Monday, June 28, 2010

I think it's all over.

Well England are now out of the global trumpet competition after losing to Germany 4 verses to 1. What a joy audiences worldwide have had listening to spectators blowing their vuvuzela at grown men running around in short trousers kicking a football from one side of a field to another. I have not watched any of this competition as I am not interested in trumpets or football. But the vuvuzela and the competition merchandising of regular foods and drinks has made me laugh. All the big companies have been behind this global trumpet competition to ensure that they maintain their fiercely fought market shares. I am not alone in finding this competition and merchandising amusing. Over on Grumpy Dragon the very witty Dracunculus writes on the 16th June about how he feels about the South African wank-trumpet. It is not just ordinary people who can object to the vuvuzela, some dogs are not too keen either as the video below demonstrates...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spyder Web by Tom Grace.

This book is a spy story about a computer chip that has embedded coding which can spy on the host computer. Enter our hero ex-Navy SEAL Nolan Kilkenny to save America from these international thieves and spies.

Spyder Web has 454 pages and was written in 1998 although the paperback edition was not published until 2009. The plot sadly is like a made-for-TV movie. There are no twists in the plot, it simply plods along. This novel gives the reader nothing to think about, it has no message and you take nothing away. All the characters are glamourous, rich, powerful, successful people living flash lives. It is all too cosy with all these top elite people doing really well. There is not one likeable character in this novel. It belongs to a fantasy world where characters just get on the phone and speak straight to the guy at the top. This is an unreal story and it did not entertain me. I did not like Spyder Web and I found it quite a bore. There is no realism here, just people being brash. The ending is bad and is more like a child's comic.

Spyder Web was a big disappointment, I suggest bloggers AVOID this book and so I awarded it the minimum of 1 star on Book Army . I will not be buying another of Tom's books.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Genesis Secret by Tom Knox .

In the sunburned deserts of eastern Turkey, archaeologists are unearthing a stone temple, the world's most ancient building. When journalist Rob Luttrell is sent to report on the dig, he is intrigued to learn that someone deliberately buried the site 10,000 years ago. Why?

The Author's Note at the beginning of this book explains, although this story is the work of fiction, most religious, historical and archaeological references are entirely factual and accurate. The Genesis Secret has 516 pages and was written in 2009. Tom Knox's real name is actually Sean Thomas.

This story has 2 major plot lines that the reader follows. On one hand you follow journalist Rob Luttrell as he learns all about Gobekli Tepe , an ancient site near Sanliurfa in Turkey and the Cult of Angels including Melek Taus . On the other hand you follow Detective Chief Inspector Mark Forrester in the UK as he investigates some murders that appear to be human sacrifice.

There is good plot progression throughout this novel with many twists and turns that all make complete sense. I got so much from this novel because it is so focused on explaining the facts and the theories. The Genesis Secret is a lovely adventure for the reader as you learn an awful lot about history, archaeology and religion. There is a huge amount of background, lots of anecdotes and loads of facts to back up this story and the theories. There is a lovely description of Kurdistan, the country, it's people and their culture. There are no dull pages in this book and there is great reasoning behind this story. There is lots of dry humour and a lovely use of sarcasm throughout this novel.

There is a good explanation at the end with no loose ends. Everything makes sense and although this book is fiction based on fact, it could all very well be true! Atheists will certainly enjoy this book! I very much enjoyed reading this book, which I consider to be easy reading and the use of lots of local colour made this a very full story. I think this book is excellent and I shall vote it the top score of 5 stars on Book Army . I could find no faults with this book and I think it is a great mystery, better than the Da Vinci Code. The quality is here and I will be happy to buy another of Tom's books.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Holiday review 2010.

Okay, I have typed up my holiday review and posted it onto my holiday blog for all to see!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Trapped by David McKeowen

Martin Hughes is a successful lawyer. Viktor is an illegal immigrant who meets Martin by accident and begs him to help him find his girlfriend Mila who has suddenly disappeared.

This is David's second novel and it's 551 pages were written in 2007. The real name of David McKeowen is Michael Wills who was the Labour MP for Swindon North from 1997 to 2010. McKeowen is his wife's maiden name.

Trapped is a book of many plots but all of them are thin. These minor plots involve a lawyer, a journalist, a detective, an illegal immigrant, a gangster and deals with issues of prostitution, fraud, missing persons, murder and smuggling. Trapped as a story has little focus because it is spread to thinly. The title "Trapped" is given to describe the characters because they are all trapped by their circumstances, just like the reader. This is a crime thriller although it is not very thrilling even though there are 6 deaths. David tries hard, you can see the structure and the relevance of the details yet it does not entertain. This book is very easy to put down and walk away from. The story is very bitty with a scattering of characters that only have minor links between them. The plot is poor and unrealistic - all these things would not come together like they did, in real life. The depiction of migrant workers, gangsters and their criminal activity was fair. The background on Bosnia was good. The roles of Martin Hughes the lawyer and Clive Walton the detective were shallow. The ending of this novel was daft and second rate.

Trapped was nothing special and I will not buy another of David's books. This book is poor and I vote it a MISS, giving it just 2 stars on Book Army .

Monday, June 21, 2010

A glance at the past.

First day back at work today from my holiday. I could not physically come back from Bradford so they needed to find me a day's work. There is a duty that only runs each Monday and Friday from Swansea to Minehead Butlins and back. This journey is generally done by the depot supervisor as it is not on the drivers' roster. To give me a day's work, I was the driver today.

No problem, I do Swansea, Cardiff and Newport all the time. Now Bristol, well... I lived there for 20 years and Minehead I have been to many, many a time. What a difference driving through Bristol and my old stomping grounds. Things have changed over the years, not just in Bristol but also around Bridgewater.

