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J.K. Currie (Northern Ireland)
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The Man from Berlin (Gregor Reinhardt)
The Man from Berlin (Gregor Reinhardt)
by Luke McCallin
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars ‘Merely patient detective work’, 19 Sep 2014
Thank you to the person who sent me a review copy of this book – I enjoyed it immensely!
Captain Gregor Reinhardt is a former Berlin detective now an interrogator for the Abwehr in Sarajevo under German occupation in 1943. As a decorated WW1 veteran he is patriotic to his nation but extremely conflicted about Nazi behaviour in occupied countries. He is given an opportunity for redemption when asked to investigate the murders of another German officer and a beautiful Croatian film maker. His dogged, determined method leads to all sorts of secrets and places Reinhardt and others in great personal danger.
This is the first of a projected trilogy and in my view it is very successful. The plot is complex, even labyrinthine, but for me, that is a lot of the attraction. The working out of the mystery is intricate, logical and in the end convincing. I learnt a lot also about Bosnia during the Second World War. It is clear that the author really knows what he is writing about. Not the least interesting aspect is how events of WW2 influenced communist Yugoslavia and subsequently the civil war in Bosnia in the 1990s. Indeed the relationship between the Germans and their allies in the Ustase is also explored with great insight.
The novel has been compared with those of Philip Kerr and Alan Furst. I enjoy the WW2 novels of both these men, but in my view this is something quite different. You will not find the ‘Gumshoe’ type humour of Bernie Gunther here and you will find better plotting than in Furst’s novels. I found ‘The man form Berlin’ a serious pleasure. I will certainly be reading its successor, ‘The Pale House’ soon.


XMI X-Mini WE XAM17-B Portable Thumb Size Speaker for iPhone/iPad/iPod/MP3 Player/Laptop - Orange
XMI X-Mini WE XAM17-B Portable Thumb Size Speaker for iPhone/iPad/iPod/MP3 Player/Laptop - Orange
Price: £26.70

4.0 out of 5 stars A hand grenade for Action Man, 16 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like this. It is really small but packs a powerful punch with clear crisp sound for the size. By ‘thumb size’ it means the whole thumb, not a thumb nail. It is attractive looking and attracts comment; it is robust, a pliable rubber rather than plastic coated. It is easy to set up and has a handy little clip on the back. There is no indicator of battery level and few instructions are included, but the speaker is well worth the money.


AEG AG3013 Ergorapido Li-ion Tungsten Metallic 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 18 V
AEG AG3013 Ergorapido Li-ion Tungsten Metallic 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 18 V
Offered by Electrical Experience
Price: £169.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to like, 1 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is very good! This slim and stylish stick vacuum is easy to assemble, light to use, powerful on floor surfaces, flexible in tight spaces, simple to empty. The detachable hand-held device is great for stairs and narrow corners. It would be very suitable for an older person who cannot bear a heavy device. It would be ideal for an apartment with storage problems. Are there any negatives? Well, you need to remember to keep the lithium battery charged and its small size may mean you need to empty it more frequently than a full size - but these are minor issues. I am well pleased.


Waterman Blue Obsession Hemisphere Ballpoint Pen with Gift Box
Waterman Blue Obsession Hemisphere Ballpoint Pen with Gift Box
Price: £37.45

5.0 out of 5 stars A pen to be seen with, 29 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a lovely pen, shapely and slender, nicely balanced and with sufficent weight to give it gravity, a beautiful blue with matching gift box. Yes, and it writes very well too!


GCSE English Text Guide - A View from the Bridge
GCSE English Text Guide - A View from the Bridge
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of content in a short guide, 27 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This short guide to A view from the bridge is highly recommended for pupils studying the play for GCSE. My daughter praised the amount of useful material it contains, in particular the short recall quizzes and the longer examination type questions. She found it especially helpful on context. As for me, I enjoyed the cartoon version of the play included at the end of the book.


NOCO G1100UK Genius Smart Battery Charger
NOCO G1100UK Genius Smart Battery Charger
Price: £23.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money, 2 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Smart and easy to use, this will cover most battery charging needs, although I think you will need one rather more powerful for car battery charging. Not the least of its virtues are ease of use and safety features.


Philips PerfectCare Azur Iron GC4910/10 - One Perfect Temperature Steam Iron, 180g Steam Boost
Philips PerfectCare Azur Iron GC4910/10 - One Perfect Temperature Steam Iron, 180g Steam Boost
Price: £69.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Care, 2 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I would give this five stars only I don't like ironing and am lucky enough not to have to do very much for myself. This iron is nicely designed, light to use, and because you do not need to set variable temperatures almost impossible to abuse (or rather to abuse what you are ironing). Very well worth the money.


