About Me

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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Thursday, 29 September 2011

"Emergence: from chaos to order" by John H Holland

This is a worthy book. It is an academic book. It contains the intricate details of mathematics and algorithms. And at the same tine it attempts to be a general and genial introduction to the network science written by one of the earliest workers in the field.

A good book but not an exciting book. Some interesting concepts but it didn't hook me as much as the other similar treatises I have read over the last few years:

But probably Emergence is the one to quote when I wirte my textbook.

September 2011; 248 pages

Sunday, 25 September 2011

"The Devil and Sherlock Holmes" by David Grann

Twelve real-life stories of murder, mystery and madness. Sort of. Actually a remarkably eclectic collection which makes one wonder how one man, albeit writing for The New Yorker, can have found the time and sources to acquire such a miscellany. Even the title stores are as different as chalk and cheese: a 'was he killed or did he commit suicide?' puzzle about the wannabe biographer of Conan Doyle to an assortment of interviews with and biographical fragments of an exiled Haitian politician. In between we learn about an arson that wasn't and a criminal gang that terrorises US penitentiaries. My favourite story is the murderer who used the details of his unsolved crime as material for a bizarrely surrealist novel; this led to his eventual conviction.

A fascinating and unusual collection of articles.

September 2011; 334 pages

Friday, 9 September 2011

"Britannia: 100 Documents that shaped a nation" by Graham Stewart

This is perhaps a somewhat eclectic collection of documents from the Treaty between Alfred the Great and Guthrun the Dane to the sergeant Pepper Album cover via the Laws of Cricket and the Great Reform Act. I often wanted more detail and more authentic quotes from the documents (every document is reported upon but not always quoted and hardly ever quoted in full). I was a little disappointed by the selection which is heavily weighted towards the modern era. Nevertheless, it was so interesting and compelling that I changed my annual long distance walk from the second half of the Thames walk to the River Lea so that I could walk along the boundary between Wessex and the Dane Law as agreed by Alfred and Guthrun above in about 885.

Some wonderful moments of history are represented by this magnificent book. I don't always agree with the selection but I have learned a great deal from it.

 September 2011; 422 pages.

Friday, 2 September 2011

"Death in Holy Orders" by P.D.James

A theological college for just 20 students on an isolated and wind-swept headland on the East Anglian Coast where Adam Dalgliesh, poetry writing Commander of Police at New Scotland Yard and son of a Norfolk vicar, stayed when he was a teenager. An industrialist called Sir Alred, a detective who studied theology, a padeophile priest, another priest who is aristocratic descendant of Prince Bishops, a barmy old maid, an unnaturally beautiful bastard and a vitriolic Archdeacon. An exquisite work of art and a papyrus purporting to be the command from Pontius Pilate to release Christ's body. High Anglicanism and low crime. The classic ingredients of a PDJames murder mystery.

Pure hokum. I don't know that you could ever begin to believe in some of the bizarre characters but the plot is almost worthy of Agatha Christie, the descriptive writing is lyrically brilliant and there are some moments of wonderful comedy. An entertaining read.

September 2011; 548 pages