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The Song Of Troy
The Song Of Troy
by Colleen McCullough
Edition: Paperback

6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sickening, poorly written, poorly told sensationalist retelling of a masterpiece, 14 April 2009
This review is from: The Song Of Troy (Paperback)
So you want a tale of love, war, romance, battles, friendship, heroism, nobility, bestial natures, and everything else that makes up the pattern of human life, and is so effective when entered into print? Don't bother with this book then.
The author far from weaving a compelling saga of the people behind the legends, has crudely and coarsely extracted the most basic lines of a story from the Iliad and the Troy cycle, clothed it in stereotypes and sold it to an unwitting public. Of course Helen is a slut, Achilles a fool, and Theseus a rapist. Colleen McCullough has no understanding of subtlety, no understanding of the depths of emotion that can exist between people, and zero concept of how to tell a good story. She sticks slavishly to conventional norms, and betrays her own biases in the meantime. She'd do better to go back and read the Iliad, and try and understand how a man like Homer could craft a tale of such power that it has endured millennia, while given the same elements she has created a tale with no foundation, of crude emotion, poor writing, and sickening deviations from accepted facts. This book made me physically sick after reading. Avoid at all costs
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2014 4:22 PM BST


Killed by a Passing Snowflake
Killed by a Passing Snowflake
by T.C. Mulvihill
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Talented First Novel, 3 May 2008
There is a lamentable lack of decent fiction for women that falls between the extremes of chick lit and Booker prize winning books, and applause to T.C. Mulvihill for achieving something very difficult- a genuinely enjoyable, intelligent read that manages to evoke a spectrum of emotion- from laugh out loud humour to heart rending suspense. The heroine Phoenix Ashton, is as sharp tongued and sympathetic as her alter ego Scarlett O Hara, and the book itself is cleverly formed in the shape of present day action, and the past recalled in the shape of letters. It is rare fiction manages to be as compelling as this, and comparison with Jane Austen in the way letters cleverly evoke vital elements of the plot without being either pedantic or boring is surely justified in this case.

Phoenix Ashton is a compelling character, a mass of contradictions within herself. Outwardly she is an almost ruthless businesswoman who seemly possesses everything she could want- a beautiful house, husband and child, as well as a flourishing business. She ridicules anything and anyone who shows any signs of weakness... so why after loudly proclaiming her hatred of therapists and their business of digging below the surface is she seeing one on the sly?

Because inwardly Phoenix is half crazed with fear as an incident from the past that she had thought was dead and buried is coming back to haunt her, to drive her insane and ruin everything she has built up- her marriage, her business and her sanity. For Phoenix harbours a secret. Once she was shy sweet sixteen year old Sinead O Connell, intelligent and pretty and determined to get to Cambridge. Something happened to this naive and well meaning Catholic girl, that would throw her off the rails, cause her to be condemned by her family and force her out of the niche she had. Something so terrible that even twenty years later she can't articulate it- not even to the therapist.

Frustrated, the therapist resorts to a different form of therapy- storytelling. She asks Phoenix to write down the story of her past in the form of letters to a trusted friend, either real or fictional. Phoenix chooses the courageous and wily heroine of Gone with the Wind- Scarlett O Hara. However as she begins to dig into her past, and confront her demons, she begins to realise that there are other reasons than the obvious as to why she is experiencing such fear.

The novel switches in action from the present where sharp tongued Phoenix reprimands her workers, drinks herself into insensibility to try to drown out the memories she is resurrecting, plays with her daughter and most importantly writes in her big red book to her alter ego of Scarlett O Hara.

This is where the real action occurs. From the quiet Kent town of her childhood, to living in London, and fighting her way up through the competition, Phoenix is a larger than life character, whose flaws are wonderfully human, and her failings more than an equal for her gifts. The past is beautifully depicted, obviously written by someone who has experienced London in the eighties and more than captured the ethos of competition, lack of society and general atmosphere.

To put it as simply as I possibly can, this novel is not one to miss. The intimacy which the author treats her characters with gives a special air of lightness and insouciancy to the novel. From the foul mouthed ganger Tosh, the sweet natured Caroline and the lovable Daisy every character is lovingly crafted and believable. A special feature of this book that I feel compelled to mention is the humour. Riotously funny, often not for the faint hearted but always clever and self acknowledging. There are entire episodes in the book where amusement is the dominant emotion, which turned what could have been a tale of woe and fighting one's way up, into an irreverently funny and wry look at human nature. Complex issues are discussed within the book, but always in a way from which humour can be garnered and never in a preaching tone. This book sets out- not to teach, but to inform and amuse. It suceeds in both of them. A rare study of human psychology which one could not possibly hope to find in most of the novels published today, I believe it is that other rare thing- a book which appeals both intellectually, and on a lighter level.

