My Goodreads reviews

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The Extinction of Irena Rey

The Extinction of Irena Rey
author: Jennifer Croft
name: Kim
average rating: 3.48
book published: 2024
rating: 1
read at: 2024/06/15
date added: 2024/06/15
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Time Shelter

Time Shelter
author: Georgi Gospodinov
name: Kim
average rating: 3.51
book published: 2020
rating: 3
read at: 2024/05/29
date added: 2024/05/29
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A very different kind of book

Written as a series of vignettes that sometimes hangs together, sometimes not. The narrative is about time and place and how we deal with both through life, but it is also about memory loss and the effects of dementia, the impact of war, the end of the Cold War and a lot more. The author tries to cover a lot of ground, sometimes whimsical, sometimes profound, rarely boring but also not sufficiently engaging for me. Kudos to the translator (from Bulgarian), this is not an easy book to get your head around.

Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921

Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921
author: Antony Beevor
name: Kim
average rating: 4.12
book published: 2022
rating: 4
read at: 2024/04/04
date added: 2024/04/04
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The forgotten war that rendered the revolution a myth

Anthony Beevor at his best, the detail he gets across is astonishing, although in this book there is little to be known about the people and the soldiers who suffered through what must surely be one of the most horrible ‘civil’ wars in all of history. 12 million dead and so many more in the famine and devastation of the aftermath.

The Visitors: The remarkable debut novel from an award-winning author and playwright, for readers of Melissa Lucashenko, Shankari Chandran and Tara June Winch

The Visitors: The remarkable debut novel from an award-winning author and playwright, for readers of Melissa Lucashenko, Shankari Chandran and Tara June Winch
author: Jane Harrison
name: Kim
average rating: 3.93
book published: 2021
rating: 5
read at: 2024/03/27
date added: 2024/03/27
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Beautiful, poignant, devastating

The elders of Gadigal Country meets to decided to welcome or repel the mobs arriving on eleven alien ships in1788. They debate for a day, and the rest is history. It’s a very well told tale, it feels authentic, the characters believable and the story both funny and sad. Great imagination by the author. If only…

High Heels and Low Blows

High Heels and Low Blows
author: Jill Valentine
name: Kim
average rating: 4.33
book published:
rating: 3
read at: 2024/03/20
date added: 2024/03/20
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A story rarely told from an insightful author

A glowing review in the Financial Review made me buy it, as there are not many books written about contemporary business life. It was a struggle at first, but I persevered because I wanted to know how the story would go. Realistically told in a style that suited the narrative, but also at times excruciatingly repetitive and boring descriptions of what the characters were wearing and where they were sitting, standing or eating. Some poor editing jarred at times, but overall an enjoyable read.

The Thinnai

The Thinnai
author: Ari Gautier
name: Kim
average rating: 4.11
book published:
rating: 3
read at: 2024/02/25
date added: 2024/02/25
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review:
Lovely writing, confusing story

Tempted by the many glowing reviews, I set out on what was a strange reading journey. Some beautiful writing, the rendering of the neighbourhood where the story is set is delightful, the characters wonderfully strange. But the story remained an unsatisfying mystery to me…

The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule

The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule
author: Angela Saini
name: Kim
average rating: 4.11
book published: 2023
rating: 5
read at: 2024/02/21
date added: 2024/02/21
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The long and convoluted history of the patriarchy

Many interesting insights into different cultures and the history of why and how men came to rule, albeit not as often as we think. Educational and thought provoking. I learnt a lot.

The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair

The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair
author: Upton Sinclair
name: Kim
average rating: 5.00
book published: 1962
rating: 5
read at: 2024/02/09
date added: 2024/02/09
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Fascinating insights into an extraordinary man

I generally prefer biographies to autobiographies, the latter risk being self serving and boring. There is nothing boring about Upton Sinclair’s life, and although he was, of course, rather fond of himself, he was also undoubtedly an interesting man with a vast network and that gift of keen observation (and retention) that all good writers have. A big fan of the Lanny Budd series, it was great to get insights into how and from whom he got so much insight into everything from art to music to people and spies. A most enjoyable read.

