Colin Merrey Book Reviews Jan/Feb 2016
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00
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Hello, and welcome to the New Year’s book reviews. I trust you all had a good festive season and celebrated it in a fashion completely acceptable to yourselves. I know I did – I did a lot of reading and the results of this can be seen by my scribblings below! I have also held over one or two books this issue to add to the list for the March April addition as I will be on holidays for a while in January.

So without further ado, I’ll continue with my favourite booksellers - don’t forget that if you should have problems finding a good new- or second hand bookseller, you can try any/all of the following –
For new books, you can’t go wrong with Corona Books shop at Warwick Shopping Centre – ask for Mark – he is extremely helpful with any book queries and orders you may need assistance with.
Also, Stefen’s Books in Shafto Lane in Perth City. Stefen is very helpful and a good supporter of the Irish Scene.
Dymocks at Whitford City – ask for Tracey (and other locations throughout the State and Metropolitan Area)

In the realm of Second Hand booksellers (who are very useful in getting hold of hard to get or back catalogue books – you know, the ones that may be out of print from time to time) I generally go to Pulp Fiction – who have stores (again) at Whitford City and at Floreat Forum Shopping Centre – the proprietors are John and Mary who are good supporters of our magazine.
Elizabeth’s Bookshop chain, which has shops in Fremantle, and Perth City (Hay Street) to name but a few branches.
Guildford Book Exchange on the front in old Guildford
When I get South of the River I make a point of visiting the New Edition bookshop in Moat Street Fremantle (for new books ) and Bill Campbell in High Street Fremantle for second hand books – Bill is very helpful in locating hard to find books that are now out of print.
Please remember too to let the various stores know who pointed you in their direction. The feedback is great for them and it shows me that you are actually taking the time to read what I have prepared for your enjoyment with each issue. Then my work will not have been in vain!
If all else fails, there is the Internet (for those of you who are computer literate and have access to a computer, Ipad, etc).
You will appreciate that I don’t relate any of the books’ contents in these review notes as I feel that it would spoil your own voyages of discovery into the stories as they unfold

DORK DIARIES: PUPPY LOVE – RACHEL RENEE RUSSELL
Simon and Shuster Paperback $16.99
First cab off the rank this time is another for the littlies (grandkids, etc) – it’s the latest instalment of the Dork Diaries series – which is extremely popular with the teeny set – this time channelling adventures with puppies! Need I say more? It will be a best seller like all the other in the series.

IF IT FITS, I SITS -
Hachette Hardback $22.99
Here is a lovely little collection of photos (gleaned from many different sources) of cats and kittens who have managed to get themselves in some VERY awkward places and extremely cute – I must say I enjoyed reading it. I love this kind of book and being a cat and dog lover of many years standing I can really recommend this one to all like-minded souls. Absolutely hilarious

THE COMPLETE BEATLES SONGS – STEVE TURNER
Hachette Hardback $49.99
When I read that this one was coming out, I couldn’t wait to get hold of it. It is a reworking/updating of Steve’s earlier book (A Hard Day’s Write) and it tells the background behind the writing of all of the songs written, recorded and made famous by the Beatles and by others for whom they may have been specifically written.
A fascinating and extremely informative book for all the lovers of Beatle music. A great addition to the library of any lover of music from that era. Loved it.

CONVERSATIONS WITH McCARTNEY – PAUL DU NOYER
Hachette Paperback $32.99
Following on from the previous book we have a compilation/collection of various interviews carried out by Paul Du Noyer over the years that he has known Paul McCartney which serve to chronicle the life, times and music of the Great Man himself.
Here you’ll find the “official” Paul take on the break-up of the Beatles and of the animosity that existed for a while between himself and the other three Beatles together with his solo career and “Life After the Beatles”.
I loved this one and found it very informative – Paul Du Noyer has been for some time a writer with the British musical press and also as a publicist for the McCartney organisation. If you want to find out more about this somewhat reclusive and private person, then this one is for you. Hope you enjoy it.

FORTUNATE SON – JOHN FOGERTY
Hachette Paperback $35.00
For those of you who may not be aware, John Fogerty was one of the founding members of Credence Clearwater Revival, (CCR) one of the iconic bands from the 1960’s and later years. Here, John outlines his personal history and life story and covers his musical life with CCR and as a solo performer after the acrimonious break-up of CCR.
I found it most enthralling particularly as I am a great lover of CCR’s and John Fogerty’s music. If you like musicians’ biographies, then this one is for you. I loved it.

