Review: The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted

The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted
The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted by Harry Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like the others in the series – a light and frothy read. I enjoyed the unbelievable story of how our Stainless Steel Rat joins the army and works his way up. Again not the best in the series but an enjoyable read.

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Review: The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues

The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues
The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues by Harry Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not as good as some of the others in this series (not helped by the fact I decided to reread them in story order rather than in published order).

The Stainless Steel rat is recruited to find an alien artifact on a hostile prison planet. Naturally only a criminal is up to the job! Gadgets and sci-fi galore. Another light and frothy fun read.

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Review: A Stainless Steel Rat is Born

A Stainless Steel Rat is Born
A Stainless Steel Rat is Born by Harry Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book as a teenager and recently came back to revisit it. Lightweight and lacking in real substance but that doesn’t stop this being an enjoyable story of a young man (sometime on another planet, set in the future) and why he decides to become a criminal.

Worth a read – the Stainless Steel Rat has gadgets like James Bond but uses them to commit crimes and do what he wants!

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Review: Blake’s 7: Archangel

Blake's 7: Archangel
Blake’s 7: Archangel by Scott Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short like a tv episode and of similar quality. This is one for Blakes 7 fans but others may find it less appealing.

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Review: The French House

The French House
The French House by Nick Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just like the previous book, the book is a light hearted and frothy read that won’t tax you or strain your brain. The story picks off from where the last book ended with our lead character CC off to France to live with her boyfriend.

Life in France isn’t as idyllic as CC imagined and she has to content with the strange locals and customs, as well as sort out the inevitable problems in her relationship. The main characters from book one are all in here, and this book revisits them all and ties up all the loose ends.

Whilst I didn’t find this book as funny as the last one, I still found myself reading it for long periods of time. For that reason I’ve only given it four out of five stars…

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Review: Angelfall

Angelfall by Susan Ee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and would go as far as to say it is the best book I’ve read (well listened to – I got my copy from Audible!) in absolutely ages. The story revolves around a plucky teenager who lives in a world where the angels have come down to Earth and are waging war on us mortals. Penryn rescues an angel and persuades him to help her rescue her sister from the angel base.

The story has a strong female lead, strong female characters and deals sensitively with issues like schizophrenia. The characters are very believable and I found myself looking forward to the next instalment of the story as I was keen to see what happens next – it really is that gripping. As the story progresses you find out little snippets of information about the angels and how they live, which helps keeps you engrossed.

The only negative thing I could find to say about this book is that the next part in the story won’t be released until November. How am I meant to wait that long to find out what happens next?

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Review: Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me and I decided to give it a go despite not being my usual type of book. The plot revolves around the main character, a woman from the post WW2 era being sucked 200 years back in time to the past by some magic stones.

Our main character meets all sorts of Scottish clansmen, and English soldiers within minutes of arriving and her adventure doesn’t stop. She uses her knowledge of healing (she was a nurse in the future) to gain acceptance in the past, but doubts about her story mean she is always being tested.

There is love and excitement aplenty in this book, but I did feel it went on for a little too long, and I was relieved to come to the end. Whilst I enjoyed the book, I don’t feel compelled to read the rest of the series and indeed the sheer number of pages to follow is too daunting a task for me to tackle. The characters are mostly believable (apart from our main character’s love interest who has the healing powers of Wolverine from the X-Men!) and parts of the book are hard to put down (and I’m not talking about the sex scenes, which are pretty tame to say they are set in rougher times).
If this was a film it would be a ‘chick-flick’, time travelling, love, violence but with a sort of feel good theme running through (and an awful lot of good luck!).

I rounded my rating to four stars – I thought this was quite generous…

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Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was quite different from any I’ve listened to recently because it doesn’t have any central characters. The book is a collection of first-hand accounts from people at various stages of the zombie wars. I listened to the audio version which was read in a variety of accents which helped bring the international dimension to life, but there are accounts from characters all over the world. The lack of any central characters meant that I sometimes lost interest briefly because I wasn’t waiting to see how the story developed. The accounts are like a collection of mini-stories around a central theme from the discovery of patient zero, to the clear up operation at the end of the war.

The characters (what we get to know of them in the mini-stories) are believable and the actions of some of the major international powers is also believable (worryingly so) which kept me following the story to the end. I enjoyed some parts more than others and felt that some of the mini-stories could have been developed much further, I was quite sad when the narrative moved on to another location and set of people.

I would have rated this book around the 3.5-4/5 mark because of the way it is constructed (and as with all zombie stories, you have to put common sense on hold while you read it!)

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Review: The Case of the Missing Boyfriend

The Case of the Missing Boyfriend
The Case of the Missing Boyfriend by Nick Alexander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First I have to say that I loved this book. In fact I enjoyed it more than many of the other books I have read lately.

The book has many similarities to Bridget Jones, but deals with some grittier issues (and the main character has far more gay friends than Bridget Jones did!). Over the course of the story our female lead character, CC deals with being single, death of friends and family and the pressures of work. The story will make you laugh and make you feel sad. So well told and described is the story that you feel that you are there in person, feeling her pain and misery as she struggles to find ‘the missing boyfriend’

Having read the first in the 50 reasons series by Nick Alexander I was expecting something far less substantial and frothy. This book is very different (apart from the presence of gay characters) and a much better read. I look forward to reading the sequel (already purchased!)

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Review: The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the story, set in a world swept by a flu pandemic. The main character, Hig, has a plane and lives near an airport with his dog and weapons-savvy neighbour. The story tells of his survival in a world where most of the humans he meets are hostile.

The plot is simple (after all it is ten years since society broke down, there isn’t much to do!) but the story is well told and the characters have plenty of depth, so you feel an empathy with them. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the writing style. It is written in the first person and not always in complete sentences.

I enjoyed this book – if I could give half star ratings I would give 3.5/5 because the writing style did grate a little bit (but it is a fantastic way to pad out space in a book if you are an author…)

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