Wednesday, November 26, 2014

books from the bus

hello there

book review time.

it feels like quite a while since i posted reviews, look you see. my reading levels seem to have dropped off a bit. perhaps a bit of fatigue, maybe it's just because i have hit a run of slightly larger novels with somewhat smaller print.

as luck would have it, three pretty good novels for you this time. all had flaws, but were all the same really enjoyable, which is to say i would with delight read something or anything further delivered to the publishers by these particular writers.

weirdly, there's a most peculiar link in all three to the extent that the titles of them, whilst not bad, are of little relevance to the actual novel. what, you ask, are the three books? here you go.

as usual, some links are thrown in here for ease of reference if for some reason you want to purchase any of these novels. no endorsement from me, just using the global shipper. i certainly don't get paid to link; chance would be a fine thing.

and, as is usual, i will do my best to avoid them but mild *** SPOILER WARNINGS *** are yours to either take heed of or ignore as you read on. sorry for the lack of scrolling text on the spoiler warning, by the way, i simply cannot be bothered to type in marquee on the html editor. onwards then.

i have no idea at all why Sandstealers is called what it is, as it is never explained in the book. all i know is that it was a thoroughly enjoyable, if at times harrowing, read, and not just because it covered a world which features what would have been my dream job.

plot? a renowned war correspondent type journalist dude is kidnapped in Iraq. a curious crew of fellow war journalists descend on the scene and, being aware of it possibly being the last time they are together, reminisce of an earlier war where they all first met and sort of formed a highly dysfunctional quasi family unit sort of thing.

this book hits all the buttons. it has a stack of melodrama and soap opera like stuff to keep a plot going, whilst at heart it gives a stunning insight into the world of the war correspondent. if for some reason you stopped to consider what the toughest part of being a journalist in a war zone is, it's not the risk of being shot - rather it is the risk of temptation to rush in and help those who sorely need help, despite your job being to always stand only as an objective observer and reporter. not an easy thing to do if you are human. i would have rather liked to have done the job, but i suspect that there's no way i could ever have done it and not got myself involved with whatever i was reporting on. also, as the waffle across this blog shows, editing is not a particular strong point of mine, i am not at all sure i could have ever delivered properly.

but enough of me, you want to know of the book. this would seem to be the only novel Ben Brown has written so far. as this is really rather good, one can only hope that he feels obliged to write another at some point.

i am sure i had read a Tess Gerritsen novel before, but looking at the list of ones she has written i can't work out what. let's assume, then, that Gravity is the first instead, and i will most certainly read more.

why is it called Gravity? no clue, except it happens a lot in space, as it were. no, it was not as far as i know the basis for that film with her out of Speed and him that did the coffee adverts and married Bono's lawyer.

plot? somewhat convoluted and contrived. a car crash means that an astronaut has to get back from the space station thing (ISS or something) and be replaced by someone else. when the replacement gets there, strange things seem to happen with an apparently innocent scientific experiment that has gone rather wrong. as the cover somewhat suggests, it involves a little bit of massive blood loss from certain crew members. oh dear.

on one level it's a whole load of science fiction, horror and spacey-space type stuff that we have seen before time and again. you can complain about that if you like, or you could just enjoy the novel for what it is, which is a thrilling read despite a rushed and very obvious ending. it was fun and thrills to read, and certainly made the bus trip more entertaining for a week or so. i shall certainly read more of Tess Gerritsen.

and finally, again with a title that does not really relate to the novel itself as such, The 500. a debut novel, i believe, and as it turns out the first in a series of books featuring the same protagonist.

plot? a former hoodlum who went into the marines (or something) ends up in law school and is so brilliant at it he gets recruited off of a powerful lawyer firm that apparently pulls all the strings controlling the American political scene. protagonist likes the money and all that comes with it, but starts getting a bit dubious about the lack of morals. you can guess the rest.

the most baffling thing about this book is the number of English references. it's an American story by an American, and yet we get comparisons of stuff to things like The Kinks, rugby and the North Sea. fine by me, but i am wondering how all of that went with a rather more American than me audience.

this was amazing fun to read, despite the preposterous premise of the protagonist and the idea of an ace conman landing the big time and gaining morals. the narrative, in fairness, at least acknowledges the preposterous nature of it, in a rather brilliant first person style.

it is, be warned, exceptionally flimsy. things "just happen". it's like the writer knows that we know how all this sort of thing goes in the world of "conspiracy thriller" so doesn't trouble us with writing about it. a bit of a shame, that, as more of it would have been even better reading. still, overall, very good fun for a book that cost all of two quid as was bought mostly as it happened to be sat at the cigarette counter in Morrisons.

i see there is a second book of his out, with the same protagonist. yeah, i may well get it.

and so there we have it. allowing for the fact that Gravity is purely going to be for the sci-fi, sort of horror fans, all three books are ones i would not hesitate to suggest others read, despite the flaws. hope this information is of some use or other to anyone!

as for a preview of the next novel, well, it's a rather short one and is an enjoyable yet very fast read. here we go with the not so sneak in nature sneak peek.

i picked this one up a few months ago, but now seemed to be the more appropriate time to read it.

what am i doing when not reading on the bus? listening to the pod of i. mostly Split Enz at the moment. in fairness, i have in the last 6 or 7 months been able to read more books than i have in the last 6 or 7 years, which is ace, but maybe i am getting tired now, perhaps it is time to take a break and people watch.

happy reading, listening, or whatever it is you do!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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