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S. A. Hawksworth "The Sea King's Daughter" (Poole, Dorset, England)
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Evolution Impossible
Evolution Impossible
Price: 6.58

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Look before you leap!, 18 Nov 2013
I recommend anyone considering buying this book to look first at Thomas E. Bloom's long, detailed and devastating critique of it on Amazon.com. He gave it one star, and said quite enough to put me off wasting my money, hence I have not read the work myself, apart from the lines Bloom quotes.

But I can say this much at least. People, if you're going to inform yourself about evolution and the evidence that it has or hasn't taken place, do you think it's a good idea to read a book by an expert in one of the sciences which provide the evidence being discussed, like geology or paleontology or archaeology or any field of biology? Someone who knows about fossils, or plate tectonics, or studies DNA at the molecular level? Or should you rather rely on the arguments of a chemist whose experience is in food technology, and who readily admits that he is a Young Earth Creationist, who believes that the Earth and all the living things on it were created no more than about 6,000 years ago, because,in his opinion, that's what it says in the Bible and so it would be against his religion to doubt it?

Ashton basically rubbishes the evidence and theories accumulated in the last two hundred years of research in dozens of different fields, in many of which the pioneers started out believing the age of the Earth to be less than 10,000 years, because they trusted the bible, but were forced to change their minds because of the evidence they uncovered. They were honest men. Ashton is not. If the evidence doesn't support his preconceived ideas, he ignores it or distorts it. If he thinks some scientist's words or discovery can support his case, he cites them, and fails to mention that the scientist's ideas on evolution and the age of the Earth are diametrically opposed to his. Or he quotes what people said 150 years ago as though there had been no discoveries since. Don't waste your money. DO inform yourself about Evolution. It needn't even cost you anything. Wikipedia would be a good place to start.


The Complete Stalky & Co (Oxford World's Classics)
The Complete Stalky & Co (Oxford World's Classics)
by Rudyard Kipling
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.18

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hogwarts - the Original, 15 Oct 2008
Don't get me wrong. I am not recommending that all the millions of fans still suffering withdrawal symptoms after the conclusion of the Harry Potter series should attempt to find a new fix in these pages. Quite the contrary. Be warned. Unless you are at least as much of a bookworm as Hermione Granger, and with as high an IQ, you are not going to be able to understand at least two thirds of this book until you hit your mid and later teens - and even then it's probably no more than 5 per cent at most of readers who will persevere through their initial reactions of incomprehension of the language, references and setting, and quite likely revulsion at some of the attitudes and incidents described, to the point when they are suddenly hooked - by the humour, the gloriously creative language, the anti-authority attitudes of our unconventional heroes, the mass slaughter of sacred cows, the insights into adolescence, and education, and preparation for the adult world, and much much more. And then they'll come back to it again and again, and gradually make sense of what they couldn't understand first time round, as their vocabulary and historical knowledge widen, and love it more and more.

You need to be clear about this too : this book contains absolutely no witches, wizards or magic, and no one saves the world from a Dark Lord. (Also the wise, heroic, and maverick Headmaster is, to the best of my recollection, married. Plus the student heroes are on excellent terms with the sympathetic and understanding school chaplain. So any members of the lunatic fringe of the American Christian Right for whom Harry Potter is anathema can safely let their precious children read this - just don't hold me answerable for the consequences! :) )

Nonetheless, I stand by my review title. It's not just that these stories and the earlier "Tom Brown's Schooldays" (by Thomas Hughes) between them are the ancestors of the entire school story genre, and that every subsequent fictional British school,from Greyfriars through St Custard's and St Trinian's to modern tales set in inner city comprehensives, owes them an incalculable debt, whether or not their authors have ever read the originals. It's that J.K.Rowling is quite clearly one of the five per cent of readers on whom these stories left an impression as indelible as a Dark Mark.

