Bridgey's 2019 Reading

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Bridgey's 2019 Reading

1Bridgey
Mar 31, 2019, 7:27pm

Another year and my 9th on Librarything. :)

http://www.librarything.com/topic/107657 (2011)
http://www.librarything.com/topic/129358 (2012)
http://www.librarything.com/topic/148974 (2013)
http://www.librarything.com/topic/162991 (2014)
http://www.librarything.com/topic/185024 (2015)
https://www.librarything.com/topic/210670 (2016)
https://www.librarything.com/topic/244872 (2017)
https://www.librarything.com/topic/280183 (2018)

Changed jobs last year midway so my reading has really taken a hit, but will try and continue to slot a few pages in. I will keep a running book total at the top and add review posts as and when I find the time.

2Bridgey
Editado: Jan 28, 12:50pm

1 - Isvik - Hammond Innes ****
2 - Natural History - Neil Cross *****
3 - The Wolves of Winter - Tyrell Johnson ****
4 - Conclave - Robert Harris ****
5 - Plague - Graham Masterton **
6 - The Trigger Man - Joe Joyce ****
7 - The River at Night - Erica Ferencik ***
8 - The Eyes of Darkness - Dean Koontz ***
9 - Cari Mora - Thomas Harris **
10 - The Second Sleep - Robert Harris ***

2020

1 - Snow Drops - A D Miller ****
2 - Wild Life - Liam Brown ****
3 - Mountain Man - Vardis Fisher *****
4 - Roadside Picnic - Arkady Stugatsky ***
5 - 200,000,000 Years Beneath the Sea - Peter Briggs ****
6 - St Agnes’ Stand - Thomas Eidson *****
7 - Midnight Express - Billy Hayes ****
8 - The Rainbow and the Rose - Nevil Shute **
9 - Running Blind - Desmond Bagley *****
10 - Double Jeopardy - Colin Forbes *****
11 - Holy Secrets - Seymour Shubin ***
12 - dead mountain the dyatlov pass incident - Donnie Eichar ****
13 - True Grit - Charles Portis

3Bridgey
Editado: Jan 26, 12:03pm

Isvik - Hammond Innes ****

Not one of his best but still worth a read. A scientist flies over the Antarctic and spots a ship abandoned, he decides to try and locate but dies before he can start an expedition. His widow recruits a crew to explore the region and hopefully find the ship. Well researched as always with Innes and he really thrives when writing about these sort of wilderness areas. One thing I hated though, and it is a personal bugbear, when speech it written in dialect I find it distracts from the flow of the book, this time it is the Scottish characters.

4Bridgey
Editado: Jan 26, 12:45pm

Natural History - Neil Cross *****

A strange book by an author I have never heard of but will definitely keep an eye out for.

Patrick and Jane are owners of an ailing monkey zoo, but whilst Jane is a celebrity and travelling the world, he is left to deal with the day to day issues of family life. One day he awakes to find one of the elder Gorillas dead, seemingly poisoned. Who would do this to such a gentle creature? Couple this with a panther being sighted stalking the park and Patrick soon finds his life being slowly turned into chaos. The surprise when it comes is fairly unexpected and quite shocking.

I really enjoyed this book and may even revisit one day.

5Bridgey
Editado: Jan 26, 2:29pm

The Wolves of Winter - Tyrell Johnson ****

Lyn Mctell is in the Canadian wilderness following a fort of nuclear war, times are hard and it is struggle to survive especially as there is a disease spreading throughout the remaining population. Out of the blue a rider appears near the camp called Jax. She becomes intrigued by this new face and introduces him to her family, he seems very unlike anyone else she has met, could he be the link so saving not just themselves but the wider world?

So what were the standout parts? Well, the descriptions of the bleak environment really were stunningly written and I am always a sucker for an apocalyptic book.

Not really sure what I thought of this book, and bordered on 3 or 4 stars. It flowed well, had an interesting story and the plot kept me entertained. However it seemed a bit young adult at times and there were no real surprises, you could see the 'twists' far in advance.

If there is a second novel I think I would pick it up.

