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H. M. Sykes "Helena" (Granada, España)

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They Were Divided (The Writing on the Wall the Transylvanian Trilogy)
They Were Divided (The Writing on the Wall the Transylvanian Trilogy)
Price: £3.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still not as good as book one and fades towards the end, 4 Dec 2013
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As a history of the lead up to WW1 this is pretty good and and has really inspired me to learn more of the Blakans' crisis.

As a love story, which has entwined all three volumes, it started well and then went back to Hungarian poitics.

Of course, all bright young things sometimes implode. I am truly sorry that his love affair did not make it in the end. The ending is on a pessamistic note as the country goes to war.

If you want to read only one of these three books, read the first one, "They Were Counted", I really don't think the next two come anywhere near the first.


A Year in Marrakesh
A Year in Marrakesh
Price: £5.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "It's OK" says it all, not good, not bad, average travel journal., 3 Dec 2013
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Marrakesh is one of the most exciting cities I have visited, Istanbul comes a close second and Cairo the third in the Muslim World. I have been to many more, Damascus, Beirut, Sanaa, Amman, Baghdad all of which should be seen (political stability permitting).

The other cities have wonderful sights but Marrakesh has a really vibrant life and not such good sights - I believe that Iraq used to in the 1980s be fantastic but did not go there until the 1990s when it was under sanctions. All of this leads to some dissapointment with Mr Mayne's book. It has none of the excitement of Flaubert in Egypt (although maybe he was not so promiscuous as M. Flaubert), it's OK, you can read it, but it gives no idea of the excitement of being there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2014 8:51 PM GMT


They Were Found Wanting (Writing on the Wall: The Transylvania Trilogy)
They Were Found Wanting (Writing on the Wall: The Transylvania Trilogy)
Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars This is the middle part of a massive three part story and therein lies the dilemma, 3 Dec 2013
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Part one of this trilogy, They Were Counted, was gripping and I have reviewed the Kindle edition and bought the hardback book (from Amazon of course) as a Christmas present for a friend.

I am about half way through book three, They Were Divided, and it is hotting up and becoming another un-putdownable book.

But I really was not gripped in the same way by part two. It is good and very interesting from the point of view of Austria-Hungary, the Balkans and Middle European politics in the years before WWI but it doesn't have the "zing" of the other two books and this trilogy is principally a novel rather than a history lesson.

So, although any of these books is eminently readable on its own, the latter two make references to characters and situations in previous books to put everything in context, the dilemma is that book two is not quite so good but how can you leave out the middle part of a three volume story? My recommendation is to read it anyway (in hardback books two and three are in the same volume) and take the slightly less exciting part in anticipation of the mounting tension in the last volume.


Panasonic 20mm Compact and Lightweight Digital Interchangeable Lens for Lumix G - Black
Panasonic 20mm Compact and Lightweight Digital Interchangeable Lens for Lumix G - Black
Offered by V-BASKET
Price: £275.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This has become my favourite standard lens, 30 Nov 2013
Although the Lumix G series allows me to pack 35mm equivilent 14-400mm lenses, a camera body, filters, spare batteries etc. in a tiny camera bag that looks as though it is a normal tourist bag not a pro-style hefty camera case there are times when you just want to take one camera and one lens.

My G3 may be a couple of years old but it is tiny, I am looking at the GX7 but don't see the need to upgrade right now. So stick the 20mm f1.7 lens on it and I can put the G3 in my pocket. The lens is tiny, really sharp and has a lovely bokeh (out of focus parts) plus a generous maximum aperture.

The 35mm equiv. of 40mm focal length is just about perfect. The Micro 4/3 has a different, more square, format than the 35mm format so this is a perfect "standard" lens meaning it captures on camera roughly what the eye sees. I can wear this under a light jacket without anyone knowing I have a camera and then quickly take photos and replace it. Perfect compromise.


Flower Duet from Lakme (Dome Epais)(B.A. Ad)
Flower Duet from Lakme (Dome Epais)(B.A. Ad)
Price: £0.79

5.0 out of 5 stars British Airways (BA) thought this so good that they built an advertising campaign around it., 27 Nov 2013
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Lakme is a long opera and comes on two CDs. Much of it is, to my uneducated mind, boring. Some opera is good, some ballet makes good viewing but, and I am sorry to say this, very few bits shine for me. There are obviously classics like "my tiny hands are frozen" but this is different. Firstly because Delibes, the composer, does not come in the first rank while Puccini probably gets close; secondly because the rest of the music in this opera is rather hard to sit through to hear this one aria.

Download this one song and you will never regret it!


