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Manthos A. Mattheou
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Troodos from Sea to Summit
Troodos from Sea to Summit
by Dr Ron Dutton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating guide to the unique geology of Cyprus, 25 July 2014
A truly excellent work for anyone interested either in the geology of the island of Cyprus or geology in general. Or even just interested in the surrounding landscape as one explores the island. The concept of the book for a non-geologist, such as myself, is truly overwhelming as one realises that the highest regions of the island are in fact the seabed turned inside out. Now that is truly simplifying everything described in this book. Yet having read the book about five years ago this is the first thing that comes to my mind without opening the book again. This is a small book, easy to read and an excellent guide to have at hand on a nature trail which may indeed taken from sea to summit.


The Reader [DVD]
The Reader [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kate Winslet
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £3.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Such a moving film, 12 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Reader [DVD] (DVD)
This was such a moving film. The portrayal of the characters is so convincing and close to real life without however simultaneously eliminating the element of surprise. Just when the viewer expects events to follow a certain course a decision made by one of the main characters is enough to change the course of the lives of the protagonists forever. The emotional effect of the film is equalled by the manner in which one is led to contemplate the choices with which the two main characters are faced with and even begin to wonder how one would respond to a similar situation. I purchased this DVD ages ago and I only watched it over the past couple of days. I regret not having viewed it before. Sometimes we let life and the demands it makes of us deny us the opportunity to cultivate that better part of us as human beings. The part that has nothing to do with the day to day demands of our life but with the boundless scope to feel something beyond our mundane existence.


Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertainment of Emotions, 10 Aug. 2003
Make no mistake about it. This is not a romantic novel and even though one cannot help but get carried away with the romance that gradually develops in Pelagia’s life this is rather a humorous novel for even within the romance itself and the harsh reality of the war that is soon to overwhelm the life of every character there is plenty of humour making the entertainment value of the novel undeniably high. Just one reservation about the actual plot of this book or rather not so much the plot itself but the way the novel actually ends. It makes one wonder whether the author was having second thoughts about this since the end seems rather contrived and quite detached from the development of the rest of the plot, particularly if one considers the point in time at which Captain Corelli escapes from the island of Cephalonia.


Loitering with Intent
Loitering with Intent
by Muriel Spark
Edition: Paperback

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of One’s Life, 10 Aug. 2003
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This review is from: Loitering with Intent (Paperback)
There is a sense of the autobiographical in this novel which in fact is quite appropriate when one considers the actual pivot around which the whole plot revolves. As a note of caution however I must add that I make this statement without having any knowledge at all of Muriel Spark’s actual life. As the author spins out the plot she manages to capture the essence of the main character’s experience as a secretary for a group of people organized by an individual with the sole aim of writing their biographies so that they may be put away in a safe place for seventy years and their contents not actually revealed until all the people mentioned in these sets of memoirs are actually no longer alive. The idea is that this will be of interest to the historian of the future. Not that the novel itself concentrates unduly on the efforts of this group but rather on the intellectual and emotional reactions of the novel’s main character, a young writer whose main concurrent aim in life is to get her first novel published. She is quite a likeable and attractive character and in fact she seems to be the only normal person amongst the rest of the characters portrayed in the novel, even though this impression may in fact be subconsciously and gradually formed in the reader’s mind by the first-person point of view of the novel since everything is seen and judged through the eyes of the novel’s main character. Even though this is a rather short book it is rather rich with experience and latent meaning well beyond the mere surface of the mostly humorous type of entertainment that pervades it from beginning to end.


The Usborne First Book of the Piano (First Music)
The Usborne First Book of the Piano (First Music)
by Eileen O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

123 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Child Within, 10 Aug. 2003
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Since I consider my self tone-deaf any book that can actually remedy this to some effect is a welcome addition to my book shelves. The truth is I bought this book not for my self but for my seven year old daughter who had earlier during the year started attending piano lessons. The book is very cleverly illustrated both so as to capture and maintain the attention of a child as well as to make learning how to play the piano as easy as possible. I consider my daughter the best critic of how useful this book remains for her even though my daughter’s piano teacher was also quite impressed by its contents. If you have a child who has just started learning how to play the piano or if the child within you wants to have another go at learning how to read music and also play such a magnificent instrument then this book is highly recommended both for its simplicity and effectiveness.


