Books: What I read in 2007

This information transferred from another page as it fits better here…

  • Dec 2007 – LifeguardJames Patterson & Andrew Gross. [3/5] 23 days
    An interesting proposition to get the main character into an improbable situation and with the somewhat token love interest woven in using the ‘brilliantly tallented and beautiful FBI agent who falls for the bad guy throwing all common sense, training and career out the window…’ trick. This was an ok read but a bit too contrived for me.
  • Dec 2007 – Bad Luck and TroubleLee Child . [5/5] 12 days
    This is the most recent Lee Child novel about the character Jack Reacher. I was first put on to this series back in May 2006 by Lou and now am fully up to date, which means I need to wait for a new book to be written :-( However, this last one was no disappointment. Towards the beginning I thought it might be because it seemed to bring in more of a team and Jack seemed to have lost his desire for independence and the need to drift. It was as if getting together with his old group made him unsatisfied with the way his life had turned out, but I suppose we all face that at times and the way it was resolved through the story line was interesting. Other than that this is another fantastic thriller with lots of “unsolvable” mysteries to keep the reader guessing.
  • Nov 2007 – HoneymoonJames Patterson & Howard Rouchan. [2/5] 8 days
    Another James Patterson book after being introduced to this author again by Lou at Biblocafe. This thriller follows a rich beautiful woman who appears to be getting away with murder, several time over. There is another story woven in, but I didn’t really think much of that because it just wasn’t made relevant enough. This secondary plot seemed only necessary to build towards a sort of epilogue moment which I thought was a waste of time. Overall it was OK, an interesting read, bit of a page turner but hasn’t left a lasting impression.
  • Nov 2007 – Step on a CrackJames Patterson & Michael Ledwidge. [4/5] 9 days
    Nice, fast paced thriller based around a hostage complex situation in New York. It took me a while to get into the style of very short 2-3 page chapters, and I’m not sure how the two main plots of family-man and hostage negotiator. However, the hostage situation was very cleverly done and it was interesting how the author managed to get such rounded characterization in such short chunks.
  • Nov 2007 – In the Hour Before MidnightJack Higgins [2/5] 5 daysI didn’t get into this as much as other Jack Higgins novels I’ve read. Didn’t find the characters as engaging or the action and twists so interesting. An OK quick read but not something I would recommend or read again.
  • Nov 2007 – Moving PicturesTerry Pratchett [5/5] 18 daysI switched away from the Guards series of Pratchett to try out a different style. In this story movies come to Discworld and so there are lots of references to classic movies and early days of Hollywood silent movies (or Holy Wood as it appears in discworld). A good read, with all the usual Pratchett style laughs.
  • Oct 2007 – Feet of ClayTerry Pratchett [5/5]Another book about the Guards of the Watch in Ankh-Morpork. Fantastic! This one was all about golems.
  • Sept 2007 – Harry Potter & the Deathly HallowsJK Rowling [5/5]I took as long as possible to read this book. I stopped and re-read the previous book, I read chapters over in case I missed something. Basically I really enjoyed everything about this book. I’ve enjoyed the Harry Potter phenomenon, both books and movies and this last book was just fantastic. It’s great! I want to read it again already.
  • August 2007 – ImperiumRobert Harris [4/5]I haven’t read any Robert Harris before, but have read a few Roman historical novels such as this. Written from the point of view of Tiro a slave and close companion of Cicero (both real individuals). The book traces some key events in Cicero’s ambitions to become Consul, the highest elected office of the Roman Republic. Basically, this is a book of Roman courtroom and political drama. Well written and with touches of historical detail to bring the ancient City of Rome to life as you read.
  • July 2007 – The Thirty-Nine StepsJohn Buchan.[3/5]Rating this at only 3/5 isn’t a good sign as it is the opening book in a collection ‘The Complete Richard Hannay’ of which The Thirty-Nine Steps is but the first. I picked this up because I know the film(s) of The Thirty-Nine Steps fairly well and thought it would be interesting to see how the main character (Richard Hannay) developed. I will give the next one a try at some point, but found this book a bit ‘plodding’ and the resolution not very satisfying – it just didn’t engage me very much.
  • July 2007 – The Hard WayLee Child. [5/5]

    Another story with Jack Reacher. This starts with Jack sitting in a coffee shop in New York and being approached to help trace a kidnapped woman and her daughter. That they are kidnapped from a leader of elite mercenaries and when the lines between good guys and bad guys becomes blurred it comes down to Reacher to do the right thing and sort out the situation. This story also takes the main protagonists to England which is an interesting change in these books. As always a page turning thriller with interesting twists.

