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G. Heywood (Northamptonshire)

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by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling page-turner, 29 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Fatherland (Paperback)
This was the first Robert Harris novel I have read. Previous authors in this vein I have liked included Gerald Seymour and Nelson DeMille. I can now add Robert Harris to the list.

The story is set in the 60's, in Berlin, the Capital of the Germany Reich. Xavier March, is part of the Kriminalpolizei, and the SS, and must investigate the murder of a high-ranking Nazi official. Obviously all is not as simple as it seems, and he soon finds himself questioning not only his superiors, but his entire belief system as his work takes him into conflict with those around him, as he tries to stay one-step ahead.

In true thriller style, not all is as it seems, and March has to make some difficult and far-reaching choices.

All in all, a great read in an interesting setting.

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Price: £11.13

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was ready to hate this, 27 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Oceania (Audio CD)
Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of Smashing Pumpkins tracks but they I didn't have high hopes. Sure, Billy said that the (slightly boring) Zeitgeist was a rock CD that needed to made, sort of like a platform to build on, and I was happy with that. But then Teargarden (what I heard) didn't impress me, and so I thought this might be more of the same. It isn't though. In many ways, I think this is the type of CD that Billy has wanted to do for years, but didn't feel like he was ready to do so. Sure, the lyrics are not his best (a bit too much repetition at times), but he can be forgiven that in general.

Anyone expecting a 2012 version of Bullet with Butterfly Wings or Zero will be disappointed, but there are some great tracks on here which have the Smashing Pumpkins magic, of mystic layers of sound, with Billy's iconic voice.

The stand out tracks so far must be Pinwheels (I love the simple but effective riff), Oceania (a sprawling journey through nearly 10 minutes of time), The Celestials, and Pale Horse (redolent with the influence of great Pumpkins tracks of the past).

I am really enjoying this album, and can genuinely look forward to another Smashing Pumpkins release. Well, as long as it isn't too far away with too much trauma in the meantime!

Don Quixote
Don Quixote
Price: £0.00

3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Life's too short, 22 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Don Quixote (Kindle Edition)
The tale of fake knight, Don Quixote and his squire as they travel around regional Spain finding challenges and adventure in sometimes unlikely circumstances.

Yes, it must have been ground-breaking for it's time. Yes, it's influence on modern comedic writing cannot be denied. Yes, it has introduced words into English, and a reasonable number of people would be familiar with charging windmills and such.

Is it worth reading though? Unless you really need to feel some connection or burning desire to do so for historical, cultural, or other purposes, no probably not. Too long, too wordy, and ultimately, too many long drawn out boring sections which weigh it down. I have never literally been "bored to tears" by anything, but this book drove me to the edge on several occasions.

Still, some obviously love it so give it a go. In fact, if you do intend on reading it, I would highly recommend first reading The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights first. There are similarities in style, and King Arthur stories will probably prepare you well for type of book that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was trying to lampoon. And it is shorter.

Price: £4.98

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm hooked..., 21 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Coraline (Kindle Edition)
This is my first Gaiman book, and I was most impressed. The book is about a girl who goes through a magic door, where she is preyed upon by a creature who pretends to be her "other mother, " in an attempt to trap her in the alternate world.

Gaiman creates great imagery to help bring the story along, and the pace is maintained throughout. The story has a bit of magic about it, and the parallels with Alice in Wonderland are there for all to see, although there is enough originality to keep it feeling fresh. Perhaps because I have just soldiered through Don Quixote, but reading this feels like floating on air rather than wading through treacle. I polished it off in less than 24 hours.

My daughter is seven, so probably a bit young for this, but I can see my kids enjoying this too when they are older, and I look forward to reading it with them.

John Carter [DVD]
John Carter [DVD]
Dvd ~ Taylor Kitsch
Price: £2.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go out on a limb.., 9 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: John Carter [DVD] (DVD)
Put any pre-conceived notions aside, and watch this film.

There have been few films I have seen recently which I have enjoyed as much as this. It has action, effects, great characters (who you will probably actually like), and best of all, a great story.

