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I. R. Cragg (Otley, West Yorkshire)
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Tram Atlas Northern Europe: Scandinavia & Baltic States
Tram Atlas Northern Europe: Scandinavia & Baltic States
by Robert Schwandl
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with detail and excellent value, 16 Aug. 2014
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This was the first of Schwandl's urban transport guides I've bought, after a trip to Stockholm which left me wanting to know more about the various modes used in the city. A comprehensive guide to city networks and museum sites in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, this is another case of a German transport title which undersells itself. Not just trams but underground railways, funiculars, trolleybuses and suburban rail are covered, with plenty of photos and route maps for trams and metros. Last but not least, it's also very much written from Schwandl's personal experience and includes details of ticketing. An excellent guide for any transport buffs heading to Scandinavia and the Baltic area, with parallel German and English text.


Eisenbahnatlas EU
Eisenbahnatlas EU
Price: £16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value entry level European railway atlas, 16 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Eisenbahnatlas EU (Hardcover)
I bought this atlas after a holiday in Sweden which left me realising that about half the lines I'd travelled on hadn't been built when my 20-year-old Ian Allan pocket European railway atlas was printed! If anything the title is an understatement- the atlas includes Norway, Switzerland and the ex-Yugoslav countries not in the EU- as well as articles (in German only) on various items about the modern European railway. There are a few errors of detail (no electrification in Ireland, eh?) but given the scope of the book this is understandable. As a large format hardback, it's probably not something to take on an Inter-Railing holiday, but would be ideal for planning a train-based holiday in Europe and also for reference if you read the European sections of railway magazines to understand where things are happening. You certainly don't need more than a passing acquaintance with German to get a lot out of this atlas and there are enough translation sites online to help with the (fairly short) articles which make up the first section of the book. Highly recommended and certainly more than meets the eye.


Festen: 10th Year Anniversary Edition [DVD]
Festen: 10th Year Anniversary Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ulrich Thomsen
Offered by FilmloverUK
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent drama without the names or gimmicks, 30 Jun. 2013
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Not sure what I can add to the reputation of this film, except to say that it unfolds like the best character-driven drama while showing that tragedy and farce are only two sides of the same coin- almost like a modern King Lear with Till Death Us Do Part going on in the next room. Thoroughly recommended for anybody who wants to see drama for grown-ups without the gimmicks or Hollywood names- my only tiny quibble would be with the Danish-English subtitles, which don't translate when one particular character is speaking German, which means that at least one joke gets missed!


Häxan - Witchcraft Through the Ages [1922] [DVD]
Häxan - Witchcraft Through the Ages [1922] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benjamin Christensen

4.0 out of 5 stars What a strange film...., 23 Sept. 2012
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It's difficult to know where to begin with a film like Haxan, which challenges any attempt to tie it down to a category or description. Part documentary and part dramatic reconstruction, it comes across as a fairly fluid consideration of the medieval world view and the reasons why this led to witchcraft panics but emphasises the human cost in terms of people tortured and killed for the most fleeting of reasons. The visuals are often fascinatingly outlandish, but the performances are strong and communicate everything you need to know without a spoken soundtrack. Certainly recommended, but don't sit down and expect to be entertained for a couple of hours- this is a film which does require some effort on the viewer's part to engage with what the director is trying to say.


The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium series Book 2)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium series Book 2)
Price: £3.66

4.0 out of 5 stars The difficult second volume...., 12 Aug. 2012
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If 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', the first volume in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, was an impressive self-contained mystery, 'The Girl who Played with Fire' is a worthy follow-up but also very different in approach. The emphasis is very much on answering a lot of the questions about Lisbeth Salander's background before her involvement with Milton Security, and interestingly Larsson chooses to achieve this by keeping Salander and Mikael Blomkvist apart for most of the novel- they're only physically in the same room at the very end of the book. Having Salander suspected of multiple murders means that Blomkvist (and a team of new characters from the Stockholm police) have to dig up some well-hidden secrets about her history, which answer the hints laid down in the first book. There's a point where the story threatens to stray too far into the realms of the far-fetched, but it's also grounded in Larsson's social conscience and sense of injustice which gives the storytelling its fire.


