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Mark Loughridge (Letterkenny, Ireland)

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Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written
Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written
by Lennard Bickel
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.47

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible exhausting story - look for maps online, 9 Jan 2010
An incredible story of survival in unimaginable conditions - this book cost me sleep, for I couldnt put it down. You cant go to sleep in a nice warm bed with a guy hanging in an ice crevasse on a gracier!

This is the second book on arctic/antarctic exploration I've read. Both books have left me breathless. The first was The Ice Master, which, while an incredible story, isnt as well written as Mawson's will.

When the book arrived I was surprised that it was only 250 pages, but I soon found that that was part of the quality of this book - the author keeps the story moving along. To be honest I dont think I could have coped if it was twice as long!

The story and the writing are superb, but one criticism I have of the book is that there are no maps, so I hunted around online and found a superbly detailed map of the 600 mile trek, with each day's progress marked, as well as the significant locations. I found myself referring to it constantly, and marveling all the more.

So if you purchase the book, make sure you look for the map - there are at least two, one that shows the sea voyage, the other which shows the land trek. If you go to one of the big search engines and type in "map mawson antarctic" and select image search, and large images, you should see it easily enough. Print it off and keep it handy.

Olay Regenerist Moisturiser Night Recovery Cream (Packaging May Vary)
Olay Regenerist Moisturiser Night Recovery Cream (Packaging May Vary)
Price: 10.45

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you'd expect from an Olay cream, 13 Oct 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
(Disclosure - The review is written by my wife, the cream was for her, honest!)

I've used other Olay creams and tried this one for a change. Although the purple colour was a bit disconcerting at first, I found this cream thicker than normal and luxuriously rich to apply - it didn't disappear like some creams do, but it wasn't greasy either. It had a pleasant smell and thankfully didn't annoy my sensitive skin (not many Olay creams do). As for a 'mini face lift'? Can't say that I noticed any real difference in the morning compared with my usual Olay night cream. It's probably on a par with the rest of their range with regard to effectiveness and value for money, not stunningly better, not disappointingly worse. Who really knows what any of these creams do - the user doesn't tend to get into the chemistry of the thing - but it feels good to use something and this one is as good as the next.

Legacy of Faith, From Women of the Bible to Women of Today
Legacy of Faith, From Women of the Bible to Women of Today
by Lydia Brownback
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.12

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, perceptive, thought-provoking and grounded in the Bible, 22 Sep 2009
What am I doing writing a review of a book on women of the Bible? I was preaching on some of the women in the Bible and came across her book -- honest!

I had been reading another book by a different author, which was shallow and driving me up the walls. Then I came across this one. Chalk and cheese. It was everything the other book wasn't.

Lydia Brownback lets each character speak for themselves. In contrast to the 'Let's just see how great all the women of the bible are' approach of some books in this genre, she delves deep and looks at each woman in her own setting, warts and all.

The characters become real people with whom the reader can start to identify. This throws up some interesting and useful applications. For example, how many books do you see with a chapter on widowhood (Anna)? In many of the chapters, the lesson Brownback brings out of the character is to help us learn from that person's mistakes rather than proposing that they display great faith.

For example Sarah shows us the seriousness of focusing on our circumstances so that we end up doubting God's promises; Miriam warns us of the danger of a 'what-about-me?' attitude when life seems unfair.

It is rich, provocative, and dealt with the passages superbly (in most cases) and got down into the nitty-gritty layers of the heart. She understands how sin works, and how it disguises itself, and she aims for the sin behind your sin--the underlying heart issues.

But what really sets this book apart is that she constantly points you to Jesus. Jesus is set forth as the supreme object of faith, not simply as a saviour, or as a substitute for the things we don't have, but as the Christian's first love. This is vital -- faith is not simply something to be encouraged by looking at others, but something to be fed by looking at Jesus.

Well worth it!

The Remarkable Women of the Bible: And Their Message for Your Life Today
The Remarkable Women of the Bible: And Their Message for Your Life Today
by Elizabeth George
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.52

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable women - Unremarkable Book, 22 Sep 2009
What am I doing writing a review of a book by Elizabeth George? I was preaching on some of the women in the Bible and came across her book--honest! Since so many people--I mean female Christians--seem to be reading her I thought she might have something worth saying on some of the characters I was looking at. I was sadly mistaken! Apart from her saccharine "Dear friend" and "Precious ladies" approach which grates on the ear, there are several other problems which, if she writes in a similar vein in her other books, are worth noting.

