This is the start of a new booklist. The observant will have noticed that I have had a few weeks off from recording what I have read. Time and energy are limited resources and recording what I have read was just one task too many, whilst making maximum use of the beautiful sunny weather that we have had in South west Scotland over the last few weeks.
So we will start this new list with a book that I have read before, as I now have the second book in the trilogy to read. This is book one of the “Wide World Trilogy”. When I read this book the first time I was a little disappointed with the ending as I had not fully realised that the book was part of a trilogy and was very rather shocked that the book just ended in a cliff hanger. It was as if the publisher decided that the book would be split into three to maximise income.
Coming back to it for a second time I am aware that I have the next installment waiting to be read, so will just carry on and read that having finished this book. The story is set in 1919 and the conference that is going on in Paris to discuss how the world will be split up following on from World War one. Sir Henery Maxted has been murdered, and his son James 'Max' takes it upon himself to investigate the murder, much to the rest of his families displeasure.
The story then progresses as peeling an onion, as each layer is removed then another one appears. The story is fast paced, complex and exciting. (This was why I was so upset the first time round when I cam to the end). It paints a very realistic detailed portrayal of the characters, and all is not what it seems. Secret agents, double agents and spies are everywhere. About the only thing that one can predict is that if a character seems to be 'A' then in fact they will be 'B'
Gradually Max thinks he knows what might have happened to his father and then starts out on the long progress of trying to avenge his murder. You will have noticed that I have avoided revealing too much of the plot because it is a really good book and I do not want to spoil it in any way. The Times has called it I believe 'An intelligent escapist delight' and I agree.
A really great book to start this new booklist. So this is book 1 week 1 fiction 1 (audio books 0) non fiction 0
One of the good things of being self employed is being able to vary ones working day, but there is a downside to this work does not stop at 5 or when ever you stop work, it stops when the work that needs to be done is done. This does mean that when things get busy, there is not time for updating blogs. Also my reading went into the slow lane, as was too shattered to do much.
During the remainder of August I read a little and these three books take me up to the 52 books and I will record them as being read in 43 weeks
Book 50 Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver
Book 51 Simple Genius by David Baldacci
Book 52 Wars of the Roses by Conn Iggulden
I am sorry to say I do not have time to write any detailed form of review other than to record that I read them. Hopefully over the next few weeks things will get back into balance and I can spend so more time on this.
This is my review of the book Ashton Kirk Investigator by John Thomas McIntyre which I listened to as a librivox recording. https://librivox.org/ashton-kirk-investigator-by-john-thomas-mcintyre/
I enjoy librivox as I come across writers and stories that I have never heard of. Ashton Kirk is one such story. A sort of wealthy CSI from 100 years ago with his own team of helpers come investigators. It is a really good story and I will quote what is said about the book
“Ashton-Kirk, who has solved so many mysteries, is himself something of a problem even to those who know him best. Although young, wealthy, and of high social position, he is nevertheless an indefatigable worker in his chosen field. He smiles when men call him a detective. "No; only an investigator," he says. He has never courted notoriety; indeed, his life has been more or less secluded. However, let a man do remarkable work in any line and, as Emerson has observed, "the world will make a beaten path to his door." Those who have found their way to Ashton-Kirk's door have been of many races and interests. Men of science have often been surprised to find him in touch with the latest discoveries, scholars searching among strange tongues and dialects, and others deep in tattered scrolls, ancient tablets and forgotten books have been his frequent visitors. But among them come many who seek his help in solving problems in crime. "I'm more curious than some other fellows, that's all," is the way he accounts for himself. "If a puzzle is put in front of me I can't rest till I know the answer." At any rate his natural bent has always been to make plain the mysterious; each well hidden step in the perpetration of a crime has always been for him an exciting lure; and to follow a thread, snarled by circumstances or by another intelligence has been, he admits, his chief delight. There are many strange things to be written of this remarkable man--but this, the case of the numismatist Hume, has been selected as the first because it is one of the simplest, and yet clearly illustrates Ashton-Kirk's peculiar talents. It will also throw some light on the question, often asked, as to how his cases come to him.”
I enjoyed listening to this so much that I am now listening to the next one in the series, but that is for another day. I will record it as book 49 week 40 fiction 44 (audio books 8) non fiction 5
This is my review of the book Rip Tide by Stella Rimington which I actually read a few weeks ago, but it somehow got missed off. Though this is not the first of Stella books I have read it is the first that is being recorded in my book-list. The book is a Liz Carlyle novel and so it continues the saga of her life in MI5 as an intelligence officer.
This time the story is focused on the very real and current problem of pirates at sea. Here it is off the Somalian coast, but when one of the pirates is captured by the French authorities and turns out to be a British born Pakistani then MI5 is called in to investigate.
How do they explain how a lad has gone from a well to do family in Birmingham to being found on a pirate skiff in the Indian Ocean off Somalia. Also how do the pirates just seem to know which boats are worth attacking.
The story then moves to an NGO's which is shipping out goods in the ships. This is being carried out by the Athens office. An operative is sent to the office to investigate but quickly is found dead. There must be a link somewhere. Can Liz and her colleagues find it out and solve the mystery.
This is a very plausible story and plot line presumably because Stella is using her inside knowledge of covert spy operations.
It was an enjoyable read and I will record it as book 48 week 40 fiction 43 (audio books 7) non fiction 5
This is my review of the book Code to Zero by Ken Follett which I have read recently. I wanted a book that moved along at a reasonable pace following on from Ivanhoe, and this book certainly did not disappoint.
The book goes back to America in the late 1950's and the space race with the Russians. A man wakes up in a railway station, and he cannot remember who he is, or what he is doing there. He cannot even remember his own name.
All he can think is that he is a drunken down and out, but then gradually though a fast moving series of events he gradually discovers who he is, including his name Luke Lucas.
He is tied up in uncovering a Russian spy ring and finds that he has been labelled the spy. So not only discovering the truth he also needs to avoid the CIA and other secret services who are trying to capture him as a spy.
It is a clever book as alongside the main plot line the story goes back to the main characters university days and how they formed relationships. Now having lost his mind the relationships need to be re-born, but will they come back in the same way as they did the first time. Well of course not.
This was a very enjoyable read and kept one turning the pages right to the end and I will record it as book book 47 week 39 fiction 42 (audio books 7) non fiction 5
This is my brief review of the book Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott which I listened to recently as a librivox recording https://librivox.org/ivanhoe-by-sir-walter-scott/
This is a very very very long book and not one to read/listen to if one wants an action story. A whole chapter can pass by with almost no action, lots and lots of description about 12th century England, but not much action. I can see that it has become the basis on which many subsequent novels have been written about these times including probably a very large number of stories about Robin Hood and his Merry men, who feature quite considerably in the story.
The librivox summary for the book says the following :- Follows the fortunes of the son of a noble Saxon family in Norman England as he woos his lady, disobeys his father, and is loved by another. Set in late 12C England and in Palestine with Richard Cœur-de-Lion at the Crusades.
There are numerous detailed summaries of the plot lines available elsewhere, which are much better than mine. I did not really enjoy it and felt that it must get better so listened to the end. The fact that I listened to it as driving around meant that I did not really waste any time doing this as the driving was the primary activity, but I could not say it was enjoyable.
The level of detail of the description of the events being described was amazing. Walter Scott's imagination was incredible. All the more so in that it is obvious that his work and imagination has been used as the basis of much of our cultures view of the 12 Century today.
I am pleased I did endure it to the end as looking back it was worth it, and I will record it as book book 46 week 38 fiction 41 (audio books 7) non fiction 5
This is my review of the book The Jewel Garden by Monty and Sarah Don which I have read recently. This book is a mixture of autobiography, come history of how Monty and Sarah created their garden, that is now so famous as the home of gardeners world.
But that is not really the whole story, the main driving force of the book is how Monty and Sarah rebuilt their lives following on from financial disaster, when their Jewellery business went belly up. They lost everything and the book gives a very honest traumatic account of this period in their lives.
Though it was brought about by different circumstances I could relate to their account, having to rebuild my life from a very large negative. Similar I restored a derelict house, though it was considerably smaller than described in this book. It has then taken me a further 20 years before I got a garden of similar size, which we are now working on to restore back to it's original glory.
When feeling disheartened by the weeds, rabbits and deer all doing their best, this book is a great inspiration as to what can be achieved by hard work, good inspiration and a little bit of compost.
