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Reviews Written by
Sophie Masson (Armidale, New South Wales Australia)
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Hearts And Minds
Hearts And Minds
by Amanda Craig
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, 28 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Hearts And Minds (Paperback)
A new novel by Amanda Craig is always a treat, and this new one, her sixth, has certainly been worth waiting for. Compulsively readable, elegantly written, by turns chilling, amusing, melancholy and joyful, this is a brilliant tour de force which combines the page-turning, gripping quality of a thriller with a powerful, compassionate yet always clear-eyed insight into human nature and human lives in a great city--London. The intersecting--and glancing-off-- lives of immigrants and natives in London is portrayed richly, realistically and satisfyingly--as someone from an immigrant background myself, I think it rings pretty true. Nobody is portrayed as less or more than human--but that doesn't mean that there isn't a strong sense of morality too, like you'd find in Balzac or Dickens. Cruelty and courage, kindness and contempt are all explored in great depth, yet delicately, in a most satisfying way. But that's not all. The novel is also a beautiful and subtle portrait of the physical city of London itself, and a finger-on-the-pulse evocation of modern British zeitgeist too. Absolutely fabulous!
I read this book in one day, unable to put it down or do anything else. Very highly recommended.


Lewis - Series Three [DVD] [2009]
Lewis - Series Three [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Kevin Whately
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £4.55

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The third one's just as good.., 26 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This third series of Lewis is just as good as the other two, with intriguing mysteries and a great cast of characters including of course the great Lewis and Hathaway. In this series we also find out more about what happened to Lewis' wife--a very affecting episode.
I hope there'll be more of this excellent, high quality series.


Lewis - Series Two [DVD] [2007]
Lewis - Series Two [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Kevin Whately
Price: £12.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable second outing.., 26 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed the first series of Lewis--great acting, terrific setting, involving stories--and this one's just as good. Lewis and Hathaway make a great contrast but also a great team, and there's a really engaging atmosphere to it all. Recommended.


Dido
Dido
by Adele Geras
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping re-imagining of Greek tragedy.., 10 May 2009
This review is from: Dido (Hardcover)
In this third re-imagining of great stories from ancient narrative(after Troy and Ithaka), Adele Geras re-imagines the world of Virgil's Dido and Aeneas. Trojan king and Queen of Carthage come to life along with their court in this rich, moving and gripping evocation of a tragic love story that can only end in the arms of Hades..But it isn't just Dido and Aeneas who breathe and love and suffer in this masterly novel; we are plunged right into the lives of Dido's sister, Anna; the Queen's bard, Iopas; the young nursemaid, Elissa, whose starstruck love for Aeneas leads to tragedy; Ascanius, Aeneas' bratty, lonely little son, 'Cubby' a cheerful, absent-minded young kitchen boy, and lots more. But this being the world of ancient Greek myth we also come across the gods and goddesses, meddling in people's lives, walking by their side--Artemis, Hera, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hades all stride and glide through the human lives in a natural yet mysterious way that seems just right. It's a marvellous mix, and told in a lively yet subtle modern way(no quaintnesses here!)which brings a distant world brilliantly to life. Highly reccomended.


Ned Kelly: A Short Life
Ned Kelly: A Short Life
by Ian Jones
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous book, 7 Mar. 2009
A fabulous book, very well-researched, imaginative in its reconstruction, scupulously objective though broadly sympathetic(it's hard not to be, to the Ned Kelly story!)THE book for anyone interested in this very far from ordinary outlaw and his enduring appeal.


Lorna Doone (Wordsworth Classics)
Lorna Doone (Wordsworth Classics)
by R.D. Blackmore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure, 7 Mar. 2009
A complex and interesting adventure saga, Lorna Doone also has another fascination for Australian readers at least--it was the legendary bushranger Ned Kelly's favourite book, and it is likely he was inspired to make his armour because of the description of the Doones riding down with steel plates on their breasts and heads..


The Penguin Best Stories of D'Arcy Niland
The Penguin Best Stories of D'Arcy Niland
by D'Arcy Niland
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, masterful and unexpected, 3 Jan. 2009
These are some of the best short stories I've ever read, certainly the best short stories by an Australian writer ever. D'Arcy Niland's talents for atmosphere, imagery, richness of language and understanding of the human heart--and his intimations of the otherworld that lies just beyond our mortal ken--are here displayed in their full brilliance. I prefer his stories to his novels--his art is most sparklingly and deeply apparent in these small gems. From murder to ghosts, love to hatred, the natural world and racial prejudice, Niland skillfully and heartbreakingly creates memorable and unexpected stories that linger in the mind and heart. A loving and perceptive introduction by wife Ruth Park, herself a wonderful writer, completes the joy of this collection. Not to be missed. It should never have been allowed to go out of print!


A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven
A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven
by Karl O. Knausgaard
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A weird but occasionally fascinating book that has a severe identity problem.., 3 Jan. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Like many of the reviewers here, I was looking forward very much to this book; I've always been interested in angels, their history and nature. One of my own novels, Carabas, was based partly on that enigmatic, intriguing bit in Genesis about angels mating with women and what happened to their offspring(a passage that Knausgaard writes about at some length in his book), and one of my favourite stories is Robert Westall's masterful short story, Rachel and the Angel. So I thought I was going to get a real treat with this book.
Certainly some of the fascination of this book has to do with the scattered bits about angelic visitations and apparitions, as well as some of the speculation about the relationship of angels to God and to men(though this does get rather tiresome after a while). Some of the rewritten--or rather enormously expanded--Biblical stories, like Cain and Abel, or Lot, or Noah, etc--have interesting moments too, but mostly the combined effect of the 16th century story of the boy who sees angels, the theological speculation and the Biblical mashups is confusion. What is this book, exactly? it's not really a novel though it's described as such. It's not really just a philosophical novel either, a la Sophie's World--it's not just a bit of amateur theologising a la usual modern God-is-dead refrain of which we've already heard so much(though not it must be said, in quite such a weirdly original way). It inhabits a no-man's land, rather like the angels, I suppose, but bizarre and confusing for a mere mortal of a reader. In the end, tired of the endless digressions, over-analysis, and ponderous philosophies, you are just left wishing for the savage, clean, beautiful and enigmatic simplicities of the Biblical stories.
Still--I can't quite dismiss it out of hand. It's a highly original work--I just wish it had been more coherent. More satisfying for me as a reader. And less prone to take itself so seriously!
Really, for a look at the ''nature of angels and the ways of men'' I'd recommend a read of Westall's Rachel and the Angel--as clean and shocking and satisfying and genuinely mysterious as a Biblical story. And much, much shorter than A Time to Every Purpose under Heaven!


The Hill of the Red Fox (Kelpies)
The Hill of the Red Fox (Kelpies)
by Allan Campbell McLean
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb and influential thriller for young people, 25 Nov. 2008
Like other readers here, I first read this book as a kid and was absolutely enraptured by it. It's a superb thriller, very gripping, with a wonderful sense of place and of Skye culture. It was also hugely influential on me. It was the first time I became aware of the existence of Gaelic, which enchanted me at once, and this stimulated not only a big interest in Scotland and other Celtic countries, but also in Celtic culture generally, an interest which eventually found its way not only to travelling in those places, but also a potent inspiration for my own writing.
As a children's author now, with many novels under my belt, I can say that in terms of my own writing, The Hill of the Red Fox was an very big influence in all sorts of ways. And re-reading it is still very much a huge pleasure.


Under Orders (Francis Thriller)
Under Orders (Francis Thriller)
by Dick Francis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing--and illuminating, 3 Nov. 2008
Like many other reviewers here, I've read all of Dick Francis' earlier thrillers--many of them more than once, they're that good--and have always enjoyed the deft writing, crisp pace, vivid sense of the racing world, interesting characters, intricate plots, and sophisticated atmosphere. I was so looking forward to this one. Alas! this book was like a pale shadow of former glories. Gone is the deftness, vividness, sophistication, interest and intricacy. The writing's plodding, not to say dull. Poor old Sid Halley--who's popped up in 3 other books--is like a lumpen version of his former self, the plot goes all over the place, and the pace simply isn't there. It got so boring I simply gave up, and I've never done that with a Dick Francis.
But it also illuminated something for me. I remember reading a few years ago that there was a rumour Dick Francis' wife Mary had ghostwritten his books-using his research and rich knowledge of the racing world. It was a genuine collaboration. What's more, when she died, he said he wouldn't write any more. I wasn't sure whether to believe the story or not--Then 6 years later, along comes this one--and now I'm absolutely sure Mary Francis was the writing hand, that it's her deftness, crispness, etc--a certain lightness of touch--that was in those books, based on her husband's knowledge and understanding of racing. Apparently Dick Francis actually wanted his wife credited on the books but it was she who didn't want it, saying people wanted a Dick Francis, not a Dick and Mary Francis.
I belive Felix, Dick Francis' son, is now helping him--and he's credited on the most recent books--so hopefully things might get better--if he's got his mother's talent. But I don't know if I dare find out!Oh well, back to the old favourites!


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