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Dr. J. M. Dace "narrowgatepress.blogspot.com" (London, England)

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Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
Price: £5.98

4.0 out of 5 stars share and enjoy, 19 April 2014
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There is no point in blogging for the sake of it. This book tells you it's ok just to share what you enjoy. But sharing is the key to engaging your audience.
This is a short book but the advice in it is what you're paying for. Recommended for anyone trying to get their work noticed on the internet.


Annabel Scheme
Annabel Scheme
Price: £1.92

5.0 out of 5 stars science fiction with a quantum twist, 15 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Annabel Scheme (Kindle Edition)
If a computer nerd could write a really good page-turner this would be it. It is it. Looking forward to the next one.


Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally - N-Replacement v2
Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally - N-Replacement v2

5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable returns service, 21 April 2012
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After many months of faultless performance my Kindle's battery began to lose charge far too quickly. It would suddenly go from an 80% charge to being unwakeable and required many hours of recharging to use it at all. I tried this and that to no avail. I looked up the returns policy to find that my device was well outside the warranty period.

Even so I rang Amazon to find out if anything could be done.

We'll send you a new one, I was told.

You know it's outside the warranty period?

Yes, that's ok.

The new Kindle arrived within days and I received an email telling me how to return the old one, which was collected from my house at no charge.

I can see the commercial logic of this - I can carry on buying Kindle books. Even so, great service.

One more comment: my wife left her Kindle on an Air France flight, and Air France were singularly unhelpful about trying to get it back. We're not buying another one because we're waiting for the Kindle Fire to become available in the UK. Why isn't it? It's been available in the US for well over six months. What's the game, Amazon?


Colloquial Catalan: A Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
Colloquial Catalan: A Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
by Alexander Ibarz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why learn Catalan? And how this course might be improved., 18 April 2012
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Why learn Catalan?

I remember being in a Madrid café ordering breakfast in broken Spanish. We were served quickly and with a smile, while a table full of English-speaking tourists trying to summon the waiter loudly in English were ignored for some time. So I decided to learn some Catalan before a long weekend in Barcelona.

It is worth learning at least a few phrases of the local language wherever you are going. In Paris I overheard a hotel receptionist pretending not to understand a friend of mine who had addressed him in English, yet I knew his English to be fluent. In the Greek islands everyone is so amazed that you would even bother to try to speak any words of their language that you get a very friendly reception indeed. In general, addressing people in their own language gets you a warmer reception and you feel more part of the country you are visiting.

Was it worth the admittedly small efforts I made? Yes, but with reservations. Most public signs are written up in three languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. The front of house hotel staff we met were Spanish speakers, and although they understood 'bon día' they didn't all speak Catalan. Even one taxi driver didn't know the numbers in Catalan when I tried to direct him to our hotel ('Via Laietana disset') and I couldn't remember what '17' was in Spanish.

On the other hand, it was nice to be able to exchange a few words of Catalan with some of the other hotel staff and with the man selling wonderful chocolate bars in the gothic quarter, and some but not all restaurant staff.

Catalan is sufficiently similar to Spanish that for the most part in typical tourist situations you will be understood by Spanish speakers.

Comments on the course:

Catalan is an easy language for an English speaker to learn, especially if you have some familiarity with either French or Spanish. The course is well laid out and for the most part the phrases you learn early on are useful.

It is important to understand that you need both the course book and the CD. The one without the other is of very limited use, and really they should be bundled together as one product.

Possibly the reason they are not is that the book is also available in Kindle format (which is the format I ordered). While this meant that I was spared having to pack the additional weight of the book, I found it impractical to do the exercises. Also with a Kindle it is more difficult to flip back and forth to different sections when you have forgotten something.

What I would have much preferred would have been a CD-only course structured in the way that Michel Thomas does for Spanish. We have busy lives, and I can do a lot more learning while travelling than I can at home, besides which the hear and repeat method is simply easier and more effective, at least in my opinion.

Having said that, this course has what a beginner like me needs to get started.


The Fragments of Empedocles
The Fragments of Empedocles
by Empedocles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.28

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disaster, 5 Jan 2012
The only warning you get from the publisher's description on Amazon is, 'This is an OCR reprint. There may be typos or missing text.' This is a serious understatement.

