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Annabel Lee (London, UK)

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Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon
Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon
by Kathy Magliato
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Healing Hearts, 1 Feb 2011
This book is what it says it is- a memoir of a female heart surgeon. It is much better than I thought it would be; at first I was a bit apprehensive as to what a book written by a surgeon would be like! My preconceptions were wrong and the book turned out to be very amazing and inspirational.

I am actually a bit 'biased' you might say as I am a female medical student, interested in surgery, and so Dr Magliato is an enormous role model to me and someone to look up to. There are not enough female role-models in surgery to inspire young women to pursue this branch which is a shame.

Anyway, back to the book: I found it to be well written and easy to follow. There are technical details included to satisfy med students/health professionals etc, but Dr Magliato includes explanations for everything so I have no doubt that no matter what your background is in, there should be no issues in terms of understanding what's going on! Furthermore, I thought the structure of the book was good, it didn't stick to a strictly chronological format; the author takes you to her past as well as to specific medical cases she dealt with. I also liked the way that each chapter is quite unique- one may be an action-packed, adrenaline-inducing account of an emergency heart surgery, whilst another focuses on cardiovascular disease issues that women are faced with.

I was actually unaware that cardiovascular disease affects more women than men; this is definitely something that medical schools are not highlighting enough, especially the fact that women may present with different symptoms of heart disease. I hope this book will be widely read, and I recommend it to everyone- not just people of a medical background and not just women.

[Extra details: I have the hardback copy, it is lovely- good quality. The size is just right, it doesn't take long to read, don't imagine it's a huge book.]

The Years (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Years (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Virginia Woolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.34

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Years by Virginia Woolf, 19 Nov 2010
The novel is about the Pargiter family, and it covers the passage of time from the 1880's until the "present-day" which is in the 1930's. However, it is not a continuous account; so do not expect a long drawn out family story, tracking the characters from start to finish. Instead there are 11 chapters each titled by the year it is set in. Therefore, there are gaps in between the years, as not each year is documented.
Furthermore, each chapter is quite specific, dealing with a day of that particular year, and describing events occuring for a few of the characters. The events tend to be "every-day" occurences.

If you are looking for an easy read, then maybe move on to something else, as you do need to recall the various character names and how they are related.

HOWEVER, in my opinion this is one of the easier Virginia Woolf novels I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it very very highly. I particularly liked the way each chapter started of with a brief description of the weather at that time, so you get a seasonal pattern almost, with variation in weather between chapters.

This book deals with the passage of time, and the way that experiences are unique for the individual; so even if two people are looking at the same thing, they will be seeing it in a different way and if asked to describe it, will give different accounts. To make things more difficult, imagine trying to give a description of someone else, how difficult it is to encompass their whole character, their experiences, what makes them a person; the book gave me a lot to think about and it really was mind-blowing in a subtle way (!)

I hope you decide to go ahead and read it, especially if you are a Woolf fan!

A Fraction Of The Whole
A Fraction Of The Whole
by Steve Toltz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very pleasant surprise!, 12 Aug 2010
I literally just finished reading this book and I am still in shock as to how good it was! I am not afraid to speak out and say that this must be among the BEST books I have EVER read (and believe you me, I have read A LOT). (And I do not say that in a patronising voice or in a lame attempt to "show-off"; I say it so that you, as a reader of this review, know that I thoroughly compared this book to a large number of others).

What's so special about it? Well, the reviews I skimmed over pretty much describe it all, so I won't rehash what has already been said. I will however say that you should not be put off by the size of the book, it is straight forward to read and very enjoyable. Also, the author deals with many serious issues, such as death (and how most of us try and find ways to avoid thinking about it) as well as family and friendship.

For those of you imagining a super serious boring book, you will be pleased to hear that that's not the case. The book is one big adventure from start to finish, with plot twists and humour, as well as emotional moments.

In my opinion it strikes just the right balance between seriousness and readability. I honestly think that this book deserved to win the Man Booker 2008 prize! Read it and you will see exactly what I mean!

by Jeffrey Eugenides
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read, 20 Jun 2010
This review is from: Middlesex (Paperback)
The reason why I have given this book five stars is very simple. It is among the best books I have ever read. What exactly do I mean by this? Firstly, the way/style it is written in; I loved it. It was descriptive but not overly so; it was readable and reminded me of Nabokov in a way. I loved the way it started, introducing the topic and getting you interested and then 'pulling back' and going into the past where the story begins. It is a family saga, an epic journey into the past, as well as about the migration of a family to America, trying to live a new life, given the chance for a fresh start. However, they carry a mutation in their very genes which will have consequences in the life of the narrator. I know that others have described the themes of this book more eloquently, and I will not attempt to copy them. I am just someone who enjoys reading and I want to recommend this book to all of you (ok, maybe not ALL of you. I am sure there will be people who will be 'outraged/disgusted' by the book's topic of hermaphroditism, but, now that I think of it, its actually you who should be reading this book...So basically I'll just say that it would not be suitable for young children, in the same way that Lolita wouldn't be)...! Take a chance on this book, you will be more than pleasantly surprised!

