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Christopher Sullivan (edinburgh)

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Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
by Quentin Bell
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A taste of Bloomsberries, 17 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Bloomsbury (Hardcover)
Quentin Bell is the son of Vanessa and Clive Bell and the nephew of Virginia Woolf. As he was born in 1910, he freely admits his recollections of Bloomsbury are confined to the last phase of the Bloomsbury group.
I will state upfront that I am a lover of all things Bloomsbury. I have been an admirer of Virginia Woolf for many, many years. My bookshelves are heaving with all things Bloomsbury. So, read the five stars rating with that in mind. But in all fairness it does deserve the five stars.
I came across this little book some months ago in a second hand bookshop and was absolutely delighted I did. It is a delight from beginning to end and though I knew almost all the information about the Bloomsberries contained within the book it was interesting to read Quentin Bell's take on the Bloomsbury group and their place in history.
This being an essay it can of course only scrape the surface of a group of people who still influence the world of literature, art and politics today. And as some 90 years ago still today they can still polarize opinion. D.H. Lawrence the writer of such works as Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley's Lover, hated the Bloomsbury group. He referred to them as a "group of immature, ill educated people." He even referred to them as "black beetles" due to these insects infesting his nightmares.
It would have been quite easy for Quentin Bell to have fallen into the realms of hagiography but like his fantastic two volume biography of Virginia Woolf he maintains his footing on the precipice and only occasionally looks down into the well of sycophancy. By resisting the hagiography the author is also falling in the footsteps of the Bloomsbury group. They all criticized each other's work: Virginia disliked Lytton Strachey's `Elizabeth and Essex' and did not refrain from telling him so. The book also contains some wonderful photographs and I was pleasantly surprised that there was two I had never seen before.
The essay is of course written commandingly and with supreme authority. The Bloomsbury group looked to bring a new honesty to art and literature after the traditionalist tyranny and emotional cant of the Victorian era and in many ways Quentin Bell achieves that same aim in this essay.

Originally published at [...]


Wake
Wake
Price: £3.99

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars valiant attempt, 16 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Wake (Kindle Edition)
The plot is set during five days in November 1920, from 7th to the 11th, Armistice day. One storyline is the circumstances that led to the creation and interment of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey. The account is fictional but is based on actual events. The second strand to the novel is the story of three women, Ada Hart, Evelyn Montfort and Hettie Burns. All three women have been affected by the Great War either having lost someone or had a loved one return home but are mentally or physically `broken'.
`Wake' is a very competent, well written book that lovingly portrays five days in the lives of the three women and the family and friends around them. The main protagonists are well developed fully rounded characters and one gets a sense that the author has lived and breathed their lives for some time. The dialogue is character driven, each word and sentence is crafted in such a way as help one understand who the character is beyond their actions.
However, one cannot say the same for many of the secondary characters; Ada's husband, Hettie's friend Di and Rowan Hind. (Rowan Hind relates a harrowing tale of his time in the trenches in the fields of France and the author creates the scene so well that one can almost feel the mud underfoot. But, his character is underwritten and under utilised).
These and some other characters are one dimensional and one gets the impression that the author had spent so much time developing the main protagonists that she didn't give enough time to flesh out the minor characters.
The main problem with the book is that it falls to often into a well of clichés and stereotypes and as such that it comes across like so many Romance novels. You have Evelyn who lost her first love and has withdrawn from life and love. You have Hettie the not so attractive best friend to a beautiful girl who has found a rich man. Then you have Ada who has lost her son and has also withdrawn from life. The denouement to Ada's story is ridiculously saccharine and contrived. The words of advice she is given that change her life reads like the clichéd homilies vomited by those loathsome American life coaches one sees on TV.
One gets the impression the author wrote this only for the female reading population. Why would she have all the main characters female? There are no memorable male characters and each of these is damaged mentally or physically. What would have raised it above the norm would have been having one of three main characters male, a father who had lost his son. I am sure there must have been widowed fathers who had sons fighting in the war.
The author's telling of the events that led to the creation of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is sublime and there were times where I was distracted by my desire for the story to return to this strand of the novel to the detriment of the rest of the storyline.
One has to remember this is Anna Hope's first novel and can certainly be described as a valiant attempt. But much of it is written monochromatically it lacks any subtle nuances or depth or underlying themes and because of this it is doubtful one would return to the book to re-read it.

This is an advanced copy obtained via Netgalley.

Originally published at [...]
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2014 5:18 PM GMT


