Born To Run…Bruce Springsteen

Not really an autobiography fan, but am rather partial to a bit of Bruce Springsteen.
This will appeal to fans of the Boss, it will also appeal to musos as Bruce talks in detail about his rise to super stardom, from high school band to local New Jersey heroes and on to hit recording stars. What strikes you right the way through the book, which incidentally took him seven years to write, is the total honesty with which Bruce writes. The difficulties of his early family life, his troubled relationship with his father, his self-confessed control-freak nature to his music and the formation of his beloved E Street band. His first marriage breaks up, but his second marriage to Patti is one of the driving forces of his life and success. He is completely open about his struggle with depression which on occasions threatens to overtake him and he movingly describes the passing of family and band mates as he gets older. This is an extremely well written book which describes in both wonderful and frightening detail. It will help to be a Springsteen fan, but it ain’t essential. Highly recommended.

A Fault In Our Stars

As the author John Green says in his acknowledgements this is a work of fiction…he made it up. However, whilst reading it I became convinced this was a man who if he hadn’t suffered from childhood cancer had certainly suffered it close at hand. Maybe that’s the case. Augustus, Isaac and Hazel have their own brand of gallows humour for their treatment and treatments. It’s witty, heart breaking and irreverent all rolled into one book worth reading

The Chess Men by Peter May

The final book in the Lewis trilogy. Fin is now retired and living back on the island of his birth. Going about his newly appointed duties in charge of security against salmon thieves in the lochs and rivers owned by the local laird he and an old school friend discover a light aeroplane that had crashed and remained undiscovered for eighteen years. It transpires that the body within has been murdered and the consequences send Fin on a journey back to his teenage years. We have to forgive Peter May the fact that at that time Fin was roadie for a band that were to achieve international fame and that has never been mentioned before in the previous two books. However, it is beautifully written, descriptive and atmospheric, with the turns and twists you now expect from a Peter May novel.
Definitely worth reading, but, obvious as it may seem, read Blackhouse and The Lewis Man first.

The Lewis Man by Peter May

Second in the trilogy following Blackhouse. Peter May writes with amazing authentic and atmospheric skills. He captures the desolate moors, the villages, the harbours and the churches of Lewis perfectly; he also describes the greener mountains, golden beaches and turquoise seas of Harris and further south so very accurately. This book is well researched.
Fin McLoed has now retired and moved back to the islands to coincide with the discovery of a dead body preserved in one of the peat bogs of Lewis. DNA tests prove that it is a relation of The father of Fin’s childhood sweetheart Marsaili McDonald. Tormond McDonald is now a very old man in the grip of dementia unaware of most of what is going on around him. May cleverly dovetails memories of Tormond’s past as he remembers fragments from the shameful childhood he and his younger brother Peter(the corpse) were forced to live. They were victims along with many other orphaned or unwanted kids who became ‘homers’; transported from the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and others to become no more than slaves to the islanders. Without giving too much of the story away Fin finds the link between Tormond and Peter’s past and the murder that took place in the fifties. The climax is quite thrilling as Fin discovers other links to the past, but the story seems to be coming to a tragic end until Donald Murray ( you’ll know him from Blackhouse) comes galloping over the hill.
Absolute must…read it.

Runaway…Peter May

I enjoyed reading my second Peter May novel (ever). I suppose the story of a fledgling rock’n’roll band going to the Big Smoke to try a make it appealed, especially as half the story is set in the Sixties, exactly the time we were trying to do the same (although not with the same outcome I can assure you!). The other half of the book is set in the current era and the two stories run side by side, 16 years olds searching for fame, alongside late-sixty year olds searching for answers. It’s cleverly done and May’s descriptive narrative and story telling are very good. Okay, it get a bit too remarkable in places, but it’s worth reading. The fact that I read it in less than three days shows the adventure(s) are irresistible. There is also a similarity between Runaway and my book The Man Who Stole Rock’n’roll. (Kindle or Amazon) Try ’em both.

Blackhouse … Peter May

The first of the Hebridean trilogy. My first read of a Peter May novel. I purchased it to coincide with a holiday on the Isle of Lewis, where the story is set. This made the crime thriller all the more enjoyable; I said to my wife that it almost brought the story out in 3D. The village and settlement names, the buildings and businesses in Stornaway, the ports, lighthouses and tourist sites … they were all around. Wonderful!
Peter May has a marvellous descriptive style and the climax, as the guga hunters ( Gaelic for gannets) make their way across the treacherous North Atlantic to the remote island of An Sgeir (yes, it’s there, google it!) is quite breathtaking.
I’ve mentioned nothing yet about the murder mystery that unfolds on the island. It’s a good tale with some unexpected twists and turns cleverly wrapped up in the beliefs and traditions of the islanders.
I look forward to Lewis Men, the second of the trilogy.

A Life Too Short … Ronald Reng

This book is about depression … Serious depression. Peter Enke was Germany’s number one goal keeper and 10th November 2009, on the brink of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, he walked under a Hanover bound express train. He left behind a loving wife and six month old baby, a shocked close group of friends and team mates and an astonished nation.
To begin with the book concentrates on Peter Enke’s schoolboy and junior football successes, many of which there are. Anybody not into football may get slightly bored with the detail, but middle aged ladies from Cheltenham who love Wimbledon and strawberries need to hang in there.
The tell tale signs begin to show as he struggles with anxiety as he tries to come to terms with joining top European clubs; Benfica,Barcelona and Fenebache. His first bout of extreme depression comes in 2002. Without giving too much away, with the help of his family and friends he overcomes his problems and claims back his rightful place as Germany’s number one.
The reader knows the date of the fateful day from the cover notes, so the story becomes even more compelling as the seasons turn to months, then weeks then days.
It’s a beautifully written book about a subject I knew little, but now understand a lot more. Five stars from me … Just read it.