Books: Simon R Green “Something from the Nightside”

October 12, 2008
Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green was a departure for me.  Not an author I’ve heard of and certainly reading the cover blurb didn’t appeal in any way.  But it was handed to me by someone who has recommended many good books to me (and who owns a bookshop/coffee shop) but this -for me- was a miss.

The basic premise is that there is a parallel supernatural world within London which is permanently night time (actually permenantly 3am) and where people and things come from all kinds of worlds.  That seemed an interesting idea, but I just didn’t find it very well structured, or written or well, interesting.

It was supposed to be a bit of Nior private detective story, but because the private detective was from the Nightside he had a special ‘gift’ which meant that he could find anything or anyone, but it only worked in the Nightside, but he didn’t go to the Nightside any more becuase every time he used his gift he became visible to ‘pople’ who wanted to kill him, but on this occasion the cuase was so great that he did go back to the Nightside and he did use his gift and ‘people’ did try to kill him but his friends….  oh the plot was just a waste of time.

I am intrigued by the concept of the Nightside, but didn’t get into this much – sorry Lou.

Books: Terry Pratchett “The Fifth Elephant”

September 6, 2008

Terry Pratchett‘s “The Fifth Elephant” (5/5)

Another in the series of Pratchett’s books based around Sam Vimes and the City Watch characters.  This, I think, is one for the fans and certainly a book that fits in a series rather than on its own as there are a growing number of characters to keep up with and so are covered only in short sections that are extremely funny if you know the character already (thinking about Corporal Nobby Nobbs and Sergeant Fred Colon but also the relationship between Carrot and Angua).

That said, this is a great story, very funny and introduces lots of new features of these stories.  I really like the way female dwarfs are starting to express their femeninity, or the introduction of signal towers, the Igors and the way warewolfs in human form don’t like words like ‘bath’ and ‘vet’.  Really enjoyed this book and it was a good choice to read something funny for a change.

Books: Stuart Woods “New York Dead”

August 9, 2008

A nice story about how I came to read this book. Back in June I started recording the books I’ve been reading by posting them on the blog (prior to that it was a separate page). The was a good move because I’ve had a few comments including this one:

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.

First of all as a reader of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, (Reacher is a former US Army Military Police Sargent), it was nice to hear from a real former MP who reads them, but also to get a pointer on a new author. However, it seems to be hard to get hold of Stuart Woods books in the UK, but thanks to Amazon marketplace I managed to get hold of a couple and as Mike recommended the Stone Barrington character I started with New York Dead, the first in this series.

Well, at first I found this a little formulaic and like a cleched cop story (even being balled out by their chief and given 24 hours to solve the case), but that is my only criticism of this book which rapidly leaves that behind as Stone Barrington gets obsesed by the case, forced out of NYPD and moves on.

The initial unsolved murder is almost forgotten about as he gets caught up with other things, including the obligatory love affair, yet this and all the other cases that are mentioned almost in passing (thinking of the ‘taxi murders’) are drawn together very well and with solutions and twists that really can’t be seen coming.

The Stone character is well defined and interesting enough to keep the reader interested.  The book does to some extent feel like the start of a series as it establishes so many relationships with media, lawyers and police.

I’ve just ordered the next in this series from another second hand book shop, wish I’d thought about this in time to get a friend just back from the states to pick up a few.

Books: Agatha Christie “The Sittaford Mystery”

July 12, 2008

Agatha ChristieThe Sittaford Mystery

So I wondered into good old Biblocafe feeling like some kind of who-done-it mystery novel and asked for any Agatha Christie and this was the only one in.  It was a pleasant enough book, very much of its genre with lots of characters many of whom could be linked to and have motive for the strange murder that takes place at the start of the book.

A pleasant enough read and no I didn’t have a clue who the murderer was right up to the reveal moment.

Books: Sheba by Jack Higgins

June 25, 2008

[7 days 4/5]

book coverOne day in 2005 I picked up a copy of The Eagle has Landed by Jack Higgins because it was cheap and the film had been on the week before.  Some time after that I read the sequel The Eagle has Flown and then followed a key character from those two books into the excellent Eye of the Storm which is a fictionalised version the events that lead to the 1991 mortar attack on 10 Downing Street.

