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Denise Kong

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Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals (Teen Instant Help)
Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals (Teen Instant Help)
by Lisa. M. Schab
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Contains thought provoking activities and takes you ..., 29 Jan. 2015
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Good book. Contains thought provoking activities and takes you through the concepts of self-esteem gradually and thoroughly. Was a suitable level for a group of 15/16 year olds, although could also be used with different age groups.

Dust Cleaner for Keyboards, Mobile Phones, Computers etc
Dust Cleaner for Keyboards, Mobile Phones, Computers etc
Offered by Betron Limited ( VAT Registered)
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff! Cleans the keyboard very well, 29 Jan. 2015
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Good stuff! Cleans the keyboard very well, good as new.

Become the Best You: Make Peace with the Past and Break the Cycle of Dysfunction
Become the Best You: Make Peace with the Past and Break the Cycle of Dysfunction
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring read, 27 Nov. 2014
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On one level, Renée Davis's self help book is down to earth, full of practical advice, clearly set out and presents the road to recovery from emotional damage in manageable steps.
It is also an inspirational story.
I've come across damaged families in my life, and the temptation is to think that the cycle spiralling further and further into destructive behaviour is inevitable. Renée describes her early life was of terrible insecurity and abuse, which led to her leaving a violent home aged just 15, with no qualifications. Yet with little outside help, and through her own determination, Renée "broke the cycle". Here, she reflects on the steps that helped her to do this.
Reading this made me change the way I thought about the capacity of the human spirit to heal itself.

The New Mrs D
The New Mrs D

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a very good book! I had a few misgivings at the ..., 19 July 2014
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This review is from: The New Mrs D (Kindle Edition)
This is a very good book!

I had a few misgivings at the beginning, where Mrs D feels very upset after throwing her new husband out of their hotel on their honeymoon, and broods on her past. However the voice soon perks up into something much livelier and funnier. This is a very funny, with the New Mrs D getting into all sorts of misadventures on a beautiful Greek island, surrounded by good food, drink and wonderful friends. I'm a great admirer of books that can make you laugh out loud, I think this is one of the most difficult things to achieve.

It's also got fantastic soul, really getting to grips with the demons in people's pasts that stop them from living their present to the full.

It also puts forward an intelligent insight into the detrimental effects that porn can have on relationships, where it becomes a prop or an addiction that prevents people from being able to find true intimacy with partners in the real world.

This is at least as good as many of the conventionally published chick lit books I've tried (not all of which I've finished...) and I don't understand why it doesn't have a publisher. Here's hoping...

Girl In God's City - 2014 ABNA Entry
Girl In God's City - 2014 ABNA Entry

5.0 out of 5 stars Heart rending, 28 April 2014
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Starts off quite low key but quickly ramps up to become heart rending - but not in an overdone way. Quite subtle, catching you out. Good sense of place as well, and a real understanding of the complexities of the family situation and its cultural context.

Toward Daylight: becoming a writer, despite everything
Toward Daylight: becoming a writer, despite everything
Price: £4.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and interesting, 21 April 2014
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Tracy Lee Karner's book is an intelligent look at writing and a personal memoir of the life that she lives.

The book begins Tracy and husband Ken's move to New England to take on a “project” of a house. They are there to find space for Tracy to write, and for a simpler life together, in the face of Tracy's debilitating fibromyalgia. This is no “Escape to the Country”! Very early on you wonder whether they know what they have taken on board. (And I think so does Tracy!)

Gradually though things start to fall into place and along the way, Tracy takes us through the stages of her illness, its sudden, puzzling onset, recoveries, setbacks. But it does make you appreciate life from inside that place. This is important, because this is a difficult thing to do successfully. As readers, and as a society, we tend to turn away from bad things that we can't solve.

