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starski (London)

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Bad Science
Bad Science
by Ben Goldacre
Edition: Paperback

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading - please ignore the arrogance and bad writing!, 9 April 2009
This review is from: Bad Science (Paperback)
Let's be clear - I completely agree with everything that Ben Goldacre says in this book and I think that what he's doing with this book and his column in the Guardian etc are fantastic and much needed. Everyone should read this book because it explains many important points about how research is (or should be) conducted and why we shouldn't believe everything we read in the press. I believe (hope) that this book could help many of us make much more informed decisions about what we eat, what types of treatment we use, whether to vaccinate our children and so on.

Now having said that, I'll say what I didn't like about the book. Firstly Ben comes across as arrogant and patronising (I've heard him speak and he sounded the same then so I don't think it's just the way the book's written). These points are not becoming and are only likely to deter people (I think). The first couple of chapters are good and then when we get to the homeopathy section - while I agree 100% with what he says - he comes across as unnecessarily rude and arrogant, which I don't think is needed to illustrate his point. As some other reviewers have said, I also think the book is not very well written, and the middle few chapters particularly suffered from this. In parts he waffles on, repeats things and writes in very long sentences. Then in the last 4 chapters, I found the book really picked up again - the chapter on stats is excellent (I am a statistician working in epidemiology) as is the chapter on MMR.

So I say PLEASE read this book but PLEASE try to ignore his writing style, the arrogance and take away with you all the fantastic information and points he raises.


Polio: An American Story
Polio: An American Story
by David M. Oshinsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating, 19 Feb. 2009
As the author of this book rightly notes in the final pages, polio is now considered by most people in the world to be a vaccine rather than a disease. The only victims we see of it are people over 50 who were infected as children - it's simply not something we need to fear anymore. Those of us born after the 1950s have no knowledge of the fear it generated, particularly in the US in the first half of the last century.

This well written (it reads almost like a story!) book takes us through the rise of polio in the US and the reasons for the incredible mobilisation of the public to help raise funds for research into this debilitating disease. It describes the setbacks, the politics involved and gives us an insight into the personalities of the key players in polio research. It also takes us through the "great race" for a vaccine which ensued, explaining clearly to non-biologists (such as myself) what this involved. Lastly it explains what unfolded afterwards and leaves us with the tantalising question which remains unanswered - will the vision of a polio-free world ever be realised?

The only possible criticism I could have would be that there was not enough explanation of the findings made as regards epidemiology of polio - but it's a small criticism of what remains an outstanding book.

This book shows us what an enormous debt we owe to those who contributed to the search for a vaccine.


The Wire : Complete HBO Season 1 [DVD] [2002] [2005]
The Wire : Complete HBO Season 1 [DVD] [2002] [2005]
Dvd ~ Dominic West
Price: £17.28

5.0 out of 5 stars You will sacrifice your social life for a while but it'll be worth it!, 12 Feb. 2009
I admit it, I'm hooked, my life is currently given over to the Wire and all other TV shows have paled in comparison. I'm on the Fourth Season now and it just keeps on getting better. It's intelligent and brilliantly written.

Don't even think about watching it unless you want to become obsessed and unable to talk or think about anything else.


Exspect iPod Black Leather Case - iPod Classic
Exspect iPod Black Leather Case - iPod Classic

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this case!, 12 Feb. 2009
It's a perfect fit for the 80GB classic iPod. Good, thick, slightly cushioned, leather material to protect it. And the magnetic clip stays shut when you shut it! It does exactly what it says on the tin - what more could you want?


Chronicle In Stone
Chronicle In Stone
by Ismail Kadare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 12 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Chronicle In Stone (Paperback)
I read this book while spending a week in Albania last summer and went to Gjirokaster, where the book is set. Chronicle in Stone is about a boy growing up in Albania during the Second World War. This book is written so beautifully invoking a real sense of this town in Albania, built on the side of a hill with steep stone roads. It is deeply moving as you read about what happens to the town, thrust into the middle of the war with the flag placed at the top of the castle changing on an almost daily basis from Italian to German and back again. Albania (and Albanians) are so frequently misjudged, as I learnt from the comments I had from people on hearing that I was going there. This book would undoubtedly open some people's eyes somewhat. A real pleasure to read - one of those books that only once you finish it and look back do you see the full picture.