They do not say on-line (although they do say in the book itself) that the book is entirely produced by a robot and has had no editing or proof-reading whatever. They do not say that the OCR software they have chosen to scan the original with does not recognise standard Greek script. The original from which this book is scanned has the original Greek with the translation in English of each fragment immediately below. You can imagine what a dog's dinner has resulted.

I need hardly add that there is also text missing (as promised) including some section headings, that the footnotes are all mixed up with the main text, and that the contents page does not relate to the pagination of the book in any way. The result is pretty much unreadable.

Admittedly the original scan is available on-line free to purchasers of the printed version and you can download it as a pdf if you are a bit internet savvy (they don't make it easy for the average user).

I would re-do this book myself were it not for the fact that in the UK, copyright subsists until 70 years after the death of the author, in this case the translator William Ellery Leonard who died in 1944. Perhaps US law is different.


The Philosophers' Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination
The Philosophers' Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination
by Patrick Harpur
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Failed synthesis: fascinating and annoying in equal measure, 15 Dec 2011
Subtitled `a history of the imagination,' Harpur is trying to rehabilitate the Otherworld of the shaman, to achieve a possible integration with our modern, rational, and as he calls it, `puritan' psyche. But I find the attempt flawed and muddled.

`Imagination' does not refer to the mental dross that circulates in our minds automatically, fed by endless television and electronic distractions, but Imagination as William Blake understood it - the creative force. Harpur locates this force very firmly in the realm of Fairyland, the world of `daimons,' forces neither good nor evil, but, like the ancient gods, capable of destroying us if we deny them.

I have no doubt that neglect and denial of the noumenal world is leading us into the Wasteland that Harpur warns us of. Yet regrettably, while Harpur points to the problem, he brings us very little nearer a solution.

I say this account is flawed because I spent most of the book wondering how Harpur could possibly integrate Fairyland with our rationally understood universe. Maybe daimons are personifications of parts of our psyche, but Harpur seems to assert that they are not just that - at the same time denying their physicality. There is no bridge between the two worlds that would allow us to integrate them. The closest he comes is in the final chapter where he writes: `We have to cultivate a new perspective, or seeing through; and a sense of metaphor, seeing double.' (p.311)

Fair enough - but that doesn't excuse muddled thinking on (for example) medicine, where he says at one point, "The high incidence of cancer would [...] be `conceived as the suppressed form of diseases that we no longer manifest.'" (p.300) This is simply nonsense - most of the increased incidence of cancer now is due to the fact that in earlier times we didn't live long enough to get it.

Then I experienced Harpur's account as muddled - because Harpur cannot make up his mind, in the final chapter, whether depersonalisation - the feeling that we are actors in a play which we observe as it were from outside - is a way through for mystics, or the dead end towards which the rational ego is headed. Yet he argues that the (controlled) destruction of the little ego is precisely what gives shamans their power.

He writes: `I wonder whether we have even an inkling of how our lives might be if our momentary contacts with the Soul of the World - those little flashes of truth and beauty - were to become as continuous as the air we breathe.' (p.309)

I suspect in this he is right - but at the same time, I suspect that we need to go beyond the daimons to find that place - the place the mystics were trying to reach.


Erotica Romana by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Illustrated Erotic Poetry (Romantic Love Poems and Erotic Art Pictures Book 1)
Erotica Romana by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Illustrated Erotic Poetry (Romantic Love Poems and Erotic Art Pictures Book 1)

5.0 out of 5 stars Sex and high art, 31 Oct 2011
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Sex and high art. Text by the man who, as near as anyone, defines culture, interleaved with master paintings of luxuriant nudes, all in an ebook costing less than a cup of coffee.

Goethe takes the subject of sexual intimacy and muses on it with some passion. "When gods and goddesses in days of heroes made love, then lust followed look and desire, with no delay, was indulged."

"Once she appeared to me, too: a dark-skinned girl..." Goethe takes as the heart of his poetic essay the love affair he had while in Rome. "Throughout the night, in a different way, I'm kept busy by Cupid [...] Do then I not become wise when I trace with my eye her sweet bosom's form, and the line of her hips stroke with my hand?"

The reproductions of paintings by Courbet, Cabanel, Corregio, Tiepolo and others, even if in grayscale, augment Goethe's argument by using sexual desire to kindle something finer.

