Tag Archives: 5star

my outdoor life

My Outdoor Life by Ray Mears, narrated by Simon Shepherd.

From Audible:

Ray Mears is a household name through his television series Tracks, World of Survival, Bushcraft Survival, The Real Heroes of Telemark, and many more.

He is a private individual who shuns publicity whenever possible and would prefer to let his many skills tell their own tale – until now.

In My Outdoor Life, Ray tells of his childhood and the formative years when he first developed a passion for both bushcraft and the martial arts skills that are central to his life. Having travelled the world several times over, he is no stranger to risk and has had more than his fair share of dangerous and life-threatening encounters to share with his listeners. But his life is so much more than a tale of derring-do. Shortly after he returned to England having narrowly survived a serious helicopter crash, his father died. Just a year later, he had to face the death of his first wife, Rachel. The book conveys the many sides of Ray Mears, taking us up to the present day – including the previously untold story of his involvement in the man-hunt for murderer Raoul Moat. My Outdoor Life gives us all a chance to share a life story as rich and as inspirational as a walk in woods with the man himself, Ray Mears.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this! I also believe that I enjoyed it more as an audiobook than I would have if I’d read it as a regular book.

It’s a pretty much no-holds-barred insight into the life of someone that has lived both a public life and a very private life. With this book he gives a very frank, honest and detailed explanation of his life from an early age right up to the present (at the time of writing).

It did take a little bit of getting used to the narrator’s voice. He has a very proper English accent and tone of voice which adds a layer of pomposity at times that I don’t think is intentional from the author. Ray Mears is a supremely confident man, very clear in his morals and beliefs and totally unafraid to voice them and to hold himself and others to his exacting standards. Hearing his views in the narrator’s accent can cause this to be misinterpreted at times.

I particularly liked how he described the most difficult times in his life. The death of his first wife is harrowingly described as is the aftermath. Also the death of his father and the impact it had on him. However, he is also incredibly enthusiastic about the good times, meeting his second wife, surviving the helicopter crash, living with and learning from many different indigenous peoples of the world.

I started listening to audiobooks via Audible using a link from a YouTube channel I watch called TAOutdoors. This link will get you one month free access and two free downloads: audible.com/taoutdoors If you use it I’d highly recommend that you give this one a go even if you have no interest in the outdoors, bushcraft or even know who Ray Mears is!

Header image source: fossbytes.com

storm front

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

From Goodreads:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.

Magic – it can get a guy killed.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book has been around for 11 years now but I only heard about it recently. I came across the series when mentioned by Anthony on his blog Today’s Perfect Moment and so glad he did! I really, really enjoyed it.

This is a completely unique character and setting for me and despite my initial misgivings it works really well. The character of Harry Dresden is a quite cynical character and with a modern setting he’s very different from the traditional depiction of a wizard, about as far from Gandalf and Dumbledore as possible! The supporting characters are also very interesting and especially Harry’s relationship with Murphy. My favourite character by far though was Bob.

Bob typifies the disregard the author has for traditional magic, wizards and fantasy in general. The creation of the two potions was a fabulous comedic and well written scene that was one of my favourite, closely followed by Bob’s blackmail of Harry (trying not to give spoilers). This somehow reminded me of Terry Pratchett and his Witch characters.

There are a number of proper fantasy scenes that are also really well done. The best by far was Harry’s meeting with Madame Bianca but the appearances of the Toad Demon were also really well written.

The author seems to be quite prolific with 17 titles in the series so far. I hope he manages to keep the quality high as they go along as I hope to read them all.

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poppet

Poppet (Jack Caffrey #6, Flea Marley #4) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

In this chilling, seamlessly-plotted thriller, British detective Jack Caffery must find a dangerous mental patient on the loose—before he can kill again . . .
 
The Beechway High Secure Unit in Bristol, England, has a storied past—first as a nineteenth-century workhouse, then a poorhouse for the homeless, and now as a psychiatric hospital. With that troubled history come superstitions like the Maude, believed to be the ghost of a sadistic workhouse matron.
 
But while some of the patients and staff think the Maude is behind a series of unexplained episodes of self-harm amongst the ward’s patients, nursing coordinator AJ LeGrande thinks they might be the work of an all too human horror—a homicidal patient who was released back into the public in error.
 
Calling on Det. Jack Caffery, LeGrande hopes his investigation will reveal what’s truly been going on inside and outside the hospital’s walls. But what Caffery discovers about former patient Isaac Handel is beyond anyone’s imagining.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. I’m a big fan of Jack Caffrey and Mo Hayder in general but I absolutely devoured this book, reading it in less than 3 days. It’s written in a really good way that draws you on and on at a frenetic pace that does not allow you an easy opportunity to stop reading.

It’s both a complicated and very simple story with twists and turns all along the way. It’s focused mostly on Jack but introduces two new central characters from the mental hospital that are just for this story. That was a nice change but it also allowed Jack to be a police man in the main.

There was no sign of The Walking Man this time but there were enough eccentric characters here without him. I kept expecting him to pop up at some stage but he didn’t appear.

