What Am I Reading Now
The summary in this “What Am I Reading Now” section is courtesy of Fantastic Fiction
- A Dance With Dragons – George R.R. Martin
The fifth volume in the greatest epic work of the modern ageThe future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.In the east, Daenerys, last scion of House Targaryen, her dragons grown to terrifying maturity, rules as queen of a city built on dust and death, beset by enemies.Now that her whereabouts are known many are seeking Daenerys and her dragons. Among them the dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, who has escaped King’s Landing with a price on his head, wrongfully condemned to death for the murder of his nephew, King Joffrey. But not before killing his hated father, Lord Tywin.To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but he has enemies both in the Watch and beyond the Wall, where the wildling armies are massing for an assault.
On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all…
Waiting To Be Read
The summaries in this “Waiting To Be Read” section are courtesy of Fantastic Fiction
- First Frost – James Henry
- Mystery – Jonathan Kellerman
What Have I Read Recently
A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
The first volume in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” trilogy which tells of the treachery, greed and war threatening the Seven Kingdoms south of the Wall. In a world scarred by battle and catastrophe, it describes the deeds of a people locked in conflict and the legacy they will leave their children.
- A Clash Of Kings – George R.R. MartinThe second book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” trilogy. Sansa Stark is trapped in marriage to the feeble Lannister boy, child of incest, who is King Joffrey. In the North the Starks prepare for battle with the Lannisters.
- A Storm Of Swords – George R.R. MartinAt last, the sequel to the New York Times bestseller, A Clash of Kings! Rarely has there been an epic as gripping as Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga. Now the growing turmoil in the Seven Kingdoms is about to come to a violent head, giving rise to a threat that will soon become “A Storm of Swords”.
- A Feast For Crows – George R.R. MartinIt seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears….With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist–or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out. But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces–some familiar, others only just appearing–are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes…and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests–but only a few are the survivors.
- Friend Of The Devil – Peter Robinson ??/??/2011
- Piece Of My Heart – Peter Robinson – 20th September, 2011
- Playing With Fire – Peter Robinson – 4th September, 2011
- Aftermath – Peter Robinson
- Past Reason Hated – Peter Robinson– 22nd August, 2011
- The Hanging Valley / Innocent Graves – Peter Robinson– 17th August, 2011
- Not Safe After Dark – Peter Robinson – 6th August, 2011
- Mistress of the Empire – Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts – 25th July, 2011
- Servant of the Empire – Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
- Daughter of the Empire – Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
- Revelation – C.J.SansomThe fourth and best Shardlake book so far. Shardlakes best friend is murdered and having promised the widow that he will find the killer he finds himself once again getting embroiled in political manoeuvering. It transpires that his friend was just one of several vicitims who are being chosen to die in the manner of the prophecies from the Book of Revelation. And so Shardlake sets off in search of a serial killer. Following the right trail but not quite fast enough to prevent the killer from getting to his next victim until Shardlake himself once again becomes a target. As always he has to pick his way through the political minefield that is the province of royalty and the religious fanatics.
- Sovereign – C.J.SansomNext in the Shardlake series. A plot against the throne of Henry VIII has been discovered. Henry is on a spectacular progress from London to York. Shardlake and assistant Jack Barak have been dispatched to York to process petitions to the king. Additionally Shardlake has been tasked with protecting a suspected conspirator until he is transported to London for interrogation. As with all of Sansoms books things are set to get a lot more complicated and the story unrolls with more murders and intrigue, which lead to Shardlake spending time in the Tower of London, before rushing to its conclusion.
- Dark Fire – C. J. SansomThe second of the Shardlake series. Two plots in one book with a deadline to give the whole thing a sense of urgency. Once again Matthew Shardlake has been coerced by Cromwell into taking on a case that will thrust him into political intrigue and danger. And once again C.J. Sansom weaves a graphic tale that holds your attention while providing a cultural education for the era. This is the way I like my history, not the dry manner of the classroom that I experienced as a child. I find myself frequently dialling up the interweb to check certain facts or at times to clarify the meaning of words and their application in the story. Sansom does provide explanations at the book of his books as to the historical background and details where he has deviated for the benefit of the storyline.
