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Linda Smith (Oxford, England)

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Fruit Of The Loom NEW Lady Fit Valueweight T-ShirtBlack XL
Fruit Of The Loom NEW Lady Fit Valueweight T-ShirtBlack XL
Offered by Toppers Work Wear
Price: £3.25

1.0 out of 5 stars Size is misquoted, 10 Aug 2014
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'XL' is the equivalent of 12 to 14 UK dress size. I gave the t-shirt to a small friend.


Letters from a Stoic: Seneca [Illustrated]
Letters from a Stoic: Seneca [Illustrated]
Price: £0.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great text, terrible ebook, 26 Mar 2014
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Seneca's letters were all I'd hoped for, but the experience of reading them is utterly spoiled by this being a cheap, mechanically produced (by OCR) text. Apart from the litter of typos, some of which can lead to philosophical bafflement, there are some words superimposed on others and therefore unreadable. I do wish Amazon would do a quality check on text before uploading ebooks. At only 77p I'm hardly in a position to complain, but I happen to believe that even free books should be readable. Avoid this edition and spend a little more to get something more reliable.


Celtic Visions: Seership, Omens and Dreams of the Otherworld
Celtic Visions: Seership, Omens and Dreams of the Otherworld
Price: £3.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 25 Feb 2014
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A very rich, enlightening read full of wisdom and rare knowledge. I bought the book to understand Seership and Omens better and was rewarded far beyond my expectations.


Learn Twitter in 10 Minutes
Learn Twitter in 10 Minutes
Price: £2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Ten wasted minutes, 25 Feb 2014
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As it says on the cover, this book can be read in 10 minutes, which makes it overpriced. In 9 of those minutes, I learnt nothing new (and I know very little or I'd not have bought the book). In the last one minute, I read what I needed to know most - about hashtags - but was none the wiser. Very disappointing, and overpriced (in a market which sells big fat novels for about £3 that cost the authors years of work).


The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe
The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe
by Graham Robb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Having the courage to follow intuition, 12 Nov 2013
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Although this book is flawed, it is still a diamond. Beautifully written, it reads like a thriller that I devoured in a week. The quality of writing is excellent: Robb talks to you as a friend, although one who may be overestimating your ability to understand. Still, better that than being patronised. It is a very honest account of a man who was busy being a scholar of French literature when a revelation burst upon him and changed his life.

Some people switch off as soon as the word `alignment' is used. Ley lines, spirit tracks, landing strips for aliens - it's all woo-woo stuff. This book, however, is in the class of the magisterial work of Alexander Thom and John North on Neolithic astronomy, but its subject is the much more recent Celtic world (using the word `Celtic' here as convenient shorthand).

It happens to be my own field of research and it was as if a room I'd been exploring with a box of matches was suddenly floodlit. He picks up on many things I thought were more or less my own discoveries, such as the scientific use of the eight-spoked wheel (usually described as `attribute of the thunder god, Taranis') and then fully elucidates them. Thus I was won over, but I still read the book as a sceptic.

Most of it is about Gaul but a third from the end he says, `I intended to stop here but...' Thank goodness he went on! For the last third is about the British Isles and it is revelatory.

It seems generally agreed amongst those who find such things interesting that Venonis (High Cross, Leics) was the druidic centre or omphalos of Britain but Robb barely mentions it. Instead he moots an omphalos much further south that struck me as ridiculous (trying to avoid plot spoiling here) until I put the solar-equinoctial grid on the map. With Venonis as centre, very little happens on the lines. With the Robb centre, well, the force of the revelation felt like a punch.

Apart from the stunning line-up of cathedral towns, there was a lot of personal in it: places where I've lived, do live, where friends and family live; places I've visited, several of them this summer, one of them in the past week. The author says towards the end that the map for him is `a huge and complex system of personal reference'. As for the author, so for the reader, and that's what makes this book such a compelling, thrilling read. It's hard for any academic to accept, but an awful lot more happens unconsciously than we are usually prepared to notice let alone admit. The later fate of the sites of Celtic temples and settlements proves it.

