‘Felt Like Jules Verne’

Score: 4/5

It’s imaginative, I’ll give it that. An interesting quest in a vividly imagined setting, it reminded me of the Jules Verne books I read when I was young.

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‘Short, Pithy, Fun, Weird’

Score: 4/5

A collection of short stories all set in Belfast? Sure!

First of all I was surprised such a thing existed. I mean, No Alibis has been around for 20 years now but it’s still a surprise (and a thrill) to hear of Norn Iron authors outside of Norn Iron.

And this series of books goes everywhere. I didn’t even know it was a series of books, but it is - and the series goes to far flung places like Baghdad and Lagos as well as the more expected Baltimore and New Jersey.

This one is a mixed bag. Some of the stories are lovely. Some have you questioning police methods or available technology. And Lee Child’s story is just plain weird. But overall it was fun, and I now have more authors I want to read.

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‘Short, And Very Sweet’

Score: 4/5

This is a lovely, short book. There’s one story for every day of December, and sometimes the story doesn’t even fill a single page. Other stories go for a few pages, but none are long.

They’re usually fictional vignettes onto characters living through December and all that goes along with Christmas. Some are sweet, some are poignant, some are sad.

Overall, it’s just lovely and sweet.

Here’s a lovely example - the author himself reading the ‘1st December’ story ‘It’s All About The Wings’:


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‘Left Me Wanting More’

Score: 4/5

This was only a short novella, and it left me wanting to read more of the PC Grant series. That’s unfortunate, because now I’ve read them all. At least until May next year when the seventh in the series comes out.

It’s a nice ‘check-in’ with the characters, a small story, but nothing to move the overall story arc.

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‘What An Emotional Rollercoaster!’

Score: 5/5

I didn’t really know what to expect from this, but someone told me it was good so I went ahead and bought it.

What an emotional journey it was! I really felt for the main character, and I felt myself cringing at what his sister put him through. I don’t often identify with characters in the books I read (and I’m not sure it’s entirely my fault...) but I could see things from his point of view even when I was yelling at him for doing the wrong thing.

Fascinating stuff.

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‘Oh No! Last One!’

Score: 5/5

I didn’t know whether to spread these last Felix Castor books out or go through them in a binge, but in the end I decided that I was enjoying them so much I’d just keep on until I ran out.

And now I’ve run out.

They were fun though!

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‘Just Keeps Getting Better’

Score: 5/5

These books do just keep getting better. I thoroughly enjoy reading them, and even though they’re around 500 pages I seem to fly through them.

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‘Fun, For A Bit’

Score: 3/5

A Christmas present from last year that I finally got around to reading. It was fun enough. The ‘indisputable’ is a bit tongue in cheek since they provide plenty of ways to dispute the evidence.

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‘Not Easy To Read’

Score: 5/5

I found this another hard book to read. It’s just short pieces from journalists who had reported on the Troubles here, some memories of a story they covered that meant something to them or that stuck with them for some reason.

But it’s quite harrowing at times.

It’s hard to remember these days what it used to be like here in Northern Ireland. Body searches before being allowed into the city centre. Bags being checked (after the body searches) when going in to some stores. The fear of ‘keyholders’ announcements on TV. The constant stream of deaths in the news.

This book brought it all back. All the events here are ‘living memory’, obviously, but some of them are in my own living memory too - I remember many of these events when they were happening. And it’s not a fun ‘Hey, d’you remember when...’ kind of memory. It’s usually more a ‘I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard about that...’ kind of memory.

They weren’t good times for any of us. But I’m glad for the reporters who were able to tell us about them.

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‘Darker, With Less Humour’

Score: 4/5

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Tall Oaks’, with its dark humour. This, by the same author, feels a bit different. It’s another small town in America, but there’s less dark humour than before, as well as more of a concentration on accents, speech patterns and vernacular. Not as much as in ‘Raylan’, but still enough to interrupt the flow for an outsider like me.

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