Tracy describes the steps that she has taken to achieve this. You can feel her pain. BUT what keeps you reading is the sense of joy that she has managed to foster in herself and bring to the reader, taking pleasure from food, her surroundings, her community, whenever she can. She is simple and honest about the way her faith and episodes in her life have helped her to do this, but never makes demands on her reader to believe. It's simply part of her. There's definitely a place in the world for this approach – in modern literature, faith is either polarising or totally ignored.

The last section of the book is billed as a travel guide. She's selected a variety of venue types (coastal, city country etc) around Quebec and New England and then spent time on each describing how you could plan a leisurely weekend at each, which is a nice, accessible way of doing it – you can imagine yourself doing these things and it doesn't feel as hectic as a large-scale travel guide, which you have to navigate your own route through. I haven't any plans to visit New England in the immediate term, but Tracy's descriptions are very appealing. One day, when the kids have left home and I've paid off all their University debts (ha ha!), that trip round America will be mine!

Warp & Weft
Warp & Weft
Price: £7.49

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, well crafted and meaningful, 26 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Warp & Weft (MP3 Download)
Although Warp and Weft is Laura Veirs' ninth album, this talented female singer-songwriter has somehow passed me by all these years. I may no longer wear heavy skirts, or seek out so many boycotts that my nutritional well being starts to suffer, or listen to this sort of stuff any more. But when I hear about Laura Veirs, I realise that I still have a yearning to recreate the freshness of those first few Tori Amos fuelled years of my musical life.

So, yeah... Warp and Weft is good! I like the album's title, with its emphasis on the craft of singing and songwriting.

I see there's a disappointed reviewer here on who would like Laura to go back to pure folk. I have to agree that, despite my folk misgivings, I too prefer the folky tracks and am not too keen on the rockier ones. However, that's only a couple of tracks on the album, and I do wonder whether these experiments have rubbed off on the other tracks for the better. I certainly enjoyed most of the non-rock tracks more than I normally enjoy folk.

I was most impressed by the beautiful, often vocally tricky melodies, which Laura manages to riff up and down effortlessly. It's not all tight control - if she wants to let go, she does. It's all there in her voice, from a whisper, right up to a cry.

Laura was pregnant when she made this album. It's been a long time since I went through all that pregnancy and bonding with your baby stuff. These lyrics on Sun Song brought it all back to me (even though I'm not too sure what they mean).

"Matches inside your golden hair
Catch all the light, I fight to death, I swear
As all the other mothers would remember
Stalked by winter solace in a small, warm hand"

Other motherhood inspired moments are the refrain from the traditional song Motherless Children. Also there's a moving song about true story of Sadako and the paper cranes.

This isn't really my type of music any more. But it's beautiful and tuneful and it means something and it was made by someone who cares about it. Listening to it makes me realise that however much I think I have changed, and however much I still want to, some things will always stay with me.

See full review on [...]

Top of the Lake [DVD]
Top of the Lake [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elisabeth Moss
Price: £7.50

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special combination of different elements superbly done, 11 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Top of the Lake [DVD] (DVD)
This series showcases some superb writing and acting. There isn't much on TV that is as well thought out and subtle as this. It's not only a personal drama, or a police story, or a mystery, or a thriller, but it contains strong elements of all of these. For me this is a bonus but if you are only looking for one of these maybe this is not the box set for you.

There are three main strands of plot: the mystery involving the disappearance of pregnant 12 year old Tui, the personal life of detective Robin Griffin (Elizabeth Moss), and the social "shape" and history of the small town in New Zealand, which includes some very insular, inward looking locals and a community of self-healing women, led by "guru" GJ (Holly Hunter).

I like the way almost all the main characters have ambiguity to them. Lead police office Al colludes with the locals, but has his own beliefs in justice. Robin's childhood sweetheart Johnno struggles with what he sees as his own weaknesses, even as he is blind to the incredible escape he has made from the forces that have dragged down the rest of his family. Even the "good" heroine Robin succumbs unwisely to anger, but this is done in such a way that you totally understand the way her frustrations have got the better of her.

