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J. C. Chamberlain (Manchester, Cheshire, UK)

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The Color Purple
The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book I will read time and time again, 3 April 2011
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This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
It's not a book I would have picked out for myself, as I'd barely heard of it and the events referred to aren't what I like to entertain myself by reading. But I would have missed something very special by not reading The Color Purple. Thankfully my university module included it as a set text (as I believe many do now) so it was thrust upon me.

Celie, the central character, writes in her southern (American) accent and dialect, in letters to her god and her sister. She expresses herself in letters because she cannot express herself in her normal life, where she is not loved or respected. The novel sees her grow from an abused child to an abused woman, to a woman inspired by and attracted to another woman (Shug Avery). Celie is like a rose, battered by frost in the winter, but blooming brilliant by the summer.

There are so many themes and symbols in this novel you'd be lucky to pick up on them all in the first reading. It covers racial prejudice, feminism (or womanism, as Alice Walker describes it), self esteem, rape, education, business, love and forgiveness. It's quite simply beautiful. I'd recommend to anyone open to learning about women and change.

The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford Quick Reference)
The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford Quick Reference)
by Chris Baldick
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not baffled, not disappointed, not selling, 18 Feb. 2011
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I've had this book for about a year now and have been popping in and out of it regularly, looking for an explanation of what terms mean in the literature books I study. The terms I've looked up have always been in the book. The explanations are always good enough for me to understand what the terms mean.

The book is well organised and I've been impressed with the willingness of the writer(s?) to refer to examples and then print them. Such as under 'sibilance' which I recently had to look up; the book describes what the term means "The marked reference of the 'hissing' sounds known as sibilants", then gives examples such as "(usually spelt s, sh, zh, c)" then says where it's usually used "The effect, also known as sigmatism after the Greek letter sigma, is often exploited in poetry, as in Longfellow's lines" and then a proper example: "Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing;\ Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness".

It's arranged alphabetically and there's a pronunciation guide at the front (which I've never used as I'm only reading or writing these terms).

Looking through the terms, it's pretty broad what they've included. For example I wouldn't have expected to find synaesthesia in there, as it's not a literary term, but it says it's found in poetry including Keats.

So yes, I do recommend this book to all students and scholars of literature, particularly those who are expected to understand and use poetic terms.

The Realist Novel (Approaching Literature)
The Realist Novel (Approaching Literature)
by Dennis Walder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complicated and disorganised, 6 Feb. 2011
I have been studying this book as part of the Open University course A210, Approaching Literature.

The book is in two parts.

Part one is seven chapters of analysis of Pride & Prejudice, Frankenstein, Great Expectations and Fathers & Sons. It's also an analysis of the period in which they were written, and the genre of realist novels.

Part two is nine extracts from books or essays of analysis from nine different people, including Arnold Kettle, Ian Watt, George Levine and Roland Barthes. Their subjects are closer inspection of reality or realism in novels, romance, imperialism and Jane Austen.

It's a complicated book that's difficult to study, because it's simply not clear what it's arguing. Although it is normal for OU books to be written by several different writers with different opinions, the analysis of the writers of part one is overlapping, contradictory and unfocussed. There are so many different references to Jane Austen within the analysis, of all chapters, that to find the significant quote you are looking for, you need to reread an unwieldy amount of text of either your notes or the course book. The second part of the book is better written as it's sourced from specific texts with specific meanings, and though these are still complicated, they have the benefit of being focussed.

I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone not studying Approaching Literature with the OU. Try Rhetoric of Fiction or for feminist lit crit, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination (Yale Nota Bene).

The course this book is written for is being discontinued, and so I hope they have something better for the replacement course, as this book is very poor for the Open University.

