Friends this is my review of the book Bleeding Hearts by Ian Rankin, which I read recently. The observant will notice that this is book 52, and it is week 39. It has taken me slightly longer this time to get to through the books, as I have been very busy over the last few months, and not really had much time to read.
Still that is enough of me and back to the book. This book was written a few years ago by Ian, and I am sorry to say has been sitting on my bookshelf unread until now.It is another story about an assassin, but here the twist is that not only are the police and private detectives trying to find the assassin, but the assassin himself is trying to find out who has employed him, as someone phoned the police telling them that the assassination attempt would take place.
The question is who will find their quarry first. It is an exciting story, with a believable plot line, that moves from Scotland to America. It picks up a secretive new age cult and some branch of the American secret service along the way.
There is a very amusing part with a road blockage and a caravan on the narrow Scottish roads. Our heroes solution of sorting the matter with a gun, certainly offers and original solution to being held up.
So this was a good book to end my run of reading 52 books on, which covered 39 weeks. 48 of the books were fiction, and 4 non fiction. I wonder how long it will take me to read my next 52 books.
Friends this is my review of the book Key out of Time by Andre Norton, which I have listened to recently whilst decorating.
This is Book 4 in the Time Traders Series, In this book Ross Murdock and Arthur Ashe continue their adventures in Time and Space on the World of Hawaika.
Again there are many parallels with the TV Stargate series, but in this story the Hawaiian and Polynesian settlers help Ross and Ashe discover the way the world has changed from the data tape to present time. The native dolphins and humans can communicate, and Ross learns Gordon is hostage in a castle through a native, Loketh.
Ross and Loketh are captured by seafaring Rovers, then join them. They recover a Rover island captured by the Baldies. Ross convinces a coalition of natives the Baldies are playing them against one another. Ross finds Ashe at last, in a castle the company of the mystic and advanced Foanna, who turn out to be only three, the last of their race.
The Foanna set a trap for the Baldies, using their assets as bait, but they cannot win against the whole force without increasing their numbers. Ross and Ashe agree to a process mentally joining them with the Foanna.
A second encounter with the Baldies, they win. In a final encounter, Ross is teleported to a Baldy ship like the one familiar to him from Galactic Derelict, and sets its course to a random destination. The main Baldy installation is simultaneously attacked and the Baldies driven off the planet.
This was all good fun and made the time pass quickly listening to this when painting the walls and ceilings. This was book 51 week 38 fiction 47 (13 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends this is my review of the book Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin. This is another book that has sat on my book shelf for a number of years. (It had actually got pushed to the back and only came to life on sorting them out).
Unintentionally I seem to be following a hit person story line theme, as Witch Hunt is all about the chase to try and catch an assassin, given the code name of witch. The chase starts in the Kent coast, with a couple of linked murders on both sides of the channel, moves up to Scotland and then off to Europe. There are a number of British agencies all looking for her. Scotland yard, MI5, and the “Witch expert” Dominic Elder.
They slowly follow the trail she has created across Europe trying to gather clues as to who will be her next target. It is assumed that it will be someone at the major conference taking place in London. But the question is who?
Gradually just like pealing the layers off an onion more is revealed about the Witch's past giving insight on what she will do next. The story splits in two giving the Witches side as well as the pursuers. To say much more would spoil the plot, as it is full of mystery and intrigue, but it is certainly a page turner.
This is an interesting well thought out generally believable story. Ian Rankin originally wrote this under the name of Jack Harvey, and it does make a nice change from his normal Edinburgh crime novels.
This was book 50 week 37 fiction 46 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends this is my review of the book The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffery Archer, which I read recently. We are slowly going through the process of sorting our book shelves and come across books that have sat there for a long time, which it would be good to read again.
This is one such book. Though it was written some time ago, the descriptive text of the surroundings make it all the more interesting, as it reminds me of things that used to be, which I had forgotten till reading about them again.
This is a book about a CIA hitman, who is caught up in the battle for power at the Whitehouse between the president and the head of the CIA. The head of a foreign power is assassinated by Conner Fitzergerald, the CIA's most experienced hitman. Sadly the CIA did not have authority to kill.
