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The Diary of a Young Girl: Definitive Edition
The Diary of a Young Girl: Definitive Edition
by Anne Frank
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl | Review, 16 May 2014
I thought I bought the full version on eBay, but the book that arrived was for young readers. Still, this is a book that everyone should read, study and learn from.


Dr No: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics)
Dr No: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics)
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Fleming – Dr. No | Review, 15 May 2014
Dr. No is one of the stronger Bond novels, a superb tour-de-force by the enthralling Ian Fleming. You’ve probably seen the film version featuring the inimitable Sean Connery as Fleming’s protagonist, but the 007 that Fleming writes about is very different to the playboy extraordinaire that we see on the silver screen.

Here, Bond is weak and half-defeated, away on a mission to Jamaica to carry out a simple task, an investigation in to the unexplained disappearance of Commander John Strangways. Bond is expecting an easy mission, but he quickly discovers that something strange is going on, and all of the rumours seem to surround the eponymous Dr. Julian No, the Chinese operator of a guano mine on the island of Crab Key.

Throughout the novel, Dr. No is a mysterious character who somehow continues to be a threat despite the fact that almost nothing is known about him. The use of guano as a plot device is a stroke of genius, as is the use of the endangered Roseate Spoonbill – they pose a threat to Dr. No, because their protected status proved troublesome to his guano operation.

Overall, this novel comes highly recommended from me, and I think you’ll enjoy it whether you’re a fan of the movies or not – as seems to be the case with most things, the book is better. So go forth and read it!


The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain: New Poems
The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain: New Poems
by Charles Bukowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Bukowski – The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain | Review, 13 May 2014
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It’s no secret that Charles Bukowski is one of my favourite writers, but books like this help to remind me why he’s up there in the first place. Published post-humously from an archive of unpublished work that the great poet left behind to be released after his death, The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain is a reminder of how transient life can be.

Bukowski was a master at showing through telling, at revealing more than he actually reveals by leaving the reader to fill in the gaps with their imagination. Here, he reflects upon both the earlier and the later years of his life, and one poem poignantly mentions his age at the time of composition – 73, the same age he was when he died.

The Charles Bukowski (or Hank Chinaski, as his alter ego is known) that wrote The Flash of Lightning is a very different man to the one portrayed in Barfly – sure, he still loves the horses and he still picks up on the darker side of human nature, but he’s no longer some drunk in the corner of a bar. The elderly poet still drank but he drank at home, and he owned property and even lived with a wife and a collection of cats.

Bukowski didn’t mellow in old age, and he neither burned out nor faded away – he simply lived his life to its fullest, in a way that nobody else could ever imitate, no matter how much they tried. We should consider ourselves fortunate that he continued to write with his trademark honesty right up until the moment of his death.


The Trouble with Parallel Universes: New Writing from Roehampton
The Trouble with Parallel Universes: New Writing from Roehampton
by Leone Ross
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leone Ross – The Trouble with Parallel Universes | Review, 12 May 2014
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

The Trouble with Parallel Universes is the debut publication by the Fincham Press, the brand new publishing arm of my alma mater – Roehampton University. Edited by Leone Ross, Susan Greenberg and Louise Tondeur, it features writing from undergraduates, postgraduates and even lecturers themselves – as you can imagine, it’s innovative, exciting and a joy to read.

In fact, the standard of the student body’s output has risen dramatically since I was an undergraduate - keep your eyes peeled for the work by Emma Strand, Nanou Blair Gould and Michael Zand, which blew my mind a little bit.


You Know You're Getting Old When...
You Know You're Getting Old When...
by Ben Fraser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 4.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Ben Fraser – You Know You’re Getting Old When… | Review, 10 May 2014
This vaguely humorous little collection of one-liners might not be particularly entertaining, but it’s the sort of thing that you give to someone for the sake of giving it to them, rather than to seriously entertain them. It’s the type of book that you get for your fiftieth birthday and then leave in your bathroom to gather bacteria – that’s what you get for shopping at Marks and Spender.


Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
by Ashton Kutcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Brian Solis – Engage! | Review, 9 May 2014
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I’m not going to lie – Brian Solis let me down. He’s a well-respected social media marketer, and I’d heard good things about his book, but I just can’t bring myself to rate it as highly as the books that were released by some of his contemporaries.

