Review: Pyramid (Jack Howard #8) by David Gibbins

Source: NetGalley & Bookbridgrcover55131-medium
Format: E-book – Read on Kindle & Large paperback
Publish Date: 6th November 2014
Price: N/A
Date Read: 4th November 2014
Genre: Action Adventure / Thriller
Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this review copy of Pyramid for free in return for an honest review. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Everyone knew the story of Ancient Egypt. Until now.

For thousands of years, Egypt was a rich, ingenious civilization. Then it became a fertile hunting ground for archaeologists and explorers. Now the streets of Cairo teem with violence as a political awakening shakes the region. In the face of overwhelming danger, Jack Howard and his team of marine archaeologists have gathered pieces of a fantastic puzzle. But putting it together may cost them their lives.

Howard has connected a mystery hidden inside a great pyramid to a fossilized discovery in the Red Sea and a 150-year-old handwritten report of a man who claims to have escaped a labyrinth beneath Cairo. For that his team is stalked by a brutal extremist organization that will destroy any treasure they find.

As people fight and die for their rights aboveground, Jack fights for a discovery that will shed an astounding new light on the greatest story ever told: Moses’s exodus from Egypt and the true beginnings of a new chapter in human history.

I first came across the pure delight of David Gibbins’ work with words one month a few years ago when my book group read ‘The Tiger Warrior’; the 4th book in the Jack Howard series. I absolutely loved the wording, imagery and adventure that flowed into my mind from the words written simply on the page. The world of Jack Howard was and is something far out of my range of experience so being allowed to escape into the mind and life of such a character was pure escapism. Life however always seems to get in the way and although I borrowed and/or bought copies of other books in the series, it wasn’t until now, with the chance to read and review the latest offering and adventure that I have been able to pick up and read another of these treasures.

Pyramid, like the other Jack Howard series, is a standalone novel but with one long and rather complicated storyline seemingly going throughout the entire series. Pyramid closely follows the previous story in the series; Pharaoh, though as I did, you can read Pyramid without having read Pharaoh first. This story is set (as you would imagine) mainly around the pyramids of Egypt, although also moving around to the coast of Spain and into Israel. Egypt though is not a safe place to be in at this time and I must warn readers that things do get extremely hard to read at certain points. The country is, you see, at the point of there being a coup, with religious extremists set to take over the government and kill all those who are seen to be against what they stand for. The horror of these times is well and straightforwardly written, with many things that could have been hashed over for the more sensitive readers not missed out.

The story though isn’t all death, destruction and rioting. One quote on the front of the book likens Jack Howard and the series to a cross between Indiana Jones and Dan Brown. This is extremely accurate. Jack Howard is many things; a seriously talented diver, an archaeologist, a historian and so much more which you’ll find as you read the story. All this experience and knowledge is all thanks to the talent of the author who has experience is these very different areas himself and this really shines through in the writing. I was pleased in fact to be reading much of the time on a Kindle as it saved on the many times I needed to turn to a dictionary to find out what a word meant – having a built-in dictionary was perfect for this type of book! Some of the harder and more interesting words and phrases included ‘sepulchral gloom’ and ‘bellicose’. From the way in which the word was used you could guess at a meaning but having a definition there was fantastic.

The overwhelming genre of this book is action adventure. You could call it a thriller but an unconventional one if it is. There is no ‘bad guy’ to point to, just a country undergoing one of the worst points in living memory. Despite all this however, Jack Howard and his best friend Costas manage to make their way through a dive to discover the truth behind the biblical book of Exodus, follow the footsteps and clues left by an ancient Pharaoh; Akhenaten, and at the same time expounding a historical story or theory in incredible detail, often at the worst possible times. The relationship between Jack and Costas is fantastic though and hilarious at times to watch. All characters are well detailed, explained and you really get to know them during the course of the book and series. I honestly hope it doesn’t take me as long again to read another of this wonderful series.

 

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ ½ – I utterly loved it. (Note: This rating is rounded up when a ½ is unavailable)

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Review: The Monogram Murders (The New Hercule Poirot Mystery #1) by Sophie Hannah

UK_Monogram_Murders_jacketSource: Library
Format: Hardback
Publish Date: 9th September 2014 by HarperCollins
Price: N/A
Date Read: 18th October 2014
Genre: Crime / Mystery

I read the Monogram Murders as part of my Octobathon (see below) choices and it was a fantastic one to start with.

Octobathon: Intro // Reading List // Write-Up

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

As a massive fan of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and the rest of Agatha Christie’s wonderful creations, when I discovered that there was a new one coming out I was extremely excited! Fortunately my library was in the process of ordering a few copies so I added my name to the rather long list. Unfortunately as soon as I received it, it was nabbed by the parental authorities for their own nefarious reading and I had to wait – entirely far too long if I’m honest!

