Wilbur Smith's first book and the start of the novels following the Courtney family. This book has no overall plot, instead it's all character driven.Wilbur Smith's first book and the start of the novels following the Courtney family. This book has no overall plot, instead it's all character driven.
It starts out with Sean and Garrick Courtney as teenagers growing up on their parents farm in South Africa, but after the first quarter of the book the story only follows Sean. This is not quite what I was expecting, but overall it was a rousing tail of adventure, love, betrayal, exploration, riches and friends gained and lost. Sean leaves the farm after both brothers return home after the Zulu wars. He heads north and meets and sly character called Duff, with whom he joins in the Witwatersrand gold rush and the founding of Johannesburg. After that he becomes and Elephant hunter.
There was a bit of foreshadowing in the book that hinted at how it was going to end, which I thought was a bit to spoilery. An enjoyable read of you like the kind of African adventure popularized by H. Rider Haggard. Smith is the modern practitioner, and master, of this type of adventure.
My only complaint is that Sean married the wrong woman.. what a dope :)
The title comes from a supposed Zulu saying "Something always dies when the lion feeds and yet there is meat for those that follow him."
I look forward to continuing the Courtney saga with 'The Sound of Thunder'.
Note: I listened to this on Audible and John Lee does a good South African accent....more
This book came to me in a round about way. A colleague at work notice the "I am the Stig" sticker on my car and recognizing another Top Gear fan, tracThis book came to me in a round about way. A colleague at work notice the "I am the Stig" sticker on my car and recognizing another Top Gear fan, tracked me down and lent me the book. I'm glad he did as I had no idea this book actually existed and I was excited to read it.
If your not a fan of the TV show Top Gear then this book is almost certainly not for you. About half the book is about Ben Collins's upbringing, army training and professional racing career. (The army training chapters were similar experiences to those of Bear Grylls, whos bio I read last year.) The other half is an inside look at some of the more memorable episodes of Top Gear and lots of other info about the show. As you might expect this is very entertaining. Maintaining a secret identity as 'The Stig' for 8 seasons took some doing and even at the end there were very few people on the show who knew his real identity. There were lots of time when Ben had to change into his costume in an odd place, like Clark Kent changing into Superman. Having a totally secret identity caused other problems too. "The Stig" had a golden ticket on his resume for applying to any racing team, but of course Ben could not tell anybody that. Must have been very frustrating.
For Top Gear fans - great reading, 4 or 5 stars. Non Top Gear fans only 2 stars I would guess.
Normally I'm not a fan of police procedural novels but this series starts back in the 50's so there is a lot of differences to current day nonsense ofNormally I'm not a fan of police procedural novels but this series starts back in the 50's so there is a lot of differences to current day nonsense of this type. Police procedure in this novel consists of looking at photos, checking fingerprints, bullet ballistics and running down suspects and questioning them. There is none of the highly technical, and often questionable, science of modern novels. This is a weakness of this novel as quite a lot of pages are spent tracking down suspects and then discovering they have an alibi. The eventual perpetrator was not that hard to guess, there were a few clues along the way.
This is the first of the 50 some books in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct Series. McBain decided that if he wanted to do a series about cops it would be better if he centered his stories around a group of detectives rather than one or two individual characters. That way different cops could take center stage in the books but maintain the same overall background and supporting characters. The 87th Precinct part of a totally fictional city. I guess that allowed the author to setup locations to fit the story without doing a lot of research or legwork.
Not a bad book and I enjoyed the authors hard boiled style. There are a lot of books in this series and I will defiantly read more of them. They are all short books and thus quick to read. ...more
Most people seem to rate this book as the low point in Dresden Files series. Having only read the first one I can agree that this one is defiantly a sMost people seem to rate this book as the low point in Dresden Files series. Having only read the first one I can agree that this one is defiantly a step down.
For me the main problem was that the entire story contained too much blood and gore and focused on werewolves. The whole 'wolf' thing does nothing for me, probably the reason I havn't gone back to the Patricia Briggs books after the first one. I totally love my dogs, but just don't see them as characters in books somehow :)
Dresden has a few good moments, Murphy act's like a total jerk most of the time and many of the supporting characters, thankfully, end up dead. I will probably continue on with the series for another book or two because everyone seems to agree that things improve significantly from book 3-4.
The audio narration by James masters was very good and that turned out to be the saving grace getting through this one....more
This book was going to be my Christmas read, but I got stuck on an awful book club read that bogged me down. Finally got to this the middle of JanuaryThis book was going to be my Christmas read, but I got stuck on an awful book club read that bogged me down. Finally got to this the middle of January.
Classic detective style book set just before Christmas in 1951. It's an armored car heist and the events just before and directly following. The short chapters jump around from many POV's and events in the time line. One of the POV's is in the first person and the others in the third. The chapters are titled to make it easy to follow '45 Mins Before the Robbery', 'One hour 15 mins after' etc. Without that, it might have been hard to keep it all straight in my mind. There was a bit of a plot twist, but not one that wasn't fairly obvious. However, the ending, seen from a POV 30 years later, was not quite what I expected. The author didn't wrap it up in the way I expected, but there was nothing wrong with the ending either.
