It's set in the time when Henry VIII wants to get a divorce from his first wife (Catherine of Aragon),...moreOh good grief, was this ever a depressing book?
It's set in the time when Henry VIII wants to get a divorce from his first wife (Catherine of Aragon), and sees Thomas Cromwell rise to become Henry's chief advisor during this time. All of this is set against what happens in the country, and to Cromwell.
As a Catholic, I found the book somewhat challenging. I was brought up to think "Protestant Reformation=Bad" and "Catholic Resistance=Good". this book challenges that view, because no one comes across as pleasant (though Cromwell will seem more rounded).
All in all it wasn't bad, just rather depressing. No one seems that likeable after reading it.(less)
This wasn't a bad book. It was about a college student who gets a summer job working at an independent amusement park (similar to those that existed p...moreThis wasn't a bad book. It was about a college student who gets a summer job working at an independent amusement park (similar to those that existed pre-Disneyland), and his interest in a murder that took place there years before.
It actually was a pretty decent read. Not really a horror story, and the mystery was pretty light, it was still a good read about a certain type of student and his experience in a different type of "summer work."(less)
This book is about Calvin Coolidge, a Vermonter who rose to become America's 30th President in the mid 1920s (he was initially Harding's Vice Presiden...moreThis book is about Calvin Coolidge, a Vermonter who rose to become America's 30th President in the mid 1920s (he was initially Harding's Vice President, until Harding's death).
This wasn't a bad book. It read pretty well, and moved at a good lick. My problem is that I think it doesn't necessarily bear comparison to other American political biographies I've read lately.
Don't get me wrong, it's a decent enough read in its own right (even if it portrays Coolidge as someone who never saw a buck he didn't know how to stretch), it's just compared to Caro's book about Johnson in the Senate, this book just doesn't feel as well researhed or well written.
If you've not read Caro's book, you'll probably enjoy this one better.(less)
"America Against The World" is a book written by two math nerds (they're opinion pollsters) that compares the American "self-view" to the "self-view"...more"America Against The World" is a book written by two math nerds (they're opinion pollsters) that compares the American "self-view" to the "self-view" of Europeans, Africans, and Asians. The argument being that the rest of the world "doesn't get" America and it'd be interesting to find out why (or even if it's true).
It's an interesting book that mostly rattles along at a fair old pace. Through its' chapters it points out that American religiosity makes them more like third world countries than their European neighbours for example. It also notes that every country thinks that they're better than everywhere else, but that American "exceptionalism" (which is the scientific word for thinking "we're the best") is more obvious because they're the sole super power (I mean, in the greater scheme of things who'll care if Lesotho thinks "We're it?").
The book, however, isn't perfect. First, it's written by math nerds, and it can read like it's written by maths guys in places. Don't get me wrong, I like math, but you wouldn't get an insurance instructor to write poetry for you would you? Secondly, it described American as the world's oldest democracy, which irritated me some. Now I like the Constitution and think the Bill of Rights is pretty neat, but the Americans had "founding fathers" that viewed African-Americans as "less" because they were black, and allowed the white population to own other members of the human race, which isn't very democratic to my mind (and is something that was wiped out in the UK much earlier).
Finally the book does a good job of how American is different, but doesn't explain why anything is as it is, in anything but the most simplistic terms. This irritated me because while you might argue that that isn't the point of the book, the why of difference is more important than the how, so I'd've like to have seen more work on that area.(less)
This book focuses on your typically Hiaasenesque crazy/illegal/humorous goings on in Florida. In this case, the arm of a local businessman is caught b...moreThis book focuses on your typically Hiaasenesque crazy/illegal/humorous goings on in Florida. In this case, the arm of a local businessman is caught by a fisherman and a local policeman tries to find out what happens to the rest of the body. This leads gis all over Florida, and the Bahamas.
I wish I could say this book was as funny as the previous Hiaasen books I've read, but I don't think it was. It felt as if he was writing a Hiaasen book "by the numbers" rather than trying to be new or inventive.(less)
This book sees a large Bill Bryson and (friend from his teenage years) Steven Katz attempt to walk The Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail that runs fro...moreThis book sees a large Bill Bryson and (friend from his teenage years) Steven Katz attempt to walk The Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail that runs from the South East to the North East of the United States.
