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Reviews Written by
J. C. Chamberlain (Manchester, Cheshire, UK)

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The Realist Novel (Approaching Literature)
The Realist Novel (Approaching Literature)
by Dennis Walder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complicated and disorganised, 6 Feb. 2011
I have been studying this book as part of the Open University course A210, Approaching Literature.

The book is in two parts.

Part one is seven chapters of analysis of Pride & Prejudice, Frankenstein, Great Expectations and Fathers & Sons. It's also an analysis of the period in which they were written, and the genre of realist novels.

Part two is nine extracts from books or essays of analysis from nine different people, including Arnold Kettle, Ian Watt, George Levine and Roland Barthes. Their subjects are closer inspection of reality or realism in novels, romance, imperialism and Jane Austen.

It's a complicated book that's difficult to study, because it's simply not clear what it's arguing. Although it is normal for OU books to be written by several different writers with different opinions, the analysis of the writers of part one is overlapping, contradictory and unfocussed. There are so many different references to Jane Austen within the analysis, of all chapters, that to find the significant quote you are looking for, you need to reread an unwieldy amount of text of either your notes or the course book. The second part of the book is better written as it's sourced from specific texts with specific meanings, and though these are still complicated, they have the benefit of being focussed.

I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone not studying Approaching Literature with the OU. Try Rhetoric of Fiction or for feminist lit crit, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination (Yale Nota Bene).

The course this book is written for is being discontinued, and so I hope they have something better for the replacement course, as this book is very poor for the Open University.

Supertooth Disco Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with UK Mains Adapter Plug - Black
Supertooth Disco Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with UK Mains Adapter Plug - Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I just don't have anything bad to say, except..., 31 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
... it's taken me ages to get the supporting hardware and software drivers for my laptop to connect to the stereo. I don't have integrated Bluetooth on my laptop and the first Bluetooth adapter I bought didn't work, and the second one (Belkin Bluetooth USB plus EDR Adapter, 100m range, v2.1) the software didn't automatically download properly (when I was on Vista) but on reinstallation (on Windows 7) worked perfectly. In between the laptop Bluetooth not working properly my Bluetooth MP3 (Sony Walkman NWZA828K) was working at the press of one button, so I was already happy the stereo was what I was looking for.

Sound quality? Yeah, nothing wrong with that- it's a powerful little speaker and considering the price of not-very-powerful speakers in the £50 price range and the only-slightly-better-than-that speakers in this price range, I certainly think I've got a bargain. It's been fine with Joni Mitchell, Nirvana, Evanescence, - heavy and strong, light and clear music. The bass is adjustable to off or on, I switch it off for listening to TV programmes but have it on for all music.

It's got this retro look to it that I like, it's just shy of 8cm high, 32cm across, 8cm deep. It comes with a snug case for portability. There's a standard English plug. It comes with a 1 metre audio cable that plugs into the headphone socket on my laptop and connects round the back of the speaker. Battery life- I've not tested it for large amounts of time, but I've had it off power for a couple of days, taking the stereo around the house (this is the only one I have that works, and the fact that it's portable is excellent) and it's never cut out.

I'm really impressed. I would definitely recommend to my friends, as long as they had a decent, compatible Bluetooth device.

Best Served Cold
Best Served Cold
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me cold, 30 July 2010
This review is from: Best Served Cold (Hardcover)
I've read the First Law books by Abercrombie and had eagerly awaited another book from him as I had become so involved in the plight of the first books' characters that I expected great things from further work. I was surprised he'd stuck to the same 'world' but I suppose he wanted to write a single novel and with his writing, a new world would undoubtedly needed at least another trilogy.

Therein lies one of the two key problems with this novel.

It is overwritten- there are too many mini scenes that don't progress the story. He seems to have developed a problem of getting people in and out of rooms without describing every footfall. The book is probably about a third longer than the action.

The second problem is that it is impossible to warm to the characters much, not even the character perspective from whom I am reading. They're self involved, motivated by hate or money, and unreliable. Only Shivers did I really warm to, but in the end I much didn't care about what happened to him.

So I might have enjoyed this book had it been written tighter, and had there been more depth to the characters. But unfortunately as is, it's only worth the 3 stars I've given it, and sadly, I don't recommend.

