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Biblioholic "biblioholic" (Gloucestershire, UK)

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At Break of Day
At Break of Day
by Elizabeth Speller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Great War saga, 15 Dec 2013
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This review is from: At Break of Day (Hardcover)
I enjoyed At Break of Day very much. Its structure is fairly simple, with the paths of the main characters overlapping and diverging as fate brings them to the Somme on 1st July 1916.
This approach gave a depth to the description of the actual battle, as all recollections of that event were necessarily fragmented, a bit like a mosaic that has been smashed. A novel is not a military history, and this book gives a sense of what it felt like without getting bogged down overly in a mass of historical detail.
I'm sure some of the images will remain in my mind for a very long time, particularly the fate of Frank the cyclist.
I also found Benedict and Theo interesting characters, reminiscent of Ivor Gurney (though he in fact survived the Great War), especially as they are connected with Gloucester Cathedral.
I recommend this book thoroughly, though I fear the stable of Great War novels is becoming rather crowded!


Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
by John Eliot Gardiner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour around the mind of Bach, 2 Dec 2013
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It took me a long time to read this book. Nearly every page held a new revelation and I stopped frequently to listen to the piece that was being discussed. So many wonderful discoveries and such insights!It was a privilege to benefit from the fruits of a lifetime lived almost inside the mind of Bach.

I think it would be difficult for anyone to critique this book as JEG is the absolute expert, and we can only thank him for sharing this with other lovers of Bach's music.


Perfect
Perfect
by Rachel Joyce
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Onwards and upwards, 18 Aug 2013
This review is from: Perfect (Hardcover)
I read and enjoyed Harold Fry but I think Perfect is a more mature and better book. The characters are more finely drawn and the theme - perfection and imperfection - deftly and sometimes amusingly handled. My favourite line is Beverley's comment on Diana's husband (and Byron's father): 'He sounds a right banana'.

All the same, like Harold Fry it is a sad book over all and sometimes quite a tear-jerker. It would make an interesting play on TV.


The Last Runaway
The Last Runaway
by Tracy Chevalier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting read, 27 July 2013
This review is from: The Last Runaway (Hardcover)
I can only re-iterate what others have written: this is a very gripping and enjoyable read. The characters are subtly drawn and though there are moral dilemmas intrinsic in the plot it never feels preachy or moralistic. There are several strands to the story, including Quakerism, slavery, romance and the difference between life in England and the USA, and it makes a compelling whole.


Life in Biblical Israel (Library of Ancient Israel)
Life in Biblical Israel (Library of Ancient Israel)
by Philip J. King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 27.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful handbook of Israelite material culture, 11 July 2013
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This book was on the reading list for a course on biblical archaeology that I did, but it is suitable for any general reader with an interest in the Old Testament or Levantine archaeology. The material is well ordered and even better illustrated. I am hanging onto my copy even though the course is finished just for the pleasure of dipping into it.


Pope Francis
Pope Francis
by Matthew E. Bunson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.16

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about the new Pope, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Pope Francis (Paperback)
This book is a good introduction not only to the new Pope but also to the events immediately preceding his election, i.e. the resignation of Pope Benedict and the conclave. It dispels some misconceptions and myths about Pope Benedict, and goes on to set the new papacy in the context of Pope Francis's previous pastoral experience.
I recommend it for anyone looking for an in-depth but not too technical analysis of the transition from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis.


Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition: Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations
Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition: Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations
by Eamon Duffy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting melange, 8 Dec 2012
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Professor Duffy has added more nuances to his views and treatment of the Reformation and its aftermath, including attitudes to Catholicism during the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, which are not quite what one would expect, and certainly not monolithic. His chapter on Bishop Fisher I found especially interesting.
However I did wonder whether he was barking up the wrong tree altogether in the last chapter on Catholicism in Shakespeare's England: the argument hinges on the famous lines from Sonnet 73, where Professor Duffy takes 'bare ruin'd quiers' to mean literally monastic ruins. Surely this is an image of the tree in autumn, 'where late the sweet birds sang' i.e. they have now migrated for the winter, not necessarily an extension of the choir image. I think it's stretching things to rely on one word ('late')to clinch an argument about late Elizabethan attitudes to the destruction of the monasteries.

On the other hand I may just be very pedestrian!

Read it and see what you think.


The Anubis Gates (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
The Anubis Gates (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
by Tim Powers
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.89

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why did I bother?, 14 Nov 2012
This book has a random, bizarre plot, executed by characters that are paper-thin rather than cardboard cut-outs. The style is breathless, but the narrative confusing. The dialogue is modern American, apart from a few clumsy nods to what might be early modern English. The author is guilty of several anachronisms (Westminster Cathedral was built nearly a hundred years after the time the novel is set) which jar.
One could forgive these failings if the book had any inner logic, as all good fantasy should. Sadly it does not. I will read more fantasy but not by this author.


The Waste Land
The Waste Land
by Simon Acland
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.63

3.0 out of 5 stars Waste land or wasted opportunity?, 27 May 2012
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This review is from: The Waste Land (Paperback)
I learned good deal about the First Crusade by reading this book but found it somewhat wanting as a novel. It's a curious mix of Boys' Own Adventure, Dan Brown, and Inspector Morse and somehow that recipe did not work for me. Most of the narrative is in the first person, so you know that whatever nasty things happen to the protagonist, he is going to pull through, thus eliminating tension in the plot.
I think it might be OK for a long journey but I probably won't bother with the sequel. And it is certainly nowhere near the standard of C J Sansom in the Shardlake novels.


Prisoner of the Inquisition
Prisoner of the Inquisition
by Theresa Breslin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling historical adventure, 6 May 2011
I am not surprised that this book has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Award this year. It is an engrossing historical yarn set in late fifteenth-century Spain, the era of Christopher Columbus and New World exploration but also of the Spanish Inquisition. The story has two strands which intertwine at the beginning and end of the novel. The author has done her research very well, but doesn't allow this to get in the way of a thrillingly emotional plot.
Highly recommended!


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