The Black House by Peter May
This book was quite a challenge. In essence I read for enjoyment, and part of the pleasure process is letting the mind fill in the gaps, that the text has left out. Or it could be thought of adding the colour to a black and white image. As such I feel that when a book goes into great detail it is moving to the land of a script for a play or film rather than a novel. This is fine so long as the story line is enjoyable, but I do not think it is a good thing if it is not. Describing pain, suffering death etc in great detail is just not needed, and is not enjoyable.
That being said we come to the book - I would say that it was a real smorgasbord of a book. The impression given was that it had been written over a long time, as different parts of it read in a totally different ways. (Maybe even an editor looked at it and told the author to add some grittiness to the book, as some sections certainly have this) Some parts were really enjoyable and brought back the happy memories I have of being on Lewis, other parts to me were just plain crude, and unpleasant.
I very nearly gave up on the book and throw it away, as it has a totally unnecessarily detailed description of a post mortem, which ends up with people wanting to be sick, and the same can be said for the reader. I must say that I find it hard to identify with the reviews quoted on the cover about the book, but I did get to the end, and it did not end up being burnt on the fire, so it must have had some redeeming qualities. This is book 42, week 32 read novels 29, poetry 1, study, audio 10
Gladiator by Simon Scarrow
Here we find our heroes Macro and Cato, at sea off the isle of Crete when a huge tidal wave damages their ship. They have to put into shore for repairs and find that large parts of the Island have been devastated by a Tsunami and earth quake. Most of the ruling Romans have been killed and it is up to Marco and Cato to help run things.
Very quickly they find that the salves on the island now start revolting against their masters, and then one ruthless gladiator takes control. He quickly forms a large army of rebels, killing off any resistance from the Romans. Till all that is left between him and victory are our friends..
I will leave it there otherwise it will spoil the story. The book is good fun and very readable. It is the ninth book in the Eagle series. This is book 41, week 31 read novels 28, poetry 1, study, audio 10.
Fault Line by Robert Goddard
A couple of weeks ago we had been kindly sent a preview copy of this book by Patsy Irwin, and I was reading another book at the time, so my wife grabbed it to read for herself. Fortunately she could not put it down, so I have finally got to read it myself over the last few days.
This is a typical Robert Goddard, with a mystery going back in time, that is slowly unravelled during the course of the book. The story is about a family china clay business. The majority of the action takes place spread between the South West of England, and Naples and Capri in Italy.
Gradually with each twist in the book either due to location or time frame, the number of key characters is gradually reduced due to their demise, having been killed off – often murdered!! Each time the number of characters is reduced, the speculation as to the who and the why needs to be updated.
There is a major red herring running through the book, that hooked me – hook line and sinker (To do with the early time frame) I don't want to spoil the story by giving a detailed analysis of the plot, because part of the enjoyment in reading a book like this is not knowing how the twists and intrigue work out.
Can you work out the answer before reading it - Thats the question? This is a book that is hard to put down – A very enjoyable read – one that I would thoroughly recommend. This was book 40 week 31 – read novels 27, poetry 1, study 2, audio 10
Mr Standfast by John Buchan
I currently have a backlog of three reviews for books – I am actually getting through them faster than writing about them, which is fairly amazing. This is the third story in the Richard Hannay Series. I listened to the two previous books The Thirty Nine Steps and Greenmantle as audio books before I had started recording my reviews. The librevox recording of these books are very listen-able especially if sitting in the car for long journeys.
Anyway moving back to this story. This picks up the story of Richard Hannay who has unwittingly become a secret agent for the British, in the final part of the first world war 1917 to 1918. Without giving the plot away too much Richard follows the trail of an arch spy for Germany, across England, Scotland and then Europe. There is a fantastic description of him hiding in the heather and peat bogs of Skye being eaten alive by the midges. This section and the final part where he is fighting in the trenches are so real, The death and destruction described bring home the horror of warfare, with a real sad final twist as one of the key characters dies on the last page.
I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the series to see how Richard progresses as a hero of espionage. This was book 39 week 31 – read novels 26, poetry 1, study 2 audio 10
Having not listened to much in the way of audio books for a while I end up listening to two books overlapping. I have been listening to the Day of the Triffids on the BBC iplayer (as Radio 4 extra has been replaying a full reading of the text that was done some time ago) while I have been working on my Business Plan.
I originally read this book as a young teenager, and was totally gripped by the text, the descriptions of death, destruction, cruelty, kindness and love seemed so real at time that it brought the story to life. I can say that hearing the story again nearly 40 years later it still had the same gripping hold on me.
I know over the years that there have been numerous adaptations of the story both for the large and small screens, but in most because they need to take the story along at a pace, they cover a short time period. This totally contrasts the original. The story covers a number of years, probably more than 10 for the start to the end, and this to me makes it so much more real. I had also forgotten the subtle suggestion in the original that it was the superpowers with out of control space weapons that caused the mass blinding of human kind, not a meteor cloud or sunspots as suggested in later versions.
