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oldschoolstoryhunter.calm

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Before I Go To Sleep
Before I Go To Sleep
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Method Gone Right, 28 Jan. 2012
If you like thrillers you really MUST read this, and I usually hate reviewers telling me what I MUST read. But this is a gem I just cannot recommend heartily enough. Each time Christine sleeps she loses her memory and wakes up lost, obviously. It's the sort of ludicrous premise which should not work at all but Watson carries it off magnificently. It's like method writing, really getting into a character's head. And the reader feels terror for her, sustained on a protracted basis, it's that weird uncomfortable feeling you cannot pull away from, and it goes on and on, it's quite traumatic. To use a tired cliche, it really GRIPS you - you cannot get away from it; ultra-vulnerable Christine is on your mind when you are not reading it.


Flashman and the Dragon (The Flashman Papers, Book 10) (Flashman 10)
Flashman and the Dragon (The Flashman Papers, Book 10) (Flashman 10)
by George MacDonald Fraser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Delighthful, Old chap, 15 Dec. 2011
I have come on here to stubbornly insist on giving this Flashman adventure five stars. Last week I talked to four Flashman fans who all agreed this was one of the weakest Flashmans. Poppycock. Damn their eyes. The bloodiest civil war in history (second biggest war ever), a cold-blooded seductress, opium dealing and plans aplenty to have old Flashy skewered alive. Vintage. Perfect. And so what if Flashman is more peripheral than usual. Sometimes you see more from the sidelines.


The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes: The Story of George Scovell
The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes: The Story of George Scovell
by Mark Urban
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Addition, 21 Nov. 2011
Napoleonic times are much written about but this is a worthwhile addition. Bernard Cornwell's fun books take up most of the limelight and this could not be more different. It's scholarly, detailed, obsessively fair-minded and comprehensive, all of which makes it sound as dull as ditch-water. Yet it's a great read.

Major George Scovell, the man of the title, is a wonderful hero; brave as well as bright, and all the more real for his low-key portrayal. Further, the Peninsular War is placed in context like rarely before. The overview of Europe, as opposed to merely thinking in terms of this megalomaniacal little genius from Corsica, is particularly illuminating.

For a factual book, it reads as exciting as a thriller in places. Other parts flesh out matters which possibly troubled the casual reader (ie me) who lacked any real expertise about the period. Point is: After reading this, you feel like you can read Cornwell, O Brian, Rifleman Harris and so on with an enhanced appreciation.

It also manages to do what Robert Harris did with Enigma: take the deskbound process of nit-picky code-cracking and render it riveting.


The Gambler (Dover Thrift Editions)
The Gambler (Dover Thrift Editions)
by F. M. Dostoevsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and compulsive, like gambling, 21 Nov. 2011
I would heartily agree with Angus Jenkinson's excellent review and would also add that I prefer this translation to Jessie Coulson's (Penguin Classics of yore). The breathless pace at which it was written, and at which I read it, is well served by her rather artless style.

This is a book about being stripped to the base core, about being unrefined, out of control and lost. It is not suited to overly literary treatment. Too many translators miss that the Russian classics - unlike many of our own classics - were not written for a small coterie of educated people but with the entire world in mind.


How to be Idle
How to be Idle
Price: £4.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Agreeable, just, 21 Nov. 2011
This review is from: How to be Idle (Kindle Edition)
Hodgkinson overstates his case, wilfully I suspect, and lulls the reader into a pleasant fantasy. But his basic thesis is agreeable; we are all miserably materialistic and we utterly waste our lives working in jobs we would be mad to give a hoot for.

The trouble is, Tom, being skint is crap. Society doesn't forgive you for it and we cannot easily change society since revolution is an empirically proven bad idea.

We are stuck with a complicated situation. Try telling a wide-eyed child who wants a new wii, or 21-speed lightweight bike, that we live in a materialistic society and money doesn't make you happy - "so I haven't got any son." Cupboard love wins, perhaps sadly.


Journey's End: Bomber Command's Battle from Arnhem to Dresden and Beyond (Bomber War Trilogy 3)
Journey's End: Bomber Command's Battle from Arnhem to Dresden and Beyond (Bomber War Trilogy 3)
by Kevin Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 17 Nov. 2011
It's always great to read a book praising the British bombers. Everyone thinks of Dresden and the horror inflicted on civilians. In reality, bombing was one of the most important and dangerous jobs of the War. My grandfather did it and the stories he told were terrifying. Along with the sailors in the Battle of the North Atlantic, who tend to be unsung too depiste going through hell, Bomber Command was crucial to winning the war. Books like this are a wonderful counterbalance to the public perception that it was all down to the Brylcream Boys in their Spitfires. And it's smoothly written to boot.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2012 6:47 PM BST


Fatherland
Fatherland

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well built..., 9 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Fatherland (Kindle Edition)
The truth is Robert Harris cannot write for toffee but Fatherland is great because it is tightly structured. In fact the flat reporter style actually adds to the plausibility. So Hitler won WWII: you get used to it. Fatherland is not as good as Harris' Archangel but it does successfully thrill. It betters most alternative history books because Harris has a sound grasp of that wonderfully ruthless German concept, 'realpolitik' and how it makes the world turn, whereas others tend to over-egg the pudding with liberal flights of fancy.


Caesar
Caesar
by Allan Massie
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Re-telling, 7 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Caesar (Paperback)
There is nothing new here but Massie tells the tale from an enriching perspective; from the viewpoint of one of Caeser's lieutenants, Decimus Brutus who the reader comes to know intimately, and admires tremendously. It's high tragedy by the time the assassination looms. There is tenderness in this deeply personal take on the violent demise of the great man. The book is perhaps a little sluggish in the first half but it's never less than perfectly readable.


War Story
War Story
by Derek Robinson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Riot, 7 Nov. 2011
This review is from: War Story (Paperback)
An excellent, obscure book. Without banging the self-congratulatory anti-war drum, Robinson conveys the horrors of war. He also conveys the absurdity. And he also tells a high-spirited adventure story with likeable characters. It is a very male book and in a good, celebratory way.


A Man In Full
A Man In Full
by Tom Wolfe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine as far as it goes, 7 Nov. 2011
This review is from: A Man In Full (Paperback)
This is an enjoyable state-of-the-nation book, the nation being the USA. The characters come across like components in a carefully controlled equation rather than real people. Wolfe wants to say 'It is like THIS for people in the US.' The story itself is only there to make points, like his characters. Consequently it is a surprise it works at all, but it is a perfectly readable paeon to stoicism and self-reliance - though it's probably a lot less original that the author imagines.


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