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Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites
Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites
Price: £6.99

22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very minor gripe....., 27 Feb. 2015
A sumptious looking book full of a good variety of dishes. Instructions are clear and you will not have to roam around looking for obscure (and fatuous) ingredients. Certainly better than a lot of BBC cook books of late (for example compares much better with Hollywood's Pies & Puds) Mary shows that there is a lot more to her than just being the ice queen of baking. Expect to have a go at a lot of these. Also a good value book, if bought online, with 300 pages of great/sensible/interesting recipes. The photography is really good but just one minor gripe - there are perhaps rather too many pictures of the author and her associates associates?


Fish & Shellfish
Fish & Shellfish
Price: £9.51

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Buy this if you wish to contribute to his retirement fund otherwise don't bother, 1 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Fish & Shellfish (Kindle Edition)
Sometimes when you watch Saturday Kitchen on BBC it is padded out with ancient clips from series that featured Mr S in the 90's. Beware because this book is the literary equivalent of this tendancy with the author rehashing his previous books with new photos. So do not buy this if you have his other books as this is just old meals warmed over (see below for more detail).

Interesting to note that a majority of the reviews on this page all have the same title (five stars). Presumably the publishers promotion department hasn't got any originality either.

Just a small selection of the dishes in this volume that are straight copies from his earlier works includes, cod & lobster chowder, steamed grey mullet, poached quenelle of gurnard, hake with clams, Maryland crab cakes, ceviche of monkfish, moules mariniere, warm oysters with black beans, lobster ravioli, pave of salmon, grilled scored plaice, seafood risotto, salt cod and chick pea stew, classic fish soup with rouille. I could go on but you get my meaning.

Mr S should realise the sleb food market has moved on and he should write something original (I suggest you avoid this expensive re-tread of a book to encourage him to do so).


Convoy SC122 and HX229: Climax of the Battle of the Atlantic, March 1943
Convoy SC122 and HX229: Climax of the Battle of the Atlantic, March 1943
Price: £7.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Good old fashioned military history, 18 Feb. 2014
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It's been a while since I read anything from Mr Middlebrook and this reminds me of just what a great military historian he has been.

Just the right blend of tactics, personalities and technical details.

The book dates from the 70's and therefore details of the impact of Bletchley Park and the ultra code breakers was a bit thin on the ground but apart from this I cannot fault this book (except for the poor map reproduction in the Kindle edition which is hardly his fault.

I particularly like the way he explains the context of the battle as he goes without front end loading the book with a detIled preamble which bogs down so many other books of this type. This is really the story of three separate convoys but he describes the actions of each, the activities of the U boats and the allied and German commanders very clearly.


Waiting for Sunrise
Waiting for Sunrise
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a patch on Restless (or The Ice Cream War), 18 Feb. 2014
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Having read his previous novel Restless I approached this book with some optimism. I was disappointed.

This book seems all a bit formulaic. A spy story by numbers with too many plot contrivances. Maybe he was just psyching himself up for his foray into 007 territory in Solo.

I've read most of his stuff and regretfully this is probably the worse and does stand comparison with his previous WW1 book the Ice Cream War


The Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain
by James Holland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Should be sued under the trades descriptions act., 18 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Battle of Britain (Hardcover)
Let's be clear. If you want to read a detailed book about the personalities, tactics and aircraft involved in the BoB don't buy this one. Go for Bungays Most Dangerous Enemy or (a bit dated now I know) Deightons Fighter.

Too many modern military historians feel the need to set their work in historical context. In this case the author goes completely over the top and it is more than halfway through this tome before you get into the BoB proper. If you buy a book on this subject you don't really expect huge tracts about what the Germany Army got up to in France in a Spring 1940 but I'm afraid this is what you get.

As a result the details of the battle itself appear rushed and cursory.

I've read probably half a dozen books on this subject. This is probably the worst.


The Norman Conquest
The Norman Conquest
Price: £6.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 16 Feb. 2014
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Not really my period of history and bought this as a bit of a change and well worth doing so.

The book made sense of the tangled politics of the early 11th century. I had been brought up with tales of the brave King Harold marching to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea (sorry the Vikings) then marching to Hastings to fight the wicked, evil William, Duke of Normandy. Bit of a shock to learn that Harold had just pinched the throne and that William probably had a better claim.

