Tag Archives: 3star

the 29th day

The 29th Day – Surviving A Grizzly Attack by Alex Messenger

From Audible:

A 600-mile canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness is a 17-year-old’s dream adventure, but after he is mauled by a grizzly bear, it’s all about staying alive.

This true-life wilderness survival epic recounts 17-year-old Alex Messenger’s near-lethal encounter with a grizzly bear during a canoe trip in the Canadian tundra. The story follows Alex and his five companions as they paddle north through harrowing rapids and stunning terrain. Twenty-nine days into the trip, while out hiking alone, Alex is attacked by a barren-ground grizzly. Left for dead, he wakes to find that his summer adventure has become a struggle to stay alive. Over the next hours and days, Alex and his companions tend his wounds and use their resilience, ingenuity, and dogged perseverance to reach help at a remote village a thousand miles north of the US-Canadian border.

The Twenty-Ninth Day is a coming-of-age story like no other, filled with inspiring subarctic landscapes, thrilling riverine paddling, and a trial by fire of the human spirit.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

A fascinating story of a once in a lifetime adventure that goes incredibly wrong. The story provides background to the trip and builds up through the journey until the bear attack and then follows the aftermath and his fight to reach safety, supported by his friends.

With stories like this I’m always amazed by the detail of recall. He creates a vivid picture of the Tundra wilderness and what it is like to explore there and the challenges they faced travelling by canoe. However, the detailed recall of the bear attack was astounding considering how quickly it all must have happened and the shock he experienced afterwards. It did make me wonder if it was embellished a bit but I’m taking it at face value.

The remoteness of their location and the actual wilderness of the area they were travelling through was really brought home in the immediate period after the attack. These teenage boys showed remarkable courage and perseverance to support and care for their injured friend and get him to safety.

Where the audiobook falls down is the narration. The author chose to narrate his own story and it’s a good example why it’s a good idea to employ a professional reader. He has a strong, pleasant voice but reads in a flat monotone with no variation for emotion. The story would have been so much more gripping if read in a way that reflected the experiences being described. However, it’s still very much worth a listen.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

the american

The American (Ryan Kealey #1) by Andrew Britton

From Goodreads:

At thirty-three, Ryan Kealey has achieved more in his military and CIA career than most men can dream of in a lifetime. He’s also seen the worst life has to offer and is lucky to have survived it. But being left alone with his demons is no longer an option. The CIA needs him badly, because the enemy they’re facing is former U.S. soldier Jason March.

Ryan knows all about March–he trained him. He knows they’re dealing with one of the most ruthless assassins in the world, a master of many languages, an explosives expert, a superb sharpshooter who can disappear like a shadow and who is capable of crimes they cannot begin to imagine. And now, March has resurfaced on the global stage, aligning himself with a powerful Middle East terror network whose goal is nothing less than the total destruction of the United States.

Teaming up with beautiful and tenacious British-born agent Naomi Kharmai, Ryan intends to break every rule in order to hunt down his former pupil, whatever the cost to himself. As Ryan puts together the pieces of a terrifying puzzle, and as the elusive March taunts him, always staying one step ahead, he discovers the mad man’s crusade is personal as well as political and Ryan himself is an unwitting pawn.

With the clock ticking down and the fate of the country resting uneasily on his shoulders, Ryan is caught in a desperate game of cat-and-mouse with the most cunning opponent he’s ever faced, one who will never stop until he’s committed the ultimate act of evil a man who is all the more deadly for being one of our own.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

An interesting debut novel and pretty well written. It is heavily influenced by the many CIA novels set during the Cold War but set against the backdrop of modern terrorism and America’s conflicts with Middle Eastern states.

While it was well written I found it pretty unoriginal. It was like he was following a successful but predictable formula. Although there was nothing surprising in the plot I look forward to seeing how the author develops and how he develops the main character as the series progresses.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

the searcher

The Searcher by Tana French

From Goodreads:

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The author has written a few books before this one but this is a standalone book. It’s my first time reading her stuff and over all I enjoyed it. The relationship between Cal and Trey is well done and they are excellent focal characters for the story. The supporting characters of Mart, Noleen and Lena are also good although Mart’s country shtick gets a bit irritating at times.

The storyline was a good concept with Cal being reluctantly dragged into investigating the disappearance of Trey’s brother. However, the lack of material being based in a small rural village meant that it became a bit repetitive and dragged on occasion as the author seemed to struggle to move the story forward.

