Profile for Mrs. Charlotte Farrow > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mrs. Charlotte...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 189,957
Helpful Votes: 26

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mrs. Charlotte Farrow ""Charlie"" (England)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
Foreplay? Life's Too Short
Foreplay? Life's Too Short
by Marcus Whitfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny!, 23 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Guilty as charged, I know the author, although I'm not sure such hilarity has ensued since we were all room mates in '82!

Very funny collection with a nice little cutting, political edge. Good going Marcus! I look forward to hearing you sing them!

Punctuation is nice to have sometimes though....


The Tin Snail
The Tin Snail
by Cameron McAllister
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars A charmingly old-fashioned read, 2 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Tin Snail (Hardcover)
'The Tin Snail' by Cameron McAllister is a charming, somewhat old-fashioned read that delights with its humour, adventure, patriotism and love. Invoking the spirit of war-time France, it tells the tale of the development of the French version of the ‘people’s car’, the CitroŽn 2CV. We have baddies ranging from Nazis, including the villainous Ferdinand Porche, designer of the VW Beetle and the Panzer tank, who is trying to steal the plucky French design for Germany, to young Philippe, the jealous love rival, and his father, Victor, the pompous and obstructive mayor, who are ultimately redeemed by their courage and patriotism.

'The Tin Snail' is well plotted and the story unfolds like a script for a rattling good family film. However, although the book is illustrated, it is never completely clear from pictures or text what the revolutionary designs look like, unless one is already familiar with the 2CV (which my daughter was not). I wonder whether as a screenwriter, the author was imagining that all would become apparent on screen?

It appears to be creative non-fiction, telling the true story of the development of the car, so I felt a little cheated that that having invested in Angelo, his father Luca Fabrizzi, Christian Silvestre and Bertrand Hipaux, I discovered that their names were really Flaminio Bertoni, André Lefèbvre and Pierre Jules Boulanger. I don’t even know whether Fabrizzi’s son Leonardo had anything at all to do with the design. The other niggle is the sub-title: The little car that won a war – it didn’t. What actually happened was that the prototypes were deliberately hidden from the Germans and the car only went into production in 1948.

That said, this is a delightful book for anyone over the age of eight, and it would make a tremendous film.

Review first appeared in Historical Novels Review Issue 69 (August 2014). Book supplied by publisher.


Brave
Brave
by Wendy Constance
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An adventure in pre-history, 2 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Brave (Paperback)
Wendy Constance’s 'Brave' was the winner of The Times/Chicken House prize, 2013, for an unpublished new children’s author. It is the story of a boy and girl from two tribes of the Clovis hunter-gatherer people as they journey across prehistoric America. Blue Bird has run away from her clan and is looking for her dead mother’s people on the other side of the continent. Initially challenged with finding Blue Bird and bringing her back, thirteen-year-old Wild Horse joins her in her flight, and together they face many challenges, including natural obstacles and dangerous mega mammals as they are pursued by Wild Horse’s spiteful cousin, Zuni, and his band of hunters.

The book was originally titled 'Like a Brother' which was presumably changed due to possible confusion with Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother to which it bears a strong resemblance. There is evidence of other alterations; for example, Zuni’s father is sometimes called Grey Wolf and at other times he is Great Wolf, which is both confusing and curiously inelegant, given that the professional editorial process was supposedly part of the prize.

The story is told from the alternating point of view of Blue Bird and Wild Horse which is clearly flagged at the start of each chapter, a device that provides a satisfying breadth of perspective that allows both boys and girls to identify with a protagonist. The quest to find a family, the adoption of the big cat, the early domestication of a dog, the spear hunting, the mammoths, the chaste love story and the rival, all combine to produce in Brave, a children’s version of Jean Auel’s 'The Valley of Horses' which is suitable for boys and girls aged 10+.

This review first appeared in Historical Novels Review Issue 69 (August 2014). Book supplied by publisher.


Buffalo Soldier
Buffalo Soldier
by Tanya Landman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buffalo Soldier explores of the nature of freedom, in ..., 30 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Buffalo Soldier (Paperback)
Buffalo Soldier explores of the nature of freedom, in a searingly poignant story told from the perspective of Charlotte, a young African-American slave from the deep south of America at the end of the Civil War. After witnessing the rape and lynching of her adoptive mother, Charlotte is pitched all alone into a world of war and terror. Officially emancipated from slavery, she is still trapped by the colour of her skin but also by her gender. Now that even her value as a slave has been stripped from her, in desperation she dons a dead man’s clothes and joins the US Army, becoming ‘Charley’, a ‘buffalo soldier’. Her journey takes her from coast to coast cutting a swathe through a unpleasant period of US history, during which we see Buffalo Bill initiating the sanitisation of the record.