So why is this diamond flawed? As with all attempts to give a `map of everything', to join up the dots and show us a revelatory picture, it only works if you leave things out. I was surprised that there was practically no mention of Chartres when it is generally thought that once it was the omphalos of the Carnutes tribe of Gaul. York features on a map but gets no mention. The Fosse Way doesn't get half the notice it deserves and, in order to fit this geological feature to the map, actually gets rerouted, running from Exeter to Lincoln via Gloucester (rather than from Ilchester via Cirencester). This, however, may be explained in the caption to figure 64, but that happens to be a fine example of text that stretches my understanding beyond its capabilities (at least until I've done a home-study course in trigonometry). Having freed the Druids from the stereotype of wizards in white robes, Robb then perpetuates it in his analysis of the Gundestrup Cauldron when he describes one striking figure holding a smaller one upside down as `knowing how to hold a victim of sacrifice' when it could just as easily be the hold upon a newborn- or reborn-being coming out rather than going into the vat.

I recently read John Michell's `The Sacred Centre' and found it sadly disappointing. I realise now that Michell's mistake was to be looking for the geographic centre of each of the British Isles (and a lot of those isles quite small and numerous). I've been making the same mistake. Robb has shown that just as the heart is not the physical but metaphorical centre of the body, so it is with places.

`The Ancient Paths' is a book I read quickly and one that, having finished, I still can't put down. It leaves me with lots of questions and I hope there is more to follow, with more time and space devoted to the British story, particularly its omphalos.


Myths to Live By (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
Myths to Live By (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
Price: £3.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth philosophy, 12 Nov 2013
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This series of essays/lectures on mythological themes is a delightful read in which Campbell's lifelong studies bear fruit in insight and understanding about who we are and our place in the scheme of things. It has not foxed with age (originally published in 1973) and with its clarity of style and thought, goes does like a great liqueur.


The Sacred Center: The Ancient Art of Locating Sanctuaries
The Sacred Center: The Ancient Art of Locating Sanctuaries
Price: £11.62

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 12 Nov 2013
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I was expecting so much more from this book than it gave. I understand why Michell decided to look for the centres of small islands, as they are much easier to determine than those of large ones, but I really don't want to know quite so much about quite so many of the Faroes. The Isle of Man as the centre of the British Isles was interesting, but in fact Michell may have been wrong to look for geographic centres. The omphaloi (navels) may well be determined some other way, and I recommend Graham Robb's 'The Ancient Paths' for an alternative view.


The Portable Dante (Penguin Classics)
The Portable Dante (Penguin Classics)
Price: £11.57

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Penguin should be ashamed, 18 Jun 2013
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I knew what to expect from previous reviews but it is the only Kindle edition of the Musa translation. Penguin is a major publisher who should be taking the trouble to convert their books properly, including a final edit. Having the footnotes strewn through the text is extremely irritating. It's not as if we paid considerably less for this mechanically-produced, no-human-involved spin off that has none of the production or storage costs of the printed version. My rating is inspired sheerly by the publication - it remains a great text.


Memoirs Of Journeys To Venice And The Low Countries
Memoirs Of Journeys To Venice And The Low Countries
by Albrecht Durer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.54

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Amateur desktop publishing, 20 April 2009
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This series of rare texts is potentially amazing but having bought this title I shall not be buying any more. The editing and layout are so poor that I am actually prevented from reading the text. Each page is headed 'Memoirs of Journeys to Venice and' - a truncated titling calculated to annoy anybody. It's an abomination. Instead of flooding the market with fascinating reprints, the publisher should spend some time and money doing them justice. The books are expensive anyway - given the very poor presentation, they are extortionate. Look before you buy!


The Miracles of Prato
The Miracles of Prato
by Laurie Lico Albanese
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 20 April 2009
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This review is from: The Miracles of Prato (Hardcover)
The story of Fra Filippo and Lucrezia Buti is quite wonderful but this treatment of it is disappointingly lightweight. The authors bend facts and twist history to create a plot which is just that, a plot, not ennobled by any theme or justification for what they did to achieve it. They even shaved some years off Fra Filippo to make it more credible to a modern that such a romance could ever have happened. This is history with its teeth pulled and its animal scents deodorised.


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