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J. Chippindale (England)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix
The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix
by Paul Sussman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Unputdownable, 3 Feb. 2015
I have always enjoyed Paul Sussman’s books, not only for the subject matter and location, but also for the storytelling ability of the author. You can therefore imagine my delight when my wife arrived home from town with the latest book by the author. My delight soon turned to dismay when on reading the book cover I found that the author had died suddenly in his mid forties.

The book was in fact from a manuscript the author had written before any of his other books had been published, and had been put to one side because of Paul’s lack of confidence in getting it published. This book is totally different to the later books he successfully wrote and had published and if I am honest was not the type of book I would normally read, but for some strange reason I felt I owed it to the author to read this book, the writing of which had started him on an extremely successful career as an author, and one who had given me so much pleasure with his other offerings.

The book is about a man, Raphael Ignatius Phoenix, shortly coming up to his one hundredth birthday, and this is his account of the up’s and down’s of his journey through life. A journey that all of us take, albeit most of us will never make the magic century. Without giving too much away, where Raphael’s life is different from the mundane is that he is a murderer, several times over, plus he is determined to celebrate his one hundredth birthday with a unique experience. He also has the friendship of a girl, who having met her as a young boy has the comfort of her friendship throughout his life, and particularly at times when he most needs it. To go into any greater detail would spoil the story for the reader. This is particularly true in the case of this book.

The book came to fruition through Paul’s wife agreeing to the manuscript to be published, even though it is far removed from his previous books, and I, for one am so glad she did. This book deserves to be read, and is a fitting tribute to the storytelling ability of Paul Sussman. In fact in all the hundreds and hundreds of books I have read in my life I think that this is the only one where I have been tempted to turn to the back pages to find out how the story ends. Thankfully I resisted the temptation and was rewarded with a story that builds and builds and keeps the reader interested through to the final paragraph. Not bad for a book that I earlier said would not have grabbed by attention in the normal course of events.

Tutankhamun: The Last Secret
Tutankhamun: The Last Secret
by Christian Jacq
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Read, But Not His Best, 6 Nov. 2014
Creating a storyline with a high flying American lawyer turning out to be the son of the acclaimed Egyptologist, Howard Carter is an original, if slightly implausible theme. I suppose in fiction anything goes and as an avid reader of anything relating to Ancient Egypt, be it factual or fictional I was happy to give the book a try.

The author has written numerous books on the subject and having read several of them I was confident of enjoy the book. Although I did, perhaps my love of the subject made me see it through rose coloured spectacles. The translation for me certainly affected the flow of the storyline, making the writing a little stilted and old fashioned.. In my opinion the author has certainly written better books

The book started brightly enough with the American lawyer being sent a letter to attend a meeting in Egypt, where he would find his true destiny, (why anybody would travel half way across the world at the request of an unsigned letter is the first leap of faith the reader has to accept). However having done so the lawyer (Mark Wilder) finds that the people he thought were his parents had in fact adopted him and he was in fact the son of Howard Carter and a prominent Egyptian girl, who gave birth to him in secret and ultimately had to have him adopted, rather than bring shame on her family. Wilder is given the task of finding some long lost papyri originally owned by Tutankhamun and found by Howard Carter. Wilder must find them before the forces of evil do.

An enjoyable read, but nothing spectacular. If you enjoy the subject as much as I do you will probably enjoy the book too. If you don’t you may start to fall asleep fairly quickly.

Warlord's Gold: Book 5 of The Civil War Chronicles (Stryker)
Warlord's Gold: Book 5 of The Civil War Chronicles (Stryker)
by Michael Arnold
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The English Civil War Brought Back to Life, 13 Oct. 2014
I too have read all the books in the series and am starting to think of Innocent Stryker as an old friend, albeit a somewhat violent one. The period of the English Civil War offers rich pickings for many writers of historical fiction, and Michael Arnold stands comparison with the best of them.

This book begins with Stryker and a few chosen members of his company on board ship heading for the Scilly Isles, their task is to retrieve a considerable amount of treasure, hidden there by a supporter of the Royalist cause, and if recovered by Stryker will add considerably to the strength of the Royalist forces. Of course the Parliamentarian side have also got wind of the treasure and are sending their own men to foil Stryker's plans and claim the haul for themselves.

