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Chilling Ghost Stories
Chilling Ghost Stories
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars Ghostly tales - Great listening, 13 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Chilling Ghost Stories (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An excellent collection of chilling tales.

The Signalman - Charles Dickens. A lone signalman working in an isolated signalbox tells a visitor a strange tale. The signalman is frightened by a figure in the shadows of the cutting. Is this a harbinger of doom?

The haunted dolls house - M.R. James. The exquisite dolls house has a new owner. What does the man see in the night as the dolls house is filled with light. Did the tiny figures really move? What dreadful deed do they reveal?

The Room in the Tower - E.F. Benson. From an early age a young man has had a recurring dream. A house and an invitation to take tea on the lawn. Always the lady of the house, a Mrs. Stone, says I've given you a room in the tower'. Is this a premonition? Years later the truth will be revealed.

The bus conductor -E.F.Benson. Hugh Grainger, at his friends house in London, speaks of an incident that happened to him. A hot night. An open window. Below a man waiting with a sinister vehicle. Who is the man? What does his presence mean?

A very listenable CD with atmospheric music that does not override the narration by Andrew Sachs. Well read and gives one an uncomfortable feeling.

A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof
A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof
by Roger Clarke
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sinister tales, fakes and frauds revealed., 5 Dec. 2012
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The author developed an interest in ghosts and haunted buildings after living in two haunted houses on the Isle of Wight, although he never saw a ghost.

A history of Hinton Ampner is well told as a house in which families reported strange noises and soon vacated the premises. As the house was finally being demolished a grim discovery was made.

In 1936 a visitor staying at Raynham Hall snapped a photograph of the Brown Lady on the main staircase. Over years of examination it seems unclear the image was faked and as the author suggests 'could really be a ghost'.

Seances became popular and fake apparitions were not uncommon. The ghost of Cock Lane attracted crowds of people nightly waiting to see the ghost. It was later proved to be nothing more than a clever fraud.

As technology advanced trickery with cameras, mirrors and even the early X-rays showing bones of the hand and body were used as entertainment.

Many well known figures - Charles Dickens, Conan Doyle and John Wesley were interested in the supernatural as the author explains.

Roger Clarke brings the concluding chapters up-to-date dealing with the influences of various electrical devices on the brain to create hallucinations.

Overall this is an interesting book on the supernatural, but with many quotes and opinions is not one to be read quickly.

The stories of different hauntings in many parts of the country make thoughtful reading. Also included in the book are the rather different experiences, apparitions seen over the battlefield of Mons and of the haunted submarine U65.

Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land (Macmillan Science)
Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land (Macmillan Science)
by James McClintock
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Antarctica - not just a continent of ice and snow, 14 Nov. 2012
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This is a well written and comprehensive account of a land few people can only wish to see. Apart from the tourist cruises and the teams of scientists and explorers, this land remains a place where nature rules.

The author tells of his adventures and experiences of living and working in Antarctica and its surrounding islands. As a marine biologist he describes diving to the seabed blow the ice and seeing the beauty of sea urchins, colourful starfish and sea butterflies. Taking a helicopter flight and observing deep valleys and stony plains, all ice free, with only the wind sweeping over them. Also seeing the smoking Mount Erebus.

There is also the danger of introducing alien species into the environment - a small colony of ants who appeared once and were not observed again. Ants do not exist in Antarctica. An Arctic spider crab that must have travelled in the confines of a cruise ship.

The story is told with some humourous touches as well as some sadness over a tragedy.

As expected in a book dealing with the natural world the author warns that with global warming large amounts of ice are breaking away to form icebergs. Melt water poses a threat to Adelie penguin chicks and the Adelie population has descreased significantly over recent years. Skuas also take chicks as an ideal meal. Other breeds of penguin, chin strap and genteroo, are taking over from the Adelie.

The icrease in the numbers of King crabs, which crush the thin shells of snails as well as starfish and clams poses a threat to the delicately balanced marine environment.

