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Cold_Water (Birmingham)

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Apartment 16
Apartment 16
by Adam Nevill
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.67

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, 27 May 2014
This review is from: Apartment 16 (Paperback)
I am a big fan of the horror genre, with Stephen King being my favourite writer within it, but also having enjoyed a number of other authors both modern and classic (including Lovecraft and M.R. James). I am also someone who hates to put a book down before finishing it. However, this book was so awful that I got half-way and gave up. I hated it to the extent that instead of chucking it in the charity shop pile I put it in the recycling bin as I didn't want to inflict it on another unsuspecting person.
I enjoyed the prologue and thought is showed a lot of promise but as the book went along it was hampered by characters I didn't care about, very uneven plot pacing and quite a few stereotypes. Also, I like suspense in my horror - I like the flesh to creep for invisible and unknown threat, not my stomach to churn because of very detailed and disgusting invention that gets quite repetitive. Being horrified and being made to feel physically sick are not the same things. Nothing is left to the imagination and the grotesques that are drawn in absolute detail aren't actually frightening but just, well, gross. Combine them with the truly dull protagonists and really all you want is for the whole thing to get sucked into some netherworld and never bother you again.

The Black Rose Of Florence (Michele Ferrara)
The Black Rose Of Florence (Michele Ferrara)
by Michele Giuttari
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 24 Jun 2013
This book was a random airport purchase and it was entirely disappointing.

I don't know whether it was the translation or whether the writer was having an off-day but there was no 'flow' to this novel. The chapters were short and jarring and coupling this with a large number of characters meant that it was easy to forget who was who and difficult to build up any sympathy to people or care about what they were doing.

I had been excited to read something set in Florence as it is a city that I have enjoyed visiting but the stilted translation/description did not engage me.

The plot eventually made its way to Masons, the occult and general conspiracy theories and that was the point I gave up. This was about a third of the way through so I don't know whether the book improved going forward but I was so bored and disinterested by it that I didn't think it was worth spending any more of my time on.

I had not read any of this series before and this volume did nothing to encourage me to read any of Ferrara's earlier works.

The Group (VMC)
The Group (VMC)
by Mary McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.18

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different but worth it, 1 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Group (VMC) (Paperback)
Whilst I love the classics (Dickens, Orwell, Dumas) I have never really considered this book. In terms of modern fiction I never read what is rather harshly called `chick lit' (detective thrillers being my guilty pleasure in the book world) but I have to say I really enjoyed this book and read it in the space of four days.

Whilst it did have a large cast of characters and there was the occasional moment where I found myself flipping backwards to check that I had recalled who I was reading about correctly I think the book benefited from this. It allowed a large range of issues to be addressed and brought out a number of different characters. Despite being set in the past a number of the issues raised were scarily contemporary (work v family, the role of women, sexual freedoms) and this made it easy to relate to. The women involved are sympathetic to a greater or lesser degree and I think everyone will find someone to relate to. In one instance I found myself not really liking Kay but still felt some sympathy for the situation she found herself in and this was down to the way the book is written. The majority of the men in the book come across pretty badly but none of them ever seem less than human or a caricature of what they are meant to be so whilst the author could have been a bit more lenient on the male gender she doesn't turn them into complete monsters.

I also agree with the idea that both the chapters and the paragraphs are very long. This could make reading them at first appear like an effort but I found the writing carried me along so I don't think it detracted from the book at all. The style also helped to conjure up the setting of thirties New York and it was easy to be drawn into the world that had been created, despite the idea of clubs, servants, and private planes being foreign to me. The book is also structured fairly well in terms of moving time on and the beginning came full-circle to the end, which I liked.

I think the comparison to Sex and the City to be rather unfair and probably a bit misleading. That this could be considered a for-runner of SatC is fair enough but if you expect it to be pretty much the same you will be disappointed. This book requires more effort than any episode of the television show (which I did enjoy) but I think it gives you more in return as well.

