My Goodreads reviews

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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
shelves:
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
shelves:
review:
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
shelves:
review:
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
shelves:
review:
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
shelves:
review:
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
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.

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