Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

C.J Sansom Books

Revelation (Sansom novel)

Dark Fire (Sansom novel)

Cover of "Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake My...


C.J Sansom Books

A prolific historical fiction writer I recently discovered.  C.J. Sansom has 6 titles detailing the Henry VIII period, The Matthiew Shardlake  series, (Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation).  One on the Spanish Civil War  (Winter in Madrid)  and one based on what would have happened if Britain had made a peace treaty with Germany in 1940 ( Dominion) .  I like his ability to drop you quickly into what it is like to live in this times, the sights, smells, daily activities and attitudes.  The writing is an easy style that keeps you very interested in the stories progress.   At the end is a fascinating history lesson/commentary from the author which is as good as the book.  Well worth it.

Cover of "Revelation"

Cover of "Winter in Madrid"

The Outlander series. Diana Gabaldon

Picture of the author Diana Gabaldon during a ...

The Outlander series. Diana Gabaldon.  2005 to 2014. This is an  eight part series  in  the romantic historical fiction genre.  These book s, if done well require an enormous amount of work to write to retain some form of historical accuracy.  This author also chooses to write huge books, with good character development.  So much development that she writes other novels that insert between the main novels in the series.

While playing in the Aegean Sea over the last 18 days I plowed through the main 8 part series,  thank you Kindle.  Despite being at first glance  chick books the author writes a damn good tale and drives to lots of suspense. However she does not kill off any of her main characters, which makes the stores less gripping as you know they will be saved.

Interested ? Google for more detail on the stories. If nothing else you will improve your Gaelic. The present TV series grabs parts from  a few of the books.  Reading the books will spoil any surprise in the TV series.


The Best Laid Plans & The High Road. Terry Fallis.

Cover of "The Best Laid Plans"

Cover of The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans & The High Road. Terry Fallis. 2008. 2010.  These  two books are hilarious ( and satirical).  The author takes on a two volume story of how an eloquent, articulate, inelegant engineering professor finds himself an unlikely MP candidate in a riding that he has no chance of winning.  His co star in this drama is a, jaundiced for his years, political speech  writing Ph.D. in English.  In the style of Jonathan Swift the author carves just north of a ludicrous path through the corridors of almost power in the House of Commons. His insights cut very close to exposing the bone of seedy and parochial displays in the House and how ideals could fall to the pursuit of re-election.   The present CBC comedy series on The Best Laid Plans adheres somewhat to the book , but does sway into a bit more melodrama than that book. In my mind the book is quite good enough without a TV producer “juicing” it up.

The Hittite. Ben Bova

The Hittite Empire (red) at the height of its ...

The Hittite. Ben Bova 2010. ISBN 9780765324023. From the pen of a very famous and prolific science fiction writer comes his first historical fiction novel. I read it as part of my trip to Turkey.  The Hittites were the prominent tribe of ancient Turkey after the Sumerians and alongside the Assyrians.  The time is the siege of Troy after Paris has stolen Helen away from Menalaos, brother of Agamemnon.  The Hittite empire has fallen and a small band of seasoned Hittite warriors get caught up in the  siege of Troy and Helen as well. They travel trhough many parts of Turkey. Read the book for its depiction of those ancient brutal times and the descriptions of the ancient cities including Ephesus.   A quick easy read for the plane ride over .

Too much Happiness. Alice Munro.

Cover of "Too Much Happiness"

Cover of Too Much Happiness

Too much Happiness. Alice Munro. 2009. ISBN 9780307273239. In respect of our newest Nobel prize winner I decided I  needed to read at least one of her books. The title called out to me.  I guess I was looking for a happy book.  From the first short story on, you quickly find out that it is not happiness but something dark that lurks in every tale.  I listened to a Peter Gzowski interview with her on CBC radio and found the author to be a perfectly delightful humble Canadian. Despite my illogical antipathy to short stories ( if this was so good , why not make a real story out of it), I have to say I read this book with relish, being able to put my latent misogyny well away, replacing it with a delight in skillful prose.

Holy Smoke. A Jerusalem Mystery. Frederick Ramsey.

English: The Holy of Holies; illustration from...

Holy Smoke. A Jerusalem Mystery. Frederick Ramsey. 2013. ISBN 9781615954285.   A body has been found in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle in Jerusalem at the time that Jesus was preaching nearby. The murder is finally solved by Jewish Rabbi and  a  Greek doctor. Call this an early Sherlock and Dr Watson. The book is a delightful insight into daily life in Jerusalem at the time. The interplay of nationalities, doctrines and the ruling elite is fascinating. A concise and quick read, the author does a good job of holding your interest.

Killing Wall Street. Sanjay Sanghoee

How to Be a Serial Killer

Killing Wall Street. Sanjay Sanghoee. 2013. ISBN 9780786755028.  A fast paced murder mystery of the new style where you are in the head of a serial killer ( to all intents a regular single mom) and that of the detective who is trying to find the killer. A lot of fun and a tight quick read. The author is a business commentator for Huffington Post and FORTUNE mag so he knows the space.

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makers. Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow, a Canadian blogger/author, at a...

makers. Cory Doctorow. 2011. One of my favorite sf writers ( especially since the stories do not always end well) , I picked this up as a companion to Chris Andersons recent book, Makers.  .  It is a terrific co read with Anderson as Doctorow is so prescient in his pictures of a 3d printer enabled makers future but he also weaves lots of  tech/geek and economic content into a compelling read.  You can read anyone else for character development – but no one holds up a better magnifying glass on society in general. He is right up there with William Gibson in that respect.

Patriots. A novel of survival in the coming collapse. James Wesley, Rawles.

Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Co...

Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Patriots. A novel of survival in the coming collapse. James Wesley, Rawles. 2009. ISBN 9781569755990.   I picked this up at our local shared library , and it is quite an eye opener. If you ever were curious to peak inside the mind of  the uber right wing US survivalist “group’ this is the intro for you.  Weapon, retreats and self sufficiency are all in here in the form of a fictional account of the US society completely unraveling after a series of catastrophic financial meltdowns.  No power, gas, government, food supply, and roving gangs of brigands who want your stuff.  Throw in the  troops of Europe who come reorganize the country and if that doesn’t make you paranoid what will.   The author is quite the blogger on this topic and if you wanted the detail on weapons, communications, bomb making and guerrilla tactics why they are there too. Sounds like the only safe place is a farm in Idaho with all your teaparty friends.

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Crude Deception. Gordon Zuckerman.

OPEC countries

Image via Wikipedia

Crude Deception. Gordon Zuckerman. 2011. ISBN 9781608321438.  The second in a series ( I have not read the first).  This is a mystery novel placed in the years just at the end of WW II.  Thus you know the end result, so its not much of a mystery!  The journey is more important here than the destination. A group of wealthy individuals are concerned that post war control of the oil industry will be too concentrated in a few oil firms.   The novel has locations in US, Europe and Asia and shows knowledge of the prevailing issues, at least from one point of view. You see the formation of OPEC  and other post war institutions.   I could not get into this book. It seems to refer back to the first novel too much, implying that one was more exciting.  The author has some pretty good basic material to work with and decent character development. I would have liked to see the action spots/cliff hangers to be more descriptive, intense  and emotive. But that is just me.