Review: Citizen Clem, John Bew

Rating: 5 out of 5

I had barely no impression of Mr Attlee before I started this book — neither did I know much about Mr John Bew though his biography of Castlereagh has been in my “To Read” list since perhaps mid-2012. What I can say after finishing this biography is that Mr Attlee probably ranks amongst the top PMs to have ever governed in the United Kingdom while Mr Bew’s style of biography is superb, with just enough humanity to make the people live the pages they are written on.

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Review: Heroes, Stephen Fry

Rating: 5 out of 5

Most of us probably have some idea of various Greek gods and also their heroes — after all, who has not heard of Herakles or Odysseus? There are other names which could be thrown into this mix, but the point I am trying to make is that Greek mythology has permeated much of Western culture and civilisation to a very great degree. Therefore, it could be said that one should be a bit careful about which author’s take on these myths they should read — having experienced ‘Mythos‘ some time ago, I was keen to take up ‘Heroes’ as soon as I could — and I was not disappointed.

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Review: The Templars, Dan Jones

Rating: 4 out of 5

I have liked the idea of the Knights Templar from my early youth as probably many a lad interested in (military) history does/did. Not only is theirs a story filled with excitement; victories followed by defeats, and vice versa, but there’s also a very definite end-point, organised by the French King in his quest for money. This is a neater story — at least compared to the other well-known military orders — and therefore makes itself slightly more suitable to be treated as a continuous narrative. I think Mr Dan Jones delivers on this promise, but he could have done more.

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Review: Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie

Rating: 5 out of 5

Mr Abercrombie’s a true master — or at least that’s how some of his characters have turned out in these writings. Only one of the stories in this volume was not to my liming and that one featured Shy; incidentally, I had also read this story beforehand in a different collection. One out of thirteen is pretty good going, however, and the many features of this book in the Styrian and Northern lands make it absolutely worthwhile if the reader wants another glimpse into some characters of the main First Law series.

That said, there are also other characters in this book and indeed many from the main series make no appearance whatsoever. However, almost everyone written into this book absolutely deserves the time taken to read these stories for they provide a window into some human souls.

Review: Hamilton the Musical

Rating: 5 out of 5

Absolutely loved it — but to be clear, I haven’t seen it but just listened to it. There is so much to enjoy in the rich world it creates though of course some ahistorical notes also creep in. I feel, however, that any deviations from the truth as we know it are thoroughly warranted by the virtue of making another Founding Father accessible to the modern public.  Continue reading “Review: Hamilton the Musical”

Review: Half a King, Joe Abercrombie

Rating: 3 out of 5

I thought I couldn’t dislike a Joe Abercrombie novel and I haven’t disproven myself of that notion although I have also not picked up the next Shattered Sea immediately. Other people have said that this is unlike Mr Abercrombie’s First Law series and that is very much the truth. The style and feel of the characters is absolutely different even if some are still written to have the caustic snarkiness that was the key to dan Glokta and others.

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Review: Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card

Rating: 5 out of 5

I am not sure what I expected after ‘Ender’s Game’ which was a relatively fast paced novel. This one took a different tack and we ended up with a rather slow-paced mystery which I still thoroughly enjoyed throughout its intellectual considerations. There was a more depth in this book, and the “us and them” discussions were brilliant throughout.  Continue reading “Review: Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card”

Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, Brian Kilmeade

Rating: 1/2/3 out of 5

I am quite officially in very two different minds about this book. I read this and the numerous comments other people have thrown at this book wasn’t something I even noticed. This probably comes about from me trying to discover as much about the naval adventure herein as possible — the open American patriotism and hostile comments towards others meant very little to me. But, in what is perhaps the best way for me to describe it, this book isn’t written like a narrative history – it is a newsreel-style series of chapters which are designed to shock and horrorify the (American) reader. There is very little of “good” historiography in this, and if someone was actually looking to read more about the Barbary Wars I would recommend them to look for a better title.  Continue reading “Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, Brian Kilmeade”

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