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Reviews Written by
Sophie Masson (Armidale, New South Wales Australia)

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) [Children's Edition]
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) [Children's Edition]
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic finale!, 21 July 2007
Well, she's done it, she really has! I read the book in 6 hours straight and loved every minute of it. It's a marvellously pacy, marvellously satisfying book that ties everything up wonderfully, and its powerful sweep of story makes it one of my top favourite HP books(along with Prisoner of Azkaban). Well done, JK!

State Of Play - Complete Series [2003] [DVD]
State Of Play - Complete Series [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Simm
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the very best!, 20 May 2007
This is the very best political thriller since House of Cards. Really well-acted, fantastically gripping, with a great script and a great plot, it really makes you glad the BBC can still do things as classy and exciting as this!

Sharpe: The Complete Series (Collector's Edition) [DVD] [1993]
Sharpe: The Complete Series (Collector's Edition) [DVD] [1993]
Dvd ~ Michael Mears
Offered by Copeylad
Price: £62.22

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, addictive series, 11 April 2007
Our whole family just loved this addictive and exciting series, and looked forward to a new episode eagerly every night over the marathon of time we watched it! Very sad to bid farewell to Shape and his Chosen Men at the end..

Sean Bean is absolutely wonderful as Sharpe--and very nice to watch on screen, too! He has exactly the right blend of charm and danger. I love the character of Shape himself--he's nicely complex but also very strong and true and steady, a man who doesn't just believe in honour and courage but actually acts on it. But all the actors, and their characters, are terrific, we loved Harper of course but also Hagman and Harris and all the Chosen men, and the women too(except that we all couldn't stand Sharpe's ditsy second wife), and in fact all the characters. The plots are exciting(and there's a nice balance between fighting and intrigue)and the settings are superb(though as someone who knows Toulouse and its environs well I must say that the episode near the end, Sharpe's Revenge, which is supposed to take place at first outside Toulouse, the setting doesn't look like the green rolling hills of that area at all! Not surprising as it was filmed in Turkey..)Loved the music too, the Napoleonic-era folk songs Hagman sings are wonderful.

I also thought that the very first episode was a little awkward in places, but that soon faded as the actors got comfortable in their roles. More of Shape, please! Lots more!

Secret Army: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1977]
Secret Army: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Bernard Hepton
Offered by Gift_Of_Sound
Price: £29.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful to find this again, 4 Feb. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It was wonderful to find this series on DVD--I'd watched part of it it when I was a teenager, in the 70's, and remembered it as superlative. Seeing it again, I was struck by the fact that, despite stilted acting(the actors especially at first sound uncomfortable with their roles, and their lines--although the German main characters, Kessler and Brandt, are much better than the others) a general lack of sense of Belgian society(they feel much more like Brits to me) and some unbelievable elements--like how come they talk so loudly in the cafe about their plans?--despite all this, the series is fantastic. The stories are gripping and never predictable--the moral dilemmas are acute, the situations ambiguous, and the sense of menace very real. And there's that great theme music! We certainly watched the whole thing with much pleasure--I'd give this 4 and a half stars if it was permitted on Amazon, just can't feel I can give it the full five, due to the acting. but it was certainly wonderful to see it again, and it's really thought-provoking. Also, the acting does get better towards the end!

Suite Francaise
Suite Francaise
by Irène Némirovsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, gripping, vivid, 4 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Suite Francaise (Paperback)
This is one of my favourite books--haunting, gripping, vivid, it tells unflinchingly what it's actually like to be caught up in an invasion and occupation. My parents were children during the Occupation of France by the Nazis, and much of what they've told me is reflected in this brilliant, clear-eyed novel. What is extraordinary though is how the author, hunted and pursued as a Jew in France, was able to keep her eyes and her head so clear in the midst of what must have been huge personal turmoil, and terror. Her bravery is incredibly affecting. But the novel is not just worth reading as a personal testament; it is a gripping novel, with vivid characters that would have helped to populate a vast canvas, eventually, if the author had been able to write the 'War and Peace' style saga she planned.

The letters and notes that are reproduced at the end of the novel are haunting, too. It is simply a book that should be read by as many people as possible.

