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NJL1974

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Spectacles
Spectacles
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and enjoyable memoir, 16 July 2017
This review is from: Spectacles (Kindle Edition)
Very much enjoyed this. Perkins is a self-deprecating and funny narrator. Her memories of her parents' eccentricities in 1970s suburbia are particularly funny, but there is genuine emotion in parts as well. Perkins comes across as grateful for her success and very similar to her onscreen persona. Edging towards National Treasure status...


Good Me Bad Me: The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017
Good Me Bad Me: The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017
Price: £4.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and interesting if not always convincing, 17 Mar. 2017
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An unusual novel, written from the perspective of Annie, a 15 year old who is placed with foster carers after reporting her mother (a suspected multiple child-killer) to the police. Annie (unsurprisingly) struggles with her new life as she tries to escape from her former life, the influence of her mother on her thoughts and her role as a witness in the ongoing trial. To add to her woes, the new family is dysfunctional, with a social worker father (wet), vacant mother (hugely annoying) and a daughter, a Mean Girl bully, of the type that one hates to believe in, but is probably all too real.

This is an interesting set-up, but I found the novel trying too hard to be clever, trying too hard to establish Annie's mother as a 'serpent' who haunts her thoughts. This created a vagueness about Annie's back story, and her role in it, that was frustrating. Some of the writing was unnecessarily pretentious (the sections between chapters being a good example of this). The foster family were a little cliched and their lack of insight into Annie and her relationship with their appalling daughter did not always ring true. Having said that, the plot was interesting and the genuinely unsettling in places.


The Dry: The most gripping crime thriller of 2017
The Dry: The most gripping crime thriller of 2017
Price: £3.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior thriller in the drought of the Australian outback, 17 Mar. 2017
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Enjoyed this one. It is an interesting, if not groundbreaking murder mystery, but the stand out element is the unusual setting - the Australian outback in a drought. The location is incredibly well established and I really felt the heat, lack of water and frustration.


The Nowhere Men
The Nowhere Men
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Well-intentioned and well-written but not the masterpiece I was hoping for, 10 Feb. 2017
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Kindle Edition)
Michael Calvin writes very well and the world of football scouts - middle aged men who work for a pittance, watching football at all levels in the hope of spotting the next undiscovered talent - is an extraordinarily (almost criminally) neglected part of the national game. Hence, it could be argued that this is an important book and a must-read story.

However.... it isn't a 'must read story' for one simple reason: there is no story here. The Nowhere Men, while at times revealing, funny and poignant, has no central narrative thread running through it. It could be argued that the 'star' is Calvin himself, as he spends time with the scouts, but Calvin is an entirely unobtrusive observer. He does not immerse himself in their world - for example by trying to scout talent himself - and he does not summarise his findings in a 'what I have learnt' summary.

Instead of a strong central character, we have a lengthy love letter to a collection of decent men, but there are just too many, and they are just too interchangeable, for any one to stand out. Instead of a conclusion, we are left with a jumbled message that technology is important but not so important that the job of the scout in the stand can (or should) be replaced.

I wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I was frequently just a bit bored by it.


Unravelling Oliver
Unravelling Oliver
Price: £3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge this (great) book by its (awful) cover, 10 Feb. 2017
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It is a Hell of an achievement to have your titular 'hero' punch his wife in the first paragraph, and to succeed in persuading a reader to invest time in 'unravelling' him. Nugent succeeds through quality of writing, depth of character and using a change of narrative voice in a way that is genuinely interesting rather than just a structural gimmick. This is a thin novel, but the brevity is refreshing brief, with not a page wasted.

One gripe - the cover of this book is awful. "She knew everything about him... but the truth." Oliver's wife knows absolutely nothing about him, so they must have taken that lazy, B movie, line from somewhere else. And "the woman lying on the floor as incentive to buy a book" is just horrible. Shame on the once-mighty house of Penguin.


Apple Tree Yard
Apple Tree Yard
Price: £3.77

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic, reductive, tedious, 30 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Kindle Edition)
Inexplicably popular novel about a married woman in her 50s, who has an affair. The book is well written and some of the stuff about the trial is interesting, not because it describes fascinating events, but because it shows the law in all the procedural dullness that will be very familiar to anyone who has endured jury service.

There are massive flaws in the premise. Doughty goes to great lengths to establish Yvonne as a successful woman and a top scientist. And yet, after a couple of uncomfortable sounding sessions with a 'mysterious' man, she completely loses her mind and risks everything. If a man had written this - professional woman is one bonk away from turning into a simpering halfwit - then he would have been (rightly) ridiculed.

Worse - Yvonne learns nothing through her various experiences. She is just as self-obsessed and tedious at the end of the book as she is at the beginning.

Even worse - The object of her affections is an unpleasant, rude, seedy, controlling non-entity. The 'mystery' around him comprises a) the knowledge of how to use a pay-as-you-go phone and b) an awareness of CCTV cameras. My 12 year old nephew has both of these skills and no middle aged women are trying to sleep with him because they think he's a spy(!). No self-respecting successful 50-something woman would have anything to do with him, let alone go along with his absurd peccadilloes.

Worse still - The plot is paper thin and entirely predictable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2017 1:24 PM GMT


Easily Distracted
Easily Distracted
by Steve Coogan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Valid title, missed opportunity, 16 Jan. 2017
This review is from: Easily Distracted (Paperback)
Why write an autobiography?

Self-indulgent to begin a review with a rhetorical question, but it is one that occurred to me on many occasions while reading 'Easily Distracted'. Coogan, who cannot possibly need the money, describes in detail his need, through his work, to become another person, and how there are elements of this in all of his successful comic creations. His book, however, is very much about the normality of his life, growing up in a large, Catholic lower middle class family in Manchester. He also repeatedly says how he does not respond to Tabloid speculation about his private life, or can brush it off, but none of those tales feature in this book. (If you want to hear the inside tale of Coogan and Courteney Love, take a look at the index - she ain't there!).

Easily Distracted is a tribute to Coogan's parents, who come across as immensely decent people; generous, community spirited and hard-working. His childhood is unremarkable, but remembered affectionately. It is not "funny". Not that it is in any way obligatory for a comedian to make his book funny, but it does again raise the question of what is the point of this exercise.

Coogan is hugely talented, and has been successful across a number of genres, but Easily Distracted does not really explain the secret of his success. He got his big break working with Spitting Image, as a voice artist, but simply attributes his success in this genre to 'having a good ear', which may well be true, but is not a thrilling story.

Coogan, when not distracted, is very serious about his work. The early part of the book, which is not chronological, is about his work on Philomena, which was clearly very important to him. The issues around that are valid and serious, and they are treated with respect, but the sense is that Coogan is writing to his own agenda and not to that of his readers. Partridge is in the background throughout, but we don't get to his creation until the fourth quarter, and again the story around that is prosaic.

The writing is good, and the warmth for his family comes through strongly. The omissions - marriage, child - are bizarre and the structure peculiar and, on occasion, frustrating. Perhaps chronology was just too distracting....

I don't know why Coogan wrote this book. Maybe, he is clearly seeking approval, or even forgiveness (which would link with the long section on Philomena). There is quite a lot of "I wasn't very nice, but I have said sorry and I am nicer now" stuff. There is some "I started taking drugs", but Coogan never really explains why he fell into these habits (which might have been interesting), what he did while he was doing them (which might have been funny) or why he stopped (which might have made the book more interesting and given it more narrative structure. He's not even amusingly rude about anyone, other than nameless floppy haired drama school posh-boys.

Overall, something of a missed opportunity.


The Power Slam Interviews Volume 1
The Power Slam Interviews Volume 1
Price: £6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 2 Jan. 2017
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I read every copy of Power Slam Magazine at least once, and so I was nervous how much insight I would get from this book, which repeats a series of interviews verbatim, with an introduction in each case. However, such is the quality of the interviewing, together with the access that Findlay Martin and his colleagues achieved, that there is something new and interesting in almost every one. Comments from the likes of Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens when they were still working in ROH or IWGP show the pride and dedication that they had in their chosen career. Meanwhile, there are themes that did not come out when reading the magazine as a periodical - the absurdity of politics in the WWE being the main one. While it is easy to scoff at the likes of Shane Douglas for complaining about the injustice done to him in WWE as the awful Dean (and his cyan singlet, which is the one thing I remember about the character), this looks a lot less like sour grapes when placed next to the same stuff coming from Paul London or JTG. Consequently, this is an outstanding companion piece to Martin's earlier book about the history of wrestling over the last 20 years and an appropriate tribute to the enormous contribution that he has made, and continues to make, to wrestling journalism in Britain.


Harry Potter Scarf By Cinereplicas® ● Authentic And Official Harry Potter Scarf ● 74" ● With Zipper Bag ● Ultra Soft Fabric
Harry Potter Scarf By Cinereplicas® ● Authentic And Official Harry Potter Scarf ● 74" ● With Zipper Bag ● Ultra Soft Fabric
Offered by Cinereplicas (official)
Price: £23.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality gift, 26 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Has proved a hugely popular Christmas present. Really good quality, attractive scarf, which I would like notwithstanding the JKR tie-up. I am told that Eddie Redmayne barely wears this scarf in the film, and that is mostly in the publicity shots, so if that sort of thing worries you, you should consult the nearest 12 year old as a matter of urgency.


For Fitbit Alta Strap Leather Alta HR Band, SnowCinda Adjustable Accessory Replacement Bracelet Sport Straps for Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Alta HR (Brown)
For Fitbit Alta Strap Leather Alta HR Band, SnowCinda Adjustable Accessory Replacement Bracelet Sport Straps for Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Alta HR (Brown)
Offered by SnowCinda Co., Ltd.
Price: £29.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 26 Dec. 2016
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Looks a bit cheap and tacky. Disappointing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2017 5:53 AM GMT


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