Conrad B. (Phunter) - Reviews

1 to 20 of 36 - Page:
All the Birds, Singing: A Novel
All the Birds, Singing: A Novel
Author: Evie Wyld
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 9/3/2014


Do you ever approach a book with a preconceived notion as to how it will be only to have that notion disintegrate as you get into the story? That's my experience with this book. I wasn't prepared for the raw brutality of the story or for her chequered past. The story alternates between the present and the past; between the damp greenness of England and the sunburnt dryness of Australia. She paints a very convincing portrait of life among the sheep-shearers and doesn't hold back in her description. All in all it was a pretty good story but I felt like I had to drag her past out of her one page at a time all the way to the end of the book. I'm not sure I liked the ending - I somehow felt cheated by it.


And No Birds Sang
And No Birds Sang
Author: Farley Mowat
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/15/2012


Called "Mowat's finest work" by Time Magazine, he shares his own personal war story of his experience in Italy during the invasion of WWII. Candid and honest in his observations, he shares both the absurdities and horrors of war in such a captivating account that the reader feels as though he is walking along side him at times. One would never know, from his other works, that he had endured such an ordeal and seen such horrors.


The Andromeda Strain
The Andromeda Strain
Author: Michael Crichton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 41
Review Date: 9/15/2012


It was probably cutting edge technology when it was first released in 1969 - heck, it was probably quite futuristic in many ways considering the first PCs didn't appear on the market until the 80's. He goes into a remarkable amount of technical detail which is pretty interesting and some of the speculative theories concerning alien life forms were new to me. All in all it is still a pretty good page turner.


Arthur and George
Arthur and George
Author: Julian Barnes
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 59
Review Date: 6/29/2013


Julian Barnes took an historical incident (a wrongly accused and imprisoned man and a champion in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and built it into a remarkable story. He alternates between the two men's stories using the past tense for Sir Arthur's story and the present tense for George Edalji's until their paths cross and then he seamlessly switches back and forth as he continues to unwind his story. His character development is among some of the best I've read and he really gets into the mind of his characters and ponders many issues such as faith and fidelity in the midst of trying circumstances. One might hope for a crackerjack ending with a Sherlock Holmes type of conclusion, but it is based on reality so the ending (without giving away too much) is quite as satisfactory as one might hope. All in all, a very good read! Julian Barnes is a very literate and proficient author and his craft really shows in this book.


The Book of the Dun Cow
The Book of the Dun Cow
Author: Walter Wangerin Jr.
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 9/15/2012


What George Orwell did for the politics of the barnyard with 'Animal Farm', so Walter Wangerin has done for the bigger struggle in the baryard - that of good versus evil - with 'The Book Of The Dun Cow'. If one reads it carefully one can find many biblical allusions sprinkled throughout the story. The heroes are flawed - faith wavers, questions remain unanswered, self gets in the way, but still the animals press on in a life or death struggle against the evil that seeks to destroy everything. A remarkably well told tale and one worth coming back to for a second read (or more). And, of course, there is a sequel - "The Book Of Sorrows". Evil doesn't give up that easily.


The Bookman's Tale
The Bookman's Tale
Author: Charlie Lovett
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 11/18/2013
Helpful Score: 2


The author, a former antiquarian bookseller, brings his considerable knowledge into play in this delightful novel. It has two love stories, a bitter feud between neighbors, an account of Shakespeare and his cronies and the story of a forgery all revolving around antiquarian books. It encompasses four time frames - Elizabethan England, Victorian England and 1980's and 90's England/America. It was both informative and entertaining. A good read.


Cleopatra: A Biography
Cleopatra: A Biography
Author: Stacy Schiff
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 66
Review Date: 3/13/2012
Helpful Score: 2


For anyone interested in reading this book and being put off by so many of the reviews I say: Stick with it the first 50-75 pages are slow going but once you get into it you will find it fascinating. I thought it was very well written and not dry as some claim. Schiff does a splendid job of sifting through all the various accounts to give a very reasonable and life-like picture of Cleopatra. For a woman in her position trying to juggle her role as queen of both the Egyptians and the Ptolemaic Greeks as well as a vassal to the squabbling Romans, she did remarkably well to last as long as she did. You feel her anguish and desperation as her world begins to implode all around her and her final thoughts were for the well-being of her children.
P.S. Octavian (Caesar Augustus) was a real weasel.


