Sunday, 14 December 2014

Review: Silver Kings and Sons of Bitches by Michael McGranahan

Sunday, 14 December 2014




Title
Silver Kings and Sons of Bitches
Author
Michael McGranahan
Publisher
Michael McGranahan
Publication Date
June 2014
Pages
394
Genre
history, novel




Blurb:
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Based on the true story of a man who sacrificed everything for a city - San Francisco - and his dream that it would one day be the most beautiful city in the world...and all for the love of a woman.

The year is 1854 and William Ralston’s fiancée has just died. She, the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, was to help Ralston transform the squalid Gold Rush town into a beautiful, modern city; now, alone, he will take up the quest in her memory. When the Comstock Lode is discovered, the dream seems suddenly plausible: Ralston, a banker, will funnel the wealth of the silver mines into his fledgling city - build magnificent theaters, hotels, museums, and finance businesses.

Jessalyn Ohhlson (Jessie) is a prostitute with a startling characteristic: she bears an uncanny resemblance to Ralston's deceased fiancée. Ralston, entranced, finds her irresistible. Finnian Gillespie, an Irish street fighter, has seen Jessie, and he too is smitten. Soon the star-crossed lovers will be swept up in Ralston’s grand scheme, and with dire consequences, while the true identity of Jessie remains a mystery to both men.

Prussian immigrant Adolph Sutro wants to help Ralston; he proposes to build a four-mile auxiliary tunnel beneath the Comstock. Ralston, however, sees Sutro, and his tunnel, as a threat. Thus begins a decade-long battle, a battle that Ralston, the most powerful banker in California, should easily win. Except that Sutro proves to be very resourceful and incredibly stubborn. The battle rages from California to Washington D.C., and even Europe, while the fate of San Francisco, and innocent lives, awaits the outcome.


My review:  
 I like a book is that it teaches me something without having to read an academic book and is very entertaining at the same time. McGranahan has taken real events and people from history and told us their story. He keeping pretty much close to the original stories  (I've looked it up as I became interested in the subject whilst reading) and has interwoven it with fictional characters whose story would have been typical of the time and place. 

What I liked here is that the author introduces us to a time in history which is not very well known and not extensively covered (at least not to my knowledge). The time is mid 1800's and the place is San Francisco and the side of the Cromstock Lodge Silver Mines in Nevada. The gold and silver rush - what a fascinating time in history that must have been. There was money to be made, there were the banks who had to hold all the deposits, the engineers who planned and build the mines and of course the common people who worked in the mines and made the new towns which sprang up. This is what this book is all about.

The book is essentially the story of several characters, and all of them are beautifully drawn and very distinct. Firstly, there is banker William Ralston. I didn't actually take to him too much, though I can understand the pressures he was under. But he was just a tiny bit to sly for me to really feel for him. Than there is Finn Gillespie, Irish street fighter and later helping with the mine. Both his and banker Ralston's life are intertwined with Jess who has a few secrets of her own. My favourite character was Prussian engineer Adolph Sutro with his heavy German accent (I could actually 'hear' him talking). Gutsy and enterprising, he didn't give up in his dream to build a tunnel to reach the mines. I think we need more people like this today. Don't forget to read the appendix which tells us a bit about the characters and their real-life counterparts. 

Anything I didn't like? I think I would have chosen a different title...

The story flows easily and never stalls. I'm glad I picked this book up, a very entertaining and educating read. 



About the author:  


Michael McGranahan was born in San Diego and earned degrees in the earth sciences from San Diego State and Stanford Universities. He now divides his time between Modesto and Santa Cruz, California. Silver Kings & Sons of Bitches is his first novel.



Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: Fifty Shades Darker by E L James

Monday, 8 December 2014



Title
Fifty Shades Darker
Author
E L James
Publisher
Cornerstone Digital
Publication Date
May 2012
Pages
188
Genre
Romance, Erotica



Blurb:
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Daunted by the dark secrets of the tormented young entrepreneur Christian GreyAna Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a US publishing house. 
But desire for Grey still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, she cannot resist. Soon she is learning more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades than she ever thought possible. 
But while Grey wrestles with his inner demons, Ana must make the most important decision of her life. And it's a decision she can only make on her own ...