Following the Drum - The Lives of Army Wives and Daughters, Past and Present
Following the Drum - The Lives of Army Wives and Daughters, Past and Present
by Annabel Venning
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read, 9 Dec 2005
Curious about what it is to be an army wife I picked up this book. Although I was hoping for more modern insights to the army I enjoyed this book nonetheless.
The book documents the lives of army women from the time that good written records were kept and the army was in the kind of form we know it today. She acknowledges that this is a slight limitation but it means she can cover this period (from about 1600 onwards) in greater depth than if she tried to look at soldiering from the year dot onwards.
The book is split into chapters that deal with different aspects of being a woman following a soldier husband into war. The most obvious topics are there, such as what it was like to wait on the edge of the battlefield, but there were also subjects that I hadn't really considered, like being captured. There are a large range of topics; apart from the above there are mentions of raising children, the social life in the army, and even women who dressed and enlisted as men to find their husbands.
Because of the wide range of time and subject involved sometimes there was a feeling of just skimming the surface of the topic. With a with the wide range this was bound to happen, however, and you still get enough information about each period for it to be interesting and if there are certain areas or times you are more keen on than others it will inspire you to go and find out more.
Some of the stories in this book were quite moving and it was very interesting to see the human side of very famous events. For example there during the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea there are accounts of woman watching, knowing what's coming but powerless to stop it. The brutality and shortness of life on and around the battlefield in general is brought to life and you get a sense of the misery people had to live through.
Reading about incidents in the modern army was very interesting to me and seeing how different it was from being married to a civilian.
Overall, this was a good book. Four stars were given rather than five for occasionally feeling like too much was trying to be crammed in but it is readable, interesting, and got me enthused about a subject I hadn't really considered before.

Watership Down
Watership Down
by Richard Adams
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, 27 Nov 2005
This review is from: Watership Down (Paperback)
This is billed as a book for children, and it is, but I also enjoyed it immensely when I re-read it (I'm in my 20's).
Richard Adam's does any amazing job with this book of both accurately depiciting rabbit behaviour and at the same time adding a rich and well-thought out mythology to the rabbits that fits in with their behaviour. All this serves to bring the characters he writes about to life.
Having such feeling for his characters really makes you invest in them throughout the book and you get sucked into their world. This makes all the trials they go through all the more tense for the reader because this book is a fantastic adventure story.
It has a terrifying villan in the shape of General Woundwort and two (or three) spectacular heroes in the shape of Hazel and Bigwig. They show bravery and courage in spades to fight against the General and there are two sequences in particular (the escape and the final showdown) where you will not be able to put the book down. The ending is also fantastic.
This is one childhood book that I have been happy to display on my book shelves along with all my history and literature because it is a masterpiece of story-telling, at times uplifting, scary, and heartbreaking.

Cambridge Latin Course Book 3 Student's Book
Cambridge Latin Course Book 3 Student's Book
by Cambridge School Classics Project
Edition: Paperback

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing Excellence, 31 Oct 2005
Having been through the first two great course books I took up this one (rather stupidly) in the run-up to my finals. This book has taken me longer to get through than the previous two because of this but I enjoyed it just as much.
The usual format prevails - chapter by chapter we are introduced to a story woven through the books that involves Quintus and Salvius from books one and two. As the book progresses the story gets more involved and is actually quite complicated at times.
With each chapter there is new grammar and vocabulary introduced with little tests and sections to see how well you have understood what has been gone through. Another very helpful feature is that some of these sections refer to grammar from a previous chapter to ensure that you have not just read through the information, done the exersizes and moved on without taking any of it in as the story progresses. At the end of the book every new part of the language is reviewed with some more exersizes and there is a full and complete dictionary for all the vocabulary introduced in the book.
On a more personal note, being at University in Bath I was able to visit the baths which were an integral part of the story and see the items and translations featured in the text. This was pretty amazing and really helped bring the whole thing 'to life,' as it were. This technique of using such available Roman remains to reinforce what is being taught is great as it makes the language seem anything other than dead.
Overall: optimus! Roll on book four.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2012 11:33 AM GMT

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: And Ninety Nine Other Thought Experiments
The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: And Ninety Nine Other Thought Experiments
by Julian Baggini
Edition: Hardcover

