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Under the Eagle - Simon Scarrow 08/10/2017

Chalk and cheese - two soldiers in the Roman Army

Under the Eagle - Simon Scarrow The Product Historical novel written by Simon Scarrow. Paperback: 448 pages Publisher: Headline; paperback edition (7 Aug. 2008) ISBN-13: 978-0755349708 Cost Paperback version is 1p plus £2.80 postage on Amazon. A new copy would be £4.99. Basic Story This is an historical military novel and centres around two main characters in the Imperial Roman Army during 1st century AD under Emperor Claudius. This first book shows how Cato, one of the main characters, becomes a junior offer in the Roman Army under Centurian Macro – the other main character. Both figures are like chalk and chees – Cato, although he was once a slave, is educated and sensitive, while Macro is a soldier through and through and at the beginning of the book cannot even read and is uncultured. The two men forge a friendship during their adversities. This book is mostly set in Germany and features the struggle the military Romans had with the locals. The Series This is the first in a long series of historical books all featuring the two main characters Cato and Macro. 1. Under the Eagle (2000) 2. The Eagle's Conquest (2001) 3. When the Eagle Hunts (2002) 4. The Eagle and the Wolves (2003) 5. The Eagle's Prey (2004) 6. The Eagle's Prophecy (2005) 7. The Eagle in the Sand (2006) 8. Centurion (2008) 9. The Gladiator (2009) 10. The Legion (2010) Blood Debt (2009, short story) 11. Praetorian (2011) 12. The Blood Crows (2013) 13. Brothers in Blood (2014) 14. Britannia (2015) 15. Invictus ...

Without A Clue (DVD) 21/09/2017

Holmes and Watson - but not as you know them!

Without A Clue (DVD) Film Only Review The Product 1988 film – Without a Clue Starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley Director: Thom Eberhardt Writers: Gary Murphy, Larry Strawther Producers: Ben Moses, Diana Buckhantz, Marc Stirdivant Classification: Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment DVD Release Date: 10 Dec. 2001 Run Time: 102 minutes Cost £3.36 used on Amazon or £5.33 new. Basic Story A Sherlock Homes movie with a twist. This one is a comic take on the famous duo of Holmes and Watson. Here we see Ben Kingsley as Doctor Watson, here as the master detective, but he keeps this a secret and employs an out of work actor Reginald Kincaid, played by Michael Caine, to act the part of Sherlock Holmes the famous detective, while all the time feeding him clues to give to the police and press. The story itself is about stolen bank note presses and the printing and fake notes but the story is incidental to the comic interplay between Watson and Holmes. A comic detective film with some funny and light hearted interludes along the way. My Opinion This film I have watched before on TV and on DVD as I think my husband has it here somewhere but I have just re-watched it for free on Youtube. Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine are the perfect duo for this film. Both great actors, they really complement each other in this story. Here we have Watson as the clever and deductive one, while really Holmes is just his ‘front man’. However although Sherlock is an out of work actor and a bit of a ...

Engleby - Michael Maloney 20/09/2017

Unusual tale and although interesting, quite disturbing

Engleby - Michael Maloney The Product Listening Length: 11 hours and 17 minutes Audiobook of Sebastian Faulks’ novel Unabridged Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks Release Date: 6 Feb. 2008 ASIN: B002SQD0G0 Cost £12.25 on Amazon or one credit if you are with Audible. Basic Story This novel is an autobiography in a way and the narrator of the tale is Mike Engleby himself. It covers his troubled childhood, bullying, harsh conditions in a boarding school and goes on to cover his university years. The book then continues through his life to show how things have progressed. A lot of the book covers the 1970s student world, but all as seen from Engleby’s perspective. Through Mike’s revelations of the harsh upbringing he had we begin to feel empathy for him. He seems a rather unsociable and awkward individual, sort of living life on the side lines. However as the story progresses we see how he became infatuated with another student while at university, how much of the relationship is real or in his imagination? Also when this girl disappears we are left wondering – what really happened to her and was Engleby involved at all? Engleby sees everything from his own viewpoint (as well all do) and in his own mind he can justify all his actions. My Opinion I did not really know what to expect when I bought this audiobook and although I quite enjoyed it it was also rather disturbing in its own way. Sebastian Faulks’ character of Engley is one that we should hate and despise but Faulks ...