Love Life
Love Life
by Kluun
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.71

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love Life, 7 Jun 2010
This review is from: Love Life (Paperback)
I just finished reading this book last night, and even though it was very straight forward and easy to read, I did not particularly enjoy it. The main reason for this was that I disagree that this is a portrayal of real/true love. I find it hard to believe that true love between two people exists when the man is having one-night stands with random women as well as his ex-girlfriends. This shows a blatant lack of respect and love for his own wife, or was I just too blind to see the love between them? Basically, Dan's wife Carmen is diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer and suffice it to say that he was cheating on her all the way through her illness.

Cancer is a difficult topic to write about, and can be depressing in itself but this book is even more depressing in the way Dan treats his wife. I also did not like the way that everyone accepted his affairs as a perfectly natural thing, it annoyed me to see that this behaviour was condoned.

I gave it 3 stars because it was written well, it was easy to read and the story flowed in a good way. However, I feel it would have been better if we knew more about Carmen and Dan, how they fell in love, and in general to get a bigger sense of the love between them (because I just did not feel it at all). Yes, the ending was quite touching but right at the end this was ruined by Dan wanting to bring a new girlfriend along with him. It made me so angry and again, it just felt very disrespectful.

I am not a person who is easily shocked or can be described as a prude; however I can be quite picky when it comes to love stories which is perhaps why I was so critical of this book. I hope I did not put anyone off this book as I would like to see if there is anyone out there who maybe has the same opinion as I did.

The Brightest Star in the Sky
The Brightest Star in the Sky
by Marian Keyes
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the brightest star after all..., 23 April 2010
Having read through the reviews, I must agree the book is'not-as-good-as-her-previous-novels' as so many of you have said. To be concise, it was not as funny, not as touching and frankly, many of the references and jokes just didn't do it for me. It felt a bit forced; also, the dog that talks/thinks is just weird and really put me off.

I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes and all her books though; I love re-reading them but unfortunately this one will not be at the top of my list.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading this one which is why I gave it three stars- it surpasses most other 'chick lit' books out there. I already can't wait until the next book comes out, whenever that may be!

Crash Love (Deluxe Edition)
Crash Love (Deluxe Edition)
Price: £22.21

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crash Love, 2 Nov 2009
Like many others, I have been an AFI fan for many years; just so you get an idea, my favorite AFI cd to date has been 'The Art of Drowning' and to be perfectly honest I found 'Decemberunderground' to be the worst. HOWEVER, in my opinion this new album is better than than the latter. Despite the album title, which like 'Decemberunderground' makes me cringe slightly, it is a cd well worth buying, especially the deluxe edition.

There are 16 songs in total and most of them are amazing. What I mean by this is the general beat of the cd, with enough fast paced songs and some slower, powerful ones too.
With the first listen, none of the songs made much of an impression but once I heard it again, I started to get to know them and found them to be addictive-they get stuck in your head a lot.

I was disappointed with 2 things which is why I didn't give it 5 stars:
-The album art-work (I prefered the albums with horror-punk undertones and especially the Alan Forbes graphics)
-The lyrics (usually very deep, mysterious and with many possible interpretations)
This cd had mediocre designs, nothing horror/Misfits style at all.
The lyrics are merely ok, some songs slightly better than others. Usually Davey writes such beautiful lyrics; to describe the ones here I would say it is as if he has dampened them down and made them more widely accessible and 'understandable'.
Another change, found in DU too, was the lack of a hidden/secret song, plus lack of those hidden words on the vertical section of the cd. It's small details like this that disappoint me.

I think that "hardcore" AFI fans will like this cd, if they keep an open mind; it is better than DU for sure, less emo, less whiny, if anything it is more like 'Sing the Sorrow'. My favorite song of all is 'Where we used to play' which is actually found on the extra cd. I hope I have helped you to understand what this cd is about, and I hope you enjoy it if you do decide to buy it.

