Saturday, 30 January 2016

Hold On Tight

I was put onto this book by the owner of a great local bookshop called Cracked & Spineless. This is another great example of why I love reading so much. It is finding that new Author you would normally never try and finding out how awesome they are. This in turn opens up a whole new Genre of reading for you to explore.
This is my first foray into Japanese fiction and oh boy what an introduction. In the Miso soup delivers a strangely mesmerizing story in a relatively short time frame. It is a book that slowly builds up the suspense and then whacks you over the head with shear brutality before dropping you gently back onto the floor.

Ryu Murakami does a fantastic job in teasing out the characters and plot that keeps you glued to the pages. Not having a great understanding of modern Japanese culture especially the "adult pleasure industry" side of things he weaved the education of this Gaijin seamlessly into the narrative. He has a great knack of keeping you on edge by the promise of extreme violence that you know is coming. When it arrives it is like a kick into the crotch and takes your breath away, saying that this is not what this book is about. It is about the buildup in the reader of suspense that is finally released then slowly built up again.

This book has opened my eyes to a whole new world of fiction that I am looking forward to dive into head first. Be warned though while this book is an awesome read it is not for all.
4.5 Stars

Friday, 22 January 2016

What Happens When You Kill A King?

Killers of the King is a book of two interlocking tales. The first tells the story of King Charles I and the events that lead him being tried and executed by his own parliament. The second is the trials and executions later of those who committed this act of regicide

Charles Spencer does a good job at delivering this tale of murder, intrigue and betray. For someone like me without much knowledge in this piece of history it was an enlightening read. But beware it is not a book for those with a squeamish disposition. 

3 Stars

Monday, 18 January 2016

Not Erik Larson's Best

In reviewing Isaac's Storm I have compared it to Erik Larson other books and this is why I have given it 3 stars. Larson delivers another strong narrative that brings history alive in the imagination of the reader but it does not reach the height of his other offerings.

Isaac's Storm tells the story of the destruction of the city Galveston, Texas by a hurricane and the human toll it visited upon its population. In telling this story it also tells the story of mankind's efforts to unravel the mystery of weather and to deliver accurate forecasting.

As usual the author takes great lengths in bringing the main characters in the story to life and this in turns pulls you into the story more and gives that extra emotional buy in that is his signature. If I had not read any of his other books then this would have definitely been a 4 star read. But saying that this is still a very strong read and a great piece of historic writing.

3 Stars

Friday, 15 January 2016

The New Tsar

WOW is what I thought as I finished this book, yes you need to invest some time into this book but the rewards are worth it. The story of Putin is the story of Russia trying to finds its  place in the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the promise and excitement of a new nation free from the collar of Communism to the same old story of greed, corruption, fear all fed by power and money.

The New Tsar delivers a very well researched and balanced look at the life and rise of Vladimir Putin. What I found so surprising was how this  unassuming man came to power in the brutal world of Russian politics and has stayed in power. The book does have a lot of information to take in, but it is presented so well it is a pleasure to read.

Overall this is a very timely and informative read and gave me some new insights into some recent events. It also has the honor of being the first book in 2016 to keep me reading deep into the night. So do yourself a favor and put aside some time to give this book a read. 

5 Stars

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Vrooom Vrooom!!!!

I went into this book knowing nothing about Indy Car Racing but that did not stop me from loving this book. From the opening pages the author draws you into the intriguing racing world of the early 90's and introduces to some of the legends of the Indy 500.

Jade Gurss takes us into Illmor and Penskes secret plans to develop a motor to blow their opponents off the famous Brickyard. The time frame was tight and the engine had to built from scratch in complete secrecy. Not being an engineer I was totally amazed at what was achieved and the problems that where overcome.

The result of this engine known simply as the "Beast" is now a part of Motoring history. The story behind it is less known and this book is a tribute to the truly exceptional work done by all to bring it to fruition. This book is a highly entertaining read even for those not interested in Motor Racing.

4 Stars

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Pedestrian Read At Best

One Year After is the sequel to the excellent One Second after but alas does not rise to its predecessor’s standard. The book settles into a familiar narrative that does not deliver any surprises to the reader.

The book starts off two years after "the day" which is one year after the end of the first book in the series and in that lies the mystery of the title. It is that mystery of the title that lost one star for me straight of the bat as I should not have to spend time deciphering the title of the book. As you might tell this fact annoyed me a tad.

As for the story itself we continue to follow our hero of the last book as he and is town is faced with new challenges to their survival. As I have already mentioned the story line delivers no surprises and is at best a mild pace romp into a America devastated by a strategic EMP blast. The book is entertaining but nowhere near as much as the first book in the series.
3 Stars

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Dead Mountain

Dead Mountain tells the story of a group of young experienced Russian hikers journey to the Urals which ended up in their mysterious death on Dead Mountain in 1959. Like all stories that come from the Soviet Union during this time it is a tale surround in mystery, conspiracies ans secrecy.

Like many until laying my eyes on this book I had not heard of the Dyatlov Pass Incident but I was soon pulled into this true tale of tragedy on mystery. The author has taken a lot of time in investigating this story and visiting the key sites in his search for the truth. The book is a great mix of history and the authors journey into Russia to seek out the truth.

While Donnie Eichar takes great pains to try and explain the deaths of these young hikers in the end the mystery remains. What I really like about this book is that it has given me exposure to a part of history I had no ideas about and that for me is what reading is about.
4 Stars

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Years First 5 Star Review

This book scared the pants off of me and that's no mean feat for a non-fiction Science book. The Sixth Extinction is a brutally honest book that tells the tale of the Human Races hand in the numerous destruction of so many other life forms.

If you are expecting a book that has a decidedly environmentalist slant than you will be disappointed. Elizabeth Kolbert delivers a very balanced book that cuts through all the rhetoric and lays the undeniable facts to the reader. There is so much in this book I did not know about from the demise of the frogs to the acidification of our oceans, it all makes for a truly frightening but enlightening read. Throw in with this the history of other Extinction events and this book becomes a true masterpiece.

Yes, this book is an uncomfortable, frightening and read but I think it is one of the most important books to come out last year. It is rare to see such a well balanced read and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
5 Stars