If the president can prove that the CIA made the killing then the Director can be sacked or even worse. If the CIA can kill off Conner before the president gets to him then there is no proof. To get rid of Conner the CIA send him off to Russia to kill the new Russian President.
The race is on and it goes from a Russian Mafia's luxury hideaway outside St Petersburg to the Oval office via a number of locations along the way. It is all good fun with some unexpected twists along the way.
This book was an easy and enjoyable read and was book 49 week 36 fiction 45 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends this is my review of the book Mosaic by Gayle Lynds, which I read recently. This is certainly a fast action page turner that progresses along at a fantastic pace.
The story takes place in the last few days before the American Presidential Election. The seemingly underdogs, a very wealthy political family endeavor to turn events around so that they will win.
Sadly to get to this point it does not matter who is in the way, they are to be got rid of, even if they are family. The body count quite quickly mounts up, but all starts top go wrong when Julia Austrian a world class concert pianist witnesses her mother's brutal murder. To make matters worse Julia had been blind for the last 10 years before that, but just as her sight mysteriously vanished so it reappeared, only to vanish again at the trauma of seeing her mother die.
The other star of the story is a classical music fan, whose number one hero is Julia, and he just happens to work for the CIA. Together they have to solve the mystery of who killer Julia's mother and unwittingly plunge into a violent whirlwind of deceit, lust and greed. This leads back in time to Nazi war-time treasure.
It is a good story, with a nice couple of unexpected twists at the end.
This was book 48 week 36 fiction 44 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends, this is my review of the book Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith, which I read recently. It is the third book in the Gorky Park and Polar Star series. Arady Renko has been reinstated as an investigator in the Moscow Militsiya, and he is trying to stamp out black market trading. Sadly his chief informer is murdered in a horrific fireball as he gets into his car. Arady then starts to look into why he has been murdered. The main clue seems to be a message on the fax machine “Where is Red Square”
The book ten goes on a magical mystery tour to find the answer to the question posed in the fax. The really enjoyable aspect of reading this book is the picture Martin paints in each chapter of what is going on. Vast amounts of prose seemingly telling nothing, but in fact setting the back ground and turning what could have been an average book into a great book, full of sub plots that run alongside the main one.
One of these sub plots is with the one great love of his life, Irina Asanova. Her seemingly total disinterest in Arkady sends him resignedly on his way until, in an ultimate ironic twist, a belatedly-delivered message from Renko's recently deceased father galvanizes him into one last, determined attempt at winning Irina back.
Yes you do have to read it and yes the names are not that easy but it is meant to be about Russia, but this was a really enjoyable read.
This was book 47 week 35 fiction 43 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends, this is my review of the book The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, which I listened to recently as an audio book, when travelling around the Isle of Mull.
The book tells the adventures of five Americans on an uncharted island in the South Pacific. The story begins in the American Civil War, during the siege of Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America. As famine and death ravage the city, five northern prisoners of war decide to escape by the unusual means of hijacking a balloon. The five are Cyrus, a rail road engineer in the Union army, his manservant Neb (short for Nebuchadnezzar), who Jules states is not a slave but an ex-slave who had been freed by Cyrus; the sailor Bonadventure Pencroff (who is addressed only by his surname, but his "Christian name", Bonadventure, is given to their boat; his protégé Herbert Brown, a young boy whom Pencroff raises as his own after the death of his father and the journalist Gideon Spilett. The company is completed by Cyrus' dog 'Top'.
After flying in stormy weather for several days, the group crash-lands on a cliff-bound, volcanic, unknown (and fictitious) island. They name it "Lincoln Island" in honour of American President Abraham Lincoln. With the knowledge of the brilliant engineer Smith, the five are able to sustain themselves on the island, hoping that they will one day escape (Summary by Wikipedia)
The story then lists a series of adventures, as the island is colonised, including fighting the pirates, and trying to escape to a nearby island. The final part of the book is totally unexpected and explains the “Mysterious” part in the title as it is the sequel to 20000 leagues Under The Sea. Finally the caster-ways have to escape as the island's volcano is about to blow up.
