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David Lovie (Aberdeen, United Kingdom)

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The Burning: (Maeve Kerrigan 1)
The Burning: (Maeve Kerrigan 1)
by Jane Casey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat predictable, but entertaining., 11 April 2011
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I will admit to having not read Jane Casey's previous novel, so had no preconceptions of her style, and so took a small gamble in The Burning.

The book follows the story of two characters during the investigations of a serial killer, the first being Maeve Kerrigan, one of the detectives assigned to the case and on the hunt to find the killer before anyone else dies. Alongside this it follows the story of Louise, a friend of one of the victims as she is included in the investigation. The book jumps back and forth between both characters every chapter, with each character notably being written in a different font to separate them.

The story I will have to say I did find somewhat predictable, and slightly formulaic in the fashion of many similar books (a problem that comes with the territory of writing in such a well travelled genre) but is still an interesting read that certainly draws you in, even if you can make an educated guess as to the killer fairly early on (then again, who doesn't when reading murder novels?). Well worth a read for anyone with an interest in murder/thriller style novels.


Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War
Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War
by Giles Milton
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A look from the other side of the war..., 11 April 2011
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Wolfram: The boy who went to war follows the story of Wolfram Aichele and his family growing up and living during the rise of the Nazi party and throughout the second world war, giving the story of some of the innocent people forced into the Nazi way of life by the state without any choice in the matter, and unwillingly involved in the war against the allies.

The story starts with some background into Wolframs childhood as a somewhat unique child, eschewing most of the normal traits and passions of a young child in favour of his love of architecture, art and drawing, encouraged by his parents and on through his time in school and college until being conscripted into the army and his time under their rule moving around to the various fronts and areas involved at the time.
Alongside this the story sticks to the home life in Pforzheim of his parents, and how the war affected them as non-believers in the Nazi system and policies - from the burning of books by non-approved authors, the ruling that homes must display the Nazi flag to the devastating Allied bombing raid the war brought to Pforzheim and the resulting aftermath.

I found it very interesting to hear of the story of the third reich from an innocent viewpoint in Germany, and how it affected everybody, whatever their opinion. Rather than many of the known works this does mainly skip over some of the larger atrocities - the concentration camps are mentioned, but not as a large feature which I find makes for an interesting read, free from some of the more sensational anti-nazi propaganda. Well worth a read for anyone with an interest in the war, and some thought of how home life in Germany was affected in the same way ours was in Britain and across Europe and the world.


Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything
Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything
by Kevin Cook
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tale of one of Americas biggest gamblers, 11 Jan. 2011
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Titanic Thompson: The man who bet on everything is the biography of Alvin Titanic' Thompson - a charismatic man who spent his life travelling America gambling on anything anyone would be willing to put a bet on - from playing poker in the back rooms of small towns and taking bets on him performing tricks such as throwing cards or coins all the way to his later life playing big money poker games and wagering big money on golf.

Despite being the sort of life that sounds as if it was taken straight from a movie, the tale of Titanic Thompson is a real one, researched by the author and pieced together from every source he could collect - the scant news reports, interviews with those who knew Titanic and by distilling all the bits of urban legend and story down and adding them to the known facts to try and piece together the full story of Titanic.

The book itself is a good read - a story of the old style American hustler and gambler that keeps you reading to find out what trick or scam he was planning next, and where it would take him. A good read about an America icon that I doubt many people have heard of...


Bike Snob
Bike Snob
by Eben Weiss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars From the wild of the internet to a hardbacked book..., 11 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Bike Snob (Hardcover)
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The Bike Snob is a fairly well known writer amongst the bike riding internet community, having been writing his popular blogs for some time now, he has decided to make a detour into print via his book 'The Bike Snob: systematically and mercilessly realigning the world of cycling'.

If you have read the blog you will probably be able to guess where this is going - his love of bikes and riding, dislike of hipsters and silly trends organised and better explained in book form, looking at different areas like the history of cycling and the bicycle, the different types of cyclists out there (hipsters, messengers, time trial rider, etc...) and exactly what he thinks of them - from the mountain bikers who get some respect for just being out there and having fun, confusion of why you would ever want to take part in triathlons, or the complete disdain to all the trend following hipsters (which seem to be a big dislike of his)

A constant background to the whole book of course is just his love of bikes down to the fact getting out riding is just plain enjoyable and a practical way to live somewhere like NY.

For someone with an interest in cycling (whatever style, as long as you are not a hipster...) this makes for an enjoyable read - while opinionated he makes a lot of sense and will resonate with most people who spend time in the saddle. If you don't ride, his enthusiasm here may just be ther persuasion you need to get a bike and get out.


