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Bad Bear "Phil" (England)

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Holiday SOS
Holiday SOS
by Ben Macfarlane
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 16 April 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Holiday SOS (Hardcover)
On the face of it, Dr Ben Macfarlane has a glamorous job. He is employed by insurance companies to fly abroad to meet British citizens who've fallen ill or had accidents whilst on holiday or on business overseas, and accompany them home. At first we envy Ben, flying off to exotic locations on an almost daily basis and getting paid for it. A few pages later, when we read how he had to perform an emergency in-flight operation on his patient in a cramped economy cabin, or deal with a drug-addled teenager, we realise that perhaps the job we've got isn't so bad after all. Ben has some great stories to tell and the book is an enjoyable read. The only downside is that Ben never hears what happens after his patients leave his care - and consequently neither do we.


High Heels and a Head Torch: The Essential Guide For Girls Who Backpack
High Heels and a Head Torch: The Essential Guide For Girls Who Backpack
by Chelsea Duke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars A backpacker must-read, 25 Mar. 2010
If you, or your teenage son or daughter, are planning to travel around the world or any part of it, then buy this book. I wish this book had been available when I started backpacking, as I could have avoided mistakes and learning lessons the hard way. Although there's plenty of budget travel literature available, there is lots of information in this book that's not available elsewhere. Highly recommended.


Tickling the English
Tickling the English
by Dara O Briain
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stand-up comic's view from the stage, 19 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Tickling the English (Hardcover)
At first I thought this was a going to be another travelogue in which the author wanders from place to place watching those eccentric English at play - perhaps a bit of morris dancing here, rolling a giant cheese down a hillside there. The only reason I picked the book up at all is because it's written by Dara O'Briain, a well respected (and very funny) Irish stand-up comedian.

Actually, what we do is follow Dara from theatre to theatre on his recent tour. His act involves considerable interaction with the audience, and we hear, through him, what makes them tick. It's a great behind-the-scenes look at the life of a stand up comic, and I highly recommend it.


Free: Adventures on the margins of a wasteful society
Free: Adventures on the margins of a wasteful society
by Katharine Hibbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 19 Feb. 2010
There have been quite a few books recently about how to live for almost nothing. Usually the message is: shop carefully, take advantage of free offers and promotions and go to places where culture and entertainment are free. All sound advice. Katherine Hibbert, however, goes a very big step further. She quits her job, leaves her home, and goes out onto the streets of London with nothing. As one whose only contact with homeless people is saying hello to the genial tramp who tries to sell me the Big Issue on the way to work every day, I was curious to know what would happen next.

This is essentially a book about squatting. I assumed we'd be following the author on a steep downward depressing spiral into filth, squalor and crack dens, but I was amazed to find her life did not go that way at all and the book is surprisingly uplifting. Katharine lives in a succession of squats, lives by "skipping" discarded food from bins behind supermarkets and sandwich shops, and gets around on a bike she finds abandoned and fixes it herself using tools borrowed from a squatter-friendly bike repair enterprise.

Amonng the lessons we learn are: 1. some squatters are nice people; 2. your home is unlikely to be taken over by squatters if you just nip out to buy a newspaper; 3. squatters often make their homes quite comfortable; 4. shops and supermarkets throw out vast amounts of perfectly edible food every day; 5. hitch-hiking is still possible in the UK.

So was Katherine's new money-free lifestyle a success? You'll have to read the book to find out. I can tell you it's made me now begrudge every penny I spend on anything!


The Good Bride Guide
The Good Bride Guide
by Matt Dunn
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, 5 Feb. 2010
This review is from: The Good Bride Guide (Paperback)
Ben is a single man turning thirty whose best friend is about to enter into an arranged marriage. Ben feels an arranged marriage might work for him too and, perhaps surprisingly, his parents are up for the challenge of doing the arranging. It's a new twist on the age-old boy-meets-girl theme and generally it works well as a novel, though the dialogue feels a bit unnatural in places. I wouldn't describe it as laugh-out-loud funny (because it isn't) but there are some good one-liners there, along with some very corny jokes. Overall, though, a very entertaining read which will have you turning the pages very quickly.


