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Mr. Dr. Washbrook (Carshalton)
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Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force
Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force
by Daniel Coyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TOUR DE FORCE, 11 Aug 2006
Daniel Coyle's book on a year in the life of the most successful cycle racer of all Lance Armstrong balances on the razor edge between feeding the knowledgable racing fan with facts and figures and gently easing in the new to racing fan with some detail and background on Lance and his main rivals.

And just as Lance Armstrong stays just on the right side of that razors edge - so does Daniel Coyle.

This is a fascinating book on Armstrong's attempt to win the worlds toughest sporting contest, the Tour de France for a record 6th consecutive time. It doesn't gloss over the controversial side of both Armstong's personality nor cyclings drug problems.

Love him or loathe him, by the time you have read this book (which incidentally is very unputdownable) I guarantee you will respect Armstong the athlete.


The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRATION THROUGH DEVASTATION, 18 May 2005
This book is unashamedly and quite correctly all about the author. Jean-Dominique Bauby was a 'name' in his former life as editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine. After his stroke which led to the extremely rare condition of Locked-In-Syndrome he has become a 'name' once more as a truly remarkable human being and an inspirational author.
Only able to comunicate via blinking his left eye, Bauby saw his body as nothing more than an empty chamber (the diving bell of the title), but his soul, his spirituality was unimpared (his butterfly).
In theory this book could have been a potentially dire experience of a brave human being doing his best to put across the awful state of LIS. In reality Bauby certainly does get across his extreme frustration of his condition and yet he also finds time and space within the book to take you on a journey into his soul and share the experiences of his thoughts, some of which are just poetically beautiful.
A charming yet sad book which offers a different interpretation of love life and everything.


Great Expectations (Penguin Popular Classics)
Great Expectations (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book With 'Great Expectations'., 27 Sep 2004
It is quite obvious that almost anybody contemplating reading this novel will either be aware of the story already or at the very least is aware of the genius of the author. Great Expectations's reputation as an all time great novel contender goes before it, but in simplest form, I'd like to say that having now read it, I can confirm it is one of the greatest tales ever told.
Why? A mixture of reasons, strong deep characters, a twisting and turning plot line, beautifully written flowing prose, and fundamentally it just holds a capacity over the reader to be unputdownable.
It's a truly remarkable balance of pensmanship from Charles Dickens as the novel somehow is both highly amusing and yet deals with the deep morose troubles of a young man called Pip.
One of the very few books that boldly meets its great expectations.


Closing Time
Closing Time
by Joseph Heller
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sequel to Catch 22, 3 Jun 2004
This review is from: Closing Time (Paperback)
Initially I was a little disappointed with Joseph Heller's sequel to Catch 22 but when I thought about it after completing Closing Time I realised perhaps I was being a little unfair. After all, Catch 22 was possibly the greatest novel written in the 20th century and bearing this in mind it was actually quite brave of Heller to attempt a sequel at all!
The format is very different with Closing Time being made up of a series of smaller books. Also it took some getting used to the little things such as ex-PFC Wintergreen using the F word in every sentence whereas in Catch 22 he never offered a single swear word!
I get the impression this was a very personal novel for Heller who had grown older and wiser with his characters. I read Catch 22 and Closing Time in the space of a month and therefore felt the satire and caustic humour had dipped from the first to the second book. However, those who read Catch 22 as young men and women will thoroughly enjoy their re-acquaintances with some of the characters (most obviously Yossarian and Milo)forty years on.
Closing Time stands on its own as a well constructed novel but it fails to match the originality of the classic Catch 22, although it's likely Heller always knew it would. Worth a read but not a classic.