Let me say from the outset that there probably wasn't anything unbiblical in most of what Elizabeth George said. On the other hand, much of what she said was utterly unrooted in the characters she was looking at. It seemed as if she had made up her own mind beforehand what she wanted to say about each, and wasn't going to be perturbed by a little matter like what the passage actually said. For example:

* Sarah is held up as a great woman of faith--despite her laughing at God's promise and seeking her own way to fulfil the promise. Three chapters extol her virtues as an example of faith.

* Miriam likewise is held up as a great example of a godly woman, despite the bulk of what scripture tells us about Miriam relating to her pity-party and grumbling in Numbers 12. Her sin is noted, but only as a closing part of the chapter.

* Esther is held up as an example of faith in difficult circumstances. We are told to seek advice as Esther sought Mordecai's advice in 4:12. But Esther wasn't seeking advice but was being told in no uncertain terms that she needed to act in faith, or she would lose her life. Rather than being an example of faith at that moment she is an example of how not to act.

These examples and others make it look to me as if she is coming, at least mentally, to scripture with her chapter already written, and simply looking for a character to hang it on. The saving grace is that her message is sufficiently biblical, albeit from other parts of the Bible, so that the reader isn't carried away into error.

The problem is that it gives the reader imbalanced impressions of these characters and, more dangerously, a poor example of how to interact with scripture. Instead of teaching us to mine the passage for truth--it being far more helpful to see the error Sarah makes in allowing her circumstances to overshadow the promises of God--it teaches us to superficially read a passage and see in it what we want to see.

Apart from the lack of grounding in the passage one of the other weaknesses was that it simply wasn't very deep--lots of simple biblical common sense, but no real depth, and at times not terribly grounded in reality. I found it ironic that a book on women of the Bible--presumably written to give women a sense that God speaks into their complex and difficult lives--should paint such two-dimensional images of the women.

Part of the problem was that I was also reading "Legacy of Faith" by Lydia Brownback, a book dealing with many of the same female characters. It was rich, provocative, dealt with the passages superbly (in most cases) and got down into the nitty-gritty layers of the heart. Against such competition Elizabeth George fared rather poorly.

In short - its not so bad as to deserve 1 star, but it's shallow enough to be avoided.

The Rough Guide To African Street Party
The Rough Guide To African Street Party
Price: 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars alright - might grow on you, 20 Aug 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just back from Nigeria when I ordered this, thinking it would bring back memories. Somewhat disappointed because of my own expectations! I assumed it would be like the music I was hearing in the markets etc. But most of it wasnt like what I'd heard. I cant put my finger on it, I think there was too much western hip-hop or rap influence, and not enough african. It may well be where the music is at, but its not what I was looking for.

That said some of the tracks grew on me when I readjusted my expectations. Some of the stuff is good, some mediocre, too varied, and nothing particularly stood out as special.

Bottom line - It wasnt what I thought it would be based on the title.

A Little History of the World
A Little History of the World
by E. H. Gombrich
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, beautiful summation of world history, 2 Mar 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a most enjoyable book and does what it sets out to do - to provide a readable world history for young people. It is written in a delightfully informal conversational style by a man who understands children - who manages to talk at their level without talking down to them.

It is an incredible undertaking to cover world history in 40 chapters. Inevitably there are parts left out, but yet I cant really remember thinking "Oh he's missed such and such". As a child I loved the stories of the great heroes and was delighted to see that he took that approach of building the history around people - so much easier for children to grasp. The book is a little euro-centric, but yet not overly so (says a European!). It is refreshing to see a history written from a different perspective than UK/British Empire one. Great explanations of different religions as well, although he falls down a little on Christianity.

Thoroughly enjoyable. This is the sort of book I would have loved as a 10-12 year old. Good enough for adults, accessible enough for kids - although it is a sad reflection that for some kids they will not be gripped by the stories, but complain about the lack of colour pictures. Gombrich clearly expected children to be readers, and to enjoy reading - for he writes in a way that anticipates an eager mind.

I cant wait until my 5-year old is old enough to read it.

The Red House Mystery
The Red House Mystery
by A. A. Milne
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like DL Sayers you'll like this..., 3 Dec 2008
This review is from: The Red House Mystery (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Crisp writing, a delightful, and gentle murder-mystery - if such a thing is possible. None of the gruesome descriptions so prevalent in current writers, but an intellectual puzzle, well crafted and thought out.