In London, Hercule Poirot’s dinner in a local coffee house is interrupted when a young woman called Jennie comes in, hiding from an unknown assailant, professing that she is next to be murdered. The story mainly takes place in London, around the Bloxham Hotel (a fictional place I believe). Edward Catchpool, a Scotland Yard detective is called to the hotel after the bodies of three people are found in rooms of the hotel. Calling upon the great detective Hercule Poirot, he and Catchpool are swiftly on hand to tackle this mystery. Catchpool takes over the role formerly held by Arthur Hastings as the student and sounding board to Poirot. He is also the main narrator of the story and it is written from his point of view. I very much enjoyed the narration and the new point of view from Hastings. The character of Catchpool is a fantastic way for the audience to interact with and understand the plot. From the half-explanations or little hints made by Poirot, the audience has a friend in the narrator who half the time doesn’t understand himself. This explanation and conversation is something which I love in a mystery or crime book. I may not move from A to J to Z like Poirot, but I can certainly have a good go – especially with the aid of a 3rd party like Catchpool.

The mystery itself was a real muddle and the narrator and reader both do end up terribly confused at times – at least I did! The author has done a fantastic job of not just continuing the work of Agatha Christie, but building upon it. It isn’t the same by any means and should not be taken so. This is a work by a completely different author and I really hope Sophie Hannah writes lots more.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ – I loved it.

Review: First to Fall by Carys Jones

Source: Amazon UK / Jill Stratton
Format: Kindle Ebook
Publish date: 28th August 2014 by Carina UK
Price: £4.74
Date Read: 2nd September 2014

First to Fall Cover

Confused and wondering where my fabulous review is? You can find it on the book blog of the lovely Jill Stratton as part of the ‘First to Fall Blog Tour’. Just click the image above and it will take you right there!

First to Fall is the first book in Carys Jones’ new ‘Avalon’ series. It was previously published under the title ‘Not All Stars Sparkle’.

Carys-Jones-new

 

Edit: 05.10.14 – My Review

Aidan Connelly is a lawyer from Chicago who, in looking for a better and simpler life with his wife Isla and 2-year-old daughter Meegan, takes up the position of second man in a 2-man law office in the small sleepy town of Avalon. Aidan’s first case in the role is that of lawyer to beautiful 24 year old Brandy in prison awaiting trial for the cold-blooded murder of her husband, the golden boy of Avalon who all believe could do no harm. Given the case as a clear open-and-shut, Aidan takes a different view and suddenly the safe, sleepy town of Avalon doesn’t feel so welcoming. With the whole town up in arms with newly-arrived Aidan’s questioning of the case, can he find out the truth or will Brandy be sentenced to death for a crime Aidan doesn’t seem to believe she is fully guilty of.

This was my first legal thriller to read for a long time and surprisingly I really enjoyed it. I managed to read the entirety of the book in only a few hours which I certainly wasn’t expecting. Far from the romantic suspense I would normally head straight for, this legal thriller was a refreshing change of pace and genre.

I found the characters created by Carys to be well thought out and brought to life. The writing style was very easy to get on with; very open and really drew the reader in. The main character Aidan was a fantastic lead for the story. As a husband and father who wants more time with his family – a wife who never sees him and a daughter who is growing up without him – Aidan makes the hard decision to move across the country to a smaller, quieter town. To be perfectly honest, I ended up not liking the wife Isla, who spent most of the book acting like a spoilt brat of a toddler. I could understand that Isla felt a lot of fear; losing her husband to his work, of being alone in a new place away from everything and everyone she knows, spending all her time with only a toddler for company and also in possibly losing her husband to another woman. Despite all thing though – being perfectly honest – I think Isla did far more to drive Aidan away with her mood swings and pettiness. Aidan’s daughter Meegan on the other hand was a little cutie and I would have loved to see far more of her – hard in a legal thriller but fingers crossed for next time.

The townspeople of Avalon were, I think, very closed minded. By this I mean that they didn’t ask questions and tended to believe everything they were told. This allowed a mean husband and later a corrupt sheriff and a grieving father to turn an entire town against a young girl who had survived a terrible childhood and was, really, all alone in the world. For all of this, the girl grew into a wonderful, though damaged, woman. The pure hatred for this woman really came through and I just wanted to give her a massive hug and tell her everything was going to be all right.

This was a book my emotions really got involved in – something I don’t say too often. The last 20% especially had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put the book down. There were times when I got a little frustrated with the pace of the book but overall I felt that it helped in the plot and included information from characters which added to the mystery and the unravelling which came later. Really, my only niggle with the book came via the minor typo’s and silly accidents which showed that the book needed a little more proof reading.

Overall, a great story and I look forward to reading more in this series.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ – I loved it