This is my review of the book Never Go Back by Lee Child, which I read recently. This is the continuing saga of the ex-miltary cop Jack Reacher. On his continuing progress hitch-hiking around America he has come back to his old military unit the 100th Military Police.
His reason for coming back is that he spoke to the current commanding officer Major Susan Turner and he liked her voice. So he decided that he would come back and ask her out for a meal. Sadly as soon as he crosses the bases threshold things start to go wrong for him.
He is accused of the homicide relating to an event that occurred 16 years ago. Along with that a paternity suite comes out of the wood work for a daughter he did not know anything about. Added to that as ex-military he is co-opted back into the army so he has to obey army rules. Then he finds that Susan the person who he had gone to the base to see in the first place is now missing – locked up in a guard cell accused of bribery.
Somehow though the most amazing series of twists and turns Jack manages to solve a major corruption mystery and clear his name, but you would not guess how he does it without reading the book, so I won't spoil the plot any more. Other than to say that numerous laws are broken, bones broken and guard cells broken out of during the course of the story. All adds to the fun.
This is an enjoyable readable book. A real page turner as the saying goes and was certainly better than a lot of TV that was on over Christmas.
This was book 17 week 13 fiction 15 (audio books 3) non fiction 2
This is my review of the book Exit Music by Ian Rankin which I have read recently. I like a lot of the population have loved reading Ian's books about Inspector Rebus, and for this reason have had the book on my shelf for many months, waiting for the right time to read and enjoy it. This Christmas time has been the right time.
The plot line is complex, yet certainly to me entirely believable. It is all about Russian money, a G8 summit at Gleaneagles, wealthy bankers and potential bribery of officials, drugs and of course the odd murder or two. What a wonderful mix and into this is the fact that Inspector Rebus is about to retire and only has a few more days left in the force.
When Inspector rebus starts asking questions of those officials at the highest level in government and banking circles, ripples start flying everywhere and soon the repercussions on Rebus not to rock the boat are so strong that he forced to hand in his warrant card early.
Now the story takes an interesting twist can our famous inspector solve the crime now he is not a policeman. Fortunately he has a good team that can help him and with the wonders of mobile phones the case progresses.
It does have a very good series of twists and turns in the plot line that add to the story. Other reviewers have said that it is “The best crime novel you'll read this year” and I can't disagree with that. To say much more would start to spoil the plot line.
So with that I will record that this was a really good read as book 16 week 13 fiction 14 (audio books 3) non fiction 2
This is my review of the book A Life Worth Living by Nicky Gumbel which I finished a couple of days ago. (though I have read it before in a previous decade!! oh that makes me feel old). This book is a study on the New Testament book of the Philippians. The Philippians was written around 2000 years ago by the Apostle Paul and expands on the theme that Jesus Christ had made his (that is Paul's ) life profoundly worth living. As we find in the book Paul then goes on to expand why this is the case.
Though Philippians only has four chapters – A Life Worth Living has nine and they all explore different aspects of how our lives change once we know Jesus Christ. The chapter heading are
Each chapter expands a short passage of scripture by looking at historical examples along with the practical implications of what the text might mean to someone today. The themes and context are easily understood and relevant both to the original text they are referring to along with everyday life. The book is very readable and inspiring, which is probably why it has been reprinted on numerous occasions.
The book is also marketed as a follow up to the Alpha course - Alpha is a series of interactive sessions that freely explore the basics of the Christian faith. www.alpha.org , though it stands as a good book to read on it's own even if it is not following on from an Alpha course.
The book is packed with quotes and I will recount just one that appealed to me – so often people are full of self importance,”One such VIP who was full of his own self-importance was irritated by what he considered to be incompetent service from his new steward at his club 'Do you know who I am?' he thundered. No Sir' was the reply, 'but I will make enquiries and then come back and let you know'”
Paul's take on this is
Phillipians 2 1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Anyway I won't get distracted and spoil the book for you if you read it yourself. (You can listen/watch Nicky Gumbel giving the series of talks on which the book was based on the Alpha website)
This was book 15 week 12 fiction 13 (audio books 3) non fiction 2
This is my review of the book The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, which I have listened to recently as a librivox recording Over the last couple of weeks having spent quite a bit of time in the car it was good to have a good story to listen to. It certainly helps pass the time away. It was so good that as we got near to the end my average speed got less so we arrived home just as the last chapter was ending. Perfect timing. But I am getting ahead of myself.
This is book three of book four in the Scarlet Pimpernel series depending on which list one is going by.
