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Michael Bromfield "Also an author myself!" (Sherborne, Dorset, UK.)

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by Tim Winton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Boring, Boring, 15 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Cloudstreet (Paperback)
I finished this book with the feeling that I had wasted 10 hours of my life reading it and perhaps the lesson I should learn was to put to one side those books with which I feel no resonance.

I have lived in WA and I love Australia but this book had no real narrative to hold it together. Yes in part the dialogue is OK but if the subject matter has no form it counts for little.

If one wants an accuare AND interesting depiction of Australian working class life read anything by the late and long lamented Bryce Courtenay who always believed a good book is measured by its sales, readability and keeping the reader interested.

It was just SO boring and increasingly pretentious. A writers task is to take his readers with him or her and not to leave them mystified wondering what is meant to be going on. I have given up rereading the first two pages and the penultimate page trying to work out what is going on and which parts are meant to be narrated by Fish.

Sorry - absolute rubbish.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2015 8:50 AM BST

OxTravels: Meetings with remarkable travel writers (Ox Tales)
OxTravels: Meetings with remarkable travel writers (Ox Tales)
by Oliver Bullough
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very boring collection of often not very interesting tales, 24 Dec. 2012
Travel writing is a difficult genre - everyone wants to go to new destinations and experience them but it is not easy to read pages of descriptive prose often without narrative unless there is a strong hook to keep the reader motivated.

It is my experience as both a writer and reader that the hook that travel writing needs is usually based upon either an outstanding event or incident or a larger than life character or humour to keep the reader interested and many of these tales had none of the above. I gave each a score out of 10 and barely a third were above 5.

Some of the tales just petered out without a conclusion or punch line and some described events of little significance or interest.

However since I have been so scathing lets give praise where it is due to

Peter Godwin's Blood Diamonds set in Zimbabwe

William Dalrymple's The Nun's Tale set in India

Sara Wheeler's The End of the Bolster in Poland

Rory Maclean's Love in a Hot Climate set in Myanmar

Janine di Giovanni's Decide to be Bold

and you can judge for yourself if I am qualified to comment by going to

Interestingly enough when reviewing the above it seems that sex sells - even in travel!

The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime
The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime
by Declan Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.42

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only good in parts and some serious weaknesses, 4 Dec. 2012
This is a strange book and the first half is hard work - with a lot of material about fixing games in Mayalsia and Singapore in the 1980s and 90s - hardly apowerhouse of world soccer! The author revals an ignorance about different types of gambling bets when he is impressed with the range of bets available in Asia - which have been common in Britain for 25 years!

The account of his experience with a Singaporean hooker on pages 163 is totally irrelevant as is the last chapter which has no relevance to the previous 300 pages dealing with fixes - obviously the author did not have a suitable conclusion so decided to insert a parable with a happy ending so we could go forward with hope.

Howver the sections dealing with the Ghana team were well written, well researched, read well and seemed fairly compelling evidence that the team was frequently involved in fixed games - and at the World Cup - and I too remember the strange way they collapsed agaionst Brazil. I am surprised Fifa and authorities have not acted upon this - nothing on Wikipedia about Stephen Appiah's admissions either.

The book is fairly serious but loses credibility and objectivity when the author criticises some of his subjects as 'scumbags'.

A serious topic, a serious approach but sadly the book leaves one wanting more and feeling it is a little flawed - too litle material and at the end of the day only mentions 4 specific World Cup matches that may have been fixed. Beyond that - lots of research but mainly generalisations not hard facts about any specific games.

But Hill is to be commended for his efforts - and for sure there are Asian syndicates trying to influence results. Step forward Bruce Grobbelaar!

An Epic Swindle: 44 Months with a Pair of Cowboys
An Epic Swindle: 44 Months with a Pair of Cowboys
by Brian Reade
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A subject deserving of a more serious approach, 3 April 2012
Unashamedly written by a fan - who happens to be a journalist - but written in a populist style to appeal to the fan base.

Nothing wrong with a journalist being a fan but the book is full of generalisations - about businesses, Americans , Bankers etc. Does the author seriously think the RBS should have suspended the interest payments that were crippling the club when they have a duty to their shareholders (the British working people!) Does every fan believe it is the owner's duty to inject funds into a club if the Managerial/Executive team cannot manage expenditure properly.

David Moore's letter comes across as a considered and compassionate piece of writing but the author derides him throughout the book and having sold a major company myself to American buyers I know there is only so much you can ever find out when doing checks into the buyers credibility. We did the checks and had no problems because the buyers kept their word but if they had been lieing we could have done nothing once they were the owners.

Too many of the observations in the book would carry more weight and not be devalued if they were based on researched fact rather than banal generalisations designed to apeal to the masses on subjects about which the author clearly knows very little - how many corporate tranactions has he been involved in? Big clubs like Man Utd and Liverpool feel they have an automatic right to success and lord it over small clubs and are happy to do this with Corporate money but then start bleating when it all goes wrong. if you sup with the devil or choose to live by the sword then you have to be prepared to take the consequences.

The writer is no fool. He is a passionate fan and the current predicament of the club under Dalglish (praised whilst Hodgson is derided) shows that parts of the book are written subjectively not objectively.

An interesting read - but I think the topic deserves a more considered and serious approach. And Yes - Hicks and Gillet were an absolute disaster for sure and there are sadly many clubs in the UK blighted by owners who have no understanding of the game or their community responsibilities.

by Karin Alvtegen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is rubbish, 12 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Shadow (Paperback)
I accept that it is not helped that I have only read this in fits and starts but perhaps in itself that is a reflection that the novel did not hold my interest.

If the genre is Crime/Mystery it would help if there was a crime to occupy our thoughts but nothing is revealed definitively for the first 75% of this tale - then indeed there is an amazing and quite unforeseen twist which really peters out without anything really being resolved.

The last pages are both unintelligible and unfathomable..................and why were the books in the freezer anyway!

Paradise Lust: An Erotic Travelogue
Paradise Lust: An Erotic Travelogue
by Kit McCann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Usefull - up to a point, 30 Jun. 2010
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First lets get the negative comments out of the way.

This book could have been written by any half literary writer whoi has spent 6 months in Thailand and is interested in asking the bargirls about their lives as well as screwing them. There is no ongoing narrative as such - just a collection of musings and observations, some very accurate and a lot of generalistions about Thai females. In its worst aspect it is a collection of loose 'tales' about who I screwed and where.

Where the book does score is in some of its observations of Thai women, their interpretation of love, explanations of the many easy misunderstandings between Thais and Farangs and of the role and importance of money - and the inability of the many Thai working class females of peasant stock to monitor expenditure and budget when they have funds. There are a lot of generalisations - and to be fair to Kit a lot of them are true as well!

I have had a relationship with a Thai lady for almost six years - we have travelled travelled together throughout Thailand, Europe and South America and I know from personal experience that you can take the lady out of Thailand but you cannot take the Thai out of the lady. For the relationship to work there has to be give and take on both sides and I must admit I often fail to understand many of the differences between the cultures that this book highlights in an amusing way.Many times I nodded my head and said thatis exactly right - I can tell her Brussels ais the capital of Belgium and it means nothing but if a Thai confirms it then it is gospel!

Mr MCcann points with fun at those westeners who say 'Yes but my girl is different' and its true most may not be. But in the end guess what - he finds his girl who is 'different' and mine went from Pattaya to climbing over 18,000 ft passes in snow storms on the flanks of Everest and trekking for weeks on end through Nepal and Tibet with no qualms or complaints - so guess what again- some actually are different!

Read this book, laugh and learn but take it with a pinch of salt in parts - a good Thai lady is very very loyal if you treat her fairly. And to get a real feeling for Thailand read John Burdett and Timothy Hallinan's novels of contemporay Bangkok.

This book is informative in parts but in no sense is it gospel!

9/11 Revealed: Challenging the Facts Behind the War on Terror
9/11 Revealed: Challenging the Facts Behind the War on Terror
by Ian Henshall
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many wild theories but many vailid points of concern, 17 Jun. 2010
Sadly this book lets itself down - it identifies many valid and disturbing points of concerns that need further investigation and explanation and after reading it I have far more concerns about what really happened on 9/11 than I had before.

However the authors include so many generalistions, far fetched conspiracies and are clearly anti everything (anti business, anti american, anti government etc) that this tends to devalue and reduce the legitamacy of their own work!

I think the book is strong on identifying some incidents that just do not add up nor appear credible. However it is weak when postulating some/many often seemingly far fetched conspiracy theories that indeed often contradict other theories put forward elsewhere in the book.

The authors are serious, dilligent, capable of effective research...........and also biased but that does not mean some of the points they made are not valid.

If there was a grand conspiracy a whisle blower would have emerged by now as so many would have been involved at different levels so I suspect we can put that to one side and concentrate on the fact that a fairly reactionary government and naturally conservative defence agencies did a lot of post 9/11 rewriting of history to cover their own deficincies.

And whatever biases are displayed by the authors that does not mean all their theories are inaccurate or should be ignored as after reading their book I certainly believe the following require further investigation and explanation

- The collapse of the towers as if by a controlled demolition

- the unconected collapse of WTC7 with all its security implications

- the terrorist passport found/planted at street level

- the lack of cockpit conversations or hijack alarms

- the failure of another plane to report the disturbing converation overheld

- whether the pilot had the skills to navigate the Pentagon plane over and back to its target or was it a missile

- the immediate confiscation of nearby Video survaillance

- Why did Atta visit Portland on 9/11

- the missing wheel and incorrect engine size photographed on site

- absence of flight recorders

- the possibility that flight 77 was in fact shot down because of time differentials

- the failure to identify any plane parts with the manufacturers original inventory

and many many more points as well.

