Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


    Before I tell you what I'm currently reading I thought a little bit about my reading history.

    I like to read.  Ever since I was a teenager, probably even before that I suppose.  I really don't remember the first book I ever bought, or even what the first book was that I took on loan from my local library.  I loved that building in Coatbridge, Scotland.  I do remember that it was massive, or so I remember, steps leading up to massive wooden and glass doors then walking into, as I recall,  a marble reception area with the biggest stone staircase going off to the right, and do you know I still don't know what was upstairs, guess I never will now.

    Entering the borrowing room from the lobby it was, as I recall, on the left and through another large set of floor to ceiling doors.  The ceiling looked as if it was about 30 feet up and to my young eyes, again apart from the school hall or church, I had never been in a room that big.  Then of course books, shelves and shelves of books, all around the walls in the middle of the room there were rows and rows of them with every type of book imaginable. I was overwhelmed, and, as a new reader in the sense that until my first visit I had only really read books for school and I have to say at this point I was not the most, or being honest, even a moderately academically  gifted student.  Lessons I enjoyed tended to be English, geography and history.  For some peculiar reason I still remember learning all about Merino sheep, in geography, go figure, why that should stand out I have no idea, but there you go. As for the rest, maths, sciences, and wood and metal work , not very talented would be pretty much understating my efforts and attention span in those subjects.  I was also quite a good 'talker', I even won a prise for recitation and guess what, it was a book, a history of Rangers football club, as I recall. Apparently I am still good at talking as some same I never know when to shut up!

    The library was in Academy Street, on a hill and if memory serves, our family Doctor was just down the hill from it, so, two birds, as they say.

    As I say I do not remember the first book bought or even the first book I took out on loan, but I do remember I was a great fan of westerns and in particular the J.T Edson
novels of Dusty Fogg, The Ysabel Kid, et al. 
Also on my reading curriculum was Louis L'Amour.  I then remember moving on to non western books.  The Day of the Jackal by Fredrick Forsyth.

                                                                                                                          Leon Uris.
 Exodus, QBVII and Topaz were firm favourites and as a teenager back in the late 60's and although reading from the authors perspective it did give me an opening into what was and had happened to the Jewish race, things I knew, up until then, nothing about. 
E.E. 'Doc' Smith
probably one of the best SyFi writers of all times wrote a series of books entitled "The Lensmen" that I discovered and found immensely readable and enjoyable, but strangely I was not drawn really to any other SyFi in books, TV and film yes, but that's for another blog.

    Reading has always played a big part in my life from early days as you can see, as it still does today.  I rejoined my local library last year and rediscovered the joy of that forum, but I have to say with all the cuts that are being made in public services, I wonder just how long they can last.  I read an article recently about one local authority in Essex that is already planning to reduce opening times and I fear that many small village libraries days are numbered, if that is the case then that will be a real shame.  Of course another issue that libraries are fighting against is the increase of E Readers that are available today and the numbers are growing.  You can have an E Reader  designed specifically to download books or you can download an app for your smart phone and or computer.  While I don't believe that we will ever get rid of the 'paper' book I have to confess to ownership of an Amazon Kindle device. 

 It was given as a Christmas present, which surprised me as I had looked at them but stated to anyone who new me, including Ishbel my wife who gave me it as a pressie, that while it looked o.k. it would, could never replace the tactile feel that you get from holding an actual book in your hand and adding it to your ever expanding collection.  

    Off course the problem with books, if you do like to read, is that they can become quite addictive.  This clearly is not a bad thing as it is an addiction that feeds your mind with information.  It doesn't matter what the information is, really, it doesn't, it is the fact that you are reading and expanding your ability to communicate in both written and oral engagements whether it be with your friends and family, your children or your grandchildren, or in a social or working environment.  The ability to communicate is an ever expanding and ever improving area that we all need and should strive towards. And one way of doing so is of course to expand your vocabulary through reading.  So whether it is a novel or a book on gardening or cookery, a book of poems, a biography or a history of.... they are all worth reading.

    I'm a hoarder, I keep everything, including receipts for the most mundane of purchases, they are in a box that sits up on the top landing of our house along with my desk and computer that is really only used by the grand kids these days, lap top is downstairs.  On looking through it recently I found a stack of receipts for books, and it seems my addiction was costing a few bob, or a few hundred bob to be more precise, each year, hence rejoining the library again last year.  Of course the other problem with buying books, unless you have a large house with large rooms, you start to run out of places to keep them, so, while I was not entirely thrilled with the idea of an E reader I was grateful for the gift and determined to give it a go.

    What a revelation, this was,  and one of the first things I discovered was the vast amount of FREE, yes, FREE books that were available.  Now I have the Amazon Kindle as you can see but I am told that other E readers also have vast quantities of books that are free.  I was reintroduced to classics, such as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Frankenstien,  Bram Stoker - Dracula and Draculas Guest, the latter a collection of short stories that were fabulous, Jonathan Swift and Gullivers Travels, Washington Irving and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, etc, etc etc., and they were all FREE and absolutely great reads after so many years.

