The Tenth Man by Graham Greene (Review)

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene

Blurb

In a prison in Occupied France one in every ten men is to be shot. The prisoners draw lots among themselves—and for rich lawyer Louis Chavel it seems that his whole life has been leading up to an agonising and crucial failure of nerve. Graham Greene wrote The Tenth Man in 1944, when he was under a two-year contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the manuscript lay forgotten in MGM’s archives until 1983. It was published two years later. 

Review 

This book originated from a lost manuscript of Greene’s that turned up in an MGM sale. The person who purchased the manuscript returned it to Greene and he turned it into a novel which was published in 1985. 

This is a short book but one that really packs a punch. The book begins with a prison in occupied France and the news that every tenth man is to be shot. The prisoners are left to decide amongst themselves who will be shot, so they decide to draw lots. The rich lawyer Louis Chavel’s nerve leaves him and he gives up everything to the man who will take his place. 

Janvier is the man who takes Chavel’s place so he leaves all his new wealth to his sister and mother. When Chavel finally leaves the prison he has nothing to his name but he is still drawn to life he once had and so makes his way to his old home where he finds Janvier’s sister and mother. 

The book looks at the final years of the Second World War and how even the best of men can change in dire times. It is a story of cowardice, guilt, courage, romance and much more. Those who lie are trusted and those who tell the truth are not believed, everything is turned on its head in this book. 

I must admit the ending of the book was not what I expected and came as a big shock but it did show that miracles do happen. I will be honest as much as I love Greene’s books this book did not really enthral me that much as I just did not like the character of Chavel very much so I only give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

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About the author

Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an English writer and journalist regarded as one of the leading English novelists of the20th century.

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George Silverman’s Explanation by Charles Dickens (Review)

George Silverman’s Explanation by Charles Dickens

Blurb

After a traumatic early childhood spent living in poverty in a Preston cellar, the suddenly orphaned George Silverman grows up convinced that he is at fault for all the misfortunes in his life. Hoodwinked by hypocritical clergymen and exploited by his employer, he finds himself forsaking love and facing professional ruin.

One of Dickens’s very last writings, ‘George Silverman’s Explanation’ is a dark and psychologically insightful investigation of failure and guilt. This volume also includes two other lesser-known pieces of fiction: the novella for children ‘Holiday Romance’ and the detective story ‘Hunted Down’.

Review

I found this book by chance in a book shop in Hay on Wye and having never heard of this Dickens story I instantly decided I needed to buy it and read it. It has been a long time since I have read any Dickens but once I started reading this book I realised just how much I miss his writing. 

I know Dickens’ books can be on the dark side at times but I was not expecting this much darkness. George Silverman’s life has been plagued by misfortune, his earliest memories are of being hungry and living in a cellar with his parents who left him on his own most of the time whilst they tried to find work. However, after suddenly losing his parents he is rescued by a man who calls himself Brother Hawkyard who makes sure that George has an education and food to eat but at the same time makes sure that George is living on the charity of others. 

George is telling this tale of his life in the first person. Poor George has not had much happiness in his life and when the possibility of happiness appears he does not believe he is worthy and finds a way to avoid it. This feeling of unworthiness is down to George believing that all the unhappiness in his life was his fault. 

The story is very sad and it is quite clear that he was let down by the adults who were bringing him up. It shows just how difficult it was for a child who was born into poverty to change their future to a more successful future. 

The next short story in the book is ‘Holiday Romance’. This story is apparently for children and I must admit I found it rather dull and it did not appeal to me at all so I skimmed through it quite quickly. The next short story ‘Hunted Down’ was much better and one I really enjoyed it. Not only was it humorous but it was also very tense at times. The story is very much like a detective story but not quite. Mr Sampson deals in life insurance and when a certain Mr Slinkton keeps turning up in his office Sampson realises that certain things are becoming suspicious and that a crime is afoot but can he stop it in time?

Overall, I really enjoyed this little book and I give it 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was a writer and social critic who created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity.