My review:  

So, I'm back for more on the Fifty Shades. After reading the 1st book on holiday, I took the 2nd book in this trilogy with me on my visit to my mum's.

Luckily, it's easy to pick up where we left with Ana and Christian. And I probably won't spoil too much of the story for you readers who haven't gotten round to book 2 yet if I tell you that Ana decides she can't do without Christian and is back with him. (after all, there is a book 3!!). 

Again, this was an easy and quick read, but unfortunately, I did find that book 2 did get a bit more tedious. It was a bit same old, same old, and the intimate scenes were always the same, apart from the last few chapters. There wasn't enough to keep me interested I think. Fans of the books have told me that book 2 does get much more interesting and the story really picks up, but I have to say I do not agree. And even worse, I found that I really stopped caring for Ana halfway through. So, she's got her millionaire with issues ... poor Ana eh? Maybe I wanted to know more about Christian than just the fact that he was abused as a child and grew up with a crack whore mum.  It was all a bit too obvious. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it is a 'bad story' as such - a simple romance/erotic story for sure - but just not over 2 / 3 books and over 500 pages each. Saying all this, the book provided me with an entertaining read on my holiday. 

I would also say - again - that I do not think the erotic content is too explicit. I have read much more explicit and especially in erotic books which feature S&M. In fact, in my opinion, the author has got the extent of explicity just right for this kind of romance / erotic story. So if you are a fan of the series, you would have read Book 2 in any event. Otherwise, start with book 1, don't expect too much of a in-depth story or very explicit content and simply enjoy this love story poor student finds millionaire.



About the author:  
E L James is a former TV executive, wife and mother of two based in West London. Since early childhood she dreamed of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and career. She finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper with her first novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunday Post and I blog for myself

Sunday, 7 December 2014


The Sunday Post


Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer


~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~
It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog. This is your news post, so personalize it! Include as much as you want or as little. Be creative, it can be a vlog or just a showcase of your goodies. Link up once a week or once a month, you decide. Book haul can include library books, yard sale finds, arcs and bought books..share them! 
Anyone can participate as long as you:
  • Enter your link on the post- Sundays beginning at 12:01 am
    (CST) (link will be open all week)
     
  • Link back to this post or this blog 
  • Visit others who have linked up

What did I do in the last few weeks and - 

Why my blog has gotten a lot quieter...


Sure, I did not want to fall into that big 'blogger' hole full of enthusiastically started and abandoned blogs. And yes, I did make the classic mistake: posting as often as I can, accepting almost all review requests, taking part in as many meme's as I could.

There is nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. If you have the time for it and if you still enjoy it 6 months down the line. I didn't (have the time) and I didn't (enjoy it any more) as it was becoming a chore rather that a joy for me.

So, this post from Ashley at Nose Graze  was just what I needed.

We blog for ourselves. Not to please anyone. 



  • I blog for myself to share my love of reading and to keep a log of the books I read
  • If people do read my blog and like it - that's great, but I just don't have to time to keep it up to encourage loads of traffic
Here are the changes: 
  • I don't write up old reviews for books I read a while ago (not to the extend I did anyway)just to fill the blog
  • Maybe only 1 or 2 posts a week of books I read during that week or if I bought a book
  • no memes - again, no time :( 
  • I don't accept any review books at the moment at all, as I can't possibly read that much, unfortunately. And there are many books in my TBR pile (purchased, not review books) which I really really reallynlike to read. It may change after a while, but for the time being....

The downside of it is that I do miss all the lovely bloggers I 'met' and have been in regular contact with - so I try to remedy this by hopefully visiting their blogs and commenting a bit more regularly. So apologies for not being a very good friend.
(That's me, enjoying a drink in a local Spanish restaurant and my fav tipple Sangria)



I have also finally fully utilised Goodreads and made a list of my 'Books to Read' 122 at present - and I fully intend to read through this list. Oh, and I bought my own Christmas present - a Kindle Fire. I LOVE it!! I had  Kindle Paperwhite, but this is something all together different ahhhh

The other important change in my blogging life is that I finally made a serious start at writing. I am currently compiling a kind of 'my life story' for my children with special emphasis on growing up in East Germany and experiencing the fall of the Berlin Wall. Way to early to think about possible publication, and I know it is much easier these days with self publishing etc. But I'll see where it takes me and if that's what I want to do, or whether it will only be for my family. I certainly did have quite a bit of interest from colleagues and friends. So watch this space. Oh, and I do have a separate blog for my writing http://thepegster-writes.blogspot.co.uk 

I will still be around and post :) 


Here is a little re-cap of my recent reviews and posts (most of them are books received in return for a review) 

Cats, Scarves and Liars by Kathryn White



Bengali Five Spice Chronicle by Rinku Bhattacharya



      Richard and Judy Autumn Bookclub

          Hollow Shotguns by Khalid Patel

















          (I have finally bitten the bullet and read it!



