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since 28/03/2003


Spilled Blood - Brian Freeman 04/10/2015

Death in a Ghost Town

Wallace of the Secret Service - Alexander Wilson 04/10/2015

Prototype Bond Returns

Wallace of the Secret Service - Alexander Wilson This is the third in the re-issued series authored by the former soldier, spy and Professor of English Literature, without whom it is said, there'd have been no Bond, no Smiley, no Bourne. I suspect that's not strictly true, but it makes a good tag-line. And certainly Wallace was one of the early contenders. Unlike Bond, he is happily married. Maybe that was a necessity of appealing to a mainstream publisher back in the twenties and thirties. He's also head of the department rather than a loose cannon of an agent. Also unlike Bond, and perhaps a bit more like Sherlock Holmes, he is less likely to turn up announcing his bona fides as to show up in any one of a myriad of disguises good enough to foil even his closest colleagues – although not quite sufficient to throw Mahatma Gandhi off his trail. Not at the first attempt anyway. As we've started with departures, lets continue in that vein. This book also differs from the previous two in that whereas they were fully-fledged novels, what we have here is a collection of short stories. There's a lead-in thread by way of an introduction from a third party who's allegedly been asked to collect the stories together, but as that offers up no more than a prologue of an introduction for anyone who didn't start with The Mystery of Tunnel 51, it actually adds nothing to the collection. In these days of "more enlightened understanding" or "political correctness" (depending upon your standing), it can be difficult to read stories about ...

Whispering Shadows - Jan-Philipp Sendker 03/10/2015

For The Love of A Son

Buy Me The Sky - Xinran 02/10/2015

Keep The Incense Burning Poor Little Rich Kid

The Taxi Queue - Janet Davey 01/10/2015

Ordinary Lives

The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett 30/09/2015

We Won't Get Fooled Again

The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett Having committed to re-read the whole collection in honour of the author there is an argument for saying I should have held off this one, saved it until the end… especially as it had leaked that one of the ends in the book is that of my favourite character… but… …well, come on! It's a Pratchett. It's a Discworld Pratchett! It wouldn't be right to wait. Besides, if I read it now, there's another argument which says I shall have to read it again when I get to it…? Anyone who is likely to be remotely interested in this review will know what I'm talking about. Terry Pratchett, much-loved humourous & thought-provoking author of decades' worth of joy, died earlier this year. Because his work and his intellect touched my life in a way that no others have matched, I chose to mark his passing. Hence the re-read. I decided not to read in chronological order of writing, but to first follow the Discworld series from start to finish. This is the finish. I hope. I genuinely hope that his executors don't license anyone else to pick up where he left off. He left off, not with the Watch, nor the Patrician, not with Dragons or Progress (as such) or Politics. He left off, in a way, where he started, with pure mythology. He left off with the Witches, with Granny W passing on – but being allowed to stay for a while – with a cat named You – with Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick and Miss Tick (a joke I only just got! Ho hum). And Letice Earwig – witchery's equivalent of Mrs Bucket. Above all, ...

Mill Hotel & Riverside Restaurant, Sudbury 29/09/2015

Quaint Hotel - but the welcome wasn't

Orchard Hotel, Nottingham 28/09/2015

Not quite an Orchard but lots of green space

Orchard Hotel, Nottingham What & where & why The Orchard Hotel is part of the De Vere chain and is primarily a conference hotel. It's attached to the East Midlands Conference Centre on the Nottingham University campus. For most people, I'm guessing that visiting the university or attending a conference is the most likely reason to bring them here, but it the cost isn't out of your budget then I'd heartily recommend the hotel as a base for visiting Nottingham itself. It's a ten to fifteen minute ride from the city centre (about £6 by cab, or £2.70 on the tram that runs from the main road outside the campus) but the main point is the location. Nottingham campus is simply gorgeous! Lots of green space and walkways. Formal gardens and a lake. Architecture that covers a range of interests. To be fair, my first visit was on the Saturday before the start of term, so I'm guessing that for most of the year it isn't quite as peaceful as it was on this occasion. Even so, it'd be hard to beat for a wake-up walk immediately outside your hotel door. Address: the website gives the address as University Park, The University of Nottingham, NG7 2RJ – I booked through my usual site ( and they give the address as Beeston Lane… which is actually more useful if you're trying to find out exactly where on campus you need to get to. Why: for me it was a University visit. I'm starting a masters degree – slightly scary and I'm telling everyone in the hope that it will reinforce that I don't now get to dip out ...