As with histories of this period sources were a bit scarce but I found the details of how Yorkshire was decimated after 1066 very interesting - being a Yorkshire person.


The Hydrogen Sonata: A Culture Novel (Culture series Book 10)
The Hydrogen Sonata: A Culture Novel (Culture series Book 10)
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Indian summer for the late, great E&MB, 16 Feb. 2014
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The last culture novel produced by E&MB before his untimely death,

I enjoyed most of the previous stories but this one didn't convince and although this was the first one to "cover" sublimation of species to a higher dimension in detail I thought it was a bit below par.

Reading the final section it felt like a literary equivalent of a wake and I guess in a way it was.

Some of the story elements were just not up to his usual high standards and at times he seems to have lifted plot devices from other authors ( particularly the late lamented Douglas Adam).

Not e&MB at the height of his powers and a bit of a sad epitaph.


Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914
Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914
Price: £3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars His early stuff was great but recent tomes have been an effort to get ..., 16 Feb. 2014
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I've read a lot of Sir Max's work dating back to the 80's and 90's. His early stuff was great but recent tomes have been an effort to get through. (All hell let loose, Armageddon, Nemesis etc).

Some reviewers disparage Sir Max because he is just a "journalist" but this is just some sort of inverted snobbery.

However his work has been described by reviewers are "magisterial". As he gets older is this short hand for "opinionated Tory toff"? Maybe.

WW2 is more my thing but bought this as a 99p kindle bargain.

If I had paid full price I would have been disappointed. The first part re the reasons for the conflict was a bit uneven. The later parts about the period August to December 1914 got very repetitive. For example "the French/Brits/Austrians/Russians/Germans/Serbs were in the trenches being shelled" , "the French/Brits/Austrians/Russians/Germans/Serbs suffered dreadfully during the retreat",, "the French/Brits/Austrians/Russians/Germans/Serbs were cut down by rifle/machine gun fire" ,"the French/Brits/Austrians/Russians/Germans/Serbs general officers were useless"

I did enjoy the section re the first Battle of Ypres (partly because my Grandfather fought there) but at the end this was just 700 pages to slog thru "up to your neck in muck and bullets" as Arthur Haynes used to say.


A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther Mystery Book 6)
A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther Mystery Book 6)
Price: £4.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The end of Bernie Gunter?, 21 Mar. 2013
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A bit poor really. sub-Nazi detective Gunter is engaged by Dr Josef G the Reichminister for propaganda in the Third Reich to investigate the murder of Polish officers by the Soviet Union in Katyn Wood. Full of accurate technical and historical details the plot itself doesn't really convince. Gunter gets up to all sorts of odd things like helping an abortive bomb plot against Hitler and casually killing a harmless solder just because he knows to much. The story ends with a courtroom drama with Gunter on trial for his life before the head of German intelligence helpfully turns up to save the day and a german general decides to shoot the main witness in the middle of the courtroom.

afraid that Gunter seems to have gone past his sell by date and should be pensioned off. Interestingly I see the author said much the same thing in an interview with the Times so hopefully there will not be any more of this stuff.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2014 9:20 PM GMT


Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45
Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45
by Max Hastings
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.74

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best - worth six stars at least, 20 Mar. 2013
My title could apply equally to the subject and the book!

I have a confession to make. Mr Hastings is my favourite author and Churchill my hero so I am biased.

Some of Mr H's more recent books haven't really worked for me (Nemesis, Armageddon) etc but this book represents a cracking return to form. Like a test cricketer who is struggling for runs Mr Hastings returns to the crease and blasts a double hundred.

Despite my interest in WSC my thoughts about this book were "what more is there to write about the great man". Accordingly I passed on buying this item when it first came out - what a mistake!

Eventually I received this as a birthday gift and discovered that it is magnificent. A classic look at the subjects wartime career from the dark days of 1940 to his summary rejection by the nation in the 1945 General Election.

The events of 1940 are well chronicled but this books coverage is as good as any.

I was particularly interested in the description of how his influence waned after 1942 when the big 3 (Stalin, FDR and WSC) were really the big 2 and a half with Churchill very much the junior partner of the alliance.

I had always thought of FDR as the other great hero of WW2 but the way he was hoodwinked by Stalin and set up the basis of the Cold War is another interesting aspect of this book.

In short if you are thinking of buying this - just get it!


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