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Girl in a Band
Girl in a Band
by Kim Gordon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Highly disappointing., 29 May 2015
This review is from: Girl in a Band (Paperback)
I was really looking forward to reading this book. There had been rave reviews on Twitter and no one would dispute that Kim Gordon has led an interesting life and that she always comes over clearly and intelligently in interviews.

First impressions were not good. Despite the book being a healthy size and nearly 300 pages, the text is huge and large gaps in the pages abound. This was clearly not going to be the in depth read I was looking for. The book opens with an account of Gordon’s divorce and Sonic Youth’s last show, then describes her early life. Sonic Youth are not mentioned until at least halfway in, and even then there are few insights about the songs.

As I read further my sympathy soon evaporated. Gordon spends whole pages grudging, bickering and name dropping. Since there is so little detail about her bands or work she comes over as a woman with a completely misplaced sense of self-worth. Gordon dedicates the last fifth of the book relating Thurston’s infidelity and the resulting divorce in unpleasant levels of detail.

Gordon’s book is an unpleasant read, the whole thing does feel like it was bashed out over a weekend because someone needed the money. I give one extra star for the three pages about Kurt Cobain. Kim Gordon really should have waited a few years until she got some perspective about her divorce, then given fans the detailed behind the scenes breakdown of Sonic Youth, Free Kitten and X Girl that they wanted. As it is this book is slight, vindictive, self-indulgent and badly put together. Such a wasted opportunity.


BEGINNERS ICELANDIC BOOK & CDS (Hippocrene Beginner's)
BEGINNERS ICELANDIC BOOK & CDS (Hippocrene Beginner's)
by HELGA HILMISDOTTIR
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too basic for any serious learner, not enough fun for the beginner, 27 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Icelandic can be a very difficult language to learn, not only is the inflected grammar and pronunciation extremely complicated there is a real lack of available resources to help you learn, there isn’t even a decent English / Icelandic dictionary. It really can be a bitter and long uphill struggle. There are only three main Icelandic tuition books on the market: Complete Icelandic, Colloquial Icelandic and this one, which I only found fairly recently. Of the available books Complete Icelandic is a very good all-round introduction with a very appealing technique and Colloquial Icelandic is the more challenging intermediate book, although I found it had some very frustrating shortcomings.

This book is exactly as the title suggests, it is for beginners only. The book leaves you with fairly basic phrases by the end of the book and it doesn’t even touch upon past tenses. It completely lacks the fun learning environment of Complete Icelandic and depth of Colloquial. Personally I found this book quite handy as revision and to practice the pronunciation, but I wouldn’t recommend it for any serious learner because the other books cover everything this one has, and much more besides.

If you just want to know a few basic phrases and gain a very general overview of the language in a short time then you might want to consider this book. But I think that Complete Icelandic is much better for the beginner and Colloquial Icelandic is far better for the student. Another minor point is that this book also uses American English throughout (“full stops” are described as “periods” for example). In this books favour, each new topic and the font and page layouts are clearly set out. The dialogues on the CD are also nice and clear (albeit in American accents). The CD also gives you pauses to repeat the vocabulary, which is helpful.

A basic introduction to the language for newcomers but I really would suggest getting one of the other books if you really want to learn this language properly.


Colloquial Icelandic: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
Colloquial Icelandic: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
by Daisy Neijmann
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars An adequate but very challenging textbook, with some fustrating drawbacks, 6 Feb. 2015
As you will realise from reading the other reviews Icelandic can be a rather difficult language to learn. Not only is the grammar extremely complex with lots of inflections and complex rules to learn, but there is also a lack of resources available. I could only find two main instruction books on the language, Compete Icelandic and this one, Colloquial Icelandic. Unlike Swedish or Danish you simply won’t find a local class to attend or even a complete English Icelandic dictionary to buy to assist you.

This was the second Icelandic book I came to after having already completed Complete Icelandic, which served as a good, if slight, introduction but little more. This book throws you right in at the deep end and it is a lot more challenging to work through, but covers a great deal more ground than Complete Icelandic. It serves as a more intermediate book, but you could start with this one if you think you would be able to cope with it (the first few chapters can be really quite daunting for newbies because it starts with quite high level language). On the plus side this book does a fairly decent job of giving you some vocabulary and introducing the grammar and other things you need to learn. There are readings, dealing with everyday situations, followed by exercises. Working for half an hour every day I found myself picking things up quite well, if slowly and surely, even having already completed the other book.

