The Herald of Hell

26 Nov

“The Herald of Hell” is the best Paul Doherty novel in ages.

The plot takes place literally days before the Great Revolt of 1381.  So the atmosphere of the book is one of danger and fear.

A clerk from the secret chancery of John of Gaunt is murdered in a brothel. His servant seeks sanctuary at St Erconwalds and is also murdered.  All hell is breaking loose and only Sir Jack Cranston and Brother Athelstan stand in its path.

Well written, fast paced, and damn near unputdownable.  “The Herald of Hell” had me on the edge of my seat many times.

As always, Paul loves his little inside jokes.  He ties the first Hugh Corbett novel, “Satan in St Marys” into the framework of this book.  And, as is his wont, his home town gets a mention.  I think he’s worked it into just about every novel he’s written.

The next book in the series is apparently going to be called “The Great Revolt”, we know how it ends, but I am sure we will loose many of Athelstan’s parishioners before that book ends.  But suffice to say that, in this book, we don’t loose anyone we have come to love, but there is at least one hell of a shock for long time readers of the series.

Highly recommended.  Fantastic book.

Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney

10 Nov

“Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney” by Piers Morgan covers the start of his career at CNN taking over from Larry King.  How he found his feet as a CNN host, and how he found his passionate cause in gun control.

A brilliant, no holds barred, in your face book, that is entertaining, thought provoking, and shocking in equal measure.

Highly recommended, regardless of where you stand on gun control.  In fact, the gun control issue doesn’t come into it until quite late in the book, given that the book is written in diary format.  I like this format from Piers.  It makes it easier to see the linear progression of his experiences.

Piers Morgan writes like he speaks, full of fire, passion, and self deprecating humour.

The fact that I remember all the events Piers talks about gave the book real resonance to me.

The Diet Myth

8 Nov

It isn’t very often I come across a book that I would consider a life changing experience.  “The Diet Myth: The Science Behind What We Eat” by Tim Spector is definitely one of those.

Tim Spector’s book is very readable and explains the science behind what we eat, why diets don’t always work, and exactly how our digestive system works.

I came away from this book with a deep understanding of why some foods don’t sit well in my stomach, a starter’s guide to tailoring the way I eat for my body’s needs, a deep distrust of refined sugar, and an enormous respect for my own personal microbes.

I have great respect for Tim Spector.  He admits he’s made mistakes as a scientist.  It takes a big man to admit to his mistakes, and an even bigger one to do it in writing!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in how their body works, in eating well, and staying healthy.  A rare 5 stars from me.

Some Danger Involved

28 Oct

“Some Danger Involved” is the first book in the Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn series written by Will Thomas.

I absolutely loved this book.  Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are possibly the finest crime fighting duo since Sherlock Holmes and John Watson… and that’s saying a lot coming from me.  I’m sure by now most people have realized that I am a dedicated Sherlockian of long standing.

The series is set in Victorian London with Cyrus having his office near Whitehall.

“Some Danger Involved” is the first book in the series, covering Thomas’ being hired as Cyrus’ assistant and an introduction to the cast of supporting characters, including Cyrus man servant, Jacob Maccabee aka Mac.

The plot of the book involves that murder of a young Jewish man whose body is left crucified in Petticoat Lane.  The Jewish community fears the rise of an Anti-Semitic group and hires Cyrus Barker to get to the bottom of the matter.

The book is heaped high with interesting and well researched information about Victorian London.

The plot twists and turns, and the denouement comes as a total shock!

A brilliant book which I cannot recommend highly enough.  I have already read another book in the series, so I will go so far as to say that this is a series that has much to recommend it.

The Insider

25 Oct

“The Insider” by Piers Morgan was my choice of reading material, that should have done me most of the weekend.  I sat down and devoured it in about 6 hours.

There is a quote from Rupert Murdoch on the back cover of the book: “The trouble with Piers Morgan is that his balls are bigger than his brains.”

Piers pretty much proved that to be correct through out the book.  A brave man is reasonably common; a brave journalist/editor is damn near as rare as a unicorn.

“The Insider” is a warts and all look at a decade of Piers’ career from becoming editor of News of the World, until he was sacked from the Mirror.  The cast of characters is large, some of whom are reasonably familiar names from the more recent privacy invasion saga that ended with News of the World ceasing production.

If you have any interest at all in the behind the scenes shenanigans of the world of journalism, or just like Piers Morgan’s rather sharp and quirky sense of humour, then you will enjoy this book.

Highly recommended.

The Taming of the Queen

15 Oct

“The Taming of the Queen”, by Philippa Gregory, was a ‘last chance’ book.  When I’ve read a few books from an author and enjoyed them, then stop enjoying their work, I give them three books to enthrall me again, before they come off my reading list.

This was Philippa Gregory’s last chance to enthrall me.  And enthrall me she did!  “The Taming of the Queen’ is set during Kateryn Parr’s time as Henry VIII’s queen.  It is vibrant, captivating, book that captures the minutiae of the Tudor court perfectly.

Kateryn Parr, not Catherine Parr, Ms Gregory takes the spelling from the way the Queen spelled her name.

Her Henry is a chilling portrayal of psychopathy.  Kateryn is probably the least known of Henry’s wives, but the one deserving of the most respect.  She survived the machinations of his court where her predecessors (with the notable exception of Anne of Cleves) did not.

It does puzzle me when people deride Philippa Gregory’s work as inaccurate.  A look at the 4 or 5 pages of bibliography at the back shows just how much research goes into her work.  Having read a fair chunk of her resource material, I can tell you Ms Gregory’s research is impeccable.

In my opinion, this is the best of her books since “The Boelyn Inheritance”.

Highly recommended.

The Hanged Man

27 Sep

“The Hanged Man” is a fantastic new novel by P. N. Elrod, the start of a new series: “Her Majesty’s Psychic Service”.

Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury, named for her godmother, Queen Victoria, works for Her Majesty’s Psychic Service.  Mostly Alex works with Scotland Yard as a Forensic Reader, but when a close family member is murdered, Alex finds herself confronting terror and treason at every turn.

Set in a Victorian England where Victoria married an English peer, not a German prince, and where women got both the vote and equal rights in 1859, “The Hanged Man” is best described as historical urban fantasy with steampunk overtones.

The book is a joy to read from start to finish.  The characters are well rounded and delightful.  I am hoping future books will have more of Alex’s cousin James, and his doctor friend Hamish, whose first name actually appears to be John…  We didn’t learn his surname, but I’m pretty much betting it happens to be Watson.

A well plotted and fun read.

Highly recommended.


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