Here you will meet the 19th century ancestors of Padfoot, Moony, Prongs and Wormtail, and of the Weasley twins, ancestors whose motto could so easily have been "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!". How Stalky & Co would have LOVED a Maurauders' Map! (But they managed just fine without one.)Here you'll find that Dumbledore had a Muggle precursor or two, with decidedly unconventional but insightful educational methods, to set beside Gandalf and Merlin. Here you'll find furious inter-House feuds and ingenious practical jokes, and pompous prefects, and vicious bullying, and be brought up short and forced to think, as the boundaries between bullies and victims become very blurred indeed. Here you'll even find a story entitled "Regulus", which is where I as a teenager, and I'd be willingly to bet, JKR too, was first and memorably introduced to the tragic and inspiring story of the Roman namesake of Sirius's younger brother.

And most memorably of all you'll be introduced to Kipling's own avatar, Beetle, the complete antithesis of every conventional school story hero, who has Hermione's omnivorous appetite for books, but none of her principles or work ethic, Neville's clumsiness but none of his sweet nature, Harry's glasses but none of his sporting talent or interest, and who carries psychological scars, as a victim of severe bullying in his past. (In Kipling's own case, this was in a foster home as well as in his early years at school, as his autobiographical story "Baa Baa Black Sheep" - not one of the "Stalky & Co Tales" - painfully relates.)An unattractive, clever oddball of a boy, frequently resentful and vindictive, and stigmatised for faulty personal hygiene - who has nonetheless been lucky enough to find security with two inseparable and loyal friends who will stand with him against all the world. And especially against his arch enemy, a bitter, sarcastic, strict, unpopular man, head of a rival House, who constantly singles him out, often unfairly, as the butt of ridicule, and the focus of suspicion :

"Oh, how did Beetle do?"
"The necessary dates and his handwriting defeated him, I'm glad to say. I cannot accuse myself of having missed any opportunity to castigate that boy's inordinate and intolerable conceit."

The antipathy is mutual, and profound, and presumably mirrors the real life relationship between the author as a boy and a former teacher. Yet in the later stories Kipling shifts his ground and encourages us to see other aspects of this deeply flawed man that command our respect and even sympathy - his scholarship, his passionate love for his subject, his dedication to his usually thankless task of getting his pupils through the exams they need to pass in order to pursue their careers, even his protectiveness towards the boys in his house and capacity to show understanding and support to one particular pupil going through a difficult time.

If you're not convinced now of Kipling's influence on JKR , I can't imagine you ever will be. (Indeed, it's not just the Stalky stories. The "extra" later stories were published in collections in 1925 and 1926 where a number of other stories seem to me to resonate strongly with themes and ideas in the Harry Potter books. "On the Wall" is one example.) And if you DO decide to buy the book and give it a try - I hope some of you will - you should certainly get one laugh, at the spookily appropriate name of the the Half-Blood Prince's literary progenitor.


