Category Archives: books and authors

Books read in 2018

This is taken from my Goodreads account, and the contents of my Kindle, and should be fairly accurate!

 

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon (a new author for me)

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton (new author)

This is Where I Say Goodbye – James Craig

Origin – Dan Brown

I’ll Keep You Safe – Peter May

Lullaby – Leila Slimani, Sam Taylor (new author)

Three Things about Elsie – Joanna Cannon

The Dry – Jane Harper (new author)

Force of Nature – Jane Harper (new author)

How to Stop Time – Matt Haig (new author)

Dead If You Don’t – Peter James

The Killing Habit – Mark Billingham

The Dark Web – Christopher Lowery (new author)

Fall Down Dead – Stephen Booth

Into the Darkness – Sibel Hodge

Take Nothing with You – Patrick Gale

Untouchable – Sibel Hodge

Careless Love – Peter Robinson

The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Kate Morton)

In a House of Lies (Ian Rankin)

The Comforts of Home (Susan Hill)

 

With 6 new authors, my reading was a bit more diversified in 2018.

As 2019 approaches, I have two books on my Kindle that might be looked at before the turn of the year, although they will be included in next year’s list:

The Warning – Kathryn Croft

The Rosicrucian Prophecy – John Paul Davies

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‘Kulcher’ in 2017

In this post I mention the books I have read, the films I have seen, the music heard/concerts attended, and exhibitions I have attended during the course of the year.

  1. Books

I read 18 books in 2017, considerable down from 32 in 2016, but this is probably a reflection of my work responsibilities. They included 5 books by Kate Morton, a new author for me. Angela bought me The Lake House in January, and that got me started! The complete list is:

The Lake House – Kate Morton

The House at Riverton – Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

Extraordinary People (The Enzo Files #1) – Peter May

Need you Dead (Roy Grace #13) – Peter James

Love Like Blood (Tom Thorne #14) – Mark Billingham

Secrets of Death (Cooper & Fry #16) – Stephen Booth

Sleeping in the Ground (Inspector Banks #24) – Peter Robinson

Acts of Violence (Inspector Carlyle #10) – James Craig

Out of Bounds (Inspector Karen Pirie #4) – Val McDermid

All Kinds of Dead (Inspector Carlyle #11) – James Craig

Beneath the Surface – Sibel Hodge

Insidious Intent (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan #10) – Val McDermid

A Legacy of Spies – John le Carré

The Murder Bag (Max Wolfe #1) – Tony Parsons

Die Last (Max Wolfe #4) – Tony Parsons

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

The Distant Hours – Kate Morton

I am currently reading ‘The Crown Jewels’ (The White Hart Book 1) by John Paul Davies, and ‘Origin’ (Robert Langdon #5) by Dan Brown.

As usual, I refer to my GoodReads account for more details.

 

  1. Films

A Monster Calls

No Man’s Land (play)

Lion

Viceroy’s House

Unlocked

Miss Sloane

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Victoria and Abdul

Paddington 2

Der Rosenkavalier (opera recorded live)

 

  1. Miscellaneous

Dick Whittington (Panto at Birmingham)

Burn’s Night Supper (SCR Keele)

Nabucco (opera)

Exhibition: America – Pop to the Present (British Museum)

Exhibition: Bond in Motion (British Film Museum)

Exhibition: David Hockney (Tate Britain)

Mama Mia (stage version)

Exhibition: America after the Fall (Royal Academy)

Exhibition: Hokusai (British Museum)

Musical: Wonderland

Play: A Judgement in Stone

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Exhibition: Russian Revolution – Hope and Tragedy (British Library)

Exhibition: Constable in Brighton (Brighton Pavilion)

Musical: The Wedding Singer

A Murder is Announced

Musical: Son of a Preacher

Musical: Cilla

Beer Tasting (SCR Keele)

Exhibition: The Scythians (British Museum)

Considering how busy I was this year, I managed to do quite a lot. I have talked about some of the bands I saw this year in a separate post.

Review of ‘Prelude to Dystopia’ by John Lyman

This is the sixth book by John Lyman that I have read. His earlier books include four in the ‘God’s Lions’ series (The Secret Chapel, The Dark Ruin, House of Acerbi and Realm of Evil), and ‘The Deep Green’. I have enjoyed all these books and recommend them. ‘God’s Lions: The Secret Chapel’ is also being made into a film in 2016.