The one thing I really enjoyed about this book (and obviously the reason why this was recommended as a Christmas read) was the way the author gave the feeling of Christmas by incorporating music into the story. Each time a character was in a car or place where their might be a radio or music, he incorporated a couple of lines of a Christmas song, which the characters sometimes commented on. This gave that feeling you get at Christmas when you can't go anywhere without hearing Christmas music being played.
I put this review on hold for a few weeks as it was a book club pick and I didn't want other people reading the spoilers. Now it's time for a rant.. uI put this review on hold for a few weeks as it was a book club pick and I didn't want other people reading the spoilers. Now it's time for a rant.. um I mean review:)
Most descriptions of this book seem to associate it with a sort of Lovecraft theme/feel. For the most part this is correct. There is lots of weirdness going on that gives an odd uneasy feeling throughout. The characters do not have much idea what is going on, and neither does the reader. This has it's good and bad points, it keeps you wondering but some readers obviously find it unrewarding. Another very big plus is that the book is less that 200 pages long.
Unfortunate this came off to me as a book written by someone with obvious literary skill, but no real interest value. Within about the first 15 pages I did a face palm. One of the characters is a surveyor, but she was not have a compass because they couldn't bring 'advanced' technology. But the biologist could have a microscope and another an assault rifle! Note to author, making a compass is easy. Then a couple of pages further on the surveyor determines that the 'tower' was almost facing magnetic north. Hmm.. how did she accurately figure that out without a compass. The biologist also sticks her nose right up close to a potentially dangerous fungus.. way to go, good training.
The four characters are just superficial and spent more time concerned about each other than area-X. Most of their distrust and interaction was stuff that would be weeded it out when they were formed into a team and trained. As for Area-X, it's interesting as far as it goes, but my response would be.. 'nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure'.
There is some Lovecraft feel here, but ultimately VanderMeer blows it in the end. For the most part Lovecraft's creepiness comes from 'indescribable horrors', emphasis on the first word....more
This certainly wasn't the warm and fuzzy bunny story that I was expecting. On the contrary, it was a more adult story with the rabbits as the main chaThis certainly wasn't the warm and fuzzy bunny story that I was expecting. On the contrary, it was a more adult story with the rabbits as the main characters. Not at all similar to The Wind in the Willows, which is what I was expecting.
A small group of rabbits leave their warren and set off to found their own. On the way they have lots of rabbity adventures, some of which ultimately lead to conflict and violence. Probably my favorite aspect of the book was the rabbits unlikely alliance with a seagull. Sounds odd, but it works out.
As you might expect there is a lot of allegory here so what you get out of it may vary depending on how you interpret it.
**spoiler alert** This is basically a book about mans faith in God and what happens when this is pushed to the limits. The story is wrapped round a Je**spoiler alert** This is basically a book about mans faith in God and what happens when this is pushed to the limits. The story is wrapped round a Jesuit space expedition to Alpha Centauri and a 'first encounter situation'. I guess overall the story was okay, but it's been done better. As with many books nowadays this would had more impact crystallized into a short story. A lot of the book is fluff that only points out the weaknesses, not the strengths. The author would have been much better off not trying to tell this as a science fiction story.
Most reviews point out how great the characterizations are. True, they were pretty good but very inconstant. At the beginning of the book the main characters are all brilliant and there doesn't seem to be anything they cannot do. (The idea of a small group of people equipping the first expedition to another star reminded me of E. E. Doc Smith's Skylark of Space, but that's another issue.) But later, when they get to the alien world, they make some unbelievably stupid mistakes. Even on my own planet I know not to eat strange things. On an alien planet they go right ahead and try it. They were not even smart enough to bring along some mice for testing.
Most of the really bad decisions were only there for a convenient way to move the plot in a certain direction. For me that's just bad writing. But the really killer of the book was the actual moment of first contact. The main Jesuit Priest uses slight of hand tricks to make it look to the aliens like he's making flowers appear out of thin air. Now why would he do that? A few chapters on there is some discussion that they don't want to mislead the aliens into believing they are gods or starting a cargo cult. Make your mind up! After that point I was glad that Sandoz got what he had coming to him. Perhaps that simple act of deception is why God punished him.
The science in this book was mostly nonsense. Even worse than bad it made statements about existing technology they anyone can look up and see is just plain false. For an academic writer like the author, this lack of research is just mind boggling and inexcusable. For example: She constantly refers to the Alpha Centauri system as having 3 suns, which is technically true, but the 3rd red dwarf star is 0.2 ly from the other two. That would make it appear as a bright star, not a red sun. The Jesuits accelerate an asteroid using a mass driver and the stated logic is 'the bigger the asteroid is, the more fuel they have'. Perhaps she should look up Newton's Laws. And they can also 'circle at 0.2g' using a mass driver... :)
There was a good underlying story but I was constantly taken out of it by eye rolling bad science, stupid character decisions and contrived coincidences. I know that in real life the Jesuits are considered the scholars and scientists of the papal world, but this book made them look like arrogant, ignorant idiots.