Coming Up for Air (Harvest Book)
Coming Up for Air (Harvest Book)
Author: George Orwell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 9/15/2012
Helpful Score: 2


George Bowling, an overweight middle-age insurance salesman with a new set of dentures evaluates his life of quiet desperation in the England between the wars. He sees war with Germany looming on the horizon once more and anticipates a German invasion of Britain. In that stage of mid-life reevaluation that comes to all men he recognizes that happiness and contentment can be found in the simple of things of life - enjoying the countryside, smelling the flowers etc., so he decides to sneak off for a week to his old childhood haunts and fish a cetain pond that he always meant to fish but never got around to.
Well, they say you can never go home again and when he does virtually nothing is as he remembers it.
While this is a light-hearted novel it is written with tremendous insight both into the psyche of his protagonist (George) and the looming war with Germany. Several passages describes his fears of a post war society and those ideas were further fleshed out ten years later (after the war) in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
On a personal level, I could relate to his return visit to his boyhood haunts. When I did the same thing twenty years after emigrating and returned to my old haunts in England, there was a sense of bewilderment. Memory proved to be defective and while the town was still somewhat recognizable, so much had changed too and I realized that I was now a stranger to all that was once so familiar.


Continent
Continent
Author: Jim Crace
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/3/2014


I'm not sure I totally "get it" with this collection of short stories but there is a certain thread of irony that runs through them all. Crace is a good story-teller but I'm not sure I would return to this for a second reading. I much prefer his later works "A Gift of Stones" and "Harvest".


Dancing at the Rascal Fair
Dancing at the Rascal Fair
Author: Ivan Doig
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 9/15/2012


Doig manages to paint a vivid picture of the Big Sky country of Montana while also drilling deep into the recesses of the human heart. Life, like the Montana sheep of the McCaskills and Barclays, tends to wander in unexpected directions. You get a notion that things aren't going to be quite as rosy as Angus had anticipated and, sure enough, things go awry. It is a powerful story, convincingly told from Angus's point of view - the sense of loss and heartbreak felt very real.
Doig stated that he used some Robert Burns quotes and others he created himself. I was curious about the story the children read of the King's Remembrancer - if that was something he made up too. I'd rather like to read it myself!
As a Scots immigrant myself who has traveled around the western part of Montana through Browning and down across the endless rich, grassy rolling hills of the Blackfeet Reservation, I felt immersed in the story from the beginning in an oddly vicarious way.
I had previously read "Mountain Time" and enjoyed Doig's writing ability, but this book was outstanding.


Dancing at the Rascal Fair (McCaskill Trilogy, Bk 2)
Dancing at the Rascal Fair (McCaskill Trilogy, Bk 2)
Author: Ivan Doig
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 9/15/2012
Helpful Score: 1


Doig manages to paint a vivid picture of the Big Sky country of Montana while also drilling deep into the recesses of the human heart. Life, like the Montana sheep of the McCaskills and Barclays, tends to wander in unexpected directions. You get a notion that things aren't going to be quite as rosy as Angus had anticipated and, sure enough, things go awry. It is a powerful story, convincingly told from Angus's point of view - the sense of loss and heartbreak felt very real.
Doig stated that he used some Robert Burns quotes and others he created himself. I was curious about the story the children read of the King's Remembrancer - if that was something he made up too. I'd rather like to read it myself!
As a Scots immigrant myself who has traveled around the western part of Montana through Browning and down across the endless rich, grassy rolling hills of the Blackfeet Reservation, I felt immersed in the story from the beginning in an oddly vicarious way.
I had previously read "Mountain Time" and enjoyed Doig's writing ability, but this book was outstanding.


The Dark River (Fourth Realm, Bk 2)
The Dark River (Fourth Realm, Bk 2)
Author: John Twelve Hawks
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 47
Review Date: 10/19/2009


I enjoyed The Traveler - good premise for a story, so I was looking forward to reading The Dark River. Quite frankly, about 2/3 of the way through it I was wondering whether to continue on to the end or not. Without adding any 'spoilers', I'll just say that it got a little too fantastic and my interest waned. I'm curious as to how it all plays out in the final volume, but not sure that I'm curious enough to read it in order to find out.


Diary of a Nobody (Wordsworth Classics)
Diary of a Nobody (Wordsworth Classics)
Author: George Grossmith
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 6/16/2010


A delightfully humorous look at a middle class family in Victorian England. It resonates with today's world - office politics, keeping up with the Jones, concern over their grown child's behavior and choices.