This book is far from perfect. After the first few chapters the dialogues stop having English translations so you need to look up some of the words in the dictionary at the back. The mini dictionary at the back is not complete, sometimes you come across words that aren’t listed so you have no idea what they are and no means of finding out. This is extremely frustrating. There are also a few (though not many) mistakes in the answers in the back, very disappointing.

The main problem with this book is with the CD. It is not included with the book so you need to buy it separately (it costs well over £30, far more than the book does). When you get it then you find out that the CD has only a fraction of the dialogues and readings from the book, plus each dialogue has a long introduction in English that you can’t skip (annoying, especially when you listen to the CD over and over again to pick things up). If space restrictions on the CD are the reason that all the dialogues are not included then it is doubly frustrating to have so much space wasted by the tedious introductions. The main problem is that the dialogues on the CD are not quite the same as the text in the book. If the book talks about what happens in March, or that something costs 4000kr, then the CD might say it happens in April and it costs 6600kr. Occasionally some lines of dialogues are missed out, and sometimes extra ones are added, or some of the sentences might be read out in the wrong order. I’m not sure if this is intentional to try and keep you on your toes but I found it to be absolutely infuriating when I was trying to follow the words in the book. The CD just isn’t very good, a bit of a poke in the eye considering the additional expense and the hassle in acquiring it. On the plus side the CD speaks the words at a realistic high speed like native speakers would. Too many language CDs speak the dialogues far too slowly and leave you completely unprepared for speaking with the local population.

Overall I think that this is the best Icelandic book that you can buy. It is very hard work but gives you everything that you need. To learn any language you really need to work at it and keep plugging away over time with as many resources as you can find. However this book is far from perfect, the annoying niggles mentioned above go a long way towards spoiling it. Since there are so few Icelandic books on the market then you just have to put up with it. This book does the job but leaves you feeling a bit frustrated in places, especially since there are no real alternatives to turn to instead. Learning Icelandic continues to be a long and bitter uphill struggle, I do so wish there was more available to help me.


Complete Icelandic: Teach Yourself (Book/CD Pack)
Complete Icelandic: Teach Yourself (Book/CD Pack)
by Hildur Jonsdottir
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction only., 9 Dec. 2014
Twenty years ago I decided I wanted to learn Icelandic but there was only one book available – the original Teach Yourself, which dated from 1961. As the very first exercise it asked you to decline all the different types of nouns, without even explaining what the cases meant. The book didn’t have any audio support and the internet didn’t exist so I had no way of even hearing what the language sounded like. Unsurprisingly I got absolutely nowhere and I soon gave it up. Even twenty years later there are now still only two main Icelandic books on the market, Daisy Neijmann’s Colloquial Icelandic and this one, the new revised Teach Yourself. I am pleased to see that this new version is now readable and easy to work though, completely different to the impenetrable first version I tried so long ago.

This book took me two months to work through, working for about an hour a day. It is easy to use and explains the basic concepts behind the complex Icelandic grammar very well. Not having studied an inflected language before it explained what the different cases meant in a fairly understandable way. It got me started on learning the language, something I’ve wanted to do for years. Each chapter starts with a dialogue to follow on the CD, the book then explains some concepts and then gives you some exercises to work through. Each chapter has a theme, like describing someone’s appearance or having dinner with family. There is a mini dictionary at the back. I did have some issues with this book as I went through it – the dictionary doesn’t list the gender of the nouns (so you often can’t work out which endings to use) and there are a few (but not many) mistakes in the answers for the exercises. There are no extended texts at the end so there is no way to practice what you have learned when you’ve finished the book.

