Archive for the Books Category

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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John Murray [First published 2015]

I picked up this one as a ‘Read it Now’ on NetGalley and I am glad I did. ‘Slow Horses’ is the first book in the Slough House series of modern day espionage thrillers based on Jackson Lamb.

Jackson Lamb presides over Slough House, a dumping ground for members of the intelligence service who’ve messed up, be it a terrorist training scenario that went wrong or leaving vital data on a tube train. The book starts off with an agent called Cartwright who’s leading a terrorist training scenario goes wrong and it is only having a retired spook as a grandfather that saves his career, well stops him being dismissed and instead assigned to Slough House. The plot (based around a domestic terror plot to carry out a beheading live on the net) keeps you reading on, maybe not as intricate as a John Le Carre, but certainly with the same page turning ability as a Le Carre. Jackson Lamb is a very much a rogue character and you do get to find out what caused his fall from grace that landed him at Slough House.

Mick Herron should be on your ‘must read’ list for any readers of well written and plotted espionage/spy fiction. Right, now I am off to hunt down book two in the series…

Three Gruff Goats Meet Some Unexpected Visitors: A mashed-up fairytale by David Atkinson

Posted in Books, Family life with tags , , , , on February 12, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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The book is loosely based on the Three Billy Goats Gruff, although David Atkinson adds in a few guest appearances from other well known fairy tales. There are a few good puns in the text and Fay Ford’s illustrations enhance the overall book greatly. My nine year old son enjoyed it as much as I did and to be fair he is more the target audience!

The only downside to the book is that it is over too quickly! There is definitely a scope for a series of books like this that shake-up traditional fairy tales. Maybe the Three Little Pigs (who pop-up in this book) with a twist on the wolf…

Glory Hunter by Brian Darling

Posted in Books, Football, Stoke City, Stoke City FC, The Premiership with tags , , , , , on February 12, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Brian Darling is a glory hunter in that he was raised in Rugby and chose to support Stoke as they were going through a purple patch in the early 1970’s when he started supporting Stoke.

His memoir recalls not only watching Stoke, he adds in his career in the banking world which may not be of interest to some, however he gives an interesting insight as to how banking has changed over the years. Fear not though as football is the main focus and Stoke fans will enjoy the highs and lows mentioned in the book. Be it the classy players we have had like Jimmy Greenoff, Mark Stein, Ricardo Fuller, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton to name but a few to a few donkeys like Keith Scott.

You don’t need to be a Stoke supporter to enjoy this book, as Brian gets onto the printed page the joy of seeing your team win and the abject despair when you get relegated or lose a big cup game (losing to Man City in the FA Cup final still hurts…)

Highly recommended for Stoke fans as a must read and for any lover of football fan memoirs.

Betrayal by Stewart Binns

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Penguin [Publication date 08.02.18]

I have read the Crusades series by Stewart Binns and enjoyed those. ‘Betrayal’ is a stand-alone novel by him set in Belfast in 1981. It focuses on Jim Dowd and Maureen O’Brien, special forces soldiers, who are ordered to go undercover, infiltrate one of the city’s most dangerous Catholic neighbourhoods the Ardoyne, and carry out orders that will pit them against not only the IRA but members of their own forces and spymasters.

It is a fast paced read, with plenty of action and although it lacks the subtlety of say Le Carre or Deighton, Binns has a decent go at a spy/espionage thriller. The description of Belfast at the height of the Troubles are graphically described, particularly the effects on the day to day life of its citizens. Binns also pops in bits of history throughout the novel to give the reader some background and the glossary gives further details on various organisations and events involved in Northern Ireland.

Another highly readable novel by an author now on my ‘must read’ list.

Book review: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by AJ Finn

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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HarperCollins UK (Publication date 26.01.18)

Debut psychological thriller from AJ Finn, who has been gaining rave reviews from some big name authors.

The story focuses on child psychologist Anna Fox who has not left her home in over ten months due to a life changing event, that is slowly revealed through the course of the book. She spends her days online, in particular a forum for fellow agoraphobics, and watching her neighbours, especially when a new family the Russells move in. The book really gathers pace once Anna hears a scream from the Russells’ house and then all manner of events are set in motion. You’ll have to read the book as no spoilers here, save to say the ending will catch many surprise.

It is a classic page turner, I wanted to keep reading a few pages more just to see what happens – a sign of a good psychological thriller. Downside is that a couple of twists you can guess, however it is a highly readable debut and looking forward to the second novel from this author.

‘So Here It Is’ by Dave Hill

Posted in Authors, Books, Classic albums, Classic rock, rock n roll with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

 

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Unbound Books [Published date 16.11.17]

Noddy Holder has written a couple of books and drummer Don Powell has published his memoir, now it is the turn of guitarist Dave Hill.

Dave Hill was born in a castle in Devon, the son of a mechanic, and moved back with his parents to Wolverhampton when he was a year old. Much of the book involves his family and the facts he uncovered including that his parents weren’t married for their early years and how his mum’s depression impacted on the family. He touches upon this throughout the book, including how he didn’t cry when his mum died, and is very open and honest about how his mum affected and shaped his life. His wife Jan, who he married in 1973, remained his rock throughout the trails of life, be it with Slade or more personal aspects of his life.

Slade fans will be interested to read about the band’s origins as Dave Hill originally played with drummer Don Powell in a band called The Vendors, which became the The N’ Betweens. When Jim Lea and singer Noddy Holder later joined, the band renamed itself Slade, after an album came out under the Ambrose Slade name. In the 1970s, Slade were the biggest band in the UK, racking up 23 Top 20 hits, including six number one singles. That is some achievement and of course their Christmas single ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, still makes the singles charts every Christmas season.

There isn’t much in the way of rock ‘n’ roll tales about other band members as they didn’t seem to socialise much on the road. The Reading comeback is covered, along with their failed attempt to break the US market – something that nearly broke the band. The mid-80’s to early 90’s period doesn’t get covered much, mainly as the band had stopped touring and when Noddy Holder left the band in 1992, Jim Lea also retired from the band. Hill and Powell formed Slade II in 1992, which again isn’t touched upon much in the book, and that band’s current line-up has bene together and touring since 2005. Slade II have released one studio album to date (much of the album was written by Hill and former Wizzard member Bill Hunt).

Recommended read for the band’s many fans as you get to see behind the showmanship, and at times outrageous costumes, of Dave Hill. Frank and honest about his own personal life, plus he still keeps the band’s music alive by still touring today as Slade II with fellow founder member Don Powell.

Bryant and May – The Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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The latest instalment of the series featuring the elderly detectives Bryant and May and their colleagues in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU). The wild chambers in the title refers to the various parks in London, which feature heavily in the book as Christopher Fowler continues to give potted histories and oddball facts about London and its peoples through the ages. Indeed Arthur Bryant has vivid hallucinations following some lifesaving treatment and meets various characters in these who help him solve the case, including a cameo by a young Queen Elizabeth II.

The PCU are tasked with catching a possible serial killer who makes their kills in the parks of London. In the background the PCU’s arch enemy Leslie Faraday plots to close the PCU down and all the PCU characters are back including Bryant’s suave partner John May, along with constables Colin and Meera with their ongoing ‘will they, wont’ they’ become an item. There is an added character this time as an exchange German policewoman, Steffi Vesta, joins the team hoping to pick up some good policing tips!

Christopher Fowler cleverly uses the characters in his books to make comments on the current social and cultural landscapes in London, a city he loves and that comes across in his writing. If you have never read a Bryant & May novel you are missing out and this is a good a place to start as any. They are a winning mix of ‘cosy crime’ with a supernatural edge and a good dose of humour.