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Dr. W. H. Konarzewski "Dr W. H. Konarzewski" (Colchester, England)

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Briers Medium Seed and Weed Bright Lavender
Briers Medium Seed and Weed Bright Lavender
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable, excellent grip and keep the hands clean, 23 Mar. 2015
I bought three pairs at a local garden centre because they were reduced to half price. They are hard wearing, comfortable and keep the hands remarkably clean. The grip is excellent and they don't take up much space if you put them in your pockets. My only regret is the colour - they'd be much better in green.


The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World
by Adrienne Mayor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Sarmatians, Scythians and Amazons: An exhaustive and scholarly analysis for academics and lay people alike.,, 14 Mar. 2015
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Adrienne Mayor writes about the Amazon myths from ancient Greece and connects them to the real female horse archers who originated in the territories around the Black Sea, possibly as early as 1500 BC. She tells us that there is plenty of evidence from early Scythian and Sarmatian graves that these women fought as warriors on the steppes between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Their activities may conceivably have extended as far west as the Danube and as far east as the Great Wall of China – a stretch of about 4000 miles.

Dr Mayor tackles many of the human interest questions that ordinary readers might ask themselves, including romance. There is an engrossing chapter on love and sexuality among the female warriors; elsewhere there are plenty of illustrations showing that they appreciated body art in the form of tattoos (just like the men of the period). Incidentally, the book contains a generous number of illustrations, many taken from Greek vases and sculptures.

The quality of writing is good. Mayor writes in a scholarly way with plenty of references but she is also highly readable and appears anxious to make her work accessible to non-academics. She carefully balances history against myth to give her readers a state of the art account of the genuine female horse archers and the way that ancient writers such as Herodotus and Hippocrates (who called them Sarmatians) perceived them and integrated them into Greek literature. The ancient Greeks liked their women to be submissive and domesticated, so they must have been both fascinated and scandalised by the independent minded and sexually liberated women who formed the basis of their myths and legends. As far as we know, these women demanded and received total equality with men. They were the first feminists, nearly 3500 years before bra-burning became a topic of conversation.

Mayor tells us all sorts of fascinating things about the Sarmatian / Scythian women: they lassoed their enemies with lariats; they were hygienic and had elaborate saunas in felt teepees and perfumed their bodies with expensive fragrances; they tattooed not only themselves but their children; they punctured themselves right down to muscle whilst having tattoos done; they wore tight leather structures rather like bras to stop their breasts bouncing when they were out riding; they hung a quiver outside their wagons to let people know if they were having sex; they were tall, robust women with an average height of around 5 foot six inches; they made their koumiss stronger by freezing out some of the water; they practised an open form of marriage; they enjoyed cannabis heated over hot stones in braziers; they slept in cosy fur beds; they suffered from early onset osteoarthritis; they gave their horses pet names; they sacrificed horses before battle; they invented trousers (possibly) and if not, they definitely wore them; the list goes on.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book, I thought, was Mayor’s description of the love affairs between Alexander the Great and Queen Thalestris (probably true) and the affair / marriage between Mithradates and Hypsicratea (definitely true). Both women were proven warriors and would certainly qualify as “Amazons”.

The final section of the book deals with female warriors who had some of the characteristics of Amazons but were not necessarily of Scythian extraction; for example those who came from China and the Far East. These warriors provide interesting comparisons with the original Amazons.
What about criticisms? There really isn’t much wrong with this book. Perhaps Mayor dwells too long on the mythical Amazons and spends too much time describing and discussing the images on old Greek vases, but that’s just a personal view. For other readers that might be fine; and after all, this book is both about the mythical Amazons and the real ones. Some might argue that a full understanding of the mythical Amazons leads to a better understanding of the Sarmatian and Scythian female warriors. All the same, I felt some of the lengthier discourses might have been put in an appendix at the end rather than slowing down the book’s momentum. Another minor criticism is that the maps might have been a little larger and clearer.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book highly enough with its massive amount of research, free-flowing text and the generous quantity of illustrations. My only regret is that it wasn’t available two years ago.


Complete Original Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant
Complete Original Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Entry to the demi monde - exquisite writing, 11 Mar. 2015
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How wonderful to come across this free edition of the complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893). It was full of stories I'd not read before. My favourites are the Necklace, the False Gems and Boule de Suif - which many critics consider his masterpiece. Guy de Maupassant takes his readers on a trip into a demi monde inhabited by women of loose morals but with hearts of gold. These stories are written with great precision of language and have a surprisingly modern feel although they were written well over a century ago. As well as the sheer quality of the writing, the subject matter is always entertaining. Maupassant is an excellent role model for writers of short stories and - so many of today's short stories are just a little bit lacklustre in comparison.


H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection. (With Accompanying Facts): 62 Short Stories and 5 Novellas.
H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection. (With Accompanying Facts): 62 Short Stories and 5 Novellas.
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The forerunner of Gothic horror, 28 Feb. 2015
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H P Lovecraft writes the kind of horror story that fuelled a large number of movies that came out in the 1950s and 1960s. Creepy monsters, evil characters, hideous goings-on with all sorts of supernatural influences and ancient devil worship. Whilst I don't particularly like that genre I found his stories well written with plenty of imagination - for me his best one was about a German submarine that stumbles upon Atlantis, although the dialogue in places sounds as if it's written for a comic book. Overall I found this good value for money and reasonably well produced. Yes, there might have been a few typos as other reviewers have commented, but I hardly noticed them and they certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of this collection of novellas and short stories.


