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David J. Kelly (Scotland)
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Freecom 34548 Databar 16GB USB Drive Black
Freecom 34548 Databar 16GB USB Drive Black

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use and just what I wanted, 25 Mar. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I changed PC s recently and found this USB memory stick simple to use when transferring the files I wanted to transfer from one pc to another. It did what it was designed to do with no fuss and no problem.


The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series)
The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series)
by Robert Low
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bruce, Wallace and the Hammer of the Scots, 11 Mar. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book covers a similar period to Insurrection by Robyn Young, which is also the first book in a trilogy about the life of Scotland's most famous and probably greatest king, Robert the Bruce. This book centres on lowlier fictional characters who exist in the orbits of the contesting nobles for the Scottish crown and covers the period from the abdication of John Balliol to the Battle of Falkirk where William Wallace was defeated by Edward I. The main character is a minor noble, Hal of Herdmanston who is part of the Sinclairs (or Sientclers) of Roslin while the baddy is an assassin in the pay of the Comyns. Hal falls in with Bruce through his feudal duties and his family rivalry with the English supporting Patrick of Dunbar. He also becomes involved with Wallace and a sub plot around the murder of a stonemason and the search for the Stone of Destiny in which Bruce has had a copy made and hidden the real stone. Wallace uses Hal to uncover this plot.

The dialogue is mainly in Scots, while the narrative is in English. The book captures a sense of how alien the medieval world would be to us with its superstition, filth, disease and poverty. Servants are seen by some to be of less value than the animals they tend, such as the minor character of Dog Boy, while the great families of Bruce, Balliol and Comyn vie for the throne and switch sides between the rebel Scots and their English oppressors. I probably enjoyed this more than I did Insurrection as the use of Scots in the dialogue added that little something different. There was also more humour in this novel than in Insurrection but this may have been due to the naturally impudent tone the use of the Scots lied gives the dialogue. The author also states that he is trying to untangle this story from the mythology which has grown up around the characters involved.


Eagle: Book One of the Saladin Trilogy
Eagle: Book One of the Saladin Trilogy
by Jack Hight
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saladin for modern tastes, 1 Mar. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Saladin was the greatest muslim leader of the crusader period, he has entered legend in both Christian and Islamic history as a humane, culrured and successful warrior. This book is a fictionalised account of his boyhood and early adulthood, from being the second son of the Kurdish Emir of the Lebanese city of Baalbek through his time under the tutelage of his uncle, the Syrian general Shirkuh and the early period of his service under the Sultan of Damascus and Aleppo, Nur ad-Din.

It is a fast paced and exciting story as the young Yusuf ibn Ayub, as Saladin was born, lives through the turbulent crusades. In the Second Crusade he takes part in the seige of Damascus and recscues a young Saxon crusader named John who becomes his personal slave. They have many adventures and fight leoprads, bandits and Frankish raiders until Yusuf frees John and he becomnes the captain of his personal bodyguard. There are huge battles, skirmishes and one to one challenges. Through it all Yusuf grows and matures into a leader and warrior, but an intelligent, cultured and humane one. At the end of the book through his bravery Nur ad Dine gives him the name Saladin.

The novel paint neither side as right or wrong but the author favours the civilised muslims over the uncultured and brutish barbarian invaders from Europe. The main baddie is Reynald de Chatillon, a real life black knight who practised piracy, slaving and raiding under the guise of being a Crusader Knight. This is a well paced, historical thriller about one of the Middle Ages greatest characters and I look forward to the two remaining parts of the trilogy.


India: A Portrait
India: A Portrait
by Patrick French
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short history of a big country., 25 Feb. 2011
This review is from: India: A Portrait (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One man's shadow covers this book as evrything it describes about modern India stems from the mission that Jaharwal Nehru gave himself to creat an independent, secular and united India. Many things have not turned out as Nehru envisioned but it is clear that this extraordinary figure and his blueprint for the Republic of India has meant that the nascent economic power we see today grew from a well planted, although not always well tended, seed. The book loooks at India's history since independence through the lives of the politicians who founded the state and their successors as well as through the lives of its people. When many of us think of India we think of caste, religion, overpopulation, call centres and poverty but French goes beyond that and shows that India is a complex society and just as much a product of its own history as China, South Africa or Scotland.