Some species of wildlife can adapt to rising sea temperatures and acidification, but others cannot and with the loss of sea ice penguins and the like cannot reach their usual feeding grounds. Seals also are facing food hardship.

The author finally wonders what future scientists will find as glaciers and sea ice disappear leaving a very different landscape.

A book well worth reading about the increasing loss of Antarctica, its wildlife and ecosystems. Illustrated

The Boy in the Snow (The Edie Kiglatuk Arctic Crime Series)
The Boy in the Snow (The Edie Kiglatuk Arctic Crime Series)
by M. J. McGrath
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.38

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder, secret sects and corruption in snowy Alaska, 8 Nov. 2012
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During a journey by snowmobile near an Alaskan forest Edie Kiglatuk, after a strange encounter with a bear, discovers the frozen body of a boy. She reports her find to the police who say they will investigate the matter. Edie was surprised at the rather suspicious attitude of the detective and contacted a policeman friend, Derek, who reminded her that she was supposed to be supporting Sammy, her ex, in the Iditarod sled race and to leave matters to the police. This did not satisfy Edie's curiosity about the dead boy and she begins her own investigation leading her into a world of human trafficking, shady lands deals and encounters with a strange religious sect.

Through her activities Edie puts herself in danger of death as a corrupt mayor and his wife arrange to keep the story of the dead boy out of the press whilst pursuing their own dark activities leading to murder.

The story is perhaps rather long in its development. However, the characters are well drawn and there is sufficient action to hold the reader's attention. Dark forests, stillness and icy snowbound scenery help to heighten the air of mystery and soon to be revealed, evil deeds.

The Haunted Book
The Haunted Book
by Jeremy Dyson
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take the journey through creepy and sinister events., 24 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Haunted Book (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a strange book. The first part covers a range of tales from a telephone with a mind of its own to things seen and unseen that lurk in dark places. Also apparitions that show both the future and the past by those places we walk beside or enjoy on holidays, namely the sea and our waterways.

Then the book splits into two part volumes each with cover pages made to look antique with appropriate splashes and old style writing and printing. Here we have tales of evil unleashed by dreams and a disappearance created by love in grief in bleak moorland.

Preceding most stories are the author's comments and recollections, some of which are quite lengthy. The final piece in conversational style seems a strange closing for a book, but would appear to follow a theme that runs through the volume.

A good read for those liking dark tales, yet presented in an unusual format.

The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery
The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery
by Catherine Bailey
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belvoir Castle's mysteries solved., 16 Oct. 2012
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The author was visiting Belvoir Castle to research for a new book when she discovered there were dark mysteries about the Castle. Given access to unseen archives Catherine Bailey traced the possible reason for John, 9th Duke of Rutland being sent away after the death of his brother, Haddon. There were gaps in the history of the family and John's life.

Gaining access to the Muniment Rooms, called by staff the 'Secret Rooms' the author wondered why the Duke had remained in these rather drab, cold rooms. Even when seriously ill the Duke would not leave the place and died there. The rooms were sealed after the Duke died, but two days after his death they were broken into. It is said by a woman dressed in black. Who was she? The rooms were opened for the author who found a great quantity of files containing letters covering many years and catalogued by the Duke.

Certain correspondence was missing that of his mother Violet to friends on the matter of Haddon's death and letters to Army officials resulting in John's discharge from the Army, something he felt guilty about in later life.

The author searched through trunks, bundles of letters and rooms full of papers and at last found the answers to many questions concerning the family. There are many extracts from John's wartime (1914-18) diaries telling of what he saw and his experinces during his time in France plus notes on his position in the Embassy in Rome, a position gained by his father's, Henry John, influence.

The author found rare letters written in cipher by Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and others. Many had never been decoded. A copy of the ciphers used was found, but letters had never been decoded.

Another intrigue was Violet's insistence that her daughter, Diana, should marry George Moore, a man Diana despised. Diana refused and took to working in hospitals. What happened provides interesting reading. Many facts revealing John's difficult relationship with Violet, his mother, a strong woman and his liking of his Uncle Charlie, with whom he lived for some time are given.

