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Steven Haddon (Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
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The First Psychic: The Peculiar Mystery of a Victorian Wizard
The First Psychic: The Peculiar Mystery of a Victorian Wizard
by Peter Lamont
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating character, well written account, 24 Mar. 2006
As the author points out in the introduction, Daniel Douglas Home is truly an extraordinary character, and his story is strange enough for fiction, whether you accept his psychic claims or not.
Lauded by the notables of the day - writers, politicians, international royalty and nobility - Home is distinctive in being the only major figure in Spiritualism not to be convincingly exposed as a fraud. The question of his authenticity makes the whole tale all the more intriguing. This is definitely for unsolved mystery lovers, though: although Lamont explores possible explanations for Home's feats, there's no definitive answer either way.
Inevitably, the supernatural element is something that any writer on this topic has to deal with, one way or the other, and I was prepared for a bias to scepticism or belief. Lamont handles this very well, though: although his stance is laid out clearly towards the end, he doesn't shirk from describing both the unexplained elements of the story (of which there are many), and those that are manifestly explainable in a non-supernatural sense.
I had already done a little research on Home (purely out of interest) when I came to read this book, but it was still a page-turner, both for the central character and for the many not-so-incidental characters he encounters in his bizarre life. If you've never heard of him, after reading this you'll seriously wonder why.


ME Bandy, You Cissie: Vol 4: The Journals of Bartholomew Bandy (The Bandy Papers)
ME Bandy, You Cissie: Vol 4: The Journals of Bartholomew Bandy (The Bandy Papers)
by Donald Jack
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peacetime Bandy, 6 Nov. 2003
If you haven't met Bandy, you really should. You won't know what to make of him - that face, so infuriatingly bland and horselike. That indescribable voice...his unspeakable piano playing... The bizarre situations in which this young Canadian pilot seems to embroil himself, the enemies he makes, and the way in which he always manages to come through in the end are the reassuring bedrock of this series. The inventiveness and sparkling humour are the delicious, nutritious topsoil.
You should, of course, go straight away to "Three Cheers For Me", the first in the series, and begin there. But if you've got here, you should know that Bandy's adventures do not peter out with the end of the First World War. He encounters Trotsky; infuriates an American media baron; enters into and crashes out of 20s New York high society; and even becomes a movie star.
A fast-paced book with genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Recommended.


Velocity Of Sound
Velocity Of Sound
Price: £7.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Crunchy Apples, 6 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Velocity Of Sound (Audio CD)
These guys make energetic fuzzy guitar indie rock, that sounds like it was created by a busload of sugar-frenzied nine year olds channelling the history of rock 'n' roll. That's not a bad thing.
From the straightforwardly catchy "Please" to the darker but astonishingly brilliant "Do You Understand", Apples In Stereo make good with the hooks on this album. Rough at the edges in a lovable way. Invite them home to dinner, but don't give them any pudding - your life may never recover.


Me Too: The Bandy Papers (The Journals of Bartholomew Bandy, Volume 5)
Me Too: The Bandy Papers (The Journals of Bartholomew Bandy, Volume 5)
by Jack Donald
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, but not as inspired as its predecessors, 6 Nov. 2003
If you've not read any of the Bandy Papers yet, don't start here - buy Three Cheers for Me and read that. Once you've read one, it's difficult not to read the others. See you here soon.
Although there are some flashbacks to Bandy's bizarre Russian escapades, for the most part he is on his home turf in Me Too, causing chaos in his parents' home town of Gallop, and then moving on to Ottawa as an M.P. Those who know the series will know what to expect - a mixture of naivety, misplaced good intentions, and plain old bad judgement embroil Bandy in various unfortunate circumstances...he makes powerful enemies, powerless or fickle friends, and generally blunders around oblivious to the effect he is having on the world. Unbearable yet utimately lovable, Jack's skill throughout this series has been the balance of his protagonist's awful and endearing attributes.
This volume is notably more wordy than the previous instalments, and the prose loses some of its sparkle as a result. Too much introspection on Bandy's part slows down the pace of the narrative, and the payoffs to some of the awkward situations are a little weaker than they could have been.
Nevertheless, there are the usual classic and memorable moments, including a very funny scene where Bandy ends up cycling around his parents' house so that the bicycle won't be seen, and Bandy as an M.P. is something that we would only wish on Canada in fiction. Read it, but not before you read the previous four volumes (Three Cheers For Me, That's Me In The Middle, It's Me Again, and Me Bandy, You Cissie) - each one of which is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.


French in 32 Lessons (Gimmick Series)
French in 32 Lessons (Gimmick Series)
by Adrienne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd, but useful, 3 July 2002
I've just about finished working my way through this book. Its approach is odd, but interesting; you are given vocabulary basic grammar and must use this to construct lots of (sometimes rather bizarre!) sentences.
This is definitely not the book to read if you are going to France on holiday and just want to know how to order wine in a restaurant! But if you have ambitions to learn competent conversational French, I would recommend this book, used in conjunction with a more conventional, situational based course. French In 32 Lessons provides a very useful vocabulary and forces you to generate lots of sentences (which should mean you can put together your own sentences much more easily), but it is very terse in its explanations and sometimes ambiguous in its grammar rules.
Soon you too will be able to construct sentences.


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