6Bridgey
Editado: Jan 27, 3:59pm

Conclave - Robert Harris ****

My first book by the author, although he has always been someone I meant to try for some reason I always passed him by. Conclave sounded a bit different to other books, and who doesn't love a little bit of inside information on the Catholic Church and the mysterious workings of selecting a new Pope?

Cardinal Lomeli leads a conclave tasked with the appointment of a new pope, he must ensure the smooth running of the voting system and cater for the needs of the other cardinals. The whole book is set over 72 hours and showcases the internal wranglings and political movements within the vatican as each vote sees allegiances shift. I really enjoyed this book and the way Harris has drawn the different personalities involved is brilliant. Obviously well researched and hopefully it gives a true representation of the appointment of a new pope.

Nearly a 5 star book, the only reason I have dropped to 4 it that the eventual twist wasn't all that much of a surprise and I kind of guessed it before it happened.

7Bridgey
Editado: Set 30, 2020, 4:19pm

Plague - Graham Masterton **

I have read a few books by Masterton and always found him a fairly good escapist author, nothing too deep just enough of a plot to pass the time without too much thinking. Plague though was a massive struggle for me to get into, I had hoped it would be as good as Famine, but was left disappointed.

A disease breaks out leaving only a few people immune, the government decides to burn the city to try and contain the disease but Dr Petrie escapes with his partner and daughter to try find somewhere secure to ride out the pandemic. However, he soon realises that no such place exists.

Not a truly awful book but not one that I was glad to see the back of, particularly with the ending which leaves more questions unanswered than answered.

8Bridgey
Editado: Jan 26, 3:33pm

The Trigger Man - Joe Joyce ****

Fergus Callan decides to leave his comfortable life in Boston to head back to Belfast. For most people this would be a return to home and a time for joy, however, for him this could be the end of his life. Fergus is an ex IRA sniper who left the country on bad terms with both former associates and the law. The question is who will catch up with him first and who can he trust?

A quick read and definitely one for Jack Higgins fans. Fast paced and plenty of action.

9Bridgey
Editado: Jan 28, 5:33pm

The River at Night - Erica Ferencik ***

Not an awful book by any means, my issue is that it is the same story that has been told many times before, only usually better.

We follow a group of middle aged women on an annual reunion. Despite having graduated a number of years ago, and leading fairly different lives they have kept in touch and each year decide on a mini holiday together to rekindle old friendships. This year they decide on a rapids ride accompanied with a guid and although not to everyone's taste they all agree to take part. After an accident on the remote river they must all pull together to survive and hopefully reach civilisation in one piece. However things take a further turn for the worse when they come across a mother and son who are hiding out in the wilds.

The descriptions of the countryside are really well written and I liked the background to the characters. The chapters were shot and snappy and the book flew by. My main issue was the story was very predictable and I kept hoping for a big twist that never came. I suppose it was almost a 'B' movie remake of Deliverance.

Maybe looking back, 3 stars is a little harsh, but it wasn't quite a 4.

10Bridgey
Editado: Jan 29, 2:08pm

The Eyes of Darkness - Dean Koontz ***

Fairly forgettable horror story about a mother whose son has 'died' in an accident. She is not allowed to view the body and a few months later messages begin to appear around her home suggesting he is still alive. Apparently this was written early in the author's career under an alternative name, he then revisited and rejigged the book at a later date.

I think because of a supposed connection to COVID19 and a prediction that Wuhan would start a viral epidemic that would spread across the world, the book has seen a revival - pushed by the publisher. I'll save you a read, it doesn't.

Not an awful book, but nothing really to get too excited about.

11Bridgey
Editado: Jan 28, 12:45pm

Cari Mora - Thomas Harris **.

Other than the now world famous Hannibal Lecter series, Harris hasn't really released a great deal (one other novel called Black Sunday in 1975). So when I saw a new publication I had to snap it up.

Cari Mora is a strange book. I don't know if the issue was that I expected a lot more from it but I was disappointed, the writing was at times jumbled and confusing, the plot jumpy and many of the characters fairly wooden. I suppose the best way I can sum up the book is that a few months after reading it, I can't really remember a great deal of what happened.