Finally and with some relief it appears that Jack and Flea are beginning to solve their personal problems and bring Misty Kitson’s death to an end. That’s been dragging on for a while now and it will be good to move on.

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daughter of the empire

Daughter of the Empire (The Empire Trilogy #1) by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts

From Goodreads:

Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan.  Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni.  While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir.  Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival.  But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy.  Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all–in his own impregnable stronghold.  An epic tale of adventure and intrigue.  Daughter of the Empire is fantasy of the highest order by two of the most talented writers in the field today.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

On my review of the final Liveship Traders book I said that it was one of the series of books that I read a long time ago but have always stuck with me. This is one of the others. I’d say this is definitely the third but possibly the fourth time I’ve read this brilliant series.

I’m a big fan of Feist and I’ve also enjoyed a couple of Wurts‘ books. This collaboration takes the best of both authors and combines them into a very original and fantastically complex story.

The story is completely set on the Tsurani world of Kelewan first introduced by Feist in the first Riftwar Saga Magician and runs at approximately the same timeline. The Tsurani live in a society dominated by honour and magic with families constantly in conflict in the political and deadly Game of the Council. The society and customs are clearly influenced by the eastern cultures of ancient Japan and China but with enough originality to make it feel alien.

This first book of the series builds the foundation of Mara as leader of one of the oldest families and how her life is turned upside down by the betrayal and murder of her father and brother. She is forced to turn her back on the religious life and take control of the family to prevent its total destruction by their enemies.

It is a refreshing change to see a strong female character at the heart of an old fantasy story. Feist has been criticised for his treatment of women during the Riftwar Saga but he very much overcomes that with the Empire Trilogy with obvious influences from Wurts.

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ship of destiny

Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders #3) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

As Bingtown slides toward disaster, clan matriarch Ronica Vestrit, branded a traitor, searches for a way to bring the city’s inhabitants together against a momentous threat. Meanwhile, Althea Vestrit, unaware of what has befallen Bingtown and her family, continues her perilous quest to track down and recover her liveship, the “Vivacia, “from the ruthless pirate Kennit.
Bold though it is, Althea’s scheme may be in vain. For her beloved “Vivacia “will face the most terrible confrontation of all as the secret of the liveships is revealed. It is a truth so shattering, it may destroy the “Vivacia “and all who love her, including Althea’s nephew, whose life already hangs in the balance.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Over the years there are a small number of fantasy series that have stuck with me. This is one of them. It stands out as one of the most original and richly written stories I’ve read. The author has created a new world full of amazing characters and novel twists on old themes.

This last book brings all the Liveship strands together in a fantastic conclusion. The author’s ability to take a significant number of storylines and detailed characters, weave them together in a complicated and interconnected story without losing the reader is amazing and incredibly enjoyable. If this is one of the best series I’ve read then this is definitely one of the very best books I’ve read.

This is the final installment in the trilogy but it is a part of a much larger story. Although it’s a self contained trilogy it also doesn’t have to end here. Although this series can be read as stand alone it does have references to the Six Duchies and has impacts on the Farseer and Fitz story that continues in the next set of books. There are connections and references that enrich this story if you’ve read the original Farseer Trilogy so I’d recommend reading them first and also reading this Liveship trilogy as part of the overall story.

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gone

Gone (Jack Caffrey #5, Flea Marley #3, The Walking Man #3) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

November in the West Country.

Evening is closing in as murder detective Jack Caffery arrives to interview the victim of a car-jacking.

He’s dealt with routine car-thefts before, but this one is different. This car was taken by force. And on the back seat was a passenger. An eleven-year-old girl. Who is still missing.

Before long the jacker starts to communicate with the police: ‘It’s started,’ he tells them. ‘And it ain’t going to stop just sudden, is it?

And Caffery knows that he’s going to do it again. Soon the jacker will choose another car with another child on the back seat.

Caffery’s a good and instinctive cop; the best in the business, some say. But this time he knows something’s badly wrong. Because the jacker seems to be ahead of the police – every step of the way…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this book. If you read professional reviews and critic reports I’m sure there will be lots of comments about the lack of writing quality, how the story skips around a lot and how some plot lines appear out of nowhere or are discarded without a thought. I don’t care! This book is all about the story and all of the above creates a frenetic pace that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you along whether you want to go or not. I found it difficult to break away from reading this during the first 40% but the remainder was read virtually in one sitting this morning. I was so engrossed I even gave up on my planned 100km cycle and gave myself over to the story.

There is some development in the relationship between Flea and Jack and they both have starring roles in this book. The Walking Man also plays a more prominent role and we get to know some more of his back story. However, the story mostly focuses on “the jacker” and the search for the missing girls. It’s almost a standalone story but much more enjoyable if you have read the preceding books.

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enemy of god

Enemy of God (Warlord Chronicles #2) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

The balance of King Arthur’s unified kingdom is threatened by Merlin’s quest for the last of Britain’s 13 Treasures; by the conflict between the ancient religion and the new Christianity; and by Britain’s war with the Saxons. A master storyteller continues his retelling of the Arthurian legend.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first book introduced us to a new version of Arthur and the Arthurian story but this second installment takes it to anther level.

