ASIA Travel
August 2019

Books - A Perfect Travel Companion

Books are an integral part of many business and leisure trips, and now that more than a few of us have an e-reader such as the Kindle, we can travel with as many books as we like, without worrying about the weight.

The Kindle has also opened our world to an entire army of new authors, people we may never have stumbled across previously. But whether the decision be based on more attractive pricing compared to the regular authors we read, or simply the great reviews you get on and such like, these new authors are proving themselves to be more than capable than the famous names that used to adorn our bookshelves.

Some of the books below are serious books, others comedy, some fiction and non-fiction. Whatever your preference, all (especially the newer reviews - those at the top) can be purchased online.

My two favourite authors / series at the moment? Mark Dawson's John Milton Series is my number one choice. His other books are also excellent, and while there is some overlap, it's his John Milton Series which I prefer. I have also enjoyed almost every one of Stephen Leather's books and am a big fan as he is very consistent in quality, and his books are always a pleasure to read.

Do also check but the first of our HD video interviews with famous authors: Jake Needham.

If you have any suggestions on books that you have read and would like us to review, please contact us with details.

Latest Book Reviews

Currently reading: It took a long time for Beyond the Point by Damien Boyd to go on promotion in Amazon's Daily Deals but eventually it did and I snapped it up. It is the 9th book in the DI Nick Dixon series and I am enjoying this one just as much as the others. Terrific read.

Waiting to be read: Cross Justice by James Patterson, the entire Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo, the entire Jackson Lamb series by Mick Herron, The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow, The Man with No Face by Peter May.....

The Robert Hunter series by Chris Carter is NOT for the faint of heart, as it is seriously gruesome (really, really gruesome) in parts, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Seems that Chris has also affected the other books I read now, as when their author describes a scene, I think to myself - that's nothing compared to what Robert Hunter has seen! I read the entire series - all eight books - one after the other, and I am missing them already. I can only hope that Chris puts pen to paper again soon.

I am a very big fan of Stephen Leather's books, and the latest book of his that I read - Tall Order - did not disappoint. I like how he uses current events around the world to give his stories more bite. It is the 15th Spider Shepherd thriller so if you have read the previous fourteen than you have no excuse not to read this one as it is just as good, if not better than the others. Another great read from Stephen.

I follow Amazon's Daily Deals almost religiously, and when an entire series by Craig Robertson was featured I snapped them all up. I was a little concerned about reading the first book in the series - Random - as it is written from the killer's perspective, rather than the detective's, but I needn't have worried and enjoyed it thoroughly. After Random I read the entire series in order: Snapshot, Cold Grave, Witness the Dead, In Place of Death and Murderabilia, finishing with his latest book, which is not part of the series, The Photographer. I enjoyed them all thoroughly and have learned a lot about Scotland and even a few Scottish words. About half way through the series one of the characters really got on my nerves as I felt he/she was just too aggressive, but I struggled on and thankfully things improved in subsequent books. Will definitely be buying more of Craig Robertson's books.

If you have enjoyed Lee Child's Jack Reacher series then you are almost guaranteed to love the John Milton series by Mark Dawson, especially if you are British. Do read all the books in the series in order, so as you fully understand the characters and storyline. Personally, I find the John Milton series far more realistic and enjoyable to read than Lee Child's Jack Reacher, especially the more recent Reacher novels. Mark Dawson's work has so impressed, me that after finishing the entire John Milton series (one book after another - yes all twelve, and I can't wait for more), I immediately read all his books in the Soho Noir series, and then moved straight onto the Beatrix Rose books and have loved them all. The only books of Dawson's I do not read are the novellas as I do not like this recent short story trend on amazon. Until recently, I had not even heard of Mark Dawson, but now I am totally addicted to his work, especially the John Milton series. Great stuff.

Read Will Patching's three Doc Powers / DI Carver thriller books - Mutilated, Remorseless and Gas Lighting and thoroughly enjoyed them. While the books, which are best bought together rather than separately, won't be to everyone's taste as they can be quite gruesome at times, the characters are real and interesting, and the story lines have plenty to keep readers entertained. An interesting insight into the mind of psychopaths! Will's very first book, The Hack, is mainly based on Koh Samui in Thailand and is another excellent read that I highly recommend.