This was good enough to make me want to read more by this author. She has a series based around a murder squad based in Dublin that sounds interesting.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

where’s the next shelter?

Where’s the Next Shelter? written and read by Gary Sizer

From Audible:

Where’s the Next Shelter? is the true story of three travelers on the Appalachian Trail, a 2,000-mile hike that stretches from Georgia to Maine, told from the perspective of Gary Sizer, a seasoned backpacker and former marine who quickly finds himself humbled by the endeavor. He teams up with Megan, a sassy college grad whose indomitable spirit eclipses her lack of experience; and Lemmy, a cartoonist from overseas whose off-kilter commentary on the wonders and frustrations of the trail keeps everyone laughing.

Sprawling through the woods and towns of the Appalachian Mountains, the trail carries the trio through real and fanciful ups and downs ranging from hilarious to perilous. Much more than an orderly account of mountaintops and meals, this book is an adventure about friends figuring things out as they go. It’s about screwups and solutions, awe and inspiration.

If you long for the horizon or to sleep under the stars, then come along for the hike of a lifetime. All you have to do is take the first step.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Yes, yet another audiobook on long distance hiking and my second in a row on the AT! This one took a bit of getting used to. The author reads his own story and he reads at a speed that is slightly too fast for comfortable listening. He also has a slightly irreverent attitude that while novel means quite a lot of swearing. Hearing fuck in an audiobook conversation while not shocking is kind of jarring and I was nearly at the end before I was getting used to it.

A consistent element of the story style is the author recounting conversations as they happen and verbatim. I find it difficult to believe that he was able to recall so many conversations over such a long period of time and almost a year after finishing the trail.

Sizer himself is an interesting character and I found his friendship and relationship with other hikers and trail angels really well written and described. In particular his special relationship with Voldemort (Megan) and Lemmy is particularly enjoyable.

Another good depiction of the AT and I found it particularly interesting how Sizer’s description was different to that of David Miller’s while still staying so similar in many ways.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

awol on the appalachian trail

Awol on the Appalachian Trail written by David Miller and read by Christopher Lane

From Audible:

In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. Listeners are treated to rich descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the rewards of taking a less conventional path through life. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about hiking gear and planning. This is not merely a travel guide; it is a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man’s journey and the insights gained by abandoning what is comfortable and routine.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I listened to this straight after “Journeys North” and I think it would have been more enjoyable with a gap between the two. It’s also the very first AT based audiobook for me and it seems that the PCT is a much more diverse adventure and also seems to attract a more interesting participant. This means that while the author is interesting and has his own good back story those around him seem less so. Again this could be due to comparing everyone to Journeys North.

I did enjoy the writing style of the story which kept it tipping along at a steady pace. He also provided a lot of information about the AT itself and I felt that I knew it much better at the end compared to Bill Bryson’s book which was more about his experience than the actual trail.

At a similar age to the author I found great admiration for how he was able to recognise the way his career was affecting his mental health and happiness and was able to change the script of his life with the incredible support of his wife. I was really glad he filled us in at the end on how he returned to real life once again.

My only regret with this book is that I should have listened to it before Journeys North.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

gallows view

Gallows View (Inspector Banks #1) by Peter Robinson

From Goodreads:

A Peeping Tom is frightening the women of Eastvale; two glue-sniffing young thugs are breaking into homes and robbing people; an old woman may or may not have been murdered. Investigating these cases is Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, a perceptive, curious and compassionate policeman recently moved to the Yorkshire Dales from London to escape the stress of city life. In addition to all this, Banks has to deal with the local feminists and his attraction to a young psychologist, Jenny Fuller. As the tension mounts, both Jenny and Banks’s wife, Sandra, are drawn deeper into the events. The cases weave together as the story reaches a tense and surprising climax

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Enjoyable story and a very good first book from this author. It reminded me very much of Peter James’s Roy Grace character although his home life is very different. This book came from a recommendation. I can’t remember who but thank you for doing so as I have a feeling this series and character will develop further and get better as they grow.

I did find the first half a bit slow going but once the strands of the cases began to come together the story really picked up and I found it hard to put down. Don’t give up if the same happens to you, it’s worth sticking it out.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

into the out of

Into The Out Of by Alan Dean Foster

From Goodreads:

An ancient evil…

They’re small and dark–and as elusive as a shadow under your bed or an unexplained creak in the night. But the shetani are beings of awesome power, a swarm of spirits stealing into our world from the Out Of to destroy the very fabric of reality.

