Category Archives: Books

Desmond Bagley

Flyaway (1978) & Bahama Crisis (1980)

Bagley

 

As a teenager, I went from Enid Blyton to the thriller writers of the era – Hammond Innes, Wilbur Smith, Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley. Re-reading these books as an adult reveals that I still enjoy the stories. The writing is tight and the plot moves with a good pace. Overall the story is structured to ramp up in intensity to a single final climax. Modern writers try to do lots of action/violence throughout the story. But these books are still good reads, thirty years after initial publication.

http://www.desmondbagley.co.uk/

 

Kaiju

Jeremy Robinson’s Kaiju Series

I came across the first book in this series via the Storybook Bundle.
This is the story of giant monsters (Kaiju) that emerge from Earth’s history and reign havoc across the globe. After the first book, more emerge and the real battle begins. Told in first person from the point of view of John Hudson, these combine horror, adventure and science fiction in an enjoyable and thrilling ride.

For me, the visuals were provided from the film ‘Pacific Rim’ (2013)

Project_nemesis_poster_by_kaijusamurai-d5w90j4

(From Wikipedia)
Kaijū (from Japanese “strange beast”) is a film genre that features monsters, usually attacking a major Japanese city or engaging other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu (special effects-based) entertainment.

Related terms include kaijū eiga (monster movie), a film featuring giant monsters or a single monster; kaijin (referring to roughly humanoid monsters); and daikaiju (giant kaiju), specifically meaning the larger variety of monsters.

Godzilla is an example of a daikaiju; others include Gamera, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla and Daimajin. The term ultra-kaiju is longhand for kaiju in the Ultra Series.

Toho has produced a variety of Kaiju films over the years (many that featured Godzilla and Mothra) but other Japanese studios contributed to expanding the genre in Japan by producing Kaiju films and shows of their own, studios including Daiei Film Co., Ltd., Kadokawa Pictures, Tsuburaya Productions, Shochiku, and Nikkatsu studios.

  1. Project Nemesis (Kaiju #1)

Jon Hudson, lead investigator for the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center-P, thinks his job is a joke. While other Fusion Centers focus on thwarting terrorist activity, Hudson’s division is tasked with handling paranormal threats to national security, of which there have been zero during his years at the DHS. When yet another Sasquatch sighting leads to a research facility disguised as an abandoned Nike missile site in the back woods of Maine, Hudson’s job becomes deadly serious.

Hudson and the local Sherriff, Ashley Collins, suddenly find themselves on the run from a ruthless ex-Special Forces security team, but the human threat is short-lived as something very much not-human destroys the facility and heads for civilization, leaving only a single clue behind–a name scrawled in blood: Nemesis. Working with his team at Fusion Center-P, Sherriff Collins and a surly helicopter pilot named Woodstock, Hudson pursues the creature known as Nemesis, attempts to uncover the corporate secrets behind its creation and accidental release and tries to comprehend why several clues lead to a murdered little girl named Maigo.
But as the body-count explodes, along with the monster’s size, it quickly becomes clear that nothing short of a full military response can slow Nemesis’s progress. Coordinating with every branch of the U.S. military, Hudson simultaneously searches for clues about Nemesis’s origins and motivations, and leads the counterattack that will hopefully stop the monster before it reaches Boston and its one million residents.

2. Project Maigo (Kaiju #2)

Jon Hudson, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center – Paranormal division, is haunted by Nemesis, a three-hundred-foot tall monster. Hudson has helped prepare the United States against future attacks. But no one is prepared for what rises from the depths.

3. Project 731 (Kaiju #3)


In the wake of a Kaiju assault that leaves cities in ruins, Jon Hudson, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center – Paranormal, is preparing his team for an uncertain future. While hiding Lilly, a chimera cat-girl rescued from Island 731 a black ops organization within DARPA, Hudson attempts to raise an orphaned girl. But the two strange girls can’t be protected from what comes next.

4. Raising the Past (Origins #2)

At the end of the previous book, the author mentions that this is the origins storyfor the next episode, so I read this next.
A mammoth, flash frozen in solid ice 10,000 years ago is brought to the surface by a team of scientists.
An act of sabotage frees the giant from its icy tomb and reveals the secret held inside. The body of an ancient woman, cloaked in furs, slides out of the mammoth’s belly. But it is not the woman that holds the team’s attention…it is the object she is clutching…a device created by an advanced civilization. THE HUNT IS ON. . . The device is accidentally activated, summoning forces who seek its destruction. It is the key to mankind’s salvation and freedom from the men behind the curtain, pulling the strings and leading humanity towards destruction.

5. Project Hyperion (Kaiju #4)

Back to the main story arc.
Jon Hudson has become more than just the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center–Paranormal. He is now a husband and a father, surrounded by a team who have become a family. So when a series of strange new threats rise from the depths and fall from the sky, the stakes are higher than ever.

6. Island 731 (Kaiju 0)
Next comes the prequel to the series, where it all began.

Mark Hawkins, former park ranger and expert tracker, is out of his element, working on board the Magellan, a research vessel studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But his work is interrupted when, surrounded by thirty miles of refuse, the ship and its high tech systems are plagued by a series of strange malfunctions and the crew is battered by a raging storm.