This author deserves all the success that she can get, and I hope to see more from her in the future. I can't say she has turned me on to contemporary literature, but she has certainly given me a better opinion of it.


Midnight Express
Midnight Express
by Billy Hayes
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of one man's struggle to keep sane, 23 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
When I first read this book, I remember thinking 'this is surreal.' The very atmosphere combines with the taut narrative to produce an oddly haunting book, that you'll certainly remember if nothing else!
The story basically is that of American Billy Hayes, who is caught smuggling hashish from Turkey. When he is caught, he is sentenced first to four years, and then to thirty, in a Turkish prison. Though Hayes does write of the brutality, and craziness of living in this terrible place, he also tempers his narrative with the warmth, and strength of his family and fellow inmates, one of whom he later has a liasion with, in a scene that is beautiful for the way it is expressed- as mutual need, not as a thing of degradation.
I thought the subject was tastefully dealt with, and though I am extremely anti drug smuggling, I still managed to fan some embers of sympathy for someone caught in this terrible legal system.
I would highly recommend you giving this book a shot- you'll almost definitly enjoy not just the suspense, but also the warmth and humanity it exudes.


Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence [DVD] [1983]
Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence [DVD] [1983]
Dvd ~ David Bowie
Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic- Crime to miss it, 19 April 2005
Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence is a film which covers many things, on many different levels- the simplest being that of a war film. However to dismiss it as such would be to do an injustice to this superb bit of film making.
The tangled tensions of this prisoner of war camp make for riveting viewing as two cultures clash between their views of honour. The sergeant (Takeshi Kitano) cannot reconcile his friendship with Lawrence (Tom Conte) with his view of Westerner's being weak and dishonourable. In one particulary memorable scene Kitano declares all Englishmen to be homosexual, and thus views his superior's deeper relationship with Bowie as suspect
The strange subliminal attraction between Celliers and Yonoi adds another depth to this already layered film, as Yonoi fights to understand what can give Cellier's such courage to face death without Yonoi's reassurance of Samurai ancestors.
Sakamoto gives a moving performance of a man displaced from time, longing for the simpler times of war and honour, caught in a limbo between his attraction to celliers and his need to do what was right.
The music was beautiful and the cinematography excellent. I highly recommend this film for anyone even if you are not interested in war films- I'm not myself


Ender's Game (Ender Saga)
Ender's Game (Ender Saga)
by Orson Scott Card
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 2 July 2004
Quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. You feel for Ender so deeply from the start to finish that when the book finishs you feel tears rise to the surface.
I had heard of it read the short story and enjoyed so I brought the book. And I sat down and finished it in an hour and a bit. At the very end I walked over to my dad, put the book in his lap and said read this. He was similary astounded.
Ender is an extraordinary intelligent young boy sent to the Battle School to train to be a commander. Isolated from the others through the machinations of Major Anderson and Graff, Ender becomes the ultimate commander, faced with harder and harder tests in an attempt to prove his worth. However he is not totally alone though he becomes so in the course of the book. Other children train, but none are so bright as Ender and none have his unique qualities, though they provide a nice background focus- especially Bean, Petra and Alai.
The story of the tricks his mind plays on him, and the pyschological breakdown that occurs makes riveting reading. I literally could not drop the book for fear of missing the ultimate twist.
I won't reveal what happens but it came as a shock.
Meanwhile back on Earth, Ender's equally talented siblings Peter and Valentine publish precocious essays on the newsnets- which influence politics and the world.
A brilliant book I read over and over again never getting tired of it. How can you get tired of something so painfully true and realistic?


Gravitation Volume 5: v. 5 (Gravitation Ex)
Gravitation Volume 5: v. 5 (Gravitation Ex)
by Maki Murakami
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Indeed., 15 May 2004
One of the sweetest, funniest manga I possess. It follows Yuki and Shuichi's relationship- or non-relationship.
Bad Luck is just starting to hit it big with the rest of the world, and Shuichi is happy especially as Yuki appears to be being nice to him. Having aquired a new manager- the blond American K, and having Yuki offer to have dinner with him are two of the happy things.
However some people are jealous of Bad Luck. Including ASK a once major rival. Determined to uncover Shuichi's homosexual relationship with Eiri Yuki to the world Taki takes drastic action and is foiled by an unexpected person.
We also meet Suguru, Bad Luck's new keyboardist. The bad news? Nittle Grasper whom Shuichi adores are back together and ready to claim the charts.
Believing Ryuichi hates him, Shuichi doesn't feel he can rival them. But given a little confidence and realizing some of the things he thought were misguided he finally achieves his dreams.
An astoundingly sweet manga. However if you dislike shounen ai (homosexuality) then avoid at all costs. Having said that I would recommend it to anyone who has read the series or who just likes romantic manga.


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