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Jamie (Sheffield, England)

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In Love and War
In Love and War
by Alex Preston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Low quality gay porn, 26 July 2015
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This review is from: In Love and War (Paperback)
Not good. Badly written, low quality, immature, gay porn. Irritating too in that everything is written in the present tense, thereby losing any sense of chronological story development. Despite significant effort having apparently been put in to historical research in an attempt to get the period details right, the result is an unfortunate emphasis on the trivial and the superficial, which undermines interest in narrative and plot.


The Garden of Evening Mists
The Garden of Evening Mists
by Tan Twan Eng
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One-sided and Superficial, 18 May 2013
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This book purports to examine the amelioration of inter-race tensions in 1950s Malaya through an appreciation of high culture supposedly common to all. Consequently it loses itself in an ecstasy of mutual self-admiration amongst British ruling class colonialists, Dutch and Boer ruling class colonialists, Japanese ruling class colonialists, and an up and coming Malaysian ruling class.

These people might have a recent history of killing each other in brutal wars, and torturing each other in brutal concentration camps (invented by the British in South Africa), but they can still admire each other's love of high art and culture, and use that upper class solidarity to unite against the common enemy: the dehumanised and now revolting landless poor.

The uneducated working masses are not allowed much of a presence in this novel. In fact they are largely nameless and conveniently referred to only by an acronym: CTs (Communist Terrorists). The author provides no analysis of why the CTs are revolting, or why the local Chinese masses persist in celebrating local Communist guerilla fighters as their liberators from Japanese oppression, instead of being duly grateful for the return of the western colonial powers.

In this book the spiritual peace to be found in a well-designed Japanese garden is a vaunted treasure to be appreciated even by ex-inmates of Japanese prison camps. That this is not an option for the exploited masses, bending their backs dawn to dusk on their rulers' tea-plantations, is however not seen as a subject fit for review.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2015 9:39 AM BST


Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization (Allen Lane History)
Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization (Allen Lane History)
by Richard Miles
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide to Rise and Fall of Carthage, 5 Jun. 2010
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If you have the slightest interest in learning about ancient Carthage, then you can't go wrong with this book. The author successfully combines effective story-telling with serious, academically-proven history, bringing both individual characters and entire cultures to vivid, sometimes ghastly, sometimes heroic, life. Very little is black and white in this world, with divisions in every camp, and complex relationships between individuals on the same and opposing sides clearly explained. From epic myth to the mundane details of everyday life in competing ancient civilisations - every nuance is expertly set out here. You really couldn't ask for more.


Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confused? You will be., 3 May 2010
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This is far from being the worst fantasy book ever written. Unfortunately it's also quite a long way away from being the best. The plot is minimal, at least in terms of development, but complex in terms of the number of things going on at any one time, and the large number of thinly drawn characters. In fact it's difficult, if not impossible, to follow who everyone is. Things just aren't explained very well, and even the author seems to get confused about who is who (e.g. there is a character list which names two "High Mages" as Tholis and Parald, but they only seem to get mentioned when they die off stage on page 671, and then they're called Tholas and Paral!

On the other hand the writing is pacey, dramatic, and action-filled. Some attention is paid to characters' feelings, and clearly I wouldn't have read 700+ pages if it had all been too awful and incoherent, so Steven Erikson must be doing something right. A work colleague recommended this book to me, but warned me that "it's only after volume 2 in the series that it really gets going, but then it's really good. You just need to get past the first 1400 pages". Er yes, that says it all.


