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Furio (Genova - Italy)

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Japanese for Busy People Kana Workbook: Revised 3rd Edition Incl. 1 CD
Japanese for Busy People Kana Workbook: Revised 3rd Edition Incl. 1 CD
by Ajalt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars effective, 8 Dec. 2015
Cheap, compact, easy to use.

Let's Learn Hiragana: First Book of Basic Japanese Writing
this kana handbook does not explain the three different ways one can write a kana (tome, hane e harai) and this is a serious flaw.
On the other hand the practice squares are geometrically divided to give one the idea of the exact proportions of every single kana.
Various reading exercises are also available in the book, but one must also understand that one will never learn the kanas unless one is ready to write every single one of them dozens of times. Several kinds of practice sheets for Japanese characters are available online: do not be afraid to use them.

The book gives indications about Japanese pronunciation: even better than the written explanations is the enclosed CD which is easy to use and well organised.

This Kana Workbook is part of the Japanese For Busy People course, but it is completely self-contained and can be used indipendently.

Let's Learn Katakana: Second Book of Basic Japanese Writing
Let's Learn Katakana: Second Book of Basic Japanese Writing
by Yasuko Kosaka Mitamura
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars too much of a good thing, 1 Dec. 2015
This is the second istalment in a three-volume series about Japanese writing.
While the first one

Let's Learn Hiragana: First Book of Basic Japanese Writing

is perfectly suited for an absolute beginner, this second one gets rid -a little too- quickly of the basic signs and exercises to dedicate most of the pages to the several uses of Katakana.

While the transcription of loanwords is surely complex, it is also true that a beginner will not need to improvise the Katakana for some remote country or some English loanword. This kind of detail is then perfectly useless whereas it could be of interest for the advanced student willing to understand transcription rules better.
Dividing the book in two parts, the first with the fundamentals and the second with the in-depth analysis, would have suited both types of student's needs.

As in volume one, kanas are hand-written and appear different from print fonts; this could be considered a flaw.

Let's Learn Hiragana: First Book of Basic Japanese Writing
Let's Learn Hiragana: First Book of Basic Japanese Writing
by Yauko Mitamura
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.31

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars useful, 21 Aug. 2015
This handbook is the first in a series of three but it can be used on its own. Its purpose is to teach Hiragana: there is no grammar and vocabulary is only introduced to memorise it.

- In the first part, the author clearly teaches how to draw the characters; she outlines the order of the strokes and she explains how the pen needs to leave the paper. This last detail is essential to make writing more fluid, to introduce one to calligraphy and to explain those peculiarities one is bound to see in some Japanese fonts.
There are not many drills and one might feel the need to look for them online.
- Later on the author introduces the modified characters (dakuon, handakuon e yoon); explanations are less clear and this part requires more concentration. On the other hand there are several useful drills.
- In the second and third parts, double vowels and consonants are introduced, together with punctuation and some peculiarities. The only issue I have found is that it is not clear when a long 'O' needs to be written with 'OU' and when with 'OO'.
- The book is closed by some useful revision drills.

I feel I can recommend this handbook to learn Hiragana with ease. What it cannot do is replacing one's commitment: one will need to draw the characters over and over to memorise them and there is simply no way out of it.

The Magician's Assistant
The Magician's Assistant
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars hide and seek, 17 May 2015
Forget the blurb as it is utterly misleading.

The two leads of this M/M dark-fantasy short story dance around each other in a cutting (pun intended) game of hide and seek, both of them talking little and concealing more than they reveal, both to their counterpart and to the reader.
Both are not what they look like a first: part of the truth is made clear in the second half of the story, part of it (the real identity of the magician, which is really hidden in plain sight, after all) is inferred by details dropped by the author in her narrative and part of it is just hinted at and left to the reader's sensibility.

A HFN ending is the only possible outcome of a story where two dark hearts realise they need each other's darkness to survive.

