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groundhog (uk)

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Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A bit tedious, 4 Dec 2013
Having read the Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean I was up for reading another book about the elements. Whereas Kean's book is well written, fascinating and really makes the most of the subject, Periodic Tales does the opposite. It's the equivalent of being in the back of a lecture theatre falling asleep while someone drones on. The elements really are a great subject and I don't know how he has managed to make it so dull.
Basically the Disappearing Spoon is the same book but better on all counts.

Anansi Boys
Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.27

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Gaiman afterthought, 1 Oct 2009
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Paperback)
Is it me or is Gaiman's writing getting lazy? I have been a keen follower of his work right back to the Sandman comics and Good Omens, both of which were 5 star. I thought Neverwhere was another classic. He is capable of really classy writing and good stories, but it's as if he can't quite be bothered to keep up the quality writing. American Gods was good but I noticed a bit of the Dan Brown in his writing with that one. Anansi Boys - it's even worse. For the first time in his works I've seen sentences that even I would be embarrassed to publish. While it is still readable and the surreal storyline distinctly his, like American Gods, I felt that he didn't know where he was going with the plot and could only be bothered writing good prose about half the time.
Please Neil, take twice and long for the next novel and get it right.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2013 3:37 PM BST

Enter The Dragon (Original) [VHS] [1973]
Enter The Dragon (Original) [VHS] [1973]
Offered by pkeylock
Price: £5.76

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the definitive martial arts movie, 7 May 2004
This film is among my top 5 of all time. I've seen it so many times I know most of the dialogue. They should make it into a musical - I'll direct it.
The storyline is superb - Mr Han is organising a martial arts tournament on a remote island. Bruce Lee (playing himself) goes along to investigate Han's alleged heroin production as well as to avenge O'Hara (who killed his sister). John Saxon goes to pay off debts. The build up is great and the fight scenes are the best I've seen.
One viewing is not enough and before long you'll be doing Bruce Lee impressions (including the 1/2 second delay between opening his mouth and the words coming out.
Great lines, great acting (even when it's bad) and a great story.
Buy it now!

Stupid White Men: ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!
Stupid White Men: ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!
by Michael Moore
Edition: Paperback

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars it's important everyone reads this book, 25 Mar 2004
Stupid White Men exposes the truth about American politics. It reveals the facts that the supposed free media is instructed to leave out. George Bush cheated to gain presidency and is being led by evil corporate giants whose motives are to gain more money at all costs. (why do you think America was the only country not to sign the Kyoto agreement on less toxic factory emmissions).
I notice a lot of people have slagged the book off as being too much of a rant and one-sided. I disagree. If ranting has meant more sales then that's a good thing. If more people know the truth behind western politics then maybe the masses will come together to stop it. Too many people are ignorant, having been brainwashed by the propaganda of the media. It is not one-sided either. Moore tells the truth, that's all - just because it's shocking doesn't make it one-sided.
It isn't brilliantly written though and I thought the humour wasn't funny - it oft-times detracted from the point he was trying to make too. The book was also a bit too fragmented. If you want to read a similar book but better written and by a well respected ex journalist read 'The New Rulers of the World' by John Pilger. Now that really is depressing, going into the details of how the US and Britain have caused death and famine on the scale of millions in Indonesia and Iraq in order to get their hands of their natural resources. And they have the gall to talk about post 9/11 terror.

Down Under
Down Under
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.29

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best Brysons, 5 Mar 2004
This review is from: Down Under (Mass Market Paperback)
I'd never been interested in Australia at all but, having loved all the Bill Bryson books I'd read, wanted to see his view on Oz. He is the first person to make me want to go to there. Considering my antipathy towards the place beforehand I was surprised to find that this was becoming my favourite Bryson read!
It is his same inimitable style but more so. It is full of interesting asides about the place, the wildlife, the politics, the geography. I didn't know that an Ozzie Prime Minister just vanished!
He tells us about Australia on the large scale but the best bits are the minutaie he notices. It's these that make you feel the sweltering heat of the place and smell the 4X breath of the Ozzies.
It is extremely funny too. All his books are funny but this one particularly. It is an absolute must read for Bryson lovers and those who want to know about Australia.