THE LONG JOURNEY – PADDY MONAGHAN
I was passed this book for review by Fred Rea – he said I would find it both interesting and intriguing.
Indeed, I did – in fact more than that, I found it harrowing and disturbing because it is the story of a man who was deported from Ireland under the notorious Child Migrant Scheme (as you know this is the Irish and British equivalent of the Australian Stolen Generation travesty). It tells the story of Paddy’s search for his roots and the trials and tribulations that he encountered during his epic struggle to do so.
I found it most moving and a great read. Paddy has self published this book and I urge you to contact him through the Irish Scene to get a copy for yourselves to read. You won’t regret doing so.

LEADING – SIR ALEX FERGUSON with SIR MICHAEL MORITZ
Hachette Hardback $39.99
You may recall I told you recently about Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography. I hope you took the time to read it – he is a truly inspirational man. In the light of that, this new book from Sir Alex is a fascinating delving into his leadership styles and tactical techniques and explores his 38 years of football management in both UK (with Manchester United) and also his early days in Scotland, where he served East Stirlingshire and St Mirren.
This is a good insight into a man who was pivotal in his chosen path and who has done so much for football during his star-studded career. This is a mots inspirational book – read it and learn all about this great man’s methods.

TRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS AND LITTLE WHITE LIES – NICK FROST
Hachette Paperback $32.99
Nick Frost has been one of my favourite comedic actors for some while now – in fact ever since I saw him in “Shaun of the Dead” and Hot Fuzz” both with his co-conspirator Simon Pegg. A very funny man indeed. So I was really looking forward to his auto biography and I was NOT disappointed! He tells his story in a very humorous fashion – in fact just as we have come to know his way of writing. Most enjoyable book and one that I can highly recommend to you all.

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB – DAVID LAGERCRANTZ
Hachette Paperback $32.99
This is the latest from the pen of this wonderfully creative writer. You may recall I told you about his fictional life of Alan Turing (Fall of Man In Wilmslow) and this time he is picking up the Stieg Larsson baton and continuing the story of Mikhail Blomkvist and Lizbeth Salandeer (the girl with the dragon tattoo).
David is a really good writer and he really does justice to these legendary characters. This time the battle is with a notorious gang of computer hackers – including Salander - who have hacked the American NSA computers to try and find out what/who is responsible to this terrible threat to world peace. Phew!!! Loved it – very fast paced and extremely good reading. Enjoy!

CAREER OF EVIL – ROBERT GALBRAITH
Hachette Paperback $32.99
Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of JK Rowling (she of Harry Potter fame) and this is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series. This time, Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott, have to find out who from Strike’s past is sending him the odd body part here and there – before they finally attack him all together. Brilliantly written and very fast paced story – surprising cliff-hanger ending – loved it – but it and read and enjoy it too.

BEATLEBONE – KEVIN BARRY
Allen and Unwin Paperback $27.99
I am not sure whether or not he is related to THE Kevin Barry – but it matters not. Here we have a darkly humorous story if a young man, John, who owns a small island off the west coast of Ireland where, he feels, he can outrun the shadows from his past.
This is quite a different type of story – I enjoyed the tale of his attempts to escape his past and reconcile his present and future at the same time. I know you will enjoy it too if you give it a good go.

THE PROMISE – ROBERT CRAIS
Hachette Paperback $29.99
This is the latest in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series – a really edge-of-seat series of thrillers – and this time features Elvis, a private eye, who is tasked with sorting out the mysterious disappearance of Amy and simultaneously $450,000 of Government money. But all is not as it seems! Phew!!!! Loved it as indeed I have all of Mr Crais’ previous books. This is REALLY one for the conspiracy theory buffs.

THE SCAM – JANET EVANOVICH AND LEE GOLDBERG
Hachette Paperback $29.99
I love the Fox and O’Hare stories of which this is the latest. As you may recall, when I told you about them before, Fox is a con-man who is working under cover for the FBI under the supervision of Kate O’Hare in an attempt to scam large scale scammers who the FBI can’t reach using “normal” methods.
This time it’s a casino magnate who is laundering Mob money. Great story – very fast paced – lots of intricate twists and turns of plot – brilliant story altogether!
I loved it and know you will too – this is Janet Evanovich at her absolute best.

ALONE IN THE DARK – KAREN ROSE
Hachette Paperback $29.99
This is the second book in Karen’s new mini-series and it’s a cracker! This time Scarlett Bishop finds her associate, Marcus O’Bannion injured by the side of the body of an Asian girl in a dark alley. Here begins a tortuous tale that enters the mysterious world of human trafficking in the US of A. Very taut and fast paced thriller – just as all of Karen’s books are. Loved it.