Bettany's Book
Bettany's Book
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bettany's Book of Parallels, 12 Oct 2003
This review is from: Bettany's Book (Paperback)
Having read almost every novel Thomas Keneally has written my initial reaction to reading this particular offering was luke warm. It certainly isn't one of the best books Mr. Keneally has produced and yet the workmanship and story telling within it are still impressive enough to warrant it a worth while effort.
The book encompasses several different stories intertwined through different eras and localities. Perhaps the finest perculiarity of this novel is the way in which the author uses the stories and locations to parralel each other. For example it is possible to view Bettany's own views on his assigned labourers to Prim's views of slavery in the Sudan. Likewise Prim's feelings of alienation of being a Westerner in Africa and her relationship with Sherif a Sudanese Muslim could be sen to mirror John Bettany's unease at being a son of a convict and his relationship with a convict woman too.
To sum up, Keneally successfully proves his talent for accurate historical story telling and yet the story lacks the depth to be compared with denser and more powerful previous efforts such as Schindlers Ark.


Bettany's Book
Bettany's Book
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bethany's Book of Parallels, 9 Oct 2003
This review is from: Bettany's Book (Paperback)
This book sees Thomas Kenneally up to his usual tricks of testing the reader with a whole series of stories inter-twining each other through time and location.
Parallels run through the whole of this novel. Bettany's gratitude for his assigned labour against prim's horrid fascination of the slavery situation in Sudan.
The death of Long and Bettany Senior comes along around the same time in the book that Dimp's marriage disintergrates.
A new start for Bettany and Bernard as Prim atempts her new start.
This is quite a deliberate ploy by Kenneally and makes the novel an interesting yet perhaps slightly predictable storyline.


The Fatal Shore
The Fatal Shore
by Robert Hughes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emancipists and Currency, 2 Sep 2003
This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
The Fatal Shore is a thorough investigation into the convict system between Great Britain and Australia with a strong slant from the perspective of the convicts themselves through letters written home as well as the use of documentary evidence.
Robert Hughes has clearly researched the subject matter in intricate detail and the end product is a fascinating insight into the few positives of the convict system and the many negatives (made up primarily of the story of Van Diemans land and Norfolk Island's arbitary punishment system, ie. floggings and other sadistic 'routine' punishments).
A word of warning. This book is extremely detailed in its views and portraits of all the main characters involved in the system and for the amateur it can become confusing mixing the various phases of the convict system and the variety of governor genarals of the colony. However this small detail aside, it did not detract from the enjoyment and interest level of the subject matter and everyone who reads this book is guaranteed to learn some incredible details about the lives of the convicts that they were unaware of before picking the book up.
A well worth the read book but be prepared for a marathon of information!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2013 11:31 PM GMT


Here's Luck (Prion Humour Classics)
Here's Luck (Prion Humour Classics)
by Lennie Lower
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars A Sentimental Journey Back To Innocence, 29 May 2003
It is a crying shame for Australian literature that Lennie Lower wrote but one novel in his lifetime 'Here's Luck'. However at the same time as we lament the lack of a more volumous collection of work, let us be thankful that the hard drinking, hard talking Lower found time to chip in with this sweet reminder of Australia leading up to the depression era of the 1930s.
The book comprises of a short timespan in the life of Jack Gudgeon and his family, living in Sydney during the late 1920s. Jack Gudgeon is used by Lower as his champion of the working man (although I use the term working very loosely)! Gudgeon is left to fend for himself when his wife Agatha and her sister depart the household leaving only reprabate son Stanley for company.
The story follows Jack and Stanley's unorthodox approach to living without Agatha which consists of chopping up the furniture for fuel, many meals of steak and eggs, and parties with fairly dramatic conclusions.
Lower writes constantly with tongue in cheek but where as it would be easy to criticise sections of the book as msogynistic, I believe that Jack Gudgeon (in his own unique style) comes to the conclusion late on that perhaps he truly recognises how important Agatha his wife is to him. An example being when he describes the realization he got out of 'hugging the same pair of hips every night'.
Perhaps this book is now dated, nearly a quarter century since initial publication, however for me that just adds to the charm of the narrative. A good read for anyone wishing to escape the confusion of the modern world for a while.


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