The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader
The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader
by Stephen Regan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.54

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of early essays and reviews, and modern criticism, 8 Jun. 2010
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When I found this book on Amazon I was surprised to find no reviews. I bought this book because I'm trying to decide whether to study 19th or 20th century literature with the Open University, and have bought both subsidiary books (the other is A Twentieth Century Literature Reader: Texts and Debates (Twentieth-Century Literature: Texts and Debates)). Having bought the book and made a good start on reading it, I realised why there aren't any reviews- this is simply a collection of 19th century essays, reviews and modern essays, presumably dissertations. You can't review what is different on so many pages.

Part 1: Early Essays and Reviews

This section of just 122 pages contains 18 essays and reviews. I don't recognise the authors of most of them, but Robert Louis Stevenson contributes 'A Humble Remonstrance', Thomas Hardy contributes 'The Science of Fiction' and no less than Sigmund Freud gives us 'The Interpretation of Dreams'. The subjects of some of these essays are obviously famous too, such as Hippolyte Taine's essay 'Charles Dickens: son talent et ses oevres' (in English). There are brief introductions giving detail of each of the authors, and explanations on why the essay or review has been printed here.

Part 2: Modern Criticism

This is 383 pages long and is broken into the 12 books it features, with 3 to 4 essays per book. These books are:

Jane Austen- Northanger Abbey
Charlotte Bronte- Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens- Dombey and Son
George Eliot- Middlemarch
Thomas Hardy- Far from the Maddening Crowd
Emile Zola- Germinal
Gustave Flaubert- Madame Bovary
Wilkie Collins- The Woman in White
Henry James- The Portrait of a Lady
Bram Stoker- Dracula
Kate Chopin- The Awakening
Joseph Conrad- Heart of Darkness

You may wish to note that these aren't all necessarily the set books for the OU AA216 course as right now (June 2010), Dracula isn't. Which is a shame because it's one I already read and enjoyed!

These modern essays are expectedly written quite differently. For example the Stephen D Arata essay 'The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization' is written in a very 'readable' manner making it a pleasant and interesting read. However the Mary Poovey essay 'The Anathematized Race: The Governess and Jane Eyre' is densely written and requires a dictionary to read! The essay's are opinionated, as all good essays are, and use evidence to prove their points. In fact, I'd recommend this section of the book as a series of excellent examples of how to write a correct essay.

I haven't taken the course this collection was drawn together from, only read it as an interested literature reader, but I have found it enjoyable. Essays always fascinate me and it's great to read those which have been written over such an expanse of time. As this is a collection of essays it would suit a casual reader with a critical interest in literature as well as someone seriously studying it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2010 4:34 PM BST

ByteStor 16GB USB  High Speed "Dataferry" Pink Flash Drive
ByteStor 16GB USB High Speed "Dataferry" Pink Flash Drive

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple & Quick, 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I received the USB stick, I plugged it into my laptop (Toshiba Satellite on Vista) and it downloaded the relevant drivers/software straightaway from t'interweb and was usable within seconds. I have a USB 2 connection. I've upgraded to the 32GB version now, the blue version (ByteStor 32GB USB High Speed "Dataferry" Blue Flash Drive) because it was cheaper, and have had no problem with that either.

The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication (Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos)
The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication (Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos)
by Wayne C. Booth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The rhetoric of Booth, 27 May 2010
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Although I find the history of rhetoric, and the history of teaching rhetoric quite interesting, I found this book too forceful in striking it's opinion. It is very much a means for Booth to display his contempt at anyone who does not appreciate the importance of rhetoric, and him, as an academic of the subject.

I found the quotes and other sources interesting and well placed, and I do appreciate the subject more now, than prior to reading this book. However it is not a substitute for any other book you may be looking for, such as The Rhetoric of Fiction, which is a suggested reading for those studying the Open University's Advanced Creative Writing course (A363).

LUPO Tiny USB 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Adapter Dongle
LUPO Tiny USB 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Adapter Dongle

2.0 out of 5 stars Faulty? Or is that just normal..., 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm writing a review of this product in the knowledge I might have received a faulty product, so please keep that in mind before you bash my review!

