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jon ryan "jon ryan" (devon)

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The Shakespeare Secret: Number 1 in series (Kate Stanley)
The Shakespeare Secret: Number 1 in series (Kate Stanley)
by J L Carrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?, 23 Jan 2008
Next time that you visit the job centre, if they offer you a position as a character in the next J L Carrell novel, DON`T TAKE IT!

Ms Carrells 'The Shakespeare Secret'is an enjoyably gory romp in which we are seeking both the truth behind the authorship of the plays and poems, and the location of a long-lost play. A crazed killer is plying his (or is it hers? Or theirs?)gory trade through a yarn that takes us between England and America, with a detour to Spain, on the trail of Kate Stanley,scholar and theatre director, the victims dying as Shakespeare killed his own characters; stabbed behind the arras, poison in the ear, that sort of thing.

Shakespeare, a man who wrote the stage direction 'Enter Lavinia, tongue cut out, hands cut off, ravished' at the start of Act 2 Scene 4 of 'Titus Andronicus'(this appears a number of times in the novel) may have enjoyed this mayhem.

Carrell displays a deep knowledge of Shakespearian scholarship,and of his era, weaving into her plot many if not most of the theories that vie for the truth behind the disputed authorship, and this is where she is strongest.

However, I seriously doubt that the Bard would have enjoyed the thin characters, the inprobable way in which 400-year-old documents survive in a damp cave, or how someone with no background in theatre could be invited to direct 'Hamlet' at the Globe.

This is a decent page-turner, not much more, and despite it having to suffer blurb comparisons with 'The Da Vinci Code' (It`s much better written. 'Biggles Hits The Trail' is better written than 'The Da Vinci Code')it`s worth a place next to the sun lounger on your next holiday.

One thing Shakespeare would not forgive. Not once but many times we get the quote: 'all that glitters is not gold.'

It`s 'GLISTERS,' Dr Carrell, 'all that GLISTERS is not gold.'

The Python Years: Diaries 1969-1979 Volume One
The Python Years: Diaries 1969-1979 Volume One
by Michael Palin
Edition: Hardcover

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not at all silly, 25 Oct 2006
Perhaps the oddest thing about a book written by one of the foremost comedians of a generation is the lack of humour in it. But then, this was never designed to be a funny book. Rather it is the story, the journey, of how one of a group of six men became comedy icons, men who set a comedic standard that 30 years later is still to be transcended.

Comedy, we learn, is HARD WORK, not simply dashing off a sketch with a dead parrot in it and then settling back next to the pool, drinking Chateau de Chasselas and waiting for the bank to send a wheelbarrow full of money around. Rather, this book is about how the Pythons variously loved and hated each other, their doubts and egos, how they fought (and mostly, thankfully, won) their fights against censorship.

This is a diary, not a biography or a hagiography, and so we can take it as honest when Palin relates how, ten years after Python first came upon us, he still drives a Mini and how during a meal Eric Idle `reveals that three of the Pythons are broke` (although John Cleese has a `dirty Rolls`).

If you are looking for belly laughs, get a CD of Python. If you want to know about the egos and the alchoholism, the pain and the pleasure, buy this book. The book won`t make you laugh, but you may learn more about what makes Palin laugh. And what it cost him.

Wintersmith (Discworld Novels)
Wintersmith (Discworld Novels)
by Sir Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly Cool, 28 Sep 2006
Your task today, class, is to name three winners of the Booker Prize.

No? OK, just one, then.

Not even last years` winner, that so-well-known John Banville novel `The Sea`?

Alan Coren once wrote of the Booker going to a missive carved on a stick in Maori runes and he`s probably right. One day it will. What is certain is that it will never go to a well-written, massively popular, hugely enjoyable book by Terry Pratchett. Not nearly snobby enough, too COMERCIAL, my dear. I mean, he actually writes for people who want to be ENTERTAINED, can you believe it?

Me, when I read a book, I want to get away from reality for a while, suspend my disbelief, not be challenged by tricksy style and miserable plots; I have no need to deconstruct the proposition that the rules by which grammar are generated may form a finite set. I had enough of that at college, and much good it did me. (Litotes).

Pratchett is an entertainer and the funniest writer currently on the planet, the best since Wodehouse. (Despite his sublime style, Wodehouse would never have won the Booker either; Booker judges are not allowed to have a sense of humour, but must, before selection, be able to prove that they have had sun-dried tomatoes in their house continuously for the last five years and be able to distinguish at least three verities of olive oil by touch alone. And never start a sentence with a proposition. Or split an infinitive).

`Wintersmith` is the third outing for the young trainee witch Tiffany Aching and the wonderful Nic Mac Feegles. Tif is moving into her teens, denying that she may be experiencing an unsuitable crush and, in that headstrong manner that teens are famed for, putting her foot in it, knowing that she is immune from the consequences of her actions, this time causing the anthropomorphic personification elemental (like that, Mr Chomsky?) responsible for winter to try and become human, marry her and cover the Discworld in eternal ice.

I have to report that this is not one of the great Pratchett books- the plot is a bit thin, the resolution unconvincing- but it`s going to entertain you more than anything likely to win the Booker.

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