Under The Greenwood Tree (DVD) 18/09/2017

A year in a rural village - a quaint film of Thomas Hardy's novel

Under The Greenwood Tree (DVD) FILM ONLY REVIEW The Product TV adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel. Actors: Keeley Hawes, James Murray, Ben Miles, Steve Pemberton Director: Nick Laughland Number of discs: 1 PG Studio: 2entertain DVD Release Date: 9 Jan. 2006 Time – 93 minutes. Cost £6 new or £4.95 second hand on Amazon. Main Cast Keeley Hawes as Fancy Day James Murray as Dick Dewy Steve Pemberton as Mr. Shinar Ben Miles as Parson Maybold Basic Story This is a TV adaptation of the Thomas Hardy story. The action takes place in a small village called Mellstock and has two strands to the story. One part features the choir of Mellstock which for generations has played and sung in the village church, will they be superseded by the new organ that the vicar has purchased? The other strand involves an attractive teacher who has come back to the village to nurse her sick father. The arrival of this attractive young lady causes her to attract the attention of three men – all from different strata of society – which one will win her favours? My Opinion As far as I can recollect this adaptation sticks pretty much to the original story as written by Thomas Hardy, though there is one or two little differences at the end, but nothing major. The book was originally written back in 1872 and the title is taken from a Shakespearian song in As You Like It. The film follows a whole year in the community of Mellstock – ‘under the greenwood tree’ – and the tree in the film is shown to reflect the ...

The House At Sea's End: A Case For Investigator Ruth Galloway - Elly Griffiths 09/09/2017

Detective/archaeology story - you never know who you can trust

The House At Sea's End: A Case For Investigator Ruth Galloway - Elly Griffiths The Product Paperback: 400 pages Publisher: Quercus (2 Jun. 2016) ISBN-13: 978-1786482136 Cost Second hand paperback from 1p plus £2.80 postage. £3.85 new on Amazon. The Series This is Book 3 in the Dr Ruth Galloway detective series – so far there have been nine books published: The Crossing Places The Janus Stone The House at Sea’s End A Room Full of Bones Ruth’s First Christmas Tree Dying Fall The Outcast Dead The Ghost Fields The Woman in Blue The Chalk Pit (2017) The Basic Story The Ruth Galloway mystery series is written by Elly Griffiths, the nom de plume of Domenica de Rosa. The premise of the whole series is the relationship and interplay between Dr Ruth Galloway, an archaeologist at a Norfolk university, and Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson. Ruth gets called in to help the police in each book as some mystery is unfolding. The series is set in the isolated and bleak Norfolk salt marshes. In this book six skeletons have been discovered on a remote beach after high tides – Ruth comes in to help date the bones and to test them for their geographic origins. However Nelson is involved as it soon becomes apparent that the people were shot and also tied together. Who were these six murdered people? What is the story behind their murders? And is it enough for someone to still continue killing? My Opinion This is now my fourth Ruth Galloway book, having read the newest one first – yes I know – a silly thing to do! The story continues from the ...

Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada 05/09/2017

A novel showing how an average couple kept their integrity

Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada The Product Book written in 1947 but translated into English in 2009. Paperback: 608 pages Publisher: Penguin Classics (28 Jan. 2010) Language: English ISBN-13: 978-0141189383 Cost Second hand on Amazon it is only £0.34 + £2.80 UK delivery or just £4.99 new and free p&p for orders over £10. Basic Story This is the first anti Nazi book to come out in Germany in 1947 and written by Hans Fallada. In Germany it was called ‘Every Man Dies Alone’ and featured an ordinary working man and his wife who decided to make a stand against the oppression during World War 2. It is based on a true story of a couple who decided to do their own little bit of Resistance by writing postcards. The real life couple, Otto and Elise Hampel, lived in Berlin and are not interested in current affairs or politics, but the death of her brother spurs them into action. In the book this is portrayed as the loss of their son. Their small from of Resistance is to write postcards urging people to resist the Nazis and to leave them in public places for people to find. The book contains images of the actual postcards distributed. The postcards were written in clumsy handwriting and they frightened the people who found them so much so that they were almost all handed over to the Gestapo immediately. The story reflects the mood of the time, where everyone distrusts everyone else and they are all living in fear of being denounced to the Gestapo, for maybe even the most innocent of deed or word. ...

