The Kindness of Strangers is a great idea for a book: A variety of Authors, travellers and traveller-authors all give us a series of snapshots from tr...moreThe Kindness of Strangers is a great idea for a book: A variety of Authors, travellers and traveller-authors all give us a series of snapshots from travel experiences, all based around the kindnesses of strangers. A Lonely planet publication, with a preface by the Dalai Lama and a few stories by authors I am very fond of, such as Simon Winchester, I was intrigued enough to buy this book with no prior knowledge of it and I am glad I did.
It is hard to review a book of short stories by different authors but I was not disappointed by any of the authors I knew, have now discovered some new authors to look up in future and did not actively dislike more than one story in the whole collection. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves travelling or reading about travel.
It is almost a double travel book, the stories are often tiny, the perfect morsel of reading when waiting for a train for example, so this book actually makes a good travel companion.
This was a very fun book to read: The author combines a clear love of history and his travel experience to write an excellent description of tourism i...moreThis was a very fun book to read: The author combines a clear love of history and his travel experience to write an excellent description of tourism in the Roman empire.
Beginning in Rome with the unveiling of Jupiter's Panorama in the year 5 BCE (or BC)the author tracks the Roman's desire to travel around their empire. There are a staggering number of parallels between the Roman tourist industry two thousand odd years ago, and the modern tourism industry today, these similarities are narrated in a humorous, contemporary manner which is a pleasure to read.
Tony and his wife travel in the footsteps of the wealthy Roman tourist from Rome, through Pompeii and the beach-side resorts of Italy. They then take the same ferry route that Romans would have as they cross to Greece, then turkey. Then, through necessity, they cheat a little by flying across to Egypt to conclude the tour visiting the monuments that the Romans were already flocking to see in 66 CE (or AD, if you insist).
A great book, full of interesting little snippets of knowledge from the past, combined with a light-hearted travel narration of a trip with a motif.
This might seem a slightly odd choice of reading, since recent media attention has shifted from the Al Qa'ida to other interests, such as ISIS but I f...moreThis might seem a slightly odd choice of reading, since recent media attention has shifted from the Al Qa'ida to other interests, such as ISIS but I found it interesting and relevant to current affairs in a few ways:
First, it is a major terrorist organisation that is still continuing even though Osma bin Laden is out of the picture. Second, Australia has recently had a few shake ups with citizens going overseas to participate in jihad military organisations and third, there is the issue of ISIS in Syria. This book talks about the genesis of Bin Ladens organisation, the back cover calls it ‘chilling’ and it delivers on that promise the most chilling part however is the tacit support of the authors for some of the horrific tactics and goals of this terrorist organisation.
I knew this would be difficult reading; part of the allure of this book is that the author had interviewed Osama in person and that would never have happened if he was not sympathetic to radical, terrorist Islamic causes. Knowing that, parts of the book were bound to be challenging and at times I had to put it down for a while. The writing style however is intelligent and very accomplished, for the most part the passive voice proved exceptionally unobtrusive as the author describes radical terrorist objectives, but with discretion and for the most part non-judgemental in tone.
Osama, his history and cause, the organisation he fronted, these are all accounted for in the early chapters. Later we get a very erudite, detailed description of the different radical organisations and their relationship with the different Islamic states in the middle east. This is especially interesting since the book was published in **** and yet the descriptions are very relevant to current middle eastern turmoil and events.
The book then progresses through the effects of the internet on radical Islamic groups and their genesis, the worldwide calls to jihad and a small but well organised section on terrorist activities and suicide bombing.
The truly chilling part of this book is in small things; after having described a number of atrocities in a totally passive voice the author will suddenly insert a word such as ‘reprehensible’ about a bombing incident. The word hovers in the text, isolated and almost unemotional, the doubt I, the reader, have about the motivation behind this word being inserted in the text... yes, that is chilling. I feel sympathetic to the need of the author to describe the philosophical basis of Islamic radicalism and yet present this text in a way civilised people can relate to. It is a tightrope that the author walks very well but it does still send a small, subtle, chill up the spine.
The author is English but of Palestinian background, I also found the tacit agreement that all Jews should be gotten rid of... scary because ‘got rid of’ in this context is a euphemism for genocide. The passive agreement with the radical assertion that ALL Non Muslims should be eradicated from the Middle East is sickening and the tacit approval of suicide bombing is scary.
This is a very good book; well written, scholarly, well informed and able to inform the reader. The author has done a good job of walking the literary tightrope between presenting terrorism in such a way that first world readers may cope with the subject matter. But the subject is still terror and horror without end, unless that end be the establishment of total slavery on earth to radical Islam, and though I appreciate the book and despite the three stars I cannot say I actually enjoyed it. (less)
For a while I was getting irritated with this one as I felt it was predictable in places. Yes, some elements are clearly predictable but it pulled thr...moreFor a while I was getting irritated with this one as I felt it was predictable in places. Yes, some elements are clearly predictable but it pulled through well enough to keep up with the first two. (less)
Nightpeople hooked me from the start, a first book in a fantasy trilogy that I feel could aklso class as Sci-Fi and definitely as dytopian.
Set in a sparse desert, a small and dying people have obviously lost all modern science and are clearly living in radioactively contaminated areas. There are still technologically advanced people, these are the nightpeople who appear in aircraft to take away any infants born in the arid lands.
There is of course resistance to dying out and some babies are hidden, this story follows the journey of one of these hidden children as she is fetched from the hidden valley where she grew up.
This is the outline, what I enjoyed most about this book though was the understated yet deft and absorbing writing style. No strong mention of time and place ruffles the story but the vivid descriptions of the Australian deserts are intoxicating to anyone who has enjoyed travelling through them.