He is clear that India is not perfect, not anywhere near it, but he is also clear that thanks to Nehru's vision India has great potential to be a true power for good in the world of the 21st century and beyond. Nehru created a democratic republic, a flawed one but a real democracy which is now showing its potential to be an economic powerhouse and to rival themore authoritarian China. I have been to India on two occassions and enjoyed my brief times in this amazing country. French has filled out many of the gaps in my limited knowledge of India with this book.


The Big To-Do
The Big To-Do
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Finding their feet - again, 18 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Big To-Do (Audio CD)
I am a DBT fan, I discovered them when Southern Rock Opera was released over here and I haven't looked back since. They have not produced a bad album but some are better than others, the triumvirate of SRO, The Dirty South and Decoration Day are each thematically linked and each as strong as the other. This band takes rock from its roots all the way from Carl Perkins through the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Crazy Horse, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Replacements, Husker Du and throws in a bit of outlaw country. Just look at who they have name checked in their lyrics. Now this album shows their songwriting skill but does not reach the heights of the three great DBT albums. It is a rock album and some of the songs are among the Truckers' best, especially Cooley's contributions of "Birthday Boy" and "Go Downtown". The best of the Hood songs is the searing indictment of "McJobs" which is "This F*&king Job". I think that on this outing they still miss Jason Isbell and the album does not contain enough tonal variety but they are still one of the best bands recording and touring at this moment in time.


Go-Go Boots (Digipack)
Go-Go Boots (Digipack)
Price: £10.68

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their best since "The Dirty South", 18 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Go-Go Boots (Digipack) (Audio CD)
As other reviewers have said this was recorded alongside last year's "The Big To Do" and as they have also said this is the better of the two. I have read it described as the DBT's "Exile on Main Street" and there is a country soul feel about the album. Go-Go Boots is less raucous and has more of a groove than most other DBT records and there are far more acoustic instruments here than is normal for a Truckers album. As always the songs, at least the originals, are stories from small town America about the post traumatic stress and nightmares of a Vietnam veteran (Ray's Automatic Weapon), a hypocritical, adulterous, murdering preacher (Fireplace Poker and Go-go Boots), a burnt out police officer (I Used To Be A Cop) or a country girl moving to sunny California (Pulaski). There are two covers of Eddie Hinton songs in Everybody Needs Love and Where's Eddie, the latter sung by bassist Shonna Tucker is a highlight.

This is their best album since the great trilogy of Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day and The Dirty South. It doesn't quite reach the stellar standards of those albums and is a lot less varied in feel. I would certainly have no hesitation in recommending people to purchase this and also to go and see the Drive-By Truckers live, they are a superb live band and they are playing in the UK this Spring. Go Truckers!


A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided
A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided
by Amanda Foreman
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable exposition on a little known facet of a well known war, 17 Feb. 2011
This superb book is a history of the relationships between the belligerent parties in the American Civil War and "the mother country", the United Kingdom. It tells this complex and fascinating story from all three sides. It shows how the United Kingdom was almost as divided by the war as the Americans as the interests of the cotton mills of the northern industrial cities favoured the confederacy while the British abolitionist tradition meant that for many the South was anathema. Yet at least once the United Kingdom and the United States were on the brink of war and this book details the misunderstandings, subterfuges and mistakes which took these two countries to near to war. The relationship between the two is explored through the characters and relationship between Lord Lyons, the British minister in Washington and the US Secretary of State William H. Seward.

It is not only the high politics and diplomacy of the relationship which is expounded as the story is brought to life by accounts and quotes from some of the many British and Irish participants in the war on both sides. These provide the book with a more personal and humane element and this adds so much to the reader's involvement in the book. The book does not ignore the experience of the Americans themselves but looks at their travails and triumphs through a British lens.

This is a big book in more ways than one but it tells and important story, for in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States that emerged after the Civil War we see the beginning of the "Special Relationship" as the two nations became natural allies. I think that this is a masterful work of scholarship by Foreman but also an exceeding accessible book for the general reader with an interest in history.