The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths 20/08/2017

'Every Changes - nothing perishes' an interesting detective novel

The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths The Product The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths The second in the Ruth Galloway series. Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Quercus (29 July 2010) ISBN-13: 978-1849162296 Cost Second hand paperback from 42p plus £2.80 postage. £7.99 new on Amazon. The Series This is Book 2 in the Dr Ruth Galloway detective series – so far there have been nine books published: The Crossing Places The Janus Stone The House at Sea’s End A Room Full of Bones Ruth’s First Christmas Tree Dying Fall The Outcast Dead The Ghost Fields The Woman in Blue The Chalk Pit (2017) Who Was Janus? Janus was the Roman god of gates, doorways, beginnings and ending – hense why he is depicted with two heads – one pointing in each direction – one to the future and oen to the past. The Basic Story The Galloway series is written by Elly Griffiths, the nom de plume of Domenica de Rosa. Again this novel is set in the remote salt marshes of Norfolk and it combines the archaeological skills of Ruth Galloway with the detective work of DCI Harry Nelson. Dr Ruth Galloway works in the archaeology dept. of the local university and her speciality is old bones. Again Ruth is called in to assist the police when bones are discovered – this time they are intrigued because the torsos are missing their skulls. This time builders demolishing an old house find a skeleton under to doorstep of the house, but minus its skull. A child once disappeared from the building when it was a children’s home – but is this her ...

Rebecca (DVD) 04/08/2017

Can you ever live up to the memory of a dead first wife??

Rebecca (DVD) FILM ONLY REVIEW The Product 1940 film in black and white. Actors: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce Director: Alfred Hitchcock Classification: PG Studio: Fremantle DVD Release Date: 1 Jan. 2008 Run Time: 126 minutes Cost £4.99 used or new on Amazon. Basic Story This was Alfred Hitchcock’s first film in the US and stared Joan Fontaine who played a timid companion who is on holiday at Monte Carlo. It is based on Daphne Du Maurier’s book of the same name written in 1938. Here she falls head over heels for dashing but moody widower Laurence Olivier. After a quick marriage they both return to his country mansion in Cornwall, called Manderley. However life for the young and second Mrs De Winter is not all she expected as everywhere she turns in the large house she is confronted with reminders of Maxim’s first wife, the revered Rebecca. Can she get over this memory that hangs over everything, and what is the secret that is troubling Maxim so much? My Opinion This is a film I had watched many years ago and one that always lingered in my mind – after watching the movie how can you forget the name of ‘Mandaley’. Laurence Olivier plays the moody and broody Maxim De Winter very well – and had the right sort of superior attitude needed for someone in his position as owner of a country mansion. Joan Fontaine played the timid little mouse of a companion and the new Mrs De Winter almost too well. She comes over as so timid and ...

The Body Shop Moringa Body Scrub 02/08/2017

Not really fragrant and too gentle a scrub

The Body Shop Moringa Body Scrub The Product Tub of Moringa Body Scrub – 2 sizes, 60ml or 250ml. 'Pick up our tropical, mango scented scrub, to slough away dead skin cells, leaving your skin supremely soft and refined. It's sugary texture and fruity scent adds a touch of luxury to your exfoliating routine. • Body exfoliator • Smoothes and refines skin • Buffs away dead skin cells • Leaves skin beautifully soft and refined • Rich, creamy texture • Seed oil from hand-picked moringa pods' Cost 50ml tub is £6 on the Body Shop website while the larger 250ml is currently £15. My Opinion The Body Shop make glowing claims for this scrub; ‘The oil in our skin-softening Moringa range comes from hand-picked seeds of moringa flower pods. The softening oil of 500 hand-picked flower pods goes into each of our iconic 200ml Moringa Body Butters.’ Sound very impressive! The Moringa range is a floral scented one – very hard to describe and quite delicate and feminine. However I do not find these body scrubs as good as the description would make you believe. begin with I had the 6ml tub in a gift set, so I did not actually buy one for myself. I quite like the delicate Moringa fragrance, though it is not actually my favourite. This scrub however does not really have any of the floral fragrance that you expect from Moringa. As with their other srubs this one also comes in their standard screw top pot. The top has an image of the Moringa flower and the lid is pale cream. The jar is opaque but you can see the scrub ...

