BOOKS

BOOK REVIEWS ARE BASED ON PERSONAL CHOICE WHETHER YOU WORK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES OR A BLOG THAT PRACTICALLY NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT. IT'S GOOD TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE OTHER OPINION, EVEN IF IT'S JUST SO WE CAN DISAGREE.

  • BOOKS

    DRIVING OVER LEMONS

    Given the ban on travel because of the current pandemic, and a series of unfortunate events that have prevented us from even wandering around Ireland, I've taken lately to travelling vicariously through other people's accounts of their journeys and life experiences in various parts of the world. In this adventure we're off to Andalucia in the 1980s with the first…

  • BOOKS

    MORIARTY

    Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz Sherlock Holmes is dead. Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.…

  • BOOKS

    NECROPOLIS

    Necropolis by Anthony Horowitz Evil has been unleashed on the world and only five children – with special powers – can save it. Matt and the other three desperately need to find Scar, the final gatekeeper, who has been trapped in Hong Kong, where puddles of water turn into puddles of blood, where ghosts, demons and hideous creatures stalk the…

  • BOOKS

    YEAR ONE

    This is my first Nora Roberts novel and it won't be my last. Okay I realise she appears to mostly write romantic fiction and while it has it's place it wouldn't be something in which I'd want to invest enough time for a whole novel, but that aspect received a light touch in this book and was used only to…

  • BOOKS

    A BOOK OF BONES

    The new Charlie Parker novel is always a highly anticipated event for me. It's like getting together with a group of old friends that studiously avoid social media and the way that medium devalues the joy and sometimes sadness of "catching up". A Book of Bones was more like being invited to a wedding to which those old friends had…

  • BOOKS

    GONE

    Gone is the first in a series of YA of six novels which pitches a group of young people against forces they can't begin to understand and ultimately each other. Once again we have Lord of the Flies meets Stephen King's under the dome with a touch of Marvel's Xmen thrown in for good measure.

  • BOOKS

    THE REDBREAST

    This is the 3rd Harry Hole novel and in this instalment in the very successful series of bestsellers, the level of complexity we have grown to expect from Jo Nesbo begins to show itself. The story combines elements of both a whodunnit and a who-will-do-it by delivering a very well integrated combination of stories from the second world war and…

  • BOOKS

    ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE

    This is my first Nora Roberts novel and it won't be my last. Okay I realise she appears to mostly write romantic fiction and while it has it's place it wouldn't be something in which I'd want to invest enough time for a whole novel, but that aspect received a light touch in this book and was used only to…

  • BOOKS

    FEVRE DREAM

    FEVRE DREAM by George R.R. Martin Abner Marsh has had his dearest wish come true – he has built the Fevre Dream, the finest steamship ever to sail the Mississippi. Abner hopes to race the boat some day, but his partner is making it hard for him to realise his ambition. Joshua York put up the money for Fevre Dream,…

  • BOOKS

    THE BOY WHO SAW

    This is the second in a series of novels about the enigmatic figure that is Solomon Creed and, in my opinion, this outing is far superior to the previous novel. Good conscience insists that I confess that any novel set in France has already gained some points from me because of my love for the country, but putting that aside…

  • BOOKS

    SOLOMON CREED

    I'd read previous books by this author and knew I was in for a decent novel that would be entertaining enough to hold my attention (during a busy time of the year for me) and provide good value for the time I'd invest. I was pleasantly surprised to find Solomon Creed an engaging character with a good balance of personality…

  • BOOKS,  THE BIG BOOK CHALLENGE

    LADY MIDNIGHT

    It's summertime so my head turns to YA fiction to get away from the pressure of "grown up" books - that's an insult to some of the YA fiction that outstrips the so-called mainstream novels by a country mile and especially when it comes to addressing social issues and generating a useful conversation, but in my case it simply means…

  • BOOKS

    AUTHORITY

    To be fair to Authority, book two in the Area X trilogy, I haven't read book one Annihilation. I saw the Netflix movie and despite some very mixed reviews I really enjoyed the disjointed nature of the story and the amazing special effect images. Given the fact there's unlikely to be a sequel to the movie I decided to check…

  • BOOKS

    SLEEPING BEAUTIES

    Apart from the fact that a Stephen King novel is almost always an entertaining read, what attracted me to this novel was the notion of a father/son collaboration. I hadn't read any of Owen King's other work, comedy not being one of my areas of interest, and it appealed to me to see what his influence on the story might…

  • BOOKS

    SEVENEVES

    The best way for me to describe this novel would be to call it The Silmarillion in Space. It's almost as epic and mythical as Tolkien's major work behind The Lord of The Rings and at times just as much hard work to read. In fairness it is described as 'hard science fiction' and while I am a sci-fi fan I'm…

  • BOOKS

    SHERLOCK HOLMES vs. CTHULHU

    I'll admit I'm a Holmes fan and enjoy the character in (almost) all of his manifestations. That's what caught my eye when I came across Lois H. Gresh's novel, along with the sub-title The Adventure of the Deadly Dimensions. Sadly the book didn't live up to my expectations, but that may not entirely be the author's fault.