Journals: Captain Scott's Last Expedition (Oxford World's Classics)
Journals: Captain Scott's Last Expedition (Oxford World's Classics)
Price: £5.39

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A moving text, but formatting unworthy of OUP, 30 July 2012
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This is a fantastically moving work of literature, particularly the last couple of chapters covering Scott's journals from the South Pole to his final camp, but my enjoyment of the Kindle version was ruined from first to last by the absolutely diabolical formatting. As might be expected of a book dealing with exploration, there are quite a few tables and lists reproduced throughout and I don't think that a single one is easily legible. There are also typos aplenty- "Charter" for "Chapter" several times for a start- and this edition is a blot on Oxford University Press's reputation as a serious publisher of literary texts. In fact, I'm not sure that such slapdash work isn't disrespectful to Scott's memory.


The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF
The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF
Price: £4.64

4.0 out of 5 stars ck again..., 13 May 2012
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I bought this book when it was on offer at 99p and unbeatable value for money. I might think twice about it at full price, but that's not to take away from the number and variety of stories from familiar and less well-known names in the field, taking us from how our current civilisation might be wiped out to survivors attempting to rebuild society and the final end of the planet. Some of the stories are deadly serious, others are clever, funny and often optimistic about the human spirit and our ability to pick ourselves up and start again. None of them really seemed to outstay their welcome and many were very engaging reads.


Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire
Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire
Price: £5.69

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account ruined by poor formatting, 6 Mar. 2012
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To begin with the positives, this is a very good all-round account of the historic events of 1989 in Eastern Europe and the decades leading up to them. There's an impressive amount of detail from wide-ranging sources and Sebestyen is very good at demonstrating the way that Communism collapsed in different ways in various countries and the tensions this caused. It's also accessible and is essential for anybody with even a passing interest in the former Warsaw Pact countries.

Unfortunately the Kindle edition suffers from inadequate formatting- a lot of the accents used in the Slavic languages seem to have defeated the publishers of the e-book, and this is particularly noticeable (and irritating) when it happens repeatedly but still inconsistently in important names like Walesa and Ceausescu. If the paperback copy in my local library is anything to go by, the Kindle version also misses out on some illustrations.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2012 5:25 AM BST


Doctor Who - The Sun Makers [DVD] [1977]
Doctor Who - The Sun Makers [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: £6.20

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is the moment when I get a real feeling of job satisfaction!", 9 Feb. 2012
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Viewers of 'The Sun Makers' who had a year previously been treated to 'The Robots of Death' and 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' must have wondered what had happened to 'Doctor Who' in the intervening twelve months. Far from being a rich, dark fusion of homages to literature and classic horror films, 'The Sun Makers' is a witty satire, primarily on the British tax system but also on high finance and big business generally as the last survivors of the human race are held in thrall by an alien Company with its own agenda. The script is one of Robert Holmes's most entertaining, the performances are larger than life but given room to breathe and while the story may not be conventional Who, it's perhaps one to put on when you're in the mood for something lighter and slightly cleverer than your average serial.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2014 8:23 PM GMT


Possession: a Romance
Possession: a Romance
by Antonia S Byatt
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely painful..., 23 May 2011
This review is from: Possession: a Romance (Paperback)
First, the positives- this is obviously an extremely well-crafted novel, which combines contemporary and Victorian eras with extracts from diaries, letters and substantial poems. There's also some very good academic satire...but that's about it. With one or two exceptions, the characters never really come to life (many of them are little more than caricatures) and the novel never really seems to make up its mind what it's about. I really wanted to like it, and in some ways perhaps it deserved it, but in the end I only finished it out of spite and not wanting the wretched thing to beat me!


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