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B. C. Rost "Bruno Rost" (UK)
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Republic 3: The Gods of War
Republic 3: The Gods of War
by Jack Ludlow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.62

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The third book in the Republic series - as good as the first two, 19 Jan 2009
This is a great third book in Jack Ludlow's Republic series.

It's full of action, characters, drama and suspense. Jack Ludlow possesses a grand, distinctively classical narrative style.

Set mainly in Rome and Spain, we follow the extraordinary rise of Aquila Terentius through the ranks of the 18th Legion. At the same time, the contest between Quintus and Titus develops into an ultimate battle for Roman Imperium. Marcellus also becomes a real contender as his father, Lucius, had foreplanned. The fate of the Celtic rebel, Brennos, is finally sealed. Claudia discovers the answer to her lifelong quest and reunites finally with her lost son.

And all this is set against some stunning military action, brilliantly executed thanks to the military genius of both Aquila and Marcellus, with great battle sequences described on land and sea.

This is a series of epic dimensions, will there be a fourth novel?


Republic: The Sword of Revenge
Republic: The Sword of Revenge
by Jack Ludlow
Edition: Paperback

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first book..., 5 Jan 2009
I left quite a gap between reading the 'Pillars of Rome' and 'The Sword of Revenge', yet I caught up with the plot and characters again in no time. This is surely testimony to the care and resonance with which these books are written; notably the depth of narrative, human insight and the epic, panoramic scale of the adventures.

Jack Ludlow's writing is highly memorable, full of drama, taut suspense and deeply drawn characterisation. There is also level of irony and wit about his characters you don't often get in historical fiction.

I shan't spoil it for you, only suffice to say the story of Aquila continues, this time our Celtic (now Romanised) hero heads south to Sicily where there is a slave uprising and a reunion with Gadoric. In Rome, we see a brave and noble Marcellus come of age as the politics of the Republic reaches boiling point. Lucius meets his destiny as foretold by the Oracle and the sons of Aulus (Titus and Quintus) find themselves at moral odds in an ultimate struggle for power at very the heart of Rome.

I am now off to buy the third book in the series!


The Odin Mission
The Odin Mission
by James Holland
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate boy's own action hero..., 18 Dec 2008
This review is from: The Odin Mission (Hardcover)
This is a great action adventure featuring Jack Tanner, every Boy's Own hero. He's a fearless, quick witted, born-to-command commando-style Sergeant who fights his corner of the war against all conceivable odds.

As Blitzkrieg sweeps across Northern Europe, Jack single-handedly takes on the Nazis during the invasion of Norway, coming face-to-face with the evil twisted Scheidt (great name!). As those around him lose their nerve, Jack deals the enemy a deadly blow whilst serving up his own special dish of sardonic NCO insolence. Jack Tanner cuts no ice with incompetent Allied commanders, making enemies by exposing the arrogance and indecision of his officers.

What makes this book great is the thrilling combination of action, military detail and historical accuracy. By far the best of James Holland's fiction so far (in my opinion) and I do hope we'll see more of our fearless hero Jack Tanner with many more WWII adventures to come.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2010 1:07 PM GMT


A Pair of Silver Wings
A Pair of Silver Wings
by James Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and resonant story of post-WWII grief, 11 Dec 2008
This review is from: A Pair of Silver Wings (Paperback)
This is a powerful, tragic and deeply moving tale of a man who has shut down his emotions following the trauma of WWII; a man who, aged 73, finally begins to confront his grief.

The book takes us on a journey back in time through the wartime experiences of Spitfire ace, Edward Enderby, as he departs the relative safety of Cornwall to fight in the hell that was Malta in 1942. And finally, the emotional climax of the story, to Italy in the last phases of the German retreat in 1944.

This is a book about a man who finally confronts his tragic past, the loss of soul partner, untimely and brutally ripped from being. For many years his grief is irreconcileable. Nowadays, there would be an army of counsellors, psychologists, case workers, etc, deployed to unlock the trauma; then there was only stiff English reserve and a lifetime of regret.

I thought this was a far better book than 'Burning Blue', it was grittier, full of detailed and absorbing action. The writing is much tauter and the portrayal of war more realistic and convincing. There is also far greater depth of characterisation. This is the second James Holland I have read; the narrative skill is improving with every new chapter. I am really looking forward to reading more.


Character Options  Scooby Doo  Scooby Hide & Seek
Character Options Scooby Doo Scooby Hide & Seek
Offered by FairTrade4U
Price: £19.49

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kinda throw your kid-a-stick hours of entertainment, 4 Dec 2008
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This is the electronic version of throwing the dog a stick and watching as it fetches it... except it's with kids! The detector sensor means the hide and seek sessions are shorter because it takes less time to find the Scooby. Neverthless, this toys offers hours of fun as your kids turn the house over. It's great and ticks the fun box.