A Song of Ice and Fire (3) - A Storm of Swords
A Song of Ice and Fire (3) - A Storm of Swords
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spoiler-free Review, 21 Jan 2003
... I was momentarily disappointed and puzzled to see that there's still only one customer review for ASoS, two years after its publication, but of course there's a good reason for this. The ASOIAF readers who are full of missionary zeal for the series (approximately 90% of the total readership, at a conservative estimate) are focusing their efforts on getting all their acquaintance to read the FIRST book of the series, not the third. They reckon, understandably, that their job is then done, and that any normal person will only need to know that the second and third books exist to be rushing out and acquiring them, and then be frustrated to fever pitch that they have to wait another half year till A Feast for Crows. It's a little difficult to say anything much about the later books without betraying spoiler information about the earlier ones - and these are books where surprise is crucial to the first reading experience. Which won't stop you REreading the books repeatedly and finding fresh delight in them each time.
So no spoilers here either. If by some chance you've read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings but not this, then lose no further time. It is in my opinion the best yet - if only because it's the longest and so provides the reader with even more hours of pleasure than the earlier two! Another reason for my opinion is the sheer brilliance of what Martin does with one of the two new character viewpoints he introduces here. To say more would give away too much.
If you've read all three books and just want to see someone else's thoughts on them, because you're still on a high, and everything but the book seems dull and unimportant, what you need is the A Song of Ice and Fire message board on ezboard, where you will be able to discuss the books at whatever intellectual level you are capable of, in minute detail, with hundreds of otherwise sane fellow addicts.
And if you haven't read any of them,and have found your way here by some accident or whim, waste no further time. Order A Game of Thrones from amazon right now. It should take you only a week or so before you are ordering the rest of the series.
WARNING A few pitiable souls are unable to appreciate it, and although I know of many younger readers who adore the series I wouldn't recommend it unreservedly to those under fifteen, due to Martin's readiness to inflict harrowing experiences, injury or death on sympathetic characters, the explicitness of the descriptions of sex and violence, and the language of some of the characters. Some would find it disturbing. But this explicitness is not in the least gratuitous. It is part and parcel of the story. Others find it disconcerting to switch between multiple viewpoints, and don't have the patience to persevere until they adjust to each different "voice", or are frustrated at not having things neatly wrapped up at the end of each volume. But whether your taste is for comedy or tragedy or romance, action or dialogue or description, noble idealistic heroes or cynical flawed anti-heroes, realism or escapism, you will find plenty to satisfy you. Your sympathies will be broadened, and you will be stimulated into thinking for yourself, and adjusting your opinions in the light of later information, not just passively absorbing what you read.
If you like good fantasy, you will like this. If you like good historical novels you will like this. If you like good writing of any kind you will probably like this...


A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Three
A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Three
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback

77 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One glowing tribute is not enough, 3 Oct 2002
I was momentarily disappointed and puzzled to see that there's still only one customer review for ASoS, two years after its publication, but of course there's a good reason for this. The ASOIAF readers who are full of missionary zeal for the series (approximately 95% of the total readership, at a conservative estimate) are focusing their efforts on getting all their acquaintance to read the FIRST book of the series, not the third. They reckon, understandably, that their job is then done, and that any normal person will only need to know that the second and third books exist to be rushing out and acquiring them, and then be frustrated to fever pitch that they have to wait another half year till A Feast for Crows. It's a little difficult to say anything much about the later books without betraying spoiler information about the earlier ones - and these are books where surprise is crucial to the first reading experience. Which won't stop you REreading the books repeatedly and finding fresh delight in them each time.
So no spoilers here either. If by some chance you've read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings but not this, then lose no further time. It is in my opinion the best yet - if only because it's the longest and so provides the reader with even more hours of pleasure than the earlier two! Another reason for my opinion is the sheer brilliance of what Martin does with one of the two new character viewpoints he introduces here. To say more would give away too much.
If you've read all three books and just want to see someone else's thoughts on them, because you're still on a high, and everything but the book seems dull and unimportant, what you need is the A Song of Ice and Fire message board on ezboards, where you will be able to discuss the books at whatever intellectual level you are capable of,in minute detail, with hundreds of otherwise sane fellow addicts.
And if you haven't read any of them,and have found your way here by some accident or whim, waste no further time. Order A Game of Thrones from amazon right now, pausing, if you like, to read some of the customer reviews for it. It should take you only a week or so before you are ordering the rest of the series.
WARNING A few pitiable souls are unable to appreciate it, and although I know of many younger readers who adore the series I wouldn't recommend it unreservedly to those under fifteen, due to Martin's readiness to inflict harrowing experiences, injury or death on sympathetic characters, the explicitness of the descriptions of sex and violence, and the language of some of the characters. Some would find it disturbing. But this explicitness is not in the least gratuitous. It is part and parcel of the story. Others find it disconcerting to switch between multiple viewpoints, and don't have the patience to persevere until they adjust to each different "voice". But whether your taste is for comedy or tragedy or romance, action or dialogue or description, noble idealistic heroes or cynical flawed anti-heroes, realism or escapism, you will find plenty to satisfy you. Your sympathies will be broadened, and you will be stimulated into thinking for yourself, and adjusting your opinions in the light of later information, not just passively absorbing what you read.
If you like good fantasy, you will like this. If you like good historical novels you will like this. If you like good writing of any kind you will probably like this.


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