Greg Rucka’s Reading Recommendations

ReccsBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Bravo, the second Jad Bell novel by best selling author Greg Rucka, is released today. We caught up with Greg about his new novel last week, which you can read here; but we also asked him about his favorite books, and those he would recommend to TheReadingRoom community.

So once you’re done with Bravo and you’re looking for your next read, why not consider Greg Rucka’s Reading Recommendations?

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The Secret PilgrimThe Secret Pilgrim by John le Carré

Obviously le Carré is the go-to author for espionage, and there are so many of his novels that are simply wonderful; I like The Secret Pilgrim because it’s a terrific break from his form; it is, essentially, a series of short-stories connected via a consistent, first-person narrator. One of my favorites. Read more about The Secret Pilgrim.

Charlie MCharlie M by Brian Freemantle

A sentimental favorite, and very much a product of its era, where the enemy is far less the Soviets but rather Charlie’s own masters in British Intelligence. I read this after seeing the adaptation (Charlie Muffin) done for, I believe, ITV in the late 70s, and I loved the film, and I love the book. Read more about Charlie M.


The Quiller MemorandumThe Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

One of the earliest “bridging” books I ever read, a spy novel that attempted to mix le Carre’s verisimilitude and Fleming’s absurdity and come up with something that was deeper than just the average fluff. There’s a long Quiller series, and the books are hit and miss with me, but I think the first is wonderful. Read more about The Quiller Memorandum.

The Quiet AmericanThe Quiet American by Graham Greene

Just a brilliant, beautiful tragedy of a novel, written by – in my humble opinion – one of the greatest authors of the 20th century.

Read more about The Quiet American.


Gorky ParkGorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

If you’re detecting an affection for 70’s era Soviets in this list, there’s a reason for it; that’s when I met espionage, and that view of the world influences me to this day. Gorky Park is arguably more police procedural than espionage novel, but this was the book that introduced Arkady Renko, and it was the first novel I read that even attempted to depict what life was like under the Soviet regime. Read more about Gorky Park.

Six Days of the CondorSix Days of the Condor by James Grady

Following along the lines of sympathetic Soviets, I’ve a similar affection for those novels where the good guys are not at all good. The Robert Redford adaptation is a favorite, as well.
Read more about Six Days of the Condor.


The Great GameThe Great Game by Peter Hopkirk

This probably doesn’t belong on this list, but as a history of espionage in Central Asia it is, as it stands, the definitive work. Remarkably engaging and incredibly educational.

Read more about The Great Game.


The Surgeon's MateThe Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian

The seventh in the Aubrey-Maturin novels, and all of them are brilliant, but this one sings to me. As with the best espionage, it’s about the mission, and so much more.

Read more about The Surgeon’s Mate.

The Constant GardenThe Constant Gardener
by John le Carré

I told myself that I’d only put one le Carré on the list. Then I discovered I couldn’t. I eschewed the more traditional candidates – (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, and Spy) for this one.
Read more about The Constant Gardener.


VengenaceVengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by George Jonas

An account of the Israeli response to the murder of their athletes at the Berlin Olympic Games of 1972 by the PLO. Non-fiction, theoretically.
Read more about Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team.


Thanks again to Greg Rucka for taking the time to compile this list.

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The 10 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels

The Top 10 Batman Graphic Novels

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

DC Entertainment is celebrating Batman’s 75th birthday on July 23 2014, and to mark the occasion we’ve listed the 10 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels.

Of course, the Frank Miller classics Year One and The Dark Knight Returns feature, as well as Alan Moore and Brian Boland’s The King Joke; but there’s room for contemporary tales too, including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Death of the Family, and Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.

Check out the Top 10 Batman Graphic Novels

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Book of the Week – The City by Dean Koontz

TRR BOWBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

There are millions of stories in the city—some magical, some tragic, others terror-filled or triumphant. Jonah Kirk’s story is all of those things as he draws readers into his life in the city as a young boy, introducing his indomitable grandfather, also a “piano man”; his single mother, a struggling singer; and the heroes, villains, and everyday saints and sinners who make up the fabric of the metropolis in which they live—and who will change the course of Jonah’s life forever. Welcome to The City, a place of evergreen dreams where enchantment and malice entwine, where courage and honor are found in the most unexpected corners and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.

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CapreCapre Librum says:

5 Stars“The City is the coming-of-age story of nine year old Jonah Kirk growing up in the 1960s, told by his older self. Jonah is a young musical prodigy who loves to play the piano and lives with his mum on the fourth floor of an apartment building.

The city of the title comes in the form of the mysterious Miss Pearl, who gives Jonah advice at important times in his life and seems very otherworldly. She tells Jonah that she is the city and all it’s people and she looks over Jonah.

Jonah’s father has left the family, and he befriends his Japanese American neighbour Mr. Nashioka and together they discover a fellow neighbour is up to no good and her actions could have grave consequences. Jonah builds incredible relationships with Malcolm (who lives across the road) and his relationship with Mr. Nashioka was deeply moving.

The City is a story of fate, luck, tragedy, family and love with a light touch of the paranormal and it’s what I’ve been waiting to read from Koontz for years! There are no monsters or great battles between good and evil, and no dog central to the plot. But what is offered is a glimpse into the life of one young boy and the influence of his guardian, Miss Pearl and the unforgettable Mr. Nashioka, a humble tailor.

This is easily the best Dean Koontz book I’ve ever read and I recommend it highly!”

What has the rest of our community had to say about The City?

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12 Must-Read Books for Dog Lovers


By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Josh Billings, the pen name of the 19th-century American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw, once said “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” So curl up with your four-legged friend and one of these books about our canine companions this weekend.

See the 12 Must-Read Books for Dog Lovers

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What did our community read this week?

What did you read this week

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

The end of another week means it’s time to spotlight some of the reviews from the community.

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The Heist by Daniel Silva

The HesitLegendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is in Venice repairing an altarpiece by Veronese when he receives an urgent summons from the Italian police. The eccentric London art dealer Julian Isherwood has stumbled upon a chilling murder scene in Lake Como, and is being held as a suspect. To save his friend, Gabriel must track down the real killers and then perform one simple task: find the most famous missing painting in the world.

Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one. . .

“This book shows once again the depth of Daniel Silva’s research and understanding of the of the dangerous world of the Middle East. Fans of Gabriel Allon will not be disappointed but will probably be surprised to see a softening as he contemplates fatherhood and the responsibilities to come. While the characters and the modus operandi are a similar to previous adventures and could be considered a bit predictable by some, this contemporary tale is probably one of the most complex, puzzling, nail biting, and exciting with an ending that is hard to predict.” – Suncoast

Written in my own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Written In My Own Heart's BloodIn her now classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon told the story of Claire Randall, an English ex-combat nurse who walks through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, and disappears . . . into 1743. The story unfolded from there in seven bestselling novels, which now continues in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.

“As always the author delivers a whopping good read, as contained within the book’s 800 or so pages are plots, counter plots, ruinations, machinations, scenes to make you weep, scenes that will have you stamping your feet in irritation at the folly of men, and whole sections that will have you reading and then re-reading in order to clarify just what hidden meaning is concealed within each tantalising chapter, and with over 141 chapters, there is sometimes a lot of re-reading needed!” – jaffareadstoo

The City by Dean Koontz

9780345545930_p0_v2_s260x420There are millions of stories in the city—some magical, some tragic, others terror-filled or triumphant. Jonah Kirk’s story is all of those things as he draws readers into his life in the city as a young boy, introducing his indomitable grandfather, also a “piano man”; his single mother, a struggling singer; and the heroes, villains, and everyday saints and sinners who make up the fabric of the metropolis in which they live—and who will change the course of Jonah’s life forever. Welcome to The City, a place of evergreen dreams where enchantment and malice entwine, where courage and honor are found in the most unexpected corners and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.

The City is a story of fate, luck, tragedy, family and love with a light touch of the paranormal and it’s what I’ve been waiting to read from Koontz for years! There are no monsters or great battles between good and evil, and no dog central to the plot. But what is offered is a glimpse into the life of one young boy and the influence of his guardian, Miss Pearl and the unforgettable Mr. Nashioka, a humble tailor. This is easily the best Dean Koontz book I’ve ever read and I recommend it highly!” – Carpe Librum

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

The Dead Will TellEveryone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. But only a handful of the residents remember the terrible secrets lost in the muted/hushed whispers of time—and now death is stalking them, seemingly from the grave. On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide—an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of that long ago incident.

“Fast-paced, with plot twists until the very end. Really enjoyed this book.” – Purpleprincess1

Edge of Tomorrow / All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Edge of TomorrowWhen the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armour and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On the 158th iteration though, he sees something different, something out of place: the female soldier known as the Bitch of War. Is the Bitch the key to Keiji’s escape, or to his final death?

