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Philip Mayo

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Before She Met Me
Before She Met Me
Price: 3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent and darkly funny tale of love, jealousy, obsession and revenge., 2 Jun 2014
This review is from: Before She Met Me (Kindle Edition)
Julian Barnes’s writing is sometimes too challengingly experimentalist in style for my taste. He is one of the few writers that I have actually abandoned books by (so far two) while still holding him to be one of my favourites and as one of the very best writers of our time. So, having just given up on his “A History of The World in 10 and a half Chapters” (after just 3 chapters), it was with some apprehension that I immediately then started on his “Before She Met Me”; and what a relief and joy it was to see again why, for me, he is a true master of his art.
“Before She Met Me” tells the story of Graham, a university lecturer in London whom we meet at the age of 38. He is 15 years married, conventional, totally faithful to his wife, mild of manner, and nonthreatening in any way. Then he meets Ann (31), rediscovers sex and love, and his life changes. He leaves his wife, Barbara, marries Ann, and begins an idyllic rebirth which lasts a few years. But Ann was single and 31 when they met, so she had had some experience before she met Graham. She had had quite a few affairs actually, although no more than any of us might consider reasonable – after all, she was beautiful, single and young. Graham was aware, without having discussed it in any depth with her, that he wasn't the first person she had been to bed with. And he didn't mind. Why would he? That was all in the past; indeed it was “Before She Met Me”.
By an ingenious and petty manoeuvre by his ex-wife, Graham becomes more aware of Ann’s past. And it starts to bug him. An irrational jealousy about past liaisons begins to grow in him. It begins to take over his life.
How this all plays out Julian Barnes relates with awe-inducing dexterity. This is a tale of love, jealousy, obsession and revenge as powerful as any we will ever read told in a very accessible and often very amusing style.

Letters from London 1990-1995
Letters from London 1990-1995
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful collection., 30 May 2014
An excellent collection of articles on late 20th century British issues, ranging from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair and from the impact of the Channel Tunnel to the construction of mazes; and much more. Entertaining, educational, witty. Never boring.

Black & Decker 750W 115mm High Performance Angle Grinder
Black & Decker 750W 115mm High Performance Angle Grinder
Price: 36.95

4.0 out of 5 stars A useful addition to the DIY person's toolbox., 20 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First, I echo the thoughts of others here that it is disappointing and surprising to find that this tool comes without any discs whatsoever. Perhaps this would not have been so irritating for me if I had bought it in a shop, knowing this fact, but this was sent to me to review on the Vine programme, and I was flabbergasted to find that I couldn't use it, let alone review it, without first hunting down and buying discs. I assume this was an oversight on the part of the Vine team; presumably nobody could actually make such a decision on purpose.
OK, that out of my system, I can report that I did find and buy discs and that I did use the grinder for a wide variety of light DIY works around the house. It performed admirably and made many jobs a good deal easier than they otherwise would have been. At the price I feel it is a very useful addition to the average DIY person’s toolbox. It’s not something I would have thought of buying, but now that I have one I would be very sorry to part with it.

Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg
Price: 5.00

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely spectacular talent., 18 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jake Bugg (Audio CD)
I notice previous reviewers confessing to ages of 48 and 42 - well, I'm 65 and Jake Bugg has rocketed straight into my top 10 all time favourite singers. What is it about the age profile of his fans 48/42/65 ??!! Is he getting the young music lovers too - I presume so; I certainly hope so. He must be!!

I first saw Jake Bugg singing "Broken" on the Graham Norton show earlier this year and was mesmerised, stunned. After that I didn't see, hear or think of him again until a couple of weeks ago when I saw him singing "Song About Love" (from his upcoming 2nd album) on Jools Holland. Again, I was amazed at how powerful he was. So I decided to look further and did some research on You Tube where there are several different recordings of "Broken" and one of "Country Song" and some others - all of which are wonderful. There is one particular video on "VEVO" of him singing "Broken" in an American bar / restaurant, obviously a fully staged and choreographed video, but it is still extraordinarily moving. I urge anyone who hasn't already seen it to look at it as soon as possible.

