book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Matthew Reilly - Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves

 review written and read live on the show by Brian Lowen 24th July 2014
This book is out of this world – a cross between Clive Cussler, James Patterson and Ian Fleming. You have to forget anything about common sense when you read it and just take it for what it is: complete escapism.

Our hero is Shane Schofield, a top flight US Marine who has just returned from an exhausting mission which finished with a bounty being placed on his head by the French Government. Several French assassins have tried to finish him off without success.

To get him away from this danger he is sent off to a remote area on the arctic pack ice to test some new weapons and equipment to see how they stand up to the extreme cold.

Meanwhile our villain, Marius Calderon with a small army of murderous villains has captured a remote island in the arctic that had been a testing site for Russian weapons and is busily laying plans to annihilate China and northern Europe by releasing a cloud of deadly inflammable gas that will be carried around the world on the Jetstream. The plan is that Russia will get the blame and the Americas will reign supreme.

When the president of the USA gets wind of what is happening on Dragon Island he contacts Schofield, code name Scarecrow, and
sends him off to stop this cloud of gas being ignited by a nuclear missile fired from the island, which happens to be quite close to the testing site where Schofield and his team are working. And so Scarecrow and his small band of marines and scientists set out across the pack ice to save the world.

The island is deemed impregnable with many sophisticated defence systems. A further complication occurs when a French submarine pops up through the ice and disgorges Veronique Champion and a bunch of assassins out to get Schofield. He rescues them from an attack by the island army and persuades them to join him in the fight against Calderon and his army and so save the world.

This is when you have to forget about picking holes in all the actions as not being possible and just sit back and let yourself be carried along with this completely improbable story.

Good escapism, but not for the squeamish or faint hearted. You just have to remember that it is all fiction.

David Lodge - Nice Work

review written and read by Brian Lowen live on the bookshow 24th July 2014
There are two central characters in this story. First up is Vic Wilcox, married with three typically awkward teenage children. We follow him through his Monday morning routine as he goes off to his job as Managing Director of Pringles – an engineering firm making parts for the motor industry.

The other central character is Robyn Penrose, a professor at Rummidge University who lectures on the role of women in novels set in the industrial revolution. She has an on/off partner, Charles who is also a university lecturer but over in Ipswich. They only get together at weekends.

These two completely different characters come together when a new initiative is set up during Industry Year. A person in the teaching profession will shadow a person in the industrial sector.  Robyn is chosen to shadow Vic. They both reluctantly agree to this, Vic thinking he is getting a man – not realising that Robyn spelt with a ‘y’ is a girl’s name.

And so we have the good interplay between the two characters as Robyn follows Vic around for one day each week. Robyn is horrified at the working conditions when she is taken through the foundry and nearly causes a strike when she tries to change things behind Vic’s back. There are good descriptions of the work
in the various sections of the foundry and good interplay with words between the business man and the id

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Sophie Kinsella - Wedding Night

reviewed live on bookshow by Maggie Perkovic 17th July 2014. .
This book has been in the best sellers' list and it is very very funny.
Younger sister Lottie has just left a romance where she thought she had found "the one"
and when it all went wrong she went and married her boyfriend from fifteen years ago.
Big sister  is very anxious about a "rebound" marriage, going through an awful divorce
herself she decides to stop this marriage before the Wedding Night. As she (Fliss) is in
the holiday trade she has contacts and is about to sabotage their perfect honeymoon in
a perfect Honey Moon hotel.
What follows is extremely hilarious. Add to the mix a little boy who makes up stories
about his life and his mother (Fliss) to her extreme embarrassment, and other characters
who contribute to the mayhem and you have a perfect holiday read.
I loved it and would love to see a film of the whole adventure!!!
Maggie Perkovic.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Elizabeth McGregor - The Ice child

I enjoyed this book, the mix of fact with fiction on the doomed Franklin expedition to the Arctic in 1847.  An Expedition, which disappeared while searching for the Northwest Passage.
The book opens with the mother polar bear and her cub.  This drew me in straight away, I could visualise the bears on their journey of survival.
It then shifts to the UK.  Jo Harper is a reporter for a local paper.  She is asked by her editor to follow up a story on a missing archaeologist Douglas Masters, a minor celeb, who has gone missing while on a mission to find any artifacts of the Franklin Expedition.
Jo's interest picks up after she speaks to his estranged wife and watches video footage of Marshalls last attempt to the Artic.  It then becomes a girl meets boy kind of scenario, they fall in love and have a child named Sam. 
Her stepson is very cold towards her and harbours an anger towards his father, the estranged wife is very vindictive and obsessively domineering.  But things go drastically wrong and a family tragedy occurs.
Alongside the present we keep returning to the past and that ill fated Arctic voyage presented as a running account narrated by a 16-year-old sailor named Gus.  The plight and struggles of the crew, the struggle of the polar bear to feed her cub in the ever shrinking polar ice and Jo's family tragedies are parallels of endurance and bravery under great odds.
I've never read one of this authors books before and I was worried it was going to be a M&B type romance but my worries were unfounded.  Although the ending was very predictable the story was enjoyable.

