Book Review: The Last Christmas by F. Paul Wilson

About 18 months ago I blogged about the Repairman Jack series of books by F. Paul Wilson (read about it here). Even though the whole story arc has been completed, Mr Wilson does like to surprise us. In this instance he has released a new book set between the books Ground Zero and Fatal Error. I’m never going to complain about another book, especially as this opens up the possibilities of more new books, also set between books already released.

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In this book Jack is tasted with protecting one of the Infernals, although he doesn’t know that, plus an old character from The Tomb reappears with a referral for another job. Obviously both jobs are not what they seem and almost inevitably the clash.

As with most Jack books this is a great read and one that I couldn’t put down. I normally hate having to use the train to get to work, but it did mean that I could spend an extra couple of hours reading.

My only gripe is that the book does appear to reference characters and items that I feel that I should know about. I know that I’ve not missed any Repairman Jack books, but looking on Amazon and the F. Paul Wilson forum it would appear that there are a couple of short stories that I’ve missed. I promptly purchased them for my Kindle, which has now stopped working. It is a 3rd generation Kindle from 2010, so maybe it’s time for a new one. I’ve tried resetting and restarting it to no avail.

Back to the book, and if you’re not up to speed with the series, this one isn’t a good place to start, although it is more ‘stand alone’ than others. As I mentioned in my review last year, The Tomb, the very first book, is one of the best horror/thriller books out there.

Book Review; Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

I’m slowly working my way through the pile of books that I’ve read but not reviewed, and this one I think I finished months ago.

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First off, James S.A. Corey is the pen name of two collaborators, one of whom is an assistant to George R.R. Martin. Leviathan Wakes was another book recommended by the increasingly incorrectly named Manchester Post Apocalyptic Book Club. There is no post apocalypse in this book. Set in the future, mankind has colonised Mars, the Asteroid Belt and beyond. Generations have been living off world for so long that those brought up on colonies where gravity is less than on Earth are far taller. It’s also part of a much longer series called The Expanse, with Leviathan Wakes being the first book.

What’s it about? A drunken old cop is given a job of finding a runaway, with the knowledge that he will fail. In parallel is an officer on an ice miner, along with his crew, trading between Saturn and the Asteroid Belt. They find an abandoned ship, contaminated with an alien artifact. An unknown faction wants to start a war between the Belters, Mars and Earth as well as finding out what the artifact does.

There’s nothing ground breaking in this book, although it is a fairly satisfying read, and at well over 500 pages there’s a lot to get into. Of course, the proof with any series of books, is would you read the next one. I will be honest and say that it is very doubtful if I will. I just wasn’t gripped enough to continue with another seven books. I will probably take this book to the Free Little Library round the corner, instead of placing it on our bookshelf in the spare bedroom never to be looked at again.

It’s not a bad book, but it wasn’t really for me.

Book Review: I Talk Too Much by Francis Rossi

I managed to pick up this book from one of our visits to Barter Books (read about it here). It’s only recently been released and it was less than half price; bargain.

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Obviously the book begins with his childhood, the formation of the band that would become Quo, the seminal meeting with Rick at Butlins, and their foray into psychedelia with their first hit Pictures of Matchstick Men, and the gradual change into heavy rock. Many fans argue that the 70’s is the classic Quo lineup with their greatest hits. I probably wouldn’t argue about that. Francis is also very honest about the split after Live-Aid and then waiting for Alan to jet home to Australia before reforming without him, with the inevitable court case.

I will be honest that in my teenage years I was a big Quo fan, although I will agree with the bassist Alan Lancaster that the single Marguerita Time was awful, which was probably when I stopped listening to any of their new material. That was until the 2011 album Quid Pro Quo which was released exclusively through Tesco.

I’m rambling, what’s the book like. Over 50 years in one band means that there are going to be a stories. Francis doesn’t shy away from examining his relationships with both Alan Lancaster, who he doesn’t like in the least, and Rick Parfitt who was like a brother. He also mentions the drugs, and just how much cocaine he was taking, to the extent that his septum fell out. Francis cleaned up and stayed sober and drug free; Rick not so much.

I don’t read the tabloid papers, so I never knew of the acrimony coming from Rick’s family towards Francis. Status Quo have continued without Rick, but they were touring and recording without him for a couple of years before his death. Rick was working on his autobiography before he died, so I’m sure a version of it will be published soon, as will Alan Lancaster’s.

