Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

The Grantchester Mysteries. James Runcie

The Grantchester Mysteries. James Runcie. 2012- 2018. Six books in the series about Sidney Chambers a jazz loving vicar of a small Anglican parish, near Cambridge in England in the 50s. There was an enjoyable English  TV series Grantchester based on some of the books.  The vicar is single, handsome and unable to stay away from solving a variety of murders that occur near him.  The books ( or series of short chronological stories)  are populated with a variety of typically English characters who are delightfully eccentric including notably attractive femmes.  The author based the vicar on his father who was in the Church.  Quite delightful, and worth the read. One book would be good for a four hour flight.

Scot Harvath series . Brad Thor.

Scot Harvath series . Brad Thor.  A 17 novel series about a black ops specialist Scot Harvath.  A bit more extreme then the Vince Flynn series but it is of a type of  rah rah US nationalism, manly servicemen,  Islamic fundamentalist fears and various state sanctioned worldwide conspiracies. The research can be a bit weak if you know the specific subject discussed. The idealism may get a bit in your way, but the action is fast and the books move right along. The later books are less detailed than the first and one could even think that the author reaches a point where he just says , time to wrap up and its over, which can make the ending disjointed.  That said each book is not a bad use of a 4 hour plane ride if wish a bit of escapism. The author is taking a run at Donald Trump in 2020.

Mitch Rapp series. Vince Flynn

 

English: Photo of author Vince Flynn taken by ...

Mitch Rapp series. Vince Flynn.  Flynn wrote a lengthy series of books featuring his character Mitch Rapp, who becomes one of the CIA’s ultimate weapons for the war on terrorism.  The books are fast paced, full of detail in and out of the corridors of power.   Flynn is equally harsh on legislatures, politicians, traitors and the  Middle Eastern terrorists.  Not the most politically correct author, yet he retains a belief in the power and competence of US military groups like Delta Force, Seal and Rangers . If you like stories action packed with lots of interesting characters, try this series out.  Flynn died at quite an early age.

The Memoirs of Cleopatra. Margaret George.

Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) confronts Julius ...

The Memoirs of Cleopatra. Margaret George. 1997. ISBN 978.312187453.  After a very thorough deep dive into history the author penned a fascinating historical novel into Cleopatra. In the authors notes she  points out the facts she turned up and where she had to fill in some gaps with logical extensions.  Even tough you know how the stories of herself, her family, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony turn out the author really engages the reader in the day by day with moving scenes and poetic language.  All in all a well done effort.

The Red Sparrow Trilogy. Jason Matthews

The -foot ( m) diameter granite CIA seal in th...

The Red Sparrow Trilogy. Jason Matthews 2013 – 2018.  Three titles in this;  Red Sparrow, Palace of Treason, and The Kremlin’s Candidate.  The story line follows the background,  recruitment and handling by  CIA operative Nathaniel Nash of Dominique Ergogan through her almost 20 years  in the Russian equivalent of the CIA.   You will never look at Putin’s statements the same way again nor those of his surrounding people. This could completely reset your views to the CIA and Russia etc.  The author and his wife worked for the CIA for many decades in many cities as well as Washington. I suspect that many of the characters in the stories reflect those they saw in real life.   This much rings true. Great tales which move right along.

 

Fools and Mortals. Bernard Cornwell

William Shakespeare by John Taylor

Fools and Mortals. Bernard Cornwell.  2017. ISBN  9780007504114.  Cornwell, a master of the historical fiction turns his hand to William Shakespeare. Told by his brother Richard we are led through the day to day life of playwright and player during the days of the fixed playhouses in the Elizabethan era. Mixed in is the power of the Puritans and town Councils ( Who both wanted to close the playhouses) . It was only due to the support of the monarchy and aristocracy that the theatres and playwrights grew to fame. The author does a very well in having the reader experience the daily grind of life at this time in a crowded, dirty London, replete with crime,  jealousies and feuds. As ever he is meticulous in his research so that you can expect the framework of his story to be rooted in fact. His historical notes are speak to that framework. Great read and holds your attention.

Enchantress of Numbers. A novel of Ada Lovelace. Jennifer Chiaverini.

Ada Lovelace, 19th century British mathematici...

Enchantress of Numbers. A novel of Ada Lovelace Jennifer Chiaverini.  2017.  ISBN 9781101985205. A historical fiction novel the author has tried to use as much historical records as possible.  Ada Lovelace is still considered the first computer programmer as she was aclose friend of Charles Babbage – who is credited with designing ( albeit not building) the first computer – his Analytical Engine.  Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron the libetine poet – who it seems was a pretty awful  husband and father.  Lady Annabella Byron ( nee Noel) is a well to do noble women who leaves Lord Byron and raises Ada Byron on her own. Ada’s childhood seems quite draconian as her mother is terrified that Ada will inherit her fathers bad Byron blood – so the child grows up quite alone, most often in the care of caring and uncaring nannies, guardians and governesses. She is denied many of the joys of childhood. She develops a very keen mind early on, especially with maths and sciences.  Her mother  believed  that women are capable of anything and let Ava develop her skills.  The novel follows Avas trials and growth through to her marriage to Lord Lovelace, her three children and her role in London society up until her death from cancer at 34.  She was living in a golden age in England and was friends with Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Mary Shelly and many notable lords and ladies of the time.  This was despite the misogamy endemic to the time and age.  The author writes a clear concise prose and it holds your interest.

Uncommon Type. Some stories. Tom Hanks.

kristin.eonline.com - HBO Post-Emmys Party, Pa...

Uncommon Type. Some stories. Tom Hanks. 2017. ISBN 9780735273832.  Who knew?  Tom Hanks can write and quite well too.  This is a motley collection of fictional stories, about writing, acting, New York living, and some fantasy.  The author maintains a clear concise , descriptive style.   I look forward to more from him.

The Store. The store is always watching. James Patterson & Richard DeLallo

The Store. James Patterson & Richard DeLallo. 2017. ISBN 0316395455. What if “Amazon” was not just a retailer , but became so much more in our lives?  Well “The Store” is that and more in a not so distant future.  A family decides to go undercover in a store managed town to discover the full story.  If you have a slightly dystopian view of the future, seasoned with conspiracy theories then you will really love or fear this book. A nice easy read yet it is pretty close to what could be truth if we get really lazy!

Use of Force. Brad Thor.

Use of Force. Brad Thor.  2017. ISBN 9780476789385, To the Cussler fans comes another author in the thriller, special forces genre. fast paced, recognizable characters and topical this is a decent book for your summer reading.  The research seems germane and the pace does not let up.