From the engrossing opening scene in Milan, where a beautiful young woman is blackmailed into a contract at her sister's death bed, to the final nerv...more From the engrossing opening scene in Milan, where a beautiful young woman is blackmailed into a contract at her sister's death bed, to the final nerve jangling battle of wits over a chess board on which the lives and souls of an island nation depend, The Devil You Say is a roller coaster ride of intrigue and adventure.
With the Paul D Mallory series, the author has created characters so lifelike, you actually see their shadows forming, and imagine their home life and background. For example, I'm convinced that if you shake Paul's family tree, his distant relative (maybe third cousin twice removed) James Bond will fall out. Central to this series is the relationship between Paul (journalist) and his boss Bentley, who makes offers you can't refuse. Work with him, and you won't find a more generous person. However, you cross him at your own peril.
As in `It's Always Darkest' action taking place `elsewhere' is told in third person point of view, while Paul's perspective is that of first person point of view. Despite his modest manner, he's a personable bloke; being a one woman man doesn't stop his appreciation of beautiful ladies, he knows how to hold his drink, enjoys a day at the races and is extremely entertaining company. You begin to understand why Bentley, who doesn't suffer fools lightly, employed him at an astronomical wage to scour the media for `anything odd' or newsworthy happening in Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
In this episode, several plot lines run: Bentley's millionaire subscribers are being assassinated. Deadly inexplicable incidents are occurring on the paradise island of San Esteban The National Hurricane Centre warns of a depression that builds in intensity throughout the story.
From third person point of view, we learn of several seemingly random assassinations and deaths.
Cut to Paul's world: He learns some startling facts from Bentley. (The reader also learns a very interesting fact about Mr Bentley Cramer.) This is what Paul discovers: l. That Bentley has a mere 300 subscribers to his `papers' each of whom pay a million dollars a year to read `News of the Weird.' 2. Bentley is extremely hacked off that someone appears intent on diminishing his readership by killing said subscribers. 3. Paul's predecessor was mutilated before being murdered.
Having dropped these bombshells, Cramer mystifies and intrigues Paul by showing him the photo and dossier of the beautiful, talented Terri Vincent, owner of several tabloid sensationalist newspapers, one of which is a weekly San Esteban journal. According to Bentley, Vincent is the person who compromised his predecessor, and she now has her hooks in Pete Rivera, an ex-employee of Bentley's, who also runs a weekly paper serving the tropical island of San Esteban, which is everything Vincent's paper isn't.
Paul is ordered to pack his bags and take a couple of weeks semi-vacation on San Esteban. When he questions why, Bentley responds: To save Pete Rivera's marriage. Hands up all those who think Bentley has ulterior motives. But the game is on, they're under starters' orders - and they're off! Personally, I only read reviews to discover what others thought of books I've already enjoyed. But if you're reading this as a guide to help you make up your mind, all I can say is please download a sample from Amazon. Simply because I enjoyed this book so much, I want others to experience the pleasure of sharing Paul's adventures. Stephen Spencer serves up just the right mixture of entertainment, mystery and danger, with a dash of humour sprinkled with one or two facts that astounded me. A winning formula; I understand there is another Paul D Mallory escapade in the pipelines, due for release on 25th December, and for the first time in ages, I'm awaiting Christmas as eagerly as a kid.
I've awarded three, because I was disappointed. I know Karin can write better than this. It wasn't up to her usual standard. Having said that, the gan...moreI've awarded three, because I was disappointed. I know Karin can write better than this. It wasn't up to her usual standard. Having said that, the gang's all here (apart from Ethan who was killed in a one liner a book or two back - felt a slight sympathy with the guy, as the author hinted on more than one occasion he was a victim of his upbringing and trying to turn his life around). Still a good, though formulatic read, but up to her earlier novels. (less)
I can’t believe I haven’t discovered Carol Rivers before now. Writing in the tradition of Catherine Cookson and L...moreIn the Bleak Midwinter – Carol Rivers
I can’t believe I haven’t discovered Carol Rivers before now. Writing in the tradition of Catherine Cookson and Lena Kennedy, she re-creates for her readers the London of yesteryear, populating her story with characters that are larger than life and resonate long after the last page is turned.
Set just after WW1 has ended, Birdie is a real life heroine, looking forward to being a good wife to her intended Donald Thorne, who has visions of expanding his grocery shop. Birdie Connor is a loving daughter, and both sister and substitute mother to young Pat, on the cusp of adulthood. Like many young girls she has an eye for fashion, she also has a talent for dressmaking. There is sorrow in her life though. Her eldest brother Frank has brought shame on the family, breaking his father’s heart, having been accused and convicted of desertion. And Birdie can’t understand why Donald can make time to walk out with his brother’s widow, yet insists the only way Birdie and he can be alone together is if Birdie works long hours in his shop. When Frank breaks out of jail, and gets involved with Russian ‘white’ terrorists tension mounts and it’s down to young Pat and Harry, the Connor’s lodger, to pit their wits against desperate people and the police to salvage the Connor’s honour and Birdie’s happiness.
