins 20 years ago when doing my English A levels and his poetry has remained with over the last 20 years. You rarely hear much about him outside of the classroom so when I saw this book I thought it was worth a read.

The book has 3 themes, the first follows the a section of the life of Hopkins, in the second we are told a partly fictionalised account of the 5 Franciscan Nuns who perished in a storm (and were immortalised in the poem Wreck of the Deutchland). The third theme is total fiction and we meet Tim Cleverly a landlord of a small pub that he has inherited, this is where most of the comedy comes in.

Although Tim knows nothing about Hopkins he devises a plan to try and increase footfall to his failing pub by getting a bestselling author to write a book linking Hopkins Poems to clues about the holy grail. The three themes are woven together quite cleverly and you can tell the author is both a fan of the poet and has completed his research.

My only criticism was that the author seems to dwell far too much on the sexuality of Hopkins. It is supposed if not that well documented that he was homosexual and this was developed a bit too much for me in the story. I wondered why this was and did my own bit of research on the author, it seems he is was once editor of Capital Gay and has also published a book called "With Friends Like These", a critique of the Left’s record on gay rights. I think maybe he has allowed his own perceptions of Hopkins and his sexuality to colour the poets character.

I really did enjoy the book, and an easy recommendation.

Aug. 27, 2020, 7:46am

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly *

I liked the sound of the book, had never heard of the author and loved similar types like Jurassic park so decided to give it a try.

Taken from Wiki: Dr. Cassandra Jane "CJ" Cameron is an alligator expert working as a freelance journalist when she is contacted by National Geographic for an assignment. She is selected to attend a preview of a secret project deep in rural China known as the "Great Zoo of China", and she enlists her brother Hamish as a photographer. After being escorted to the Zoo in a private jet with blacked-out windows, CJ discovers the secretive nature of the Zoo: it houses living, breathing dragons, and the project is intended to be China's answer to Disneyland. It soon becomes apparent that the captive dragons are far more intelligent than the Chinese authorities believed, and the dragons have found a way to break free of their control. CJ and Hamish must find a way to stop the dragons from escaping into the wider world, all the while pursued by the park's military-grade security team, who believe that they can get the dragons under control and that all witnesses to the park's failure must be eliminated.

This is one of the rare occasions I just couldn't finish a book and struggle to see why there have been so many 5* reviews, the writing simplistic, the characters wooden and the twists easy to spot. Maybe my review is a little unfair as I only read around 60%, but that was more than enough. A poor man's Jurassic Park

Aug. 27, 2020, 10:30am

The Island - T M Wright ***

A neat little horror story about an a old house that was attached to an island in a lake. The story is told in two intertwining parts, the first being from the past before the building slid into the lake, and the other a modern day perspective whereby the inn at the edge of the water has reopened and the new activity stirs something deep under the water.

Not the greatest book I have ever read and to be honest much of it will be forgettable, but it did its job and kept me entertained.

Aug. 27, 2020, 12:22pm

Ghosts - Ed McBain ****

My first introduction to both the author and the 87th precinct series. I usually like to start a series on the first book but liked the sound of this so thought I would give it a try.

A woman is found stabbed to death on an icy pavement, whilst inside the adjacent apartment a prominent writer has also been killed. It appears the woman may have been an innocent bystander who had to be killed to protect the killers identity. Steve Carella is assigned the case and soon meets the deceased writers partner, who just happens to be a medium and bares a more that fleeting resemblance to the detectives wife. She begins to have various supernatural predictions that seemingly start to come true. Can he solve the case?

A really well written mystery with a touch of of the ghostly side thrown in for good measure. I have read that this was a bit of detour for the author and not something you would usually find in his books. A book of its time (early 80's) you will enjoy getting lost in the world of the 87th precinct. I enjoyed this so much I went out and bought a few more so I could start at the beginning.

Sept. 7, 2020, 12:31pm

Dog Blood - David Moody ***

I was first introduced to Moody through his Autumn series, which although could never be considered the greatest literature were books that I really managed to get into and enjoy.