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bite-sized, 31 Oct 2005
Overall I enjoyed this book. The idea of using a hypothetical scenario as an introduction to a great philosophical idea or problem is a good one as it does not require the reader to have any previous knowledge or understanding of the subject. This means that anyone can pick this book up and immediately be introduced with ease to a subject they previously knew nothing about.
The wide range of scenarios and ideas presented is also useful as it means if you are not interested in one thing on offer there is likely to be something else for you. As well, it also means that if you have read about something before and know a bit about it this book does not feel like re-visited territory. The sceanarios that are linked to each other are referenced at the end of each segment so if you are interested in that specific theme then you can go straight to the next thought experiment without having to read through a load of others first, which is another useful feature.
The only thing about this book I was vaguely dissatisfied with was the because of the huge number of ideas presented here sometimes it felt like you were just being offered a taste of a much larger subject when you wanted to know more about it. Because of the very nature of the book I realise that this should be the way the ideas are presented but occasionally this meant it was slightly unfufilling to read.
However, it has prompted me to go on and read more about those areas I was interested in so perhaps it did a great job after all! If you do not know much about philosophy and are keen to get a broad, easily accessable overview then this book is excellent. However, if you already know what you are interested in and like to learn about in it any great depth this book is not designed for you. Pretty good though - interesting and provoking.

Cambridge Latin Course, Book 1: Level 1
Cambridge Latin Course, Book 1: Level 1
by Cambridge School Classics Project
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.73

101 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant way to learn, 19 Sep 2004
In my quest to learn Latin, having been disappointed by other books, this was recommended to me by a friend. After reading the positive reviews on Amazon I decided to buy it.
I was not disappointed in it at all. This was exactly what i was looking for in a book:
It had stories to translate that focussed around one family so there was a familiar thread to them. Sometimes it even has (although in a very 'learning is fun' way) humour.
It had a gradual increase of vocabulary, giving any new words in a story down the side of it.
It had a full dictionary of all the words used in the book at the back of it, along with a section on all the grammar taught.
The grammar was introduced at the right rate and there were exersizes to test how well you had understood the new points. There were three-four exersizes every chapter (with 20 chapters in total), along with the translations.
The end of the book leads nicely on to the start of the next one so it is not difficult to continue.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn to read Latin. You will not regret buying it!

Cambridge Latin Course Book 2
Cambridge Latin Course Book 2
by Cambridge School Classics Project
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.57

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caveat emptor? Hardly, 18 Sep 2004
Having learnt Latin at school for two years and then dropped it I decided that I would like to go back and re-learn it.
This series of books are great for this. They take you through each bit of grammar and style with clear written examples and give you lots of practise in the exersizes provided. This is in addition to the prose that is fundamental to every chapter.
The book is divided into 20 chapters, each with a slightly different theme. The chapters involve a set of characters that recur throughout the series. Each one has a different adventure happen to one character or another and you are required to translate them. This was quite helpful to me as instead of the text being just something random it was quite good to follow the adventures of the different Romans.
Because of these different stories you are introduced to different aspects and locations in the Roman world. To accompany this there is usually an explaination of different lifestyles with lots of colour photos. This helps to bring the book 'to life', as it were; rather than just relying on text.
The book also contains a dictionary at the back, containing all the words that are used in the book. Along with this there is a section covering all the grammar introduced as the book progresses.
Overall I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn Latin. It is a great follow-up to the first book and takes things at a nice steady pace.

Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
by Anne Applebaum
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Introduction, 6 Aug 2004
Although previous reviewers have critisied this book for not being through or wide enough in it's analysis I absolutely loved it.
As a person who had very little idea about life in a Gulag or Soviet Russia I though this book was an excellent introduction to both subjects. It is very readable and the chapters are divided up well so there is not an information overload when dealing with new places and names.
By using many different memoires of the Gulag it a book that shows the differen people involved and how they were affected by even the most remote political descision. 'Human' is probably the word I would choose to describe this book as it leaves you unable to feel for the people touched by the Gulag.
No book can cover all the intricate points raised by Soviet Russia, pre- and post-Stalin but this one was so involving it has inspired me to read much more on the subject.
Read this even if you are remotely interested and you will be hooked.

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