  • July 2007 – The Rough Guide to American Independent FilmJessica Winter. [3/5]Reference style book to many ‘independednt US films’. OK, nice introduction sections and interesting bits.
  • June 2007 – Midnight RunnerJack Higgins. [4/5](8days)Sean Dillon and co’ back to save the world. This plot follows directly from Edge of Danger which I read back in Feb. I am getting a little tired of Jack Higgins writing style, but I still like the format and general pace. In this book a US senator starts to threaten Kate Rashid (the only member of the family from the previous book that Dillon didn’t kill). When the senator’s daughter is killed he looks for revenge. I think these characters are loosing a bit of there sparkle for me, with the same stereotypes and plot markers that say ‘now is the time for the London gangster cheeky chappy to get involved’ and ‘now it time for the trip to Ireland to remind us that Dillon is exIRA’ but for a simple thriller with known characters it hasn’t been a bad read and I did still give it 4/5 before thinking too hard about it.
  • June 2007 – Live and Let DieIan Fleming . [3/5](10days)Bond books (at least these early ones) are very different from the Bond we know from the movies. This is just a simple crime novel with James against an organized crime boss. This book is dated and uses what was presumably acceptable terms which we now view as non-PC and offensive. That aside this is a good story with some nice details and twists.
  • May 2007 – Hell is Always TodayJack Higgins . [3/5](5days)I first Higgins book I read was “The Eagle Has Landed“, and then I started on the Sean Dillon series. However I spotted this ‘three bestsellers in one volume’ by Jack Higgins in Biblocafe and this is the first book in that set. It was an OK read but didn’t really grab me. A straight forward little murder mystery and a quick read.
  • May 2007 – One ShotLee Child . [5/5](9days)Jack Reacher’s investigative genius, armed and unarmed combat, police knowledge and just about everything else is stretched again in this story. In the opening act we see a snipper taking out five random people in a city center and the local police picking up all the forensic evidence and catching the bad guy. The bad guy won’t talk to anyone other than Jack Reacher only that doesn’t make any sense as Jack wants this guy put away more than anyone else. Classic Lee Child drawing up all the details of impossible situations for Jack to get out of, great page turner.
  • April 2007 – 24/7Jim Brown . [5/5](9days)Another top recommendation from Lou at Biblocafe! 24/7 is a reality TV show where people are isolated on an island and voted off by the public (sound familiar?). As the show opens, however, it is taken over by a mystery bad-guy who releases a virus into the area. The cameras continue to roll, no one can come help them (for various reasons – read the book I’m not going in to it) and the contestant the public phone for most will be evicted – by not receiving the daily antidote and dying. Not so much twists and turns, just an impossible situation where the reader just can’t figure out how to save the protagonists. Very good read, and sort of thought provoking.
  • April 2007 – The Riddle of the SandsErskine Childers . [0/5](25days)The Riddle of the Sands is the most boring book I’ve read and stuck to all the way through. It still turned out to be boring. It is apparently a classic and was no doubt ahead of its time; I still thought it was boring. If you enjoy sailing it may have been fractionally more interesting but basically it is boring so forget it. I fell asleep every time I tried to read it that it seemed to take forever. If you want to know what happens email me and save yourself the time.
  • Mar 2007 – The Interpretation of MurderJed Rubenfeld [4/5](12days)An enthralling murder mystery thriller in a historical setting. With the backdrop of Sigmund Freud’s only visit to America landing in New York in 1909. With details of high society, detective work, and psychoanalysis this book weaves together arguments from this early science with a very clever who-done-it. The intellectual arguments between key characters and gradual analysis of Hamlet could easily get in the way of the story but somehow the author has managed to make this work. As with any work of fiction which includes real people or events it is interesting to find out how much is true and all is reveled at the end of this book. Well worth the read.
  • Mar 2007 – The EnemyLee Child [5/5](8days)Another in the Jack Reacher series I’ve been working my way through. I was aiming to slow down on these to make the series last but I have been looking forward to this one. We first meet Jack Reacher in The Killing Floor (published 1998) when he is wandering around the US shortly after leaving the army he grew up in and has never known any other kind of life. His father was army, he joined up, became an MP and reached the rank of Major. Through the first 7 novels in this series we find out little about Reacher’s past, but a lot about the man himself, how he thinks, the physical and analytical skills he has. This book at last revels some of the secrets of his past. It is the prequel set in Jack Reacher’s final days as a Major in the Military Police and tells of the investigation that ultimately made him decide to leave the only world he had ever known. A very good who-done-it thriller.
