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Tim Riding (uk)

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The Bonapartes: The History of a Dynasty: A History of a Dynasty (Dynasties)
The Bonapartes: The History of a Dynasty: A History of a Dynasty (Dynasties)
by William H. C. Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging and fascinating book, 22 Jan 2008
This book covers an era and a family that have been written of countless times, but unlike many biographies of Napoleon I or III that you may turn to instead, this has a wider focus, encompassing all of the Bonapartes and covering an era from the late 18th to the late 19th century. This is a bonus: by not concentrating on one man I didn't lose interest, as I sometimes do when reading lengthy biographies. I was also new to the subject area, knowing little about the Bonapartes or 19th century France, but the book had enough context in it to allow me to understand perfectly the situations that gave rise to the dynasty.
Smith's style is readable and engaging (quite a few iritating typos, though), and the history of the family is a remarkable story with which everyone should be acquainted. This book never ceased to rouse my interest throughout, and I don't hesitate in recommending it to anyone, familiar to the Bonapartes or not. Most people, if they know anything at all about the Bonapartes, will only know the story of Napoleon I. This book gives the others in his family just as large a platform, and they deserve it.


The God Delusion
The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely interesting argument against God, 9 Jan 2007
This review is from: The God Delusion (Hardcover)
Dawkins comes up with some very good arguments against religion here, quite a few of which hadn't ever occurred to me. Theists may find his 'generalisations' unfair and his 'simplifications' of theist beliefs patronising, but I think that he is very reasonable in his attack on religion. He doesn't set out to offend: he wants to challenge belief in God and reveal the numerous holes that faith has blinded many to. I don't think his arguments can affect the truly faithful, though, as they are so entrenched in their belief system all reasonable arguments just bounce off them. I think that the majority of the book's audience will be atheists or agnostics. The trouble is, theists have answers to every challenge you present to them, and to them their answers and totally rational and believable.

A very good argument against God. I think this should be read by theists more than atheists, not to convert them, but to present them with the other point of view, which many (NOT all) haven't actually examined. Where you stand on religion is very important, and if you're sitting on the fence on this matter, this is the book for you.


Children of Men [DVD] [2007]
Children of Men [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Clive Owen
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.72

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film of 2006, 29 Dec 2006
This review is from: Children of Men [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This is a fantastically made film. The acting is universally excellent, and the gritty realism to the whole thing is astonishing. The world created is so believable you find yourself absorbed from beginning to end. Some of the shots are extraordinarily long: one of them must have lasted several minutes as we followed the characters through a destroyed war-zone. What's so wonderful about it was that it destroyed every cliche I expected it to fall into. The story doesn't follow the obvious path, and I wasn't able to predict what was coming next. It's a dystopia, but all the way through there's a thin strand of hope, and it ends, I think, by showing that there's still hope for their future.

An utterly unique film that didn't recieve the critical aclaim that it deserved.


Pocket Book Light
Pocket Book Light
Offered by zonnixuk
Price: 2.49

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stick to a normal torch, 23 Dec 2006
This review is from: Pocket Book Light (Accessory)
This reading light is very bright and allows easy reading. However, the device to clip it onto the book is poorly designed, and clasps so tightly on the book it can damage it as you take it off. The clip also covers up part of the top of the page, so you have to move it when you want to read that part of the page. It flips open slowly at the press of a button, but after about a month of using it this function had ceased to work as well as it originally did. I gave up on it too soon to see how long the batteries would last, but I doubt that they would have a very long life, considering the brightness of the light.


To Kill A Mockingbird
To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.89

305 of 323 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get another edition, 6 Dec 2006
Before I start this review I want to say that I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a brilliant novel and it easily gets five stars. This review is of this book specifically. I happen to have both this edition and an older version printed in the 70s, and I'm afraid they seem to have strangely edited it. A couple of bits are cut out for no apparant reason - pages 191 and 280 - and I really can't fathom why they did it. The old version is far better. Footlights is changed to floodlights, another really weird and miniscule change which I know doesn't make any difference whatsoever, but why the hell did they change it in the first place? There are loads of misprints also, which don't appear in the older version. I know that normal people (unlike me) won't care, but I'd really advise you to buy a different edition if you can find one, as the changes on 191 and 280 are quite major, and neither of the changes are improvements. I want to repeat that I think the book itself is brilliant and deserves five stars, but get a different edition.
Comment Comments (29) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2014 11:37 PM BST


I, Claudius & Claudius the God
I, Claudius & Claudius the God
by Robert Graves
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best books I have ever read., 1 Oct 2006
This book was more or less the first I read on Roman history, and it has set off a thirst for Ancient Rome that had led to half a dozen more purchases (none of which can compare to Robert Graves' brilliant novels).

I'm not sure what it is that makes these books unputdownable. I read both in a week, and not being a particlarly fast reader that's very quick for me. Robert Graves styles it completely as a history. When you're reading it there is no doubt in your mind that Claudius is talking to you. There is very little dialogue, and there shouldn't be, because as these events occured two thousand years ago all conversations he puts in must be by their nature nebulous. The majority of the thing seems to be factual, and although historians have critisised Robert Graves for painting an incorrect picture of Claudius for the public, everything is firmly rooted in fact.

I can only remember one part in the whole of the split story that got a bit tedious, which was Claudius' Triumph (it went on a bit), but since there are usually a dozen points I yawn at in an ordinary novel, that is exceptional. I have to say that his two books climb up to my favourite five novels ever, and being at the stage in my life when I need to make important decisions about my future career, Graves has steered me irrevocably towards history.


A Short History Of Nearly Everything
A Short History Of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic introduction to. . . everything, 31 Aug 2006
This was my first taste of Bill Bryson, and after reading it I have bought almost all his other novels. It's a wonderful take on science, looked at from the refreshing perspective of a normal person, not a scientist (although he writes with an air of authority; he knows what he's talking about and has thoroughly researched every topic).

Bryson has attempted to summarise everything in this novel, and doesn't fall short. Although nothing is explained in so much detail as to confuse the casual reader, everything has been looked at - well, almost everything. Bryson's wonderful style makes topics that seemed dry and dull during those tedious science classes at school come to life, and I avidly read through this in a couple of days. What's interesting is that there's as much history in this as there is science - in fact, more. The infuriating thing about most other science books is that they don't tell you how the scientists know what they know, but here he explains it all in detail.

I like to think that even a scientist well beyond the knowledge of Bryson (which is, nevertheless, substantial) would enjoy this, and as for most of us, you can think of it as a wonderful introduction to a wide variety of scientific topics or as an enjoyable read. It's both.


Wit'ch Fire: The Banned and the Banished Book One
Wit'ch Fire: The Banned and the Banished Book One
by James Clemens
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.39

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm..., 15 Aug 2006
I'm in two minds about this book. It is quite a gripping story - it keeps you interested throughout - but the amount of clichés in it is terrible. Cringworthy moments jump at you from page to page. The dialogue is wooden. Who talks like that? They're not robots. In real life people clip words from their sentences, and I love reading novels where the writer attempts to replicate this. There isn't any life in the dialogue at all. Often I felt that it was a pathetic attempt at another LOTR world.

So why am I giving it three stars? Like I said, it's gripping. I can't help but read it, no matter how many qualms I have about James Clemmens' style. In fact, I've already bought and read the whole series. If you want something that grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go, buy this. In that sense it's comparable to The Da Vinci Code. If you want a good novel, get something else.


Julius Caesar [DVD]
Julius Caesar [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Sisto
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: 24.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 29 July 2006
This review is from: Julius Caesar [DVD] (DVD)
A stunning account of a great man's life with an excellent climax, Julius Caesar is a brilliant attempt to bring this man's life to film. In fact, there was only one reason why I didn't give it five stars, but that reason is important to me: it wasn't nearly long enough. It tries to do in two hours what couldn't be managed in twenty. I may be expecting the impossible when I get angry when key moments of his life are distorted or completely ignored, but no attempt of an account of his life should be made if it is only to be two hours long. I don't know a huge amount about Julius Caesar, but it was painful to see years skipped without a mention of his many achievements. I still give it four stars because I love everything else about this film. It's immensely enjoyable from start to finish, and Jeremy Sisto makes a wonderful caesar.


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2005]
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Georgie Henley
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: 14.99

3 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christian meaning spoiled it for me, 29 July 2006
I was looking forward to this film... until I read a few articles condemming it as an allegoric attempt to portray christian beliefs. I read the books as a child, and found no hidden meanings there at all. Never being even slightly religious, I simply couldn't detect C.S.Lewis's intentions. However, having being told that the producers decided to use the book's reputation of being peppered with christian propaganda to advertise it to the world, I couldn't get it out of my head while I was watching it. When Aslan died, instead of crying for him I thought "well that's not only a reconstruction of Jesus' death but also an insulting depiction of pagans as being base and evil". It was running around my mind the whole time, and the story passed me by while I was feuding about the immoral christians in America who are supporting the film and using it to entice new followers. To most people this will not matter, but I must warn people who are sensitive about these issues that it does spoil the film. I've given it three stars because I was at least able to relax through some of it and enjoy the look of the film, which was in some cases visually stunning.


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