Much could be said, but it simply is a classic in the genre - all the usual suspects, murder in the study and secret passages - but Milne manages to avoid it being cliched. And he also manages to subtly poke a little fun at the whole genre on the way through.

If you like Dorothy Sayers you'll like this.

Nicely produced externally, although I thought the print inside wasnt as crisp as it could have been. It certainly looks the part.

Intego Internet Security Barrier X5 AntiSpam (Mac)
Intego Internet Security Barrier X5 AntiSpam (Mac)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair enough product - but I'll be uninstalling parts, 17 Sep 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Intego Internet security Barrier (Antispam edition) seems to do everything it claims to do.

I was impressed with it initially as it installed itself easily and configured itself relatively simply. The main areas for me were teh virus scanning - which took quite a long time (well over 1 hour, maybe even 2) to scan my machine (600GB of storage space).

It has real time scanning for viruses, but I wondered if it was slowing things down a little at times. But it didnt seem to do it enough to matter.

The antispam worked - although there were too many legitimate messages in the spam folder for my liking. And the dark purple highlight made it hard to see the headers. It is easy to correct the wrong designation through a menu added to the Mail program, but I think I'll be reverting to Apple's own Junk filtering system. Another reason for reverting is that Apple's own junk mail sorter keeps the emails in folders relating to the email account they arrived in. I find this useful for checking since I use on eparticular email for personal mail, and others for various other things.

I did like the Washing Machine programme which cleaned up a lot of caches for me and relieved quite a bit of storage space.

All in all so far, after a week of use, it seems to do what it sets out to do. I'm quite happy to have antivirus for the mac - I have an older G5 and am running Tiger so I cant avail of the nice free one that has just come out (iAntiVirus). I'm always wondering if I am passing on windows virus to others.

This gives me peace of mind for the moment.

I was glad to get it for free - I dont know that I would have spent 60 for it. But maybe I'm just tight!

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons
Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons
by Ann Rinaldi
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant, delightful, but realistic read, 3 Sep 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Like others I came to this book as a complete stranger to the central character Phillis Wheatley, yet I found the book engaging, well written and the story compelling.

The story is of a young girl who is taken from her home in West Africa and sold into slavery, albeit to a kind and generous family in Boston. They notice her sharp mind and encourage her to develop her intellectual ability. This comes to flourish when she starts to write poetry, and the rest of the book follows her relationship with the family, her development as a poet, and her internal wrestling with the idea of freedom, and its implications for her.

Although the author doesn't gloss over the harsh realities of slavery, and even the outcome of Wheatley's life the pervading atmosphere of the book is delightful and pleasant. In its own way it is a gentle page-turner. I certainly wanted to keep reading.

As a Christian I found it interesting how it tied in with aspects of American and English church history with which I was familiar.

Readers should be aware that the book is part fiction, but as most writers of historical fiction, Rinaldi includes a chapter at the close detailing what precisely was fact and what was fiction. Sometimes you read these disclosures and feel somewhat cheated, finding out that huge chunks were fabricated for the sake of the story. However I was pleased to find that not too much was the product of Rinaldi's imagination.

I have no major faults with the book - I enjoyed reading it and am already lending it to others. Although it mentions on the back that it is aimed at young adults I didnt feel it was dumbed down, in other words any adult should enjoy this. It really has a wide range of appeal - if you enjoy biography, historical fiction, or have an interest in American history, or in English literature - then you will enjoy this.

Little Pilgrim's Progress
Little Pilgrim's Progress
by Helen L. Taylor
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent retelling - no loss of detail, 6 July 2008
This is what I read as a child - over and over again as I grew up. It is a magnificent version of Bunyan's classic. In particular what I like is that Helen Taylor doesnt shorten the story as much as others do. She retains a lot of the detail and the encounters that Christian has along the way. This allows a child as they grow to learn many of the valuable lessons for the Christian life which Bunyan intended us to see.

There are many children's versions of this which are wonderfully inllustrated - this one isnt, although it has line drawings scattered throughout. But it more than makes up for it in its content. I've purchased another more lavishly illustrated version of Pilgrim's progress to show alongside this one, but actually haven't got round to doing that yet.

What Helen Taylor has also done is to retell the story from a child's perspective - it is Little Pilgrim's Progress. It is in essence the same story - just downsized slightly. This makes it all the more easy to read to children.

My four year old daughter pleads for me to read to her - not content to wait until next Sunday for the next installment. She wont let me stop and sits wide eyed as I read it to her.

Why would I want a shorter version when I get to spend longer reading to my child?

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