The Girl with Glass Feet
The Girl with Glass Feet
by Ali Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, Bleak, Magical Realism, 4 April 2010
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For a first published novel this is pretty good, if a bit bleak. In Ali Shaw's broken winter world a high proportion of people simply find their own emotionally frozen depths too hard to live with, and pay the ultimate price for their spiritual failure. Ironically it's the girl who's turning into frozen glass from the toes upwards who seems to be virtually the only warm human being capable of redeeming others. A problem with magical realism is that just dumping weird, magical elements of "Otherness" onto an otherwise relatively everyday world can seem unreal and unconvincing, and sometimes it's a bit like that here: if our heroine's feet are turning into glass, why on earth doesn't she get the NHS to look at them? However the storyline is generally competently constructed, and the writing of a high quality, though (and this is a matter of personal taste) I'd have preferred a few more adjectives and a bit more purple prose myself. Simplicity of style doesn't suit magical reality. I've a feeling the promised second novel will be even better.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 25, 2010 8:27 PM BST


Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern
Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern
by Simon Winder
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tried to love Germany... but Failed?, 1 April 2010
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In many ways this is a refreshingly personal take on Germans and German history, but there is an underlying sense that the author is ultimately deeply disappointed in the Germans. He seems to have had a life-long fascination with Germany, but to have found the Germans themselves rather frustrating and irritating. In order to cope with this sense of dissatisfaction, Simon Winder divides everything German into the "fun" (good) bits, and the "pathetic" (bad) bits (e.g. the Nazis, who keep getting mentioned, despite the book supposedly not covering the post-1933 years). To reconcile the tension between the two a rather forced attempt at Terry Pratchett style humour is resorted to. This doesn't really come off. Fortunately the author seems to sense this, and the forced humour fades as the book progresses. Nevertheless the many personal anecdotes about the foibles of the Germans, ancient and modern, will ring true, and perhaps bring a slightly rueful smile to the lips of any readers who have travelled in Germany. The style is chatty, literate, and easy to read. Overall a reasonable attempt at a difficult task: finding levity in German history!


Equator
Equator
by Miguel Sousa Tavares
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid, gripping story, 21 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Equator (Paperback)
I found the first few chapters of this novel a little slow going, but then it suddenly burst into life with a drammatic change of literary style to suit the change in pace. Poetic intensity rises and falls in this text to match the intensity of plot development. It is also a novel of ideas and morals. The geographic landscape has much to interest the English reader, ranging from Portugal to the British Raj, and equatorial, colonial Sao Tome. The storyline is rich, full of romance and passion, but always simultaneously cerebral and highly literate. Definitely recommended.


Sashenka
Sashenka
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Told Melodrama, 7 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Sashenka (Paperback)
If you generally enjoy well told but non-too-serious melodrama which invents sensual characters who converse personally with everyone from Rasputin to Lenin and Stalin, you might enjoy this. The tale is competently told, without ever digging too deeply into the political and social complexities of the period. The sexual content hovers uncertainly between the salacious and attempts to give thinly-drawn characters warmth and depth. Long, at over 600 pages, but easy to read and unchallenging text.


Roberts Stream202 WM202BK DAB/FM/WIFI Internet Radio - Black
Roberts Stream202 WM202BK DAB/FM/WIFI Internet Radio - Black

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Wi-Fi Radio, 23 Dec. 2009
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This radio does everything you could possibly ask of it. As long as you've got access to wi-fi broadband, you can tune in to tens of thousands of radio stations from around the world, selecting them by country, language, genre and so on. It's simple to set up the internet radio, as long as you're willing to spend just a few minutes reading the instruction booklet. After that everything quickly becomes second nature. There are five presets for Internet radio, and five each for DAB and FM too. I find the wi-fi radio works perfectly anywhere in my house. I've had the radio a couple of months now and the internet connection hasn't dropped off once, and I use the radio in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Definitely a high quality product, and worth paying that bit extra for.


The Wizard Knight (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
The Wizard Knight (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
by Gene Wolfe
Edition: Paperback

4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Rubbish, 5 April 2007
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This must be quite the worst fantasy book I've ever read. The major flaw is that it's written in the first person... and the first person main character is a deeply unsympathetic, immature, bombastic, murderer. The author attempts to make the world seem real by engaging in an episodic, disjointed, supposedly dream-like tone, but it just doesn't work. There is no depth of plot. The characters are two-dimensional at best. A complete waste of money.


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