It is claimed that the story is based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile.
This was a really enjoyable book that passed the travelling time away, this was book 46 week 34 fiction 42 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends this is my review of the book Code by Charles Petzold – The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, which I read recently. This is a book that I was given a few years ago, and had not got round to reading. It is a factual history of how machine code was invented, and how it is put together to make the basic building blocks of a modern day computer.
He starts off with Morse code, and moves to Braille and progresses on from there with a review of technological innovations that have lead to the modern computer. It was sobering to think that he was talking about things that I did back in 1976, when we built our first machine, and had to code in the bootstrap sequence with a series of switches on the front of the machine. I remember it could take quite some time if one made a mistake, and once running we tried our hardest not to crash the machine and cause a restart because of this.
Having explained how a machine copes with binary, via switches and gates, Charles gradually shows how things can be put together to produce memory via flip-flop gates. He then follows the logical process of putting everything together in ever greater blocks eventually leading to the computer chip.
From there he covers the bus, input and outputs. As Charles goes into great detail explaining how the circuits work, and how the code coming from the various outputs/inputs effects other parts of the system, it is not a book that can be read that quickly. But it is very interesting in showing how we have got to the basic computer chips of the 1980's.
If these seem complicated then ones of the present day are mind blowing. It is a book that helps one understand the essence of how a computer works, so if you are not interested in computing then you will find it very hard going.
This was book 44 week 33 fiction 40 (11 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends this is my review of the book The Twelfth Card by Jeffery Deaver, which I read recently. This continues the saga of the criminalist Lincoln Rhyme. Sadly due to an accident Lincoln is trapped inside his paralysed body.
Though paralysed Lincoln uses his brilliant mind, extensive experience and his helpful partner Policewoman Amelia Sachs to track down and try to stop a hit-man who seems to be all out in killing the school girl Geneva Settle.
Geneva was working on a research project into her ancestors, when she was first attacked. She uncovers a 140 year old mystery. Lincoln and Amelia soon realise that to find the hit-man they have to first solve the 140 year old mystery.
This book is full of twists and turns that though obvious when looking back, are not at all clear until they hit you full on in the face. It is a story that will keep you in suspense right to the end, and with a string of plot twists, I am sure you will not be able to guess the final ending. To give much more away would spoil the numerous surprises that come along as one goes through the story.
This is a real page turner, and an outstanding thriller. Certainly one of the best that I have read in the last few months.
This was book 43 week 32 fiction 40 (11 on audio) non fiction 3
Friends, this is my review of the book Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens, which I have listened to as an audio book over the last few weeks. The version I listened to was the Librivox version
The book was published in 1848, and is based at that time. In all aspects this book is a massive work, and the story covers the life of Paul Dombey. Though he is the central character there are numerous subplots based around the characters that interrelate with him. The story concerns Paul Dombey, the wealthy owner of the shipping company of the book's title, whose dream is to have a son to continue his business. The book begins when his son is born, and Paul's wife dies shortly after giving birth. Paul already has a daughter – Florence, but as a girl she is totally neglected. Tragedy occurs, and Florence’s plight worsens. As the years go by, Mr. Dombey sees to it that the man she loves, his employee, is sent far away. Mr Dombey remarries, but his marriage is eventually destroyed, his fortune gone, he becomes destitute. Finally he accepts help from his daughter, and life changes for him.
As it is a historical major written work there are numerous detailed reviews of the plot and story lines, some in themselves major written works. The key thing to this audio version is the reader Mil Nicholson http://www.act2sc3.com/ who is quite brilliant.
As an audio book it is over 40 hours in length, so was quite a major commitment, but through the use of extensive clever voices she manages to bring the story to life and manages to bring to life all the wonderful characters as they interweave throughout the tale
As a book this was an enjoyable, fascinating story, made even better by the brilliant vocalisation by Mil Nicholson. I cannot recommend this enough. So this was book 42 week 31 fiction 39 (11 on audio) non fiction 3
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.