Recent Book Activity
Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War
The Light Between Oceans
Japanese Submarine Aircraft
Evil in Emerald
The Water Dancer
Line of Polity: The Second Agent Cormac Novel (Agent Cormac 2)
Skinner: A Spatterjay Novel (Spatterjay 1)
Like This, For Ever
The Levant Trilogy
I Gave My Heart to Know This
The Diners' Club Cookbook
Conquest of the Moon
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Started the New Year reading historical mysteries. Another quarantine ahead, so I am stocking up on books. I read large quantities of medieval mysteries and then back to my favorite: Rome of the late republic. My friend Thomas gave me lots of books of modern Chinese history.
Managed to get back to Hong Kong for January-March and quarantine and a bad back gave me lots of time to read. thrillers and travel stories. Especially enjoyed a Capt. Cook biography (Captain James Cook by Richard Hough). In April I entered another quarantine in Kaohsiung TAIWAN and another chance for much reading. Interested in some early adventure fiction and time on Bull Dog Drummond and Richard Hannay and stories about James Bond and the Flemings. Particularly enjoy William Boyd at the moment. In June I became interested in the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and then some historical detective fiction about the late middle ages. Towards the end of the year I started to read science fiction again, especially hard science fiction, such as that of BVMorris.
Reading lots of John Lawton stories about WWII and also science fiction about Flinx. In February I started to work more in Southern Taiwan and have found plenty of time to read in the evenings. Initially I did not like Ava Larssen's novels, but began to enjoy them and realise they have a mode of storytelling that changes between the books. Spending a lot of time in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and cannot travel much because of the Covid-19 virus and got some great book lists to read through. In the summer my reading slowed a lot as I had my own writing to do, but in October I had a little more space for reading. Back to Arnaldur Indriðason, Ben Bova, Rennie Airth, Caleb Carr...
In Hawaii in February and found some interesting books on a Japanese historical detective (see Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland ), and also discovered Rennie Airth and John Lawton. Also reading a lot of the science fiction of Alan Dean Foster as I love his biological descriptions. I stayed in Beijing in a hotel very close to Tiananmen Square, so have been reading various books about the history of China in the 1980s.
2018Enjoyed Colin Cotterill very much and quite a bit about the history of submarines (especially built by Lake). I have become interested in the Kennedy assassination and other politically motivated crimes such as poisonings of former Russian agents. In parallel reading much about the history of the war in Viet Nam. I struggled through the huge book by Caro on Robert Moses and much enjoyed Shirer's Berlin Diary
2017Have been reading Charles Cummings, who I find extremely disturbing, and thrillers from more classical proponents of the spy story such as Len Deighton and le Carre. The year ended with some military books on aircraft and a fascination with the history of gunboats. A visit to Laos made me interested in the Big Brother Mouse a reading project for children. Even went and contributed to some Englsih instruction on Christmas Day (2017). Also became interested in the writing of Colin Cotterill novels about Dr. Siri and his adventures solving crimes in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos.
2016The year starts with me well into the Uplift novels by David Brin. I have also been interested in aircraft in recently military history, so have been reading Rowland White's books, though somewhat journalistic are very exciting. Towards the middle of the year I had various projects in China, especially in Shanxi Province, so I started to read about historical Chinese architecture more seriously and returned to my fascination with Liang Sichen and Lin Hueyin. Back to Shanxi and the elegant Foguang Temple ( 佛光寺) from 857 AD on Mt Wutai in October, so Chinese history much in in my mind, especially the Tang and Sung Dynasties. I became interested in Yang Guifei (楊玉環) one of the Four Beauties of ancient China, so have been reading much about her and the An Lushan Rebellion which was so destructive to the Tang Dynasty.
2015Read lots of science fiction over the past year and failed to break away to other genres or even read Stanislaw Lem, so I am reading large amounts of the more traditional hard science fiction. As I live in Hong Kong I am reading interesting books about its history in addition to some Chinese materials. Working through a pile of Sarah Paretsky and Sarah Dunant, and also discovered Laurie R King's stories about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. I have also read Derek Robinson's books that constitute a fictional history of the Royal Air Force and its predecessor.