The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertainingly written but a bit complicated in places, 27 Feb. 2015
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I bought this because I'm doing a course on Creative Writing at the Open University and the section on poetry in the course book wasn't really stimulating. In the Ode Less Travelled, Stephen Fry writes entertainingly and is very funny in places. This provides welcome light relief whilst one is trying to understand the complexities of the different forms of poetic metre. Although I can't claim to understand everything Stephen Fry says in the book, I find his clear explanation of the basic metres very helpful - it's always useful to know when it's OK to insert a trochee into a line of iambic pentameter. There are plenty of examples to illustrate his points. For instance when Shakespeare wrote: To be or not to be, that is the question (iambic pentameter but 11 syllables in the line) Stephen provides an analysis and explanation as to why Shakespeare got it right and how the line should be read correctly. Excellent stuff. I don't think I'll ever become a good poet, but at least I now appreciate the subtleties of writing good poetry.

A word of warning - if you like your poetry to be unstructured and without rules, this may not be the best book for you. Stephen Fry errs on the side of traditionalism.


Clarke 900 Jump Start Engine Jump Starter
Clarke 900 Jump Start Engine Jump Starter
Offered by Tools By Post
Price: £66.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and effective, 23 Feb. 2015
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I've used this several times to start my old Volvo when the battery's flat. I've also used to start my tractor mower after the winter break. It's easy to use and so far it's been reliable. Also easy to charge up. It comes with a powerful built in light that's been useful when we've had a power cut. All in all a good purchase at a reasonable price.


Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings
Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings
by Linda Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Good on writing fiction - poor on writing poetry. In need of updating., 16 Feb. 2015
I received this book as part of the Open University course on creative writing. Most of the book was fairly constructive and I enjoyed the sections on writing fiction and life writing (i.e. biography and autobiography). The section on life writing actually made me realise for the first time how biographers and auto-biographers have to use the skills of a fiction writer to make their work readable. Most of the exercises in these sections were helpful in developing the basic skills of creative writing. The book contains a series of readings from well-known authors including Hemingway, Philip Roth and Pat Barker. On the whole these were well-chosen and a pleasure to read.
Unfortunately - and this is why the book only gets three stars from me - the section on writing poetry was dry and uninspiring. Some of the exercises were beyond me and some seemed utterly futile and annoying. Many of the students in my tutorial group felt the same. Several of us resorted to Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled" to get us through the poetry module.
As a footnote, the book was first published in 2006 and might benefit from an update, particularly with regard to information technology. Many publishers and agents now accept submissions online. Also I suspect the attitudes of publishers and agents towards submissions may have changed since 2006. This aspect of the book might also benefit from revision.
A minor problem was the weight of the book - I invested in the Kindle version so I could carry it around with me. It's worth considering this additional expense if you do a lot of travelling.


The Duff Cooper Diaries: 1915-1951
The Duff Cooper Diaries: 1915-1951
Price: £5.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Unique insight into upper class English life in the first half of the 20th Centrury, 3 Feb. 2015
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This is an extraordinary document written by a man who might have been Prime Minister instead of Churchill. He was a bon viveur, heavy drinker, inveterate womaniser, compulsive gambler and married to one of the most beautiful and talented women of his era. His diary extends from the First World War to the early 1950s and covers many of the key moments of that momentous period including the abdication of Edward VIII - whom he knew personally and to whom he gave advice. It seems he met almost everyone of importance during his life - Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Max Beaverbrook, Vita Sackville-West, Cole Porter and a host of people from the world of politics and the arts. He was also a gifted author. I found his memoirs fascinating - and well edited by his son Julius John Norwich into a readable whole. In some ways Duff Cooper was a flawed individual, but that should not deter anyone from reading this unique description of upper class British life in the first half of the twentieth Century. Strongly recommended. (It's also a useful model of how to write a diary and make it interesting.)


Stihl 2-stroke oil. 5 litre bottle. 0781 319 8433
Stihl 2-stroke oil. 5 litre bottle. 0781 319 8433
Offered by GM Suppliers
Price: £30.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product - good value in this quantitiy., 31 Jan. 2015
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This works well in my Stihl chainsaw. It's significantly cheaper to buy this two stroke oil in this size package. As another reviewer has pointed out, it would be really helpful if they could include a small measuring flask / jug to make mixing easier and more precise. Strongly recommended for use with a Stihl chainsaw.


Poems of William Blake
Poems of William Blake
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars And did those feet in ancient time, in measured beat both scan and rhyme, 26 Jan. 2015
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William Blake is perhaps best remembered for the hymn "Jerusalem" - although strictly speaking it's not a hymn. This must make him arguably the most quoted poet England has ever produced in the sense that millions sing it every year on all sorts of diverse occasions from rugby matches to royal weddings. However he did write many other things (as well as being a highly original painter). This collection of his poems, which is free on kindle, is an excellent sample of his work. It does not contain Auguries of Innocence however which in my opinion contains some of his finest lines. Strongly recommended.


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