Category Archives: More Books

Some books I’ve read and enjoyed. You might like them too. I do not accept submissions for review nor discuss books I didn’t like. One man’s meat, and all that…

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I read a good book the other day #6

NB: Watch out for the TV adaptation starting Sunday 15th February 2015 in the UK.
Image: book jacket

Click the image to go to Amazon UK

A tale of corruption in local government with all the shenanigans we see or suspect of our local councillors every day (well, I do, anyway). One side of the argument in the Parish council want to close a drug rehab building that they feel attracts undesirables to the town. The other side, the local doctor and other worthies, side with the undesirables.

Everyone has something to hide. Nobody is innocent. Very few deserve better than they get, but J.K’s portrayal of one character in particular, a damaged teenage girl coping valiantly with life in a sink estate battered from all sides by drug pushers and the sort of mother nobody should be afflicted with (and yet, you can see it’s not all her fault either…), is sympathetic, tragic and very true-to-life.

Read The Casual Vacancy for a better and more profound understanding of what some folks have to put up with in the real world. Well observed, J.K., with some very cutting and insightful lines that certainly made me sit up and think twice. 5/5 stars. I thought it was brill. I hope the UK TV adaptation does it justice.

 

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Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I read a good book the other day #5

Image: book jacket

Click the image to go to Amazon UK

Stop sniggering, you there at the back! I read Fifty Shades wanting to know what all the fuss was about. I was far too shy to go into a shop and actually buy a copy (I’ve led a very sheltered life, y’know), but my big sister lent me hers. I said it was for “research”. It is popular to scoff at Fifty Shades. I’m not going to do that. Leaving aside all the kinky S & M stuff, which doubtless would have held me enthralled when I was fifteen, but which now that I’ve grown up a bit I began to skip after the first two or three bouts, I thought E.L. James did a pretty good job of capturing the “voice” of the heroine, a young woman fresh out of college in the USA beginning to make her way in the world. Of course, I’m not American and neither is E.L. James, so that aspect may not come across so convincingly to a native citizen. The heroine’s encounters with the sort of super-wealthy but weirdly screwed up person I truly hope never to meet may seem unlikely to those of us who live more down-to-earth lives, but E.L James managed to portray the underlying love story convincingly. As to the erotica, I get the impression EL read some contemporary porn (are we supposed to call it erotica these days?) and reckoned she could do better. YMMV but in my opinion she succeeded… um… not, that is, that I’ve read tons of porn to compare, you understand. EL thus invented the new genre of mummy porn, and if I had her brass neck I’d give it a go myself. I’ve only read the first in series.

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Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

I read a good book the other day #4

Book jacket. Click to go to Amazon.co.uk

Click the image to go to Amazon UK


Detective mystery set in the Shetland Isles. Deep family secrets are exposed by the uncovering of a murder during an archaeological dig. I saw the UK TV adaptation and bought the book to compare. Ann Cleeves also writes the Vera Stanhope detective mysteries set in the north east of England. Just the sort of stuff I like: interesting out of the usual settings and down to earth characters and plot. Five stars. Loved it.

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The Wool Trilogy by Hugh Howey

I read a good book the other day #3

Book jacket: The Wool Trilogy

Click the image to go to Amazon.co.uk

Three books in one: WOOL, SHIFT and DUST. Be warned, it’s very, very long… but I still had to read to the end to find out what happened. Isaac Asimov wrote The Gods Themselves, which might have been an apt title for The Wool Trilogy in an ironic sort of way. Deservedly famous. Dystopian future in which all life is deliberately destroyed save a select few hundred thousand who live underground in protective silos. Well thought out logic, except for one or two tiny niggles: an underwater scene for example where, as a sport diver myself I quibbled with the practicalities, but Hugh resolved the issue with an explanation near the end that I had stupidly not seen coming. All Hugh’s characters behave believably. Free of superheroes, zombies and fantasy beyond the fantastical, but frighteningly possible premise on which the whole story rests. I don’t usually buy this genre but enjoyed Hugh’s contribution all the same. Four good stars. Give it a go.

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Site update: re More Books

I read a good book the other day…

Regular readers may notice the new MORE BOOKS item in the menu above. When I started this blog I never intended to offer reviews of other author’s work, and I still don’t intend to do that, at least not in the sense of literary critique. I am not inviting submissions for review nor will I discuss books I did not like. Instead I’m going to tell you about some books I happen to have read and enjoyed. You might like some of them too.

Generally, I’m not going to give much of a précis of the story as many reviewers do. You can perfectly well read the author’s blurb to find that out. I’ll just say what caught my attention. First up to test the system will be a modified version of an old post about Peter May’s THE LEWIS MAN. I’ll add new posts from time to time in my usual haphazard way. Use the RSS feed or the email feed (sidebar, on the right) if you want notice whenever something new is added, and by all means add your own comments at the foot of any page, provided they’re not libellous or otherwise objectionable.

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The End of Winter, by T.D. Griggs

I read a good book the other day #2

So, this is my second book recommendation, and this will be the regular style.

Book jacket: The End of Winter

 

Crime thriller and, in the end, a love story too. What would you do if you came home and found your wife/husband newly dead, murdered, in the house? Phone the police? Sure, and what then? Get arrested on suspicion? No evidence, of course. The police fail to find the real killer. You’re a suspect forever until you uncover the real story, which is not at all what you expected. T.D. Griggs crafted the sort of ending that I really like. The truth is revealed, but T.D. leaves you wondering if you were in the protagonist’s shoes would you do the same? Five stars. Buy it now.

Click the jacket image to go to Amazon.co.uk

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The Lewis Man, by Peter May

I read a good book the other day #1

The Lewis Man book jacket

This might well turn out to be the longest book recommendation I ever make, so make the most of it. I had to tell you about this book at length because it has something in common with my own mystery/romantic suspense series. They share a theme; not the main thrust of the story, but a sub-thread within the story.

Just think for a moment: Are you a Do Your Duty And Look After Your Elders sort of person, or an Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Put The Silly Old Fart’s in a Home And Forget About Them sort of person? In either case it behoves us to think what might be our own fate when we grow old and feeble and begin to suffer from dementia. This might happen to you!

In my books, Enoch is an elderly character who I tried to depict in a very natural sort of way complete with all his frailties, the usual ills of old age both physical and mental: things like constantly wanting the loo and being overwhelmed by a sense of grief and survivor’s guilt for a lost partner. But Enoch is at least still compos mentis, if a little slower of thought than he used to be – all of which is what makes him the “very different detective” of my blurbs.

In The Lewis Man Peter May has brilliantly depicted life for someone who is not only elderly and frail but also trapped in dementia. That’s not what the book is about, mind. The Lewis Man referred to in the title is a body found preserved in the acid peat of the isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides; a bog-body such as has been found all over northern Europe. I don’t want to spoil the plot so I won’t say any more about it, but I wish I had read The Lewis Man before I began writing my first novel, for Peter May has shown me a technique that I might have found useful.*

By adopting the device of Read More →