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The Forbidden Queen
The Forbidden Queen
Price: £1.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is this really historical fiction?, 14 Feb 2014
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The first third of this book is complete drivel. Anne 0'Brien has created a dull wimpy Queen who constantly moans about the absence of Henry V. This makes for a terrible read and there is no historical evidence to support it.

If you survive this far the book does improve The wimp gets a personality and we get some historical context. But it is not historical fiction. It is just two romantic tales the author has invented. It is 15th Century Jilly Cooper without the sex. It is interesting but Philippa Gregory is much better at historical fiction and there are loads of writers of romance so don't bother with this. Catherine of Valois, Henry V and Owain Tudor all deserve better.


Two Brothers
Two Brothers
Price: £2.83

5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly moving story, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Two Brothers (Kindle Edition)
I had heard that this was a good book but was still slightly nervous about the writer. I was impressed, not only is Ben Elton capable of writing a serious book, he tells a captivating and challenging story extremely well.

The Two Brothers grow up in Germany between the wars in a Jewish family and are inextricably caught up in the horrors of Naziism and the terrible treatment of German Jews. The trials of their parents are well told, the mental torture and anguish together with the difficult decisions are brought to real life. Key historical events are seen through the brothers' eyes and the tragedy and brutality is excellently and movingly depicted.

The thread which holds the story together is the boys love for the manipulative Dagmar, the daughter of the fallen owner of a major department store. Interwoven is the preparation by one of the brothers to meet Dagmar a dozen years after the end of the war and it is through this meeting that the story reaches it's climax.

Ben Elton tells an excellent story, it is well written, fast moving and absorbing and I highly recommend it.


The Stag and Hen Weekend
The Stag and Hen Weekend
Price: £3.59

3.0 out of 5 stars By the end you really don't care that much, 22 April 2013
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Mike Gayle has an excellent idea heer, to tell the story of the same event from two different peoples' point of view. To pick a stag and hen party is even better, both are at different events and both are imagining what the other is doing. When they cannot make contact imagination gets wilder and both experience challenges and temptations of their own. Rumour adds to the rich pattern and there is all the making of a fascinating and potentially tear jerking novel.

So why doesn't it work? The problem is that Phil and Helen are both desperately dull characters, Do they love each other enough to avoid temptation and to go down the aisle - do you really care? ultimately it seems a choice of the boring present or a bit of excitement in the future and you have a pretty good idea which they are going to choose. There are far more interesting characters in their parties but you don't really get to meet them. It's a great idea wasted.

The saving grace is that it's a quick read and some of it is amusing, just generally though it is a pretty unsatisfactory execution of an excellent idea.


Elizabeth Street
Elizabeth Street
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Land of the not so free, 22 April 2013
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This review is from: Elizabeth Street (Kindle Edition)
This is a fantastic story. Giovanna and Nuncio are living a poor life and see little prospects in Scalia in the southern tip of Italy. They are attracted by the prospect of greater riches in the United States, life becomes difficult, it is far from the land of the free with opportunity for all, Italians are treated as low and expendable. Inevitably things do not turn out how they should and this is essentially the story of how Giovanna tries to overcome these difficulties.

The story is beautifully told and moves at just the right pace, you find yourself routing for Giovanna and hoping that she can overcome the odds. At the sametime it tells superbly the difficulties of the Italian community, the growth of gangs and the terror of the Black hands. It also shows how badly immigrants were treated and how ineffective police were.

The only thing I was not sure about is the 'flashes ahead' to the future and I felt some of the story was unnecessarily given away. Nonetheless it still works well and the final flash forward is very effective. A very good book and highly recommended.


Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar
Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Rare remorse from a cyclist, 7 Feb 2013
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2012 was a year of shame for cycling. Not just because of the Lance Armstrong saga but the world also hung its head as a drug cheat won Gold in the Olympic road race without apologising or acknowledging any wrong doing.

There is hope, however; as well as the victories of Wiggo and the Sky team, there was the remarkable 13 July stage win of David Millar on the anniversary of Tom Simpson's death and his proud declaration that Britain was dominating the tour and winning clean.

This is a remarkable book which gives a tremendous insight into the pressures on pro-cyclists to perform and to cheat and explains how they manage to do it. Millar was a reluctant doper but nontheless he doped and was caught. He served his time and then returned. The story of how he ran his career and his life is fascinating. His relationships with other cyclists, including Armstrong, are well explained and the book is a compelling read.

Millar's career has been a success but it has come at a personal price and it is clear he finds it difficult to accept what he has done. He has now become one a key spokesperson for a drug free sport and clean success is something he clearly is much happier with.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in cycling and evidence that a good guy can win.


Andrew Strauss: Winning the Ashes Down Under: Winning the Ashes Down Under
Andrew Strauss: Winning the Ashes Down Under: Winning the Ashes Down Under
Price: £4.31

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The mind that won the Ashes, 25 April 2012
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Andrew Strauss will always be a hero, the first captain to have won the Ashes home and away for some time. England won the Ashes by being stronger than the Aussies on the field and in the head. Strauss did this by methodical thought and well considered analysis and judgement working with Andy Flower and other advisors. This methodical approach came our in his first book on the 2009 Ashes victory and the book was all the duller for it. This time he has used Simon Hughes as co-author, probably the best writer in the press box and it is another excellent decision by the England captain.

Hughes makes this book so much better. It is a genuinely interesting account of the Ashes series and the inside thoughts of how the win was achieved. I'm not sure that you need the preceeding test matches and they do mean that it takes a long time to get down to the First test and the long vigil of Cook and Strauss' own century to save the match. At last you can feel the action. You can sense how much different an Ashes series makes is from a normal test series and even a World Cup.

Then after a match win each you think with Strauss through the thoughts which led to the crushing morning in Melbourne. The Australia batting line up destroyed for 98, after that you feel the turning of the screw and the total collapse of the Aussies.

OK, Andrew Strauss might still not be the most passionate of story tellers but with Hughes help he has created an excellent account of the series which I whole heartedly recommend.


Private London: (Private 2)
Private London: (Private 2)
Price: £3.98

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coming back to form, 25 April 2012
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The Private series is relatively new. It follows the same formula as all James Patterson books, short chapters, easy prose and fast moving action. With each series you are dependent upon the co-author and Mark Pearson seems one of the better ones.

The basic storyline is nothing new: rich girl gets killed, several years later daughter is in danger, (or is she?) exclusive detective agency led by rugged, attractive former war hero is engaged to sort it out? But the plot moves swiftly and there are enough plot twists - personal connections, unsure allegiances, regular murders or war stories - to keep the mind engaged.

The main characters are not especially deeply sketched and all are unfeasibly attractive and indestructable but it doesn't really matter. When you read a James Patterson novel you are not going to confuse it with reality

So for a pleasant book you can read in a couple of sessions on the train, or an afternoon on the beach, this is a good choice.


Iron Lady: The Thatcher Years
Iron Lady: The Thatcher Years
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A too short reminder of interesting times, 13 April 2012
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This book is advertised as a brief outline of the Thatcher years and that is just what it is. However, it is just a little too brief to really deliver. It brought back a lot of memories of the 80s and the Iron Lady's total domination of the period.

Inevitably in a book this short which covers so much there, is little insight just a straightforward telling of the facts. As soon as you read about one key period, for example the Falklands' War, you are onto the next, the Miners' Strike. The author is very honest about this and there is an excellent bibliography of the period. However, if you are really interested in learning about the Thatcher years you are probably better off just going straight into one of these books and reading a full analysis of her governments.

I read it in a day and have my own views on most of the period. I would have liked to have been more challenged. Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher is one of the great characters in history and it takes more than 161 pages to do her justice.


Ollie: The Autobiography of Ian Holloway
Ollie: The Autobiography of Ian Holloway

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If it goes wrong blame the ref, 16 Mar 2012
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Ian Holloway is a fascinating character with an interesting life. He has coped admirably with a lot of difficulties including bringing up three profoundly deaf daughters and helping his wife through cancer.

He is magnificently self deprecating on so many things that he has faced in life and brutally honest about so much, notably how a small amount of fame went to his head so badly and nearly cost him his future wife.

If only he could accept that sometimes his teams can lose on merit it would be a brilliant book. But he feels the need to settle so many scores with ex-chairmen and to blame virtually every defeat on bad refereeing decisions. That is what ruins this book. Ian, it's only a game and it's given you a great living.

Enjoy the story of his life, and the anecdotes about his friends, skip over the bitterness and you will really enjoy the book and respect the ability of the man. Read it all and you end up liking Ian Holloway a little less. What a shame.


Sweetest Love
Sweetest Love
Price: £6.21

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it while its cheap, 19 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Sweetest Love (Audio CD)
Yes, I know that this is a desperate attempt by Universal to capitalise on Katherine Jenkins' immense popularity since she left their label. I also am aware that even Katherine has said don't buy it because there is nothing new on it.

But it's very cheap at Amazon's current price and the music is as fantastic as ever. So go on buy it, for £2.99 it is an absolute bargain.


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