Silas Marner (DVD) 31/07/2017

A simple weaver's tale - but very touching and poignant

Silas Marner (DVD) FILM ONLY REVIEW The Product 1985 movie. Actors: Ben Kingsley, Jenny Agutter, Patrick Ryecart, Jonathan Coy, Patsy Kensit Director: Giles Foster Producer: Louis Marks Classification: PG Studio: 2entertain DVD Release Date: 1 Feb. 2010 Run Time: 90 minutes Cost Around £6 on Amazon for either the new and second hand versions. The Basic Story This is a BBC adaptation of George Elliot’s famous novel, Silas Marner, published in 1861. The story is set in 18th century England. Silas is a weaver who is wrongly ostracised by his own religious community when they believe he stole some money. Let down and not supported by either his girlfriend or best friend, so not being able to clear his name, Silas is disillusioned with humanity and sets off for another village where he can ply his trade. Now he keeps himself to himself and avoids both people and religion, only doing his work and hoarding his money. However life takes two dramatic turns for Silas – one negative and one positive. And we see how a heart that has been hardened can still blossom with care and love given the right circumstances. My Opinion I have always had a soft spot for this story since hearing it dramatized on the radio many years ago. Since then I have re-read the book and seen this film. Ben Kingsley plays the character of Silas superbly, showing remoteness and later tenderness. He is able to play Silas as a miserly recluse without him turning into a mean and bitter figure like Scrooge. Silas ...

The Lost Continent - Bill Bryson 25/07/2017

An interesting and amusing tour around small town America

The Lost Continent - Bill Bryson The Product Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (18 Dec. 1998) ASIN: B00I6170VC Cost £4.23 plus £2.80 postage on Amazon. Basic Story This story, his first travel book, was written by Bill Bryson detailing the travel expedition he undertook around small town central USA in 1987/88. The trip covered 38 states and was almost 14,000 miles and was made Bryson grew up in small town Des Moines in Ioha, and this is where he starts his trip. Bill’s father had not long died and he is trying to retrace their old holiday trips and also see what small town America is like. The book, as was his trip, is in two halves – the largest part being the first section which is the eastern journey around the mid-west, the south, east coast and New England. Bill then returns to Des Moines for a few months before embarking on the western part of his journey covering the plains, the south west, California and the Rockies. This is billed as a travel book but it is also has many humorous observations. My Opinion This is the first Bill Bryson book that I have actually read, though I have seen many of them around. This was his first travel type book but apparently he goes into more detail about places in his future books. Written after his father’s death, Bill, who loved in England, comes back to the USA to try and revisit places from his childhood and see if things have stayed the same. He tries not to visit the obviously touristy places and the large cities but goes through all the ...

Board games: which are the best for you? 21/07/2017

Its been good to remember the fun times I had with games

Board games: which are the best for you? I have not been playing board games for a few years now, mainly as the children have grown and left home. Also these days you can play 'board games' with a board - via the TV or computer screen. I know with my sons we would sometimes do online games like chess and Trivial Pursuit. However for me a proper board game needs to have a board and a box. Back in the 60s growing up I had a few games but not many people to play them with so my choice was limited: Solitaire This was a small pocket sized version that I managed to master - you removed the central peg form the board and then by means of jumping one peg over another you tried to end up with the final peg in the central hole - mine was plastic but you can have some nice wooden boards with glass marbles instead of pegs. Draughts An old fashioned well know game that is not too difficult to master. I used to play this with my mum, though after playing it a lot you can see ahead and manage to 'jump' your opponents pieces and manage to win the game. Chess On the same chequerboard board but with different pieces was chess. Now this I did not have anyone to play against but I taught myself out of one of those Pear's Encyclopaedia. So only a rudimentary knowledge of the moves and no idea of tactics. I have in later years played it online a little but my technique definitely needs improving! Frustration This was really my all time favourite. It came with a plastic board and wooden pegs. Up to four people could play and you had ...

