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The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business MINI EDITION
The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business MINI EDITION
by Werner Holzwarth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A metaphorical struggle against oppression for the under fives, 28 July 2013
An allegorical tale for our time. The main protagonist is the prototypical everyman, (or more precisely everymole), his newly acquired headgear a metaphorical expression of the unthinking consequences and impact ones actions can have on others, if not the oppression of inter-class relationships (let us not forget the mole is a manual worker living in the dirt; metaphor indeed). The mole is essentially a proletarian adventurer on a quest to find the instigator of his troubles through systematic analytical application of scientific theory. The mole examines for himself each potential provenance and one by one forensically eliminates them. In this way the author clearly demonstrates to the young reader the value of otological evidence in determining an reasoned outcome.

Of course the fundamental trajectory of the mole's quest is individualistic in nature but ultimately the resolution to his malaise requires assistance and co-operation with others. The mole comes to acknowledge this fundamental truth when he recognises that the dipterans have more specialised knowledge than he does. In engaging with them we are offered a moralistic lesson that by combining our skills despite our distinct taxonomic differences we can make that journey from bewilderment to enlightenment.

Armed with the scientifically derived solution to his inquiry he plots retaliation; as with so much of this figurative saga there is more to this than meets the eye. His revenge symbolises the rise of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, and this small but deft blow against the source of his oppression should leave the reader invigorated and inspired. While the true socio-political ramifications of this weighty tome may escape the youngest and most inexperienced of readers, they will no doubt enjoy the poop pictures.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2013 5:39 PM BST


Fungus the Bogeyman
Fungus the Bogeyman
by Raymond Briggs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nihilistic masterpiece in the gloom, 27 July 2013
This review is from: Fungus the Bogeyman (Paperback)
Briggs is an acknowledged political commentator, widely applauded for his pictorial treatise against the futility of nuclear war in his opus 'When the wind blows'. However, few in academia have taken it upon themselves to delve into the political and sociological intricacy of this, one of his earlier, and without doubt most subversive works. Indeed, here he ponders the futility of existence itself.

Briggs drills down to the core of what it means to be Bogey, the great joy and comfort that manifests in the soft cloying darkness of despair; and in so doing Briggs slowly reveals to the reader the murky fears lurking in the gloomy depths of their own subconcious. There is Bogey in all of us, lest we forget; scrubbing vigourously (both physically and metaphorically) to remove the grime of nature and replace it with manufactured odours designed to disguise and decieve both our olfactory senses and our concious sensibilities. Briggs tome signposts the enlightened truth to all those who would see it.
The structure of Bogeydom is clearly an allegorical metaphor for our own society. The stark difference being only that the dark foreboding heart of Bogeydom is laid bare and open for all on the page, whereas in our worlds it is camoflaged beneath a facade of the superficial ; a veneer of clean civility layered on that inky black foundation that we so clearly share with the Bogey.

The politics of Bogeydom are Nietzschian in formulation, derived in part from the confusion between good and bad and the blurring of the age-old dichotomy so that no longer are they polar opposites, but exist as an entwined entity of undefined moral code on a multi-dimensional continuum. Like all things in Bogeydom the politics too are muddy. Fungus ponders his place and his role, and at times the reader is tantalised with the expectation that they are witnessing an empathetic iconoclast about to forge his own destiny, but ultimately Fungus is resigned to his lot, a thinker not a doer. The nihillistic qualities of the Bogey, both moral and existential, and of Fungus in particular by way of his internal dialogue, are presented in an alluring pathos that can only guide the the reader moth-like to conclude that perhaps it is ultimately possible to mentally transcend the complications and impositions of modern society if only we used less soap.


Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
by Christopher Brookmyre
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start, 27 Oct 2012
Nice to see Jack back after a wee rest. There is no doubt that Brookmyre has tried to do something a bit different with this one but the flashbacks and the jumping between characters makes it difficult to follow at first and a bit of a chore to read, until the halfway point. Around the middle of the book the story picks up and starts to run, and although it kind of gets a bit predictable it does become quite enjoyable. The subject matter is entertaining, Brookmyre is a born cynic and the paranormal is ripe for his brand of scepticism. His treatment of the world of psychics and the paranormal raises quite a few chuckles at times and introduces some interesting nuggets of fact: I wasn't aware of 'Mr Splitfoot' and the birth of Spiritualism for example and it was something I later read up on. Unfortunately I feel that the story is so slow to start and the ending is so lame that this would be pretty low down on any ranked list of his novels. Nevertheless, if you like Brookmyre and you can pick it up cheap it'll help pass a few hours.


The Thin Green Line
The Thin Green Line
by Alan Stewart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.29

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable insight into the sheer range of wildlife crime, 29 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Thin Green Line (Paperback)
Alan Stewart is probably the most experienced and knowledgeable police wildlife officer in Scotland, and quite possibly the UK. His first book 'Wildlife Detective' was more biographical, detailing his own experiences of cases involving wildlife crime through his career. This book differs in that it features crimes from all over the UK. Rather than recounting his own experiences he is relaying those of many other investigators, and the author uses his knowledge of the subject and his story telling abilities to bring the details of cases alive.

The book is split into sections for different counties or regions of the UK, within which are a contained a range of varied cases involving wildlife crime. There is a surprising range of crimes covered, from poaching to egg stealing, bulb theft to environmental damage, raptor persecution to dolphin 'bothering', you name it, and some police officer somewhere in these islands has had to deal with it. There is even the odd story here and there that turns out not to be about a crime but is all in a days work for a WCO, such as the kangaroo reported leaping around Cardiff that turned out to be....well you'll just have to read it.
This is an interesting insight into the breadth of crimes committed against wildlife, and perhaps more importantly the real difficulties that the police have in investigating these crimes. However, it appears that the difficulty in investigating them is dwarfed by the difficulty in prosecuting them and many of the culprits ultimately go free on technicalities, or if found guilty are 'punished' with minimal fines. All in all it seems that the work of the wildlife crime officer, while sometimes exciting may often be a slightly thankless task. The Author recounts all of these stories in a gentle easy to read style, not too technical (in terms of wildlife or the law) and details of cases are clearly explained. This book is suitable for even the most casual of readers as each case is self contained and most are 3 or 4 pages long. I also think that many of the stories would be good for reading by older school kids and I know this a subject often used to engage kids with the police, so teachers take note.


The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland: v.1: A Guide for Mountain Walkers: Vol 1
The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland: v.1: A Guide for Mountain Walkers: Vol 1
by Irvine Butterfield
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Still excellent a quarter of a century on!, 21 Sep 2010
The High Mountains by Irvine Butterfield has been my primary source guide for munroing for nearly 20 years. It was reccomended by a friend who had been using it for several years. By the standards of what else was available at the time of its publication (mid 1980's) this book was outstandingly good. Its only really serious rival for many years was 'the Munros' by SMC. Both books had their good points but in presentational terms and content the high mountains was far and away the leader Splitting groups of hills into sensible sections complete with a regional map locating all hills in the section made it so much easier to use than the SMC publication.
In recent years the book as been reprinted but the main text on routes has never been updated so some minor points of reference may no longer be valid. E.g. location of some forestry, usable bothies, some car parking points, track access etc. and many of the contact numbers for stalking/access info. However these only detract slightly from its useability, the hills themselves remain the same.
In contrast to the other popular guides which often use some very professional stock photos Butterfield's often have a much more personal feel to them, many of them include the walkers. The pictures illustrate most of the walks very well, but might raise a wry smile as the attire in use is often very much of the 1970's, canvas and wool, and in one notable photo, checked shirt and flared jeans on top of the Cullins!. However this does not make the book any less useful, and I confess that I rather like it, it reminds me that the modern obsession for ever more technical clothing and equipment is just an optional distraction to the real business of a challenging walk in the mountains.
The only major criticism I have ever had of this book, is Butterfield's tendency on occassion to lump large numbers of hills together as one gargantuan 15hr walk. For your average hillwalker such routes are impractical undertakings either due to fitness or time constraints. He does not always go into a lot of detail regarding the breaking up of these routes into smaller more manageable sections, although will often briefly mention a shorter alternative route down halfway through. On the other hand such routes are of great interest to extreme walkers and hill runners and as such this book is an invaluable resource for those of a more althletic persuasion.

Another area where this book scores highly is by including the Welsh, English and Irish 3000ft peaks too, a useful addition, especially for those mountain walkers south of the border who may appreciate having both their more local peaks and the Scottish munros all in one easy to use volume, It certainly helps to distinguish this book from the other guides.

It was only with the most recent update of the SMC book that it finally came anywhere near equalling the very useable layout that Butterfield used. If I was to reccomend a munro guide book now it would be harder to choose between them, the SMC might just win out due to its modernity, but the fact that Butterfield's book would still be a contender is admirable for a book that hasn't been significantly updated for quarter of a century. Both books completely outstrip Cameron Macneish's effort which probably sells well partly thanks to its pretty pictures, but mainly its frequent discounting. So if you have no munro book you should probably consider the SMC one, but then buy this as well because it is sufficiently different to make it worth having both and besides which it's a very enjoyable read even when you're not planning a walk.


Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.26

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This might be the greatest ever live album, 15 Mar 2010
This review is from: Mad Dogs & Englishmen (Audio CD)
Quite possibly the best live rock album ever recorded, although there's bags of soul, blues and perhaps a tiny smattering of jazz in there too. The album's quality is all the more remarkable when you read the stories about the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, it is frankly surprising they even made it onto stage each night, and this recording should have been an sonic disaster; but out of the chaos came something truly wonderful to behold.
Cocker is best known as a singer, not a writer, some say this as a criticism, but who cares when he sings great songs such as these as well as he does. Cocker has a monumentally fantastic voice and is one of a select few people who can take a well known song and give it an worthwhile individual twist.
Stand out tracks for me are a truly fantastic rendition of 'Cry me a river', the keyboards, horns and assembled backing vocals raise it up beyond a mere song to a real event, ditto for 'The Letter' and 'Space Captain' all three songs featuring some fantastic piano and keyboards from Leon Russell, the man who holds this whole album together (Joe, if legend is to be believed was barely holding himself together!). The tracks are busy, there's always plenty going on in the background, there is a terrific depth of backing vocals and supporting musicians, not least the superb horns section. The whole album gives a wonderfully chaotic impression of a big group of talented musicians just having a whale of a time. The band sound informal but still tight, with Joe's voice dominating the proceedings and Leon's piano guiding it all along, everyone just sounds like they are having a great time and it becomes kind of infectious. If you've never heard it, it's time you shared it. This album is forty years old, plenty of live albums have been recorded in that time, few even come close to this; it is a masterpiece.


Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy from Vic Reeves to The Office
Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy from Vic Reeves to The Office
by Ben Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.94

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Infuriatingly biased third-rate essay style, 13 Mar 2010
This has to be one of the most infuriating books I've ever read. I purchased it thinking I might get a 1990's equivalent of the excellent 'From Fringe to Flying Circus' by Roger Wilmut. Alas What I read was ruined by attempts by the author to appear intellectual and his ongoing attempts to portray Vic Reeves as an all-seeing comic genius. Reeves' career since this book was published seems to underline the fact that such assertions were more hopeful than accurate. Don't get me wrong Reeves and his buddy Bob can be very funny, but they have also peddled a fair amount of tosh, a stark fault of this book is the cringeworthy attempts to hold up their every step as inspired masterpiece, which it most of it clearly was not (even without hindsight). The authors own biases are clear, any pretence to give a balanced assesment of the comedy scene of this 'Golden age' are thrown out of the window in favour of bigging up Vic and a few other individuals, casting many others as mere bit players and ignoring, or worse dismissing yet more genuinely talented and influential comics.
Much of the book reads like a hamfisted second year media student's essay, so keen is the author to quote French philosophers and the like even when it adds little or nothing to the book, although it does scream "look at me, look at me! I'm so clever", the copious footnoting just reinforces this impression, and I really cringed for the author. I fought my way to the end of this book, it's a truly interesting subject and there is stuff of value in here, but it is ultimately ruined by both the style in which it is written and the lack of objectivity. If you think Vic Reeves is the Messiah then this is your Bible. If you want a balanced overview of Comedy around the 1990's and early 00's you'll have to look elsewhere.


The Stock Market: 50 Years of Capitalism at Work
The Stock Market: 50 Years of Capitalism at Work
by John Littlewood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly enjoyable read, 19 Dec 2009
An excellent informative read. If you know a little bit about the stock market or indeed not much at all but would like to know more then you may find this book of interest. It is not an investment book, it is merely a history of the goings on and development of the stock market mainly in the UK in the second half of the Twentieth century; possibly the most interesting period in its development. Having read this book I came away with a better understanding of how the market works, how it is run and also how world events have influenced it in the past. If you ever read about 'market makers' or 'runners' and wondered what exactly they were, or if you wondered exactly what the 'Big-Bang' was all about and what its outcome was, or just how different governments nationalised or privatised companies over the years then this book is for you. You'll find out more about the various scandals, economic crises, and the movers and shakers who influenced the world of investment prior to the turn of the millenium. Unfortunately the book stops there, just before the tech boom really went stratospheric and then crashed, undoubtably the inclusion of events in the past ten years would have complimented the rest of the book, but there was more than enough going on in the previous 50 years to hold interest. This book is written in an engaging style, and is a surprisingly easy read. It could have been oh so dry and inpenetratable given many people's perception of the subject matter, but it wasn't. Of course it helps if you have some interest in shares and investing or if you just like reading modern history.


The RYA Book of Buying Your First Motor Cruiser (RYA)
The RYA Book of Buying Your First Motor Cruiser (RYA)
by Robert Avis
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very basic introduction, 27 Sep 2007
As someone with only small dinghy experience I really don't know where to start when considering moving up to a small cabin cruiser. Types of hull, common problems, additional costs to factor in, maintenance requirements, licences, registration, VAT legislation and many other aspects of purchasing and owning are covered.
Much of the information is concise, quite basic and no doubt most of it is available on the internet, but here it is all together in one easy to read paperback. If you already know a fair bit about boats then this isn't for you, if you know very little then it is a useful first reference. No, it doesn't cover speedboats, only cruisers (i.e. boats designed so you can sleep aboard), but that should be obvious from the title. You may well hanker after more in-depth detail but this will at least give you the grounding to search out that detail elsewhere and make sense of it.


Apple iPod classic 80GB black
Apple iPod classic 80GB black

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Users of older Macs Beware!, 19 Sep 2007
This Ipod looks great and feels great, it's the nicest paperweight on my desk. I'm sure it's pretty good at playing music too but unfortunately it isn't compatible with my OS. Now you might think I'm running some obscure version of Linux, or perhaps an outdated version of Windows, but I'm not, I'm running one of Apple's own operating systems, on a Mac mini, the whole setup is only two and a half years old. But when I plugged my shiny new classic in I am told that it is incompatible becaue I'm not running OSX 10.4.8! So there you have it I have to upgrade to OSX 10.4, which is £90 (Apple's own price) and will be replaced itself in a month or so by another OS upgrade costing more money! And I'm not alone, almost one third of Mac users have an OS below 10.4 so there's a 1 in 3 chance that if you have a Mac then this device won't work, and that's pretty poor going given that everything is made by the same company. So take not of the system requirements folks! incidentally it does work with Windows XP which is of similar vintage to OSX 10.3, Apple appear to be putting more effort into supporting Windows users than people who use their own OS, quite bizarre!


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