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E. Dawson "Beetroot" (UK)
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Haunted Castles (Penguin Horror)
Haunted Castles (Penguin Horror)
by Ray Russell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect example of gothic horror, 5 Aug. 2014
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I had been looking for Ray Russell's short stories ever since I read 'The Cage' in an old anthology when I was little. The gothic story got under my skin and the image of the ending never left me. It is an excellent short story: perfectly formed, gothic atmosphere, great ending. Re-reading it after a decade or so, it lived up to the memory. I am really looking forward to reading Russell's other gothic horror stories in the book.


The Watsons
The Watsons
Price: £1.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Whoops, 5 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Watsons (Kindle Edition)
I bought this, thinking it was just Jane Austen's unfinished novel. I was not interested in the continuation so did not finish the book. From what I read, the continuation is okay, compared to some Austen-esque adaptions. The adapter is clearly knowledgeable of Austen's intention for the novel and other references made by her family. It was clear, however, when Austen's work ended and the modern adaption began. It had the common failings of historical fiction: trying to let us know too much historical information. Austen is notible for how self-contained her novels are, with their very slim references to the political context of her time. The sudden appearance of reference to contemporary figures, and the characters claiming to know them, switched off my attention.


JAY-BE Apollo Single Folding Bed with Sprung Slatted Base and Airflow Mattress
JAY-BE Apollo Single Folding Bed with Sprung Slatted Base and Airflow Mattress
Price: £45.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Comfy and reasonable price, 17 Jun. 2014
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As an occasional guest bed, it is surprisingly comfortable with good quality sprung slats. However, it is not suitable for everyday use and you cannot lean or kneel upon it. I kneeled on it on the second day and broke a slat. The legs are good and strong. It is easy to fold up and store as it is quite light and folds up flat enough to easily put under a bed.


F1506A Womens Black Kitten Heel Ladies Fashion Court Shoes Uk7
F1506A Womens Black Kitten Heel Ladies Fashion Court Shoes Uk7

3.0 out of 5 stars Alright, 14 May 2012
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It appears of good quality. However after wearing it once, it kept slipping off my foot and was very difficult to walk. My foot must just be too slim. i have learnt my lesson for buying shoes online.


Soulless: Book 1 of The Parasol Protectorate
Soulless: Book 1 of The Parasol Protectorate
by Gail Carriger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original but disappointing, however is still a guilty pleasure, 11 April 2012
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I really wanted to enjoy this book. The reviews and blurb seemed to promise well. However, I should have gathered that the review 'recalls Jane Austen and P. G. Wodehouse' was a caveat. I love those two authors, and although I took in mind a steam-punk novels would not have their subtlety it would nevertheless have a bit more zing and irony than the average cross-genre 'bodice-ripper' (A term that makes me blanch).

Page one. Bang! a good opening, action, werewolves, victorians and vampires from the start. However, I had to keep blinding myself to the terrible narrative style. What is this? An American imitating Jane Austen? It was heavy-handed and ridiculous, the irony was laid on with a trowel. This style was clearly trying very hard to sound English and within the time. It didn't. It was pastiche of Jane Austen and hardly any hint of Dickens (which would have been a little bit more appropriate). I am sure a little bit of a Jane Austen style when trying to add irony is good, however, not in action sequences. Maybe a more victorian lady adventurer's style would have suited it, with an implicit irony. The narrator's voice just did not work. I looked again at the blurb, daughter of an Ex-pat Brit. Hm, yes, she must be American.
The action was definitely there, murder in the first three pages but it still seemed somehow - amateur. All the main characters were introduced straight away and all their facts were crammed in. I may need to know that Lord Maccon is the Earl of Woolsey (probably to increase his sex appeal) and he is called Conall but not all within one paragraph - not when you have it all over again in the next chapter and the next. And to call an Earl, 'Lord Conall Maccon' - why? Is he a son of a Duke as well?
However, I thought, I could overlook it, let's see where it is going.

Next chapter, the style was settling down, but again and again it fell away into Americanisms. I had to take out a pencil and put myself in the place of an editor and cross out parts just to satisfy my conscience. But the main character telling her friend she hit the bad guy 'Upside the head' offended my sensibilities too much.
The next assault. Oh dear, yet again my heart sank. It is all very well, you are American, you want to do a Victorian steam-punk cross-genre novel - it has to be in London - no harm in that. But do the research! 'The Right Honourable Squire Loontwill' - eugh! It is almost as bad as calling Sir William Lucas, Sir Lucas. And I doubt Almack's would have seen a bustle - though it is possible - but the time this is set (what with the description of the dresses - and there are many) suggests 1880s. Doubt Almack's would still be dictating fashion when it is closed. And Canterbury a port? Hm, stick it in wikipedia, my dear, and see.
Wait! my mind says, you are enjoying the fantasy side of it. This is an alternate world. Canterbury, Almack's and all the rest are just part of this world.