Dog Blood is the second book in a series called Hater, this finds us in a world that has been divided by a virus that has turned half the population into bloodthirsty maniacs intent on killing the other half. We continue to follow Danny, someone who has contracted the virus but become estranged from his young daughter. He tries to find her to see if she has been infected but must outsmart the military who are beginning a kind of systematic cleansing of the Haters. It now becomes a race not just to survive but to also be the dominant group, with both trying to exterminate the other.

I can't say I really enjoyed this series as much as I thought I would, it was ok and I suppose a fair sequel to Hater. The characters were quite thin and the speech very formulaic. However, unless the next instalment falls into my lap I doubt very much I will read it.

Sept. 8, 2020, 11:48am

The Penal Colony - Richard Herley *****

This seems to be a fairly well known book by a fairly unknown author, which is a pity as this has to be one of my favourite offerings in the genre.

I remember seeing the film years ago called No Escape, I enjoyed it at the time and when it came on tv a few weeks back I looked it up and realised it was based on a book.

The penal colony is actually an island on the coast of Britain, a place where the most dangerous of prisoners are sent to live out their sentence until death. Routledge is one of these, he has been convicted of murder and transported to the colony of Sert. Here he discovers an internal political structure as the villagers struggle for power and the ultimate control of the island. Couple this with an ongoing escape plan and you have a melting pot of human emotions in a world that you can easily get lost in.

Think Lord of the Flies meets Papillon, and you have the general gist of the novel. I'm sure this will be one of the few books that I reread one day.

Sept. 11, 2020, 7:47am

Red Dragon - Thomas Harris *****

As with most people of a certain age I was first introduced to Hannibal lector through the film 'The Silence of the Lambs', I always assumed this was the first book in the series and bought it. Then I realised that Red Dragon was the first written so decided to give it a try.

We follow a retired FBI profiler Will Graham, he is brought out to try and locate a new serial killer called the tooth fairy. In order to try and understand the killer he needs to get help from an old adversary in the form of Lector. And so the cat and mouse game begins with Graham never really sure what side Lector is really supporting.

I will def be looking out for the rest of the series.

Sept. 11, 2020, 12:10pm

The Fall and Rise of Gordon Coppinger - David Nobbs *****

Ok, so this was never going to be as good as the Reggie Perrin books, which are still my favourite comedy novels of all time.

This was written much later than the books that brought Nobbs fame and fortune but still has his trademark wit and brilliant comedy.

Gordon Coppinger is a successful and respected businessman, but behind the glitzy exterior he is a serial adulterer, and a lover of extravagance with a history of shady deals. Suddenly his world starts to unravel as more and more of his shadow life is brought to the surface. What follows is a very public humiliation, and the way he reacts surprises even Sir Gordon.

Well worth a read, and if you do, make sure you check out more of Nobbs.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 22, 2020, 12:32pm

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk *

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that this was possibly one of the worst books I have ever read and managed to finish. On the same hand, I cannot ignore the many 5* reviews so more than likely the problem was with me.

We all know the story, mostly from the film, which I saw years ago and obviously thought was ok enough to make me pick up the book when I saw it. The writing I found far too jumping around, the plot disjointed and I really wasn't interested enough to find it out. I won't be reading any more of Palahniuk books if this is supposedly one of the best. I still can't believe I made it to the end, maybe I enjoyed the pain being self inflicted by dragging myself through each page. Hell, maybe I would fit in well at fight club.... I wonder if maybe it was a secret initiation process......

I think the main thing I got from reading Fight Club was to never talk about Fight Club again.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 23, 2020, 8:42am

The White South - Hammond Innes *****

Typical Innes, an ordinary man is thrown into extraordinary circumstances, this time it is a clerk call Duncan Craig. He decides to give up his job in London and seek a new life and promised job in South Africa, but when the job disappears he is offered another with a whaling fleet in the Antarctic on a short expedition. Being a commander of a Corvette in the war he decides to take up the offer, but soon finds that life about a whaling vessel is totally different. A murder onboard causes major upset, but then pales into insignificance when the ship become trapped inbetween gigantic ice floes which threatens the life of everyone on board. With a potential murderer on board Craig must battle not just nature but a potential enemy as well.