The second novella from Brandon Sanderson about a detective type character who has a very unique form of multiple personality disorder. He sees his o The second novella from Brandon Sanderson about a detective type character who has a very unique form of multiple personality disorder. He sees his other personalities as hallucinations and each of these 'aspects' has their own specialty. The first book setup the overall theme and world with just a few characters and a short plot line. This second story expands on the previous characters and adds some new ones. More details of exactly how his aspects work and their limitations are explained. This is all set against a background of biochemical industrial espionage. At the end there was a neat little twist to the story that I enjoyed. Someday there will probably end up collected into a single publication. Until then it's worth reading each installment as they come out. My problem here is whether to classify this as fantasy, science fiction or mystery? I guess all 3. ...more
When you read the cover of a book and all the quotes are about the authors other books, that's always a bad sign. This one had a quote from a PortlandWhen you read the cover of a book and all the quotes are about the authors other books, that's always a bad sign. This one had a quote from a Portland newspaper on the front cover "Bunch's battle sequences are second to none". That was referring to one of his previous books "The Seer King". I have read that trilogy, and it wasn't bad. This one was nothing like it.
First off, there were no epic battle sequences here. Bunch usually does a good job of them, but no where near in the same class as say Bernard Cornwell or David Gemmel. The other problem I had with this novel was that it seemed to be a series of adventures along the route of an overall quest. The whole format reminded me of the serialized style of the pulp era. But it was written in 2000 so I doubt if that was how it was first published. Some parts of it were okay, but most of it was 'meh'.
Sometimes you come across a book that doesn't seem very interesting at the beginning but then grows on you as you read further. For me The Night CircuSometimes you come across a book that doesn't seem very interesting at the beginning but then grows on you as you read further. For me The Night Circus was just such a book.
I really disliked this book starting out. There did not seem to much going on, the characters were uninteresting and paper thin. It took me two attempts to get through the first couple of hours on audible as I fell asleep the first time around. If this had not been a pick for the Sword and Laser bookclub I would most likely have abandoned it. That would have been a great shame as I ended up really loving this book by the end.
It's the story of two practitioners of 'real' magic, involved in an obscure contest against one another, who hide their talents by working in a circus. Almost everyone else thinks they are just really good at prestidigitation and illusions and have no idea what is really going on.
The book is structured with the chapters jumping between timelines and points of view. At the beginning these are far apart but gradually get closer and closer together until they converge at the end. This made the early parts of the book hard to follow on audible as you cannot refer back to previous chapters to review the dates.
After finishing the audible version I went out and bought a hard copy and will re-read it again at some point.
Not quite a 5 star book as the beginning was hard to get into. I can see why people might abandon this book after reading the kindle sample. It's lacking that initial 'hook' that grabs you in the first chapter or two. ...more
The third book of this pulp era series about adventures inside a hollow earth. In its time I guess this was a cutting edge thrill ride, but today it rThe third book of this pulp era series about adventures inside a hollow earth. In its time I guess this was a cutting edge thrill ride, but today it really shows it's age.
Like some of the others, this one is written as if Burroughs himself was in contact with Pellucidar and the story was relayed to him from one of the main characters. It's an interesting concept and does adds a bit of variety. This concept seems to have been almost forgotten in recent years.
The writing style bothered me the most. The pulp serial style of interconnected mini adventures is common in books from this period. Some of them work when collected into a single volume, but this one not so much. This will not prevent me from reading the rest of the series however. Another reason is that the fate of one of the main characters is left unresolved at the end of this book.
Next one is the crossover book 'Tarzan at the Earth's Core', which should be interesting....more
Most people seem to regard this book as a total letdown compared with 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons'. After reading it, I would agree andMost people seem to regard this book as a total letdown compared with 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons'. After reading it, I would agree and say that it's definitely not as good, but still worth reading.
The story centers around the Freemasons and Washington DC and like other Dan Brown books it's full of facts that had me doing Google searches. The plot moves along at a fast pace and there was a major plot twist that I didn't see coming. As such, I managed to blast through this book in only a couple of days. There's lots of interesting stuff in here if you're not already familiar with the history/mysteries of Washington DC. If you are then a lot will be familiar.
I have a couple of criticisms of this book. 1) The main antagonist was not that believable and over the top. 2) I guessed the location of the 'McGuffin' early on in the book. 3) The ending degenerated into a long diatribe on god. It would also have been nice if Brown added some references and explanations at the end as an author's note. James Rollins always does a great job of this at the end of all his books and clearly deliniates fact from fiction and I wish Brown had done the same here.
Worth a read for sure, especially if you're not well versed in the mysteries of Freemasonry and Washington DC's origins. ...more