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The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie (The Guardians of Childhood)
The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie (The Guardians of Childhood)
by William Joyce
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Guardians of Childhood by Willism Joyce, 15 Jan. 2013
These are the most stunningly illustrated and intenensely imaginative children's booked ever written. Beautiful to behold and absorbing to read. You don't have to be a child to read them but just retain the essence of childhood..... the ability to believe in the the unbelievable.


Legends of the Martial Arts Masters
Legends of the Martial Arts Masters
by Susan L. Peterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Compilation, 26 Aug. 2010
Being a children's martial arts author myself and great collector of all genres of martial arts literature, I purchased this delightful little book to further swell my bursting book shelves and to check out the competition, of course!

So often these days the emphasis of many karate/martial arts instructors is the acquisition of medals, international athletes and glory for club, association and self. The "way's" ethos of physical, mental and spiritual gain for all; through hard work, probable heart-breaking failure, and more, even harder work, with the ultimate aim of improving the human condition, has been eroded over recent decades in the quest for glory.

Susan L. Peterson has compiled a beautiful collection of short stories portraying the wonderful tales of legendary martial artists of old and, quite uniquely, of more recent times. These wonderfully descriptive tales outline and emphasise the power of a strong human spirit, built through martial arts, to conquer fears and adversity no matter size, gender or age.

Whether or not you or your children are or potentially are martial artists, these beautifully descriptive stories will brighten your day and inspire your soul to strive hard for whatever it is you want from life. If they don't; well at least you've had an extremely enjoyable reading experience.


The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon)
The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon)
by Dan Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Symbolically Familiar Brown Format, 15 Aug. 2010
I can recall when I'd buy a Dan Brown for its challenging, controversial and exciting content and because it was a guaranteed exciting read. I picked this book up as I'd just read something challenging and exciting and beautifully written, Ascension by Stephen Galloway; now I needed an easy, non-taxing, holiday read, something I could whizz through without much thought; this is what Dan Brown had become to me.

For those who have read the previous Robert Langdon episodes; 'Angels and Demons' and the cosmically successful 'The Da Vinci Code'; you would immediately recognise the 'symbolically' familiar format that is a Langdon adventure. We have the Indiana Jones of Symbology himself, Robert Langdon; the essential heroine, Katherine Solomon; the insane and fanatically driven bad guy; the mysterious, if at least not religious, organisation; The Freemasons; and a grizzly discovery, all brought together in the capitol of the U.S.A. Washington D.C.

All sounding too familiar? It was. However! This book did spark a new interest in me for a previously unknown area of scientific study - Noetics; there are many cool and interesting facts about the Masons; the father's of the new world and the strange D.C. architecture to amaze even the most sceptical mind; at one point I was convinced that Robert Langdon had, at last been terminated from modern literature permanently; and I was completely caught out by an unexpected but possibly obvious plot twist towards the end.

The End? Possibly the longest ending since Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Brown dragged it out longer than Sean Bean's demise in that same film.

Come on Dan Brown! Forget Langdon and give us something as fabulous again as, in my opinion, your best book to date, Deception Point. Come on Ritchie Cunningham or whatever your name is - When's that film coming out?

Look! The Lost Symbol isn't awful, it's an OK throw-away vacation read full of interesting "facts" you can get in greater detail on the net or Discovery. Buy it, enjoy it, (I did) but don't expect it to Wow you as did the Da Vinci Code.


The Samurai Capture a King Okinawa 1609 (Raid)
The Samurai Capture a King Okinawa 1609 (Raid)
by Stephen Turnbull
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Little Reference., 31 July 2010
Although this 'book' contains only 64 pages there is a considerable amount of information to be gleaned from it. Baring in mind that a huge amount of Okinawa's historical records were destroyed during the US bombardment of 1945, Turnbull has managed to provide quite a comprehensive and detailed account of the events leading up to and during the Satsuma invasion of the Ryukyu's.

Having read this book for research purposes, I found the timeline of events that are highlighted on tagged sections of some pages, extremely useful, rather than having to sift through the often confusing tooing and frowing between dates and events in the main text. The descriptions and breakdown of the opposing forces uniforms, weaponry and ranks was also very detailed and interesting. The illustrations are probably the most striking element of the book being both beautiful and informative.

All in all a good little reference to the events of 1609 and combined with another superb book - Okinawa; History of an island people it provided me with all the information I needed.


Essence of Karate
Essence of Karate
by Hirokazu Kanazawa
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Gem, 29 July 2010
This review is from: Essence of Karate (Hardcover)
This book has, quite naughtily, been promoted as previously unpublished works by some retailers, which it certainly is not. Nevertheless, the Karate enthusiast, historians and geeks should glean a lot of joy and some new snippets of knowledge and insight from the Master of Karate and the man Shotokan was named after, Gichin Funakoshi. Many of the stories have been produced before in works by Funakoshi and others, yet there is something so engrossing and comforting about this gentle man's life that make his words, repetetive or not, completely tireless.

Fundamentally, a small collection of memories, short anecdotes and words of wisdom from the great man; this book is quite the little gem. I read it in little under an hour, so don't buy it as holiday read unless you intend to study it carefully, then take a note book with you aswell and you'll stretch it to a day two.

There are, as always with Funakoshi's works, glimpses and clues as to the true nature of Karate-do, in particular for me the line, and excuse me as I'm paraphrasing here, "the true nature of Karate can never be reproduced in the sporting arena" is particularly telling. With these few words Funakoshi is clearly informing us that the true nature of Karate as the most effective self-protection system ever devised, is so brutal and dangerous that it's techniques, used as they were intended could never be re-produced as a sport. Gichin Funakoshi then states in the clearest of terms what most pragmatic karateka already knew to be the case but many others choose to, unbelievably, deny and even ignore; "kata is the essence of karate" for within each kata are held complete fighting systems waiting to be unlocked and revealed.

The Essence of Karate give us wonderful insights into Funakoshi himself but also much more than I've ever read before about his great masters, Itosu and Azato, their similarities and differences and the effect of their fighting styles upon unfortunate opponents.

The forward by Sensei Kanazawa is quite interesting in itself but the afterword by Gisho Funakoshi, his nephew is filled with warmth, respect and awe for an uncle he briefly knew but left an ever lasting impression.

The Essence of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi is an absolute must for any Karate enthusiast.


Okinawa: The History of an Island People
Okinawa: The History of an Island People
by George H. Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £32.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looks Like A Text Book - Reads Like A Novel - Kind of., 20 July 2010
My goodness! When this tome of a book crashed on to my doormat, my immediate thoughts were, 'Oh no! Text book; too demanding, too wordy, too much to bother with today and put it on the coffee table because if nothing else it actually looks pretty impressive. Not that I'm desperate to impress. HONESLTLY!

I've been researching Okinawa and in particular the 1609 Satsuma invasion and had already read the excellent "The Samurai Capture A King" which at times became quite a chore to study with the huge amount of dates, names etc etc etc.

When I finally picked up this book I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that it was written in an extremely simple and understandable way and not at all in the high faluting fashion I had been expecting. I've only read-up what I've needed so far and have discovered some wonderful facts about the Ryukus, their people and in particular their mythical beliefs and deities; The Dragon Castle, The Sun Goddess to name but two, which I found fascinating.

I'm greatly looking to working further into the book to read about another historical event that has always fascinated me: The Battle for Okinawa in 1945. WhenI get to it I'll tell you all about it but it could take a long and very interesting while

If you, like me are a Karateka interested in discovering more about the place of your arts origin; or if you just have an interest in the amazing history between, Okinawa and it's great influences, China and Japan, this book is simply a MUST HAVE.

EXCELLENT!!


A Sudden Dawn: A Martial Arts Novel: 1
A Sudden Dawn: A Martial Arts Novel: 1
by Goran Powell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crying out to be put on the big screen!, 17 July 2010
As I am a martial artist, you may be forgiven for immediately thinking that I must be a huge fan of everything martial arts related including films and books. Well, when it comes to non-fiction martial arts book you'd be correct; I am a complete Karate geek and collector; but as far as the "Kung-Fu" film genre and non-fiction martial arts literature go; I am not a fan!