If you let it, the interaction between the characters will really move you. There are uplifting moments where characters realise things about themselves and act on these revelations. There are tension moments full of threat. And although there are occasional "thrill" moments, involving chases, if that's all you are looking for, well, it's not just about that. It's the combination of these things together that makes this so special.

More reviews on Top of the Lake at [...]

Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013]
Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Reem Abdullah
Price: £8.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and interesting - good for children as well as adults, 8 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
Wadjda is the story of a Saudi Arabian girl who wants to have her own bike. It's the first feature length film to be directed in Saudi Arabia by a female, Waifaa Al-Mansour.

The film starts with a school scene, and ten year old Wadjda is struggling against the constraints of school and society. There is tension at home too. Wadjda's father is thinking of taking a second wife. He wants a son, which Wadjda's mother cannot bear him.

Against this background, Wadjda wants to own a bike so that she can enjoy the freedom of racing against her best friend, a boy named Abdullah. To this end, she embarks upon an entrepreneurial drive, selling homemade bracelets and mix tapes from the radio, and running errands. But before Wadjda can achieve her dream of riches, the innocence of her errands is tipped upside down as easily as her bag full of contraband goods. Such things are forbidden in school, in society, where even innocent errands lead to the edges of a skirmish with the religious police.

Thus thwarted, the only route left to Wadjda is that of winning the school's Qu'ran recitation and knowledge competition. 1000 riyals are up for grabs, but this is going to be a long haul, as evidenced by a hilarious scene involving a games console, a huge flat screen television, and Islam's own version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

There's a satisfying twist towards the end, and the ending itself is bittersweet, and a bit teary. Just as this is a film about society and the choices available to it, it is a film about a mother and a daughter and sacrifices and choices that individuals make. We don't know what will happen to Wadjda, just as we have no idea how society in Saudi will develop. All we see is individuals developing, and gaining the strength to reach out to the things they want, however small they are.

Although not described as a children's film, I watched this with my children and thought it was a good way of showing them how other societies work as well as being moving and interesting as an adult's film.

See longer review at [...]
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2013 11:02 PM BST

Life After Life
Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Hardcover

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So wanted to like it but could have done with a good edit, 8 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Life After Life (Hardcover)
Life After Life follows a female protagonist, Ursula Tod from birth in 1910, through the different ways in which life would have unravelled if Ursula had died at various hair raising points in her life. A couple of World Wars, as well as other tragic scenarios, are involved, and you can't fault the detailed recreations of these grim times. Also intricate plotting is one Atkinson's strong points, and this skill is well put to use here to develop this complicated conceit of the different endings.

It's an interesting concept and if anyone was going to be the writer to pull it off, it would have been Kate Atkinson. However the overall result is a bit... technical. It throws the usual patterns of character development up into the air, so that while Hugh (Ursula's father), Pamela, Maurice and Teddy (the siblings) have pretty constant characteristics throughout, Ursula's mother and Ursula, for example, herself end up with some wildly varying characteristics in the different endings. This makes it difficult to identify with the main character or sympathise with her.

Some of the story branches are clearly cul-de-sacs early on in their development and go on for too long, and although I have to say that Atkinson does a good job with not making the actual gory endings too predictable, it's difficult for the reader to invest too much in a character when you know the end is nigh and a fresh one is on its way. Some of the endings too have Ursula come across as a bit passive - a litany of tragic events that propel her towards doom.

On the positive side, this will stay with you after you've finished it. Each plight of Ursula's is mapped out with Atkinson's trademark precise, almost detached prose, emphasising the catastrophic by contrasting it with the matter of fact. But it could have done with a good edit - the length of some of the sub-stories really verges on the tedious. And since the one constant, stand out thing that follows Ursula is the shadow of her alternative histories, which compels her to do the odd irrational things to avoid her fate, it would have been more involving to see more made of this.

It's worth a read because it has ambition behind it and is memorable, but it's difficult to like. It's interesting, but with a good edit, it could have been more than interesting, it could have made you feel as well as think.

See full review at [...]
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2014 1:54 PM BST

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