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A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England)
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Jawbone Lake
Jawbone Lake
by Ray Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling picture of loss and retribution, 6 Feb 2014
This review is from: Jawbone Lake (Hardcover)
Jawbone Lake is set in Derbyshire, the home of the English Peak District, a place of rugged scenery, small towns and villages and a feeling of remoteness from the large cities which surround it. You could summarise it by saying that it’s about a young man discovering that his deceased father was not what everyone had thought him to be. But along the way we have a fine thriller, a psychological study of a young woman who is reluctantly involved in the plot and brilliant word pictures of life at the blunt end of “poverty Britain”.

Joe Arms is called back from his wealthy life in London by his mother when his father’s Land Rover crashes into the ice of a frozen lake. His father (“CJ”) is missing, presumed dead, but the police are bewildered as to the circumstances of the accident. Was another car involved? Did anyone see the accident?

The story moves to Rabbit, a young woman who works in an ice-cream factory and who was standing by the side of the lake when the accident happened. Rabbit has enough on her plate following the cot-death of her baby son and she runs from the scene, having seen another car at the scene and a man with a “dark shape silhouetted in his hand”.

The story moves between Joe and Rabbit throughout the book. Joe as searches for the truth about his father during visits to Spain and Hastings on the Sussex coast (where CJ began his career). Rabbit on the other hand goes to work as normal, but soon realises that someone is looking for her with a view to making sure that there is no chance that she will tell the police of what she saw on the fateful night.

Rabbit is a fascinating character and we learn about her yearning for her lost baby, her monotonous life in the factory and her life with her Auntie Cass and friends Kate and Frankie. The book is as much about Rabbit as it is about Joe, but the two stories are skilfully inter-twined making for a varied read.

As I read the book I found myself quickly drawn into the plot, with brief word-pictures building up just the right amount of framework in my mind. An elegant and fast-moving narrative drove me on through the pages and yet somehow leaving me feeling that this is great writing.


Birthday Balloons - Printable Amazon.co.uk Gift Certificate
Birthday Balloons - Printable Amazon.co.uk Gift Certificate
Price: 30.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gift of choice for so many people, 3 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In these days when CDs and DVDs have dropped out of popularity I find increasinlgy that the most popular adult present is an Amazon gift certificate . You just can't go wrong with it - at least for anyone who is computer-savvy and already has an Amazon account. I'm afraid I find myself buying more and more of these, so difficult is it to choose any other gift in the digital age.

I was going to buy a 50 gift card from the supermarket but then I thought, How could I post it without paying for registered post?. The Amazon gift certificate solves all my gift problems. I don't feel too good about it but that's life these days.


SanDisk SDCZ50-032G-B35 32 GB Cruzer Blade USB 2.0 Flash Drive
SanDisk SDCZ50-032G-B35 32 GB Cruzer Blade USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Price: 8.08

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My second Blade, with more to come, 3 Feb 2014
I have had the 16gb Blade for a year now and have loved it for it's tiny size and elegant design. It works well too. So when I needed a larger memory flash drive I naturally bought the Blade 32gb which has come down in price since I last looked at it.

It would be faster of course if it was USB 3 (if you have a USB3 socket on your computer) but I have just copied 20gb of files onto it and just went away and left the computer to have a cup of coffee - when I came back it was finished.

All in all, an excellent product which is great value at this price. Highly recommended.


Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (Adrian Mole 8)
Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (Adrian Mole 8)
by Sue Townsend
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously fun read, 3 Feb 2014
Like countless other people I have been following the saga of Adrian Mole since he was a mere adolescent. In recent years he dropped out of my consciousness but last month I decided to catch up and see what had happened to him. I was surprised to find his story as funny and interesting as ever and as I turned the pages I found myself more and more absorbed with the familiar characters and places who inhabit Adrian's native Leicester.

This is one of those books which makes you feel genuinely disappointed when you finish it. I can now hardly wait for the next volume (assuming Adrian survives!).


McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2014 - 3 User - 1 Year (PC)
McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2014 - 3 User - 1 Year (PC)
Price: 24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good piece of software in a crowded market, 1 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
McAfee Antivirus installed perfectly well although I chose to download the latest version from the website rather than using the CD which is presumably at least 3 months old taking into account manufacturing and distribution. I was prompted for the serial number supplied with the product and after downloading latest anti-virus updates it's run perfectly well in the background.

The website AV Comparatives who conduct independent tests of anti-virus software say McAfee is easy to use and generally reliable, being very good at detecting phishing websites but perhaps not the best all rounder. However, its worth noting that BT provide their broadband customers with McAfee for free so for a Telecoms giant like BT to stake their reputation on it, it must be pretty good. if you're a BT broadband customer, you need to download the free version from the BT website.


Barcelona Shadows
Barcelona Shadows
by Marc Pastor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic horror at its best - and at its most amusing, 27 Jan 2014
This review is from: Barcelona Shadows (Paperback)
In the early part of the last century, Barcelona was horrified by the crimes of a the real-life Enriqueta Marti, a child murderer and procuress. The city’s population had been swollen by wave after wave of peasants and working class people, together with soldiers returning from the Moroccan Wars. Atrocious slums developed and the lack of employment meant that everyone was trying to scrape a living by whatever means they had at their disposal.

Among this maelstrom of poverty and desperation, Enriquesta Marti began to horrify the population with a series of child abductions and murders, the full of extent of which only became known when she was discovered and arrested. It is possible that she was the most prolific murderer every active in Spain, so many were the remnants of small bodies found in her apartment and other properties. The final tally of her murders is now unlikely ever to be known.