The Nearest Exit
The Nearest Exit
by Olen Steinhauer
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of Bond, a bit of Smiley, 15 Feb. 2011
This review is from: The Nearest Exit (Hardcover)
There is a secret department of agents who are licensed to kill, among other things, but they seem to have been compromised by a mole. One of their number is brought back into the fold to as a molecatcher. So far so Fleming meets LeCarre, but this time it's not the Byzantine Brits, it's the Cousins, the CIA, who've seemingly been infiltrated. This time it's not the perfidious Russians but the Chinese who see their interests in Africa threatened by the CIA. Milo Weaver is a retired CIA "Tourist", ie a modern day 007 who is brought back to uncvover the mole in the Department of Tourism. This book follws him around Mittel-Europa and America as he first tries to gain the confidence of his employer and then tries to trap the mole. This time the Germands are the "cousins" who help the CIA solve their problem.

This novel mashes up the less believable "secret assasins" typified by the Bond franchise with the more cerebral and duplicitous spies and double agents of the novels of John Lecarre. As a one off novel I think it works but it may not have the legs to be a series. I enjoyed it and the story was fast enough to carry me along. The one off bit was that the CIA would employ an agent with such obvious parental dubiety.


The Templar Salvation
The Templar Salvation
by Raymond Khoury
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable post Da Vinci Code Hokum, 24 Jan. 2011
This review is from: The Templar Salvation (Hardcover)
A secret which could bring down christendom, held as security by the Knights Templar in Constantinople is smuggled out of the beseiged city just before Mehmet the Great's Ottoman army takes it. It is then lost to history until it reappears in this book. Follow FBI agent Sean Reilly as he tries to rescue the fair maiden and foil the islamic fundamentalist baddies in ever more spectacular cinematic set pieces.

This book is fun but I don't think it would ever have got published without the succes of the Da Vinci Code.


Insurrection: Insurrection Trilogy Book 1
Insurrection: Insurrection Trilogy Book 1
by Robyn Young
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Cause, 24 Jan. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the first book in a trilogy of historical fiction novels that cover the life of Scotland's greatest king, Robert I or Robert the Bruce. As you would expect the book covers the early years of Bruce's life from his return from his family's estates in Ireland during his adolescence through to his spell as a knight in the English army which invades Wales during a rebellion against Edward I up to his change of heart and decision to rebel against Edward himself. The book takes the reader through the period "Great Cause" when the childless Alexander III of Scotland died in a fall in 1286 without a male heir, the throne of Scotland had passed to the three-year old Margaret, Maid of Norway, the granddaughter of the King. However, in early October 1286 Margaret died in Orkney on her way to Scotland, leaving Scotland without a monarch. The Guardians called upon Edward I of England to decide between various competitors for the Scottish throne. Edward chooses John Balliol over Bruce's grandfather and the Bruce is sent to the family's estates in England and to Edward's court. He fights for Edward against the Welsh and defends Carlisle for the English when Balliol and his Comyn allies make war against the English. Bruce then changes sides and becomes a Scots rebel, joining the insurrection of William Wallace and Andrew Moray after Balliol is stripped of his crown following the English victory at Dunbar.

The politics of the time are complex and the author brings out the characters loyalties subtly, this is when ties were changing from family and clan to nation. The Bruce straddles the border with estates and feudal duty to both kingdoms and had to make a choice on whether he was to be a King of Scots or a feudal vassal of the King of England. The book takes you through that process as the young knight realises he cannot fulfil his oath to his grandfather that he must pursue their familial claim to the throne while being Edward's vassal.

This is the part of Bruce's story which is not told to every Scottish schoolchild but it is important in understanding the man and it helps to understand the political rivalries that meant that Edward became involved in Scotland to such disastrous effect for both kingdoms. This book takes you into the medieval mindset and explains the complex political background seamlessness. As another reviewer said, you get a more rounded view of the situation than you did from the ahistorical travesty that was "Braveheart". I liked this book and will certainly try to catch up with subsequent instalments.


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