Saturday, 17 January 2015

Meanwhile Back in the World of Books and Challenges...

Taking a break from reminiscing to see how my 2015 reading is coming along.

Just Completed

Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton - I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I've read a couple of other Len Deighton books and wasn't overwhelmed by them. The book was written in 1964 and is an excellent Cold War spy novel. It's the third of four novels based around an unnamed British spy. The other books are The Ipcress File, Horse Under Water and The Billion Dollar Brain. I have to admit that often I had no idea what was going on. But it didn't seem to matter as the book was so well-written, had humour and also excellent characters and it did come together in the end. The story wanders from London, to Berlin, to Czechoslovakia and France. The premise is that this unnamed British spy is in Berlin to arrange for the smuggling of a scientist from East Berlin to the West. Each chapter describes plays and players in the game of chess and these tie into the story. The story flowed nicely and overall I enjoyed very much. Well - worth reading. (4 stars)

Currently Reading

1. Citizens of London by Lynne Olson - This is the second book I've read by Lynne Olson, the first being Angry Young Men. Both are set in the build-up to and into World War II, the first centred on the British politicians who risked their political careers to have Neville Chamberlain ousted from power so that Britain would enter the war against Nazi Germany. This second is set during the London Blitz and afterwards and is focused on Americans; US Ambassador Winant, radio broadcaster, Edward Murrow and millionaire and Roosevelt appointee, Averell Harriman, all who were desperate to get the US to enter the war and support the beleaguered British. I like Olson's style of writing very much; I never enjoyed taking history in school, but she makes it accessible and interesting. I'm enjoying this book very much so far.

2. Raven Black by Anne Cleeves - This is the first of Cleeves' Shetland mysteries, featuring Police Inspector Jimmy Perez. I've enjoyed the Vera books and TV series previously and the missus and I have also watched most of the Shetland TV series, also most enjoyable. The book is centred on the murder of a young female student and introduces us to Jimmy Perez. The plot is already familiar to me, as I did watch the TV show based on this book. Having said that, it's interesting comparing the book and TV show. I also enjoy how Cleeves presents the characters and story, so am enjoying this very much so far.

3. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - This is my first classic selection of 2015. I hope to read 4 books written before 1900, or with luck, maybe even a couple more than that. The Moonstone was written in 1868, with this Penguin edition published in 1981. I don't know anything about the book, except that it is supposed to be the first and longest modern English detective novel. I like the way the story is being presented so far; I have just started, each section from the perspective of a different person and I've been very pleasantly surprised how smooth Collins' writing style is. Time will tell how much I enjoy this, but if keeps along this path, I think I'll enjoy very much.

So there you go, my mid - month reading update. I'll do a January summary at the end of the month. Suffice it to say that I'm on track at the moment, having completed 4 books so far.

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