The after the first 60 or so pages, which recount how Monty and Sarah get to the point of having the garden the book then goes through the year covering all the major highlights of the Jewel Garden. It explains how they got to that point and how the garden has evolved over time.
Of course it details the finer plants, and the text is accompanied by some fantastic pictures. Which is very useful to someone dyslexic like me who cant remember a plants name.
This is a lovely book which highlights the humanity of a star and his family that I see regularly on the TV. Every time I watch Gardeners World now when Monty is presenting it I will have a much greater insight into what I am seeing
I will record this as book 45 week 37 fiction 40 (audio books 6) non fiction 5
This is my review of the book Traitor by Rory Clements which I have read recently. This story is part of the ongoing saga of the Elizabethan special agent the intelligencer John Shakespeare. Time has moved along a little since the last book, but England is still at war with Spain. The navy has a new secret weapon. An optical instrument that can help one see long distances. (An early telescope).
John is tasked with the job of protecting Dr Dee who has invented this new optical instrument. But of course things do not run smoothly, and he uncovers a much more sinister plot to overthrow Elizabeth. The plot moves from the north of England down to Oxford and then finally to the coast of Brittany.
At the end of the book Rory gives a detailed historical account of the events that surround the story, especially the Hesketh affair and battle of Fort El Leon in 1594, and the death of 394 Spanish defenders, the 6 remaining alive were spared, sent back to Spain, where they were subsequently executed for cowardice.
So the events around which the story has been woven were itself a fascinating and exciting story without having to add the lives of our heroes and their famines. These are just the cream on the cake.
This is a book that is hard to put down, as it is an exciting enthralling story about life in Elizabethan England. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
This was book 44 week 36 fiction 40 (audio books 6) non fiction 4
This is my review of the book A Loyal Spy by Simon Conway, which I have read recently. (Well I did half read it on a long flight back from Melbourne, and then started again a few weeks ago, as mislaid it when unpacking.) This is an interesting story as it explores the boundaries between right and wrong, friend and foe, loyalty and betrayal.
The stars of our story are British secret operatives in Afghanistan, who ambush a top CIA convoy, thinking they were the enemy. Then they have to face the consequences of the action, become the hunted themselves. Double and triple agents come into the play. Just whose side is anyone one is not clear. The one thing that is clear is greed and the love of money. It is a very clever twisting plot, that leads to the potential of London being devastated by a bomb. Just who is masterminding the operation is a key mystery, and it leaves one guessing to the very end.
This is a really good and enjoyable story. If I said much more about the plot lines it be spoilt. Sadly it does not reflect that well on either the British or the American secret service in so much as the cover up and kill the evidence is the call of the day.
The multiple story lines go from the Scottish Isles to Pakistan, via most places in between, and the story does give the impression that we are there with the characters, managing to bringing the whole story to life.
A very enjoyable read as book 43 week 35 fiction 39 (audio books 6) non fiction 4
This is my review of the book Elisha Man of Mission, Man of Miracles by John Cheeseman, which I have read recently. This is a new book only being published this year, and interestingly has some very powerful comparisons with life in ninth century BC Israel with our times today.
Elisha sometimes has the tendency to be dwarfed by his great predecessor and mentor, Elijah. Elisha prophesied in Israel during the ninth century BC, and is associated with healing and restoration rather than judgement. He was a shining light amid the darkness of idolatry and unbelief that prevailed at the time.
Though it is quite a short book the 18 chapters are packed with useful insight, looking at the context in the Old Testament, relevant parts of the new Testament, and our current world nowadays. The book covers the whole of Elisha's time as a prophet.
The really good thing is that John accepts the God Inspired miracles, as miracles and does not try to reduce them to our level. I remember a RE teacher from my youth spending ages explaining how Elisha was doing CPR on the son of the Shunemite woman. (2 Kings 4 v34) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+4%3A34&version=MSG
when in fact it would have been much easier just to recognise that it was a miracle.
Each chapter looks at one or more of the miracles and explores the context and meaning for us today behind each miracle. John then urges us to follow Elisha's example if we wish to be witnessess for the lord in our generation.
This is a very readable inspiring book and one we will probably use as a basis for our home-group studies on Elisha later on this year. I am looking forward to reading some of the other DayOne publications looking at other characters in the Bible.
This was book 42 week 34 fiction 36 (audio books 6) non fiction 4
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.