My Goodreads reviews
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author: Julianne Schultz
average rating: 4.65
read at: 2022/08/07
date added: 2022/08/07
A broad canvas used to paint Australia for what it is and what it isn’t
But also an opportunity missed. The author has done a great job of bringing together all the various strands of the narrative that makes Australia what is is, and especially how it has gone backwards over the last few decades. But she is let down by poor editing, both in some detail and in missing structure; and – as is so often the case with ambitious works such as this – failing to bring it all together to point more strongly to what the answers could be and how to find them. Thus I was left disappointed, wanting more.
A chilling narrative set in the not too distant future of what might just be. Ken Follett at this best, sharp, well researched, clear and concise, outlining a series of event that constitutes a very plausible scenario of how the beginning of the end might look like.
Hard to write a review without revealing the twist. All through the book I kept waiting on something to happen, for the connections between past and present to click. Never did, and the people in the story were not that interesting, with an ending never hinted at. Very disappointing.
Agent Sonya was a real spy who literary changed the course of history through dedication, bravery and a bit of luck along her most amazing life journey. From Germany to China to Switzerland to England and back again, her story makes for better reading than any spy novel ever could. Because it is all true.
Well researched and very well written, Ben Macintyre has done a remarkable job of bringing both Sonya the spy and Ursula her alter ego to life.
Huon Valley, the apple orchards and the bushfires of 1967 is the starting point of a wonderfully told story of tragedy, love, betrayal, friendship and family. The author transports the reader to a place and a particular time in Australian history in ways you can feel, see and smell. Grapes of Wrath meets Gone with the Wind, I am richer for having read it.
It would be almost impossible to follow up ‘Birdsong’, one of the most moving, evocative and profoundly sad books I’ve ever read. In a good way. This book is also tinged with much sadness, but also humility and strength of the human spirit. Faulks writes the inner life of men living with trauma and regret better than most.
The Chinese walls of many names, shrouded in myths and legend, the Great Wall is a fascinating read of the broad sweeps of history of China. As the western world grapples with China reclaiming its past and yet again becoming a world leader, this is an important book to help understand just how differently it sees itself and the world.
It took me a while to get used to the constantly changing vantage points of the story, but once it got going it captivated my attention. Some of the writing is stunning, at times less so as it takes too many turns. But I learnt a lot along the way (including quite a few Wikipedia detours as well as watching the Patrice Lumunga movie, highly recommended for background). Not for the faint hearted, I had to stop and catch my breath at times. My only minor gripe was the ending dragging out when it didn’t need to; the strength of the story would have benefitted from some loose ends to keep the reader pondering…
author: Simon Winchester
average rating: 4.10
book published: 2021
read at: 2021/05/30
date added: 2021/06/01
A problem of the ages so well defined, missing solutions
Simon Winchester is a superb writer. His grasp of complex issues is surpassed by his ability to make them understandable to the reader. The research behind this book is extraordinary, and the way he binds it all together makes for a riveting read of a rather somber subject. But I was hoping for a better approach to solutions of the malaise we find ourselves in. Maybe there aren’t any…
Don’t be put off by the slow, strange beginnings. Persevere, and you’ll be rewarded by a strangely wonderful story shrouded in the mysteries of awful misdeeds and witchcraft unlike anything else. Very clever, and the style of the prose fits the story perfectly.
A fascinating story well told, much of it feels authentic and is well researched. But where Preservation had a beginning a middle and an end, The Burning Island left me slightly disappointed at an ending that felt rushed and a bit incongruous. Still, it’s a good read and I learnt a lot.
A story that keeps surprising, told with insight, passion and humour, but above all with an eloquence and style rarely experienced. Again and again I found myself reading a passage over and over again in pure enjoyment of the craft of writing beautifully executed by an artisan of word smithing.