The Winds Chime

The Windchime Legacy

by

AW Mykel

A NetGalley Review

This was the first novel by AW Mykel and was originally written in 1980. Unfortunately this shows in a number of places. If it had been updated  – just a little – I would have given it 4 stars but it just fails due to being out-dated.

When it was written the spy world described with Russia and the US and the UK were very true. But unfortunately for this novel we all know that the Russians were very good at trapping people through sexy spies and no-one would be fooled by that these days – after Christine Keeler all politicians and defectors knew only too well to look out for a gift-woman and avoid them like the plague.

Then there is the computer and Sentinel. For its time, the novel was verging on fantasy but this computer is easily imagined today as are the implants and you would need to go further in what it could do – after all Google knows where all the missile silos are!

So update the hardware – the phones, the computers and some of the behaviour and what is an interesting spy novel would become good, but it just missed it for me as it seemed I had read it all before – even the idea of the Nazi plan for later world domination and a mysterious notebook have been seen in other books now – though it may have been the first to have these ideas.

The author has stopped writing but appears to live in Texas but always wrote under a pseudonym so we don’t know who it was but Brash books have some knowledge – I wonder if there are royalties to be paid to him for the re-publication? If so, they know where he lives!

Share This:

Play ball with me

Hail Storme

by W.I. Ripley

A NetGalley Review

The characters just rip up a storm in this book – literally and figuratively – all puns intended..

This is the first book in the Storme series and as such introduces you to the characters of Wyatt Storme and here, his mysterious buddy Chick, who claims to be just a skip tracer but turns out to be something more, and really has such useful skills I hope he stays for the rest of the series.

As the first novel in a series it is set not that long after the Vietnam War or Second Indochina War, 1954–1973 (or what did the US call it? They certainly didn’t admit that their soldiers were at war – just supporting or advising?). In any event it left significant numbers of Vets as they began to be called traumatised and with PTSD – often unrecognised – which left them liable to nightmares and flashbacks that hindered their ability to maintain a successful life outside the military after returning home. This fact is still not always admitted.

Over 20 years, more than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam and more than 150,000 were wounded. Yet the US were not the only troops fighting – we hear little about the Australians, the New Zealanders and the South Koreans who also fought.

Public opinion was initially in favour of the intervention and thus the majority of those fighting volunteered rather than were drafted and this included those in minority races as well as white Americans.

Here are some facts – not too many though:

  • 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975.
  • 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.
  • 8,148 soldiers were killed in Vietnam.
    • 75,000 were severely disabled.
    • 23,214 were 100% disabled.
    • 5,283 lost limbs.
    • 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
    • Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21.
    • 11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
    • Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
    • Average age of men killed: 23.1 years.
    • Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
    • The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
    • As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

So Wyatt Storme came back from the war and made a career in American Football which seems to be a very rough sport indeed from the tactics her learnt to subdue opponents. but the violence on the field became too comfortable and led to a lifestyle that is all too common amongst the rich and famous. Eventually however, he realises that his football tactics are emulating his fighting in the Vietnam War tactics far too freely and gives up his career – with the usual footballer injuries of course.

He is still full of testosterone and chivalry it seems and can’t let a wrong go un-righted and so gets involved where others would not in a local dispute that ends up with people dying. “People talk about what they want and who they are: few are concerned with duty and responsibility – the things we must do to be what we are.”

I did enjoy this book and read it very quickly – within 24 hours as the style is easy and uncomplicated and you did want to find out just what was going on and who was involved and who was the goody and who the baddy – and this seemed to change as you read on.

I did bookmark the stuff about male clothes in this book as there seemed to be a fascination with what people wore: oxblood loafers came up several times – which seems to be a shade of red that is popular; not sure why Haggar slacks/pants are mentioned as they are a style of trouser that is very casual and rather baggy but add in the oxford cloth shirt and you have a preppy style that is very popular in the US. Florsheim shoes are also still available and again a very classic look.

London Fog raincoats – or trench coats are not sold in the UK but seem again to be a very traditional style. It is interesting that although this book was first published in 1993, the clothing ranges are still current – in the US, I doubt if they would be in the UK. Now I just was fascinated by Gglen plaidlen Plaid and so found myself a photo of it:

Not forgetting that the Rep or Repp tie is again a preppy essential – the diagonal striped tie.rep tie

 

Share This:

Can you remember?

Smart but dead

By Nancy G. West

A NetGalley Review

Telomerase – also called telomere terminal transferase – is a ribonucleoprotein – and if you know what that means you’re clearly a scientist with a degree in biology and working on cancer drugs or anti-ageing.telemorase

Well in this book it is all about anti-ageing and age-related diseases.

In Faust the Devil suggests that the best way to stay young(er) is to:

Seek out a life of moderation, stop being lazy, exercise regularly and avoid unhealthy foods! But Faust prefers the magic pill / potion, and so too do many people – after all living a healthy life is just too much work! We don’t want to gradually lose our memories – forgetting where the car key is – the name of the flower – who that celebrity is – nor do we want to get flabby and lose muscle tone – those batwings are not attractive! So we all look for the magic potion as mentioned in the press that will stop the decline – eat blueberries, or flax seed, or drink kale smoothies, or, or… or just maybe there is something else that we can take – a medicine – perhaps related to telomeres that will do the job without us having to lift a finger.

For the scientist who can market an anti-ageing pill that really work on the cellular level – that actually prevents cells from ageing, there is a fortune waiting to be made. A similar pill could be adapted to prevent cancer or to heal and reverse it, and as it is estimated that 1 in 3 of have some form of cancer before we die, just think how much money could be involved.