          And here are books I bought recently and put them on the TBR pile

          Donna Tartt The Goldfinch


          Jilly Cooper Riders and Rivals

          (hooray for ebook bundles!)


          Hera Lind Das Superweib

          ( a German author I like, she is probably like the German Sophie Kinsella)

          So, I'm still around and doing what I love doing best - reading. 

          Happy Reading everyone
          Peggy xxx




          Friday, 5 December 2014

          Review: Fallen on Good Times by Rewan Tremethick

          Friday, 5 December 2014




          Title
          Fallen on Good Times
          Author
          Rewan Tremethick
          Publisher
          Paddy's Daddy Publishing LTD
          Publication Date
          May 2014
          Pages
          188
          Genre
          Paranormal, Detective



          Blurb:
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          America, 1920. The city of Pilgrim's Wane. The people on the street can be dangerous, the ones in the shadows even more so. Private Detective Laslo Kane is giving up. But then a brutal murder drives a terrified investor to offer Laslo a life-changing sum of money to solve the case.

          The fee could set Laslo up for the rest of his life, assuming he still has one when he's finished going up against the most dangerous crime family in the city.



          My review:  

          I enjoyed this quick and quirky read. And with only 188 pages, it's quick and ideal for a commuter read.

          Laslo Kane is your arch-typical private detective and I could picture him perfectly from old detective movies. Broke, girlfriend left him and he is still longing for her. He is not a very successful detective and has to take on almost any job. And there is a special twist with Laslo, as he finds he is more successful when investigating crimes with a supernatural twist in his home town. Werewolves, vampires and other strange creates are at work. 

          But Laslo's luck is about to change. He seemingly rich client Darius asks him to investigate a bank robbery. But the bank robbers don't steal money - they put money into his account. Who are they, and, of course, why would they do this? The fee Darius offers him is a lot of money which would sort out most of Laslo's problems.  Laslo get's to work with the help of his journalist friend. He quickly finds out that the local crime lord and mob is involved. And than the mob makes him the proverbial 'offer he can't refuse". Can Laslo take on the mob or does he even want to? And than his ex girlfriend Kitty get's involved. 

          The story certainly moves quickly, and as it is not a very long book, it certainly has to. There is no time for boring passages, and I like that in a book. I like both the characters of Laslo and Kitty. Laslo has a very dry sense of humour and as the narrator of the story, this is very nicely executed. Even more interesting where some of Laslo's contacts in the spirit world which were like good friends to him and I had the feeling that I would like to have friends like these! But with Darius I kept thinking there must be more to him than just Laslo's client, and was waiting for a follow up story on him. I understand that there may be more books based in the town of Pilgrim's Wane, so there may be more to come. The story certainly leaves room for more. 

          For a quick read, you can't go wrong with this quirky story. I had to look up a few of the old 1920's gangster slang words but as someone with an interest in language I found this particularly entertaining and interesting and with a Kindle, researching words is quite easy. As most of the paranormal stories on the market now are pure romance, I thought a detective story with a  paranormal angle adds a nice new twist to both genres. 



          About the author:  


          Rewan (not pronounced 'Rowan') Tremethick is a British author who was named after a saint. St Ruan was invulnerable to wolves; Rewan isn't. Rewan is a fan of clever plots, strong woman who don't have to be described using words like 'feisty', and epic music. He has dabbled in stand-up comedy, radio presenting, and writing sentences without trying to make a joke. He balances his desire to write something meaningful by wearing extremely tight jeans.


