Sunday, 24 April 2011

Kate Adie - Finally finished

Its a miracle!

Kate Adie - The Kindness of Strangers

Lets begin by saying, Take some time, and read this book.
Pertinent, relevant, and fully engaging.

Kate Adie, seems to live a life a little like a butterfly in a Hurricane. Constantly thrown around by external forces ( The BBC and War). We see Kate travel across the globe, flitting from war torn crisis to war torn crisis. Constantly fleeing from death, bombs, snipers, crazy military and coup's... and generally everything. Oh, and drinking wine...

Having watched various news reports you get a snap shot of a crisis, and a few pictures.. you a get a feel that war is pretty much organised and fits into neat sound bites.
Kate's autobiography largely gives you the feeling that its a miracle that any news reports actually happen, and that more news reporters don't get killed in action. Chaos..

Kate also constantly underplays her own role in these events... Anyone made of less stern stuff would have legged it very early on in her career... Just having the commitment to voluntarily stay in these war zones, and tell these stories is frankly amazing.

I watched the news tonight - and was left wondering about the back story. What didn't we see? That is what the Kate Adie book has left me with. What can't we be shown? Not due to censorship - but due to time constraints, or editorial policy. And thinking a little more is never a bad thing...

Now, was it a good book... Hmmmm... has taken me a long time to read - a very long time, and has been quite hard work. This is despite the subject matter being fascinated.

What I struggled with was the sense of story.. There was no obvious narrative journey. Each of the events, and there were hundreds of stories - all jumble together to form a morass. Kate does seem to live her life like a butterfly in a hurricane, and in my opinion writes the same way.
Worth a read, very worth the time, just a little tougher than I expected.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Taking 5 minutes+ Game of Thrones

The sun is shining, I've eaten my porridge, and now taking 5 minutes out from life to update my much neglected blog.

Currently Kate Adie's autobiography is killing my reading. I mean I like the book, really I do! Its fascinating, and interesting and everything.

Just a really slow read....

However.... A quick recommedation...

The Game of Thrones (Songs of Fire and Ice), George RR Martin

Its been years since I read this, probably 5 or more....
However this is the most brutal fantasy series you are likely to ever read, with some of the best and harshest characters you will ever read about.

This is epic reading, that pulls no punches at all. The Lannisters are truly vicious, the Starks are completely flawed heroes, and everyone betrays everyone. Great Writing, absorbing, just not for the faint hearted.

So, last night I watched episode 1 of the TV adaptation on Sky Atlantic.

I watched with some trepidation... I hated the TV versions of the Terry Pratchett stuff - they just lacked the speed and the comedy of the books, feeling like an over laboured attempt at TV fantasy.

Would Game of Thrones be the same? Well.... um... I don't think so. It followed the story well, didn't seem too cheesy ( although Cat seemed older than I expected from the books) and the characters seemed to be well represented. As I watched the story came flooding back, and i increasingly felt sorry for all the characters as they emerged. None of them have much fun ahead of them. Especially not the children....

I'm sticking with the series - first viewing looks positive - and I enjoyed it. Could be the next best thing on TV. Still - if your easily offended, I would leave well alone.

Interestingly the books haven't been finished yet... I've been waiting for some years for this to come to an end... Maybe this year will see it written..

Monday, 21 March 2011

And two more

I always find that a little light travelling tends to speed up my reading, and consequentially a trip over to Belfast last week helped me consume at least one extra book!

Incidentally, I have also managed to tick off one of those life events that everyone should try and do.
1) Drink Guinness in Ireland
2) Go to Ireland for St Patricks day
3) Drink Guinnessin Ireland on St Patricks day.

I can now tick this off my life list, and if I die tomorrow, Je ne rien pas.
As I think they say.

So onto Books

The Woods. Harlen Coben

This is now the third Harlen Coben book that I have reviewed, and as a consequence, I now realise his motif.

OMG! Someone in the past is dead! I used to be a suspect!
A series of unexplained events mean that we dig up the past ( In this case literally)
Nothing, and no one are quite what they seem!
Even when you think they are!
One more twist and everything is solved... or is it....

Classic, and somewhat entertaining detective fiction. On reflection, you could easily see this spun into a 90 minute TV movie.... although judging by Tell No One... ( see the plot synopsis above) it could be the next big thing to go and watch at the cinema!
Worth a read, if you're not looking to be stretched too far..

