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Mr. L. L. C. Alcolea "lucas" (UK)
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Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes
Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes
by Charles A. Coulombe
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the popes available!!!, 8 Jun 2012
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This is a very well written and researched book by a very respected journalist and writer, far from being dry or dusty its a pleasure to read. It also contains information you won't find anywhere else both on the great popes, the average popes and the not so great popes. Although some of the biographies aren't very detailed, that is often more to do with the lack of information on them than any fault on the writers part and most of them are fairly detailed with some being extremely so.

The book also contains a wealth of knowledge about Christianity under the Roman Empire both before and after it was 'legalised', during the middle ages and a veritable treasure trove of information about the byzantine empire and the relations between it and the papacy! Aside from being about the popes there is much information on secular politics and history, so this book would be interesting not only for those who are interested in the popes but also in european history in general.

My only complaint is the lack of citations or a bibliography, but I think we can trust the author isn't making it all up!

As for the other review, the reviewer is anything but 'neutral' he essentially criticise's the author for being Catholic and for believing his faith is the right one, rather absurd complaints to be sure. If he wanted a book on what the protestants thought about the papacy he should perhaps have bought some Martin Luther, though I daresay whatever he purchased by that man would be highly inaccurate and badly written! Moreover one does not have to be Catholic to enjoy this book, though it helps, as much of what the author writes is supported by facts, perhaps the reviewers problem is simply that opposing points of view are based on distortions of history and spurious stories rather than the truth?


Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking
Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking
by D. Q. McInerny
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.05

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book, 18 Jan 2012
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This book may not be long but don't let that deceive, what it lacks in size it makes up for in clarity. That is without a doubt one of, if not the outstanding feature of this book, its sheer clarity, whilst it takes a while to get used to the 'lingo' it uses once you do its easy to grasp what is being said.

The cynic might say that much of this book is 'common sense' and whilst that's true, its also true that 'common sense' is not always common. D.Q McInerny will not only show you how to express you ideas clearly and succinctly, how to avoid logical errors and how to spot those errors in others but most importantly he will show you how to think clearly.

This book will serve as a good introduction to logic for people from all walks of life but be warned after you've read it you'll never be able to think of arguments in the same way again!


The Priest, the Man of God
The Priest, the Man of God
by St. Joseph Cafasso
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.82

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and very inspiring book!, 15 Jan 2012
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This book is very timely and it should be compulsory reading not just for all priests but also for all seminarians and those discerning a vocation!

Before describing the book however I should say a few words about the author. St Joseph Cafasso was born in 1811 in Italy, studied at the seminary at Turin and was ordained in 1833 at the age of only 22 years, he had to obtain a dispensation to be ordained at such a young age. There was good cause for granting him such a dispensation however as he practiced great austerity and quite literally radiated holiness, he became a gifted lecturer of Moral theology at the Institute of St Francis and later its rector. He was also the mentor of a much more well known Saint, St John Bosco, who wrote a book about St Joseph Cafasso and extolled his virtues. Indeed its said that St John Bosco did nothing without consulting St Joseph Cafasso! Though St Joseph Cafasso died at a young age, if we (as the book states) judge his life by what he had accomplished he lived not a short but a very long life.

The book itself is very accessible and full of sound advice, though its orientated at priests (it is based on a series of lectures he gave to priests) it would make for very edifying reason for any catholic especially those considering a Vocation or in Seminary. The Saint comes across as a very charismatic, wise and charitable man, though he is not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to rebuking slothful priests he was a man who knew that 'More flies are caught with a drop of honey than a barrel of vinegar'. St Joseph Cafasso is never anything but kind and charitable and he does not despair of even the most hopeless cases. The entire book can be summarised in one word 'Holiness', St Joseph teaches that for a priest to be truly a priest and for his apostolate to be fruitful he must know himself, know that he is called to holiness and be holy. Only a holy priest can hope to convert others and be a source of edification and inspiration for others. Would that more people took heed of this message!