Sons of the Oak - David Farland 27/09/2015

Entering the Fray - possibly too far into it

Emily Goes to Exeter - M.C. Beaton 15/09/2015

A Little Light Plottery

Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett 14/09/2015

Mind the Glamour

Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett While the Great A'tuin continues to swim through space carrying the elephant bearers of the Discworld on its back, I continue to ebb and flow my way through life on roundworld, and continue to work my way through the delights of the stories that have crossed from one to the other. Which is to say, I'm still indulging my commitment to re(read) all of Pratchett's work in honour of his genius and gratitude for the fun he's allowed me to share with those of like mind. I'm going to assume that by now anyone who really cares will have got the general idea of the Discworld books… if you haven't, stop reading here and go check out The Colour of Magic for the general feel of the place... and then you need to read Equal Rites because that's where you'll meet the Witches… and because that's numbers 1 and 3, why not keep the thing in order and fill in the gap as you go along… Of course, you don't need to do any of that. The Discworld novels are all deliberately written to stand alone. You will miss a lot of the jokes if you don't read them in order, but Mr P fills in all the details that you actually need to be able to follow what's going on. Mostly. Lords and Ladies is a bit on an exception in that regard. This one is a direct sequel to Wyrd Sisters (6th in the overall series, second in the Witches stories). However, just in case you haven't, the author's note explains that it was the one in which Granny Weatherwax (she of fixed stare, sharp headology and an absolute faith in the ...

Tail of the Blue Bird - Nii Ayikwei Parkes 13/09/2015

Deep Deep in the Forest

Are you against Tesco's upcoming ban on sugary drinks to replace them by sugar-free drinks ? 12/09/2015

No Sugar - Great Marketing

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People - Stephen R Covey 08/09/2015

Habitual Self Improvement

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People - Stephen R Covey There seems to be a body of people quick to mock or condemn Covey’s “7 Habits” – and, whilst I have some sympathy with some of the sentiments, I can’t help wondering how many of these people have actually read the book….let alone thought about it and, dare I suggest it, actually tried out some of the ideas for themselves. I wonder this for two reasons. Firstly: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is over 25 years old, is still in print and has sold over 10 million copies around the globe. Can all 10 million people have been disappointed in their purchase? Secondly: my own copy is probably over 15 years old, the pages are yellowing thickened with thumbing and suffer from having their corners turned down. I agree with those critics who say that much of Covey’s advice is common sense ~ but if we all used an ounce of the common we were born with the world would be a much better place. Sometimes we do need the obvious to be pointed out to us. I have changed a lot in the last ten years, and my life has moved on in many ways. But I do still keep coming back to Covey: for enlightenment? for reassurance? Or maybe just to be reminded of the obvious. If you have any kind of leadership role in business (and even if you don’t) I urge you to read this book and try to apply some of the ideas it recommends. I say “some” advisedly. Covey is a god-fearing American Christian with a strong belief in family life. As a single-female, blissfully childfree, atheist Brit, I find some of ...

Marston Marsh, Norwich 07/09/2015

Wildness On the Edge of Town

Marston Marsh, Norwich I discovered the Marston Marsh by accident. Out cycling one day, I spotted an old lane, now closed to traffic and so doubly enticing to the two-wheeled wanderer, and thus found a good reason to leave the bike at home, the beginnings of one of my favourite home-ground walks – a three hour route from my door, which takes in woodland, country lane, riverbank, formal park, Broad-side and these 26 hectares of floodplain and grazing marsh. Since then I’ve been out on the marsh most weeks. Intriguingly, that’s still how I feel about it “out on the marsh”. It does retain that feeling of remoteness and, in the worst weathers, of bleakness. Why is that surprising? Because this particular marsh is right on the edge of the City. It lurks untouched between the railway line, the golf course, and the A140. A 20 minute walk from the City Centre, two minutes from a Holiday Inn, there survives one of the most diverse patches of wild habitat imaginable. I’m told that there are no “amazingly”, but lots of “locally”, rare species. There are two quite uncommon snails, apparently, which to my untutored brain conjures up a cartoon image of upper-class-accented, DJ’d versions of “Brian”. I can get more excited about there being all three types of woodpecker. Personally I’ve only ever seen the greens in these quarters, but I have come across spotted’s elsewhere within the city bounds – the Heath and Lion Wood are not that far away. I’m more than a little pleased to know that the pub isn’t the only ...
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