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Lendrick (London)

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The Love of Stones
The Love of Stones
by Tobias Hill
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling - but a little cold, 18 July 2012
This review is from: The Love of Stones (Paperback)
I'd enjoyed Underground and being a sucker for novels with a bit of history I thought I'd give this a try.

It is a tricky book, but ultimately I found a satisfying tale. Two tales; one set in the present day, of Katherine Sterne's search for the jewelled clasp that is the Three Brethren, the other in pre-Victorian London about two Jewish goldsmiths who come to London and whose own story crosses the path of the Brethren.

The second of these is perhaps the more satisfying as London is vividly painted, and the relationship between the brothers explored.

Katherine Sterne's story is more difficult and seems to have caused some reviewers problems. She is not particularly sympathetic and her obsession with the jewel never really explained. But I found her intriguing; she certainly doesn't fit any stereo type, and ultimately warmed to her a little by the end. Who says central characters have to be sympathetic?

Despite some thrillerish touches this isn't really a thriller and not particularly plot driven. I think it's more about obsession and the price we may pay for that.

Hills is a poet and his prose may not be too everyone's taste but I found it engaging.

Worth sticking with

Bridesmaids (Extended Edition) [DVD] [2011]
Bridesmaids (Extended Edition) [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Kristen Wiig
Price: £3.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK comedy, 8 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first thing to say is that if (like me) you only know this film from the poster & cover art then it's not what you might expect. Not just because those pink dresses never appear in the film, but because the presentation of the characters doesn't reflect the story. The cover suggest feisty self confident women, whereas what the characters have in common is mostly vulnerability, for example the blonde in bunches on the cover is actually a mother to teenage boys, worn down by domesticity. Also the focus of the film is very much on the bride and 2 of the bridesmaids with the others getting little screen time, it's not the ensemble piece you might expect.

What you get is moderately funny comedy, with a dash of the gross out humour that seems to be de rigueur these days, a bit of romcom and mainly the relationship between the bride, her childhood best friend (Kristen Wiig) and her new (and nouveau riche) friend (Rose Byrne). A bit of a mixed bag, which a times feels more like a series of sketches than a developed story. But it is quite funny and Wiig and Byrne in particular engaging. While Melissa McCarthys supporting roles is so David Brent like at first I thought it was Ricky Gervais in drag!

The ending is pure cheese, embarrassingly bad.

No idea why this got rave reviews, but not a bad way to spend an evening in.

by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, if a bit messy, 8 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Number9dream (Paperback)
This is David Mitchell's 2nd novel (the first of his I have read) and reads a bit like a young novelist trying out different styles; Tarantinoesque violence and philosophising mobsters, slacker romance, family saga and odd diversions into stream of conciseness, cyberpunk and the just plain weird (Goatwriter).

At it's core it is a quest, Eiji Miyake's search for the father he never met, he suffers various trials along the way to his goal. It is Eiji's character that makes this an enjoyable read. Resilient in the face of numerous challenges unassuming and very likable. You want things to go well for him. It was that that pulled me through some of the more fanciful diversions including Eiji's escapes for death at the hands of the Yakuza.

A good read if you have a high tolerance for stylistic diversions.

A Man of Parts
A Man of Parts
by David Lodge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of a comet, 9 May 2012
This review is from: A Man of Parts (Paperback)
I'd not read any Lodge for a while,and seeing this in a shop was intrigued enough to buy, I know little about HG Wells beyond having read The War of the Worlds. The novelised biography is a curious concept, while Lodge provides evidence of copious references there is always the suspicion that he might have let his imagination get the better of him at points. However, by the end I was convinced he had provided a credible version of HG.

While the format is a little clunky at times - e.g. when HG cross-examines himself - but for the most part it's an engaging tale. There is no pretense at an objective view - we get HGs view of the world (or at least Lodges impression of it). So the reader is very much left to make up their own mind about HG and his life, and what a life it was.

The most eye popping aspect is of course his love life which we get in copious, though not explicit, detail. There is a lot of it, and there was a point about 2/3 of the way through when affair after affair became a bit tiresome. But there is much more, his political ideas and of course his novels ( confess I skipped over some of the descriptions of the later not wanting to spoil reading the actual book.)

Despite his flaws I came to like HG, a man ahead of his time in many ways, and who I felt always meant well. There is no way I would ever have picked up a lengthy biography of him, so Lodge has hopefully introduced many of us to a writer well worthy of reconsideration.

An enjoyable read, and an informative one.

Bad Teacher [DVD] [2011]
Bad Teacher [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Cameron Diaz
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trying too hard to be bad, 7 May 2012
This review is from: Bad Teacher [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Cameron Diaz gives a wonderfully shameless performance as the foul mouthed, gold digging lead, and there a few genuinely eye popping moments. What I particularly liked is the avoidance of any sweetening of the pill - she is what she is.

