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Mrs. Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom)

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by Isla Morley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared..., 20 Sep 2014
This review is from: Above (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I defy you not to hear the cold hard clanging of a thick metal door behind you as you enter the first pages of part one - `Below'... of `Above'. Also this book has the exquisite temptation, teasing torment, of knowing you could turn the pages on and read the end to see if....Your assumptions will be challenged, your preconceptions knocked about.

Atmospheric, taut, terrible, and haunting; I get the feeling that Isla Morley may have read 'The Flowers in the Attic' series in her youth. And I suspect, `The Children of Men', later. Yes, it's like 'Room', and will be compared to it. `Above' is far more complex and even more imaginative. Not spoken by a child with one aim in sight, this time we are led by a sixteen-year-old girl, who ages through the pages. The depth of terror, the tempo of time slowed down, then accelerated, the only initial release being the feast of memory, is even more involving. Our heroine has a neat turn of phrase to amuse, with black humour. She is likeable and mature beyond her years.

Survivalist doom merchant `Mister', the local librarian, insists he has `delivered', nay, saved, Blythe. She knows that he has kidnapped, stolen, her. Deep, deep underground in an abandoned silo, the pair coexist in a nightmare world of tension, fear, and disintegration, physical and mental. Into this disastrous scenario children come. Time speeds up for the reader, as thankfully, we are not subjected to the endless march of days, there are merciful jumps in the narration.

Chilling (I will never clear my mind of the `Married Time' passages) frustrations (why can't she escape) and at times ungratefully, perhaps, boredom with Blythe and her twisted life. Her solid good nature and sound upbringing stands her in reasonable stead but eventually all must be rubbed out, lost, and only their screwed up reality remain. Isla Morley certainly puts us in there with them; she skilfully immerses us in their present.

Although set out on a vast Kanvas canvas, being narrowed down, condensed, Part One is a play like structure. Part Two is a filmic something else. A new character, the aptly named 'Adam' has developed and taken over the stage. To talk about it would be to spoil that jolt, that shock that will, on closing the book probably send you straight back to Part One to look at everything anew.

Tremendous writing, that at times, doesn't seem to move quite fast enough, but looking back over it, there is reason for that, so much more is going on than initially seems possible. Well done, Isla Morley.

Fisher-Price Puppy's Smart Train Toy
Fisher-Price Puppy's Smart Train Toy
Price: £27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A wide age group of children will love this, 18 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This train toy is colourful, bright, fun to look at; it's very solidly built in the reassuring Fisher Price way - surprisingly uncommon for baby and toddler toys.

It looks like it can take a few knocks and drops and indeed already has. There are lots of interactive features - buttons, lights and spoken sections, which encourage the child to interact, e.g. 'Can you make a sound like a monkey?' etc. The spoken elements are set at three different levels of development, so with the flick of a switch they can be made interesting and appropriate to children of different ages (yes, the one year old and three year old are currently fighting over it).

The puppy train comes with similarly well-constructed animal toys, which ride in the train and are big enough not to be fiddly. Also, the fact that the train sets off of its own accord, depending on the button pressed, causes great excitement for small children but does meant that the toy needs to be on the floor with clear space to move; it is not something to put on a table as it is heavy and would hurt anyone in the way if it chugged off the table.

There's something about the combination of lights, colours and sounds makes the whole thing very compelling to the 1 year old and 3 year old who put it to the test.

While the spoken elements of any toy are likely to become irritating to any adults in the vicinity, this toy does at least offer plenty of variety (around 50 different spoken elements), so there is less sense of hearing the same thing over and over. Again, the children thoroughly enjoy the combination of songs, questions and sounds emanating from the toy.

Overall we found this to be a solid, fun toy for more than one age of child, which looks like it will be popular and operational for a long time.

The Art of Baking Blind
The Art of Baking Blind
by Sarah Vaughan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bake Off Take Off, 17 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are many layers to this creation; it is sad and wistful, in parts, satisfying, strong and determined, in others. Reminiscent of Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope, Sarah Vaughan has an assured and thoughtful way of observing family life and the role of women. For a first novel this is amazingly mature and confident.

