Dead Reckoning- Charlaine Harris

  Dead Reckoning is book 11 in the popular Sookie Stakhouse series. (Upon which the HBO series True Blood series is based.) As with all the Sookie novels, Dead Reckoning follows the trials and tribulations of a telepathic waitress from Bon Temps,Louisiana. The central premiss of the series is that the advent of synthetic blood has enabled the vampires of the world to  come ‘out of the coffin’ so to speak. So, vampires and vampiric culture are out in the open and mingling with human society. Although by book 11 we have the Weres (werewolves, werefoxes, werepanthers etc) to contend with and the added complication of the fae who have remained following the Faery Wars in Dead in the Family (book 10).

As with all the Sookie Stakhouse books,  Dead Reckoning is funny, sexy and thrilling. It’s a damn good read, it’s also an easy read. (It took me less than a day.) I do recommend beginning with the first book Dead Before Dark though as it is necessary to have read all the preceding books to understand whats going on.

I HIGHLY recommend this series. I should warn you though that these books are HIGHLY addictive, and despite already being up to book 11, its clear that there is still plenty of life in Sookie left.

The Fifth Witness- Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly has a reputation as a great writer of crime fiction. The Fifth Witness is his latest. Mickey Haller is  a LA based defence attorney, who has found that the current economic downturn has effected business somewhat.  As a result he has moved into the increasingly lucrative ‘foreclosure market’ helping the hundreds of Americans at risk of loosing their homes. That is until one of his clients is accused of murder, and he must revert to doing what he does best. (In return for the proceeds of the film and book sales, of course. It is LA.)

This is the fourth book to feature Mickey Haller, the first being  The Lincoln Lawyer (now a Hollywood blockbuster starring Matthew McConaughey.) However, this is the first book of Connelly’s that I have read. So I can only judge it as a stand alone novel.

The Fifth Witness is a good book, and knowledge of the prior books is not required. It doesn’t revolutionise the genre in any way, but it certainly lives up to what one expects from a courtroom based crime thriller. It is pure escapism at its best.  My only criticism is that the conclusion is somewhat predictable, but it is satisfying none the less.

I would recommend this for anyone who is looking for ‘McDonalds’ crime fiction. No real surprises, and its forgotten almost as soon as its finished. But, a good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon on the couch.

Magician- Raymond E Feist

   Magician is the first book in the ‘Riftwar Saga‘ by Raymond E Feist. It begins with two boys, Pug and Tomas, from the castle keep of a frontier city in the mythical land of Midkemia. We follow the exploits of the boys as the grow into men during a long war with a strange ‘alien’ invasion.

Magician is much-loved by readers since it was first published 25 years ago. It doesn’t take long to see why. it has elements that will be familiar to any Fantasy fiction fan.  We have a quest, we have magic, and feats of bravery on the medieval style battle field. Kings, queens and the politics and intrigue of the medieval court are also present. Throw in a touch of inter-dimensional warfare, and you have a sci-fi/fantasy classic.

But it’s not just about mythical, fantastic characters and feats. Like any good sci-fi/ fantasy novel, it also delves into issues that are universal across genres. Everything from the corrupting influence of power to the injustice of a culture built upon slavery.

One thing though, that sets Magician apart from other books of this genre, although it is a part of a series of books, it can also be read as a stand alone novel. The major issues are resolved, without any annoying ‘cliff-hanger’ to force you to read the next book.

Overall, Magician  is excellent. I recommend this to anyone who is already a fan of the genre, or else it is a good place to begin for a new comer.

Black Swan Green- David Mitchell

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell is about life in a small Worcestershire village in 1982, through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy.  When we begin Jason Taylor is ‘average’, not one of the popular kids, but not one of the ‘outcasts’ either.  Over the course of just over a year Jason navigates through the treacherous waters of early puberty, enduring bullies, witnessing the breakdown of his parents relationship and becoming aware of those strange creatures also known as girls.

It is a wonderful book, if a little too close to the truth at times. While reading it I couldn’t help but recall my own experiences as thirteen year, and shudder. Mitchell captures the voice of his thirteen year old narrator perfectly. The earnest sincerity with which Jason tells the reader about his world and the people in it is beautiful. Although Jason would NEVER say it, “cause we all know boys can’t say BEAUTIFUL, ’cause that’s gay”.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that was ever thirteen.