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LumpySpacePrincess (Dublin, Ireland)

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The Last Enchantment (Merlin Trilogy 3)
The Last Enchantment (Merlin Trilogy 3)
by Mary Stewart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely terrific trilogy (no spoilers)!!, 30 Mar. 2013
I studied the Arthur 'myth' and the Arthur 'fact', when I was at university and know Mort de Arthur etc back to front. I don't enjoy or like the over romanticism of the Arthurian 'legend' (a la Victorians) preferring fact-based fiction, fiction rooted in known historical facts, wars, landscapes, people, places, events. What Mary Stewart has done in this trilogy is remarkable really. If you can imagine the perfect blend of the Arthur story, straddling fact AND fiction, it's there in this trilogy.
There is so much to love in these books. And I mean REALLY love. Beautiful writing, deep, complex characterization, gorgeous landscapes, magic, realism, magic-realism, the human conditions of love, sorrow, birth and death. It's all there and done in such an accomplished way. Her characters retain their Welsh/Celtic heritage (hurrah), the dialects of the various tribes are respected (yoo-hoo), the landscape and geography of Britain in this period of history rings true. But the real star of the books is not Arthur but Merlin, whom like a previous reviewer, i too confess to being a little in love with. He feels real, believable, lovable, scary (at times) intelligent, a great intellect, funny, empathetic, a healer, a scientist, a traveller, a musician and poet, a lovely lover. Perfect man really!
Bernard Cornwall in his own majestic trilogy Winter's King really does come close to a similar achievement, but for me was lacking the warmth of Mary Stewart's effort. While Cornwall is all masculinity, battle and gore (although very very well written) Mary Stewart's is just better. That's not to say she avoids the blood and the gore (am thinking of the three thieves Merlin met on the road and Arthur's summary justice.) it's just she has layers and layers of story and character and plot.
One tiny tiny criticism. While I loved her characterisation of the main characters, I felt some of the secondary characters fell short. While we know loads about say Bedwyr (knight and best friend) or Ralph (servant and then miller) and even towards the end Ninume, I really wanted to know more about the sisters Morgan and Morgause. I gave it five stars because it deserves it. I recommend anyone who loves history blended with believable fiction to read this and for anyone who is interested, even remotely, in the Arthur stories.
I finished the book earlier and am now a bit sad. What can I read that can match this?


Infinite Sacrifice: Volume 1
Infinite Sacrifice: Volume 1
by L. E. Waters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a lovely read, 17 Nov. 2012
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This is a really lovely book and a very easy read. Like a previous poster, i too am fascinated by reincarnation and soul grouping so this combined with the historical fiction made it irresistible. The individual lives are framed by the central character's journey to the afterlife and her conversations with Zakariah were very interesting and really got me thinking. The attention to detail is superb and the author has obviously done her historical homework. I loved the Viking one most of all, because believe it or not, it mentions the town where i was born! Nice touch!
Just one small flaw, I thought the quality of the book itself wasn't great, the shiny cover and flimsy paper just made it feel a bit cheap. That's just a bug-bear of mine though!
Highly recommend!


A Zeal of Zebras
A Zeal of Zebras
by Chronicle Books
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's great, really great, 3 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: A Zeal of Zebras (Hardcover)
Myself and my son (7) absolutely love this book and it has joined the bookshelves with Patrick George's superb Filth of Starlings and Drove of Bollocks. It is a beautiful present to someone or to self and has really lovely illustrations. For me, it doesn't have the quirkiness of the Patrick George's mentioned above (which are really beyond 5 star in my humble opinion) but still, it is a little gem of a book. Me and son might now know it off-by-heart but we still take it down from the shelf regularly and have a giggle at those wonderful collective nouns.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2014 8:00 PM GMT


Survivors
Survivors
by Terry Nation
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars almost 5 stars, 3 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Survivors (Paperback)
Ok, so I read this book AFTER watching the 2008 BBC series. Loved the series by the way (except the ending, grrrrr) and with all the positive reviews really looked forward to getting stuck into the book. I wasn't disappointed. The book is very different to the telly show from 2008. Different characters, different story lines, different timeline and wow, the ending. Didn't see that one coming. But it worked. It needed that really sharp jolt to 'end' it. But therein lies the rub. See, I don't think the novel has ended. It really could have run to another volume (what happens afterwards etc) and I felt real disappointment that when I closed the book I wouldn't hear from Greg, Jenny etc ever again.The last line of the book could have provided a springboard for Survivors Vol 2. Hence the 4 stars. It read 'short' to me, it read a bit slack on detail and i felt the characters weren't quite as rounded as they could've been. They are only small niggles though. The detail for when society breaks down, now that really caught my imagination. And the theorizing about going back to caveman living, society being forced to return to its agrarian roots, really provided me with food for though. One of the most descriptive and though provoking sections in the book is when Terry Nation describes the roads breaking up and being literally eaten alive by young trees and vegetation, how the team made candles and creating moats for defense.
Read it in about 4 days. I do recommend this book and those who love apocalyptic fiction that is incredibly easy to read, won't be disappointed.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2015 4:45 PM BST


The Seeing Stone: Book 1 (Arthur)
The Seeing Stone: Book 1 (Arthur)
by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfection on the page, 12 July 2012
I really loved this book. Philip Pullman is quoted on the cover as saying "I was spellbound" and you know what, I was spellbound too. It's beautifully written and fit to burst with the most amazing details of life in a manor house in 1199, for example, the herbal infusions for toothache, the Christmastide pagan celebrations and customs and getting fitted for war armour. There was some really emotional stuff in there too. The Crusade preaching friar gave me the eebie jeebies and the slow death of the baby was heartbreaking to read.
Some reviewers criticised the tiny chapters but for me, they really worked. It gave them a more "diary-esque" feel, made the whole experience more intimate. Totally loved young Arthur and his clumsy yet loving relationship with his father Sir John. Loved the mirror life in the stone and can't wait to get stuck into part 2.
A lovely, gentle, easy read. Don't be put off by the age-point because there is so much to love, admire and enjoy in this great book even for grown ups like me.
Just one other thing if you are reading Mister Author, I LOVED the names you give the animals (Stupid, Anguish etc). Very clever. Very clever indeed!


