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Fiona Mac "mayhawke"

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The Boy Who Wouldn't Go to Bed (Picture Puffins)
The Boy Who Wouldn't Go to Bed (Picture Puffins)
by Helen Cooper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.90

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best bed-time book for babies.EVER., 1 Dec. 2007
This book is delightful on so many levels that it is almost difficult to know where to start. Cooper's artwork is, as always, breathtaking. The imaginative pictures depict a landscape made up of all the things around which the baby's world revolves: the sleepy tiger that is in fact a pyjama case; the train crowded with all the sleeping toys and nursery rhyme characters. Cooper builds a world that is enchanting and delightful to parents and at the same time interesting to children. More importantly her use of subtle colours, and soft lines add a restful and dreamlike quality to these images that is in keeping with the notion of sleep and bedtime.
And all that is before you even get to the text! This is a wonderfully well-structured story. The text starts out full of energy and vigour as the baby 'Vroom-chuga-chug's' off into this make-believe world and then gradually the pace becomes slower and more restful and - in the best possible way - more soporific.
It is not hard to read this book, the text leads even the most awkward reader by the hand, making it's own patterns and rhythms almost magically dictating the speed and volume for the reader.
I bought my first copy many years ago when the older of my nine children were still quite young and the smaller ones hadn't yet made an appearance. My youngest (now two) won't go to bed without it and I have reached the point of being able to read it without even thinking about it.
We've are on our third copy of this book and it has been universally successful, in spite of gender, taste and personality differences. It is hard to imagine a child to whom this book wouldn't appeal.

Apollo 13 (2 Disc Special Edition) [1995] [DVD]
Apollo 13 (2 Disc Special Edition) [1995] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £8.43

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Simply Breathtaking., 24 Feb. 2007
On a scale of 1-5? Oh, this is a 6! **

No matter how many times I see this film (and I have seen it quite a few times by now) I never fail to be moved by the amazing story being told and the excellence of Ron Howard's film-making.

The staggeringly good cast centres about Hanks, Bacon, Sinise, Paxton and Harris. Never once do any of these disappoint in their performance.

Their spot-on delivery of such simple yet evocative lines as: 'We just lost the moon' and 'I prefer to think of this as our finest hour' presenta wealth of emotions, whilst underscoring the strength and resilience of the human character; at the same time and with equal simplicity 'Christopher Columbus, Charles Lindberg and Alan Armstrong!' expresses one ordinary man's amazement at his friend's new-found place in the history books. The simple efficiency of the writing in this script has resulted in one of the best screenplays Hollywood has ever produced. The first-class direction and acting have ensured a powerful and convincing transfer from paper to celluloid.

Although this is not a 'Special Effects' film, there are a considerable number of effects in the film. Downplayed and used as such effects truly should be (as a technical enhancement to, rather than the object of the film) they convincingly and chillingly impart the sense of isolation felt by the Astronauts.

This 'aloneness'; their captivity in a the tiny LEM; the lack of action available to them is succinctly counter-balanced by the numerous ground crew, unfettered in thier movements as they rush round NASA desperatly, and with unending ingenuity, trying to solve one problem after another before time, power and oxygen run out for the three men in space.

**Rating Explanation

I watch and own a huge number of films and can sit through most

dross. My ratings are based on my personal response to films,not

any standard of quality. Therefore:

1 star : So awful I walked out/switched off/fell asleep

2 stars: I managed to watch all of it, but it was painful

3 stars: It's OK - quite good, but I probably wouldn't watch it again

4 stars: It's good and/or enjoyable. I could happily watch it again

5 stars: These are special. My desert island films.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2012 9:12 PM BST

Murder in Steeple Martin (Libby Sarjeant Mysteries 1) (A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Series)
Murder in Steeple Martin (Libby Sarjeant Mysteries 1) (A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Series)
by Lesley Cookman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow starter soon pulls you in, 24 Feb. 2007
This book starts a little slowly but very soon rewards those who stick with it and becomes one of the most engaging books I have read in a long time. Vaguely reminiscent of Agatha Raisin, in that the heroine is a dumpy middle-aged, neurotic woman who lives in deeply rural England with a cat. Yet this is by no means a rip-off.

Somewhat less manic than A.R., both series carry on an old and well-established style of British Mystery writing. That said, it is clear that Lesley Cookman has gone out of her way to break some of the rules. For example there is only -shock, horror!- *one* murder in her book;her characters have no access to the Police enquiry, so are working completly in the dark; and as much as she can she has avoided having characters do obviously stupid things.

This is not an earth-shattering book, but it is a thoroughly good read and is well-worth the asking price. I will definately be reading all sequels and recommend other to do likewise.

The Big Over Easy: Nursery Crime Adventures 1
The Big Over Easy: Nursery Crime Adventures 1
by Jasper Fforde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adams, Pratchett, and now Fford, 14 Feb. 2007
I picked this up on the off-chance in Ottakars, when it was on special. This is how I like to try out writers that are new to me. Buy 'em cheap and then it doesn't matter if (as is so often the case) they end up in the secondhand-bookshop.