Life as seen through the oven door can be rewarding and therapeutic, allowing release, recognition and the achievement of ambition. It can also warp and damage. Kathleen Eaden is at the centre of the story, she is the late wife of George, a shop keeper turned business magnate. Her contribution to the world of baking came as a hugely successful and much loved book, a Mrs. Beaton for the swinging sixties. Children centric, she enthused and encouraged, inspired and educated a whole generation. Much of her success came from the image she projected, one which as one comes to realise was based on her dreams rather than her reality. Now in the present a group of contestants are gathered to compete for the title of the new Mrs. Eaden.

Spiced and seasoned by contemporary references to fashionable products and preoccupations, this is fresh and appealing writing, hovering just above the chick lit bar. The judge called Dan (a nod to Dan Leperd?) is the dishy potential love interest.

Vicki, a primary school teacher and mother of little Alfie isn't finding being a stay at home middle class Mum quite enough. Cuddly Jenny, a retired nurse from Suffolk is an empty nester with a husband who won't touch her delicious goodies in both senses of the word. Karen from Winchester is the perfectionist wife of a successful lawyer who is controlling her appetite in an unhealthy way. Claire is an insecure young mum who works in the Exeter Eadens store, on a minimum wage, just dreaming of a chance to use all the expensive ingredients she passes over her scanner daily. She can't help guessing at what recipes are planned by the purchases she deals with. Widower Mike is coming out of the fog of grief and nurturing his two children in a homely way, baking is helping him more than he realises.

The stage is set for these gentle and mostly hardly competitive people, all with back stories that boil and bubble below the surface. Jealousies, anxieties, family fears all recede when the various challenges are undertaken. The thoughts of the original Mrs. Eaden intersperse the pages along with her homilies about the art of baking. Kinder, Kuche are the preoccupations of Kathleen; she has a terrible, heart rending struggle to produce a living baby that overwhelms everything else in her life.

Who will win the competition seems less important than whose life will be transformed by the experience, they all have something to sort out. 'Baking Blind' refers to a most tricky baking procedure, essentially requiring the cook to avoid the soggy bottom syndrome. Much of what is written in this book reminds one of 'The Great British Bake Off' but no matter there is more than enough originality to keep you involved. Now I am off to whip up a tray of tasty tea treats...

Smart Weigh Precision Digital Vanity / Bathroom Scale, "Smart Step-On" Technology, Tempered Glass Platform and Large Backlight Display
Smart Weigh Precision Digital Vanity / Bathroom Scale, "Smart Step-On" Technology, Tempered Glass Platform and Large Backlight Display
Offered by Five Star
Price: £19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars On balance these are brilliant, 17 Sep 2014
A newpaper headline this week runs: "Want to stay slim? Weigh yourself every week: Key to keeping off pounds could be as simple as hopping on scales..."

You couldn't do better than to choose these - the Smart Weigh Body Scale is stylish, straightforward, use out of the box simple. Don't bother with the instructions, all is plainly obvious.

Weighing regularly helps to keep your waistband in check, it can reboot a diet, give you a warning or happily reassure you that you are on the right track.

The large LED display shows brightly lit figures that you will find very easy to read. If you can see over your tummy of course. The display will shut off after ten seconds, in case anyone is peering over your shoulder!

The weighing happens when you step on, the scale reacts to the pressure and shows your weight in lbs, stones and lbs, or kg. All up to a weight of 330 lb. (about 23 and a half stone)

The clear glass is thick, high tempered and of top quality. A foot square, the platform is smooth and stable to stand on. A hard floor is required as usual. 2 CR2032 batteries are included and will be easy to replace online.

I really like this product and it looks smart as well as being accurate, as far as I can tell. I was supplied with this in return for a review which I am delighted to give.