- Dissolution – C. J. Sansom“It is 1537 and Thomas Cromwell has ordered that all monasteries should be dissolved. Cromwell’s Commissioner is found dead, his head severed from his body”. And so we are introduced to Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer, who is made temporary commissioner by Cromwell and sent to investigate. Sansom does a fabulous job of painting a very bleak landscape. Both in the wintery countryside and the political climate of the time. The story moves along at a good pace and is refreshing in a “murder mystery” for the fact that there are no modern-day trappings. Having read four of the Shardlake books I would say that this is not the best but is a very good introduction. A slow burner that sucks you in until you are totally submerged in the era
- Two For Sorrow – Nicola Upson 10th June, 2011When Josephine Tey sets out to write a novel about Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, the notorious Finchley baby farmers, she can have little idea that the research for her book will be needed to help solve a modern-day killing – the sadistic murder of a young seamstress, found dead in the Motley sisters’ studio.
- Buried – Mark Billingham 14th May, 2011Quite a lot going on in this story. Many people with things to hide, many secrets revealed. Two apparently unrelated crimesand retired cop Carol Chamberlain providing just the right nudge to Thorne.
- Lifeless – Mark Billingham14th May, 2011To be completed
- The Burning Girl – Mark Billingham7th May, 2011Some interesting moral questions asked in this story. What would you do in the circumstances ? I know I don’t have a straight answer. Thorne and a retired colleague, Carol Chamberlain, certainly push the boundaries of what is considered to be acceptable behaviour for an English policeman. Thorne is also sailing pretty close to the wind in terms of police procedure and what should be considered as confidential to an investigation. Some of his actions have direct bearing on the actions of the criminal fraternity and he could be considered as an accessory before during and after the fact. All goes to add to the complex character that is Tom Thorne. Do I like him ? I’m not sure I do. Am I glad he’s on my side of the law, albeit only just ? Yes I am.
- Lazy Bones – Mark Billingham1st May, 2011Plenty of red herrings with this one. I thought I’d identified the killer quite early on but was quickly sidetracked by another suspect. The final reveal occurs quite late on which I really like. Another great aspect of this book is the understated humour that permeates the storyline, usually at Thornes expense. One negative for me is the image of Thorne that is left near to the end of the book. This image will live on in my imagination for some time or is it perhaps an imaginary image of David Morrisey as Thorne, either way it’s not pleasant.
- Scaredy Cat – Mark Billingham 26th April, 2011Again this was an enjoyable read but as with Sleepy Head my imagination was in conflict with the TV interpretation. I believe the TV version deviated a bit from the book story line. Leastways in my head they did. The book starts at a good pace and then picks up from the moment that the penny drops and Thorne realises they are looking for a pair of serial killers, Palmer and Nicklin, working in tandem. Of course Thorne, being who he is, has a hard time selling this to his superiors. And it wouldn’t be a Tom Thorne novel if he didn’t make a few cock ups along the way. Billingham keeps the identity of one of the killers, Nicklin, hidden right up to the end. Helped of course by Palmers assertion that he “had a feeling” that Nicklin was a policeman. This has the desired effect of diverting the reader’s attention to members of Thornes team who are going through their own personal meltdown. So all in all a good read and I am looking forward to the next episode in Tom Thornes life.
- Sleepy Head – Mark Billingham20th April, 2011A good read. I found it a little strange having seen the TV adaptation a few months ago. Thankfully I had pretty much forgotten the detail but still had to contend with my mind juxtaposing the TV characters with those that Mark Billingham was drawing with his prose.
- Watcher of the Dead – J.V. JonesFourth novel of the Sword of Shadows “trilogy”. Think that may have been some kind of urban myth. Having completed the fourth I am now eagerly awaiting the fifth in the series.
