Archive for the ‘action’ Category

Hitler is determined to start a war.

Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace.

The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there.

Munich.

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Führer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own.

Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again.

When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

Hutchinson

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Simon

Munich, Robert Harris’s latest offering, is a political thriller set during the ongoing political foment of late 1930s Europe. The story is told from two points of view: one is Hugh Legat, a Foreign Office staff member attached to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s office; and the other is Paul Hartmann his counterpart and former friend in the German Foreign Office in Berlin. Paul is also a member of the anti-Nazi German opposition – resistance being too strong a word.

The latest crisis is Hitler’s proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia due to settle the Sudetenland transfer once and for all. That invasion is opposed by the British, French and Czechoslovak governments, and also by large parts of the German regime because the German army, and the German populace in general, is unprepared for war.

Munich the novel centres round the four day period covering the diplomatic negotiations, and attendant espionage efforts of the German opposition, held in Munich that prevented the outbreak of war in 1938.

I found the novel to be an easy and enjoyable read as it re-emphasised the personal nature of Anglo-German relations and the horror of another major European war held by most political leaders of the time.

 

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Review of No Middle Name – Lee Child

Posted: September 6, 2017 in action, Review
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Jaack ‘No Middle Name’ Reacher, lone wolf, knight errant, ex military cop, lover of women, scourge of the wicked and righter of wrongs, is the most iconic hero for our age. This is the first time all Lee Child’s shorter fiction featuring Jack Reacher has been collected into one volume.

A brand-new novella, Too Much Time, is included, as are those previously only published in ebook form: Second Son, James Penney’s New Identity, Guy Walks Into a Bar, Deep Down, High Heat, Not a Drill and Small Wars. Added to these is every other Reacher short story that Child has written: Everyone Talks, Maybe They Have a Tradition, No Room at the Motel and The Picture of the Lonely Diner. Read together, these twelve stories shed new light on Reacher’s past, illuminating how he grew up and developed into the wandering avenger who has captured the imagination of millions around the world.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Review by Lee Murray

The bio at the back of No Middle Name says one of Lee Child’s “novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every 20 seconds’ and that they’re ‘published in over 100 territories’. So it stands to reason that a fair number of us are familiar with Child’s vagrant hero, the hard-living keen-eyed Marine Corps kid turned military cop. And true to form, this complete collection of short stories featuring Child’s iconic character comprises all the things we’ve come to love about the Child/Reacher franchise:

A bar. Pretty much every Reacher story has one, where the military ex-cop observes every misplaced floorboard, evaluating each shifty-eyed character leaning up against the mahogany before ordering a beer and maybe a cheeseburger. More than once he’ll have a chat with the downtrodden waitress, who typically talks too much, or perhaps says too little which, to an ex-cop, is a tell in itself.

A bus stop, train station, trail, or a road trip in a beat-up van. Child’s hero comes from nowhere, stops a few days, and then moves on to somewhere, which could be anywhere ‒ a fact which makes these stories both fleeting and fierce.

USA. Child’s writing reeks of America, its small towns, sprawling cities, and broken down street corners, and he does it better than most with dusty, weather-beaten worn-out observations which are so familiar they sparkle:

“The city was pitch black, still dead, like a creature on its back.”

“The vacation cabins were laid out haphazardly, like a handful of dice thrown down.”

 “They drove a long, long time in the dark, and then they hit neighbourhoods with power, with traffic lights and street lights and the occasional lit room. Billboards were bright, and the familiar night-time background of orange diamonds on black velvet lay all around.”

And this is Jack Reacher so we cannot go past the obligatory ‘what are you looking at?’ scene, where 6 foot 5 Reacher doesn’t provoke the fight but after weighing up the options and reminding us he doesn’t like running, takes down every two-bit thug in the vicinity. It’s part of his charm.

No story would be complete without the disenfranchised citizen who somehow needs saving, and naturally, Reacher, with no place to go and nothing to lose, is the only one to do it.

And finally, for every story there is the roundhouse kick of a finish that you simply didn’t see coming.

No Middle Name includes five Jack Reacher novellas and several shorter stories. Like Reacher himself, they’re good company for an hour, like taking a rest stop at a small town café to sip coffee and watch the bustle, before stepping back onto the Greyhound of our lives. Recommended.

A multi-award winning writer and editor, Lee Murray’s latest titles include the military thriller Into the Mist (Cohesion Press), and Hounds of the Underworld (RDSP) co-written with Dan Rabarts.

Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

It’s all about Apollo. Apollo is still banished from Olympus, still in the body of a pimply teen called Lester Papadopoulos and still on his quest to find the oracle that may have the answers to help him get back into Zeus’ good books. It’s all about Apollo. Accompanied by his friends he is traveling the mid-west, keeping an eye out for and battling monsters sent to destroy them all. It’s all about Apollo but not everyone loves the coolest of gods, ok, former god, and wants to help him as a matter of course because… he’s Apollo. It’s all about Apollo, however he may be beginning to just slightly be aware, that demi-gods and humans are not as, well, disposable, as he has thought up till now. It’s all about Apollo but in fact he is getting quite fond of these beings who are brave and loyal. It’s all about Apollo, but maybe getting in a big bowl of popcorn and slamming a few cold ones down as you watch a battle, where armies are tearing each other up in your name, from the comfort of Olympus, may not have been…..cool.

It’s all about Apollo but maybe it can be about others too?

 

Before they became the most famous Ranger in the land and the hard-working Ranger Commandant, Halt and Crowley were young friends determined to change the world.

The scheming Baron Morgarath is drawing other power-hungry knights and barons to his banner. King Oswald is wasting away and, if gossip can be believed, Prince Duncan is causing havoc in the north.

Halt and Crowley set out to find the prince, uncover the truth, and re-form the weakened Ranger Corps. Once-loyal Rangers are scattered across the country, and it will take determination, skill, and leadership if they’re to come together as one. Can the Rangers regain the trust of the Kingdom, or will the cunning Morgarath outwit them at every turn?

the-tournament-at-gorlan

Random House

supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Flanagan continues to mine his “Rangers” world; only now he’s digging into prequel territory.

The flaws in his world-building are still evident – coffee ought to be a rare luxury in any pseudo-medieval world unless the setting is very close to its point of origin (or there are improbable amounts of magic messing around with transport and economics).

I keep wishing he’d chuck out this background and start again doing a proper job of it, because he’s otherwise not a bad writer.

The Tournament at Gorlan fairly rollicks along, and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. The story is that the young Prince has be taken captive, and an imposter is stirring up trouble in his name, while the old King is being slowly poisoned in mind as well as body. Our rangers make it their business to get together and put things to rights.

Which they do, culminating in the events of the titular tournament (which I must admit felt more like a modern re-enactment than the real thing, but that’s Flanagan).

The reality is that the majority of his young readers will not even notice the mistakes that annoy me, and this is probably the best of his work that I’ve read so far. Which is as close to a recommendation that you’re going to get.

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the-sword-of-summer

I must confess that I haven’t actually read any of Riordan’s work before, although I had seen the movie adaptation of Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief. Which hadn’t really impressed me, so I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novel. But I soon discovered otherwise. What didn’t come through in the movie is the sheer exuberance of Riordan’s prose, and his truly wicked sense of humour. This book was fun!

There were a few things that didn’t sit well with me – the convoluted logic it took to get a Muslim girl to become a Valkyrie for example (just because Muslim heroines are fashionable doesn’t mean that every story has to have one). And I think that the choice of Boston as the centre of Yggdrasil and the connection to the other worlds was yet another case of “everything must happen in America even if it doesn’t make much sense”. Personally, I would have found Iceland a bit more interesting. Or even Norsewood.

But Riordan is good enough that this reader can ignore such matters and enjoy the story. It does begin in Boston where Magnus encounters a bridge, a sword, and a fire giant. And dies. And the story continues in Hotel Valhalla. Much of the humour devolves from the collision between Norse myth and the modern world, and it worked for me. Much better than other takes on modernising Norse myth that I’ve encountered, and Riordan’s version is much truer to the actual mythology than, for example, the Marvel version.

The main criticism others have made is that Magnus is too much like Percy and Jason. I didn’t have that issue, because I hadn’t read the other books. However, I would suggest that if Riordan is to silence his critics, he might be advised to try something totally different after finishing this series – something that doesn’t involve mythology, and has a markedly dissimilar lead character. Maybe a science fiction series with a female protagonist. As for me, I got a lot of enjoyment from this book, and I’m sure many teens would enjoy it too.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

all black

personal

The President of France is shot at from ¾ of a mile away but a sheet of bullet proof glass saves him. Only a few snipers worldwide could have made that shot, only one an American – John Kott, recently released from prison after serving a fifteen-year sentence.

The G8 nations are about to hold a summit in London and they’re not keen to have a sniper with incredible aim roaming free. International intelligence agencies are scrambling to find and capture him and have identified potential suspects but the bullet fired was American made; leaving Kott as the likely culprit.

The Americans call in Jack Reacher, he arrested Kott sixteen years ago and they’re hopeful he can find him again. This is Reacher though, so   they assign a female analyst, Casey Nice, to accompany him and report on his movements.

The action takes place in the U.S., France, and Britain and Reacher gets   the best of his handlers, as well as the bad guys. It’s a fun read that moves along at a very fast pace. It took me a while to get in to it but as there was a lot of dialogue, but by the time he encountered the East Europeans it was action packed and classic Reacher. A good read for fans!

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan