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Collins Ultimate Scrabble Dictionary and Wordlist: All the official playable words, plus tips and strategy
Collins Ultimate Scrabble Dictionary and Wordlist: All the official playable words, plus tips and strategy
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very good product, but not identical to the printed version., 22 Jun. 2016
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My first inclination was to give this review 5 stars. I bought it for my Kindle App on iPad, and the headword search works brilliantly, much faster than the battered paperback dictionaries around me in my Scrabble groups, and up to date.
However, be aware that it is not the same as the book version. The table of contents does not have the 'tips and strategy' shown on the cover (so no 'how to deal with J, Q, X and Z'), and the content is not divided into two sections - all words are found by headword search. An irritation is the fact that if the word searched for isn't in, it simply shows 'no results', so the only way to get to a particular section of the dictionary (apart from the initial letters from the ToC), as far as I can tell, is to think of a word that has very similar letter content and explore from there - I can't think of any other way to browse as you can in the book version.
I have previously bought Collins Spanish and French Digital Dictionaries, and been delighted with them. However, I also value transparency, and Collins don't seem to. I recently bought the Collins iPad Complete English Dictionary (nearly £23!), which the Amazon blurb leads one to believe is the same as the current 12th edition. Only after downloading did I discover that it is actually the 5 years old 11th edition, so by no means as up-to-date. Collins - and Amazon and Apple - need to come clean about differences between eBooks and current printed formats.


Backgammon For Dummies
Backgammon For Dummies
Price: £7.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but..., 24 Mar. 2016
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This is for the Kindle version, where I had the tiresome task of realigning almost every image in order to be able to see it all (which then obscured the caption!).

Clearly written, but I wished I'd bought the book in hard copy.


Backgammon
Backgammon
by Paul Magriel
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 24 Mar. 2016
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This review is from: Backgammon (Hardcover)
Not for the faint-hearted, but as good as there is for the serious student. A modern version with colour would be an even greater help.


Alexander the Great at War: His Army - His Battles - His Enemies (General Military)
Alexander the Great at War: His Army - His Battles - His Enemies (General Military)
by Ruth Sheppard
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding read, 24 Mar. 2016
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Ruth Shephard has produced a fine general history of Alexander's military campaigns. Good maps and a wealth of illustrations help the amateur such as myself a lot, and this would make a fine first acquaintance with the subject. The text is clear and interesting. A very worthwhile purchase.


Heroides, Amores (Loeb Classical Library): 001
Heroides, Amores (Loeb Classical Library): 001
by Ovid
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars, 24 Mar. 2016
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A beautifully presented dual-text prose translation of the verse original. The English is a little dated, and not 'literal', but with its help I was able to follow the Latin quite well.


Play Hive Like a Champion, Second Edition: Strategy, Tactics and Commentary
Play Hive Like a Champion, Second Edition: Strategy, Tactics and Commentary
by Randy Ingersoll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.64

4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome purchase., 24 Mar. 2016
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This was very welcome when I found it online. It really is extremely helpful when learning the game, and is quite clearly laid out and explained. It should be realised that the orientation of the insects on the pieces in the images and diagrams is actually different from those on the pieces themselves, where the insects face the sides of the hex, not the points. And while this facilitates the notation / recording of games for the author of the book, it may take more than a little getting used to if you are the kind of person who needs to turn a road map upside down when travelling north to south! The games are also recorded from the same side of the board, as on the cover, unlike in Chess and Shogi.
Life (and notation!) would have been much simpler if the game were played out on a hexagonal numbered grid, though I know that 'no board needed' is a selling point for the makers. A nice board would actually be a lovely optional expansion.


