What’s on this site?
This site contains more than 1000 reviews, mainly of books and recent “art house” films or documentaries, available on DVD. They appear in the order posted, with the newest first.
The photographs capture unusual scenes which have caught my eye.
Jon Gunnar’s Sun Voyage sculpture on the shore at Reykjavik
Novels or short stories reviewed range from classics to bestsellers, in English, including translations, and French (with one or two in Russian). Nonfiction focuses mainly on biographies, history, politics and current affairs. You can search items by titles or authors (for books), or trace them via the subject tags given above.
For reviews made before January 2019, you can access Amazon which provides more details of purchase, by tapping on the title at the beginning of the review, or the image which may be at the end of it .
Sculpture on Poet’s Hill at Turaida Castle, Gauja National Park, Latvia
So why did I create this site?
After years of avid reading, I often wanted to recommend a book or an author, but only had a jumbled memory of what I had read. If I could remember a book title , the most I could say about the plot was along the lines of “it’s about a psychologist or perhaps he was a psychiatrist who becomes obsessed with one of his patients who has been convicted or maybe just suspected of murdering someone or something like that….” If I could recall the bare bones of the plot, the ending was a complete blank.
So, had I wasted literally years of my life reading? Could I justify this by saying I had learned a lot about human nature, different ways of living and places I would never otherwise visit, all without the pain of actually having to suffer or make mistakes, as characters in novels usually do ?
In 2010 I decided to write a review of every book as soon as I had finished it. So far, to my surprise, this has proved the only resolution I have managed to keep! I wanted to convey a sense of what a book is about and my reactions to it, sometimes compared with what professional critics and other reviewers have thought, without giving away too much about the plot.
Mostly, I read fiction, biographies, modern history, politics and current affairs. I soon began to include reviews of films – dramas and documentaries – available as DVDs on Amazon, and French literature, with reviews in English since to attempt this in French would only lead to embarrassing errors.
Sculpture at The American Museum, Bath
I’ve discovered that the hardest thing about writing a review is avoiding “spoilers”. The only consolation is that I have noticed many professional reviewers don’t worry about this and simply summarise the plot with comments, an approach I try to avoid.
Having received some mostly very positive feedback on Amazon and Goodreads, I decided to present most of them on this site as well, with an opportunity for further comment. They now total more than 1000 titles. I’m not sure what that says about how I spend my time…..
I had planned to add pieces of creative writing but in January 2020 began to focus on what was meant to be a Brexit diary and inevitably turned into “Journal of Another Plague Year – 20:20 vision” leading to “Taking Stock – 2021” as the outcomes of coronavirus and Brexit become apparent. As from August 2021, I am gradually “winding this down”, only mentioning major developments, in the hopes that we have come to the end of lockdowns. But the longterm outcome of the pandemic remains unclear.
Fir tree bark at The American Museum, Bath