Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: Mogadishu Diaries, Bloodlines by Eddie Clay Thomkins III

"Mogadishu Diaries, Bloodlines" follows the exploits of a group of US Marines, between 1992-1993, taking part in the conflict in Somalia in which time local warlords were targeted by the US and UN in an attempt to restore stability to this East African country. In this book Eddie Clay Thomkins III provides a narrative account of the events in Somalia that preceded those which were made famous in the book and resultant movie, "Blackhawk Down".

In Bloodlines the author has created a book which is both interesting and easy-to-read, not getting bogged down in long, superfluous, background story but just getting straight into the action. Indeed, so easy it is to read that it actually feels a bit light for the subject matter and it is testament to the way that the events are described, in a reader-friendly way, that the end is reached so quickly that readers may feel a little short-changed in terms of the amount of content here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Review: Slam by Nick Hornby

"Slam" is an amusing insight into the life of a teenager who is cruising through life, happy with his lot, until a small mistake changes his life forever. Nick Hornby is well-known for his books in which he writes about the feelings and emotions of the characters dealing with the type of situations that effect every day people and in Slam he does an incredible job of writing in the narrative of a teenager obsessed with skate-boarding.

This story is about how the main character, Sam, has to deal with the consequences of his actions as he is dealt with the problems of a man while still a teenager - the increasingly familiar issue of teenage pregnancy. What is interesting in this book is how Sam's perception of living with the consequences of his actions contrast with an alternative version of what could happen and how Sam, in the absence of a father figure, turns for life advice to the unlikely guru-like figure of the skater Tony Hawk.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Whatever Loves Means by David Baddiel

Author, David Baddiel, sets his novel, "Whatever Love Means", during the hysteria surrounding the death of Princess Diana, in 1997, where a difference of opinion on how this historical event affects people's everyday lives drives the initial wedge between a married couple that begins a process in which, ultimately, several close relationships are utterly destroyed.

Played out to the backdrop of a national event in which many people try their best to turn into their own personal tragedy, a real rupture occurs in the life of Joe and his family as his wife dies in mysterious circumstances leaving him with their small child to look after. Not prepared to accept the official account of the circumstances of his wife's death Joe delves further into the tragedy only to find that he has been terribly let down by all of those who were closest to him.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Review: The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith

The "44 Scotland Street" novels are one of the series of books that Alexander McCall Smith is known for and this is the fourth installment. Set in Edinburgh the reader follows a snapshot of the lives of the inhabitants of Scotland Street, with the young Bertie as a central character, a boy who is unfortunate enough to have an over-protective and over-ambitious mother pushing him into music classes and yoga lessons when all he wants to do is be a normal little boy.

The strength of this book lies in the characters. Seldom have I read a book with so many interesting and unusual characters that quickly make the reader want to know more about them and find out where their story is going to end up; the art dealer and his new girlfriend the teacher, the Jacobites, the woman whose father "buys" her a husband and little Bertie himself. Unfortunately, this leads to the major weakness of this book; the reader never gets very deep into any of the characters lives, they are spread rather thinly through the book and not one of them has their narrative concluded. In other words there is no plot at all.