Friday, July 22, 2011

Recently Read

I've finally got round to uploading photos to the computer, so it is time for another Recently Read post :-)

I've introduced a new category of books I really wasn't enjoying and decided not to waste time finishing....

I have read The Prisoner of Zenda, many moons ago and enjoyed it then. I couldn't finish it this time.

The Alice Thomas Ellis book bored me to tears, and I simply couldn't engage with any of the characters in the first chapter.

The Complete Father Brown Stories was very variable in quality, in my opinion. Some of the stories were very clever indeed, but an equal number were weak in plot and not well characterised. I did get about half way through the huge tome before conceding defeat.

Dolly's War -  I did get three quarters of the way through this non-fiction "Life in theWar" book before abandoning it purely because I found the character of the narrator to be utterly objectionable. She portrayed herself as the sort of person I would have fled from if I had met her.

These two were from the Library. I have discovered that I really like Simon Scarrow's Roman military history books, and went on to buy several more from charity shops.....  The Mitch Albom book was also very enjoyable indeed, and I'm looking out for a copy of my own. The only book of his I really couldn't enjoy was The Five People You Meet In Heaven, though I really did try.....

BirdwatchingWatching was great fun ! A father who is a fanatical birdwatcher and his sceptical grown-up son decide on a year-long challenge to see who can spot the greatest number of bird species. I laughed till I cried at the sneaky tactics, military style planning and general shenanigans undertaken by both parties in a determined attempt to win.
 Definitely one of my Keepers!

The Godseekers Guide - well, I don't know what to say. I normally love everything written by Rabbi Lionel Blue, a truly gifted writer, but this book  just did not cut it for me.
 It was designed for those who feel there is a God-shaped hole in their lives and want to get closer to God, which is very commendable indeed, but it certainly isn't Orthodox reading, and I found the mention of homosexuals and their specific problems and needs, whch cropped up at least every few pages throughout the book, to become a little tedious, even though I have several homosexual friends. One's sexual orientation is not the be all and end all of life, when all is said and done. It may have been better entitled The Godseekers Guide For Those With Same-Sex Attraction and Lifestyle.

H V Morton's wonderful descriptions of English life and places spanning forty years are always a delight, and I was so pleased to find this book in a charity shop to add to my collection!

The Story of England was an excellent TV series, and I bought the book and enjoyed it. It covers the political, religious and social history of one ancient English village from virtually prehistoric times to almost the present-day, using archaeological evidence, documentary evidence and personal recollections, nicely woven into a very readable book.

This was a fun light read, based on the blog of the same name......

Spanish Steps was one of those books which really makes you wonder why the author bothered. I mean that in the nicest possible way, as I have read many of Tim Moore's books and enjoyed them. 
 Quite why an agnostic would want to travel the ancient pilgrim  route to the Shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela, an arduous and actually still quite dangerous journey by foot even in the present day, puzzles me. I remain puzzled, even after I finished the book !
Comments about people, places and donkeys are often sexually explicit , so Caveat Lector.......let the reader beware !
 This was one book I really did debate long and hard whether or not to bother finishing; I did finish it, but was vaguely disgruntled at having wasted time doing so when it really was not in the least edifying - even if the author did get the occasional religious insight, his constant blasphemies really did spoil it for me.

Ranulph Ffiennes book was fascinating. I always knew about him as an SAS man and a famous explorer, but I did not know he was a committed Anglican, whose faith means a great deal to him, as is evidenced in the book. He has diced with death so many times, pushing at the boundaries of what the human spirit and body can withstand - a truly remarkable man.

I know, more SAS military books. I really do enjoy them, and loved both of these. The Kremlin Device had an **excellent** plotline, as did Kill Zone. Both of these are keepers.

I remember being utterly enthralled watching Jane Lapotaire's wonderful portrayal of Marie Curie on TV when I was a teenager, and grabbed the chance to read this from the charity shop.  She suffered a serious brian aneurysm at a relatively young age, and this book chronicles her long, difficult and courageous attempt to rebuild her life after traumatic brain surgery, and how profoundly  the surgery affected her ability to maintain normal relationships with her dearest family and friends.

Another Simon Scarrow - what more need I say :-)

I was thrilled beyond measure to find this hardback in a charity shop :-)  An elderly friend of Mary Russell's finds an ancient manuscript when working in the Middle East which purports to be written by Mary Magdalene. When the elderly friend is killed  in mysterious circumstances, shortly after depositing the manuscript with Mary and her husband Sherlock Holmes,  the mystery gets deeper and deeper.....a cracking good read.

Life & Death On The Streets is a sobering look at the life of a paramedic in Britain. Funny, sad, tragic and terrifying in equal measure, this book is a tribute to all those who work as ambulance crew.

The Happiness Project  was found at the Library and I liked it so much that I am hunting for my own copy.The author decided to spend a whole year testing ideas on how to become happy. Some worked, some didn't, but the book was beautifully written and oh so funny. There is even a blog - written as part of the project.

The background story of the incedibly talented and incredibly private Georgette Heyer. I commend it highly, and after hearing the audio version, I went straight to EBay and bought a hard copy of the book to devour.

Nine Minutes Twenty Seconds is the length of time it took for a plane to crash after a propeller failure irrevocably damaged the engine of a small plane, and the gripping story of the passengers and crew who were on that flight., as well as the engineer who had previously inspected the propeller blade and passed it as fit to use. Heartbreaking in places, but always fascinating, I must stress that the engineer was subsequently exonerated of all blame when the investigation into the accident was concluded, as he had followed the procedures he was taught in all good faith, not knowing they were intrinsically flawed.

A Time Of Gifts is quite simply wonderful. The author, as a young man,  decided to walk from London to Constantinople, not long before Word War Two started to seethe into ferment. His experiences and reminescences are utterly enthralling, and well worth reading.

Even more Simon Scarrow :-)

A Nurse's War was so brave and poignant that it reduced me to tears on occasion. The author underwent truly arduous training as a nurse and was part of the Army medical teams that went to the battlefront in WW2 to nurse the injured soldiers. That was harrowing enough, but she subsequently worked in burns and plastic surgery units , which were still in their infancy, and the heroism of the men who were so gravely injured is heartrending yet inspiring. Well worth reading if you can find a copy.

I have read other books in this series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I have to say that I think the author was really running out of steam and subject matter when he wrote these. I read them, and they were okay, but they have gone straight on my pile to donate to the next charity sale.
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DebD said...

thanks. I've put several of these on my TBR pile.

GretchenJoanna said...

What a feast of reviews! I always like to hear why particular books aren't enjoyed enough to finish.