“Where does this interaction of telomere-dependent and telomere-independent aging pathways as well as the influence of known (and many unknown) stressors leave us? The molecular understanding of cellular aging is progressing steadily, but the complexity of cellular aging and the even more complex question of how organs such as the brain and heart age requires a lot more work. There will be no single molecular switch which can reverse or halt aging and triple our lifespan, but most aging researchers do not this as their goal. Understanding specific aging pathways, as well as the genes and stressors which activate them, will allow us to prevent and treat age-related diseases as well as one day be able to provide personalized advice to individuals on how to maximize their “healthspan”.

Originally published as “The Stress of Aging” in the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting blog.”

For now, we can stick to some of the broad lifestyle interventions which were recommended by Mephistopheles: exercise and a healthy diet.

So from all of this we can conclude that if someone could find the way to maximum life span then there is a lot of money to be made and it would be worth killing for .

In this book I learn quite a lot of science about ageing – I learn that the APOE genes are implicated in 20-25% of Alzheimer cases; this gene is found on chromosome 19 and has 3 variants – depending on which of the 3  you have, your risk of Alzheimer’s is increased or reduced, but there is also Vascular dementia, Frontal-temporal dementia which also runs in families and other ways to lose your memory as you get older – over 65 (Oh dear, I’m now 65!).

So it seems that 35% of the individual differences in ageing are inherited and that lifestyle can change the length of your telemeres. If you do as the Devil recommends.

I learnt all of these facts (with the addition of what I looked up) in the first 50% of the book but as the storyline didn’t explore much further I gave up. it was a very thin story-line indeed and it seems to me that I never found out enough about the heroine – she wasn’t young that was clear from her interest in the genetics of ageing; and she seemed to lust after the detective. In her role as detective (very privately) she seemed rather inept even if it was a sideline. I felt that the story was just a way of getting across the science of ageing in a very lightweight way without exploring the issues connected – included just what a drug company would do to get their hands on a wonder drug!

This is the 3rd book in this series and to me it was just one of those series that seems to tail off as more is written. Other reviewers have called this series ‘cozy’ or ‘lighter reading’ and I do agree and thus it is not for me.

3 *

 

Share This:

London Over and Under

London Over and Under: 

This is the post I have intended to write for a very long time but which has been sparked by the Tuesday Falling. In it the heroine lives under London in the forgotten and secret places and streets that still exist from all the previous Londons that have been built on and covered up.

I am going to go through the secret places that are mentioned in the book and then I will talk about some of the other secret places that exist. I take my research from a number of websites but also several books: Shakespeare’s London by Stephen Porter; I never knew that about London by Christopher Winn; London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling; Underground London by Stephen Smith; Vanished City by Tom Bolton; and London – City of Disappearances by Iain Sinclair.

 Places mentioned in Tuesday Falling:

The Marquis of Granby pub is at 41 Romney Street in the area known as Fitzrovia and also at 2 Rathbone Street!  Interestingly they are both owned by Nicholson’s.  It was named after the an 18th century war hero who rewarded officers from his own coin.  Only officers it would appear… John Manners – the Marquess as it was titled then, was a Lieutenant-General 1721-1779 and served in the 7 years war (which affected Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines) and eventually was named Commander In Chief of the Forces. It is said that he has more pubs named after him than any other person because he had the practice of setting up old soldiers from his regiment as publicans.

Brydges Place, Convent Garden,  is known as London’s narrowest alley. It is by the Coliseum and connects St Martin’s Lane with Bedfordbury.  The Marquis of Granby pub backs onto the alley – and it is this pub that was where Dickens drank. The Harp pub also has a back entrance into this alley harp-covent-garden-10.

Convent Garden itself is the heart of the market of the old Saxon town of London. Aldwych means ‘port’ in old Danish and we see his reference in the name of the church that peals out ‘Oranges and Lemons’ ie St Clemens (or Clements) Danes. [See the nursery rhyme details below] This current church is a Wren design on the ruins of an older church an dthe rumoured burial place of Harold Harefoot, the Danish king.

Westminster also sees the River Tyburn flowing through it. ‘Ty’ meaning boundary and one can see why here as there were many boundaries for it to chart through the ages.

Convent Garden is of course famous for its Flower Market and theatres and opera house where one could find various forms of companionship amongst those wandering there as well as purchase the odd nosegay…

Now it has been revitalised as a tourist destination with outdoor entertainment and stalls selling handicrafts and other trinkets as well as some trendy eateries.

Nursery Rhyme:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great Bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

Interestingly the earlier versions of the rhyme do not have the last 2 lines in them – those which are of course, the childrens’ favourites! However there is a another version of the rhyme which is more sinister:

oranges

chopper

Share This:

Flying in the Sky?

A Witness Above

 

By  Andy Straka

 

A Netgalley review

 

These books just keep getting better.

So unless you really need to read all the back story, I don’t suggest you start here with the very first novel in this series.

I didn’t. and I’m really glad, I guessed all that was necessary from what was written in the book I did read. However, don’t let me stop you reading these books in order – it is often the best tactic .

This is an author who has learnt his trade as he has written and published.

His main character is fairly stock – especially in this first novel but with one great unusual characteristic – he flies hawks – taken from the author’s own passion. And in A Witness Above, we don’t hear enough about the hawks – for me. Which is why I prefer the later book which I have already reviewed (A Killing Sky on the 20th August on my blog: Tiggerrenewing).

So just 3 stars for this early novel, but then I find that authors with series generally fall into two categories:

  1. Those who start with a great bang and the subsequent books are more and more disappointing as they run out of storylines; or
  2. Those who start more modestly and improve steadily with each book written – their skills as story-tellers increase and they learn more about the 5 stages of classical story-telling and fit their characters better into them. This author falls into this category – I think.

 

 

 

Share This: