Tag Archives: The Somali Doctrine

The Best and the Worst of 2014

The year 2014 ended with 17 books read, which was way off my intended goal of 30 books.  Again, the problem is that I read some very long books.  In fact, the number of pages was almost as many as 2013.  However, I will challenge myself with 30 books again this year.  But this time, I’ll be reading every night before bed.

In 2014, I was a bit harder on books in terms of ratings, though it may be because I didn’t read many really great ones.  I only gave 2 books 5 stars.  I gave a 4 1/2 and some 4s, though.  I also rated a book that was only 2 stars.

I think that’s where we’ll start.  Let’s look at the worst book I read this year, down at number 17.  After that, the top 5.

Worst of the Year

#17 – The Somali Doctrine

I got this book as a freebie from Amazon, and noticed it had some low ratings on Goodreads.  I went into it with an open mind, though.  I like things like James Bond, and this was somewhat reminiscent of 007, but there weren’t many similarities.  It was filled with improbably situations, like the hero getting captured many times, only to escape each time somehow.  The villains were completely one-dimensional with very little in the way of depth.  I was glad when it was over.

Top 5 of 2014

annihilationofforeverland#5 – The Annihilation of Foreverland

This was my pleasant surprise of the year, and also the first time I’ve included a self-published indie novel to my top five.  It was imaginative, quite well-done, and filled with interesting characters.  There were so many twists to this story, it had me guessing what was going to happen.  I thoroughly enjoyed this science fiction offering.

wizardsfirstrule#4 – Wizard’s First Rule

Despite my somewhat negative review, I did give this 4 stars and I did actually enjoy reading it.  This epic fantasy novel opened The Sword of Truth in a good way with some good world-building, interesting characters, and a completely surprising Wizard’s First Rule.  I couldn’t believe it.  In general, it’s left a more positive memory now, and I want to get back into the series and read more.  I liked it.

angelfireeast#3 – Angel Fire East

The Word & the Void became dark and serious! It was the best of this Shannara prequel series, and has me excited for The Genesis of Shannara, which I hope to start reading this year.  Terry Brooks usually doesn’t get such acclaim, but I think this was one of his better works.  I’m a fan of Shannara.  In this book, we get to read about the effects of drug abuse and see some of the darkest deaths I’ve seen Brooks write about. Great ending.

theriseofendymion#2 – The Rise of Endymion

The truly epic Hyperion Cantos ended with this novel, and in my opinion, it was the best of the four books.  I was pulled in and enjoyed the roller coaster ride that this book put me through.  Incredible characters, beautiful and wondrous worlds, and lots of mysteries were tied up.  This was going to be number one choice until I read another book later in the year.  More on that soon.  This book was very difficult to predict.  I had no idea where it was going.  But one thing had me hooked, and it was the characters.  Endymion and Aenea’s relationship was wonderful, and there was an amazingly touching moment later in the book.  Truly a great book.

astormofswords#1 – A Storm of Swords

George R. R. Martin returns to the top after being #2 in 2013.  Things in Westeros really picked up in this book, and while the first part of the book was a bit slow, it blew me away so many times in the rest of the story, I couldn’t wait to see what happened.  He kills a lot of characters again, of course, and changes the course of the story drastically.  And shockingly, Jaime Lannister has become my new favourite Lannister.  Sandor Clegane is also very interesting.  There are so many twists that I can never figure out what’s going to happen next.  Incredible! And this is why it’s my favourite book of 2014.

Agree or disagree with my choices?  Let me know in the comments below. And what was your favourite (and least favourite) book in 2014?

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Book Review – The Somali Doctrine

The Somali Doctrine

Author: James Grenton

Series: Standalone Novel

Genre: Thriller

Published 2011

Review Copy: Free eBook

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

A lone man lies disfigured and dying by the roadside in the arid plains of northern Somalia…

Thousands of refugees are found massacred in a camp next to the Ethiopian border…

A convoy vanishes on its way to distribute food aid…

Rumours circulate that Somali militia are responsible, but Interpol agent Jim Galespi suspects the truth is even more sinister. Sent undercover to Somalia to investigate, he soon finds himself pitted against the two madmen who have taken control of Universal Action, the world’s largest NGO.

Galespi’s quest to uncover the truth about Universal Action and the unfolding tragedy in Somalia throws him into the centre of an international conspiracy that threatens to engulf Africa and the Western world.

From the deserts of Somaliland, the slums of Nairobi and the ruins of Mogadishu to the plush hotels of Cape Town all the way to the UK government in London, the race is on to stop disaster from striking again.

And again.

And again.

Intricate and fast paced, The Somali Doctrine is an intelligent action adventure in the vein of Michael Crichton.

Review

The Somali Doctrine is a thriller and the debut novel of James Grenton.  Grenton has a background in international development, so it seems logical he’d choose to write about a non-governmental organisation that is supposed to be helping a poor nation develop.  So, he chose Somalia, which was probably the worst country to be in at the time.  In this case, it’s the NGO that’s gone bad, and Interpol is brought in to try to clean things up.

So, we have Jim Galespi, Interpol agent.  He’s a good guy with a past that haunts him.  He infiltrates Universal Action to try to catch the bad guys, the ones who run the organisation.  He’s an honest person with good knowledge in armed and unarmed combat, a good disposition, and the quintessential hero type.  Let’s say he’s this book’s version of James Bond.  Then we have Harry, the man he’s after.  Harry has no morals.  He doesn’t even have one shred of decency.  He is one hundred percent evil monster.  He is the typical bad guy, like in James Bond.  Then we have Maxine, the beautiful woman employed by the NGO who has taken a liking for Jim, though we’re never quite sure which side she’s on.  She’s the typical Bond girl.  Oh my.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was getting a James Bond type adventure here.  No, they aren’t the same, just seemed a bit stereotypical.  Jim was likeable, Harry was easy to despise, and Maxine tried to be the character we could sympathise with.  Unfortunately, I felt the characters were quite flat.  Jim was okay, but Harry was so stereotypically the evil bad guy that I really didn’t care.  Maxine was so hard to figure out, I didn’t find her developed well enough or consistently enough.  All the other characters in the book were inconsequential in the end, but they did support a bit.  However, these were the three important members.

The setting is all over the place.  Lots of international travel between Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, England, and so on.  Everyone was traveling, actually.  The main location was Somalia (or more specifically Somaliland) and Grenton did a decent job of making it seem dry, dusty, and desolate.  I felt the atmosphere throughout the book, and it was done pretty well.

The story is another matter.  There was a lot of action, of course.  Jim got captured again and again and again.  He got away every time.  It seemed like that’s what most of the story was.  There was a strong hate between Jim and Harry, though neither would tell why until the end (it’s actually quite easy to figure out, as the hints are obvious).  The dynamics between Jim and Maxine hint at a possible romance, but it was difficult to figure out if anything would actually happen.  The part with the French journalist wasn’t my favourite part, mainly because the character himself was a complete asshole, I felt.  He seemed to have no clue about how to behave and completely oblivious to the consequences of his actions.  Realistic this was not.  However, it was full of action, which some people will be happy with.

What do I think overall?  On the positive side, the action was good.  The setting was done well.  On the other hand, the characters were stereotypical and flat.  I felt nothing for them. The story was predictable and filled with cliffhangers that were explained away at the end of the chapters.  That completely killed the suspense.  For the action alone, that may satisfy action fans.  But for me, this wasn’t my cup of tea.  I like more depth in a story.  This book didn’t leave many mysteries, they were just too obvious.

I would give this two out of five stars.  Recommended for fans of action thrillers, but not for others.