User Profile

SlowRain

SlowRain@bookwyrm.social

Joined 10 months, 3 weeks ago

A Canadian expat ESL teacher in Taiwan. Interested in books, coffee, movies, straight razors, fountain pens, medieval history, rum...and rain!

My favorite writers are John le Carré, Graham Greene, Martin Cruz Smith, & Alan Furst.

My favorite books are:

  • A Perfect Spy, John le Carré
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson
  • The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
  • Smiley's People, John le Carré
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  • The Little Drummer Girl, John le Carré
  • The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
  • The Human Stain, Philip Roth

User Activity

Castles (1985, Dover Publications, Inc.) 4 stars

Review of 'Castles' on Goodreads

4 stars

Covering a period of time from Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages--but mainly focusing on the High Middle Ages--this book takes a look at the layout of castles--primarily the walls and defenses, but also some domestic arrangements--and explains them in a manner relevant to the layperson. It is by no means exhaustive, and seems to lean its focus more towards England, but it is certainly informative. It does not talk down to the reader, but it does present the text and definitions in a manner where the reader can easily understand the meaning. There are numerous helpful diagrams which do wonders for illustrating what is quite clearly and eloquently detailed in the text. However, the photos, taken mostly in the 1930s, are rather useless in the age of Google image searches. Nonetheless, this is an excellent book for anyone interested in castles, and I highly recommend it.

Death Ship of Dartmouth (Knights Templar series) (2006, Headline Book Publishing) 2 stars

Review of 'Death Ship of Dartmouth (Knights Templar series)' on Goodreads

2 stars

In England, 1324, a dead body is found in a hole in an unrepaired road in Dartmouth on the same day that a half-burnt merchant ship is brought into the harbor. And a knight is asked by his master to go there to find a Frenchman who is fleeing the realm.You can't judge a book by its cover, but you certainly can by its title. Death Ship of Dartmouth--book 21 in a 32-book medieval mystery series featuring two friends--should be enough to sum up how this book will turn out. This is B material, through and through. The unsatisfying plot is overly convoluted in its telling. Not that it is complex, just that the telling of it is rather meandering and heavy on exposition. And it is dialogue-heavy, while the narration is limited simply to what people are doing, saying, and thinking. Yes, thinking. It's that kind of novel.Two redeeming …
The road to Crécy (2005, Pearson/Longman) 4 stars

Review of 'The road to Crécy' on Goodreads

4 stars

In 1346, during the Hundred Years' War, King Edward III of England made landfall in Normandy and led an army through the northern part of France, burning, killing, and inflicting terror--ultimately culminating in the Battle of Crecy, where he defeated the vastly outnumbering French army, before laying siege to Calais.This book is extremely readable, no doubt about that. While there are endnotes for each chapter and a listing of its references at the back, this is not a pretentiously written book at all. The language is straightforward and clearly communicates the information in the vernacular of the layperson. It gives a brief overview of the history of the main players and of the conflict, as well as the preparations leading up to the landing. Then it's a day-by-day account of the progress of the English army and the response by the French. There are victories and defeats by both sides …
Red Rackham's Treasure (The Adventures of Tintin) (1974, Little, Brown Young Readers) 3 stars

Review of "Red Rackham's Treasure (The Adventures of Tintin)" on Goodreads

3 stars

Tintin, the Belgian reporter, and his friend Captain Haddock go on a search for lost treasure in the Caribbean. This is the second volume of a two-part adventure which, along with another one, make up the basis for the Steven Spielberg movie. The movie was my introduction to The Adventures of Tintin, and this is my introduction to the comic books.As a comic, it's cute. If I had read this when I was a kid, I would've been intrigued by it. While Spielberg's take on it changed the story a fair bit and was heavily influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is more of a bumbling adventure. There is more humor than I had expected, but it's targeted more towards pre-teen readers. It doesn't really have the broad appeal of the movie.However, reading this as an adult is much like watching a kids' cartoon: the basic plot can …
The secret of the unicorn (1991, Joy Street Books) 3 stars

A clue hidden in a toy ship leads Tintin on a dangerous treasure hunt.

Review of 'The secret of the unicorn' on Goodreads

2 stars

Tintin, the Belgian reporter, buys a model ship on a whim in a street market, which sets off a search for ancient treasure.This is the first volume of a two-part adventure which, along with another one, make up the basis for the Steven Spielberg movie. The movie was my introduction to The Adventures of Tintin, and this is my introduction to the comic books.As a comic, it's cute. If I had read this when I was a kid, I would've been intrigued by it. While Spielberg's take on it changed the story a fair bit and was heavily influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is more of a bumbling adventure. There is more humor than I had expected, but it's targeted more towards pre-teen readers. It doesn't really have the broad appeal of the movie.However, reading this as an adult is much like watching a kids' cartoon: the …
El nombre de la rosa (2004, Debolsillo) 4 stars

The Name of the Rose (Italian: Il nome della rosa [il ˈnoːme della ˈrɔːza]) is …

Review of 'El nombre de la rosa' on Goodreads

4 stars

A monk is asked to solve a series of murders in a remote 14th-century abbey amid a backdrop of high-level meetings between two opposing factions within the Catholic church.This is my second time reading this novel. My first reading was well over 10 years ago, but that was before I discovered my recent interest in the Middle Ages. In addition to that, I also read a book earlier this summer specifically about monasteries and monastic living. With all of that under my belt, I decided to reread this book to see if I would still be impressed with it.Perhaps not surprisingly, the mystery of the murders and of the library were much less intriguing the second time round. I think that's because there is little else to the novel other than that and the debates between the two opposing factions. A great novel, at its heart, still needs well-developed characters …
Monasteries and Monastic Orders (2008, H.F. Ullmann) 4 stars

Review of 'Monasteries and Monastic Orders' on Goodreads

4 stars

This is a fascinating introduction to the Christian monastery and the life within. Not heavy on doctrine or theology, it instead focuses on the origins of monastic life and rules, as well as on the buildings themselves. And, boy, does it do the buildings in spades! The bulk of this very bulky book is photos of exteriors and interiors of some of the most beautiful old-world buildings. We also learn a bit about the important characters in certain monasteries and monastic orders, and there is a bit of discussion of different works of art, but the primary focus is how monasteries looked and were operated. Highly recommended if you're interested in this sort of thing.

Dark star (2002, Random House Trade Paperbacks) 3 stars

Paris, Moscow, Berlin, and Prague, 1937. In the back alleys of nighttime Europe, war is …

Review of 'Dark star' on Goodreads

3 stars

A Polish Jew, who is a reporter for Pravda, is asked by competing members of the Soviet secret police to carry out a few espionage-related operations in the lead-up to World War II.Alan Furst is a master of atmosphere. Few authors, regardless of genre, have his sense of time and place. From the buildings to the clothes to the attitudes, he nails it all. It is the single greatest aspect of his writing that everyone comments on, and with good reason. Reading one of his earlier works is a master class in setting and certainly worth the cover price alone.The plot of this novel, however, is rather ho-hum. It can mostly be summed up this way: a guy does some things. That is a bit harsh, because we do learn a lot about espionage during that time period, but it's not far off the truth. Furst, in his early works, …