Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for Tom Williams > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Tom Williams
Top Reviewer Ranking: 16,110
Helpful Votes: 132

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Tom Williams (London, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
pixel
Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors
Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant canter through British history, 10 Oct. 2013
Castles, Customs and Kings is not a book to be read from cover-to-cover: the paper version comes in at about 500 pages. In any case, it's an anthology, rather than a single narrative. An impressive array of historical novelists have each contributed a short chapter on some aspect of British history that interests them. Obviously, most have chosen to write about the eras that they cover in their novels and a certain amount of more or less blatant plugging rears its ugly head.

As with all anthologies, there are significant differences in quality and style between the different chapters. However, the editors have done a good job of making sure that all of them pass muster. There are some contradictions between different authors discussing the same period. However, history is not an exact science, and I appreciated seeing the way in which different commentators came to different conclusions. Some chapters carried more authority than others and this is reflected in the fact that some produce bibliographic references and others do not.

I was surprised at the distinctly 'old-fashioned' feel of much of it. It reminded me of history is that I read as a child - books which were quaintly out of date even then. This is history as Michael Gove would have it. There is some social history, but generally the writers concentrate on battles and Kings and the doings of the rich and famous. I found the approach charming and reassuring. In the end, most people are more interested in the steps of the dances in the Regency period than they are in the detail of a skivvy's timetable. As an author who is unashamedly old-fashioned in my approach to historical writing, I rather enjoyed it. It did tell me things I didn't know and sparked an interest in some people and places I hadn't heard of before, but it is in no way a textbook. It's an amusing trot through British history and excellent bedtime reading, but don't expect it to help your children with their school exams.

Many of the authors seem to write historical romances and it is a book which will appeal particularly strongly to readers of this genre who want a little more history and a little less fiction. For me, it was literary comfort food - a recollection of childhood, warm and satisfying, if a little on the sweet side.

[I received an ARC of this book from the publisher.]


Officer's Prey (Napoleonic Murders)
Officer's Prey (Napoleonic Murders)
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars More war novel than detective story., 27 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
'The Officer's Prey' is the first of a series in which an officer in Napoleon's army solves mysteries against the background of the Napoleonic Wars. Although the story is a detective thriller, there is an enormous amount of military detail. If you are interested in Napoleon's march on Moscow (and the retreat), the interminable descriptions of uniforms will grip. For the average (non-French) reader, they may get in the way. The descriptions of the horror of war and the scale of the disaster that was the retreat are well handled, though.

The war story often overwhelms the murder mystery and I found the climax unsatisfying - just one more death amongst hundreds of thousands of others. It's an interesting read if you like the period, though, and it makes a change to see the Napoleonic Wars from the French point of view.


The United States of Air: A Satire
The United States of Air: A Satire
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiastically throwing poo at the powerful, 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I feel nervous of admitting how much I enjoyed this book. The humour is often puerile and the poo jokes get a bit wearing after a while, but I did laugh a lot. And much of the satire is sharp as well as funny. The scattergun approach focuses mainly on the War on Terror, although the War on Drugs gets a pasting too. Mad ayatollahs and the unthinking zealots who follow them are not immune either.

The book is well written and easy to read. Unlike a lot of satires, there is a plot and I found myself wanting to know what happened next. It usually involved bodily excretions of one sort or another but it does build to a climax that should make you stop and think.

Much of what governments do these days has passed so far from the realm of rational debate that throwing poo at authority figures is perhaps the only sensible response and JM Porup does this with enthusiasm. His approach is definitely Swiftian and, like the famous Jonathan, he's worth a read.


Who Dares Wins: SAS Military Thriller
Who Dares Wins: SAS Military Thriller
by Chris Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bleh!, 19 July 2013
You don't read a book like this for its fine characterisation or the literary quality of its writing. You read it for the fights and the excitement, but also because Chris Ryan's experience in the SAS makes you think that the detail is probably accurate. A Diemaco probably does have a C79 optical sight, you probably do put plumbers tape around the pistol grip to stop it slipping in hot countries. But this approach to writing means that it's important that the details are correct. I'm being fussy when it worries me that an MoD policeman and not an MoD guard checks the vehicle on entrance to the SAS headquarters and, in any case, the guard service and the MoD police were, for a while, merged, so you could argue that the distinction is not a real one. It's when, not that far into the book, that a crusty older officer is referred to as a Sandhurst graduate that my antennae really began to twitch. All British Army officers are graduates of Sandhurst. It's an important thing about the way the British Army officer corps works and one which I would expect everybody in the army to be aware of. I began to suspect that Chris Ryan may not actually have written this book by himself. At that point I could no longer maintain the suspension of disbelief that is essential to plot that is pretty much hokum anyway.


Luggage Suitcase Weigh Scale with Tape Measure
Luggage Suitcase Weigh Scale with Tape Measure
Offered by Sale2Save
Price: £2.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, 25 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Turning up at the airport with a 19.8kg suitcase was worth buying these scales for. Very, very useful. That's all.


At Drake's Command: The Adventures of Peregrine James During the Second Circumnavigation of the World (The Drake Circumnavigation Book 1)
At Drake's Command: The Adventures of Peregrine James During the Second Circumnavigation of the World (The Drake Circumnavigation Book 1)
Price: £3.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not complete, 25 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I loved this book. I found the historical detail very credible and the imagined adventures of our hero kept me turning the pages. The story was well written and well presented and deserved four or five stars. So why three? Because it's not finished. It ends on a cliff hanger.

This is an increasing trend and it drives me nuts. If you sell me a book, I expect a beginning, a middle and an end. Not the first third or so, with a clear promise of more to come.


Our Bones Are Scattered: The Cawnpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857
Our Bones Are Scattered: The Cawnpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857
by Andrew Ward
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the definitive work, 24 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is probably the definitive book on the massacre at Cawnpore. It is truly excellent. The only reason for not giving it five stars is that it is long and detailed and probably too much for anyone not already interested in the subject. For anyone interested in what happened at Cawnpore, it's essential reading. When I was researching my novel, 'Cawnpore', it was invaluable.


Tango for London
Tango for London
Price: £6.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for dancing., 28 May 2013
This review is from: Tango for London (MP3 Download)
'Tango for London' was written by Bianca Vrcan, who is, first and foremost, a dancer. The music is easy on the ear, but it is when it is played for dancing that its strengths come through. It is simply a real pleasure to move to.

The musical director, Juan Maria Solare, is a talented musician, but perhaps a little cerebral. His technical virtuosity sometimes sparkles at the expense of the emotion of the music. Personally, I prefer tango music that lets itself go a bit. Andy Ryser's trumpet on `Jazzeango' shows exactly what I mean.

The music wastes the bandoneon. Good tango music usually centres around the bandoneon and the bandoneonista is the leader. Here, the bandoneon is lost on the periphery, while the keyboard gets too much prominence. The violin is nice, though, and the double bass provides a satisfying sound.

Overall, this is a worthwhile buy. The rhythms are complex but the sound is undemanding. It fits neatly between tango as background noise and the sort of thing that demands total attention and leaves you exhausted after three tracks. It brings something a bit different to the tango scene and reminds us of how much the dance has taken root in London. And, above all, it gets you moving on the dance floor.


A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, Book 17)
A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, Book 17)
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Reacher on form, 16 May 2013
I generally love the Reacher books, so I was a bit worried that all the reviews I have given have been of the ones that didn't quite do it for me. So I'm writing this just to say that my faith in Lee Child has been restored. A well-paced, gutsy thriller with a satisfying crop of dead bad guys by the end.


Black Out
Black Out
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superior psychological thriller, 29 April 2013
This review is from: Black Out (Kindle Edition)
This is, as other reviewers have said, not an easy book to get into, but it is worth the effort. The confusing early chapters reflect the confusion of the protagonist who is not sure how much of what is happening to her is what it appears, how much is because people are plotting against her and how much is because she is going mad. The characterisation is good and you are held by the twists and she discovers the secrets behind the people she thinks she knows. The ending is satisfying, with the plot neatly tied off. I throughly enjoyed this book.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9