Welcome to The Bookshelf
A list of books I've read over the past few years
I'm currently reading "The Last Fighting Tommy - the life story of Harry Patch". I watched a program about Andrew Motion's poem to celebrate Harry's life - aired on the day of his funeral - and decided I'd like to learn more about this unassuming man. Turns out he's an ordinary guy who just happened to turn 18 during the Great War, so was sent off to fight...
No idea if (or if so, why) anyone would be interested in this, but here's a list of the books that I've read over the past few years. The list originally came about as I was having a clear out and needed to take most of the books to the local charity shop. I thought that making a list of the authors I enjoyed might help me find other works by the same in due course. It was just a short step from that to deciding to publish the list on Shot18.com, but a major task getting it all online!
So here it is... irregularly updated as I add new books to the list.
- Chris Kuzneski - The Lost Throne.
This is the third novel by Kuzneski, and the 2nd that I have read. Fast paced, it moves through St Petersburg and Greece, neatly weaving 2 stories independently, eventually colliding both sets of charactors at the conclusion. At the end of the book I promised myself I'd search out Kuzneski's debut - and lo and behold a week later I get a late birthday present of "The Sign of the Cross"!
- Valerio Massimo Manfredi - Pharaoh.
I moved straight from Alexander to another of Manfredi's books, this one being a novel/thriller. Set in modern day Israel, it revolves around the accidental discovery of the tomb of an Egytian prince by a mining team who are intent on keeping the find secret. A great holiday read.
- Valerio Massimo Manfredi - Alexander; The Ends of the Earth.
This is the final part of the story of Alexander the Great, picking up in Egypt, then following Alexander as he chases Darius and his successor all round Persia, right across to India, before heading back to Babylon where he dies rather mysteriously, and at an incredibly young age. I didn't enjoy this as much as the first 2 books in the series - I lost my sympathy for the main charactor somewhere along the way, and I got the impression that the author did too - certainly Alexander was being portrayed as more conceited, with less time for the friends and generals who had helped and supported him through his long journey. Still, overall I have really enjoyed the series and although this wasn't a biography but a novel based on fact, I certainly learned alot about Alexander and the times in which he lived.
- Valerio Massimo Manfredi - Alexander; The Sands of Ammon.
Continuing the story of Alexander the Great, from when he starts on his massive expedition to conquer the known world, taking him and his army from Macedonia to Egypt.
- Valerio Massimo Manfredi - Alexander; Child of a Dream.
The first installment of a trilogy, based around known facts, but brilliantly written as a novel, the book starts with the birth of Alexander, and follows him through his formative years up until he inherits the throne of Macedonia when his father is assasinated.
- Terry Pratchett - Thud!
I have phases of Pratchett, returning to Discworld once or twice a year. This wasn't one of my favourites, but an enjoyable read none-the-less.
- Terry Pratchett - Making Money.
This was the book that set me off on this year's Discworld adventure.
- Daniel Silva - The Secret Servant
A bang up-to-date spy thriller. I will definitely be looking for more from this author.
- David Gibbins - The Last Gospel.
Yet again Gibbins gets the story-telling just right - an up-to-date thriller, fast paced, and yet seemingly factually based in history. The kind of story that makes you want to investigate further. I really must find his first novel, "Atlantis".
- David Baldacci - Stone Cold.
I like Baldacci's style, and certainly keep my eyes peeled for his name on covers at bookstores. A very modern thriller.
- Chris Kuzneski - Sword of God.
I've never heard of this guy, nor seen anything else by him (although the cover refers to a previous bestseller - don't they all?) but I really enjoyed this thriller.
- Sam Bourne - The Final Reckoning.
Another good read from Bourne, his third in a row to hit the spot.
- Kate Mosse - Sepulchre
Having really enjoyed Mosse's "Labyrinth", I snatched this up at the first opportunity, and although a great story it lacked something from "Labyrinth" which, in my view, remains better.
- Marcus Zusak - The Book Thief.
This has got to be one of my favourite books of all time - a fantastic story, based in Germany during the war, and narrated by Death. I was a bit worried during the first chapter - the author seemed to be trying too hard - but once the story got going in chapter 2 I was hooked to very last page. Wonderful.
- Valerio Massimo Manfredi - Empire of Dragons.
So far I've only come across one Manfredi novel that I haven't enjoyed - and this wasn't it. A fantastic trip with a troop of Roman soldiers who find their way to China, via a prison quarry in Persia. Manfredi is probably my favourite author at present - I've just started his Alexander trilogy
- David Baldacci - The Collectors.
Another great thriller from Baldacci.
- Sam Bourne - The Last Testament.
I really enjoyed this novel, but not quite as much as "The Righteous Men" by the same author.
- Wilbur Smith - Blue Horizon.
An unusual read for me, being what I would class a costume drama - something I would normally avoid, and in fact the book sat unread for about 18 months on the bedside cabinet before I picked it up... However, I really enjoyed this story of the Courtney Brothers - it appears to have been the second in a series of books, and although I've never read the first, this didn't distract from my enjoyment of this novel. Having said that, the first half was better than the conclusion.
- Steve Berry - The Alexandria Link.
More ancient history brought bang up to date - the search for the lost Library of Alexandria. A fantastic thriller.
- Tom Harper - Lost Temple.
I'm a sucker for this type of archealogical fiction - the back cover says it all... "For three thousand years, the world's most dangerous treasure has been lost. Now the code that reveals it's hiding place is about to be broken...". A great tale, but totally unbelievable.
- Will Adams - The Alexander Cipher.
Another archealogical fiction, this time around the search for Alexander the Great's tomb. Another good story.
- David Gibbins - Crusader Gold.
What a great premise - Harald Hardrada not only survives the Battle of Stamford Bridge, but then discovers America and the Maya at Yucatan - and all that after stealing the treasure of Solomon's Temple from Constantinople!! What I really like is that Gibbins provides notes at the end of the book which provide the factual backdrop to his fiction - fantastic.
- Terry Pratchett - Hogfather
Rankin (see below) whetted my appetite for some Pratchett. DEATH is one of my favourite Discworld charactors, so having another story with him as main lead hit all the right spots as far as I'm concerned.
- Robert Rankin - Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls.
A strange but funny story, based in Brentford! This is the second Rankin novel I have read, both enjoyable, and although I certainly wouldn't avoid his material, Rankin is not an author I'll be searching out specifically.
- David Baldacci - The Simple Truth.
This was my first taste of Baldacci, and I was so impressed I lent it to a mate as a recommended read. He hated it!
- Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code.
What can I say about this that hasn't already been written - except that I prefer "Angels & Demons"!