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emma who reads a lot (London)
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Stone Arabia
Stone Arabia
by Dana Spiotta
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.94

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but uninvolving, 25 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Stone Arabia (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gosh I wanted to love this book. Don De Lillo recommends her; it's about rock music, which the novel doesn't yet seem to have tackled satisfactorily. And the premise is fascinating: Denise, the main character, has a brother called Nik who has lived his whole adult life constructing a fantasy alternative existence as a famous rockstar in a fictional band.

The writing style is clear and true, but I didn't find it especially exciting; yet the real problem for me I think was a structural one about how you tell such a story. It begins for example with a momentous scene where Nik receives his first guitar, but for such a modest and quietly-wrought piece of writing, the word that sprung to my mind was 'pompous'. It just felt... a bit pompous, the way the story is told. There is fictionalised diary, filmscript, point of view changes, in the book, all of which you hope is going to bring it to life: "Nik's art was his life. And I don't know what that means about a life. I have always resisted artistic impulses of any kind."
I felt the book explained too much, and didn't allow me to figure stuff out for myself, or ponder the characters. Yets it comes garlanded with recommendations from Michiko Kakutani no less. Or perhaps that should actually have put me off. Anyway, early Don de Lillo, no. Someone else might love it. I was left cool.


Honeydew
Honeydew
by Edith Pearlman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the Honey, 25 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Honeydew (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I hummed and ha-ed about this book. I find the short story form so innately delightful, and I love the idea of this relatively unknown yet prize-winning writer, who's been working away in the form all her life. And these stories are beautifully thought-up: a campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation who has fallen strangely in love with her main speaker on the subject; a pedicurist's life.

But Pearlman's approach is so intensely reticent that it out William Trevors even William Trevor. Instead of that tiny spark of quiet realisation that you are left with, at the end of a Trevor or Munro story, I felt an even less substantial sense of what I'd learned. And for this reason, whilst I really enjoyed the stories, I was left not totally convinced, and that's the reason for four rather than five stars.


Octonauts Gup S Arctic Explorer
Octonauts Gup S Arctic Explorer
Price: £26.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Octonauts toys finally get it totally right, 18 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Great enthusiasm for this toy from our household.
"The drill looks like it's actually drilling and moving, and a door does open for the tiny machine to slide in and out."
Lots of working bits for tiny Octonaut fingers, but none of the ANNOYANCE we had with stuff not quite working, when we got the Octolab for example... Just a really nice, well-designed and imagined toy. Pairs up with the episode of the same name that appeared as a Christmas special, and splits into two parts: the ice glider, and the main ship. Has lots of different nice electronic sounds and voice extracts, like "activate antifreeze, the ship is getting too cold," but there is an ON/OFF button essential to parental sanity. I don't quite get the people saying the plastic's flimsy - this seemed like a good big heavy substantial toy to me, and came in a ginormous package which may be unecological, but is deeply satisfying to a purchaser....


How We Are (How to Live Trilogy 1)
How We Are (How to Live Trilogy 1)
by Vincent Deary
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure about 'stunning' but certainly massively thought-provoking., 18 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I started Vincent Deary's book in slightly recalcitrant mood, a bit moody about the notion that he was gonna tell me how to live. Well, he quickly put that idea to the side; he writes a lovely and rather poetic intro to explain how in his work as a therapist, he's seen many examples of both change and stuckness (which he calls, saming, as in, carrying on doing the same thing) in human lives. It's an inspiring brief, and though his style is often rather self-conciously poetic, and a bit wordy, it was also clear that he's a sincere and likeable writer.
He carries on by getting into the meat of the book itself, and here, again, some readers may pause: he tackles first of all the ways in which we... reinforce ourselves - using homes, props and routines to structure our existence and simplify daily decision-making. All very interesting - and funny, in parts - a discussion of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca I very much enjoyed..
Then he goes on to think about change, and here what i found most compelling was the difficulties of changing, the first days you struggle through after making a change to your life, and the ways in which that might come un-changed, self-sabotaged, or just unstuck.
The thing I'm not really going to be able to get across is his odd, flowery, flowing style - you'll either like it or it'll drive you mad - he self-commentates a lot, suddenly announcing he's going over the road to get a pint of milk during the writing of a chapter - and these breaks are reminders of the real human being writing, but at the same time they snap you out the flow of what he's arguing. It's not like any other "self-help" book I've ever read, but does that matter? It's a real human being, struggling with all the same problems we all do: how to make decisions about being alive. I found it curiously compelling.