Enjoyed the first eight books in the Joe Hunter series by Matt Hilton. Another ex-special ops character fighting to do good. Much lighter reading than the previous books by Jack Randall, though they are nonetheless enjoyable. There's plenty of action, but by book 7 I started to get a little bored with them, and wished there was a little more substance to the stories. Not only that, but the books have jumped dramatically in price to almost £5 each. That's a lot compared to the £0.99 I spent during a recent promotion, and will wait until they come down in price before reading the rest of the series.

Finished the entire Jack Randall series, written by Randall Wood. While these are action / special ops / detective thriller books, I really enjoyed how they cover some very hot and extremely current topics, raising some very important if not controversial questions in a relatively in-depth manner. Very enjoyable and books which make you think, which is always a plus.

Just finished James Barrington's excellent Agent Paul Richter series - all six books of them. If you enjoy action, travel, special ops and spy thrillers etc. then you should definitely give this series a try as they are very hard to put down once you begin. Agent Paul Richter is an ex-Royal Navy pilot who has been recruited by one of those mysterious agencies that the SIS can never officially acknowledge. He is much more than a maverick, but he gets the job done even if he does quite often resort to rather unorthodox manners. Many of the books in the series raise a lot of interesting yet extremely disturbing questions. Topics like eugenics (mentions Singapore), biological warfare and the origins of the AIDS virus, suitcase bombs, remote viewing and plenty of other things. The sixth book is especially interesting (from a travel industry perspective) as a lot of it takes place in Dubai and features two of Jumeirah Group's most famous hotels - the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the iconic Burj Al Arab. Am definitely looking forward to many more great reads from this author.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading all Andrew Peterson's Nathan McBride series, though I do wish he had put all the series into one download rather than sell each book separately (even when sold as a collection). If you enjoy action packed, special forces-style, thrillers then you will really enjoy these books. Look forward to more.

Again, if you like spy / action thrillers then look no further than Tim Stevens. I first read his Joe Venn series, then moved straight onto his John Purkiss (the Ratcatcher) series, and then also thoroughly enjoyed his Martin Calvary Trilogy. His books are very well written with some clever twists and plenty of action. Do buy his box sets as they save you a little money and make it easier to read the entire series. Very enjoyable, and hard to put down. Looking forward to his future work.

I had never heard of Conrad Jones until recently and started with The Child Taker and Slow Burn before reading the entire Detective Alec Ramsay series and then moving straight on to his Hunting Angels Diaries. He is another of these new authors that you would not normally get to read as an expat living overseas, but thanks to Kindle we have access, and how very grateful I am that we do. His kindle books are not the cheapest, and his set collections don't seem to save you much money either, but once you have read a few of his books you can expect to be addicted. His books are violent in places, and cover some rather gruesome but real issues, but they are excellent reads. The only negative to his books is that he can be very, very repetitive in places, especially when describing characters which if you read the series in order you already not. Frankly, it is enough to almost make you want to stop reading, and Conrad would do well to read some series written by other authors (such as Tim Stevens outlined above) who do not have the same problem. And ironically, as this is a travel news website, if it were not for Conrad Jones I doubt I would be planning to visit Barmouth in Wales on my next visit to England! Google it, the beach looks amazing!

Ed James. His Scotland-based Scott Cullen series of crime thrillers / police procedurals are excellent. Not only are they a great read, but you will also find yourself learning a little Scottish as well! For example, "Back of three" does not mean just before 3 o'clock as you may assume, it actually means just gone 3 o'clock, such as ten past or the like. That's Scottish. Do read the books in order, as while it is not absolutely necessary, that is how you will get the best out of them. Definitely an author to watch as once you have read the first I would be very surprised if you don't read them all!