As with all the Stryker books the plot continues at a pace, with many twists and turns, and not a little violence, though never of the gratuitous kind. The story is well thought out and all of the characters are well rounded and plausible. The one annoying thing I find with these books, and it may be just my age taking effect, is that from time to time I become confused with which character is on which side, Royalist or Parliamentarian. Come to think of it much like the people in the book. Apart from that I enjoyed the series immensely and this book in particular.

The Book of Fires: A Medieval Mystery (A Brother Athelstan Medieval Mystery)
The Book of Fires: A Medieval Mystery (A Brother Athelstan Medieval Mystery)
by Paul Doherty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Same High Standard from the Author, 22 Sept. 2014
This is the latest of a number of Sorrowful Mysteries books featuring Brother Athelstan and the Coroner, Sir John Cranston, and his never empty wineskin. The Devil's Domain (Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan) (Book 1, 1998). The author is very prolific and has now written over a hundred novels, some under various pseudonyms. No mean achievement, and more importantly his prolific writing does not seem to affect the quality of his work in any way. He has for a number of years been an established author of medieval novels and has also added a number of novels on Egypt to his ever growing list of titles. The Hugh Corbett mysteries were and are extremely popular and Paul Doherty has found another winner with this series, featuring Brother Athelstan as the main character, ably assisted by Sir John Cranston.

The plot takes place at the time of the Peasant Revolt, Wat Tyler and all that. A period of English history that had been festering for years and finally came to a bloody culmination with the deaths of many of the country's leading citizens and the destruction of their goods and property.

The plot of this book revolves around the fact that it has come to the attention of John of Gaunt, Regent to the young King Richard, that a book containing the secret formula of a devastating weapon, Greek Fire, has disappeared and John of Gaunt tells Sir John to involve Brother Athelstan in the task of recovering it before it falls into the wrong hands. In particular the Upright Men, who are involved in fomenting the rebellion, who could use it with catastrophic effect.

The author tackles this storyline with his usual aplomb, and his many followers will enjoy this one just as much as those that have gone before. Reader's new to Paul Doherty (are there any?) will soon become hooked and start looking for earlier books in the series.

Striplight 240V 60W 284mm Clear
Striplight 240V 60W 284mm Clear
Offered by General Lamps Ltd.
Price: £4.09

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Replacement for Broken Striplight, 18 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Striplight 240V 60W 284mm Clear
Remembered the name Crompton regarding electric light bulbs from way back, so thought I would plump for this one in preference to a number of others available on Amazon. The bulb came promptly and was as described in the advertisement. Perfect replacement, in fact wish I had ordered two, but as there was no charge for postage will soon order another as they are becoming hard to come by on the High Street.

The Vanishing Witch
The Vanishing Witch
by Karen Maitland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book from a First Rate Storyteller, 17 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Vanishing Witch (Paperback)
Having read all the author's other books, apart from her first The White Room (Springboard fiction), I was expecting this one to have a good storyline on a par with the previous ones, each of which I had enjoyed enormously. I certainly was not disappointed as the book lived up to all my expectations. It is obvious to the reader that the author has a close affinity with the subject and period of history she writes about.

The book held my attention from start to finish. There were no make-weight chapters in this book, every paragraph was relevant and necessary to the flow of the story, unlike some books that are padded out, to the extent that the reader begins to lose the will to live, and can't wait for the book to end. The book is set in 14th century Lincoln and revolves around the trials and tribulations of the main character, wool merchant, Robert of Bassingham. I would love to go into more detail about the plot, but this is one of those books that would be spoiled for the reader if any part of it was revealed. Suffice to say each chapter is written from the point of view of one of the main characters in the book. By no means a unique way of telling a story, but an interesting one nevertheless, and one that adds weight to the suspense.

As I said previously the book held my attention from start to finish and I am sure anybody who has read the author's other books will love it. Anybody who enjoys reading historical fiction will also find the book an extremely enjoyable read.

Price: £3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay, If You are Short of Something to Read, 15 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Kingdom (Kindle Edition)
This books had stood unread in my bookcase for several years, along with another one by the same author, Pyramid, (2007) and as I was short of something to read I decided to give it a try. Perhaps I should have left it there. Although the book is not really the type I usually read, I thought it started rather well. However for me at least it slowly deteriorated and became more and more far fetched.

The story begins with a female journalist being transferred to India by her American paper. Within 24 hours of landing in the country she has been picked up by the police who tell her in no uncertain terms that she is playing a very dangerous game that could land her in prison for a very long time. Having no idea what they are talking about, and against all the odds she is released without charge, she decides to do some detective work of her own to try to find the journalist she has replaced, a man who has been missing in Tibet for over three months.

