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Reviews Written by
Charles Lewis "Xennophon" (London United Kingdom)
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The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
by Jonas Jonasson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Silliness won out in the end, or, rather, before it, 25 May 2014
I did not know this author. At first the zany, surreal story amused me, but after a while it palled and became, for me, silly. The only character who held any interest for me was the girl herself. But the rest of it was farce, which I can only take, if at all, in small doses.
Almost never have I given up on a book before the end, but for this one I made an exception.


Life After Life
Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment!, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Life After Life (Paperback)
I give this book two stars instead of one, only because I have loved this author's previous books. She has always had a light touch, an interesting plot, an intelligent approach and, above all, masses of humour in her highly literate writing. I can only say that, by and large, I agree with the one star reviews she has received here. The fundamental theme of the book, narrating different lives for the same person depending on what might or might not have happened at various points in her life, seems to me pointless and very irritating, particularly, but not only, due to the cut-and-paste way it is done. From time to time a reasonable piece of narrative emerged, for example in the German phase, but most of the time there was a jumble of characters all milling around each other and going nowhere. Even the narrative sections irritated, because, for example, one will read of Ursula dying at birth, being drowned as a child, being blown up by a bomb in the Blitz, being shot by Hitler's bodyguards (after killing Hitler), being killed by a violent husband, dying of (fairly) old age and loneliness, and so forth, and I end up totally confused, as well as thinking it is all rather silly .As I have said, the whole "different lives" "what if?" theme of the book was, for me, misconceived and totally off-putting. What a shame!
I, too, found myself bored after less than 100 pages, when I realised the book was going nowhere, the characters were largely uninteresting, and the structure was infuriating, with the result that, unusually for me, I started my version of "rapid reading", during which I turn the pages quickly and get just the gist of what is going on "hopefully".


The Eton Choirbook
The Eton Choirbook
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous singing, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Eton Choirbook (MP3 Download)
The Huelgas Ensemble are. to my ear, preferable with their bass sonorities , to the unearthly wailing of so many boy-treble-heavy choirs. If you like renaissance polyphony but do not know this group, do try them out. I can't think you'll be disappointed.


Age of Swing
Age of Swing
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £44.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent playing and great value, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Age of Swing (Audio CD)
What a treat! The great BBC Big Band on 4 fully filled discs containing a huge variety of tracks. I love it.


Complete Croatian, Level 4 (Teach Yourself (McGraw-Hill))
Complete Croatian, Level 4 (Teach Yourself (McGraw-Hill))
by David Norris
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent learning tool, 24 Mar 2014
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You can't go wrong with this language series. I have used many of the others, and this is like them, first-rate. And it was so cheap!


Aluminium Netra Pressure Cooker (2Ltr)
Aluminium Netra Pressure Cooker (2Ltr)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Trade misdescription, 24 Mar 2014
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This pressure cooker may work well. We have never used it. It was described as being a 2 litre pan and was so marked upon the item itself. My partner took one look at it when it arrived and said 'there is no way that holds two litres'. She is right. It holds not even 1.5 litres. Somebody needs to wake up!


Le Week-End [DVD]
Le Week-End [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Broadbent
Price: £5.40

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 14 Mar 2014
This review is from: Le Week-End [DVD] (DVD)
Le Weekend --Review

This was, for me, a very disappointing film, given the largely good, not to say very good, reviews it had received. I found it as irritating – perhaps even more irritating – as the recent version, so misconceived, and so untrue to the book, of Anna Karenina, and I award the Palme d’Or for the most irritating female performance on film that I have witnessed to Lesley Duncan, who beats Keira Knightley by a whisker.
It was an irritating film because its subject was an elderly couple who were silly and unattractive and behaved and spoke in a silly and unattractive fashion. Perhaps there are elderly couples like this, but this sort of superficial portrayal, bordering, as it seemed to me, on caricature, is unenlightening, unproductive, and boring. There was a scene at the dinner table where the husband, having been eulogised by a former student (a motor-mouthed and equally unconvincing American), stood up and told the motley crew of literati what a loser he was and what a failure his life had been. I don’t know if this was supposed to be moving or profound, but it was neither, merely unconvincing.
The problem with Lesley Duncan is that she had throughout this weird way of speaking, so that most of the time she was inaudible, and when she was audible she was, for most of the time, unintelligible. I thought for a while what the best word was to describe her strange utterance. I tried mumble, mutter and babble, but then I found the perfect word: burble. Everything she said seemed designed not to be heard properly, as if she was unwilling to take responsibility for any of the rubbish (as far as I could tell) that emerged through the barrier of her lips. To make matters worse, a lot of the soundtrack was overlaid by some sort of vapid pianism. It seems to me amazing that the director and the sound engineer allowed this to pass muster. I am not hard of hearing, but I would think that I missed at least half of what this actress was “saying”.
Altogether an unsatisfactory and disagreeable experience.


Infidelities
Infidelities
by Josip Novakovich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Infidelities (Paperback)
Even if I had not been interested in Croatia and the Balkan history (as a visitor there) I would have enjoyed this beautifully written collection of short stories. This writer, whom I understand to be Croatian-born but living in America for some years now, knows exactly what I need from a short story – lucid writing, characters and scenery well delineated, and, above all, a real point to be made in each story (not the same one every time). The feeling of these stories, the backgrounds of each of them, and both the plots and the insight they give into recent Balkan history, remained with me. I shall be re-reading the book.


Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide: The Modern Era
Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide: The Modern Era
by Leonard Maltin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every year a must for me, 8 Jan 2014
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I can be brief. Every year I rely on this guide to tell me about the huge number of films that are available on television and elsewhere, and up to a short while ago I have never found that I seriously disagree with the assessments the book offers. I say "until recently" because I now strongly disagree with the rave review they gave to George Clooney's film "Up in the Air". To be fair, most American reviewers thought the film was great. I thought it was nonsense and totally unconvincing. I thought the three lead characters, despite Clooney'ss charm, were unconvincingly written, and the supporting actress, a little rodent-like creature who gabbled her lines in a high-pitched squeak, was virtually unintelligible.
Nevertheless, this book is still a must for me and I value it highly.


The Italian Tenor
The Italian Tenor
Price: £10.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Young, handsome and a real tenor, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Italian Tenor (Audio CD)
What more can one ask? Well, in the Opera house I found him to be passionate and committed but with a voice that wasn't really in the top category, that is to say the category of Pavarotti, Domingo,, or Kaufmann. I would not rush out to hear him again, though I would not be disappointed if an opera I wanted to see had him as the lead tenor. Someone else I would rush out to see, by the way, who is coming soon to the South Bank, is Joseph Calleja.
But back to this disc. I would simply state that he sounds on this CD like a top-class tenor, and therefore it is all highly enjoyable


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