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Matteo_B (Kent UK)

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Immigration Detention: Law, History, Politics
Immigration Detention: Law, History, Politics
by Daniel Wilsher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £82.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for anyone studying modern issues of immigration, 28 Oct. 2013
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I would echo the reviewer on Amazon.com in saying that this book is required reading for anyone who wishes to become further acquainted with modern immigration issues and wants a broad and unbiased view of this very controversial and much debated subject. Dr Wilsher covers a great deal of ground, starting from an analysis of historical immigration patterns and the use of detention to control illegal aliens. He then moves on to study the USA,UK and Australia with an analysis of how the case law has developed in regards to rights for immigrants over time before moving on to study international and human rights law concerning immigration detention.

The second part of the book deals with the political problems face for liberal democracies in particular when trying to balance their obligations under international human rights law whilst dealing with pressure at home for tougher immigration control measures which are nearly always politically popular. The whole book is written in a rigorous and yet engaging style that would be accessible to any interested layperson while at the same time proving an excellent work of reference for serious scholars. To that end I would congratulate Dr Wilsher on this fine work and thoroughly recommend it.


Cowboys Can Fly
Cowboys Can Fly
by Ken Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ebchanting book: loved it, 27 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Cowboys Can Fly (Paperback)
I must say that I had never heard of Ken before and looking through his back catalogue I can see why! I like love stories, be they straight or gay, as long as the love is sincere and the emotions finely wrought as they are here. The book is a slow burner (and I suspect a little autobiographical) but it has very strong characterisation and a real sense of place and although set in rural Hampshire, brought back strong memories of time I spent living in rural Devon when I was younger. The lonely old country widows, the gruff but warm hearted farmers and warm and friendly country boys. Somehow, even now, boys brought up in a rural environment are more relaxed , more cheerful and have less guile than their townie counterparts, well at least I think so!

The atmosphere of the book reminds me very much of the much overlooked Irish writer Forrest Reid who loved the countryside and loved writing about boyhood. Many of his works centre around lonely boys in a rural setting who are sensitive and shaped by their beautiful surroundings. However this book being set in more modern times shows a boy much more direct and open in his longings. I am guessing the book is set in the early 60s pre Wolfenden/Stonewall and the only thing that slightly bugs me is whether a boy at that time would be so comfortable with his sexuality. Most books of the period (with the exception of Angus Stewart's recently released "Sandel") normally contain a lot of angst and end in tragedy. However I guess shielded by his rural upbringing this lad had a chance to grow up naturally. One other slight criticism is some of the physicality and urges in the book are expressed with a bluntness that jar with the otherwise lyrical tone of the book. That is a minor criticism though and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. I read that a film is being made of this. I just hope they get the casting right if and when it is made.


The Spring Song (20th Century)
The Spring Song (20th Century)
by Forrest Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful mystical story., 26 Oct. 2013
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Forrest Reid was a writer of exceptional talent who was critically praised but commercially unsuccessful during his lifetime. However recently the word seems to have got out about how wonderful a writer he is and Valencourt Books have committed themselves to re-issuing all of his more important works. "The Spring Song" contains all the elements that were close to Reid's heart: a deep affinity with nature and a great understanding of boyhood. The book tells the story of 13 year old Griff who is spending a holiday with his grandfather and spinster aunt along with his siblings in the Ulster countryside.Whilst there he makes friends and becomes involved in all kinds of adventures, some light hearted and some very sinister (I do not want to give away the plot as it would spoil the enjoyment of this book).

What shines through in the book though is the lyrical and mystical writings and descriptions of nature and of dreamscape. It is also a snapshot of a far more innocent time when children where free to roam at will without any fear and where the whole way of life was slower and more contented. More importantly this book is the precursor to Reid's most recognised works: the "Tom Barber Trilogy" which continue the them of boyhood and childhood innocence and imagination.

My only criticism of the book is a minor one of production. This concerns the ink that the printers have used. It is glossy rather than matt and looks as though it is wet on the page. Light reflects off it and it is not that easy on the eye. Apart from that this is an excellent and timely re- release and I applaud Valencourt for re-releasing this and other Forrest Reid books: it is about time and I hope a new generation of readers will discover this greatly overlooked writer.


Cowboys Can Fly
Cowboys Can Fly
Price: £2.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting book: loved it., 26 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Cowboys Can Fly (Kindle Edition)
I must say that I had never heard of Ken before and looking through his back catalogue I can see why! I like love stories, be they straight or gay, as long as the love is sincere and the emotions finely wrought as they are here. The book is a slow burner (and I suspect a little autobiographical) but it has very strong characterisation and a real sense of place and although set in rural Hampshire, brought back strong memories of time I spent living in rural Devon when I was younger. The lonely old country widows, the gruff but warm hearted farmers and warm and friendly country boys. Somehow, even now, boys brought up in a rural environment are more relaxed , more cheerful and have less guile than their townie counterparts, well at least I think so!