- The Girl That Kicked The Hornets Nest – Stieg Larsson22nd March, 2011Wow. Thoroughly enjoyed that. Nice conclusion to the Millenium trilogy. Lisbeth Salander has been described as “one of the most original characters in a thriller to come along in a while” and I wholeheartedly agree. Having been done down throughout her life and as described in the two preceding books I found myself all but cheering out loud towards the end of this one. These books have been a joy to read.
- The Odyssey – Homer– 18th March, 2011Well after the Lynda La Plante this was a total change of pace. I found this quite hard to read. I knew the story of course but E. V. Rieu’s translation for Penguin Classics is something else. The 10 year journey by Odysseus, returning from the Trojan wars, is a classic tale. Would I recommend this version to other readers ? Probably not. I am sure there are books out there retelling this tale in a much more palatable manner. I know I was otherwise engaged so my free reading time has been much diminished. However, this quite small book has taken me over a month to complete.
- Well I started reading The Odyssey…and I still am. Trouble is that I have been busy doing other stuff so I really haven’t had time to make any real progress. Am about 2/3 of the way through the book. Have drawn one conclusion. Odysseus was not a good guy to hang around with. Seems to me he was a bit of an adventurer, perhaps foolhardy would be better to describe him. Despite many warnings he still takes his friends into situations that any sane person would avoid. The result, all his pals dead and he, Odysseus, stuck in some predicament or other with no apparent way out. So to describe him as a hero is stretching things. Also its seems there is a strange custom that was popular back in Odysseus time. If you go visit with your neighbours. They wine and dine you and then won’t let you leave until they have given you lots of gifts. During his trials and tribulations Odysseus visits with lots of folks, gets lots of pressies while eating and drinking them out of house and home. Eventually he is packed of on ships, that they his hosts provide, loaded down with all their worldly goods and provender. Then, as stated before he takes his friends into catastophic situations where upon they all die and he has to go visiting again. There is a recurring theme here.
- Cold Heart – Lynda La Plante – 30th January, 2011
- This is another Christmas present from my granddaughter. Yet another one from a series. In this case it is the 3rd of the Lorraine Page series. Well part way through I found I was not really enjoying this book. In part it was down to La Plantes writing and in part it was down to the setting. If there is one thing I truly hate, it is the fake gloss and glam of Hollywood lifestyles. And this book has it in spades. The more La Plante layered it on when describing Lorraine Pages clothing and again when she introduces the romance the more she turned me off this book.
- Unfortunately she had me hooked with the crime thread running through it. So I had to read it to the end. At around the same time as I found out I wasn’t enjoying the book I also discovered that I had read the first book in the series due to the various references to Lorraine Pages past. This filled in some gaps for me. My memory of that story was that it was a lot grittier and it certainly didn’t have all the fashion, glam and glitz.
- Would I recommend this book ? No. Would I recommend the first book in the series ? Yes.
- 9 Dragons – Michael Connelly – 23rd January, 2011
- The 15th book in the Harry Bosch series. This was a Christmas present from my granddaughter. It was a good choice. The heroe of this tale is Harry Bosch a LAPD Homicide Detective. As in all this type of books he is a larger than life character who is carrying a lot of baggage. He trusts no one but himself and tends to act with a total disregard as to the consequences. In this story what starts out, on the surface, as a simple robbery/homicide very quickly expands into Chinese Triad related kidnapping. The kidnap victim being his own daughter. This takes the story all the way from LA to Hong Kong before returning back to LA for a neat twist. I would recommend this as a holiday read.
- The Snowman – Jo Nesbo – 20th January, 2011
- The 5th book in the Harry Hole series. No I didn’t know it was the 5th. My friend Jane has passed this over to me as a good book to read after completing the Stieg Larsson books. This was a good read which kept me guessing all the way through. Nebo leads you up some dark alleys and just when you think you have it all sussed he whips the covers off and shows you how wrong you are. Plenty of red herrings and once again a lead character who is simultaneously hero and damaged victim.