I received the device and was impressed by it's size. I plugged it in and waited to see whether my laptop would be able to seek out the drivers online. When it didn't quite manage it, I installed the software.

I've been trying to connect a Supertooth Disco Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker stereo to my laptop via Bluetooth (as that's what the speaker is for). However even though I was able to establish the initial connection to the stereo (about 1 in 10 times, and there were more tries than that I assure you), I couldn't maintain it (it only worked once and after I logged off that day, it didn't work since). I've been all over the techie forums and downloaded all sorts of additional drivers, took some off, reinstalled etc, and was unsuccessful. The stereo I wanted to connect to worked with my Bluetooth Sony Walkman NWZA828K 8GB Video with Wireless Headphones so I knew the problem wasn't there. Eventually I returned the device and bought a Belkin Belkin Class 2 Bluetooth USB Adapter (Version 2.0 + EDR), which works absolutely as expected.

Therefore it could have been a faulty unit, but it might just be a poor device, in either hardware or software.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick & simple, 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I received the USB stick, I plugged it into my laptop (Toshiba Satellite on Vista) and it downloaded the relevant drivers/software straightaway from t'interweb and was usable within seconds. I have a USB 2 connection.

I ran a problem-free automated back-up straight to the USB a couple of days later and that took about an hour, and used up about three-quarters of the space. Great little device, no problems ever with ByteStor drives.

I Speak Because I Can
I Speak Because I Can
Price: £6.99

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, 27 Mar. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've had this album on repeat since I downloaded it a couple of days ago. I'd downloaded it, knowing there was a possibility I wouldn't like it at all. I liked Alas I Cannot Swim [Explicit] and I liked New Romantic and Typical from My Manic And I [Explicit], but musicians have this terrible ability to change that I always worry about. This is different.

Its amazing. This doesn't feel like folk or indie- it sounds like blues to me, maybe even soul. It reminded me of Blue, one of my favourite albums of all time, not because its like it, but because it's an emotional journey.

The album's like a wave, forming with Devil on a Spoke, reminding me of American folk, but then cresting with Made by Maid and Rambling Man softly bringing you down to the fizz of Blackberry Stone to Alpha Shallows on a Greek beach for dancing around a beach fire. Goodbye England (Covered In Snow) is beautiful, not just because it reminds me of this January's frightful beauty, but it's so soft, yet rising. There's some anger in Hope in the Air, but there's pure fantasy and magic in What He Wrote, which is my favourite song from the album. Darkness Descends is a lifting wave, taking you back out to sea on a party boat, before the title song settles you down to the rocking boat as a storm blows by.

The sound quality is excellent, an improvement on Alas and her voice comes through amazingly. The music's simple- mostly guitar, with the odd flourish from back up singers and clarinets etc. Her voice- it's as magical as always. But I think in this album, I hear more passion, more love and bitterness and excitement. And this is what has given me shivers. It's wonderful.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2017 7:07 PM GMT

Poetics (Dover Thrift Editions)
Poetics (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Aristotle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrifty version, 11 Mar. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As the shortest book I've got on my literature student bookshelf, this Dover Thrift Edition Poetics is the cheapest, and most flimsy, but completely worthwhile book.

There's no introduction to the book, just a note about when it was written (circa 330BC) and about Aristotle himself, taking up less than a page. The remaining 60 pages are left to Aristotle.

It's not difficult to read, which was my initial concern. Another review says this translation is simplified, but I would say it's not over simplified- you still need to understand general poetic terms like 'anapaests or trochaic tetrameters' (p22) so don't feel like you need to look for a more academic, archaic, hard to read version.

The content is so short, it's like an essay on how to spot the strengths and weaknesses in plays, and it's not generalised, it's specific- 'Tragedy endeavours, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun' (p9), which in playwriting books I've read, it takes a whole chapter to say 'you're best off writing a play set within one day, it works better'.

I'm just on my second reading, marking out the important parts I'll need to refer to in future. The paper is cheap and my ink pen goes straight through the paper, pencil doesn't show up well, so am using sticky paper to make notes. It's only short, and it's cheap, and I'd recommend you buy a cheap version rather than paying a lot of money for an introduction that's not needed, because it's not difficult to read.

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