The characterisations of individuals are vivid and believable, none of them are perfect or always wise but they are more believable for that. There are strange and shamanistic powers in a few of the cast, but they meld seamlessly into tracking and desert wise skills that you would see in people living in harsh environments, and this makes these powers feel less 'fantasy' and almost practical.
I read this book with great pleasure and then ordered the next two. The third has arrived first and I am exercising all my self control to keep my hands off it until I can read the second one; definitely want more of this author and this story!(less)
A very enjoyable book aimed at younger readers but very suitable for older readers who do not mind a child protagonist. The first person story teller...moreA very enjoyable book aimed at younger readers but very suitable for older readers who do not mind a child protagonist. The first person story teller is Kim, whose father is the local doctor in a small rural Australian town somewhere in the middle of nowhere very much.
There is a bush man who is murdered, no one knows by whom, his two children are wild bush children and may have the key to the murder. Eventually they are captured and brought to the doctors house.
That is the outline, the real charm of the book however, are the characters of Kim and Kim's older sister Julia. Their parents, the very Australian town and it's habits all slowly build up a good story. That is what kept me interested throughout.
As a strange side note - despite Kim's gender being mentioned early on as male, I forgot this until after page 100 or so, Kim is a very unformed kind of character which makes him a good vessel to observe the story through.
Also I don't have the pictured edition; my edition is not on goodreads.(less)
An enjoyable fiction; the time is around about now, only there is a time travelling portal in existence. Our leading lady, Kannon, accidentally goes t...moreAn enjoyable fiction; the time is around about now, only there is a time travelling portal in existence. Our leading lady, Kannon, accidentally goes through it while trying to find her mother (having grown up an orphan in mysterious circumstances) and ends up in Rome circa emperor Augustus.
It was nice to read but not gripping. I suppose my main gripe is that given the title of the book I would have expected a little more actual Gladiating. Or indeed anything about the Arena or Gladiators at all because there was practically nothing on the topic. Kannon is meant to be an excellent Aikido marital artist but I think there are three smallish fistfights and that's it. The one time she goes up against a gladiator she chooses to do it unarmed, which I just daft. Yes I know Aiki principles, I practised for a couple of decades, but going up against a dude with a sword and shied, unarmed, by choice is still daft.
In the absence of fighting, the plot concentrates on intrigue, a religious cult and finding mother. The details of Rome a pretty good and the plot mostly hums along nicely, though it is bit stretched out at times, and there is a mystifying amount of running around in the end that could have been better worked however I would still recommend it to readers who like the basic precept.
This book begins as six brothers, trained since birth to be Norman knights get ready for their first real battle in 1033 on the Norman/French border....moreThis book begins as six brothers, trained since birth to be Norman knights get ready for their first real battle in 1033 on the Norman/French border. As well as their first real battle it is an exposure to their first political encounter with the duke of the area.
As result of that encounter the two oldest sons of Tancred de Hauteville decide to take the road to Italy where they find employment as mercenaries since the battle skills of Normans are much in demand there.
This is an Italy divided into states, the politics are different but even more intense; the Eastern empire of Byzantium claims some states, the Western Christians claim others, the Saracens have taken Sicily. There is historical intrigue, battles and a few very interesting characters to follow the story through.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and the icing on the cake was a mention of the Varangians at the end when the brothers go to Sicily. I finished this book and hopped straight online to buy the next two. I can't wait for more!(less)
This vibrant novel was exactly the combination of modern mystery, supernatural, good characters and fast paced action that I was in the mood for!
Our m...moreThis vibrant novel was exactly the combination of modern mystery, supernatural, good characters and fast paced action that I was in the mood for!
Our main character Jo, is on her way home to the US from her mothers funeral in Ireland, when she sees an attack on a woman. She sees this out of the window of a plane coming in to land... I think only a good writer could get you to swallow that story, but it is all part and parcel of the intricate story of Jo. She is a Shaman with powers, all of a sudden, for no reason she knows. She is drawn to use them, but knows nothing about how to go about it or the other worlds and lives she is touching. And she must, really fast catch up on her reading about the Wild Hunt and Herne the Hunter, two subjects she previously had no knowledge of or interest in.
The plot of an ordinary gal/guy suddenly dumped with powers is hardly a new one, the treatment of it however is fresh and thoroughly enjoyable. The secondary characters, for me, rated this novel a whole extra star on their own; a couple of the extra characters a beautifully done, contribute most excellently to the plot line and are thoroughly convincing.
Apparently a début novel, the writing is very tight and exceptionally adept and clear. I will definitely be looking for more from this author. Recommended to anyone one who likes urban fantasy.(less)
A fun little romancy story. After stating it I thought "This is just like a milles and boons, only with vampires" It was only after that I noticed it...moreA fun little romancy story. After stating it I thought "This is just like a milles and boons, only with vampires" It was only after that I noticed it was indeed published by M&B.
The characters were good, the romance was hot and the 'dreadful coil' that one has to have in such a novel was pretty decent.(less)
After many years of trying I have finally completed this book. I loved Daddy long legs and it has always been a sore point that I could not make it th...moreAfter many years of trying I have finally completed this book. I loved Daddy long legs and it has always been a sore point that I could not make it through this book.
It lacks the vibrancy and brilliance that I was hoping for from it. It is manifestly obvious from the start what the result of the romance sub-plot will be, making it less than exciting to follow. The glimpses into a past way of living and doing things are not really enough to keep one interested.
Enough of my winging; it is still a damn fine book that almost one hundred years after it was written is still very readable, very engaging and a fair bit of fun.
Most suited for people who like reading books that were written a long time ago. Our modern notions of equality, class systems, hereditary and mental issues are, well, modern! The way some of these things are represented in Dear Enemy are bound to make any right thinking human shudder so I think it is more suited to people who can see past these small issues to the story beneath.(less)