Cari Mora was a child soldier and used to brutality. These days she works in Miami on a temporary visa as a maid in a house previously owned by drug lord Escobar. Rumours have always been rife that there was a substantial amount of gold hidden around the property. This obviously creates unwanted attention from the type of people she needs to keep away from. Inevitable she becomes drawn into the various plots but can she stay alive?

I wonder how much attention and whether it would be a 'bestseller' if the author wasn't as well known. It has the odd moment of brilliance and a little of Harris previously used skills shines through which stops me giving a 1 rating. A more than fair 2 out of 5.

12Bridgey
Editado: Set 30, 2020, 3:33pm

The Second Sleep - Robert Harris ***

A bit of a strange book this one, I really enjoyed the idea of a plot set in the middle ages especially after having read Conclave and enjoying it. I don't think I can really describe the plot in too much detail without creating spoilers, but we follow a young priest - Christopher Fairfax , who has been sent to a remote English village in order to bury the former vicar - Thomas Lacy. However, there seems to be something a little odd surrounding the life of the recently deceased father, and in a world dominated by the church it appears as if he has broken rank and taken interest in science. On a daily basis new artefacts are being found that point to a different history to that being taught in the pulpits, but at the risk of being deemed a heretic will Fairfax delve deeper?

Brilliant idea for a book and the first half 2/3rds was really page turning, but the ending was just such a let down. It was almost as if Harris couldn't wait to get it done or simply ran out of ideas, or more than likely committed himself to the book and the ending and didn't want to give up. It's not a bad read by any means but it definitely isn't his best. Worth a look though.

13Bridgey
Editado: Set 25, 2020, 4:21pm

Snow Drops - A D Miller ****

Written in the first person we are introduced to Nick, an international lawyer based in Moscow. The novel is written by way of explanation to the authors new fiance when she has asked him about his time in Russia and reasons for leaving. He details his time in the city and explains how he became involved with a girl called Masha and her cousin via a chance meeting at a transport link. Eventually the two begin 'dating' but it is always on her terms and little by little she allows glimpses into her world even inviting him to meet her 'aunt' who is looking to move. Nick soon becomes entangled in their lives and eventually an accomplice to their crimes. Nick is a complex character with almost a superiority complex over the other lawyers in the same situation, mostly I find he comes across as fairly dislikeable, but that doesn't really matter as you keep wanting to find out more about this world he has enveloped himself it.

As a glimpse into Russia this is really well written and the atmosphere builds into a page turner, it is easy to imagine you are walking those frozen streets. However it is more or less advertised as a thriller. I think this is pushing it more than a little, and any twists are really easy to see coming, but I think the prose and storyline more than make up. I'm not sure if it has made me want to seek out any more books by the author, but if one fell into my lap I would probably give it a go.

14Bridgey
Editado: Set 14, 2020, 3:13pm

Wild Life - Liam Brown ****

This was a bit of an odd read but one I really enjoyed. I sometimes think I would love to go and live in the wilds and try to survive without the trappings of work and commitments. However, I usually associate this with the countryside or some faraway island. Wildlife brings things a lot closer to home.

Adam has everything he could need, a beautiful home, wife and children. He has a highly paid job in sales and from the outside his life is one massive party with an endless supply of drink, drugs and women. However, following the financial crash various cracks to start to appear in his life and eventually he loses his job. Unwilling to admit to his wife that he has hit a brick wall he keeps up the pretence of going to work whilst falling deeper into depression and debt. Eventually things all come to a head and Adam decides the best thing he can do is to disappear. He spends his last few quid on a bottle of vodka and tries to end his life. However, the derelict park he ends up in isn't really all that empty and a tramp called Red takes him under his wing. He discovers a whole new world where a band of men who have been forgotten by society have grouped together to live off the land away from the rest of civilisation. Things however are not always as ideal as they seem and the leader runs a very tight ship with days and weeks planned out to ensure the men neither get lazy or have time to waste.