What a delight!


Treasured Chests
Treasured Chests
by Sharon Gordon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pictures and poems to fit in your pocket, 31 Oct 2011
This review is from: Treasured Chests (Paperback)
Let me come clean at once: I am the publisher, so I'm biased. But I wouldn't have published this book if I didn't like it.

Sharon Gordon has a beautiful way with black and white photography, and she has picked that timeless subject, the female nude. This is not yet another exploitation of women - the women in these images like and trust their photographer. And, as always, what is wrong with celebrating and enjoying beauty?

There are a few photographs showing faces - as a man attracted to faces, I would have liked more - but the focus of this book is the female breast: an organ, as one of the short essays in the book has it, entirely designed for giving.

Most of the photographs are matched with poems - many from the ancient and great poets of the past - Chaucer, Shakespeare, Marvell, Byron, Lawrence - but there is also some new verse never before published, by poets you haven't yet heard of.

The reproduction of the images is as good as can reasonably be achieved in a paperback at this price - the alternative would have been a prohibitively expensive coffee table book. But you can't take a coffee table everywhere with you, can you? Just slip this one in your pocket to enjoy anywhere.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2011 9:44 AM GMT


The Great Work and Raymond Lully and Nicholas Flamel
The Great Work and Raymond Lully and Nicholas Flamel
by Eliphas Levi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

1.0 out of 5 stars A reprint, containing no useful information, of a small part of another book, 12 Jun 2011
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I wanted to know more about Raymond Lully (Ramon Llull), the thirteenth century Catalan philosopher, mystic and inventor of a machine for answering philosophical questions. Unfortunately the item under review is merely one chapter of the larger work on magic by Eliphas Levi, nineteenth century French writer. It contains no useful information about Ramon Llull whatever.

Currently a search on Amazon for books relating to or by Ramon Llull reveals only similar reprints and books by very odd people, like Aleister Crowley and Levi himself.

This is a pity. It is at least amusing that a serious thirteenth century scholar, perhaps inspired by Islamic philosophical devices (the zairja), should conceive the idea that there are a limited number of metaphysical truths, and that a mechanism could be invented to combine them to answer questions (incidentally this information is not in the reprint under review). A related idea surfaced in the early twentieth century - the idea that in the future philosophers would be able, by the use of a complete and consistent logical calculus, to resolve disputes by saying, 'let us calculate.' There is now proof that this cannot be done.


All the Love Poems of Shakespeare
All the Love Poems of Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.90

4.0 out of 5 stars With a little more love, almost perfect, 23 May 2011
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This is a visual delight, marred only by the slight deficiencies of digital printing. There are many editions of Shakespeare's works if you just want the text, but why not have one with beautiful illustrations as well?

Every page has a wide decorative margin of trees and lovers in black and white, and the title pages of each section have larger illustrations integrated with the text. These are reproductions of Eric Gill's wood block prints, in which the artist has brought forms to their essence and made lines sing. There is a simple innocence about it, naked bodies and all, as if the Fall of Adam and Eve had never happened. Something to rest the eye on when pausing from the density of Shakespeare's language.

On to the poems. This volume includes all the Sonnets, Venus and Adonis, A Lover's Complaint and The Passionate Pilgrim, but not Lucrece or The Phoenix and the Turtle. If you want all the poems there are other editions, for example The Poems (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) which includes everything except the Sonnets.

This is a reprint of a book no longer available in its original form. Consulting the inside back flap reveals a clue that it is a 'print-on-demand' book, and the slight loss of quality in the images reflects this. Where Gill's original white-on-black line was very fine it has tended to become filled in (the worst example is probably that on page 147). Nevertheless the simplicity of Gill's designs saves them for the most part.

In my view digital printing does present a challenge to the publisher, but one that I think can and ought to be overcome by careful preparation of the digital files, which any amateur can now do with readily available software. It is, I suspect, more a question of the love and attention the designer of books is willing to put in, and both Gill and Shakespeare deserve such attention.

For the poems of Shakespeare as illustrated by Eric Gill, there is at present no alternative. At the price it is well worth adding to your library. For those who want more Gill, you are directed here: Eric Gill: Lust for Letter & Line.


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