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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England)
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The Book of Aron
The Book of Aron
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Aron, 2 July 2015
This review is from: The Book of Aron (Kindle Edition)
This is an incredibly moving novel , written from the perspective of a young boy, named Aron Rozycki. Aron begins his early childhood living in Panevzys, near the Lithuanian border. When his father is offered a job in a factory, the family move to Warsaw to try to escape the poverty that is grinding the family down. However, when the Germans invade Poland, Aron finds that his life, and that of his family, becomes harder and more restricted. The area they live in becomes part of the Warsaw Ghetto and walls are thrown up, seemingly overnight, to keep in an endless stream of people.

Among those that are forced to live inside the walls of the Ghetto are Janusc Korczak (the pen name of a Jewish author and paediatrician named Henryk Goldszmit) and better known as Pan Doktor (‘Mr Doctor’). Aron watches as Korczak leads the children from his orphanage into the Ghetto and attempts to care for the unwanted, the young separated from their families and the orphaned children that have nobody else, in a world that has turned hostile against even the most innocent in society.

The author writes realistically of the Warsaw Ghetto from the situation of a child. Aron, and his friends, do their best to survive in the world they know. They scrounge, they smuggle, they barter and they cope with their new reality. Aron comes to the notice of Lejkin, a member of the Order Service, an internal police force, who wants him to give him information about what goes on in the Ghetto. Meanwhile, typhus stalks the streets and people are simply killed by disease, or swept up in raids and sent away by the Germans. Aron’s family struggle with their situation, but they add depth to the storyline and their relationships are written realistically and with real warmth.

Janusc Korczak was a real man – a heroic doctor who was respected by his community and a man who refused to leave his children to their fate. This novel is about a young boy, but his life intersects with that of Korczak and allows the author to tell both their stories. This is movingly told, without being overly sentimental, and shows what real heroism really is. This would be a fantastic choice for a reading group, as well as being an excellent personal read. Lastly, I was given a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


The Seed Collectors
The Seed Collectors
Price: £8.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Seed Collectors, 2 July 2015
This book begins with the death of Great Aunt Oleander, who ran a retreat centre called Namaste House, mostly for celebrities. The members of this sprawling, secretive family, all take plant names if they do not keep the family name of Gardener. At the heart of the family secrets are Grace, Plum and the legendary Briar Rose, who disappeared on the trail of a miracle plant; deadly seed pods. Left behind are Fleur (daughter of Briar Rose), who must step into Great Aunt Oleander’s shoes, Bryony, whose botanist parents disappeared, documentary maker Clem, Clem’s brother, Charlie and their assorted partners and children, as well as members of Namaste House and a minor celebrity called Skye Turner.

I have long been an admirer of Scarlett Thomas and have enjoyed her books since she first wrote her Lily Pascale mysteries, many years ago now. However, I have to admit that I struggled with this novel. In this family, who frankly make the most dysfunctional seem normal, there are layers of secrets. Marriages are falling apart; there are eating disorders, alcoholism, infidelity, despair, and depression. In fact, it is hard to have any sympathy with the people who populate the pages of this novel. Several modern obsessions are pulled apart – materialism, consumerism, celebrity… However, the problem is that if you have no characters you sympathise with, you end up failing to connect with the novel itself.

Saying that, of course, as you would expect from Scarlett Thomas, this is beautifully written. It rambles through the lives of the main characters as they try to unravel the fate of their family and discover what happened on that voyage to hunt for the Deadly Seed Pods and what power they gave. From uncomfortable shopping trips to Selfridges, to even more uncomfortable train journeys, and on to the West Coast of Scotland, this book takes the Gardener family on a voyage of discovery. I applaud Scarlett Thomas for trying something different and original, but feel saddened that I personally did not really enjoy this book. Possibly, I need to come back to it another time and try it again. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.