All through the book, I longed for Birdie to tell Donald where to stuck his rotten fruit and veg, and take a better look at Harry, a man quietly supporting Birdie while nurturing a growing building company. Carol Rivers keeps her readers entertained with the sights and smells of old London (you’ll learn a little Cockney Rhyming Slang) and creates characters so vivid, you’ll live through their struggles and triumphs, good times and bad as they battle with day to day living on the Isle of Dogs.
Reading this book is like a long leisurely stroll down memory lane, back to good old London Town where a pint of cockles was the only fast food, when family was everything, and the world was the street where you lived. Mix in a story of faith, desertion, and desperate refugees to add spice and intrigue, and you have a book impossible to put down until the very last drop has been savoured.
This book is a searing satire on the world of reality tv, but not as engaging as Elton's other foray into this world of crazy wannabes & neverwill...moreThis book is a searing satire on the world of reality tv, but not as engaging as Elton's other foray into this world of crazy wannabes & neverwillbes 'Dead Famous' which had at least a couple of likeable characters.
There are no even remotely likeable characters in this novel. Some you feel dreadfully sorry for, or at least you would if they weren't charicatures of the type of person you can see every week when shows like 'x factor' etc are on telly.
All here! The creator, a meglomaniac in love with himself with an uncanny sense for public taste and opinion. Just in case you didn't instantly recognise this guy, at one stage he is mistakenly called 'Simon Cowell.' and gently corrects the old dear 'No, I'm the other, more successful one.'
The Louis Walsh character is there too, enduring even more humiliation than in real life (if that were possible)
As for the woman with the dysfunctional family whose dogs shit everywhere, we have Beryl, once a man, who is now more woman than I could ever be because 'she knows what it's like to be a man, yearning to be a woman.' Like the Osbornes, her family's every nosepick and fart has been recorded for consumption by those who have no life of their own. Oh, and she has house pigs that shit.
One by one, we meet the no-hopers dreaming of becoming this year's pop throbs. One by one their hopes are dashed and they are humiliated publicly.
This book isn't subtle. Ben Elton clearly despises not only the crowd who make this type of reality show, he also has scant respect for those who provide both the audience and the freak show. The real pity is that I recognised every one of the charicaturised characters. The singing cleaner, the tart with the heart of gold in last chance saloon, the single dad, the kid who couldn't read, the young couple so in love it hurts, the anorexia teenager called back for a second chance only to be blown out, the woman with the hearty infectious laugh - it is almost as though the makers of X factor read this book to pick up tips on the best way to create shocks and increase audiences. The extra factor is that in this year's show, in order to increase his popularity Prince Charles has entered and is intent on strutting his funky stuff. This would be a lot funnier if it wasn't so true.
When I was still in single digits, I asked the fountain of all knowledge (my Dad) why no-one tried to save the jewish people from the death camps duri...moreWhen I was still in single digits, I asked the fountain of all knowledge (my Dad) why no-one tried to save the jewish people from the death camps during the 2nd WW. 'There was one man, I think his name was Schindler, but what happened to him after the war I don't know. I think he went to Russia. Apparently he was a bit of a playboy.'
I pondered on Schindler's fate a little, and somehow the fact that one man tried to make a difference helped elevate the horror slightly. (I know now that there were many people quietly and bravely placing their own life and freedom in danger, not just Schindler.) When Speilberg's film was announced I wanted to see it. When I discovered that it was based on Keneally's book I immediately got a copy. It seemed Dad remembered correctly. Schindler could be termed a play boy. Although at first it appears he was as willing as anyone to exploit a persecuted race, little by little the humanitarian in him was outraged and from being merely an employer of almost slave labour, he became their champion using wit and charm and bribery to save his workforce against an increasingly ruthless regime.
Keneally has done a magnificant job, drawing on first hand experience from survivors and presents the reader with a flawed hero, a man who when the occasion called for it demonstrated great personal bravery and selflishness in order to protect other humans who at the time where demonfied by the controlling forces of most of Europe.
In my opinion, films don't usually measure up to the original books, but Speilberg too is to be commended for bringing this particular story to a wider audience in a sympathetic although at times ghastly manner. This is a book that I could only ever read once, it brings home the true horror of how a bunch of people who considered theirselves the 'master race' managed to isolate then exploit in every manner imaginable another group of fellow human beings.