The Jungle

The Jungle
author: Upton Sinclair
name: Kim
average rating: 3.87
book published: 1905
rating: 5
read at: 2024/01/12
date added: 2024/01/12
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A classic still as relevant today as it was in 1906

The conditions of the meat works are no doubt better, the workers there have more protections, thee are social services in place, minimum wage stipulations, hospitals and half decent policing. But the fundamental struggle, the inherent inequalities and oppression is still there to be fought. It remains to this day a book well worth reading, and not just for Sinclair’s unerring eloquence.

The One Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

The One Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
author: Jonas Jonasson
name: Kim
average rating: 4.01
book published: 2009
rating: 4
read at: 2023/11/05
date added: 2023/11/05
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A hilarious story well told

Those who have ever read any of the Flashman series will be familiar with the parts of this book which deals with the main character’s life through world events. The other parts are equally enjoyable. Unfortunately, when the two parts come together at the end, the author can’t resist tying up all the loose ends, quite unnecessarily so.

The Birdcage Library

The Birdcage Library
author: Freya Berry
name: Kim
average rating: 3.94
book published: 2023
rating: 5
read at: 2023/09/10
date added: 2023/09/10
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An intriguing mystery well told

I loved The Dictators Wife, but this is very different, and equally enjoyable. A multi-layered mystery across years and intersecting family drama and tragedy. It kept me guessing and kept surprising with many twists and turns, some plausible, and some not. Didn’t matter, I read the last third of the book in one evening, just had to know what happened. Only disappointment, like so many mystery authors, Freya felt she needed to tie up all the loose ends, would have been better to leave a bit to our own imagination…

History of Portugal: A Captivating Guide to Portuguese History from Ancient Times to the Present (European Countries)

History of Portugal: A Captivating Guide to Portuguese History from Ancient Times to the Present (European Countries)
author: Captivating History
name: Kim
average rating: 3.89
book published:
rating: 2
read at: 2023/08/29
date added: 2023/08/29
shelves:
review:
An incomplete history of Portugal

After a promising start, very disappointing in the end. Portugal’s formation and history through the Middle Ages and beyond were interesting enough, but the last few chapters, covering the last two hundred years, was a huge disappointment. It felt like the author either ran out of puff, interest or knowledge. The 20th century was sparse on detail and lacked context. The Salazar years are given half a page, his atrocities completely overlooked.

Media Monsters: The Transformation of Australia’s Newspaper Empires

Media Monsters: The Transformation of Australia’s Newspaper Empires
author: Sally Young
name: Kim
average rating: 5.00
book published:
rating: 5
read at: 2023/08/13
date added: 2023/08/13
shelves:
review:
As most comprehensive history of post-war media machinations in Australia

I enjoyed Sally Young’s “Paper Emperors,” but this sequel is even better. It covers the post WW2 history of not just Australian media and its almighty proprietors, but how they impacted directly and indirectly on politics and the country at large, culminating in the election of Gough Whitlam, which is where – sadly – the book ends. Throughly researched and meticulously presented, with obvious academic rigour, it is still an easy read. Sally knows her subject material very well, and writes with the confidence of knowledge, and without falling into the trap of showing the disdain that many of the power-hungry men who dominate much of the story, deserve. She wisely leaves that judgement to the reader.

Night Train to Lisbon

Night Train to Lisbon
author: Pascal Mercier
name: Kim
average rating: 3.63
book published: 2004
rating: 0
read at: 2023/07/22
date added: 2023/07/22
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The Last Chairlift

The Last Chairlift
author: John Irving
name: Kim
average rating: 3.74
book published: 2022
rating: 2
read at: 2023/02/26
date added: 2023/02/26
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Same old themes, nothing new

About 50 pages in, and I’m bored, miffed by poor editing and much repetition. Sorry to hear it’s his last long form novel, but life is too short for the next 850 pages that he’s done before, but so much better.

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