When the storm fades and the sun rises, the beaten crew awakens to find themselves anchored in the protective cove of a tropical island… and no one knows how they got there. Even worse, the ship has been sabotaged, two crewman are dead and a third is missing. Hawkins spots signs of the missing man on shore and leads a small team to bring him back. But they quickly discover evidence of a brutal history left behind by the Island’s former occupants.

Destiny Trilogy

Star Trek: Destiny Trilogy by David Mack

Destiny

1. Gods of Night
Half a decade after the Dominion War and more than a year after the rise and fall of Praetor Shinzon, the galaxy’s greatest scourge returns to wreak havoc upon the Federation — and this time its goal is nothing less than total annihilation. Elsewhere, deep in the Gamma Quadrant, an ancient mystery is solved. One of Earth’s first generation of starships, lost for centuries, has been found dead and empty on a desolate planet. But its discovery so far from home has raised disturbing questions, and the answers harken back to a struggle for survival that once tested a captain and her crew to the limits of their humanity.
From that terrifying flashpoint begins an apocalyptic odyssey that will reach across time and space to reveal the past, define the future, and show three captains — Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise, TM William Riker of the U.S.S. Titan, and Ezri Dax of the U.S.S Aventine — that some destinies are inescapable.

2. Mere Mortals
On Earth, Federation President Nanietta Bacco gathers allies and adversaries to form a desperate last line of defense against an impending Borg invasion. In deep space, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Captain Ezri Dax join together to cut off the Collective’s route to the Alpha Quadrant. Half a galaxy away, Captain William Riker and the crew of the Starship Titan have made contact with the reclusive Caeliar — survivors of a stellar cataclysm that, two hundred years ago, drove fissures through the structure of space and time, creating a loop of inevitability and consigning another captain and crew to a purgatory from which they could never escape. Now the supremely advanced Caeliar will brook no further intrusion upon their isolation, or against the sanctity of their Great Work….For the small, finite lives of mere mortals carry little weight in the calculations of gods. But even gods may come to understand that they underestimate humans at their peril.

3. Lost Souls
The soldiers of Armageddon are on the march, laying waste to worlds in their passage. An audacious plan could stop them forever, but it carries risks that one starship captain is unwilling to take. For Captain Jean-Luc Picard, defending the future has never been so important, or so personal — and the wrong choice will cost him everything for which he has struggled and suffered. For Captain William Riker, that choice has already been made. Haunted by the memories of those he was forced to leave behind, he must jeopardize all that he has left in a desperate bid to save the Federation. For Captain Ezri Dax, whose impetuous youth is balance by the wisdom of many lifetimes, the choice is a simple one: there is no going back — only forward to whatever future awaits them.But for those who, millennia ago, had no choice…this is the hour of their final, inescapable destiny.

Review
This is the best series of Star Trek books I have read. It’s a big, sweeping story across time and space that manages to get some real drama and tension. The only downside is the number of characters involved. Sometimes each minor character gets a bit of back-story before being involved in the action.
Otherwise a great read. Recommended.

Christie Crime Collection

Mistress of Mystery Course reading list

The and Crimes of Christie by Charles Osborne

Agatha Christie: the woman and her mysteries by Gillian Gill

Reflecting on Miss Marple by Marion Shaw and Sabine Vanacker.

Witness for the Prosecution and Selected Plays by Agatha Christie

The Hound of death by Agatha Christie

Giants bread by Mary Westmacott

From Agatha Christie to Ruth :British women writers in detective and crime fiction by Susan Rowland

Who Killed Roger Ackroyd ? the mystery behind the Agatha Christie mystery by Pierre Bayard; translated by Carol Cosman

Agatha Christie: first lady of crime edited by H. R. F. Keating

The Edwardian Detective 1901 -1915 by Joseph A. Kestner

Feminism in women’s detective fiction edited by Glenwood Irons

Foul & fair play :reading genre in classic detective fiction by Marty Roth.

Great women mystery writers :classic to contemporary edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein

Come tell me how you live by Agatha Christie

The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Agatha Christie An Autobiography

Ice & Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire
by George R. R. Martin

My reviews of the five published books.

A Games of Thrones (1996)
The magnum opus that started the madness. Slow to start but soon becomes compelling reading.

A Clash of Kings (1998)
Still compelling and interesting

A Storm of Swords (20002)
Now the books are getting longer. This one is split into two volumes. The plot starts to thin, the number of characters increase and the pacing slows.

A Feast for Crows (2005)
While still a good read, occasional plot developments keep the reader interested. By now we have realised that the journey is more important than the destination

A Dance with Dragons (2012)
Long, tedious and dull.

Robin Hobb

The Liveship Traders Trilogy
by Robin Hobb

Books in the Series:

  • Ship of Magic (1998)
  • The Mad Ship (1998)
  • Ship of Destiny (2000)

The Liveship Trader’s Trilogy  follows the lives of Bingtown Trader families and takes place in Jamaillia and the Pirate Isles, on the coast of the Six Duchies. The war in the north has interrupted the trade that is the lifeblood of Bingtown, and the Liveship Traders have fallen on hard times.

