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Many Splendoured Thing
Many Splendoured Thing
by Suyin Han
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Many-Splendoured Novel from the Pen of A Many-Splendoured Lady., 27 July 2014
This review is from: Many Splendoured Thing (Paperback)
I can scarcely believe it is more than 50 years ago that I first read this book, yet each time that I come back to it (as I often do) I find myself as much enchanted as when I first read it. What a rich tapestry it weaves of life in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong as it emerges from the shock of Japanese Occupation during the Second World War, only to be faced with the threat of Communist China and the gargantuan influx of refugees crossing the border daily into Hong Kong and presenting the colonial authorities with massive social problems. However it would be mistaken to think that all refugees from China were penniless paupers. Quite a few were rich Shanghainese merchants and industrialists and the majority of Han Suyin's Chinese circle of friends come from this group.It is in this setting that Han Suyin's semi-autobiographical love story occurs.The facts behind the novel became accessible through her autobiography "My House Has Two Doors". The identity of her real lover was Ian Morrison, an Australian correspondent of the London Times, killed by a land-mine during the Korean War. "Time" magazine printed a scathing review of the novel shortly after its publication reflecting the prurient attitudes and prejudices of the expatriate population of the Crown Colony during the decade following the end of the Second World War. Han Suyin's approval of the People's Republic of China also made her an easy target for Cold War Warriors and particularly those of Senator McCarthy's disposition.
Sadly the novel has now gone out of print, a great loss to future generations of readers. Her use of language is strikingly beautiful, her descriptions capturing the very essence of the scenes, and the Epilogue is one of the most touchingly dramatic pieces of modern English I have encountered. Rather like Conrad, it is difficult to believe that English was not her native tongue. The only shortcoming lies in her dialogue which in part seems rather stilted and unnatural.However for anyone who has lived and worked in the Far East for more than a short period of time,the authenticity of her descriptions ring true, and in particular the hypocritical attitudes of the expatriate establishment are damningly true. I treasure my hard-back copy of the novel, because it is just possible that within a few years it will have become extinct.


A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew
A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew
by J. Weingreen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £41.39

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well tried and tested survivor, 21 Mar. 2014
There has been a flood of new Biblical Hebrew grammar textbooks over the past couple of decades, most from the United States, but Weingreen first published in 1939 has stood its own against all of them. The reasons for this are clarity of presentation and a sound pedagogical approach. Explanations are clear and crisp, devoid of excessive verbiage.The book is thorough without being overwhelming and what is particularly important is that the grammar is presented with supporting exercises in lessons that are manageable in size and scope. It is a great pity that Oxford's Clarendon Press has not seen fit to commission an answer key with comments to the exercises, as this would be invaluable to self-learners. However all is not lost because an answer key prepared by a group of users now appears on the internet. If I were allowed to choose only one textbook of Biblical Hebrew then it would be this one and without reservation.


Pancreatic Enzyme (Formerly called Pancrex Vet Powder)
Pancreatic Enzyme (Formerly called Pancrex Vet Powder)
Offered by Black Cat Medicines
Price: £49.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works even better than Tryplase in cats., 13 Dec. 2013
My 19 year old cat suffers from chronic pancreatic insufficiency. When Tryplase became unavailable on the market (shame on the manufacturer!) I resorted to Creon1000 capsules which are intended for human use. However the enzyme powder is contained within gastric resistant coating material to prevent the enzymes being deactivated by stomach acid. Unfortunately cats have relatively short intestines and if the transit time through the intestine is too brief for the enzymes to be released then it does not work effectively. If the pet already has diarrhea this makes transit time through the intestine even shorter still, further reducing effectiveness. To put it briefly Creon1000 does not seem to work very well in cats and latterly with my cat, not at all.

In desperation I turned to Pfizer's Pancreatic Powder because Creon1000 was clearly ineffective. My cat was rapidly losing weight and had intractable diarrhea. It was a winner almost from the time I started using it. The diarrhea cleared up within two days (with added help of an anti-microbial medication from the vet) and the cat's appetite and body weight soon started improving and he is now back to tip-top shape.