This is an extraordinarily powerful book, immaculately written in a sustained voice that never misses a beat. The analogies and observations that flesh out the narrative are superbly observed and always completely in character and period. We are literally observing the world according to Charley, and her take on it is skilfully developed throughout her journey. Landman doesn’t shy away from the sights, sounds and language that characterized slavery and its aftermath, but the further that Charley moves away from the former Confederate slave states, the more she adopts the different spoken styles indicating the prejudices of the soldiers around her, in a changed world order in which the Native Americans are at the bottom of the heap. Yet she is finally shown the meaning of true freedom by an Apache with whom she is able to discover a viable identity for herself as a woman.

Important material is sensitively addressed, making this a must-read book for all over-twelves.

Review first appeared in Historical Novels Review Issue 68 (May 2014). Book supplied by publisher.


The Covenant (Abram's Daughters Book #1) (Abram's Daughters)
The Covenant (Abram's Daughters Book #1) (Abram's Daughters)
Price: £4.74

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Gobbler's Knob' (snigger), 21 Jun. 2014
'Gobbler's Knob'?! This is a joke, right? Or perhaps this expression is not ridiculously smutty to Americans? Too funny for a British market.


Lizzy Bennet's Diary
Lizzy Bennet's Diary
by Marcia Williams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, but who is it for?, 1 May 2014
This review is from: Lizzy Bennet's Diary (Hardcover)
Lizzy Bennet’s Diary is a charming, illustrated re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice in diary form. This is not a fan-lit sequel, nor is it a modern retelling. Marcia William’s pretty book is as a much a scrapbook as a diary, a device which provides an accessible but quite faithful outline of the original plot. Lizzy’s father has given her the diary to distract her from her sisters’ brainless chatter while avoiding distressing her mama’s nerves, and she records her thoughts, drawings, pasted-in letters and keepsakes.

Too few books for older children are illustrated to this extent; flowers, bows and buttons are realistically digitally scrapbooked, and dance-cards, notes and letters fold out. It is beautifully presented, yet my reservations are largely visual, due to indecision about who the book is for. The non-photographic illustration is in Williams’ characteristic style, and while some vignettes pay homage to Lizzy’s hand, others are cartoon strip representations of narrative in a modern authorial ‘voice’. The letters are in a handwritten font, but the body copy is not. Is it a facsimile of a diary or a children’s book about one? The style is accessible to a younger reader, but is that the right or only audience? I was ten when, with a dip pen, I made my own copies of Anne of Green Gables’ letters, but I had already read the book. So is there enough here for a ten year old to invest in, until they are old enough to appreciate Pride and Prejudice? Or would a teenager who has already read Austen think the illustrations childish and want more visual authenticity?

But these are minor ponderings. This is a delightful gift book, and I’ve already forwarded my review copy to a friend’s ten-year-old daughter in Australia.

Book supplied to the Historical Novels Review by the publisher.


The Executioner's Daughter
The Executioner's Daughter
by Jane Hardstaff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A newly rendered fairy tale, 8 Feb. 2014
The Executioner’s Daughter follows the watery adventures of Moss and her rascally sidekick, Salter, as they face scary situations while evading a child snatcher and a Riverwitch. Ultimately, they find friendship and purpose to their lives beside the Thames in the reign of Henry VIII.

Pitched as a sort of gothic horror for children with a dash of witchiness, the story is essentially a newly rendered fairy tale, based on real folkloric myths of river spirits, like Peg Powler or Jenny Greenteeth, who were said to snatch children who wandered too close to the water’s edge. This folkloric premise is nicely set up by the fireside telling of the story of the Riverwitch by old Nell. However, apart from this short taste, the first half of the book is relatively ponderous and grim, labouring the role of executioner and his assistant to establish Moss and her father as social outcasts and to give her a reason to run away. Necessarily, as Moss is to be reconciled with her father, he cuts a rather unconvincing ogre figure and as such, in spite of the title, the executioner trope is something of a distraction from the main thrust of the narrative. Rather than catching the imagination with spine-tingling scene-setting, the effect of over-egging this bit of the pudding is a very slow lead-in via grisly, but rather ponderous, horror before turning out to be a deft and exciting fairy tale adventure on another theme altogether.