On finishing the book I didn’t feel like I had a grasp on the language by a long way so I bought the other book Colloquial Icelandic and was shocked at how much this book left out, how many fairly basic concepts it omitted and how unrealistically slow the dialogue on the CD was. The last chapter of this book is about the same level as chapter four of Colloquial Icelandic. Daisy Neijmann’s book throws you right in at the deep end in a far more challenging way, it is more in depth but it is a great deal harder to work through. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that I might have just given up again had I started right with Colloquial Icelandic. Colloquial Icelandic also has some mistakes in it so neither book is ideal.

Overall this is a very user friendly introduction to Icelandic, an interesting but often difficult language. Without a “Teach Yourself Volume 2” this is a long way “Complete Icelandic” as the title suggests. I would recommend this book as an accessible starting point to a challenging subject. I don’t think that you can learn any language from just one textbook, you really need to work at it and immerse yourself in a number of different sources, expose yourself to as much of the language as you can. I’m still a long way from understanding this language, I don’t know if I will ever get there given its complexity and the lack of available resources. However I would recommend this book as an assessable starting point. I think that Colloquial Icelandic is a better book overall though. I just bought both.


Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book Level 1
Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book Level 1
by Willard A Palmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course, 2 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My wife bought a piano a few years ago and I decided that I’d like to learn how to play it, despite not having any lessons before and being well into my adulthood.

I bought a number of different tuition books and got absolutely nowhere: all the books I tried either spent 50 or more pages getting you to play “Twinkle Twinkle” and endless boring simple exercises, or they expected you to play “Greensleeves” on the first page. This book was the only one that worked. The difficulty level in this book is set just right, on every page you learn something new and you have a new piece to learn which stretches you a bit, but not too much. How fast you learn is up to you. You can do an hour every day and move through the book fairly quickly, or you can do just ten minutes every few days and take a year or more to work through it.

Don’t bother with the CD. Just type the name of the song followed by “Alfred’s” into YouTube and you’ll have a number of performances of every single song to listen to.

This book is excellent, it has given me months and months of entertainment and given me some basic piano skills that I never had before. I can’t recommend it enough.


Tripods - The Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]
Tripods - The Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Shackley
Price: £11.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed BBC Sci Fi TV series of the past, 4 Nov. 2013
Like many reviewers I remember watching The Tripods as I ate my dinner on Saturday evenings. Also, like at least one other reviewer, I am a big fan of the books and still reread them every few years - a pleasing mixture of HG Wells, Mark Twain and boys' adventure stories. I was looking forward to watching the TV series again on DVD.

The Tripods was created to fill the ailing Dr Who timeslot. It played to one of the BBC's main strengths - quality costume drama. I'll mention the good bits first - the costumes and location filming are superb, the acting is good enough (especially when you consider the young age of the actors). The special effects were sensational at the time, nowadays the Tripods seem a bit wobbly but it's still more than adequate. This really was supposed to be a lavish production to move the BBC on. Sadly to create better value for money (and to add more female characters to try to widen the viewing audience) the series is heavily padded with an awful lot that wasn't in the original book. Series 1 consists of 12 episodes during which the characters only meet with the Tripods 5 times. Big mistake. It's slow and lumbering. There are two and a half completely pointless episodes set in a vineyard and at least two or three more where nothing really happens. Had series 1 been 6 episodes long and followed the book closely then you'd ended up with a truly cracking sci fi series instead of 6 hours of padded hiking.

The second series concerns the resistance movement and its infiltration of the Tripod city to gain information. Series 2 attempts to rectify the flaws of the first series. The first episode starts with a bang and we see more Tripods in the first episode of series 2 than we did in the previous 13 episodes of series 1 combined. There are a few false starts but we eventually get inside the Tripod city around episode 4. As before the special effects and design are fantastic. Oh dear, here onwards the series begins to take massive deviations from Christopher's book and the overall feeling is extremely messy and confused. Christopher's book was based upon the psychological horror of the city with its strangeness, it's terrible unrelenting heat, heavy gravity and the sadistic evil Masters. In the TV series the Masters are jolly and there's even a wine bar where the slaves relax in the evening called the Pink Parrot (!). The main character Will suddenly becomes unbelievably stupid. If he is supposed to be pretending to worship the Masters (as the capped do) then surely they would have noticed and had him executed on the first day? He picks fights with other slaves, insults the masters and is continually questioning everything and anything. He makes it unquestioningly obvious he is not capped, and it takes ages for anyone to do anything about it. A completely new addition of the TV series is the Cognosc - a ridiculous higher alien species in the city based on pure mind and energy. How very silly. For at least three episodes this series makes little sense whatsoever and we are left with lots of chasing around dark corridors and lots of men in tight leather shorts. It's quite bizarre, and could be questionable... Just when you think it's over then there's two more completely unnecessary episodes based around a circus. We are then left with the exciting final climax chase and the now famous cliff-hanger ending, which is never actually resolved because the BBC cancelled the series two thirds of the way through.

