Tag Archives: 2star

summer knight

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher

From Goodreads:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him–and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything..

My Rating: ⭐⭐

Although I managed to get to the end I really struggled with this book. The storyline just didn’t work for me. The blend of fantasy and crime investigation just didn’t work, it was just too outlandish and unbelievable. The fantasy element was way off the scale and the frenetic pace of the story hampered my ability to get to grips with anything that was going on. I was just reading it on auto pilot most of the time!

According to Goodreads reviews the series improves a lot from the fourth book so I will keep going with it but after this I would be tempted to give it up.

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the farthest shore

The Farthest Shore by Alex Roddie (Read by Alex Wingfield)

From Audible:

In February 2019, award-winning writer Alex Roddie left his online life behind when he set out to walk 300 miles through the Scottish Highlands, seeking solitude and answers. In leaving the chaos of the internet behind for a month, he hoped to learn how it was truly affecting him – or if he should look elsewhere for the causes of his anxiety.

The Farthest Shore is the story of Alex’s solo trek along the remote Cape Wrath Trail. As he journeyed through a vanishing winter, Alex found answers to his questions, learnt the nature of true silence, and discovered frightening evidence of the threats faced by Scotland’s wild mountain landscape.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I came across this book from a recommendation on Splodz Blogz a couple of weeks ago. Having just finished Wild and watched YouTuber Haze Outdoors’ videos of  walking the Cape Wrath Trail I thought it would be right up my street.

This author and Haze Outdoors definitely seem to be very different characters but I was still surprised by the differences in how the two people approached the walk and their experiences on it. Haze very much camped for the majority of the trail and also immersed himself in the experience, the land and devoted his story to the experience of completing the trail. Roddie on the other hand used this book to talk more about his motivation for walking the trail and his own very personal experience which was more about a changing outlook on life that happened along the trail. He made extensive use of bothies along the trail rather than relying on camping and took almost 3 times as long. That was probably a consequence of the different times of year as much as the different walkers.

As I was expecting more of a trail story I was a bit disappointed by this book. I was expecting and hoping for something more like the aforementioned Wild or even The Last Englishman but didn’t get it. I thought that the book was written more as a way to justify the author’s expedition and to fund the cost of it. Now, that is his career and I can understand the need for it, but I think this was more of a personal journey that didn’t need to be a book. While I have sympathy for his struggles with anxiety I couldn’t help but feel that much of it was either self-imposed by his view of social media or coming from a totally unrelated source. Maybe if I had a similar struggle I could have related and empathised more.

I also struggled with the overly flowery language he used. It reminded me of Steve Backshall’s book Expedition that I eventually gave up on. This author had the same tendency to over describe the most normal of occurrences. Everything seemed to be the most wonderful or the most terrible rather than just depicting it as it was. His occasional forays into a very mystical view of nature and wildlife left me rolling my eyes and tempted to switch off.

This is the author’s second book based on walking The Cape Wrath Trail. It’s possible he didn’t want to rehash the story of the original but for me this approach simply didn’t land. I think I’d like to try his first book though and see what it’s like and how they differ.

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devil in a blue dress

Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins #1) by Walter Mosley

From Goodreads :

In Los Angeles of the late 1940s, Easy Rawlins, a black war veteran, has just been fired from his job at a defense plant. Easy is drinking in a friend’s bar, wondering how he’ll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Monet, a blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I really struggled to get into this book. The storyline didn’t make any sense, the characters were superficial and hard to relate to and it jumped from scene to scene without much coherence. The author and the character get high praise from readers and reviewers so I’ll give leeway for a first book and probably try the next instalment rather than just giving up.

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a reason to kill

A Reason to Kill (Jack Widow #3) by Scott Blade.

From Goodreads:

In Scott Blade’s #1 AMAZON bestselling series, Jack Widow hunts for a missing girl in a race against time that may give him more than one reason to kill.

Former Undercover NCIS cop, now Jack Widow is A Drifter. A Nobody. A Stranger. A Hero.

Jack Widow, the ultimate loner, waits to catch a bus at a Texas station to nowhere in particular. Seated across from him is an elderly woman, clearly in a state of distress. Eight hours ago, her own son, who just got out of prison, abducted her granddaughter and vanished.

Her son, James Hood, is mixed up with the wrong people–powerful people. The kind of people who will kill to protect a deadly secret. Terrified for her granddaughter’s life, she has no one left to trust.

With nowhere to turn, she follows their trail, on her own, toward a border town in South Texas.

After showing Widow a picture of her six-year-old granddaughter, Claire Hood drops dead of natural causes, right at the bus station, right in front of him.

Jack Widow isn’t the kind of guy to let wrongs go. He picks up her bus ticket and takes her place on a quest that will give him a reason to kill.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I have no idea why I keep reading these. The characters are poorly developed, clichéd and the storylines really are terrible with a poor quality of writing that depends heavily on the much better original Reacher series by Lee Childs. I guess they’re like junk food for the brain, the reading equivalent of having dinner in McDonalds!

This also appears to be where the author decided to change characters and jump to the older Jack Widow instead of Cameron Reacher. At least Widow has life experience to justify his abilities and skills.

