Profile for M. D. Holley > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by M. D. Holley
Top Reviewer Ranking: 779
Helpful Votes: 876

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
M. D. Holley (Kent, UK)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11
pixel
Look Who's Back
Look Who's Back
by Timur Vermes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and subversive, 20 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Look Who's Back (Hardcover)
A very powerful novel this. Extremely clever. Subtle and subversive. Hilariously funny too.

Making Hitler himself the narrator is a good idea, because you as the reader get drawn in and feel some sympathy with him. How weird and distressing is that? It feels like the author has crawled inside your head and is messing about in there.

The book is not afraid to confront really difficult issues head on. In particular there is the scene where one of Hitler's closest friends, his secretary, brings out a photo of her dead Jewish family. I was wondering where the author would take this scene. Suffice to say the path the scene takes is pretty disturbing.

Comedy can sometimes uncover the truth in ways that 'serious' historians cannot. There are many books about Hitler, but these are gradually creating a caricature of the man. I am afraid they may even be obscuring the truth and increasing the liklihood that a modern day Hitler would gain popular support. In contrast, anyone who has read and understood 'Look Who's Back' is unlikely to vote for those contemporary policical parties whose affable leaders promote racist ideas.

The book feels quite light hearted initially, but as it went along I experienced it as being darker and darker.

I imagined the ending of the novel might bring some resolution, some return to sanity. It doesn't, and the book is all the more provocative for that.

Highly recommended. It should be required reading for every school child.


The Master and Margarita (Alma Classics)
The Master and Margarita (Alma Classics)
by Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Boundless imagination, 20 July 2014
What an incredible imagination! This book has a breathtaking originality. It is like nothing I ever read before. It is utterly unpredictable. The humour is pretty dark. And it has a strongly, and highly attractive, Russian flavour.

It is easy to read and difficult to put down. The settings, in Moscow and Jerusalem are beautifully captured. It leaves you deep in thought for a long time afterwards. I understand this is a cult novel in Russia. Some become obsessed with it. I can see why.

Highly recommended!


Badgerlands: The Twilight World of Britain's Most Enigmatic Animal
Badgerlands: The Twilight World of Britain's Most Enigmatic Animal
by Patrick Barkham
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully balanced, 28 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A beautifully written book, carefully paced and superbly structured. I was certainly drawn into 'Badgerlands'. The book is well balanced and non hysterical throughout, even when dealing with very emotive subjects. I especially liked the way the author is positive about the improvements in the welfare and diversity of wildlife in his native Norfolk at the end of the book (a refreshing change from the 'things aren't what they used to be' cliche).

For my own taste, I would have liked to learn a little bit more about badgers' life cycle, their social interactions, their intelligence and sensory capabilities. I would have been willing to sacrifice some if the TB story for this.

However, this is a very small criticism, and does not detract from an excellent book, which I can thoroughly recommend.


Dear Leader: North Korea's senior propagandist exposes shocking truths behind the regime
Dear Leader: North Korea's senior propagandist exposes shocking truths behind the regime
by Jang Jin-Sung
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, 19 Jun 2014
This is a rare find - one of those books you just can't bear to put down, and which is over all too soon. An excellent adventure story, describing the author's perilous escape from North Korea, which keeps you on the edge of your seat right to the very end of the book. If you like films such as 'the Great Escape', you'll love this. And how astonishing to imagine these events happening in 2004!

But this is so much more. The author is a gifted artist, something of a child prodigy as a musician and as a poet, and it shows. This book is extremely well crafted though out and is beautifully written. No doubt there is some slight embellishment in the name of poetic licence, but this is fully justified in the name of getting the deeper truths out to the widest possible audience. In the meantime I shall seek out his poetry, if I can find it in English.

The message buried within the story is of profound significance. It reveals crucial details about the working of the regime and should be read by all politicians and diplomats involved in any way. And for those of us living in privileged circumstances, it reminds us to cherish and work to preserve our freedoms.

Finally, the story is deeply moving - I was close to tears by the end.

I give it the highest possible recommendation.


The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal about Being Human
The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal about Being Human
by Noah Strycker
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Anodyne, 15 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is moderately interesting, but the material has been covered elsewhere in a more inspiring manner. Perhaps I am unfair on the author - had I not read these points before I may have been more impressed. I found the 'lessons' from each chapter a bit patronising too.

As it is, I rapidly managed to forget that I read the book at all, and was only reminded by Amazon! It is unusual for any book to make such a small impression on me.