The Nanny Diaries : A Novel
The Nanny Diaries : A Novel
by Emma McLaughlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comical Humiliation and Domination, 25 April 2003
First of all, this is an enjoyable and easy to read novel peppered with modern and apt cultural references. The comical humiliation and domination that the novel’s heroine has to endure make her efforts as a student to maintain her part-time job as a Nanny quite admirable.
One comes to accept that she actually cares as much as she seems to for the little boy who becomes her charge as she gradually slips into her dual role of nanny and parental substitute. The boy’s behaviour, particularly towards Nanny herself, at first strikes the reader as that of a tiny terrorist on the loose. Yet as it turns out the boy suffers more from the manner and apathy of his parents than even Nanny herself.
Still there is very little about this novel that is irreversibly tragic or even if there is a tinge of sadness in this novel this is well concealed by a constant stream of good-natured humour and a resolute reserve of strength and patience on the part of Nanny herself.
For really above anything else this is quite a cheerful and relaxing novel. A light-hearted novel with sound effects such as, for example, the ones put across by capital letters or the breaking up of words into their component letters.
As for the boy’s parents, it is quite difficult to believe that characters such as Mrs. X and Mr. X could actually exist in real life yet without their presence this novel would never have been possible. Even though at times their behaviour seems extreme what matters most is the overall effect of the juncture of their lives with that of Nanny.
This is one of those novels which by merely reading the first few pages of will give you a flavour of all the ingredients to be found within the rest of the novel. Take that as a guide. If you don’t like those first hints of what there is to follow put the book back on its shelf. Otherwise, trust those first signs and take the book along with you.


The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The one who is no longer with us, 1 Jan. 2003
This review is from: The Lovely Bones (Hardcover)
The author of this novel chose a rather difficult subject. Or rather a difficult way of telling a story. The story is actually told by a dead person. Not just any person but a young girl murdered by a neighbour. A man living alone who as it eventually turns out has killed before.
Now, since the story is about someone who is already dead the author may well have chosen to tell us about her afterlife. Instead, we are told more about what happens after her life rather than about her own afterlife.
This is really a story about a family. The family to which this young girl belonged when she was alive and to which she still seems to feel she belongs after her death. It is the story of the remaining members of this family with a different emphasis put on each one of them at various stages of the story. There are also certain parts devoted to other people who were also a part of the young girl's life before her death or rather who could have become a greater part of her life had she remained alive.
So as it turns out this is not really a story about death as such. Nor does it pretend to be so. Really what the author is presenting as with is a story with a different point of view.
The point of view of the one who is no longer with us. And who can no longer be with us.
It seems the story would be interesting in spite of the absence of this different point of view. The reactions of the people in the murder victim's life still maintain our attention of their own accord.
So why have the dead person's point of view?
I suppose it is an element of the novel which makes the novel stand apart from other novels where a similar subject is dealt with. Yet I wonder to what extent this element has actually been used as a device so as to capture as far as possible the imagination of the reader prior to and without as yet even delving further into the details of the story.
Of course there is only one way to find out and that is to actually read the novel. The novel is an easy read as such and one that can take you away from your daily reality since the story is told rather well.
One calming effect induced by this novel is the knowledge that no harm can befall the person telling the story since she is already dead. Even though reading the novel can also create emotions of care for those left behind and their fate. Emotions that tend to mirror the worries of the book's heroine who although dead still cares for the people who mattered to her when she was alive.
One quality not to expect however from this novel is answers to any questions one may have over the afterlife. This does not seem to be the aim of the novel. The link of the story to the death of the storyteller seems really to be aimed solely at the presentation of the story rather than anything else.
In relation to the actual way the novel ends there is an episode contained in the final part of the novel which briefly intertwines the two worlds of death and life together. To refer to this episode in detail would risk ruining the new reader's pleasure in reading the novel. However, this episode does seem to form a rather peculiar and inapt development in the whole plot of the novel creating a new set of expectations for the reader at a point where such expectations quite simply cannot be met.