Oliver Tidy. At the end of his first book Oliver writes, "Not being a professional in any respect of the book creation business...". Well, I heartily disagree. After reading his first book - Rope Enough, I could not stop myself from devouring all of the Romney and Marsh series. Having finished them, I went on to read the six books in the fast-paced Acer Sansom series. Those two series are very different, the Romney and Marsh being an English police detective series and Acer Sansom being more of a special forces / action series. Both are very enjoyable. Unfortunately though, I did not enjoy his third series at all. The two books in the Booker & Cash Series, Bad Sons and He Made Me, are extremely slow compared to the Acer Saansom series, and not written in the same way. While bits were OK, it is almost as if Oliver was trying too hard with those two books, and they completely lost the speed and action of his previous two series. I have every confidence that Oliver could become one of the top crime/thriller writers in England, I just hope that future series are more like the first two than the third one.

Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain by George Mahood. I absolutely loved this fun journey of two young men cycling from one end of the country to the other - LEJOG (Land's End to John O'Groats) as it is known - without spending a single penny. And with over 780 five stars on and over 155 four stars, it is obviously a big hit with many others too. You do not need to be into cycling to enjoy this book, just the sense of humour, generousity encountered and spirit of adventure make it a very worthwhile read. I liked it so much, I immediately bought his next book, Every Day is a Holiday, but I could not really get into it in the same way. I will try again, but it definitely did not have the same impact that his book about his LEJOG journey did.

Stephen Edger - Remember his name, because he is an immense talent when it comes to writing books that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will be responsible for more than a few sleepless nights when you just cannot put the book down. Started with Trespass - which at the time of writing is a free book on Amazon Kindle, and just finished the amazing book Integration. The latter was so good that instead of moving on to the next author I just had to order the next in the series, Redemption which was also terrific and then Snatched. Keep it up Stephen!

Simon Toyne - Absolutely loved his three books - Sanctus, The Key and The Tower (to be read in that order). You will find yourself googling parts of the stories to discover whether they are truly fictional or not! Best religious thriller I have read since the first Dan Brown books came out.

The David Raker Collection (Books 1-4) - by Tim Weaver. Tim Weaver is an author to keep a very close eye on. He has the story-writing ability to be one of the very best. His books are not the cheapest on the Kindle, though the trilogy of the first three David Raker books does help you to save a little of your hard earned money, so get that rather than buy them individually. The books are terrific with all the twists and turns, and solid characters you want from a thriller. Having said that, there is one particular moment towards the end of the second book when you will be tempted to try and reach out of the pages and slap the author, but thankfully he (and David Raker) seems to have learned from his mistake quite early on in the third book. Don't let that put you off though, these books are of the highest quality and are some of the best I have read in a long time. Already looking forward to the fifth book in the series for more from Tim Weaver!

Soldier I - The Story of an SAS Hero - by Michael Kennedy and Pete Winner. If you are interested in Special Forces, and in particular the SAS then this is a terrific book, one of the best I have ever read. It even gives you detailed insights into SAS selection. This book is non-fiction and details historical events such as the Battle of Murbat, the Iranian Embassy siege in London and much, much more. Very interesting and educating read.

Sniper / Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Swanson Series by Gunnery Sergeant Jack Coughlin (and at times Donald A. Davis). At the time of writing this mini-review there are six books in the highly entertaining series, with the seventh expected some time in H1 2014. At first, the books were released and promoted as the Sniper Series and it was a little confusing what happened to books 1 and 4. It now seems that this has changed slightly to the Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Swanson Series. As there are a few references to past events featured in earlier books, I would recommend you to read them in the correct order: Kill Zone (1), Dead Shot (2), Clean Kill (3), Act of Treason (4), Running the Maze (5) and the sixth book - Time to Kill. If you enjoy special ops action books then you will most likely love these. They are very enjoyable, informative and easy to read and we are already looking forward to next books in the series.

Stephen Leather - Has Stephen ever written a bad book?! If he has, we have not yet come across it. Stephen is one of our favourite authors, and over the years just seems to get better, and better. He has fully embraced the digital age, and now not only publishes his regular full length books, but also often comes out with short stories that cost just £0.77. Private Dancer should be a must read for any single guy planning to visit Thailand for the first time, and the rest of his books - while of a completely different topic - are all just as entertaining.