The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes
The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes
by Nicholas P. Money
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking message - pity it's not in English, 15 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book has opened my mind and changed my view of the world and of life. I now realise that to focus on the part of life we can see is to lose all sense of perspective.

I was amazed to learn of the large number of different types of microbe. The chemistry of many of these is completely alien to us - if life was found on another planet, we might expect it to be like this. And yet such alien life forms are right here, sometimes living inside us.

The only problem is that the author does not write in English (or at least any form that I recognise) - here is a typical example from page 117:

"These are conidia, clonal spores whose nuclei are mitotic replicates of the nuclei in the parent colony."

I am not normally afraid of scientific language - I have a chemistry degree and read 'New Scientist' every week. But this is ridiculous!

He intersperses this with passages of pseudo Bill Bryson slap stick (the author's favourite word seems to be 'fart'), which is disconcerting to say the least.

This is a pity, for there is obviously a very important message to get across here, and one that needs wider dissemination. I await with eager anticipation a well written book on this subject. In the meantime I recommend reading this book, as the wonderful message just about shines through despite the opaque language.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2014 7:32 PM BST


Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone (16GB 3G/4G UK SIM-Free Unlocked) - Black
Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone (16GB 3G/4G UK SIM-Free Unlocked) - Black
Offered by ENGLISH TRADING
Price: 330.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Battery and reception problems, 14 Jun 2014
I have long been a fan of Samsung phones, but was disappointed with my S4. The battery life is simply not good enough for normal use. I bought a spare battery, but still found the phone impractical. When you are regularly out of contact due to battery failure, and spend your whole life looking for charging points, then in all honesty you have to count the phone a failure, despite its attractive features. I took mine to an O2 shop to get advice on extending battery life. Things were a little better if various features were switched off, but battery life remained inadequate.

The other problem I had was reception. Where I live in Kent it would often fail to pick up a signal, and I missed many calls and texts because of this. I had to go upstairs to make a call.

I was unable to get it to accept my company e mails, (despite being able to receive them on my tablet and other handsets), and I had problems with reception occasionally dying and needing a reboot to unlock things.

Two weeks ago, while I was in Paris, the phone was stolen from my pocket, and I was secretly relieved.

I have replaced my S4 with a Sony Experia. I am very impressed with the Sony, which is a much better phone in every way.

You have been warned!


Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story
Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story
by Rob Dinnis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A model of clear presentation, 14 Jun 2014
I bought this after visiting the exhibition at the British Museum. The book is very easy to read and is set out in an exceptionally clear way, together with wonderful illustrations.

The book includes the story of the various discoveries, how they were made, and how the evidence was interpreted. I often get bored with explanations of how science has been done (wanting to skip to the conclusions). But not here - the book is so well written that the 'how it was done' explanations are part of the attraction. A lot of the evidence is quite recent, and it is fascinating to see the pieces of the jigsaw gradually falling into place.

One thing I will take away is graph of temperature change over time, which has a rather regular pattern. Are we then on the edge of another ice age?

There were one or two slightly irritating sentences which show the authors falling into the human supremacy (as the pre determined end point of all evolution) trap, but otherwise this is superb.

Recommended.


Between the Woods and the Water: on Foot to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland - The Middle Danube to the Iron Gates
Between the Woods and the Water: on Foot to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland - The Middle Danube to the Iron Gates
by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writer, could have been even better, 14 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I read this during a recent holiday in the Transylvania and Maramures regions of Romania. The book is wonderfully written and certainly has a beautiful atmosphere. And yet it misses out on some of the magic that we experienced during our own visit, and so perhaps understates the wonder of this amazing region.

Leigh Fermor allowed himself to be captured by the Hungarian aristocracy, and lost the opportunity to interact fully with the rest of the population. I have no political point to make here - indeed I feel that Romania has lost something precious by the loss of its Hungarian and German speaking minorities, and I empathise with Fermor's hosts.

Nonetheless, the culture of the Romanians themselves is not to be missed, and Fermor's book is the poorer for overlooking this aspect.

For an idea of what you can still experience in this region, I recommend William Blacker's wonderful book 'Along the Enchanted Way', or check out Bartok's Romanian inspired music.


Dracula (Penguin Classics)
Dracula (Penguin Classics)
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful - fully deserving it's classic status, 4 May 2014
I had to read this, prior to an upcoming trip to Transylvania. And what a masterpiece it is! Beautifully constructed, with a superbly timed building of suspense.

It has everything: spectacular landscapes; a love story; primordial memories fearfully realised; sensuous betrayal; sexual tension. It enters your dreams, perhaps because it unlocks the images which were residing in all of us all along.

Thoroughly recommended!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11