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E. A. Banks (Ipswich, Great Britain)
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The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (Halcyon Classics)
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (Halcyon Classics)
Price: 0.77

2.0 out of 5 stars Just a bit too ridiculous for my taste, 20 July 2013
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If you like farce and are a fan of painfully obvious situation comedy, then you will love this. However, if you prefer your reading material to be a little more subtle and challenging then you are unlikely to enjoy this book.
I have to confess that I haven't actually finished reading The Pickwick Papers. I got about half way through and decided that it is just too annoying to spend any more time on. Bits of it are brilliant, for example some of the characterization is very good (Sam Weller is a wonderful creation) and there are some properly funny observations and one-liners hidden among all the misunderstandings and swooning ladies. I have read other of Dickens' work and his reputation as a great writer is well deserved, but this was his first novel and it shows. This is just not in the same league as the books that followed it.


LEGO Star Wars 7956: Ewok Attack
LEGO Star Wars 7956: Ewok Attack
Offered by corgi-paradise
Price: 41.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The youngling was very pleased with this, 10 Jun 2013
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I bought this as a gift for my five-year-old Star Wars obsessed nephew. He loves it and has played with it every day since he got it.


Washington Square
Washington Square
Price: 0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your usual 19th Century tale of ‘boy meets girl’, 10 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Washington Square (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. It is warm and gossipy and not the sort of thing I usually enjoy at all. The fact that it is a short novel may have added to my enjoyment although once I had finished reading it, I found that I missed the characters in it.
Catherine Sloper is the only child of the rich and successful Dr Sloper and is characterised in the book as being a thoroughly nice but rather plain and inarticulate girl. Dr Sloper has two well-intentioned sisters, one of whom, Lavinia Penniman, is a childless widow who is part of the Sloper household, and the other, Elizabeth Almond, is married with a large number of children of her own. At a party for one of Mrs Almond’s daughters, Catherine is introduced to Morris Townsend. Catherine likes Morris, although she wouldn’t dream of saying so. Initially she possibly doesn’t like him as much as her soppy Aunt Penniman does. Aunt Penniman, a woman of somewhat romantic leanings, gets to work with a bit of match making and helps to ensure that Catherine falls in love with Morris Townsend. However, Morris has already spent all his inheritance and, not surprisingly, Dr Sloper believes, rightly as it turns out, that Mr Townsend is only interested in Catherine’s money and tries very hard to make Catherine see what sort of man she is dealing with. The good doctor even takes his daughter on a tour of Europe in the hope of discouraging her affections for Townsend. Meanwhile, the foolish Aunt Penniman refuses to believe that Morris Townsend’s intentions are anything other than romantic and consequently, ‘poor Catherine’ spends most of the story being emotionally torn between her love and respect for her father and her desire to be with Morris Townsend, while the meddling Aunt makes things difficult for everyone involved.
Dr Sloper’s clumsy but well intentioned handling of his daughter’s affection for Morris Townsend I think makes him a more sympathetic character than the disapproving fathers in some other 19th Century novels. Morris Townsend is not your standard cad either and neither is Catherine the usual sort of heroine, being neither beautiful nor clever. Usually in this type of story, true love wins the day. However, as the only true love involved here is Dr Sloper’s love for his daughter (which is slightly less than the love he had for her dead mother), the reader can expect a rather different ending.


House of Mirth
House of Mirth
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Lily had me hooked, despite her faults, 10 Jun 2013
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This review is from: House of Mirth (Kindle Edition)
This, in my opinion, is a story about stubbornness and missed opportunities. Our heroine, the beautiful Miss Lily Bart is a woman who has grown up on the fringes of late 19th century American high society. Lily is from a genteel but slightly impoverished background and she has cultivated a taste for fine living and also, rather unfortunately, a taste for gambling and is therefore very much in need of a wealthy husband. However, she is also a woman of independent spirit and therefore not inclined to settle for just any bloke with some money. When we first meet Lily Bart, she is 29 years of age and already running out of suitable options in the marriage market. The novel follows the ups and downs of Lily's fortunes and as the story progresses, a series of dubious decisions leads to a gradual decline in Lily's social standing.
This book is populated by well-drawn and believable characters, some of whom turn out to be surprisingly loyal friends to Lily despite her self-destructive path. The prose effortlessly evokes all the different locations in the book from the country houses of New England, to the glamour of the French Riviera and then New York City in all the seasons. The story is a bit long winded in places and some of Lily's foolish decisions are infuriating but the fact that the reader wants to continue to follow the story of this flawed heroine is testament to just how well written this book is.
Several suitable gentleman cross Lily's path, including Lawrence Selden who, although an intellectual match for Lily, does not have the wealth and social standing that she is looking for. Every time the paths of Lily and Lawrence cross, the reader is given a tiny bit of hope that they might live happily ever after. SPOILER ALERT - there is no happy ending. Lily nearly makes it so many times but is thwarted, sometimes by her so called friends but mostly by her own errors of judgement.