Michael Connelly - we are very big fans of most of Michael Connelly's books. The kindle version of his books can be expensive though, so watch out for promotions or read something else until the one you wants becomes cheaper.

The Big Mango, The Ambassador's Wife, Laundry Man and a World of Trouble ALL by Jake Needham - As far as we know, Jake has only written two books we have not yet read - The Umbrella Man and Killing Plato - and they are very much on our "to do" list. It is always enjoyable to read an author that not only has a skill for writing, but also has a true knowledge and understanding of the cities you know and love so much. Jake knows his stuff when it comes to Thailand, Singapore and to some extent Hong Kong. If those cities interest you, and you are looking for a thriller / detective story based in this part of the world then look no further. Jake Needham's books are always an enjoyable and informative read, with an often quite daring take on things to spice up the story a little.

Tom Gray Series by Alan McDermott - Six good books which offer readers a little espionage, terrorism and of course some action from the SAS! While the books may not be up to the level of writing or suspense that authors like Tim Stevens or James Barrington achieve, they are still a good distraction and an enjoyable read.

Second Life, A Very Unchristian Retreat, It's All About Danny, Looking Bloody Good Old Boy, The Wildest Week of Daisy Wyler, The Badger and Blondie's Beaver, The Hedonist's Apprentice, Newton's Balls, Faecal Money - A Very Lucrative Cr*p, and Hell, Hull and Epiphanies ALL by Giles Curtis. If you enjoy English humour, want a book that will crack you up and make you desperate for the next to come out, then you really should read some of the books by Giles Curtis. All the books, except for Second Life, are connected in some small way, and it does help if you read them in order. Start with A Very Unchristian Retreat then read It's All About Danny before reading Looking Bloody Good, Old Boy, then The Wildest Week of Daisy Wyler. Having said that, it would not matter if you did read them in a different order, but there are some little jokes you will miss out on if you do. I cannot recommend these books highly enough, and my only surprise is that they do not have more stars and positive reviews on Amazon. Update: While I really enjoyed his first five books (Second Life, A Very Unchristian Retreat, It's All About Danny, Looking Bloody Good Old Boy, The Wildest Week of Daisy Wyler) I felt the following three (The Badger and Blondie's Beaver, The Hedonist's Apprentice and Newton's Balls) were not as fun, nor as enjoyable. I still read them, but was losing faith and was close to removing Giles from my must read list. Thankfully though, Giles seems to have got his funny bone back in the ninth and tenth books (Faecal Money - A Very Lucrative Cr*p and Hell, Hull and Epiphanies), and I am pleased to report that they are just as good as his first five. Let's hope that continues!

Barmy Army, The Crew, Top Dog, Billy's Log, and Wings of a Sparrow ALL by Dougie Brimson - I first started reading Dougie Brimson to learn more about football hooliganism in England. Started on Barmy Army before moving to The Crew and then Top Dog. The more I read Dougie Brimson's books the more I like them. Granted in Wings of a Sparrow there is a ton of spelling and grammatical errors, especially in the second half, but the storyline was fun and fascinating, as was Top Dog, The Crew, Barmy Army and even the diary style Billy's Log. Most definitely aimed at a male audience, especially those that enjoy football, these books are well thought out and very entertaining to read. I look forward to reading more from Dougie Brimson.

Bite: The most gripping thriller you will ever read by Nick Louth. No, it's not. Could not even get half way, and won't be trying to go any farther.

Blowback by Michael Forwell with Lee Bullman - Another drug smuggling-related book! This one focuses on huge quantities of marijuana and takes place primarily in Thailand and Singapore. The book is extremely entertaining and hard to put down. It is quite mind blowing just how these guys made their living, and avoided capture in doing so. It is much more than just a book about smuggling, Blowback has heart and as such is a moving story.

