Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop Black Friday Deals Week in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Paperwhite Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now
Profile for M. D. Holley > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by M. D. Holley
Top Reviewer Ranking: 860
Helpful Votes: 1319

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
M. D. Holley (Kent, UK)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-17
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
by Carlo Rovelli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A sense of perspective, 8 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This little book is enough to remind you of the advantages of a physical book over an ebook. It is an object of beauty to hold in the hand.

Refreshingly for a science book, it is very brief indeed and sticks with the bigger picture rather than the detail. The prose is wonderful, with a real appreciation for the visionary aspects of physics. The explanations are very clear. The last lesson, about humans' place as part of the nature we observe, is quite thought provoking.

You will find every topic more thoroughly covered elsewhere, but even if you know a lot about relativity and quantum mechanics already, you may find this valuable for its sense of perspective, which only a high level overview can provide.

I worry about the direction theoretical physics has taken where the universe and its history are concerned. These are surely the most speculative areas in all science, and are perhaps impossible for our ape brains to understand fully. Physicists often seem to confuse their models with reality, and tend to elevate mathematics (which is merely an ape's tool, adapted specially for a feeble brain) into a kind of god. Rovelli briefly touches on this in his last lesson, about humankind's place in the cosmos, but he too seems to be caught up in pursuit of elegant mathematics as an end in itself, thinking this will somehow reveal reality.

Rovelli is not an original and critical thinker, but he does describe the current orthodoxies as well as anyone could.


The Guest Cat
The Guest Cat
by Takashi Hiraide
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and understated, 7 Nov. 2015
This review is from: The Guest Cat (Paperback)
Beautiful, understated little book which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story is very simple and poignant, the language is always wonderful.


The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat
The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat
by Professor Tim Spector
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Very assured, 7 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Tim Spector is very assured in this, his latest book. I very much preferred it to his previous effort (Identically Different).

My main interest in buying the book was in the microbiome rather than diet, but I was quickly won over and became fascinated by diet too. Spector goes methodically through every type of food, yet I found it continually fascinating and very easy to read.

The book provides a whole new way of thinking about your body, and about what you eat. This is one of those books that will change my outlook for ever, and I am very grateful to have read it. Of course, it has also changed what I am eating!

Thoroughly recommended!

The Celts
The Celts
by Alice Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The crumblig edge of quality, 7 Nov. 2015
This review is from: The Celts (Hardcover)
I am a huge fan of Alice Roberts. Her last book (the Incredible Unlikeliness of Being) was superb. I have also seen her speak for an hour without notes and she is astonishingly assured and impressive.

Sad to say, this book is not up to her normal standards. One even has to wonder how much of it is her own work. She does admit in the introduction that the team was working to a very tight deadline – and it shows. The book is endlessly repetitive, especially towards the end. The key points are repeated over and over (and over) again, as if the book has been thown together from different notes and nobody has bothered to read it through as a whole before sending it off to print. Was there no time for an editor?

While there is some interesting information here, and some isolated passages are beautifully written, overall this is not nearly good enough. It wouldn’t be good enough for a humdrum internal business memo, let alone a BBC book! The BBC might want to reflect on the importance of maintaining standards to preserve its brand. And perhaps Alice Roberts should take care how she allows her name to be used.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2015 9:29 AM GMT

A Dog's Heart: An Appalling Story (Penguin Classics)
A Dog's Heart: An Appalling Story (Penguin Classics)
by Mikhail Bulgakov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, 7 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I cannot recommend this little novel enough. From the very first page it grips the attention, with a wonderful depiction of what it might be like to be a dog. It is very funny. It has a distinctive flavour of its own. It is highly original - quite like anything else I have read. At the same time it is thought provoking on many levels.

I thoroughly enjoyed Master and Margarita, and this is fully worthy as its little brother.

The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island
The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The delusional genius, 19 Oct. 2015
Bill Bryson has a genius for words. With minimal resource (two well chosen words is enough) he paints such a picture that you find yourself giggling and pondering for weeks. This book is pure joy to read. I admit to putting aside another book because this one just read itself.

His new portrait of Britain has much to recommend it, and I am especially grateful for a long list of (mainly northern) places which I now want to go and explore for myself. He describes the bad as well as the good, which provides contrast and makes his occasional hymns of praise to a particular spot even more refreshing.

On the other hand, after an initial love affair with the book, I gradually tired of it and started to find Mr Bryson irritating. The cause? He has developed the same mental disease that has clouded the minds of many older people throughout history - a delusional tendency to see the past through rose coloured spectacles and to raise the past up as preferable to contemporary society and people. Bill Bryson is a highly intelligent individual, as his other books make clear, and it is rather depressing to see him start to lose his mental faculties at such a young age.

