No One Writes to the Colonel
by Gabriel García Márquez
"The Colonel and his wife live in destitution in a small village in war-torn Colombia. Every Friday the Colonel waits to receive his pension in the post. However, he's never received his pension. Not once in fifteen years."A small book comprising the eponymous novella and some other dismal short stories. I think I liked 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and 'Love in the Time of Cholera' although I must have read them decades ago, so I thought I'd be on to a winner, but not so. The blurb on the back of the book says "...one of the richest pieces of writing this exceptional author has produced...." which doesn't actually say it's good. Avoid.
Count on the Saint
by Leslie Charteris
narrated by John Telfer
"In 'The Pastor’s Problem' Simon tries to help his penniless friend Father Bernardo by stealing an invaluable silver chalice, only to discover some real crooks. And in 'The Unsaintly Santa' even Cambridge University professors have to call on the Saint when a series of cold-blooded murders reveal a vicious campus plot."A two for the price of one deal on Audible, and this one is a workmanlike pair of mysteries for the Saint, who is a comparable figure to James Bond. I think Ian Fleming is the better writer, although I haven't read any of the original Bond books since I was a teenager. I really don't know why I took up the two for one offer either, because I have a shelf of books waiting to be read.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
by Laurie Lee
"With just a blanket to sleep under and his trusty violin, Laurie Lee spends a year crossing Spain, from Vigo in the north to the southern coast. Only the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War puts an end to his extraordinary peregrinations."Beautifully written and a pleasure to read, this has been a delightful prelude to my holiday walking in Spain, and I picked it up because of the library's inspired inclusion of travel writing interspersed with their guide books. Obviously Laurie Lee's journey was very different from my holiday - a different time, season, route and purpose, but so evocative of the people and places he encountered. I used to read a lot of travel books - Eric Newby, Dervla Murphy, Paul Theroux and many others less well known - and this book reminds me why I used to enjoy them so much.
Salvage for the Saint
by Leslie Charteris
narrated by John Telfer
"The Saint takes part in a powerboat race only for his main competitor's boat to blow up midrace. As Simon comforts the man's widow, he discovers some rather unusual behaviour, which leads to a rather unusual bunch of crooks."The second Saint book just confirms that Charteris is not Fleming - the writing and the plot are quite inferior and the author doesn't even create a likeable character. Surprising that Fleming managed to make us root for an assassin, even if he is on the 'right' side. This guy also works for himself rather than the Forces for Good, which removes any remaining sympathy I had for his predicament.
The Tomb in Seville
by Norman Lewis
"Commissioned by his Sicilian father-in-law to locate the tomb of the last Spanish Corvaja in the cathedral of Seville, when public transport came to a standstill the author and his brother-in-law walked more than a hundred miles to Madrid, and were then forced via Portugal to Seville."A travel writer I hadn't come across before, but I was reading his account of Seville as I was sitting in the cathedral square looking at the tower he was describing. Set at the same time as the Laurie Lee book, the majority of the book details the frustration of more than a week spent trying to get to Seville frustrated by armed uprising and cancelled trains, but once there he telephones his father-in-law who arrives in two days. Apart from this jarring note, it's fine.
Computing with Quantum Cats: From Colossus to Qubits
by John Gribbin
"The quantum computer is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Pioneering physicists are on the brink of unlocking a new quantum universe which provides a better representation of reality than our everyday experiences and common sense ever could."This book started with Turing and ended in cutting edge technologies - the different possibilities for the emerging science of quantum computing, including my favourite subject, teleportation (but only of subatomic particles). So I managed the first chapters fine, and then it gradually slipped away from my comprehension, and I can't claim to have understood much towards the end, not helped by my inability to retain the specific meaning of words like 'decoherence' and 'entanglement'. I thought I would go back and re-read some of Gribbin's earlier books that I found so readable, until he mentioned that actually he has changed his mind about the multiple universe material he wrote about in 'In Search of Schrodinger's Cat'. So I'll probably just put this on the shelf and move on.