The action and the mystery kept me going. And such a cross-genre novel may not be perfect but there are definitely werewolves and vampires galore and the idea of the preternatural is original and the fantasy side of it is definitely well thought out. However, sometimes the author's affection for the characters gets in the way of the plot and I think an aggressive editor was needed to cut out the pages of back and forth between the two main characters. The characters were sometimes funny, sometimes cringy. They were definitely made better than some. The main character was engaging, but she was not without her faults. She is clearly a modern woman dropped in this strange version of Victorian society, but the narrator doesn't seem to punish her for any faults she may have, whilst pointing the faults out (very directly) in all the others. The only faults that the others condemn are those which would only worry a Victorian society. But, for a modern reader: she lacks tact, and she is not as intelligent as the author makes her out to be. Sure, she has read all these books, etc. but she does not seem able to work the strange environment the author has invented for her in an intelligent way. Her American vulgarities withal she flouts this convention, then the next and it just does not remain convincing. She is different, but in no way does her strange background account for the fact she is clearly a modern American transplanted into a Victorian-esque world.

I enjoyed the book, in a guilty sort of way. Many of the ideas seem highly original and sometimes the narrators voice worked and I felt compelled to get out my pencil and circle the bits and cry 'hurray! I am allowed to smile.' But still the nagging feeling was there, and I was continually reminded, 'A victorian would not say that!', 'A Lady would not say that or do that!'
A cross-genre novel with an ironic, clearly Jane Austen style is very ambitious - you are imitating one of the greatest users of words in the English language for one thing - let alone the historical research, and the fantasy world to develop. As such I can forgive it; if you can blind yourself to the errors, eventually the style settles down enough for you to enjoy the story and the world. This book is clearly a work of love and there has been much thought in certain aspects of it. There was occasionally a sparkle of gems among its patchy ormolu.

Clearly, I am approaching this book as a British reader who occasionally dabbles in some fantasy and historical fiction when I want to get away with something easy to read. I was not expecting Dickens. For a Fantasy or Steam-punk fiend, this might be a refreshing change. In summary, if it did not have the steam-punk, fantasy-action plot then the heavy-handed narration, and the terrible Jane Austen-esque pastiche would have made me drop the book faster than the average regency-era romance that turns my stomach. (This is for an American market definitely).


Charmed Life (Essential Modern Classics)
Charmed Life (Essential Modern Classics)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 7 Aug. 2011
Greetings, literary traveller, have you come across Diana Wynne Jones from the brilliant Howl's Moving Castle? Or maybe you have been taken in by thinking it has some comparison to Harry Potter?
Well, what a brilliant book, and fantastic series awaits you.

I read this book when I was little, and still love reading it (I reread it every year). It is brilliant how the author draws you into her magical worlds with so many memorable characters. And who can forget the enigmatic Chrestomanci!
Diana Wynne Jones was writing brilliant fantasy before anyone had ever heard of J. K. Rowling. And forgive me, die-hard Potterites, but I prefer DWJ. Her magical worlds are so alive and her characters so original, wonderful and so alive, with the darker side all witch-craft has - but not tiresome, predictable Evil Antagonist, or magical Dark Side - No, the antagonists are human, with human weaknesses; as are her protagonists and her other characters with their different shade of grey.

Charmed Life is definitely the one to start with and fall in love with. This is a brilliant, original and inimitable author.

I envy you for being able to read this series for the first time. And only regret there aren't more books.

I love you Diana Wynne Jones.


AS and A Level Physics Through Diagrams: Oxford Revision Guides
AS and A Level Physics Through Diagrams: Oxford Revision Guides
by Stephen Pople
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for revision and study, 7 Aug. 2011
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If you are more of visual learner, as I am; more able to visualise the problems to understand them than recalling a large amount of text; this book is very good. The CGP books are very good for revision, but for a little bit more understanding than cramming snippets of information and formulae this is the book.
The book is well set out and written to accommodate all the exams boards. i found it very useful for adding to my understanding parts of the subject that my textbook did not seem to help me with.