At one time, possession of a Liveship, constructed of magical wizard wood, guaranteed a Trader’s family prosperity. Only a Liveship can brave the dangers of the Rain Wild River and trade with the legendary Rain Wild Traders and their mysterious magical goods. Althea Vestrit expects her families to adhere to tradition, and pass the family Liveship on to her when it quickens at the death of her father. Instead, the Vivacia goes to her sister Keffria and her scheming Chalcedean husband Kyle. The proud Liveship becomes a transport vessel for the despised but highly profitable slave trade.

Althea, cast out on her own, resolves to make her own way in the world and somehow regain control of her family’s living ship. Her old shipmate Brashen Trell, the enigmatic woodcarver Amber and the Paragon, the notorious mad Liveship are the only allies she can rally to her cause. Pirates, a slave rebellion, migrating sea serpents and a newly hatched dragon are but a few of the obstacles she must face.

The three books span nearly 2,700 pages.

The epic and sweeping narrative carries events to a fever pitch over the excellently paced and plotted books.
This is the best Robin Hobb trilogy and the most memorable fantasy trilogy of modern times.

It’s recommended to read the Assassin trilogy first, but this can be read separately to her other trilogies.

Other Series:
The Farseer Trilogy

  • Assassin’s Apprentice (1995)
  • Royal Assassin (1996)
  • Assassin’s Quest (1997)

These books follow the life of FitzChivalry Farseer (Fitz), a trained assassin, in a kingdom called The Six Duchies as his uncle, Prince Verity attempts to wage war on the Red-Ship Raiders from The OutIslands who are attacking the shores of the kingdom by turning the people of the Six Duchies into Forged ones; a form of zombification which makes them emotionless. Meanwhile Prince Regal’s jealousy and the indulgence of his own selfish whims threatens to destroy Six Duchies.
Written in first person, this series was fascinating from the first page. The pacing is slow, but the characterisation and storytelling is always compelling. The only reason this is second to the Liveships trilogy is that is has a weaker ending.

 

The Tawny Man Trilogy

  • Fool’s Errand (2001)
  • The Golden Fool (2002)
  • Fool’s Fate (2003)

This trilogy is where the slow pacing, work building and repetitive themes catch up with Robin Hobb. By the third book, it becomes a slog to get through the story.

 

The Rain Wild Chronicles

  • Dragon Keeper (2009)
  • Dragon Haven (2010)
  • City of Dragons (2011)
  • Blood of Dragons (2013)

Yet to be read.

Hal Spacejock Series

Hal Spacejock
by Simon Haynes

Simon Haynes has cornered the market in humorous science fiction.
There isn’t anyone doing it with as much success.

Books in the Series :

  • Hal Spacejock 1 (2005)
  • Hal Spacejock 2 Second Course (2006)
  • Hal Spacejock 3 Just Desserts (2007)
  • Hal Spacejock 4 No Free Lunch (2008)
  • Hal Spacejock 5 Baker’s Dough (2012)
  • Hal Spacejock 6 Safe Art (2013)
  • Hal Spacejock 7 Big Bang (2014)

And short stories:

  • Hal Junior 1 The Secret Signal
  • Hal Junior 2 The Missing Case
  • Hal Junior 3 The Gyris Mission

 

The Hero’s Guides

The Hero’s Guides to
1. Saving Your Kingdom (2012)
2. Storming the Castle(2013)
3. Being an Outlaw (2014)
by Christopher Healy

Mushed-up myths, fracked and fractured fairy tales or just good clean fun. This series of books takes characters, creatures and castles and bangs them all together in gloriously silly and entertaining stories. They may be marketed at teenagers, but everyone can enjoy them.

Rogue Hunter

Rogue Hunter by Kevis Hendrickson

Rogue Hunter

Rouge Hunter is a good old-fashioned SciFi one man (or woman in this case) saving the universe story in the style of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat or Simon Haynes Hal Spacejock Series. It’s a good, interesting and entertaining story that takes unexpected turns and doesn’t overreach with a lot of techno-babble or spend lots of time in scene descriptions.

The only criticisms I would have is that it drags around the three quarters mark and could do with editing to tighten up the pacing. Also, I felt that the main character, Zyra Zanr needed a bit more attitude. Sometimes she seems to be the same as the other female characters. Recommended.

Storm Front

Storm Front
by Jim Butcher (2000)

I read this based on the popularity of the series.

First, I like the first person point of view and writing style, it’s tight and well paced. But whole premise of the book seems to be … Harry gets into trouble and uses magic to save himself and solve the case. There wasn’t much in the way of plot twists, suspense or intrigue.

The problem I have is that whenever Harry gets into trouble, out comes another obscure magic trick to save the day. These is never a sense of consistency or limitations to the magic. It’s probably because I have read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series with a well thought out magic system. Also, after just finishing George Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ books, fantasy just isn’t the same.

I enjoyed Mike Resnick’s ‘Fable of Tonight’ series of urban fantasy more than this.