It is September 1793 and French Agent and chief spy-catcher Chauvelin is determined to get his revenge for the previous humiliations dished out to him at the hands of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Chauvelin travels to England as an official representative of the French government tasked with looking after the interests of French citizens, but this is only a cover and his real purpose is to trick Sir Percy Blakeney into returning to France, where he can be captured and put to the guillotine.
On the guise of a challenge to a duel Sir Percy is forced to travel to Bologune. Sir Percy's wife Marguerite is tricked into going to France to watch and help with the duel, but she is captured and put into prision. The whole town of Boulogne is held to ransom with the threat of death on the breadwinner making sure that she does not escape.
Chauvelin seems to have hatched the perfect plan to capture and humiliate Sir Percy and stop the exploits of the Scarlet Pimpernel. But all is not quite what it seems.
This was a really good story, as it painted the scene and built the tension slowly up bit by bit. On the face of it it did seem as if Chauvelin had got Sir Percy Trapped. We spent a good few miles discussing how the Scarlet Pimpernel was going to get out of this alive, which of course is one of the problems of doing a series. The star has to escape to live for another day.
This was a good book really well read by Karen Savage and a very enjoyable story. Probably listen to next in series when next driving. This was book 14 week 12 fiction 13 (audio books 3) non fiction 1
This is my review of the book the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon which I read recently. I always feel slightly anxious when reviewing a book that has won a prize. This book won the Pulitzer prize for fiction, and so other people evidently thought it was a really good book. That being said I will give my views.
This is quite a long book, being over 650 pages in length and the type face is very small so it took quite a lot of reading. The story starts in the late 1930's with Josef Kavalier escape from Nazi oppression making his way to New York.
He then meets up with his cousin Sam Clay. They then use the ideas and skills that Josef has learnt as a youngster learning magic tricks and skills. These then turn into an idea and the Escapist is born. An anti Nazi comic strip, about The Escapist who liberates the oppressed around the world.
The story then follows the pair as they make money, form relationships, cope with German financiers. Fighting in the second world war. Each section is portrayed as a series of separate stories that are a story in themselves, but some of the key characters will be present in these as well. Just like in a comic they are also fairly surreal and only just on the verge of believable.
Some of these episodes were more enjoyable than others. The clever thing was that though this was a work of fiction it was interwoven with real events and characters of the time, which gave it the air of reality. This visibly clashed with the comic book theme and style of the narrative.
One of the quotes on the back of the book is “A Novel of Towering Achievement”. As probably the majority of the story is set in the Empire State Building quite apt really. Do I want to read another one of Michael Chabon's novels not quite sure? Have to wait and see for that.
This was book 13 week 11 fiction 12 (audio books 2) non fiction 1
This is my review of the book I Will Repay by Baroness Orczy which I have listened to recently. The version I listened to was from librivox
It is part of the ongoing saga of Scarlet Pimpernel. (I believe book 3 in the series though there are differing opinions to this, whether the sequence is by date order written or by content order) The story is in two main parts based around the main theme of a misguided promise made on a death bed to revenge a killing, and its consequences.
A duel of swords – tempers flair and this ends in death. A daughter is pledged to revenge this death.
Time passes to the tune of ten years, and the main star Juliette Marny draws attention to herself near the person she is sworn to see killed. To do this she denounces him to the revolutionary committee, in hopes that he will be lined up for execution.
Sadly of course she now falls in love for this person. To try and save him she burns some compromising papers but she is caught and it looks as if both will be executed together. Can the Scarlet Pimpernel save them??
A story that is good fun. It goes along at a reasonable pace just right for listening to in the car as travelling along. Keeping the driver awake. - We had been listening to a Dickens, which we gave up as it a little boring and did not seem to be going anywhere, which is not the case with this story.
A very enjoyable book, and I am looking forward to listening to more of the series, in the months to come.
This was book 12 week 10 fiction 11 (audio books 2) non fiction 1
Friends, this is my review of the book an Awkward Commission by David Donachie which I read recently. This is book three in the series which follows the life and adventures of John Pearce.
As a landlubber he has been illegally kidnapped and press ganged into King Georges Navy. His desire is to free himself and his friends called the Pelicans. The trouble is Britain is at war with various factions in France. Having been promoted up the ranks from a humble seaman, in recognition of his actions, rather than having to free him he finds himself in the Mediterranean taking part in various actions there. Including acting as a spy, as he can speak fluent French.
John's arch enemy is the captain who original was responsible for his initial capture. John has to make the difficult decision does he help rescue him or not, as the captain has let the ship he was in be captured..