Eye of the Storm is an excellent book and introduces the character of Sean Dillon who goes on to appear in another 14 stories.  I’ve read most of these and while they sometimes fall into a bit of a formula, they are always good page turners.

So with my recent failure in choosing good books I picked up a random, slightly tattered second hand Jack Higgins book Sheba that has been on my shelf for a while.  This was obviously a stroke of genius as I’ve ripped through this book in a week (which is quick for me by the way) and it was exactly what I needed.  I wouldn’t say it was a work of perfection or a great literary classic but a good bed time thriller.

That the story involved both Hitler and the biblical Queen of Sheba should be enough to gather interest.  Set just before Germany invades Poland in 1939 the action here is set in Arabia’s Empty Quarter I’m not going to explain this, it just does!  With German Spies, smuggling, gun running, tomb raiding, outlaws, plane crashes, love stories and Bedouins this was a nice little read.

Books: Icon by Frederick Forsyth

June 18, 2008

I’m sure I’ve read Frederick Forsyth before and I used to really like cold war / spy type novels which is why I picked this one up.  But I’ve been fairly disappointed with Icon and never really got totally into it.  Simply put I really had to push through this book constantly asking myself why I was bothering and hoping that it would get better.  There was just far too much detail in every little side story, there were so many characters that you got to know and then never reappeared.  Waste of time waste of time waste of time …. or at least is has put me to sleep fairly quickly each night.

Hmm, that’s two books in a row I’ve not enjoyed, and on the side I’m still working thought Final Cut Studio manuals which just aren’t bed time reading :-<

Books: Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

June 4, 2008

May 2008 – Nothing to LoseLee Child

cover image
Disappointed by this. I have really enjoyed all the Lee Child books, his character Jack Reacher has developed over the years in these books and as we find out more about him. In the last book in this series Bad Luck and Trouble Reacher’s old team of comrades came together because some of their number were in trouble. This was a risk in the series as Reacher is a loner, but it worked.

But I was still glad that in this book he was back to being on his own, wondering into a situation and dealing with that situation – the basic format of each story. However, I’m still not sure I understand the outcome and explanation of what that situation was now I’ve finished the book. I think there were too many things going on that really were never resolved. Also, one thing that has happened in all the novels so far is that when Jack Reacher (an ex Army MP) meets some MPs he calls some old favors or identifies himself in some way, yet in chapter 21 of this novel he comes across a combat ready MP unit in the middle of the place he is having all the trouble with and spends the rest of the book coming up with various ideas and scenarios of why they might be there – why doesn’t he just call up some old buddy, or go have coffee with them, let them check out his record and tell him what is going on – well because that would short circuit the narrative, but it doesn’t fit Jack Reacher’s previous behavior. So, for me, this wasn’t a good Jack Reacher novel.

Books: Power Play by Joseph Finder

June 4, 2008

April 2008

Power PlayJoseph Finder


Slow to start crime thriller. Once it did get started this was a good set up and it was difficult to see how the main protagonist could get out of the situation that was set up. So it was an enjoyable read, but the set up involved too many characters who weren’t given any depth, so I didn’t care who in the inner circle may have been the bad guy, so didn’t engage with the ‘who done it’ element.

Books: Moonraker by Ian Flemming

June 4, 2008

March 2008 – MoonrakerIan Fleming

[4/5] 20 days

So far this is my favorite Bond novel simply because it goes into the menutia of a ‘double-0’ agent while back at base between missions and his relationship with M. So far in the novels I’ve read there are no gadgets but this one does have lots of nice cars and car chases but basically it is a simple story of day to day world saving. Very good little read.

Books: Jingo by Terry Pratchett

June 4, 2008

Feb 2008 – JingoTerry Pratchett.

[5/5] 20 days

Still working through the ‘Guards’ stories among Pratchett books this was more of the same and if you like the characters involved it is a good read. Like many of these I tend to flag a little in the middle but the pay off in good belly laughs at the situations created is worth the effort.