          Sunday, 30 November 2014

          Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

          Sunday, 30 November 2014




          Title
          Fifty Shades of Grey
          Author
          EL James
          Publisher
          Cornerstone Digital
          Publication Date
          March 2012
          Pages
          530
          Genre
          romance, erotica



          Blurb:
          ng>  

          When literature student Anastasia Steele interviews successful entrepreneur Christian Grey, she finds him very attractive and deeply intimidating. Convinced that their meeting went badly, she tries to put him out of her mind – until he turns up at the store where she works part-time, and invites her out.Unworldly and innocent, Ana is shocked to find she wants this man. And, when he warns her to keep her distance, it only makes her want him more. As they embark on a passionate love affair, Ana discovers more about her own desires, as well as the dark secrets Christian keeps hidden away from public view …



          My review:  

          So, I finally read this book during a beach holiday. And you know - it actually made the perfect beach read. Why? Easy language, didn't need to think too much, just enough to keep me interested.

          Essentially, for me this is more of a romance novel with erotica thrown in rather than the other way round. The story follows the well-trodden path of many romance novels where two people who are very different fall in love and have obstacles to overcome. Will they - won't they get together and be happy ever after? And the difference could be anything, and here we have: socio-economic status, character, life experiences incl sexual. 

          Anna is a very sweet character and I think there can't be a lot of woman who do not identify with her, at least in parts. Tripping and falling into the office during an interview - that would be me! Not knowing what to wear and not having the right clothes anyway - yep, me again. I think her sweet innocence in all matters 'made' the book for me. Christian's devotion to her I found, in parts, a bit unrealistic. But than again, this is typical of romance novels. And that is exactly what lovers of this genre want. 

          As for the erotic...  I was expecting more explicitly after all the furore this has caused. To be honest, I have read books much more explicit than this. And no, I don't buy 'porn' books, but just normal novels with erotic content from your usual book store or Kindle. I thought the author actually managed the erotic scenes here quite well and it does not come over awkwardly. 

          I summary - a great beach read, something for romance lovers who are not afraid of a bit of erotica and also for those who have never read erotica and want a bit of an introduction into this genre.



          About the author:  

          E L James is a former TV executive, wife and mother of two based in West London. Since early childhood she dreamed of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and career. She finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper with her first novel Fifty Shades of Grey.


          Saturday, 29 November 2014

          Review: Darsky's Resistance by Michael Rudnicki

          Saturday, 29 November 2014


          Title
          Darsky's Resistance
          Author
          Michael Rudnicki
          Publisher
          Hoxton Books
          Publication Date
          Sept 2014
          Pages
          286
          Genre
          spy, WW2


          Blurb:
          ng>  

          It’s September 1939. 
          Germany and Russia have invaded Poland and secret agent, Ian Darsky, wants to fight for his country. 
          But which country? 

          Darsky’s father is Polish, his mother English. He works for the British Secret Service. But his family home in Poland is under threat. 

          As war descends, loyalties are tested, friends turn into enemies and an old adversary spins a complicated web of deceit and destruction. Will Darsky’s resistance prevail? 
          Whose side is he really on? 




          My review:  
          At it's heart, this is a good old-fashioned spy novel. The twist here is that it is set during World War II and mainly in Poland. 

          Ian Darsky is a very loveable hero. He likes booze, he likes women. But we don't scold him for this, it is an essential part of his release from the horrors of war, from fighting for the British Secret Service in Poland and being torn between his loyalty to Britain and his love for the land of his Polish father. 

          I have to admit that war-themed books are usually not my favourite genre, but this is because they often contain lengthy battle scenes which I don't seem to be able to follow and I often don't understand the technicality of warfare. However, in this book, the spy element is in the foreground and the story easily flows. And at the same time, I have to say that I did learn a lot about the Second World War which I did not know, for example the massacre of Katyn. It was also good to hear some of the stories from the point of Polish resistance fighters. Again, I had not realised the part they played in defeating Hitler's army. 

          I also enjoyed that the book tells about the horrors and bravery of those fighting in this war without constantly having to tug on your conscience. To my (pleasant) surprise, there was also a 'good' German. I personally would have like it if he had been given a more central role - I would have liked it if he'd come back towards the end of the story, I would have loved to know what became of him.

          The novel has a section at the end where all characters, places, vehicles, planes, guns and vodka's which feature in the story are listed and explained. I found this very useful and looked back to it quite a bit. A brilliant idea. But it's not that you would be lost without it, it's just a very good reference. 



