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Never 2 stars

The new must-read epic from master storyteller Ken Follett: more than a thriller, it's an …

Would have expected better from him

2 stars

You're probably too young to remember painting by numbers. Basically when you bought that, you got a board on which you found the outline of what was being painted in (a tiger, a house, etc) and this outline was filled with small numbered areas. You applied paint #1 to the areas numbered 1, 2 to the 2s and the final result was a beautiful tiger in full colour which you could then show to your friends pretending you painted that. This novel by Follett reminds me exactly of that. It seems to be written by Mr Follett following a pretty exact recipe on how to write a spy novel. You have to hang in during the first 75% because not much exciting happens. Things get a bit more lively towards the end but by then I had mostly lost my patience. Nevertheless reading a work on a possible scenario leading …

The philosophy of Schopenhauer (1997, Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press) 4 stars

Uniquely accurate explanation of a philosophy

4 stars

I have read many introductions to philosophers but this is in my opinion the best I've read. If you want to not only understand the remarkable philosophy of Schopenhauer but also avoid the obvious pitfalls of any even modestly complex system of thought, then read this book. But be warned, it's not easy reading and it's definitively not condensed (465 pages).

Milkman (Paperback, 2019, Faber & Faber, Limited) 4 stars

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy …

Strange artefact

4 stars

Not sure where to begin... First, after reading some ten pages of this novel you discover the importance of the paragraph, for here they are few and far in between. So reading the whole thing (352 pages) is reading a wall of text. It's like a marathon and you never know if you'll be able to hold on until the next paragraph. Second the language is surprising. Like English at the time of Cavern man: Me husband, you wife, she older daughter, she middle daughter, them wee daughters. But allow me to quote her: "After a pause brother-in-law said he was going to beat him up all the same. ‘Not necessary,’ I said. ‘Still,’ he said. ‘Ach,’ I said. ‘Ach nothing,’ he said. ‘Ach sure,’ I said. ‘Ach sure what?’ he said. ‘Ach sure, if that’s how you feel.’ ‘Ach sure, of course that’s how I feel.’ ‘Ach, all right …

Silverview (Hardcover, 2021, Viking) 3 stars

An agent of the British secret service gets jarred loose from his setting, and his …

Vintage stuff

3 stars

No doubt the style is le Carré in his best days. English like no-one else can write it and it's rare pleasure to read. Maybe I'm wrong but I think I can see why he didn't publish it during his lifetime. As said style is all there but substance is almost absent.

Like an exercise in style just for the fun of it.

The Great Swindle (2015) 3 stars

The Great Swindle (original title: Au revoir là-haut) is a 2013 novel by Pierre Lemaitre …

War as business

3 stars

Very good novel, well written in the style of a thriller. Makes you realize that war is not only the death of millions but good business before, during and after.

The work is based on a true story, the incredible corruption in the business of reburying the dead soldiers, and a fictional one, the selling of never to be delivered memorials monuments.

Alex 2 stars

Qui connaît vraiment Alex? Elle est belle. Excitante. Est-ce pour cela qu'on l'a enlevée, séquestrée, …

Interesting twist in a kidnapping novel.

2 stars

Well written, short, staccato sentences that keep the pace constantly moving towards another twist. Not a great work of art by satisfying read nevertheless.

En créant le personnage de Zénon, alchimiste et médecin du XVIe siècle, Marguerite Yourcenar, l'auteure …


5 stars

So much to say about this book. First I have not read the English translation but personally I think this work is impossible to translate in any other language. The mastery of French as writing material the way a composer masters music, combined with the beauty of it's use in this novel and finally the many levels of meaning make translation an impossible task. This one of the very few works that have been matured during the whole of an author's life and the sheer mastery of the result is humbling. And for those men who still think that women are not equal to man I dare you to read and understand any book by Yourcenar and keep thinking and saying this. I've read Memoirs of Hadrian when I was relatively young and that book has had a very deep influence over my whole life.

Even the Darkest Night 2 stars

"A first, prize-winning work of suspense from the internationally acclaimed author of Soldiers of Salamis. …

Bad mix of "literary" novel and thriller

2 stars

Very long work (read the ebook but would guess around 500 pages) where the action is always interrupted by long literary digressions and the literary flow is cut in by sudden action.

Maybe just me because the book has lots of very good reviews on other sites.

Slow horses (2011, Isis) 3 stars

Slough House is Jackson Lamb's kingdom; a dumping ground for members of the intelligence service …

As good as they get

3 stars

Read the book after watching the series of the same name that just came out. Both very good. Granted not the complexity of John LeCarre but the style is something else. Herron's style is dripping " spy novel" and every sentence is a pleasure to read.

Beautiful World, Where Are You (Hardcover, 2021, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 3 stars

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d …

Tightrope writing

3 stars

Sally Rooney likes to play with fire. She writes an impressive quantity of words about nothing ( what some would call "bird brain" talk) but manages to slip in those incredible insights about life and relationships that keep you wanting more and keep you reading just as you're just about to quit . I'm usually not very tolerant of insignificant chatter but I have to admit that I was hooked in this case. And she achieves that in a very classical structure with an intro, a development and a conclusion.

The Law of Innocence (2020, Little, Brown and Company) 3 stars

Defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a …

Very solid writing based on proven recipe

3 stars

Connelly has always done good work and the results are reliable and predictable.

He had even found a way to iron out small quirks that kept irritating me such as lengthy descriptions of Los Angeles.

As usual I enjoyed this new book from him.

Matrix (2021, Riverhead Books) 4 stars

Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn …

Sadly usual anachronical vision of the middle-ages

2 stars

Very well written with a vocabulary that does make you feel you're somewhere around 1160. But the premises of the novel are not very believable. For instance the hero, a 16 years old teenager doesn't believe in God. Don't forget that not only was the church back then very powerful and very present in everyday life (mass every day, many saints birth and death days were celebrated every week) but also science was obviously still in infancy which means that people back then didn't have obvious explanations for many aspects of life such as illnesses and natural events such as floods, forest fires, etc. Believing in God then was easy and not believing was not very likely. Add to that the fact the this young lady transforms an abbey from starting to super rich with nuns fighting and winning against villagers and you realize that this doesn't make for a …