Wildfire at Midnight (Coronet Books)
Wildfire at Midnight (Coronet Books)
by Mary Stewart
Edition: Paperback

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the first of this author's wonderful books, 25 Jan. 2007
Mary Stewart's gorgeous romantic thrillers enlivened many a dull afternoon for me as a teenager, and even today, I just love going back again and again into their enchanted atmosphere. This is, I believe, the very first of Mary Stewart's novels(first published in 1956) and it bears all the hallmarks of her distinctive style--a spirited, lively, but slighly disillusioned heroine-narrator; two love interests of whom one will prove to be dangerous, though you can never pick which; fabulous setting(in this case, Skye), lyrical writing which nevertheless never gets bogged down in too much description, and a gripping mystery, laced with lots of suspense. A delicious concoction, to be savoured slowly, like good chocolate!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2012 11:01 AM BST

Foyle's War: Invasion /  Bad Blood [DVD]
Foyle's War: Invasion / Bad Blood [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Kitchen
Offered by westworld-
Price: £9.98

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars latest instalment of a superlative series, 25 Jan. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great script, great acting, great stories and atmosphere--Foyle's War has it all. Our family, like so many fans of this series, has bought all the DVDs and we were very happy to find this one(series 4) available, and can't wait for the release of series 5 on DVD(and rather sad to know series 6 will be the last one). Both these episodes are terrific, though Bad Blood is my special favourite.

The Secret Commonwealth: Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies (New York Review Books (Hardcover))
The Secret Commonwealth: Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies (New York Review Books (Hardcover))
by Robert Kirk
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original fairy book, 6 Jan. 2007
It's great to see a reissue of the greatest fairy book of them all, Robert Kirk's 1691 tome, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. This amazing book--with its descriptions of second sight, of doublemen or co-walkers, and of fairy lives, customs and even past-times--has an amazing backstory attached to it too. Kirk, seventh son of a seventh son(in the Highlands, almost a guarantee of psychic powers) was a bilingual(English and Gaelic) Episcopalian pastor, working at Aberfoyle in the Trossachs area of the Highlands. The material he collected in this book comes direct from his Highland parishioners but he also compiled it for the delectation of his enlightened and curious friends in England, so the book is an eccentric mixture of the very folkoric and the proto-scientific. (Kirk also had a metaphysical reason for compiling the book--and an interesting one, given the attitude of many religious fundamentalists today to such beliefs. He felt that if people discounted or ridiculed such beliefs then it wouldn't be long before they started discounting all supernatural things, including a belief in God Himself.) Anyway, not long after the publication of the book, Kirk was found stone dead one morning at the foot of the Dun Sidh (doonshee, or fairy hill) at Aberfoyle. Though his red sandstone gravestone is in the Aberfoyle cemetery(with only a mention of his work in translating the Bible into Gaelic, and not his fairy work), it's said that his body is not in that grave but that he was spirited body and soul into the great tall Scots pine that sits at the top of the Dun Sidh, surrounded by an army of little oaks. That was because the fairies were reputedly so angry with him for divulging their secrets! Today, the site is still extraordinary, spooky--with hundreds of wishes on ribbons tied to all those little oaks, and the Scots pine standing there alone..It's easy to believe in Kirk's curious and piteous fate.

A must-have addition for the library of anyone interested in fairies, Highland folklore, and myth. For those who are interested, I have a piece about Kirk on my site at [...] And for those interested in reading novels inspired by this book, the greatest is Australian writer Christopher Koch's 'The Doubleman.'
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 22, 2009 11:06 AM BST

by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, fascinating novel, 2 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Imperium (Hardcover)
This is a novel that really brings Ancient Rome to life, presenting us with a wonderful panoply of characters, and grippingly telling the beginning of Cicero's story as great man of Rome. (And yes, to those people who thought there should be a sequel, there will be--Harris has said this is the first in a trilogy about Cicero). Told in the plain, bookish voice of Tiro, Cicero's slave secretary(and the inventor of shorthand) it plunges us into the intrigues and skulduggery of Roman politics in a way unequalled since Robert Graves' wonderful 'I, Claudius'. I can see this turned into a similarly gripping TV miniseries, too! Highly recommended.

A Spy's Life
A Spy's Life
by Henry Porter
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 28 Dec. 2006
This review is from: A Spy's Life (Paperback)
This is a terrific, gripping yarn, from its dramatic beginning as Robert Harland fights for his life after a plane crash in the East River, right to the last nail-biting page. Why was the plane, in which he was travelling with several UN people, downed? What is the link between that and several other seemingly unrelated events, like the sudden irruption into his life of a young man claiming to be his son? Is his past--a literally tortured past-- reaching out to touch him again? Set against the backdrop of UN politics, the war in Bosnia and the collapse of Soviet bloc countries, and its effect on the world, this is a great thriller, unusual, intriguing and exciting.

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