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

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

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Jamie Ford - Songs of Willow Frost

review written by Magie Perkovic & read on bookshow 29th July
William Eng has lived at Seattle's Sacred Heart Orphanage for five
long years, ever since his mother's listless and apparently lifeless body
was carried from their Chinatown apartment. When, during a trip to the
movie theatre, William glimpses an actress on the silver screen, he is
convinced by a distant memory and thinks she could be his mother..
He sets out on a journey of discovery with his best friend from the Orphanage,
Charlotte, who is blind. Together they brave the outside world until they
are returned to the orphan world but what William discovers is quite heart breaking.
His mother has a story that is truly sad and  the book tells how the Chinese
community is treated with little compassion and a mother on her own with a
child born out of wedlock is given no mercy.
I have never read this author before butI will look for some more books
certainly.
Highly recommended. Maggie Perkovic.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

John Verdon - Think of a number



john verdon - think of a number (your choice your life your death) this book was reviewed on the bookshow by corinna and the reviews for it online were good, so i thought i'd give it a go.  It was written in 2010 & he has since written more.
it is a crime book and first for this author.  it starts off slowly with retired NYPD homicide detective Dave gurney being contacted by an old college friend who was receiving some strange letters.  He hasn't seen or heard from this friend Mellery, for over 20 years but Gurney had become a kind of celeb in the NYPD and the media for solving some big crimes.  He was a smart cop.  The letters consist of some strange cryptic poems, sinister but also almost mind readingly accurate.  When asked to think of a number the number Mellery thought of was the one predicted in the sinister letters.  The letters became more threatening. Gurney told his friend several times to go to the police but Mellery didn't think he had enough reason to, all he had were a few crank letters and he didn't want the police trampling all over his property where he lived and ran his rehab clinic.  There were some rich clients using his clinic.
When Mellery is found dead with another poem stuck to his chest the police are brought in and Gurney is obviously questioned.  This begins his involvement as more poems turn up and the same perp is linked to older crimes further afield.  He can't turn away from it as he pits his wit against this very clever serial

killer, which causes a rift with his wife.  She blames his job for their family tragedy and doesn't want him coming back out of retirement to be absorbed once again in policework which takes over his life.
It's a good enough book and towards the end you can start to join the dots.  I was miffed that they didn't follow one of the more obvious leads straight away, that it was dismissed, which wasn’t in keeping with this smart cop. Also, his wife seemed smarter than him in solving clues at times. There seemed superfluous stories around the story, which for me didn't help, didn't mean anything.  An older son from another marriage, pops up now and again - why, it doesn't enhance the story?  Gurney, as a new to crime character, wasn’t as endearing as JK Rowlings ‘Cormoran Strike’.
But this aside it was a good whodunnit

Alex Scarrow - AFTERLIGHT

Review written and read live on the bookshow by Brian Lowen 23rd July 2015.
 
A book that really makes you think – could this really happen – probably not, but just maybe.

A disaster type story when the world runs out of oil due to a series of explosions throughout all the oil producing areas that stops the flow of oil.  Tankers are destroyed and the oil stops flowing.  We are not told why this happened and to me it does seem rather improbable.

Within one week water supplies dry up as there is no fuel for the pumps.  Then electricity fails and the whole world descends into chaos.  In the UK the Government has set up several safe zones where food and bottled water and fuel has been stock piled.  One we focus on in the book is the O2 arena at Greenwich run by members of the Government and controlled by the RAF and Police.  2,000 people are housed here, all skilled and important types who will be needed in the future.  The area is fenced in to keep out all the marauding gangs roaming the country.

Normal life has ceased as food and water run out.

The story also centres on a group of 450 people who are existing on a north sea oil rig, catching rain water to drink and growing their own food.  They keep chickens and their waste plus human waste is stored and fermented to produce methane to run a small generator.  They have some boats which they use for foraging trips ashore for supplies, including medicines. 