  • BOOKS

    AMERICAN GODS

    The emergence of the new TV phenomenon that is American Gods seduced me into watching the first episode online. I read the novel some years ago and was engrossed not just by the weirdly literate style, plot and characters, but also by the concept of old gods and new gods meeting up in the new world.

  • BOOKS

    THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

    Every now and then a book comes along that you very badly want to talk about but you also very badly want not to spoil for others. This is one of those books. Let's just say it puts a new spin on a very current horror genre by telling the story from not only the point of view of the…

  • BOOKS

    OMENS

    Let's get this out of the way, we have a young woman with a problem who goes to live in a strange town and meets up with a socially stunted young professional with a past. She also hooks up with a 'bad boy' who isn't really a bad boy and part of her troubles include an ex-fiancee with a definite personality…

  • BOOKS

    MR. MERCEDES

    Stephen King said this was his first hard-boiled detective book and indeed it is. The plot makes it a page turner and the characters are as real as any King characters have ever been, and that's about as life-like as they get. His retired detective (to be played on TV by Irish actor Brendan Gleeson), complete with middle-aged health problems, is sufficiently weather-worn…

  • BOOKS

    SAPIENS

    I've developed the habit over the years of balancing my fiction addiction with reading some thought balancing non-fiction. That's not to say I don't learn a lot about the "real world" and life from good fiction, but sometimes my inner-nerd needs feeding. On this occasion the meal was less of a mental snack and more of a full-on feast.

  • BOOKS

    FRANKENSTEIN – THE SERIES

    I've been reading Dean Koontz novels on and off for decades, so when I saw he was rebooting the Frankenstein story I was intrigued, to say the least. The concept of updating old stories to a modern setting isn't a new one and it certainly is in vogue as far as TV is concerned - Grimm,

  • BOOKS

    THE FIREMAN

    I like Joe Hill's work and reviewed his debut novel too and this book is no exception to that emerging rule, but I'd have to question when the blurb compares the "epic scope" of The Fireman with The Passage. Thankfully though it also got it wrong when it drew a line between Hill's novel and The Road - The Fireman is…

  • BOOKS

    STALLO

    Secret societies, conspiracies, kidnapping and trolls, yes trolls, sure what else would you need to create a seriously literate supernatural thriller? Throw into the mix the varied and mythical landscape of Sweden and characters that are both immediately everyday and extraordinary, and you get a novel that makes you want to read at double speed just to see what happens…

  • BOOKS

    THE WHITE ROAD

    In this the fourth Charlie Parker outing, John Connolly takes a definite step nearer to the supernatural. The move from Maine to the deep south adds another flavour to the tale and allows Connolly's lyrical style to flourish. He makes good use of the combination of standard crime thriller and supernatural horror story to maintain his own brand of thriller.

  • BOOKS

    THE TREES

    I have to confess it was the amazing cover that attracted me to this book in the first place. It deserves to be framed and put on a wall so that every time you pass it by you can pause and see something new that appeals to your eye. Happily the novel, The Trees, actually lives up to the cover and…

  • BOOKS

    THE KILLING KIND

    The third instalment in the Charlie Parker detective series introduces us to Elias Pudd and his secret weapon of eight-legged assassins. A long-time arachnophobe I squirmed my way through the passages where Pudd does his dirty work. Enough to keep me awake and begging for more.

  • BOOKS

    DARK HOLLOW

    The second in the Charlie Parker series is every bit as chilling and thrilling as the debut novel. Connolly, rather cheekily some might think, manages to move his hero to Maine and then turn the dial up on the supernatural elements of the tale. Cheeky because the master of horror, Stephen King, based his tales of the unexpected in Maine…

  • BOOKS

    HEART SHAPED BOX

    This is Joe Hill's debut novel and as such it justifies all of the nice things said about it by other authors. The writing is articulate without falling into the trap of being pretentious and it spares the reader from the over descriptive prose that ghost stories often subject us to.