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Chess by Stefan Zweig (Review)

Chess by Stefan Zweig

Blurb

On a cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires, a wealthy passenger challenges the world chess champion to a match. He accepts with a sneer. He will beat anyone, he says. But only if the stakes are high. Soon, the chess board is surrounded. At first, the challenger crumbles before the mind of the master. But then, a soft-spoken voice from the crowd begins to whisper nervous suggestions. Perfect moves, brilliant predictions. The speaker has not played a game for more than twenty years, he says. He is wholly unknown. But somehow, he is also entirely formidable

Review

Well this book was very much a wild card for me. I spotted this book hidden on a bookshelf of much bigger books whilst on holiday in Hay on Wye and although I had never heard of the author I felt drawn to the story. At only 76 pages this book was a quick read for me that I completed in one sitting and it was an interesting read. 

The narrator of the book is an Austrian who is on the cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires. The cruise ship also has on board a world famous chess player called Czentovic who will happily play a game of chess if the money is right. The narrator tells us of how Czentovic is challenged by a wealthy man and so the game of chess begins. However, just as it looks like Czentovic has won, a stranger lends some helpful advice to the wealthy man. After that the narrator finds out all about the stranger and why he is so good at chess.

This short story is beautifully written and is concise and just the right length. I sometimes find that a short story feels rushed and leaves you wanting a longer story but this one is paced perfectly and leaves you satisfied you have read a short story with no details missing. I really enjoyed this story and I plan on reading more books by Zweig. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Stefan Zweig was one of the world’s most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America, and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies, and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

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Wish You Were Dead by Peter James (Review)

Wish You Were Dead by Peter James

Blurb

Wish You Were Dead is a Quick Read short story from bestselling author Peter James. Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back . . . 

Review

I got this book because I saw a review of it on bookstagram and thought it sounded good and I do enjoy the occasional quick read. This is also my first book by Peter James and it will definitely not be my last. 

I flew through this book and not because it was a quick read, I just could not put it down. Detective Roy Grace is on holiday but after a long and arduous drive where his son drives him mad with the constant “are we there yet?” The drive ends with a disappointing location which looks nothing like what was on the website and something more out of a horror film. Grace’s wife wants to leave straight away but there is no way Grace is doing anymore driving. 

The first mystery that faces them is where Jack is. Jack is meant to already be at the house but he isn’t and because of no phone line and no phone signal they have no way of contacting him. However, it soon becomes clear that Jack’s absence is not the only odd thing the family are encountering. Somebody else knows where Grace and his family are on holiday and this person is far from savoury and will soon make an appearance. 

The story moves very quickly which is to be expected due to the book being a quick read but this just added to the tension in my opinion. I really enjoyed this book and will be getting more books about Detective Roy Grace. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage. 

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom by Alison Weir (Review)

The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom by Alison Weir

Blurb

Henry VIII’s third queen is dead, leaving the King’s only son without a mother and the country without a queen. And as preparations are being made for Queen Jane’s funeral, her stepdaughter, the Lady Mary, laments the country’s loss.

But, only a month later, the King has begun his search for a new wife. Will Mary accept this new queen, or will she be forced to live in the shadows of Queen Katherine, Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane for ever?

Review

I have read all the main novels from the Six Tudor Queens series but I have still got the short ebooks to finish off. This little short kept me occupied whilst I sat and waited after my second vaccine. 

This book begins at the death of Queen Jane and is told from the perspective of Lady Mary. Lady Mary loved Queen Jane because Queen Jane welcomed her and reunited her with her father and was a Catholic so when Queen Jane died Lady Mary was very upset and also felt sorry for her baby brother Prince Edward. 

Through this short book we see Mary work through her grief but also see her worry about what will happen to her next, now that Queen Jane is no longer there to be her friend at court. We also see that Mary’s health is not great in this book and that she is plagued by tooth ache. 

The main books from this series are all based on the wives of Henry VIII so it is nice to have a small book based on Lady Mary and to see her thoughts and feelings of her life as the daughter of Henry VIII. Her father hasn’t made life easy for her but Mary still loves him and wants to spend time with him but now she has a new worry in the form of a possible new step mother.

