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The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages (Penguin History of Britain)
The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages (Penguin History of Britain)
by Miri Rubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.54

3.0 out of 5 stars Drifted from the point, 22 Dec. 2015
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This is a story of Britain between 14th and 15th centuries. A period of great changes, revolution, uprisings, plots and war for the crown and dominance of society. The book is written as a depiction of society and institutions and people, but somehow it fails to tell us what happened. For example, the War of the Roses, the farmers uprise with Wat Tyler, the pest... are mentioned only sidewise or in passing.
While I am not a historian and cannot make a scientific consideration on this book, as a lay reader I can say I got cold feet. Of course not all history should be told as the deeds of kings, but medieval history cannot be understood without their motivation, power and deeds. Sucession wars were important for them and for those under them, who suffered and took the burden.
That's why I give the book three stars: it's full of knowledge and learning, but somehow I feel it misses an important point, because it was intended for the main public.


Rivers of London: 1
Rivers of London: 1
by Ben Aaronovitch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but..., 22 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Rivers of London: 1 (Paperback)
I bought this book because the reviews were good, and besides because it had been translated into Spanish.
I suffered a bit of a disappointment.
The concept (a special police for magic, magical beings and magical happenings) and the settings (London) are interesting, however the novel didn't catch my interest. The plot is a bit too complicated and at the same time little things happen. There are some characters and side narratives that add little to the main plot or could be the subject of a novel by themselves. Then the novel ends in a complicated wrap up that sounded rushed.
An author to follow and take into account, no doubt, but still to mature.


Ham and Salmon cutting made   easy - Carving knife Arcos Maitre
Ham and Salmon cutting made easy - Carving knife Arcos Maitre
Offered by cookplus-uk
Price: £13.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect present. This knife is long and light wit ..., 7 Nov. 2015
I got it with a ham! Perfect present. This knife is long and light wit a sharp cutting edge. This is a must if you want to cut Spanish ham or prosciuto. Will also work ok with salmon. And the price is really low. Be careful, always put it away safely.


Despicable Me 2 Bello Maxi Poster
Despicable Me 2 Bello Maxi Poster
Offered by PopArtUK
Price: £4.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Great poster, 9 Oct. 2014
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This poster is cheap but beautifully printed, the colours are vivid, the minion most funny! I bougth it for my teenage girl and she loves it, she sees it in the morning when she wakes up and gets a smile from her... It took no time to arrive and was in mint condition. A must for any minion - lover.


Dacie and Lewis Practical Haematology: Expert Consult: Online and Print, 11e
Dacie and Lewis Practical Haematology: Expert Consult: Online and Print, 11e
by Barbara J. Bain FRACP FRCPath
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Good laboratory manual, 16 Feb. 2014
Hematology is nothing without the laboratory. Your diagnostic power is very reduced without laboratory data. But that is the wonderful about a hematologist, that you have both laboratory and clinical background. Then this book gives you the way to perform those diagnostic texts and besides how to interpret them.
This book is a must for Hematologists, particularly if you want to set up a test in your lab that you have never used before. The explanation is clear, the technique is explained step by step and the examples are clear and understandable.
The book covers nearly every aspect of diagnostic hematology, from the blood smear interpretation to blood banking (molecular techniques, hemoglobin migration patterns, etc etc).
The only caveat is its intensity in itself, it is so crammed with data that the edition suffers a bit (the paper is shiny, lightweight and the cover is soft) in order to make it a manageable volume. Not that this is a great loss, because i don't think this book is meant as a study book, but as a laboratory tool. As other reviewers have pointed out, you can use this book as a help to study pregraduate medicine, but medicine students will find it too cumbersome and too far reaching for their needs (they should buy Hoffbrand's Essential Hematology). A resident however will find it very useful while he/she navigates laboratory hematology. And registered hematologists like me find it very useful because many times we are at a loss when you want to set up a technique and try to do it from scratch, from the medical literature, that is treachery and partial.
A good book, even if it is a bit expensive.


La verdad sobre el caso Harry Quebert (Spanish Edition)
La verdad sobre el caso Harry Quebert (Spanish Edition)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ensalada mixta, 13 Aug. 2013
Compré esta novela ante las buenas críticas que trae en la solapa, ingenuo de mi. Las editoriales ensalzan a cualquier escritor que sea medianamente ameno y fluido. ¡Pero cascarle 22 euros !