A really interesting book that doesn't shy away from the violence of whaling and cruelty of the Antarctic, you can tell Innes has done his research and loves what he is writing about. A well written adventure story that transports the reader directly into the action. Maybe not the best pace to start with Innes, but def worth a look.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 23, 2020, 12:20pm

Farewell my lovely - Raymond Chandler *****

The second book by Chandler featuring hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe. This time he is tasked with tracking down Moose Malloy, a man who has recently killed a black nightclub owner. As always things are never as they seem and a cat and mouse game ensues.

A must read for fans of the noir style of novel, especially if you have read the first instalment (The Big Sleep), all the usual factors are there - a heavy drinking police man, a murder, a beautiful broad and plenty of sparse but descriptive lingo.


Bearbeitet: Sept. 29, 2020, 12:19pm

Beyond the Black Stump - Nevil Shute ****

I love Nevil Shute and always find it a surprise that not more people are aware of his works. From the blurb: Stanton Laird comes to the Australian outback to search for oil. There he meets and falls in love with Mollie. However cultural differences between Stanton and Mollie's world force the two lovers to make difficult decisions.

I really enjoyed this book, and normally and hint of a love story and you won't see me for dust, but Shute has a way of dragging me into the plot so I don't even notice. A story about the complexities of human nature and how people from different backgrounds interact as well as the trials they can face, Shute really nails down the conflicting emotions and you can see things from all viewpoints. I suppose the only downside was that at the time of writing the book Shute had emigrated to Australia and doesn't really look back on the UK with very much fondness, he was a staunch opposer of socialism but I am sure that even in post war Britain things would not have been as bleak as the pictures he presents.

Maybe not the best novel to be introduced to the author but certainly a good read.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 23, 2020, 10:52am

Q Clearance - Peter Benchley *****

Known more for his horror stories (Jaws, Beast, Island etc) this is a different side of Benchley but is just as good. I didn't realise that Benchley was a script writer in the white house before finding fame, and it is this experience he draws upon for the comedy Q Clearance.

Timothy Burnham is the president's favorite speech writer, so much so that he is soon promoted to an intimate advisor with Q clearance (this means he has access to top secret information), soon this draws attention to Russian Agents, but he always seems to come out on top... somehow.

A really warm book, full of tongue in cheek comedy that has stood the test of time over the last 4 decades, Benchley has also managed to intersperse the action scenes with the humour to a great effect. Its a real shame he didn't write many in this style, and if you did enjoy then try Rummies by the same author.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 23, 2020, 8:00am

Shout at the Devil - Wilbur Smith ***

Wilbur Smith always seems to be one of those authors I think I will really like but he never captures me like other authors in the same genre. I can't really say what the reason is, the plots sound brilliant and the subject matter is my usual read, I guess we haven't clicked for the few books I have recently read and may never do, but I can see me always drifting back to him.

Shout at the Devil have an ivory poacher called Patrick O'Flynn who just also happens to be a bit of a conman/rogue. He comes across Sebastian and convinces him to work as his assistant poaching Ivory and goods from the German army. However, the leader of the army in that area is a man called Fleischer who is an arch enemy of O'Flynn, when he finds out who is behind the poaching he orders barbaric reprisals. With each side despising the other a bitter rivalry breaks out, but when the course of the war could be altered the stakes are even higher.

I think the main issue with this book as that I was never totally sure what it was supposed to be. At times a comedy and at others a hard hitting adventure novel. For me, these didn't really mix all that well and it needed to be one or the other. This meant I tended to gloss over the comedy (which I didn't really find that funny) to try and get back to the action. It was an ok read but one I was glad to see end.