I do not like to give up on a book and saw this one through to the bitter end. For those with similar stamina the book does begin to improve towards the end, but for me was just too far fetched to make a believable storyline.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous treatment for a Wonderful Book, 30 Aug. 2014
I received this book as an early birthday present, having already received Count of Monte Cristo by the same publishing company (Barnes & Noble). The covers of both books are absolutely stunning, with graphics depicted in deep red, gold and black on the Jules Verne and blue, gold and red on the Count of Monte Cristo. These bonded leather Classics all come with an integral silk ribbon bookmark and the gilt edging to the pages is a feature very rarely seen today, which is a shame as it gives the book a richness that sets it apart from more mundane volumes. This book also has a beautiful engraving of a world map on the inside front cover.

The book contains several of the most popular stories by Jules Verne. Perhaps the most famous being Around the World in Eighty Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, both of which were made into successful films. There is also Journey to the Centre of the Earth, (another film?), Round the Moon, From the Earth to the Moon, Five Weeks in a Balloon and The Mysterious Island.

Jules Verne, the Frenchman and the slightly later English author H. G. Wells are considered by many to be the forerunners of modern Science fiction and it is easy to understand why. Jules Verne had a very fertile mind and was in many ways well ahead of his time, many of his ideas particularly about space travel not coming to pass until more than half a century after his death in 1905.

The stories are still as exciting and thought provoking today as they were over a century ago. However for me the star of the show is definitely the sumptuous treatment given to this edition of the book by the publishers. It takes the book to another level and deserves pride of place in any bookcase.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2015 6:58 PM GMT

Treachery (Giordano Bruno 4)
Treachery (Giordano Bruno 4)
by S. J. Parris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Elizabethan Whodunnit, 30 Aug. 2014
The author now has a proven track record of producing books that are not only popular with reader's interested in the Elizabethan period of English history, but also those who simply enjoy a good murder mystery, whatever period it is set in. Her first book in the series was Heresy, written in 2010, and the present book Treachery, is the fourth in an excellent series.

The Italian Giordano Bruno is a likeable and believable character, and so he should be, as he was a real person who existed in the period of time in which the author places him. In fact his real life ran almost exactly as the author portrays him in her books. He frequented the court of Elizabeth I and associated with many influential figures of that time, including Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and Giordiano's friend and associate from the books, Sir Philip Sidney.

Sidney has cajoled Bruno into travelling to Plymouth ostensibly at the behest of Elizabeth's spymaster Francis Walsingham, as they arrive Sidney tells Bruno that he is determined to talk Sir Francis Drake into allowing them a berth on his next voyage, which is due to leave Plymouth, shortly. Giordiano Bruno is less than enthusiastic at the idea, but he soon becomes involved in trying to solve the death of a man on Drake's ship, while still in the harbour. The death initially looks like suicide, but certain clues point to the fact the death is more likely to be murder . . .

I found the book an enjoyable read. I am fascinated by the Elizabethan period and always enjoy books that have a cast of real people plucked from the pages of history. This, for me at least, always adds atmosphere, and an element of truth to the story.

The Three Musketeers (Collector's Library)
The Three Musketeers (Collector's Library)
by Alexandre Dumas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still One of the Best Books Ever, 29 Aug. 2014
The Three Musketeers is probably one of the most read and talked about tales ever written and numerous films have also been made, some true to the original story and some very far removed from it. Re-reading this book was a very enjoyable experience for me, and brought back many boyhood memories. Although this book is an abridged version, it still runs to almost seven hundred pages and the storyline did not seem diluted in any way.

The story I am sure is well known to virtually everyone. If not from reading the book itself, at least from watching the many films made in recent years, will give at least an insight into Alexandre Dumas's swashbuckling story. I was soon drawn back into a story I first read almost 60 years ago, and found I loved it just as much now as the first time I read it.

The Collector's Library do a first rate job of these editions of Classic Literature. The bindings are luxurious, but also very robust and all the books are protected by an illustrated dust cover. The gilt edged pages are a luxury from a bygone age and add a feeling of quality to these small volumes. The integral ribbon bookmark is also a nice touch and the books are genuinely pocket sized and can be taken virtually anywhere, an appealing quality for any avid reader.

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