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The Riverton Case (Rachel Markham Mystery Series Book 3)
The Riverton Case (Rachel Markham Mystery Series Book 3)
Price: £2.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating despite minor flaws, 22 May 2015
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A fascinating tale! There are peripheral errors that do not interfere with the story: 1. A necklace cannot be encrusted with one ruby. 2. No one after the 1930s had shingled hair; bobbed maybe but not shingled. 3. A luxurious stateroom on the way to India would not have been on the starboard side - Port Outbound, Starboard Home = POSH. 4. Various American and 20th Century sounding terms (laid back, etc.) 5. Too many commas! All of that said, the plot is sound, the story fascinating, the detective an attractive person with a husband who is very supportive. I am very picky about the plots in detective stories, and this one pleases me a lot. Glad I read it.


Murder at Ravenrock (Rachel Markham Mystery Series Book 2)
Murder at Ravenrock (Rachel Markham Mystery Series Book 2)
Price: £2.41

3.0 out of 5 stars Edit!, 14 May 2015
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Interesting story in a picturesque setting. A very attractive detective team. Someone should remove 90 per cent of the commas, as they slow down the flow of the narrative,


Inspector Alleyn 3-Book Collection 1: A Man Lay Dead, Enter a Murderer, The Nursing Home Murder (The Ngaio Marsh Collection)
Inspector Alleyn 3-Book Collection 1: A Man Lay Dead, Enter a Murderer, The Nursing Home Murder (The Ngaio Marsh Collection)
Price: £11.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Start here and read them all!, 22 Jan. 2015
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I have just finished reading all the Ngaio Marsh mysteries and the short stories in the Kindle editions of her work. (Somehow I missed almost all of them over the years, with the exception of Died in the Wool.) From my point of view, as a very exacting sort of mystery reader, Ngaio Marsh started out well with her first book, improved with the second one, and with the third she hit a level of excellence that never faltered from then on. Every one from the third one on was a delight for me. I love the dramatic sense of the stories, the way she can bring me into the physical world of the book, the freedom and variety of characterisations, and the skill with which she does all the "machinations" of the plot. I see variation in the settings, the characters, the flow of the stories, but none at all in the basic quality of the writing. I am about to start all over with the first one again, just for the pleasure of it.


Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime
Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I was pleased to find out more, 22 Jan. 2015
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I have just finished reading all the Ngaio Marsh mysteries and the short stories in the Kindle editions of her work. (Somehow I missed almost all of them over the years, with the exception of Dyed in the Wool.) At the end of the 11th volume is the autobiography. Having read that, I ordered and read this book, hoping to learn a bit more about the woman than she tells, herself. I was pleased to find out more, get some gaps filled, find out what she was involved in over the years. Because I had just read the autobiography, I found myself skipping over the many sections in this book which consist of quotes I'd already just read. Two things I take issue with, one has already been mentioned by another reviewer, and that is the assumption that because Ngaio Marsh often (but not always) wore trousers, men's shirts, and sometimes a tie, etc., she may have probably maybe might have been lesbian. There is even a description of a photo of her with the Rhodes family in which she is described as "looking boyish". I looked at the photo and saw nothing to justify that description. Absolutely a girl! A tall, slim girl. The second thing I found quite fascinating that I didn't agree with at all was the varying estimations of the quality of the detective novels. (Joanne Drayton is usually quoting reviewers of the day, but usually adds her own gloss on it as well.) From my point of view, as a very exacting sort of mystery reader, Ngaio Marsh started out well with her first book, improved with the second one, and with the third she hit a level of excellence that never faltered from then on. Every one from the third one on was a delight for me. I love the dramatic sense of the stories, the way she can bring me into the physical world of the book, the freedom and variety of characterisations, and the skill with which she does all the "machinations" of the plot. I see variation in the settings, the characters, the flow of the stories, but none at all in the basic quality of the writing. I am about to start all over with the first one again, just for the pleasure of it. Like some other reviewers, I got a bit bored with the amount of information about theatre activities, although I understand that was a major part of Marsh's life. But I am thrilled with the quality of that last novel. I could tell she was describing the Macbeth she would produce, the best one ever from her point of view. Reading how ill she was when she was writing it makes me doubly appreciative of it as Ngaio Marsh's triumph.


The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning
The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning
Price: £14.25

2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Food For Western Readers, 9 May 2014
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There are many beautiful and evocative descriptions in this book, especially of landscape and water. And the environmental issues are intelligently presented. But the prose is flabby with description, as though the author is writing for her graduate school classmates. Basic descriptions of scenes and events leave the reader unclear as to exactly what has happened. For instance, when she went out on the prairie that day and she starts talking about the view she used to have from the windmill, then about the centre pivot irrigation, and all the environmental havoc caused by the change in farming methods, and all the changes to the farms and to the landscape and the family -- suddenly she is hearing the creak of the windmill and using it to get a drink and wash water over herself (a very good image that evokes the dryness, the heat, the blessing of water) -- well, was she really at that windmill? Or had it gone, as she implies when she goes on and on about the past being destroyed. Was it there that day or not? (A bit later she mentions that she parked next to one of the centre pivots, so was that near the windmill or what? And if these enormous structures are so overwhelming, where would they have that older windmill? Is it really still there and still pumping? Why?) It makes a difference. Not knowing that destroys the poetry she built up about the land, the water, time, the changes. The other tedious thing about the writing is being sucked into this big romance with the neighbour. Where are we going with this? Why do I want to hear all about every eyelash this guy has? And every inner palpitation he causes in the author? And every misstep she ever took with another man? (And everything her son does every day, for that matter.) Is there a purpose here? My impression is that she could have written the substance of the book in about 50 pages. I found it tedious reading. I'd rather walk several miles to Goodland in August without a canteen on me than spend the time reading this. However, if you want isolated episodes of nice writing, go for it. Especially if you don't know the prairie.


Spirits of Flux and Anchor (Soul Rider Book 1)
Spirits of Flux and Anchor (Soul Rider Book 1)
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful, exciting adventure, good characters in a fascinating world, 17 July 2013
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Since I first read this novel in the mid-1980s it has been a part of my consciousness. Eventually I went looking for it to reread, and here it was! It begins like a fantasy novel, the characters living in what appears to be a low-tech culture perhaps long-long ago, with lots of emphasis on religion and the threat of dangerous magic. Almost before you know it, it morphs into something much more puzzling and intriguing. Figuring out how this world works is one of the major attractions in reading it, and indeed is one of the preoccupations of the characters in the novel itself, as they work to either fend off a deadly threat to that world -- or, some of them, to bring it on. Many startling changes happen to people as the story goes along. It would be a disservice for me to explain what these quite fascinating characters learn because the journey of finding out is a major part of the intense pleasure of reading the book. (That quest, with its deadly threats and dangers, continues for two more volumes of the saga, after which you can read about how it all began, long before, and then what happened long after the tale told in the first three volumes -- so look at the end of this book to see the order in which to read the others.) Good characters, fascinating world, thoughtful philosophy.


Heart That Flutters | Duparc: Chanson Triste [Lawrence Brownlee, Iain Burnside] [Opus Arte: OACD9015D]
Heart That Flutters | Duparc: Chanson Triste [Lawrence Brownlee, Iain Burnside] [Opus Arte: OACD9015D]
Price: £14.90

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Tenor, 12 April 2013
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Lawrence Brownlee may not be as famous as some other "Rossini tenors", but he is spectacular. Not only does he have the technical competence to easily sing some of the most difficult coloratura/bel canto pieces, he has a richness to his voice that adds immensely to the emotional impact of what he sings. (He is also very engaging dramatically, which shows in the voice here; you can get a better glimpse of it with the various videos you can see of him online, as well as in the Met Opera's Cenerentola and Armida.) This CD has a selection of many different kinds of songs; my two favourites are 'Ah! mes amis' (of course!) and Deep River (which you might think is reserved for a bass-baritone, but it's obviously not!)


