George V. Reilly

Review: Flashman

Title: Flashman
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 1969
Pages: 256
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 13–18 June, 2016
Flashman Papers I: 1839–42

Brigadier-General Sir Harry Flashman, celebrated Victorian soldier, winner of the Victoria Cross, survivor of the charge of the Light Brigade, the battle of Little Big Horn, and the raid on Harper's Ferry, reveals himself in this frank memoir published long after his death to be “a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward—and, oh yes, a toady.”

The central conceit of the fictional Flashman Papers is that Flashy, writing frankly in his old age about his remarkable set of adventures, is perfectly willing to put continue.

Review: Mother London

Title: Mother London
Author: Michael Moorcock
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper­Collins
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 496
Keywords: fiction
Reading period: 22 Feb­ru­ary–10 March, 2016

Mother London is well written and it has some fine scenes and three in­ter­est­ing characters. I wanted to like it but it never engaged me because the story goes nowhere. I rarely abandon books, but I gave up on this two-thirds of the way through.

Mother London follows three out­pa­tients from a mental hospital, between 1940 and the 1980s: Josef Kiss, a larger-than-life performer, David Mummery, a writer, and Mary Gasalee, a housewife who spends fifteen years in a coma, after the Blitz. All three seem to be psy­chi­cal­ly sensitive to the continue.

Review: The Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell

Title: The Last Kingdom
Book: 1
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 368
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 9–17 November, 2015
Title: The Pale Horseman
Book: 2
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 384
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 18–20 November, 2015
Title: The Lords of the North
Book: 3
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 332
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 21–23 November, 2015
Title: Sword Song: The Battle for London
Book: 4
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 368
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 24–26 November, 2015
Title: The Burning Land
Book: 5
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 345
Keywords: continue.

Review: Glimmering

Title: Glimmering
Author: Elizabeth Hand
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper Prism
Copyright: 1997
Pages: 537
Keywords: fiction
Reading period: 18–26 May, 2015

It's 1999, the "Glimmering" is destroying the ozone layer, the seas are rising, and the world is falling apart.

I thought this was well written and the two main characters were well-drawn, but I didn't enjoy this book.

Review: The Innocent

Title: The Innocent
Author: Ian McEwen
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Anchor Books
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 270
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 2–4 May, 2015

Operation Gold was one of the CIA's great exploits of the Cold War: a tunnel running from West Berlin into the Russian sector to tap into the Soviet com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines. It was believed to be a great success when the Russians broke into the tunnel in 1956. Later it was discovered that George Blake, the MI6 traitor, had betrayed the tunnel from the beginning.

Leonard Marnham is a British Post Office engineer who is sent to Berlin to help the Americans. A naive 25-year-old virgin who lives at continue.

Review: Macbeth: A Novel

Title: Macbeth: A Novel
Author: A.J. Hartley, David Hewson
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 328
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 5–6 April, 2015

Macbeth is an honorable Scottish lord who serves an ignoble king. When Malcolm finally goes too far, Macbeth and his wife convince themselves that Malcolm must die. (Encounters with a trio of strange women also swayed their minds.) Macbeth himself becomes king but guilt and paranoia start eating away at him and his wife.

Hartley and Hewson retell Shake­speare's classic play as a novel, providing psy­cho­log­i­cal motivation for Macbeth's usurpation and downfall. Their Lady Macbeth is more sym­pa­thet­ic and less nakedly ambitious than she is usually continue.

Review: The Good German

Title: The Good German
Author: Joseph Kanon
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Picador
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 482
Keywords: historical fiction, spy, WWII
Reading period: 7 March–April 4, 2015

Jake Geismar is an American war cor­re­spon­dent who lived in Berlin before the war. He returns there in July 1945, ostensibly to cover the Potsdam Conference, but actually to find his lover, Lena. Before he finds Lena, he finds the body of a murdered American officer at Potsdam, which—s­trange­ly—no-one is interested in. Then he gets caught up in the race between the Americans and the Russians to take possession of Lena's estranged husband, a rocket scientist.

The war is barely over but already the Russians and Americans continue.

Review: HMS Ulysses

Title: HMS Ulysses
Author: Alistair MacLean
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper Collins
Copyright: 1955
Pages: 480
Keywords: historical, WWII
Reading period: 21–24 March, 2015

The Arctic convoys, which took much needed supplies from North America and Britain to their besieged Russian ally in World War II, were brutally dangerous. Between the Arctic weather, the cold seas, and the German U-boats and bombers, many ships were lost. As HMS Ulysses opens, the crew are mutinous, having endured more than a year of such relentless conditions with far too little rest. They have to put to sea again, to escort one more convoy. This will be the worst trip of all, as bad weather, ill continue.

Review: House of Cards Trilogy

Title: House of Cards Trilogy
Author: Michael Dobbs
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Source­books Landmark
Copyright: 1989, 1992, 1994
Pages: 1000
Keywords: fiction
Reading period: 15–20 March, 2015

The Netflix series House of Cards is based on a BBC series made in the early 1990s, which in turn are based on three novels—House of Cards, To Play the King, and The Final Cut—by Dobbs. In the first book, Francis Urquhart, tired of being overlooked for a Cabinet position, schemes and murders his way to becoming Prime Minister. In the second, the new PM feuds with the idealistic new king. In the final book, after ten years in office, Urquhart wants to continue.

Review: Cry Father

Title: Cry Father
Author: Benjamin Whitmer
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Gallery Books
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 320
Keywords: thug lit
Reading period: late Jan­u­ary–ear­ly February, 2015

Patterson Wells lives dan­ger­ous­ly, clearing fallen trees in hurricane season. Since the death of his young son a few years ago, he's been lost in a self-de­struc­tive fog. His life becomes entangled with that of his neighbor's grown son, Junior, another lost soul. Wells and Junior bond after a fashion, as their lives spiral further out of control, with drug deals gone bad, drunken sprees, and murders.

Fas­ci­nat­ing in a grim can't-look-away-from-the-trainwreck fashion. Whitmer writes lyrically about broken lives and disposable people.

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