Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn more Shop now Shop now
Profile for nigeyb > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by nigeyb
Top Reviewer Ranking: 428
Helpful Votes: 1132

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
nigeyb "nigeyb" (Hove, England)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Christmas at High Rising: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
Christmas at High Rising: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
by Angela Thirkell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoyed High Rising, then Christmas at High Rising is worth reading for the bonus stories, 19 Dec. 2015
Having (ultimately) thoroughly enjoyed High Rising, and after assiduous research, I discovered that Christmas at High Rising contains seven short stories, two with a Christmas theme, and an essay about dinner parties in Shakespeare’s plays.

The contents of Christmas at High Rising were originally published in magazines between 1928 and 1942. As the title suggests - and most significantly for me - some of the stories feature characters from High Rising including that loquacious and splendid young fellow Tony Morland, garrulous George Knox, no nonsense Dr Ford, and the wonderful Laura Morland. After hankering for more of the cast of High Rising, I was hoping Christmas at High Rising would satisfy my hankering for more Morland magic.

The book’s title is a little misleading. There is no unifying theme to the book - not all of the stories are connected with High Rising or indeed Christmas. The book, a mere 146 pages, contains seven short stories and an essay about dinner parties in Shakespeare’s plays.

If High Rising was the main feature then Christmas at High Rising are the DVD extras, and if, like me, you enjoyed High Rising, then Christmas at High Rising is worth reading for the bonus stories. If not, then move along, nothing to see here.


Follow Me: A chilling, thrilling, addictive crime novel
Follow Me: A chilling, thrilling, addictive crime novel
Price: £0.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Undemanding and fun however the plot bears no real scrutiny, 19 Dec. 2015
I was looking for a modern crime novel and had heard about Follow Me by Angela Clarke through some reviews. Helpfully, via NetGallery, the publishers sent me a copy to read and review.

Overall I enjoyed it. I like books set in London and this book, with plenty of London scenes, created a good sense of place.

Freddie, the central character, is a struggling graduate trying to break through as a journalist, writing for free, whilst also generating income, sufficient to subsist, by working in a St Pancras Costa-type coffee outlet, was credible and well written. She is the best thing about this book. At regular intervals, something happens, and Freddie instinctively converts it into an idea for a short journalistic story idea, many of which had me chuckling.

Having taken some advice, Freddie seizes the day, and gets involved in a murder. The game is afoot. This particular murderer is active on Twitter where he earns the sobriquet, “the Hashtag Murderer” and he posts clues online, taunting the police and capturing the public’s imagination.

As the story progressed, more and more implausible elements started to appear and these undermined my enjoyment. The plot is fast moving, and the story is compelling, so I was able to dismiss most of these implausibilities. That said, the denouement borders on ludicrous, as does a scene that immediately precedes it, and these moments were a stretch too far. I have to confess I just flicked through the final 20 pages, such was my sense of disappointment at these final developments.

Follow Me is undemanding, and fun (in so far as gruesome murders can ever be called fun), and there is much to enjoy in this ultra modern crime novel, however the plot bears no real scrutiny. Taken on its own terms it's fine, and there's much that is very good, however it is let down by the more far fetched aspects of the tale.

3/5


In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
by Dan Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, distressing and essential, 13 Dec. 2015
Across 60 chapters, and over 600 pages, Dan Davies attempts to reveal the real Jimmy Savile, a man who was ubiquitous to those who grew up in the UK during the 60s, 70s and 80s, through his successful TV shows, charity fund raising, and relationships with establishment figures. Since his death in 2011 he has also been revealed as Britain’s most notorious and prolific sex offender of all time. This book gets to the heart of how he was able to operate with impunity and avoid prosecution.

Born into poverty in Leeds in 1926, Jimmy Savile rose to become a knight of the realm, and a confidant of Margaret Thatcher and the Prince of Wales. Along the way, he invented the concept of the club DJ, gave the BBC two of its most iconic shows (Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It) and pioneered the celebrity as charity worker and fund raiser. These achievements alone make for a fascinating read, however it is Savile’s prolific and serial abuse of young and frequently vulnerable people that beggars belief. Clearly what helped Savile to operate “In Plain Sight” was his celebrity status. It is easy to forget just how popular he was during the 1970s - and to a lesser extent in the decades before and after. Unlike many reviewers, I never remember thinking Savile was dodgy or creepy. A bit weird perhaps, but not in a dangerous way. I grew up with him on “Top of the Pops” - which he pretty much invented, and of course “Jim’ll fix it”, a Saturday night staple on BBC1 along with The Generation Game. I can well imagine being 12, 13 or 14 and being in awe of him and also trusting him - as did so many young people who encountered him. He was well practiced in grooming kids, and when necessary their parents too.