Rapesco, Heavy Duty Punch. 4400 Hole Punch
Rapesco, Heavy Duty Punch. 4400 Hole Punch
Offered by 3WM Ltd
Price: £104.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Mine’s (a lot) bigger than yours, 25 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Goodness – what a brute this is! ‘Heavy Duty Easy Punch’ – never in the field of human history has an object been summed up so accurately in four words. It would be easy to imagine this instrument in the hand of Goliath or the Green Giant – someone very big, anyway. It combines size and strength with utilisable functionality. One for the Reprographics room, not for the desk, unless you really want to show off.


The Emperor Waltz
The Emperor Waltz
by Philip Hensher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Evangelists, 22 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Emperor Waltz (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At 614 pages you might be forgiven for thinking that this offering from Philip Hensher is a great sprawling epic of a novel. Yet there is not one single plot line here. What the reader is getting in fact are two long stories divided into episodes as well as three or four shorter and independent pieces. The first of the two longer strands is set in the Bauhaus movement in 1920s Germany: a defeated German nation, hyper-inflation, revolutionary fervour, the rise of Nazism, all contribute to a fascinating story. In the second longer strand a young man who has inherited his father's money uses it to open the first gay bookshop in London. He must compete with opposition, prejudice and AIDS in what is often a gloriously funny and very camp narrative. Set in the midst of these two narratives is a simple retelling of the martyrdom of Perpetua in a North African Roman town.
A common theme in all the stories is the challenge posed to society by the open display of difference by individuals and minority groups - not so much that they are different, but that they dare to proclaim their difference. There are a few links made between stories, a parrot, blackbirds, a Bauhaus teapot, the Emperor Waltz itself, but these seem playful rather than significant.
I confess that I enjoyed some parts more than others. The section where the author found himself in hospital with an infected toe and the episode where four children misbehave while their chattering parents dine obliviously below are very funny, but appear to have little thematic link with the rest of the book.
In my view this book's greatest strength is the author's wonderful narrative gift of story-telling, his ability to conjure up a myriad fascinating and individual characters and a wholly convincing use of dialogue. My favourite part is the Roman section although it is comparatively brief, but in its concise melancholy it reminded me at times of Mario De Carvalho's brilliant novel, `A god strolling in the cool of evening'.
Does this emperor wear any clothes? Well, I learned that if he is Sicilian and it is summer, he will not be wearing underclothes.


Black Sparta - Greek Stories (The Saint Giles Library No. 8) (Saint Giles Library)
Black Sparta - Greek Stories (The Saint Giles Library No. 8) (Saint Giles Library)

5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom, 16 Jun 2014
In 500 BC a young member of the Krypteia kills his first Helot; on Mt Ithome in 461 two Spartan prisoners plot their escape from their Helot captors; in 456 the poet Pindar learns from the man’s widow what happened to one of his Olympic victors during a democratic revolution in the colony of Kyrene; on the island of Melos in 415 two children of Athenian settlers learn what happened to the original islanders; in 399 Socrates asks Plato if it as a tragic playwright that he wishes to be remembered; in 374 an Athenian diplomat to Persia is given a Spartan slave to attend him – his dilemma – should he try to free a fellow Greek? Or should he rejoice at the humiliation of an enemy? In 373 a Spartan soldier is torn between helping a Helot recruit to escape and obeying the orders of the governing Ephors.

First published in 1929, this little volume has stood the test of time. A collection of thirteen short stories set over a 100 year period during the great age of the Greek city-states, Mitchison demonstrates her genuine knowledge and empathy for what it might have meant to be an ordinary Greek man or woman or child in the events of those years. The stories are fascinating and intricate and arouse real sympathy for the protagonists. There is some superb characterisation. I especially enjoyed the story entitled ‘The Epiphany of Poieessa’ which is a kind of postscript to Mitchison’s long novel of the Peloponnesian War ‘Cloudcuckooland’. Freedom, its limitations and restrictions are themes which are examined and re-examined in the contexts of each of the stories. The reader is left with a genuine feeling that this is how it might have been.

I have only two caveats for the potential reader of this collection. It demands quite a lot of knowledge of Fifth Century Greek history, religion and society. It also includes a number of the author’s own poems, which are a bit hit and miss in quality. Other than that, I cannot recommend these stories highly enough.


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