Life and Laughing: My Story by Michael McIntyre - Today Michael McIntyre is one of the most famous and successful stand up comedians in the world. But how did he get there, what challenges and obstacles did he overcome? This book is not only an excellent insight into the lives of one of the most popular entertainers on the planet, but this rivals any self-motivational business book you have ever read. An amazing story, an amazing journey and most of all an amazing man and book. Read it!

Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin - VisitScotland should buy Ian Rankin a nice bottle of good single malt, or two, because every time I read one of the Detective Rebus books it makes me want to visit the glorious country of Scotland! I have read most of Ian Rankin's work, and admire him greatly as an author, despite charging too much for the electronic version of his new books. This latest book in the Detective Rebus series will not disappoint, although to be honest I did find the ending a little soft and not quite what I had expected. Still, Ian Rankin is one of the best authors around and if you can buy the kindle version of his books at a price you are comfortable with then even better!

Blood, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls - You probably know of Bear from the TV hit series Wild Man, and if those programs impressed you then you will love his book. It does take a little while to get going, but once it does then you learn what motivates Bear, and how he has accomplished many of the amazing things he has. Not only an enjoyable book to read but also a great motivational book as well. Highly recommended.

Marching Powder by Rusty Young - This is the real-life account of Thomas McFadden, a black Englishman and cocaine trafficker, who was caught in Bolivia trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country. The book concentrates on the weird, yet intriguing, way life works at San Pedro prison in the heart of La Paz. The prison, which at one stage allowed tourists to visit and even stay over night, made it into Lonely Planet as one of the most bizarre tourist destinations in the world. A very interesting, entertaining, and eye-opening read.

Snowing in Bali by Kathryn Bonella - Bali is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, millions flock there to enjoy the sun, sand and surf, or just to unwind in luxurious villas spread out among the rice paddies, or nestled up against a favourite beach. This book opens your eyes to an entirely new Bali, a world that many know little, or nothing, about. A fascinating read into the life of drug traffickers that made Bali their home, selling narcotics to make themselves rich despite knowing full well the dangers and risks they were taking.

Hotel K by Kathryn Bonella - This book is an amazing insight into life as a prisoner of Kerobokan Jail, Bali's notorious prison. You will learn how the prison works, and how all those prisoners cope - or don't - with the situation they find themselves in. Kerobokan Jail is home to nationalities from around the world, including many that have made headlines around the world.

Much OLDER Book Reviews

The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Daniel Reid - An absolute must have for anyone interested in health, losing weight, and living life to the most. A book, which if read with an open mind, can open a thousand or more doors  which can help lead you in a happier and healthier life.

Uri Geller Magician or Mystic - by Jonathan Margolis - Uri Geller is regarded by some as the most talented magician to have ever lived, by others not as a magician at all but as a human with very unusual paranormal mystic powers and by others as a fraud allowing people to believe one thing while using trickery. This book excellently written by J. Margolis investigates Uri Geller's entire life and offers us an intriguing insight into this amazing mans life and powers. Excellent read if you are interested in magic and or paranormal mystic powers.

Hardship Posting Volume 2 - by Stuart Lloyd - This, the second volume of the popular Hardship posting reviewed below, starts off on a negative note, with the author informing us, that no, for love, nor money we cannot have the telephone numbers of the two girls on the front. Very disappointing and something they should improve on in volume 3. Having said that the book is an excellent read full of stories from present or past expats and their funny experiences within Asia. Some of the stories make you want to hit that particular author over the head with a very heavy hammer but the majority will make you laugh with an understanding of fellow expats. As you can not buy this from Amazon please go to your local bookshop. By the way if you click on the cover you will see a really large version of the cover open in a new window. At least we know what you want !!!

The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver - WOW. We can highly recommend all of Jeffery Deaver's books for anyone interested in good story lines, and some amazing twists that keep you guessing until the very end. The Blue Nowhere is no exception but is one of if not his best. Based on the internet and the frightening ability of computer wizards this book will leave you quite amazed and you will never be able to look at your computer in quite the same way. Excellent buy.