The Body Shop Moringa Shower Gel 20/07/2017

OK floral smelling shower gel but quite expensive

The Body Shop Moringa Shower Gel The Product 250 ml plastic bottle. Body Shop Moringa shower gel Soap free With seed oil from the Moringa pod Made in Thailand Use within 12 months. Cost This can be bought online or in the Body Shop shops. Cost for 250mls is now £5 while the smaller travel size of 60ml is £2. Sometimes you can get free delivery online if you order over a certain amount such as £5 or £10 but otherwise the postage is £2.49. Other Items in the Moringa Collection Soap Body mist Hand cream Softening cream Body Sorbet Beautifying oil Eau de toilette Body Butter Body Scrub Beauty gift sets. My Opinion I have had this a few times as well as some other items in the Moringa range. This current bottle I had as part of a gift set but I can see the price for this bottle would now be £5, the cost used to be £4. The shower gel comes in a standard clear Body Shop bottle with a flip top lid. The gel is a very light lemony shade and is clear. The Moringa fragrance is a delicate floral aroma. Not a specific flower that people would recognise such as lily of the valley etc but quite a pleasant smell. So this is more of a feminine aroma and not one for the guys. The Body Shop site states that this is ‘lather rich’ but while it does provide quite a lot of small white bubbles when first used if you use it in the bath like I do the bubbles do soon fade. Body Shop also state that it softens your skin but I do not notice any particularly moisturising properties. The Moringa oil apparently comes from ...

Sylvia Scarlett (DVD) 15/07/2017

Lesbian kissing in a 1930s film - about the only memorable thing!

Sylvia Scarlett (DVD) Film Only Review The Product Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Brian Aherne, Edmund Gwenn, Robert Adair Director: George Cukor Writers: Compton MacKenzie, Gladys Unger, John Collier, Mortimer Offner Producers: Pandro S. Berman Classification: U Studio: Universal Pictures UK DVD Release Date: 4 Jun. 2007 Run Time: 95 minutes Cost £2.93 second hand on Amazon or £3.60 . Cast Katharine Hepburn as Sylvia Scarlett Cary Grant as Jimmy Monkley Brian Aherne as Michael Fane Edmund Gwenn as Henry Scarlett Dennie Moore as Maudie Natalie Paley as Lily Basic Story This 1935 film seemed ahead fo its time. The basic premise of the story is that Katharine Hepburn is dressed as a boy. To recap – her mother dies at the beginning fo the film, but she then finds out that her father has gambled away the firm’s money and they must flee France for England. This necessitates Katharine cutting off her hair and assuming the role fo son, rather than daughter. The lead role is Katharines and she later teams up with Cary Grant as they tour England as stage performers. My Opinion I normally like most older films, and this one is certainly old – being now 82 years old. However it does seem to have aged rather badly. The acting is very forced and over the top, even for a comedy film. Worse still is the sound – prepare to have your eardrums ache as the women talk very loud and squawky, most irritating. Nothing wrong with the storyline I suppose. There is not much to it and most of ...

The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths 09/07/2017

The Crossing Places - combines archaeology and detective work

The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths The Product Paperback – The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc (2009) ISBN-13: 978-1847249586 Cost Second hand paperback £2.69 on Amazon or £4.31 new. The Series This is Book 1 in the Dr Ruth Galloway detective series – so far there have been nine books published: The Crossing Places The Janus Stone The House at Sea’s End A Room Full of Bones Ruth’s First Christmas Tree Dying Fall The Outcast Dead The Ghost Fields The Woman in Blue The Chalk Pit (2017). The Basic Story The Dr Ruth Galloway series is written by Elly Griffiths, which is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa. This detective novel is set in the remote salt marshes of Norfolk. Dr Ruth Galloway is not a detective but an archaeologist at the local university. However she is called on to assist the police regarding old bones and their ages etc. This is the first in the series and sets the scene and the characters. Ruth is called in to assist the police when some bones are found on the salt marsh – are they tied in to a young child's disappearance, and can it be related to another missing child ten years previously? Also how are the anonymous letters that DCI Harry Nelson keeps receiving linked to the cases? This was a winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award 2011 and shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. My Opinion Well although this is the first book in the Dr Ruth Galloway series I must admit I started with Book 9 – ‘The Chalk ...
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