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taliesin

Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle #1) by Stephen Lawhead

From Goodreads:

It was a time of legend, when the last shadows of the mighty Roman conqueror faded from the captured Isle of Britain. While across a vast sea, bloody war shattered a peace that had flourished for two thousand years in the doomed kingdom of Atlantis.

Taliesin is the remarkable adventure of Charis, the Atlantean princess who escaped the terrible devastation of her homeland, and of the fabled seer and druid prince Taliesin, singer at the dawn of the age. It is the story of an incomparable love that joined two worlds amid the fires of chaos, and spawned the miracles of Merlin…and Arthur the king.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

This is yet another series that I read many years ago. I was reminded of it while reading the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. I remember being impressed with the author back then but having finished this I must have been thinking of his Song of Albion series instead.

This book was hard work. It started off well with two interesting plots developing on Atlantis and Celtic Britain. We get good storylines on Atlantean royal society as well as the Western Celts of Britain. However, it doesn’t last. The two storylines are dummed down considerably, character development becomes pretty non-existent and the two societies are rammed together to create a love story sadly lacking interest or originality.

Mixed in with this is a very self-righteous depiction of Christianity with religion being shoved down the reader’s throat as the only way forward. I found this increasingly annoying and unbelievable within the setting. In the end I was glad to get finished and really not sure if I want to be bothered trying the second one.

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expedition

Expedition by Steve Backshall

From Audible:

Shine a light into the unknown.

There are still dark corners of our planet that are yet to be explored. In this remarkable book, Steve Backshall offers an unflinching account of his adventures into these uncharted territories around the globe, in search of world firsts. Each location brings its own epic challenges – whether it’s the first climb of an arctic ice fall in Greenland, the first recorded navigation of a South American river, or the first exploration of the world’s longest cave system in Mexico. But all of them represent new tests of the limits of human endeavour. 

Accompanying a major 10-part series on BBC and Dave, Expedition is a breathtaking journey into the unknown, and a brilliantly written celebration of the pleasures of genuine discovery.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I had high hopes for this thinking that hearing the book narrated by Steve himself would bring a sense of authenticity to the story and the experiences within it. However, his constant, breathless excitement and constant over exaggeration of even the smallest happenings soon wore out. The quality of the writing is pretty poor and the narration does nothing to help it. He must have set a personal target to use every over the top metaphor possible and exaggerate every description to the nth degree. Nothing was just large, it was gigantic and so on with over descriptive depictions of scenery and conditions on a continual loop. Rather than create excitement it became bland and uninteresting.

I made it through 8 of the 10 expeditions and barely remember anything of them. I do believe that they were true adventures but trying to explore undiscovered places on the modern Earth is surprisingly uninteresting when described in this book. The book was also a BBC TV series and it was probably better in film than print.

A constant irritation was his references to his family, how much he was missing them and how guilty he was that his son was missing him at the very beginning of his life. In one freak kayak accident he almost dies in a rapid. His lamentations about the possible effect of his death made me quite angry. Why the hell expose himself to these dangers and choose to leave home on these extended expeditions if he was worried about the effect on his family! Selfishness of the highest order and absolutely no right to then complain about it.

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winter territory

Winter Territory (Get Jack Reacher #2) by Scott Blade

From Goodreads:

CARRYING REACHER DNA, CAMERON IS ON THE ROAD TO GET JACK REACHER.

Orphaned and alone, Cameron follows in his father’s footsteps until he is pitched neck-deep into a conspiracy that spans from Washington’s most secretive agency to the mountains of Wyoming.

Deep in Northern Wyoming, in the dead of winter, CIA Agent Alex Shepard is desperate. A few days ago, he sent an undercover agent to the Red Rain Indian Reservation. When his man was supposed to check-in, Shepard heard nothing. No report. No communication.

With a major snowstorm fast-approaching, Shepard’s secret mission is in peril. He thinks that his agent is dead. He has no time left. And lives are on the line.

Enter Cameron Reacher–Shepard’s one hope to recover his agent and stop an unthinkable terrorist plot.

Now Cameron will face the harsh, winter elements; a reluctant and beautiful tribal deputy; and a hidden enemy.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

This was a refreshing change for me as the last few books I’ve read have been quite complex in terms of both character and storyline. This certainly isn’t.

Saying that it’s quite poorly written with a weak and implausible storyline full of repetition and great leaps based on intuition more suited to an experienced adult than an 18 year old explained away as genetic memory from a father he never knew.

As with the first book in the series this was reissued a few years later with the adult Jack Widow character. I haven’t been able to get a download of that version but if my previous experience is carried through that may be a better read.

This is an easy read and reminds me of a cross between the 80s versions of The A Team and Magyver. Just forget about believability and quality and go with the flow and you will get the most out of it.