I find that most martial arts movies that want to be taken seriously are generally lacking in many areas with story lines less inventive than your average porno and fight scenes that, although creative, are just too 'flowery' for me and have me reaching for the remote in no time at all. As far as martial arts novels go, well to be honest, I've never read a whole one as I rightly or wrongly tarred them with the same brush as the films.

Then I discovered Goran Powell's Sudden Dawn on Amazon, took a look at the reviews and found that some of the biggest names in martial arts; Geoff Thomson, Iain Abernethy and Loren Christensen were raving about it. Forever, the sceptic, I thought that they are probably all mates and are just participating in a bit of mutual horn-blowing to help out a friend; nevertheless I ordered a copy and an inspired decision that turned out to be.

The first thing to strike you is the beautifully moody cover depicting the entrance to the Shaolin Monastery with a sword weilding monk in the doorway. The tale then begins to gently carry you on the epic journey of a young Indian warrior who, both moved and confused by the words of Prajnatara, a quite mischievious Buddhist Master, decides to forgoe the warrior life expected of him and pursue that of Buddhist Monk.

Prajnatara then reveals to the newly named Bodhidharma that he must embark on a great mission; to travel to China and teach the true "Way" to enlightment to the emperor and the Chinese people. Those of you familiar with the legend of Bodhidharma and the birth of the martial arts will know that he finds the Shaolin Monastery and disappointed with the tired and quite lazy attitude of the monks there, sets about teaching them his "Way" to enlightment which also includes combat training. The rest as they say is history.

Goran Powell uses a wonderful blend of the legend we are familiar along with with some new and fantastically colourful characters of his own, to create a quite simply superb book. The descriptions of the humid jungles of India, the journey through the freezing Himalayas and Tibet and the views of the Yangtse River transport you to these far off places so that you can almost taste the rich flavours and smell the pungent aromas of the exotic locations.

One of the critiques on the back cover compares A Sudden Dawn with James Clavell's Shogun; a shining endorsement indeed. I didn't get a quarter way through Shogun; it bored the life out of me. I couldn't put A Sudden Dawn down! Whether you're a martial artist or not this is quite simply a damn good book and if there was a ever martial arts film that needed to be made it's got to be "A Sudden Dawn" The Movie.


The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training for Traditional Karate
The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training for Traditional Karate
by Michael Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for those looking for a great read but TRULY inspiring for all Karateka!, 28 May 2010
Michael Clarke is clearly one of the most dedicated and passionate western martial artists on the planet. As the fantastic photographs in his book show, he has followed his art all over the world, including time on Okinawa which I'm extremely envious of by the way; and he has trained with some of the most experienced and revered Japanese, Okinawan and western instructors alive today. It also becomes evident throughout the book that Mr Clarke has far more knowledge of Hojo Undo than some of our leading Japanese Karate Sensei, particularly those of the Shuri te styles, Kanazawa in point of fact.

Is it that, as times have moved on and training has progressed and become far more scientific, the need for such tough, painful and potentially damaging training has been deemed outdated and uneccessary? After all, we as karateka are not expected to defend ourselves or our King from armed Samurai, as were the great masters of old. Or is it that, since Karate's migration to Japan, it's dissemination throughout the world and the growth of the sporting aspect of the art, the aesthetic importance of Karate has now completely saturated and dissolved the true nature and needs of the art? The sweet sugar being lost by the bitterness of the coffee, so to speak.

The answer to both the former and the latter is YES in varying degrees. Lets leave the sport karate question out of equation, as its my opinion that it has no semblance of the traditional art attached to it anymore, and lets concentrate on the need for Kojo Undo conditioning.

Let's face it, the need for traditional Hojo Undo training probably isn't necessary today as there are many modern and some would argue, better training methods and equipment at our disposal these days. But as a karateka reading this book, looking at the amazing photographs of great men like Funakoshi, Chojin Miyagi and Chotoku Kyan using or surrounded by their crudely constructed equipment; seeing their steely looks of determination and invincibility in their eyes, I became acutely aware that these exercises were far more than a hard physical means of honing a rock hard body and fearsome striking power. The art of Hojo Undo also toughens the resolve, focuses the mind and sharpens the real essence of karate - the ZANSHIN.

