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Kikkerland Acrylic Double RainbowMaker, Transparent
Kikkerland Acrylic Double RainbowMaker, Transparent
Price: £34.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, creates masses of rainbows, 27 Sept. 2010
The double rainbow maker is wonderful, the crystals rotate in opposite directions sending masses of rainbows around the room. It does need full sunlight on its solar panel to operate.


Four Play
Four Play
by Fiona Walker
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused and disappointing, 28 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Four Play (Hardcover)
Like other early novels by Fiona Walker, Four Play begins with strong elements of an early Jilly Cooper novel (think Polo or The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous). Sadly the cast of characters is too bottom heavy - with far too many unrealistically beautiful young people (~20-25) who all unconvincingly claim all the time to be passionately in love with one another.

The ending of the book is just bizarre. It bears no resemblance whatsoever to the blurb (Flipper hiding "a secret" - what was it?) and the circumstances in which the two completely obvious lovers eventually unite are sour and complicated. In a light-hearted romance novel one at least wants a clean happy ending; but this is just a mess.

The older characters are not well drawn or developed. The plot is shallow, poorly driven, and its denouement (if one can legitimately call it a denouement, it was more a straggled series of non-revelations and muddled events) greatly unsatisfying.

Ultimately you end up not caring about any of the characters in this book, young or old. That's the main problem. They are pretty much without exception unsympathetic and unbelievable.


The Crow: The Third Book of Pellinor
The Crow: The Third Book of Pellinor
by Alison Croggon
Edition: Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and harrowing, 15 May 2007
Another stunning novel from Alison Croggan in the Pellinor series. This one may be more accessible to younger male readers, since it relates Hem's story so takes a more masculine perspective. Parts of it are quite harrowing, such as the child soldiers, and certain character deaths. It has the same epic, sweeping sense of darkness as Tolkien and other leading fantasy writers.

I would like to recommend to those who have already read The Gift and The Riddle that they re-read them after The Crow. I hadn't realised how carefully structured and planned this series is, and reading them a second time was not only a delight but also illuminating in terms of plot and character. They are amazingly re-readable and are greatly enhanced by The Crow, partly because it is contemporaneous to The Riddle.

Also there are sample chapters from the as yet unpublished fourth book, The Singing, on Alison Croggan's site, as well as sample chapters from the first three novels. They will give potential readers a proper taste of what the series is like, so you really can try before you buy. The only sad thing is that it seems as though the fourth book may be the last; I had hoped it would be a pentology.


At War with Waugh: The true Story of "Scoop"
At War with Waugh: The true Story of "Scoop"
by W. F. Deedes
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb fun, 23 Nov. 2006
Anyone who enjoyed Evelyn Waugh's Scoop will be delighted by William Deedes' real life account of war correspondence in 1930s Abyssinia. Many of the journalists and officials turn out to be even more amusing and outlandish than Waugh made their fictional counterparts. The complex character of Waugh is also given honest treatment through Deedes' eyes, with as much admiration as criticism offered. It's also a nostalgic journey to a now long-past era, with our world of instant global communication and no more expensive, unreliable telegraphing, let alone cleft sticks. Deedes' account and Waugh's novel share common ground in their record of the tragedy as well as the bathos of war. A relatively quick read, but an excellent one.


They Came to Baghdad
They Came to Baghdad
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting adventure in 1940s Iraq, 15 Sept. 2006
This review is from: They Came to Baghdad (Paperback)
They Came to Baghdad is one of Agatha Christie's thriller adventure novels, and it has many parallels with her much earlier work: The Man in the Brown Suit.

Like Anne in The Man in the Brown Suit, They Came to Baghdad involves another young British heroine, Victoria Jones, who sets off on an adventure to exotic climes. She quickly gets mixed up in an international plot, and proves herself to be as feisty and intrepid as any decent heroine should be. The book is particularly fascinating for the snapshot it presents of Baghdad and Iraq in the 1940s, which was directly drawn from Christie's own experience there.

Those wanting a straightforward murder mystery Poirot/Marple-style will possibly be disappointed, as will those who insist on a water-tight and credible plot, but Baghdad is still enormous fun. And without wanting to give plot endings away, if you know a bit about Christie's marital status in the 1930 and the 1940s, the respective choices of romantic hero in the two works is somewhat touching.


Tersias
Tersias
by G.P. Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting but muddled, 3 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Tersias (Paperback)
There are some very good points and some considerably less good points to note about G P Taylor's Tersias.

On the upside, it's a pretty thrilling, well plotted tale, with plenty of twists and turns. Switching between locations for each chapter creates a filmic effect, with lots of cliffhangers. The writing is vivid and intense, and the characters are well drawn. It's highly original and imaginative.

On the downside, rather like Shadowmancer, there are too many different baddies and monsters, and no clear sense of an ultimate uber-foe. None of the protagonists are particularly sympathetic (this may be a strength for some; it's not for me. I found them all quite repulsive, and rather hoped they would all die). It's good that he's working with "new" monsters, such as the Wretchkin, but a new mythos perhaps needs to be better established. There are too many different ghouls and spirits - the wolf, the Wretchkin(s?), random spirits, white wavering hand, far too many glowing red eyes and fangs and things creeping in and appearing and being remembered from childhood. Admittedly I tend to read things a bit too quickly, being impatient for the ending, but I got confused.

Having two protagonists whose names both start Mal- is not a great idea. It creates a strange sense of echo or confusion, at least in my head. "Magnus Malachi" is a superb name, but "Malpas" could easily have been changed to Valpas or something.

Then this one is a matter of taste, but many readers might find Taylor too graphic and too gruesome. I would be wary of buying this for more delicate little flowers, it's considerably stronger stuff than Harry Potter. The way Taylor recreates a sense of the grime and filth and violence and squalor of Old London is brilliant, but it also might make you feel rather sick.

I liked the sense of redemption that Malachi undergoes, albeit unbelievably rapidly. I wanted more on Tersias, he seemed to fade into obscurity towards the end. And I would have been quite happy for them to have fed Tara to the locusts.


The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie
The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie
by Charles Osborne
Edition: Paperback

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and interesting for Christie fans, 19 Nov. 2004
A cleverly written book that manages to avoid spoiling any of the whodunnit plots. It is well-researched, and has plenty of intriguing trivia. I give it a 4 not a 5 due to Osborne's weird obsession with Christie's "anti-semitism". There are plenty of comments and remarks in Christie's work - about many different nationalities and ethnicities - that we may cringe at in the more enlightened, politically correct world of today. But Osborne fails to comment on any except those related to Jewish people. Christie does make some stereotyped comments about Jewish people in her works, but she also portrays several Jewish characters in a very sympathetic light. Either way, anti-semitism is not a major theme in her work, and Osborne reveals more about his own paranoia than Christie's prejudice by dwelling on it so extensively.


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