The climax of the story occurs when the O2 arena group run out of stores and sail down the Thames and up the east coast to try and take over the oil rig.

An interesting story which gives some idea of how people would react in an emergency such as this.

I did not enjoy it as much as other books by Scarrow but would recommend it if you like this type of story.




Peter James - ATOM BOMB ANGEL



Review written and read live on the bookshow by Brian Lowen 23rd July 2015.

This is the second published book that Peter James wrote in 1982 and has recently been reprinted.  It is a straightforward thriller with none of the confusions about the occult thrown in as in previous books.

Our James Bond type hero here is Max Flynn, a spy working for MI5 and has all the ingredients you would expect in a James Bond story complete with several gorgeous women.

He is singularly fighting to prevent a series of nuclear power stations being blown up in Canada, USA, France, Spain, Italy and the UK.  The crime is funded by Russia and fronted by Namibia.

Sir Isaac Quoit, chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority, has been kidnapped and Flynn’s first job is to get him back which he does in a spectacular fashion.  Then about a dozen executives of other nuclear power stations are caught in a honey trap and blackmailed by the evil Sleder, a tycoon involved in producing nuclear fuel rods.

And so Flynn carries on, with his boss’s authority, to save the world from nuclear annihilation.  Great stuff if you like this sort of thing.  I am surprised that Peter James didn’t write more books featuring Max Flynn, but maybe he did but I haven’t read them yet.  I think he has concentrated on DI Roy Grace of Brighton Police Force as this has been a real winner for him.

Suzette Hill - A Load of old Bones and Bones in the Belfry

Review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 23rd July 2015

I’m reviewing two books by the same author. I got the second book in the series, Bones in the Belfry from the library at Linda’s suggestion. Once I started it however, I decided that I would like to read the books in order, so bought the first book, A Load of Old Bones which was excellent. I wondered if the sequel could possibly be as good - and I was not disappointed. 

All the Reverend Francis Oughterard had ever wanted was some peace and quiet, instead he becomes entangled in a nightmare world of accidental murder, predatory female parishioners, officious policemen and a drunken bishop. As the vicar's life spirals out of control it is his supercilious cat, Maurice, and bone obsessed hound, Bouncer, who save the day. A Load of Old Bones is a charming and farcical romp through a 1950's mythical Surrey. 

In the second book, having extricated himself from the embarrassing events of the the first book, the Rev. Oughterard is now plunged into the traumas of art theft. Forced by the shady Nicholas Ingaza into being a fence for stolen paintings, he endures the investigative probings of terrifying female novelist and amateur sleuth, Maud Tubbly Pole, hell-bent on portraying him in her next novel. Haunted by the recent murder in the parish and fearful of exposure in his new role of 'receiver', the Reverend blunders haplessly in a mesh of intrigue and risible deceit. As before, his antics are commented upon by his cat, the acidic Maurice, and redoubtable bone-grinding ally, the dog Bouncer. A story narrated in turn by a vicar, a dog and a cat sounds a bit off-putting, but the author pulls it off, and develops the personalities of the animals and their interactions with each other and the various human characters in the book in an insightful way. 

These are light, easy to read books with an eccentric cast of characters - they made me chuckle because they were caricatures which reminded me of particular people.  The book is unusual and imaginative, there is intrigue and suspense - the vicar kept getting himself into dreadful predicaments which seemed impossible to extricate himself from. However they are also very funny. They are perfect for a relaxed summer read and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. 


Sue Townsend - Queen Camilla

Review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 23rd July 2015

I hadn’t planned to review this book this week, but coincidentally I have been listening to it via the library One Click Audio Service. I haven’t finished the book yet, but had already started to listen before I heard about the Royal Visit on Tuesday so since it is so topical I thought I would review it today. 

I was ambivalent about this novel because of the title and was worried that it might be a bit tasteless. However I decided to give it a go as it sounded light hearted and funny and I like to listen to books which make me smile when I am doing housework chores. I have liked some of Sue Townsend’s previous books, especially the Adrian Mole books and I thought, ‘Well I can always delete it if it’s awful”. 

