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Seb

Seb’s book reviews

This book is superb. A simple mad scientist tale is turned into a distinctly menacing and believable story that's a real page turner. Good characters, an intelligent plot and even a few savage spears for good measure.
05/15/2009
I downloaded this book because of the interesting title but within a couple of paragraphs I realised it wasn't going to be that great. The writing is extremely clunky and the characters are so wooden the Apache character could hollow them out and use them as a canoe.

Talking of the Apache guy, don't ever ask him anything! You only have to ask this chap if he wants a cup of coffee and he'll hit you with six paragraphs detailing his proud heritage and what he thinks about life in general. They should have called him Big Chief Exposition. The other characters are equally daft.

The story also goes to great pains to eliminate any excitement that the situation might hold early on.
05/15/2009
Most of the games in this book are really just variations on picking a letter to determine the name of your future lover, the sort of games played by little girls for centuries. What's interesting though is that the author of this book is clearly either a pyromaniac or just plain hates children.

The very first game in the book suggests you place a cardboard box over your gas jets with some holes cut out in it to make a spooky face. If that wasn't flammable enough for you the book goes on to suggest cramming it full of crepe paper. The author rather reluctantly adds not to let the entire thing burst into flames.

My other favourite is the fun game of inviting your friends to thrust their hands into a bowl of flaming brandy to retrieve pieces of burning fruit. The person who gets the most is rewarded with being the one most likely to get married that year. Presumably to another person with blackened stumps instead of fingers.

Only really worth a read if you plan to set fire to your neighbours on halloween and want something to blame it on. None of the other games are really that interesting.
05/15/2009
This book comes from a time when electricity had become "no longer just for the rich" as the book puts it, and offers the homeowner some advice on how to use it and all the other new marvels of the home.

The book also has hundreds of tips some rather dated but some that are still very useful. If you have access to half a lemon, a bucket of warm water and some vinegar then there's very few domestic disasters this book can't guide you through safely!

Some of the solutions seem so unlikely that I tried a few of them to see if they really work and I haven't found one that doesn't yet. In fact this book actually saved me quite a lot of money on a house repair that I thought beyond my abilities but turns out to have an elegantly simple and low tech solution!

05/15/2009
These folk tales are not very engaging and their endings have little relation to the rest of the story making them interchangeable.

A rich/brave/poor man meets a badger/fox/fish and does something nice for them and in return gets a trinket of some kind, the end.

A bit of a let down, maybe one of the other collections of Japanese folk-lore is better.
02/10/2009
I seriously doubt anyone will ever read more than twenty pages of this book, I certainly couldn't and I'll read just about anything. Anyone could sit down and write this sort of tripe because it's not storytelling it's just pure waffle full of empty and laughably grandiose language.

It reads like 'the infinite space rejoiced at the infinite wonder of the swirling infinite joy of the infinity and swirled infinitely in the cosmic wonder of infinity.'

I'm not kidding, imagine page after page of that! The preface expresses the authors hopes that he will be published and that people will enjoy his writing. As someone who has had the pleasure of working in publishing all their adult life I can honestly say neither of these is likely.
01/27/2009
The setting is interesting but I didn't really buy into the idea that after a nuclear war people would just randomly kill each other rather than trying to band together to survive in some form. Not much happens and the writing isn't great either.
01/27/2009
Quite interesting in places, I liked the tour of the city but it doesn't really give much of an idea how ordinary people lived. There's also a few stories that end with "and that's where the papyrus was torn so we don't know how this one ends" which is a bit pointless! A bit muddled and probably aimed at a younger reader but it's a quick read and has some interesting information.
01/26/2009
This is an unusual memoir, it tells the story of an Austrian fighting the Russians at the start of the first world war.

It's really well written and features some genuinely surprising events which I won't mention so as not to spoil it for you. The author really brings the events to life in a straightforward way but there's some great insights too.
01/05/2009
"For example, what benefit do you gain from polluting your own water supply?" asks a reviewer. None really, that's probably why this isn't mentioned in this book.

It's probably also forgiveable that it doesn't mention video surveillance given that it was written in 1944.

Anyway, since neither of the other reviewers seem to have actually read this pamphlet before reviewing it I thought I'd give it a go. This is an interesting historical document but it's advice ranges from the mildly plausible (using coins to blow fuses) to the absolutely ridiculous (remove toilet paper from lavatories!).

The reason this is interesting is that most of these acts of sabotage existed only in the paranoid minds of secret service types on both sides of the war. There's very little evidence that small scale sabotage of this kind was widespread mainly because the punishments were so severe if caught and the actual effect would be so negligible to the war effort. Despite this the USA was especially fearful of the hidden saboteur and many a clumsy or inept worker was interviewed as a potential spy.

It's great that documents like this are being preserved though I think it's unlikely to be of interest to anyone but historians and perhaps the most disgruntled of employees.
01/05/2009
Colin Falconer - Historical Romance in Spain's Golden Age
FEATURED AUTHOR - Colin Falconer has published twenty-six novels so far, and been lucky enough to have them translated into 23 languages. (Real ones too, not just Esperanto and cockney rhyming slang.) In between leaving school and securing his latest publishing deal, he found time to chase black witches across Mexico, travel the silk road, and occasionally play the guitar in bars. His only claim to fame from those days is completing all the verses of ‘All You Need is Love’ during a bar fight in the Stella Maris… Read more