If only more of them had fulfilled their promise as this did. I really wasn't entirely clear on what I was getting, (that happens to me sometimes - I thought 'The Mummy' was a horror film!) but I'm so very glad I got it.

What Adams did for Sci-Fi and Pratchett is doing for Fantasy, so now Fford s doing for the 'tec novel. This amazing imagination give us a story in which Humpty-Dumpty, noted intellectual, womaniser and law-bender,is found dead at the bottom of a wall. It looks like suicide, but is it? Enter Jack Spratt hard-working, family-man detective with the Nursery Crimes Division.

Few things, even those I love actually make me laugh out loud, but this managed it on several occasions. If you like off-the-wall, bizarre or just plain silly, buy this.Then buy the rest of his books.

Fisher-Price Miracles & Milestones Mix & Match Musical Mobile
Fisher-Price Miracles & Milestones Mix & Match Musical Mobile

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visual stimulation for disabled/visually impaired, 14 Feb. 2007
Ok, I write most of my baby toy reviews with disabled and visually impaired children in mind, partly because I have a 3yr old with CP and partly because no one else does.

This is over all a very good toy. My older children bought it for my little girl at Xmas. It is always hard to find things for her as she is fully dependant and has poor eyesight. It has been enormously successful, especially in settling her if she wakes up during the night.

The high contrast colours (black & white;red & yellow etc) enable her to see the birds hanging from the mobile, and also the 'plates' they hang from. These plates can be turned to show less contrasting pictures if this is not an issue, they do not spin by themselves as the mobile moves, though.

The rotation of the 'mobile' part is quite slow and may not be enough to keep a more mentally agile child occupied for long in daylight, however the real success of this toy is in it's night-time mode.

I had somethng similar years ago for my older children, and wasn't hugely impressed. The light just wasn 't powerful enough, and when I first turned this on (in a partially lighted room) I was afraid this was going to be the same. I was wrong. The light show spreads clearly over a large area of the ceiling and my little girl has no problems seeing it. It rotates at just the right speed to be restful without being so slow that it's boring.

The mobile can be operated in several different modes ranging from no light/no sound to all singing, all dancing light, sound, and rotation.
Thre are two types of music: Classical and Lullaby. Switch between these two by pressing one of the two large buttons at the bottom of the control unit. These buttons are perfectly placed, in fact, for a baby to be able to bash them and change the music theirself. They are 'soft' buttons, easily pushed and even my little girl - who has very little co-ordination - can take a swipe and manage to change the music.

As baby grows the toy can be adapted to become just a light-show toy, attached to the side of a bed.

My only mild complaint about this toy is that the programme isn't long enough. Once started it goes for about ten minutes, an adjustable timer for this would have been brilliant. If she wakes up at night she is happy as long as this is playing - which means I only have to get out of bed every ten minutes to push the buttons again!

All-in-all though, it's already proving itself worth the money.

The Dangerous Book for Boys
The Dangerous Book for Boys
by Conn Iggulden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.10

105 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Dangerous' by name, dangrous by nature!, 4 Dec. 2006
I was browsing my local bookshop when this gorgeous bookcover caught my eye. I picked it up flicked through it and realised that it was the perfect gift for my son's 11th birthday.

Now my son is one of those little boys for whom the only Tv channels begin with the words 'Discovery' or 'History', and whose interests could largely be summed up as 'sharp, pointy things'(historical men with big knives and extinct animals with big teeth.) He is also very creative;he spends hours drawing or building things - ballistae out of toothpicks, rafts out of twigs, castles out of cereal boxes, toilet roll holders and sticky back plastic. And this is where the 'Dangerous' bit comes in.

Not only have I had to haul off down to the dump to find him old pram wheels to make is own go-kart, he is now fully equiped to make is own bow and arrows. Which it transpires are even more effective that a coathanger and a 'laccy band... then there's the catapults and the tripwires.

I am also in danger of going deaf as I am constantly regaled with historical trivia about the British Monarchy, famous battles, astronomy,cricket and rugby, insects, the solar system, the Ten Commandments, clouds, light, trees, pirates, chess and the world in general (although I have to admit that this is only marginally worse since the arrival of the book).

So far I've managed to keep him from making fire-proof cloth (because he'll want to test it afterwards), and I think I've convinced him that you can't build a damn great tree-house in a ten-foot Elder tree, but I havn't managed to stop him taking his siblings pocket money since he learnt how to play Poker.

He was recently asked by a coy young lady to comment on the condition of her hair, which query elicited a very blank look and the response: 'Yeah... Are we allowed in the ball pit yet?' - so I don't think the pages about 'Girls' are going to cause me any problems yet, although they had me in stitches.

What else can I say? I love this book (so does my son). It's marvelous. Buy it. Today. Even if you're not a boy. Although if you keep boys - of any age - around the house and you just want a quiet life maybe you should keep it hidden.

John Adams Crystal Clear
John Adams Crystal Clear

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value for money, 4 Dec. 2006
This review is from: John Adams Crystal Clear (Toy)
I bought this for my daughters 10th birthday, and it was a great success.