Livin' the Dreem: A Year in My Life
Livin' the Dreem: A Year in My Life
by Harry Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what you would expect from Harry Hill..., 11 Jan. 2011
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Livin' the Dreem is the (fictional) diary of TV personality and entertainer Harry Hill throughout 2010.

Being familiar with Harry Hill, but not a huge follower I was not entirely sure what to expect of Livin' the dreem - A basic cash in on his popularity with a humdrum diary of his actual life? A real diary written humorously? Something else altogether? As it turns out the last one is most definitely the case (at least I don't remember the 100 greatest tree's airing on TV...) with a book written as a traditional 'diary' style of the somewhat outlandish and bizarre life that exists inside Harry Hills head.

For the first chapter I will admit I was a bit touch and go on the book - it almost seems as if it was trying just a bit too hard to be wacky, with outlandish stories and regular namechecking of various celebrities flowing thick and fast almost to the point it became annoying. As I kept reading though I did get into the style of it, and came to the realisation that that style is exactly what Harry Hill does - watching clips of Harry's TV Burp or other shows he has featured on shows exactly the same sense of humour and style.

I think it is fair to say if you are looking for something intelligent then Winnie The Pooh is probably a more appropriate book than Livin' the dreem, but if you are familiar with Harry Hill and enjoy his style of comedy, then you really can't go too far wrong.

Incidentally, it did amuse me that the book finishes in January 2011, despite the fact I received and read it before christmas 2010... A fact that will be missed by anyone buying it now where it will have ended before you read it.


The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies: A Completely Scientific Guide to the Lives of the Undead
The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies: A Completely Scientific Guide to the Lives of the Undead
by Mac Montandon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The handbook for all budding zombie researchers..., 14 Nov. 2010
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"The proper care and feeding of zombies: a completely scientific guide to the lives of the undead" is a book attempting to put a scientific spin on the various zombie theories seen throughout popular culture looking at the different causes and effects seen and investigating them in a scientific and logical manner, finding real life possibilities for the explanations given.

The book by default is very much rooted in pop culture and the lore of the various zombie stories around, and make constant references throughout to the well known sources - The different Romero films, 28dayslater, zombieland, the Max Brooks books and so on - and makes a surprisingly cohesive argument for the existence of zombies with examples like various parasites that can affect relevant parts of the brain or drugs to cause similar effects to the shambling brain dead we know and love. By no means is it complete though, as there are still various problems with the science that cannot yet be solved (the legendary staying power of zombies without getting their five a day...) but then again it should probably be noted that the medium it is taking cues from are fiction to start with...

The only downside I found was the fact that it actually is a pretty scientific approach to the subject, and despite the 'friendly' image one the cover is not the lightest read, where world war z is a collection of stories to read through with basic background information, this eschews the storytelling to focus on said background...


Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva [DVD]
Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Miller
Offered by Willcox Trading
Price: £7.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, 14 Nov. 2010
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Originating with the game series for the Nintendo DS, Professor Layton has built a reputation for great storytelling running through the fantastic cut scenes and voice acting of the games. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is the next obvious step from there in removing the game part, and harnessing Laytons unique style and storytelling into a full length movie.

As a movie, I think Layton has made the jump well, being given more space to expand on the storyline and allowed to keep more of a flow to the scenes without the continuous interruptions for gameplay that a game demands, while already being home turf for anyone who is familiar with the game series and many of the characters - from Layton and his assistant Luke through to the various supporting characters like the disturbingly hairy chested constable. The story is as mysterious and grand as is expected, with a range of game style puzzles cropping up along the way as the professor figures out what is happening and who is behind it. I shall say no more lest give away any spoilers, but can say if you enjoy the storytelling of the games, you will feel right at home here.

My one bugbear with the film is the game style puzzle aspect to it - in the games you are given all the puzzles to work through yourself to further the story, which they have kept in the film often being announces in the same style ("puzzle zero-zero-one") but are rapidly solved by Layton and on goes the storyline - to me I would either prefer to see the viewers given some option to solve them themselves without having to pause the film (perhaps with some 'working out loud' and providing the hints the game gives), or have them taken away, as it stands they seem to flash past too quick to have them as anything other than a somewhat odd throwback to the roots of Layton as a game you had to solve yourself.

Overall though, the story is suitably grand and involving to work through, accompanied by the familiar drawing style and voice acting used in the games (which I believe does vary by region - I know my copy was similarly voiced to my UK release of Mysterious Village). So if you are a fan of the series and would like something with the same style but less mental acrobatics than working through a game, then this is a good choice.


