Thursday, March 31, 2011

March review

Another month over and a very good one for reading. I managed to read 4 books this month and some of them were rather large. Without further ado I will review the books I enjoyed.

Bernard Cornwell – Sharpe’s Tiger:

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As many of you know, I considered the Warlord trilogy as my favourite series of books last year. Cornwell is an author I can’t believe I have taken so long to start reading. On the strength of the Warlord trilogy I went out and bought the first 12 novels in the Sharpe series (it was on offer for £17).
            I had heard that the Warlord Chronicles were Cornwell’s best work so I went into reading Sharpe’s Tiger with a little bit of trepidation, hopeful that I would not be disappointed. Incidentally Sharpe’s Tiger is not the first book Cornwell wrote in the Sharpe series but it is the first chronologically. Cornwell himself wants his readers to start there.
            The book does not reach the superb standard of the Arthur books, but it is still a very good read. Sharpe is a likeable hero and the supporting cast especially Hakeswill are interesting characters. I was worried at first that the battle scenes would be arduous as the soldiers primed their rifles read to fire the next shot, but I shouldn’t have fretted. What I liked most about the book was that it was a quick and easy read. I am looking forward to reading more about Richard Sharpe. My rating: 8.6

Robert Jackson Bennett – Mr Shivers:

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I did not know anything about this book until Niall reviewed it on his blog the Speculative Scotsman ( The concept and cover intrigued me enough that I ordered the book there and then. Niall loved the book calling it his favourite read last year. I don’t disagree with the high praise he heaps on the book. Connelly is an excellent protagonist, laconic but instantly likeable. The book is underpinned by a code of honour amongst vagrants and also contains cool supernatural elements. For a debut novel, Bennett is assured and installs an excellent sense of atmosphere throughout the novel. The ending is predictable but that does not detract from climax. I would thoroughly recommend checking this book out. My rating: 9.1

Re-read: George R R Martin – A Game of Thrones.

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Many of you know that I don’t generally re-read books. I have been contemplating re-reading this series for ages, mainly because I had forgotten so much. With book 5 now definitely on the horizon, I decided to take the plunge. For those of you that love this series as much as I do and can’t be bothered with reading all 4 books again. I highly recommend checking out the Tower of the Hand website. It contains comprehensive summaries of every chapter of the series.
            So did I enjoy the re-read? You bet. Surprisingly so in fact. If anything I enjoyed it more than the first time.  I remembered the key events but the little things like how whinny Jon is at the start of the series or how hard Catelyn is, I had forgotten. Tyrion is cool as I remember and his friendship with Bron is most amusing. The re-read has whet my appetite for book 5 and I plan on reading one book a month is the series to be read by July. Winter is coming. My rating: 9.5

Jonathan Aycliffe – Whispers in the dark.

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I cannot for the life of me remember why I ordered this book from ebay. I think I saw it praised on a forum and ordered it that same day. However, I have never seen it mentioned since.  I have over 60 books in my “to be read” pile (make that 100 when you consider books in a series) and this book was near the bottom.
            Having just finished Game of Thrones I fancied a light read. My eyes fell on this book and the urge took me. At first I thought I was going to really struggle with the story. It is almost written in a Jane Austen style. Whilst I am not adverse to this, I generally have to be in the mood for such a book. I soon found myself too immersed in the story to notice however. Before the supernatural element of the plot begins, we are told of a damaged and cruel childhood. The protagonist endures a horrible existence all expertly shown to reflect the era the book is set in (the turn of the 20th century). The language is rich but used smartly. There are no over blown descriptions here. When the supernatural element comes, it is portrayed very effectively. Whilst books don’t seem to scare me, Whispers in the Dark does a good job of portraying the fear of the protagonist. The setting of Baras Hall (I think that is the correct spelling, I am typing this from memory), is excellent, from the terrifying folly to the empty mansion itself. By the time the book reaches its satisfying conclusion I was desperate to find out what was behind the mystery.
            Jonathan Aycliffe is an author I will revisit. My rating: 8.8

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