Shastrix Books

Recently reviewed

The Son

The Son

18th November 2016

This standalone novel from Jo Nesbo introduces us to 'The Son', who has become a religious figure in his prison, relieving the other prisoners of their guilt through confession, as well as involving himself in various other goings on. Until one day he receives some surprising news, and immediately things change.

This is a fantastic story which I really loved. The narrative gripped me throughout as I was desperate to start pulling together all the threads on my mind and learn what everything meant. Despite that I was still surprised by how things worked out.

One of the best things about this story is the way that the narrative is presented. Throughout the story we are aligned with many different characters, some only for moments, and it's through their eyes that we see the whole story - at no point are we aligned with the Som himself. I thought this was a great way to tell the tale while leaving some things a mystery, and it really goes to show off the creativity of Nesbo's mind.

I found myself completely hooked on this story and would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or thriller. Have fun.

read more

Hell's Heart

Hell's Heart

18th November 2016

This is the first book in a new trilogy - the second celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek - focussing on The Next Generation crew and being a part of the continuing adventures told in the novel series. Picard and the crew are dispatched on a diplomatic mission to deliver a Klingon house to a celebration of an old battle, but as usual complications arise.

Despite the main storyline following TNG there is a pretty chunky Original Series act in the story with some star turns by Kirk and Spock, which serves to give some background and set up events in the later era.

It's a great story that uses a bunch of familiar characters really well and sets this up to be an excellent trilogy. The plot is deliciously complex pulling on strings from throughout the Trek canon and unwinding them in new and interesting ways. The new characters are rich and compelling and draw the reader in to their intrigue.

An excellent tribute to the series, and one that leaves me desperate to continue the story with book two.

read more

Shattered

Shattered

13th November 2016

Book seven in the increasingly convoluted Iron Druid sees our cast expand again to three different characters we are aligned with - bizarrely two of them speak in one tense and the third another. This adds some more fun to the tale as we can follow a number of different plots simultaneously and makes it more entertaining.

The plot sees the characters split up on separate adventures, but nevertheless feels like it's treading water again - more about moving the pieces into position for a forthcoming finale rather than actually telling a self-contained story.

My interest fell mainly with the secondary characters, each of whom at least have an emotional arc and are exploring new things, but overall the plot didn't grip me and I found some passages particularly dense and hard to ingest.

I'm not out off enough to abandon the series, but I am kind of feeling glad it's almost over, as it already seems a bit dragged out. Perhaps once it's wrapped up I'll be better able to appreciate the individual parts.

read more

Strike Lightning

Strike Lightning

13th November 2016

The third book in Steve Cole's Young Bond series (which itself is a continuation of Charlie Higson's five-book series) sees the teenage James Bond take up a place at Fettes - a traditional Scottish public school. Idyllic school life doesn't last long though - when Bond encounters a suspicious teacher and his assistant, and one of his schoolfriends is struck by lightning.

It's another really great adventure in this series that paints a good picture of its locations and time in the 1930s. I've read a number of historical young adult novels recently and it's really great how authors are telling thrilling but authentic stories from this time.

There is a touch of science fiction to the story, and I'm in two minds as to whether or not this works. It is a staple of Bond fiction and film to depict technology that's a step ahead of reality, but that's easier to consume when it's in a contemporary setting than in the past.

Overall an enjoyable read that adds another view of the era that shapes the character that we see in the later, original novels, as well as being an entertaining and age-appropriate adventure for younger readers.

read more

Buy book: UK
Closed Casket

Closed Casket

8th October 2016

Sophie Hannah returns to pen her second Hercule Poirot novel in what appears to be becoming an officially sanctioned continuation series (although in the originals, there is little continuity between stories, and here we have several direct references to the previous story).

This time Poirot, and our returning narrator, Inspector Catchpole, are summoned to Ireland to the home of a dowager countess who plans to make a startlingly my announcement. It's hardly a spoiler to say that murder ensues, and we join the sleuths as they investigate.

Hannah captures brilliantly the balance of crime and humour that Christie's own works were populated with, particularly with the character who I felt was Enid Blyton-esque (though others have suggested it's Christie herself) who adds the necessary touch of comedy that keeps this style of whodunnit from becoming dark and gritty like much of the modern crime genre.

I was not massively impressed with Hannah's previous Poirot book, but this time felt that she had got it spot on - an excellent mystery which only mostly baffled me until the end.

read more

Purgatory's Key

Purgatory's Key

&

8th October 2016

The third and final part of Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary celebratory trilogy follows Kirk and his crew, and selected special guests, as they attempt to tie up the many problems that the last two books have raised.

Ultimately I suppose that is where this story suffers - it doesn't really have the chance to set up its own internal plot, but instead is left to put the toys back away. While this does lead to some interesting quite science fictiony concepts that get explored, it also drives a secondary plot which seems bolted on and doesn't seem to add much other than to delay the conclusion of the story. I also felt that some of the detail went over my head - whether because I missed something key or something key was missing - which meant that although I got the ending it wasn't entirely clear how or why we had got there.

The characters didn't all feel quite as fleshed out as in the previous stories, and I didn't find them as engaging, particularly the special guests. It also felt in places like this novel had been written without an understanding of what was happening in the others, as several scenes have characters reflecting on having not done something before that they had only just done in the previous book.

Overall it did well at wrapping things up, but I don't think it was as strong as the other novels. Admittedly, I'm not really an Original Series fan and so might not be the target audience, but it hasn't done anything to make we want to pick up anything else from this era in the near future.

read more

Dead Beat

Dead Beat

8th October 2016

Zombies are the monster of the week in this, the seventh book about Harry Dresden, Chicago's local wizard for hire. Knock-on effects of the previous books in the series lead to several uglies seeking out the secrets of necromancy, and Dresden is once again sucked in.

I found it quite hard to get into this story. The beginning relies on recalling who a number of people are that are hanging over from previous stories, and continues to introduce new ones to Dresden's gang. Once I'd reached about halfway though the story seemed to liven up a bit and start to draw me in to the point where I was racing through.

One of the standout aspects of this particular story is the way Butcher has littered foreshadowing subtly throughout, and while I picked up on some of it from the classic Chekov's _______ presentation, a lot still surprised and delighted me when it came to the later reveal.

The climax of this one is excellent, and it does continue to build up the complex world of these stories - though I perhaps think I need to consider taking some sort of refresher course before hitting each new entry.

read more

Show more

Reading now

The Victoria Vanishes

Reading soon

  1. A is for Alibi
  2. The Gunslinger
  3. Dèjá Dead
  4. The Name of the Wind
  5. Fearless
  6. Dissolution
  7. Postmortem
  8. Girl Missing
  9. The Last Don
  10. Divergent
  11. Labyrinth
  12. The Left Hand of God
  13. The Murder Bag
  14. Death is Forever
  15. The Maze Runner
  16. Research
  17. The Whole Truth
  18. The Disappearing Spoon
  19. Murder in the Museum
  20. Oh Dear Silvia
  21. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
  22. Play Dead
  23. Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman
  24. The Listerdale Mystery
  25. The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
  26. The Wheel of Time Companion
  27. Dead Man's Time
  28. The Disappearing Floor
  29. Seven Up
  30. Chosen
  31. The Skull Throne
  32. Resurrection Men
  33. Wolf's Brother
  34. Foxglove Summer
  35. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
  36. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
  37. Gallows View
  38. The House of Silk
  39. The Road to Mars
  40. Staked
  41. The Atrocity Archives
  42. The Jackal's Trick