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David Poole (uk)

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The Ringmaster's Daughter
The Ringmaster's Daughter
by Jostein Gaarder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

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

108 of 109 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

Vernon God Little
Vernon God Little
by DBC Pierre
Edition: Paperback

21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a post-modern 'catcher in the rye', 10 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Vernon God Little (Paperback)
This is a brilliant book on several counts. Most importantly it is well written and a riveting read. It is also funny, not laugh out loud funny but caustically witty, mmmm-nod-of-recognition funny. It’s also parodies superbly modern times. The innocent 15 year-old narrator Vern is cast as No1 suspect of a Columbine-style massacre. The arrogance, bigotry and self-preservation of the townsfolk, the law and even his mother drive him to despair and start off a vicious circle. The excruciating, but sadly very realistic, reaction to his suspected guilt by his elders forces him to enact a self-fulfilling prophecy as he fleas to Mexico leaving behind more crimes and ammunition for his prosecution.
In amongst the mayhem of the aftermath he is surrounded by stupid, vain, shallow, materialistic characters. ‘Goddamn phoneys’ as Holden V Caulfield would say. It’s a Catcher in the Rye for the 00’s. He’s even copied the Salinger character’s gimmick of giving himself various middle names as in Vernon ‘Genius’ Little etc.
It is set in a Texan hick town. I'm sure this is no coincidence as Texas is always the butt of bigotry, hypocrisy and stupid white men jokes. Vernon God Little is a pastiche of the western world and its absurd pretence at democracy. Lalito, the sleazebag reporter, is determined to paint a terrible picture of young Vern, and his character brings to my mind George Bush for some reason. The gullibility of Vern’s mother in Lalito’s successful wooing of her brings to mind the all the poor souls who are hoodwinked by such evil characters (like George Bush).
Vernon to my mind represents all the good people in the world, the silent and screaming masses, who have to put up with the twisted justice and illogical and hypocritical nonsense fed down to us by people in power(‘Those who crave power are least fit to wield it.’)
I’m no book critic and my conclusions could well be a load of excrement but nevertheless the book is excellent, it’s the best book I’ve read in absolutely ages.

Ripley Bogle
Ripley Bogle
by Robert McLiam Wilson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars should be up there with the modern classics, 28 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Ripley Bogle (Hardcover)
This book is simply fantastic. I find it difficult to believe that it unknown to most book lovers. It is a modern clasic on a par with 'God of Small Things' or 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'.
Wilson is a gifted writer reminding me a lot of Nabokov. Like him the language he uses is almost lyrical, it flows like a poem at times, and he uses very big words in exactly the right context and without destroying the flow of writing.
If you like George Orwell too this book will appeal to you being reminiscent of 'Down and Out in Paris and London'.
It is about Bogle, a high-brow vagrant living in London, and his life as a down-and-out. It is oft-times funny and quite tragic in places. It is a must read for literature lovers.

The Day After Roswell: A Former Pentagon Official Reveals the U.S. Government's Shocking UFO Cover-up
The Day After Roswell: A Former Pentagon Official Reveals the U.S. Government's Shocking UFO Cover-up
by Philip J. Corso
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable - but I believe every word!, 17 July 2002
While reading this book it is difficult to come to terms with what you're reading but only because humans only think within the paradigm of what is already known. I think the author is genuine and what he says is true despite the fact that it reads like an x-files script.
Ironically people who dismiss these types of exposes are the gullible ones and play into the hands of Governments who expect just such a reaction. As far as this book is concerned, to dismiss it as the rantings of a crackpot is naive.
We must break out of our mental paradigm!!! Roswell happened!!
The only criticism I can make is that he is not the best of writers but that's maybe being pedantic.
Altogether an excellent and fascinating read.

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