Another big plus is that the enzyme powder for some strange reason does not seem to irritate my cat's lips and mouth. This was a big problem with both Tryplase and Creon1000 when I opened the capsules and sprinkled the content in the food. There is no problem at all with this Pancreatic Enzyme Powder. I can unreservedly recommend this pancreatic enzyme and I sincerely hope that it will work with your pet as well as it has with mine. Even if Tryplase came back on the market tomorrow I would never dream of going back to it. I plan sticking to this enzyme formulation. It works effectively and is more acceptable to my pet. For me it has been a winner!


Singapore Sling-Shot
Singapore Sling-Shot
by Andrew Grant
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric ripping yarn., 21 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Singapore Sling-Shot (Paperback)
Singapore Sling-Shot

In spite of its strangely enigmatic title this is a first rate thriller and well worth reading. It is based in Singapore as the title suggests and the author certainly knows his locale, which is authentically described although perhaps in greater detail than necessary. The hero is an ex-MI6 operative now working free-lance who but for the lack of cinematic gadgets could easily outdo 007 himself. The pace is unrelenting and remains thrilling until the conclusion. This is my first encounter with author Andrew Grant, but I intend making sure it will not be my last. If you want an exciting but not over-demanding thriller, then this is a book for you. I hope it does not appear churlish in suggesting that the book might have benefited from a tighter editing hand. What I describe as that awful "American High Gothic-style" phrase "at this moment in time" occurs twice in the space of three pages, where the simple word "now" would have admirably sufficed. Although enjoyable, the novel is rather too long and in terms of plot-to-length ratio and ideally would be about one third shorter, which again points to defective editing by the publisher.


Suddenly at Singapore
Suddenly at Singapore
by Gavin Black
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vintage thriller, not to be missed, 4 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Suddenly at Singapore (Paperback)
[[ASIN:B002A6OO04 Suddenly At Singapore : A Thriller Novel]

Gavin Black's thrillers mostly dating back to the 1960's have long been out of print, but fortunately they have recently been reprinted by The Langtail Press. Based in Singapore and Malaya around 1960 it has an engaging and exciting plot that kept me guessing until the last pages. The hero is a British entrepreneur with business interests throughout South-East Asia, but whose business interests sail dangerously close to the downright illegal since he is involved in gun-running to rebels in Indonesia opposing the new regime. His brother who is his business partner is murdered in Singapore and the plot revolves around his hunt for the killer (whose identity you will never guess). The novel was published originally in 1961 and part of its charm lies in the insight it gives into the rather dated expatriate attitudes and prejudices towards the new administrations in the newly independent Singapore and Malaya. Nowadays they would be horrendously politically incorrect, but that is the way many, perhaps all expatriates regarded the administrations of the newly independent colonies at that time and will be familiar to old Singapore/Malaya expats from the 1960's. Some readers may be more familiar with Gavin Black's alter ego as Oliver Wynnd who wrote an excellent novel about pre-war Japan called "The Ginger Tree" that was turned into an immensely popular ITV serial in 1991.


The Resurrectionist
The Resurrectionist
by James Bradley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boringly dull and disappointing., 28 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Resurrectionist (Paperback)
The Resurrectionist

I came to this novel with high expectations that were very quickly dashed. It had been selected by a TV reading group, although in retrospect I simply cannot understand why. Almost from the outset the novel becomes flat and two-dimensional, the plot bland, and none of the characters really fleshed-out in detail. I had to force myself to finish the novel and it certainly did not become more engaging with passage of time. In fact I had to congratulate myself on my stamina in managing to finish reading it to its conclusion. The theme and indeed even the title hold out promises which are never redeemed, in spite of the rather inviting illustration on the paperback edition cover. I regretfully could not recommend this book to anyone.


Hungry Ghost
Hungry Ghost
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A first rate thriller in an exotic setting., 26 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Hungry Ghost (Paperback)
Hungry Ghost

This is a first rate thriller and should not be missed. Based in Hong Kong in the lead up to the "Handover" to China in 1997 it deals with "dirty tricks" initiated by a maverick MI6 boss involving political assassination and murder, followed by CIA intervention and even "dirtier tricks" that also backfire. The exotic setting in Hong Kong is authentic as anyone who has lived there will readily recognise, the author having worked as a journalist in Hong Kong for a number of years. Stephen Leather's time as a Hong Kong journalist also provided him with knowledge in depth of the workings of Hong Kong Triads, the local equivalent of the Mafia, which he passes on in this novel. I really wish that more of Leather's novels had a Hong Kong location and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. More please, Mr Leather!


