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Reviews Written by
C. S. Bancroft (uk)

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The Blame
The Blame
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars No blame here..., 7 April 2015
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This review is from: The Blame (Kindle Edition)
Well written novella that creates character and suspense exceptionally well. The pace of the story is well judged and leaves you wanting to read on.


Byron In Love
Byron In Love
by Edna O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Don Juan, but ok, 30 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Byron In Love (Paperback)
If you are looking for a concise biography that details the main facts and information about Byron's life then this is a good book to start with. It Is informative and easy to read, and it does not over extend itself in terms of speculation, as other biographies tend to do. However, at times the writing style left me with more questions than answers and I feel that there were key moments that could have been elaborated on, and weren't. Good introduction to Byron's life.


The Brink
The Brink
by Jacob Polley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The Brink, 21 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Brink (Paperback)
“The Brink” is an apt name for Polley’s debut collection, not because as Charles Bainbridge stated in his Guardian review that Polley “draws intense attention to the edge of things, that point where land becomes sea, north south, interior exterior and, most of all, the moment when the ordinary is recast as the miraculous. He delights in a kind of pared down metamorphosis,” but because the entire work seems to be on the brink of explaining something, of expressing some emotion or idea that never quite unfolds with the lines of the poems enclosed.
There is, without doubt, some beautiful language expressed within the collection and there are examples of precise and startling observation. “the pines, like flour merchants/ clapping their powdery hands” in “Boast” or “the moon’s sieving/its desiccated seas” in “Snow” and the overarching tone of peace and quiet stillness is developed throughout.
But here in lies one of the biggest stumbling blocks with the collection as a whole: although the individual moments are expressed with a still life clarity, they all meld into one as you read through the poems, creating an effect of sameness which renders the collected works unremarkable in terms of their scope and underlying message.
The poems seem to rely on the same ideas, themes and constructs, which because of the deftness of the language and the eye for detail of Polley work on one level, on another you feel as though you have read these words and have been told of these things before. Poems such as “Snow” “The Crow” and “The Grey Goose” do not go beyond the mere descriptive, and one wonders whether that are fully finished and explored – on the brink of an announcement.
This idea of un-fulfilment runs throughout the collection. The shorter poems such as “Seagulls” “First Light” and “A Jar of Honey” hold little beyond their well-structured image based language, and though nicely written, leave you asking so what?
Overall, the collection is an ok read. For me, there was nothing that stood out beyond the clever turns of phrase and refined, perceptive imagery.


The Drop
The Drop
by Dennis Lehane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Drop one in your basket, 17 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Drop (Paperback)
Not sure what all the furore is with the reviews regarding the length of the book and its adaptation for a screenplay: take it for what it is. A good novel that is well paced and has a good twist at the end, with all the strands brought together masterfully. Good read.


American Psycho
American Psycho
by Bret Easton Ellis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Surface, 5 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: American Psycho (Paperback)
To talk about the "lack of plot, character, premise etc" like some reviewers have, when giving 1* ratings, misses the point entirely. The novel is constructed on the idea that all we see in a modern day society is the surface meaning. There is no depth, no subliminal meaning underscoring what we do. Value systems, whether social, moral or personal, are corrupted. People are out for what they can get, and judge themselves on who they know and what they own. In that sense, American Psycho is a vicious indictment of the society that we live in. Reading the novel, I often wondered whether a) bateman is making the whole thing up in terms of what he has done, in order to escape the life that he lead b) that the other characters, such as Courtney and Evelyn, are worse that Bateman because of their complete lack of character, drive, ambition and intelligence. A very good book that will leave you, probably, with more questions than answers.


The Dead Sea Poems
The Dead Sea Poems
by Simon Armitage
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Good Poems...., 18 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Dead Sea Poems (Paperback)
I never studied this collection for A-Level, like so many of the reviewers seem to have done on Amazon. I have, thankfully, not been force-fed the poems on an endless rote basis of analysis and evaluate until I am sick of the sight of them. No, I have stumbled upon them by chance. Very much like the goat herder in the first poem of the collection from which the collection takes its name.

As you would expect from a collection that is called “Dead Sea Poems” there are religious connotations throughout, but also as you would expect from Armitage things are not as simple as they seem. Armitage is well known for his acerbic wit and alternative takes on themes he includes in his poetry, and it no different here.

“The Dead Sea Poems” start with the discovery of a “dozen caskets” that don’t contain biblical texts but the poets own work “I found poems written in my own hand” – and Armitage likens the art of poetry to the sanctity of religion, where the poems become the focus of pilgrimage and reverence. “on public display”. This is a clever idea; that the inner religion of a poet’s identity can become a thing of public conscience.

This idea of the poet’s identity, and indeed the identity of the reader is further explored in “Anaesthetist” where the patient undergoing the operation, and the reader, “find themselves again in houses, rooms, bend back to life” as though memory itself is the essence of life when we are under the influence of the anaesthetist’s potent gas, or the poet’s words.

The ideas of memory and surgery are again coupled together in “Man with a golf ball heart” where an unknown “they” “set about him with a knife and fork” in an attempt to understand the hardening of a heart that “had been an apple once”
The first three poems in the collection “The Dead Sea Poems” “Anaesthetist” and “Man with a Golf Ball Heart” all have something about the resurrection of the self about them. Whether that is the resurrection of the poets work, the resurrection from illness or the failed resurrection of a former self that is “rejected”. This theme is carried on in the fourth poem of the collection, “From the Middle Distance”

In this poem we introduced to a scarecrow has “holes pecked out for eyes” and is fodder for birds. It is planted in a mile of “fallow ground”. The religious connotations with Christ here are obvious and this links to the idea of his death on the cross before his resurrection. The “fallow ground” the scarecrow will one day burst into life, much like the creativity of a poet or the religious teachings of the bible.

Resurrection is also implied in the poem “C.V” that lists all of the jobs that the narrator has done in their lifetime. The lists are single nouns and verbs intricately weaved together through the use of rhyme, assonance and alliteration and help to create the signature “Armitage” sound. The poem itself links to the others in the collection through its theme of resurrection, the return to work the “comeback/job plan, welcome mat” as the narrator returns from a heart attack

Dead Sea Poems is a poetry collection that works on multiple levels. From the glaringly obvious to the subtly nuanced, and it is a collection that does not deserved to be branded with the tag of “exam poetry” as it offers something new on each read. Well worth a read. A grade.


The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not catch this book, 17 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
The most boring, pointless, overrated piece of drivel I have ever read. There is no plot, the protagonist is one dimensional and the language is grating and monotonous. After reading the words "corny" "phoney" and "madman" over and over again I wanted to end my life like James Castle does, by throwing myself out of a window.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2016 8:24 PM GMT


Dylan Thomas: A New Life
Dylan Thomas: A New Life
by Andrew Lycett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not a gentle read, 14 Jan. 2015
A well researched and detailed overview of Thomas's life, that unfortunately depicts him as nothing more than a womanising drunk. However, it is interesting and although it doesn't touch too much on his poetry it offers a glimmer of an insight.


Poetry Notebook: 2006-2014
Poetry Notebook: 2006-2014
by Clive James
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 23 Dec. 2014
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These critical works, essays and ponderings are fabulous. Not only do they open up a range of different poets to the reader, they also express cogent arguments that allow you to think of poetry in ways that were previously unknown.


Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics)
by George Orwell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 + 2 = 5 stars, 6 Dec. 2014
I revisited this book after reading it six years ago and two things struck me regarding the plot and underlying messages of the novel.

1) The novel is very much concerned with the subtleties of language; how it is constructed, what it means and how it can be modified. I am not talking about the glaringly obvious references to motifs such as newspeak, but language in general.

2) People harp on about how this novel is relevant to the dystopia we are heading to through politics, war and social order. And well, yes it is. The war on "Terror" that we are fighting at the moment, ISIS, Al-Qaeda etc might as well take the place of Eurasia or Eastasia . If you read the novel in a modern context, it is scarily accurate in terms of what we are going through today


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