So, is he good? Well, obviously I think so. The only other two times I remember being so instantly transfixed on hearing an artist for the first time was when I heard Janis Ian singing "Jesse" and "At Seventeen" on the Shirley Bassey TV show in 1976 (I told you I was 65!!) and then the first time I heard Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" around the same time - ahhh, the 70's was a pretty good decade for music! Of course there have been many more wonderful artists since then, and before, but those two moments were special for me, and hearing Jake Bugg singing "Broken" and "Country Song" for the first time were equally thunderbolt moments.

So, I bought the CD which arrived from Amazon 3 days ago and is now playing all the time, and I mean all the time: in the house, on the computer, on my iPod and on the car stereo. My wife loves him too and she is very serious about her music. And I agree with other reviewers, a lot of this is derivative, but as someone else said, who isn't? and who cares? He is superb. Full stop. And he is only 19!!!! My God! - he wrote "Country Song" when he was 16 !!!!! We are witnessing the start of someone who will be as famous and as important to music as Dylan, and he is just as talented.

Land of the Blind
Land of the Blind
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book. Highly recommended, 15 Oct 2013
This review is from: Land of the Blind (Kindle Edition)
I came to Jess Walter through Nick Hornby's recommendation in his excellent "The Polysyllabic Spree", a ramble through a year of his own reading experience - and many thanks to Nick for the recommendation. Jess walter is a wonderful writer, using a very readable, pacey style and a viewpoint that is original, wryly humorous, sympathetic to his characters and always engaging.

This is my third Jess Walter novel (he has written 6 novels to date, plus some short stories and nonfiction) and so far I have found him to be excellent.

This particular novel opens with a somewhat burnt-out 37 year old, Spokane homicide detective, Caroline Maybry, finding herself landed with the task of taking a confession from a presumed crazy deadbeat who all of her colleagues assume is just another "I shot an alien / I murdered Elvis" type "loon". But she finds herself starting to feel that just maybe there is something in this guy that she should listen to. The guy, Clarke Mason, wants to write his confession in longhand, but won't let Caroline look at it until it is finished, and it takes a long time to finish - ultimately some 36 hours. While she waits she investigates as much as she can, and her progress is one component of the story.

The second component of the story is the confession itself, which runs to multiple foolscap jotters, and which we get to read, even though the police do not.

The interweaving of the two components is expertly done and the integrated whole results in a story that is within the police-thriller-murder genre, but at the very top end of that genre in terms of quality of writing and originality of approach.

I loved this book. Highly recommended.

The Financial Lives of the Poets
The Financial Lives of the Poets

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 13 Oct 2013
Matt Prior was a successful financial journalist making a decent living roughly doubled by his own stock market investments, was happily married, two kids, nice house, friends. We are in the middle of the late property boom. Nothing can go wrong. So he his own words:

" I know it sounds stupid in hindsight, and perhaps in foresight too, but my idea was that someone needed to start a website that gave financial news and verse"

So he leaves his job and starts to set up his poetry-driven stock-tips website and while doing this the financial world implodes and with it the economy and with all that bang goes the life and dreams of Matt Prior. The book is about how he deals with this catastrophe - no job, no prospects, no money, on the verge of losing the family home to the bank and his wife to an old flame. Things surely cannot get worse - well, they do. What about a little drug dealing to try to make ends meet? And on from there.

The book has a nice flow, with a pacy, punchy style which looks quite seriously at the issues of personal potential financial disaster and family disintegration (and also includes some educational comments on what exactly did go wrong with our recently deceased financial paradise) while maintaining throughout a wryly humorous attitude. This is not another one of those formulaic thrillers. It is extremely well written. I enjoyed it very much indeed and would highly recommend it

Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics)
Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics)
Price: 3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative writing, 13 Oct 2013
Like a previous reviewer noted, the well is sadly running dry. I now have only one Richard Yates work left unread. I love everything that he has written. I am amazed that "Disturbing The Peace" was received negatively by the critics when published on 1975. To me it is another example of superlative writing and should be held in the same regard as the works of John Updike, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Richard Ford and Anne Tyler. If you like those writers you will like this book. I won't repeat what the book is about - that has all been said above.