Details like a frost fair on the frozen river or a Tudor banquet are well drawn. A toilet collapsing off London Bridge and Salter’s fruity oaths are great fun: “Great Harry’s pussin ulcers!” The baddies are scary in their own right. So it is to be hoped that readers of 8 to 12 will persevere.

This review published in the Historical Novels Review February 2014.Book supplied by the publisher.


Knight Crusader
Knight Crusader
by Ronald Welch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't write 'em like that any more!, 1 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Knight Crusader (Paperback)
Ronald Welch won the Carnegie prize in 1954 for Knight Crusader, an action packed tale of a young Norman nobleman from Outremer, Philip d’Aubigny.

The new edition retains the evocative original illustrations and cover art by William Stobbs. Unusually it also includes a Note on the Text for modern readers, rather euphemistically referring to ‘difficult’ language of a classic re-published in its original form. However, it is not that the vocabulary is incomprehensible to a strong reader of 8 to 12. It is rather that political correctness dictates that pejorative expressions like ‘half-breed’ are no longer used in new works for young people. However, Welch shows the newly arrived Norman barons as ugly, racist, barbarian thugs, whereas the protagonist, Philip, is a third generation ‘Syrian’ lord, who has assimilated elegant customs and practices of the East and is sophisticated and enlightened in comparison. Philip is a pretty darn heroic hero, yet even he holds some unsavoury opinions of the ‘Pullani’, or mixed race noblemen, as untrustworthy schemers.
Review book supplied by publisher for The Historical Novels Review.

The plot claps along at a splendidly brisk pace, informed by the author’s superb knowledge of place and period. The fight and battle scenes in particular are vivid and powerful. The reader is immersed in the action, complete with sights, smells and sounds and one is left with a genuine belief that the author has both gone to war and to the Holy Land.

A stylistic point unusual to modern ears, though, is the occasionally didactic narrative voice. Equally unusual is the unnervingly unexpected savagery of the protagonist in the denouement which is so convincingly shocking as to leave the reader (this reader anyway) ‘blown away’ by a masterpiece. Wow!

Knight Crusader is not a ‘girly’ book and this female reviewer loved it; but if you want your son to fall in love with history and reading, this may be the book to do it.


Saxon's Bane
Saxon's Bane
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Good Read!, 5 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Saxon's Bane (Kindle Edition)
Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion is an action-packed page-turner shaped by elements of horror, fantasy, history, thriller and the ghost story. I should declare that I was given an advance copy of this book by the author, who I know through the Historical Novel Society, but my honest opinion is that, as debut novels go, Saxon's Bane is pretty impressive.

The catalyst for the story is the simultaneous discovery of a bog body and a car crash in an unspoilt valley, which brings together a plausible set of characters in an environment of convincing solidity. Just as the landscape visibly preserves the memory of ancient ploughshares, so other fragments of the past colour the lives of the living. Legend, history, memory, folklore, magical practice - ancient and modern - and a spectrum of religious belief, impinge on the present and serve to fuel the interactions between well-drawn characters, all of whom have been touched by the shadow world in different ways. Gudgion deftly uses a well-observed, surprisingly broad spectrum of belief in a quintessentially traditional British rural community, to develop tension and suspense that hold the reader's engagement without recourse to sensationalism.

Dream interactions and flashbacks allow Gudgion to share a vivid experience of ancient lives and battles, with both character and reader alike. An emotional literacy underpins much of the writing which is enlivened by tangential but witty observations by the characters - a smug post-coital pigeon or a failed clinch that results in the near-embrace of a rucksack - which diffuse any suggestion of sentimentality. Mythical motifs are woven elegantly into a fast paced split-time story.

Saxon's Bane reads very well indeed - give me more! Five stars.


The Internal Auditing Handbook
The Internal Auditing Handbook
by K. H. Spencer Pickett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £145.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As I'm quoted in this book..., 12 Dec. 2012
...I am of course pleased to find that this book quotes from 'Marketing internal audit' that I wrote for Internal Auditing and Business Risk, and quite properly credits me, but I'd just like to point out that I am, in fact, not a man as stated in the text...


Page: 1 | 2