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The Last Kind Words: A Novel
Tom Piccirilli
Progress: 40 %
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
Tony Goldwyn, Erik Larson
The Last Kind Words
Tom Piccirilli
Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin I haven't read any of Ian Rankin's Rebus books for a few years so i've decided to start from the beginning and read all in order.

The book starts with Rebus visiting his fathers grave on the anniversary of his death followed by a visit to brother Michael, a successful hypnotist, hugely different lifestyle from Rebus, ex army and now police officer.

Several young girls have been kidnapped and murdered in Edinburgh and the murderer seems intent on getting Rebus to pursue him by sending Rebus cryptic notes. All the notes contain either a knotted piece of twine or two crossed matches. To solve the case, Rebus must confront aspects of his past that he would much rather forget.

I love the way Rankin uses Edinburgh as a character in the book, its a city i know and love and makes the locations in the book stand out a little bit more.

Its a quick read but highly enjoyable.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle My favourite collection i've read so far, most of the stories are not as well known with the exception of The Final Problem introducing Professor Moriarty, this collection also introduces Holmes brother Mycroft.

These stories show Holmes in a different light to previous works, we have the story that introduced sleuthing as career to Holmes, we have cases turn out not as planned and a human side to the great detective, these character developments make this an interesting part of the Holmes stories.
Coraline - Neil Gaiman I have to read more Gaiman, really enjoyed Coraline.

The Jones family move into a new flat which has been converted from a larger house. Finding herself bored Coraline explores the surrounding grounds, chatting with the somewhat eccentric neighbours, and on a rainy day investigating the interior of the house. Coraline's search leads her to a locked door in the drawing room which she later opens only to find it has been bricked up.

When Coraline returns later she finds the brick wall is gone and a passage leads her to an identical flat to her own only this one is resident to her Other Mother and Other Father who have black buttons instead of eyes.

Initially this other flat seems more fun, better food, toys and more attentive parents. But when Coraline rejects the chance to stay permanently all is not what it seems...

Coraline is a dark fairy story and highly recommended for young and old.

The Twelve - Justin Cronin After The Passage introduced bio engineered vampires (virals) who unleash the apocalypse across America, Cronin has taken this environment and made it dull...

The book is far to long with characters who just blend into each other (Michael, Hollis, Peter, it also has one of the most annoying characters i've read this year Lila Kyle a pregnant surgeon in denial with the collapse of America and we have pages of her deciding what paint to buy for a nursery.

The jump between era's could have worked well but having characters fade away half way through never to return didnt work especially when it was the most interesting section of the book.

Perhaps this is just the slow middle book of the trilogy and the third will have a more epic feel, not sure if i have the will to find out.
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman - Jon Krakauer Having read two of Jon Krakauer's previous books (Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven) i was looking forward to reading Where Men Win Glory, The story of a professional NFL player deciding to fight for his country instead of making millions of dollars playing sport.

Combining Tillman's backstory with Afghanistans through the same time period until they collide is an interestig way of telling the story, the rise of Al-Qaeda whilst Tillman was at college but always looking beyond just playing football.

With the collapse of the Towers in 2001, Tillman's mind was made up finish the season and serve his country. The Arizona Cardinals offered him a new contract worth $3.6 million but he decided to become a Ranger.

For Tillman fighting in Afghanistan was the whole point of joining the services, when he was sent to Iraq instead his journals make it clear his view of this "illegal war".

Whilst serving in Afghanistan Tillman is killed as a result of friendly fire, a fact that was hidden from his family and covered up whilst Tillman was being used wrongly as propoganda for the government, somethig Tillman would not ahve wanted (he refused to do any interviews after signing up).

An interesting read and overall Tillman comes across as loyal, honest and principled, unlike the government under Bush.
Dark Blood - Stuart MacBride Serial rapist Richard Knox has been released from prison in Newcastle and decides to relocate to Aberdeen where his grandparents lived. DS Logan McRae isn't thrilled to be part of the team helping him settle into life in Aberdeen.

Also on the caseload are a flood of counterfeit currency in Aberdeen, the murder of a confidential informant, and a couple of jewelry store robberies, among other side issues.

So just the usual stuff for McRae to sort out.

Fast paced and full of the usual dark humour Stuart MacBride brings to this series, usually from the chainsmoking DI Steel who's anxiously awaiting for her wife to give birth.

Just like Aberdeen the book is bleak, interesting using Trump's golf course to give Edinburgh gangster Malk the Knife a bacground prescence in the book.

The previous book (Blind Eye) had McRae heading towards being another alcoholic cop, good to see this wasn't fully realised in this book and drinking was a minor side issue rather than full blown change of character.
Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams Mostly Humourless, i'm afraid so. The fifth part of the Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy is certainly the weakest and a sad way to finish.

There isn't any overriding plot till about half way through, even then it's almost inserted in just to finish the series off.

With no Zaphod or Marvin (there is an android called Colin though...) it's like an episode of Seinfeld without George and Kramer, it just wouldn't happen.