Why not more stars, then?
The story might have been exquisite but writing, though generally good, is not sharp and pointed enough (pun intended, again) to highlight every dark corner of the intricate psychologies involved.

Orpheus (Jacobs, Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin)
Orpheus (Jacobs, Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin)
Offered by Classical Connoisseur
Price: £49.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not to be missed, 8 Nov. 2014
In Northern Europe they are not only recording interesting editions of the Italian baroque repertoire, they are also discovering local masters.
Telemann is well known for his instrumental music but he was an opera composer as well and he used to enjoy great success in Hamburg for works which are not only good but on a par with the best Italian and French composers.

Little can I say about the editorial facts of such an unknown opera: it seems its score is nearly complete so that only a few additions have been necessary and Jacobs makes them undistinguishable from the rest.
Far from the naked tragedy of Monteverdi's, it is far closer in time and style to the French version of Gluck's Orpheus, the first representation taking place in 1728. Plot is very different, though, as is relies on a variant of the myth where Orpheus is loved by the Thracian queen Orasia.

The libretto is for the most part in German but the music bears evident French influences and in French are some arias and choruses. Other arias are in Italian and the Italian music of the time is the second pole of attraction for this peculiar but always interesting opera. It seems that mixing languages in a libretto was an established tradition in Hamburg at the time so that one should not consider this opera exceptional in this regard.

Jacobs' direction is interesting, theatrical and convincing. The mad love of Orasia and the disdainful rejection of a rather aloof and unsympathetic Orpheus are not the best assumptions for an opera, theatrically, but he manages to narrate a story with no standstills. Curiously enough, the least interesting moment is Orpheus' descent to the otherworld where music is very refined but not moving.

Singers are all up to their task.
Splitting hairs, the excellent Dorothea Röschmann as Orasia is a bit light-voiced for such an obsessed character, but her singing is everywhere intense and technically perfect. Trekel as Orpheus is good but a little bland in his accents and technically he tends to keep his voice "in his mouth" so that it sounds a little hollow. Ms Ziesack and Ms Poulenard are excellent in their short but impervious parts while Maria Cristina Kiehr appears not at ease in her high notes which lack expansion. Werner Güra is technically good but a bit aloof as interpreter.

This edition should be printed again and it is not to be missed by any baroque opera lover.

Family Flaws
Family Flaws
Price: £3.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars entertaining, 23 May 2014
This review is from: Family Flaws (Kindle Edition)
At 13850 kindle locations this self-published M/M vampire fantasy is quite long and it shows in that editing might be better.
There is nothing disrupting, but a competent editor could take care of the typos, grammar mistakes, light inconsistencies which escaped proofreading and work with the author on improving a narrative flow that could bear a little smoothing here and there.

As it is, we have a fairly well written vampire story; it is cleverly structured with shifts between the present timeline -the story actually takes place in a couple of days frame- and flashbacks that flesh out the characters' stories and allow the reader to guess that a happy ending might be coming, after all.
Among the main characters (I counted eight but you might differ in your estimate) only two are actually gay but the tone is clearly that of a pleasantly liberal novel. Feelings are explicit but there is no actual sex scene.
The vampire lore is fairly traditional and the author clearly postulate a judeo-christian vision of the world (vampires are damned and crucifixes hurt them) that is no longer fashionable.

While plot is sensible and action scenes are not bad, this is clearly a character-driven work: feelings and interactions are much more relevant than actual events and this might disappoint adventure lovers. There are several successful attempts at humour and the author even manages to give each main character his own voice.
This volume is self contained with a HEA and, even though there are threads that could be developed in a sequel, there is no reason to think there will be one except for the sudden death of a side character which makes no sense at all unless a sequel is planned.

Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect, 8 May 2014
This review is from: Jon (Kindle Edition)
This very short M/M short story is Ms Shiloh at her best.