“A thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi actioner that shares more than it’s quota of similarities to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book people, not the movie) as a green cadet learns to become a dedicated killing machine of alien beings. Only with a fun computer game style reboot time travel gimmick. Killer Cage is a fun creation and his growth is handled with skill and subtle precision, whilst despite the alien killing premise there are very few battle scenes to bore the pants off of those of us who don’t go much in for bloodshed and carnage.” – bbbgtoby

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's CurseAs a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him–with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

“I didn’t want to put it down until I had finished it. The society which exists within its pages is interesting and the characters are unique yet realistic. As a first book in a trilogy – I’m eagerly awaiting the release of book 2 because The Winner’s Curse has been one of my favourite books of 2014.” – whYAnot

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor SleepStephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

“A very satisfying sequel to The Shining; it would make a great movie with the right director (thankfully not Kubrick) and cast. Another excellent tale from the master story-teller.” – Cloggie1Downunder

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

InsurgentOne choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

“Holy Mackerel, what a book! I absolutely loved Divergent and unfortunately haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet. I was excited to read Insurgent, see where Tris and Four ended up and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The ending was shocking, I couldn’t believe that it just stopped, ggggrrrr. That’s the talent of Veronica Roth though, always leaving the reader wanting more.” - ktu35114

Check out even more book reviews!

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A Conversation with Greg Rucka

In Conversation with Greg RuckaBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Greg Rucka is the New York Times best selling author of nearly two dozen novels, including the Atticus Kodiak and Tara Chace series.  The second in his Jonathan ‘Jad’ Bell series, Bravo – the sequel to last year’s Alpha will be release on July 22, 2014.  Greg has also penned countless comics featuring some of the world’s best known characters, such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, as well as several creator-owned properties, including Queen & Country, Whiteout, Stumptown and most recently Lazarus from Image Comics, with artist Michael Lark.

Bravo will be available in stores next Tuesday, 22 July, 2014.


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Member Spotlight: Reading Writing and Riesling

RWRBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Reading Writing and Riesling joined TheReadingRoom in February 2013 and has reviewed more than 200 books, including most recently To the Top of the Mountain by Arne Dahl, Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston and Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace by Michael Morton. You can follow her reviews at TheReadingRoom and on her blog.

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Life or DeathWhat has been your favorite book of the year, so far?
Too many to pick just one so here are a few:

… and so many other great reads this year.

What book are you most looking forward to this year?
Anything by Michael Robotham, Karin Slaughter, John Connolly, Michael Connelly or Mo Hayder…

The Water-BabiesWhat was your favorite childhood book?
The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton, Famous Five by Enid Blyton, and The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley.

What were your reading habits like as a child?
Voracious, I moved from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie, to Stephen King…

Do you read one book at a time, or several?
Usually one book at a time – I immerse myself in a book, if it is good and just read till I finish.

Where is your favorite place to read?
In the sunshine.

Do you write in the margins of books?
Only when I was studying did I write in the margins, mostly I will use sticky notes, sometimes I highlight sections.

What makes you love a book?
I think you have to connect with a book to enjoy it, which means it has to be written well, no grammatical errors to distract me, it has to flow and the dialogue must  feel natural, there must be at least one character that I like or empathize with, the characters must be fully developed (I love character-driven plots), and the setting must be credible. If reading crime fiction the narrative must be complex and engaging, I don’t want to guess the ending or the villain on page 5. If reading contemporary novels, the same basic principles apply.

What will inspire you to recommend a book?
When I feel that connection, when I am transported by the words to another place, when I can feel the tension in my own body, when I am mesmerized by the narrative or when I feel that I have been enlightened or a dialog has been opened by the book…you may not love a book but if it makes you think of a different perspective, or you are able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes for a while, it has succeeded.

Is there one book you would recommend to everyone?
No – everyone reads books differently, what I see/appreciate in one book, others may not. I guess what I am trying to say is, reading is a personal experience, I can tell you how a book made me feel, what I liked about it, it is then up to you if you decide to give it a try.

Is there a book you love that nobody else seems to?
Not any one book leaps out at me, and as I mentioned reading is a personal experience so all reactions will be different.

What is your favorite genre to read?
Crime fiction.

How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Depends on how you define critics – I mostly read reviews by other book bloggers, as their books are usually chosen carefully; books they want to read and their reviews are written with passion, it is not a job and they generally don’t have a vested interest in the review, and they write in plain language, not academic speak, so I trust their judgement.

How do you feel about giving negative reviews?
Generally speaking I do not like to publish negative reviews – if I really hate a book – say  because of gratuitous violence or a ridiculous plot – I would rather tell the publisher that the book was not for me, and give a few examples of why not. I do not publish this negative review; I only share reviews about books that have some redeeming features and that I enjoyed on some level.

Have you ever been intimidated to start reading a book?
Any book that is over four hundred pages puts me off.  Sometimes I have discovered that this doesn’t necessarily mean a bad read, just a long one.

Do you keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I used to hoard my books, now I think that they are best given away so others can enjoy.