East of the Mountains
East of the Mountains
by David Guterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No death without a life, 11 Dec. 2002
This review is from: East of the Mountains (Paperback)
Ben Givens is a man suffering from cancer. He knows he only has a few months to live. He is a retired heart-surgeon. As a doctor he knows exactly what to expect as his condition deteriorates.
So he decides to put an end to his life before the end that is not only inevitable but both certain and predictable in its physical evolvement.
However, he decides to do this in a rather contrived way. The aim is to make his suicide look like a hunting accident. So he carefully plans his last hunting excursion making certain that nothing will lead to any suspicions as to the real cause of his death.
Yet nothing turns out quite like he expected.
For he becomes involved in incidents which serve to remind him not only of the value of kindness of one human being to another but also of life itself. No matter how grim in fact that life may seem to a man condemned to die a slowly painful death.
His suicide trip in the guise of a hunting excursion simultaneously becomes a sojourn to the past as his mind is flooded by memories induced by two of three marijuana cigarettes given to him by a drifter, one of his acquaintances on this trip to death.
To reveal the end of the book would be to deny the reader the pleasure of following along with Ben Givens the track of his thoughts and emotions as he plans his death then suddenly loses the means to such a death and ends up trying to regain both the means and the circumstances which would help him in staging his seemingly accidental death.
Yet the book is not confined alone to this struggle towards death. Rather it is filled with reminders of how people cling on to life in spite of the dangers or obstacles they may encounter along the way.
This is the first book I have read by this author. Guterson does handle language with skill, knowledge and experience. Not, however, with any impression of effortlessness.
In fact, one does sense to an intense degree that the author not only has devoted a great amount of time on research on the factual background to the plot but also on finding the correct word on every occasion and for every description. However, the factually correct word is not always emotionally or even intellectually the right one as it may in essence interfere with the flow of the words within which it is embedded and consequently the way in which such a flow may affect the response of the reader to that particular flow of words .
Nonetheless the story is told well in spite of the way in which it is often illustrated by such overt aspects of reality in the sense of the detail profusely made available at certain points of the book. To such an extent in fact that one senses that the author is merely and possibly quite needlessly demonstrating knowledge which he has gained through his research prior to or during writing the book. In fact, even though this is a rather short book, while reading it one is sustained by a steady suspicion that it could even be shorter without any real damage to either the development of the plot or the message of the book.
Of course, some people adore detail. For detail does serve to make more real that which we all know is, in fact, not real but a work of fiction.
However, apart from this observation about how the book becomes needlessly dense at some points it remains throughout an interesting book to read.
This is mainly achieved by the way the character of Ben Givens is so solidly structured both by his placement in the present as well as his anchorage to his past.


Existentialism and Humanism
Existentialism and Humanism
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Edition: Paperback

127 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sartre Defends Existentialism, 11 Aug. 2002
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This book will either make you want to read more about existentialism or it will lead you into making quite the opposite choice by leaving existentialism to others possibly more patient than yourself though not necessarily more intelligent.
Whatever your choice you will nonetheless be making a choice even if that choice is not to make a choice.
Or as Sartre would put it, in a far more philosophical manner, you can always choose but you must know that even if you do not choose that would still be a choice. For what is not possible is not to choose.
This is the first book I have read about existentialism so I cannot judge whether it is a good introduction to this philosophical movement yet the very fact that the purpose of the lecture delivered by Sartre is to offer a defence of existentialism against certain reproaches laid against it, seems by itself to shape the content of the lecture into an attempt by necessity to capture the essence of existentialism. In particular, in relation to the reactions existentialism has provoked.
There are certain key ideas that are very plainly put across to the reader which may well capture one's attention and actually lead to a further exploration of other books about existentialism.
For example, Sartre after referring to the two kinds of existentialists that there are and declaring that he is a representative of atheistic existentialism explains that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, that is to say a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it.
That being, of course, is man.
Thus, existence precedes essence. Man first exists and then defines himself.
Basically, in conclusion to his reference to atheistic existentialism, Sartre adds that the first principle of existentialism is that man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. Not as what he conceives himself to be after already existing but that which he wills himself to be subsequent to a necessary leap towards existence. Basically, man only attains existence when he is what he purposes to be. Whereas, before that projection of the self, nothing exists.
Doubtless this first principle of existentialism gave rise to a reproach against the subjectivity of existentialism. Other ideas and terms used are also examined always with reference made to the particular reproaches Sartre has to answer in relation to such ideas and terms.
All in all, he makes out quite a solid and intelligible defence of existentialism as he explains that the first effect of existentialism is to put every man in possession of himself with the entire responsibility of his existence being placed on his shoulders.
The emphasis in the doctrine presented by Sartre is that there is no reality except in action. Man is described as nothing else but what he purposes with his existence being attained only in so far as he realizes himself. Man is therefore, nothing else but the sum of his actions.
He clarifies further this basic idea by stating - rather poetically in fact - that for the existentialist (though also in reality) there is no love apart from the deeds of love, no potentiality of love other than that which is manifested in loving and no genius other than that which is expressed in works of art.
Throughout the lecture the basic theme delivered by Sartre is that reality alone is reliable and dreams, expectations and hopes serve only to define man negatively and not positively since man is nothing else but what he lives.
One can easily understand how a basic idea such as this could give rise to a reproach for the pessimism of existentialism. Yet, Sartre manages to turn around this reproach and to declare that what people reproach existentialists with is not their pessimism but the sternness of their optimism.
As to the structure of the book, this is divided into three parts each of which can be enjoyed in its own right even though the parts are actually interrelated. First, there is a rather helpful introduction, then the lecture itself and finally the actual discussion that followed the lecture.
An additional benefit to the newcomer to the study of existentialism is the slimness of the book. This means the entire book or any part of it can easily be read time and time again. No doubt each fresh reading will be to the advantage of the reader as it will add to his understanding of the ideas expressed while simultaneously increasing his appreciation of the manner of their expression.


