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Nick "eadesn"

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Britain's Lost Churches: The Forgotten Holy Sites of Britain's Christian Past
Britain's Lost Churches: The Forgotten Holy Sites of Britain's Christian Past
by Matthew Hyde
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of love and beauty, 1 Jan. 2016
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Eclectic is the word that springs to mind when describing both this beautiful book and its author. I knew Matthew personally, and having heard him discuss aspects of the book while it was still a work in progress was eagerly awaiting its publication. Sadly he died before seeing it in print, and so it must stand as his epitaph, and a worthy one it is.

I know little about architecture but I love history and old buildings, and I loved this tour of the nooks and crannies of British history seen through the prism of our churches, as the author explores the various ways in which a church can be considered to be "lost". These include destruction both deliberate (the Dissolution and the Blitz) and accidental (chapter 4 is titled “Drowned, Swept Away, Buried Alive”). But some thought lost have since been found, having been converted to other uses in the intervening centuries, while others have been physically relocated like the delightful pink tin tabernacle of St Philip at Hassall Green. Still others are lost in the sense of never being completed as planned - often as a result of over-ambition at the outset. I found the story of the Catholic Apostolic Church in London and St Peter's College in Argyll particularly fascinating - the latter reminiscent of a Mayan temple lost in the jungle of urban Scotland.

Or there is the demolition of St Alban Cheetwood in Manchester shown on the front cover, of which we read that "never really beautiful in life, [it] attained a couple of weeks of transcendent beauty before its final end. With few slates left, and no outer walls, the low winter sun shone straight through the building, picking out the elegant arcades, the delicate carving and sharply delineating the remaining tracery". Such beautiful writing perfectly complements the sumptuous photographs that fill the book, many of them from the author's personal collection.

It is impossible to do justice to this book in such a short space. I can only say that if you are interested in churches, history or architecture then I think you will love it. And it would make a lovely gift.

Floating Worlds (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Floating Worlds (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Cecilia Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a masterwork but still worth reading, 4 Mar. 2015
I liked this book and am glad I read it, but I can see why some people hate it - it is a bit of a curate's egg. It reminds me most of Ken MacLeod's works like The Star Fraction, being an exploration of alternative political systems in the future of the solar system where the author's sympathies clearly lie with the left-wing (in this case anarchists). In this future at least one planet-spanning empire has risen and fallen since our time, which provides a nice sense of historical depth.

The core of the book is the contrast between political systems at a time of crisis, how they impinge upon the central character, and the extent to which she can work within them or has to adapt to them. It is about power, both personal and institutional, and the interrelationship between them.

On the negative side, I agreed with another reviewer that you never find out much about what drives the central character - she is a bit of a clothes-horse on which to hang the plot. The descriptions of future technology have dated badly and are not convincing. And yes it is too long and the ending is a bit flat.

But I am still thinking about it a month after reading it, and that to me is the mark of a good sci-fi work.

Europe in Autumn
Europe in Autumn
by Dave Hutchinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find, 21 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Europe in Autumn (Paperback)
I selected this book as a random new author for holiday reading - and it proved to be the highlight of summer! As another reviewer comments, for a long while I didn't know what sort of book I was reading, as I followed the equally confused protagonist through a Europe that is slowly fragmenting around him. In the hands of a lesser author this could just have been frustrating but I was gripped. When the twist came that tied everything together I was staggered by the cleverness with which I had been strung along. Can't wait for the next instalment, and in the meantime I will be tracking down his previous work. Highly recommended.

Exodus Burma: The British Escape through the Jungles of Death 1942-43
Exodus Burma: The British Escape through the Jungles of Death 1942-43
by Felicity Goodall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive account of the Burma Trek, 1 Jan. 2012
In 1942 half a million people left their homes to walk hundreds of miles to safety in India as the British Army in Burma crumbled before the Japanese onslaught. They suffered appalling hardship along the route, and tens of thousands of them perished, although the exact number will never be known. Among them were 50,000 British civilians - the only time in recent history that British people have experienced what it is to be a refugee. It is astonishing that this story has been forgotten.

As an amateur historian whose grandfather was one of the unfortunates of the Burma Trek I have done a fair amount of research on the subject, and this is the book I have been waiting for. There is simply nothing else published that tells this incredible story from the viewpoint of the refugees themselves, as most focus on the military retreat and subsequent recapture of Burma.

Felicity Goodall has done a tremendous job in pulling together the many strands to weave a compelling account of the Exodus from Burma. She paints a lovely picture of life in the "Golden Land" of pre-War Burma using the accounts of people we follow in the pages to come. Burma's crisis starts with the bombing of Rangoon on Christmas Day 1941, and we follow the refugees as they flee west and north to avoid the invaders. The lucky ones get out by boat and plane, but once these routes are blocked the remainder have no choice but to brave the 300 mile route through the uncharted jungles of the Burma-India border on foot. As the monsoon starts the northernmost route through the Hukawng Valley lives up to its reputation as the Jungle of Death.