The Earth Is Enough: Growing Up in a World of Fly Fishing, Trout,  Old Men
Review Date: 3/10/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Harry Middleton managed to take his own personal coming of age story, change the names of people and places, jumble the order of events and produce an American Classic story. With great humor and pathos, he tells the story of a damaged adolescent sent to live with his grandfather and great uncle on a dirt poor farm in 1960's Arkansas. His story-telling is flawless and heart-warming. You fall in love with the characters. For anyone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world and the wonders it holds, this book is a must read. I've loaned and given away numerous copies and have never heard anything but praise for this book.


Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God's Everything
Review Date: 9/3/2014
Helpful Score: 1


If I had to guess the name of the author who wrote this book I'd be inclined to suggest Philip Yancey as the author. While that might be counter-productive to the whole aim of the book (which is, as the title says, to embrace obscurity), it might be helpful for those who haven't read the book but are familiar with his writing style to know what lies in store for them. It is a very thought-provoking book with a message that frees us from desiring or seeking acceptance and looking for praise (consciously or sub-consciously) from those around us in the world, in the workplace or in the church. If all we do - our service, our giving, our treatment of others - is done for God's glory then our treasure, the fulfillment of all our needs and desires, the aching and longing for acceptance will find their satisfaction in His presence. This book suggests a change in attitude that we need to live out daily and keep at the front of our minds constantly.


The Forgotten Soldier:  The Classic WWII Autobiography (Brassey's Commemorative Series WWII)
Review Date: 9/15/2012


"Others might someday understand that men can love the same virtues on both sides of a conflict, and that pain is international".
From the epilogue of Guy Sajer's remarkable account of the brutality of life on the Eastern Front as a young German soldier. The relentlessness of the Russians to push the invading Germans from their lands was savage beyond belief. With overwhelming numbers of men and steadily increasing materiel supremacy also, they continued to push the Germans out of Russia, back through Poland and finally back into Germany along with a tidal wave of refugees fleeing the brutality of the Russians. Starving, ill-equipped, under-supplied and under-supported, Sajer and his compatriots stood by and supported each other through their nightmare experiences.
This book shows the real brutality of total war and the price it extracts from men and nations. A powerful and moving account that the reader will not soon forget.


The Gift of Stones
The Gift of Stones
Author: Jim Crace
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 1/24/2014


Ever since I read William Golding's 'The Inheritors' many, many years ago I have been fascinated with pre-historic man - by that I mean the era before recorded history. In this short but powerfully evocative little novel Crace brings us the story of a stone age village of flint workers told through the eyes of a young girl adopted by a one armed young man who, unable to work the flints, found his calling as a story-teller who fashioned tales to suit his audience just as the workers fashioned flints for various purposes. The events take place in a small orderly village somewhere on the coast of England amid the chalky, flint filled hills where the people huddle in safety while the bigger world seems to be in a state of change and turmoil as hinted at by the occasional appearance of horsemen traveling through the village. The introduction of bronze heralds the end of the stone age and the villagers must adapt or perish and it is the story-teller with his somewhat wider knowledge of the world and his imagination who must lead them on to a new life with greater possibilities. The story speaks to the power of story-telling to inspire and motivate people to accept change and rise to the challenges that lie before us.


Godric
Godric
Author: Frederick Buechner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 9/15/2012
Helpful Score: 1


Frederick Buechner has taken the historical account of the life of Godric as recorded by the monk, Reginald and turned it into a 12th century narrative by Godric himself. Using old English idioms, he gives Godric an authentic voice with which he retells his life story from adventurous young man to pirate ultimately to ascetic hermit living by the river Wear near Durham.
Buechner perfectly captures the struggle that every man who desires righteousness and godliness faces - that is, the lustful desires of the flesh.
For those who want to get a better feel for how life was in that era, I'd highly recommend The Year 1000-What life was like at the turn of the first millenium by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger.


Hemingway's Chair
Hemingway's Chair
Author: Michael Palin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 9/15/2012
Helpful Score: 3


An enjoyable, light-hearted read. Palin captures the essence of the English mindset in his spectrum of characters from the "down on his heels" Lord of the Manor who buys his suit from a second hand stall to the Postal clerks eating frozen TV dinners in front of the telly for their date night. I couldn't help but wonder if his writing for the screen (big and small) affected the way he wrote this book. It seemed like it would lend itself to a comedy movie along the lines of "A Fish Called Wanda" - which is one of my favorite comedies.


The Hungering Dark
The Hungering Dark
Author: Frederick Buechner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 9/3/2014


Buechner's writing never disappoints - this collection of essays on the darkness of doubt and the hope of the gospel are rich meditations that are perfect with a morning cup of coffee. A great way to start the day.


1 to 20 of 36 - Page: