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Mr. P. E. Norman "paulenorman" (Britain)
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When the Comics Went to War
When the Comics Went to War
by Adam Riches
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on boys' comics ever!, 8 Dec 2012
Every now and then a book comes along that simply blows you away. I am, as many of you will know, a comic addict. I was six years old when the first issue of Lion comic appeared, and eight when my favourite, Tiger, first appeared. I don't recall being that young, but I was ooked on both of these titles in preference to Eagle right from the start. A year or two after Tiger I was lucky enough to get the job of marking up the papers, comics and magazines for the delivery boys in my local newsagents, and got to see all of them the day they arrived. I have never lost my love for Lion and Tiger - for me they outclassed Eagle in every way, but particularly in respect of the stories. I don't profess to being particularly fond of war stories, although I have mentioned before that I used to go out and buy the books after seeing the films, such as REACH FOR THE SKY, THE DAM BUSTERS, and CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE. I might have paid less attention to the war stories in Lion and Tiger than to, say, the school and the sports adventure stories, but I would have read them. What is so brilliant about this wonderful book is the way the author(s) have done their research and the brilliant choice of illustrations that enhance and compliment the text, which is utterly compelling and very readable. Highlights for me are the illustrations - the way the first magazines contained photo-realistic illustrations that have the quality of classical art training, and then gradually the comic strip artists began to take over, culminating in the profusion of mostly Italian artists in the golden age comics, whose depictions of allied and German/Japanese fighting machines and aircraft are so brilliantly accurate. The commentary is seamless - some of the illustrations are a page or so before the corresponding text crops up, but that doesn't matter - what matters is the quality of the text, and it is absolutely superlative. I wish Adam and his co-workers would now produce a history of girls' comics - they've done such a fantastic job on the boys, although this is only one aspect of boys' comics, of course, and they could well have a boys' school stories in comics project lined up for all I know! The mock-up of a "finest" boys' war story comic at the end is simply inspired. If you only read one book about boys' comics, make it this one! This review appears in the Christmas issue of Books Monthly [...]


Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated - All the Bits
Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated - All the Bits
by Luke Dempsey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £28.00

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Monty Python book ever..., 8 Dec 2012
I believe this is the ultimate Monty Python book - around nine hundred pages of text, lavishly illustrated in full colour and containing every script and tons more stuff about the Pythons and the ground-breaking TV programme that turned British TV on its heaf in the 1960s. Black Dog have produced something extraordinary here - a magnificent tribute to the greatest comedy-sketch show that ever existed - there's so much material contained in this brilliant book that I can't help but make it my joint Nonfiction Book of the Month. A slice of TV heaven, a slice of cultural history the like of which has never been seen since - the inspiration for so many people, and so complete it's awesome. This review appears in the Christmas issue of Books Monthly [...]


The Life and Times of Call the Midwife
The Life and Times of Call the Midwife
by Jenny Agutter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to be treasured..., 8 Dec 2012
CALL THE MIDWIFE was the surprise hit of 2012 and the publishers have gone to town on that fact - this and the book below from W&N will of course cash in on the popularity of the TV pseries, but the same can also be said of all the Hobbit books, and they, like these, are to be treasured, because people want to know how TV programmes and films are made, they want to read all of the extra background information that wasn't included in the original books. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CALL THE MIDWIFE is written by Heidi Tomas, who wrote the screenplays, and is already a hugely successful TV writer, with Cranford and the successful revamp of Upstairs Downstairs under her belt. But CALL THE MIDWIFE is special, and this fabulous book celebrates that to perfection. For me, the most captivating passages are Heidi's personal diaries, recounting how she met Jennifer and Philip Worth to discuss casting, costumes etc., etc. The book is a veritable treasure trove of ionformation on the midwifery profession post-war, when the series is set, and even before that, with original photographs and advertisements showing their uniforms and their equipment. There was plenty of research into who the original convent-trained midwives really were, and Heidi recounts how Jennifer eventually confirmed their true identities. This is a brilliant book, captivating, heart-warming, sometimes shocking, always entertaining, and is the perfect companion to the TV series. We've been warned by Alison Graham, who writes in the Radio Times, that we will cry at the end of the Christmas special - I don't mind that at all, this is a special series, and the book reflects that to perfection. One of the very best books of the month I've ever had the pleasure to select! This review appears in the Christmas issue of Books Monthly [...]


Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives
Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives
by Scott Tipton
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect gift for Trekkies, 26 Oct 2011
This book is an absolute dream for any Trekkie, or Trek fan, or indeed anyone interested in popular culture. Covering the entire Star Trek canon from the original series, which first aired in 1966, to the last of the Next Generation movies, and published to coincide with the second of J J Abrams' brilliant new Star Trek films, which is released next year, this terrific collection of photos, memorabilia and articles is something to treasure. I am a huge Trek and Star Wars fan, but Trek came first, of course, and will always be my first love. My only real beef with this book is that the first image you see on opening it is of Spock and not of Jim Kirk - I remember reading the very first collection of Star Trek short stories a year or so before the series began, in which James Blish, the author, instructed readers to watch out for science officer Spock, who, he said, would come to dominate the TV series. Yes, he did, but there was only ever Kirk for me - William Shatner is a brilliant actor, and encapsulated the essence of Star Trek in my opinion.
A strong team, of course, but Kirk was always the lead, the leader, the captain. This is covered off perfectly in Tipton's essays, and the collection of photographs is second to none, acting as a reminder of what turned out to be the greatest Science Fiction franchise in the world. The pull-outs and memorabilia are all stunning, from the brilliant reproduction colouring book to the blueprints for weaponry and hardware. What a magnificent volume - a fitting reminder that Star Trek is still boldly going forty-five years on from the original series' debut, and with a third new series movie promised, it shows no signs of diminishing in popularity. Spectacular, brilliant, the perfect Christmas gift, and indeed, the perfect gift at any time of the year!


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