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You Don't Love Me Yet
You Don't Love Me Yet
by Jonathan Lethem
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is the premise for Jonathan Lethem's romantic farce You Don't Love Me Yet, 23 Nov 2007
This review is from: You Don't Love Me Yet (Paperback)
Matthew and Lucinda meet at the museum to end their affair...the fact that they almost immediately end up having s3x inside one of the exhibits suggests that as endings go, this isn't likely to be permanent. But they have to split. And they have to remain friends. Anything else would not be good for `the band'.

If you've any friends involved in the local music scene you'll recognise this scenario. OK maybe not the sex in the gallery bit... but definitely the convoluted relationships that go on between people in `the band'. Music is a passionate business, passions run high... but then the passion for the music and for the musicians gets confused and love affairs... well, from what I've seen from the outside, they also get confused. Set in LA, obviously an on-off love affair and a band struggling to make it isn't really going to be enough to hang a story on... so...

Lucinda - in trying to make the split permanent this time quits her job at the coffee shop and goes to work for conceptual artist Falmouth as a "Complaint Line" operator - through which artistic endeavour she meets the new knight-on-charger ("the Complainer") who with the help of Falmouth and a local "Society" party-thrower is about to turn all their lives upside down.

Matthew - bereft without his woman turns to the one other female who really needs him: Shelf - a slightly dysfunctional kangaroo, who may or not fare better for having been kidnapped by Matt and taking up residence in his bathtub.

The pair make the painfully shy and lonely Bedwin - dissecting half-visible signs on the walls of ancient movie sets, while trying to write lyrics - and Denise the drummer - totally sane, practical and normal even if she does work in a porn shop - appear to be boringly average.

What follows is an averagely amusing rendition of the Tales From the City/ Desperate Housewives/ S3x & the City variety. Relationships develop and fall apart. Unlikely partnerships emerge. Friendships soldier on. The band gets its big break... and then a bigger one...(or does it?). Life goes on.

It helps if you like your s3xual encounters to be regular and unerotic. Otherwise they get in the way of a reasonably witty tale of pretension and betrayal. The struggling band reaching for authenticity (but failing to even come up with a name) vying against the manipulators of "style" and "the business". I'm not sure the kangaroo adds a great deal to the plot - but will at least furnish the potential for some seriously funny scripting if the mini-series adaptation materialises.

Two-twenty pages of wide-spaced type makes this a light, easy read. Perfect for a longish train journey, where you can read it at a sitting, smile now & again... and not feel the need to actually take it away with you afterwards. It's quirky and entertaining but any claims the blurb-writers have to compare it with the delights of Austen's Emma are stretching credibility just a tad.


Flawless (Pretty Little Liars)
Flawless (Pretty Little Liars)
by Sara Shepard
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless is book two in a going-to-be-at-least-a-trilogy of books in the Pretty Little Liars series, 23 Nov 2007
Four girls from privileged backgrounds are united at the funeral of Ali, a former friend who disappeared a few years ago and has now shown up dead. The girls are all off living their individual lives and playing with fire in different ways - one is stealing her sister's boyfriend, another is in love with a teacher, one's possibly gay and another's definitely bulimic - but they're brought back together when they start receiving anonymous messages from someone who is threatening to expose their deepest secrets, and rock their settled community like never before. Whoever this mysterious `A' is who's sending the notes, it's someone who is close to all four girls, knows everything about them as it happens, and is getting ready to spill the beans.

All the press blurb seems to be comparing this book to the O.C., but I think it resembles much more a junior Desperate Housewives, where Fairview has become Rosewood, and Gabby, Susan, Lynette and Bree have become Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna. They may be high school students, but they too have dirty laundry, and scandalous behaviour that would put their older counterparts to shame - these are the sort of girls who stop at nothing to get what they want, even if it means having to bluff their way into true-love-waits style Virginity Club meetings in order to deflower their unsuspecting boyfriends.

I knew from a few pages in that I was going to love this book because it's exactly the sort of thing I like - down to earth writing that flows with no interruptions, juicy plot lines, enough but not too many twists and turns, and some outrageous characters with shocking behavior. The author captures beautifully the spirit and atmosphere of high school life that she must have left behind a good few years ago, and the latest technology and pop culture references mean it doesn't read like anything other than present day life in the most interesting of societies - exclusive small town Pennsylvania. I think this is just as much a grown up book as a teen one, and I was a few pages in before I even realised Spencer and the group were still at high school - they can all drive, this being America, and their extracurricular activities certainly beat the ballet and babysitting I was into at their age. With that in mind I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good mystery, some suspense, some glamour, and some fabulous characters, regardless of age.