- All The Colours of Darkness – Peter Robinson – 9th January, 2011
- The 18th book in the Alan Banks series. Once again we move away from the “quiet” of the dales as the mystery takes Banks back to the city and the murky world of MI5, or is it MI6. Banks finds himself and his loved ones at risk. But all is not as it at first seems. Once again, that bad penny, “Dirty Dick” Burgess makes an appearance in his obliquely abrasive style. Romance never seems to be a stable or long-lived feature of Banks life. This book, like its predecessors, reinforces that view.
- The Summer That Never Was – Peter RobinsonThe 13th in the Alan Banks
- Cold Is The Grave – Peter RobinsonThe 11th Alan Banks
- Dry Bones That Dream – Peter Robinson– 27th November, 2010The 7th book in the Inspector Banks series. In this story Banks is pushed a little harder as the story takes him from his home area of Eastvale thru Leeds to London and ultimately abroad. Also a repeating pattern is the introduction of beautiful women to whom Banks is attracted and the “will he / won’t he” question that is constantly floated.
- A Necessary End – Peter Robinson– 23rd November, 2010I’m getting to like Inspector Banks a lot. He is becoming rather like a favourite pair of shoes, well-worn and certainly very comfortable. In this the 3rd book in the series I find myself agreeing with his points of view regarding the issues of the era and the local area. Robinson also drops enough social history hooks into the plot to keep one anchored to that era. We have anti nuclear protestors and references to terrorism the IRA and so forth. And then there is the introduction of “Dirty Dick” Burgess from Banks past just to stir things up nicely. He is a mixed bag of” Jack the Lad” and “Wild Duck” and of course a proverbial thorn in Banks side. It remains to be seen if there will be return appearances for this one.
- A Dedicated Man – Peter Robinson– 20th November, 2010A thoroughly good yarn and I enjoyed reading a crime thriller that is set in my home country albeit in a part that I have not spent a great deal of time. Robinsons description of the countryside and the folk that inhabit it serve to remind me of a holiday spent in the Yorkshire Dales with my wife and the outlaws. More depth is added to Banks and of course the supporting characters DS Hatchley, DC Richmond & Detective Superintendent Gristhorpe, to whom we were introduced in the first book. It is nice to have that continuity. The story moves along at a reasonable pace and there are many potential culprits before the tale comes to a close.
- Gallows View – Peter Robinson – 16th November, 2010
- Well I did enjoy this. A story with some substance and Alan Banks is a great character. After reading the Patterson books I was glad to have something I could get my teeth into, something that managed to spread chapters over more than a single page. Since this book is over 20 years old it is very definitely positioned in time. Thats not to say dated because it holds up very well. It’s just noticeable that there are no mobile phones and other technology to the fore. Of course it is also non-PC with all the smoking too. Having just seen the dramatisation that was shown on ITV for the 12th book in the series I have to say that I prefer the version of Banks that I am reading at the moment. It remains to be seen if he morphs into the Peter Tomkinson version which I really didn’t take to at all.
- The Beach House – James PattersonThis was Patterson taking a turn down “John Grisham Road”. A legal thriller set amongst the idle rich and well to do. An easy read with a unique but barely believable ending. Some good characters which could stand being fleshed out. I read another review of this book which defined it as a “weekend read” which is basically confirming the short chapter nature of most Patterson books. The reviewer had pretty much read the whole book “in an afternoon and evening”. I think the danger of this book structure is that you are accelerated through the book to the point where you start to scan rather than read. I certainly found myself having to turn back some pages because I pretty much didn’t read the text on a page. Something wrong with a book when that happens.
