(#5) Wales: The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies

Genre: Fiction

Finished reading: December 2012

A romance set in Wales during WW II, but dealing with many other themes.  Too many, in fact.  Less would have done.  See the many reviews on Goodreads if you want to know more.

I liked the book, but didn’t love it.

Having spent the best part of a year living in Wales once upon a time, I always get nostalgic when I read something that evokes the place well for me.  This book did that.

My rating: 3/5


(#4) Thailand: Next Life in the Afternoon, by Carl Weaver

Genre: Travel/spiritual memoir

Finished Reading: December 2012

This book is subtitled “A Journey Through Thailand”.  It’s written by an American who went to Thailand to “become a monk” (Buddhist) for a temporary period, encouraged, it seems, by a Thai monk whom he knew in the US.  But he hadn’t done his homework, and when he got there he found that the amount of time he had set aside wasn’t enough (it was a few short weeks), and he had to abandon his plan.  Instead he visited various places in the country, usually associated with Buddhist monasteries.

Weaver gives us no background.  Why he chose to make this trip, what his wife (who is mentioned quite a number of times) thought about it, whether he has always been Buddhist (I suspect not) – absolutely nothing to give us a context.  In this, the book is very lacking.  As a spiritual memoir, for me it didn’t really cut the mustard.  He thinks of himself as different from other tourists, and in a sense he is, but I didn’t really empathise with him as much as I wanted to.

He gives some interesting pictures of Thailand.  But the main message I took from the book was: for heaven’s sake, do your homework before you go somewhere.

My rating: 3/5


(#3) Germany: Tents and Tent Stability, by Chris Lown

Genre: Travel memoir

Finished Reading: November 2012

An Englishman writes about a month spent camping in Germany, staying at least one night in each one of the country’s sixteen states.

Lown likes the sound of his own voice, and much of his writing is just showing off his vocabulary.  He needs an editor.

Nevertheless it’s an interesting story and gives a flavour of Germany.  I enjoyed reading.

My rating: 3/5


Secrets of a Master Closer, by Mike Kaplan

(Not for the 80 Books Challenge)

Kindle e-book: 186 pages.

“How To” book.

Finished November 2012.

The subtitle of this book is “A Simpler, Easier, and Faster Way to Sell Anything to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere”.  It’s good.  I’m hoping that it also enables me to avoid being trapped into buying things that I don’t want by those horrid cold-callers who are on the other end of my phone every day.  By knowing what they are doing – and I could recognise many of the techniques listed here from being on the receiving end of such talk – I can AVOID getting snared.

So thanks for the tips, Mike.

Rating: 3.5/5

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road, by Diana Estill

(Not for the 80 Books Challenge)

Kindle e-book: 290 pages.

Humourous Essays

Finished November 2012.

I got this book because I thought it was set in Grand Cayman, and might therefore count for the 80 books challenge.  But in fact only the first essay is set there.  But never mind, because it was a good read anyway.  These columns are reprinted from a newspaper, and are probably better read one at a time.  Too many at one sitting is a bit much – but I laughed out loud at many of them nonetheless.

Rating: 4/5

Well written.

Speaking English, by Michael Kiefer

(Not for the 80 Books Challenge)

Kindle e-book: 290 pages.


Finished November 2012.

From the Amazon blurb: “He once was a high-school Spanish teacher turned freelance travel writer, full of himself and living large, but his world and his mental health unraveled after he was kidnapped, shot, and almost killed while on a press junket to the Amazon.”

Memoir-style, I read it fast and loved it.

Well written.

Rating: 4/5

Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel, by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

(Not for the 80 Books Challenge)

Kindle e-book: 479 pages.


Finished November 2012.

The story of four women whose husbands enlisted for the US Army at the outbreak of the Vietnam war.  It details their learning about what it means to be an army wife during the time of their husbands’ training.

Though I found some of the naiveté hard to credit, the story rolled along well and kept me reading.  Not exactly great literature, but interesting and would adapt well to screen, I daresay.  Some of the hot points are still very relevant, while in other areas we’ve come a long way.

Rating: 3.5/5