Monday, January 27, 2020


Hello again dear readers! We'll kick off 2020 with book reviews, as per usual.

Today I'll start with some mini-reviews and move to the usual format of more detailed reviews from next week. I've loved getting into some fiction over the summer, and decided that I always need to have some on the go to allow myself some downtime. Here are a few that only warranted short reviews:

Falcon of Sparta, Conn Iggulden. This is only one volume, so it seemed short compared to Iggulden’s other extensive series. It recounts the 1000 mile retreat that the Spartans took after being routed by the king of Persia. It starts with with brothers Cyrus and Artaxerxes vying for the throne after their father Darius’s death. It was very interesting, and told a story from a part of history that I have little knowledge about.

Solider Son Trilogy, Robin Hobb. This will likely appeal to fans of Hobb's other work. It has an interesting mix of magic and military life as a young man destined for service as a soldier's son in the military, takes a very different turn when the magic in him once dormant now comes strongly to life.  I enjoyed all three books, found the concepts intriguing, and even though the story was reasonably complicated, it was well written and easy to follow. A very enjoyable read.  This could have had a whole review, but I was purposely trying not to write one, so that I could just enjoy the rest that the reading brought!

The Road, Cormac McCarthy. A relatively short, horrifying tale of a man and son wandering across a post apocalyptic American wasteland. Aiming to get to the coast, they traverse lands coated with ash and devoid of life. Occasional groups of bad people cross their path, who have taking to eating people to survive. But these two are looking for the good people, who must be somewhere. While beautifully written, emotionally evocative and conveying a strong sense of the connection between father and son, it is overwhelmingly tense, depressing and despairing. A short read, and one that is challenging, but you don’t come away with any real hope, or indeed explanation.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka. Touted as a winner of comic fiction, I was expecting something a bit different. Reviews suggested it was hilarious, but I found it quite sad. Nadia’s 84 year old father, widowed for 2 years, has fallen head over heels for 34 year old gold digger, Ukrainian born Valentina. Nadia and her sister Vera set out to save him when it becomes very clear all she wanted was to live in England and get her hands on his money. At the same time it tells the story of the family and their years of oppression under dictators, through famine and into war in Eastern Europe.