For sure many can likely be explained but not I suspect all and so add me to the list of those who believe 9/11 did not apear exactly as we have been led to believe.

Organised by the American governemnt - Not a chance as far as I am concerned BUT many things to just not add up as presented to date and a new open and unfettered investigation with the power to subpoena anyone could go a long way to identifying just what did occur and if nothing else this book identifies specific questions that should have been addresses but I suspect never will be so like the Kennedy assasination we will be left postulating for the rest of our lifetimes.

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah
by Tim Footman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensively researched but........., 16 Jun. 2010
.........always from secondary material so in truth this could have been written by anyone with sufficient time to do the research of interviews and articles etc. There is little if any use of original interviews with direct sources - Leonard's women, fellow performers, management etc - it is really just a summary of material gathered from interviews and articles and previous biographies - notably Nadel.

Having started negatively lets give the author some credit - it is an easy to read introduction to Leonard's life and careeer and the book is well written. Tim Footman can write although at times a little too self indulgent (I can almost hear him thinking 'Aren't I clever to make such a reference') and some of his opinions are very subjective - which does not mean they are always wrong and although I have enjoyed Leonard's music since 1967 and seen him 20 times in the last two years I found myself relistening to many tracks on my Ipod to see if I agreed with the author's subjective analysis of the pros and cons of songs -and sometimes I found myself thinking 'this guy can be a real smart arse but actually - I agree!

The author is clearly preoccupied with the quality of Leonard's Album Covers (!) which highlights the main fault in this book - it discusses the music, the album covers, the career so we get a combination of secondary opinions and the athors analysis of tracks and the music but no real feeling for the person due to the lack of direct sources.

The book has a strange structure - it has two sets of notes and the first comes before the concluding chapter and the second comes after the concluding chapter and appendices. One set would have sufficed and I wonder if the structure of the book suffered as a result of the publishers wanting to get it out quickly pre Xmas 2009 to piggyback on the current wave of near unprecedented interest in Leonard Cohen following the circa 200 concerts in the 18 months and another 50 plus coming this year?

The Addendums on Hallelujah (the first 70% of this section was good) and comparisons with Dylan could have been incorporated into the main body of the book with some thougt and planning and indeed the addendum comparing Cohen and Dylan could have made much more of one point Footman only touched on - Cohen is by light years the more accomplished and professional performer of the two - and for many the creators of the better melodies.

And in this context it is difficult to see how a 'new' biography could fail to give more prominence to the current extraordinary and unprecedented footnote to Cohens career - the current worldwide tour often selling out 10,000 seat venues for nights on end.

Leonard Cohen fans are a strange and loyal breed as the Leonard Cohen Forum website that Tim Footman refers to will testify - and I believe the general consensus is that this book is an OK introduction for people wanting to learn about Leonard Cohen but there is not really anything new therein.

I may be wrong and I do not want to do the author a disservce but I think I might have read somewhere that the authot had never seen Leonard perform and if so I could understand this after reading the book - it is solid, it is sound, it covers the basics but it has no heart.

Nevertheless a lot of work has gone into it, it is well enough written and if you have just discovered and are interested in Leonard Cohen the I would not put you off reading it - I was just hoping for something with a little more depth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2011 7:34 PM BST

A Nail Through the Heart: A Novel of Bangkok
A Nail Through the Heart: A Novel of Bangkok
by Timothy Hallinan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A rival for john Burdett, 16 Jun. 2010
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John Burdett has seemingly cornered the market in Bangkok crime novels (a genre waiting to explode on the world?) and done an excellent job with a series of fascoinating novels using a half western/half Thai detective in recent years - now we have Timothy Hallinan with a half Western/half Filipino writer cum private detective and yet surprise surprise Hallinan's Rafferty despite the similarities is a convincing charater and this is an interesting novel well told.

To appeal to the mass market any contemporary Bangkok novel will involve the sex industry and retired bar girls (lets face it thats why most of the expatriates and potential readers are in Bangkok themselves!)and corrupt police and a healthy dose of violence also appear to be prerequisites but the author weaves it all together into a compelling story that is almost credible.

Almost two stories intertwine and perhaps the ending is the weakest section but the characters are convincing, the narrative well structured and I will certainly be reading the two sequels.

Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation
Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation
by John Carlin
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Playing the Enemy, 16 Jun. 2010
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.....was the original title and on my list of books that I wanted to read long before Cint Eastwoods film adaptation 'Invictus' came out.

One Mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter but Mandela managed what few on this planet have done - risen to become a living legend beloved by former foes.

Whatever the simplifications and generalistions referred to in the earlier reviews this book does successfully convey the image of the man and the role the 1995 World Cup provided in laying the foundation for a country that if not united was not torn apart by strife as many predicted - and is still not 15 years later.

The book is interesting and often moving

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