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Stephen M Blank (Altrincham, Cheshire United Kingdom)

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D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
by Antony Beevor
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All embracing review of D-Day, 14 Jun. 2010
I was surprised to read so many negative reviews. I found this very readable and comprehensive. I confess that I have not read many historical works on this subject so cannot compare as others can do.

However if you want a good read logically laid out and clearly supported by wide ranging - if not perhaps new - research, this is the D-Day book for you.


Transition
Transition
by Iain Banks
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the 'M', 30 April 2010
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This review is from: Transition (Hardcover)
I'm a great fan of Iain M Banks, writer of some of the funniest and cleverest SF there is. I've also read novels by Iain Banks, also witty and clever. This is a science fiction novel, not totally original, written with his usual wit and with a lovely twist sorting out one of the less pleasant characters. However the overall plot is obscure and I have no idea why this book would be the one to lead Mr Banks to drop the 'M'. It's not close enough to a 'straight' novel nor far enough away from his SF form.


Diaspora
Diaspora
by Greg Egan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hard SF, hard physics, 30 April 2010
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This review is from: Diaspora (Paperback)
I enjoyed this tale of Virtual life and space / universe travel. A couple of things irritated me, the use of 'vis, ver, vim' as personal pronouns and the unnecessarily detailed (in my view) scientific expositions in what is after all a work of fiction. I was also nagged throughout by recollecting Roger Penrose's view that people could not live in 'the machine' which led me to wonder if that explained the apparent lack of scientific creativity shown by the descendants of earth compared to the alien Transmuters. There were some lovely moments such as 'standing' on s starship's hull and the final decoding of the Transmuters' message


The Story of the Scrolls: The miraculous discovery and true significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Story of the Scrolls: The miraculous discovery and true significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
by Geza Vermes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic elegance, 30 April 2010
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This is a wonderful exposition about a subject that had always interested me in a peripheral way. I had never followed up my interest with any real research mainly because the relevant books were either opaque or seemed on the crackpot fringe of conspiracy theories.
Gesa Vermes' book is an excellent read, with sufficient scholarship to ensure the reader will learn plenty and key facts to lay the conspiracy theories to rest. As I have usually found, cock-up beats conspiracy most days and this book gently puts that record straight.
In the course of doing both these things it tells you about the life of a great scholar almost in passing.


Logitech QuickCam S5500
Logitech QuickCam S5500

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quickcam does what it says on the box, 9 Oct. 2009
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Simple and easy to set up, espcially if you read the bit that says 'Do not plug in until you have installed software'


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If this is her first book, what will the second be like?, 27 July 2009
I found this truly astonishing as a first novel. What courage to commit so much time and effort to create a 750 page, deeply researched work without any idea how it might be received!

It was an excellent read. I must defer to Charles Palliser who thought the 'narrative drive was irresistible' but in my opinion it stuttered in the third volume in Venice before picking up again and driving inexorably to a satisfying conclusion.

I am mainly a hard SF reader but am happy to dip into fantasy (Pullman, JK Rowling, Tolkien) and this was well worth the dip.


The Lost Book of Salem
The Lost Book of Salem
by Katherine Howe
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another book about Salem, a great one, 22 July 2009
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This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
I wouldn't normally have bought this book but heard Katherine Howe interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and though it sounded very interesting. I was right!

I have always enjoyed tales of the occult and of academia. But I have not enjoyed many written by female authors - my fault I know! I found this one superb. The feminine slant is in fact essential but the male characters are three dimensional as well.

The historical flashbacks are thoroughly educational but add to the narrative thrust. It is hard to realise how cruel and unforgiving the world was not so very long ago but Katherine Howe tells us without moralising.

The question as to whether the occult is real or not builds gently through the book as does the heroine's part in it. But the manner in which the revelation comes to the heroine is so brilliantly and simply done - and so realistic - that I couldn't go into detail for fear of spoiling it for the next reader. Satisfyingly, some questions are left unanswered as well.

A new twist on Salem set part in beautiful New England and part in Harvard - and a rewarding read.


Orphan's Triumph: Jason Wander series book 5
Orphan's Triumph: Jason Wander series book 5
by Robert Buettner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying end to Orphan's journey, 22 July 2009
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It was always going to be hard to bring this series to a close successfully.

As a reader, you have to suspend disbelief in Jason's involvement in every engagement of the war. You have to overlook the padding. You have to wonder if Jason will be up for geno - (mono?) cide.

But you do all of these things because of the great narrative, the humour, the sympathetic and recognisable characters, the well described military nuts and bolts. And because you love Jason, now admit it, you do, don't you?


Axis
Axis
by Robert Charles Wilson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.13

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Axis wobbles, 18 May 2009
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This review is from: Axis (Mass Market Paperback)
I was looking forward to the sequel to Spin. But although I enjoyed it, it was nowhere near as good. Where Spin was pacy, Axis was slow. Where the characters in Spin were well filled, many of these were hollow.

The Fourths seemed to spend days without saying or doing anything and even lacked curiosity. Accepting that may be intended to be deliberate, this Second (or probably Third) didn't find it gripping.


Shadow of the Scorpion (Novel of the Polity)
Shadow of the Scorpion (Novel of the Polity)
by Neal Asher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Asher not firing a five star, 18 May 2009
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I love Neal Asher's Polity books especially those about Ian Cormac. This book is exciting and pacy but not quite up there with the best, in my opinion.

We all know Cormac later becomes withdrawn and unemotional having been gridlinked for too long. But in this book about his early years, he appears already to be cold and calculating even before he is gridlinked.

It doesn't quite ring true, but the violence and technology is as good as ever. Placing it at the end of the Prador war also gives insights into the way that conflict affects the Polity and the humans - and golems and drones - within it.


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