The book ends with a very dramatic account of the taking of a French warship which had seemingly been abandoned, but in fact was a trap. The French were on the shore with their guns and cannons all lined up on the deck and rigging of the abandoned ship.
This account is made all the more exciting to realise that it is based on a real account that took place during the war. Incredible to think that people used such bravery and skill.
A very enjoyable book, and I am looking forward to reading more of the series, in the months to come.
This was book 11 week 9 fiction 10 (audio books 1) non fiction 1
Friends, this is my review of the book The Bourne Sanction by Eric Van Lustbader, which I read recently. I must admit I really enjoyed Robert Ludlums books. He seemed to have got the mix of action, suspense and intrigue about right. Sadly I felt that in this book Eric did not get it right.
I don't think I have ever read a book where so many bodies pile up just like the chapter numbers. Also the plot line was not that complex. Generally a case of kill or be killed as each event came along.
Anyway this being said Jason is unintentionally caught up in a terrorist plot to blow up a major American city. The terrorists are a secret undercover group with links all across the globe. Good excuse for a chase across many countries, and of course not everyone is who they seem. Then we have the assassin who is out to kill Jason as well, along with several American agencies trying to capture him and lock him up.
All good fun as they say. An easy page turner. Quite appropriate really as I have not been able to concentrate too much as thinking about my Sunday talk
This was book 10 week 8 fiction 9 (audio books 1) non fiction 1
This is the review of the book Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, that I read recently. I have read a previous book by Steve Timmis I wish Jesus Hadn't Said That, but I'm Really Glad He Did and was very impressed with what he had written so decided to give this one a go.
The slogan on the rear cover says a radical reshaping around gospel and community. How does your church shape up? The book in essence goes back to first principles to consider what a church is and how it related to the early Christians. It then offers an insight as to how this early church has been transformed into the church that we have today.
Sadly so often it is not good news, personal agendas, social climbing, and a desire to build ever bigger and bigger buildings, are the primary role of the church today. Or even worse putting all the time money and energy into keeping an historic monument going.
The book offers an alternative for the church. That it should be gospel centred, focusing on the good news of Jesus that is shown in new testament. Along with that the primary role of being mission based. The truth of the gospel needs to be proclaimed. Locking it away in an ancient monument is not going to do this.
Along side this the book suggests that as Christians we need to share our lives as a community of believers, and be welcoming to no believers.
Having defined these principles they are then applied to all areas that the church should be involved in; care, mission, church planting, evangelism, leadership and discipleship to name but a few.
In each case the resultant view is very challenging, often turning the existing ideas on end. But as it says in one of the chapters, why is the western church in decline for the last 50 years, where as else where in the world it is growing. Maybe it is because the western church has tried to mould itself to the current social trends rather that standing firm for the principles it believes in.
The writers are very passionate in their argument, and it is not just hypothetical book. They give real examples relating to the Crowded House Church which is all about being a Gospel community, a shared life, a network of relationships, and a community of people.
A passionate radical challenging thought provoking book. Highly recommended, though it should come with a health warning as once read you may feel like doing something.
This was book 9 week 7 fiction 8 (audio books 1) non fiction 1
Friends this is my review of the book Sea Change by Robert Goddard. Though this book was written 14 years ago I don't recall reading it before, and came across this copy in a charity shop so I thought I would get it.
It is a story set in the early 1700's and concerns the collapse of the South Sea Bubble. The story line is a clever mixture of real and invented characters, woven around one of the greatest financial scandals to hit Britain for over 200 years. The recent banking crisis’s probably exceeds it.
The hero of our story is William Spandrel is poor mapmaker who is in serious debt. He is offered discharge of these debts by Sir Theodre Janssen a director of the south sea company if he will convey an important package to a friend of Janssen in Amsterdam, Ysbrabd de Vries.
William accepts the job, takes the package to Amsterdam and then things go rapidly wrong for him. Ysbrabd is murdered and he is blamed for his murder. Ysbrabd's wife along with the package then go missing. William quickly realises that he is a pawn in a much bigger picture, all trying to either stop or encourage revolution in England.
The only way William can save his life is to get the package back, which means following it across Europe. But once found which chasing party does William give it to. Will he help revolution to occur or help prevent it? I can't really say much more without spoiling the plot twists and turns.
This is a classic Robert Goddard story with lots of twists and surprises. Great descriptive detail bringing the characters and story to life. A really enjoyable book to read.
This was book 7 week 5 fiction 7 (audio books 1) non fiction 0
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.