The Checkout Girl
The Checkout Girl
by Tazeen Ahmad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but dull, 30 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Checkout Girl (Paperback)
Has a supermarket checkout operator ever initiated a meaningful conversation with you? Me neither, but in the branch of Sainsbury's where Tazeen Ahmad worked for six months the checkout girls had to chat to the customers whether they (or the customers) liked it or not. Apparently most of the conversations were about the effects of the recession: the main lessons learned are that (a) people spend more in supermarkets than they want or need to, and (b) they hate themselves for it, but will come back the next day (or next week) and do the same again. The book is well written, and had it been about something a little more exciting (eg motorcycling through the Andes) it would have been a good read. Unfortunately, because of its mundane subject matter, it's rather monotonous. Sorry, Tazeen!


Tout Sweet: Hanging Up my High Heels for a New Life in France
Tout Sweet: Hanging Up my High Heels for a New Life in France
by Karen Wheeler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.34

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A soap opera in France, 9 Dec. 2009
Following a relationship break-up, London-based fashion journalist Karen Wheeler turns her back on her glamorous big-city lifesyle and moves to a run-down property in rural north-west France. Hardly original, you might think, but this is not yet another "Mayle tale": the renovation of the French house is very much a secondary storyline, and even the obligatory charming but unreliable local plumbers and builders get only walk-on parts. This book is primarily about people: the friends and acquaintances, both local and ex-pat, that the author gets to know in her small French village, and their lives and loves. And we are constantly reminded that Ms Wheeler herself is on the lookout for a new partner...


Ford County
Ford County
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping southern tales, 13 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Ford County (Hardcover)
Not a novel, but a series of short stories set in and around Mississippi's fictional Ford County. A few of them concern the misadventures of small-town lawyers, but overall John Grisham presents a greater diversity of characters and situations than in any of his previous works. His writing style is as compelling as ever, and the pages turn quickly, though not all the stories have a twist in the tail. A good read.


Here's One I Wrote Earlier: Peter Purves My Autobiography
Here's One I Wrote Earlier: Peter Purves My Autobiography
by Peter Purves
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in parts, 12 Oct. 2009
As an avid viewer of children's television programme Blue Peter in the late sixties and early seventies my impression of Peter Purves was that he was a decent chap somewhat overshadowed by his fellow presenter John Noakes, who was a daredevil, try-anything-once, larger-than-life sort of character. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that doesn't seem to be Purves's own perception of himself.

As other reviewers have commented, parts of the book are quite mundane and would be of more interest to Peter's friends and family than a wider audience. For me, the most interesting part of the book, apart from his account of his time with Blue Peter, is the story of his early acting days in provincial repertory theatre: he paints a convincing picture of the relentless pressure of rehearsals and performances, balanced by some off-duty fun.

He has had a varied career (unlike some other celebrities he admits that he's been lucky) and an active social and personal life. He admits to several affairs (presumably whilst married) including a brief fling with Valerie Singleton. Mr Purves seems to be a more colourful character than I'd previously thought!


East of Nowhere
East of Nowhere
by Robert Chalmers
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad things happen to bad people, 15 Sept. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: East of Nowhere (Paperback)
There is not a single likeable character in this book, and the main character is particularly odious, and seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction. He reacts to what could euphemistically be called "problems at home" by fleeing first to Barcelona then to Florida, encountering a succession of increasingly unpleasant characters. It's difficult to feel any sympathy for him, and if there was a love story in there somewhere (as suggested on the book's back cover) then it was so subtle that I think I missed it. It's a riveting ride, but the ending was somewhat weak and predictable. Not the best book I've read this year.


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