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Roman Clodia (London)
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Henry VIII (Penguin Monarchs): The Quest for Fame
Henry VIII (Penguin Monarchs): The Quest for Fame
by John Guy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nuanced look at Henry VIII in 100 pages, 23 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This neat little hardback with half-page dust cover would be ideal for the popular reader who wants an engaging but academically-reliable look at Henry VIII. John Guy, who is a Fellow at Cambridge, has been working on the Tudors and Stuarts all his scholarly life and has that enviable ability to cross over between an academic and popular audience.

This is a compressed (c.100 pages) but nonetheless rich look at Henry VIII and, in particular, his conscious striving to establish his own lasting fame via his actions, thoughts and the magnificent courtly culture he helped create. It's a relief that Guy doesn't simply re-hash the familiar tales of the six wives, Anne Boleyn, the 'great matter' of his divorce etc. and offers a more nuanced portrait of Henry within the contexts of his times.

There are no footnotes in the text itself to distract popular readers, but all the sources are noted at the end with Guy's usual scholarly rigour so that students and academics can follow up as necessary.There are 8-pages of colour plates in the centre giving a sumptuous feel to the volume.

So this probably doesn't tell us anything new about Henry VIII but is a wonderfully engaging read for both the amateur and the more informed reader. I'm impressed with this new series from Allen Lane/Penguin, and will certainly be looking at some of the others - recommended.


Philips GC4522/00 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 200 g Steam Boost and Safety Auto Off, 300 ml, 2600 Watt, Black
Philips GC4522/00 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 200 g Steam Boost and Safety Auto Off, 300 ml, 2600 Watt, Black
Price: £84.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Heats fast, glides smoothly, steams effectively, 23 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a top of the range steam iron with a cool, urban feel to it. It's lighter than it looks, heats up fast, and glides very smoothly. I like that you can set the heat control manually rather than having an auto sensor, and the steam is powerful without any of the water drop leakage I was getting from my admittedly very old iron. This also steams vertically so is ideal for de-creasing clothes on a hanger, and freshens up silk tops, for example, in an instant.

If you do big loads of ironing then this may not be ideal as the volume of steam uses up the water fairly fast - for smaller, every day amounts and for freshening up and keeping your clothes crease-free this is invaluable.


Verbatim 52612 LED Classic A B22 9 Watt Light Bulb
Verbatim 52612 LED Classic A B22 9 Watt Light Bulb
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Bright LED with a standard bayonet fitting, 21 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a bright, crisp LED with a standard bayonet fitting. Although billed as equivalent to 60w, it is actually brighter than that, probably closer to 100w - for me a main room light rather than a lamp.

If it lasts as long as is being advertised it'll be worth the price.


Do-Ahead Christmas: Stress-Free Cooking for the Festive Season
Do-Ahead Christmas: Stress-Free Cooking for the Festive Season
by James Ramsden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the full-on start-cooking-in-November Christmas, 21 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This will work best for anyone planning a full-on, traditional, largish family Christmas with everything being prepared from scratch. Those of us who are a bit more last-minute, spontaneous and who are cooking cheats (isn't that why Waitrose exists?) may get less out of the book.

The cocktails (Prosecco, elderflower, orange and rosemary is delicious), party nibbles and starters suit my tastes best but I really can't imagine making mulled wine a week ahead and storing it until needed... or baking up a batch of rye crispbreads rather than nipping into the supermarket.

The main recipes are fairly heavy and meaty, with few veggie alternatives.

So this is the sort of book that will suit someone doing a lot of Christmas catering, who wants to bake and make everything themselves from scratch, and who wants to start Christmas preparations from now - if Christmas is a project-planning occasion for you, this may make the whole thing more manageable.


Sanctuary
Sanctuary
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A melancholy tale of disappointment and self-delusion, 20 Nov 2014
This review is from: Sanctuary (Kindle Edition)
Branwell Brontė, the shadowy brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, here tells the story of the final months of his disappointed life. Full of melancholy, self-delusion and a kind of passive self-destruction, this re-opens the story of the Brontės but refuses to see it as a romantic tale of solitary genius. Instead we witness Patrick Brontės’ favouritism along with his commitment to the people in his parish, and get oblique but always telling views of the Brontė sisters, especially Charlotte trying to hold the family together.

Edric always writes with a quiet power, and refuses to follow trends or to compromise his literary vision for populism. So readers looking for the romantic side of the Brontės’ story may not find this particularly sympathetic, but it gives a powerful portrait of a man dejected, despondent and ultimately defeated by life.