First One Missing
First One Missing
Price: £6.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First One Missing, 2 July 2015
This review is from: First One Missing (Kindle Edition)
This book begins with the murder of a little girl, called Poppy Glover. Leanne Miller, a family liaison officer, has to inform Emma Reid, the mother of Tilly, who was also a victim of the man the press have labelled, “the Kenwood Killer.” The name refers to Kenwood House, a place I know well, and all of the victims – beginning with seven year old Megan Purvis (“the original angel”), found four years earlier, then Tilly, ten year old Leila Botsford and now Poppy – were found on Hampstead Heath, near Kenwood House.

Four little girls have been murdered and this book explores both who killed them, plus the devastation that the families feel. Megan’s mother, Helen, has arranged a support group for the parents of the girls, and this novel traces events both through the families, Emma’s liaison officer, Leanne, a journalist called Sally Freeland and even a possible suspect named Jason. Of all the parents, we are most involved with Emma Reid, who has been left with two daughters, Caitlin and Jemima, terrible grief and a husband, Guy, she feel utterly estranged from. The murder of Poppy opens old wounds and, as Helen attempts to offer support, Emma tries to cope with a life which seems to have no meaning. Meanwhile, the crimes are still unsolved and the families are very much under the spotlight of a media which is desperate to keep the story running.

I enjoyed, “Dying for Christmas,” by the same author, but felt this was more tightly plotted and had more interesting characters. I sympathised with Emma, thought the siblings of the murdered girls brought depth to the storyline and found the awful Sally Freeland offered a touch of humour to a plot which was dark and difficult to read about. This is an excellent crime novel and shows that Tammy Cohen has a lot to offer fans of this genre – I will certainly be reading her next book and recommend this one highly. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


Pretty Is
Pretty Is
Price: £4.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Is, 2 July 2015
This review is from: Pretty Is (Kindle Edition)
This is a very original debut novel and an intriguing thriller. Lois Lonsdale is now twenty nine, but when she was twelve she was abducted – along with Carly May Smith – and kept by a man they knew only as ‘Zed’ in a log cabin. After two months, the girls were found, but neither girls made any attempt to escape from their captor and this novel contains flashbacks of what happened – how both girls willingly entered the car of the man who took them and seemed to enter into being taken away from the small towns they lived in. Carly May was a pageant queen, only too aware of her beauty and what it meant. Lois was more bookish, but pretty as well as intelligent.

Time has passed and now Carly May has renamed herself as Chloe Savage and is a bit part actress. Lois Lonsdale teaches literature and has written a thriller about her childhood events, under the pen name Lucy Ledger. Now her novel is to be made into a film and, when Chloe receives the script, she recognises her story immediately. Lois has kept her identity a secret, but a student – Sean McDougal – seems suddenly very interested in her past. With Sean stalking her, Lois wonders what he wants and whether she can use him to bring the characters in her sequel to life? However, encouraging him is a dangerous game and the past may soon begin to impinge on her present.

Both the parents of the girls did everything they could to keep them apart, but now Lois and Carly May are going to meet again. This novel cleverly uses both flashbacks and the filming of the story to explore what happened to the two girls so long ago. The two women have to face their past and what it means to them in this exploration of the repercussions of a crime. As well as being an interesting personal read, this would be a good choice for book groups, with much to discuss. Lastly I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


A&D UA-611 Blood Pressure Monitor
A&D UA-611 Blood Pressure Monitor
Price: £39.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood Pressure Monitor, 1 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Some years ago, I would have thought that the only reason to use a blood pressure monitor was for fitness training. However, as I have reached middle age and my husband recently had a heart scare, I begin to see the uses of measuring and tracking things like blood pressure at home for peace of mind. I had never used one at home before, but this is a simple and easy monitor. All you need to do is insert the batteries, plug the cuff into the side, attach the cuff to your arm (a little snug this and you can order a larger size if necessary) and press one button.

