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Steve Craftman (Neath)

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HIV/AIDS: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
HIV/AIDS: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Price: £4.46

1.0 out of 5 stars Warning: published seven years ago and a lot has changed since then, 16 Jan. 2015
Beware: this was published in 2008 and is therefore liable to be full of out of date information. My advice as a person living with HIV, that I often give to people who are recently diagnosed, is to ignore anything factual that was published more than a year ago, eighteen months at the maximum. Admittedly I'm referring to internet sites with that advice, but it's just as applicable to books, unless, as in the case of Sir Norman Fowler's excellent (never thought I'd use that word about a Tory!) "Aids: Don't Die of Ignorance" which falls into the "history" category.

This only gets a star because the reviewing system forces a star rating. Consider this a no star review!

How to Train Your Dom in Five Easy Steps
How to Train Your Dom in Five Easy Steps
Price: £2.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look forward to re-reading..., 24 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Disclaimer: Jo was kind enough to mention me in the dedications because I was going to be giving some advice (if necessary), but I had to drop out due to illness, and so bought my copy.

So, even though I had half the book on my hard drive months ago I made a point of not looking at it as I wasn't "entitled" and midnight before last Amazon dropped it onto my Kindle. I read until my Kindle kept crashing into my glasses, and, yesterday, after clearing up emails and so on returned to the book. If ever you've read any of my book reviews you'll know that I never bother summarising plots - that's a sales-person's job. What I write is my response to the book.

The basic set-up (inexperienced straight Top being taught by slutty (intended in the same positive sense as I'd describe myself) gay bottom) works well. There have too many times I've picked up Mr Right Now, got half way through it and stood up, forcing him to his knees and saying "this is how you do it". Eddie is more subtle than I ever was, but then I learned my BDSM skills through the principle that you have to know what it feels like before doing it to someone else.

Jeff is written well, just enough "eeuw, gay" in his manner to say that sex with men is something he's never considered. His experience with women since his wife left him has been disappointing as he's been too full on, basically too self-centred. His evolution throughout the book is more interesting than Eddie's. After all he's a newcomer to a scene that Eddie has long lived in. But that's what Eddie teaches him (apart from giving him new ideas): BDSM is a two way street. It would be fun if Jo revisits the pair of them when they open out their relationship...

The "supporting cast" are interesting in themselves and contribute to the unfolding story, rather than being a distraction from the sex, which, to be honest, is the meat of the book. And no I won't apologise for the hackneyed pun! There's something for everyone who is sex-positive in this book, even though it's central characters are men. It's not that hard to translate the action to your own gender and preference. And on the non-sexual side of the book, there's a scene towards the end of the book that had me wiping the tears away.

Jo, I don't suppose you have phone numbers for Jeff and Eddie? (Can't hurt to ask!)

Medimax Large Tablet Organiser
Medimax Large Tablet Organiser
Offered by zig_zag_lane_books
Price: £17.23

5.0 out of 5 stars I like this box very much and would recommend it unreservedly ..., 19 July 2014
Up until twelve years or so ago, the drug companies used to give away a basic version of this. I have HIV disease with complications and thus have a daily pill burden of 30 pills or so. What the hell? They're keeping me alive! Each compartment is large enough to take the entire complement of pills for that time of day. The outer case is impressive and explains the high price, being made of an admittedly thin leather, together with a press stud closure - no more finding that the box has "leaked" and scattered several days' pills through my backpack! I like this box very much and would recommend it unreservedly to any non-vegan with a high daily pill burden.

Golla Vincent Cover, White  [will only fit Kindle Paperwhite (5th and 6th Generation), Kindle (5th Generation) and Kindle (7th Generation)]
Golla Vincent Cover, White [will only fit Kindle Paperwhite (5th and 6th Generation), Kindle (5th Generation) and Kindle (7th Generation)]
Price: £36.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Still too awkward, 5 Feb. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Amazon sent me two of these cover and apparently want separate reviews for each of them. The elastic holding the Kindle in place is beginning to get that old, stretched out feeling, although this hasn't made removing and replacing the Kindle any easier, and important consideration for someone with even mild difficulty using their hands. The outer cover seems to be made from some sort of vinyl which has a vaguely slippery feeling to it. It's easy to imagine it falling from your hands on public transport if there's a sudden bump. It's going to be replaced by a simple leather cover.

Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival
Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival
Price: £5.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading, but perhaps not for those new newly diagnosed with HIV, 31 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book, which I’d eagerly awaited since learning of its impending publication, is one of the most difficult books I’ve read. Not because it’s written in an impenetrable style, or full needs a dictionary of drugs or a medical qualification, but because of its matter-of-fact accounts of the confusion, terror, hope, tears, love, support, defiance and strength that we people with HIV have lived with for the past thirty-odd years.

I bought the Kindle edition on Tuesday morning and found myself surprised to have finished it on Saturday evening. Although the Kindle edition doesn’t have real page numbers, the final 25% of the book consists of the most detailed index I think I’ve ever seen, and though the index uses page numbers, they take you to the correct place in the book. You will need paper hankies: I think I cried about every five page turns.

It’s largely a memoir, but with one hell of a slice of history. The history of HIV in America seen through eyes of the author. Details aren’t spared: Sean’s description of his pulmonary KS reminded me of a friend who had to sleep sitting upright for fear of a KS lesion blocking his windpipe. (If it seems over-familiar to refer to the author by his first name it’s because there’s so much of himself in the book that I feel I know as much about him as I do about some of my closest friends.)

The memoir and broader history are intermingled. Naturally I can’t comment on the memoir, not knowing Sean, but the broader history tallies exactly with what I remember as we pored over imported copies of The Advocate and other imported US magazines. Details are spot on in the 80s, but more sparse in the 90s as Sean’s health declined.

From the introduction of protease inhibitors, and “the Lazarus effect” the book becomes more memoir than history as Sean rebuilds his life from being at the point where he had a CD4 count of 1. There’s a lot of name dropping, but then he was at one point before HIV looking to political office. And unlike many people with HIV in America he was never homeless or so poor he struggled for food.

Read it: there are times when it hurts like hell; for myself I found myself running almost a side-window of what was going on in the UK at the same time, remembering people and incidents I haven’t thought about in years. It’s not a wallow in nostalgia: it’s the story of the fights it took to get to today.

I don’t believe in summarising a book in reviews (as you’d see if you looked at my other reviews here), but prefer to reflect on how a book has affected me. And this one cuts deep. I started keeping notes of things to mention in this review, but quickly realised that it would be invidious to mention one fact over another. I’m going to need time to absorb what I’ve read, and I’m going to have to read it again, perhaps, with slightly drier, more critical eyes.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV, wait. You need to have found your balance with your new life before you read this as it’s so blunt, at times, in its accounts of illness. Illness that you’ll probably never see. If you’ve reached an accommodation with your little passenger, you’re comfortable with your drugs and you’ve got used to your clinic visits, then this really is essential reading.

This review was originally written for the online magazine [...], hence the assumption that the reader is HIV positive.

It's Raining Men
It's Raining Men
Price: £0.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Say no to bigotry, 27 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: It's Raining Men (MP3 Download)
A dancefloor classic, to use and over-used phrase: and buying it this week to get it to the top of the chart sends a message to the bigots that (a) we know about humour and irony and (b) we're not swallowing your nonsense.

Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot: An Authoritative Examination of the World's Most Fascinating and Magical Tarot Cards
Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot: An Authoritative Examination of the World's Most Fascinating and Magical Tarot Cards
Price: £12.51

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Thoth readers, 26 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've had the Thoth deck as one of my main working decks for twenty five years or so - I tend to have a selection of of four or five decks I can work with at any one point: the rest of my eighty or so decks are there because I like the artwork but don't feel I could read with them.

I've read the Book of Thoth many times, but have always left it almost as mystified as I was when I started reading it. Common gossip has it that Crowley was off his face when writing the Book of Thoth. What this book does is to explain what was actually meant (even including a few "I haven't a clue about this" remarks. It's basically the Book of Thoth written in accessible language. The Book of Thoth makes a little more sense now, but it's to this book I turn when I want to study a card in depth.

It's notable in that I bought the paperback, but when I got a Kindly I bought the somewhat overpriced Kindle version too.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2014 1:48 PM GMT

TeckNet® M002 Nano Wireless Mouse,6 Buttons,18 Month Battery Life,2000 DPI 3 Adjustment Levels-Grey
TeckNet® M002 Nano Wireless Mouse,6 Buttons,18 Month Battery Life,2000 DPI 3 Adjustment Levels-Grey
Offered by TECKNET
Price: £10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The answer to the irritating touchpad, 17 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Over the years I've had numerous laptops, all with touchpad mice, a piece of technology I still can't get used to. This mouse sits comfortably in the hand and is adequately sensitive. The receiver works well enough when attached to a USB hub, which I prefer. The problem with cordless mice is that the receivers have become so small they're very fragile (it wouldn't be the first time I've caught the received and broken it). Perhaps the answer is to make the receiver part of a USB hub. Bulkier, but ultimately safer and longer lasting...