‘Prelude to Dystopia’ describes how a young writer/reporter, Ben Swain, is assigned to interview a leading expert on cyber terrorism, who turns out to be far more than that. In fact he represents an organisation concerned with pollution of the planet Earth (the 2050 Group), and he is a US Army General as well. He persuades Ben to sign a non-disclosure agreement and arranges to meet him again. Ben learns more about the concerns of the group that the General belongs to, and decides to try to find out more about him and the organisation he works for. His efforts to do this lead to him going on the run, accompanied by his agent’s assistant, Emily. He eventually tracks down the General and learns what the 2050 group’s aims really are. He has to make an important decision: whether to join them or not? The book describes the consequences of his decision, and what happens to the planet as a result of the 2050 Group’s actions.

I read this book in a few days and found it hard to put down. It is both exciting and spine chillingly predictive in its discussion of what might happen to our planet if the use of fossil fuels continues unchecked. Also, reading it shortly after the UN Conference on Climate Change had taken place meant that the ideas discussed in the book were very much in my mind. In short, I recommend it, and gave it 5 stars on Amazon and GoodReads.

Books and authors in 2015

2015 has been something of a record year for reading for me. I’ve completed 40 books; mainly of the fiction genre, but I’ve included 1 non-fiction book at the end of the list. My discovery of 2015 was Patrick Gale, thanks to a magazine that my wife Angela purchased to read on a train journey to London in April. It had an article on his latest book, A Place Called Winter, and once I had read that I was addicted, as you can see from the list below! Another author I discovered was Sibel Hodge, who appears three times. I enjoyed Robert Goddards’s Wide World trilogy, which I saw advertised at the NEC on a visit there. John Lyman features twice on the list, as does James Craig and Sophie McKenzie. I was saddened by the death of Ruth Rendell, and two of her books appear on the list, including her very last book, Dark Corners, as well as The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy, an earlier book published under her alternative name, Barbara Vine. I also enjoyed Val McDermid’s latest Tony Hill/Carol Jordan book, Splinter the Silence, which ended on a positive note (but which as Val commented in a response to my Tweet, won’t last!).

Here’s a list of the books I have read:

The Templar Cross – Paul Christopher
Runaway – Peter May
Sins of the Fathers – James Craig
The Stand – Stephen King
The Deep Green – John Lyman
Black Wood – S J I Holliday
A Place Called Winter – Patrick Gale
Time of Death – Mark Billingham
You are Dead – Peter James
Rough Music – Patrick Gale
Notes from an Exhibition – Patrick Gale
A Perfectly Good Man – Patrick Gale
Friendly Fire – Patrick Gale
A Sweet Obscurity – Patrick Gale
The Whole Day Through – Patrick Gale
The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy – Barbara Vine
The Murder Road – Stephen Booth
The Ways of the World – Robert Goddard
The Corners of the Globe – Robert Goddard
The Ends of the Earth – Robert Goddard
The Madagaskar Plan – Guy Saville
Nobody’s Hero – James Craig
The Bordeaux Connection – John Paul Davis
The Good Girl – Fiona Neill
Solomon Creed – Simon Toyne
Here we Lie – Sophie McKenzie
The Outsider – My Life in Intrigue – Frederick Forsyth
The House on Cold Hill – Peter James
Social Engineer – Ian Sutherland
Dark Corners – Ruth Rendell
Invasion of Privacy – Ian Sutherland
Where the Memories Lie – Sibel Hodge
Look behind You – Sibel Hodge
Even Dogs in the Wild – Ian Rankin
Trust in Me – Sophie McKenzie
Splinter the Silence – Val McDermid
The See-through Leopard – Sibel Hodge
Prelude to Dystopia – John Lyman
Sunfail – Steven Savile

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About The World – Tim Marshall

All in all, it was a great reading year. Let’s see if I can beat it next year!

Review of ‘The Bordeaux Connection’ by John Paul Davis

This is the sixth book I have read from John Paul Davis, the others being ‘The Templar Agenda’, ‘The Larmenius Inheritance’, ‘The Plantagenet Vendetta’, ‘The Cromwell Deception’ and ‘The Cortés Enigma’. Like his previous books, it is exciting and interesting and hard to put down.

The plot describes the actions of an ancient and secret order called the White Hart, set up to defend the realm but to operate in the utmost secrecy. When a group of terrorists attack the official Scottish archives, apparently to steal artwork and manuscripts, the White Hart order get involved because the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister is found to be involved with a member of the group. The terrorists then launch a second attack on the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and further links with UK Cabinet Ministers are uncovered. Although they are unable to stop the attack, the White Hart Order find a further attack is planned for a well-known location in Paris. They must then attempt to foil this attack and apprehend the terrorists, as well as finding out more about how the terrorists are linked with members of the UK government, without it becoming public knowledge.

