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Clifford Thurlow (London)
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Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
by Andrew Lownie
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a Broken Man, 30 Dec. 2015
Cambridge master spy Guy Burgess was a man of deep complexity and paradox – prodigy, drunk, Old Etonian, Establishment figure, a charmer and seducer, ‘a broken man,’ according to James – later Jan – Morris, and a homosexual at a time when Oscar Wilde’s incarceration in Reading Gaol was still in every gay man’s memory.

It is this richly-embroidered tapestry that Andrew Lownie in ‘Stalin’s Englishman’ assiduously unpicks to bring to print the most complete picture of Burgess and the times in which he lived – from Dartmouth Navy College and Eton, Cambridge in the 1930s prior to World War Two, to Moscow in the 1950s, where he lived in exile and died at the age of 53 in 1963.

We learn more about the Cambridge Five and their fellow travellers, the privileged young men who chose to spy for Russia when they saw communism as the only valid bulwark against Fascism and the failings of capitalism exemplified by the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

Lownie shows how Burgess and his fellow KGB agents were able through their class, privilege and connections to penetrate and rise to the top of the Establishment – the government, the secret service, even the BBC, where in each department the number of Etonians often outnumbered the rest of the staff, themselves principally drawn from the same handful of elite public schools – history repeating itself, a situation to which we have in some ways returned to today.

Lownie springs a few surprises and revelations, keeps up a good spy-thriller pace, and leaves his readers with a portrait of Guy Burgess I shouldn’t imagine will ever be bettered.


Project Angel
Project Angel

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grabs You By The Throat, 17 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Project Angel (Kindle Edition)
Like a plaited rope, "Project Angel" is a fantasy, a romance and a mystery that ties you in knots, grabs your attention and races you through more than 500 skilfully-written pages as you unravel the story of Solus's search for identity - his own, as well as his dead brother's, an unexpected suicide, against a backcloth of a society in the grip of violence, craving and insecurity - be it London or Los Angeles, the novel's two major settings.

The love interest is a sparkly-eyed girl named Death, so full of life you can see her throwing her shoulders back as she ambles down the street, the choice of name providing an element of magic realism that gives the novel depth and texture. Author Demetri Scott is a young writer and this debut novel reveals a talent that, like cream, will find its way to the top.


In The Land of Honourable Men - A Musical Odyssey into the Heart of West Africa
In The Land of Honourable Men - A Musical Odyssey into the Heart of West Africa
Price: £5.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Edgy & Intriguing, 7 Sept. 2013
I was both intrigued and edgy reading In The Land of Honorable Men. Intrigued because Paul Rowson's quest seemed slightly bizarre, and edgy because I kept getting the feeling that a terrible calamity was about to happen. Rowson has the ability to draw the readers into his story and then leaving you uncertain where it's going - the novelist's technique applied to a a musical travel memoir and really quite a brilliant idea. So, yes, read this book.


The Art of Assertiveness
The Art of Assertiveness
by Joanna Crosse
Edition: Audio CD

2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Bad, Nothing New, 5 Jan. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An alien newly immigrated to Planet Earth and unaware of the local customs would find a lot of valuable information on this 45 minute audio guide on communication and assertiveness.

However, there is little new for we earthlings to get our tongues around and what there is can be summed up simply as: use the "I" word to express your feelings and don't be afraid to 'own' your opinions. The writer-reader, Joanna Crosse, with luscious enunciation, tells us not to be passive while expressing ourselves without providing the essential insider tips on how this is to be achieved, except, of course, by using the "I" word.

There is nothing wrong or bogus about this information, but likewise there is nothing new. On the contrary, I was reminded of my house master at school: come along, boy, speak up, speak clearly and don't be afraid to express your own opinions.


Pretty Girl Thirteen
Pretty Girl Thirteen
by Liz Coley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit & Miss, 28 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Pretty Girl Thirteen (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is essentially about sex and a teenage girl. Did she or didn't she runs breathlessly through the pages and keeps us wondering. As a thriller, then, it does its job.

A girl is kidnapped aged 13 and returns home two years later with selective amnesia. It is discovered that she has an acute case of DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called multiple personality disorder. Angie, the girl, is inhabited by several 'alters' who have lived out the painful - physical and sexual - aspects of her life while kept a prisoner in a cabin in the woods with the maniac kidnapper, while the 'true' Angie has remained those two years still 13 and an innocent.

Her parents reaction to her homecoming - mom is pregnant again - is frankly risible and the method used to cure Angie of DID has yet to be invented, making Pretty Girl Thirteen more a fantasy than fiction, the function of which is to explore reality from a fresh angle, not invent medical treatments that do not and probably will never exist.

To return to the thriller aspect, the writer does hold back on the essential pieces of the puzzle until the end and provides a satisfactory conclusion to what at times is an annoying read.


Snap Shot Cynth's Response
Snap Shot Cynth's Response
Price: £3.73

5.0 out of 5 stars A Puzzle Completed, 19 Nov. 2012
M. Millswan has a unique style, an alchemist's mixture of the romantic, erotic and mysterious, a combination that will strike some readers as brilliant, while it may well go over the heads of others.

Millswan is the author of Snap Shot, a short, powerful novel where love springs between Jim and Cynth when he comes to take her photograph, this simple snap shot freezing a moment in time that lasts for the rest of their lives. Time has moved on. Cynth has finally found and read Jim's memoir and written her response - a moving tale of love and loss, longing and sensuality. The book contains both memoirs and, together, join like two halves of a complex puzzle finally united. Well-written, compulsive, I really enjoyed this book.


Yes I Can! Using Visualization to Achieve Your Goals
Yes I Can! Using Visualization to Achieve Your Goals
by Robin Nixon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.43

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad But Little New Material, 7 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Robin Nixon uses three words whenever one will do. The material for visualization is all here, though little more than what we have already seen in The Secret. So, not a bad book, but one cannot help feeling that we have been down this way before. For those readers new to the subject, however, the book does have its uses.


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by J. Carson Black
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GLUED, 10 July 2012
This review is from: Icon (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
People are after Max Conroy. He doesn't know who and he doesn't know why. He is also suffering memory lapses and strange hallucinations and he can't explain that, either.

It happens that Max is also a world famous Hollywood star, renowned for his action roles and instantly recognizable by everyone, even though he is wandering around in the Arizona desert looking like a homeless tramp and smelling like one, too. We are immediately hooked and want to find out what happened to him and why people want to kill him.

Leading the pack is a chilling assassin called Shaun and her adopted twelve-year old son, who is eagerly learning her skills. After we read about her, we want to get up and check that all our doors and windows are locked. Close behind is Max's beautiful actress wife, at the top of her career and terrified of slipping, a corrupt Hollywood agent, a suspicious doctor with the name Gordon White Eagle, a helpful police officer called Tess McCrae, and the list goes on.

An amazing cast of highly original characters and a plot with as many twists and turns as a worm on speed keep us pretty much glued until the end. A great book to take on a long-haul flight.


A Child Called It
A Child Called It
by Dave Pelzer
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 26 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Child Called It (Paperback)
This is a relentless journey through horrific child abuse written in a simple, direct style and is only relieved by the redemptive ending. It is never entirely clear why Dave's mother takes a sadistic dislike to this one son while her other children lead a normal life, but such are the vagaries of mental illness, which his mother clearly suffered. We grow to admire Dave Pelzer and the spirit for survival that he displays.

Not an easy read, but an essential read for anyone concerned with child care and child abuse issues. On that note, another book in the genre I would recommend is Today I'm Alice: Nine Personalities, One Tortured Mind


The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage
The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage
by Jodi Kantor
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Life in the White House, 19 Feb. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Who needs fairy tales when we have the incredible story of Barack Obama becoming the 44th President of the United States. A fairy tale would end with him winning the election and living happily ever after, but of course, it was just the beginning.

A President has a family and this is the story of the difficulties and strains of that family adjusting to life in the White House. Michelle Obama, a vibrant super achiever, found that she had lost her privacy and spontaneous acts could be criticised and ridiculed by an ever watchful press, a large part of it out to destroy her husband. A weekend visit back to their Chicago house by the homesick family turned into an ordeal, as it required weeks of preparation in addition to bringing a small army of security guards and staff. Streets had to be cordoned off and massive black curtains were draped down two exterior sides of the house for added protection. After the visit, they realized that their old life had gone forever and they had to make increased efforts to understand Washington and make their new life more agreeable.

It took almost three years to get things running more smoothly. Michelle has found her place and is popular and respected for her dedication to the underprivileged. The Obamas' two daughters are admired for their charm and simplicity. President Obama of course continues to fight battles every day, with friends and foes alike. This book, while touching on the victories and setbacks of his administration, is primarily concerned with Obama family life, and reading it is time well spent. It would be a real shame and a great loss for the country if they are not able to continue for another four years.


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