In addition to being a huge celebrity he also cultivated relationships at all levels of British society which included members of the Royal family, and Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister. He was also given the run of three hospitals and was able to lure children to his car, flats, caravans etc. No wonder he considered himself untouchable and, despite many a close call, and even dropping heavy hints in interviews, he got away with abuse on a horrendous scale.

One of the most harrowing parts is the testimony, quoted verbatim, of a 12 year girl he raped whilst she was in hospital. This account powerfully brings home the monstrous nature of this type of abuse. The girl tried to get the nurses and a doctor to believe her account. The inference is that staff at Stoke Mandeville were well aware of what Savile was up to, even advising children to pretend to be asleep if he came round at night.

Savile was too canny to ever give much away over numerous interviews despite, in hindsight, some obvious clues. Sadly it was only after he had died that his victims were taken seriously and the substance of the old, dark rumours were finally heard. Savile always insisted that his great secret was that he had no secrets. Nothing could have been further from the truth - there were numerous people and establishments (BBC, the Police, doctors, nurses, friends etc.) whose complacency, corruption and complicity allowed him to systematically ruin hundreds of lives. This is makes "In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile" a compulsive and deeply disturbing read, and one that avoids any sensationalism. Depressing, distressing and essential.

5/5


Palace Pier
Palace Pier
Price: £5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading if you like books about Brighton, or have any interest in Patrick Hamilton, 29 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Palace Pier (Kindle Edition)
I only really know Keith Waterhouse for the wonderful Billy Liar however it turns out he was a prolific novelist, playwright, satirist, columnist etc who wrote every day of his life. His other writing credits include screenplays or scripts for Worzel Gummidge, A Kind of Loving, Whistle Down The Wind, and Budgie, all of which impress me.

Palace Pier is set in Brighton and Hove, my home town, which adds to my enjoyment of any book (the same for books set in London). It’s about a writer called Chris Duffy, a nearly man, who after a promising first novel has never written again. Haunted by what might have been, he learns of an unpublished manuscript by none other than Patrick Hamilton (another box ticked) which he wants to pass off as his own.

If you like books about Brighton and Hove, or have any interest in Patrick Hamilton, then this short novel is well worth a few hours of your time, and this despite Chris Duffy being a very unsympathetic character. Duffy's epiphany at the book’s conclusion makes the rest of the book well worth sticking with. And, for Hamilton fans like me, the book contains a great parody of Patrick Hamilton's writing (complete with Komic Kapitals).


Blackstar
Blackstar
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sounding as vital as ever he did - augers very well for the forthcoming album, 23 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Blackstar (MP3 Download)
A new tune by David Bowie. Hurrah. This is much better than “Sue” which, to my ears, was a jazz improv mess - this is along similar lines but, crucially, it's a song and the jazzy improv bits work in the service of the song. I am enjoying listening to this and getting familiar with it. It augers very well for the forthcoming album. I love the way the whole song changes at 4:30 with a bit that could be straight off, say, The Man Who Sold The World Album. It could only be one "Rock Star" making this music - and he’s sounding as vital as ever.


Karl Marx
Karl Marx
by Francis Wheen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A balanced, compact and very readable account of one of most influential thinkers of his era, 21 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Karl Marx (Paperback)
Francis Wheen’s aim with this book was to write a general book about Karl Marx for the intelligent reader. Francis Wheen gives a clear explanation of all of Marx’s works but spends as much time on the man himself, his contemporaries and his relationships.

I came away from this entertaining, interesting book with a good feel for his life and times: the boils on his bum, the numerous creditors, his ingrained procrastination, numerous fallings out with socialist rivals, his wife, his children etc. across his turbulent, chaotic but compelling life.

Born in the Rhineland city of Trier, Marx couldn’t wait to escape this tedious backwater, to the extent that he didn’t even return to attend his father’s funeral. Thus started a roving life until, after the unsuccessful European revolutions of 1848, and having been made unwelcome in Germany and Belgium, he pitched up in London, the last refuge of the rootless revolutionary where he lived in Dickensian poverty with bailiffs at his door

Helpfully, his friend Engels, a great cotton Lord and kind of secret agent behind enemy lines, sent him money to keep him afloat for years. It was only Marx's desire to keep up bourgeoise appearances that meant he was permanent spending more than he could afford including, hilariously, for a period, a preening, libidinous and incompetent private secretary, and only because he thought it appropriate for a man of his position to have one.

The book is clear about Marx’s many unattractive traits, however it also paints a delightful portrait of a loving, involved father and husband, and a passionate philosopher. It's a balanced, compact and very readable account of one of most influential thinkers of his era.


The Sweeney [DVD]
The Sweeney [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ray Winstone
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A brainless succession of predictable set pieces that retains none of the magic of the original 1970s TV show, 16 Nov. 2015
This review is from: The Sweeney [DVD] (DVD)
A word of warning. If, like me, you have an affection for the classic 1970s show then under no circumstances succumb to the temptation to watch this film. How bad could it be? The answer is "Very". Unlike successful film adaptations of classic TV shows (e.g. The Brady Bunch Movie, The Adams Family, Starsky and Hutch) this adaptation of The Sweeney has virtually nothing common with the original show, apart from retaining the names of Jack Regan and George Carter. Where John Thaw and Dennis Waterman brought dark humour, chemistry, world weariness and humanity to their hard cop roles, Ray Winstone's Regan (and I'm a Winstone fan) is a boorish, swaggering, sweary, thug - a repulsive individual. Ben 'Plan B' Drew is even worse as Carter. He sleepwalks through the film and is one of the least convincing cops I've ever seen. The plot, such as it is, is ludicrous. A great shame, as an updated version of The Sweeney had the potential to be something special. This film is a brainless succession of predictable set pieces. The only surprising thing about it is that The Sweeney work out of a spacious, hi-tech corporate office in the City and not a police station.


Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band
Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band
by Andrew Matheson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny, well written and engaging book about majestic failure, 11 Nov. 2015
“Drummer wanted. Young, slim, must look, act & think like a star. No beards, no chrome-domes, no fatties”….

..being an example of the regular adverts placed in Melody Maker by Andrew Matheson as members of The Hollywood Brats came and went.

The Hollywood Brats, as you may know, are a footnote of a footnote, a band akin to an English version of the New York Dolls only with even less success and, let’s face it, The Dolls were hardly breaking sales records during their all too brief lifespan.

The Hollywood Brats formed in the early 1970s and split up in 1974. Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band is singer Andrew Matheson’s highly amusing account of their misadventures.

The popular narrative, with hindsight, is that the Brats were to influence the London punk scene of a few years hence, and that the world wasn’t ready for their flamboyance and aggressive musical approach. I’m not so convinced however I am sure that, on their night, they were a lot of fun, and the song “Sick on You” is a bonafide proto-punk classic (and which Brats keyboard player Casino Steel took with him to his subsequent punk inspired band The Boys).

The book "Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band" contains many a puerile tale of teenage idiocy but most are also very amusing with Andrew often the butt of a lot of the incidents he relates.

Slade, the Sex Pistols, Chuck Berry, and many other fine bands get roundly slagged by Mr Matheson. It’s hard to tell how serious he’s being - probably not very, either that or his record collection is minuscule. I think it’s probably all one big pose. Either way, he can pen an amusing anecdote, and these are frequently accompanied by a witty turn of phrase.

Curiously, one person who emerges rather well from this tale is Cliff Richard who somewhat improbably took pity on the band, having heard Andrew’s description of their sordid lifestyle, and invited them to rehearse and take a break at his country house in Essex. Cliff was not around when they visited but was happy to give them free food and drink for a few days. This was the first time Andrew had ever encountered a duvet. Heady days. “I will really miss that duvet” he ruefully reflects at the conclusion to their stay.

The band's somewhat predictable failure makes for a riotously entertaining story - what happens when delusions of grandeur come face-to-face with public indifference. I have the impression Andrew Matheson has honed these tales over many years of telling them.