The Burning Blue
The Burning Blue
by James Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-prosaic and a little lightweight, 4 Dec 2008
This review is from: The Burning Blue (Paperback)
I wasn't entirely sure about this novel. There were many good points - the action sequences were thrilling and the aerial combat a definite high point.

However, I found the writing slightly over-prosaic, over-padded at times, a bit soft round the edges and lacking tautness. Compared with David Fiddimore and Frank Barnard, the novel falls short in terms of military detail, variety of characterisation, tensity of dialogue and overall dramatic suspense. Despite the (inevitable) tragic loss of some major characters, the story all fits together rather too comfortably, too nicely middle-class, and finishes with a rather contrived 'happy' ending. It's simply not as cathartic as it should have been.

Still I am reading more James Holland.


The Forgotten War
The Forgotten War
by David Fiddimore
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1947 re-lived, 10 Nov 2008
This review is from: The Forgotten War (Paperback)
I think this is probably the best of the Charlie Bassett books so far, though they are all pretty excellent. His writing is getting better all the time.

I think what marks this novel apart is the depth of human relationships, the way Charlie's new love interest develops (it's a shameless yet moving extra marital affair with a girl he seduces) and the moments of new understanding he shares with Grace. There is also the insightful treatment of post-war social issues such as homelessness, food rationing, emerging communism and the injustice metered out to war veterans.

Fiddimore's narrative is taut, loaded, vivid and action-packed. He populates his stories with bizarre yet fascinating characters, often placing them in comic, ironic situations.

This book brought to life a period of British history I had rarely thought about before. There are credible suppositions too, for example that the RAF were conducting profile targeting on soviet topography as early as 1947.

I really can't wait to read the next one...


Charlie's War
Charlie's War
by David Fiddimore
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Road Trip..., 5 Nov 2008
This review is from: Charlie's War (Paperback)
Following on from 'Tuesday's War', 'Charlie's War' takes us on the ultimate road trip through a shattered Europe at the fag end of WWII.

Charlie Bassett, sometime pilot officer come padre, finds himself on the road trip to end all road trips, taking him through France, Belgium and eventually Germany, where he ends up in bombed-out Bremem, in search of the ever illusive Grace. He gets double-crossed, kills a couple of bounty-hunters, falls in love, saves some children, survives a snake attack and a plane crash and wins a French medal for gallantry on the way. Of course all these adventures are made even more surreal by the eclectic company he keeps and the strange encounters on the way.

It's that fascinating combination of bizarre but strangely believable characters and surreal situations that makes Fiddimore's writing so interesting and addictive.

Charlie is such a great character - and we know he survives because we see him as an old man in 'Tuesday's Child'. This knowledge insulates us from the fear of losing him and allows us to enjoy the carnage and mayhem.

Keep 'em coming Mr Fiddimore.


Tuesday's War
Tuesday's War
by David Fiddimore
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage 1944 bottled for eternity..., 23 Oct 2008
This review is from: Tuesday's War (Paperback)
Living as most of us do now, so remote from the threat of death, how can we truly appreciate the urgency of the moment, the 'live for the now' spirit of wartime Britain?

Tuesday's War brings this home like no other story I have ever read. It captures the intensity, vitality and utter insanity that coursed through the twenty-something generation during the final year of the war. I had never really appreciated how so completely alive these times and its people must have been.

The book moves at breathtaking space. It's a vivid, dramatic, characterful, hilarious, tragic recreation of life on the edge for seven members of a Lancaster bomber crew and one very special girl.

Was there really so much wild sex?! Wow!

One can understand how such a time defined the true values of a nation. If I could trade ten years of post-war mundane materialism for one single month of serviceable action as a RAF bomber in 1944, I would surely have lived as long...


The Flood
The Flood
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual coming of age story, 8 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Flood (Paperback)
Having now read a few of his Rebus novels, I picked this book up looking for something different by Ian Rankin. I wasn't disappointed.

The Flood is an unusual coming-of-age narrative that takes place in a small Scottish ex-mining community over two generations. It handles a range of themes including small town prejudice, alcholism, bigotry, incest, abuse, guilt and social isolation. It tracks two generations of a family from the 1970s to the present day as the social infrastructure of their surrounding community gradually disintegrates and self-destructs.

Mostly the narrative is taken from the view of a boy as he comes of age in a bigotted community that shuns his mother and questions his parenthood. This is a richly painted narrative full of sensitive insight and deep characterisation.

I won't say more - I found the novel moving and interesting. Although there is partial resolution at the end - one of the central mysteries is clarified - it does feel incomplete as if more is to come.

Nevertheless a very good read.


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