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Reviews Written by
alextorres "musiclover" (Near Bristol, UK)

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Moon Bear
Moon Bear
by Gill Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, moral tale!, 27 May 2013
This review is from: Moon Bear (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have difficulty in giving this book an objective review for two reasons. First, the Animals Asia charity, which campaigns for the abolition of the moon bear bile trade in the East, is one that our family supports and, second, I struggled to understand what age market the book was aimed at.

You might say that the latter is a problem for the publisher, not for me. Gill Lewis, a vet by training, has now written a number of similar books, all published by a reputable publisher, so she and they must know what they are doing.

However, I often found the narrative style irritating, with its preponderance for short sentences of about 12 words in length. Admittedly, there is a school of thought that says that is what one should aim for, but it is not a style that I enjoy and I would have expected the majority of intelligent teenagers in the sixteen-ish bracket - which is where I judge the book is aimed, given the nature of the plot - to be capable of understanding and enjoying longer sentences.

Despite that reservation, I applaud the author for introducing complex issues of animal welfare in such an appealing format to a young audience. Yes, because despite my reservation with the style, I became engrossed in the plot and was deeply moved by the ending. And that, ultimately is the mark of a great book.


One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
by Michael Dobbs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable to read and informative, 7 Dec 2012
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Michael Dobbs's account of the Cuban Missile Crisis makes for an absorbing read. Dobbs uses his experience as a journalist to construct his thoroughly-researched facts into an exciting story, so that the book reads much as a fictional thriller would. Exciting stuff!

From the academic aspect, this book exposes a few myths previously associated with the Crisis, amongst the most important being: (1) it was Kennedy who ordered Strategic Air Command to go to DEFCON-2; (2) it proves that the famous "eyeball to eyeball" confrontation during the naval blockade could never have occurred and (3) it argues that the belief that it was the ABC news reporter-Soviet spy brokered deal that solved the crisis is wrong, instead demonstrating that Robert Kennedy's negotiation with the Soviet Ambassador in Washington was the one that succeeded.

From both perspectives, then, readability and academic value, this is an extremely important book.


Stonemouth
Stonemouth
by Iain Banks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.14

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Societal insights make this a worthy read despite other flaws, 5 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Stonemouth (Hardcover)
Told in the first person, Banks's violence-rich `Stonemouth' describes the misadventures of a Scot returning home to his north-eastern seaside town after an absence of some years. Stonemouth, the town, is controlled by rival gang families: the repercussions of the troubled love affair between the hero and the eldest daughter of one of these families makes `Stonemouth" seem like a modern-day Scottish `Romeo and Juliet'. Banks, however, gives us a happy ending, which is somewhat out of keeping with the remainder of the book, which contains some unnecessary gratuitous horror unrelated to plot or social comment. Another irritant is the systematic use of Scottish phonetics in the dialogue: it's just as well most novels don't apply this technique or we wouldn't be able to read most of them!

The novel focuses on details of the dysfunctional town and its dysfunctional families as a microcosm for society at large. Ultimately, what makes the reader want to pursue the novel to the end is the depth of social comment behind Banks's straightforward plot: his incisive, critical reflection of modern society is enough to outweigh any minor dislikes the reader may have in plot or style. As such, this is overall an enjoyable and memorable novel.


Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts, the Story
Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts, the Story
by Dave Marsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing memoir skewed towards 'Born in the USA', 5 Dec 2012
This is a long and disappointing book. When I see the word "biography" in the title, then I expect to see something about the life of the person that the book is purportedly about. This book does little to justify the word "biography" of its title. It is, instead, an amalgam of two separate books previously published by the author, the latter of which focuses almost exclusively on Springsteen's 1984 `Born in the USA' album and tour: an important album and tour, for sure, but a blow by blow account of each and every concert? Give me a break! Comparatively, there is virtually nothing post `Born in the USA'. And, other than interview snippets, there is little insight into Springsteen's character and life.

The first half of this concocted book, dealing with Springsteen's early albums, has more interest but again falls short on biographical detail, focussing exclusively on Springsteen's work.

As a whole, the book is unbalanced, difficult to read towards the latter half because of the minute detail associated with `Born in the USA' and unworthy of its title. If, like me, you are interested in finding out a little about the man, his life and how his perspective changed with fame, then this book does not provide the answer.

One for Springsteen completists only.