It was difficult to remember that I used to live in Bristol all those years. It was like reading a book and that those times belonged to a fictional character rather than me. Driving past all those pubs that John and I have enjoyed a pint in and now there is a "beer boat" docked along Hotwells Road.

Ah! all those memories came flooding back. I could not drive up the A369 Portishead road past Pill because of the weight restriction. I have many memories left behind in Pill and the Bristol area. Somewhere there is even a copy of my genes and yesterday was fathers' day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back from my holidays.

Natural Yogurt is now back from his holidays and my blog will continue. Nice to be back home from lounging about an hotel at Hammamet in Tunisia. Back to Cardiff in south Wales, but what is this I see at the bottom of my garden? The neighbour at the bottom right of my garden has hung up 2 flags and a lot of bunting. These strange flags are white with a red cross and a word that declares "ENGLAND". Have I got the right house because my key fits? Oh, it must be one of those global competitions where grown men run about in short trousers whilst kicking a football about and spectators blow trumpets at them.

I think I have some catching up to do as I have not bothered with the news or the internet for 15 days.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The smell of it.

During my rest break in London yesterday I went for a walk. Rather than walk along main roads, I can confidently walk down side streets, cut off corners and go just where I please. I was walking along in my usual day-dream and then it hit me, it hit me hard, real hard, up the nose. What the...? I thought, where the devil am I? It was the smell, this smell - it was just gorgeous, it reminded me of being abroad on holiday. It was the smell of food, not any food but Arab food. WOW! what a lovely surprise, I could picture myself on holiday walking along and enjoying the local sounds and smells.

The smell of this food was lovely and it caused an instant response in me. All I could think of was being away on holiday, enjoying the freedom of strolling around and enjoying the food. The smell of Arab food really turns me on, it is like switching on a light bulb with me. I looked up and read the sign above the restaurant, Ishbilia - Lebanese Cuisine , I walked to the end of the block and the sign read William Street.

Ah, it will not be long now before Stephen can once again stroll down foreign streets enjoying the local sounds and smells. We are going off to Hammamet in Tunisia for our holiday tomorrow so this blog will be quiet for 2 weeks.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari .

The back cover of this book reads...

In the most brutal killing crusade Philadelphia has seen in years, a series of young Catholic women are found dead, their bodies mutilated and their hands bolted together. Each clutches a rosary in her lifeless grasp.

Veteran cop Kevin Byrne and his rookie partner Jessica Balzano set out to hunt down the elusive killer, who leads them deeper and deeper into the abyss of a madman's depravity. Suspects appear before them like bad dreams - and vanish just as quickly.

...This book has 497 pages and was written in 2005. In the end there are 9 deaths featured in this novel which is a crime thriller. I found this book okay, I will give it 3 stars on book army and it passed my quality threshold. The Rosary Girls is nothing special though, so I will not buy another of Richard's books. This book will be okay if it is passed on to you but do not go out and buy a copy because there are better books in the shops.

One nice touch about this book is that there are several short chapters throughout the novel that are written solely in italics. These short chapters contain only the thoughts of the killer. However, the Rosary killer plays a very small part of the story. Yes, you read about the deaths but you do not read about the killer. You read about the crime scene but the actual Rosary killer is only mentioned in passing.

The detectives investigate the killings and follow 2 suspects who later prove to be innocent. As a reader you will also suspect the same 2 individuals but also another 2 characters who also later prove to be quite innocent. You do not need to be an expert in religion to understand the rosary and Catholicism. The reasoning behind the plot is weak. The Rosary Girls is a shallow run-of-the-mill story with a poor ending. It is not really about solving the crime but more about working with a partner. This novel is quite buddy-buddy and explores police life and working relationships in great detail. Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are the central characters and are both portrayed as good, salt of the earth people. Richard does over-play the multi-cultural aspects of this novel, it is all aligned to Irish-American this or Italian-American that. The main message of this novel and the part you take away with you is that it is so very easy to accuse the wrong person just because they tick all the right boxes.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Whites must not apply.

Bristol City Council is facing criticism after the two-year graduate placement, worth £18,000, was offered only to ethnic minorities. A spokesman said today: "This is the third year of running the traineeship and it was started because of the marked under-representation of BME (black and minority ethnic) people in the council's workforce. Seven per cent of our staff are BME compared to 12% in the city population and the figure for BME is even lower at management grades.

"The normal recruitment process was not rectifying this unacceptably low trend, so there was a strong case for this small positive recruitment traineeship for two BME graduates a year, as set out by section 37 of the Race Relations Act 1976. We have a total workforce of over 9,000 employees (excluding school staff) so this is a very small training programme."

...Well, I think this stinks, people should be employed only on merit and not ethnic origin. Our democracy is based on one person, one vote. We should all have the same opportunity to apply for jobs and not put at an advantage because of our ethnic origin. It is wrong to single out groups when recruiting workers. Who decides who belongs to these special groups? How big would these special case groups be? What happens if you think that some members of these special groups are themselves unrepresented? No, forget this rubbish about special ethnic groups and treat everybody the same. It should not make any difference if an employer does not have a member of staff from some obscure village in a third world country.

Why has Bristol City Council decided to name their own special focus group BME? The name BME surprised me and I did not think of black or minority ethnic people but people sporting body modifications . Mind you, some minority ethnic people do indeed have some piercings or tattoo's though!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I had an email forwarded to me that had a simple idea that could catch on.

When someone is taken ill suddenly or has been involved in an accident, the medical services may not know who to contact. As mobile phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" ( In Case Of Emergency). The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, emergency service personnel and hospital staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as "ICE."
For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.

This is a simple idea that could catch on. Some people have loads of names in their mobile telephone and by listing the emergency contact number as ICE, could reassure a loved one.

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