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J. B. Chapman (London, UK)
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Living and Working in Canada (Living & Working in Canada)
Living and Working in Canada (Living & Working in Canada)
by Graeme Chesters
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent newcomers guide, 2 Jan 2008
Having recently located from one capital city (London) to another (Ottawa) I can thoroughly recommend this guide to anybody contemplating a similar move. So far (three weeks in Canada and counting) I have not found a topic that I needed advice on that this book could not answer. In fact, I have frequently found that I am perhaps better informed than some of the resident population! The book's style is open and engaging, and where differences between provinces exist they are outlined accurately and succinctly. My only, minor, criticism is that the indexing could be better, but not by much. If you combine this book with one of the better tourist guides I can't see that there would be much you aren't prepared for.


Autocourse 2007/2008: The World's Leading Grand Prix Annual (Autocourse: The World's Leading Grand Prix Annual)
Autocourse 2007/2008: The World's Leading Grand Prix Annual (Autocourse: The World's Leading Grand Prix Annual)
by Alan Henry
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of pretty pictures and stats, 6 Dec 2007
Hmm... not bad, but could do better. This is not "in depth". It covers the season in about as much depth as you get from a good national newspaper, but Autosport this isn't. While there is a revealing profile of Kimi Raikkonnen, written by a fellow Finn, and the season's main stories are briefly outlined, no article weighs in at much over 1500 words so there really isn't the space to properly get into the minutiae of the tremendous events of the 2007 Formula One World Championship. For example, Mark Hughes (one of the best, most insightful and gifted communicators of F1 technology) has barely 1000 words in which to discuss the history of technology transfer (be it inspiration, interpretation or theft) from over 100 years of Grand Prix racing. Not much. Gone are the days of seriously meaty articles in Autocourse (although, to be fair, this has been the case for a few years now), and any real discussion of technical issues is absent. The races are handled competantly, and the plethora of statistics and digrams available are impressive. There are also some interesting snippets included as sidebar trivia, which help to illustrate the season's flow, but some have a distinctly Phil Space aspect to them. The review has also suffered with the season's drama dragging on beyond the publishing date, and some of the speculation surrounding Alonso is already well out of date.

However, the photography is stunning. The Crash Media website has been one of the best places to get up close and personal shots of this season's action, and these have been transferred through into this annual. All the major events are there, and most of the racing shots are up there among the best I have seen all year. Unfortunaely, some have been pushed beyond their resolution, and publishing crassly pixellated photos is a bit shoddy in a book which presents itself as a glossy, pictorial, coffee-table quality review. (Oh, and the Merecedes DTM car shot, in the Touring Cars review, is utterly inexcusable and the editor responsible for its inclusion should be strapped to the front of Kubica's car at the next Canadian GP.)

This book does present a reasonably informative review, from a fairly neutral standpoint, without being afraid to criticise where justified. For its photography alone I would have given it five stars, but it loses one because of the skimpy articles and the unprofessional pixellaion issues. Having said all that, it still knocks the socks off all the other glossy picture books out there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2007 1:20 PM GMT


Winning Is Not Enough: The Autobiography
Winning Is Not Enough: The Autobiography
by Jackie Stewart
Edition: Hardcover

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but curiously unsatisfying, 22 Nov 2007
This autobiography (and, for once, it really was written by the man himself, no ghosting here I think) is a very well written account of John Young Stewart's entire life. By that I mean that we don't just get the racing career. The book includes a long section on how his parents met and set up their garage business (well before Jackie Stewart's birth) Jackie's early life at school (not happy...), his brother's racing career, his early sporting success at clay pigeon shooting, racing, then business, endorsements, testing Ford cars, his family, Rolex, his friends (oh so many... mostly famous), setting up Paul Stewart Racing, Ford, moving into F1 again as Stewart Grand Prix, Rolex, his dogs, his friends, charity work, his son's illness, Ford, his brother's illness, his dog's illness, getting suits cut to fit over a Rolex, his friends, etc etc etc.