Bryson is a funny writer. This isn't exactly Shakespeare or Dickens, but it's funny, and informative, at the same time. If you like sardonic travel writing, you'll like this book.(less)
Before his rise was even a twinkle in Barak Obama's eye, there was John Edwards. Despite being a multi-millionaire trial lawyer, he campaigned in 2004...moreBefore his rise was even a twinkle in Barak Obama's eye, there was John Edwards. Despite being a multi-millionaire trial lawyer, he campaigned in 2004 and 2008 as a spokesperson for the "common man," trying to speak on their issues. When this was coupled with an eloquant speaking style, he became attractive to a certain part of the Democratic Party in the US.
This book was written by one of his operatives in North Carolina (Edwards's home state). It chart's his rise in politics after his decision to run for the senate in the late 1990s, his politics once in office, and the chaos that surrounded parts of his campaign after his wife discovered that he was having an affair and fathered an illegitimate "love child" (something that Mrs Edwards refuses to believe).
I found the book infuriating. Anyone who knows American politics knows that Edwards could have been a real contender in both 2004 and 2008. Had he used the good sense he was born with, Edwards would probably be Vice-President now. Throughout the book, you're going to think "Hello, wakey wakey you don't think you'll get away with this do you?" I was an active Edwards supporter in 2004 and 2008 (he seemed the only person likely to help the Democrats win in the South), so felt particularly let down by him when his affair became public. Anyone who lived in America during the Bush presidency and who found Edwards even slightly appealing will find the book as infuriating as I did.
That having been said, the book is well written. It rattles along at a fair old rate and is accessible enough for most people to read pretty quickly. You'll probably need an interest in politics to read this book, but if you have that you'll probably enjoy it.(less)
Back in the 1980s, Martin Cruz Smith wrote Gorky Park. The promotional material presented it as a sneak peak at life (and detective fiction) behind th...moreBack in the 1980s, Martin Cruz Smith wrote Gorky Park. The promotional material presented it as a sneak peak at life (and detective fiction) behind the Iron Curtain. As a 13 year old this made an impression on me, even if much of it was bound to be hype now that I look back on it.
This book was presented in much the same way. This time the book looks at the time after Gorbachev when the government starts to sell off state owned industries and attempts to see if it could work by piloting the process with a Vodka factory. American advisers are called in and they walk into a gang war between Chechens and the Russian Mafia as they attempt to control the factory.
I want to say that this was a good book, but it was simply your average rival gangs thriller with people who had Eastern European name.(less)
really don't know what to think of the book. It should probably seem as another object lesson in not reading things out of order or seeing the tv sho...more really don't know what to think of the book. It should probably seem as another object lesson in not reading things out of order or seeing the tv show before you read the book.
In this book, a serial killer decides to kill people in the manner that the apostles who shared their name were killed. As result, a Simon is cut in half, a Peter (I think, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is crucified upside down and so on. In short then, it's a pretty creepy book and probably not for those among us who get easily upset or have a vivid imagination.
The problem for me was that I read Starling's second book a few years ago and that book pretty much gave the plot of this book away (in general terms). It wasn't helped by the fact that they made the book into a television show in England and with the story like it is here, I wasn't likely to forget what happened in the show (incidentally Ken Stot played the "beer sodden cop" leading the investigation -anyone who knows him knows that he's got that area of the acting market sewn up here).
So all in all, I don't know what to think but part of me was left feeling underwhelmed by the book because its major twists have been given away if you've seen anything related to this book before.(less)
After the success of Henning Maskell in the UK, I think publishers went a bit mad trying to find "the next big thing" to come out of Europe's Arctic n...moreAfter the success of Henning Maskell in the UK, I think publishers went a bit mad trying to find "the next big thing" to come out of Europe's Arctic north. Arnaldur Indridason was, I suspect, a beneficiary of this search for Nordic writers.
"Arctic Chill" is about the stabbing or a bi-racial boy in Iceland (he's part Icelandic, part Thai). The police can't immediately find a motive. Was it racists? Was it drug dealers targeting the estate hr live on? Was it someone who was targeting the murdered boy's brother? The police try to look at all these possibilities before finally working out who the killer is.
The book isn't bad, I certainly learned something about Iceland by reading this book. The problem is that there isn't much description of the inner lives of the detectives. It, like their furniture, is very spare, and likely to leave you cold. Even the lead detective isn't presented in a particularly 3-dimensional way if you ask me.
In addition, the book seemed to suggest (to me at least) that I had nothing to fear from Icelandic coppers. Their whole investigation smacked of chaos and inadequate forward planning. They jumped from one theory to another, without anyone getting the feeling that they knew what they were doing. And that, To be honest, just irritated me.(less)