The Tripods could have been amazing had they paid more attention to the writing and pacing - exactly the same problem that faced Colin Baker era Doctor Who at the same period. As it is: it's interesting, parts of the series are worth seeing, but it's so heavily flawed that it's a real struggle to get through it all. The viewing public obviously agreed because the series was never completed. What a shame.


No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars Awful product, 31 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had suffered from occasional insomnia over the previous year. On occasions when I really couldn't sleep I took half a Nytol but I hated how they made me feel groggy for a few hours the next day. I decided to try something different. I took just half of one of these tablets, it knocked me out fine. Next day I felt awful, so groggy I could barely get up for work, I had to work hard just to concentrate on anything. I was totally unable to drive and by 7pm the next evening I still felt like a zombie. I can honestly say that a sleepless night feels better than taking these evil tablets! I put the rest of my box straight into the bin and I can't recommend these to anyone.


Floating City, A
Floating City, A
by Jules Verne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short and Simple Report on Brunels SS Great Eastern, 9 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Floating City, A (Paperback)
Like many people I am extremely fond of Jules Verne's most famous novels, but haven't read that many of the hundred or so lesser books that he published over his lifetime. Most of them tend to be entertaining enough, but lack the classic feel of 20,000 Leagues or Journey to the Centre of the Earth. A Floating City isn't an exception to this rule.

A Floating City isn't much of a novel, more of a journalistic report of what it felt like to travel across the Atlantic in what was then the largest ship ever built. Jules Verne succeeds quite well in recreating the atmosphere of a Victorian voyage and some of the wonder of the engineering achievement that the ship represented at the time. There are some half-hearted attempts at a plot: A romance or a duel for just a few pages, but these are soon forgotten as the voyage continues. At the end Verne gives a short impression of New York and then a more detailed description of Niagara Falls before returning home again.

The book is very short at only 120 pages and please be aware that the wonderful illustrations by Jules Ferat which came with the original publication are not included in this edition (Fredonia Books).

This book is interesting enough for fans of Jules Verne or those interested in Brunel and Victorian Engineering but is too slight to be anything more than a curio. Recommended but don't expect too much more from it.


Toshiba SD1010 DVD Player
Toshiba SD1010 DVD Player

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Multi Region, 1 Sept. 2012
Just to add to previous reviews, this is not multi regional as it comes from Amazon.

You can make it a multi regional DVD player by turning on the DVD player, pressing "Open" then typing in 98790 on the remote control. You can also make it region 1 by entering 98791, region 2 98792 and so on.

A cheap and cheerful DVD player, no great shakes but good for the price.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2013 3:05 PM GMT


Pandora
Pandora
Price: £6.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I don't say this lightly, but this is the worst book I have ever read, 3 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Pandora (Kindle Edition)
I read this book on holiday when I unwisely finished both my books on the second day and had to resort to the holiday home bookshelf which contained a selection of bestsellers. I've never read any Jilly Cooper before but had heard she was a good and very popular writer.

Dearie me! A selection of odious upper middle class characters (who are described as an "architect" or "art dealer" but never seem to do any work) swan around their country houses having frequent, graphically described sex with each other. The plot was like something a 16 year old schoolgirl would write who wants to be the next Iris Murdoch. Throughout the book are planted pointless references to great art and literature as if we are supposed to think that the author is tremendously learned and wise for knowing such things.

In fact this book was so unlikeable in every single way, and the constant sex scenes so disgustingly described that I felt unwell throughout. Not since Naked Lunch or American Psycho have a read a book which made me feel emotionally violated afterwards.

How on earth does this trash sell so many millions of copies?


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