I really enjoyed this short story and I would love Weir to write a full book for each of the children of Henry VIII. I just really wanted this story to be longer. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Worst Martian Playlist by Corrie Garrett (Review)

Worst Martian Playlist by Corrie Garrett

Blurb

“No one should die in silence. May I make a suggestion?”

A pair of shell-shocked astronauts struggle to survive in Worst Martian Playlist, a suspenseful science fiction adventure that mixes near-future science, AI, and humor.

The first caverns of the new Martian base, Tenacity, were dug by rovers and tested by the Forerunner crew. But when the first long-term crew is on its way, catastrophe strikes. 

Miranda Oceveda and Caleb Wexler are the sole survivors. In the caverns and tunnels that comprise the new Tenacity base—still scheduled to have over a thousand residents by 2110—they do their work diligently.

But they are plagued by their losses.

When NASA uploads an AI assistant to the Tenacity system, they both welcome it. Sure, it’s a little pushy with its recommender engine (Ero was originally a proprietary personality for Amazon), but it’s handy, comes with tons of media, and supposedly has a good psychiatric function.

But when Miranda begins to be reckless with her safety…

When Caleb begins to lie about his tasks…

They both have to grapple with what Ero has become to them. Because Mars is waiting to kill anyone who slips.

Review

I saw a recent review of this book and immediately thought this is a book for me. I downloaded a sample on my kindle and that was me sorted, I couldn’t put the book down. 

Miranda and Caleb have been stuck on Mars for a long time and things are not good, they are having to do the jobs of a crew and there are only two of them. They are tired, overworked and still in shock from what happened on the voyage to Mars and they are not handling things or each other well and then there is Ero. 

Ero is an AI and very obsessed with giving the best media selection to Miranda and Caleb even though they are never keen on his suggestions. Even though he was a precursor to Amazon’s Alexa he runs the Mars base brilliantly and does his job well and Miranda and Caleb depend upon him. 

At the start of the story it is clear that Miranda is not well and she is taking more and more risks with her safety. Caleb is very worried about Miranda but doesn’t know how he can help and nobody else can help as they are so far away. Then things take an interesting turn when Ero has ideas of his own. 

As the story develops you begin to see how things are panning out but never sure of what will happen next. I simply couldn’t put this book down and will definitely be reading more of Corrie Garrett’s books. 5 out of 5 Dragons from me.

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Purchase Links

Amazon

About the author

Corrie began writing in 2010, when she discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and finished her first novel in a month. She has a degree in History & Political Science, along with Computer Science, since she mistook her love of science fiction and romance for a love of computers and history. But she doesn’t regret it, since it led to her very own happily ever after. Corrie lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband, four kids, and a lot of very pushy fictional characters.

Corrie loves classic science fiction, from Isaac Asimov to Andre Norton, and enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy with an old-school vibe and a bit of romance. Her second love is retellings – be it myths, Bible stories, or classics.

Gods of Risk by James S. A. Corey (Review)

Gods of Risk by James S. A. Corey

Blurb

As tension between Mars and Earth mounts, and terrorism plagues the Martian city of Londres Nova, sixteen-year-old David Draper is fighting his own lonely war. A gifted chemist vying for a place at the university, David leads a secret life as a manufacturer for a ruthless drug dealer. When his friend Leelee goes missing, leaving signs of the dealer’s involvement, David takes it upon himself to save her. But first he must shake his aunt Bobbie Draper, an ex-marine who has been set adrift in her own life after a mysterious series of events nobody is talking about.

Set in the hard-scrabble solar system of Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War, Gods of Risk deepens James S. A. Corey’s acclaimed Expanse series.

Review

This story is based around a character that we have not met before in the previous books but we have met his aunt, who is Bobbie Draper. David Draper is sixteen and under a lot of pressure to get a good placement at university but he also has a secret and that secret is that he is secretly making drugs for a drug dealer. 