It seems that many in the last 50 years have gone along with the tide that 'A priest is a man like other men' and should not separate himself from 'the universal priesthood of the faithful', well my friends we have all seen where that leads and St Joseph Cafasso almost prophetically noted many of the consequences that we see around us today.

I cannot do justice to St Joseph's eloquence or genius in this review but suffice that this book should be COMPULSORY reading in every diocese and in every seminary, truly there is no book I know of that better sets out the dignities and duties of 'The Priest, The Man of God'.


Crossing Over [Blu-ray]
Crossing Over [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Price: £6.74

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, Tragic and Brillant!, 8 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Crossing Over [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This film is one of the most moving I've seen in years, yes the many different stories can get confusing and yes some of it is exagerrated for dramatic effected but ultimately it reveals a harsh truth and shows just how far people -even those from the western world- are prepared to go to get a green card or become an American citizen.

I haven't watched Crash so I can't compare the two but what I can say is that Crossing over is a superb film and one of the few films that has ever brought me to tears, for those who say it's convoluted or confusing I'd point out that I found it a lot less confusing than say Inception which is almost universally accepted as a work of genius.

It's hard to say what the standout performances in this movie are as they are all so good, Harrison ford is outstanding as ICE agent Max, Ray Liotta plays his role as an green card adjudicator admirably, Alice eve is equally outstanding as Australian immigrant Claire shepard but the most moving story of all was Taslima's who's played by Summer Bishil and the rest of the cast are just as good as those actors I've named above. It's a mystery to me why this movie didn't do better at the box office because the acting and plot certainly leaves nothing to be desired.

You'll like this movie if you're at all interested in the problems faced by immigrants or if you just want to watch a moving truthful drama that tells it how it is and doesn't hold back.


A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 8 Aug 2010
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This book is quite simply amazing. Not only is it a worthy follow up to 'A Game of Thrones' but it is an absolutely amazing book, the world GRRM has created seems at times as real as our world whilst the characters themselves are sometimes vile sometimes heroic but always human and utterly believable.

Some reviewers have despaired that at times it seems as if evil triumphs over good but rather than being a bad thing this helps maintain the tension of the series and will keep you gripped till the very end.
What's the point of reading a book if you know the heroes won't die and that no matter how bad the situation looks they'll somehow find a way out? In a Game of Thrones main characters, good characters, characters that you have invested time and empathy in can and will die but when they do they propel the story forward.

A Game of Thrones is one of only a handful of Fantasy books I've read that can maintain the tension of say a thriller or crime novel for hundred even thousands of pages because of GRRM's refusal to conform to the genre.
The quality of the writing itself is always never less than superb and after reading 'A Song of Ice and Fire' you will agree with me that GRRM really is the modern day Tolkien and the only author for whom the comparision is actually deserved.


The Stand (The Complete and Uncut Edition)
The Stand (The Complete and Uncut Edition)
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Epic!, 1 Aug 2010
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The Stand may be one of the longest books published in recent times and the Uncut edition adds several hundred pages to it's length making it a monster of a book but don't let this put you off!
Unlike some other long books every single page is in The Stand for a reason all it's many sub-plots and characters add to the richness of the book as Stephen King himself explains in the introduction, not one page is wasted on unnecessary prose or 'filler material'. In fact The Stand only get's better the more you read, at no point did reading it feel like a chore.

King spends several hundred pages setting up the characters and plot of the book as well as various sub-plots before moving into the novel 'proper' some two or three hundred pages in but again this only adds to the richness of the book as you understand exactly what happened and why. All of The Stand's characters even the minor ones feel like living breathing people as Stephen King says in the introduction 'People often write to me asking what happened to so and so character as if they were real and keep me updated on what's happening to them'. And here lies Stephen King's genius despite the typically brutal and somewhat depressing plot you're unable to put the book down because the characters feel so real and not only do you want to know what happens to so and so but you want to know why.

The Plot itself is masterful, King keeps you guessing till the very end and though it may not be the 'happily ever after' ending of many other novels it deeply satisfying and will leave you begging for more. Before reading this book I wondered if it could be as good as it's hyped up to be, if it really was Stephen Kings masterpiece and after reading it I can say with complete confidence that not only is The Stand the best Stephen King novel I have read it is one of the best novels I have ever read only James Clavells Noble House (The Asian saga) can compare with it's depth and epic nature.
In short if you're a Stephen King fan you need to own this book or for that matter if you're a fan of Epic's.


The Real Story & Forbidden Knowledge: The Gap Sequence: 1: v. 1
The Real Story & Forbidden Knowledge: The Gap Sequence: 1: v. 1
by Stephen Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent gripping book, 28 July 2010
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The Real story & Forbidden Knowledge grips from the very first and doesn't let go until the very end. It's without a doubt a more accessible work than Stephen Donaldsons 'Chronicles of Thomas Covenant', I have seen previous reviwers complaining about the fact that the book has excessive violence and disturbing scenes but frankly I disagree. The Rape and 'disturbing scenes' are there for a reason namely that they help us to understand the characters and the world which Stephen Donaldson has created, it's not a pretty world but it is a realistic and enthralling one.

Unlike many other sci-fi stories this book isn't primarily about aliens it's about the relationships -whether they be twisted or normal- between the various characters, the reasons why people have come to be as they are and the ghosts of their various pasts' coming to haunt them. Stephen Donaldson does not like some other sci-fi writers use stock characters or cliches for his characters e.g the knight in shining armour who's like that because he was raised right or the villain who was abused by his parents but explores depths of characterisation that most other sci-fi writers don't. In short by the time you've finished reading this book it's characters will feel as real to you as any 'real' person you know and not just fictional characters.

If you want a book with lots of explosions and action then look elsewhere but if you want a book with an enthralling storyline, unique characters and a dark, moody but not cliche world then you should buy this whilst I don't like this as much as 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant' it is one of the most unique and interesting sci-fi books I've read in a long long time.


A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing fantasy book, 21 July 2010
I remembered reading 'A game of thrones' when I was only a young teenager so when I saw it on Amazon I decided to buy it and see if it lived up to my childhood memories. Not only did it meet them it exceeded them!

George R R Martins 'A Game of Thrones' is one of the most finely crafted and well written fantasy books since J R R Tolkiens 'Lord of The Rings' it might be blasphemy to compare the two books but in reality there really is nothing else to compare 'A Game of Thrones' with.
GRRM is fantastic at description enabling you to conjure up a vivid image of the books many scenes and making you feel as if you were actually there and the characters themselves are no 2D fantasy stereotypes but feel like real living breathing humans with all their flaws and strengths. Every character has many different 'sides' to them just like a real person there isn't a knight in shining armour in this book nor is there 'an evil lord' there are villans and heroes as in every book but they are no fairy tale characters as in so many other fantasy books.

In a way 'A Game of Thrones' is three books in one, there's the conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks, trouble brewing for both of them in the shape of vengeful descendents of the former overthrown king and the apocalyptic but long forgotten war against 'The Other's'. At times 'A Game of Thrones' feels like real history so complex and well told is the Lannister and Stark storyline and the remaining Targayen or 'Blood of the dragon' scheming from across 'The Great Sea' to regain their fathers kingdom.
It bears much resemblance to any number of real wars of succesion and if this was all 'The Game of Thrones' had in it, it would still be a spellbinding book but GRRM's genius is that he combines with myths from the worlds past and the monstrous 'Others'. They are man's 'real' enemy magical creatures who would happily slaighter every man, woman and child on the face of the seven Kingdoms and only a greatly diminished 'Night Watch' stands between them and the Seven Kingdoms. As the various storylines combine this book goes from being an amazing historical novel into a masterpiece of fantasy fiction.

Quite simply if you like fantasy fiction and you don't have this book either go out and buy it or you'll be missing out on probably the best modern fantasy series since Stephen Donaldsons 'Chronicles of Thomas Covenant' and yes it IS better than either the wheel of time or The Malazan book of the fallen by a long long way. In fact it's not just a great fantasy series it's a modern classic.


The Thousandfold Thought: Book 3 of the Prince of Nothing
The Thousandfold Thought: Book 3 of the Prince of Nothing
by R. Scott Bakker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.80

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy end to an amazing trilogy, 21 July 2010
I've seen many of the other negative reviews of this book and frnakly I don't understand them. 'The Thousandfold thought' isn't much harder to read than either 'The Darkness that comes before' or 'The Warrior Prophet' and it definitely isn't as dark and depressing as 'The Warrior Prophet' as Kehllus' power amongst some of the characters weaken with one seeing right through him in the end. So why all the negative reviews? I've come to the conclusion that those who give the book such negative reviews didn't like the other two books in the series and so should never have bought the third book in the first place or that by the time that got round to reading 'The Thousandfold thought' they'd forgotten all about the previous two books and so didn't understand it.

The book itself is a masterpiece of fantasy fiction subverting many of the conventions of the genre, tying up many of the storylines in the previous two books and yes leaving a few cliffhangars because in a series as in epic like this I doubt you could tie up all the storylines in three books without making it seem rushed.
Achamian -one of my favourite characters- finally comes into his own in this book and the Seswatha flashbacks which I've always found to be one of the most fascinating parts of R Scott Bakker's books are even more interesting in this book than the previous two. Many of the questions about Kehllus and his father are answered in this book and the Scylevandi also like Achamian comes into his own; we see the effects of many of the events and decisions made in the second book including some that we would never have thought of and its rare to see such a realistic and gritty storyline in any fantasy book.

In short If you liked the previous two books you'll probably love 'The Thousandfold Thought' regardless of what other reviewers have been saying and If you like rich, detailed and innovative fantasy series' you'll definitely love 'The Prince of Nothing' Trilogy.


The Warrior-Prophet: Book 2 of the Prince of Nothing
The Warrior-Prophet: Book 2 of the Prince of Nothing
by R. Scott Bakker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sequel to 'The Darkness That Comes Before', 15 July 2010
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The Warrior Prophet continues the enthralling tale began in 'The Darkness that comes before' and in many ways is even more bleak than its predecessor.

In many ways 'The Warrior Prophet' has the same strengths and weaknesses as 'The Darkness That Comes Before' it features well developed characters, a rich world, one of the most original magic systems I've seen since the one in Brandon Sandersons 'Mistborn' series and an epic clash of cultures in the form of Holy War. The Warrior Prophet however focuses much more on Kehllus and the conflict between him and the Scylvandi than the previous book did which allows R Scott Bakker to explore and develop the Characters yet further. The Consult's machinations are finally revealed and we once again witness the terrifying power of the Gnosis as well as the realities of holy war it is not glorious but bloody and horrific. The myriad plot lines, sub-plots and machinations of the empire, Maithanet as well as the more personal conflicts between the characters will keep you gripped unable to put the book down until you finally finish it and then like me you'll probably start devouring the next in the series 'The Thousandfold thought'.

The Warrior Prophet is in short one of the most original Fantasy Series' I've had the pleasure to read and though at times it can be more than a little dark the richness of the world and characters as well it's originality more than make up for it.

However the book is not without it's flaws; some of the characters who I won't name but you'll recognise as you read it are two dimensional and so pathetic that you are actually happy when they finally die and the success of Kehluss' machinations are a little far-fetched at times. By the end of this book it becomes impossible to feel anything but hate for him and for this reason the book can become hard to read especially when he deludes others into thinking he loves them when in fact they are nothing but tools for him or the way in which he manipulates Achamian.

So as I said in my review of 'The Darkness that Comes Before' if you're looking for the hero to be a warrior in shining armour or everyone to live happily ever after you're better off looking elsewhere. If your a fan of George R R Martins 'Song of Ice and Fire' or Stephen Donaldsons 'Thomas Covenant' Series or if your simply bored by the absurdities of happily ever after fantasy you should definitely buy this book, you wont be disappointed!


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