  • BOOKS

    CITY OF THE LOST

    Kelley Armstrong is best known for her supernatural thrillers but on this occasion she ventures into the world of detective fiction giving us a new hero in Detective Casey Duncan. I've reviewed other novels by Kelley Armstrong and the vast majority of them I really like and for a very good reason. She delivers on plot, keeping you interested in the…

  • BOOKS

    EVERY DEAD THING

    Charlie 'Bird' Parker is as robust a detective fiction character as any of the greats - including Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Harry Bosch - with a complexity that satisfies the reader and avoids any of the cliches. Parker is a sympathetic bad boy with a reason for revenge and an unapologetic approach to how he achieves it. Former cop turned…

  • BOOKS

    NORSE MYTHOLOGY

    Neil Gaiman introduces us to his collection of Norse Myths by pointing out his introduction to this rich mine of fantastical stories was through Marvel's Thor™ as a child. I had an immediate resonance with the book because I too became aware and subsequently engrossed in Norse mythology in exactly the same way. Despite the limited source material available to him…

  • BOOKS

    BRYANT & MAY-PECULIAR CRIMES

    As with all book series some novels are better than others, but without a doubt, the Bryant & May series of detective novels deserve their place amongst the best of the genre. If you like well written British crime novels with a cast of quirky characters and tonnes of twists and turns then this series is most definitely for you.

  • BOOKS

    THE SEA OF SHADOWS

    The Otherworld series of novels really placed New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong on the map and deservedly so since every one of the 13 novels maintained a standard of writing that made the characters and plot accessible without stooping to formulaic repetition. I admit I was hooked early on and eagerly awaited the publication of each instalment in…

  • BOOKS

    THE GREEN ROAD

    There's a short list of modern Irish novels I would describe as being privileged to have read - Amongst Women by John McGahern and The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor for example. The Green Road by Anne Enright is the newest entrant on that very short list. Anne Enright has been appointed the first Irish Laureate for Literature…

  • BOOKS

    THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS

    I think it's only fair to admit I'm a big fan of John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels and I opened this book with high expectations of a standard of writing that elevates a modern novel towards real literature; I wasn't disappointed. The language and descriptive prose are of Connolly's usual high quality, but it at no time overpowers the story…

  • BOOKS,  SERIES,  THE BIG BOOK CHALLENGE

    BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS

    I've been one of King's 'constant readers' ever since I came across a second-hand copy of his first short fiction collection Night Shift in the 70s. As with most writers with a canon of work as vast as his (and there aren't that many), he has sagged a bit from time-to-time but in my opinion his short fiction collections never let you…

  • BOOKS

    5 FAVOURITE FICTIONAL DETECTIVES

    I have all my life loved detective characters from books, movies and TV. When well written they're always well developed, colourful and clever with a keen eye for detail and an easy command of the application of logic. Most of all though they read people, a skill I value very highly. It's very difficult for me to whittle down all of…

  • BOOKS

    5 THINGS I LIKE ABOUT BOOKS (CHALLENGE #4)

    I have a confession to make…I have loved books all of my life. Now, there it is, off my chest. I feel much better now. Of course no confession would be complete without answering one key question: “Why?” Well there are 5 things about books that made me fall in love with them and for that love affair to have lasted…

  • BOOKS,  MOVIES

    MOVIE REVIEW: THE HOST

    "What the heck", I said to myself, "why not review both the novel The Host by Stephenie Meyer and the subsequent movie of the same name?" "Why the heck not?" exclaimed the little voice in my head, but something deep beneath the surface of my tiny mind kept screaming out a warning.

  • BOOKS

    ALIF THE UNSEEN

    Alif The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson would appear to have it all - well drawn characters, a good plot and enough pace to make you turn the pages, but even though I really enjoyed reading it there wasn't any moment throughout the book that made me think "ah!". Set in a fictitious 'city' in Arabia ruled by a corrupt Emir and…

  • BOOKS

    HOUSE ON AN IRISH HILLSIDE

    House On An Irish Hillside by Felicity Hayes-McCoy was a bit of a shot in the dark for me because I wasn't sure what to expect. I bought the book because I wanted to read more autobiographical or memoir based writing to help me with another project I'm working on and so the concept seemed appropriate. In fact, the book,…

  • BOOKS

    WRATH OF ANGELS

    I realise waiting until the 11th novel in a sequence is not the best way to introduce oneself to a writer or his by now legendary character, but having said that it didn't hinder me in any way from enjoying Wrath of Angels by John Connolly or accepting Charlie Parker as the detective I'd most likely turn to in an…

  • BOOKS

    HEAVEN’S SHADOW

    Heaven's Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt is a novel set against a background of space expeditions by NASA in 2019. The planned space race by the US and a coalition of India, Russia and Brazil to be the first moon landing of the 21st century turns into something much more when a Near Earth Object appears in…

  • BOOKS

    THE ANGEL’S GAME

    The Angel's Game is Carlos Ruiz Zafón's follow up novel to the international bestseller The Shadow of The Wind (although it is meant to be a prequel). I read the latter on holiday a number of years ago and was bowled over by not just the way he drew characters and teased out a complicated plot, but also by the…