Tales Of The City
Tales Of The City
by Armistead Maupin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars superb series to lose yourself in, 26 Feb 2004
This review is from: Tales Of The City (Paperback)
I loved this book, so much so I read the other five immediately afterwards. It is a wonderful series, well written with warm characters you really care about. The female characters are not as deep as the male ones - they seem to come in 2 flavours - dyke and bimbo. But the male characters have more degrees of character and are written well. It is about a handful of different charaters in San Francisco whose lives, during the course of the book, intertwine in various ways and with bizarre coincidence. Michael, the most written about character of the book is great - you keep on reading to find out what he's up to.
The following books in the series follow their lives through the years, the whole series spanning 20 odd years.
However, the 5th in the series was the worst by far. It was still an easy read but the characters he concentrated on weren't the best.
Generally excellent though.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ok but i won't rush out for the next 2, 24 Feb 2004
I would recommend this book as a one-off as I liked the sound of the unusual storyline and African setting. I bought it because the idea of a woman setting up the first female detective agency in Botswana was appealing.
And the book was good, but for me the best parts were getting to know Botswana and it's customs and being introduced to Precious Ramotswe, the sleuth of the book. However, her actual detective cases were boring. There was no surprise or intrigue in them. With detective novels I envisage being on the edge of my seat wondering how on earth that could have happened. Not so here.
It was a case of - A boy is missing, Oh here he is - My car's been stolen, oh there it is. I exaggerate but barely.
This is why I will not be reading the follow-ups. Not until I hear that McCall-Smith has learnt to write more compelling mysteries for Precious to solve.
I definitely recommend it in itself though. Botswana sounds great!

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Essential Penguin)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Essential Penguin)
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a peculiar but enchanting read, 24 Feb 2004
This novel is an unusual read. The style of Marquez is different to any other author I've read. He is an gifted writer whose expertise seems to lie in descriptive narrative and his observations of people. You can almost smell Macondo, the village in which the book details 100 years in the life of, and you can feel the muggy heat on your back and the dust in your eyes.
He is such a good writer one's belief is not suspended when he talks of flying carpets and weeks-long insomnia epidemics. You just accept these phenomena as part of his world, you don't suddenly think it's a fantasy novel or comedy and it cetainly doesn't come across as corny.
The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that is it a heavy read, the literary equivalent of christmas cake. But don't put it down for long as I did or you'll lose the thread and have to start again. Without meaning to sound stupid some of the characters' names are very similar, especially in the Buendia family forcing you to keep re-checking the family tree at the front to check who's who.
It is one of those books that you'll feel uplifted about having read it and will rave about it but whilst reading it oft-times feels like trawling through a Macondo bog.

The Ringmaster's Daughter
The Ringmaster's Daughter
by Jostein Gaarder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gaarder's worst effort so far, 13 Feb 2004
I was a huge Jostein Gaarder fan. I thought Sophie's World was awe inspiring, original and clever. The Solitaire Mystery was equally good and even more clever. So after being a tad disappointed with Maya I was hoping for a return of his fine form in 'The Ringmaster's Daughter'.
My hopes were dashed - I have to confess to only making it halfway through. Has Gaarder had a literary bypass I don't know of! The characters in this book are flat. I didn't connect with them in any way, I certainly didn't like them. The story was boring, I was continually checking what page I was on (a bad sign) to see how much there was left .I was astonished how it could be written by the same bloke who wrote the wonderful Sophie's World.
To all other Gaarder lovers who haven't read this book, judge for yourself because I was surprised to find other reviewers loved it, but it's not a patch on his previous efforts.

The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language
The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language
by Melvyn Bragg
Edition: Hardcover

99 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great read, 12 Feb 2004
If you are interested in the history of the English Language, word derivations and English generally I strongly recommend this book. I would have given it 5 stars but knocked one off because at times, especially in the first few chapters, Bragg can get a bit tedious. His writing style is very odd too. I'm not saying it's bad, just odd. It's as if he is slightly off-kilter with the world. Also some of his sentences go on for ever with little punctuation, which struck me as peculiar given that Bragg is a consummate intellectual and is writing about English!
Nit-picking aside the book is a great read. It is full of interesting history and, especially in the latter half of the book, full of fascinating facts you always wanted to know about words but couldn't be bothered finding out. Such as the reason for expressions such as 'the Real McKoy' and 'Maverick'. Why Americans pronounce every syllable while us Brits tend to clip vowels as in 'Cem-e-ter-y'(US) and 'ceme-try'(England). How Kangaroo, supposedly, wasn't actually the name of the animal but the aboriginal for 'I don't know what you're talking about' when a native was asked for it's name in English. etc etc
If it's quick fire facts about the English language you're after I would recommend Bill Bryson's 'Mother Tongue'. It is an easier read and has more humour. Bragg's book goes into much more depth charting the progress of English from it's very beginning up to present day America and Australia. Not as readable as Bryson, his style more lecture hall than matey, but definitely worth it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2012 4:32 PM GMT

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