- The Lake House – James PattersonHaving just read When The Wind Blows I couldn’t wait to get started on this. Well it was a good read but just like its predecessor it didn’t take me long to demolish it. It was nice to carry on with the “children”, to see their characters expand
- When The Wind Blows – James Patterson– 27th October, 2010Well that didn’t take long. Thats what I find with quite a few of Pattersons books. The pacing is good but there isn’t a lot of substance. I guess he does produce a good holiday read, nothing to stressful for a mind that is in vacation mode. Which is the opposite of where my head is at the moment. Lots of work on keeping the wheels turning. So when I do pick up a book I tend to speed read. Which is perhaps the wrong mode to be in with this particular book. Having said that I did enjoy it. Plenty of mystery, action and emotion. Having read so many thrillers now the plotline is pretty familiar. You know the thing…quiet American backwater town, unlikely hero/heroine stumbles across a mystery, roll in the baddies, plenty of turmoil, heart in mouth will they make it then good prevails over evil. The one thing to take away from this is “Stay Away From Small Town America”. Its full of mad scientists, homicidal maniacs, genetic aberrations and so forth. Whatever happened to the good old feel good, apple pie……but I digress. When The Wind Blows is a good read. It rolls along at a pretty good pace and doesn’t take long to suck you in to the mystery but of course finishes up leaving wondering …. “then what ?”. Well not to worry, there is a sequel and guess what. I have it an am about to start reading it this evening.
- Red Dragon – Thomas Harris– 24th October, 2010I read Silence Of The Lambs many years ago, long before it became a film. Should have read this one first but hey I was never one to do things properly. Anyway, having completed it I have to say it was a great read despite my disappointment that there really wasn’t much about Lecter. I was expecting more. I thought the build up of Dollarhydes background, showing how he is “becoming” the Dragon while eliciting a little sympathy from the reader, was really well done. I couldn’t help overlaying the Hopkins portrayal of Lecter over the description in the book. But that did not detract from my enjoyment.
- Battle Of The Labyrinth – Rick Riordan18th October, 2010Now this is a change of pace and depth. I read somewhere that Percy Jackson was the next big thing to follow Harry Potter. So I bought the first three books in the series. Well as reads go these books are not on the same plane as the Harry Potter series. What they are though is damn good fun. These yarns take me back to the heroes of Greek mythology that I read about as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three and was able to settle in to this, book four, with ease. Now looking forward to the next in the series. Am also looking forward to the film with anticipation.
- The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson12th October, 2010Well this lived up to everything I had heard. I was immediately hooked. Larsson further fleshes out the characters that he created in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Salandar is a fascinating character and a most unusual “hero” or should that be “anti-hero” while I found myself wanting to give Blomkvist a severe slapping. I am now waiting on tenterhooks to get started with the next in the series.
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka4th September, 2010Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Had read a review in one of the papers some time ago and my curiosity was piqued, but not enough to search it out. I was in Smiths last week and needed something to read. They had a special deal on…. 2 books for a fiver so I picked up “Tractors” and The Interpretation of Murder. So far I have not been disappointed. “tractors is a good read. Had me chuckling all the way through. There are good characters, well described, and enough mystery to keep you wondering how it’s all going to pan out. While reading it I was also contemplating this as a one-off drama for TV and wondering who I would cast in the various roles. My advice is go get yourself a copy and immerse yourself in the characters. Be warned though, although humorous, this story and the characters within have another side and take you through some of europes / the worlds dark past.
- The Interpretation Of Murder – Jed Rubenfeld14th September, 2010This was both an interesting and a tedious read. When I was over half way through I was ready to toss it in the trash but as is so often the case I found I had to read it through to the end just to see how it panned out. The writing of a murder mystery around the visit of Freud and Jung to America was unusual. I think this also made for a lack of credibility in the story, that and the exploits of Dr. Stratham Younger, our hero. There are so many things going on, so many threads that you wish the author had chosen one and stuck with it.