This monitor has a clear and easy to read screen and the instruction booklet explains what the symbols mean. The device will show whether or not you have an irregular heartbeat, can display an average reading and has a memory of the 30+ readings. Obviously, whether is suitable for you or not will depend upon what you want this for. I would imagine, though, that for most people it will be ideal for use at home. I was impressed by how simple this was to use, as I had expected it to be a little more complicated, but it is easy to both use and read/understand the results. If you have any concerns about your blood pressure then this is certainly a good buy, which will help you keep an eye on your results. As I said, my only concern is with the size of the cuff, which probably needs to be bigger (it fitted me fine, but was extremely tight on my husband and I imagine other people will have similar problems).

Blood pressure is a measure of the force exerted on your arteries by your heart when it pumps blood around your body and is a good indicator of your general health, and of how healthy your heart is. In case you are unsure – a reading of 120/80 mmHg or below is considered a healthy blood pressure. A reading of 140/90 mmHg or above is considered high. If you are somewhere in between, this is considered elevated. With all of us taking our health more seriously, this can help you monitor an important indicator of health, and most cases of high blood pressure can be brought down by diet and exercise, although it is obviously important to see your GP if your blood pressure is high. Also, remember that it is normal for blood pressure to rise when you are very active, so it is important to check this a few times (that average reading will be useful here) to check what your blood pressure is over time.


Glitter Star Foam Stickers Selt Adhesive Shapes 7 Colours, Kid's Craft Embellishments for Decorating, Scrapbooking & Card Making(Pack of 150)
Glitter Star Foam Stickers Selt Adhesive Shapes 7 Colours, Kid's Craft Embellishments for Decorating, Scrapbooking & Card Making(Pack of 150)
Offered by Yellow Moon UK Ltd
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Self Adhesive Glitter Stars, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This pack has 150 glittery, shiny stars for use with various arts and crafts. They come in seven colours – blue, orange, yellow, pink, silver, purple and red. The stars also come in three sizes – large, medium and small. Easy to peel, these stick on well and are very good value. My children used them to help decorate hats they had to design for a craft event at their school. Excellent value for money, we have loads left over and I am sure they will come in handy when my daughter is decorating pictures, cards, etc.


Glitter Foam Self-Adhesive Upper & Lower Case Letters 6 Assorted Colours for Kids to Personalise Cards and Crafts (Pack of 850)
Glitter Foam Self-Adhesive Upper & Lower Case Letters 6 Assorted Colours for Kids to Personalise Cards and Crafts (Pack of 850)
Offered by Yellow Moon UK Ltd
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glitter Foam Self-Adhesive Letters, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These self adhesive letters come in sheets of six different colours: blue, green, orange, yellow-gold, purple and red. The letters are quite small, but perfect for arts and crafts, such as making cards. My children used them to help decorate some paper hats, which they had to design for a ‘language day’ at their school. The bright, glittery letters looked wonderful on the paper hats, they stuck well and were easy to peel and use. Excellent for decorating and craft activities.


White Card Concertina Top Hat Size 32cm, for Children to Paint & Decorate and use for Dressing Up (Pack of 4)
White Card Concertina Top Hat Size 32cm, for Children to Paint & Decorate and use for Dressing Up (Pack of 4)
Offered by Yellow Moon UK Ltd
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars White Card Concertina Top Hats, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I purchased this pack of four cardboard hats for a craft event at my children’s school, where they had to design a hat. With four hats, these are good value. The hats arrive flat and pop up into top hats. The hats have a tendency to fall down a little, but that does not really matter and they would be ideal if you wanted to design a ‘Mad Hatter’ style hat – or possibly an ‘Artful Dodger’ rather battered topper. My children are eight and ten and this fitted my ten year old son, but slipped down when my daughter wore it. Again, this was easily remedied by taping a piece of cardboard in the brim to make it tighter. If you are purchasing these for young children, you may also need to improvise a little insert to make it tighter. As an art project though, these are great fun. We used stickers, paints and pens to decorate these hats and other children at school loved them, with several parents asking where I had found them. A great fun activity; and you are decorating, not making, so they are easy for children of all abilities.


