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Alan Pavelin (Chislehurst, UK)
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The Hungry Healthy Student Cookbook: More than 200 recipes that are delicious and good for you too (Hungry Student)
The Hungry Healthy Student Cookbook: More than 200 recipes that are delicious and good for you too (Hungry Student)
by Spruce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good student cookbook, with some complicated-looking recipes., 26 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A very colourful book aimed at students. Divided into sections, with a good index. Each recipe has an "affordability index", rated 1,2, or 3. Many of the recipes, however, look quite complicated, with many ingredients, some of which are probably quite expensive. But very comprehensive.


The European Union: A Citizen's Guide
The European Union: A Citizen's Guide
by Chris Bickerton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and insightful study of the EU and its history, 14 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An interesting and useful addition to the more strictly factual "European Union: A Very Short Introduction" which I reviewed some time ago for Amazon. This book, in the Pelican series, Is a not uncritical history of the EU, dealing with various ways in which people have viewed it, such as a "capitalist club" or a "superstate". One well-argued theme running through the book is that the widespread anti-EU sentiment, not just in Britain but in many other countries, is basically part of the "anti-establishment" feelings which people have about politicians in the member states. There are lots of interesting anecdotes, notably about the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. A worthwhile read, which punctures some of the misunderstandings which people have. One omission is anything about the actual process of leaving the EU, which is surprising as it is sufficiently up-to-date to mention our referendum (9 days away at the time of writing this review).
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2016 2:33 PM BST


YOU Window Cleaner 500 ml (Pack of 2)
YOU Window Cleaner 500 ml (Pack of 2)
Price: £6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cleaner, 26 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Seems an excellent cleaner, and very easy to use. Makes a big difference to my iPad screen!


An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture
An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture
by Peter Block
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.38

3.0 out of 5 stars An idealistic argument for an anti-consumerist society., 29 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This short book, with three authors, is basically an anti-consumerist, anti-profit, anti-market argument from a vaguely Christian perspective. It would be welcomed by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. It argues that trade should where possible be local rather than international, that food should be locally-grown rather than processed, that we should rely on covenants rather than contracts, that neighbourliness should replace consumption, that education should be for its own sake rather than to prepare us for the world of commerce (Ivan Illich, who proposed such views, gets several mentions). There is nothing wrong with these arguments, but I think they are proposing a Utopia which we will never come close to achieving, though as individuals we might do well to keep these ideas in mind. A section towards the end, called Commentaries, gives the views of several people who read the book before publication, all of whom enthusiastically endorsed it.


The Well of the North Wind
The Well of the North Wind
by Kenneth Steven
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written historical novel, but personally not involving, 18 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I couldn't really get into this book, though I did finish it. It is basically a historical novel, set in the 6th century, about St. Columba, Iona, and the Book of Kells, though all this has to be inferred as they are not named as such. I think it is the way it is written which I found off putting, though other readers may have no problem. The central character is a boy named Fian, who finds himself involved with the monks, falling in love with a girl along the way, and who (it is implied) contributes to the now-treasured Book of Kells. Many readers will find great pleasure in this novel, and undoubtedly it is finely written, but not really for me.


Shakespeare's Comedies: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Shakespeare's Comedies: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Bart van Es
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into comedy in Shakespeare., 9 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is yet another in the Oxford University Press "Very Short Introduction" series, now over 450 in number and on practically any subject you can think of. This volume considers Shakespeare's comedies not play-by-play, but by theme (world, wit, love, time, and character). There is a. Interesting final chapter, "Endings", which discusses what should actually be regarded as comedy. The last pure comedy he wrote, All's Well That Ends Well, was followed by, among others, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest (my two favourite plays, as it happens), usually classed as romances but included in the Folio as comedies. In fact the writer makes a case that ALL his plays are, at least in part, comedies, in that even the tragedies include comic characters. There is a six-page section, in the chapter called Love, about modern film versions of the comedies, which are often set in American high schools. Personally not my cup of tea.
It has to be said that this is not really a "beginner's guide", as a play-by-play account might be. It seems to assume prior familiarity with the plays. An interesting study though, with a useful bibliography for those wishing to pursue the subject further.


Life's Great Questions
Life's Great Questions
by Jean Vanier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A spiritual, rather than theological, approach to "life's great questions"., 28 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Life's Great Questions (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It probably says more about me than about many other people, but I found this book by the founder of the L'Arche community a tad disappointing. It has juicy-sounding chapter headings like Why Is There Evil in the World, How Do You Know That God Exists, and Why Are We Here, but these questions are answered not theologically or philosophically, but on the basis of personal experience and the way we should live. There is nothing with which to disagree; an emphasis on things like love, community, and reaching out to others is a good reminder, but just a bit platitudinous, like an extended Thought For The Day on BBC radio. The author is refreshingly ecumenical with a leftish political slant, and lots of personal experiences to illustrate his points.
As I say, my preference is for a more directly theological approach to the "great questions" being asked, but many readers will prefer Jean Vanier's more "spiritual" style. I give it four stars, on the basis that it is a highly recommended book for many people, but not so much for me.


The Givenness Of Things
The Givenness Of Things
by Marilynne Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stimulating book by one of the greatest modern writers, 20 Jan. 2016
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Marilynne Robinson is not just a brilliant novelist (Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, Lila) but an extremely knowledgeable essayist on a variety of subjects, something of a polymath in fact. All but one of this collection of 17 essays have a single-word title (Humanism, Reformation, Grace, etc.), though it is not always obvious from each title what the essay is actually about. The author is well-known as an active member of a Congregationalist Church, and five of the last six essays in this collection (Metaphysics, Theology, Experience, Son of Adam Son of Man, Limitation) are specifically on religious topics, though religion frequently makes an appearance in other essays also. Her theology might be described as Liberal Calvinism, and there are many mentions of the French reformer whom she so obviously admires. A major theme of the essays is a denunciation, not of science (of which her understanding is impressive), but of scientism, the view that the empirical methods of science are the key to all knowledge and understanding. She is particularly scathing, in the first essay, of the extremes of neuroscience, which claim that all mental processes can be reduced to, and explained by, physical movements in the brain. Other essays are about the state of modern America, of which she doesn't particularly approve; she is a liberal Democrat, and an admirer of Barack Obama. Her views on Donald Trump would be interesting to hear.
A stimulating and extremely well-written book, which deserves a very wide readership.


Overcoming Anxiety: Reassuring Ways to Break Free from Stress and Worry and Lead a Calmer Life
Overcoming Anxiety: Reassuring Ways to Break Free from Stress and Worry and Lead a Calmer Life
by Gill Hasson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive summary of the anxiety syndrome., 31 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An easily readable book which sets out more or less all their is to know about anxiety and how to overcome it. The first three chapters are about understanding anxiety (from which we all suffer from time to time, though some people in excess), the remaining six chapters about how to deal with it. The emphasis is on changing the way we think and speak, emphasising a positive approach when we normally think negatively. Every chapter has a useful summary at the end headed "in a nutshell". There is a comprehensive index. The author has 20 years' experience in personal development.


Rowland Broomhead 1751-1820. Apostle of the North
Rowland Broomhead 1751-1820. Apostle of the North
by Peter Francis Lupton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended study of a much-loved priest., 19 Oct. 2015
Rowland Broomhead is, at the time of writing, so little-known generally that he doesn't even merit a Wikipedia entry. Yet this Catholic priest became such a major figure in the church life of Manchester that thousands turned out for his funeral in 1820.
Peter Lupton's carefully researched book will, it is hoped, make Broomhead much better known. Born in Sheffield in 1751, he moved to Manchester as an assistant priest in 1778 and quickly became involved in missionary work not just in the city but in the wider area. Over the next 40 years he not only continued this work but also devoted himself to the social problems of the poor.
Lupton quotes extensively from many sources, even poetry written by one Michael Gaffey who was obviously a great admirer. The book has interesting sections on the political background of the time, including the aftermath of the French Revolution and the increasing immigration of Irish Catholics into the area, all of which provided fresh challenges. A particularly surprising aspect, which clearly emerges from this book, is the extent of cooperation between the Catholic and Protestant churches at the time.
The book has many illustrations, and charts of "Papist returns" for various towns in the area; we learn such intriguing facts as that almost half the Catholics in Sutton in 1767 listed "button maker" as their occupation.
A highly recommended book, both for the detailed study of Broomhead and for the wider social history of the Manchester area.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2015 10:22 AM GMT


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