Love, Etc
Love, Etc
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, very enjoyable and very good., 4 Oct 2013
This review is from: Love, Etc (Kindle Edition)
"Love, etc" revisits and updates us on the lives of the characters that Julian Barnes created and introduced us to in his 1991 book "Talking it over" (see review). The current book was published in 2000 and shows us where Oliver, Stuart and Gillian are 10 years later and how they have survived the major relationship crises of 1991. And it looks at how they have changed and developed, and we are reminded that we, the readers, have changed and developed during that 10 year period too, which would certainly be true if the reader had read the books chronologically and when first published. This was not the case for me as I read "Love, etc" immediately after "Talking it Over" , having bought both books together. And I'm glad I did that because the characters and the story were naturally totally fresh and alive in my mind. So, to anyone who has not read "Talking it Over" my advice is to read it first and then straight on to "Love, etc". You have a treat in store, as these are two wonderful books and this one, the sequel, I found even better in many ways.

Just to recap, the format is as it was in "Talking it Over", viz ; alternate voices relating the events as each individual sees them. For instance, there is a paragraph headed .....STUART: in which Stuart gives his account of what is happening. This is followed by a paragraph headed....OLIVER: in which Oliver gives his version of the same events; then it's Gillian's turn, then Stuart again ..and on it goes. In this book there are more voices added including, ex-wife, girlfriend, mother-in-law, doctor, children and others.As before, each character becomes very real to us and talks straight to the reader as if it were a real conversation. The same events often are seen totally differently as related to us by the characters involved - just like in real life, there are always many, many versions of the truth, it depends on one's point of view.

This book goes deeper and darker than the first one and although it continues in a generally witty and compellingly readable style, at times it is very serious in the issues that it raises, in the questions that it asks and in the answers that the various characters suggest.

I thoroughly recommend "Love etc", and the prequel, as being the works of a first class writer dealing with serious issues in a very engaging way.

Aspirin: The Extraordinary Story of a Wonder Drug
Aspirin: The Extraordinary Story of a Wonder Drug
Price: 6.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Should we all be taking aspirin?, 2 Oct 2013
Apparently over 200 billion (200 billion!!) aspirin tablets are taken throughout the world every year and it is one of the most effective medicinal drugs (and cheapest!) discovered so far. This excellent book gives us the full history from its use in ancient times to more recently in folk-based cures, and then on to its coming under the control of the current, all-powerful pharmaceutical giants. A fascinating and a very enjoyable book.

So, should I start taking aspirin? Should you? Is this a factual treatise with valid conclusions or simply an idiosyncratic opinion? Either way its a compelling and informative read.

God and the New Physics (Penguin Science)
God and the New Physics (Penguin Science)
Price: 4.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating and stimulating, 2 Oct 2013
Inside the front cover of this book the author quotes Albert Einstein as saying.....

"Religion without science is blind.
Science without religion is lame".

In this excellent and highly readable book Professor Paul Davies expands on this theme and discusses how religion is, and is not, affected by advances in scientific knowledge. He talks about how science is now coming closer to answering some of the cosmic and philosophical questions which previously were considered beyond its reach and were confined more often to religious discussions. For example: Where did the universe come from? Why is there a universe? Why is there anything at all? What is life? Have we each got a soul? Have we free will? What is time? And much more. These are huge questions and considering that this book was written in 1983 it is remarkable how well Mr Davies suggests some answers and equally remarkable how he does so in a way that is very accessible to the ordinary unscientific reader, such as myself.

This is an exhilarating and stimulating book and I highly recommend it to both believer and nonbeliever alike, neither of whom it offends.

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