She has this unfortunate habit of creating dismaying fantasy worlds where much is dark and hopeless and it detracts from her fantasy romances as it does here as well.
And yet this time she manages to create a perfect small jewel, extremely concise but not lacking. The story may be predictable but its beauty lies in its simple, neat language and in the carefully paced progression of feelings between the two leads.

Other reviewers say it could have been longer. It could, but it needs not be. An annoying name switch is the only mistake I detected.

Sorrows' Master
Sorrows' Master
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars generous, 27 April 2014
This review is from: Sorrows' Master (Kindle Edition)
At 18.000+ kindle locations this is possibly the longest e-book I have read up to now and, although self-contained with no cliffhanger, it is just the first instalment in a series of five.
(The author has also created a blog and is planning internet contents.)
Good thing that this pansexual-themed urban-fantasy never drags then, though there are flaws and serious ones at that.

- Editing is a heavy issue: there is nothing really disrupting but typos, grammar mistakes, missing/excess words abound.
A couple of inconsistencies in plot/characters' personalities are also noticeable.

- While writing is generally fluid and rich in humour, the many characters do not have a distinctive voice to themselves. As the POV shifts among them, this is noticeable and a clear stylistical fault.
Besides, some of the side characters, including members of the Coven, are monodimentional and could use a radical revision.

- This is a well thought-of urban-fantasy set in present day US.
The author has clearly an eye for detail but she is not always wise in imparting them. Many necessary ones are missing whereas unnecessary ones are there.

- Although the author writes rather good action scenes, they are quite scarce and this novel is far from action-packed.
Not really a lot happens, Ms Fredman being clearly much more interested in the polyamorous romance (F/F/M/M) she is developing than in delivering a breathtaking plot.
This will probably put off most male and or classical fantasy readers to please lovers of intricate amorous liaisons and yet the romantic element itself could certainly use more depth.
As another reviewer has pointed out, character interaction is not always poignant enough:
a - First of all, characters accept the newly discovered supernatural elements in their life a little too easily;
b - Second, the implication of their new and complex relationships are not explored well enough and this could explain some characters' lack of depth.

Despite all a.m. criticisms, this is a nice, entertaining work.
The setting is interesting, the supernatural lore inventive and the romance intriguing. Alex, the main character, is flawed and adorable and the author manages to avoid overdoing his emotional sensitivity.
It is not an incredibly fast read, but it flows unhindered, always managing to keep its reader's interest.


- there are several, if not particularly graphic, sex scenes of various nature and with different "participants";
- the worldview is clearly pagan and mildly disrespectful toward organised religion.

Religious readers and/or those readers thinking of love as a monogamous affair between two people only had better avoid this one.

Caleo (Leech Book 1)
Caleo (Leech Book 1)
Price: £3.11

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars no, 9 Mar. 2014
Despite the number of favourable reviews, this novel, the first instalment in a serial, has little to recommend itself beside its nice cover and an interesting premise.

Plot twists are contrived, and disbelief is never suspended.
Characters are monodimensional, stiff and unlikeable. Not to mention stupid. Caleo is not an immature young adult, he is an idiot. Just take the school scene at the beginning, when instead of joining his classmate he tries to join his cousin Jake. Why does he not join his classmates? Everything that happens in those pages is absurd but only a harbinger of absurdities to come later on.

Writing is not particularly fluid and there are several mistakes.

La signora di Omota (Italian Edition)
La signora di Omota (Italian Edition)
Price: £2.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unfulfilled, 3 Mar. 2014
This short erotic story is in Italian and requires an excellent grasp of the language.

The basic idea is interesting but fails in two relevant aspects:
- the character remains a female even when she is "wearing" a male body: she wears it like she would a lace bra and the theme of the androgynous is entirely lost.
- writing is fluid but stylistically uneven.

The author also chooses to hint at a complex political intrigue which is not developed. This distracts from the erotic musings the story is essentially made of and does not add anything to the story.

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