Profile for Didier > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Didier
Top Reviewer Ranking: 497
Helpful Votes: 2211

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Didier (Ghent, Belgium)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Le Creuset Junior Mug, 200 ml, Blue
Le Creuset Junior Mug, 200 ml, Blue

5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite cup, 25 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The 'regular' (350ml) Le Creuset mugs are far too large for me, the espresso cups too small, but this is just the perfect size. It's a pity Le Creuset doesn't produce these in some of their traditional colours such as volcanic or cherry red to match with the other Le Creuset stuff in my kitchen, but apart from that: it makes my day, every day!

The good news is, as I just discovered today in my favorite kitchen store here in town: Le Creuset have apparently just launched a range of 'cappucino cups' in this size (200ml) but in different colours, so they should be for sale here soon too I guess. As it is, I simply couldn't wait for that so bought 3 cherry red cappucino cups today and had a lovely cappucino this afternoon to celebrate, prepared with my Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup and La Cafetiere Bialetti Tuttocrema Frothing Jug, Teflon Non Stick Surface and Double Filter For Extra Frothy Milk. A feast for any coffee lover ;-)


A Short History of the Wars of the Roses (I.B. Tauris Short Histories)
A Short History of the Wars of the Roses (I.B. Tauris Short Histories)
by David Grummitt
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction, 1 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My interest in the Wars of the Roses was actually sparked by Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (both excellent novels by the way), so for good measure I resolved to read up on the period before that first and only then start reading some more about the Tudors themselves, and particularly Henry VIII (I recently read the marvellous Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England, so I'm already acquainted so to speak with Henry VIII's father).

It turned out that there's a vast choice in non-fiction about the Wars of the Roses, and all reviews seem to agree on one thing: it's an intricate part of English history. Having said that, I think David Grummit's book on the one hand confirmed this, but on the other hand definitely clarified a lot. It was perhaps initially conceived rather as a book for students, but it works excellent for amateur enthousiasts as well in my opinion. First of all, there's a very clear structure: after the introduction (with a list of 'dramatis personae', a timeline and 3 family trees), the book is divided into 3 parts:
- Part 1: Causes (about the Lancastrian legacy, the deposition of Richard II and the reign of Henry IV)
- Part 2: Course (itself nicely parceled into chapters about the First War (1459-64), the Second War (1469-71) and the Third War (1483-87))
- Part 3: Consequences (about the impact of the Wars in general and on political culture specifically)
At the end of the book there's also a very helpful bibliography for further reading.

Apart from that Grummitt writes in a very clear and succinct style, and he keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace (one has to I guess, if one's aim is to summarize the Wars of the Roses into a mere 182 pages).

One could argue that, having never before read anything on the wars of the Roses, I'm hardly in a position to judge whether Grummit has indeed succeeded in writing the 'perfect introduction', but to me it felt as such, since upon having finished it I felt informed about the principal characters and events, and more importantly still, the political and socio-economic causes and consequences of this fascinating period. And on top of that it inspired me to read on, so now it's on to Lancaster And York: The Wars of the Roses.

So therefore: heartily recommended!


Bring Up the Bodies
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Unparalleled historical fiction, 24 Mar 2013
This review is from: Bring Up the Bodies (Hardcover)
I was enthralled by Wolf Hall, and started reading 'Bring up the bodies' immediately afterwards. It's as good, it's absolutely brilliant. Cromwell dominates the novel as he did in 'Wolf Hall', and - whatever we may think of the historical character - Mantel has succeeded in creating an absolutely mesmerizing fictional character here. You get a real sense of the man and his feelings, thoughts and ambitions as if he were explaining himself 'live' to you. And it's not just him, all the characters and Tudor London are brilliantly drawn. Perhaps the most stunning part is how Mantel succeeds in creating an incredible sense of suspense. Even though we all know how the story will end, you cannot help reading on as if this were a vintage Le Carré-novel, and relish the intrigues and counter-intrigues at court, the scheming and plotting as if it were a game of chess (but one for the highest possible stakes).

So now begins the long wait for part three... But until that is published, these two novels have so sparked my interest in Tudor times that I'll be starting A Short History of the Wars of the Roses (I.B. Tauris Short Histories) this very day, moving on after that to Lancaster And York: The Wars of the Roses, Tudors: A History of England Volume II (History of England Vol 2) and The Rise & Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant. Now isn't that a delightful prospect?


Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch, 18 Mar 2013
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
One could argue that further reviews are besides the point and futile in this case, as I'm writing this there are already over a 1,000 reviews. Yet I felt compelled to add my humble pebble to this gigantic cairn of (mostly) praise, quite simply because this is one of the most rewarding books I've read in a very long while (and it's not as if I read a book a year or so). Yes, indeed, the writing is often dense, and you do have to keep your wits about you to keep track of the dozens of characters (but there's a helpful list at the front) and who's saying what in conversations, but whereas this seems to have put off other people it had the opposite effect with me, of reading this book with great concentration.

We will probably never know if what drives the characters in this novel to act as they do is actually what drove them at the time and in real life, but to me that is besides the point because this is a work of fiction, and therefore shouldn't be measured against the standards we use for non-fiction. As a work of fiction, by any standard (well, no, strictly speaking 'my standard'), it's a work of astonishing richness and depth, with entirely credible characters, and a plot that kept me reading on and on. I've barely finished it a couple of days ago and am already well into Bring Up the Bodies, and enjoying it as much. The only other novelist of historical fiction I can think of at the spur of the moment that offers an equally rewarding (and challenging) experience is Dorothy Dunnett, but then again she writes very different novels.

However, that's neither here nor there, all I can say is I heartily recommend 'Wolf Hall', to lovers and non-lovers of historical fiction alike.


Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole, Volcanic, 28 cm
Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole, Volcanic, 28 cm
Price: 140.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The very best, 13 Mar 2013
I've had one of these for 3 years now, use it all the time and it still amazes me what a fabulous product this is. It's versatile, robust (with just a minimum of care they'll last a lifetime), easy to wash, and always performs. One of the greatest advantages to me personally is that you can just pop it in the oven and leave it there for as long as it takes while you carry on with other things (or simply relax), and after a couple of hours you'll find your stew cooked to perfection, piping hot, and with all the taste preserved. Well worth the money!


Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
by Thomas Penn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Like a vintage Le Carré-novel!, 6 Mar 2013
Until recently what I knew about Henry VII would have barely filled a small post-it note: 'defeated Richard III at Bosworth, father of Henry VIII' about summed it up, quite frankly. Not so anymore thanks to this excellent book which I at first picked up predominantly based on the high praise on the cover and back-cover. Not to waste any of your time: the praise ('History book of the year', 'A masterpiece', etc.) is fully deserved!

It's quite astonishing how Penn succeeds in bringing to life both the reign and the character of Henry VII who, I have come to realize, truly laid the foundations of the Tudor dynasty. Perhaps not a very likeable man, but he clearly had what it took not only to survive as a king in those turbulent times but also to, slowly but surely, tighten his grip on his court, the nobility, the entire country in fact (and make a fortune while doing so). There's lots to tell about the 24 years of Henry's reign but that's merely subject matter and so to speak 'available' to anyone (well not literally anyone of course, Penn has clearly done a huge amount of research), what makes this so impressive a book to my mind is how Penn tells this story. He superbly evokes the treacherous, sinister atmosphere (especially of the last years of Henry VII's reign). Even snuggled up under my duvet I had chills running down my spine ;-)

This is a very learned and informative book and at the same time: it sweeps you along like a rollercoaster ride!


Le Creuset Stoneware Utensil Jar, Small, Granite
Le Creuset Stoneware Utensil Jar, Small, Granite

5.0 out of 5 stars the perfect utensil jar, 28 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had one of these in orange already, but as my kitchen drawers started overflowing with all sorts of utensils again (already) I didn't hesitate buying a second one. It's heavy so won't topple over, has that typical 'rustic' Le Creuset look & feel and since they come in lots of colours there's bound to be one that fits just perfectly in your kitchen. And yes, it's quite pricey like all Le Creuset-products, but then again: I haven't been disappointed by a single Le Creuset-product yet. Quality comes a a price, and Le Creuset is superb quality.