Remarkable Creatures
Remarkable Creatures
by Tracy Chevalier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing novel with great depthe of meaning., 5 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Remarkable Creatures (Paperback)
Like all good novels, Tracy Chevalier's "Remarkable Creatures" can be enjoyed at a surface level, at the same time as addressing a number of deeper issues that absorb the interested reader beyond the level of the plot. The plot is sufficiently interesting to keep the reader turning the pages: told from the perspective of two female fossil-hunters in the early nineteenth century, there are enough twists and intrigue to keep everyone satisfied. The depth of ideas behind the plot comes principally from the fact that Chevalier addresses a couple of key societal issues: (1) how the discovery of these fossils challenged the religious ideas of the day in a startling way and (2) the social divisions in the society of the day, from the point of view of gender as well as class. Chevalier addresses these issues seamlessly within the plot, such that if you're not interested in pondering those aspects, you can just continue enjoying the story. It's that clever integration of the two factors that makes this such a good novel.


Omron Walking Style One 2.1 Pedometer - Black/Grey
Omron Walking Style One 2.1 Pedometer - Black/Grey
Price: £17.12

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Versatile, easy to use pedometer, 10 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The only other step counter that I've ever owned - and which I still have - was bought some years ago. I realise now that it must have been very basic! The Omron is more sophisticated in that it attempts far more than step counting: it calculates distance travelled, calories burnt and differentiates between the number of aerobic steps - those taken at a certain pace that gets your heart beating faster - and "normal" steps, when you're just poddling around the house, for example. The latter don't actually do much to keep you fit and so the inclusion of the aerobic count is very helpful.

It is important to note that when you first turn on the step counter you will need to add some details about yourself so that it can calculate aspects like distance travelled and calories burnt. You will need to know your height, weight and step distance.

The counter has a useful memory which allows you to review past performance.

The step counter's belt holder seems quite secure but I still managed to drop and lose the counter whilst working in the garden.


Roses [ADDITIONAL LIVE DISC AND EXPANDED BOOKLET]
Roses [ADDITIONAL LIVE DISC AND EXPANDED BOOKLET]
Price: £13.82

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cranberries back to their roots., 22 April 2012
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This new album of The Cranberries is rooted in the sound of their first two albums from nearly twenty years ago: "Everybody Else is Doing It..." and "No Need to Argue". If you're a previous fan of the band, then it really depends on what era of theirs you prefer to gauge whether or not you'd be enthused by this: if, like me, "To the Faithful Departed", or even one of the later albums, is your favourite, then this won't excite you. However, it seems that most fans prefer the first two albums' slightly softer, folkier material to the more rock driven "...Faithful...", so it seems like this will be a crowd pleaser. An why not?: it's melodic, pleasant, full of good tunes and a strong performance from the band...just your own personal taste to factor in...


You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
by Sam Leith
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written textbook on rhetoric., 29 Jan 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sam Leith's book on rhetoric is beautifully written - Mr Leith has clearly taken his own lesson to heart! The writing is humorous, witty and sprinkled with many direct examples of rhetoric in action from some of its greatest practitioners.

However, the book remains essentially a textbook on rhetoric, so it is unlikely to have lasting appeal to anyone other than someone who is in need of sharpening their public speaking skills.


The Casual Perfect
The Casual Perfect
by Lavinia Greenlaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.09

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful use of words, 8 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Casual Perfect (Hardcover)
I'll be honest - reading these poems, I rarely understood what Lavinia Greenlaw was really trying to say. However, the beauty of use of the language was such that it doesn't seem to matter. Greenlaw's use of words is fabulous - surely second to none - and there is a pleasure, as in all good poetry, of reading the poems aloud, finding the rhythm, the natural pauses with a resonance, and just being in the moment with the sound of the poem. Meaning may come with repeated reading and further thought, but understanding should not put anybody off acquiring this beautifully written poetry.

Gorgeous!


Trollied - Series 1 [DVD]
Trollied - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jane Horrocks
Price: £7.71

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unwatchable!, 3 Jan 2012
This review is from: Trollied - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an appalling situation comedy, set in a supermarket, that generates no laughter, despite the valiant efforts of some fine actors. The jokes - mostly based on atrocious word-plays on a sexual theme - are as stale as last week's bread. My wife and I found it unwatchable.

To see if it was just our sense of humour that wasn't up to scratch, we lent the video to some younger friends. Their response was similar, although they did manage to sit through a couple of episodes.

Save your money. Avoid!


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