Saturday, 15 February 2014

2014 Reading Part 2

I cocked up my usual procedure last time by carrying over seven books from 2013 and only having one from this year. I should have finished off 2013 with just seven books. So to set me back on track I'm featuring just seven books now. Otherwise I'll be confused all year...

I'm starting with this one edited by one of my fave reads: Bill Bryson. The word "edited" is significant. The book is a series of chapters on either specific scientists or a specific topic within the scientific world. Together they form something of a history of the Royal Society from the days of Isaac Newton through to the present day (well alright, up to the publication of the book...) Being written by several authors the book is not as consistent as Mr Bryson's usual work, but the vast majority of chapters are fascinating if not always easy reading. The odd one is hard work. But I learned a shed load of science and remained entertained.

Talking of favourite authors... To date this was the last of the series about J Wells, the magical firm that I had still to read. I think in terms of the order of them being written it was the second, but they are all pretty much stand-alone stories anyway. This one does feature the two leading characters from the first in the series, The Portable Door. Multiple dimensions, murderous goblins, a couple of warring Viking kings, a frequent escapee from the world of the dead and a tale of unrequited love all come together satisfactorily in the end. As they would...

This is the second in Edgar Rice Burroughs' series about John Carter of Mars. In the first book (and film) he ended up back on Earth and in the intervening time before he manages to get back to Mars a lot has happened on the Red Planet. Lots of action, desperate perils, old and new alien races and a long search for his beloved Dejah Thoris (that's his princess wife for those who haven't read the first book or seen the film...)

The seventh and latest instalment in Bernard Cornwell's Warrior Chronicles saga sees Uhtred accidentally kill a bishop and he spends much of the book dealing with the consequences of that. However, he does have a way of getting his way, though there are a few surprises and setbacks for him in this book and the ending leaves the reader (well this one anyway) in an agony of wondering where the series will take us next. Since King Alfred died a number of significant dark age names from real life have featured and in this book the boy Athelstan plays a part. He was to become the first king of all England. But that is still for the future. This was another riveting book in the series with the clash of shield walls, Uhtred's attempt on Bebbanburgh and the reappearance of the enigmatic yet lovely Erce.

I was on a train and the journey was not going well... A two hour journey took eight hours and there were several points where I thought we would be told we could go no further. We love to complain but, given the conditions on Wednesday this week with 100 miles-per-hour winds and power lines coming down, Virgin Trains and Network Rail worked minor miracles to get my train from London Euston to Preston. Anyway I zoomed through a couple of Sherlock Holmes short stories, the first of a young lady searching for her betrothed who disappeared on the morning before their wedding and the second of a dastardly murder where the main suspect is the victim's son.

The seventh (popular number this time!) in Oliver Strange's series about Sudden, the western gunfighter, cowpuncher and all-round good egg. In this our hero intervenes in a case of rustling, a corrupt sheriff and an attempt to take over a ranch by foul means. There's gun play, ambushes, kidnapping and even more unrequited love. You just know that any dandy named Beau is bound to turn out a bad 'un...

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