Encyclopaedia Divine: Shamans the Call of the Wild

By Alejandro Melchor

Rating: 3 stars

This is a supplementary D&D rulebook all about, funnily enough, shamans. I borrowed it off George on the basis that it might be interesting for my character, but I don’t think there’s a huge amount there for me, although the additions to the world could be interesting.

It’s the first time I’ve read a source book all the way through and it’s fairly dense, despite the large amounts of whitespace and pictures, moreso than its short 60-ish pages would imply.

Book details

ISBN: 9781903980255
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Year of publication: 2002

God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion

By Christopher Hitchens

Rating: 2 stars

Whatever you think of Richard Dawkins, having read several of both his science and advocacy books, the man is a good communicator. Having read God is not Great, I regret that I can’t say the same thing about Hichens. This book comes across much more like a rant than Dawkins’ similar work and although there are good arguments buried amongst the hyperbole, I’m not sure it’s worth searching them out. And although I haven’t confirmed this for myself, I’ve been told that some of his fact checking is poor and that there are several errors in the book.

Book details

ISBN: 9781843545866
Publisher: Atlantic
Year of publication: 2007

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 3 stars

This is a collection of Tolkien’s poetry, in Hobbit style, taken from Bilbo’s Red Book. Only the first two poems refer to Bombadil, the others being general verses from Middle-Earth, and a couple of them are familiar from The Lord of the Rings.

If you like Tolkien’s poetry (and I do), you’ll enjoy these (mostly) simple poems, which can be read quite quickly.

Book details

ISBN: 9780395576472
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Juv)
Year of publication: 1962

The Silver Sword

By Ian Serraillier

Rating: 3 stars

When I saw this in a second hand bookshop for 25p, I couldn’t help but grab it, since it’s something that I read at school (either late primary school or early secondary) and really enjoyed at the time. When their parents are taken away by the Nazis, the Balicki children must flee Warsaw and make their way to Switzerland, along with the orphan thief Jan.

Rereading it now, this is a fairly simplistic children’s book, only briefly touching on the suffering and hardship of the Second World War, but it still moved me in places. The children got a lot of help on their journey, but I’m prepared to believe in that due to the circumstances of the time and the fact that I believe that most people are genuinely good if given a chance.

Book details

ISBN: 9780099439493
Publisher: Red Fox
Year of publication: 1956

The Dreamstone (Arafel, #1)

By C.J. Cherryh

Rating: 2 stars

Arafel is the last queen of the Elves, remaining on the earth when her kin have died. This is the story of her last battle. This book did very little for me, I’m afraid. I’m not a big fantasy fan and there wasn’t enough story or characterisation to keep my interest. Interesting climax, but I’m not sure it was worth it.

Book details

ISBN: 9780886770136
Publisher: DAW
Year of publication: 1983

Notes from a Big Country

By Bill Bryson

Rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this collection of columns that Bill Bryson wrote for the Mail on Sunday for several years while he was living in the US. It’s insightful, thought-provoking and, above all, very funny. Bryson provides a great commentary on his native land, always counter-balanced by his wife and children who were experiencing it for the first time. It’s also interesting to see how the trends of the America of a decade ago are slowly reaching the Britain of today.

Book details

Publisher: Black Swan
Year of publication: 1999

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

By Richard P. Feynman

Rating: 3 stars

This volume collects together three related public lectures that Feynman gave in 1963 on the theme of science, its role in society, its application to other fields of endeavour and its connection to religion. As well as being a Nobel prize winner, Feynman is an excellent communicator, and these lectures are easy to read and you come away feeling thoughtful about, as the title implies, the meaning of it all.

Book details

ISBN: 9780465023943
Publisher: Basic Books
Year of publication: 1998


By Samuel R. Delany

Rating: 4 stars

Lorq von Ray is captain of a starship and scion of one of the richest families in the galaxy. He gathers a motley crew to help him pilot his ship into a nova to claim Illyrion: the most valuable energy source known to man.

This was a great book with some very wide-ranging themes, although primarily obsession. Lorq is obsessed with Illyrion and goaded on by a feud with a rival family. The crew of the ship also form interesting characters and provide the backdrop to the star-spanning feud of the principal character. The universe of the novel is set out in detail with throwaway references and little mollycoddling to start with, although some exposition late helps fill in the gaps to making a fascinating universe. Definitely recommended.

Book details

ISBN: 9780375706707
Publisher: Vintage
Year of publication: 1968

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