BISHOP AT THE LAKE, THE (Bishop Blackie Ryan)
BISHOP AT THE LAKE, THE (Bishop Blackie Ryan)
by Andrew M. Greeley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.03

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious and interesting, 23 Nov 2007
Father Andrew M. Greeley, is a priest, sociologist and a native of Chicago. He is professor of social sciences at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona, as well as Research Associate at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In his newest bestseller--The Bishop at the Lake: A Bishop Blackie Ryan Novel--Bishop Blackie confronts another mystery, this one with hornets. Chicago's coolest cleric is dispatched to posh Grand Beach, enclave of the rich and contentious Nolan clan, under orders to sniff around. The recent, possibly sneaky behavior of Archbishop Malachi Nolan, son of the progenitor, has piqued the interest of Blackie's boss(Sean Cardinal Cronin.) Ever alert to the surge of others ambition, the Cardinal is concerned about the precise shape of Malachi's. Opportunities for sniffing, however, vanish when Malachi is ferociously attacked. His whole family knows Malachi's unfortunate history with hornets, whose bites have led to severe allergic reactions. Someone has managed to introduce and unleash a swarm of them into the locked room in question, and the result is nearly lethal. The Cardinal enjoins Blackie, who solves it. Father Greeley has written scores of books and hundreds of popular and scholarly articles on a variety of issues in sociology, education and religion.


The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
by Alan Greenspan
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and timely book!, 23 Nov 2007
Greenspan calls 'The Age of Turbulence' a 'psychoanalysis of himself.' It begins (first half) with his early life, describing the events that provided his learning experiences (including his desire to become a baseball player, then a jazz musician), and then goes to his life of implementing those lessons. Undoubtedly the most interesting material included Greenspan's evaluations of the Presidents he had worked with. His observations were not the platitudes one might have expected. 'Nixon was very smart, paranoid,' and was an equal-opportunity disparager of all ethnic groups. Ford was the most normal, and sometimes looked past politics to focus on the ethics of an issue. Reagan's ability to spout seemingless endless one-liners and stories was an 'odd form of intelligence,' according to Greenspan.

Greenspan felt his relationship with Bush I was a disaster, with the President eventually blaming Greenspan for his losing the election to Clinton. Clinton, however, was most like a soul-mate to Greenspan - very intelligent, and one constantly working to soak up knowledge and understanding. Greenspan also labeled Clinton's '93 economic plan that focused on reducing the deficit as an 'act of political courage.' Finally, Greenspan's assessment of Bush II was that he was incurious about the effects of his own economic policy, and that Greenspan's biggest frustration with Bush II was his failure to veto any spending bills. Greenspan was told that Bush thought he could better control Speaker Hastert and Whip Delay by signing the spending bills they, however, were never reticent to spend more money to help assure more Republican congressmen.

Greenspan also added that he disagreed with Bush II's supply-side economic thinking, and that his endorsement of 'A' tax cut during 2001 was just that - not an endorsement of Bush's plan. Another problem was that the plan had no adjustment mechanism in the event assumptions did not pan out and the deficit began to rear up again. On the other hand, Greenspan does not tell the whole story. According to Paul Krugman (New York Times, 9/17/07), he could have clarified himself a few weeks later when he appeared before a Senate committee on the same topic and evaded questions on whether the proposed tax cuts were too large. Two years later when more cuts were proposed, Greenspan did not object, and in 2004 he expressed support for making the Bush cuts permanent - accompanied by cuts in Social Security beneifts that he assured Congress in 2001 would not be threatened by the cuts.

The most incendiary comment in the book was clearly Greenspan's conclusion that the Iraq War II was all about oil. However, Greenspan is now 'clarifying' his statement to Greenspan having told the White House that removing Saddam was 'essential' to secure world oil supplies, and now stating (Washington Post interview, 9/17/07) that securing global oil supplies was 'not the administration's motive.' Greenspan was initially elated when Bush II won, and brought in his old friends Cheney and Rumsfeld. However, he noted that 'they changed,' and that he did not agree with Cheney's 'deficit's don't matter.' There also seemed to be little value placed on rigorous economic policy debate or weighing long-term policy consequences - policy-making was firmly in the hands of White House staff (Rove, et al).

A result was that Bush II's first two Treasury Secretaries (O-Neill, Snow) were essentially powerless. Summarizing, Greenspan saw the Republicans in '04 as having swapped principle for power, ending up with neither, and deserving to lose in '06. The 'good news' was that they did not try to interfere with monetary policy. Greenspan has come under increasing criticism himself for the current housing collapse and preceding bubble. His defense, in 'The Age of Turbulence,' was that the risk of broadening home ownership was worth the risk, that he didn't realize shady practices had grown so prevalent, and had tried raising mortgage rates in '04 and '05 by hiking rates on ten-year Federal notes (no impact). Finally, looking to the future, Greenspan sees a need to raise taxes on energy to encourage conservation, and a risk of increased inflation - already prices are rising in China. As for ethanol, even if all U.S. corn was converted to ethanol, it would only provide less than 20% of our current oil usage!!! I would also recommend, if you missed reading Tino Georgiou's masterpiece--The Fates--go and read it.


The World Without Us
The World Without Us
by Alan Weisman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.53

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and disturbing, 23 Nov 2007
This review is from: The World Without Us (Hardcover)
The World without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dali Lama, and paleontologists -- who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths -- Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us. From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest the Korean DMZ Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has!!! I would also recommended: Tino Georgiou's bestselling novel --The Fates. If you were one of the few who missed it.
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