One Shot. Lee Childs

Firstly, i want to blame my Mum for my recent bout of detective crime reading. Last Christmas she bought me 61 hours, at the time the latest of the Jack Reacher novels.
Now in fairness, I wouldn't put me down as enjoying a book about an ex military policeman, now living on the road. he doesn't really solve crimes, rather he stumbles into crimes and eventually kills everyone involved.
It explains why he is on the road.

One shot must be the 8th ish book in the series, and I'm nearly up to date. As much as I hate to admit it, I really enjoy this series. I read them on planes, for some reason, and i can finish a book in a 3-4 hr return flight.
They are great! Just a bit rougher, more action packed than Harlen Coben's and the crimes are just a bit less formulaic. Sure every book pretty much ends up in a Mexican stand off, but so do most of my days..

Well recommended. Again, don't expect to be challenged too much, however, good to read.
Go find a copy.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Rebus and More - the missing Blog

Just checking my Blog to find I'm writing some things then not posting them!

d'oh...This was written a month or so ago, and saved as a Draft!!!!!

Rebus and More

This year I continue on my quest to review - in my own particular style, all the books I read this year.

Two more to add to the list this time.... Firstly:

Knots and Crosses Ian Rankin

This is the first in the Inspector Rebus series, the best selling, world acclaimed Scottish detective series. Personally, I've never read any of them - actually - thats not strictly true, I found one in a charity shop on holiday some years ago. I don't even remember what it was called. It was alright!

Ok - not a glowing, or detailed review. This however prompted my quest to read all of the books in chronological order. I'm doing the same with the Lee Childs books as well - although they have taken a bit of a back burner so far this year. probably after over dosing on them in the latter half of 2010.

Anyway - I'm sure I'll write about those as the year continues. Back to the point.

Knots and Crosses, Ian Rankin.

This is a book to give heart and hope to all would be writers. Anyone who has ever dreamt that one day they would see their book critically acclaimed, and sitting in the top ten list in Waterstones should read this book.

Knots and crosses is a very average, and uninspiring Scottish detective thriller. Its quite a slow read,it doesn't really engage you as the reader, and ultimately is pretty disappointing. It soo very 1980's content. Which is fine, since it was 1987.

So take heart budding authors.... from such humble beginnings came the legend that is Rebus. Read it and take heart.

The Final Empire. Brandon Sanderson

I suppose, for me, reading and reviewing crime fiction is slightly unfair, since my first love will always be epic fantasy. Give me a book with a hero and a magic sword, and I'm happy. The longer the better.

Earlier in the year, I read the Towers of Midnight,the latest in the Robert Jordan series. As you may know, Robert Jordan tragically died a few years back, and Brandon Sanderson took the series over using Robert Jordan's extensive notes. I'd been a massive Fan of the series since I was 15, and was very impressed by Sanderson's handling of the series. This Journey led me to The Final Empire.

This is the first book in the Mistborn trilogy

The Final Empire is a very interesting book - it has a wealth of elements which are embedded in traditional fantasy law - the Heroine, raised by strangers, who discovers that she has immense magical powers. The all powerful dark lord who is general evil, omnipotent and a bit unpleasant. The quirky crew of misfits bought together to save the day.

Yet, Brandon employs some nice, refreshing devices. The Allomancy - a magic system that attributes magical powers with the ingestion and "burning" of metal Alloys to create powers is really interesting.
He is also not afraid to be bold, and there are some strong idea twists - some which are bold, all of which are clearly signposted.

Well worth a read. Going off to find the next book now...

Monday, 14 February 2011

Since its Valentines Day.... always worth keeping love alive.

A Wedding Vow

Every now and then, when I look at you
I can’t help but grin.
You’re just so gorgeous it takes my breath away.
My heart hammers in my chest
And I lose my concentration
I can’t seem to remember just exactly what it was that I was really trying to um say..
And I stop
And I breath
And I look at you
And I grin
Because you are just so fine.

You see, it turns out you fit me
Like a glove.
You fix the parts that I never knew were broken,
You fill the gaps that I didn’t know were there
You’re the Tick to my Tock
The hope in my Pandora’s box,
You’re the reason to my Rhyme,
And the lipstick for my kisses…

Your My soul mate,
My love
My friend,
My everything.
And I grin again.

