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Tulipomania
Tulipomania
by Mike Dash
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars tulips worth more than a house, 29 July 2014
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This review is from: Tulipomania (Hardcover)
Everything you ever wanted to know about tulips is here - where they came from, why there was a mania for them in Holland in the 17th century, and later in the Ottoman court, and how the bursting of the bubble in tulip prices was handled by the Dutch authourities.

17th century tulips, which are beautifully illustrated in these pages, were much more beautiful than those we see today. Their beauty came from flame like streaks of colour - caused by a disease which has now been eradicated. At the peak a single bulb could sell for more than the cost of 2 grand Amsterdam houses - but within weeks e peak they had almost no value at all.

The madness of speculatory booms is clear from this account. However I found some of it a little dry - perhaps because i found this account to be a little over long in th


Mr Mercedes
Mr Mercedes
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable thriller - if a bit routine at times, 26 July 2014
This review is from: Mr Mercedes (Hardcover)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller about a retired detective's efforts to track down a killer before he strikes again. There is no mystery to the reader about the killer's identity - that is revealed early in the story - so the supense comes from the chase. The characters are well filled out, and generally credible, and i found myself lost in the pages for a happy couple of days - as you would expect with any Stephen King story.

Though very enjoyable, this is maybe not quite one of his greatest books. It's more a routine detective story, albeit enhanced by Stephen King's expert characterisation, rather than a tale which lingers in the mind when you have closed the last page


The Accidental Apprentice
The Accidental Apprentice
by Vikas Swarup
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable - though fantastical, 23 July 2014
I enjoyed this story which is about a 23 year old girl who works in an electrical store who is apparently randomly chosen to be the next CEO of a giant Indian corporation. But she has to pass 7 tests first. In attempting to do she she faces many of the issues in modern Indian society.

This all makes for enjoyable reading, with lots of twists and turns. The only downside is that the story is completely unbelievable and becomes more and more incredible as it progresses until the fantastical nature of the plot becomes inescapable.

All very enjoyable though


Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
by Dee Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A tragic and terrible tale brillliantly told, 17 July 2014
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This is a superbly written, compelling, but utterly tragic account of the destruction of the native American way of life and the swindling, racism and greed which led to the deaths by disease, conflict and outright murder of so many of the native population from 1860 to 1890.

Using the words of native American leaders including Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Red Cloud this book traces over 30 years the continual squeezing of territory held for generations by native American tribes by land hungry immigrants, and of the lies, bullying and cheating to which the native Americanswere subjected

Utterly horrifying but essential knowledge for anyone who wishes to undertand what rascism and greed can do, even in country which held that all men are created equal.

The maps and photographs are very helpful and the writing is excellent. A terrible tale told brilliantly


Sputnik Sweetheart
Sputnik Sweetheart
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars unrequited love - with cats, the moon, and music, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: Sputnik Sweetheart (Paperback)
An excellent, though quite short story of just over 200 ages, about the love of a young man for a young woman who is in turn wildly in love with a much older woman.

Set partly in Japan, partly on a Greek island, this is a slighly sad, rather fragile tale of unrequited love. Full of Marakami regulars - cats, earlobes, music, brand names, and the moon all appear, this still has a fresh feel, and is a fascinating mixture of the slightly surreal, and page turning compulsive reading. I loved reading this and was sad when it was finished - especially as so much remains unresolved at the final page


Hard Choices
Hard Choices
by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting - though hard going at times, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: Hard Choices (Hardcover)
This is an interesting, though long, book which covers the 4 years of Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State. Whilst this is clearly intended to set out Hillary's philosophy of government, and to explain her vision for the United States role around the world in advance of running for President, it is also an interesting account of the demands of high office.

Clinton's belief in the need to compromise to achieve progress is recounted again and again, as is the importance of engagement with all kinds of countries and leaders to seek peace and the development of prosperity through incremental steps.

This does not all make for easy or entertaining reading - it is too much a careful and calculated book for that. On occasion Clinton addresses areas which may be used by her opponents to undermine her probable campaign. For example she uses anecdotes of dealing with a journalist's questions about her husband's opinion, and with keeping the location of Bin Laden totally secret even from Bill, to demonstrate her independance and professionalism. There is not much here, though, that makes for revelation about the inside working of the Obama administration or about Hillary's personal life.

Clinton's dedication to human rights, and in particular to women's rights and the rights of LGBT people, is made clear throughout, and is her belief in the value of the use of American influence through aid, cultural and educational exchange, and of the need to use what she calls 'smart power' to achieve objectives.

It is all a bit dry though, and it look me an unusually long time to read, even although i found the subject matter interesting, and her philosophy of government to be intelligent and persuasive


Nicorette Nicotine Micro Tab
Nicorette Nicotine Micro Tab
Offered by Pharmacy Link
Price: 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars they work - but don't taste great, 9 July 2014
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This does do the job - not of curing nocotine addiction - i still have that, but at least you don't have to smoke as these stop the cravings. They do taste a bit like chalk though.

They are good for long journeys though as a substitute for smoking and they are much cheaper than buying cigarettes


Toshiba SD1015KB DVD Player (New for 2013)
Toshiba SD1015KB DVD Player (New for 2013)
Price: 25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars easy to use - great value, 7 Jun 2014
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I ma very happy with this easy to use DVD player, which is very easy and quite intuitive to set up (i needed to use a spare SCART lead as one is not supplied)

It looks fine and plays movies perfectly and is easy to use with the remote. Not much else i could have asked for for the money


The Luminaries
The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A big book which i didn't want to end, 7 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Luminaries (Hardcover)
This is a big book at over 800 pages, and I was glad of that, finding myself so drawn into the world of gold rush New Zealand, and the mores and attitudes of Victorian times that i didn't want it to end. Very well written, a little magical in places, this is a portrait of a vanished era. It can get a little complicated at times; here are numerous characters, and the plot folds over in time,and can be tricey to follow if you put the book down for even a day. The real end of the story comes about two thirds of the way through, and after that it is really tidying up the loose ends. Somehow though there is something special in the writing and i was so entranced by it that i even went on to read the acknowlegements rather than put it down. I rarely do that...

As the youngest ever winner of the Booker prize, there can be little doubt that Eleanor Catton will have more to offer in the years ahead, and i shall certainly look forward to her next book with anticipation


Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag
Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag
by Orlando Figes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars loyalty against all the odds, 31 May 2014
This is the story of Lev, a political prisoner of the gulag in Stalin's Soviet Union, and of Svetlana his great love. The enduring love between these two people, separated for 14 years by war and imprisonment, is captured in the hundreds of letters between them over that period, which tell the story of their pain of separation, and their undying determination to be together.

There is much here to learn about the reality of life in the Soviet Union of the 1940s and 1950s, accepted as normal in Lev and Svetlana's letters - the mind numbing bureaucracy, the shortages of almost everything, the corruption, the continual lack of privacy and the endless tedium in which searching for mushrooms was a redeeming highlight of life.

This story paints a clear picture of what life must have been like at this time - and the tedium stands out, even above the arbitrary injustices, and indeed of the kindness of people who helped Lev and Svetlana to meet and to survive.

An interesting book although it can, like the life it depicts, be tedious at times. I was left full of admiration for the loyalty of these two people, glad that they had their time in the world, and very glad not to have been born into such an awful environment


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