I devoured this book and could be heard chuckling regularly whilst agog at his complete idiocy and the appalling lifestyle he and his impoverished bandmates endured whilst trying to make headway in the early 1970s music business. The inability of The Hollywood Brats to get their debut album released anywhere but Norway, where it only sold around 500 copies, was enough to put Andrew Matheson off persisting with a career in music, and this despite, in 1975, Malcolm McLaren offering to manage him, and Mick Jones (later of The Clash) and Tony James (later of Generation X) also being desperate to form a band with him.

So, whilst the tale does not contain a happy ending, it makes for a funny, well written and engaging book about majestic failure.

4/5


North Soho 999: A True Story of Gun-crime in 1940s London
North Soho 999: A True Story of Gun-crime in 1940s London
by Paul Willetts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True crime writing at it’s very best, full of interesting and fascinating insights, and a compelling page turner, 8 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I came to "North Soho 999: A True Story of Gangs and Gun-Crime in 1940s London" having thoroughly enjoyed Paul Willetts’ other books: "Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia" the biography of the English writer and dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross; "Members Only: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond; Soho's Billionaire King of Burlesque”; and "Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms: The Spyhunter, the Fashion Designer & the Man From Moscow”. Indeed it was recently reading this last book that inspired me to pick up "North Soho 999: A True Story of Gangs and Gun-Crime in 1940s London" which had been on my shelf for a few years before finally reading it.

I am pleased to report it’s up to the same level of excellence as the other books by Paul Willetts. His customary meticulous research inform a detailed and well written account of the murder of Alec de Antiquis, a 'have-a-go hero’ who tried to obstruct a smash-and-grab gang who had just robbed a jewellers in London’s Charlotte Street on April 29 1947. This murder was symptomatic of a surge in gun crime in London after World War Two (something similar also happened after World War One).

As with the other books by Paul Willetts, where "North Soho 999: A True Story of Gangs and Gun-Crime in 1940s London” scores highly is in the novelistic writing style and eye for detail, both of which bring post-war London vividly to life. It’s a world of bomb sites, rationing, smoke-filled pubs, grasses, violence, prostitution, and teenage gun crime. In London 10,300 people between the ages of 14 and 20 were, by 1947, convicted members of criminal gangs. Trying to reassure a jittery public, the police were required to find and convict those responsible for violent crime, with varying degrees of success.

Detective Superintendent Bob Fabian of Scotland Yard, leads the team who work tirelessly to apprehend the gang responsible for the murder of Alec de Antiquis, and it is an impressive and dedicated round-the-clock effort that is finally rewarded by success.

This book also finds time to feature the roles played by the pioneering forensic pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the hangman Albert Pierrepoint, the journalist Duncan Webb, and many more.

In short, it is true crime writing at it’s very best, full of interesting and fascinating insights, and a compelling page turner.

4/5


Johnny Got His Gun (Penguin Modern Classics)
Johnny Got His Gun (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Dalton Trumbo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable: one of the most original, clever and powerful novels I’ve ever read, 3 Nov. 2015
Johnny Got His Gun was first published on 3 September 1939, two days after Germany invaded Poland, and is about a 20-year-old American infantryman Joe Bonham who suffers a direct hit from a German shell in the last days of the Great War. Unsurprisingly, its powerful anti-war message also had a profound effect on Americans during the Vietnam era.

Dalton Trumbo conveys this anti-war message across 20 short chapters, each explores a different aspect of Joe’s life before the war, or his thoughts on his current predicament. As his thoughts become more lucid, he realises he has been left deaf, dumb and blind and that all four of his limbs have subsequently been amputated. His face has also been disfigured and is covered by a mask to avoid distressing the hospital staff.

Dalton Trumbo was also a screenwriter and he was later blacklisted and jailed for being a Communist. His political views are to the fore in this convincing argument for peace and cooperation, and against the futility and waste of war. War is explained as "us" versus "them": "us" being the working classes and “them" being those with money who do not do any fighting but whose interests are served by war. Joe also muses on the abstract, nebulous language that is used to justify war - democracy, freedom, liberty etc.

For all the arguments in favour of pacifism it is when Joe is musing on aspects of his life before the war that this book really succeeds. Most of these memories involve moments of loss for Joe, and these mirror the physical losses that Joe has sustained.

Johnny Got His Gun is one of the most original, clever and powerful novels I’ve ever read. It’s a little uneven in places but overall it’s unforgettable, and rightly regarded as classic American literature.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20