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Notes from an Exhibition
Notes from an Exhibition
by Patrick Gale
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

3.0 out of 5 stars Very moving, 10 Feb 2014
This is my first Patrick Gale novel, and was recommended to me by someone who knew that I love art. I did enjoy it, and I think that some of the characters will live with me for a long time - Hedley's story is particularly good - but I felt that maybe there was too much going on and that it could have been even more compelling if it had been a bit shorter. I've given this 3, but I'd have given it 3.5 if that were possible! I will definitely try some other the others though - a good intro to a good writer.


Autobiography
Autobiography
by Morrissey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for the section on The Smiths, 4 Nov 2013
This review is from: Autobiography (Paperback)
Yes, this book is too long, and yes it meanders terribly at the end. Given his bitching about how the art work and line notes to some of his records have been ruined, it's possible he insisted that this be released as it was. If not, it really should have been cut down to about two thirds of the length.
However the section (80 pages or so) on The Smiths is great, as is his transition to a solo star. I also really loved how he listed the full addresses of the places he lived at in London (must go to Regent's Park Terrace).
Finally I really appreciate how Morrissey, pretty much uniquely in recent times, has had this published as a paperback, allowing us all to buy it for less than ten pounds straight away, rather than have a 20 hardback. Well done for that.


Kiss Me First
Kiss Me First
by Lottie Moggach
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining thilller, 23 Sep 2013
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
This is a really good thriller that makes you re-consider your internet use (& particularly how people can present themselves on social media). The idea of impersonating someone with their consent on Facebook is very plausible, and while it occasionally got a bit far fetched - Leila goes to extraordinary lengths sometimes - it was a very gripping story with no loose ends. I'll recommend it to lots of friends, and also look out for what Lottie Moggach writes next.


The Trade Secret
The Trade Secret
by Robert Newman
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Oil, pigeons and 'qaveh', 5 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Trade Secret (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really enjoyed Robert Newman's new novel. The year is 1599, and Nat Bramble has a plan to make some money with his master's capital, but then all goes wrong. Blending real characters, like Sir Anthony & Sir Thomas Sherley, real events like the slaving history of The Mayflower, and a narrative that moves from Persia to London, Newman has produced a very entertaining, well researched and informative story.
Along the way we find out about espionage, betrayal, the roots of oil trading, carrier pigeons and a strange bean called Qaveh...
Rob Newman must be frustrating to publish (by which I guess I mean 'market'), as each of his books is very different, but this makes it more rewarding for readers.


Ten Billion
Ten Billion
by Stephen Emmott
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The text of the play, 15 July 2013
This review is from: Ten Billion (Paperback)
I went to see Stephen Emmott's one man 'play' Ten Billion at The Royal Court last year, and it was one of the best nights I've ever spent in the theatre. This book should be seen as the text of the play, with a few changes, and for me it works as an object lesson in how to construct an argument and tell a story.
Emmott presents the evidence, now with charts and illustrations, and addresses both alternative viewpoints and what should be done in the future.
It's an easy, logical, quick read, and deserves to be as widely read as popular classics like Freakonomics and The Tipping Point. Let's hope that it will be.


The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero
The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero
by William Kalush
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, 21 April 2013
I really enjoyed this biography of Houdini. As someone who likes magic but didn't know anything about HH beyond the headlines, it was fascinating to read about his origins, his different escapes, his role as a pioneer of flight, and his battles with the spiritualists.
If I have a criticism it's that the book could probably have been about a third shorter. At times it seemed to ramble, and chapters covering his exposes of spiritualists like Margery seemed to go on for too long (although admittedly this was a very large part of his later life).
I would recommend this book (hence the four stars) but be prepared to skip some bits.


DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia
DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia
by Misha Glenny
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Geeks born the wrong place, 21 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The main thought I had reading this entertaining and informative book about hacking was that many of the cast of characters had been unfortunate to have born into the third world or the old Soviet Union, where the simplest and most lucrative outlet for their computer skills was crime.
The book traces the development of online forums for illegal activities like credit card hacking, and many of the people come across as similar sorts of people to the current heroes of silicon valley, but without the resources and venture capitalists willing to invest in them. Many of the characters, particularly Renu came across as sympathetic people, and it was sad that they'd let their skills lead them into crime.
I really enjoyed the stories of the different characters, and it's essential reading if you want to know about cyber crime.


A Kiss Before Dying
A Kiss Before Dying
Price: 4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, 30 Oct 2012
I loved this book. Good writing, a very clever structure, and twists that keep you saying 'just one more chapter' to yourself as you sit up in bed until 2am. If I could deduct half a star I probably would for some of the action in the middle section (you'll see what I mean), but it seems a bit miserable not to give this the full five. Read it!


The Dogs Of War
The Dogs Of War
by Frederick Forsyth
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thriller, 30 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Dogs Of War (Paperback)
I bought this mainly out of curiosity, to see whether a thriller written in the mid 70s could still thrill, or whether it would have aged badly. The answer is that it still holds up, and still thrills remarkably well. As other reviewers have pointed out this is a slow burn, with most of the novel concerned with planning the mercenaries' strike, rather than the strike itself. But it rattles along very well, many of the characters really come to life, particularly Endean and Shannon, and you learn lots about the business world in the 1970s. A few bits do age - the relationship with Julie isn't all that well done - but I can't wait to read my next Frederick Forsyth. If you like modern thriller writers like Robert Harris, dig out some old thrillers like this from the 1970s and earlier from writers like Forsyth, Ira Levin and Michael Crichton.


The Motorcycle Diaries
The Motorcycle Diaries
by Ernesto "Che" Guevara
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Branding Che, 21 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
I think that this is a really good book, but also a fascinating piece of posthumous branding. Published for the first time in 1993, it makes Che a much more approachable figure for modern, and young readers. This is the Che discovering the idea of the Mestizo - a single Latin American identity - and also discovering his humanity through his work at Leper colonies. It's a good read, but probably not the classic that many hold it to be, at least in my opinion. It did make me want to visit South America though; I've fallen in love with the people and the landscapes through Che's writing.


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