Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Outstanding book reviews.

That is book reviews I haven't done for a while.  Not brilliant reviews... or necessarily brilliant books... I should have just thought of a better post title than have to explain all this!  LOL

The Iron Castle (Outlaw Chronicles Book 6)... Angus Donald...

How long can Angus keep plugging away at this retelling of the Robin Hood tale?  Well a good deal longer as the next episode is already out in Hardback!  Actually joking aside I'm loving this series and it hasn't lost my interest yet - although I will wait for the Kindle price of Book 7 to come down once the paperback is released as £10 for an electronic copy feels awfully steep.

Enough of this; what's the story?  Well the story is that Richard that Lionheart is no more and King John is having a bit of a problem in France his ancestral homelands in Brittany and France.  That upstart Philip II of France is bashing him about a bit.  He is also somewhat strapped for cash and the Barrons are giving him a bit of a hard time about it all.  This time in history does fascinate me being a resident of North Kent a few miles from the scene of one of the biggest stand offs between John and his disaffected Barrons at Rochester Castle in 1215.  So sieges and mining etc. is something I've been interested in the past.  This telling of just those kind of sieges with the English trying to keep castles from Philip's grasp has some local correlation for me.  Anyway into the historical fact Angus deposits Alan Dale who is Lord Locksley's sworn man.  Yes - Locksley - Robin Hood in other words.  Robin is desperate to settle down with his wife and family and no more be an outlaw so swears allegiance to John and Alan is bound to that oath too through his to Robin.  Hence they off to France to defend the King's dominion there.  This episode has less about Robin than the previous ones as he often is a more remote character from Alan's own story.  Great fun read though which I rattled through at a pace.  

Two thumbs up on the FTUBRS*

16-June-15 update.  I got an email from Angus himself plugging the release of The King’s Assassin the next instalment and he answers the question about how many more will fill this series...
"There will be at one more novel after The King’s Assassin, out next summer and called The Death of Robin Hood, which will conclude this series. "

Saving Faith - David Baldacci
Now I've seen Mr Baldacci's books regularly towards the top of the best seller lists and they've been recommended by the Amazon targeted marketing to me. This is an old one of his and was cheap so I decided to give it a try.  Hmmm...  Well I can't say I would be too bothered again in the future.  The premis is that a lobbyist in Washington has for some years, having had a Damascan Road type conversion, been bribing senators to support overseas aid projects.  Yes.... I know already we're into incredulity... sorry too cynical?  Anyway he's been found out by a CIA guy who... here's a surprise... is operating his own secret cadre within the CIA and running loads of covert black ops.  He applies pressure to our good guy to expose the bribed guys so he can in turn get them to turn against his nemsis... the FBI!!   I should have binned this load of old pony at this point but... enter the heroine, Faith... get the title?  She has gone over to the FBI to expose what is going on... blah blah.  Along comes a PI who gets in the way of the CIA hit on her ... yes they run off... chases, double agents galore...   yawn.  I did read it but so bloody predicatable and whilst I like fantasy the leap of faith (gettit... sorry) needed here was too much for me.

On thumb down FTUBRS*.

Some People are Crazy: The John Martyn Story - John Neil Munro

Completely different.  A biography of the late great John Martyn and one that I really enjoyed reading.  It covers John's entire life from starting off as Iain David McGeachy in Surrey through his odd upbringing batting back and forth between London and Glasgow, which explains his differing accents to the creation of John Martyn and his ups and downs as a music genius.  John is one of my all time favourites with Grace and Danger and Solid Air as two of the best albums recorded in the last 50 years in my humble opinion.  I know many others listen and can't get John's growling, mumbled lyrics or the juxtaposition of folk, rock, jazz, reggae and just about every other kind of music in one.  But let me tell you - there are songs by this man that I can listen to again and again and still cry when I hear them.  He couldn't just write or perform, he took his soul and bared it in his music.  This biography quotes many of John's friends, colleagues etc. and is well researched.  John authorised the original version but this updated one brings his life full circle to his untimely death aged 60 in 2009 - really is it already that long ago!   It isn't a glowing sycophantic look at John's life either.  John was a deep, troubled alcoholic and an abuser of people and a jealous possessive man at times and this is portrayed alongside the smiling musical genius.   Probably best for fans, or at least those already acquainted with John, his life and music rather than those looking for a biography of someone new to them to read.

One thumb up on the FTUBRS*

* Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - 
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down, 
one thumb down,
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal, 
one thumb up, 
two thumbs up 
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded

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