A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England
A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England
by Suzannah Lipscomb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars an odd one, 25 Jun. 2012
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Hmmm, I think i was expecting something completely different, more like A Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer (which incidentally is a brilliant book). Instead what I got was a book with lots of very short chapters outlining key locations in the Tudor world. It's also a bit predicable. All of us Tudor buffs know the importance of The Tower, Greenwich, Whitehall etc. So, to sum up, there's nothing much wrong with this book, it's just am just struggling to find something special about it. Word to the wise, borrow from the library if you really fancy it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2015 9:51 AM BST


Katherine the Queen
Katherine the Queen
by Linda Porter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a remarkable life indeed, 18 May 2012
This review is from: Katherine the Queen (Paperback)
Katherine Parr. The one who lived. Isn't that the way she is 'summed up' by some schools of popular history? For me Katherine Parr is more than the One Who Lived and is the most fascinating one of those 6 Tudor wives. Katherine Parr, Lady Borough, Lady Latimer, Tudor Queen and plain ol Mistress Seymour is a wonderful mix of step-mother, nursemaid, intellectual, writer, patron of the arts, Regent, a lover and a mother, who sadly never did get to know her baby daughter with the dashing and dangerous Seymour. Katherine the Queen is so much more than the One Who Lived. I have read many Tudor books including most of David Starkey, Eric Ives and Antonia Fraser. And this book is as good as any of them. It really is. Some other reviewers say it is a tad dull or a dense read or goes over old material. I disagree. Perhaps these reviewers prefer their history watered down with historical fiction, a la Philipa Gregory or so cerebral and inaccessible that you'd need a doctorate to understand it. For me, a good history book brings the era or the person TO LIFE and Katherine is certainly alive in this book. It is stuffed with information that was new, certainly to me, is beautifully written and really did bring this interesting and complex lady to life. We all know how it ends, her dying in childbirth, but what a remarkable life Katherine Parr led. Just to add, Linda Porter's other book Mary Tudor, the First Queen, is an equally fascinating book.


All My Friends Are Dead
All My Friends Are Dead
by Avery Monsen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars D.E.A.D., 18 May 2012
Hmmmm. Love the idea of this book but have to agree with some of the others, it's quite poor. I don't think it is strong enough to carry 40 or so pages. Generally I love these off-centre books but this one, just doesn't work for me. Not overly keen on the artwork either although the last page with the dino and the meteor and "dangit" did make me laugh, just not enough to justify the price. Definitely not a keeper. Much, much better books of this genre out there. I bought mine in a quirky little bookshop in Dublin and will be returning it. Either that, or i'll be chopping it up and sticking it in poster frames. D.E.A.D.


Words We Don't Use
Words We Don't Use
by Diarmuid O'Muirithe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Nerds of the world unite!!!, 20 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Words We Don't Use (Hardcover)
This is a FANTASTIC book. I'm a big fan of O'Muirithe and his accessible and witty style and this book is outstanding in making lists of words more than just a list of words. There is humor and history, anthropology and psychology, wit and wisdom, packed into the 325 pages making this a great read for those of us who just love exploring the landscape of words, a landscape that criss-crosses Norse, Danish, English, Scottish and Welsh words and how they have slipped into Irish words and sayings.
There are some absolute gems in here, such as JIMP (a slender lady) and SKEEL (a special bucket used in St James's Gate where they brew Guinness) and a word that arrived with the Vikings.
I jest, this book isn't just for nerds, it's one of those lovely, lovely books you can pick up, dip in and out of, put down, come back to, pour over, spend hours with, have by your bed. It's great.
A lovely gift to someone special, or just to yourself.

Diarmuid O'Muirithe, I cúirtéis tú, go raibh maith agat!


Bad Faith
Bad Faith
by Gillian Philip
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another 5 star read from Ms philip, 13 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Bad Faith (Paperback)
Ah Gillian. What a writer you are. First you bring me Seth and Conal in your wonder Rebel Angels series. Which i loved. Every word. Every emotion. Every single scrap of story, color and atmosphere you dished up for me. So, i picked up Bad Faith just to see what you could do outside the land of the Sith and the Scottish Moors. Hah! You didn't disappoint me. I thought you might, not truly believing you could create another word, another set of characters as beautifully drawn as they are in Fallen Angels. Hmmm, the joke's on me. Honestly, this is a terrific read. It's not an easy read, it's complicated and dark and sad and tragic, it's uncompromising and heavy with darkness and sorrow right up to the end. To that final, killer line. The book felt laden down from the opening lines to the end BUT there is a tiny, tiny chink of hope in there. I totally fell in love with Ming. Loved him. Ms Phillip, you do create wonderful male anti-heroes. I enjoyed Cass too but found it harder to love her. I understood her but found her a challenge. This is intelligent, articulate writing that crashed through the borders of teen fiction. This is a book which belongs to all readers, of all ages, of all persuasions of all faiths. Gillian Phillip is, like those other great writers of Nix and Pullman, Ness and Collins, a literary gem (sorry for trotting out that old cliche) but man, she is.
Fantastic book.

Have just realized this book was before Rebel Angels, but i've read RA first, if that makes sense!


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