**spoiler alert** This begins as a promising retelling of the Camelot legend and I enjoyed the author's writing style switching to first person pov wh...more**spoiler alert** This begins as a promising retelling of the Camelot legend and I enjoyed the author's writing style switching to first person pov when 'Morgaine speaks'. Unfortunately she speaks in a rather mournful voice and appears to have a 'poor little me little & dark like the fairies' complex. Merlin is a rather grandfatherly benign figure, Arthur seems cowed at times - nothing like the warrior king he is often portrayed as, whilst Gwenhwyfar appears scared of her own shadow. Avalon, the sacred isle of the druids drifts further and further apart from Britain as christainity encroaches. Morgaine has the chance to stop this and makes her play rather too late and half-heartedly to succeed. An entertaining read of the Arthur story from the female point of view and some interesting ideas written in a poetic style. (less)
Every student of English knows the story of 'Canterbury Tales' how it was the first book to be written in recognisable English, and the part it played...moreEvery student of English knows the story of 'Canterbury Tales' how it was the first book to be written in recognisable English, and the part it played in 'popularising' English. When Caxton started up his press, one of the first books he chose to print was Canterbury Tales, and his 15th century illustrated version is considered amongst the most valuable books in existence.
For that reason alone, it gets five stars. A book holding such an important place in literature, not to mention the English language, in my opinion cannot fall below maximum ratings.
As to how good Chaucer's actual writting is, well it's difficult to judge as he wrote in Middle English and although a modern reader would be able to recognise probably more than half the words, it is hard to read coherently. It appears though that Chaucer was a keen observer of character with a sly wit and amongst the first to portray 'ordinary' people in his stories, some of which can easily be brought up to date and applied to modern day settings, as many authors have already discovered.(less)
Whilst at college, Jo agrees to being hypnotised as part of an experiment. To the hypnotist's horor, she appears to go into a fit and becomes extremel...moreWhilst at college, Jo agrees to being hypnotised as part of an experiment. To the hypnotist's horor, she appears to go into a fit and becomes extremely distressed. Years later Jo begins having flashbacks where she actually revisits what appears to be a past life as the 'Lady of Hay', Matilda, who becomes involved in a battle of wills between her husband and King John.
Present day Jo allows herself to be overpowered and dictated to by the men in her life, who aren't very sympathetic to what appears to be fainting fits. One of her 'boyfriends' even tries to take advantage of her while she is in a semi-comatose state.
Action taking place in 12th century Wales in much more interesting, and Jo's previous incarnation Matilda is more pro-active and stronger willed.
This is book is ideal for bedtime reading if you can't get to sleep. Neither page turning nor tedious, a 'comfort blanket' of a book, although I read it over fifteen years ago and it might seem a little dated as heroines have become more pro-active and less simpering.
I'm still uncertain as to what shelf this book should sit on, I choose literature because frankly nothing much happens, but the book deals with social...moreI'm still uncertain as to what shelf this book should sit on, I choose literature because frankly nothing much happens, but the book deals with social and emotional change and growth.
The Waters under the Earth charts a couple of years in the life of minor gentry set in the 1950s, just as Queen Elizabeth ascends the throne - These are the new Elizabethans. The lady of the manor is finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that the new gamekeeper's children are expected to attend university, and trot over Europe at the drop of a tent. As head of the local WI, her nose is even further put out of joint when the gamekeeper's wife is elected as chairwoman, a post she and her mother before her have automatically taken as their right.
Susan, the daughter of the house is expected to marry a family friend, but she is beginning to have second thoughts.
I read this book mainly because it has a fantastic steeplechase chapter and I identified with Susan who eventually rebels against the station which has been chosen for her.
I enjoyed the prose, the characters came to life and the author even managed to make me feel sympathy pangs for the snobby mother. Maybe dated, but still a little gem, if you do have the chance definitely worth a look.
A strange little book, and a compelling story. The author imagines that there is a 'valley of creation' where intelligent life was created eons ago. T...moreA strange little book, and a compelling story. The author imagines that there is a 'valley of creation' where intelligent life was created eons ago. This self-awareness was given to horses, wolves, eagles and one other - apes. As millenium passed, apes moved upwards and onwards and the Valley of Creation became merely a legend.
I read this book years ago, and was thrilled to discover it on the river, regarded as a 'sci-fi' classic. Eric Nelson is a disillusioned mercenary who accepts an assignment to recover treasure from deepest Tibet. He is warned by his employer that rouge elements using trained viscious animals will try to prevent him and his colleagues and they should be on guard and ready to kill in self-defence. En-route to the lost treasure, Nelson is alarmed to disturb a beautiful young girl spying on them. Even more alarming, the girl is apparently discussing them and their mission with a striking looking horse. Nelson begins to realise that he is involved in some very strange stuff. What happens next requires quite a lot of 'suspension of dis-belief' (which I'm always ready to do if the author is persausive and the characters are believable enough). Imaginative, entertaining and satisfying read if my memory serves me right, certainly the book has stayed with me over a couple of decades having only read it once, so it must have made an impression. (less)