This volume covers many years of the family history. The author has given an amazing account of the true facts surrounding events in the Duke's life through a great deal of painstaking searching and researching thus filling in the gaps in the family history and John's life.

An excellent, well explained and readable volume.

by J.T. Brannan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, imaginative - a great read, 11 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Origin (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A scientific team, headed by Lynn Edwards, is working in the Antarctic and taking measurements of ice melt. One of the team wanders away from the rest of the group and discovers a body encased in the ice. The body looks like present-day man, dressed in a modern thermal suit, but is estimated to be 40,000 years old. Lynn reports the find to Matrix base, but the call in intercepted by National security. The message filters to Atkinson of NASA who contacts a shadowy figure Jacobs. Lynn and her team are told to remain at the site of the find and a specialist team would arrive to transport them and the body to the mainland. An Army type group arrive in two helicopters. Major Daley says his men would release the body and that Lynn's group were not to touch anything. Lynn disobeys and slips away to take samples of the cloth and tissues from the corpse.

The two helicopters take off - the frozen body in the first and Lynn's team in the second. Flying over the ocean Lynn makes a frightening discovery. The helicopters fly on, but then there is an explosion.

Does anyone survive? Jacobs head of a sinister organisation it told Dr. Lynn Edwards is alive and so Jacobs begins a hunt for her. He is determined that the discovery of the frozen body must remain a secret and anyone with knowledge of the corpse must be eliminated.

This story really holds the reader's attention as the tension mounts and the deadly action progresses. A good mixture of mystery, action and science fiction makes this an excellent and entertaining read.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure, action and romance. James Bond at his best., 4 Oct. 2012
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James Bond is sitting in a concrete shelter watching the activity on the beach at Royale. Quietly he reminisces on his childhood then to his letter of resignation and the fact that he had spent a year searching for Blofeld. Bond was now tired of spying. The beach emptied as the sun was setting when Bond saw her, a pretty girl who began to walk toward the sea. Bond spotted two men, overdressed for the weather, begin to follow the girl. He was concerned, sensing danger and quickly ran to the beach. The girl stopped at the sea's edge. Bond was near 'Tracy,' he said. She turned 'What do you want?' she asked. 'I was worried about you', he replied. Then a gutteral voice behind him said, 'Don't move'. So began Bond's adventure.

We have a Corsican gangster make Bond an offer that would make him a wealthy man. Blofeld's name was mentioned sending Bond first to London then to the high Alps. After a hair raising escape from Blofeld's hideout and back in England 'M' and a team of experts meet with Bond and they realise what Blofeld is planning. Bond has to return to Switzerland to finally be rid of Blofeld with assistance from an unusual source. Bond realises the danger and that he could easily be killed, but it is important that he lives, a wedding and his future both depend on his survival.

This is a little different type of story, but still retains the high octane action and some beautiful girls. Brilliantly descriptive and well read by David Tennant, who captures the essence of the novel in his reading. An interview with David Tennant is included.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is an early Ian Fleming novel and is part of an audio series celebrating the James Bond phenomenon.

Catherine the Great: The story of the impoverished German princess who deposed her husband to become tzarina of the largest empire on earth
Catherine the Great: The story of the impoverished German princess who deposed her husband to become tzarina of the largest empire on earth
by Robert K. Massie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive and intimate lifestory of Catherine the Great, 8 Sept. 2012
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This is a sizeable volume and it would be impossible to review every aspect within it. The volume covers the complete life of Catherine from her birth to her death.

Princess Johanna married to Prince Christian Augustus of Anhalt-Zerbst gave birth to a daughter, Sophia. Johanna was disappointed that her firstborn was a girl and Sophia was cared for by servants and nurses. Johanna's second child, a boy, received all the love and affection of the princess.