I really enjoyed this book, it has a bit of everything, some graphic violence, some humorous parts and a storyline that keeps you wanting to turn the page. It really does make you think about the world we live in and how things can change in an instant. The comforts we all take for granted can be whipped away in a heartbeat and then we will learn to appreciate warmth and food in our belly over tv or a smart phone. All the characters are well described and each has their own little personality that makes the reader want to see how they react to different circumstances. My only criticism was that the location just didn't seem at all feasible, they are supposedly living in an abandoned park that it is only a few hundred meters from shops, and yet have very few outsiders looking into the place. That was a little hard to swallow but if you put that aside then the rest of the plot falls into place.

Think of the classic comedy 'The Good Life' crossed with Lord of the Flies and you get a taste of what to expect. Not quite 5 stars but easily an author I will read again.

15Bridgey
Editado: Set 15, 2020, 4:02pm

Mountain Man - Vardis Fisher *****

Sam Minard is a Mountain Man, someone who lives the wild west and makes a living trapping animals for their furs and selling at trading posts. Much of his life is spent in solitude and in balance with the nature that surrounds home. Although his extraordinary size - he was a giant of a man standing 6 foot Four - easily sets him apart from the other trappers, he is well liked and respected throughout the land. Eventually he stumbles upon Kate Bowden, her husband and three children have been scalped and killed by a band of Indians, yet she managed to fight and kill three of them in her blind fury. Sam decides to help her by building a small cabin near the newly built graves and checks in on her as the seasons roll around. Meanwhile Sam decides to take a wife, but while he is away trapping in the winter months she is slaughtered by Crow Indians, finding her body he vows vengeance on the tribe and openly declares war against every Crow Indian. It is now a battle of the wills as to who lives and who dies.

This has to be one of the best books I have read for a long time. The descriptive writing is amazing, and Fisher really does have an incredible eye for detail. You can tell he knows and loves his subject matter and this shines through the book. He isn't afraid to graphically describe the violence and you can expect to find the harsh reality of life in the wilderness amongst the almost poetic description of nature and landscape. No punches are also pulled when describing the Native Americans, and I wonder how this book would be received today? Probably condemned under a tirade of PC nonsense I wouldn't doubt. There are times I can see why some people may describe the prose as a little wordy, but there is more than enough action to compensate. I really cannot recommend this book enough, if you enjoy tales of survival then this will be right up your street.

This story is part based on the true story of Liver Eating Johnson and also had a film loosely based on it call Jeremiah Johnson.

16Bridgey
Editado: Set 15, 2020, 12:03pm

Roadside Picnic - Arkady Stugatsky ***

I really liked the idea of this book, and when you think it was written in the 60's under communist rule in Russia, it makes it all the more special. The plot is fairly simple, an alien race has visited Earth at several locations, they made no contact and didn't stay very long. However, the places they did stay are littered with devices and reminders of their time here have becoming dangerous places known as 'Zones'. Scientists are still trying to figure out the meaning of the visit and any potential benefit from the discarded technology. As with all situations there will be those that try to exploit the situation for personal gain, and Red is no exception, known as a 'Stalker' he sneaks in the Zone to bring back trinkets to sell on the black market. However, this isn't as easy as it sounds and many of his profession never make it back out alive or unharmed. Roadside Picnic follows ten years in the life of Red and details how the Zone impacts on not just his life, but those around him as well.

I struggled with parts of this book, occasionally I found the plot a little confusing and it also seemed to jump from 1st person to 3rd for no apparent reason. I wanted the zones to be more fleshed out and the ending left me a little cold (never been a fan of open ended), I guess I needed more of the alien world to be built around me to really get into the story. Having said that it was still a page turner and often went for almost a noir type of feel by keeping speech fairly short and snappy, I enjoyed the book but it didn't make me want to go out and read either more scifi or more by the author. So I think a rounded 3 out of 5.

Coincidentally, the Author included notes at the end which detail how the communist censoring of books worked at that time and was quite interesting. It was also made into a film called Stalker which I may look up.

