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Reviews Written by
K. Moss "Kevlet" (Cardiff, UK)

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John Burnet of Barns A Romance
John Burnet of Barns A Romance
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A delight, 20 Feb 2014
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It took me a while to get the cadences of 17th century Scots dialect, with which this book abounds, but it was worth the effort.

This is an adventure story, but it is beautifully written. Every scene is anchored to the landscape of the Scottish Borders.

There's good and evil, philosophy, theology, history - all woven together into Buchan's 'romance'. It involves much running round the hills, as in 'The 39 Steps' or Huntingtower', so this is familiar Buchan territory. And there's a happy ending, so you won't feel short-changed.

A delightful book.

John Buchan : By His Wife and Friends
John Buchan : By His Wife and Friends

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 17 Feb 2014
I have the 1947 imprint of this intriguing collection of background pieces about 'Lord Tweedsmuir', compiled by his widow, Susan, and a collection of friends and colleagues that John Buchan worked closely with throughout his lifetime.

Inevitably, much of the content in this book is reverential towards Buchan. Elsewhere, I have read criticism of the man, and it would be unrealistic I suspect for such a character to have received unanimous praise. It seems, as one reads this book, that he was so driven, so disciplined and so hardworking, that there would no doubt be those that viewed his mere existence as a reproach.

The book is well-written. It is useful as a source of background information, to read alongside "Memory Hold The Door', his own memoires, which were published after his death. I found this volume especially useful for all the incidental references to so many other luminaries, who formed part of Buchan's set. Susan Buchan manages to casually name-drop so many of the great and good, that one is forever wanting to put the book on hold, and go off down numerous side-alleys to see where they take one. And there are references to many other intriguing volumes which by now must be unavailable, but where one feels inclined to invest a little time in detective work.

Several impressions are reinforced by this book:

(1) The idea that Buchan, and so many of his contemporaries, were men and women of very great stature - in terms of moral substance and erudition. These are qualities which seem in painfully short-supply these days;

(2) The pervading sense of grief over the sheer waste of beautiful lives during the Great War, and then the painful realisation that the bereaved were going to have to go through it all, over again;

(3) The rapid passing of precious lives - several of those who contributed articles for this compilation, did not survive to see the book published;

(4) A pervasive and considered articulation of the value of certain figures - both Buchan himself, but also the very specific and insightful ways in which he celebrates the qualities of those he encounters, and the steps he and others took to show that appreciation in practice. I would say that this way of valuing others has almost entirely disappeared from our culture.

Überjam Deux
Überjam Deux
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £15.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Got my feet tapping, and my hands banging on the computer keyboard, 31 Jan 2014
This review is from: Überjam Deux (Audio CD)
This album was one of those rare occasions when Spotify got it right.

What a great album. Uplifting. Mature. Funky. Bluesy. Great fun.

36 Stainless Steel Collar stiffeners, Order the size you need (36 Collar Stiffeners 6.35cm long)
36 Stainless Steel Collar stiffeners, Order the size you need (36 Collar Stiffeners 6.35cm long)
Offered by Quality-Stays
Price: £24.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They're fine, but..., 12 Jan 2014
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This is the item I ordered.

The collar stiffeners are good quality, no doubt about that.

But, in my box, they are all exactly the same size - not the mix of sizes advertised.

Thankfully, the ones supplied do actually fit my shirts.

So that's OK then!

The World of Arthur Ransome
The World of Arthur Ransome
by Christina Hardyment
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Well, that didn't last long!, 28 Dec 2013
It appears I'm not going to be the one to sabotage the unbroken track-record of five-star reviews for this excellent cornucopia of material about the great author, Arthur Ransome. The one surprise with this book was how little time it took to finish it - and I was trying so hard to ration myself. A very welcome Christmas present from my wife, I commenced reading "The World of Arthur Ransome" and finished it late evening on the 28th December. It looks like I just need to start over.

For anyone interested in the story behind the story, this is an excellent contribution. The author's narrative is straightforward, even conversational, and she includes a wealth of supporting material (book-covers, illustration sketches, notebooks and plenty of photographs), a great help for the reader wishing to place Ransome, and his writings, within their cultural context. Along the way, one realises just how much the characters and locations were borrowed from Ransome's own precious circle of friends and family - he may be writing fiction, but the very way in which he writes is a testimony of appreciation to the people and places he loves. Hardyment does not present Ransome in some kind of rationalised, ennobled way - his personal peccadilloes, misfortunes and mistakes are all recorded, but in a generous, warm-spirited way so that one's appreciation for the author is not lessened. And that approach reflects Ransome's own treatment of the identities and localities which are lovingly incorporated into his fiction.

The book is a pleasure to hold and peruse. The quality of print and binding is excellent, and the large-format pages are beautifully laid-out. A great deal of thought and effort has gone into the presentation of the material. Technology may have marched on, but one is reminded of the care that Ransome himself took with his pen-and-ink drawings and end-papers for inclusion in his children's books.

This book is an absolute bargain - anyone who loves the Swallows and Amazons will find it an inexhaustible source of enjoyment.