The other contrast especially as was listening to both this book and The Man in the Iron Mask at the same time was how writing styles have changed over the 100 or so years in dealing with tragedy. Now we probably have more detail but it happens and the book moves on, whereas the opposite seems to be true for the Victorian writer.
On the second listening my only gripe with the story line is over the seemingly infinite supply of fuel, and the lack of things breaking down. If the balloon went up and we had to deal with something like this now I am sure, both of these would be a real issue for those left. I am still in two minds if I should read the sequel by Simon Clark – The Night of the Triffids, as it has mixed reviews - have to wait and see.
So this was book 38 week 31 – read novels 25, poetry 1, study 2, audio 10
This has been listened to over the past few weeks when going up and down the motorway to the Midlands. A very good way of spending the time watching the queues of cars not moving much on the M6. We listened to the librivox version. This is part three of the story of the three musketeers. Reviews for the Part 1 of the story Three Musketeers and Part 2 Twenty years after can be found as earlier blog entries
Alexandre Dumas lived in the first half of the 18th Century and this book really emphasises how popular fiction has changed in it's style since then. Now days a book tends to end on a reasonably lighter note. Even if it is tragic then some glimmer of hope is inserted into the story, even more so if it is hoped that the book is to be made into a film or TV series. This book maybe the last third has hours of sadness, and could in fact be called a tragedy rather than an adventure story.
There is a very detailed synopsis given here but in essence the book continues the exploits of our four friends around the kings court with the added complication that the king has a twin brother who is locked away in the Bastille, and that some of the Musketeers support one side and some the other.
There are then lots of exploits with various mistresses, lovers, battles, chases involving a large number of cast members that we have met before. Dumas then proceeds to slowly kill off these characters that we have grown to care for, in great tragic detail, even having D'Artagnan who has now been raised to a Count killed off by a cannonball in the last few pages. This leaves only one Musketeer that we have grown to know so well, left alive at the end. (I will not spoil it by giving his name)
The series have been a really good story and have made nearly 75 hours of travelling pass by very quickly. Just perfect for transporting one into a different world. So this is book 37 week 30 novels 25, poetry 1, study, 2 audio 9.
So life goes on for Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. This book is largely a collection of interlinked short stories mainly about Bertie's friend Bingo and his romances. How Bingo then decides that he is breaking off the relationships and what Jeeves does to help this come about. All goes smoothly till we come to the last, and Bingo is truly smitten and marries Rosie. I expect they will be mentioned later on in the series.
The book has the “Great Sermon Handicap” story as part of the collection that is meant to be a “classic”. I must admit it did not jump out at me as one, but maybe I just did not appreciate the subject matter.
Not a complex book to read and an interesting all be it humorous insight into life that is often a favourite for film and TV series. (Actually finished last week but I did not have time to upload this) So this is book 36 week 30 – novels 25, poetry 1 study 2, audio 8
Blood Count by Robert Goddard
Life is pretty busy at the present and getting time to write for the blog is suffering, I have a couple of partially written things waiting to be finished off, but they will have to wait for another day, as the weeks and books march on. If I get behind in this then it ends up with shorter reviews than normal, which we don't want.
I have read most of Robert Goddard's books and this one did not disappoint. In fact even though I was busy I was reading it for the odd minute or two near the end as it was very exciting. It is said that Dickens wrote his novels in such a way that there is a cliff hanger of some kind at the end of every chapter. Well there is one here and in addition every couple of chapters a twist in the plot line comes along, that hits the poor reader for six, desperate to know how the story is going to progress. The cover says it is “electrifying”, and I cannot agree more.
So what is the book about – It follows the twists and turns of the main character Edward Hammond, who is a surgeon, about to go on holiday meeting up with some friends. Not giving too much away, but he does not meet up with them but meets up with his past, and actions he did thirteen years ago. The plot is brilliant, and the book is well worth reading. I will have to read something rather different next otherwise will be let down.
So this is book 35 week 28 – novels 24, poetry 1 study 2, audio 8
This is book four in the series, (actually book five as book three was split into two), consisting of over 750 pages. Sadly if this had been the first book that I had read in the series, then I would not have bothered reading any others. George seemed to largely exclude from the story all the characters that he has spent over 2000 pages previously building up and getting us acquainted with.
I found it very hard to have any sort of affinity with any of the main characters portrayed in the book. I suppose the title should have been a clue as to what it was about. I did read it hoping that the characters I had already met would come back, but sadly they did not . Finally at the end there is an Authors note about this – maybe it should have been at the start.
Also it was probably a shame that I read this so soon after the book on The Reivers By Alistair Moffat. He is describing an historical period that has lots of death and destruction but does so in a way that is described in a lighter vain. Lets just hope book five is more enjoyable than this one, as I would have only given this book one star out of five if I was awarding stars..
So this is book 34 week 27 – novel 23, poetry 1, study 2 audio 8
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.