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Amazon Customer "Kernyck" (Penzance, Cornwall)

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Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial
Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial
by Simon Singh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Presents a strong case for evidence-based medicine, 14 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the books in a growing movement that is fighting for all that we gained in the Enlightenment, and which in the late twentieth and early twenty first century appears to be slipping away in a cloud of wishful, hazy thinking.

The key is evidence-based medicine. In other words, not wanting or hoping or idly believing a treatment will work, but testing if it is so. There is nothing sinister or 'un-holistic' about a trial - it merely tests if something works against a control or placebo. When most complementary therapies are tested this way, the evidence, for them, is devastating.

This books clearly explains the history of medicine before the evidence-based approach. One word : scary. It explains how trials work and it then tests alternative medicines. It also shows how practitioners try to squirm their way out of begin tested, argued with and ultimately exposed.

An excellent book. I think, however, Ben Goldacre's Bad Science wins over for prose style and entertainment factor, while also being hugely informative.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2013 3:32 PM BST


A Visit From the Goon Squad
A Visit From the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written - Deserved the Pulitzer, 22 May 2012
There are novels written to tell a story. And there are novels written that get to the heart of being human.

This novel is most definitely the latter, without being pretentious or tedious. In fact, the most wonderful thing about Goon Squad is that it manages to take you deep into the heart of matter with a prose style that zings along.

Her writing style never lapses into cliche and it tells you things about life and memory (memory is a big theme) that you always knew but never put into words. And - this is something about her technical ability I can't get to the bottom of - she tells you these things without ever feeling you're in the midst of a 'clever' authorial aside a la Jonathan Franzen or British writers such as Martin Amis or Will Self.

In other words, she weaves in the most profound observations beautifully.

I think a lot of it is due to her skill in characterisation. You believe in her characters. Their voices take charge of the story and you never for a minute feel you're being lectured to by a writer.

A slightly haphazard, random review (the bath is running) but a truly beautiful book.

And, yes, be warned, it resembles much more a series of short stories than a novel. But don't let that put you off or you'll really miss out on something very special. :)


The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance
by Jeff Greenwald
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less blather, more specifics, please, 6 Jan. 2012
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Not bad. A few ideas to focus your thoughts. But lacking in the kind of concrete details you can actually take away with you and work on very much. Material could have been organised much better. Perhaps bullet points or action plans or something. I just came away lost in a haze of someone else's positive thinking.


Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3 TPB
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3 TPB
by Stan Lee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What happened, Stevie and Stan?, 6 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Arghh! First 20 issues of Spider Man are superb - weird and dark, almost, in a naive Sixties kind of way. But then we get this: Stan and Ditko going through the motions with some rather crappy and forgettable villains. Nothing here to compare with Kraven, Electro, Sandman etc - just c-list villains without anything memorable or particularly powerful about them.

I read all these years ago, but too long ago to remember. I'm quite looking forward to seeing the John Romita stuff in the upcoming volumes.

Gotta give it three stars though. Out of respect.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2014 9:33 AM BST


The Definitive Book of Body Language: How to Read Others' Attitudes by Their Gestures
The Definitive Book of Body Language: How to Read Others' Attitudes by Their Gestures
by Allan & Barbara Pease
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative in places, glib in others, 3 Nov. 2011
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There's some interesting stuff in this book about body language and it's clearly enough written, but it's ruined by the kind of sweeping generalisations that cast doubt they all of the rest of the content. In that way, it's like a lot of self help style books: at times very sure of themselves with statements they offers no evidence for. No 'perhaps', 'possibly', 'there is some indication that', just the kind of generalisations that make exactly 100 per cent of people a bit skeptical.

p25 Artists and musicians generally prefer not to shake hands. Um. (Okay, there is the word generally there.)

p37 When the palm is turned downwards, you will project immediate authority.

p45 (One of my favourites for the waste of trees award): '... a submissive person will use more submissive gestures and a dominant person will use more assertive gestures'

p115 The Germans and British look as if they are physically paralysed when they talk. They are daunted when trying to converse with Italians and French...'

Blah blah blah

It's a shame. It's an interesting subject and the book is interesting at times.

To sum up:
If you want a folksy bedtime read with a few facts and a lot of hokum about body language and other subjects, this is the book for you and it's entertaining enough.

If you really want to learn about body language and feel assured you're getting the facts right, I'm not sure this is the right book. I'd be interested to know what other people think, or what book I should read on the subject.


Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 TPB: Amazing Spider-Man v. 1
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 TPB: Amazing Spider-Man v. 1
by Stan Lee
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully reproduced, 15 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Classic Spider Man. Character never as good as he was in these early issues. Colours beautifully reproduced. It's incredible how colours fade on old comics - even when using comic bags. I have some old Spideys form the 60s-80s and the colours are totally washed out. These Masterworks are a joy to read. But what's with the HIDEOUS covers. They look like something that should be airbrushed onto the side of a motorbike and don't even begin to capture the spirit of Spider Man. Doh!


Glitter and Doom Live
Glitter and Doom Live
Price: £9.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No glitter, just doom., 4 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Glitter and Doom Live (Audio CD)
Hate to say it, but this album ended a period of about four years when I loved pretty much everything Tom Waits threw at me. And how spectacularly. This album has poor sound quality, and the gruff bark of his voice reduces all variety in musical arrangements to a singular, tobacco-spittle-brown tone. Quite tedious, to be honest. Worst of all this album made me think TW has fallen into a kind of parody of a parody (because, let's face it, TW begins with parody), self-imitations and predictability. I think this is partly because he's the victim of a press that laud pretty much anything he does.

The extra CD of tired old jokes is poor, and really it feels as if the marketing department have finally got to him.

A great, great artist. But he deserves an honest review of this poor piece of work. I think maybe some of the thin, limited textures of this album could be down to that sound quality, and perhaps in concert it was far superior, but this is a review of the CD and it's not good at all.


Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling 1865-1900
Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling 1865-1900
by Charles Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blows away some Kipling stereotypes, 21 May 2011
Loved this book. First 80 pages a bit plodding then, as Kipling really starts to explore both native and British India, you do too. His nighttime prowls on the streets of Lahore and cutting parodies of British hill station society are wonderful.

A fascinating character, unfashionable for partly justifiable reasons - yes, he was a reactionary; you can't revise that away - but also a complicated, interesting man who had real affinity for aspects of Indian culture.

Can't wait to start reading the early stories...


Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen Film)
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen Film)
by Robert McKee
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for short story writers or novelists, 2 Nov. 2010
As a caveat, I must say I read this book as someone who writes short stories and novels, not the screenplays this book chiefly focuses on.

There is some good stuff in this book, and great ways to get you thinking about conflict in writing.

However, as others have said, it is over wordy and just wanting a bit too hard to be technical.

By that I mean it breaks down every word or exchange between two characters into a technical exercise. I think there's validity in this, but there's also the case of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Sometimes there is something beyond technique in fiction, something unexplored called authentic feeling and I think this book overlooks this excessively and instead emphasises on some very finicky technique.

My gut feeling is that writing a novel with the advice from this book would be like having sex with reference to a set of prepared instructions. Textbook, but slightly creepy!

But I'll say it again, this book is mainly for scriptwriters and I acknowledge script writing (at least from what I've read here) is a more narrow, prescriptive genre so it may all be excellent advice as far as scripts are concerned.


Collected Stories (Vintage Classics)
Collected Stories (Vintage Classics)
by John Cheever
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.74

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential collection for fiction lovers, 22 Oct. 2010
I had read bits and pieces of Cheever, but it took me a while to get into this. Two or three of the early pieces are quite slow, too. The solution? I had a sabbatical from anal-retentiveness and just started dipping in, choosing stories at random.

That's when I started to really get Cheever. His stories hinge, usually, on the most delicate psychological frameworks; in other words the epiphanies or climaxes, if there are any, are in the head rather than the action. And yet, for that, they never appear indulgent or fey, but get to the very heart of what matters (to almost quote Graham Green) in a devastatingly direct way.

One example is a story called The Tallboy, which might sound unpromising when you consider it's about a piece of furniture. But using this object as a focal point, and the fairly unremarkable plot of two brothers tussling over a family heirloom, it covers the hellish dangers of sentimentality and nostalgia for a family past long gone, in a way that will affect almost any reader. As someone who enjoys writing short stories myself, I came away deeply moved and inspired by his ability to evoke those nebulous, misty aspects of ourselves which are, all the same, the centre and the truth of our lives.

Another great story: The Swimmer. About a man who decides to swim home via his suburban neighbours' pools. Oh, but this story is about much, much more than that.

Right, back to the anal retentiveness. Listing Cheever's best stories alphabetically...


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