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qangela (Isle of Man)

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Small Kindnesses
Small Kindnesses
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 21 Nov 2012
This review is from: Small Kindnesses (Kindle Edition)
I loved this subtle, gentle book. It's written from the point of view of Leonard, a man in his sixties, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife. Leonard is a very engaging central character and I cared about him and the people around him.

The story is written in the present tense and I found myself very engaged in each moment. Leonard is a gardener and I loved seeing plants and wildlife through his eyes. Descriptions of landscape and plants pervade the book and really add to it, giving the developing plot some space to breathe and the various changing relationships a chance to `bed in'. Gardening is a strong metaphor throughout the book, with lots of healthy weeding and nurturing going on within relationships, and a few aptly-named key characters.

The book explores human frailty and pain in a sensitive, naturalistic way, allowing plenty of time for reflection. There's plenty of growth and redemption there too.

It's a satisfying, engrossing story and it's been a pleasure to read. I can really recommend it.

Stop Smoking Within 1 Hour - Hypnosis By Susan Hepburn - Healthy Living Series [DVD]
Stop Smoking Within 1 Hour - Hypnosis By Susan Hepburn - Healthy Living Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ken Gray
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't work for me, 27 Oct 2008
This DVD didn't work for me I'm afraid. I reached for a cigarette about half an hour after finishing the hypnosis session, which was extra disappointing as I have been successfully hypnotised before. I did "go under" this time too in fact, but it seems that the stuff that was said during the hypnosis session wasn't appropriate - at least for my smoking habit, anyway.

The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future
The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future
by Will Self
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, dark and brilliant - but not my idea of fun., 29 May 2007
The Book of Dave looks at the logical conclusions of the rise in our society of acrimonious divorce, with the dice loaded against fathers in terms of both access and child support. Will Self presents the bleak, flawed life of Dave, a bigoted, occasionally violent London cabbie who is fighting to sustain access to his son. Dave, in an anti-depressant fuelled psychosis, writes and buries his own book of holy law, based on the Knowledge, his hatred of `mummies' and his longing for `the lost boy'. Self juxtaposes this with a grim post-apocalyptic vision of the future, where Dave's book has been unearthed and adopted as the new religion. Relationship breakdown, domestic violence against women and hatred and disenfranchisement between parents hasn't just become the norm, it's now the law.

The Book of Dave is as adventurous, inventive and socially-relevant as, say, Great Apes but it just doesn't have the laughs of Will Self's earlier fiction. His sense of the ridiculous that makes his earlier books so funny is present but is drowned by a relentlessly depressing story of cruelty, despair and failure which at times is hard for the reader to bear. Some readers might find the first sight of the dialogue off-putting as the majority of it is written phonetically but it's actually just Eastenders-style Cockney and is much more accessible than the narration in Anthony Burgess' brilliant A Clockwork Orange, for example.

It's been said before that people are either fans of Will Self's journalism or fans of his fiction. Personally, I'm in awe of his fiction. This particular example of it didn't make me laugh but it was as unnerving, intelligent and compelling as the best of his earlier work.

The Secret Purposes
The Secret Purposes
by David Baddiel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read, 1 April 2006
This review is from: The Secret Purposes (Paperback)
I'd read that David Baddiel is not just a comic but is also an extremely talented writer and here's the proof. The Secret Purposes is really commendable as it is a meticulously-researched historical novel that's also an enjoyable, lucid read.
Baddiel also very cleverly uses a very small cast of characters to say big things about cultural identity and how that impacts on political decisions. I'm from the Isle of Man and I was extremely impressed with the way that he uses a single Manx character to sum up, accurately in my experience, the attitude that the Manx had (and still have) to outsiders. There's also a great twist towards the end of the book that really stays with you and which has relevance way beyond the time in history that it is set in. I won't spoil the book and say what it is!
Saying all that, this book's not "high literature" and I mean that as a positive comment: it's a really good read, pure and simple. I doubt that anyone's going to be studying it for English A Level but I can see it being made into a very good film.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2011 2:38 PM BST

Complete Workout & Stress Reduction [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Complete Workout & Stress Reduction [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jane Fonda

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun but much easier than modern workout DVDs, 19 Feb 2006
What a trip down memory lane! I had this on VHS tape in the late '80s and used it so much I wore the tape out. To those of you who are old enough to know what I'm talking about, this DVD contains the workout with the bright orange Lauryl Sparkes who leads the high impact half of the class and Jeannie Earnst leading the low impact half, and the body conditioning sections involve using dumbbells and ankle weights. It's not the one with two workouts (an easy one followed by a hard one) that involves singing along with Leslie Lillien - I wish that was out on DVD, I loved that one!
Tagged on to the end of this DVD is an extremely easy aerobics session - the kind that someone in their 70s could do - and then a "stress reduction" section that involves Jane crouching over a man with ginger chest hair telling him to clench and unclench his nether regions. In short, this section is good for a laugh with a glass of wine and that would probably be more stress-reducing than doing the clenching yourself!
I'm pretty fit and I found the whole tape very easy - much easier than I remember. I regularly do Tae-Bo and the Davina Power of 3 tapes, and I think that these have increased my fitness significantly. If you're pretty fit, you'd probably find all of the exercises on the Jane Fonda DVD pretty easy too, but it's still fun. If you're older, or just starting to get fit though, I'd really recommend the Jane Fonda DVD, if only to learn what it looks like when you overdo the backcombing and sunbed... ah, the '80's! In terms of fitness level, I'd say that if you find Rosemary Connley DVDs hard, you're going to get a good workout from this DVD.
Take care that your DVD player will play this DVD - it's an American import and you'll need a multi-region player.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2010 6:44 PM GMT

She's Come Undone
She's Come Undone
by Wally Lamb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 12 Jun 2005
This review is from: She's Come Undone (Paperback)
This book made me laugh out loud on the tube. It also had me whistling tunes that I haven't heard for years, and it also made me cry. I haven't engaged so strongly with a heroine for a while and Dolores Price is written with such honesty and such a clarity of expression that she is an irresistible character.
The plot of the book involves multiple deaths, rape and emotional abuse and the strength of this novel is that these horrific events are presented in the context of a very well-observed ensemble of characters; and funnily enough, the parts that made me cry weren't the deaths, or the rape, but the little hurts that the characters inflicted upon one another; the small woundings that families inflict on each other over the years.
Some of the characters in the ensemble are ogres but most of the central characters are presented as real, fallible human beings. The character Roberta deserves a novel of her own.
The imperfections in the book come near the end, with slightly clunky characterisations of new and important characters; but this is completely forgivable and is kind of a relief after the emotionally-tumultuous journey that you go through as a reader before this.
This is such a satisfying book - I strongly recommend it. Be prepared to feel some pain, but it's far from all-painful: there's a lot of light there too; and you will feel better for reading it.

The Life and Loves of a She-devil (Coronet Books)
The Life and Loves of a She-devil (Coronet Books)
by Fay Weldon
Edition: Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My all-time favourite book, 13 Dec 2004
This is a powerful story, simply told.
I'd go as far as to say that the story borders on the mythological. Fay Weldon's use of sparse and simple prose in the telling of it strengthens the story even further.
Fay Weldon has an understanding of human nature which transcends the boundaries of social nicety and political correctness at the best of times, but she improves on her usual excellence here. This book presents the light and shadow of men and women in all their forms - there are no "good-guys" or "bad-guys" here. She shows how good can spring from bad and bad from good... a dangerous idea? Read it and see what you think.
I've read this book at least a dozen times over the years and I've learned something new about life, and myself, every time. It's frightening, uplifting and ultimately liberating. I can't recommend it more highly.

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