Mens Thinsulate 3M Thermal Fingerless Gloves Black L/XL GL131
Mens Thinsulate 3M Thermal Fingerless Gloves Black L/XL GL131
Offered by stansbargains
Price: £3.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not made by 3M, poor quality, 27 Nov 2013
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The headline for these gloves gives the impression that they are made by 3M. They are not, more like put together in a cheap country in the Far East. They may contain some Thinsulate but they are neither warm, nor longlasting and of horrible quality.

I agree they are cheap but I have seen them 33% cheaper (when taking into account P&P). I wonder whether if I sealed my parcel with 3M Scotch tape I could use the famous brand to promote my product? Gloves come in 3M sealed container?

There are better alternatives when you consider price/performance ratio.


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This has to be the definitive story of the rise to power of the Nazis in Germany, 27 Nov 2013
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William Shirer was a journalist based in Germany during the build up to the second world war. As an American citizen, he had to leave Germany when the USA joined the Allies against the Axis forces. Until then he details the circumstances that started the 2nd World War and brought misery to so many. After 1942, his story is rather second hand in comparison with his acutely judged observations but still well presented.

This may seem like a dull subject but it is riveting and brilliantly written. It is not a short book (my favourite copy has it in four volumes). If the lessons of history are not learned then they tend to repeat themselves. The fact that I have read it cover to cover three times gives some idea of how good I think it is!


Quiereme
Quiereme
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is easy going Spanish music and the 2nd hand CDs sell for huge sums, 26 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Quiereme (MP3 Download)
We were having a drink in a beachside bar in Spain after doing our normal Saturday shop when we first heard Sr. Carrasco's music. The bar has a sound system that can only be called professional and was belting out the music through a pre-amp, the amp, synthesiser and huge speakers. If you have ever been to a bar in Spain you will know that they are always noisy places with the TV blaring or loud music so that the customers shout over this noise thus creating even more noise.

The owner of the bar, on being asked about the great music, said that it was by a friend of his, Manuel Carrasco so I came home and downloaded this album. Unfortunately, played through my iPod on a home stereo system, it does not have the effect that the original music had. However, it is a very easy listening Spanish album and I enjoy it, suppose I now need to upgrade my home stereo to get the full effect!


They Were Counted (The Writing on the Wall: the Transylvanian Trilogy)
They Were Counted (The Writing on the Wall: the Transylvanian Trilogy)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This has all the ingredients of a successful novel and I cannot put it down! It is wrecking my work., 25 Nov 2013
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I bought this because my father gave me books two and three (he had bought them for a friend who already had them). The setting is apparantly vaguely autobiographical, the nobility of Hungary and Rumania at the beginning of the 20th Century before the implosion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was caused by the 1st World War.

We get through this book to live in a life of unbelievable splendour, huge palaces and castles, estates of thousands of hectares, affairs, unrequited love, parties where the dancing was frenetic and gave brief moments for unmarried romance, rarely ceasing before dawn. Fortunes made and lost in the Casino at cards. Duels, shooting, hunting, high politics, music. We meet glamorous countesses, princesses, even the Royal Family and learn about the world of the rich and privileged and the marriage market where, as was happening in Great Britain at this time, a long lineage and a title were traded for a handsome dowry if no marriage of equals could be found.

The cast list is quite long and the sub-plots are many which is why it is so difficult to put down because there is so much suspense and one just has to keep turning the pages to find out what is happening. The introductions by Paddy Fermor and the translators are fascinating in themselves. I considered myself fairly well read but I had no idea of quite what a magnificent lifestyle these aristocrats had. I assume that survived the First War and only came to an end with Soviet occupation but I am now absolutely hooked on the region and the wealth that existed there.

This really ranks as a superb novel, every bit as good as Tolstoy but more modern (and just as long).


Titans of History
Titans of History
Price: £3.96

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful introduction to world history., 6 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Titans of History (Kindle Edition)
As far as I am aware, and I have read full length biographies of many of the subjects in this book which don't contradict at all, this work is entirely factual. However, Mr Montefiore writes with a very wry sense of humour which, I suppose, is very apt with the number of scoundrels whose nemesis he chronicles along with the good and the great of whom he writes but in the end we are all dead.

It reminds me of "1066 and all that" a spoof history book and play popular in my childhood (and doubtless Mr Montefiore's) but without the Latin puns. The difference is that it is a serious work of history and very educational, you need to look quite close to see the humour.

I do hope, as Mr Montefiore suggests, that it inspires readers to delve deeper into the lives of the rogues and the honorable of whom he gives a brief glance


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