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Penguin Classics)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Penguin Classics)
by Anne Brontė
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic in its own right, 7 Aug. 2011
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When I first took up this book, I was a little hesitant. I had fallen into the mistake of believing that Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were the best known for a reason and the other sister was rightfully overlooked. Already discouraged by trying to drag myself through Charlotte Bronte's Villette, I had been put off reading any more of the Bronte's works. But, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Anne Bronte is so very different an author; she is not the less talented sister. Her story is just as good, and in my opinion, more realistic than her sisters' better known works. Its writing is sometimes over-wrought and a little clumsy, but you soon forget that when you are taken up in the immediacy of the story, and some good dry humour.
I recommend you to read this book, that should be read more in its own right. I particularly enjoyed Stevie Davies erudite notes in this Penguin edition, which were an enjoyment on their own.


Eugene Onegin (Penguin Classics)
Eugene Onegin (Penguin Classics)
by Alexander Pushkin
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 13 Jun. 2010
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This is undoubtably my favourite book, and its inimitable style, its clarity, subtle humour and its imagery are but some of the qualities of Pushkin's fantastically fluent verse. My encomiums cannot be any warmer, although I could go on for a lot longer on the merits of this work.
Both of Penguin's translations are good, although Johnston's is a little less palatable (being older and thus seeming a little dated and harder to read), the new translation is good (and has a much better cover). And even if you are not used to Russian literature you will find this book surprisingly easy to read - the notes are very useful for the Russian terms and references. Personally, I think any of these two translations would be the best edition to buy when first choosing to read this book; Nabokov's, although being more literal, loses the rhythm and fluidity that the original verse possessed, and which the two Penguin translations attempt to retain.
I read this story over and over again yet I can never tire of it. It was this work that made me fall in love with poetry, and lead me on to other works, such as Byron and the rest of the Romantics (who Pushkin pays his tribute to), but I always retain that this work is the best I have ever read.
I hope you will gain some of my enthusiasm from my bias review and give it go.


Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics)
Nightmare Abbey & Crotchet Castle (Penguin Classics)
by Thomas Love Peacock
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.12

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 13 Jun. 2010
Do not be put off with the comments that a reader must be well-learned in the Classics and the literature of this time to understand this book. I had never read Peacock before and read it online, with no notes or commentary, and although there are many Latin quotations and some obscure references, do not give up. If you are really interested in works from this time period (Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, Gothic, and Romantic) then persevere and it will pay off. I do not know what the notes are like in this edition, but the Latin and Greek phrases used are mostly well known so just typing them into google will give you their meaning. And you may find yourself becoming a little better learned in such phrases - however I had not yet used them in conversation so I am not sure how anyone I am talking to would respond to the use of *charivari* (hubbub) or *taedium vitae*.
Peacock appears to be a great lover of words, using many obscure words, and, as a Classical scholar, has coined many Greek-esque words for an amusing effect: hyperoxysophistical (over specious) being one of them. But do not let them scare you, usually they are used in the context of mocking the character, and in this case, it is used more for the obscurity and complex length of the word to mock the complexity and obscurity of the metaphysics of Mr. Flosky (Coleridge), than its particular meaning. For example:

"MARIONETTA
I will take it for granted that it is so, Mr Flosky; I am not conversant with metaphysical subtleties, but---

MR FLOSKY
Subtleties! my dear Miss O'Carroll. I am sorry to find you participating in the vulgar error of the reading public, to whom an unusual collocation of words, involving a juxtaposition of antiperistatical ideas, immediately suggests the notion of hyperoxysophistical paradoxology.

MARIONETTA
Indeed, Mr Flosky, it suggests no such notion to me. I have sought you for the purpose of obtaining information.

MR FLOSKY (shaking his head)
No one ever sought me for such a purpose before."

Peacock is very witty and very learned. But it is light-humoured satire, being mostly conversation, or sometimes farce, and not biting or offensive in its caricatures. Many of the subjects were Peacock's friends or acquaintances, so it is fascinating to see his portrayal of Shelley and others.

Towards Mr. Cypress however (a portrait based on Byron) Peacock seems a little less forgiving, but the character's statement that:
"Sir, I have quarrelled with my wife; and a man who has quarrelled with his wife is absolved from all duty to his country."
And the references to passages in *Childe Harold* are amusing to whoever has read his work.

If this sort of humour appeals to you and maybe you study a little bit of the Romantics, or just enjoy reading them, then I cannot recommend this work more. I am only saddened that it is so little read and wish Penguin would continue to publish it (I cannot find it on Penguin's website).

I am not yet a Peacock devotee, but Nightmare Abbey seems the most approachable of his works, and I am looking forward to later reading Crotchet Castle - I only hope it is as good as Nightmare Abbey!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2010 11:48 PM BST


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