Johanna,through correspondence using a distant relationship with Elizabeth of Russia, eventually took Sophia to the Russian court. A marriage was arranged between Sophia and Peter (Elizabeth's nephew). Sophia married Peter adopted the Russian language and customs and on adopting the Russian Orthodox Church changed her name to Catherine. The marriage was a disaster and Catherine usurped her husband as incapable of ruling the empire. He was imprisoned and died some 7 days later in uncertain circumstances. Catherine was now declared Empress, but the only threat to her position was the existence of Ivan VI who had been imprisoned by Elizabeth as a baby and was still alive. Orders were given that should an attempt be made to free him he was to be killed. An escape was tried and Ivan was killed therefore removing a worrying threat to Catherine.

Catherine did good deeds,. Established schools, orphanages and hospitals. The conditions of serfs were improved and a payment of wages to miners and factory workers was proposed. (The nobility and owners were not in favour of this). Torture of prisoners was outlawed.

In her private life Catherine had lovers and favourites, all of whom were rewarded with lavish gifts and lands. She had a son Paul, by a lover, and the boy was declared as the son of Peter her husband. To increase her empire a war was fought with Turkey and a treaty made between Poland and Russia with eventually led to Poland being made a Russian Protectorate.

Catherine was noted as a fair ruler encouraging the arts and education and was loved by her people.

The only complication in the book is keeping track of the names as either they were changed or people mentioned had similar names.

Overall a very readable book, exceptionally well written and containing maps and colour photographs. Robert K.Massie is an excellent writer/researcher of historical material. The reviewer has read Massie's earlier book on the life of Tsar Nicholas II titled 'Nicholas and Alexandra' another excellent volume for those interested in Russian history.

The Cove
The Cove
by Ron Rash
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing mystery/love story combination, 2 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Cove (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Hank Sheldon and his sister Laurel live in a small cabin and farm land in the Cove. The cove is a forbidding place, damp and shadowed by granite cliffs. People in the nearby town of Mars Hill keep away believing it to be cursed as bad things have happened there. Laurel has a birthmark on her neck and shoulder and the townspeople think of her as a witch and avoid her as much as they can. Hank is accepted, he has lost part of his left arm in the war.

The only real friend Hank and Laurel have is Slidell who drives them to town and helps to collect goods. One day Laurel is walking in the woods listening to the birdsong, when she hears music. Quietly moving to a ledge in the cliffs she sees a stranger playing the flute. The next day she sees the man again lying on the ledge looking ill through insect bites. He is raggedly dressed and rough looking. Laurel takes him home, cares for him and finds a note stating his name is Walter, but he cannot speak, read or write. Hank is angry at first that a stranger is in the house, but decides of offer the stranger, Walter, paid work. Walter accepts and together they erect fences and begin to dig a new well.

The most unpleasant character is that of Chauncey, a local army recruitment officer. He has a group of boys, uniformed, who line up for inspection, salute him and call him 'sir'. This feeds his ego and in his eyes earns respect in the town. Chauncey is organising a homecoming celebration for a wounded soldier Paul Clayton and to further his standing has met Senator Zeller and invited him to the ceremony. Yet Chauncey has a misguided view of anything German even reporting that there were German titles in the library and the Languages Professor at the College, who could read and speak German as well as Latin and Greek, was a possible spy.

Walter and Laurel are alone together on many occasions and gradually fall in love and plan to go away together, but Walter has a secret which Laurel finally discovers, but does not change her feelings for him.

Chauncey, in town, is approached by Boyce Clayton carrying a paper with a sketch of a man on it and he tells Chauncey he knows Walter's secret.

At home Laurel and Walter plan a picnic whilst Hank decides to remain resting at the cabin. The work on the well is finished and all three are relaxing. The day is fair and warm.

None of them are aware of the danger they are in or that the danger is rapidly approaching.

This is a sound story, nicely descriptive and conveys the gloom of the cove and the simmering hostility in the town. The characters, both good and bad, are well drawn. Written by Ron Rash, a respected author, it is a worthwhile read.

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