I didn’t realise that this is a sequel to the book The Queen and I, which was written in 1992 and was an outlet for her republican sentiments. Queen Camilla was written in 2006, so they’re not recent publications. Nonetheless  the author’s perspectives on political issues are still relevant and very astute.

Neither did I realise that Sue Townsend died in April last year aged 68. 

When a Republican party wins the General Election, their first act in power is to strip the royal family of their assets and titles and send them to live on a housing estate in the Midlands.

Exchanging Buckingham Palace for a two-bedroomed semi in Hell Close (as the locals dub it), caviar for boiled eggs, servants for a social worker named Trish, the Queen and her family learn what it means to be poor among the great unwashed. But how have they survived the past thirteen years, as England became an increasingly unhappy and fearful place.  Prince Charles has been living quietly on the bleak council estate with his wife and love of his life, Camilla. He enjoys gardening and poultry keeping while Camilla spends her days doing as little as possible. But life is about to change... Charles refuses to follow his destiny unless his wife can be Queen - and public opinion suggests the people would rather have Jordan than Camilla on the throne. But no sooner has Prince William offered himself as the next monarch, than one Graham Cracknall of Ruislip emerges - claiming to be Charles and Camilla's secret love child, and therefore the rightful heir to the crown…

The Flowers Exclusion Zone (FEZ) where the Royals have been sent is an open prison in all but name, the residents are electronically tagged, their every move recorded. It’s an eclectic mix of criminals, druggies, parasites, the hardworking exploited and impoverished, the morbidly obese  and anyone the government consider persona non grata or a threat - 40% of the population.

Prince Philip has had a stroke and now lies in a care home almost forgotten. The Queen goes to visit daily but the nurses are absent, not paid well enough to risk their backs lifting him to change the sheets, or too rushed or too indifferent and very understaffed. So when the Queen and her family are confined to house arrest, Philip ends up with no care apart from a man in a wheelchair who can't get near enough to the bed to give him food or even some water. Considering this was written in 2006, it’s dreadful because this is just what is happening in some care home, somewhere today.

There is also a Big Brother style surveillance system and an all-pervasive computer called Vulcan which knows what you bought last and what music you like, but occasionally makes dreadful errors and puts two million pounds in someone's bank account by mistake or sends death certificates to all the pensioners.  Very reminiscent of the Internet today! Whenever I go online there are adverts of items I have recently looked at or bought recently, so that is spookily accurate too. 

So, although a light and funny read, it’s also a perceptive social statement. It’s a credit to our country that such a book, even in its mocking of our traditions and highlighting social ills and mocking the hypocrisy in the government and satirically portraying different aspects of society can be written and enjoyed, and no one is threatened, imprisoned, stoned or beheaded.

The narrator is Patricia Gallimore and she is absolutely excellent. She mimics the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla really well and also has amazing different accents for the other characters, really making them come to life. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Margaret Dickinson - Sing As We Go

review written by Maggie Perkovic and read live on the bookshow 17th July 2015

Kathy Burton longs to escape the drudgery of her life  as an unpaid labourer
on her father's farm. Finally she decides to make the break and with her
mother's encouragement goes to live in the city with an aunt Jemima Robinson
who finds her employment in a dept. store which she thoroughly enjoys. She
falls in love with the manager Tony Kendall and he reciprocates her love,
but his mother a bitter and possessive woman manages to ruin their chances
of happiness together, and when Tony is called up as the War begins Kathy
starts her life singing with a Concert party which she loves having an excellent
singing voice although behind her performances she is breaking her heart.
Through tribulations she and Tony are reconciled though not before the war
brings suffering and heartbreak to the stalwart people of Lincolnshire.
Very good and enjoyable, quite a page turner.
Recommended. Maggie Perkovic.