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Nick The Brief (Dublin, Ireland)

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Full On
Full On
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ivan’s Celtic Crash, 9 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Full On (Kindle Edition)
There’s something for everybody in the Ivan Yates autobiography, written with Terry Prone. The 55-year-old has been through the sharp end of politics and business and he tells the story very candidly. Most recently, Yates has been a totem for the Celtic Tiger crash, with the collapse of his Celtic Bookmakers business leading to the trauma of a UK bankruptcy.

From the start the tale is engrossing, with a walk around his father John, a thrifty Protestant farmer, wool dealer and shop-keeper from Enniscorthy. There’s nostalgic detail about childhood farm life, grim experiences in boarding school and courting his wife-to-be Deirdre. Yates was elected a TD at the tender age of 21. He had an insider’s view of the leadership battles in Fine Gael through the 1980s and 1990s, and every politico in the country will relish Yates’s frank account.

Then he quit politics in 2002 to concentrate on building up his bookies business, which at its peak had turnover around €200m. When the crash came, Yates attempted to right-size his business. The ‘Celtic Crash’ chapter will resonate with other entrepreneurs who went through the wringer trying to talk turkey with landlords. When the game was up and Celtic Bookmakers went into receivership, his lender played hardball, and on this issue Yates doesn’t mince his words.

The end result was Yates heading to Swansea and bankruptcy to get the €3.7m debt monkey off his back. For individuals contemplating bankruptcy tourism, Yates’s account is a reality check. After the bust, he has reinvented himself as an opinionated media player. He should do well too on the after-dinner speech circuit because he’s a great raconteur with an amazing memory for detail.


An Officer and a Spy
An Officer and a Spy
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

16 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Writing by numbers, 3 Oct. 2013
This review is from: An Officer and a Spy (Hardcover)
Harris is in cruise mode with this one. He's taken well-known historical facts and basically lumbered his story through them. But there is none of the invention or surprise of Enigma, or the intrigue and pathos of the Roman series. I kind of ruined it for myself by looking up Dreyfus on Wikipedia after a few chapters. But even without that knowledge I wonder would the novel have worked? Central charcter Picquart is poor: pars about him and his dying mum are particulary maudlin. Harris should be the next Le Carre. He hasn' t pushed on and that's a pity. He was a great current affairs journalist and commentator and maybe he needs to get out of the historical comfort zone.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Gary Oldman
Price: £3.00

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, dodgy DVD, 10 Feb. 2012
Tinker Tailor is a superb film. But the DVD has a really annoying glitch. When tou turn on the director/Oldman commentary you cannot turn it off. Or at least I could not work it out. This effectively renders the DVD useless for repeat viewing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2012 11:04 AM GMT


Stone's Fall
Stone's Fall
by Iain Pears
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written But Long Winded, 13 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Stone's Fall (Hardcover)
Stone's Fall was my first encounter with Pears and I'll certainly be going back for more. The structure is unusual: bits of the story are told sequentially by three different characters. Part One, about 240 pages, zoomed along. Part Two, 180 pages, was also interesting. However Part Three, when the plot is resolved, was a challenge, as it introduces a host of new characters. At this stage I was flicking through the pages to find out whodunnit and why. I think if Pears had found a way simply to wrap up the story in Part One, Stone's Fall would have been a more satisfying read.


The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook
The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook
by Ben Mezrich
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mezrich Nails It, 15 Aug. 2009
History, they say, is written by the winners and this account of the genesis of Facebook on the Harvard campus is largely seen through the eyes of computer geek Mark Zuckerberg and his pal Eduardo Saverin, who had access to angel cash necessary to get the project off the ground. The Winklevoss twins Cameron and Tyler, both Olympic oarsmen, also loom large in the early chapters. They subsequently sued Zuckerberg, alleging that he had ripped off their code, and they have been paid substantial sums to go away. Once Facebook took off, there were other litigants too, but in the author's version Zuckerberg has the bright idea himself. Mezrich is especially good on describing the Harvard milieu and its elite clubs, which formed a backdrop for the Facebook nerds trying to make an impression. Mezrich holds the book together by focusing on the friendship between Zuckerberg and Saverin, which also sundered as the company accelerated into its growth phase and the VCs came on board.


Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals Expansion Pack (PC)
Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals Expansion Pack (PC)
Price: £5.95

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best expansion pack yet, 26 Oct. 2007
This is better than all the other Zoo Tycoon 2's so far. It has fun minigames and if you like dinosaurs this is the perfect game. Firstly, it's easy! You don't have to unlock animals like in the other expansion packs and you can get up close with the animals in first person mode. Plus the water, food, trees and other environmental surroundings have excellent graphics. This game has fantastic dinosaurs and extinct animals too such as the velociraptor, the tyrannosaurus rex, woolly rhinoceros and a dodo. The other great thing is that you can learn more about dinosaurs and what they like in Zoopedia. This learning then helps you to succeed in the game.


Restless
Restless
by William Boyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Spy Story, 12 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Restless (Paperback)
Boyd's second world war spy yarn is excellently crafted, up there with Le Carre. The story alternates between the heroine's reminiscences and her daughter's everyday life in 1970s Oxford. This scheme doesn't add much to the plot, and is more a mechanism to pad out the book. But the detail on heroine Eva's adventures in France, England, America and Canada kept me enthralled and wanting more.


Vulcan 607
Vulcan 607
by Rowland White
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Every Character Is Straight Out Of The Hotspur, 11 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Vulcan 607 (Hardcover)
Here's an example of the author's gushing prose: "Bearded and charismatic, Ward was a self-styled maverick, the epitome of the swashbuckling naval fighter pilot." And that's just a guy with a brief walk-on part. But it's the same sentiment for all the RAF fly-boys: they're all incredibly resourceful and brave heroes. Rowland tells a good yarn but Vulcan 607 would have been a better read at half the length. The key incident in the book is the bomber's long flight from Ascension to the Falklands, when the only complicating factor was four inflight refuellings. The planners nearly got their logistics wrong, which is hardly surprising given that 11 tankers were involved. Rowland has a hard job keeping track for the reader how flight XL this and XM that interacted with each other and the bomber, though he does build the tension nicely for some of the refuelling episodes. A slightly more sceptical tone would have made for a more satisfying read.


Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War
Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War
by Anthony Swofford
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 14 April 2003
Swofford's memoir of Gulf War 1 is very disappointing. This is because like the vast majority of US troops he saw very little action. Swofford was a sniper but when the fighting started, he didn't even get to take a pot shot. So how does he fill the 200 pages? With lots of incidental detail about the staging camp, why he joined up, his family etc. When we've all seen so much brutal action live on TV during the recent Gulf War II, this book seems especially redundant.


The Blind Man of Seville
The Blind Man of Seville
by Robert Wilson
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant, 13 April 2003
I have read many Robert Wilson books and this is the most ambitious and the best. I started with A Small Death in Lisbon which was really enjoyable. Then I moved on to a couple of his earlier books set in west Africa like Instruments of Darkness, which were good. Last year I tried to read The Company of Strangers, and it was so poor that I couldn't finish it. So I'm thrilled with this superb return to form.
Like A Small Death In Lisbon, The Blind Man of Seville cuts between the present and the Second World War era. Only this time Wilson moves his history forward a bit through the 1950s and early 1960s in Tangiers. The hero, police detective Javier Falcon, is investigating a trio of gruesome murders in modern day Seville and the trail leads through his dead father, a celebrated painter. The meat of the novel is his father's diary from the war and thereafter and this conveys a great sense of the Moroccan hedonism that briefly made Tangiers such an alluring draw for hippies, artists and smugglers. The present day setting is Holy Week, which dovetails nicely with the detective's personal demons regarding the untimely death of his mother and discovering the real truth about his dad. The novel is as much about the father as the son and the exploration of the painter's struggle with art and truth and passion and jealousy makes this gripping story a literary tour de force. The plot is so clever that when I raced through the final 100 pages to get to the solution, I immediately felt the need to re-read the book to fully appreciate the plotting sign-posts. I will be surprised if Wilson ever writes a better book than this.


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