David is like any other gifted teenager, he is hard working and desperate for the placement of his dreams that he knows will also make his family proud of him. David is also the typical moody teenager and he particularly is not keen on having aunt Bobbie staying in the house. David also has a crush on Leelee who is always with the drug dealer and dreams of one day being her boyfriend. This crush leads to trouble for David when he decides to save her from her fate.

I must admit I can’t believe how much weight lifting she does in this short story, every time we see her she is lifting weights, I have no idea how she finds the energy. She also seems to do a lot of arguing with her brother but to be honest he seems to be the one doing the provoking and does come across as rather a know it all who thinks his job is the hardest job there is and that being a marine is nothing compared to being an engineer. 

Although the story is based around David we do get to see how Bobbie is faring after the events of Caliban’s War and as the story goes on we see how Bobbie makes her mind up about a few things and these decisions are helped along by her involvement with her nephew.

This is a great little short story that I enjoyed reading and it was fantastic to read about Bobbie again. I give this story 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Kindle

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant. They both live Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S. A. Corey (Review)

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S. A. Corey

Blurb

A new story set in the world of The Expanse. One day, Colonel Fred Johnson will be hailed as a hero to the system. One day, he will meet a desperate man in possession of a stolen spaceship and a deadly secret and extend a hand of friendship. But long before he became the leader of the Outer Planets Alliance, Fred Johnson had a very different name. The Butcher of Anderson Station.

Review

We first meet Fred Johnson in Leviathan Wakes and we soon realise that he has a past and this short story tells us what that past is. 

I really enjoyed reading this short story as it shows what made Johnson join the OPA and become an advocate for their cause. It also introduces us to Anderson Dawes who is a member of the OPA and we get a brief introduction to his character as well which is really interesting.

I already know the story of Johnson from watching the TV series but it was really heart breaking to read the story of the slaughter of the workers and families of Anderson station. 

I read this short story in one setting and really enjoyed it as it filled in a bit of background story. The more I read of this series the more I fall in love with the writing. I give this story 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Link

Amazon

About the author 

James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant. They both live Albuquerque, New Mexico.

My review of Leviathan Wakes.

Too Many Coincidences by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

Too Many Coincidences by Jeffrey Archer

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About the Author

Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Too Many Coincidences is part of The Year of Short Stories and is one of a limited number of digital shorts released to celebrate the publication of Jeffrey Archer’s magnificent seventh short-story collection, Tell Tale.

Taken from To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer’s fourth collection of short stories, Too Many Coincidences is a gripping short read featuring Archer’s trademark wit and memorable characters.

For Ruth Anderson continuing her whirlwind love affair with Max Bennett is made infinitely easier with the death of her husband. However, the perfect marriage she envisaged starts to disintegrate as Max becomes increasingly inattentive and reluctant to spend time with his new wife. Now, looking back, Ruth might have to consider whether their affair began with one coincidence too many . . .

Review

I had a gap when teaching at school and thankfully had my Kindle so I decided to read another short story by Jeffrey Archer. All I can say is thankfully it was a short story otherwise I would have not continued.

This story really got on my nerves I simply could not believe the character of Ruth, she was so easily seduced it was unbelievable and so naive I found it hard to believe a woman could be so shallow. In fact I was rather offended that Archer could create such a woman, I had hoped he had a higher opinion of women.

Too many things in this story were unbelievable for me and I found it a difficult read. In my opinion not one of Archer’s best short stories but it will not put me off from reading the rest.

If you are a strong independent woman than really do not read this story as it will make you cringe. I sadly only gave this short story 1 Dragon out of 5 Dragons, I hope the next short story I read will be better. 

New Book: 4/03/2019

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do enjoy a good short story and have been reading the free Jeffrey Archer short stories on Kindle. Well after a bit of research I discovered they are all in a book and so I bought the book. As much as I love my Kindle, I only really use it when out and about, otherwise I much prefer a real life book.

New book is:-

The New Collected Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer

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I will continue to review the individual short stories but I now will be reading them on both formats, I’ve also noticed there are short stories in the book that are not on the Kindle, which makes me very happy.

Happy reading everyone.

To purchase this book from Waterstones Click here.

Lady Book Dragon