Simon Kernick - Ultimatum

reviewed live on bookshow by Brian Lowen 3rd July 2014
Another fast paced thriller from the pen of SK. 
The central character is Jones – ex military (Afghanistan) and ex cop (Metropolitan Police) who after being dismissed from the force for beating up a criminal, joins a gang working to free the country from immigrants by committing a series of terrorist attacks and getting them blamed on the Muslin community. He is working as an undercover agent for Detective Inspector Bolt, his old boss in the Met.

As in previous stories by Simon Kernick it also features Tina Boyd, a maverick cop who works with Bolt, and loves the action, but this always gets her into trouble with the ‘go by the book’ brigade, and Mike Bolt has to rescue her from the situations she gets in.

The story casts a morbid outlook on the future of our country with the Police being hamstrung by the Health and Safety Act and the Human Rights Act.

The story has an explosive start with two bombs going off in London in quick succession with the promise of a much larger attack promised at 8.00 pm if their demands are not met.
All troops must be removed from Afghanistan. This of course is something that the Government will not do, so Bolt and his team

are set the task of catching the terrorists before their ultimatum expires.

Another great thriller from Simon Kernick, with good characters and packed with fast-paced action. Recommended.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Simon Lelic – Rupture

review by showhost
Finalist in ‘John Creasey Dagger Award’ in the Specsavers Crime thriller Awards for best first novel 2010.  Fav author is Cormac McCarthy. 
The book has a very unusual style.  I had to re-read the first page before I got the gyst of it.  We learn at the outset that a teacher shoots 3 pupils, a colleague and himself.  As far as the police are concerned the teacher, Samuel, was a psychopath, it was a tragedy that could not have been predicted. So get the statements, write the report & wrap up the case with out fuss.  Lucia May is the policewoman assigned to the case.
The story opens with a monologue.  It is a one sided interview with a pupil.  We read the answers not the questions.  Lucia May interviews 15 people, children & adults, teachers pupils & parents.  All the interviews are written in this monologue style.  They are interspersed with a normal narrative when Lucia isn’t interviewing, when she is back at the police station or with friends.
What comes out of the interviews is the abuse the perpetrator suffers at the hands of pupils & bullying from colleagues and you actually start to feel sorry for him  You feel it almost justifies what he did.
At the time of the shooting thee is a pupil from the same school recovering in hospital after a brutal attack.  An attack which happened outside of school but the attackers were possibly fellow pupils.  Institutionalised bullying runs through the story, including Lucia.  Parents almost accept it as something they have to live with.  The headmaster is portrayed as someone who makes the colleagues & pupils stronger ‘Get on with it lad’, stiff upper lip’.

The interviews are cleverly constructed & the voices portray the character of each person, painting a picture of them in your mind.  Some of the revelations are shocking.
I found it a good, unusual book.  It would be very good for a book group discussion as it certainly raises questions and makes you want to talk about it & definietly gets a reaction from the reader (at least it did this one).

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Kate Atkinson - Life after life

review by showhost
A Costa Novel Award winner 2013.....
Well I got to page 400 before giving up and I don't think I would have got that far if a friend hadn't told me about the basis of the plot beforehand.
Let me just say though the writing is very good and the detail of the period/s is very precise which is why I kept with it for as long as I did.  I am a fan of KA, especially the Brodie novels BUT by page 400 I couldn't stand to go through another scenario again.
"What if you had the chance to live your life again & again until you finally got it right?" - well this book is based on those scenarios.
1910 - stowstorm in England, a baby is born with cord around its neck & dies.  We go back with same scenario except the doctor arrives in time to cut the cord - baby lives.
1915 - children playing by beach, child drowns.  Re-run that scene but child is saved by someone who happens to be passing.  Then comes the war
1918 Armistice - various scenarios - then 1947 and peace.
then 1930's & 40's.  Another war, lots of scenarios.  Back to 1910 for a quick reminder and once into 1967.
The main character is Ursula through all these decades and scenarios, along with her family and friends.
Who is very likeable.

It was a clever idea and how many of us must have wondered what would have happened if only we had taken another path in life or done something sooner to avoid the crisis but  I really couldn't read another repeat of the family, by page 400, it was becoming tedious.
Sorry but I would have been one of the minority who would have given it 3 out of 5 stars.