          About the author:  


          Like my novel's hero, Darsky, I spend a lot of my time in the UK even though I live in Warsaw. In fact my day-job takes me all around the world so I have first-hand knowledge and experience of how Poland is perceived, politically, economically and culturally. I’ve become an unofficial ambassador for my country and Darsky is an extension of this. The word 'legacy' in Polish carries an implied meaning of obligation. I’m obliged to talk about my country’s history. Also, my grandfather fought in the Polish Resistance in the Second World War and his diaries were a great source of material for my first book, Darsky's Resistance. Darsky’s Legacy, a trilogy, is about Poland first and foremost. Where it sits in the modern world and how it got there. I’ve always loved the popular Polish books by Alfred Szklarsky, particularly those featuring Tomek Wilmowski, an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer, and these influence my writing along with Ian Fleming’s Bond and the cynical John Corey created by Nelson DeMille. Darsky is a mixture of all of these with a bit of me thrown in. I’ve never killed anyone but I am an accomplished musician! www.darskylegacy.com

          Saturday, 22 November 2014

          Review: Pegasus to Paradise by Michael Tappenden

          Saturday, 22 November 2014





          Title
          Pegasus to Paradise
          Author
          Michael Tappenden
          Publisher
          Hippocrene Books, Inc, New York
          Publication Date
          May 2014
          Pages
          374
          Genre
          family history, WW2



          Blurb:
          1944. In the early hours of the sixth of June, Ted Tappenden and an elite glider-borne force of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, successfully attack and capture the vital Horsa and Pegasus bridges in the first allied assault of D-Day. Ted returns from the war apparently unscathed and a hero. However, a strange England awaits him. It has been through too much, and so has he. As he tries to ease his way back into mundane suburban life with the sweetheart of his pre-war youth, he is silently haunted by the terrors of battle. Domestic life too is not without its threats… 

          Florrie is relieved to have her Ted back where he belongs, but like many of her neighbours, she sees a distance in her husband where once there was joy and passion. Neither husband nor wife can explain their suffering to anyone, least of all each other, and they soon find themselves inhabiting different worlds under the same roof. 

          Based on the true lives of Ted “Ham and Jam” Tappenden and his wife Florrie and spanning three generations of the Tappenden family, Pegasus to Paradise is an ode to both the extraordinary efforts of ordinary men and women during the Second World War and a moving portrait of trauma, survival and the power of love in post-war Britain. 




          My review:  

          I was particularly excited to read a book which is set mainly in my local area. There aren't that many around. Even though I was not born in Kent, I do feel very much settled here and couldn't image living anywhere else. 

          This is the story of Ted and Florrie. They are young couple when World War II breaks out. 2 sons are born during the war years, and Ted is of of the lucky ones who does return. But he is not the same Ted. Still, lives goes on and the couple will have to cope. 

          In the early chapters, the book tells us about Ted's war adventures. I am usually not one for war and battle descriptions but here, it is firstly necessary for the story, and I also found myself quickly getting into it and rooting for the boys. It does not get too technical and easy to read and understand what actually went on.  Ted returns, but after the initial euphoria he finds he now faces a different world, very different from the battlefield where he exactly knew what to do: 'Just kill the enemy and stay alive'. 

          What I really enjoyed about this book is relationship of Ted and his wife Florrie. Both are very different persons, and Florrie is certainly a real character. In later chapters, Florrie and her passions in life take the centre stage. But Ted is always there. Typical of a man of his generation, he just gets on with it, even when it does get difficult and both are facing physical and psychological problems as they get older. It was a very moving read, and certainly made me think about how a couple copes when they get older, maybe if one if the partners is not any more as able as the other. 

          I also enjoyed that Ted's mates from his war years a re-visited in later chapters during a veteran's meeting. 

          This book was written by Ted's son as a memory to his dad. He certainly has the balance right between providing a very interesting story, personal details and wonderful memory for future generation. I think it was a very good decision from the author that he mainly sticks with Ted and Florrie's story only in this book (not too many details are given about other family members and friends  though we do follow a few neighbours and close friends through the book). Apart from an interesting and moving read, I would also recommend this book for someone who would like to write down their family history as an alternative to the usual 'autobiography and family story'. 




          About the author:  







           
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