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SILENT SPRING 94 CL
SILENT SPRING 94 CL
by Linda J. Lear
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from $4.46

39 of 133 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A misguided mass killer, April 28, 2006
This review is from: SILENT SPRING 94 CL (Hardcover)
Before this misguided book was published, DDT was successfully reducing malaria deaths across the globe. After it, and the subsequent ban on DDT, millions of people have suffered and died needlessly. For example, in Sri Lanka in 1948, there were 2.8 million malaria cases and 7,300 malaria deaths. With widespread DDT use, malaria cases fell to 17 and no deaths in 1963. After DDT use was discontinued, Sri Lankan malaria cases rose to 2.5 million in the years 1968 and 1969, and the disease remains a killer in Sri Lanka today.

Carson' science is dodgy, her conclusions false and her prescriptions plain wrong. Do not buy this book
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2011 9:33 PM PDT


Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
by Simon Singh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.17
162 used & new from $0.01

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, read it and give it to all your friends, October 3, 2005
This book is a great read for three reasons. First, even if you have only a slight interest in how we came to be here, you will find the story fascinating. Second, it is very well-written, drawing out not only the science but also the human element. Third, the story is an excellent example of real science and how it is conducted, and that is vitally important in these dark days where sorcery and wishful thinking hold sway over facts and figures.

The story moves rapidly but with sufficient detail from our earliest myths of cretion to modern thinking about how the universe came into being. Along the way we touch on Copericus, Newton, Galileo, Einstein and a host of other less-well known but equally important astronemers, scientists and cosmologists. Many famous battles are recounted with verve and humour: between the Church and science, between Einstein and the scientific establishment and between Hoyle and his fellow Steady-staters and the proponents of the Big Bang. We learn how each discovery came about, why it is important and how it led to the next step in our quest for how and why.

Perhaps most importantly, it reminds how little we know, how science never stands still and how open and honest debate is crucial to discovering the truth.


Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2)
Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2)
by Christopher Paolini
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.82
752 used & new from $0.01

24 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can It Get Worse?, September 1, 2005
I disliked Eragorn intensely, mainly for its utterly derivative plot and universe, and partly for its dreadful writing. Unfortunately, the derivatives are as bad but the writing has got worse in Eldest.

First off, I was amazed at the number of grammatical errors in the book - I mean, its pleaded, not pled! The author has clearly played fast and loose with a thesaurus as well, using the most flowery or obscure word whenever possible. Then there is the dialogue...what can I say, except it's truly dreadful. All the characters sound the same, they all say stupid and unbelievable things and they prefer two clichés to one in most situations.

Then there is the flow, or lack of it. The author just doesn't seem to understand pace and timing at all. There are long, long passages of nothing, then longer passages of nothing interspersed with, well, nothing really. The book could be perhaps a third of its actual length.

The descriptive parts are also awful. In most places there's simply too much. Many of the metaphors and similes don't make sense and most of the descriptions had me scratching my head. Read Pullman to see how it's done.

Now to the plot. Well, a number of reviewers have dissected this and done a better job than I can. Suffice to say, you'll recognise it and probably spot the plot twist a long way off.

Derivative doesn't have to be bad of course, but derivative combined with unoriginality combined with bad writing makes this book one of the worst things I've seen in years. Basically, Paolinin can't write. Why does it get praise? Why does anybody buy it? Beats me.


Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Edition: Hardcover
114 used & new from $0.95

25 of 76 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Childishly bad, August 16, 2005
HAving read the reviews, I was looking forward to reading this book over the summer holiday. What a disappointment! Rarely have I read such a badly-written book, either fiction or non-fiction. Many of the sentences are over-wrought, much of it is repetitive and large parts of it are unintelligable the grammer is so bad. There really seems to be litte to it as a biography either. The attempts at understadning Stalin's personality are naive and silly and often contradictory. The historical thread is confused and confusing and in the end the story becomes dull. Not worth the money or the time required to read it.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.94
1166 used & new from $0.01

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better than the last one but..., July 20, 2005
The Half-Blood Prince is a clear improvement over the dire HP5, but of course that's not saying much. Rowling has thankfully returned to her clearer, lighter style and given up trying to make Harry into an adolescent - there's girls and kissing but no anguished, angry outbursts of angst. The story rattles along reasonably quickly and there are few dull or pointless passages.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, like HP5, this seems like a holding book, 600 pages of back story to prepare us for the finale in Book Seven. Much of those 600 pages is taken up with Voldemort's history and whilst that is interesting enough, it doesn't really make for a gripping tale in itself. Other than that, there isn't much to it. Snape is established as having a major role to play in the coming battle, and one of the main characters dies (probably). And that is about it.

Harry remains a cipher, somebody to whom things happen and as such is rather dull. He has a few scrapes but is never really threatened. He sails through the book serenely, seemingly indifferent to what is happening all around him. He never really gets going, happy to let things take their course.

Herminone and Ron have slipped into the distance, and Ron in particular plays a very minor role. Ginny has much more prominence, perhaps because Rowling feels the need for a spunky, cool heroine and Herminone was never that. The various romances are not too embaressing but they have no depth or resonance.