Limonov
Limonov
by Emmanuel Carrere
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm, 16 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Limonov (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am slightly lost for words about ole Limonov. Listen, this is how much I like Emmanuel Carrere as a writer: I've read almost all his books, most of them in French; and even after having read and mostly disliked this book, I still bought a ticket to go and hear him talking about the novel, in London.

So what's my beef? I found Limonov an uncompelling subject - despite Carrere's argument that actually he's some sort of central symbolic person for European history - a rather unseductive and very politically unappealing dude. (Yet disliking the subject matter didn't stop me loving Carrere's earlier non-fiction book about a mass murderer, L'adversaire.) In the end, even after being highly entertained by Carrere's real-life description of why he wanted to write the book, I just didn't get why he had BOTHERED. Leaving me with a gigantic sense of.... Hmmmmmm-ness. Interesting experiment, poor result.


Braun PRT2000EU Age Precision Stick Digital Thermometer
Braun PRT2000EU Age Precision Stick Digital Thermometer
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great thermometer, good price too, 16 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is loads, loads better than our last thermometer of this kind. Takes the child's temperature really quickly, which is great when they're wriggling, and is accurate and easy to read. Another review said it takes 30 seconds - no way!! more like about five! It's really useful that it has different settings based on the child's age, so that it will be calibrated for greater accuracy. THen it actually tells you if you should worry about the result - ie whether the child has a fever or not. Really really great.


After Me Comes the Flood
After Me Comes the Flood
by Sarah Perry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Vivid, but for me, never involving, 16 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I long to discover new young writers and was pleased to see this had such warm reviews, though perhaps I should have remembered that anything even slightly 'gothic' often completely fails to seduce me. The gothic here comes from a creepy old house, a driver who gets lost and ends up staying the night, a name that is mistaken for another....

This book is carefully put together, and vividly described. But I never, ever felt involved or moved by the main character and found myself eventually skipping large chunks in order to get to the explanation of what was actually happening... which - I should have guessed - never really happened. From the moment it started, with a main character who draws parallels between his own life and that of books, I felt uncomfortable and that it wasn't really 'for me'.


Disney Frozen Princess Elsa Inspired Dress up Costume Party Dress (5-6years)
Disney Frozen Princess Elsa Inspired Dress up Costume Party Dress (5-6years)
Offered by ASVP Shop
Price: £12.97

5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant alternative to expensive disney official dress, 9 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a really good dress, especially when compared to some of the cheap fancy dress outfits for sale on amazon. It's hemmed, it has a bodice, a zip, and at least three different bits of fancy decoration. The kid I gave it to was really pleased with it and wore it all christmas.


Chinese Puzzle [DVD]
Chinese Puzzle [DVD]
Dvd ~ Romain Duris
Price: £15.23

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally enjoyable, playful film with some serious questions posed and possibly answered..., 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Chinese Puzzle [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Totally enjoyable, playful film with some serious questions posed and possibly answered... Paris-based Xavier's girlfriend leaves him for someone in New York, taking the kids - he must move there too. By coincidence, he's become the sperm-donor for his best friend and her girlfriend to have a baby, also in New York, so now he has THREE children there. Then there's the immigration lawyer who advises him he should think about getting married...

This film is light-hearted in outlook, with some really funny moments, when Xavier seeks love advice from some dead philosophers, for example. But it's also a rather sweet questioning of why some relationships work and others don't, with not too much schmaltziness thrown in, rather a slightly more sombre forty-something view of love and long-term relationships. Really delightful - will go back and watch the others now.


Silence: A Christian History
Silence: A Christian History
by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening in the best way, 4 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found this book completely fascinating. I assumed it would be a completely academic study, but the personal elements revealed in the introduction - where MacCulloch mentions being gay, and the silence and evasion around gayness in Christianity, his own faith - immediately makes clear that our guide through this subject will be astonishingly wide-read and -ranging, and able to be funny as well as deeply serious.

Bridging topics from contemplation, desert anchorites, through to church denials of sexual abuse, it is extraordinarily lightly told and at the same time you feel in completely safe hands in terms of his scholarship and references. For me the most interesting parts are those concerned with early Christianity, with the religion still trying to work out what it was, Paul telling his readers "live quietly", but at the same time, using words to do so. Really a wonderful, enlightening book.


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