The last 25 books I've read

That's How it Was
3 of 5 stars
A starkly told story of the relationship between mother and child, framed through a wonderful evocation of the working-class life of wartime England. What makes this a little different is the frankness (especially for something released...
1 of 5 stars
An extended love letter to Venice more than anything else, I'll be honest and admit that this one failed to 'grab me'. Pretentious in tone, I must be one of those readers that 'don't get it'.
ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
3 of 5 stars
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Thus we begin our lesson in Zen.

“To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do, like eating supper an...
The State Counsellor: Further Adventures of Fandorin
5 of 5 stars
The sixth in the series, I think that this is (thus far) his best: reactionary autocrats, revolutionary terrorists, murky plots, sinister schemes and a heavy political edge I really enjoyed this bleak tale!

I particularly enjoyed the vi...
Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II
5 of 5 stars
"Imagine a world without institutions. No governments. No school or universities. No access to any information. No banks. Money no longer has any worth. There are no shops, because no one has anything to sell. Law and order are virtually...
Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
2 of 5 stars
Sound in theory but clunky in execution. That's the best I can manage for this one. It's probably best read by younger readers, or anyone who hasn't explored philosophical or political theory to any extent. Otherwise, you just blush at t...
Levels of Life
3 of 5 stars
More like a twin pair of long essays than a traditional novel, Barnes manages a rather frank exploration of the nature of grief. To get there, we begin with an exploration of the history of ballooning. And early photography.

This is a b...
Special assignments : the further adventures of Erast Fandorin
3 of 5 stars
A collection of two novellas featuring the intrepid Fandorin, equal parts light and shade. The first is a remarkably light-hearted romp as our hero finds himself pursuing a con-man while trying to salvage his love life. An interesting co...
The Death Of Achilles
4 of 5 stars
The fourth novel of the series, this time Fandorin finds himself locked in a battle of wits with the World's most deadly assassin. Exciting? Absolutely!

Of course, it would not be fitting if we didn't have a backdrop of political intri...
The Plains
2 of 5 stars
This is an odd, quiet little book. Ostensibly a tale of a young filmmaker who travels to an imagined country located deep within Australia, whereupon his failure to make a film is his most profound achievement.

More of a metaphysical p...
Murder on the Leviathan
4 of 5 stars
The third novel in the Erast Fandorin historical detective series, this one has a healthy dose of his Agatha Christie about it. As ever, it opens with a murder. A rather messy murder at that! We then follow a buffoonish French detective ...
Twenty Tales From The War Zone: The Best Of John Simpson
2 of 5 stars
A brief, but interesting diversion. Simpson manages to straddle the line between engaging and boastful.
Brighton Rock
5 of 5 stars
A classic. You must read it.

Go on, what are you waiting for?
Tomi: A Childhood Under the Nazis
4 of 5 stars
An excellent fusion of memoir, history and assemblage of an artist's early work. Well worth a look!
A Greyhound of a Girl
3 of 5 stars
This is the first of Roddy Dolye’s books that I’ve read that he’s written for younger readers. In many respects it is ‘typical Doyle’, but with a distinctly softer edge in terms of language and overall ambiance. That said, the narrative ...
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
4 of 5 stars
This is a dark little book that – like a lot of Shirley Jackson’s work – explores the idea of persecution of people who are ‘different’. It is a tricky read full of strangeness and goings on where the moral lines are not clear and the na...
The Winter Queen
4 of 5 stars
A story of murder, suicide, deception and disguise that hurtles through pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia. Crafted with care, Akunin weaves some beautiful expression and a series of exotic historical settings - primarily Moscow, Saint Pet...
100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know
3 of 5 stars
This book explores one hundred conundrums, questions and queries through the lens of mathematics. The book runs through infinite monkeys banging out Shakespearean plays on typewriters, your odds of winning the lottery, horse races, divor...
Murder on the Orient Express
3 of 5 stars
This book moves along beautifully - as the best Agatha Christie novel do. Moreover, even though this one has become a clichéd trope referenced by everyone from The Simpsons to the Muppets, it remains as fresh and surprising as ever. Some...
The Dare
3 of 5 stars
A simple tale from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy, it does a realistic job of constructing a compelling story about how one simple moment can change a people's lives forever.
3 of 5 stars
A bit of background first: the "longitude problem" was one of the trickiest practical and scientific dilemmas of the eighteenth century. Lacking the ability to measure longitude made sailing around on unchartered oceans decidedly dangero...
The Testament of Mary
4 of 5 stars
For those of the Christian faith, I can see how this novel is a provocative work, but me – who accepts the existence of Jesus the historical figure (if not the Son of God) – it is an evocative and memorable depiction of Mary as I underst...
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
3 of 5 stars
More fun stories from Sedaris. As with most of his collections, they're uneven, but there's plenty here to please the thoughtful reader. His tale of acerbic neighbour Helen is an excellent example of the complexities of human relationships.

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