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Reviews Written by
Mike "Mike" (Romania)

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Never Mind the Bluebirds: The Ultimate Cardiff City Quizbook
Never Mind the Bluebirds: The Ultimate Cardiff City Quizbook
Price: £4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Come and have a go, if you think you're blue enough., 15 Jan. 2015
I've been dipping in and out of this book, in the vain hope I might score a point or two. Alas, no chance. But then again, I've never "driven to Mansfield on a wet Tuesday night to watch Cardiff City lose 0-1 and then had a puncture on the way home", as the authors put it. If you have, this book is for you.

David Collins and Gareth Bennett have produced a rigorous and witty volume to test the best, so come and have a go if you think you're blue enough. The introduction alone is worth the price of admission.

Now an admission of a different sort. I'm a lifelong Liverpool fan and spent most of my youth on the Kop. My fondness for the Bluebirds stems from fifteen years in Cardiff - during and after college - during which I had the privilege, sometimes, to stand with savvy locals on the Bob Bank. Those were the innocent, pre-9/11 days of `Intifada' fanzine, and `Do the Ayatollah', now long lost in the mists along the Taff.

Memories linger - I recall the passion and the pride, albeit not too many trophies. But if you do, from back in the daze, this book will delight. How timely and prescient of the authors to include a barbed question about `the Rebranding'. I see there is also a second volume out. Coming soon, volume three - better dead than red? You'll Never Quiz Alone!


Times New Romanian: Voices and Narrative from Romania
Times New Romanian: Voices and Narrative from Romania
Price: £4.64

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and essential read., 15 Jan. 2015
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Disclaimer: Nigel Shakespear has been my friend for several years and his interview with me appears in this book. Subjectivity aside, I find 'Times New Romanian' an intriguing read that should appeal to anyone interested in Romania. No matter how much one might have experienced in this fascinating country, Nigel's collection of lively interviews brings fresh insight with every page. I must admit, at first, I found some of the verbatim transcriptions a little awkward on the eye, but that is a minor quibble since 'conversation' is key to the project. The range and depth of these chats is impressive, as is the fatalistic and good-humoured determination of the interviewees. So much of Romania is here - the people and the passions, the problems and the potential. It is a great book, one to dip into again and again, and thus perfect for bedside or coffee table. Even better, pack it for your trip to this wondrous land in the heart of Europe! Nigel has done very well to collate our dreams and dilemmas. It's a labour of love, and we know why.


Walking the Woods & the Water: In Patrick Leigh Fermor's footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn
Walking the Woods & the Water: In Patrick Leigh Fermor's footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about an epic achievement. Lace up and read on!, 27 Sept. 2014
This is an excellent read and deserves a wide audience. What a trek, what a story! Can you imagine walking 2,500 miles in seven and a half months, from Holland to Turkey, via Romania, with no maps and only passion for a compass? That requires serious gumption, not to mention the self-imposed burden of note-taking, every time something or someone interesting pops up, because you're planning a book? That combination takes utter dedication to a goal, and the results, in these pages, are delectable. The writing is consistently good; Nick blends personal with political, separates fact from fiction, and is laconic yet lyrical. His descriptions are often very evocative: geese are "iron filings drawn across the sky"; a ceiling is "a gothic ribcage of beams"; my favourite is the old roof, collapsed "in a sneeze of straw". Our erudite guide might not have known much about hiking (witness his agonising aches and pains early on), but he knows his craft inside out and seems as adept at the telling detail, the quick thumbnail sketch of an individual, as he is at grappling with larger themes such as hippy nationalism, beery pessimism, and ethnic prejudice. Nick offers a snapshot of modern Europe but keeps his shutter open for a long time - the view is panoramic, colourful, and vivid. On a personal level, Nick comes across as down-to-earth and modest, despite his talent(s) and admirable tenacity. The book is hard to put down, perhaps because, as the author eventually twigs, walking is so addictive? Like the best writing, his story lingers in the soul, especially the trance-like, endorphin-induced episodes. Only one minor gripe - as a fellow writer, I would've liked some information about the nuts and bolts of his note-taking en route - perhaps in a separate section, at the end? As for negative comments posted here by other readers, I'm completely baffled by them! How anyone can find this book 'dull', is a mystery to me. Perhaps they just need to go for a little walk?


A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
Price: £5.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book., 27 Sept. 2014
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Excellent read, however much/little you may know of this infamous case. As ever, the devil is in the details, e.g. it seems that while Philby was busy wrecking the Establishment and having people bumped off, he was also wangling to get his kids into the best private schools in England. Presumably packing them off to some state-run dump behind the Urals would have raised a red flag @ MI6.


Gleninch;tales of Sex and Dugs and Sausage Rolls
Gleninch;tales of Sex and Dugs and Sausage Rolls
by George Craig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Best to read this wearing denim flares, 27 Sept. 2014
A saucy 'rites de passage' romp, about the life and times of the shy, heroic nerd Terry Tomkins. "A small, pale looking child at 5 pound 1 oz. Terry started life as he planned to continue, with a whimper." Big changes are afoot, however, not least below the waist, and especially whenTerry cobbles together a Time Machine, destination 1974. Scarcely a page goes by without a shag, a w***k, or "a cracking set of tits", so buckle up for a bumpy ride. Dr Who might concur with reviewers who say the text needs proofreading/editing. but there are some interesting twists and turns along the Milky Way, and numerous evocative details to make you smile, e.g. 'Bunty'! Best to read this wearing denim flares, a cheesecloth shirt, and your long-gone locks in a feather cut. Ah, the magic of fiction!


Splosh the kitten
Splosh the kitten
Price: £1.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four purrfect pages. Mitten-life crisis., 6 May 2014
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This review is from: Splosh the kitten (Kindle Edition)
There is far more to this short tale than first meets the eye. Lesley's four pages are laced with relevant themes to amuse, educate and reassure young readers. First, playful exploration/rebellion: Splosh sits in rain and says he's a rose; splashes in the duck pond and pretends he's a fish; leaps in puddles and announces he's a frog. He's having a mitten-life crisis, you could say, breaking rules and trying identities. Next, a passive-aggressive trout proves danger lurks and a mummy duck and blackbird warn Splosh to hop along home. But he persists in his puss-foolery... until he sneezes and coughs. He's caught a cold! Because our actions have consequences, yes, kids? Because he ignored the helpful grown-ups, eh, kids? Never fear, the tale ends sweetly: Splosh is home and dry, sipping warm milk under the loving gaze of his patient, non-punitive mum. Then he sleeps. Lucky him, and any child will love that bit, especially the loud snores! My favourite line is 'soggy little kitten'. It's perfect. And, with a few pictures, this book would be too. Meow for now.


Sekonda Men's Square Dial Roman Numeral Watch 3027
Sekonda Men's Square Dial Roman Numeral Watch 3027
Offered by KNIGHT RIDER
Price: £14.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great watch, but needs date window., 27 April 2014
Excellent homage to classic Cartier Tank. Great value, reliable, and looks good. I replaced the matt (brown) strap with a shiny black one (that cost more than the watch!), and get compliments on the result. Only one gripe: why no date window? NB. Product description does not reference water resistance but, in my case, steamy bathrooms + no fogging = so far, so good?


The Adventures of Hercubear
The Adventures of Hercubear
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Hercubear!, 27 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Three clever tales in rhyming verse, that young children and their elders are bound to enjoy. Tragicomic tone + well-paced plots = perfect for bedtime? I especially like the recurring theme of the 'misunderstood villain', a nice discussion point (not to mention the feminist hamsters!) Lively illustrations, although a few more would help, esp. in final story. Great stuff. Hooray for Hercubear!


A Brief Guide to William Shakespeare (Brief Histories)
A Brief Guide to William Shakespeare (Brief Histories)
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 15 April 2014
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Essential reading if you love the Bard, or are puzzled why other people do. Ackroyd works his magic on the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts.


Cherub Clip-On Ukulele Tuner
Cherub Clip-On Ukulele Tuner
Offered by vankel
Price: £3.42

4.0 out of 5 stars works very well..., 3 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
... in terms of tuning, although the clasp needs a locking mechanism, to keep it more securely fixed at the headstock?


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