Conspiracy of Silence: Secret Life of Anthony Blunt
Conspiracy of Silence: Secret Life of Anthony Blunt
by Barrie Penrose
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Resource, 4 Jan. 2013
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There was a great malaise growing among the powerful countries during the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th. (You can get a taste of that in many ways, in works as diverse as Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes, AS Byatt's The Childrens Book, Osbert Sitwell's autobiography, especially volumes I and II (Left Hand, Right Hand; The Scarlet Tree) and Lesley Downer's account of Japan, The Brothers) The people who became "The Cambridge Spies" were caught up in the aftermath of the chaos unleashed by the First World War. Nothing in their world was as it had been before that war, but for the most part nobody had been able to grasp how different everything was. It is only against the backdrop of that trauma and chaos that I can make any sense of anything anybody described in this book did with their lives. Conspiracy of Silence is an enormous collection of facts, opinions and impressions, carefully collected and presented. Depending on which contemporary source is being quoted, Anthony Blunt is arrogant or kind, secretive or confiding, aloof or charming, innocent of espionage or a known spy, an idealist working for a better world, a snob with no interest in common people, a sexual predator, competent as an art historian and administrator or woefully incompetent and high-handed, in love with Guy Burgess or simply his loyal friend. It doesn't surprise me that John Banville, faced with such a conflicting stew of information and having watched Blunt interviewed on the BBC, chose to write his own fictional version of the tale, so there could be some kind of emotional centre to it. (The Untouchable. A wonderful novel and the reason I started reading about Blunt.) Why did he do it? All I can conclude is that he did it from hatred. Hatred and a deep inner trauma. Anybody else's hypothesis could be equally valid. Conspiracy of Silence is a good resource to work with in studying this perplexing period of time in the world.


Across A Bridge Of Dreams
Across A Bridge Of Dreams
by Lesley Downer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wealth of Feelings and Experiences, 4 Jan. 2013
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The magic of Leslie Downer's writing is hard to describe. There is a directness about the reading experience that makes me feel I am right there with her characters, living in them, in fact, living their lives with them. Every fictional book she writes is based on deep and extensive research into the history of Japan, and each story fits appropriately within whatever was actually going on in the culture at that time. But her research is not just something 'intellectual' and remote. In an early nonfiction book, 'On the Narrow Road,' which is about a journey she made in search of a 17th Century poet's life, she says, "what I was after was not history, not information, but something more amorphous and more alive -- to get under the skin of this place and thus somehow to get close to Basho himself." This is, I believe, the source of that astonishing immediacy in her fiction. She is a real master. Like her other novels, this one is a masterpiece.


The Courtesan and the Samurai: Historical Romance
The Courtesan and the Samurai: Historical Romance
by Lesley Downer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nimble, Exciting Storytelling, 24 Oct. 2012
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This is in a way the "same world" as in The Last Concubine. But it's not, also. It's recognizably Japan of the late 1860s and the political realities are similar to the same period in the first novel. But this is a different part of that world, and the characters have intense, serious challenges and preoccupations that are all their own and miles and miles away from the other harsh realities faced by the characters in the other book. Lesley Downer's skill at presenting individual personalities and situations is immense. Deft brushstrokes create each moment of a vivid and fascinating existence, with its dangers, its sensations, its unknown possibilities. I love the way she drops me into situations; I never know what's coming next. I can feel the stinging winds, I feel the fear of impending battle, I am there with the warriors in the desperate situation. I am living with these people. It's an absorbing adventure thriller. It's a picture of a country in the turmoil of rapid upheaval, an ancient culture shaken beyond its roots. It is romantic, yes. (I was happy to see a character from the first book turn up in this one, and hope to meet that person again now that I've started the third novel. I won't say who it is, so you'll have the pleasure of experiencing it yourself.)


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