For those who were not around in 1970s Britain, and who may be led astray by the author's false memories, I'd like to give a say the following. Britain in the 1970's was a racist, sexist, violent,intolerant place with crime rates much higher than today. Cigarette smoke and polluting chimneys were belching foully everywhere. The rivers were dead. The countryside was being ripped apart by thousands of miles of motorway (each about 100 times as damaging as HS2). Towns were dirty and grey and choked with traffic (often driven by drunk drivers). Historic buildings were being torn down at an alarming rate and replaced by brutalist concrete blocks. The average person was much less well educated - many of them had left school at 14 - and they watched more hours of brainless TV per day. Oh, and the typical person's work ethic was abysmal too.

So, dear Bill, I am afraid it is not true that everyone else is turning into an imbecile. You will need to look closer to home to understand why your perception of the world is changing.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2015 9:16 PM BST

The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria
The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria
by Max Adams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good surface detail but misses the bigger picture, 3 Oct. 2015
A vivid and enjoyable read, which really brings seventh century Britain to life. I was amazed how much is known about this period, both from the written record and from archaeology!

And what a dramatic and atmospheric period it is too, enhanced by the evocative and wonderful names of people, places and kingdoms. Then there is the fascination of the pagan religions and their mixing with early forms of christianity. There is also a wider story going on, as Rome tries to pull its old empire back together using christianity. One can see an early form of the tension between Britian as an island going its own way and the attractions of linking up once again to the continent of Europe.

The author has an excellent writing style and clearly has done a huge amount of research.

However, despite all the brilliant surface detail and excellent sense of atmosphere, the book has a major flaw, and that is in its treatment of religion. Religion is the big story of this era (which started with much of Britain following various older religions, and ended with it being a largely Catholic country subject to the Roman church). Indeed the majority of the pages within the book are occupied with religion. It is a huge disappointment for a book about the period to mishandle this topic, given its significance. The author rightly points out that Bede's history is distorted because his agenda was to show the inevitability and correctness of the triumph of Roman orthodox christianity. But then the author makes exactly the same error himself! He writes as if he believes that the conversion to christianity was an inevitable progression; he imples that christianity was superior to the old religions, that only christians were literate, that only christians could show compassion, display morality and so on (has he ever considered the Greeks, Romans, Chinese or Persians?). Those who returned or stayed loyal to older religions are described as having 'apostasised' as if this was morally delinquent. Nowhere do we have any discussion as to why Rome wanted Britain to become christian, and what the larger geopolitical issues and context were.

So while this is a useful account of a little known era, we really need a book written from a more detached viewpoint to do the story justice.

Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and original, 27 Sept. 2015
Many insights and original thoughts on how best to treat elderly people. The book is very well written and is hard to put down.

I found it completely sure footed until the very end, where the author comes out strongly against any form of euthenasia. I found this a bit odd, as he is very keen on freedom of choice, dignity and respect elsewhere.

Overall though this is a very thought provoking and satisfying read.


The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness
by Sy Montgomery
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cloying sentimentality mars an interesting subject, 27 Sept. 2015
A deeply frustrating book this!

The passages where the author writes about and interacts with octopuses are really inspiring. But most of the book is not about octopuses. I found it a struggle to get through to the end. It felt more like 2,400 pages rather than 240!

An octopus is an especially fascinating creature because its last common ancestor with humans was so very long ago, and it has therefore developed along a completely different path. The nature of its intelligence, brain structure and emotional life is extremely rewarding to investigate. These aspects are well covered here, albeit briefly.

Alongside the octopuses the author introduces a bewilderingly huge cast of human characters - so many of them that I couldn't keep track. Much of the book is 'Jack said so and so and Anna went there and Bill's wife is not well' and on and on endlessly. It felt like watching someone's badly edited holiday videos. We are burdened with masses of material about the author learning to scuba dive and about the refurbishment of an aquarium. And everywhere the writing is plastered with huge dollops of cloying sentimentality.

My interest in octopuses is well and truly aroused. But I shan't be buying books by this author again.

Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day
Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day
by Michael Axworthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind opening, 23 Aug. 2015
I found this book completely fascinating, with a lot of new information which was completely new to me. It opens the mind to an alternate view of the world.

I especially enjoyed the sections on poetry in the middle ages, where one gets the impression that Iran was way ahead of western countries at that time. This period also refutes the ideas of people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who think that Islam is and always was especially flawed.

I was rather shocked to learn of Britain's military activity against Iran in 1919 and again in 1941. They don't teach you that in school or on the history channel. Britain has a considerable guilt in creating Iran's contemporary problems.

On the down side, I got a bit stuck towards the middle of the book, where all the rulers and dynasties became quite confusing to follow. I gave it up for another (much better written) book for a while.

But overall very worthwhile and recommendable, at least until someone else comes along to write an alternative.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-17