But what becomes apparent as the film progresses is that in focusing on the shock, they forgot about a plot. There is no real story here, nor are there enough laughs to sustain it. After an hour I was getting a bit bored, and the final third and forced ending are poor. Shame it could have bee so much better, c+

Bionic Woman: The Complete Series [DVD]
Bionic Woman: The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michelle Ryan
Price: £7.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, and had real potential, 28 April 2012
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Not sure what those delivering harsh reviews expected. I'm old enough to remember the original Bionic Woman, and this is a decent attempt at a reboot. But it a show not quite sure of it's identity.

After a good opener the next 3 episodes are focused around a earlier bionic woman, and who has escaped from the mysterious foundation that made our heroine. It's an interesting idea, with hints of real darkness, but they writers don't seem quite sure what to do with it.

Episodes 5-8 drop that plot line entirely for slicker episode based spy drama with a dash of sci-fi. I thought these worked better, and were more entertaining. As the show developed so did the characters and by the final episode it really seemed to be finding it's feet. Shame that it got killed

I've not watched Eastenders in 20 years so didn't have any preconceptions of Michelle Ryan, but I though she was excellent. pitching the role just right. Unfortunately we will never get to know where it could have all gone.

The Hidden Places of the Peak District & Derbyshire
The Hidden Places of the Peak District & Derbyshire
by Mike Gerrard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.62

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thin on content, plenty of adverts, 23 April 2012
A book of 2 halves, the first 137 pages is an OK guide book giving a bit of description and background on the towns and sights of the Peak district. Perhaps some of those listed are hidden gems, but if so they remain hidden among the 'usual suspects'. There seems to be little that you couldn't pick up from freely available sources. Dotted on these pages are small adverts which point you to the back of the book.

The bulk of rest of is taken up with paid for content, adverts for Hotels, Restaurants, Tea Rooms etc.

Now, if I had picked this up for free, or a nominal cost, in a Tourist Office, I might think that was OK. But for something retailing a something close to a full price guide I think it is pretty poor.

Not recommended.

Never Mind the Quantocks: Stuart Maconie's Favourite Country Walks
Never Mind the Quantocks: Stuart Maconie's Favourite Country Walks
by Stuart Maconie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Small gems, in a large package, 9 April 2012
Picked this up on the spur of the moment to take on a trip to the Peak Distruct, expecting a kind of hill walking Cider With Roadies. But in fact it's a collection of short columns Maconie wrote for Country Walking magazine. Ruminations on various aspects of walking. Individually they are fine, but reading them back to back you start to long for something a bit more substantive.

What it is definitely not is "Stuart Maconie's Favourite Country Walks", it's a book for the bedside or the loo, not to guide your next venture into the hills.

Maconie writes well, and there is much pleasure to be had from these short pieces. But the large format paperback - and price for a book in which every 3rd page is a title page - feels like pushing it a bit. 1 star deducted for feeling a trifle ripped off.

Hearts And Minds
Hearts And Minds
by Amanda Craig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but dissapointing, 4 April 2012
This review is from: Hearts And Minds (Paperback)
I'd read a couple of Amanda Craig's earlier novels - A Private Place is particularly good - so decided to give this a try as it seemed to a have a broader sweep than the rather narrow Vicious Circle.

Hearts and Minds is a very readable attempt at a big London novel seeking to characterise the city in the early 21st Century, with a particular focus on the role of immigrants. Told from the point of view of 5 main characters - 4 of them immigrants - It starts well, I was intrigued by the set-up and the ideas. Craig has an acute eye for some of our foibles and desires.

However, as the book continues it never really develops, the characters mostly remain stock types rather than living breathing people. It becomes rather repetitive and at points somewhat incredible. While the increasing role of the literary set is rather tedious - there is little in the middle here - just the privileged and the downtrodden.

Politically - and it is a political novel - it's an odd mixture of liberal guilt and a Daily Mailish vision of a nightmare London overrun by hoodies, eastern European thugs and Islamic fundamentalists, while public services crumble.

But it's main failings are as a novel, the characters for me never engaged (only Anna & Job felt real) and Craig doesn't quite pull off the difficult trick of the 5 parallel narratives. Having a chapter per character at times really drags the pace of the book. While the murder mystery set up in the opening, and central to one of the plot lines, is never resolved.

All in all quite readable, but ultimately disappointing

Data Driven Business Decisions (Statistics in Practice)
Data Driven Business Decisions (Statistics in Practice)
by Chris J. Lloyd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £89.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive as far as I can tell, 22 Mar 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
While my work touches on some of the aspects covered here it does so only in a fairly superficial way. This is a serious text book for budding management information & Excel geeks (and I mean that in the nicest possible way). The presence of 'To the Student' and 'To the Teacher' sections at the start indicate the context it's most likely to be used in.

There are almost 500 pages of dense text, and over 300 example spreadsheets on the CD and I don't claim to have more that scrapped the surface. What I have read though is clearly set out and well explained

One note, the files and a couple Excel addons provided on the CD are in Office 2007 format but seem to work OK in 2010.

I suspect I'll dip into it a bit more, and work through the first few chapters. But for it's not really for someone like me looking to build on a basic skill-set and that's the basis of the 3 star rating.

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