Supertooth Disco Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with UK Mains Adapter Plug - Black
Supertooth Disco Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with UK Mains Adapter Plug - Black
Price: £64.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I just don't have anything bad to say, except..., 31 July 2010
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... it's taken me ages to get the supporting hardware and software drivers for my laptop to connect to the stereo. I don't have integrated Bluetooth on my laptop and the first Bluetooth adapter I bought didn't work, and the second one (Belkin Bluetooth USB plus EDR Adapter, 100m range, v2.1) the software didn't automatically download properly (when I was on Vista) but on reinstallation (on Windows 7) worked perfectly. In between the laptop Bluetooth not working properly my Bluetooth MP3 (Sony Walkman NWZA828K) was working at the press of one button, so I was already happy the stereo was what I was looking for.

Sound quality? Yeah, nothing wrong with that- it's a powerful little speaker and considering the price of not-very-powerful speakers in the £50 price range and the only-slightly-better-than-that speakers in this price range, I certainly think I've got a bargain. It's been fine with Joni Mitchell, Nirvana, Evanescence, - heavy and strong, light and clear music. The bass is adjustable to off or on, I switch it off for listening to TV programmes but have it on for all music.

It's got this retro look to it that I like, it's just shy of 8cm high, 32cm across, 8cm deep. It comes with a snug case for portability. There's a standard English plug. It comes with a 1 metre audio cable that plugs into the headphone socket on my laptop and connects round the back of the speaker. Battery life- I've not tested it for large amounts of time, but I've had it off power for a couple of days, taking the stereo around the house (this is the only one I have that works, and the fact that it's portable is excellent) and it's never cut out.

I'm really impressed. I would definitely recommend to my friends, as long as they had a decent, compatible Bluetooth device.

Best Served Cold
Best Served Cold
by Joe Abercrombie BA
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me cold, 30 July 2010
This review is from: Best Served Cold (Hardcover)
I've read the First Law books by Abercrombie and had eagerly awaited another book from him as I had become so involved in the plight of the first books' characters that I expected great things from further work. I was surprised he'd stuck to the same 'world' but I suppose he wanted to write a single novel and with his writing, a new world would undoubtedly needed at least another trilogy.

Therein lies one of the two key problems with this novel.

It is overwritten- there are too many mini scenes that don't progress the story. He seems to have developed a problem of getting people in and out of rooms without describing every footfall. The book is probably about a third longer than the action.

The second problem is that it is impossible to warm to the characters much, not even the character perspective from whom I am reading. They're self involved, motivated by hate or money, and unreliable. Only Shivers did I really warm to, but in the end I much didn't care about what happened to him.

So I might have enjoyed this book had it been written tighter, and had there been more depth to the characters. But unfortunately as is, it's only worth the 3 stars I've given it, and sadly, I don't recommend.

The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader
The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader
by Stephen Regan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of early essays and reviews, and modern criticism, 8 Jun. 2010
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When I found this book on Amazon I was surprised to find no reviews. I bought this book because I'm trying to decide whether to study 19th or 20th century literature with the Open University, and have bought both subsidiary books (the other is A Twentieth Century Literature Reader: Texts and Debates (Twentieth-Century Literature: Texts and Debates)). Having bought the book and made a good start on reading it, I realised why there aren't any reviews- this is simply a collection of 19th century essays, reviews and modern essays, presumably dissertations. You can't review what is different on so many pages.

Part 1: Early Essays and Reviews

This section of just 122 pages contains 18 essays and reviews. I don't recognise the authors of most of them, but Robert Louis Stevenson contributes 'A Humble Remonstrance', Thomas Hardy contributes 'The Science of Fiction' and no less than Sigmund Freud gives us 'The Interpretation of Dreams'. The subjects of some of these essays are obviously famous too, such as Hippolyte Taine's essay 'Charles Dickens: son talent et ses oevres' (in English). There are brief introductions giving detail of each of the authors, and explanations on why the essay or review has been printed here.

