Thursday, 29 May 2014

2014 Reading Part 4

Time for a book update! Which means I've read another eight books of course. Once again there's a mixture of first reads and books that I've previously enjoyed. Somehow I never get round to reading books I've previously hated...

The first one this time is another compilation of pulp fiction from the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Robert E. Howard. This deals with King Kull, a descendant of the doomed people of Atlantis who becomes King of Valusia. Set a thousand years before the time of Conan he is never-the-less cast firmly in the same mould and deals with similar magical foes in a somewhat similar way - whoops: there goes someone else's head...

From one warrior to a whole set of 'em! George and Anne go off on their own with Timmy the dog whilst the boys are on holiday in France with their school. An adventure starts just in time for the boys to come back and join them and the Famous Five are back in the thick of it - being very thick indeed failing to spot that a pair of twins are two separate people, when even the youngest of readers would spot it in an instant.

A dastardly gang, stolen blueprints, a secret tunnel and some amazing behaviour by adults... Dick!!! Did you buy those postcards in France??? You'll go blind!!!

The very first Sudden book to be written eventually became number eight in a series of nine. He's been chasing two men who he thought had robbed his adoptive father and the old man's dying wish is realised in this book as Sudden catches up with them only to find that one of them is not what he has thought all of these years. Ropin' and ridin' and lots o' gunplay and missing last letters off words makes this a rootin' tootin' shootin' rea' ...er... sorry... "read".

And talking of bringing series to an end, even of they have another book tagged on... Dennis Wheatley's Second World War spy Gregory Sallust comes to the end of his war with a strange alliance with a practitioner of Black Magic. Once Wheatley's Black Magic books started to sell it was almost inevitable that each of his best known heroes would meet up with one. In this epic volume, Gregory is forced by circumstances into joining forces with the dastardly Malacou and together they infiltrate Hitler's bunker in Berlin. Gregory manages to convince the F├╝hrer to trust him and pushes him to commit suicide by telling him he is destined to be reborn to lead a Martian army to conquer Earth. All is going well until Gregory's great enemy, SS Gruppenf├╝hrer Grauber, makes an appearance at Berlin Headquarters and things come to a perilous close. This is a great series of books, one of the inspirations for Ian Fleming to invent his own spy, James Bond.

Another in the series of Tom Holt books dealing with the magical firm of J.W. Wells and Co. And boy have I read these in a disjointed order! This is the second of the seven books and I have only the fifth - A Better Mousetrap - to read now. They all work as a stand-alone book anyway, though there are references I would have understood better had I read them in the proper order! This has Paul Carpenter, supposedly normal human, realising that there may be more to his family background than he realised and as he does a tour of the company's departments he realises that not only does "pest control" have more to do with dragons than mice, but that he is engaged in a war against the Queen of the Fey!

The latest of S.J.Parris's series about the real-life Italian philosopher and heretic Dr Giordano Bruno. Here he is involved by his friend Sir Phillip Sidney in an attempt to join Sir Francis Drake's expedition as privateer. However a suspicious death aboard Drake's ship means that the fleet cannot sail until a complicated mystery has been solved and Bruno finds himself desperately seeking the truth and avoiding treachery of a most foul nature. A brilliant read - Parris presents a totally believable background of 16th century Plymouth. I've looked up information about the real Bruno - ooh... more perils to come...

And whilst in the mood I slipped back a further few centuries to rejoin Dr Matthew Bartholomew, physician and master at Michaelhouse College, Cambridge University. In this, the fifth of the series, a party travels from Cambridge to Suffolk to accept the deed to a "living" - the permanently enduring post of village priest from a local nobleman. With the central tale and many characters based on reality, this turns into a quagmire for Matthew involving murder, treasure hunting, alchemy and a spectral hound.

And the final book for this time is a TV tie-in. This series about turning the High Street of Saffron Waldon back in time to Victorian and Edwardian times, the 1940s and 50s and the 60s to the 70s was aired in 2010 and, my Grandad being a 1950s and 60s small shop grocer we found it compulsive viewing. The book came from a new cheap book shop in Blackpool. A real bargain at just £1.99 and a great read too.

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