Poetry: The Literary Agenda
Poetry: The Literary Agenda
by David Constantine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite on the mark for me., 21 Mar. 2016
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I came to this book after an Amazon e-mail that recommended it as a result of ordering Hölderlin's 'Sämtliche Gedichte' and David Constantine's biography of Hölderlin to go with it. I came to writing and reading English poetry in 2012 at the age of 70, and am reading rather chaotically with a sense of urgency. In 2013 I started a poetry group: one after another the members at the first meeting announced that they wrote in free verse - but equally, the poems they brought to read were traditional. They found modern poetry said nothing to them, but wrote that style of poetry themselves!
This is for me the problem with this book. It attempts to put poetry in its rightful place in the modern world, and argues persuasively for its importance to humanity, but allows politics to get in the way, particularly in the chapter 'The Office of Poetry', where he fails to see that there are many, many of us who love poetry, who are being wilfully ignored by the current poetry establishment. In support of his arguments, he does what my fellow group members did - reaches for his examples, again and again back to the early twentieth century and beyond: John Clare, Edward Thomas, George Herbert, Shakespeare. If there are current English poets whom he admires, he does not mention them (apart from Derek Mahon, three weeks younger than myself!). Larkin was blunter: He said poetry was off on 'a loop line away from the general reader' and being written by the 'mad lads'. He had more than a point: after three years buying, reading, attending poetry readings, hoping to read and listen to current poetry that speaks to me, with a few exceptions (Imtiaz Dharker being a notable example) I have to agree with Larkin that the mad lads and lasses are writing poetry that is utterly unmemorable. Larkin was able in the Paris Review interview to name a raft of current poets that inspired his youth. Whom, he asked, would you name now? Three decades on, the loop line has shown no sign of turning back towards the general reader, but gets further and further away.
This is something this book seems to be concerned about in the early chapters, but never actually gets to grips with. Politics gets in the way. Great poetry has been written under every political system and in every kind of philistine society. Poets who have paying jobs (other than in University Creative Writing Departments) are at liberty to write whatsoever they please in the UK today. They need to worry far more about the academic gatekeepers of the poetry publishing world, than market forces and public lack of interest in output that is for most irrelevant.
I had great hopes of the chapter on translation. These days every monoglot Thomasina, Dick and Harriet turns her/his attention to poetry 'translation' from languages of which they have no knowledge whatever. The results are mostly dire. Here, they are almost encouraged to produce 'autonomous' works that do little more than nod in the direction of the original, and this by a writer of outstanding calibre in the field. Constantine laboured to teach himself classical Greek - today's 'translators' rely on 'literals'.
An old man's grump aside, I found 'Poetry' an absorbing read (I dropped everything else to read it), hence the four stars. When German poets, in the desert that was left to them after the Thirty Years War, looked for inspiration, they eventually found it in the simplicity of the folk ballad, in particular, those of England and Scotland, and built on that. Poetry in the UK could do worse than look to its roots and proceed from there. It isn't about politics for the general reader. It's about the pleasure of being reached out to, touched, challenged, satisfied.


Ovid's Heroines
Ovid's Heroines
by Clare Pollard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "This is OVID!" I wanted to shout...Have some respect!", 24 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: Ovid's Heroines (Paperback)
I'm afraid that the current trend for 'translation' by poets ignorant of the language from which they 'translate' has led to an unhappy result here. The fiasco produced by the judges' unfortunate awarding of the Stephen Spender prize last year to a work of plagiarism underlines the potentially disastrous consequences of the English "no need to know, read or understand the original" approach to poetry translation. My Latin is little better than O-Level, but enough to tell me that Ovid's old men do not 'babble' (where did that ageist crime come from?). The unevenness of register - the mixing of high style and formal vocabulary one moment with recent near-slang expressions like 'holler', (a US import not used yet much in British English), 'bag-lady', 'slag', 'asking for it', did not help the translation or the poetry. The question "what kind of job has been made of the translation as a translation?" is of equal first importance both to the original and the result. To produce a 'free verse' (what was it Eliot said about that?), very free version drawn from study of other translations simply doubly ensured that it was not just the poetry that was "lost in translation". Any would-be translator should first read Grant Showerman's superb (and entertaining) century-old essay in "The Unpopular Review" on the art (and immense difficulty) of translating poetry, even if he was at times unable to follow his own advice in producing his prose translation of the Heroides for Loeb (who stipulated prose). And then proceed with caution and humility. I admire Clare Pollard's poetry and her achievements. This is not her best work.


Paradiso
Paradiso
by Dante Alighieri
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative and accessible, 21 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Paradiso (Paperback)
I bought this as preparation for a course on Dante, recommended by the tutor, and it is an ideal choice, even for the beginner. A dual-language version, Italian on the left, English (by poet Jean Hollander) on the right, each Canto preceded by a useful summary and followed by explanatory notes by Robert Hollander, which I would say are essential to a fuller understanding of the poem, though the constant cross-referencing (which I have no intention of following up - at 73, my remaining days are more precious to me than that) makes the reading of the notes more of a chore than it need be.
It might be worth noting that the 'translation' is actually a poetic English version of the original, so I was often at something of a loss as to how the English meant what the original seemed to be saying. Otherwise, absolutely perfect for my purposes.


Inferno
Inferno
by Dante
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.20

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative and accessible, 21 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Inferno (Paperback)
I bought this as preparation for a course on Dante, recommended by the tutor, and it is an ideal choice, even for the beginner. A dual-language version, Italian on the left, English (by poet Jean Hollander) on the right, each Canto preceded by a useful summary and followed by explanatory notes by Robert Hollander, which I would say are essential to a fuller understanding of the poem, though the constant cross-referencing (which I have no intention of following up - at 73, my remaining days are more precious to me than that) makes the reading of the notes more of a chore than it need be.
It might be worth noting that the 'translation' is actually a poetic English version of the original, so I was often at something of a loss as to how the English meant what the original seemed to be saying. Otherwise, absolutely perfect for my purposes.


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