Wusthof CLASSIC Paring knife - 4000 / 8 cm
Wusthof CLASSIC Paring knife - 4000 / 8 cm
Offered by BOSTO-Design
Price: 29.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb quality, 28 Feb 2013
I fully agree this is an expensive knife, for the price of one of these you could easily buy at least a dozen run-of-the-mill kitchen knives. But it's worth every penny: very sharp (and stays that way for a very long time, even with daily use), a very good grip, easy to wash, and all in all a pleasure to use. Every single time I use this knife - which is every day - I can't help feeling happy about having bought it!


The Bride of Lammermoor (Oxford World's Classics)
The Bride of Lammermoor (Oxford World's Classics)
by Walter Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Scott-novel, though not my personal favorite, 27 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A while ago I decided that it simply could not do that I hadn't read a single novel by Sir Walter Scott yet in my entire life (which is statistically speaking beyond its mid-point). So I read, in rapid succession, several of his novels: Waverley; or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World's Classics), Redgauntlet (Oxford World's Classics), and Old Mortality (Oxford World's Classics) were good, Rob Roy (Oxford World's Classics) was better still, and The Antiquary (Oxford World's Classics) was marvellous, I hadn't a clue before that Scott was capable of such high humour!

But I find it hard to determine how I feel about the 'The Bride of Lammermoor' having just finished it... On the one hand, it has what I've come to recognize (and appreciate) as lots of the elements typical of Scott's novels: the setting (Scotland, obviously) and period (early 18th century), an effort to investigate the relationship between past (the once wealthy family of Ravenswood), present (Edgar Ravenswood being the last of the line, and impoverished to boot), and the future.

Contrary to the other novels I've read, this is however not the Scotland of wild 'romantic' beauty, but a place of gloom and desolation, with the seat of the Ravenswood family, Wolf's Crag, as good as in ruins, and throughout the novel there is in general a sense of foreboding: from the very start it doesn't seem likely or even possible that much good will happen to the principal characters, prophecies about the cursed Ravenswood family abound, and you won't find yourself expecting a happy end. However, this is not to say that the novel doesn't have many qualities: the whole atmosphere and characters are admirably drawn, and the Scottish vernacular and dialect (as always) definitely adds to this. Edgar Ravenswood especially captures the imagination, a tragic 'dark hero' both honest and upright, but also frustrated at his family's fortunes, and consumed by his desire for revenge. Until, that is, he falls in the love with the daughter of the very man who - using all possible loopholes in the law - has bought the former Ravenswood castle. Against all odds, and perhaps against their better judgement, Edgar and Lucy Ashton pledge themselves to one another.

And, strange to say perhaps, to me personally it is most of all the character of Lucy Ashton that makes me hesitant to give 'The Bride of Lammermoor' five stars. Although she is one of the protagonists, to my mind she is largely 'absent' from the novel. We rarely get an insight into her mind and emotions, if she is present at all in scenes it is as someone being observed by others. She's talked about a lot, but rarely speaks herself. Now in a way, one might argue that this is simply in keeping with her character: a shy and withdrawn young girl, as indeed she is. And yet, I would have loved to have 'known' her better so to speak.

But all in all, this is definitely still a book well worth the read!


Derby Day: A Victorian Mystery
Derby Day: A Victorian Mystery
by D J Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Always a treat, 24 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't (or didn't) know the first thing about horse-racing, but I was so enchanted by D.J. Taylor's previous historical novel Kept: A Victorian Mystery that I didn't hesitate for a second to buy this one, and it almost spoiled the novel I was reading at the time, rushing through it out of eagerness and impatience to dive into 'Derby Day'. And what a joy it was to read!

Taylor's ability to conjure up out of thin air a sense of time and place, and paint characters that are so incredibly 'alive' is stunning. At the beginning there seem to be diverse story-threads but soon they begin to converge and all characters turn out to be - for a diversity of reasons - linked to one another and to the upcoming event of the horse-racing year: Derby Day at Epsom Downs. Bets are being laid, plots hatched, and it seems Derby Day brings out the very worst in man: precious few are the characters one would like to be acquainted or change places with in real life, but funnily enough (or perhaps testimony to Taylor's art), none of them is entirely bad or good. Most seem to be driven - often towards an unlucky end - by some sort of fate or destiny, and their struggles to escape often as not prove futile.

I enjoyed this novel immensely, I wish D.J. Taylor would write lots and lots more historical novels!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20