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Amazon Customer "emma_the_amoeba" (London)

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Generation Kill
Generation Kill
Price: 3.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening, 24 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Generation Kill (Kindle Edition)
I don't normally read books about the military, but this, which tells the story of a US Marine Recon unit advancing into Iraq at the first stage of the war against Saddam Hussein is fascinating and compelling. There are a lot of personalities, though some do stand out. It may be the most warts-and-all portrayal of the confusion and uncertainty and sheer hazardous undertaking of modern warfare, and Wright deserves credit for showing so clearly what these young men encounter, fear, and have to put up with.


Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park
Price: 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet tale of young love, 24 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Eleanor & Park (Kindle Edition)
Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus. Eleanor looks weird, and she's new, and Park only offers her the seat next to him because he feels sorry for her. Gradually, they bond over comics, and conversation, and Rowell charts their gradually developing relationship beautifully. It seems an entirely natural and believable progression (and it's so nice to read about characters who are genuinely not fantastically good-looking). There's tension in the background, however, with what Rowell gradually and subtly reveals about Eleanor's home life, and the bullying she faces at school, and how this contrasts with Park's much easier life (despite the ongoing tension between him and his ex-Marine father).

The ending's sad, but there's hope in it, too.


Dirty Little Secrets: A J.J. Graves Mystery (J.J. Graves Mysteries Book 1)
Dirty Little Secrets: A J.J. Graves Mystery (J.J. Graves Mysteries Book 1)
Price: 0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but the ending doesn't make sense, 24 Jun 2014
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JJ Graves is an entertaining protagonist, and I enjoyed this mystery, set in a small town. Hart does her misdirecting well, the gradually revealed small-town secrets come out naturally, and the friendship between JJ and Jack is nicely developed. However, the ending felt forced and relied on a shock reveal which wasn't justified by the information given in the rest of the book.


The Islands of Chaldea
The Islands of Chaldea
Price: 0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts off well, weak ending, 8 Mar 2014
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This started off well, with Aileen accompanying her aunt Beck, a 'wise woman' on a quest to break the barrier which exists between the outer islands of Chaldea with Logra, along with Ivar (the local king's son) and Ogo (a Logran left behind after the barrier went up). There's a lovely travel narrative, which winds through several perils, before the mis-matched group finally reach their destination.

I did enjoy this, but felt let down by the ending: everything was far too neatly wrapped up, which one doesn't expect with Diana Wynne Jones; and worse, it was very reminiscent of the ending of her earlier 'The Crown of Dalemark', a far better book. There were also some other issues with the book, perhaps understandably, though I did feel that Ursula Jones mimicked her sister's style well enough so that the join didn't show - except in terms of plot.

So, not the best of Diana Wynne Jones' books, but certainly not a bad novel.


Echoes of time
Echoes of time
Price: 13.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully played but lacking drama, 23 Aug 2013
This review is from: Echoes of time (Audio CD)
I don't know the other pieces on this disc other than Batiashvili's interpretation, but they're played beautifully and the recording is excellent. My only quibble really is with her interpretation of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto. The only other recording I have is by David Oistrakh, and they might be different concertos, the sound world is so different. Batiashvili's is cool, lyrical and absolutely void of drama. That's all very well if it's what you like, but I do prefer some passion showing.


Murder Actually
Murder Actually
by Stephanie E. McCarthy
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but calculated "cosy" crime novel, 5 April 2013
This review is from: Murder Actually (Paperback)
Elspeth Gray, a romance novelist in her mid-thirties, lives in a small town in New York, writing safe, unthreatening books in which cooking and romance are equally blended. She thinks crime novels are hackneyed and unrealistic, and argues with Jasper Ware (who also lives in All Hallows) who is a crime novelist, about his works and the genre. Nevertheless, when Jasper is stabbed to death (in the local bookshop, no less), Elspeth and her much more enthusiastic friend Julia investigate. The potential suspects are limited in number - maybe Alex, Jasper's brother, or Crispin Wickford, the local newspaper proprietor, each of whose businesses are failing, needed Ware's money, or were being blackmailed. Jasper's put-upon wife, Nora, is too good to be true, and of course the police insist on suspecting her.