Was Jesus God?
Was Jesus God?
by Richard Swinburne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to "Is There A God?"., 25 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Was Jesus God? (Paperback)
Was Jesus God?

Compared to Swinburne's earlier book "Is There A God?", I found "Was Jesus God?" very disappointing. This book, at least to me, reads more like a straightforward book of conservative Christian apologetics than one written by a renowned philosopher of religion. The first half of the book (87 pages) really amount to a "scissors and paste" abbreviated account from his earlier works, with the remaining 70 pages only devoted to Jesus. The latter contain nothing really new that cannot be found elsewhere in traditional conservative works on Christian apology. Moreover they appear not to have been worked out in length, let alone in depth. It is a given, that any account of the life or significance of Jesus must rely largely if not almost exclusively on the writings of the New Testament. However most historians would not give equal credence to the historical value of the various New Testament documents, and this applies even to the four documents known as Gospel's. Even the most superficial reading of the words of Jesus in say Mark's Gospel would cast doubt on whether the same person is being reported as in John's Gospel, but Swinburne seems to ignore this and seems to treat the historical value of the various New Testament documents almost equally. Reference was made earlier to his rather superficial handing of themes and this can be illustrated in his account of the Virgin Birth. Obviously there are considerable scientific objections that would be expected to be mentioned, if not addressed by an eminent philosopher of religion. However these are completely ignored. For example, if Jesus was a man like all other men he would possess both an X and a Y chromosome. The X chromosome would be inherited from Mary, but where did Jesus acquire his Y chromosome from? Such a difficulty is not even mentioned by Swinburne. It has often been said that philosophical arguments for God's existence really only convince those who already believe. The same might be said for such arguments supporting a High Christology for Jesus. This book is unlikely to convince many who do not already hold settled views on the status and soteriological significance of Jesus. Fortunately for many believers our beliefs can stand without purported philosophical superstructure. If they did require one, I doubt if it could be found in this volume.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2013 10:46 PM GMT


Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
by Thomas Lambdin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.66

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent grammar, but physically difficult to read., 18 Feb. 2012
Introduction to Biblical HebrewI agree with the majority of reviewers who describe this book as a first-rate grammar of Biblical Hebrew. The chapters are sufficiently brief that each could be comfortably covered in a one hour session and the explanations are succinct and to the point. However there is one serious physical defect in this book that for me at least seriously detracts from its usefulness. The typescript is ridiculously small, both in its Hebrew and English components making it very difficult as well as eye-straining to read. I find it difficult to understand why reputable publishers like Prentice-Hall could possibly publish a textbook with such miniscule font size. For anyone using this book for self-instruction outside of a classroom setting there is an excellent Annotated Key written by H.M.G. Williamson to the exercises in Lamblin's book that will prove itself indispensable.


Virals: (Virals 1) (Virals series)
Virals: (Virals 1) (Virals series)
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A venture into teenager fiction., 1 Feb. 2012
With "Virals" Kathy Reich has ventured not only into science fiction but also into teenage fiction because this is the audience for whom this novel is presumably targeted. As a light-hearted adventure story in its own right it is entertaining and readable, and should go down well with teenagers. However the story line ventures into the realm of science fiction. A group of teenagers become infected by a rescued wolf-canine crossbreed being used covertly in immunological research. As a result their DNA becomes altered and they acquire certain perceptual characteristics of wolves such as a heightened sense of hearing and vision that affect them more like intermittent seizures. This really is science fiction as opposed to the kosher scientific detail we have come to expect from Kathy Reichs. Did I enjoy reading "Virals"? Well, it was diverting in an amusing sort of way and I am certain I would have found it highly entertaining if I was still 15, which sadly I am not. However it was definitely not the Kathy Reichs that fans of Temperance Brennan have come to know and love. Linking this new venture with Temperance Brennan (the young hero is Temperance Brennan's neice) is perhaps ill-conceived because to me at least these two different genres are "oil and water". It would perhaps have been better to make this a "stand-alone" without the passing reference to Temperance Brennan. Time will tell.


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