    This is also one of the reasons I fear for the continuity of local libraries.  After rejoining last year, I was there almost every Saturday morning getting two or three books out, reading them throughout the week on my commute to the office and in the evenings.  Since I got the Kindle I regret that I have not been to the library,  while my local library does have a fair collection of books, and you could, and can, go online to order books held in other libraries in the county, Amazon and the Kindle seem to give you just as much choice and you can have it literally within seconds on the push of one button.  Sure, if you want to read something by a contemporary author you are going to have to pay for that on your E book , but again, most authors recognise the value of sales and of course if you sell a couple of hundred books at £15.99, they might make a few bob,  but if they get their marketing correct and sell it on Amazon or one of the other Reader services for less than a pound or for a couple of pounds, you are likely to download it and read it, and they will I suspect if one authors recent postings are anything to go by, do very well out of it. Oh, and the beauty of the Kindle is also that you can download a free sample of the book, which usually includes the first couple of chapters to test the water, before you actually purchase. 

    Anyway, what am I reading today, well, just about anything really, novels, biographies, auto biographies, travel, politics, you name it I will probably read it. I have just started to re-read Asa Briggs, now Baron I think, A Social History of England.  I first picked up this book when I started to do an MsC at Liecester University, [correspondence] the book was fascinating then and I am finding it so again. By the way   just in case you were curious, I got bored and dropped out.........

    At the moment I have a couple of books on the go, and the book I read at any given time largely depends on the mood I am in, and where I am, at home in the evening, in the office during lunch or on the train during commute.  If I want some adventure, you can't beat a good thriller and there does seem to be a lot of good thriller writers out there that give you, in some cases, palpitations, really I do mean that; point in case is a self published author by the name of Michael R Hicks who goes by the twitter name of @KreelanWarrior.
    He can be found at:
    Mr Hicks has written a series of books, set some time in the future following the life of a boy, Rezza Gard, orphaned in a Kreelan attack on his home world who witnesses his parents die at the hands of one of the other central characters in the books Tesh Dar, the leading warrior priestess.  The Kreelans are a female warrior race with males living for one thing and one thing only, to breed and then they apparently die an agonising death!
In Her Name

Empire,  Confederation and Final Battle 

   This comes in an omnibus edition and in truth, while wary of buying an omnibus edition of any author I have never read before, it was, on this occasion a good decision. The action starts straight away with Rezza Gards parents trying to stay alive on their home world from the onslaught of a female warrior race that has descended upon them.  The Kreelans are 10's of thousands of years older than humanity and this is reflected in their technology however their sense of honour makes them fight, and kill humans with weapons and ships that are as close a match to humans as is possible, after all where is the honour in just exterminating animals just because they exist! 

   During this battle Rezza  a young boy not yet into double digits manages to land a blow on the warrior priestess's face cutting her, rather than kill him outright, and as a mark of respect for his courage she marks the boy with a similar scar and leaves him on the ruins of the planet.

    While it is explained that the Kreelans could in fact wipe out all of the humanity on all of the planets they exist on, without any effort, it is again down to their sense of honour and desire to have an enemy fight them that they withdraw after each conflict to allow the humans time to regroup and muster their forces and ships.

    From the very first page of this omnibus I was hooked, and I hoped that this was going to be the scenario throughout, and chapter one was not disappointing at all.  Moving onto chapter two I had pangs of an early 'bolt having been shot' as the story moved on 5 years and we found young Rezza on an orphanage world where the orphans of the 100 year old war were sent and used effectively by the administrators of the planet as child labour.  Having started off with non stop action and graphic scenes of death I thought we were then going to get a bit of a wishy washy tale however that was not the case and the time spent detailing Rezza's and the other childrens existence on the planet and their battle to survive against the abuse of their own kind was just as compelling as the first chapter and the more you read, the more you wanted to read.

IN HER NAME: EMPIRE    The rest of Empire goes on compelling you to turn page after page to see what's coming next, from the Kreelans attack on the orphan world and the children being captured and taken back to the Kreelan home system and  the acceptance that only one survives the rigours of the challenges while there, Rezza, who is forced to wear a collar and a leash like a dog but never submitting to the stronger will of his captors.  While there are obvious and striking differences between the two races, author Michael Hicks has clearly put a lot of time and effort into this and while it is a tale of two different species he clearly draws parallels between earthly syndromes and we end up with what psychologists would probably term as the 'Stockholm syndrome' effect where Rezza eventually falls in love with his captor and ends up being accepted as his soul sings with the Bloodsong, but getting there with him you feel every humiliation, bump, bruise and cut that he suffers.  You too will thrill as he does, as his feelings grow stronger and stronger and he comes to accept that while not born Kreelan, he becomes one.  The end of the first book then leaves you in a bit of a state in that if you had any foresight you probably saw what was coming but, if like me you didn't then,  woooooowwwwww.