If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Vintage Classics)
If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Vintage Classics)
by Italo Calvino
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to make you feel good about reading, 30 Jan. 2009
This was certainly a very refreshing book to read. It starts with a reader buying a new book and settling down to read it. The opening chapter is lovely as it describes the excitement and anticipation about a new book. Then you yourself read the first chapter of his new book and experience the frustration on behalf of the reader and yourself when you discover the rest is missing! So the reader goes back to the shop and exchanges it for the real and complete book - and meets Ludmilla who is in the same boat. And then the same thing happens again - and again - and again. As you follow the reader through several starts of books and his quest to find a finished book - and get a date with Ludmilla - you are also made to think about reading: how and why you do it and what it means to you. And about writing: the vision of the potential reader that a writer has while he/she is writing a novel.

Calvino clearly demonstrates his ability to write at least beginnings of several different types of novel - and they're all excellent - each one left me wondering what happened next.

After reading some of the negative reviews on here, I was expecting a poor ending but the ending was lovely! By 3/4 of the way through the book, it seems to have started to spiral out of control and the ending just reigns everything nicely back in. Left me with a warm fuzzy feeling - and huge relief that I've been able to finish every book I've read!!


Voyage To The End Of The Room
Voyage To The End Of The Room
by Tibor Fischer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Voyage to the end of the room - but not much further, 28 Jan. 2009
I found it hard to know exactly what I thought of this book. I liked the set up a lot, we learn about a woman who never leaves her flat and has clearly had an intriguing life. She receives a letter from a previous boyfriend who died 10 years ago and so the mystery begins. The story takes us through Barcelona (I found this section very entertaining) and Yugoslavia (this droned on and was fairly boring) until we reach the concluding chapter, which had some dull bits and some good bits and then there's a rather dissatisfying ending.
As other reviewers have said, the story meanders which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't - so all in all, this book didn't really hit the mark.


In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century
In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century
by Geert Mak
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 21 Dec. 2008
This really is an outstanding book. If you're interested in 20th century European, this is a must read. Mak covers the big events but also less well known ones from the last century interweaving interviews with people from politicians in the EU to descendants of German Kaisers to personal accounts from "ordinary" people illustrating the far-reaching effects of the events of the last 100 years. This is unputdownable.


The Shadow Of The Wind
The Shadow Of The Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

6 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, poorly executed, 12 May 2007
This review is from: The Shadow Of The Wind (Paperback)
I think that the premise of this book is a good idea. Unfortunately there are many faults with the way it's been put together. Firstly, the writing just isn't very good, many cliches are used - to the point of being embarrassing to read. Additionally there's a lot of stuffing in between the main parts of the story and while there are many great writers who can do this and it becomes a pleasure to read, Zafon is not one of them and I found myself skim reading sections because they were boring to read and I wanted to get back to the story. For the first half of the book, I found the characters to be very one dimensional and mildly irritating. The book then picks up in the middle, the story gets quite dark and I found myself enjoying it more. Then suddenly Daniel gets handed a ridiculously long letter that tells him everything he's been trying to find out, as other reviewers have said, this does feel as though Zafon didn't really know how to wind things up and so did this. And it's also absurd that the letter writer, who's met Daniel, a teenager, twice, would want to pour out her story to him like this - and then finishing the letter talking about how he would always be her friend and he was her only hope. As if! I felt like throwing the book against the wall in disgust. It then just goes downhill fast to the end, becoming incredibly cliched and cheesy. Another point I didn't like was the fact that there are supposedly so many parallels between the lives of Daniel and Carax, that just feels very contrived. Finally, the identity of the man who wants to burn all the books is horribly predictable - I kept hoping I would be wrong and Zafon would surprise me with a neat twist but no, this predictability just made the last part of the book even more disappointing. I'm just glad it's easy quick reading and I didn't waste too much of my time on it - there are lots of good books out there to read but this isn't one of them.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2008 11:06 AM BST


The Master and Margarita (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Master and Margarita (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Mikhail Bulgakov
Edition: Paperback

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, 3 May 2007
This is one of the most exciting and interesting books I've read. It's fun and exhilarating while making you think. I recommend it to anyone who likes to be entertained but also made to think a bit when reading a book.


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