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Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

June 8, 2017

Boy Wonder and I really enjoyed Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, bringing Greek Gods into the modern world, although I wasn’t quite so gripped by the follow-up Heroes of Olympus books. Still, when I saw this for sale on a school Christmas Fair book stall, I couldn’t resist giving it a try, and I really enjoyed it.

When Rick Riordan branched into a different mythology with the Egyptian gods, I wasn’t such a fan, but I really enjoyed this book. He writes with a distinctive voice to tell the tale of a troubled teen who discovers that he is actually a Nordic demigod. The story bears some resemblance to the first Percy Jackson, with a quest centred around a God’s lost weapon, and as ever our hero, Magnus is not alone: accompanied by an eclectic selection of friends, he must battle the odds, and prove wrong the powers that be. This isn’t a wholly original story, in terms of its elements, but the use of Nordic mythology gives it a new twist, and introduces a whole new cast of figures that many will find less familiar.

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The Roaring Boy

April 16, 2017

I’m a bit of a fan of historical crime fiction, and I’d recently enjoyed listening to C J Sansom’s Revelation on Radio 4 (I read it a few years ago), so liked the idea of this – a crime novel set in Elizabethan times by Edward Marston. I bought a set of three from the Book People, not realising that I was joining a series 3 books in, but it doesn’t seem to have been a problem.

It’s a clever conceit, having the “book holder” of a theatre company as the prime investigator for this series. They have the ability to mix with all sort of different people in society, and aren’t tied down by the needs of regular employment, as well as their lifestyle lending an extra air of interest to it all. In this case, the company is produced by a mysterious individual with the story for a play which they would like worked up and presented – the aim being to right an injustice. In the event, a treasonous plot is foiled and the play becomes a marvellous success.

I’d say it’s an enjoyable book, though not a great one. I’ll doubtless read the others, but will then pass them on to the charity shop, they aren’t books to treasure or keep.

Well this has been a bit rubbish . . .

April 16, 2017

. . . I’m just moving on and saying no more!

A is for Alibi

August 28, 2016

The first of a series of catch-up posts. I’d fallen out of the habit of regular reading, and, with lots of books started and discarded, and this was a bid to get back on track. I thought that a crime thriller with a strong story line would draw me back in.

It sort of worked, and I did finish, with enough twists and turns to keep me reading, but I’d picked this partly because it was the first in a series, in case I wanted to read more, and that’s not going to be necessary. I didn’t find the protagonist Kinsey Milhone especially engaging. Still, it did the job, it provided a sufficiently direct and engaging story to keep me reading, even if the plotting wasn’t as convincing as you might hope for.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People

March 28, 2016

This was a really interesting personal insight into the supposedly ideal societies of the North – the famously happy Denmark, but also Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, with a section devoted to each one. It was particularly interesting to be reading the section about Sweden, at the same time as Super Girl was there on an exchange visit, and able to confirm that: no, people really don’t talk to each other on buses, etc.

Not as rose-tinted as The Year of Living Danishly, this also showed us the difficulties some of these Nordic societies are facing, and the drawbacks in their national characters. Although a little bleak in places, it does confirm that actually, compared to a lot of places, the statistics that place these countries as highly as they do for quality of life have pretty much got it right.

My particular favourite to visit was Iceland, with its abiding faith in fairies. It’s a country I would love to visit, and this has just appealed to me even more.

Dominion

January 4, 2016

I’d read and enjoyed C J Sansom’s Shardlake novels, set in Tudor times, but I hadn’t managed to get anywhere with Winter in Madrid, although I may give it another try now. I rather enjoy alternative histories so I picked this up at the school Christmas fair to give it a try.

Set in a depressed 1950s Britain, in which Nazi Germany is heavily influential following Britain’s surrender in 1940, this is a thriller detailing the stories of some members of the resistance.

It is a long book – more than 500 pages, and I have to admit it took me a while to get into it. I had to set my timer for half an hour each evening to make sure I read on enough to get into the story, but by the second half I was gripped and staying up too late to keep reading.

Who’d have thought it?

December 22, 2015

Turns out I was even worse at stuff than I thought. I must have read stuff between March and now, but clearly it wasn’t memorable. That’s really not good enough. I’ve eased myself back in with a bit of John Grisham, and am now enjoying a bit of a step up with C J Sansom’s Dominion.

I’ll come back to that, but first John Grisham – one of Boy Wonder’s favourites, and actually I bought him this one at the school Christmas Fair and then naughtily read it first. This was Gray Mountain, one of his more recent works, and not one of the more enjoyable ones – partly because the theme of the environmental horrors being perpetrated in the Appalachian coal mining industry, and partly because it didn’t really feel complete. There wasn’t the same racing sense of adventure that earlier Grisham novels have had. Still, it was an effective little bit of escapism, and definitely a page turner (at least until I realised that I wasn’t really turning towards anything that definite), so it served its purpose!