- The First Apostle – James Becker21st September, 2010This was a lucky dip purchase from the charity table outside our doctors surgery. Well it was £0.50 well spent. I Thoroughly enjoyed this book. An easy read with a few twists and turns to keep you guessing. I found it very difficult not to draw parallels between this and Dan Browns novels (Davinci & Angels). This book purports to be the first in the “Chris Bronson” series. Well I will be keeping an eye open for the next one. I hope I won’t be kept waiting.
- The Rosary Girls – Richard Montanari1st October, 2010This was also a lucky dip purchase. Well worth the £0.50. Tells the tale of a new police partnership grappling with a particular gruesome series of murders. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Will be looking for more by Montanari.
- The Way Of The Shadows – Brent Weeks8th August, 2010This is the first book of the Night Angel Trilogy and an excellent read. Good plot that pushes along at a frantic pace. Interesting characters that hook you and play with you but always keep you wanting to come back when the author switches the focus of the plot. I’d recommend this book to everyone. Well everyone who likes Robin Hobb, JV Jones, Raymond Feist and so forth.
- Shadow’s Edge – Brent Weeks 13th August, 2010As the 2nd of the series I was worried that it wouldn’t stand up to the standard set by the first book. I shouldn’t have been concerned. It rolled along at a cracking pace while developing the existing characters and introducing new ones. I couldn’t put the book down. It followed me about the house and travelled with me to the doctors or when I had to go pick up my wife from work. All too soon I had finished it. Thankfully I had book number three ready and waiting.
- Beyond The Shadows – Brent Weeks19th August, 2010So here we are and I have just, 30 minutes ago, finished the final book in the Night Angel Trilogy. This book started well and overall I did enjoy it. But, a big but, I feel there is something wrong. It will take me a while to nail what it is. The end seems a bit rushed and a bit jumbled with the final chapter being wrapped up a little too neatly. Seems like the author had many ideas but was perhaps up against a deadline which prevented him from fleshing them (ideas) out. I think there could have been a 4th book.
I’ve tried to read the Flashman books before and not been able to get into them. My friend Eric lent me this one knowing that I was temporarily short of something to read. I have read it and I will admit to enjoying it although the style takes a bit of getting used to and it wouldn’t be much of an assumption that I won’t be rushing to read another. However, I did find myself taking side treks to read the copious historical notes provided by Fraser and also an occasional dip into Wikipedia to check up on some item of curiosity.
- Flashman And The Mountain Of Light – George MacDonald Fraser
I’ve wanted to read Patterson for a long time so I thought I would start with the Alex Cross series. My Wife and Granddaughter bought me the first four in the series for Christmas. And earlier this year my Wife bought me the next six.
- Cat and Mouse – James Patterson
- Pop Goes The Weasel- James Patterson
- Roses Are Red – James Patterson
- Violets Are Blue – James Patterson
- Four Blind Mice – James Patterson
- The Big Bad Wolf – James Patterson
- London Bridges – James Patterson 30th July, 2010
Total pot luck selection. My wife and I happened to be in a supermarket browsing the discount books and this box set caught my eye. Read the scree on the cover and thought something along the lines of so Glasgow’s got Taggart, Edinburgh has Rebus lets see what Aberdeen has other than rain. Well according to Stuart MacBride Aberdeen has DS Logan McRae. I have to say that the “Pot Luck Selection” was a good read with plenty of grit liberally sprinkled with humour. Least ways I thought it was funny. I would definitely recommend MacBride and if you are looking for a good read while away on your hols, look no further.
- Cold Granite – Stuart MacBride
- Dying Light – Stuart MacBride
- Broken Skin – Stuart MacBride
- The Gates Of Rome – Conn Iggulden
- The Death Of Kings – Conn Iggulden
- The Field Of Swords – Conn Iggulden
- The Gods Of War – Conn Iggulden
- Triptych – Karin Slaughter
- Wolf Of The Plains – Conn Iggulden
- Lords Of The Bow – Conn Iggulden
- Bones Of The Hills – Conn Iggulden
- Corsair – Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul