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Gary B (U.K.)

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Jamie Oliver Sharpening Steel
Jamie Oliver Sharpening Steel
Offered by Universal Homeware
Price: £23.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, 29 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this steel after dropping the ceramic one I had been using for a few years. It shattered when it hit the kitchen floor. The new steel works exceptionally well, quickly restoring the edge on my kitchen knives. And it won't smash if I drop it.


The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy
The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy
by Tim Harford
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Hopefully some of our politicians will read it, 20 Jan 2014
Tim Hartford takes a very pragmatic approach to his subject, which is clearly and entertainingly presented. The question and answer layout of the book works well. It is not an economics text book but a treatise on how to use macroeconomics if you are unfortunate enough to be put in charge of running a country. Clearly he knows his subject but what makes it worthwhile reading is the quality and clarity of the writing. It would be extremely easy to write a boring, academic book on this topic. Hartford makes macroeconomics fun and at times even funny. Hopefully some of our politicians will read it. Highly recommended.


Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
by William Dalrymple
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well that about wraps it up for The First Afghan War, 17 Jan 2014
Well that about wraps it up for The First Afghan War then. I doubt very much that there is a need for another book on the subject, since this one is so comprehensive. It is a long book but I can't say that there is anything superfluous in it. Wonderfully written, I enjoyed it throughout. The war itself was a monumental cock-up by the British, and the chief villains deserve the criticism they get in the book. Nevertheless, in his wish to be seen taking a neutral stance, Dalrymple goes slightly overboard on his damning of the Brits and tolerance of Afghan atrocities. Most of those slaughtered in the Khyber were civilians. Dalrymple has gone to great lengths to obtain Afghan historical sources which in the end is what differentiates this work from the herd, combined with the quality of the writing.


Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster  - updated 2nd edition
Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster - updated 2nd edition
by Jon Krakauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.42

4.0 out of 5 stars A suberb read, 7 Jan 2014
This book is a superb read. It is a fascinating if tragic story that I believe can be enjoyed both by those who like being on mountains and those that don't. As ever with this type of book it is that quality of the writing that in the end makes the book rather than the ability to recount facts. Even though the author is a journalist it doesn't mean that he will naturally write a good book but Krakauer definitely succeeds.

The story concerns a disastrous few days on Everest when a large number of people lost their lives. The real culprit was the weather, but some bad decision making by a few high altitude climbers did contribute to the calamity. The book also questions whether relatively inexperienced climbers have any business above the level of base camp. The book is not didactic but presents the facts and allows us to draw our own conclusions, albeit giving a few broad hints regarding the author's thoughts on the matter.

There some fairly vitriolic comments about Krakauer in the other reviews of this book by readers who prefer a different version of the events that took place in 1996 on Everest. In the edition of "Into Thin Air" I read there is a response to these criticisms. I find that Krakauer's version of events very compelling and the alternative views simply do not hold water.

A very good book comparable with "Touching the Void" - there is no higher praise.


Breville VTT236 Silver 4 Slice Toaster
Breville VTT236 Silver 4 Slice Toaster
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, 30 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This toaster makes toast in a satisfactory manner. What's not to like. Looks ok and works as expected. yum yum.


Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy
Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy
by Iain Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Quality writing, 6 Dec 2013
I have read a number of books on the 2009 financial crisis. Most of them were interesting but heavy going in parts. This book is an exception because it is well written, informative and in places even witty. It was a real pleasure to read.

Fred Goodwin was clearly an unpleasant individual, with a huge inferiority complex, which he attempted to mask through bullying and rudeness. Clearly the rest of the board should have stood up to him which they singularly failed to do. Alas this failure was probably motivated by a desire to prolong their lucrative remuneration schemes. A lesson to the banking industry I think - overpay your employees and the allegiance will be to their wallets not the business.

There is a slightly curious ending to the book where the author points out that Fred wasn't solely to blame. This is obviously true but nevertheless I think we can heap about 70% of the ordure on his shoulders. This book itself more or less proves that Goodwin was the chief malefactor, and the other villains bit players.

Highly recommended because of the quality of the writing.


A Delicate Truth
A Delicate Truth
by John Le Carré
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form, 30 Aug 2013
This review is from: A Delicate Truth (Hardcover)
This represents a return to form after the disappointment of the last novel "Our Kind of Traitor". Great writing and an interesting plot. However, as another critic has written, would you read this one again ? I'd probably go for an earlier work. Did I misinterpret the ending or is there a chance of a kind of sequel ?


The Quarry
The Quarry
by Iain Banks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RIP, 7 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Quarry (Hardcover)
I have read all of Banks' novels and some of the Sci-Fi (plus the whisky book). This is another great novel from the man, who, until recently, was the UK's finest living writer. I'd give it 4.5 stars as it wasn't the most brilliant of endings, but under the circumstances in which it was written this is understandable. There are only two other writers who have consistently given me so much pleasure. This book has many laugh out loud moments and writing of such brilliance that I felt like stopping to applaud frequently. What a loss !


Joyland (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
Joyland (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Even if you don't do crime fiction read this, 16 July 2013
With the exception of the odd Ian Rankin book I don't read crime fiction or know much about Stephen King. I was drawn to this book by the cover so congratulations to the publisher's marketing department. Frankly after ten pages I was ready to throw this book across the room. It seemed to be an entry in the most cliché ridden prose competition, but by about page fifty I was hooked and enjoyed it more and more as I went on.

I was expecting a fast paced whodunit with lots of detectives floating around, but mercifully there was none of that. The story ambles along and we are drawn more and more into the principal characters world and the culture of the funfair, Joyland. In places it is very funny - I particularly enjoyed the "carny" language. Definitely worth a read. I would happily tackle another of Mr King's oeuvre.


Legends Of East Africa: The Original Recordings
Legends Of East Africa: The Original Recordings
Price: £7.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 10 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fantastic African music - great to get a copy of this album which I last heard in the 1980s. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


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