We do see a lot more of Dumbledore, and frankly he is a bit of a Dumble-bore. By far the most interesting characters are the baddies: Snape, Voldemort, his family, Malfoy's mother. They are multi-dimensional and not just evil. For some reason Rowling killed off Sirius Black last time, but he was by far the most intersting of the goodies - complicated, flawed and brooding - and he is missed. As for the Half-blood Prince...well, suffice to say it's a bit of a let-down frankly.

Most disappointingly, there are no new magical creatures, and the little new magic there is passed over quickly, as if Rowling has got bored with it. There is little humour either and only a short scene with the Dursleys.

One of the problems is that the universe doesn't really hold up if you try and make it too intricate. Rowling is over-plotting and bringing back Voldemort in HP4 now seems like a mistake. This book half repudiates the important event in HP5 and reinterprets part of HP2.

What's the story? Well, Harry goes back to school, discovers there is a plot led by Malfoy but doesn't find out what it is until too late - in a rather confusing and lazy ending where the Death Eaters plan seems too easy. Along the way, Harry discovers about Voldemort's early life and how he is immortal. He also luckily finds an old textbook used by the Half-blood Prince that helps him out now and again. And that's it.

In conclusion, if you want to find out what happens in the end, you have to read this, but as a stand-alone book - don't bother.


Children of the Lamp #1: The Akhenaten Adventure
Children of the Lamp #1: The Akhenaten Adventure
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Hardcover
407 used & new from $0.01

32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flat and Empty, December 13, 2004
AA is another overhyped children's book, attempting to grab a little of that Harry Potter sales magic. It starts with a reasonably promising premise - twins who discover that they are half-djiin - and has a reasonably well-thought out story. The problem is that it is all artificial. The author (a successful adult fiction writer) has no feel for the genre, and consequently the children are rather wooden, the humour forced, and there is no sense of wonder. Add to that the rather cynical elements such as setting the opening in New York and the slightly offensive names given to some of the foreign characters and you have a disappointing, bandwagon-jumping, pudding. Publishers and authors would do well to remember that we love Harry Potter because we sympathise and empathise with Harry, Hermione and Ron, and because they are tales of friendship, loyalty and courage. Our favourtie stories have heart and soul: it's not just a question of ticking off the ingredients on a childrens' book recipe.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2010 7:48 PM PDT


Oryx and Crake
Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.49
323 used & new from $0.80

12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cliched and unimaginative, August 11, 2004
This review is from: Oryx and Crake (Paperback)
As a long term fan of both sci-fi and Attwood, O&C should have been my ideal holiday reading. Instead, it's a real disappointment. The sci-fi elements are predictable and cliched, and the rest shallow and unbelieveable. None of the characters have any depth and their motivations are hazy. We never really learn why Crake destroys the world, nor why Oryx is involved with Jimmy or Crake's project. The minor characters are simply cardboard cutouts. On top of all that, the heavy-handed anti-corporate and global warming messages are simplistic and naive. Why two stars then? Two reasons: the writing is elegant and effortless, and the last page provides a moment of genuine interest.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.97
1125 used & new from $0.01

15 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's just plain bad..., May 24, 2004
I enjoyed the first four books in the series, but this one was just awful. It's far too long, short on ideas and humour, and the attempt to make Harry a teenager is unsucessful. The Voldemort story doesn't get anywhere, and the 800 pages drag along.
As for the new characters, JKR is trying too hard to please her supposed audience. A "cool" young woman wizard with pink hair, a black wizard etc...as for Harry's girlfriend, please, what's the point? Teenage themes are catered for in different books - we don't want them in the Harry series, particulalrly if they're done so badly!
I fear for the last two books in the series, unless JKR can perform a U-turn and get back to the original stlye that made the first four so readable.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.97
1125 used & new from $0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars In need of a firm editor, February 27, 2004
As a big fan of the previous Potter books, I was disappointed by the latest installment. Somehwere inside The Order of the Phoenix is a decent addition to the series, but the trouble is, it's hidden away under pages and pages of dense and dreary drivel. The first third of the book could be binned without any loss, and there is a vast swathe in the middle that could also go. As for the new "grown up" Harry, well....not JK's strong point, writing about teenagers' love lives and tantrums. And rather pointless - we want a fast-moving, funny, action-packed ans surprising tale of a young wizard, not a dull story of Harry's first crush. I only hope that the next one is shorter and back to the point.


The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials
The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.88
276 used & new from $0.01

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Diminishing returns, February 27, 2004
I read the HDM Trilogy in one go and enjoyed it. Sadly however, the quality and inventiveness decreases from book to book, whilst the preachiness increases. I found much of the material in The Amber Spyglass to be boring, contrived or unconvincing. For example, the Mulefa are rather silly and trite. They don't really add much to the story and Mary is a little pointless as a charcter, despite supposedly have a big role to play. The visit to the land of the dead is overlong and the relationship between Lyra and Will just doesn't seem real. These are 12-13 year olds after all. In the end, Pullman is a good storyteller, bu no Milton.


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