2014In the new year I continued to read Scandinavian crime stories and classic science fiction along with my interests in the solar system. I have been promising to read some Stanislaw Lem this year, perhaps as an antidote to science fiction from the US/UK, bit as always I discover other writers such as Jack McDevitt. Also at work on the Raymond Chandler short stories and various hard-boiled novels in his style. I also have a bunch of Douglas Reeman submarine stories to read, though there is a certain sameness about them all.
2013The new year found me in the north of New Zealand reading some local history, but more significantly Westerns. Not a genre, I knew at all, so thought to give it a go, seeing as it is so unfashionable and Zane Gray spent so much time fishing there. Also started to read more avidly on the area of fiction about the solar system, although much is as short stories. These can be found collected under Mars, the asteroid belt,Jupiter and beyond in the outer solar system, Pluto comets and Kuiper objects as trans Neptunian objects and even onwards to nearby stars such as Alpha Centauri. The year, mostly spent in Hong Kong I found I have read a huge amount and finally finished all the Falco books, by Lyndsey Davis. As the year ended I was reading the Flashman Papers, the few remaining Henning Mankell -Kurt Wallender novels and Arnaldur Indriðason's Reykjavik Murders.
2012In 2012 I seem to have read a lot of science fiction and have almost read the entire Grand Tour series of Ben Bova. Have become very interested in Mars also. From April I was based in Hong Kong and started to take an interest in early epistolary novel such as Aphra Behn's Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister (1684) and Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740). I have been a great fan of Project Gutenberg for many years and have used its text files to search for references and quotations in my academic writing. The availability of e-book readers (purchased a Taiwanese GreenBook, extremely small and light) have made this source more approachable, so I have begun to take an interest in popular adventure stories, crime and science fiction from the Victorian period to World War II. I have also being reading a little military history indulging in my fascination with Gallipoli and also the submarine, especially prior to World War II. I seem to be spending more and more of my time in Hong Kong.
2011My interest in hard science fiction has increased and have set up a project to read the Grand Tour series of Ben Bova, which is close to twenty novels. In detective fiction I am still continuing to read stories from Scandinavia, with authors such as Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Arnaldsur Idradason etc. September 2011 brought another Heritage Open Day, but we did not have time to release quite so many books, but they were nevertheless popular.
2009/2010Started reading Dan Simmons, especially science fiction, with great enthusiasm in 2009 that has added another theme to the TBR list and also Neal Stephenson. I have Colleen McCullough's series the Masters of Rome and I have gradually worked through these along with some other detective fiction about the classical world. I have also started to gather and read steam-punk starting with The Difference Engine
2008The year of 2008 allowed more time to read more books by Robert Goddard and C.J. Sansom and to begin a pile by Henning Mankell. I continue to be fascinated by stories set in the classical Roman World, such as Imperium by Robert Harris, Sejanus by David Wishart, The Judgement of Caesar by Steven Saylor and A Dying Light in Corduba by Lynn Davis. Much of this has been encouraged by giveusadrink along with reinterest in Latin literature, Boudica, Perilla* (Ovid's stepdaughter) and other shadowy figures of the past.
*"Vade salutatum, subito perarata, Perillam,Ovid's Tristia Book III Poem 7
littera, sermonis fida ministra mei.
Aut illam inuenies dulci cum matre sedentem,
aut inter libros Pieridasque suas."
In 2007 I bought A Distant Star by the Chilean Roberto Bolaño from a sale bin in Kaitaia in the far north of New Zealand and we were overwhelmed by this most amazing book. Over the year we collected quite a few more of his books, which will probably end up in our permanent collection for a few years. Continuing the South American theme I really enjoyed Guillermo Martinez's The Oxford Murders, a thriller as much about mathematics as murder, recently read by my friend Phil who is fond of things mathematical. Also a few Kathy Reich's novels much enjoyed. We had a great book release (150+ books) as part of Heritage Open Day September 8th 2007 although we planed a further release on the Heritage Open Day September 13th 2008; time and weather prevented this, but as we have a great deal available, although some of that is rather specialist, we were active in releases at meet-ups in London.