andy mcnab

Review Spree: 19/12/2015

Matt Lynn - Shadow ForceShadow Force by Matt Lynn,  Trade Paperback,  2011, 448p.

4 stars.

Shadow Force is the third book in the “Death Force” series by Matt Lynn, and it was spectacular. I read it over a couple of weeks during my reading slump, and it really helped me get excited to read again. The characters in this series are wonderful, and I’ve got the fourth and final book in the series from the library to read at the moment. The end of this book had a MASSIVE twist, and it was interesting to see how these ex-soldiers handled the moral implications that popped up. I always hope that Steve stays with his vintage car yard, but he always seems to get himself involved in this crazy battles all over the world.

Pale Horse Coming by Stephen Hunter, Paperback from Library, 2001, 594p.

Pale Horse Coming is one of those books that I’m not sure what to rate it as – I enjoyed the story, and just like the last book in this series, find the character of Earl to be really interesting. However, both this book and the last in the series, Hot Springs, took me months to read. I usually read books of this genre in days or maybe a week. Hot Springs caused a reading slump a year ago, but I didn’t think it had anything to do with the actual book I was reading. Pale Horse Coming happened to also put me in a reading slump – so I’m not sure if I am game to tackle the last book in the series, Havana. The strange thing is that I did enjoy this book – as Goodreads would say, it was okay – 2 stars.

6341252Brute Force by Andy McNab, Paperback, 2008, 480p.

3 stars

Brute Force is a solid addition to the Nick Stone series, but certainly not ground breaking or earth shattering. There is an enjoyable plot, which is packed with action and the writing is not as… over the top as some McNabs can be, and it certainly helped me get out of a reading slump. I’m glad that Andy McNab is writing the Buckingham series however, because I think the Nick Stone character has been dragged through enough novels now. I have a couple more of these paperbacks floating around my house/kindle – and I will most likely read them, but my excitement for Nick Stone books pales in comparison to my excitement for all things Buckingham!


The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Netgalley eARC, 2015, 192p.

3 stars

I’ve only recently discovered Jack London, reading (and loving) The Call of the Wild earlier this year. The Scarlet Plague is being released as a Dover Doomsday Classic with illustrations. The story is a dystopian end-of-the-world story in which an elderly man recounts his survival of The Scarlet Plague to his wild, savage grandchildren. I really enjoyed London’s prose, his was of describing action and adventure is second to none. The story consists of a retelling of past events, and therefore isn’t as action packed as some of London’s other works. I did enjoy this short novella, and recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian fiction or JJack London’s prose.

Ranty Recs – 5 Military series that will blow your socks off!

I love books that feature soldiers, especially book series that follow the career of a soldier. Over the years I have read many books with military themes, I started off reading British series written by ex-SAS soldiers, but I quickly diversified into reading quite a few series written by authors from all over the world. This list of 5 series incorporates finished series and ones still in progress, from both the US and around the world. If you love characters like Jack Reacher, some of these series might be up your alley. I’ve included a link to the Goodreads series page, and the book cover links to the Amazon page for the first book of the series.

19221094Geordie Sharp series by Chris Ryan

Geordie Sharp was my first exposure to a series that follows the career of a soldier, and it has stuck with me after finishing the series many years ago. Chris Ryan is an English ex-SAS soldier who has now turned his attention to writing, and the Geordie Sharp series was his first foray into writing fiction. Stand By, Stand By is the first book in a completed series of four, and each one gets better and better. The final book was like a punch in the guts while standing next to a claymore, and I was a mess of tears for a good chunk of it. While not particularly spectacular writing – Ryan’s later books are of a higher quality – this series gets an A+ for plot.

144738Stratton series by Duncan Falconer

Stratton is written by another English ex-Special Forces soldier and is in some ways, similar to the Geordie Sharp series. However, these books follow the career of a SBS soldier, and so much of the action takes place underwater, in boats, submarines and on oil rigs. For me, this is perfect because I love nautical themes. Stratton is a really aloof character and over the space of 8 books you get to know a little bit about him, but it’s nice to read a book in which the main character isn’t socially capable or a glory hound. There are 8 books in this series, and although it hasn’t officially been ended, there hasn’t been a new book since 2012’s Assassin. Rumours of a Stratton movie have made me very excited, but at the same time, cautious – it’s hard to portray such a anti-social but good intentioned guy. The first book in this series is The Hostage, and while it is interesting, the books get better and better.

1959583Kyle Swanson series by Jack Coughlin

The Kyle Swanson series was the first American series that I fell in love with. It is a series of 7 books (the 8th is due later this year) with hopefully many more on the way. Coughlin is superb at telling a military action story from an emotional standpoint. Kyle is an interesting character, and he is supported by a great cast of other characters. My favourite female character in a military novel appears a couple of books into this series, and she is affectionately known as Coastie, and she is kick ass awesome! It’s refreshing having women painted as being competent in a skill that is usually considered to be the man’s prevue. As Kyle Swanson is a sniper and is attached to his special custom rifle, known as Excalibur, this series is great for fans of sniping or precision shooting.

17559237Sniper Elite series by Scott McEwen and Thomas Koloniar

I added the first Sniper Elite book, One Way Trip, to my TBR by accident – I thought it was a Jack Coughlin book for some strange reason (I get my snipers mixed up, apparently). Sniper Elite is a newer, still ongoing series, with three books currently published. McEwen balances political intrigue and military action really well, and I find often action thrillers tend to avoid any political intrigue in fear of making it  a political thriller. I am also in love with the main character, Gil Shannon – he is the perfect blend of soldier and good guy. Some parts of this series are a little bit too ‘MURICA! for my own sensitivities, but compared to many other American action/military fiction, this is sedate. I think coming from reading Australian/UK fiction this aspect is the hardest for me to acclimatise to. I also find American novels to often have more of a team feel – as opposed to the single operator dominated British fiction – and a lot more gun loving. Overall, this series has been a solid four star earner, and I am looking forward to the next instalment!

13154311Tom Buckingham series by Andy McNab

The Tom Buckingham series by McNab is a new, ongoing series that is more accessible than McNab’s previous works. I’ve always been a fan of McNab, I find his writing to be action packed and his plot lines tight, but felt that they sometimes lacked emotional depth. This new series rectifies that. I’ve read the first two books in the series, with the third, and latest book, waiting on kindle. The second book, Fortress, gained a rare five star rating – it was sensational. A lot of purists who loved McNab’s Nick Stone series dislike the Buckingham series because it has some feelings in it – but I think it improves the plotlines to no end. I would recommend anyone who likes fast past thrillers to pick up the Tom Buckingham series, because it is a more traditional thriller as opposed to a military thriller.

Ranty Roundup – April

April was an average reading month in regards with how many books I read, but a great month for blogging and the enjoyment of all things bookish, plus the few books I did read rated 4 or 5 stars! I participated in Dewey’s 24h readathon for the first time, and read a book and a half. I also participated in a bookish collaboration called The Bookish People, where I posted a list of book recommendations. Unfortunately because of time constraints and some naughty people being late with their posts (whoops) it has been put on hiatus, hopefully to return in the future. I purchased quite a few books in April – over 20, although I haven’t counted them.

Total books read in April

Red Notice – Andy McNab – 4 stars

A Perfect Evil – Alex Kava – 4 stars

Fortress – Andy McNab – 5 stars

Sandakan – Paul Ham – 4 stars

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde – 5 stars

Currently reading

Split Second by Alex Kava

The Godfather by Mario Puzo


The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

The Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride

The Sniper and the Wolf by Scott McEwen

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

Australia and Canada in Afghanistan by Jack Cunningham and William Maley

Bloggish Stuff

My favourite post from April would have to be The Classics Book tag

My most popular post would have been my Dewey’s 24h Readathon Post

In the next couple of weeks expect more reviews of classics, I’ve got to finish the Classics Club spin pick and write my review for The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The most exciting thing has to be Bout of Books! I’ve signed up and volunteered to host a challenge on the Thursday, so I’m both nervous and excited about that. It will also be the first time I giveaway a book – and I’m pretty pumped!

I’ve been focusing more on twitter and posting regularly on that platform, and in May I hope to continue that, and learn more about how to use it.

Book Review: Fortress by Andy McNab


Fortress by Andy McNab, 2014, Trade Paperback from Library, 384p.

5 out of 5 Stars

It is rare that I go into a novel expecting an enjoyable, but somewhat mindless, thrill ride and end up walking away with a social message and political argument. Andy McNab’s Fortress was exactly that sort of surprising – as the second book in the Tom Buckingham series I was expecting more of the first book – Red Notice – but was gifted with so much more. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to be the bearer of bad spoilers.

Fortress deals very adeptly with issues such as structural racism and the mood of the people and that mood’s effect on politics and immigration policy. There is so much more at stake here, and it was refreshing change from the crushing amount of Islamic terrorism is our main enemy and must be stopped that usually is the backbone of these stories – everyone in this novel operates in grey areas, and the motivations of all the characters – are explored, and with more authenticity than providing a flimsy backstory of fundamentalism as evil.

Tom Buckingham is an interesting creation – a SAS squaddie who has a silver spoon stuck in his mouth and trying to deal with the many difficulties life throws his way. When he’s in soldier mode he is brilliant and resourceful, but when he is navigating his personal life, it’s as if he set off on a cross country trek with no compass or maps. Especially awesome is his awkward and stilted relationship with his father, which we get to explore more in Fortress.

Tom’s love interest, Delphine, is in my opinion poorly constructed and fickle, the clichéd woman who can’t accept her partners’ life choices. Don’t get me wrong, I would have left Tom many moons ago, but the relationship seems to purely exist to build emotional turmoil in Tom and it doesn’t execute this goal. This is such a minor gripe, I do love this book and Delphine has such a small role in this novel, that it didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

I feel like this series is a new direction for McNab, I’ve read many of his previous novels, the Nick Stone series, which are primarily military based, following an action man around the world and find they can be quite inaccessible to readers not familiar to war fiction and the jargon – McNab usually delights in using technical names and waxing lyrical for a page or two about the benefits, weaknesses and operation of certain weaponry and tactics. The Tom Buckingham series reads more like a thriller novel than military fiction – it’s use of jargon is less and it follows many different POV’s driving to the conclusion. There is a focus on politics and international espionage, and there is little involvement with actual military units. I would recommend that new readers of McNab start with the Tom Buckingham series and then try the Nick Stone series – which are excellent but more straight up action reads.

The next book in the Tom Buckingham series, State of Emergency, comes out May 21, and I have already preordered, because Fortress left quite a few loose ends that are going to make for an excellent next instalment.

BOB Spell it out Challenge

This looks like a fun challenge to participate in, so I decided to use my first name – Rebecca, and then realised in the past four years I haven’t read a single book starting with the letter E – let alone two of them! So I decided to go with my birth month – August (you know, cause Leo was also out).

A – Aggressor by Andy McNab

U – Undersea Prison by Duncan Falconer

G – Good Jihadist, The by Bob Shepherd

U – Ultimate Weapon by Chris Ryan

S – Strike Back by Chris Ryan

T – Traitor by Duncan Falconer

Okay, so I decided to use books only by ex-SAS and ex-SBS authors! SUE ME.