Pilot G207 Gel Rollerball Pen Rubber Grip Retractable 0.7mm Tip 0.4mm Line Red Ref BLG20702 [Pack of 12]
Pilot G207 Gel Rollerball Pen Rubber Grip Retractable 0.7mm Tip 0.4mm Line Red Ref BLG20702 [Pack of 12]
Price: £17.34

5.0 out of 5 stars See Me After School!, 17 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am not a teacher busy marking books, although I hear red ink is no longer de rigeur for academic correction; green is more likely used now, but I do need to make certain details in my work stand out, to remind me of important points, red letter days.

Scarlet ink always does that for me - illuminates and emphasises - jogs the memory and generally draws attention.

These gel pens are my favourites, they write smoothly and evenly, brightly and clearly. Uniball is the manufacturer of choice for me. The tactile red rubber grip, the clear barrel that shows what's left (you can buy refills) and the neat cap to top it all off.

They never leak and look slim and smart. As we all should!

Philips Disney Planes Children's Ceiling Pendant Lightshade
Philips Disney Planes Children's Ceiling Pendant Lightshade
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dusty to the rescue!, 16 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This lampshade is one of the those simple ideas that works really well. We have a three year old grandson who is very interested in the Disney Planes genre, he has been to see the film, enjoyed the comics, played with the individual toys and knows the names of the various cheeky characters. Dusty is his favourite.

The shade comes in an attractive illustrated box, rolled up with the lamp holder frame packed separately. It is the work of moments to construct and once in place no need to touch it again - until the child becomes embarrassed at owning such a shade probably a good ten years away!

Low energy light bulbs would be best to keep the shade cool. The cut out feature is quite modest, a few stand out wing flaps, nothing fancy or dust gathering.

To go with a theme you could add other Planes items to the room, quilt covers etc.

BETA Adult Terriers with Chicken, 2 kg (Pack of 4)
BETA Adult Terriers with Chicken, 2 kg (Pack of 4)
Price: £23.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Breed specific foods take the guess work out of providing proper nutrition., 16 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We have a Jack Russell Terrier in our family who comes to stay from time to time, and so I am pleased to offer him his own meals instead of watching him try to wolf down kibble designed for bigger springer spaniels. He has little pointy teeth and a small mouth so needs a smaller bite sized food.

Terriers are tremendous characters, ours is definitely a one off. He is famous for wandering off, happily less so now he has been neutered; just after the op he put on quite a tubby tummy, with this food his weight will stay under control. Trouble is he sometimes gets two dinners as he has various friendly houses he calls on.

This terrier also goes into church and actually prays with the local ladies, sitting up on his hind legs, paws together; he joins in band practice by jumping up onto a chair and fixing the conductor with his beady eye, and he queues up for lottery tickets in the village shop. He even goes to the pub on Christmas Eve and has to be ejected after last orders.

Beta foods by Purina for Terriers aim to build muscle mass support and grow strong bones. They are apparently delicious too, judging by the enthusiasm with which they are greeted!

PLEMO Sunflower Automatic Folding Travel Umbrella
PLEMO Sunflower Automatic Folding Travel Umbrella
Offered by Claybox
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zinging in the rain, 15 Sep 2014
What fun to have a sturdy sunflower umbrella to hand when the showers strike. I was sent this product for review and it has a tidy new home in my car pocket. Not really a 'hand bag' model, being of heavier build and weight.

Slip it out of the pretty matching sleeve, undo the velcro tab, aim the umbrella into clear space and press the arrow for up, like the one on a car door. The automatic action is pretty fierce so aim the umbrella away from anyone else, it shoots open with surprising strength.

More than enough room for two underneath and a yellow sunshiny glow to cheer you. When putting this away you reverse the process, press the down arrow, for again a definite click and deconstruct action. To get the handle back into the holder I had to push mine against my knee, it requires a bit of force.

The handle is soft black rubber, quite tactile, the feel is top quality, well made and altogether useful to have to hand.

