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Reviews Written by
M. J. Fenn (Canada)

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33 used & new from CDN$ 1.68

3.0 out of 5 stars Feuding and public relations, March 25 2009
This review is from: Bribe (Mass Market Paperback)
A strong part of this novel is the depiction of the way in which Federal and State law enforcement spend considerable energies on feuding with each other. The author evidently also does see the need to depict the Federal authorities being all too ready to make bold and speculative claims about the pursuit of law enforcement, despite the obscuring effect that such a presentation of the issues may have.

The plot of this book? Par for the course: a Congressman assassinated under murky circumstances, a complex investigation, following which, after a great deal of fuss, few people emerge with much credit.

There are some fine descriptions of Sacramento architecture and traditions.

Blenheim and the Churchill Family: A Personal Portrait
Blenheim and the Churchill Family: A Personal Portrait
by Henrietta Spencer-Churchill
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 52.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Sedate country seat for sometimes disfunctional residents: a 'must see' stop on an England trip, March 20 2009
The sedateness and beauty of this English country seat of the Dukes of Marlborough is universally acknowledged. The detailed descriptions and the outstanding photography make this a valuable tome.

North Americans with limited time in England can usefully read up this book beforehand and will thus possibly realize that Blenheim should be included on their 'must see' list.

How Mrs Simpson was a star guest in 1936, the disfunctionalities of various alternative domestic arrangements of some of the Churchill family - presumably stuff that sells well - are also included here.

Written by a member of the Churchill family, the airy way in which she refers casually to 'Winston' and others made me smile.

If you are looking for a 'typically English' description of an English property quintessence, read this book and go to Blenheim, the place it describes.

Scotland's Kings and Queens
Scotland's Kings and Queens
by Alan Bold
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.95
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Facsinating overview of Scotland's turbulent royal past, March 19 2009
This is truly a fascinating overview of Scotland's turbulent past and its relationship with the various dynasties of kings and queens who ruled the country, until James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

It must be remembered that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is actually Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland.

What really strikes me from this book is the sheer instability and violence which Scotland underwent for centuries: the roots of the antagonisms between England and Scotland long predate the issues of the Reformation.

What also strikes me is how relatively recently the Pretenders to the Scottish throne were still advancing their claims.

This makes an ideal Christmas or birthday gift for a young person interested in history, or even Scottish genealogy.

Gate Way to Victory
Gate Way to Victory
by Eddy Florentin
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from CDN$ 5.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Guide book of D-Day Landings area, with some amazing facts, March 19 2009
This review is from: Gate Way to Victory (Paperback)
This books is a straightforward guidebook of the area of the 1944 D-Day Landings. Issued 20 years ago, its production quality by today's standards would not be especially great.

But its contents are fascinating and, taken together, are a witness to the extraordinary achievement which the combined sea, land and air forces of a number of Allied contries, together, attained.

There are some fascinating pieces of information. For example, some towns in Western France were liberated weeks behind schedule.

At the same time, because of the Falaise breakthrough, part of the offensive was ahead of schedule.

The participation of the American, British, Canadian and Free French forces in the Normandy Landings is well known. What is not so well known is the fact that other countries' forces, or at least beligerents in exile, such as those from Denmark, Poland and The Netherlands, also participated.

I had not realized just how huge was the scale of American losses were suffered at Utah beach, although I was aware of the considerable Canadian input.

For those into military history, or simply interested in a tour of Normandy, this book is very useful indeed.

Daniel Rowland
Daniel Rowland
by Eifion Evans
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 101.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and illuminating biography of a pivotal figure in 18th century Welsh religious history, March 14 2009
This review is from: Daniel Rowland (Hardcover)
Methodist leader Daniel Rowland was a central figure in 18th century Welsh religious history and this book shows how central was the basic activity in which he engaged: Scripture proclamation.

We see his legacy in the appearance of the Calvinistic Methodist churches (once the largest denomination in Wales).

There are fascinating insights into the relationship between places such as Maesyronnen where the teaching of Rowland was rejected, and the rise of Unitarianism. Readers of North American evangelical history can find this very instructive.

Yesterday a Eucalyptus: Ayer un Eucalyptus
Yesterday a Eucalyptus: Ayer un Eucalyptus
by Circe Maia
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from CDN$ 30.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Presenting writing from Uruguay's interior, March 14 2009
The Uruguayan writer Circe Maia has written many poems, a selection of which are here presented both in their Spanish original form and in translation.