Marc Pastor, a Catalan writer and also a professional crime scene investigator has written a novel based on the short period leading up to the arrest of Enriqueta Marti. Amazingly, he finds a way of doing this which does not terrify the reader with the gruesomeness of the crimes, by focusing on a policemen, Moisès Corvo who is investigating the disappearances, along with his sidekick Malsano. Despite the seriousness of their quest keep a nice line of scurrilous banter going as they travel around the dark places of the city.

Corvo is a well drawn character who would have the making of a fine fictional detective if Mark Pastor felt inclined to write another novel set in Barcelona. We read a lot about his back story, his child-less marriage and his disappointed wife. He has a profound world-weariness but his detective work keeps him going, along with relationships with women of the night and a never-empty bottle on the table.

Marc Pastor is a great fan of Gothically-flavoured fiction by 19th century writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe and this novel is best seen alongside those of his forebears. Although the story is horrific, the author makes a brilliant work of fiction out of the bare bones of the case. It would have been easy for him to make his book a litany of pure horror, but he restrains his pen and turns it into a sort of pastiche of horror fiction, funny at times and always full of word pictures which make his scenes stand out from the page.


The End of Your Life Book Club
The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe a little too personal - but perhpas that's the point of it, 14 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Will Schwalbe has written a book about the period when his mother was dying of pancreatic cancer. Will's mother Mary was a remarkable woman having a great concern for Afghanistan and even in her last days working hard to establish travelling libraries to go round the villages encouraging reading habits. As lifelong readers Will and his mother spent much of their time together discussing books and The End of Your Life Book Club describes both the books themselves and also the progress of MAry's disease and the various treatments and procedures she has to go through (I thought these were a little too detailed at times).

I enjoy reading "books about books" and am always on the look-out for book recommendations from people I respect. Some of the books recommended here are titles I had never heard of before such as

Karen Connelly - The Lizard Cage
Russell Banks - Continental Drift
Patricia Highsmith - The Price of Salt.

Other are more familiar including Lewis Carroll, Alexander McCall Smith and Somerset Maugham.

This is an unusual book which I would only recommend to book lovers. The "cancer diary" aspect of it is not really the sort of thing I like but no doubt will interest some people.


Pyrex 250 ml Kitchen Lab Measure and Mix Beaker
Pyrex 250 ml Kitchen Lab Measure and Mix Beaker
Price: 4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For precision in small measures, 14 Jan 2014
I find this a fantastic little measuring jug when following one of those recipes which require very small amounts. My existing measuring jugs were very difficult to use for small amounts like 100g, whereas this one, with it's narrow base and very clear markings is just perfect. If you want 150 grams of red wine or 200 grams of water this is going to guarantee you precisely those amounts.

In addition to the liquid (ml) scale it has three additional scales for weighing quantities of rice, flour and sugar which saves me getting the weighing scales out for these items.

Being a Pyrex product it should last for many years whether used in a dishwasher or a microwave. A great product which I wish I'd discovered years ago.


Weetabix Weetos 350 g (Pack of 4)
Weetabix Weetos 350 g (Pack of 4)
Price: 8.76

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Amazon "add on" for those who like sugary treats at breaksfast, 7 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
While Weetos are delicious - perhaps one of the nicest breakfast cereals - the problem with them is the very high sugar content - somewhere near 25% in fact, which is worryingly high for anyone who is trying to prevent a serious sugar habit developing in their child.

Why should Weetabix worry about this? After all, the "pester-power" will wear down many Mums and Dads as they try to put lower sugar cereals into their shopping trolleys and let's face it, parents also will find it hard to resist having their occasional handful of these delicious treats. BUT, it has to be said, sugary cereals can become a seriously bad habit, contributing to a lifetime of health and dental problems.

Having said that, I think Amazon have had a good idea in inventing this new "add on" programme which enables you to order items such as Weetos without having to pay delivery, so long as you're ordering something else with a value of 10 or greater. The description on the Amazon website says,

"Add-on items are low-priced products for sale on Amazon that can be purchased as long as you're ordering at least 10 of eligible products. Previously, we could only offer these items in multi-pack sizes (which for many customers would be too much of one item). We kicked off the Add-on programme with thousands of new items, and we're adding more each day".

By all means take advantage of the add-on programme, but perhaps take it easy on the Weetos.


Russian Treasures
Russian Treasures
Price: 7.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sublime recording with elements of transcendence about it, 7 Jan 2014
This review is from: Russian Treasures (MP3 Download)
This sublime albumn makes for a glorious start to 2014. I was fortunate to come across it while browsing online and having enjoyed so many recordings of Tenebrae before, I decided to get my hands on it straightaway.

This unique recording contains several previously unheard material which director Nigel Short collected himself while journeying around Russia, along with some other more familiar pieces. In a recent interview Nigel Short confirmed that some items come from the All Night Vigil of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Most of the pieces are sung in Russian but this does not detract from the recording, but rather adds to the atmosphere, in which one can easily imagine black-robed priests moving among the clouds of incense of Orthodoxy. Having said that, the when English is heard, it is with crystal clarity and "Legend (The Crown of Roses) is a particular pleasure to listen to.

As I listened to the various album tracks I was reminded at times (in "Glory to the Father" for example) of John Taverner's more sombre pieces, especially when hearing the lovely deep bass parts which recur throughout the album. I would think that the basses on "We Hymn Thee" have a resonance which will cause vibrations in the chest cavity of anyone who listens to it.

It is not all sobriety however - the crescendos on Rejoice of Virgin rise up in a glorious climax, descending immediately to a deeply tender conclusion, demonstrating the remarkable dynamic range of this choir. The recording is immaculate as one would expect from this new label Bene Art, set up to record the works of Tenebrae and their associates.


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