Pest Control by Bill Fitzhugh - is not a new book, but is outrageously funny, and a great read for anyone looking to have a great time between the pages. The story line is great, and while unbelievable will keep you amused for hours. Great read if you want a good laugh.

Undercurrents by Frances Fyfield - What a beautifully written and well molded book. This is the first Frances Fyfield that we have read but will most definitely not be the last. The characters are excellently portrayed, the plot intriguing and with a couple of surprises along the way it is difficult to put down. The use of the English language also stands out and Frances Fyfield has done an excellent job using her extensive language skills to write this magnificent book. Excellent.

Roses Are Red - by James Patterson - As with all James Patterson's books this is another superb read. One of his Alex Cross novels Roses are Red is exciting all the way through. The end however is an enormous surprise and a bit of a let down as it is completely unexpected, it also has for some unknown reason over 100 chapters ! Great buy though.

Losing My Virginity - by Sir Richard Branson - An incredible read, and a true insight into one of the greatest British entrepreneurs of all time. Can be a little too honest in places, but the passion that can be found in the writing and the real look at the world of business, is outstanding. We can't wait for the sequel!

Girlfriend 44 - by - Mark Barrowcliffe - Comedy is a difficult thing to put on paper and even more so into a book, Mark Barrowcliffe achieved this with side cracking results. A must read, for anyone, and a unique journey into the male mind. Excellent.

Mayan Prophecies - by Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell - a timeless masterpiece that looks into the hidden lives and meanings of the Mayan people and culture. This deep book, will open your eyes to far more than you would ever imagine possible. Although very heavy in places, the book is an excellent read. Edgar Cayce on Atlantis - A very interesting, but short book on the works of Edgar Cayce, a well known American psychic and his comments on the existence and cross existence of Atlantis - the hidden continent.

The Tutankhamun Prophecies - by Maurice Cotterell - Oh boy, this book, similar in style to the Mayan Prophecies, goes even further into the principles of the intelligence of the Egyptian people, the sun, the Mayans and into the tomb of Tuntankhamun. The book is definitely a must buy. As not only does it dwell into the past, but also brings in factors that we see in every day life today. We only advise you to buy this book if you can read it, with an entirely open mind. Amazing.

Hardship Posting - by Stuart Lloyd - Living in Asia ? Thinking of moving out there ? Have lived life as an expat ? Yes ! Then read this book, it will crack you up and make you realise that you are not as demented as you possibly once believed. Great fun, about the strange lives that expats lead.

The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert - A very complicated book in places that looks at the star system and how the Egyptians used it thousands of years ago. Very interesting read.

Culture Shock Thailand - by Robert and Nanthapa Cooper - from the well known Culture Shock series of books, this is definitely as very good read if you are planning to come to Thailand whether it be just for a holiday or to live.

The Empty Chair - by Jeffery Deaver - what a great read, all of Deaver's books are great and this is no exception, it keeps turning with mystery, intrigue, information, and is so captivating you will not want to put it down. Excellent read as are all JD's books.

The Bombmaker - by Stephen Leather - Once again, Stephen Leather has managed to turn out a book that has you turning the pages with great admiration, and excitement, but leaves you wondering when his next book will come out. This book talks with a frighteningly good authority on the subject of bomb making, so let's just hope that all the facts are not too accurate! The book is great, fun and fast paced although there are not as many twists and turns as in his other books this is definitely a great buy.

Pearl - by Frank Delaney - An excellent book written with a beautiful use of the English language. Touching on the issues of post world war crime, and football hooliganism, the book manages to keep you turning the pages, wanting more. There are sufficient twists and turns to keep you reading this, without putting it down. Described by the Daily Telegraph as "something exceptional and utterly gripping".

Private Dancer by Stephen Leather - One of Stephen Leather's first books, and it became so hugely popular as a free .pdf download that Stephen eventually published it properly and started to make some well deserved money from it. Private Dancer is a must read for any guy visiting Thailand (or other parts of south east Asia), especially if they are going to visit some of the more notorious nightlife areas of the country/region. Extremely well written, highly entertaining and frighteningly accurate. An absolute cracker.

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