17Bridgey
Editado: Set 23, 2020, 3:42pm

200,000,000 Years Beneath the Sea - Peter Briggs ****

I always enjoy reading about exploits beneath the sea, whether fictional or scientific research. This book details the 'Glomar Challenger' research vessel that set out to prove the theory of Ocean spread due to continental drift. It is a little more deep (no pun intended) than the books I would normally read on the subject, and at times just seemed to be a constant barrage of figures rather than detailing the actual events that I wanted to know but the whole concept of the experiment was to gain facts and figures, so I can't really complain. The Challenger was a ship with an in built drilling mechanism that allowed core drilling of the sea bed many thousands of feet below the waves, by studying these samples scientists could date the material and work out the age of that particular ocean section. They hoped to prove that if the centre of the ocean floor was younger than the edges then that would mean it was formed more recently and therefore proof that the Earth's plates were moving.

Really well researched and for the most part explained in relatively layman terms, the day to day life of the people on board is explained and you really get a feel for what life must have been like, often people spending many months there. Obviously technology has moved on since the Glomar Challenger was launched in 1968 but it is still nice to look back and read about those original steps into the unknown.

18Bridgey
Editado: Out 2, 2020, 2:45pm

St Agnes’ Stand - Thomas Eidson *****

I had never heard of the author, and I had never heard of the book but the blurb sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try. I am really glad I did, and after finishing went an bought the next 2 books in the series.

Nat Swanson is your typical tough cowboy, a man who knows how to look after himself and survive in the desert wilderness. He has killed a man in a fight in Texas and has left with a band of the deceased friends hot on his trail with revenge on their mind, slowed up with a bullet wound in his leg he heads towards a new life. As he makes his way across the burning desert he spies a caravan than has been attacked by Apachee, he decides to quickly help and shoots one of the indians. However, he spots a woman still alive but feels the situation is hopeless and he moves on, but it plays on his mind and soon finds himself returning to help. What he finds though are 7 orphans and three nuns, can he use all his wits and knowledge of both Indians and the surrounding environment to save them and himself? The nuns, led by Sister Agnes, believe Swanson has been sent by God to save them... Swanson is not so sure.

Okay, so here's the crunch... the ending was about as probable as me winning the lottery 3 weeks in a row, and just seemed so over the top that even a James Bond film would think twice about using it. But that doesn't matter because the quality of the writing and the fullness of the characters is more than enough to make the reader overlook it. If you can sit back and persuade yourself that that the last chapter could really happen then you are in for a stormer of a read.

The descriptions of the landscapes are second to none and you really feel as if you are there. For fans of Westerns and also those that enjoy the hard boiled noir style books.

19Bridgey
Editado: Set 22, 2020, 4:04pm

Midnight Express - Billy Hayes ****

True story of captured Hash smuggler Billy Hayes. It details his time in the Turkish prison system from his arrest to his eventual escape. The story is well written and a nice easy read but for me it just fell a little flat at times. I know it is a true story so only the events that happened can be detailed, but it just didn't really seem all that much of an adventure? The life in prison was nowhere near as harrowing as other books I have read and I struggled to empathise for Billy. He always seems to be type of person that doesn't really take responsibility for his own actions, and over the years of his incarceration I still got the same impression that no matter how much others would try to help he was always selfish enough to ignore their efforts.

A good book but just one where I struggled to root for the author, which I think in a prison/escape story you really need to.

20Bridgey
Editado: Jan 26, 4:59pm

The Rainbow and the Rose - Nevil Shute **

I am a massive fan of Shute ever since reading 'On the Beach' a number of years ago. Since then I have worked my way through most of his catalogue and always enjoyed the softness of his works and captivating storylines. I suppose it had to happen one day, but this is the first of his books I really just couldn't get into.

The book follows Johnny Pascoe, a brilliant pilot who has has crashed his plane in an attempt to rescue a sick girl in a remote Australian location. He is seriously ill and although being looked after by the girls mother if a real doctor does not get to see him it is obvious he has little time left. An old pupil of Johnny's by the name of Ronnie Clark offers to fly a doctor to the site in the hope of providing treatment, but hampered by bad weather and a landing strip no better than a small clearing it is much harder than imagined. Whilst waiting for the doctor and in between attempts Ronnie stays at the Johnny's home where he is able to look at the ailing pilots belongings and build a picture in his mind of the life he has led. By way of a series of dreams Ronnie lives through some of the major events and lost loves of Johnny's youth and allows the reader to understand the events that have shaped the man.