So why only three stars for such a chunky and comprehensive book? Well, I'm a petrolhead. Yes, I know, limited horizons perhaps, but I'm guessing that some people buying this book might (as I did) hope for more about the actual racing life, and the time spent within the team and behind the wheel. You notice how the racing career gets a little lost in that list I cobbled together above? Well, that's a little like the way the book comes across too. His racing doesn't really get going before about a quarter of the way into the book, and by half distance he's shown it the black flag and gone on to other things. Even within that section there are curious holes in the narrative. Where did the 1967 season go, for instance? During this year JYS was lumbered with the infamous BRM H16 powerplant, a unit on which his scathing "anchor for a ship" comment has passed into legend. But we get very little about just why it was so bad. This may well be the natural sportsman's attitude that you forget the bad and dwell on the good, but to find yourself slammed straight from 1966 into the front end of 1968 is a narrative car crash of Kubica-at-Montreal proportions. Similarly, 1972 seems to have done a bunk, although we are treated to an absorbing eulogy to Tyrrell 003 (hence, 1971 is quite well taken care of).

But... only once, on page 194, do we really get an idea about what went on in Sir Jackie's mind during a race. And this from one of the most thoughtful racing drivers in the sport's entire history! During his career Stewart drove an amazing variety of machinery, from the light and delicate BRM P261 F1 car of 1965, through the increasingly potent and rapid 3-litre cars (during the nacent slicks-n-wings stage, no less!), to monsters of CanAm. However, somehow we never really get an idea about what it was that lit Jackie's fuse about motor racing, other than the fact that he turned out to be good at it. What comes through is that Jackie Stewart (rightly) regards his driving career as a strictly limited period in his life. Having seen many interviews with the man, and heard him enthuse about motor racing, I really can't understand where all that went when he was writing this tome.

Despite the star rating, I would actually recommend this book, but be aware that this is not a driver's eye view of the glamourous late-60s and early-70s F1 circus, it is a portrait of a man. An acutely observed one, at that. I will stick at only three stars, however, as I can't help but feel that this book is being missold. The dust jacket features a shot of 006/2 (his last F1 car), a chequered flag pattern, and the rear has a moody portrait of JYS in his full-sideburned, early 70s pomp. But, to be honest, it really ought to be emblazoned with Ford, Rolex and Elf logos. He seems to be more in love with these corporations than ever he was with the smell of Castrol. Them and the Mayo Clinic. As his racing career lasted only about a decade, and his subsequent corporate career has spanned nearly four times that length, perhaps the balance is about right. Unfortunately, for me, while the ins and outs of corporate shmoozing, wheeling and dealing obviously push Jackie's buttons, they don't mine. Closing this book for the last time I felt that I had gained a huge understanding of the real Sir Jackie Stewart. Unfortunately, I think I preferred the fantasy. Ah well.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2013 4:59 PM GMT


Better Energy Systems Solio Charger
Better Energy Systems Solio Charger

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, if you live in the Sahara, 1 May 2007
The Solio is an inventive solution to a growing problem: how to keep a multitude of portable electronic devices charged when away from home? The built-in battery holds enough power to recharge my iPod twice, or my mobile phone once. You then place the Solio in the sun to trickle charge the on-board battery. So far, so good.

The trouble is that is does seem to need incredibly strong sunlight to charge in anything less than a week! I was working last summer in the middle of the Andalucian desert, and despite leaving the unit exposed to full, searing sunlight it took two days to top up enough to recharge the iPod just once.

In summary, the Solio provides a handy way to carry extra power for your device, and in an emergency, or if you leave it open to sunlight all day every day, it can provide a single source of power. However, the slowness of charging means that I usually charge it from the provided mains adaptor, and then carry the charged unit in my luggage. Not so environmentally friendly!


Red Herrings and White Elephants
Red Herrings and White Elephants
by Albert Jack
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Amusing.... ly poor., 14 April 2007
The dust jacket claims that the author of Red Herrings and White Elephants has "a passion for solving the mysteries of the English language". Well, a linguistic Morse he is not. While some definitions and etymologies are approaching accurate, there are so many errors that any claim for authority is laughable. Some of the real howlers include the hugely convoluted, inaccurate and illogical exposition of "flog a dead horse", along with a seriously odd reading of "raining cats and dogs", which includes the assertion that the phrase "raining dogs and polecats" is an explicit allusion to nautical terminology without any supporting evidence. The generally slapdash approach reaches its zenith with the invokation of Hindu sacred pigs in "bite the bullet", and the book therafter tails off into banality and whimsy. If the writing were lively and engaging then I might recommend it, but that isn't the case. Don't waste your money.