The atmosphere of the book reminds me very much of the much overlooked Irish writer Forrest Reid who loved the countryside and loved writing about boyhood. Many of his works centre around lonely boys in a rural setting who are sensitive and shaped by their beautiful surroundings. However this book being set in more modern times shows a boy much more direct and open in his longings. I am guessing the book is set in the early 60s pre Wolfenden/Stonewall and the only thing that slightly bugs me is whether a boy at that time would be so comfortable with his sexuality. Most books of the period (with the exception of Angus Stewart's recently released "Sandel") normally contain a lot of angst and end in tragedy. However I guess shielded by his rural upbringing this lad had a chance to grow up naturally. One other slight criticism is some of the physicality and urges in the book are expressed with a bluntness that jar with the otherwise lyrical tone of the book. That is a minor criticism though and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. I read that a film is being made of this. I just hope they get the casting right if and when it is made.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 27, 2013 12:38 PM GMT


Cosi Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen Book 5)
Cosi Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen Book 5)
Price: £3.79

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rambling and tedious., 26 Oct. 2013
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I am slowly working my way through Michael Dibdin's books after having them recommended to me by a friend who knows of my love for Italy. Whilst his previous Zen books are hardly gripping page turners (they are rather slow burning(, they at least have credible plot lines and a soaked in Italian atmosphere and culture. This book has the atmosphere as always but that is about the only thing that is going for it. I am about halfway through after having the book on the Kindle for about 2 months and I am really struggling to persevere with it (although I will). The book does not know whether it is a crime thriller or a comic farce and the result is that it ends up being neither. There melodrama concerning the landladies' two daughters and the two hoods who court them is ridiculous and intrudes on the pace of the crime investigation. The result is that the novel lurches between the two and the result is bewilderment.

I have looked at other reviews for the rest of the Zen series and they all seem to be ok so I will carry on the series and write this novel off as a dud (everyone makes mistakes) but unless you are desperate for chronology I would recommend that this book should should be skipped.


Lunch With Elizabeth David
Lunch With Elizabeth David
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read but one caveat., 17 Oct. 2013
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I really enjoyed this book and came across it quite by accident while researching Norman Douglas on Wikipedia. I had just read his book "Old Calabria" after it was mentioned in Tim Park's book Italian Ways and this book was mentioned in the entry. I was intrigued by true story of Douglas taking a young man from the street as a travelling companion and educating him ( in every sense of the word) on a trip to Italy and was very surprised to learn that Douglas kept him out of the book. Being a confirmed ephebophile all his life and running into problems with the law in the UK it was probably just as well although Douglas did go on to mention various young companions in other books,

In any case the first half of this book deals wiith Douglas and his meeting and travelling with Eric Wolton and their travelling to Calabria. This book, despite what other reviewers say, is not explicit at all and deals with what is now a taboo subject in a very sensitive way. Indeed Roger Williams mentions the now out of print autobiography of Douglas by Mark Holloway as a major source of inspiration and research and that book said that Douglas' young friends, continued to regard him with love and affection all his life and he was always ready to return the affection and help if need be and this is the impression one gets in this book. It also has some lush passages about Capri and the Sorrento peninsula that would rival Douglas' South Wind and Siren Land ( both thoroughly recommended).

Where I have an issue with this book is the sudden lurch from the tale about Douglas and Eric to the present day (well the 1990s) and a story about a woman married to someone with a tenuous (and fictional) family relationship with Eric and Norman. There is a little bit of scene setting before this ladies' story which tells of Douglas' relationship with the cookery writer Elizabeth David and then the book suddenly lurches into this story about this lady and her family and her brief meeting with David. As I say the link with Douglas which I think the author uses as a plot twist does not really work and I would have structured the book as two separate novellas in one volume perhaps. However don't let this put you off reading the book. The writing is excellent and it will have you dreaming of the Med. While you are at it go and try Douglas' South Wind too. The least "heavy" of his books and thoroughly entertaining. You can find it as a free ebook online from sites like Gutenberg. (and perhaps here too, not checked)


Heel To Toe
Heel To Toe
by Charles Lister
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy follow up to Gissing and Douglas, 14 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Heel To Toe (Hardcover)
I am surprised at the stinging criticism from one of the reviewers here. I came across this book after it was recommended in the "Rough Guide to Italy" books section. I have a passion for the country but as yet have never visited the South of the country, an area that gets much attention from the more prosperous north as being a money pit full of feckless people. It has however provided some of the finest travel writing I have come across in Norman Douglas' "Old Calabria" and George Gissing's "By the Ionian Sea." In fact I only became aware of these books recently after reading Tim Parks' most recent book. I came across this book afterwards and read it in comparison with the two books above.

I would say that the author gives a lovely account of this part of Italy in a unique and mischievous voice. It might not be to the taste of everyone but the author knows his stuff and makes reference to the above authors in the text. Indeed the book compares well to the Douglas book as he too was a character. In some senses this book is even better than Douglas because we get a sense of place and people. Too often in "Old Calabria" is the reader forced to endure long dissertations (often taking up whole chapters) on something obscure that interests the author. In this respect the book is similar to Gissing (although that last author is much more earnest than) Mr Lister.