(I received an ARC via Netgalley)


Alternative Shakespeares (New Accents)
Alternative Shakespeares (New Accents)
by John Drakakis
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging 'traditional' Shakespeare, 19 Nov 2014
Written in 1985, this book captures the excitement of the politcised theorisation of Shakespeare at that time, challenging the orthodox siting of Shakespeare as being conservative (and Conservative), orthodox and oh so traditional. Instead, the contributors here re-open Shakespeare's texts from multiple viewpoints: those of feminist, Marxist and post-Freudian criticism.

Looking at the plays it terms of both their own times (when the theatre was a subversive space only tentatively under the control of the authorities), as well as ours, this takes Shakespeare away from a fixed and hagiographical approach and makes the plays current, speaking to us in our own terms.

With essays from groundbreaking scholars such as Jacqueline Rose, Alan Sinfield and Jonathan Dollimore, this book helped to map out, in the 1980s, some of the spaces of today's Shakespearean studies.

Recommended for older undergraduates and postgraduates.


OZ Naturals Facial Cleanser Contains Powerful Vitamin C - This Natural Face Wash Is The BEST Anti Aging Facial Cleanser On The Market - It Deep Cleans Pores While Providing 8 Times The Anti Oxidant Protection For A Healthy, Radiant Glow
OZ Naturals Facial Cleanser Contains Powerful Vitamin C - This Natural Face Wash Is The BEST Anti Aging Facial Cleanser On The Market - It Deep Cleans Pores While Providing 8 Times The Anti Oxidant Protection For A Healthy, Radiant Glow
Offered by OZ Naturals EU
Price: £20.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Premium wash-off cleanser, 19 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Since having received some free samples from OZ Naturals to review, I've become a devotee of their products. As effective as the others I've tried, this is a premium cleanser that whisks away the day leaving your face fresh, clean and soft. The gel-cream is concentrated so you only need a tiny blob (I use it on a facial brush) and I like that it cleans without lathering up, and washes off completely with no residue.

This looks expensive but the tube is 118 ml and given the tiny 'dosage' needed will last for ages. Highly recommended.

(I received a free sample for review purposes)


Philips E14 Small Edison Screw 6 Watt LED Dimmable Candle, Warm White
Philips E14 Small Edison Screw 6 Watt LED Dimmable Candle, Warm White
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Bright, sparkling and dimmable, 19 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Some low energy bulbs are not dimmable - a nuisance if you have a touch lamp without the option to go straight from off to on. This LED combines long life and low power with the convenience of being dimmable.

The bulb itself is solid and heavy with an inner refractor which gives a sparkling quality to the light which is itself warm rather than cold/blue.

It's worth mentioning that Philips have packaged the bulb securely in fairly robust plastic and card so that this survives delivery in Amazon packaging and being thrust through the letter-box.

This isn't cheap and it's difficult to know whether it really will live up to its 20,000 hours claim - other supposedly long-life bulbs I've used certainly haven't - but it does feel like the Prada of lightbulbs!


The Jew of Malta (New Mermaids)
The Jew of Malta (New Mermaids)
by Christopher Marlowe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good study edition, 17 Nov 2014
Often thought of as a precedent to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Marlowe's exuberant, savage and grotesquely funny play is very different in tone. We can already, though, trace the lineaments of Shylock and Jessica here, as well as the disturbing engagement with nascent capitalism where everything is up for sale. As is the case in the later play, too, the supposedly stable categories of Christian and Jew are increasingly challenged and prove disturbingly porous. And nothing else is quite like Marlowe's grand finale!

This is a well-edited single edition play-text with a full introduction - recommended for undergraduates.


The Rape of Lucrece
The Rape of Lucrece
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful poem, awkward Kindle formatting, 16 Nov 2014
This review is for the free Kindle edition of the poem.

Like so many other Kindle editions of poetry, this is carelessly transcribed and formatted. The lines are centred rather than left aligned, the rhyme royale stanzas are ignored and the poem is given as run-on text all the way through, and there are no line numbers, particularly a problem in a poem of this length (around 1800 lines).

The text itself is always worth reading, though Shakespeare's narrative poems do tend to get a bit bogged down. Here he takes the iconic story of Lucretia as told by Livy and Ovid, and expands it. Of especial interest are the long monologues by Lucrece herself: as she tried to dissuade her rapist, and as she deals with the traumatic aftermath.

The Argument which prefaces the poem makes much of how the Roman republic was constituted as a result of Lucretia's ordeal and actions, literally built on her dead body, but the poem itself seems to play down the state politics as Tarquin is banished but no mention is made of the expulsion of the kings.

So the poem concerns itself with questions of sex and politics, of consent in both a private and political context: but this Kindle edition makes it awkward to read and is inaccurately transcribed.


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