Tracking NorthWhat is a book you didn’t expect to like, but did?  
Tracking North by Kerry McGinnis; I don’t usually subscribe to the genre of rural fiction/romance – but this book was so well written, great landscapes, wonderful characters, wonderful insights. More recently I had a similar reaction to Being Jade by Kate Belle – I looked at the author’s previous works, some described as sensual romances and wondered what I was getting into, but many had given it stellar reviews. I was so pleasantly surprised at the polished writing, the wonderful images, the fundamental questions it posed about love and life; it was a fantastic read. And then we have All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, a story about suicide that was so courageous and yet was still enjoyable.

What was the last book that you couldn’t put down until you finished it?
Most every book I pick up I read in one or two sittings,  but Mo Hyder’s Wolf keep me reading all night.

What is your favorite book series?
Karin Slaughter’s Grant County Series and her Will Trent Series are great reads.

Who is your favorite book character?
I love Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch – I have read so many of these wonderful character driven books that I have grown attached to Harry and his way of seeing the world.

What is your favorite book of all time?
I am still  looking for it.

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20 Books Guaranteed to Make You LOL

20 Books to Make You LOLBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Sometimes at the end of a bad day, or a depressingly long week, and sometimes for no reason at all, we just want to chuckle and laugh with reckless abandon. While comedy is subjective, we reckon you’re bound to find something on our book list that’ll bring a smile into your face.

Check out our list of

And if you think we’ve missed something, let us know: what’s the funniest book you’ve read?

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Google Hangout with Anna George

What Came Before HangoutBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

On Thursday July 17 2014, at 8pm Australian EST, TheReadingRoom will be hosting a Google Hangout with the author of What Came Before, Anna George.

What Came Before has received a vast amount of praise by our community; described as “intense and often gripping,” a “powerful and evocative psychological thriller,” and a “flat out a WOW read – couldn’t believe it, couldn’t put it down, can’t forget it.”

We’re thrilled to have secured this interview with Anna. If you’d like to participate, please contact Otherwise, stay tuned to our Google+ page.

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Book of the Week: Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke

Book of the Week - Wayfaring StrangerBy Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Every Monday we spotlight the new release we’re most excited about. This week the spotlight is on Wayfaring Stranger by veteran author James Lee Burke.

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Wayfaring Stranger 2 books It is 1934 and the Depression is bearing down when sixteen-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends as Weldon puts a bullet through the rear window of Clyde’s stolen automobile.
Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland and his sergeant, Hershel Pine, escape certain death in the Battle of the Bulge and encounter a beautiful young woman named Rosita Lowenstein hiding in a deserted extermination camp. Eventually, Weldon and Rosita fall in love and marry and, with Hershel, return to Texas to seek their fortunes.

There, they enter the domain of jackals known as the oil business. They meet Roy Wiseheart—a former Marine aviator haunted with guilt for deserting his squadron leader over the South Pacific—and Roy’s wife Clara, a vicious anti-Semite who is determined to make Weldon and Rosita’s life a nightmare. It will be the frontier justice upheld by Weldon’s grandfather, Texas lawman Hackberry Holland, and the legendary antics of Bonnie and Clyde that shape Weldon’s plans for saving his family from the evil forces that lurk in peacetime America and threaten to destroy them all.

Suncoast says:


“This is a very different James Lee Burke (JLB) novel to his popular Dave Robicheaux detective thrillers. This is a book about good and evil in life seen through the eyes of Weldon Holland who grew up in Texas during the Depression, fought in WWII and returned home to try to make his fortune. It is written by a master storyteller whose prose, as usual, is remarkable and atmospheric.

This is a landmark and very different novel by a master storyteller. It is part love story, part family/historical saga, part thriller and in total I consider it is a modern morality story. JLB is now 77 years old and I suspect that this is the book he has wanted to write for some time. It will certainly remain in my memory for some time. Highly recommended for discerning readers.”5 Stars

Simon McDonald [Editorial Manager] says:

Simon McDonaldWayfaring Stranger is epic in scope; a novel that traverses decades, spotlighting the life and times of a man with seemingly infallible moral convictions, whose entire life is founded on one moment, from his childhood, when he fired at the rear window of Bonnie and Clyde’s absconding vehicle. There’s poetry in James Lee Burke’s prose, evident in Holland’s descriptions of his wife, Rosita, and the love he feels for his grandfather, a hard man, whose gruffness he has grown to appreciate. This is a powerful story, a true character study, and one that demands re-reading.

Wayfaring Stranger isn’t merely a great love story, a great historical saga, or a fast-paced thriller: it’s a wonderful novel, period. I couldn’t tell you if it’s one of James Lee Burke’s best, but if it’s not, my goodness, we’re going to need an amended star-rating system.”

Will you be reading Wayfaring Stranger? Share your thoughts with TheReadingRoom community.

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