This was an often entertaining and humorous book - some of the supporting characters, such as Bootsie, a wannabe novelist whose own plots bear more resemblance to Fifty Shades of Grey than to Elspeth's bland romances, or Elspeth's shark-like agent Paula, are well-drawn - though it feels rather calculated to tick all the boxes (of a "cosy" crime novel), rather than being a genuine work. It reads almost like a parody, and I'm unsure whether McCarthy intended this. There's certainly fun poked at the crime-solving cat kind of mysteries which Julia reads, some fairly hefty clues, and a romantic triangle which doesn't come off, but the whole thing is written in a workmanlike style and is entertaining.


The Chill (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Chill (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ross Macdonald
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Damaged people and long-hidden secrets, 3 Feb 2013
Ross Macdonald's private eye hero Lew Archer is hired by a young man, Alex Kincaid, to find his wife, Dolly, who has suddenly run off. Archer soon finds Dolly, but she's seriously disturbed by the visit of a man from her past, and thinks she may have killed - or at least caused the death of - a teacher at her college. Archer digs around, finding that the solution to Helen Haggerty's murder is linked to a much earlier death in Chicago, and the death of Dolly's mother when Dolly was a child.

I'm a great admirer of Macdonald's novels, and he often uses the device of present crime being the result of long-held secrets and past crimes. His novels are psychologically realistic and the characters are well-rounded if not always pleasant; this one involves some very murky relationships and blackmail, as well as murder and nervous breakdown. But there are very touching moments, and the resolution of the mystery (or mysteries) is satisfying and realistic.

It's not my favourite of his novels, since none of the characters is really sympathetic - but that's not often the point with the Archer novels. Macdonald's crime novels attempt to show the dark side of human nature and the ties that bind. It's well-written and well-plotted, gritty yet humane.


Britten: Piano Concerto; Johnson Over Jordan (Suite)
Britten: Piano Concerto; Johnson Over Jordan (Suite)
Price: 6.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good playing; poorly recorded, 9 Aug 2012
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This recording of Britten's Piano Concerto is teamed with some rarer works from Britten, Johnson Over Jordan, and music from Paul Bunyan. The Piano Concerto also includes Britten's original 3rd movement (included after the whole of the revised concerto, where it feels a little out of place).

Joanna MacGregor is an excellent soloist, but I feel this recording doesn't let her (or the English Chamber Orchestra under Steuart Bedford) shine: it's oddly muddy-sounding and muffled at low volume, and still isn't very clear at higher volume (and was shown up by a recording of the Britten Violin Concerto which I bought at the same time, which is on Hyperion). This is a fault I've noticed with some other Naxos recordings. I suppose one can't complain too much, given the cheap price of the disc, but that's mostly why I've only given it three stars.


Cello Concerto [Rostropovich, Oisrakh]
Cello Concerto [Rostropovich, Oisrakh]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shostakovich beautifully served with magisterial performances, 9 Aug 2012
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Shostakovich's music is a particular favourite of mine, but I had not heard his cello concerto before a performance at this year's (2012) Proms, where the cellist was Daniel Mueller-Schott. This recording is teamed with David Oistrakh's version of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto - making sense, since these works were originally written for these performers. I could wish for a bit more information in the sleeve notes, since they're just reproductions of the original LP notes, but that's a minor quibble.

The violin concerto was originally recorded in mono, though it's hard to tell - it's been beautifully re-mastered. Oistrakh's playing is authoritative and delicate, and he and the orchestra (the New York Phil) under Mitropolous make a good team.

The cello concerto is fantastic, very well served by Rostropovich's warm tone and technical ability, and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy. The opening, with its solo cello introduction, is ridiculously catchy - almost playful - though there are undercurrents of antagonism and hints of something darker, as is usual for Shostakovich.

This disc is thoroughly recommended.


Britten: Violin Concerto, Double Concerto, Lachrymae
Britten: Violin Concerto, Double Concerto, Lachrymae
Price: 14.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic Britten recording, 9 Aug 2012
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I bought this mostly for the Britten violin concerto, which I know better through Mark Lubotsky's recording. This recording of the violin concerto is beautifully played by Anthony Marwood, and the recording is excellent: there's a beautiful clarity to the sound of both violin and orchestra.

The double concerto for violin and viola is well-played, and well recorded. The piece itself is not so much of a standout as the violin concerto, but that's not the performers' fault.

Definitely recommended for Marwood's interpretation of the violin concerto.


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