I AM DEATH – CHRIS CARTER
Simon and Schuster Paperback $29.99
This is a story in the Garcia and Hunter series of gruesome (and I MEAN gruesome) that begins with a girl’s body found stretched out in the form of a pentagram in a public park. From there, we are taken on a horrific ride through some horrendous crime scenes and numerous red herrings and twists to a surprising and, to me at least, unexpected ending. If you enjoy serial killer stories with a REALLY nasty twist, then this is for you – just don’t read it on your own at night!

NIGHT MUSIC – JOHN CONNOLLY
Hachette Paperback $29.99
John Connolly is back at his very best with this collection of short stories, subtitled “Nocturnes 2” (Nocturnes being his first collection). These are all very different in style and remind me much of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. The subjects are all beautifully told and a credit to the eventful mind of this Dublin born writer’s genius. My favourite is “I Live Here” which is a sort of history of John’s raison d’etre for writing and shows us some of the books and authors that have been his influence and inspiration over the years. Loved it – thanks John for another cracker to add to my personal library.

THE SURVIVOR – VINCE FLYNN and KYLE MILLS
Simon and Schuster Paperback $29.99
Kyle Mills has taken up the baton left by the sad demise of the wonderful writer Vince Flynn. He has been asked by Vince’s family and editor to compete this book that was left incomplete at the time of his passing in 2013. Here we have the latest exploit of Mitch Rapp, a clandestine agent who is asked to assist the CIA with a major problem which could unmask every undercover agent that the CIA has overseas. But who can the CIA and in fact Mitch really trust? This is a great story and one that will sit well with all of the other books written by Vince over his writing lifetime. Read it and enjoy it as did I.

ROGUE LAWYER – JOHN GRISHAM
Hachette Paperback $32.99
Again, John Grisham is one of my favourite writers and as you may well know several of his books have been made into excellent movies over the years. This one is the story of Sebastian Rudd (no relation!) who operates his law office from his car (much as Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller does (viz The Lincoln Lawyer) but there the similarity ends.
Rudd is left to take on a few cases that no-one else is preferred to accept. A drug addicted punk who is accused of murdering two little girls is the principal one in this instance.
The plot twists involved in trying to sort out all of the red herrings and subterfuge of the various antagonists are many and varied and a real challenge to the mind of the reader who wants to second guess the lawyer in solving the riddle of the case.
Loved it – very surprising ending – not easy to predict this time. Go on – read and enjoy – but keep your wits about you as you do so!

GET EVEN – MARTINA COLE
Hachette Paperback $29.99
And here we have Martina Cole back again doing what she does best – crime thrillers set in the Easy End of London and featuring as always the Essex girl who is wronged by her criminal husband and his enemies. She sets out to avenge her family and the slight done to her in the way so typical of her criminal kind.
Loved this one – I love the strength of the female characters in Martina’s novels and her storylines which although similar always seem to present us with something completely new. A great one for all; lovers of British crime dramas – full of action, bad language and violence – great stuff indeed.

EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD – IAN RANKIN
Hachette Paperback $32.99
When DI Rebus retired at the end of the last book from Ian Rankin, we all thought that that would be the end of the Rebus character. But no – he has been brought out of retirement to act as a “consultant” – in an unofficial capacity – to help solve a case that involves some of the criminal element that Rebus had dealings with when he was still in the force.
Mix in vendettas between rival gangs, missing drugs and mass murder and you have the making of a good detective yarn. I enjoy the Rankin books and I think that most of you out there do too. Enjoy!

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – LEWIS CARROLL
Hachette Hardback $29.99
It has been, surprisingly enough, 150 yeas since this brilliant children’s book was first released on an unsuspecting world of children. Since that day, it has become a children’s classic and has spawned many TV and cinematic adaptations. The most memorable of these, perhaps, was the Walt Disney animated cartoon movie of the 1950’s. The book that is now available to you is a commemorative edition – it is coffee table sized and features a set of new illustrations from the very talented Rebecca Dautremer. I think it would make a a great gift for your littlies or for them to spend their Christmas gift money on. Failing that you can, of course, revisit it for yourselves as I did. Loved it and will keep and treasure it for some time yo come.