Where I enjoyed the almost supernatural element shown on 'In the Wet' here I felt it really distracted me. The book seemingly drifted from Johnny's life to Ronnie's with no warning which made it really difficult at time to know who was speaking. I am sure this must have been quite an innovative way of writing at the time, but I just found it annoying. I suppose if I had to sum up the book I would say that as an introduction to Shute it may be worth starting elsewhere, as if this was my first novel by the author it would have also been my last, and I would have missed out on some brilliant stories.

21Bridgey
Editado: Jan 29, 5:34pm

Running Blind - Desmond Bagley *****

I love Bagley and the way he writes, the way none of his heroes are supermen and more often than not normal people thrown into extraordinary circumstances. He excels when writing in remote landscapes so Running Blind being set in Iceland is a real treat for both fans and people new to him.

Alan Stewart thinks he has retired from the apartment (a branch of the secret service) and has made a new life for himself in Akureyri, along with a beautiful girlfriend he wants to marry. He is contacted out of the blue and 'asked' to complete one last job, something simple for a man of his capabilities, just to deliver a package. For this he has the guarantee of a stress free life and that his enemies will not be informed of his new location. Unfortunately the job isn't as straightforward as he would have liked and very soon he has a dead man on his hands and foreign agents tracking his every move. Unsure who to trust he escapes into the barren icelandic country where he must battle the elements as well as trying to work out who is friend or foe.

A brilliant story, with a brilliant character that will have you turning the page until it is over with a climatic finish. Easily recomendable and I am unsure why he isn't as well known as other authors such as Ian Fleming and Alistair Maclean - although I think the films of their works have helped. A proper 'man's' book (if we are allowed to say that any more?). Give it a try.

22Bridgey
Editado: Nov 4, 2020, 10:48am

Double Jeopardy - Colin Forbes

23Bridgey
Editado: Mar 12, 5:23pm

Holy Secrets - Seymour Shubin ***

I read a book by the author years ago called 'The Captain' and really enjoyed it, so when I came across another of his works I thought it was worth a try.

Holy Secrets did not live up to my expectations, and while it wasn't an awful book it definitely wasn't anything to get excited about.

Carla Keller is a psychiatrist at a respected hospital, her husband is also of the same profession and they have a seemingly idyllic life. However he unexpectedly commits suicide with no apparent reason. She feels there is more to his death than meets the eye, but when she starts to dig a little deeper into his past and the past of those around him, a pattern begins to emerge. Can any of the people she used to trust really be confided in? Or is there a mass conspiracy? Things take a sinister turn when her son is dragged into the equation. Is he really at risk or is it all just a part of her tormented mind looking for answers where none exist?

A fairly well written book, with a cohesive plot. The biggest issue is that the twists were seen coming a mile away and I didn't really care enough about any of the characters. The storyline has been rehashed many times (although who is say this wasn't an original idea when published in 1984?) and often written better. Not a total waste of time but if I am honest it was largely forgettable. I will still read Shubin if I come across him, but he seems to be quite rare these days.

24Bridgey
Editado: Mar 11, 5:52pm

dead mountain the dyatlov pass incident - Donnie Eichar ****

An evidence based imagining of the events that took place at the Dyatlov pass in 1959. Well researched and written, ideal for anyone with a passing interest of looking for a more indepth look. A group of young Russian hikers go on a camping excursion in the Russian bleak wilderness, none return alive and the rescue party finds a camp full of devastation. There have been numerous theories put forward over the years but obviously no one knows for sure what really happened. The author follows in their footsteps, interviews family and friends and picks apart the main reasons that have been put forward.

Personally I don't really agree with the conclusion the author came to, but I can always appreciate a well thought out and presented case, and that is exactly what we have here. Well researched and written, well worth a read.

25Bridgey
Jan 26, 10:41am

True Grit - Charles Portis