I guess most people know the story now, but in a nutshell, John Carter is a former cavalry officer from the American Civil War, who by a turn of events, finds himself unknowing on Mars, where he lands in the middle of a battle of supremacy for the planet. Beautiful Princess? Check. Cute sidekick? Check. Yes, this a Disney film, but don't let that put you off too much, the princess is all action, and the cute sidekick doesn't talk or interfere with the story (which is not really that complicated. If you can follow Pirates of the Caribbean, you can follow this).

All in all, I really enjoyed this and hope a sequel follows. It deserves one. There have been some great trilogy's in the past (Star Wars, LOTR to name just two), and a John Carter series, would make a fine addition.

Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches
by Don Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic concept, 23 May 2012
This was one of the first books I bought on Powershell, and still one that I go back to regularly. Not only is the content well organised, the "Month of Lunches" concept is great. It allows the reader to digest the information in manageable size chunks without having to put the book down part way through a chapter or principle.

Each chapter contains a good explanation of a topic, generally with plenty of examples for you to follow along with, and finishes with lab exercises which not only reinforce what you had read about, but stretch your knowledge of the topic as you go along.

I don't five stars to every book, but this book deserves them. Don't be put off by the bland cover!

Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
Price: £2.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A true "must read"., 7 May 2012
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Wow, what an incredible eye-opening read. I have never had a high opinion of journalists (or even a low one), but I get the impression that Christopher Hitchens was a pretty amazing person. Actually, a genius. Not just in terms of his obvious academic ability (which is clearly way above average), but also in his attempts to try and change the world for the better, even on a small scale. He moved in circles that seem almost unbelievable to the me, despite his modest upbringing and coming from such an "ordinary" family, but had such a rise to an obviously influential person, without it seeming to go to his head. It was really interesting to read about his upbringing, his influences, and his ideals. If the influence of him and his friends was only a fraction of what he things they were, it is still something to be admired.

I certainly don't agree with all of his opinions (I would consider myself more Tory than Socialist, but then I was born in the 70's, so grew up long after his beloved 60's) but that did not detract from my enjoying and fascination in any way.

Two things though, I will definitely need to read it again next year, and thank god I read it on a kindle app with a built-in dictionary.

His is a loss to those lucky enough to know him, and to humanity in general.

History of the World in Two Hours [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
History of the World in Two Hours [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £4.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When were the Middle Ages?, 30 April 2012
That was one of many questions that my seven year old daughter has asked recently, and as specific as you are, it is always hard to get across the sheer scale of the history of the Earth (and Universe), and our brief tenure over it. This film does a good job of explaining what happened immediately after the Big Bang right up to the modern age.

Sure, parts are confusing for children (and an occasional pause and explanation were helpful, especially early on), especially when it jumps backwards and forwards, but the details are generally light, while giving the viewer the essence of the subject.

I see this being something that can, and will, be watched several times, with my seven year old daughter, and five year old son, both learning more each time. As will I!

An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington
An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington
Price: £5.09

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really that funny, 27 April 2012
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I didn't laugh, but I smiled a bit.

If you loved the TV series, you might like it, otherwise, it is an OK book but nothing special. Plenty of jokes about toilets and clearing throats (used a few times, along with the joke about bungalows which was used a couple of times), and you are expected to believe that Karl is an idiot, although he admits to writing books..

Generally, paragraphs go like this:

<Observation with a splash of ignorance>, <concern or misunderstanding by Karl>, followed by <gag based loosely on observation>.

It has a lot of good reviews so obviously a lot of people enjoyed it, but it wasn't really my kind of thing.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book.. .Really.., 14 Mar. 2012
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When books like this come along, it really makes you realise how much good writing there is to read, in such a small amount of time. Ian Mortimer has a fantastic style of writing that really brings the 1300's to life. The way he describes the period makes you feel like you are there. In fact, it almost makes me wish I was!

There are so many surprises in this book, and it does a great job of drawing you in to their world. When Ian talks about the old streets, you can almost see them. When he describes the food, you can almost taste it. I was fascinated to hear about the different social structures, and the outlook on life of the people at the time. I cringed at the description of medical treatments, felt sorrow at the descriptions of the plague, and laughed at some of the strange beliefs people had. But ultimately, it is hard not to respect the average 14th Century person, and the person who wrote this book!

This really is a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in history, or even current social norms.

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