Tarot of the Hidden Realm
Tarot of the Hidden Realm
by Julia Jeffrey
Edition: Cards
Price: £18.62

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant, 17 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Cards)
A slightly wilder, more fairy/elf-oriented version of the Rider-Waith-Smith deck. The cards are beautifully illustrated, though it's sometimes difficult to discern the numbers on the minor arcana (I have an obsession whereby, for example, eight cups must be visible on the Eight of Cups).

Although some of the major arcana have been given new titles, those titles work for me. For example, The Chariot becomes The Faery Stallion, The Devil becomes Shadowdance, and The Tower becomes The Blasted Beech,

The artwork is beautiful, full of the little lines and subtle colour changes so often missed by many Tarot artists.

I think the strongest recommendation I can give this deck is that I looked through the deck once and ordered a second for my best mate, because I knew that if I ever let her see the deck I'd never wrest it from her hands! When it arrived at her house she phoned to say that she'd found her new "working" deck...

A forgotten generation: Long-term survivors' experiences of HIV and AIDS
A forgotten generation: Long-term survivors' experiences of HIV and AIDS
Price: £6.96

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't. Just don't., 17 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It’s way past time that a history of HIV were compiled from the memories of those who know it best: the long term survivors. Unfortunately this book is not it.

Because of an attempt to de-clutter the bookshelves and the difficulty I have in holding large books comfortably I made the switch to Kindle at the beginning of this year and am re-discovering the joy of reading again: so many words, so little weight! I mention this because “A Forgotten Generation” isn’t, like many Kindle books supplied with page numbers, or an x-ray view of the text, although it does have text to speech capabilities.

The bulk of the book is based on interviews that took place in 2002, so despite the author’s attempts to place a more modern gloss on her text, she fails. In 2002 we’d seen the failure of the first generation of drugs, the beginnings of success with second generation drugs (but not their subsequent failure) and the third, current, wave of drugs were just becoming available.

Even ten years ago we were still taking drugs that we knew were damaging to our bodies, but were keeping us alive. ddI, for example is only mentioned as a horsepill that needed to be crushed and mixed with apple juice to make a vomit-inducing drink. Protease inhibitors are new territory and drugs like truvada, the back-bone of many combinations is still a couple of years in the future.

Our attitudes, whether to our carers, our medication or our illness was also very different in 2002. It speaks volumes that each chapter ends with a series of questions to the reader about how they react to the material in that chapter. Each question is asked as though the person being questioned is HIV negative. We, the people living with HIV, are objects of study.

There are some crucial medical errors in the text: how come people were having HTLV3 (Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus type 3) antibody tests at a point when HTLV3 was though simply to be an ineffective passenger virus? Why the lack of mention of LAV (Lymphadenopathy Associated Virus)? LAV was found to be the causative virus is 1984 and the following year it was realised that it was the same virus as HTLV3, at which point the virus was renamed HIV. At one point HTLV3 is named as a “precursor” virus to HIV, whatever that means.

At another point we are informed that lipoatrophy is simply a misnomer for lipodystrophy (or it may be the other way round: I’ve spent too much time reading and not enough time discovering how the Kindle works, especially as regards finding pages. I beg your forgiveness). However, although the two conditions are related, they are distinct and have different symptoms.

Cryptosporidium is a bacterium, not a disease: the disease it can cause is cryptosporidiosis. The “female condom” was/is called a Femidom, not a Femidon. The condition caused by candida albicans is usually referred to as thrush, not thrust. The text is littered with unnecessary capitalisations: most illnesses and a number of medical specialities are invariably capitalised. Does one see a Cancer specialist or a cancer specialist?

The author frequently leaves twee little messages to the interviewees (or “story-tellers” as she prefers to call them), thanking one for keeping her in winter reading, or urging another to “keep on being spontaneous!”

The book smacks of an abandoned work that has been resurrected in this new age of self-publishing. A few remarks here and there within the main body of the text pretend to bring it up to date, but fail, especially when they’re encountered by someone who was there at the time, as I was.

Today’s world is very different from that of 2002: the clash between the author’s comments and those of her “story-tellers” grates. We still need a book, a history, written about the eighties, nineties, and beyond, but it needs to be one in which we are in control. Our stories as long term survivors are important: we have survived one of the most horrific epidemics the world has seen, and it’s an epidemic that continues today.

I can only see this book as a cynical cash-in attempt.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2014 7:26 PM BST

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