Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Review: Atlantis by David Gibbins

Author David Gibbins begins this novel with an archaeological discovery  in an ancient Egyptian tomb which sets the characters along the road of discovery in the quest of the lost city of Atlantis. Although this is very much a work of fiction, it contains a lot of factual information surrounding the legend of Atlantis to give it the feeling that it could be true. A series of follow-up discoveries lead a team, led by Jack Howard, to the Black Sea where the investigation of underwater ruins is complicated by an abandoned nuclear submarine and a well-equipped organization of piratical treasure-hunters.

This is a fast-paced story where one discovery quickly leads to another which is followed by rapid code-breaking and expert-level knowledge-based deduction from the collection of experts that are assembled here. The combined effect of quick-fire problem solving and archaeology  makes it feel like the author is attempting to create a cross between the Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones; he fails miserably.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book Review: Mister Roberts by Alexei Sayle

Anyone who knows the British comedian and author of this book, Alexei Sayle, will know that he has a reputation for the bizarre and here he provides a short novel with one of the most unusual stories that readers are likely to come across. Set in an expat community in Spain a boy with an irresponsible mother discovers an incredible machine which originates from another planet that gives him the ability to masquerade as a powerful, but mute, adult: Mister Roberts.

This is a short novel with a simple plot but one which is so boldly preposterous that it is instantly fascinating and makes the reader turn the page in a desire to know where this unusual premise can be leading. The story is also punctuated with amusing asides and similes, but gradually it reveals a more serious underlying message about how to behave responsibly when in possession of power.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book Review: I Spy With My Little Eye by Linnea Mills

I Spy With My Little Eye is a non-fiction publication which reflects on a wide variety of modern behaviour and lifestyle choices. Author Linnea Mills examines subjects such as social media use, short-termism is politics and daily life, sexual attitudes, consumerism and celebrity culture among other themes and asks serious questions about the morality of modern society in Britain.

The author uses chapters that are defined by the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues to categorize and dissect the subject matter. That, though, is not to say this is a religious book, it most certainly is not, instead these are used to clearly and effectively define to the reader what the chapter is about using a variety of well-referenced examples delivered in an engaging and easy-to-read style. Although this book deals with serious ideas, it is not a heavy book in either the way it is written nor in size.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: The Secrets of the Lazarus Club by Tony Pollard

The Lazarus Club is a fictional society of great Victorian minds, which include Brunel, Babbage & Stephenson, formed to share and bring together progressive and revolutionary ideas in their respective fields; an innocent and stuffy sounding group but one that has secret aims and rivalries that lead to murder. In author Tony Pollard's first work of fiction Dr George Phillips is invited to join this group of high-achievers but is used as a pawn, from the very beginning, by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to further his secret ambition to construct a world-changing piece of apparatus, an invention that others want to obtain for a much more sinister aim.

This historical thriller is full of intrigue, capturing perfectly the atmosphere of the time in Victorian dockyards, hospitals and the sickly River Thames, transporting the reader to those places in that time while weaving a gripping tale that, at times, is reminiscent of Dickens or Conan-Doyle but in a style that caters to modern readers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book Review: Mr Dixon Disappears by Ian Sansom

In Mr Dixon Disappears author Ian Sansom gives his second outing to his character, Israel Armstrong; mobile librarian to a small Irish town and, once again, a reluctant and incapable detective. Having settled successfully the previous Case of the Missing Books and been reluctantly  accepted as part of the scenery in his adopted home in County Antrim, Israel embarks on a new project, a display of the history of the town's oldest store, only to find himself as the chief suspect in the disappearance of Mr Dixon, the owner of the store.

This light-hearted story begins with an interesting and entertaining premise, with a style that is easy to read and relaxing, introducing many of the characters from the previous installment. However, after a promising start the author seems to have gone into auto-pilot and most of the characters in this tale end up having no purpose other than as a nod to fans of the previous story, almost as if they were a catch-phrase to be acknowledged in a mid 1980s sitcom.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Books to be Reviewed: I Spy With My Little Eye by Linnea Mills

Thanks to Linnea Mills for sending me a copy of her book I Spy With My Little Eye for reviewing. This is a non-fiction book which investigates modern life and morality in Britain, indeed, the tagline to the title is "A journey through the moral landscape of Britain".

"Which direction is our society heading in? Does it provide a good enough nurturing ground for the next generation to flourish? Is it time we took a good look at our values and behaviour and changed course? Dr Linnea Mills offers a frank discussion about the prevailing norms and values in today’s Britain, interpreted through the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues. She tackles head-on topics as diverse as celebrity culture, work-life balance, immigration politics and economic divisions. This is a book for anyone with a keen interest in society, philosophy and politics. Get inspired and join the debate."

A review will appear on this website soon. For those who wish to purchase it now it is available here - I Spy With My Little Eye.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review: The Religion by Tim Willocks

The Religion, by author Tim Willocks, is set upon the island of Malta in 1565 and follows the exploits of Mathias Tannhauser, an adventurer and mercenary who embarks on a mission to locate a Maltese Noblewoman's estranged son. This quest is set during the time and true events of the great siege of Malta, which pitched the Knight's Hospitaller and people of Malta against the combined forces of the Ottoman Empire and its allies, one of the last great crusader battles.

The Religion is an extremely well-researched and equally well-written novel but whilst large parts of the book are devoted to battle scenes, the prose does not adopt a descriptive, repetitive or hackneyed style; in fact the descriptions of combat are brutal, gory, poetic and written in a gripping style full of suspense with larger than life heroes and villains as the combatants.