Freestyle MetalX (PS2)
Freestyle MetalX (PS2)

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good!, 11 Sep 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I bought this game for my boyfriend actually, who is a huge MX fan (and rider). I thought it would be a mediocre silly game, but I was surprised by its quality! Each different 'level' or game area has a huge array of detail and a large riding range, with lots of ramps and props. Within each level there are many mini challenges/missions you have to complete, some are quite easy whilst others are quite difficult, so as a result the game doesn't feel childish or easy.
You can play as different characters of course, and as is usual with games as you go along you unlock various prizes such as opening up new levels, making new riders accessible, real MX movie clips become available etc. Now another thing I was quite impressed with was the fact that you can tune up your bike (you can choose which bike you want, however you have to be aware that you need to earn the money)! You can improve the engine, tires, brakes & suspension. You also receive player points so as to improve your rider's balance, style, etc! Overall, I gave this game 5 stars because it is enjoyable, has a range of challenges and goals and furthermore has a really great soundtrack!

Sophie's Choice (Vintage Classics)
Sophie's Choice (Vintage Classics)
by William Styron
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophie's Choice, 25 Feb 2009
This is an amazing book, I don't know why I didn't discover it earlier. Despite its size it makes for an enjoyable read and it doesn't take a very long time to find yourself reaching the end!

It is told through the eyes of a young man nicknamed Stingo, a Southerner, living in 1950's New York; his ambition is to be a writer. He moves into a boarding house (all the rooms are a bright pink colour!) and it is there he meets Sophie and Nathan and gets to observe their destructive relationship firsthand as they become friends. Stingo recounts not only his own life and everyday occurences (I found it quite interesting and surprisingly humorous to read his descriptions of Leslie Lapidus, a girl he meets at Coney Island, and the way he was impressed by the ease with which she uses swear words-he compares her to all the Southern girls he's met who play hard-to-get and have various inhibitions).
Of course I do not want to reveal any major plot points, I'm sure it's pretty obvious just from the title that a choice Sophie had to make in the past is eventually revealed.

Personally I think that the following are the main attributes this novel has and they constitute the main reasons for reading it:
-the story and the way it unfolds is excellent, it never gets boring; it recounts Sophie's past (sometimes she seemingly telling the story), it includes a few short diary entries and some letters from Stingo's father (these are just a tiny proportion of the book, the main style of the book is from Stingo's point of view) which all add to the story's interest and flowing narrative.
-Nathan and Sophie's relationship may not be something all of us can directly relate to but it is an accurate and somewhat scary portrayal of the dynamics in a relationship.
-the way it is written, the fantastic use of words, is rich, luscious,langorous and enthralling, it takes full advantage of the range of words in the English language, it is descriptive yet never tediously so.
-the fact that it is written from the viewpoint of a young man really shows through, it is humorous at points, more serious at others, yet it remains focused in that it realistically deals with the issues people at that age face.
-finally, I really enjoyed the way the novel kept moving forwards story-wise while digging into the past to uncover more details.

I highly recommend this book, it is fresh and managed to stay in my mind for a long time after.

The Cairo Trilogy (Everyman's Library classics)
The Cairo Trilogy (Everyman's Library classics)
by Naguib Mahfouz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.19

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cairo Trilogy- A Masterpiece, 21 Feb 2009
This is one of my favorite books, I highly recommend it! Please do not be put off by its size! It is a trilogy of three novels, each one neatly divided into small, readable chapters. It is written in straight-forward, simple and accessible language while simultaneously managing to describe life in Egypt beautifully and with attention to detail (without losing focus of the story or going off into tedious descriptions). Naguib Mahfouz has won the Nobel Prize for Literature and this book clearly shows why he deserved it!

The three novels in the book are:
Palace Walk
Palace of Desire
Sugar Street

The story is that of three generations of a family living in Egypt;It begins with al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, the household's 'paterfamilias'. He is a controlling and tyrannical man, who keeps his wife (Amina) on a short leash and dictates to his 5 children as to how they should live and comport themselves. However, once he leaves the house and meets his friends he indulges in all kinds of debauchery and breaks many of his own rules! The children, 3 boys and 2 girls have each got distinct characters and are easy to associate with and tell apart. One of the main characters is Kamal (one of the boys) and the three novels can be seen to represent the three phases of his life from childhood to youth to adulthood. I don't want to give away any of the plot, but it remains interesting throughout all three novels; there are periods of sadness and periods of happiness as occurs in families everywhere in the world. You do not have to be from Egypt to enjoy this book, it is a universal piece of work and I believe it should be more widely read. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did...

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