A Short Book About Drawing
A Short Book About Drawing
by Andrew Marr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.50

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a short book about drawing!, 18 Dec 2013
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This is one of those books that grew steadily on me from the first page. A present from my wife, I appreciated it because I know, instinctively, that she makes very tasteful choices.

Marr isn't making any pretensions towards great art, or deep or meaningful insights. In fact, throughout, he is gently self-deprecating. But actually, the result is quite a thoughtful meditation on what is going on as he makes squiggles on paper or ipad. As someone who has, for many years, neglected my art in favour of the camera, I find myself absolutely in agreement with his comparisons between the two methods of recording images. Coincidentally, some six months before being given this book, I had recommenced my habit of carrying a small moleskine watercolour notebook around with me, and I can absolutely endorse Marr's value of stolen moments with a pencil, pad and colours.

One of the more negative reviews here comments on the book's brevity - and I think that is actually a positive attribute. I find Marr's voice a very easy one to listen to, but actually the economy when it comes to laying down the text is an admirable feature, that helps one to focus on the value of the image and its creation on paper.

This makes a great present for someone else (just bought a copy for my dad), but it is also quite a useful book which I hope very much to return to.

A Harmony of the Gospels
A Harmony of the Gospels
by Robert L. Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Why didn't I read this before?, 16 Nov 2013
This is one of the most helpful tools for any serious student of the Gospel narratives.

Gundry and Thomas have simply organised all the narrative material into chronological order, so that one can see, side by side, how the four writers reflect each others' accounts, and also the ways in which their emphases differ. This is an exceptionally useful tool for systematic study, showing the surrounding context for understanding events, and Jesus' teaching. I already have Calvin's Harmony, but in terms of practicality, this is way more usable.

The book also functions as a constant reminder of the chronological trajectory through the Gospels. Sometimes, it is easy to think of the events being described as being somewhat random, or not cohering to an identifiable structure. The Harmony helps to continually remind one of the linear direction in which events are unfolding, and provides the reader with a sense of momentum.

A very useful resource - easily five stars of value here!

Gigaset C610 + L410 black
Gigaset C610 + L410 black

2.0 out of 5 stars Not one of my best purchases, 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The phone 'works'. There is a persistently high level of signal noise whilst using it, which we did not have with our previous phone.

The plastics feel cheap and flimsy, and the little hands-free kit that comes with it, is not easy to operate (in use by elderly relative, to assist her in taking incoming calls).

I think it probably an adequate phone, despite these disappointments - but I would not buy another one!

Vktech Canvas Wrap Roll up Pen Case Pencil Bag Holder Storage Pouch (for 48pcs Pens)
Vktech Canvas Wrap Roll up Pen Case Pencil Bag Holder Storage Pouch (for 48pcs Pens)
Offered by vktech-HK
Price: £4.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It does the job, 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was an inexpensive solution to the need to carry pencils around for quick access. I was not expecting miracles for the price.

And so, positively, it 'does the job'. It doesn't look as if it will fall about.

On the other hand...

(1) The plastic, wraparound, strap is an odd thing. I cannot work out how it is supposed to function - as it is too long to secure the Wrap once it is full of pencils. I think that I must be using it incorrectly - what I want to do is roll the item up into a tube structure, containing the pencils so that there is no chance of them dropping out. This appears not to be the way it is intended to work;

(2) And then there are the other items one carries along with pencils - sharpener, rubber etc. There is nowhere to hold these securely - there's a loose loop there, but stuff just falls out all the time.

So, I'm happy. This will do until I come across something more functional. But a little more thought with the design would make a big difference.

History, Law and Christianity
History, Law and Christianity
by John Warwick Montgomery
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The way we used to think, 15 Nov 2013
I note that this book is no longer available, in an economical sense, in the UK. It was required reading for my MA, and I had to order it from the USA - otherwise I doubt if I would have encountered it.

It seems that the author is something of a polymath, having in total eleven degrees in philosophy, librarianship, philosophy and law. He was born in 1933, and specialised as a Barrister working in the field of human rights and religious freedom. This title ('History, Law and Christianity') is therefore a useful title because it brings together the author's various disciplines in what is actually rather a cogent defence of Christian belief.

It was first published in 1964, for many of us quite a different era in terms of the way in which people studied, and organised their understanding of subjects. It is difficult to imagine a similar book (perhaps) being written today, given the very effective splintering of disciplines that appears to have been systematically underway within the academy.

I have given the book four out of five stars, only because I think that our understanding of the data, especially concerning the New Testament, has advanced significantly since the author published this work. Indeed, from a position of orthodox Christian belief, we now have even stronger arguments for the historicity of the person of Christ, the reliability of the NT documents, and for the resurrection as the best explanation of the data. Never the less, JWM's treatment is rigorous, clear and very helpful. I did particularly enjoy the section where he outlined how the known facts about Jesus Christ would stack up from a legal perspective, using juridicial reasoning and the law of evidence.

If you can obtain a copy at a reasonable price, then I recommend that you do so. Unfortunately, it looks as if those copies available on the second-hand market in the UK tend to be priced beyond the reach of most 'normal' readers. The book is only 130 pages long, including the bibliography.

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