Larry's Party
Larry's Party
Price: £5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You are invited to Larry's Party, 15 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Larry's Party (Kindle Edition)
Laurence John Weller, of Winnipeg Canada, is a man who creates and designs mazes; a construction, like life, that can be confusing, deceptive, a series of dead-ends but at its centre, its heart, there can be a feeling of well-being and achievement.
The novel begins with Larry inadvertently taking another person's coat, which looks like his own, from a café he frequents. The `stolen' jacket is however not only of better quality and more expensive than Larrys but the sleeves are a few inches too long. This sums up how Larry feels about his life; other people's lives are richer and superior to his own and the life he is leading doesn't fit or feel comfortable.
While on honeymoon in England, Larry and his new wife Dorrie visit Hampton Court Maze. Larry deliberately loses himself in the maze and in doing so finds and discovers a love for the unicursal puzzle.
Larry's Party is a novel about a man attempting to find the path through life of least resistance. Like the mazes he designs and creates, Larry's life, like most other peoples, has hedges that obscure the view of the paths around you, the future. There are paths that lead to dead-ends. There are new paths, well trodden old paths and the path that will lead to the centre, achieving one's goal. Not everyone reaches the centre of the maze. Some people get lost but will eventually find the exit. Some simply give up and head straight for the exit while some people through fear, anxiety, laziness or dread, due to the lack of any Ariadneal thread to guide them, will tread well worn paths until the exit appears in front of them. Of course like life a maze only has one exit.
But, Larry knows the path that leads to the centre of the mazes he creates and because of this he "sometimes...sees his future laid out with terrifying clarity. An endless struggle to remember what he already knows."
The subject matter of novel is a path well trodden: the telling of a man's life from the seemingly limitless possibilities of youth and no inclining of mortality, marriage, children, divorce, nearing forty and beginning to question one's life and realising that "getting old was to witness the steady decline of limitless possibility" and then through the invisible barriers of numerical ascendency toward middle and old age.
However, Carol Shields has written a superbly profound and unpretentious novel that will particularly resonate with those of a certain age. The author's style is as strong, fluid and elaborate as the mazes that Larry Weller designs. Carol Shields has constructed a slice of literature that shows how people are also themselves like a maze. We strive to find something within us which we will attempt to find ourselves or other people will help us look for it.

Originally posted at [...]


Facebook
Facebook
Price: £0.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Facebook App. Need I say more?, 14 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Facebook (App)
What more can be said about this Facebook app that hasn't already been said. The app is very functional. It allows the user to do everything they would want to do on Facebook. I have this app on my Kindle Fire and it loads and runs smoothly. After a few weeks of use I cannot find any fault with this app.


The Chase
The Chase
Price: £1.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chase it down, 14 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Chase (App)
This is a surprising good and fun app. I write surprisingly due to the fact that most apps of this kind are just plain bad. However, this app of the British TV show works very well. The format is much the same as the television show but their are a few differences: notably when the Chaser gets a question wrong in the Final Chase the player is given a multiple choice question to create a 'push back'. The only downside is that having played the app for six hours many of the questions are now being repeated. Here's hoping the app makers create an update with new questions.


Slots Galaxy Free Casino: 777 Las Vegas Fruit Machines for FUN!
Slots Galaxy Free Casino: 777 Las Vegas Fruit Machines for FUN!
Price: £0.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not slots of fun, 31 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Gets very tedious very quickly. Playing with real money would of course make the game much more interesting. But, I am not willing to go down that particular path.


In Between the Sheets
In Between the Sheets
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked but not loved, 30 Dec. 2013
This review is from: In Between the Sheets (Paperback)
This is a collection of seven short stories by Ian McEwan from 1978. The main theme that runs through the book is sex. The sexually activity is within the spectrum of kinky and depraved. However, it could also be looked upon as pornographic but without the titillation. What I mean by that is that most of the sex is suggested but not always described in great detail. But, it could be construed as pornographic simply due to whom and what is described as having the sex. There is sex between a man and a mannequin; between a woman and an ape and the wet dreams of a man that involve a pre-pubescent girl.
I tried so hard to not use the following adjectives to describe the book; `dark' and `disturbing' as I am sure they have been used many times to describe this set of short stories. However, it is almost impossible not to use the afore-mentioned adjectives as they perfectly describe two major aspects of the book.
I believe the book reflects Great Britain during 1977 and 1978. The country was beset with strikes, IRA bombings, political unrest, the `Winter of Discontent' was just around the corner, the gaining popularity of the Conservative party, (The Thatcher era was only a year away), and women's palpable fear of the Yorkshire Ripper. There is one story in the book of a dystopian future set in Great Britain. But attitudes to sex in the seventies were a bigger threat.
The seventies are seen by many historians as the decade that saw an explosion of promiscuity, abortion and pornography. The pill became widely used in the seventies and so it appeared as if everyone was having sex with anyone. Sex became recreational rather than perfunctory. But of course this sexual promiscuity had a dark (there is that word again) element; abortion, women scared to say no due to peer pressure or not wanting to appear repressed, increased illegitimacy and women losing their sense of autonomy. Many novels of the seventies depicted sexual violence such as `A Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess.
In Ian McEwan's book of short stories the stories depict most of the male characters as unable to differentiate between lust and love. The male appendage for most of the male characters does most of the thinking leaving the brain in neutral like so many idling cars: the engine is running but the car is not moving.
In Between the Sheets is a perversely envisioned account of sex and in the male of the species. The stories articulate the era of the seventies and also resonate in the 21st century with the growth of the internet and continuing sexualisation of women and in particular young girls.

Originally published at[...]


StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon

5.0 out of 5 stars I stumbled across this app., 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: StumbleUpon (App)
A great app of a great website. Works perfectly on my Kindle Fire. No bugs or problems to report as yet.


Pinterest
Pinterest
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars interesting app, 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pinterest (App)
A great app that allows easy access to Pinterest on my Kindle Fire. I can find nothing negative about the app and it being free makes giving it five stars a no brainer.


eBay
eBay
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I`ll buy that for a dollar., 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: eBay (App)
Great app that works perfectly on my Kindle Fire. I can find nothing negative about the app. So far it has done everything I wanted it to do.


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