The ending is bleak yes but it's a proper ending and that's a small redeeming feature of Mostly Harmless but as a whole the series ends with a Big Whimper instead of a Big Bang.
The Day the World Discovered the Sun: An Extraordinary Story of Scientific Adventure and the Race to Track the Transit of Venus - Mark  Anderson The Day the World Discovered the Sun covers the historical adventures involved in, and the build-up surrounding, the 1761 and 1769 transits of Venus.

It was posited by Edmund Halley that by using these transits it would be possible to calculate the distance between the Earth and Sun to a 98% certainty and so it proved, unfortunately Halley died before the transit occured.

The book details, in addition to the myriad far-flung voyages to record the transits (Vienna, St. Petersburg, Mexico, Baja California, Siberia, Paris, arctic-circle Norway, South Pacific islands, Barbados, Cape Town, Tierra del Fuego, Copenhagen, Jakarta, Cadiz, Rio de Janeiro) the critical leaps in progress made in oceanic navigation, and in astronomical calculations such as the precise distance from the earth to the sun, during this fruitful period.

As well as about the transits its the people involved and the sheer obsession to record the transits.

i didnt feel it was the most gripping of books, whilst interesting it didn't fully engage me.
The Five - Robert R. McCammon The Five are a struggling rock band trying to make a name for themselves while on tour, they are about to become known worldwide just not in the way they could possibly imagine...

Whilst doing promotion for a club gig, The Five's new video is shown, set during the Iraq War.

Former sniper Jeremy Pett, medically discharged and his only purpose is visiting a wounded colleague on a weekly basis until he sees the video by The Five and takes it as a personal insult to himself and the country. He has a new purpose to kill The Five.

This puts The Five in the news in a big way and with the FBI involved in tracking down the sniper, whilst the band struggle to stay as together as they can whilst honouring bandmates and trying to write a song together on the road.

Really well written, the characters in the band are well written as is the grind of touring small clubs whilst being confined to a small van.

The second book i've read by McCammon after Swan Song and certainly not the last.

Sacred - Dennis Lehane Desperate times call for desperate measures, for billionaire Trevor Stone this means kidnapping Kenzie & Gennaro to convince them to help find his missing daughter Desiree.

At first reluctant to help due to what happened in Darkness Take my Hand, the missing daughter being grief striken over the deaths of her mother, a good friend and also her father dying of cancer along with a missing PI, Jay Becker, who was Patrick Kenzie's mentor convinces the duo to help.

Mostly taking place in Florida away from Boston, gives it a lighter tone from previous but has plenty twists and turns and is a really fast paced enjoyable read.
Iron Council - China MiƩville I loved Perdido Street Station and The Scar so i was highly anticipating a return to Bas Lag but i didnt expect to find New Crobuzon like this, oppression and revolution is all around, war going on with The Tesh, whilst outside the city an expedition is taking place to find the legendary Iron Council, a train of remade and others who cast off New Crobuzons militia and escaped to be free.

It's not an easy book to like and twice i almost stopped reading, first time i went and read Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures then came back to it then about 60% through i almost stopped for good, but i kept reading and i'm glad i did because the last third becomes a fascinating read, as tensions mount in New Crobuzon and the Iron Council heads back.

Not an easy book to enjoy but still a fascinating read.

A Witch Shall Be Born (Dodo Press)

A Witch Shall Be Born - Robert E. Howard Queen Taramis of Khauran awakens to find her identical twin sister Salome, thought to have been killed at birth for having the witches birthmark staring her in the face, she then takes over the kingdom impersonating Taramis who is then imprisoned. The army is disbanded, something the Captain of the Queens Guard (Conan) doesnt take to well.

After a struggle against mercenaries hired by Salome, Conan is taken away and crucified, he really really doesnt take this well.

A Witch Shall be Born is an average Conan story who hardly features in it but the crucifixtion sequence is the best passage of the story.
Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett The Discworld goes to the movies or Holy Wood as it is here, enjoyable satire of the early days of movies and being the Discworld things are never quite as they seem.

Talking dogs and typecast trolls are some of the best characters in the book but i enjoyed Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler or CMOT Dibbler as his "HolyWood" name transformation from hotdog vendor to power mad studio head, with demands for 1000 elephants for every film.
The People Of The Black Circle - Robert E. Howard Having not read any Conan stories since my mid teens it was nice to find there was some free on Gutenberg. Even better the original Robert E. Howard stories.

It has everything you would expect from a Conan story, scantily clad wenches, bulging biceps, swordplay and black cloacked wizards and Conan in a girdle, didnt expect that bit...

And the cover they have used is great from Weird Tales Magazine.


The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time - Donald Ray Pollock Had been looking forward to this for a while but ended up slightly disappointed, it's very well written but just found everything tied up too easily at the end.
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) - George R.R. Martin Wow! Insanely good read, love the way the story evolved in this part of the series, George RR Martin certainly knows how to surprise a reader, cannot get too attached to ANY character! death is around the corner for anyone and everyone.

This is the first part i've enjoyed the Daenerys storylines, fasciniating watching how her retinue is increasing and developing.

Halfway through Game of Thrones i would not have imagined myself liking the Lannisters but it's happened; Jamie and Tyrion are two of the best characters in the series but i won't get too fond of them, you never know who will die next...