I’m going to marry you today.
I’m going to grin when you say ‘I do’
I’m going to hold your hand,
I’m going to look into your eyes,
And I’m going to carry on falling in love with you
Again, and Again and Again and Again and Again
I Love You.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Ok, so I'm still reading...

Let me update you with what I have read, and what i have thought about it....

Simon Pegg Nerd Do Well.

I've been a fan of Simon Pegg's since Spaced. First time round and everything.
Genius show in every way shape and form.... although the arty episode was perhaps a little overly quirky... If you haven't see it have you been living in a cave?
Although if you have.... congrats on getting broad band. Probably a 3g dongle would work...
Anyway...where was I? Ah yes... Simon Pegg... I'm a fan.
So... I put his autobiography on my Christmas list, and Santa dropped it down the chimney.

And I really struggled with it... really struggled.

I struggled mainly because nothing much happens..... and Simon doesn't really tell us anything when stuff does happen. Its probably a sign that he's a bit young to reveal anything significant, and also that he is guarded about revealing anything really interesting in his life. No problem with that he admits this as part of the prose however - It just left me a little cold. It was also a little poncy at times. Although possibly Nerdy is the right word... And, his random fiction with Canterbury is kind of bad.

Highly not recommended. With Regret.
Watch his movies instead.... Go watch Paul, it looks good :)

Play Dead. Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is an American author who I discovered when I won a copy of Caught through Waterstones via Twitter.
Tenuous. Yes.

Play Dead is a very standard fair "who done it" set in the US, and follows the story of a beautiful couple ( she is a successful millionaire and he is the best basket ball player in the world.) They elope to Australia to secretly marry... and tragically he drowns...

Or so we all think.....

OK. Its twisty, its turny... is he dead, is he not dead... if he's not dead, why is he not dead...

The story spins on a couple of horribly implausible events, and plot devices. Some of them come as a surprise, and some of the surprises turn out to be fakes.

Ultimately some of the devices employed here really ruin the book, making it an Ok read for a plane journey, and that is about all.

Very Average. Although amusingly stupid at times.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/The Girl who played with Fire/The Girl who kicked a Hornets Nest.
Steig Larsson

I finished the third in the Millennium trilogy yesterday.
Completely Amazing.

Now, this is not a series for the faint hearted, there are some very graphic scenes within it - both of a violent and sexual nature ( 18) I would suggest. However this is such a beautifully crafted work that it is fully worth the read, and in fairness, all the hype.

Lisbeth Salander is a brilliant character - A socially inept genius, abused by the state and exceptionally cynical of all authority.

Mikael Blomkvist is a steady journalist - A promiscuous investigator who thrives on exposing corruption.

Together (ish) the series follows their story that exposes the truth about Lisbeth Salander, and all that this brings.

It is a great series of books, and well worth the read. If you don't own them, go buy them.
If you do own them - Read them!

Really Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

You don't have to BLOG everyday to keep it alive

No Blog for the last months. as I have been a little tied up of late.

My Grandad died recently, I did try and Blog about his last few weeks but I struggled quite a lot to try and find the words. Unusual for me...
However, once he died, I put together a poem which I read yesterday at his funeral.

So this post is dedicated to my Grandad, Terry West.

Funny Grandad

Is Grandad still driving in Heaven?
Its just a little thing I'm wondering.
And also
Did Grandad really shoot rabbits?
And pheasants?
And while I'm at it. Did he actually catch that big fish that hung above the fire place in the cottage. And whatever happened to that anyway?
I don't know.

I believe he did.
I imagine its true.
I wish I'd asked him.

In my mind, I can see him with a shotgun in hand
Poised patiently
Waiting in the woods,
Hunting for dinner.

I can see him standing by the river bank,
Wrestling that enormous pike on to dry land,
Then holding it aloft, while other anglers come and take pictures of his victory.
I can see it happening.
I imagine its true.

I'm not sure if there are cars in heaven
Or if your even allowed to drive up there
But the thought of it makes me smile.

When I think of Grandad,
Funny Grandad,
I remember a proud, strong, independent Man,
A practical man
A man who loved his family
A man who took his responsibilities seriously
And a man who lived life the way he chose

Right up until the end.

We'll miss you Grandad.
I'll miss my sporadic visits to the wilds of Norfolk to see you.
And everytime I see a brace of pheasants,
A rabbit,
Or a wall mounted fish.
Or a (badly driven) car
I'll think of you