OK, it's not rocket science and there are no revolutionary ideas in this book but that's not the point. It gives a real insight into a particular aspect of the history of karate and what's more, if you fancy giving it a go, there are simple to follow instructions on how to construct all the varrious types of equipment both lifting and striking. So guess what I'll be doing for the next few months.

Hojo Undo is not for those looking for a great and I actually skipped great chunks of it. However, this books content transports you back to a time and a place that all karateka should hold dear to there hearts, the photos alone were truly inspiring. Oh! Be sure to read the endnotes.


Jasper Jones
Jasper Jones
by Craig Silvey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hats off to any author who can have me on the edge of my seat over a game of cricket!, 22 May 2010
This review is from: Jasper Jones (Paperback)
Huckleberry Finn, The Famous Five, Stand By Me; Jasper Jones reminded me of all those great childhood buddy books I read as a boy. However, this is not a book for children with strong language, a thick vein of racism and social bigotry running through it as well as murder, incest and paedophilia thrown in!

Jasper Jones is an outcast, mixed race tough-nut that all the boys want to be, all the girls want to be with and all the parents despise. Whenever anything goes wrong in the outwardly respectable little town of Corrigan, suspicious eyes always turn to Jasper. When he makes a grizzly discovery he surprisingly turns to Charlie, a skinny, bullied but incredibly intelligent local lad, for help. Charlie, thrilled that Jasper would chose him, jumps at the chance. From the moment Charlie becomes privy to Jaspers secret his life is irreversably changed and the respectable face of Corrigan begins to unravel.

Not since I read Khaled Housseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" have I been so attached to the central characters of a book. I was immediately sympathetic to Charlie, his home life having close comparison's to my own childhood. Set in the 1960's during the Vietnam conflict, Charlie's best friend is a Vietnemese boy, which doesn't come without consequences, Jeffrey Lu. Jeffrey is the most courageous and loveable character I've come across in a long while and the dialogue between them is absolutely razor sharp having me laughing out loud on the train to work and attracting amused glances from fellow passengers.

However, the title character himself remains something of an enigma as we only scratch the surface of his family's tragic tale and he doesn't occupy that much page space. This does not detract from the story at all though as Jasper and the Lu's are central to the plot in that they, especially Jasper, are the outsiders, the perpetual scapegoats that can be used to explain and excuse all the wrong doings of a community. However, Jasper with Charlie's help is about to give the little town of Corrigan one hell of a wake up call.

The most enjoyable read I've had in a long time. Hats off to any author who can have me on the edge of my seat over a game of cricket!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2012 2:01 AM GMT


Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence
Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence
by Sgt. Rory Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could be the best self-protection book ever written....You decide, 18 May 2010
Hundreds of books have been produced by so called experts on self-protection who all claim to have real life experience of extreme street violence. Claiming to have had hundreds of street fights and decades of experience as door security staff; I've often thought that perhaps they may just be stretching the truth a little or they are probably the type of people to have instigated many of their own confrontations and that they are the ones to steer clear of. I spent twenty years working as a doorman in Cardiff and I can count all my violent confrontations on one hand, actually, one finger!

Sgt Rory Miller on the other hand is completely different animal. Working daily in America's high security correctional facilities (prisons to us Brits), he deals with some of the most violent men on the planet every day of his working life. To steal from the blurb on the back of the book, he "teaches and designs courses in Use Of Force Policy & Police Defensive Tactics; Confrontational Simulations; and leads and trains his agency's Corrections Tactical Team." Bluntly put, when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan, he's the man they scream for.

It shows too. Miller understands and conveys the pshycology of violence in depth as well as how to deal with potentially violent and very violent people by using pshycology as well as force on force. Making use of some quite shocking imagery, he drives home the true nature of violence and violent people clearly and succinctly and blows away any delusions martial arts experts may have that their art will protect them and others without having had any real experience or at least having trained in a realsitic way.

Possibly the best self-protection book ever writen. Certainly the best I've ever read.


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