#1 Deluxe Solar Garden Security Flood Spotlight - The FireBlaze (TM) - Wireless Ultra Bright LED - Outdoor Exterior PIR Motion/Angle Sensor - Wall Mount for Path, Shed, Garage, Porch, Fence, Gate - Long Lasting Rechargeable Batteries Included - Night Intruder Alert - Free Home Security eBooks - Protect Your Investment with 90 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
#1 Deluxe Solar Garden Security Flood Spotlight - The FireBlaze (TM) - Wireless Ultra Bright LED - Outdoor Exterior PIR Motion/Angle Sensor - Wall Mount for Path, Shed, Garage, Porch, Fence, Gate - Long Lasting Rechargeable Batteries Included - Night Intruder Alert - Free Home Security eBooks - Protect Your Investment with 90 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
Offered by Pampered Gardens
Price: £49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Pocket product packs a punch, 15 Sep 2014
This isn't a very big item, it arrived in a packet nine centimetres by twelve centimetres. Quick and easy to secure to a fence or wall, it can do the job of a far larger light.

I prefer the use-abilty of this new solar motion sensor light, it is much less startling and obtrusive than the big box mains powered security versions. At present mine is tightly wedged into a fig tree that stands above a very dark, rough path, it is reassuring to have the way home lit with a motion alert.

Waterproof, heatproof, tidy and neat in appearance, with a twelve hour charge from general outdoor light, it seems almost too good to be true. However I have tested it over several nights and can confidently say it does the job brilliantly!

Thank you Henry Baker for another excellent product from your garden range, I received it in return for an honest review which I am delighted give it today.

Five Days Left
Five Days Left
by Julie Lawson Timmer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five days well spent., 15 Sep 2014
This review is from: Five Days Left (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Two complicatedly challenged lives are running along parallel tracks, both on a five-day countdown. Such a short time, yet this novel is deeply dense with dramatic detail, so it feels substantial and gathers you up in their dilemmas.

Not a quick read, despite the brief timescale; there is lots to find out about Scott and Mara. On the outside they are strangers but late at night they can talk almost without restraint, their feelings, exposing and testing out their fears and their intended decisions.

Mara, a high flying lawyer, is suffering from Huntington's disease and cannot contemplate continuing to endure her debilitating illness, and the effect it is having on her loved ones. The inevitable relentless downwards progress; she will wait no for longer than it takes for her to say her goodbyes, make her plans. She has a birthday in five days time and that will be the day she intends to leave her life.

Scott, a committed teacher, has become bound by a deep love for a foster child who must be returned to a less than suitable life. Laura, Scott's wife, is expecting their baby, she is more sanguine and realistic. Sharply observed and brutally honest prose puts us deep in Scott's mindset; he is a man who cannot help his feelings and they are not always what Laura might wish for.

An internet forum is what connects the two, known only by user names, their messages fly back and forth, peeling away layers and hinting at what is to come. This is truly contemporary, an exciting new angle to plot definition.

Beautifully drawn characters fill the pages - Curtis and Bray, the two brothers who come to mean so much to Scott, Mara and Tom's adopted daughter Laks, her friends `Those ladies' who are her support team along with her brave and loving parents, are very real and loveable.

This book will keep you company for around five days reading time I reckon. As the tension builds you may find yourself resenting time spent away from it. A little like Jodi Picoult's books; written primarily for the American reader, there's quite a lot about basket ball for instance, and the US legal and school system. No surprise as the author - a new writer, Julie Lawson Timmer, has a law degree and lives and works in the area described in her tale, Michigan, Ann Arbor. This is a great story and definitely drew me in. I learned a good deal about HD, (Huntington's disease) which really raised my awareness of the illness. I was rooting for Mara, the one I had most sympathy with, to be able to go through with her plans, it all seems so organised and sensible, knowing what would be her future; however, there's so much to make her stay...

A heartwarming and worthwhile read, with some surprises and satisfactions to leave you feeling that the end was not so bitter as you might have imagined.

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