  • Mar 2007 – Force of EaglesRichard Herman [5/5](5days)A quick and non-challenging read. You get exactly what you expect in what I think is called a “techno-thriller”. This was published in 1990 and is based around the rescue of US prisoners being held in Iran. The action shifts between the POWs, political posturing among the military and the commanders who will actually carry out the rescue. The term ‘techno-thriller’ (and I really should go look this up, I’ll re-edit if I find out I’m making it up) refers to the amount of technical background detail on aircraft, military equipment, rules of engagement, etc. that are included in this type of story. I found it interesting and the details weren’t overwhelming. A good story, well paced and certainly a page turner I couldn’t put down.
  • Rejected – A Clockwork OrangeAnthony Burgess. started this and struggled through three chapters before deciding that the made up language was just a pain in the ass and not some clever ‘device’ it got in the way of the narrative which was fairly boring anyway. Can’t see how this is considered a classic?
  • Feb 2007 PersuaderLee Child [4/5](9days)This was a nice well-paced read. The only thing that spoiled it for me was that it was written in ‘first person narrative’ (I think) i.e. everything from the main character, Jack Reacher’s point of view. This would be OK only it is the 7th book in this series and the first to do this. I found it very distracting at first as the ‘thoughts’ weren’t the way that I thought of the character as thinking – if you see what I mean. That aside a very good thriller where Reacher spots a man who should have been dead for 10 years, does some digging and goes undercover with an ‘off the books’ DEA operation to find the guy and bring about Jack Reacher style ‘justice’
  • Feb 2007 99 Ways to Tell a Story by Matt Madden [5/5]An interesting Exercises in Style based on the original work by the French writer and poet Raymond Queneau the idea is to take a simple story (in this case a one-page 8 frame comic) and tell it in 99 different ways, some obvious, some very obscure, abstract, strange and funny. A nice book worth referring to for ideas and inspiration.
  • Feb 2007 Edge of DangerJack Higgins [3/5](9 days)Another in a series of Jack Higgins books following the same characters, nice, fast pasted simple thriller that doesn’t involve too much thought. Here the adversaries are a family who’s mother is English aristocracy and father an Arab tribal leader. So the siblings are rich and powerful with strong older brother. When their mother is killed and their power in Hazar is threatened by US and Russian oil interests the brother decides to try to assassinate – well, everyone really. Which is how Sean Dillon and co’ get involved. OK, book not sure how it would stand alone if you haven’t read the others in the series.
  • Feb 2007 Men at ArmsTerry Pratchett [4/5](15 days)I’m following the Pratchett books about the guards. I like the characters and will probably read more Pratchett stuff, but this seems as good a way of getting into them as any other. So this story follows on from Guards! Guards! ] where the Night Watch defeated a dragon. Here, Vimes is about to retire and marry when a ‘gonne’ is stolen and people start to get killed. There is lots more about Carrot in this book and the night watch expands to include dwarfs, trolls and undead. Very funny in parts but dragged a little in the middle for me.
  • Jan 2007 The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold [3/5](15days)Another “quick give me a book” solution supplied by Lou at Biblocafe. The story is a little dark at times for the obvious reason that it is based around the story of a girl murdered at 14. From then on we are told the story of the friends, family and neighbours affected by her death or tied into it (including the murderer), all from the point of view of the girl watching from her afterlife. It is an interesting unfolding narrative with touching details. I did find some elements a little disturbing but can’t put my finger on why, a good read but not ‘fun’.
  • Jan 2007 Danger in the ShadowDee Henderson [1/5](6days)This is the prequel to the O’Malley Series. The plot is about Sara, who was kidnapped at the age of 6 along with her sister, say the kidnapers face and has been hunted by him ever since. She is under constant FBI protection and the head of her security team is her brother Dave. She meets Adam, they fall in love, procrastinate FOREVER with repeated spelling out of the obvious until at last the bad guy is caught and you can stop reading. I’ve read the O’Malley series 1-3 and have bought 4-6, but thought I should get this prequel out of the way as Dave is one of the leading characters in the first book (The Negotiator). My advice is to give this a miss, the story drags, characters are alright but really it is just very slow!
  • Jan 2007 Without FailLee Child [5/5](15days)Jack Reacher doing his thing this time helping out the Secret Service Vice Presidential Protection team (and ex girlfriend of his dead brother). Jack is pulled in to ‘audit’ the level of protection and is then told of specific threats to the VP. In this novel Jack calls on another ex-military police colegue Neagley (who it would be nice to know more about and might come into future books). There is the usual slow rolling out of details some of which the reader can pick up on but most come as a surprise. Very good read – a bit sad.

One Response to Books: What I read in 2007

  1. Mike Austing says:

    Graham, if you’re “in to” action, might I suggest Stuart Woods “Stone Barrington” novels. I’m currently reading “Shoot Him If He Runs”, an ongoing adventure with the cast of characters seeking a former CIA bad guy.

    I’ve read all the Reacher novels also and find them very good. As a former US Army Military Police Staff Sergeant, there’s been a few technical errors but, all in all, he’s right on the money.

    Mike Austing
    Dennison, Ohio

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