I understand that there are further books planned based on the White Hart Order, and the main characters introduced. I look forward to these!

My introduction to the novels of Patrick Gale

I have always enjoyed reading, and since I started using a Kindle some years ago, I have extended my range of authors, often influenced by social media and interactions with the authors themselves. For the last few years, I have mainly read novels from the crime and spy genres, but recently I felt the need to try something new, which might be a bit more emotionally satisfying.

In mid-April, Angela and I were travelling to London for a short break and to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Angela was reading the May issue of ‘Woman and Home’, and showed me an article about an author by the name of Patrick Gale, describing his latest novel (see below). She thought it might be of interest to me, and sure enough I downloaded it.

Woman & Home piece
Taken from ‘Woman & Home’, May 2015, page 206

‘A Place Called Winter’ is based on the author’s family history. It describes how his maternal grandmother’s father emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada, leaving his wife behind. As a result of this, she had a rather sad childhood, especially when her mother died, leaving her to be brought up by a succession of nannies. Why her father emigrated was unknown to any living relatives, but the author manages to fill in the gaps and create an excellent and totally credible story. I don’t want to say any more, for fear of giving too much away, but I recommend this novel highly.

Since reading ‘A Place Called Winter’, I have read two more of Patrick Gale’s novels. ‘Rough Music’ describes events that took place in two family holidays to Cornwall separated by more than 40 years. The story alternates between then and now, and the consequences of what happened all those years ago for present day events are described vividly. I loved this book, and didn’t want it to end!

‘Notes From An Exhibition’ starts with the death of an emotionally troubled artist, and pieces together her life and the effect of her creativity and bouts of depression on her family over a period of some forty years. I enjoyed reading it, but preferred ‘Rough Music’ in that it seemed to reach a slightly more satisfactory conclusion.

To conclude, an article in a magazine that I wouldn’t normally read (Woman and Home) introduced me to an new author, and a set of new novels. I’m continuing with these, and I’m going to read ‘A Perfectly Good Man’ next.

Books and Authors in 2014

The books I have read in 2014, in alphabetical order of author surnames, are:

Billingham, Mark: ‘The Bones Beneath’
Booth, Stephen: ‘The Corpse Bridge’
Craig, James:  ‘A Man of Sorrows’, ‘Shoot to Kill’
Christopher, Paul:  ‘The Sword of the Templars’
Davis, John Paul: ‘The Plantagenet Vendetta’, ‘The Cromwell Deception’
Hannah, Sophie:  ‘The Telling Error’
Hill, Susan:  ‘A Breach of Security’, ‘The Soul of Discretion’
Hillier, Michael: ‘The Wolf of Hades’
James, Peter: ‘Want You Dead’
King, Stephen: ‘Under the Dome’
McDermid, Val: ‘The Skeleton Road’
Meade, Glen: ‘The Snow Wolf’
Picoult, Jodie: ‘Leaving Time’, ‘The Storyteller’
Rees, Emlyn: ‘Wanted’
Rendell, Ruth: ‘The Girl Next Door’
Savile, Steven: ‘Lucifer’s Machine’, ‘Immortal’
Vine, Barbara: ‘The Child’s Child’

This is slightly less than last year, but still a reasonable number. James Craig once again published two of his Inspector Carlyle books, and Ruth Rendell appeared twice, as herself and as Barbara Vine. John Paul Davis published three books this year, of which I have read two; the third one will be a 2015 entry.

New authors for me in 2014 included Paul Christopher, who has written a series of books on the Templars. Having read the first, I am sure I will be trying the others. I tried a couple of Jodie Picoult books after a magazine recommendation; she has published prolifically and I will no doubt try some more of her books in the future. I also read my first Stephen King novel, Under the Dome, because I wanted to compare it with the TV serialisation (conclusion: there is very little similarity apart from the general theme and some of the main characters).

I write book reviews when I can, because I know this helps the authors, but I don’t always have time. And I had a problem with one review I wrote this year when I was criticised for giving too much away (of the plot). It seems to be a fine line between providing enough and too much information! Since writing reviews can be time consuming, this has slightly put me off, but you will find reviews, from me of some of these books on Amazon and Goodreads.

To conclude, I enjoy reading when I have time, and interacting with an increasing number of authors on social media helps me to keep up with their latest offerings. I still use a Kindle for most of my reading, although I’m on to my second one because the first developed screen problems and had to be replaced. I’m looking forward to more good reading in 2015.