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Small Wars

Small Wars

21st August 2015

This year's short story sees Jack Reacher back in his army days investigating a shooting. It's worth emphasising that the story is very short and I expect that many will not feel it worth the cover price - probably fair given other longer stories I've recently bought for less.

Despite the brevity, it's a solid character piece that fills in at least one of the blanks from Reacher's past and gives a new insight into who he is. I'm not sure that will be enough to satisfy many readers, but it also gives a taste of what a reader might expect from one of the full length stories as a sampler, and perhaps that's what it's really meant for.

I enjoyed it despite the length, and look forward to the character's next novel appearance in a few weeks' time.

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The Torso in the Town

The Torso in the Town

21st August 2015

Carole and Jude return to investigate a new murder, when a torso is found in the basement of a house in a nearby town. It really feels like Brett has got these two characters down to pat and we get to spend a decent amount of the plot aligned with each of them which only adds to the fun.

The plot is a good comfy murder mystery and the narrative is filled with clues and red herrings - some of the most obvious of which I missed completely, leaving me to feel a bit of a fool reflecting back!

The genius though is in the relationship between the two main character and how they think of each other and interact. Brett also manages to paint a full and rounded and memorable guest cast, so that at no point did I suffer from the classic Agatha-Christie-reader problem of not remember who was whom.

Really enjoyable, though a little gruesome in a couple of places. Would definitely recommend and could easily serve as an entry point to the series.

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The Returned part two

The Returned part two

21st August 2015

The second part of Peter David's new e-novella trilogy about Captain Calhoun and the crew of the Excalibur follows directly from the cliffhanger at the end of part one, as the ship investigates a pocket universe while attempting to recover missing friends.

I found the secondary plot more interesting though - focussed on events on New Thallon and flashbacks giving new insight into the background of the Thallonians who have played such a big part in the New Frontier series.

Overall though, although it was funny, action-packed and fun to be back with the core of characters, it does feel a lot like a middle, and this part doesn't seem like it stands alone as well as the first ebook. Strong setup though for part three, which is only a few weeks away.

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The Daylight War

The Daylight War

21st August 2015

The third book in Peter V Brett's Demon Cycle feels like the biggest of the lot - it just goes on and on, and it felt like it took much liger to read than other epic fantasy novels I've read recently.

The story continues from the end of book two, intermixed with flashbacks to earlier scenes from the life of Inevera, mirroring the introductions to other characters in the earlier stories and providing a fascinating second viewpoint on a number of scenes that the reader has already witnessed. In fact, I would have appreciated even more of this, as some of those parts felt a little glossed over where I would have enjoyed more detail.

Back in the 'present' we follow the characters as they prepare for 'The Daylight War', building to a surprise climax that I didn't see coming - partly because it didn't arrive until quite late and felt very quick and abrupt. Like in some other books, I struggled a little with the fighting / battle scenes - I think that my limited visualisation when reading doesn't help, but some authors still seem to come over better than others.

It's a great continuation of a good series and I'm particularly pleased with the way we keep getting new viewpoints added and are gradually dropped more information about the world in who b the stories are set. Looking forward to reading more.4

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Buy book: UK
Armada

Armada

21st August 2015

Armada - the latest computer game that obsessed the youth of the nation, particularly teenager Zack Lightman - the sixth highest ranked player in the global leaderboards. Until he sees one of the game's alien spacecraft for real from his classroom window, and a web of global conspiracies starts to unfold.

There are a lot of elements here that remind me of Terry Pratchett's 'Only You Can Save Mankind' (though it's a long time since I read it and I dot recall the details), and for a while that resemblance made me slightly dubious of this novel, but once thugs got moving and I got into the story I was hooked.

Cline's mastery of popular culture goes a long way to selling the story, tying in major science fiction films, classic (80s) music and computer gaming since it was invented to produce a story of surprising magnitude.

There are area though where the plot feels a little unpolished - some of the plot twists are clear from a mile off, and there isn't quite the emotional depth that I expected in a teenager from some of the scenarios presented. I had trouble following the passage of time correctly in places, and some of the more action-driven scenes were hard for me to follow (though I think this may be because I don't generally visualise what I'm reading).

A good fun read though and I'm very tempted to explore the author's previous novel and keep an eye out for more in future. There's definitely opening here for a sequel which I think could be fascinating and go into some really deep questions.

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The Paying Guests

The Paying Guests

21st August 2015

I'm not sure whether I bought this book because of the aggressive marketing campaign or because I misread the blurb. I picked it up under the impression that this was a crime novel with a bit of historical setting and romance - it turned out to be the other way round.

I really enjoyed reading the first third of the book, where the historical aspects are at the fore, and we the readers learn about the characters whose lives we are spying upon, and what their daily lives incur in the between-wars years.

After that though the plot shifted up a gear and toward the end really took over in a way that I found made things quite dull, with just scene after scene of uninspiring action. I almost felt that I would have preferred a book in which the first part continued into just a look at typical life rather than anything 'interesting' happen to the characters.

I'm not saying it was bad - it was an interesting story and it left me thinking about a number of things, particularly pondering some of the motivations of the characters outside the one with whom we are aligned. I'm probably just strange for being more inspired by the setting than the plot.

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Blind Fury

Blind Fury

21st August 2015

I'm surprised to find myself at the end of the sixth Anna Travis book - it doesn't seem like she's had that many adventures, and I can't decide whether that's a good reflection on the series or not.

When a dead body is found beside a motorway, Travis is drafted into the team investigating and proceeds to dig up more and more crimes.

The character really shows some growth in this story - having reached a new level of confidence and developed in her approach to her career. Unfortunately some of the soap opera elements of this story - and this time it really is soapish - damage that again as she is forced by the author into making surprise out-of-character decisions that really jarred and didn't feel to me like they really added to the story.

Similarly, there's one decision that the author made that gives something significant away about the plot far too early, and I felt that this ruined part of the story because it could be seen coming much earlier than felt appropriate.

Ultimately mixed feelings about this one. The problem was good and the investigation sound and interesting, but the character's personal life (often one of the elements that helps make a crime book more than just a procedural) lets it down. I've still bought the next two books though and am interested to see where Travis gets taken next.

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Buy book: UK
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Reading now

Fool's Quest

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. Headhunters
  9. Strike Zone
  10. Girl Missing
  11. The Last Don
  12. Divergent
  13. Labyrinth
  14. The Left Hand of God
  15. The Sinister Signpost
  16. Dead Man's Grip
  17. The Murder Bag
  18. Shelter
  19. Death is Forever
  20. High Five
  21. Set in Darkness
  22. The General
  23. Trapped
  24. Whispers Underground
  25. Dangerous Women part two
  26. The Maze Runner
  27. Research
  28. The Whole Truth
  29. Blood Rites
  30. Ten Second Staircase
  31. The Mystery of the Talking Skull
  32. The Disappearing Spoon
  33. Murder in the Museum
  34. Brayan's Gold
  35. Atonement