Little Girls
Little Girls
Price: £7.12

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Girls, 30 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Little Girls (Kindle Edition)
When Laurie Genarro’s father commits suicide, she returns to the childhood home she has inherited to hopefully sell the house and contents and get back to her life. Her husband Ted is a writer, currently turning a famous novel into a theatre script, and has financial problems. These have increased since Laurie gave up teaching after an odd incident, and he is obviously impressed by the large – if somewhat creepy – old house, if only because he imagines how much it is worth. Daughter Susan, who is ten, but acts in an often much younger way, is at first deeply unhappy at having to leave her home, and friends, for the summer, but is soon all too willing to stay in the house that Laurie has spent most of her life trying to forget about.

There are unanswered questions about how Laurie’s father died – seemingly throwing himself from a locked room at the top of the house. Laurie finds the belvedere room securely padlocked and sets about trying to locate the key, as well as clearing out the house. Her relationship with Ted becomes strained and Laurie begins to feel estranged from her family. Meanwhile, Susan has found a new playmate – a little girl called Abigail, who reminds Laurie of her old neighbour, Sadie Russ. However, Sadie is long dead…

This is an interesting and creepy novel, with a good setting. The unsettling neighbour, the odd characters Laurie meets connected with her father’s last days, a malevolent house full of shifting shadows and muffled thumps, old secrets and awakened memories. I really enjoyed this and would certainly read more by this author. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


Bond 11+: Parents' Guide
Bond 11+: Parents' Guide
by Michellejoy Hughes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bond: The Parents' Guide to the 11+, 29 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an updated version of the Bond Parents' Guide to the 11+. There are, of course, many books on the market aimed at the 11+, but the majority of them are workbooks. For parents considering whether or not their child should, or can, sit the 11+ there can be a bewildering amount of information on the internet or in books, but this is a clear guide to explain the basics and how to negotiate the process for anyone new to the idea of the 11+ and selective schools. The book is split into four steps: Understanding the 11+, Assessing your Child, Preparing for the Exam and Managing the Post-Exam Process.

This guide aims to take parents step by step through the whole 11+ examinations process and also, importantly, to assess where your child is. The first part of the book explains what the 11+ actually consists of and the subjects your child will be assessed in; obviously this depends on the particular school/LEA, but basically they include papers in English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning (although not all schools test in all subjects). The guide also explains how the process of applying for schools has changed, with the New School Admission Code, which states that schools have to get the results out before parents apply for secondary school. On the plus side, this does not leave some parents in the position some found themselves in previously, where they have put down only selective schools and their child does not pass any successfully. However, it does mean that competition will be greater, as children who may be borderline might be entered by parents who feel they have little to lose – as they can just not put down that school as one of their six choices if they fail. Types of tests, such as the CEM, are also discussed – although an index would have been useful to allow you to access information more quickly. If you are new to the 11+ it benefits you to read the complete guide, but other parents may just be interested in new, updated information.

The second part of this guide allows you to assess your child’s abilities, with placement tests in English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning and a test to find your child’s spelling age and vocabulary. This feeds into the third section of preparing for the exams, as it suggests when you should start preparing, allows you to interpret the results of the placement tests and suggests learning plans. Of course, all of the learning material suggested in this book are Bond books (other guides, such as Lee Mottram’s excellent “11+ Ways to 11+ Success” have good lists of suggested workbooks and is available on Kindle Unlimited). I really do like the Bond range, but just bear in mind that there are other materials on the market and you will probably need a mix of different books. However, you will certainly use Bond books in your preparation, so this is useful, as are the sections on motivating your child and minimizing the stress. The last section manages the post-exam process – including appeals and what to do if your child fails.

I would suggest this as a good introductory guide to the 11+; particularly for parents who are undecided about what to do, how much time they need to prepare their child, etc. The placement tests are only available in this book and, if you are unsure what level your child is working at, they are a good way of doing a self assessment, with excellent instructions for marking the papers and what the results mean. The book can be worth getting just for these tests, but it is full of useful information and well laid out.


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