TRICKY TWENTY-TWO – JANET EVANOVICH
Hachette Paperback $29.99
This is the second from Janet’s pen this issue – the first being a co-write for the Fox and O’Hare series. This is the latest in her series about Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter extraordinaire, and is as fast-paced and humorous as all of the others in this wonderful series. You all know what to expect from this hilarious character so I’ll say no more and let you rediscover her for yourselves. Buy it and enjoy it – you know you want to!

eyE MARTY – MARTY FELDMAN
Hachette Paperback $32.99
Back in the 1960’s when I was developing my taste for humour and my (arguably) completely off the wall approach thereto, there arose a young man whose wit and writings were yo catapult me into completely new directions. That man was the late, wonderful and much lamented Marty Feldman.
You will no doubt remember him best for his enormous eyes as much for his comedic talent. Who can forget him as Igor in “Young Frankenstein” with the brilliant Gene Wilder? I watched it again only a short while ago. Great stuff. Well, about 30 years ago, just prior to h is death, he completed this, his autobiography which only recently came to light and has been transcribed word for word from the original manuscript. Here is the story of a most likeable person/rogue who really turned British comedy on its head with scripts for “Round the Horne” (on British radio) “The Frost Report” (for David Frost) and “At Last the 1948 Show” – a precursor to Monty Python.
A fascinating story of a fascinating man. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and getting an insight into what made him tick. Hope you enjoy it.

KILL SWITCH – JAMES PHELAN
Hachette Paperback $29.99
I introduced you to the Jed Walker series of books from this extremely talented crime writer in various issues over the past year or so and this is the latest in that series. Set in the USA, it again involves the lone wolf operative Zodiac and a new terrorist cell that he has activated. The countdown has commenced to the deadline for another atrocity that will “shake the world to its core”. Can Walker get there in time to alleviate this threat to World peace? Well, yes he can – but its all about the journey and how he does it. Great plot – lots of action mayhem before the finale. Loved it.

ALL DRESSED IN WHITE – MARY HIGGINS CLARK and ALAFAIR BURKE
Simon and Schuster Paperback $32.99
I always get a good read from Mary Higgins Clark and also from her collaborator on this book, Alafair Burke. Both have an impeccable pedigree, Alafair being the daughter of renowned author, James Lee Burke – one of my favourites (and also one of radio personality Peter Newman’s favourites too).
This is their second collaboration and the story again features TV presenter Laurie Moran who produces a show called “Under Suspicion” that deals with unsolved crime case re-enactment. This time it is the case of a bride who goes missing from her bachelorette party. It is full of twists and turns and a great story line brilliantly told, as always. Loved it – know you will, too.

MKR: BEST OF THE BEST COOK BOOK
Hachette Paperback $39.99
For all you cooking addicts out there, this is a collection of 100 of the best recipes from all 6 seasons of this hugely popular TV series. I don’t think I need say any more about this one. Hope you enjoy trying some of these in your spare (hungry) time!. Enjoy

WOULD I LIE TO YOU
Allen and Unwin Paperback $27.99
One of my favourite TV programmes is the wonderful “Would I Lie To You” – and this is the first book of lies to be published from the show. In the show, the members of the two three person teams led respectively by David Mitchell and Lee Mack (2 excellent comedians) read out a statement and it is up to the other team to guess whether the team member is lying or not. The results are hilarious and make great viewing. Proceedings are adjudicated by Rob Brydon.
If you have seen the show and would like a memento of it, then this is for you. If you haven’t seen it, then this will be a great introduction to the show – and then go and seek it out and watch it. It’s brilliantly funny.

QI: THE THIRD BOOK OF GENERAL IGNORANCE
Allen and Unwin Paperback $24.99
Just as Would I Lie To You is one of my favourite TV shows, so is QI, brilliantly chaired by the wonderful Stephen Fry. This is again a panel show that seeks to disprove in a very humorous manner many urban myths.
This book is a companion to the series and sets out for your enjoyment a lot of the urban myths that have been discussed and debunked (or not) on the show over the years. This too is a wonderful companion to the show for lovers of the series. If you want a good laugh filled with fascinating facts then this one is for you. Enjoy!!

Well that’s it for books this issue. I hope you will take my recommendations into consideration when selecting your reading matter for your Summer reading delights and indeed for the future and give them a good go. I wish you all happy reading for 2017, and hope to see you all in the next issue.

CD REVIEWS
This time I want to tell you about a new compilation CD called “The Wild Atlantic Way” that came across my desk a while ago. It has been produced to celebrate the West Coast of Ireland and its wild Atlantic way (the current buzzword in Ireland) and the music has been selected as considered appropriate to that end.
The tracks are many and varied and feature some of Ireland’s best known artists in the form of Sharon Shannon, Steve Earle, Finbar Furey, Altan and Rita Connolly to name but a few. Here you will find such gems as “The Galway Girl”, ‘Ripples in the Rockpool”, “Health to the Company, all brilliantly performed. Enjoyed this one and it will feature heavily in my CD play lists for some time to come.

 

Colin

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 March 2016 13:28 )