The sad fact is that Engage! has aged much more than many other social media marketing books, perhaps because Solis placed too much importance on specific social networks – sure, he does agree that the message is more important than the medium, and some of his lessons in planning and deployment are well worth reading, but his work makes for tedious reading and, to be honest, he doesn’t say anything which hasn’t been said before.

And that’s not to mention the typos – there are a shocking amount of mistakes scattered throughout the pages, more than you see in some self-published works. If you’re the sort of person who isn’t bothered by that then it might not be such a problem, but each time I spotted one it stopped me in my tracks.

In all honesty, though, it’s still a good book – it just pales in comparison to some of the other social media marketing books that are out there, some of which were written earlier and yet have stood up to the test of time. There are lessons to be learned and diagrams to be studied, but you’ll find nothing here that you can’t find online or written about elsewhere, with more aplomb.

Which is a shame, because Solis is a highly competent marketer and a great thinker and doer – he’s just more of a marketer than a writer, and that’s okay. Either way, good marketers seek inspiration everywhere, and when you’ve read everything else you can find then you should read this too.


Poems / by Agatha Christie
Poems / by Agatha Christie
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie – Poems | Review, 8 May 2014
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Well, it turns out that the Queen of Crime was also a decent poet – a little too traditional for my taste, perhaps, but competent enough. This collection of poetry was first published in 1973, and it consists of two separate volumes, the first of which was published as ‘The Road of Dreams‘ in 1924.

Christie’s sentimental rhyming poetry shows a different side to the woman who became one of the bestselling writers of all time, and it’s an interesting read for anyone who loves her work. Whether you’re in to poetry or not, it’s approachable and you’ll enjoy it whether you’re studying it or reading it on the bus.


We All Shine on: Stories Behind John Lennon's Songs
We All Shine on: Stories Behind John Lennon's Songs
by Paul Du Noyer
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Paul Du Noyer – We All Shine On | Review, 7 May 2014
In We All Shine On, author Paul Du Noyer promises to reveal “the stories behind every John Lennon song” from 1970 to 1980, and that’s what he delivers – nothing more and nothing less. It’s not a particularly exciting read, but it is informative, and for serious Lennon fans then that should be enough.

I’m a huge fan of The Beatles and John was always my favourite, but I still found that I couldn’t get in to the book – reading it from cover to cover was a chore rather than a pleasure, although the insights you gain along the way make it worthwhile. For most people, it would work better as a reference book, a way to quickly find out what your favourite songs are actually about whenever the mood takes you.


Whodunit?: Detective Stories
Whodunit?: Detective Stories
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Philip Pullman – Whodunit? | Review, 6 May 2014
Philip Pullman is a writer of extraordinary talent, and so I’d be willing to take his judgement in most matters of art and literature. Here, he reveals sixteen of his favourite detective stories, featuring some of the greatest sleuths of all-time including Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Sam Spade.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked this up, but I quickly settled in – in fact, the first story in the collection is The Speckled Band, one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s best Sherlock Holmes short stories. That was followed by They Can Only Hang You Once by Dashiell Hammett and The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb by Agatha Christie, both of which are fantastic short stories which will leave you begging for more.

One of the more intriguing short stories in the collection is a non-fiction piece by Tony Fletcher – ever heard of him? I don’t blame you if you haven’t – he’s an ex-copper, who wrote about his experience on the force in Memories of Murder. This particular piece recounts the story of an ex-colleague, a veteran of the force, who was called in to fingerprint a ghost – whether you believe in the supernatural or not (I don’t), it makes for interesting reading.

And that’s not all – other authors to contribute to the collection include Dorothy L. Sayers, Isaac Asimov, Raymond Smullyan, Michael Underwood and Leslie Charteris. Even if you’re not a fan of the traditional detective story, this is well worth a read – who knows? You might even get hooked!


Bardo
Bardo
by Ken Edwards
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Ken Edwards – Bardo | Review, 5 May 2014
This review is from: Bardo (Paperback)
This is modern experimental poetry at its finest, a hallucinogenic re-write of the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Ken Edwards, the editor of Hastings’ Reality Street press. If poetry isn’t your thing then avoid it; if it is, read this and your mind will expand.


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