A modern menace!

Only one man sees the growing danger. Olkeloki, an elder of the Maasai people, an African laibon with the knowledge to fight the shetani both in this world and its bizarre counterpart. But he must have help from two others if he is to stem the deadly tide–U.S. government agent Joshua Oak, a man all too used to combat, and Merry Sharrow, a courageous young woman braving demons of her own. Together, they must invade the very heart of a nightmare and–as spell-cast mayhem causes one earthly crisis after another–defeat the shetani in their own terror-strewn world

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This was one of the first science fiction stories that I ever read and it really gave me a hunger for more. That was in my mid teens (late ’80s) and I have been wanting to read it again for quite some time now. I recently came across a digital version and added it to my reading list.

After more than 35 years of reading science fiction, fantasy and horror I found this early example of the genre quite dated. It starts well with an interesting concept, good characters and a good storyline. However, the second half of the book very quickly runs out of steam and becomes quite dull. There was huge scope for creating an alternative world (the out of) but it’s as if the author created a concept that he didn’t know how to handle and ended up with a poor shadow of the potential. With this he also lost grip of the characters and they quickly lost depth as well as my interest.

Despite its poor aging it was still worth a read even just for sentimentality but there are many better books out there that I’d recommend instead.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

northern lights

Northern Lights (US: The Golden Compass) (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman

From Goodreads:

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is very much a teen/young adult book and I didn’t expect to give it much of a rating seeing as I’m a long way away from the target audience. The characters and storylines are quite simplistic in how they jump around with little development in between scenes but at the same time they are complex enough to challenge a younger reader.

I found the closeness to reality with the society, locations and technology almost like ours but subtly different, a bit jarring. I couldn’t get comfortable with it. In addition the concepts of daemons and sentient polar bears was just way off for me. With both being central to the story I found them both a constant niggle.

Some of the characters were very interesting though. I particularly liked the gyptians (even if the clan style society was a little over simplified) and the society of scholars that raised Lyra in Oxford. Lord Asriel was a complex and dark character that I wouldn’t expect to see in a book for such a young audience.

SPOILER: the plotline of removing the daemons from the children in order to harness the released energy was very original though and really saved this book for me as well as the concept of crossing into the parallel universe to change the current one. I think I’ll probably give the second book a go just to see what happens next.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

grave peril

Grave Peril (Harry Dresden #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.

Harry Dresden has faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you’re the only professional wizard in the Chicago-area phone book.

But in all Harry’s years of supernatural sleuthing, he’s never faced anything like this: The spirit world has gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble – and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone – or something – is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc. But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn’t figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself….

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The previous books were very much detective stories with a little bit of a fantasy twist. This one is very much a fantasy/horror with a mystery twist. It’s pretty full on with demons, faeries, vampires and magic. I did find it very enjoyable though. I particularly like the way the author treats magic and the magical world with a certain level of contempt. There’s no perception of magic as something wondrous or other worldly, it’s just mundane, slightly above ordinary and something that’s likely to go wrong.

I really enjoyed the depiction of the vampires and especially the various “courts” and how they use different techniques to subdue and consume their victims.

Where I have a problem with this book is the character Michael and the events that brought Harry and him together. There’s a whole back story here that’s missing. I have checked at least 3 times to see if I skipped a book by accident. There is so much missing here and so much that is assumed the reader knows that it makes the story difficult to follow and creates a sense of uncertainty. It knocked at least one star off my rating.

Overall it’s a really good book, I’d just like to have been given a chance to read how Harry and Michael met and came to be working together.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

a small weeping

A Small Weeping (DCI Lorimer #2) by Alex Grey

From Goodreads:

When a murdered prostitute is found in a Glasgow train station, DCI Lorimer is perplexed by the ritualistic arrangement of her body. It isn’t long before there is another murder and he realises there’s no time to waste if he is to stop Glasgow’s latest serial killer.


A taut, suspense-filled thriller, A Small Weeping takes the reader on a gripping journey from the inner city to the wilds of the Scottish Isles, and far into the darkest depths of human nature.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Much better than the first book by this author but still has a long way to go to live up to the prolific glowing critiques of how good this author is. The storyline is pretty predictable although I did like the introduction of Phyllis and the background of the clinic, that was very original.

I think I will stick with her as the story does show promise. I do hope Lorimer’s marriage doesn’t become a distraction though, it’s a bit odd how it’s being dealt with.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels