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charlie

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Tudor: The Family Story
Tudor: The Family Story
Price: £4.68

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars concentrate when you read this, 29 Sep 2013
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Leanda de Lisle's great strength is in providing context. It's too easy, for example, to dismiss Mary I as embittered, sour and cruel for cruel's sake - thoroughly deserving her prefix "Bloody" Mary. The truth is to understand the times,the constant danger of being usurped,the fragility of the succession (for all the Tudors)and the religious settlement each wanted to pass on. This Ms de Lisle does superbly.

I have to say her book isn't a bedtime "dip in, dip out" read. Rather, it is for concentrated reading in a Library (say) or for a weekend with the phone off the hook. There are too many women called Margaret or Mary and constant referral to a family tree is an absolute necessity. So not a book to read on a Kindle!


Meeting the English
Meeting the English
Price: £3.59

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting and delightful, 12 May 2013
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Struan Robertson, our hero, is eyebrow-raisingly well-read and sage for an orphaned seventeen-year old lad brought up in the Scottish sticks. Meeting the English chronicles his first visit to London to look after an incapacitated famous playwright - but nothing really happens that can't be anticipated and there are no completely unforeseeable twists, layers or zigzags (and the ending is a bit "hey-ho"). So why five stars? Entirely for the wholly delightful and engaging character the author creates in Struan. Kate Clanchy draws the reader onto Struan's side on the first page and keeps us there; we are rooting for him, willing him to triumph over adversity. Meeting the English is a lovely read - highly recommended.


Skint:A Scally Tale
Skint:A Scally Tale
Price: £2.05

5.0 out of 5 stars British Boys, 1 April 2013
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Great read (as is the author's other Kindle book: White Van Diary) if you are into blokey-style sex with the lad next door/down the pub/on the bus/in the supermarket. Meaty, robust and surprisingly wholesome - a welcome British alternative to ridiculously unbelievable American High School porn tales.

In the same vein, check-out Paul Randalls' two ebooks - A BUSY SUMMER and WOODLETHORPE


Leaving the Atocha Station
Leaving the Atocha Station
by Ben Lerner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars intellectual arrogance behind a mask, 10 Mar 2013
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This is possibly the most depressing book I've read in many a year. The narrator, Adam Gordon, is self-important, intellectually arrogant and cold - if this is a roman à clef, I certainly hope I never run into the author, Ben Lerner. Yes, there is a fig-leaf of introspection and doubt employed - but it's the smallest leaf you can find. Poetry - immodestly described as "the most sacrosanct of arts" (sorry, Michelangelo) - is to the fore as Lerner marginalises nearly every discipline other novelists employ, such as a rich descriptive brush, a cocktail of interesting protagonists, or engaging dialogue. I can but wonder if this book found a publisher simply on account of Ben Lerner's reputation in his day-job as (guess what?) a poet. A final point; why does he bang on and on about smoking, whether cigarettes or spliffs? Is he so clever that the cancer risks, now well known, are of concern only to petite bourgeoisie dullards?


Bird Brain
Bird Brain
Price: £4.94

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A recipe for fun, 25 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Bird Brain (Kindle Edition)
Take one old-school Sloane Ranger country squire; stir in his cultural and social nemesis - a hedge fund bonus boy masquerading as a half-brother - and set aside for the latter to simmer murderously. Now add a dog-loving, hard-done-by daughter (from the Jilly Cooper range) and leave to cool in an old caravan with a surly teenage son. Season with reincarnation and redemption, while stirring in a generous dose of Countryside Alliance flavouring. Glaze with curate's egg, decorate with cartridge shot and place the whole mixture in a coarse and earthy bowl. Pop into an Aga-Saga to half-bake, then enjoy despite the weak after-taste.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2013 11:00 AM GMT


Sorry! The English and Their Manners
Sorry! The English and Their Manners
Price: £4.35

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misapprehension, 26 Jan 2013
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I've left `Sorry! The English and Their Manners' unfinished, so write to flag-up to potential readers that the book isn't what I thought it was going to be (and the failing may well be all mine). I had assumed from the jaunty title (and a review in one of the Sunday newspapers) that it would be amusing and lightly informative as a `dip-in, dip-out' bedtime read. Certainly, it tries to be accessible and jocular but, au fond, it came over to me as a jazzed-up academic paper of specialist appeal. Do by all means buy it if the subject matter interests you - but with your eyes open as to the nature of your purchase.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2013 12:33 PM GMT


The Bellwether Revivals
The Bellwether Revivals
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Man proposes, God disposes, 2 Jan 2013
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What a rollercoaster of a good read this is - once you get into it. Patience is needed. Some of the characters are fairly one-dimensional and chunks of philosophising text could have been edited out to the narrative's advantage.
That noted, I enjoyed this book for two main reasons. First, the nods to Brideshead Revisited and the "jeunesse dorée" of Oxbridge. Benjamin Wood's Oscar Lowe and Evelyn Waugh's Charles Ryder (both only children) share a humbler background to the other protagonists. Charles, though, is aspirational as an artist, while the naturally cultivated and intelligent Oscar seems surprisingly content (until the very end) to plod along a menial, if admirable, path as a Health Care Assistant. Oscar falls for Iris Bellwether - but her emotional conflicts are not as delicately or insidiously articulated as those of Brideshead's Julia Flyte. However, her wealthy parents - with their "de haut en bas" attitude - well mirror the distant Lord Marchmain (providing his children with material possessions but no nurturing ) and the condescending, religiously-obsessive Lady Marchmain. Then there is Iris's brother, Eden Bellwether. Evelyn Waugh gives the fundamentally-decent Sebastian Flyte a vulnerability and charm that overrides arrogance and makes him an endearing and memorable character. Eden, though, is rendered by Benjamin Wood as just plain nasty - period - with no redeeming features other than brilliantly incisive, but de-humanised and clinically cold, thought processes. The reader is gripped by quite how vile he is and the book is `un-put-down-able' as one yearns increasingly for his comeuppance.
I was interested in the book, secondly, as I work for a Cathedral - and Eden is organ scholar at King's, a "major" church (with excellent college attached!). Benjamin Wood articulates perfectly the "we are a Royal Race apart" mentality of many musicians within the liturgical/choral tradition. They operate too-often, professionally and socially, within a closed world (bar Oscar, the acknowledged outsider, the young Bellwethers' friends are all musicians). There's an inward-looking self-importance - often haughty, often obsessive - that's unfortunate (particularly so in this story).


Salmon Fishing In The Yemen
Salmon Fishing In The Yemen
Price: £5.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The film has to be better!?, 25 Dec 2012
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I was so disappointed! I haven't seen the widely-acclaimed film, so must assume the script is a nigh complete reworking of the book. To be fair to the author, there is a core idea - the introduction of salmon fishing to the Yemen - that is witty and original. The first third of the book is quite entertaining, therefore, as the cards are assembled. However, once they are in order, the book runs quickly out of puff. The Interrogations, along with the extracts from the PR Guru's memoires, ramble away inconsequentially and, toward the final furlong, I skipped pages with ease. The attempt to weave-in a discussion on faith to the narrative was an irritation (for that, I'd have bought Richard Dawkins) and the character of Mary Jones is but a pantomime dragon-lady.


How to Get a Grip - Forget namby-pampy, wishy washy, self-help drivel. This is the book you need
How to Get a Grip - Forget namby-pampy, wishy washy, self-help drivel. This is the book you need
Price: £1.79

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny guy, 5 Oct 2012
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I regret buying this on my Kindle; in paperback, it would be the perfect book to add to my downstairs loo collection (and I mean this as a compliment). How To Get A Grip is hilarious and yet full of excellent advice for a more fulfilling, laid-back life.

There are some niggles; the author's tone is full-on north American - yet he was born and raised in the UK - and he seems to have his own continuing insecurities as, according to my Kindle, the first 8% of the book is a sales-pitch/justification of the merits of his book. The demographic addressed is narrowly heterosexual and middle-class - and there's a surprisingly indulgent approach to drinking and (worse) smoking. But perhaps I nit-pick as the belly-laughs will, for many readers, be more than reward enough.


The Proof of Love
The Proof of Love
Price: £4.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, if obvious, 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Proof of Love (Kindle Edition)
The best book of its type that I have read this year; dramatic, evocative and poignant in equal measures. At only a pound to purchase for your Kindle, you'd be mad not to grasp at The Proof of Love. It may seem perverse, therefore, that I am not giving it the full five stars - and perhaps my reasons are too personal, as my background is remarkably similar to that of Spencer, the lead protagonist. Also, despite the quality of the writing, there are some structural weaknesses - notably the under-developed character of "wise old bird" Dorothy who seems to be there just to flag-up certain possibilities as to the progress of the plot. I enjoyed the first half much more where we move toward a particular revelation about Spencer; you sense it coming and when it arrives, you give a mighty "Yes!" At this point, though, you may well feel nervous that the author is now going to take the easy - dare I say "cop-out" - path to a miserable ending. Unfortunately, this is exactly what Catherine Hall does. How much more sustaining and satisfying to have taken the trickier route to - not a schmaltzy riding out of the valley holding hands - but to the POSSIBILITY of "happy ever after." The two young people, contra mundum, leaving the reader with the dangling carrot (entirely possible for 1976) that, yes, love can flourish, however difficult the circumstances.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2012 12:54 PM BST


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