En esta novela, como en la ensalada mixta, se juntan todos los ingredientes a los que nos tiene acostumbrados Hollywood: un idílico pueblo de la Costa Este (Nueva Inglaterra) con un secreto nunca aclarado, un escritor famoso pero solitario, un exitosos escritor novel con fatiga creativa, un policía huraño, el pastor baptista, el policía local paleto, el diner, la gente del pueblo buena pero corta de mente, el cadáver de la joven asesinada que era más de lo que parecía, y aparece de pronto para revolverlo todo, la sombra de la pedofilia, etc...

Por favor: aquí se ve la influencia de otros escritores de novela negra. No voy a dar nombres de autores y sus novelas para no jorobar al que lea esto, pero hombre: no se trata de salirse de la tradición policiaca/negra, no se trata de escribir el Ulisses de Joyce (que no lo entiende ni él mismo), pero sí de que la escritura para adultos no sea un producto pensado para su adaptación al cine y la lectura a nivel de 6º de primaria.

No quiero decir que no sea una novela entretenida y legible, simplemente es que uno empieza a tener años y a ser un poco más exigente, busca diálogos que se sostengan, que no haya situaciones inverosímiles (bueno, igual son verosímiles en los USA, pero me chirrían), que la trama no tenga golpes de efecto casi imposibles (por ejemplo, la foto que desencadena el final).

En fin, supongo que no será esta la crítica más favorable, seguro que otros comentaristas me crujen, pero en fin, no es de las novelas que releeré. Pero no soy del todo negativo: si os gusta Dan Brown, la trilogía de los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres, entonces ésta es vuestra novela, y seguro que os apasiona.


The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Saqi Essentials)
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Saqi Essentials)
by Amin Maalouf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable!, 24 Jun. 2013
Many other revieweres have given their excelent opinion of this book. My opinion is also excellent.
This book is nowadays more needed than ever.
Everybody can see that the conflict with islamism is getting much harder to solve, because the "Arab Spring" has unleashed forces that will hardly stop and stabilise without shedding much more blood. What comes afterwards is difficult to foresee, but we can trust in a worsening in the political situation as we can see in Egipt or Tunis where islamism is on the rise, the totalitarian drift of the Turkish islamist president, etc.
The prelude was in the coming to power of Jomeini in Iran, and can be dated back to the creation of Israel in 1947 and all that came afterwards (hey, you: I haven't said that I don't agree with the existence of Israel or her enemies!).
What Maalouf wants to tell us is the feelings of the Arab (islamic) world towards the west, our chronic lack of understanding, and how those acts performed by our ancestors (and forefathers) have spawned resentment, enemity, and distrutst that go on shaping our history today. Maaloud himself is an arab christian (catholic of the melquite rite), who descends of a illustrated lebanese family. Hardly a radical.
The crusades, as seen by the arabs, where an unexpected aggression. Arabs where used to civil war, endless struggles for power, treason, murder. However, the Crusades disrupted that "stable" situation where the islamic forces only had to invade a weakening Bizantine Empire. The crusades were brutal, ruthless and uncivilised even for those hardened ottoman fighters. They killed arabs, jews and christians alike. They pillaged Bizantium and raped the orthodox nuns and killed the priests. They behaved as a barbaric orde once an again. Then Maaloud tries to extract lessons for today, and analyses the islamic contradictions and deficits: lack of political coherence, lack of leadership, self centred mentality, lack of human rights that were somehow inherent to the crusade society. This allowed the western world to profit from the crusades, but impeded that the arabs learned anything from the invaders.
Of course, this is a one - sided tale: the facts as seen by the arabs. For me, this is the first time that I can read the other view of the tale, and look a bit below the centuries of western propaganda. Of course the motives were religious, and the Europe was very much afraid of an islamic invasion. But then the economic motives were much equally prominent, and the crusades made no bones of pillage, commerce with the infidels, and slave trade.
The style flows easily, as in a novel. The facts happen at a surprising speed, leaders appear and die, or are toppled, or make war... The only difficulty are the names, that are a bit complicated.
Obviously a good read.


Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400 to 1070: Anglo-Saxon Britain Vol 2 (The Penguin History of Britain)
Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400 to 1070: Anglo-Saxon Britain Vol 2 (The Penguin History of Britain)
by Robin Fleming
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High divulagation, 6 Jun. 2013
This book deals with that very interesting period: the early middle ages (or high Middle age) in Britain. There's a dearth of written material from that period, and much of what we have is deduced from later authors. Much of our knowledge derives from archeological findings and comparison with other european cultures of the same period. It is from this period that legends such as Arthur and Beowulf derive.
However, the writer makes a tremendous effort to make this information digestible for the lay reader. She has succeeded in writing a book without footnotes, without very deep, hypothetical and controversial material, and above all she has written a "serious" book, without offending our intelligence using telegraphic style and mentally retarded arguments.
Of course, this is a dense book, because it's difficult to summarise more than 500 years in 600 pages, particularly when so much was happening and so much we can only gess.
I like very much the use of names of kings, queens and battles , and put her lens on the life of people: hard, painful, diseased, probably sad and frightened from disease, famine and hard labour. There was richness, but then that was reaped by the higher families and social hyerarchy. In a few generations, from universal poverty and struggle, some families rose and claimed mastery over the territory and the production surpluses. The Gospel was preached, and led to better lives, but also helped to surpass the primitive societies in Britain. In the end, a rich society was created, but the inequalities were there and growing, to the more suffering of peasants, their children, the slaves and the indentured.
It came as a great surprise (the greatest in the boo) her affirmation that the blood thirsty barbarian invasions were more myth than reality, because the incoming saxons were more scavengers that anything else!
I can't give this book five stars because there are no photographs, that would be very welcome, and because, as other reviewers point out, it's mostly about England, a bit of Whales and maybe hints of Ireland and Scotland.
The author also throws a respectful light on those millions suffering in the struggle for life. This is welcome in a state of mind when only the masters and killers are described and told.
However, if you like reading history, this is your book. I cannot remmend it higher.


Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great history, great fiction 4,5 stars, 2 May 2013
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
This is the life of a long dead king, who lived and died in the "dark ages", when everything was terrible, and suffering was the daily bread of most part of the population. As the author makes clear, much of our knowldege about those days is partial, broken and biased. What we have are records written maybe one century after those people lived, and then based on indirect witnesses, or percolated for propaganda.

However, the author makes a vivid portrait of the king, is able to extract brilliantly the information that can be known or glimpsed from those days. And Alfred emerges not so dark, not so alien to us: a generation of people that went to Rome on pilgrimage, that were aware of culture, that desired to read and write, to take wisdom and learning into their everyday life. Of course, west saxon life in the IX century is completely alien to us, but somehow we share the king' suifferin among familial disputes, dinastic struggle, the viking exploits, the difficulty to rule and be accepted by the under lords... Surely Alfred was a clever man, and knew how to choose people loyal to him and clever. Perhaps it is a bit far reaching to name him the founder of the British Nation, but surely he made a great effort to win that name.

Some of Alfred's life is clearly branded into the Lord of The Rings: the king as "Ring giver", the Seven Kings of men under the Sun, Rivendel the last Home House (Athelney, hid among the marshes, where Alfred hid from vikings to come back victorious summoning the saxon loyals), the "wild men from the East"... No wonder that such eventful epoch led to such a great work of fiction.

I'm not giving it four stars because the style is a bit muddled sometimes, and because some more maps would be welcome. Also a name directory would be helpful, all those names Athelsomething are terrible.
As I said, this is much better than many novels I have read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2014 4:41 PM GMT


In Search Of The Dark Ages
In Search Of The Dark Ages
by Michael Wood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent information, and FUN. 4,5 stars., 11 Mar. 2013
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Michael Wood has written a very good short essay on his speciality, the early or "high" Middle Age, the so called "Dark Ages".
The book has several chapters dealing with the most interesting problems of the time: the fall of Rome, the Arthurian miths, the Sutton Hoo man and culture, Offa the Great... Each chapter is written in an easy style, yet full of knowledge and information. The style is easy going, but never boring or tiring. The author makes those people come alive back to us, through the eyes of those who wrote about them, and helps us to inquire about their passions, feelings, defects, virtues... The economic and cultural background has a place, but never the main part of the book.
Evidently, being a short divulgative work there are many things left out, but then the amount of information given is amazing. Then one can go on and buy a more extense work on a favourite subject, in my case, the Anglo Saxons.
The only drawback (therefore 4,5 stars) is the lack of maps: not being familiar with the wereabouts, I easily get lost. Also some family tree would be most welcome, or at least a short glossary of names and their relationship. Anglosaxon and Viking names are not easy to remember!


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