Derfel is still our guide. He’s a grown man now, Arthur’s trusted friend and key to the success of Arthur’s plans. He’s in love with the beautiful princess but it’s not a fairytale story for them. We also see him in his later years as he continues to write the story for the young Queen Igraine and there are tantalising hints of what happens to him through the years to bring him into Sansum’s care.

The story is obviously based around the Arthurian legends but this is a much darker tale than the traditional stories of gallantry, romance and chivalrous knights and so much better for it. The author takes the traditional characters and layers then with ambition, violence and even downright evil on occasion. It’s probably much closer to the truth!

This isn’t a particularly long book but it’s packed full of detail from the storyline to character development that it seems long – in a really good way though. When it finished I just wanted it to keep going, thankfully there’s a third instalment still to come!

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i shall wear midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld #38) by Terry Pratchett

From Goodreads:

It starts with whispers.

Then someone picks up a stone.

Finally, the fires begin.

When people turn on witches, the innocents suffer. . .

Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that aren’t sparkly, aren’t fun, don’t involve any kind of wand, and that people seldom ever hear about: She does the unglamorous work of caring for the needy.

But someone or something is igniting fear, inculcating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Aided by her tiny blue allies, the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must find the source of this unrest and defeat the evil at its root before it takes her life. Because if Tiffany falls, the whole Chalk falls with her.

Chilling drama combines with laugh-out-loud humor and searing insight as beloved and bestselling author Terry Pratchett tells the high-stakes story of a young witch who stands in the gap between good and evil.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Terry Pratchett was an absolute genius. He had the most wonderful talent at taking everyday themes and making them both funny and sad and above all thought-provoking. I have enjoyed every single one of his books and think life really is incredibly cruel that he was afflicted with such a horrible disease and passed away way before his time.

TP’s other strength was his characters. My favourites have always been the Witches, City Guard and Trolls and this story has two of the three with appearances from all the main figures. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg have always dominated the Witches stories but this story puts Tiffany well and truly at their level.

This book is listed as Young Adult (YA) but it takes on some very heavyweight subjects. Straight out of the blocks it’s domestic violence and closely followed by the main theme of racism/xenophobia. It was published just over 10 years ago but in the modern world of Brexit and Trump politics it’s sadly more relevant than ever.

Two quotes for me stand out from this book:

It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.

Terry Pratchett. Author’s Note

Poison goes where poison’s welcome.

Mrs Proust. Chapter 7

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the mad ship

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

The Liveship trilogy continues the dramatic tale of piracy, serpents, love and magic. The Vestrit family’s liveship, Vivacia, has been taken by the pirate king, Kennit. Held captive on board, Wintrow Vestrit finds himself competing with Kennit for Vivacia’s love as the ship slowly acquires her own bloodlust. Leagues away, Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but she lives only to reclaim the Vivacia and with her friend, Brashen, she plans a dangerous rescue. Meanwhile in Bingtown, the fading fortunes of the Vestrit family lead Malta deeper into the magical secrets of the Rain Wild Traders. And just outside Bingtown, Amber dreams of relaunching Paragon, the mad liveship …

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Second of three books in the series and while definitely setting the scene for what should be an outstanding finale it’s a fantastic book in its own right.

Following in the same style as the first book this story is very much about the characters. There is further development of the main characters but increased development of characters only introduced in the first book. Kennit, Malta and Reyn all take a more central role but the star of the story is Paragon – The Mad Ship.

Much of Paragon’s story is detailed while much more is insinuated. Intertwined with his story is that of the serpents and the Rain Wilds. Just enough detail is given to confirm details hinted at already while leaving you wondering about the rest. An expert tease!

A fabulously detailed combination of stories that creates immense anticipation for the final chapter and conclusion of everyone’s story.

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silverthorn

Silverthorn (Riftwar Saga #2) by Raymond E Feist.

From Goodreads:

A poisoned bolt has struck down the Princess Anita on the day of her wedding to Prince Arutha of Krondor.

To save his beloved, Arutha sets out in search of the mystic herb called Silverthorn that only grows in the dark and forbidding land of the Spellweavers.

Accompanied by a mercenary, a minstrel, and a clever young thief, he will confront an ancient evil and do battle with the dark powers that threaten the enchanted realm of Midkemia.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The storyline is a familiar and simple one. The dashing young Prince has fallen for the beautiful young Princess and instead of living happily ever after she is struck down by a terrible poison. Close to death she is placed in a magical sleep and he embarks on a quest for the cure accompanied by a small band of friends. It’s old school fantasy at its best.

The writing is far from simplistic. The detail of character and location is really good and the simple story is nestled within the much more complicated overall story that was started in the first book.

Despite being set almost completely on Midkemia it was good to return to Kelewan close to the end setting the scene for the final book of the series but also briefly bringing back well liked characters from the first book.

The author has a great talent for writing standalone stories that are completed within the one book but also interconnect to form the bigger story. This is difficult to do and this is one of the very few middle books I’ve read that don’t just feel like scene setters.

It is the characters that really make these books so good. Arutha and Jimmy dominate here but we get to know so many others that develop further through the series of books and see a slightly different side of some we’ve already met.