The Man with Two Left Feet And Other Stories
The Man with Two Left Feet And Other Stories

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not quite live up to my expectations, 26 April 2013
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Having seen adaptations of both the 'Jeeves and Wooster' and 'Blandings' stories on television, I decided that it was high time I actually read some Wodehouse. I enjoyed a couple of the stories; the one featuring Bertie Wooster (Extricating Young Gussie) was everything you would expect and I particularly enjoyed "At Geisenheimer's" and did not see the twist at the end coming. Unfortunately, the rest of the stories were a bit lame in my opinion and just too farcical to be amusing. The final story in the book was so dull that I didn't even bother to finish reading it.
In conclusion, there are a couple of gems amongst this collection, but overall I was disappointed.


Guinness Book of British Hit Singles
Guinness Book of British Hit Singles
by Tim Rice
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Get your facts here, pop pickers!, 26 April 2013
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I have wanted a copy of this tome for a long time and I was massively disappointed when they stopped publishing it. I have borrowed versions of this from the library but this is not always convenient. I wanted to research some chart information for a blog and as the reviews for the Virgin chart books that replaced this series are less than positive, I decided to track down a 2nd hand copy of the Guinness book.
This, the 14th edition, only goes up to the year 2000 and so is already enormously out of date but it still contains the information I require and you would not credit just how much time I have spent pouring over its pages.
This is a thirteen-year-old paperback and consequently it is a tiny bit dog-eared but has no real damage and it will be in an even more 'loved' condition by the time I've finished with it.
Arrived a week earlier than predicted. No issues whatever with the supplier.


Reelin' in the Years: The Soundtrack of a Northern Life
Reelin' in the Years: The Soundtrack of a Northern Life
Price: 5.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Right up my street, 26 April 2013
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The premise of this book is that Mark Radcliffe has chosen a record from each year of his life and written a chapter that is (very) loosely based around that song and more particularly the year in which it was released. What a brilliantly simple idea!
This is just the sort of music based nerdy nonesense that I like.
If you love music and high quality writing, you will love this.


This Side of Paradise
This Side of Paradise
Price: 0.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yawn, 26 April 2013
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Amory Blaine turned out to be a tiresome individual and although I felt some sympathy for him when he got his heart broken, I still didn't really care too much what happened to him. In fact, two weeks later I have already forgotten how the story ended.
I find it hard to believe that this work is by the same author who wrote 'The Great Gatsby' which is an excellent book. This, by contrast is tedious and self indulgent. The more the author told me about Amory Blaine's opinions, the more I came to believe that they were his own opinions very thinly disguised as fiction. I have subsequently discovered that a lot of F Scott Fitzgerald's work is autobiographical and I was not surprised; in some places, this novel reads like a badly written diary. Still, this is his first novel and I suppose he needed to practice the writers art in order to become good later on.
If you are new to this author, you may very well enjoy this book. Do not make my mistake of reading 'Gatsby' first because this one just isn't in the same league.


Anglo-Saxon Britain
Anglo-Saxon Britain
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4.0 out of 5 stars I might need to read this one again, 26 April 2013
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There is some interesting information contained in this book but, as some other reviewers have observed, this was written over 100 years ago and some more modern historians would tell the story differently. The style of the writing also differs enormously from modern history books. That said, I learned a lot from reading this and I will probably learn even more if I go back and read through it a second time.


The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
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4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of long vanished times and attitudes, 31 Jan 2013
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I had no preconceptions of what this book would be about, which is probably a good thing because it is a good deal more entertaining than it might initially appear. The introductory section (The Custom House) is very tedious and utterly irrelevant and nearly put me off reading the book, so my advice would be to skip that part and go straight to Chapter 1.

Like most novels written in the 19th century, this is largely a morality tale, and the story itself will not tax most readers (although the ‘olde Englishe’ writing style may not appeal to everyone). Unusually though, I did not feel that the author made any judgement about the woman in this story, he just tells the tale and leaves it to the reader to make up their own mind. The plot is very easy to follow; a young woman, Hester Prynne, whose husband is absent, has conceived a child and refuses to name the father. The Puritan community in which she lives could have sentenced her to death for her adultery but instead her sentence is to stand at the scaffold for 3 hours with her infant so that the whole town may witness her shame and then henceforth she must always wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ as a mark of her sin. I guessed the identity of the child’s father while she was still standing on the scaffold and when a stranger appeared among the crowd come to witness Hester’s humiliation, I knew immediately who he was too. There are no surprises here, no twists or turns and the usual compliment of good-guys, bad-guys, big-wigs and snobs are all present. The bulk of the story details Hester’s life as she tries to raise her child on the edge of society, which given the attitudes of the time is something of a challenge for all concerned. All through the chapters, the author hints at the identity of her fellow sinner with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer, which is a bit annoying but somehow this does not spoil the book at all. The religious beliefs of the characters in the story are difficult to understand from a modern view-point but this did not detract from this gentle tale; in fact trying to understand this element of the story just made it all the more interesting to read.
Written in the mid-19th century, but set 200 years earlier, the thing that most delighted me about this novel is the 17th century language in which it is told. Also, the prose is beautifully written and evokes a vivid picture of life in New England in the mid 17th century.


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