Disgrace
Disgrace
by J M Coetzee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book without an end, 7 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
In a sense this novel does not have an ending. Not that all novels have an end. Yet in this novel the end, such as it is, comes rather abruptly. Were it not for the physical form of the book that gives the game away, one would hardly guess that the next page will actually turn out to be the last page in the story of Professor David Lurie. Not that one is disappointed by the creation of any expectations of a different or a more satisfying ending to this story. No matter how you view this novel, this is the story of a particular man at a particular stretch of his life. Not a very pleasant stretch. It begins pleasantly enough. Yet without the calm how would we know the difference once the storm hits us. Merely, by reading this story one is made to feel to a rather intense and disappointing degree the pointlessness of our life as human beings. Let us begin by just looking at the title. Disgrace. Yet, of course, the story does extend beyond mere disgrace and its consequences. This is the story of the beginning of the fall and decline of a man. Or so it seems. A man who, even though not the most content of men, in fact, begins his story with contentment as the most evident aspect of his existence. Now, whether that be sexual pleasure or mere complacency with his daily, or rather weekly, routine, contentment remains one’s first impression of the life of this man. After all, he is described as a man who “…lives within his income, within his temperament, within his emotional means”. That by “most measurements” makes him a happy man. Yet, happiness, as always, never seems to last. Not even in this novel. In fact, it is an attempt to heighten this happiness that leads to its seemingly total destruction. Or, at least, the destruction of this prior form of happiness. The happiness of complacent contentment that Professor Lurie was aware of until the moment that he begins to tumble down from the very heights of what seemed to be the unbelievable emotional and physical fulfillment of a middle-aged man who finds himself involved in an affair with a young girl. Who, unfortunately, also happens, in a sense, to be in his care. For she is also his student. That is to be the beginning of the downfall of Professor Lurie. The rest is really a description of how life can gradually lose all the sense of meaning that up to a certain point it has held as its very purpose of existence. By no means am I going to ruin the sheer pleasure of reading this book by revealing what happens once this divorced and middle-aged man’s affair with this young student begins. Suffice it to add that not a single word is wasted in this novel. Furthermore, it is a rather brief novel. I have, in fact, managed to read it twice, once a couple of years ago and once over the past three days. Not a second spent reading this novel can be considered a waste of time. Life in other senses may be considered rather pointless. Unless one is allowed the pleasure of partaking even as a bystander an insight into the workings of the mind of a man such as Professor Lurie. Something easily done since the novel is written in the first-person. Not that he is a hero of any sorts. Not that he is a man that one can either emulate or admire. Yet he is portrayed as a man, a real human being not a role-model of any sort and that perhaps is the secret of the success of this novel. The impression that the reader has of this man is that of a solid and real presence in one’s life and not of some cardboard character in a sitcom or soap opera. Opera in fact or rather the composition of one, seems at some point to be the only source of meaning in this man’s life. As well as the sudden awakening of his dormant fatherly instincts of protectiveness towards his daughter, the sole offspring of his two failed marriages.


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