Everything is Broken: The Untold Story of Disaster Under Burma's Military Regime
Everything is Broken: The Untold Story of Disaster Under Burma's Military Regime
by Emma Larkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of a near unknown disaster..., 21 Oct. 2010
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The disasters of recent years such as Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquakes or Indonesian tsunami have all been massively reported and documented with global responses. This book looks to try and document and explain another recent and much less known disaster - that of the Burmese cyclone and more importantly how the Burmese government responded to it.

The book looks at Burma and the disaster of Nargis in three main parts over the authors trips to the country starting with her time in Rangoon just after the cyclone hit - looking at a time period where huge restrictions were in place to foreigners, while everyone scrambled to help the affected areas in any way they could - speaking to both foreigners and locals in the Rangoon area and collecting information on the disaster and the governments response so reading as a mix of stories relayed by those visiting and also of her attempts and time in Rangoon and what was happening there and sifting through the propaganda of the official media in Burma.
The next part looks to something of an explanation of the government themselves with some background of the general Than Shwe and the history of the Burmese government, and also their response to other issues such as the monks protests.
The final part of the book details her return around six months after the disaster when the area was starting to open up officially to foreigners where she travels to the affected regions to see something of the devastation and rebuilding going on.

All of this adds up to an enlightening report of both the cyclone Nargis disaster itself which I will admit to not knowing huge amounts about, and also about the country of Burma itself, and how it and its government operate in todays world.


The World's Most Extraordinary People ... And Me
The World's Most Extraordinary People ... And Me
by Mark Dolan
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Some truly unique people..., 13 Oct. 2010
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"The worlds most extraordinary people... and me" by Mark Dolan was written alongside the TV series of the same name, featuring Mark Dolan travelling around to meet with some of the most extraordinary people on the planet to hear their stories first hand and find out about their lives.

I will start by admitting that while knowing of its existence, I have not seen the TV series the book came from (though I know the book to be a cut down version meeting only some of the characters of the series), so am reading this as an entirely standalone book, for which it is perfectly suited. The main premise is of Mark travelling the world to meet various extraordinary people (the worlds tallest woman, the worlds smartest child, etc...) to discover more about them and how their everyday lives are affected by the extraordinary circumstances of their lives instead of just trying to parade them on front of the camera. As such it leads to a very interesting insight into the huge problems coming from being the worlds tallest woman, or the private side to having the worlds largest breasts. This personal approach is perhaps most evident in some of the people he meets initially being very reserved and hidden expecting him to be another foreign journalist out to parade them for the cameras, who open up with the realisation he really does want to know more of them as a persona and their lives.

The book itself is written in a very engaging and easy going manner that draws you in to the subject matter and keeps you turning the pages to find out that little bit more about the people included and finding out who he meets next on his journeys.


The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering My SS Grandfather's Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation
The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering My SS Grandfather's Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation
by Martin Davidson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different story of the second world war, 19 Sept. 2010
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Growing up in Britain I am used to hearing 'our' accounts of WWII - the tales of the blitz in London with Churchill standing proud, the men of Bletchley decoding the enigma machine, and tales from the fighting at the front lines and throughout Europe and further. When you do hear from the other side a lot of it focusses on the grand plans of Hitler and his commanders rebuilding a broken Germany and going out on the warpath again, or more often than not the fairly innocent men conscripted into the army to do Hitlers bidding. 'The Perfect Nazi' starts off with a different target and follows the investigation of the formerly closed doors of what the authors grandfather, Bruno Langbehn, did during the war and the realisation that far from being one of the innocents swept up in Hitlers Nazi Germany, he was one of the true devotee's born out of growing up in the shadows of the first war and one of Nazism's staunchest and most devoted followers.

The book particularly follows Bruno's story, from his early days in the local Frontbahn, before getting involved as an official member of the Nazi party and one of the SA's most notorious regiments - sturm 33 - and later moving up to the SS and more particularly SD. At the same time for someone relatively unknowledgeable on the intricacies of how the war fully came about it also stands as a story of how the Nazi part grew from the more paramilitary side of things, so gives an interesting insight into how life actually was in Germany during those years.

At the same time the book is also very well written, collecting Bruno's history from various records, supplemented with information from other sources on the SA, SS and so on and life during the Nazi years to piece together the full story. Despite the fairly serious topic and gravity of the whole situation I found it a very enjoyable book, and very readable and hard to put down as I was drawn into the story and how Bruno and the Nazi's evolved throughout their existence.
I guess it should be said that this probably isn't going to be much of a 'general interest' book, and will require some previous interest in the subject to get the most from the story, but a very worthy read.


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