The book is a pleasure to read - well-structured and illustrated throughout with photos both old and recent. The author has clearly done an enormous amount of research in the archives to unearth some amazing unpublished accounts and reports from the time. She has also visited Burma to see the significant places for herself.

If you know nothing about the Burma Trek then this is the place to start. If you already know a fair bit then I guarantee you will learn things you didn't know. I was fascinated to find out the fate of the Chinese soldiers who fled west rather than back to China.

I hope this book will help to make this unjustly forgotten story more widely known.

by Joe Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb, 16 July 2011
This review is from: Horns (Paperback)
I found The Heart-shaped Box the most terrifying book I have ever read (ok I am a bit of a wimp), but brilliantly written so I bought this one as well. It's different - more suspense than fear, with a real roller-coaster of emotions - love, hate, friendship, loss, and grief. I was gripped from the first page. Joe Hill really knows how to tell a story! Mulling over it afterwards I think I would describe it as a meditation on the nature of good and evil, and the concept of Satan. That makes it sound heavy and theological, but it isn't at the time. This book has both depth and pace, and is the work of an author brave enough to follow up a breakthrough first novel with something different. I'll be buying his next one too.

Nova War (Shoal Sequence)
Nova War (Shoal Sequence)
by Gary Gibson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasingly good sequel, 19 Aug. 2010
I admit I approached this sequel to Stealing Light with a little trepidation. I enjoyed that so much I went and read his first two novels, and was frankly disappointed. But I needn't have worried - Nova War is the novel of an author who has hit his stride. I look forward to number 3 in the sequence. Gibson is definitely a rising star.

by C. J. Cherryh
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy addition to a classic sequence, 19 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Regenesis (Mass Market Paperback)
A satisfying sequel to Cyteen, and an excellent addition to the Union-Alliance sequence of novels. I like all her work, but this sequence is my favourite and I was really pleased to find her revisiting it once more. I was not disappointed. This is a slow-burn novel which suddenly accelerates half-way through and then never stops. But then if you're a fan of Cherryh I'm guessing you like this pace and enjoy wallowing in the detail before the action kicks in. It's not as innovative as Cyteen, but as a direct sequel that's not surprising. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will definitely add it to my read-again list.

The Battlefields of the First World War
The Battlefields of the First World War
by Peter Barton
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money, 19 Feb. 2006
Actually I didn't buy it - it was a Christmas present, but having read it I would recommend it to anyone. I wanted it for the pictures of the front where my grandfather served. But in fact it is an extremely well-written, very readable account of the war from a different perspective than most. Rather than being chronological this is geographical, following the battlefields from north to south. Consequently you find out about sections of the front that are often not mentioned in most histories. And the panoramas are simply superb! Truly excellent.

Ripple in Time
Ripple in Time
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent group little known in the UK, 24 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Ripple in Time (Audio CD)
I heard The Tiller's Folly live in Orkney while on holiday there, and they rock! (or is the verb folk?). I picked up all 3 albums on the spot, and have not regretted it. The title track stands out on this one, together with McCulloch's Wonder - how many other bands compose songs about engineers, bridges, and railway lines?

The Golden Section Tour/The Omnidelic Exotour
The Golden Section Tour/The Omnidelic Exotour

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good news for Foxx fans, 2 Jan. 2003
This is a wonderful festive treat for all John Foxx fans. CD 1 is a live recording from the Golden Section tour in 1983 and has NEVER been released in any form before. As you would expect it is stylistically close to the Garden and Golden Section albums, but also contains 3 of the best tracks from Ultravox's 3rd album Systems of Romance, including The Quiet Men, the one track out of all his work which seems to best encapsulate the essence of this wonderful artist.
The Quiet Men also pops up on CD 2, which is a 'live' (no evidence of an audience) recording from the Subterranean Omnidelic Exotour in 1997. I believe this was released as a limited edition vinyl, but us poor mortals can now enjoy it on CD! It starts with some lovely reworks of 4 tracks from the Metamatic days, slightly less stark than the originals (I prefer the new versions). Then we get Hiroshima Mon Amour from Ha Ha Ha (Ultravox 2nd album). Lovely but alas missing the haunting sax from the original. As well as The Quiet Men (quite different from the version on CD 1) come Just For A Moment and Dislocation from Ultravox 3 - not the best tracks but then we already heard those on CD 1.
The cd continues with 4 of the best tracks from The Shifting City, including the fabulous An Ocean We Can Breathe - this is as good as anything he has ever done - before closing with Endlessly (from the Golden Section). Although this is a gorgeous track in its own right I felt its boppy disco feel didn't really fit with what had gone before.
But that's a tiny gripe about a fabulous album. Buy it if you're serious about this man's music. If you've never heard him before then this is a pretty good place to start given that you get 2 cds for the price.

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