Universal themes in literature are readily apparent in these poems, proving once and for all that the smaller countries of the world have writers which offer cultural treasures which are just a weighty as those of the larger ones.

Of particular interest to this reviewer are the topgraphic and localized references to flora and fauna. The very title of the compilation is a reminder of the widespread presence of a species of tree in Uruguay. One of Maia's works is 'Poems from Caraguatá', the place name referring to both a river and a range of hills in Tacuarembó Department. In this poem, Maia's is an almost Proustian preoccupation with the multifarious thought provoation stirred by the passage of time. Her language is taken up intensely with the landscape of Caraguatá and its flora and fauna, but also with suggestions of a parallel spirituality and intimations of the hope of afterlife: images of light and paradise following the dark river of death: echoes of the Requiem's Tartarus / paradisium picture. These religious undertones are of note, given the secularist characterization of much Montevideo-based, contemporary Uruguayan writing. It is also to be remembered that Uruguay is not all Montevideo; along with other contemporary writers from Uruguay's interior such as Jesús Moraes, Maia discernibly broaches religious reflections.

Some of the introductory essay material contains very interesting thoughts about the relationship between Maia and other Uruguayan writing.

Collins GEM 5000 French Words
Collins GEM 5000 French Words
2 used & new from CDN$ 626.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent; a work which redeems language taxonomy, March 14 2009
This book is excellent. It is a first class tool for the learner of French.

For decades now, linguists have had to cope with Chomsky's criticisms of the 'taxonomic' approach to language, by way of groundwork to his promotion of Transformational Generative grammar. (And let it be said, this reviewer is not setting out to take issue at all with TG-grammar.)

But for many language learners a healthy dose of the taxonomic approach is very helpful and this book provides exactly that: various areas of meaning are grouped in useful classifications. These include a selection of adjectives derived from some of the more common French proper nouns, in addition to an index.

In an age where every army truck driver is seemingly called a war hero and every novel is apparently dubbed a blockbuster, it behoves reviewers not to categorize every book as worth its weight in gold.

But this book can certainly be so described.

Robert Ludlum's The Arctic Event
Robert Ludlum's The Arctic Event
by Robert Ludlum
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Riveting fiction about a private war in northern Canada, March 11 2009
This is a riveting read. It is meant to be. And clearly it is meant to be a riveting read for an American audience.

The author seems to assume that US and Russian operatives can engage in a private war in northern Canada, make amends with each other afterwards, and at the sole discretion of the US and Russia, decide that the Canadian government does not need to know about it for the next few decades. The head of a scientific expedition is portrayed as Canadian, obtuse and with a character flaw.

A helicopter full of baddies is described as crashing in Hudson Bay, supposedly in the vicinity of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, in fact, nowhere near them. The pilot is renegade aviator formerly of the Canadian Forces.

A boatload of baddies are picked up by US forces somewhere between Canadian and Icelandic waters, summarily executed by drowning, and the Canadian and Icelandic governments are clearly deemed not to need to know about it.

The goodies are all American (and maybe one Russian): the expert shooters, the resourceful intelligence operatives, and their bosses.

All rather exciting reading. To be kind, some of the fantasy might not even have been intended to be credible.

East Anglia by Rail
East Anglia by Rail
by Trevor Garrod
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from CDN$ 2.83

3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly dated but an interesting introduction to East Anglia from the rail traveller's perspective, March 5 2009
This review is from: East Anglia by Rail (Paperback)
Many travel books avoid relating to the rail traveller. This book is an interesting, if slightly dated, introduction to East Anglia, a region of England which is relatively little known even to many people who regard themselves as seasoned travellers. Moreover, it presents historic places from the point of view of the rail traveller's convenience.

Cambridge, Norwich, Colchester: cities with a wealth of architectural and historical heritage are all easily accessible from London by rail.For first time travellers to England, or to East Anglia, the book is unlikely to be especially attractive.

But my guess is that this item will become of increasing interest, not simply to traveller's to East Anglia but to railway buffs.

4 used & new from CDN$ 19.37

3.0 out of 5 stars Useful book, ideal gift for a young person, March 3 2009
This review is from: Flags (Paperback)
This is an ideal gift for a young person, with information about the nations of the world, as well as about their flags.

It is the sort of work which will easily fit into a pocket, to read on a journey.

The graphics of flags make a fascinating study. This book really is in the 'hard to put down' category.

Of special significance in this sort of book is the fact that a sovereign state such as Tuvalu can have as much attention as a country with over 100 million in population.

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