Watching the crystals grow was really amazing, even to those of us over 18, and the 'trees' are truly beautiful.

They are very, *very* fragile though, so if you want to leave them on display after they have grown make sure you put them in the spot where they will be displayed right from the start. Look at them the wrong way and they fall apart!

Pictionary Mania
Pictionary Mania
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £39.99

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Manic Mania, 4 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Pictionary Mania (Toy)
I bought this when I was looking for the original Pictionary and couldn't find it in the shops. I was a little unsure about it as I didn't really know how it was going to play.

It turned out to be huge success. The variety of ways of 'drawing' really do earn it the title of 'Mania'. I have six children aged between 10 and 16, and this game is regularly pulled out of the cupboard to while away the hours, not to mention it's popularity at sleepovers, and when family come to stay. 'People Putty' in particular seems to produce hilarious results.

This is not a quiet game so if you have a group of teenagers playing it you might want to invest in some ear plugs.

It seems to appeal to girls more than boys, although that could be a bias that it is more predominant in this house where the boys are football and war-game players.

To get the best out of this game you really need to have at least three people on each team. My only real complaint, though, is that the drawing boards are not good. We got around that by buying some cheap notebooks and pencils.

All-in-all I stringly reccommend this game.

Ocean's Twelve [DVD] [2004]
Ocean's Twelve [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £1.96

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So lightweight it disappeared completely....,, 8 May 2006
This review is from: Ocean's Twelve [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
The follow up to the remake of 'Oceans Eleven' this is one of the best examples of Hollywood producers not knowing when to leave well enough alone, and trying to cash in on the success of an earlier film with trite rubbish.

It has all the technical quirks of the first that gave that film it's 'feel' (the Clooney/Pitt 'unfinished sentence' conversations, stop-motion cuts, quirky music etc.), but this is the proof that making a good film is like making a good quiche - you can have all the right ingredients but if you don't do it properly you just end up with a plate full of sludge.

It also helps to have a plot. What passes for the plot in this film is so absurd that it can't sustain a film even as lightweight as this.

Don Cheadle is still speaking his rather quaint Dick-Van-Dykelish, and the two brothers are still squabbling, but the other characters all seem to have undergone a peculiar metamorphosis. They appear to have been written by someone lacking the skill, which has drawn clumsily on second-hand clichés. Damon has become the weak-kneed, over-eager social conscience of the group; Gould has become bland; the Chinese acrobat still can't speak English but everyone else can understand him. Worst of all, Andy Garcia who was so wonderfully, and chillingly menacing in the first has become a joke of a bad-guy: a cane-carrying renaissance man who can tinkle the ivories, speak fluent Chinese and illogically doesn't kill the 11 when finds them - because a total stranger asked him not to. They are no longer characters but caricatures.

Then there's Catherine Zeta-Jones. She plays the beautiful (naturally) daughter-of-a-thief cop who specialises in 'master thieves', and has previously been involved with Pitt's character [yawwwwwn]....

You would have thought it would be impossible for a cast like this to make something so dire. Apparently it isn't.

I don't know how the film ended because I fell asleep, so it's stretching my personal rating system** to give this two stars, but I like watching the actors. Not that I missed anything. The end seemed predictable to me, and when I asked my daughter - who managed to stay awake - it turned out I was right.

What a waste of time, money, effort and people.

**Rating Explanation: I watch and own a huge number of films and can sit through most dross. My ratings are based on my personal response to films, not any standard of quality.


1 star : So awful I walked out/switched off/fell asleep

2 stars: I managed to watch all of it, but it was painful

3 stars: It's OK - quite good, but I probably wouldn't watch it again

4 stars: It's good and/or enjoyable. I could happily watch it again

5 stars: These are special. My desert island films.

The Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin Mysteries)
The Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin Mysteries)
by M C Beaton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pick up, open, don't move for the next five hours, 21 April 2006
Agatha Raisin is an awful woman but I promise that by the time you finish this book you will love her, warts and all.

A self-made woman who sells her business and retires early to her dream-cottage in the Cotswolds (furnished by an expensive interior decortator, naturally).

Agatha suddenly finds herself in a completely alien environment. In a effort to make her mark on the village and announce her arrival, she plots to win the village Quiche baking contest. Her plan is simple - she will enter, as her own work, a quiche bought from a top-class delicatessan in London. Unfortunatly for Agatha, the judge dies after eating it and her deception is uncovered. Worse she finds herself being held responsible for his death.

And this is when you start finding your self falling for her. From the moment the plot is hatched the reader can't fail to know the outcome, but rather than feeling righteous indignation on the part of the other contestants you can only feel sympathetic embarrasment for the situation you know Agatha is going to find herself in.

Convinced that she can redeem herself in the eyes of those around her Agatha sets off to solve a crime the police insist hasn't happened.

Highly enjoyable and amusing, you will alternate between wanting to throttle the Stupid Cow and wanting to offer her a shoulder to cry on.

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