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Kate says (London)

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Battle of Wills
Battle of Wills
by Anne Fine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars witty and all too horribly plausible. Anne Fine is superb on sibling relationships ..., 2 Jan. 2017
This review is from: Battle of Wills (Paperback)
An absolute treat of a book! I was torn between being unable to put it down and longing to eke it out to make it last as long as possible. It's sharply observed, witty and all too horribly plausible. Anne Fine is superb on sibling relationships and, even trickier, the perils of intervening spouses... Read it and laugh out loud even as you wince in recognition.


The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language
The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language
by Mark Forsyth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.73

67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What larks!, 27 Oct. 2012
After really enjoying 'The Etymologicon' last year, I had great expectations of Mark Forsyth's new book and thankfully it didn't disappoint. 'The Horologicon' is the same but different: crucially, the dry, clever wit present in the previous book is still there and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the new one is also about words. However, it's the nature of these words that marks the book out as being different, and even more worthwhile, than the first. Whereas The Etymologicon dealt with everyday words and phrases - a much travelled path in the world of books although never previously with such an entertaining guide - 'The Horologicon' is all about forgotten words, ones with their own peculiar and distinct meaning and flavour. To make the trip through this language that time forgot as enjoyable as possible, the author sets up his tour brilliantly by following day in the life of you, me and he himself. What felt like everyday commonplace is made all the richer for it. I only hope I'm not guilty of 'ultracrepidarianism'! But you can be the judge of that.


Blood of the Zombies (Fighting Fantasy)
Blood of the Zombies (Fighting Fantasy)
by Ian Livingstone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU are the Hero!, 10 Aug. 2012
I can't believe it's nearly 30 years since I ordered 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' via the Puffin Book Club at school and waited what seemed an eternity for it to arrive. It was the first book in the mega-selling Fighting Fantasy series. I wasn't a big reader but these books got me reading and the fifth in the series, City of Thieves, taught me the word 'infamous'. For a series of books that some people felt weren't 'literature', how good was all that for a nine-year-old boy?

While a lot of time has passed since, I've never forgotten the series so when I heard the legendary (round certain circles anyway) Ian Livingstone had written a brand new adventure to celebrate the anniversary, I just had to get a copy. It didn't disappoint - there's plenty in it for an old adventurer like me but the series has also had a bit of a modernisation with a streamlined combat system making it an even more all-action experience than before.

If you're new to Fighting Fantasy, one way to think of it is like having an computer game in a book. The books are written in the second person - you are the hero, you have defeat the monsters, which in this case are zombies... and lots of them. And this book is tough, real tough. I never got anywhere close to finishing first time. But that make getting that bit further the next time all the more satisfying for it. I loved it! So, do yourself a favour and get a copy now. You won't regret it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2012 12:28 PM GMT


Ball of Confusion: Puzzles, Problems and Perplexing Posers
Ball of Confusion: Puzzles, Problems and Perplexing Posers
by Johnny Ball
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Johnny Ball!, 11 Dec. 2011
Johnny Ball is probably the single most important reason why I managed to get on with maths and science at school. His brilliant TV programmes showed the wonder of numbers and what our manipulation of them can produce as well as bringing to life the amazing historical characters we have to thank for this progress. And I still love corny, word-play jokes (there are a few in this book). Ball of Confusion is classic Johnny Ball. Written in his inimitable style - you can very much hear his voice in your head as you read - this book is a collection of puzzles and such like, which are a great deal of fun. Sure, there are a couple in here I've come across before but Johnny still manages to give them a JB twist. And what I particularly like is that he doesn't just give the answers - he explains them and often you learn a whole lot more. Brilliant for anyone who likes a mental exercise and challenge. Johnny, I wish you were still on TV.


The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
by Mark Forsyth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.77

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll love this too, 3 Nov. 2011
Crikey, where to start? Well, The Etymologicon begins with... book... and ends with... book. And in-between it's crammed full of words of wit and wisdom. I now have a damn good reason for not liking avocados - their name comes from the Aztec word for a part (or two) of men's soft bits. And I was delighted to discover Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do has nothing to do with female deers and drops of golden sun (the truth isn't that much better though - it's a shortening of a hymn to John the Baptist). Finally, if you ever want to speak Latin with the apparent imagination of a football fan then there's the wonderful sentence 'Malo, malo, malo, malo', which doesn't mean your team is playing badly, but does mean 'I would rather be in an apple tree than be a bad boy in trouble'. Perhaps best to keep that one to yourself when on the terraces.


Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story
Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story
by Gabriel Weston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing read and unworthy of the praise it has received, 25 Feb. 2010
The reviews for this book have been excellent, praising its prose and honesty in particular (the latter despite the author's understandable caveat at the beginning of the book that the text is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth... our libel laws aren't the best). The inference from the critics was clear - here was something special. And given the fact it was about a world very few of us have any real access to, except as patients, all the more interesting did the book seem.

But it proved such a disappointing read; the writing is amazingly unspectacular and leaden. The literary analogies in the text are clumsily grafted in and there very is little feeling of insight and real intelligence. To be honest, there's not a great deal to be gleaned from its pages.

This is not to say it's a bad book. But much better non-fiction was published in 2009 which didn't get a fraction of the coverage and commendation this book received and that is a real shame. What were the reviewers thinking? Perhaps they just weren't. They certainly failed to do their job properly in this case.


The Road Of Bones
The Road Of Bones
by Anne Fine
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dystopian masterpiece, 9 Jun. 2006
This review is from: The Road Of Bones (Hardcover)
Reminiscent of Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", 'Road of Bones' tells the story of the teenage years of Yuri, from his home-life, with its ever increasing restrictions imposed from outside, to his initial evasion of capture from the authorities before an eventual internment in a labour camp, and his subsequent efforts to survive.

Although the characters have Russian names, neither Russia nor the Soviet Union are actually mentioned by name as the location of the book. The setting, instead, is an imagined totalitarian state, but it's one whose circumstances have clearly been based on history - and powerful history it is too. This is extremely evocative and compelling stuff, nowhere more so than the frightening conclusion which demonstrates the potential power of context over objective thought - good, no matter how pure, can be twisted and warped to mirror its opposite if given no encouragement beyond itself.


In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed
In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed
by Carl Honore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promises much - delivers little!, 25 April 2006
I was genuinely very excited about reading this book when I saw it. But I was so disappointed with its content. You can tell the author is a journalist - he shows the good and bad sides to his profession when it comes to writing non-fiction books. It's written in a pleasant, breezy, style; it's well-researched in the sense that the author has gone to 'meet' the book's main protaganists, and each chapter feels like an extended magazine article in a Sunday Newspaper i.e. lacking any real depth. And it's this last point which is my main criticism. Honore could've said what's in this book in a quarter of the space - and that still wouldn't be life changing.

If I'm honest, it probably really deserves three stars, because it's not a 'bad' book. But I've gone for two because it was frankly such a let down from what it promised.


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