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Search tags: General-Fiction
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review 2017-05-23 20:51
Review: London by Edward Rutherfurd
London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford

This was an intense look at the history of London from ancient druid period to the Blitz of the 1940s as seen through the eyes of a few families. I actually understand the Tudor period and the Restoration period much more now than when I took a class in college on the same topics.

 

The way the book is set up is each chapter being its own short story, making it easier to put down for the night and picking it up again in the morning. I am not used to reading long family sagas, so I had to refer to the family trees in the front of the book a lot; funny, I didn't need the maps of London in the different time periods at all - maybe because I have been to London many times that I knew where about the place was being described. My favorite chapter was The Whorehouse; why wasn't the political and social structure of the whorehouse in medieval times talked about in my college class? I feel a little cheated academically. If a character in the chapter I was currently reading was getting on my nerves, chances were high they weren't in the next chapter (rather it would be their descendants with different character arc). I also liked that I didn't have to read about endless battles; the book focused on political, social, and religious intrigue with splashes of family drama. There was also a healthy dose of Romance, and my favorite couple was Jane Fleming and John Dogget - they didn't get together until they were in their late 50s/early 60s. My least favorite chapter was the last one, titled The River - it was corny and an undisguised way of the author telling the reader how much research went into the book.

 

The men were described with one physical trait that belonged to the family (Duckets and Doggets had a white streak in their hair and webbing between their fingers; the Silversleeves had cartoon-ishly long noses; the Barnikels had vibrant red hair; the Bulls had the typical Anglo-Saxon fair hair and blue eyes). The women were physically described by their family traits and the size of the breasts, but were not objectified (well, maybe the whores) and were shown to be much more smarter and cunning than history often paints them. These were no wall flowers; these women were survivors.

 

I am really glad I took the chance and read this book; the size of the book intimidated me for only a couple of chapters, but I was soon reading 3 chapters a day and making decent progress without feeling like I was slogging through any part. I am going to read Rutherfurd's book New York late this year or next year.

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review 2017-05-22 09:12
The Wonderful Weekend Book
The Wonderful Weekend Book: Reclaim Life's Simple Pleasures - Elspeth Thompson

One of my impulse buys from the library sale, I thought it would be a fun source of inspiration for new weekend activities.  

 

As it turns out, the author and I are apparently on the same page when it comes to ways of enjoying a weekend:  most of the things she recommends or suggests are things we already do, to some extent.  Except learning to play the ukulele - er, no thanks, I'll pass on that one.  Still, MT and I are guilty of the weekly Sunday shop; something both he and I dread, and even though we take advantage of farmer's markets, there's just always something on the list that can't be gotten without a supermarket trip.  (We're not quite ready to trust online grocery shopping yet, either.)

 

There are a lot of good ideas here, helpfully broken down by season and all-year-round activities.  While the ideas are universal to all, the main drawback is that the book is entirely UK-centric, providing liberal lists of UK sources and the author's anecdotes about great places to stay or things to do in the UK.  The debate about how worthwhile it is to go to France to stock up on alcohol seems a particularly moot one to someone living in Australia (or anywhere else that isn't Europe for that matter).

 

Frankly, it's not a book I'd say is worth buying in the shops, but if your library has it, or like me, you find it for a buck at the library sale, it's not a bad source for ways to mix your weekend up a bit.

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review 2017-05-19 18:34
The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle
The Secret Library - Oliver Tearle

The author states that the aim of this book is to "bring to light the lesser-know aspects of well-known books, and to show how obscure and little-known books have surprising links with the familiar world around us".  The book has generally managed to accomplish the stated aims.  This book is a collection of bits of information and commentary (with toilet humour attached) about the best-known and the least-known books ever written in English, European and American literature.  At first I found this book amusing and interesting, after a while it got rather tedious.

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text 2017-05-17 21:20
Read 318 out of 829 pages
London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford

So far, so good. I took a break from reading my Booklikes-opoly book so I could get further into this book. I just had to renew the book for the second time, so I need to make this book my focus until it is done.

 

With that said, I am really enjoying it. Each chapter is its own short story/novella (depending on how long the chapter is); I am partial to the chapter on whorehouses. The Lady Godiva chapter was interesting too.

 

I am on the tail end of convention reading slow-down, so even though I really like the writing and the story, I need constant breaks to clear my head.

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review 2017-05-17 09:40
Of Cats and Men
Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History's Great Cat-Loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen - Sam Kalda

The illustrations save this book.  It's a really attractive books and the illustrations and drawings are colourful and joyful.

 

The writing is... so-so.  First, it's solidly aimed at men: Kalda doesn't even pretend that women might read this, and he often breaks the fourth wall to talk to the reader man-to-man about the hidden manliness of preferring cats over dogs.  Kalda is an illustrator by profession, and perhaps that accounts for writing that attempts to be chatty and witty but fails just short so that there are moments that feel awkward.

 

The profiles don't really share anything new or even biographically informative, but they are somewhat interesting.  Nonetheless, as I said, the illustrations and quote typography are the thing here.  The book shines from this perspective, which is why my rating ends up at 4 stars.

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