Anyway, the book is brilliant, even if you only have a passing interest in the mighty Quo.

 

Books, Books, Books!

For my fiftieth birthday a couple of months ago I was given two book tokens, which I have now spent. These new books, combined with purchases from Barter Books (read about it here) now means that the pile of books beside by bedside has become ridiculous, much worse than it was a year ago (read about it here). Not only that, but the pile of books that I’ve read and haven’t blogged about is also ridiculous.

I’m going to implement a rule, I’m not allowed to start a new book until I have reviewed the one I’ve just finished, and one other from the pile next to the fruit bowl. That way, in a few months I should be caught up. Additionally, no new books this year (caveat; unless one catches my eye and I can’t possibly manage without it).

How many books do you have waiting to be read?

Bedside Stack of Books

I’m sure I’m not the only person with a large pile or stack of books next to the bed which you are going to read.

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I’ve decided that I’m going to start at the bottom and work my way up, as my most recent purchases are all at the top. A couple of the hardbacks at the bottom have been there so long that the paperback version has been released. The stack of books isn’t helped by the fact that it was my birthday last month and among the many gifts that I was given, was a Waterstones voucher and a Book Token. This coupled with the One4all vouched that I was given at work, which confuses some shops, so I generally only use it at Waterstones. They will probably send me a Christmas card this year I’m in there so often.

I should probably not buy any more books until my stack is slightly less dangerous, although my excuse is that the One4all vouchers are only valid for one year, so I really should spend it quickly.

A couple of other books on my stack were handed to me by my wife, who thought that I would like them, and another couple of books I borrowed from Little Free Library on the next street (read about it here).

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I’ve almost finished Fear by Bob Woodward and next after that will be Artemis by Andy Weir, a heist on the moon. I really enjoyed the film version of his earlier book The Martian, which I will look for if Artemis lives up to the reviews.

How large is your stack of bedside books?

Book Review 2018 – Part V

I’m catching up with another book review here. Generally I like to group two books that go well together in one review, but this time they are like the opposite of two peas in a pod. Maybe they are similar, much like a carrot and a washing machine are.

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I like Tim Moore’s writing and have read most of his books, including reviewing one of his in my first book review, many aeons ago (read it here). In that book he was cycling from northern Finland to the Med, in winter, on an old shopper made before the iron curtain came down. Bonkers! Loved it!

This time he is driving around Britain visiting the worst places, staying in the worst hotels, drinking in the worst pubs, driving the worst car and listening to the worst music. The car is an Austin Maestro, say no more. Hotels and pubs as reviewed on Trip Advisor. He went to Hull, Grimsby, Middlesborough and even staying in the last surviving Pontins.

It was a good read, although slightly depressing in an up-beat kind of way, although I would have put my foot down if I’d had to endure listening to Phil Collins.

The Rivers of London is a book that I’ve heard lots about, but it passed me by, until browsing my local Waterstones with a book token in my pocket which needed to be spent. I enjoyed it, but I still can’t really explain what it was all about. It’s got Vampires and Ghosts, a small sub-division in the Police force that deals with these sort of things, and a multitude of women who are ‘The Rivers of London’. There is also Old Man Thames and his tributaries upstream from London. They are all part of the main plot, a whole slew of grizzly murders.

The book is bizarre and unlike almost anything I’ve read before, and although I did enjoy it, I’m not sure that I enjoyed it enough to buy any of the sequels, which I think there are another five in the series. If I see one in the little library round the corner I will definitely pick it up (read about it here).

In other book related news, my parents have found my Kindle and returned it to me, which is a bonus if I’m traveling light, but might want to read lots and lots.

Little Free Library

I went for a run this morning with Nelly, our unruly English Pointer, and on the way back from the park we went down the next street along. The purpose of this little detour was to have a look at a free little library.

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What a great idea. On the wall outside a house is a small box full of books. If you like one take it, with the idea that you would replace it with a different book. This morning I got lucky with George R R Martin’s prequel to the Game of Thrones series.

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Later today I took a book back, John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar. Every now and again I feel the need to read something from Grisham. On the whole I find them an enjoyable blast, but he Rooster Bar was a bit dull, if I’m being honest.

Back to Little Free Library, and the website has a search function so that in theory you can find any that are near you. Unfortunately the search function isn’t particularly good, and the one in Lancaster isn’t listed, so there could be one only a couple of streets away from where you live, and you’d never know about it.