The Kitchen Diaries
The Kitchen Diaries
by Nigel Slater
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.50

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, readable, recipe feast., 13 April 2007
This review is from: The Kitchen Diaries (Hardcover)
Part biography, part lifestyle tome, part recipe book, somehow, out of this tangle of concepts, a gem has emerged. The prose offers insights into the way NS thinks, following on from his autobiography "Toast", and is written in such an engaging and thoughtful way that it is almost enough to buy this book on the writing alone. Almost. The rest of the reason for a justified recommendation is for the recipe ideas. Unusually, these are actually the dishes that Nigel served up for himself and his visitors, rather than being carefully crafted, food-porn visuals, dinner party fayre. The simplicity and purity of flavour that most encompass is inspirational, the food is firmly rooted in the seasons, and provides a handy hints source if you are suddenly called upon to knock up a quick dinner for guests. It is just a shame that one of the most usable cook-books (in every sense) isn't easier to keep open on the kitchen counter top!


Romanitas: Volume 1 (Romanitas Trilogy 1)
Romanitas: Volume 1 (Romanitas Trilogy 1)
by Sophia McDougall
Edition: Paperback

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Romanitarse, 13 April 2007
I am not usually one to put down a book without finishing it, but for Romanitas I made an exception. Not only was this a first, but Romanitas is also the first time that I found myself actively willing a speedy death upon the protagonists, if only so that we might shift emphasis onto something more interesting. This book should have been a blinder, the concept offers so much, yet the execution is execrable. Dreary prose, boring characters, dull sequences of endless travelling, and on and on and on... Yes, this may be the first of a trilogy, but that doesn't excuse a throughly sub-standard book. How can a book about slaves running for their lives, joining a fleeing emperor-in-waiting, evading checkpoints and searches, after starting with a crucifixion on the banks of the Thames, be so crushingly dull? That, if nothing else, is an achievement.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2009 2:13 PM GMT


Capture / Release
Capture / Release
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 5.36

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking album repackaged with an extra "bonus" track..., 15 Mar 2006
This review is from: Capture / Release (Audio CD)
I have the original version of this album already, and if this version has been "remastered" then it is too subtle for me to be able to tell. However, they have upped the song count by tacking on the current single "All Too Human", which fits into the list perfectly. As before, this is a great album from an up and coming London band, singing about an all-too-recognisable life in London. Great melody lines, cracking lyrics, and a frontman with a nicely distinctive vocal style. Just drop a star here for the overly arch "We Are All Animals", and for the general lack of rememberable songs in the latter half of the list.


Elizabeth I (Women In History)
Elizabeth I (Women In History)
by Anne Somerset
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhausively detailed minutiae of a significant reign., 13 Feb 2006
This book is a heavyweight tome (both literally and metaphorically), which provides detailed account of the life and reign of Elizabeth I. Although doubtless of great interest to those who are fascinated by the period and the woman herself, this is not exactly a page-turner to read on the daily commute. Each individual act and event is pored over at great length, with considered investigation of the motives and actions both of Elizabeth and those surrounding her. While this proves to be a good and accessible route to take for what is essentially an academic textbook, the level of detail - for example a five-page breakdown of the formation and constitution of Elizabeth's first Privy Council - does tend to impede the narative flow. Reading this book you come away with a hugely wide overview of the whys and wherefores of events during the second half of the 16th century, but if you want entertainment you would be better off with another book.


Capture / Release
Capture / Release

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bang on..., 20 Jan 2006
This review is from: Capture / Release (Audio CD)
Yes, it is parochial. Yes, they are unashamedly London-centric in their viewpoint. Yes, is isn't particularly original. But, it is great music, with hugely enjoyable and original lyrics. Their tunes are all very well put together and are refreshingly catchy, and it has become one of my favourite "on the way to work" albums for a hot, sweaty morning on the tube.


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