In summary then I would say that this is a worthy addition to the modern Italian travel literature with a little bit of humour thrown in. After all Italians are a humorous and lovely people in the main and any writer who fails to capture that in my opinion is not worth his salt.


The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A guide to unlock the poet within, 14 Oct. 2013
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Just about anything goes for poetry these days. It is all about the emotion people say, you must write what you feel and do not worry too much about structure and form. This may be true in some cases (in fact one of my favorite poets ever: Edward Field: check him out writes in free form) but it was not the way I was taught at school. My English teacher was a firm believer in poetry as craftsmanship with words and structure, rhyme and metre being an art that, while being hard to master, gives endless delight and a sense of achievement once mastered. In fact he was a contemporary of Stephen at Cambridge and often boasted during our study of Pope's "Rape of the Lock" as an A level text that he had had a go at writing something similar at university (though I never did see it).

Part of the pleasure of this book is that it took me back to my lessons in poetry writing at school. My teacher was a charismatic and inspiring man who took the drudge and intimidation of writing crafted poetry away and this is something that Stephen does. He does not have much time for free form in this book. What you get is chapters that deal with all the major metrical forms with solid advice, instruction and exercises. If you are to get the benefit of this work you will need to put in some work (take a notebook, preferably moleskine, and a pencil "more aesthetically pleasing" wherever you go and practice says Stephen) but you will come out of the instruction with a major sense of achievements at achieving mastery of all the major forms. Of course you can still write free form if you want to (I most certainly do) and you may not even feel that your poetry is any good. However the writing of poetry is often a release for the soul which never goes beyond one's private notebooks and journals. This guide will help you try to put some polish to these outpourings.

I am not a sycophantic Fry fan (indeed I didn't give him that great a review for his last installment of biography) but I would say this book is one of the best practical writing books that I have come across alongside Roy Peter Clark's "Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for every writer". I am very pleased to see that Stephen is making his love for poetry clear. It may not sell (something Norman Douglas mentioned 100 years ago when he was deputy editor of the English Review) but it is something life affirming. The encouragement to write poetry is therefore a wonderful thing: thank you Stephen.


Vicious Circle (Hector Cross)
Vicious Circle (Hector Cross)
by Wilbur Smith
Edition: Hardcover

54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry Mr Smith but a fan says this is total tosh..., 12 Oct. 2013
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Let me be clear when I say that I have been a fan of Wilbur Smith's since childhood. His books have always had a wonderful narrative drive and his scene setting and research have always been first rate. Yes his characters have always been a bit cliche in the sense that the heroes are nearly always very rich, very strong and courageous with no flaws in their character and the "baddies" nearly always sadists and cowards. While this never added up to great literature, it was always good escapist fun and it is this that probably accounts for Mr Smith's worldwide success.

I am not going to spoil the plot details for any potential reader here but from my own point of view the plot of the books stretches the bounds of credulity to the limit. The characters fit the typical pattern except the hero is now married to the gold digging Hazel Bannock who featured in the first Hector Cross book "Those in Peril". He is in actual fact the strongest part of the book and Smith paints him well (or at least he is a carbon copy of every other male Smith hero from the last 30 years). It is story regarding the nemesis that I find ridiculous. All I will say is that it revolves around the family of the now deceased oil magnate that Hazel Bannock married. The author is expected to believe that Hazel never shared details with her new husband about deeply troubling aspects of her family and was never on guard.

The two baddies are not only cliche in the extreme but they are also painted in a laughable manner and are just not credible. The dialogue between them (and dialogue used to be a strong point of Mr Smiths) is just atrocious and made me burst out laughing at times. The sex scenes in the book, and particularly the dialogue that surrounds them are also absolutely abysmal in terms of dialogue. They read like the script for a third rate porn movie: I would certainly say that Mr Smith now surpasses Alan Titchmarsh in the "worst sex scene ever" category. Again Mr Smith always used to handle the love scenes in an intense but tasteful manner but this has since has gone down hill since "Those in Peril". There is also a much more marked emphasis in gratuitous sadism in this book which makes me question the mindset of an author who could think up such disgusting things.

That last book at least had the merit of having had some solid research in to Somali piracy and Islam and was a a fairly credible story. This book it just rubbish and has the feel of a book that was written in a hurry. It just does not compare with the epit Courtney and Ballantyne sagas or the best of Mr Smith's stand alone works like "Elephant Song" (one of my favourite books of all time) or "Hungry as the Sea". It is very sad that Mr Smith has stooped so low.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2013 9:38 PM BST


Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
by Roy Peter Clark
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full marks from me too., 9 Oct. 2013
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I am only too happy to add to the run of five stars here. I cannot add much more to the comments below but I will say that this has been very useful addition to my library. Clark stresses that none of the strategies that he lists are set in stone but are merely areas to consider when writing and restructuring your prose for maximum impact and effect. It is the kind of book that one keeps by one's desk and returns to again and again to be referred to when writing. Its main strength lies in its breadth. Those who are writing fiction, those who are writing reports, the student who has to draft up an essay and those who have to write a best man's speech will all find help here. For under £10 I would therefore say it is an absolutely essential purchase.


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