If you have been enslaved, tortured and brutalised for years and then come to accept your self as a part of the race who did these things to you, what do you do when you are told that you now have to be a part of the battle against the peoples of your birth......................

Well, all I can say is buy the book(s), honestly you wont regret it.  These books have something for every one, love, pathos, intirigue, honour, murder, mystery and all out bloody mayhem.  Battles in Space that make you feel as if you just jumped from one author Michael R Hicks into a Julian Stockwin novel and your in the middle of a battle on the high seas, his descriptive prose just keeps you hooked, and at the end of the day, that's what you want from a good novel, a story with substance that sucks you into it.  I suppose it's a bit like a gripping TV drama, the only difference and the best, is that you don't need to wait a week for the next episode, you just keep turning the pages..... the only problem with a good book like this is that when you do get to the end of it you feel quite down as you get to the final page. But there is good news he then wrote two prequels with a third on the way and is planning a further three novels giving nine in the series. 

    I have read book four, In her Name: First Contact and I am currently on number five, In Her Name: Legend of the Sword and I can safely report that these two are every bit as entertaining and engaging as the first three.

    What else is on the go, well Julian Stockwin's next installment of Captain Thomas Kydd novels Conquest, was pre-ordered and duly downloaded to the reader.  I had planned to start this last week, as I have been waiting with eager anticipation for the continuing adventures of our intrepid Captain and his friend Renzi after the Battle of Trafalgar, but dear Julian, forgive me, but that damn man Hicks has drawn me into his epic tale and I did start so I want to get finished, but that also means I will be able to savour even more Kydd as he take his L'Aurore into more heavy seas, that he will no doubt best........

    Julian Stockwin can be found at:

    Matthew Reilly an Australian author I discovered last year from the library visits, is due a new novel out this year,  His Jack West and Scarecrow novels leave you fighting for breath as you get deeper and deeper into the action with these two heroes.   And while it is hard for me to pick a favourite from either of them, in fact I can't I just love reading the adventures of both.  Surprisingly for me however, and please don't judge me on this I am quite a nice guy, but Jack West has a kid who features heavily in the story lines and, well I suppose this is more for films than books if I think about it, but in  a good action film if there is a kid in it I would rather see them die, horribly at the beginning, than waste the film of the distraction that they become throughout the movie....  I do love my kids and grand kids honestly!

     Anyway Jack Wests kid does not distract as they fly all over the world, to save it, whether the world wants saving or not 

    Matthew Reilly can be found at:

       Slight change of tack here before I end this one.  Another new author I found through my Kindle was De Ann Black
.  I stumbled across The Bitch Proof Suit  and it had no violence, well the odd slap across the face and more than one thought of violence, but a more a gentile violence rather than full on rip the head off the shoulders kind of violence that I like in a novel.  This is about a fashion expert based in New York who had left an assignment in Dublin to escape a love affair that went sour.  Now, having read what I have written earlier, you might think the guy has gone loopy, but I also did write that I liked  just about anything in print, and so I will try anything.  Anyway I downloaded a sample of The Bitch Proof suit and I was hooked.

    Ms Black wrote a great little book on the escapades of Blue, short for Bluebell, Byrne who learns after running away from Dublin that she has to go back.  The book follows her and two colleagues' exploits as they arrive in Dublin and old relationships are met head on with bizarre and funny results.    The  title, The Bitch proof Suit refers to a business suit that Blue has designed herself and that is so perfect in its design and in the wearing off [for her at least] that it acts as  a bit of a shield, deflecting people who begin to criticise her but as soon as they notice the suit it so confuses them that they end up coming off second best.....  It really was a good laugh throughout following these three around Dublin and other parts and laughing at their escapades and escape from tricky situations.  Suffice it to say that old flames are reacquainted and a happily ever after scenario seems to be in the offing.  But clever Ms Black left us hanging, but not by too much I hasten to add or in a way that did not end one book chapter, but by enough to leave me wanting some more, which I believe there will be, and not to long I hope.

    De ann Black can be found at:

    There is so much more I am reading at the moment, but I fear if I don't stop I will be writing with no reading and that will never do, so why don't you check out the authors I have mentioned, they can never have too many followers and if you like what you see, give them a try, you will love them.

    If you have liked what I have written, do feel free to pop a comment in the box, if you haven't liked what I have written, same goes, let me know

 Best wishes 


  1. Tom - thanks very much for posting a link to this blog on BigThink. You have reminded me of some old favourites that I need to revisit.

    I'm currently having a blast with CC Humphries's ARMAGEDDON - if you like Stockwin (who is an old favourite of mine) you'd probably enjoy it.

    I have to say that you are the first person - out of many who have tried - to make me think that a Kindle might actually be a good investment for me after all!

  2. Thanks bjfb, glad I could help, but continue to buy both through both mediums and support your local book shop


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