My Goodreads reviews

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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
shelves:
review:
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
shelves:
review:

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
shelves:
review:
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.

The Dictator’s Wife

The Dictator's Wife
author: Freya Berry
name: Kim
average rating: 3.68
book published: 2022
rating: 5
read at: 2023/02/24
date added: 2023/02/24
shelves:
review:
Much more than a mystery – beautifully written

The opening paragraphs had me hooked. Freya Berry’s writing is captivating, alluring and full of the unsaid. The story keeps you guessing, wondering and emphasising with both the narrator and the wicked protagonist without really understanding why. As good an insight into the nature of evil as I have ever read. Or is it? Not for the faint hearted, but highly recommended.

Lessons

Lessons
author: Ian McEwan
name: Kim
average rating: 4.39
book published: 2022
rating: 4
read at: 2022/11/26
date added: 2022/11/26
shelves:
review:

The Idea of Australia: A search for the soul of the nation

The Idea of Australia: A search for the soul of the nation
author: Julianne Schultz
name: Kim
average rating: 4.65
book published:
rating: 4
read at: 2022/08/07
date added: 2022/08/07
shelves:
review:
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.

Never

Never
author: Ken Follett
name: Kim
average rating: 4.18
book published: 2021
rating: 5
read at:
date added: 2022/02/02
shelves:
review:
Never say never…

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.

Empires

Empires
author: Nick Earls
name: Kim
average rating: 3.50
book published:
rating: 1
read at: 2021/12/20
date added: 2021/12/20
shelves:
review:
I just didn’t get it

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: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy

Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy
author: Ben Macintyre
name: Kim
average rating: 4.43
book published: 2020
rating: 5
read at: 2021/10/16
date added: 2021/10/17
shelves:
review:
A fascinating true story of an extraordinary woman

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.

Small Acts of Defiance

Small Acts of Defiance
author: Michelle Wright
name: Kim
average rating: 3.75
book published:
rating: 5
read at: 2021/09/08
date added: 2021/09/08
shelves:
review:

The Last of the Apple Blossom

The Last of the Apple Blossom
author: Mary-Lou Stephens
name: Kim
average rating: 4.70
book published:
rating: 5
read at: 2021/08/07
date added: 2021/08/07
shelves:
review:
Just a wonderful read – highly recommended

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.

Where My Heart Used to Beat

Where My Heart Used to Beat
author: Sebastian Faulks
name: Kim
average rating: 3.89
book published: 2015
rating: 3
read at: 2021/08/02
date added: 2021/08/02
shelves:
review:
Not at his best, but still a good read

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 Great Wall

The Great Wall
author: Julia Lovell
name: Kim
average rating: 4.00
book published: 1981
rating: 4
read at: 2021/07/05
date added: 2021/07/05
shelves:
review:
The Great Wall as the metaphor of history

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.

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