Part 2: Modern Criticism

This is 383 pages long and is broken into the 12 books it features, with 3 to 4 essays per book. These books are:

Jane Austen- Northanger Abbey
Charlotte Bronte- Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens- Dombey and Son
George Eliot- Middlemarch
Thomas Hardy- Far from the Maddening Crowd
Emile Zola- Germinal
Gustave Flaubert- Madame Bovary
Wilkie Collins- The Woman in White
Henry James- The Portrait of a Lady
Bram Stoker- Dracula
Kate Chopin- The Awakening
Joseph Conrad- Heart of Darkness

You may wish to note that these aren't all necessarily the set books for the OU AA216 course as right now (June 2010), Dracula isn't. Which is a shame because it's one I already read and enjoyed!

These modern essays are expectedly written quite differently. For example the Stephen D Arata essay 'The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization' is written in a very 'readable' manner making it a pleasant and interesting read. However the Mary Poovey essay 'The Anathematized Race: The Governess and Jane Eyre' is densely written and requires a dictionary to read! The essay's are opinionated, as all good essays are, and use evidence to prove their points. In fact, I'd recommend this section of the book as a series of excellent examples of how to write a correct essay.

I haven't taken the course this collection was drawn together from, only read it as an interested literature reader, but I have found it enjoyable. Essays always fascinate me and it's great to read those which have been written over such an expanse of time. As this is a collection of essays it would suit a casual reader with a critical interest in literature as well as someone seriously studying it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2010 4:34 PM BST

ByteStor 16GB USB  High Speed "Dataferry" Pink Flash Drive
ByteStor 16GB USB High Speed "Dataferry" Pink Flash Drive

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple & Quick, 27 May 2010
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I received the USB stick, I plugged it into my laptop (Toshiba Satellite on Vista) and it downloaded the relevant drivers/software straightaway from t'interweb and was usable within seconds. I have a USB 2 connection. I've upgraded to the 32GB version now, the blue version (ByteStor 32GB USB High Speed "Dataferry" Blue Flash Drive) because it was cheaper, and have had no problem with that either.

The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication (Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos)
The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication (Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos)
by Wayne C. Booth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The rhetoric of Booth, 27 May 2010
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Although I find the history of rhetoric, and the history of teaching rhetoric quite interesting, I found this book too forceful in striking it's opinion. It is very much a means for Booth to display his contempt at anyone who does not appreciate the importance of rhetoric, and him, as an academic of the subject.

I found the quotes and other sources interesting and well placed, and I do appreciate the subject more now, than prior to reading this book. However it is not a substitute for any other book you may be looking for, such as The Rhetoric of Fiction, which is a suggested reading for those studying the Open University's Advanced Creative Writing course (A363).

LUPO Tiny USB 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Adapter Dongle
LUPO Tiny USB 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Adapter Dongle

2.0 out of 5 stars Faulty? Or is that just normal..., 27 May 2010
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I'm writing a review of this product in the knowledge I might have received a faulty product, so please keep that in mind before you bash my review!

I received the device and was impressed by it's size. I plugged it in and waited to see whether my laptop would be able to seek out the drivers online. When it didn't quite manage it, I installed the software.

I've been trying to connect a Supertooth Disco Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker stereo to my laptop via Bluetooth (as that's what the speaker is for). However even though I was able to establish the initial connection to the stereo (about 1 in 10 times, and there were more tries than that I assure you), I couldn't maintain it (it only worked once and after I logged off that day, it didn't work since). I've been all over the techie forums and downloaded all sorts of additional drivers, took some off, reinstalled etc, and was unsuccessful. The stereo I wanted to connect to worked with my Bluetooth Sony Walkman NWZA828K 8GB Video with Wireless Headphones so I knew the problem wasn't there. Eventually I returned the device and bought a Belkin Belkin Class 2 Bluetooth USB Adapter (Version 2.0 + EDR), which works absolutely as expected.

Therefore it could have been a faulty unit, but it might just be a poor device, in either hardware or software.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick & simple, 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I received the USB stick, I plugged it into my laptop (Toshiba Satellite on Vista) and it downloaded the relevant drivers/software straightaway from t'interweb and was usable within seconds. I have a USB 2 connection.

I ran a problem-free automated back-up straight to the USB a couple of days later and that took about an hour, and used up about three-quarters of the space. Great little device, no problems ever with ByteStor drives.

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