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red rabbit

Red Rabbit (Jack Ryan #2) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

Long before he was President or head of the CIA, before he fought terrorist attacks on the Super Bowl or the White House, even before a submarine named Red October made its perilous way across the Atlantic, Jack Ryan was an historian, teacher, and recent ex-Marine temporarily living in England while researching a book. A series of deadly encounters with an IRA splinter group had brought him to the attention of the CIA’s Deputy Director, Vice Admiral James Greer—as well as his counterpart with the British SIS, Sir Basil Charleston—and when Greer asked him if he wanted to come aboard as a freelance analyst, Jack was quick to accept. The opportunity was irresistible, and he was sure he could fit it in with the rest of his work.

And then Jack forgot all about the rest of his work, because one of his first assignments was to help debrief a high-level Soviet defector, and the defector told an amazing tale: Top Soviet officials, including Yuri Andropov, were planning to assassinate the Pope, John Paul II.

Could it be true? As the days and weeks go by, Ryan must battle, first to try to confirm the plot, and then to prevent it, but this is a brave new world, and nothing he has done up to now has prepared him for the lethal game of cat-and-mouse that is the Soviet Union versus the United States. In the end, it will be not just the Pope’s life but the stability of the Western world that is at stake. . . and it may already be too late for a novice CIA analyst to do anything about it.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I really struggled with this. The writing is slow and ponderous. The storyline has so much potential for excitement and intrigue with the CIA v KGB to bring across a high level defector and based around an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. However, Clancy manages to make it dull and boring.

There is far too much boring detail, far too much to and fro on inconsequential details and far too many characters with minor roles that make it difficult to follow. The main characters are unlikeable. There is a consistent arrogance from everyone towards the culture and traditions of everyone else that gets wearisome very quickly. Ryan and his wife have a particularly condescending attitude towards British life and portray what appears to be a serious personal issue of Clancy’s towards the NHS that is jarring and doesn’t contribute to the story.

The only likeable character in the whole story is Oleg, the Russian defector with a developing conscience around the assassination of the Pope and his desire for a better life for his family.

I struggle to see why this book became a #1 bestseller. I wonder what the competition at the time was?

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the hunt for red october

The Hunt for Red October (Jack Ryan #1) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy’s phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. Lauded by the Washington Post as “breathlessly exciting.” The Hunt for Red October remains a masterpiece of military fiction by one of the world’s most popular authors, a man whose shockingly realistic scenarios continue to hold us in thrall.

Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on…

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I’m sure I’ve read a few of Tom Clancy’s books before but a long time ago. I decided to come back to them off the back of watching the TV show from Amazon. I couldn’t remember any of the story lines so not sure what it’s based on. I’ve also seen the film version of this book a couple of times so had a pretty good idea of the main characters and the storyline.

Overall I was disappointed. There is a huge amount of military jargon used in the story. Some of it is explained but there is just so much of it and so many acrynoms that I couldn’t keep track. Added to that there are an awful lot of characters, most of them minor, which makes it difficult to follow. The story skips about quite a lot which adds to this. Another reviewer described it like “bring your kid to work day” and being dragged around her Dad’s workplace meeting loads of people she didn’t know and in jobs she didn’t understand. I totally understand where she’s coming from!

What saved the book for me (apart from having loads of isolation induced time to spend reading) was the last 30%. Once the US make contact with the sub commander the story really changes. The boring, technical sub chase and evade story is finished and it becomes much more of a standard thriller type story with a military influence. This last bit of the book was enough to make me want to read more of the author and hopefully find out what makes him so popular.

predator

Predator (Kay Scarpetta #14) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Scarpetta, now freelancing with the National Forensic Academy in Florida, digs into a case more bizarre than any she has ever faced, one that has produced not only unusual physical evidence, but also tantalizing clues about the inner workings of an extremely cunning and criminal mind.

She and her team — Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and her niece, Lucy — track the odd connections between several horrific crimes and the people who are the likely suspects. As one psychopath, safely behind bars and the subject of a classified scientific study at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital, teases Scarpetta with tips that could be fact — or fantasy — the number of killers on the loose seems to multiply. Are these events related or merely random? And what can the study of one man’s brain tell them about the methods of a psychopath still lurking in the shadows?

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐

I can’t say I hated this book but I really did dislike a lot about it. Once again it feels badly written. The story has a lot of promise to it, the concept is really good and the killer’s true nature is a good reveal at the end but the author simply develops it badly.

The story starts with a big jump from where the last one left off and there’s no explanation how everyone got to where they did. Marino has turned back into a hateful arsehole and Lucy is off the rails. At least Lucy’s behaviour is explained but that just creates another melodramatic showdown between Kay and Benson that fizzles out before being ignored.

There’s a good buildup in the third quarter of the book that feels like it’s finally going to be a good story but then too much happens too quickly and too many reveals happen too easily with no explanation. With the way Basil’s story was chopped off at the end I’m really struggling to understand the point of his character at all. All the scenes between himself and Benton are simply a waste of the reader’s time.

Some of the investigative sections, particularly with Kay, are really well written and I wish the author would go back to that and forget all the other stuff that she doesn’t seem to be particularly good at.

In my review of Blow Fly #12 I said the following and it pretty much applies here too:

The ending though is terrible! Another reviewer described it as if the author had to go home early and asked her secretary to finish it off for her which is exactly what it feels like – rushed and incomplete and completely unfulfilling.

I have a feeling this may be the end of the road for me with this series.