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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle and entertaining. Audio book is a superb reading of novel, 8 Jun. 2016
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Clearly, opinions are divided on this novel, judging from the reviews. I live in the country and I can confirm that there are people with even worse views than those exhibited in this fictional village. The story is gentle and the characters interesting enough to want to hear what happens to them. Major Pettigrew is not one-dimensional, as some reviews claim. He is a man who is suddenly seeing himself with clarity through the eyes of others.
Full marks to the author for attempting to look at race and faith from a non-white perspective. It might not please everyone but at least there is some understanding of what it feels like to be different from others. It resonated with me as I am an immigrant and have experienced everything from casual racism to offensive comments.

I was particularly warmed by the gradual understanding between the Major and his son as well as the development of the relationship with Mrs Ali.

For once, older characters, feeling passion and love.

I listened to the audio book, read by the marvellous Bill Wallis. If you want to appreciate this novel, listen to his reading. It is excellent.


Chasing Charlie
Chasing Charlie
by Linda McLaughlan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy, irritating and lacking careful editing or writing., 8 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Chasing Charlie (Paperback)
Clearly, some people liked this novel. Each to his or her own. I found it an appalling excuse for fiction. I read a lot of 'chick lit' and novels like this and have to say that I have never read anything worse than this one. The publishers clearly know that there is a market for this sort of poor woman's soap opera but where, in heaven's name, was the editing? From the minor irritations such as several iterations of 'honing in' instead of 'homing in' to the sloppiest of plots, a ridiculous, irritating main character straight from Sweet Valley High and a vacuous take on the complexity of relationships. By all means, let's have slightly unbelievable situations and outcomes but could the author and editors in future respect the intelligence of readers by resolving plots in a less slapdash manner?
So, if there are people who want to read this, and there clearly are, do them a favour and treat them to some professional editing and writing.


The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot Mystery 1)
The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot Mystery 1)
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Turgid, unstructured and sloppy., 8 Jun. 2016
Sequels to well-known series written by other authors can be entertaining and if one isn't too pedantic, recognising that the author has to update some of the facets of the fiction for a modern audience, they can bring dimension. Jill Paton Walsh's sequel of the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane novels, A Presumption of Death, for example, is excellent.

This 'Poirot' inspired novel is dull, turgid, lacking structure and, well, all over the place. If Agatha Christie was one thing, she was, as Ruth Rendell said, "a plotter of genius" and also, as Alison Light commented, a modernist writer. This novel's plot is a mish mash, sloppy, poorly structured and meandering as an old river.

I listened to it as an audio book, well-read by Julian Rhind Tutt. Even he found it difficult to inject some life into the story.

I am not pedantic about sequels being 'just so' but if Poirot H. was present in any susbstantial form in this novel, I must have missed it.
Avoid. Just re-read the old Christies or try Jill Paton Walsh's Sayers sequels.


Memento
Memento
Price: £0.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 13 April 2016
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This review is from: Memento (MP3 Download)
Simply lovely music and excellent playing.


Notting Hell
Notting Hell
by Rachel Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Characterisation and plotting: nul points, 13 April 2016
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This review is from: Notting Hell (Paperback)
Fortunately, I only paid one penny for this tripe as a 'light read'. I'm all for light fiction that is well-written and deftly crafted. This 'novel' is neither. The characters are either one-dimensional or so unappealing one doesn't care what happens to them. Full marks, too, for the casual racism in this insular novel: immigrant domestic help is featured only as a vehicle for making fun of their accents (including 'Antipodeans' for whom the author has a totally tin ear). Uber rich Americans are envied and pilloried in equal measure while one character, a Frenchwoman, seems to be inserted so that the author can write italicised pretend English spoken by a French person ('eez zat yur 'at? type of 'frogbashing'). In between the insularity in that most insular of neighbourhoods, there is no room for the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill or, even, people who are good at conversation or simply pleasant. To make up for the lack of dimension is a litany of name-dropping, branded appliances and clothing and the London obsession with real estate. The author, a columnist of Sunday supplement ephemera married to an old Etonian, features the character, Mimi, a columnist of Sunday supplement ephemera married to an old Etonian. Mimi is smug, unlikeable, self-pitying and avaricious. Clare, a dull garden designer who appears never to do more than a spot of gardening when she feels like it, is simply dull, gossipy and whiney. I read on, hoping for something redemptive or screamingly funny. Not a sausage. Fictional and semi-fictional private worlds can be intriguing, funny, interesting or entertaining. The world of Notting Hell is none of these, simply insular and dull. Nul points.


BBC Weather
BBC Weather
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, 17 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: BBC Weather (App)
Consult BBC weather several times per day. Mostly accurate.


Novelists Against Social Change: Conservative Popular Fiction, 1920-1960
Novelists Against Social Change: Conservative Popular Fiction, 1920-1960
by Kate Macdonald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £58.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Essential Thirkell reading., 17 Oct. 2015
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This is an excellent book. Its academic credentials are evident and yet it is accessible. Well-written and free of meaningless jargon, plus absorbing. The author is widely-read, knowledgeable, reflective and also someone who reads for pleasure. Best material on Thirkell that I have read for some time. If you enjoy the work of Alison Light in this area, you'll enjoy this. A terrific read.


Inspire - The Art of Living with†Nature
Inspire - The Art of Living with†Nature
by Willow Crossley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal and derivative, 17 Oct. 2015
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This was a real disappointment. Nothing terribly new or creative. Not a patch on other, similar books. Derivative and unoriginal. What were the publishers thinking? Very glad I bought a second-hand, ex-library copy.


Oak Slate Design Book Rack - Modern Contemporary Style
Oak Slate Design Book Rack - Modern Contemporary Style
Offered by Oak Slate Design
Price: £30.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely design. Made in Britain., 11 Sept. 2015
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This is a cleverly designed book rack, so good that it seems a shame to cover it up with books. Sits well on desk or shelf. AND it's made in the UK.


My Tiny Veg Plot: Grow Your Own in Surprisingly Small Spaces
My Tiny Veg Plot: Grow Your Own in Surprisingly Small Spaces
by Lia Leendertz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Coffee table gardening, 11 Aug. 2015
An interesting book with a few practical tips but more of a coffee table book, lavishly illustrated, lovely photographs and lots of tiny veg plots: on a shed roof, in the back of a pick up and so on. If you like sprouting seeds, quirky small containers and luscious photography, this is the book for you. If you want more than that and a much more practical guide, search for other books on container gardening. This one is more style than substance.


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