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The Leave-Takers (Journey into Eta Book 1)
The Leave-Takers (Journey into Eta Book 1)
Price: £2.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Totally hooked, 6 Mar 2014
I read this in record time. Beautifully researched but with an enthralling narrative. I cant wait for the rest of the trilogy.


The Last Man in Russia: And The Struggle To Save A Dying Nation
The Last Man in Russia: And The Struggle To Save A Dying Nation
Price: £4.68

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telegraph review 15 April 2013, 31 Jan 2014
By Ian Thomson7:00AM BST 15 Apr 2013

The illusion of drink-fuelled happiness is familiar to most, even if the hangover seems a cruel price to pay. You could say that alcoholism is a chemical misfortune. Hundreds of Russians are born each day with the misfortune, owing to exposure to vodka in utero. Little, it seems, can be done. Between 1940 and 1980, alcohol consumption increased eightfold in Russia. “When Russians drink vodka,” writes Oliver Bullough, “they do not sip it, or mix it with juice”: they drink shot after shot after shot. Now, under President Putin, Russia appears to be on one huge zapoi, or multi-day bender. In Moscow, the poor drink a 90 proof concoction; they have the glazed eyes of lifelong spirit-abusers.

Heavy drinking in Russia is a sign of masculinity. Once, in an effort to keep up with a group of drinkers on the Moscow-St Petersburg express, Bullough passed out. The vodka had tasted to him like a chemical, but no matter. It impelled the passengers to flights of the imagination and encouraged boastful conversation (what James Joyce called “tighteousness”).

In this superb hybrid of travel and social analysis, The Last Man in Russia, Bullough casts a despairing eye on a nation’s death through alcohol. What lies behind the collective stupor? “No one drinks themselves to death just because they can,” Bullough contends. Uncontrolled private enterprise is part of the problem. The collapse of Communism has produced a class of Noviye Russkie (new Russians) with more privilege and self-importance than yesterday’s apparatchik. The motto of Russia’s dispossessed, “Things were better before”, is increasingly heard; vodka at least provides a path to forgetfulness.
Periodic drinkers who indulge in a self-destructive zapoi with long stretches of sobriety in between, says Bullough, may not think of themselves as alcoholics. Yet almost half of working-age men now die from alcohol-related causes. Alcoholism has become the vexing devil that has crept up slowly. What has gone wrong?

Bullough follows in the footsteps of an Orthodox Russian priest, Dmitry Dudko, who in the Seventies preached against alcoholism and urged repentance. After the war, Father Dmitry served eight years in the Gulag for the crime (as it then was) of writing religious poetry. On his release he continued to denounce political corruption and alcoholism alike as “the fruits of atheism”. The KGB arrested him in 1980. After a spell in detention, he retracted all he had said against the state, and became a Right-wing nationalist as well as an anti-Semite. The KGB had done their job well.

In the priest’s fall from grace, Bullough sees a mirror image of Russia’s vodka-fuddled decline. Gorbachev tried to curtail alcohol consumption in 1985-87 by imposing licence fees, but illegal distillers thrived. Now, experts say the situation is “past the point of diagnosis”. The only cure is sobriety, but sobriety has never been the Russian way.

In pages of raw, poetic prose, Bullough travels to Father Dmitry’s birthplace in western Russia and on to his prison-Gulag, 1,250 miles from Moscow. Throughout, he dilates sorrowfully on the self-denial of vodka drinkers. Their forgetfulness is not so different from the amnesia displayed by Putin towards the Stalinist past.

Russia has always been a land bedevilled by drink. Vladimir the Great, Bullough reminds us, rejected Islam in 10th-century Kiev because “drinking is the joy of Russians. We cannot exist without that pleasure.” Perhaps a drunken population is easier to control? The Last Man in Russia is distinguished by the excellence of its writing and its lucid, unsparing gaze.


Sarah & Duck [DVD]
Sarah & Duck [DVD]
Price: £5.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My one exception to my hatred of all childrens TV, 13 Jan 2014
This review is from: Sarah & Duck [DVD] (DVD)
I am one of those horrid mothers who hates letting my three year old boy watch TV... until came along Sarah and Duck.

This is the only childrens TV where every episode is as beautifully crafted as a picture book. The animation palette is stunning, the stories gentle and quirky. C and I spend alot of time re-enacting the theme tune dance. We are both hooked, as is my husband who I caught happily quacking under his breath to himself the other day.

Can't wait for the DVD.


Tippitoes Toilet Trainer Seat - White
Tippitoes Toilet Trainer Seat - White
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars cheap but good, 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Doesnt slip when on the toilet, has a picture to help the toddler know which way round to put it on the loo. works well and better than some of the more expensive branded ones that some friends have.


Black Dog
Black Dog
by Levi Pinfold
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars won the Kate Greenaway..., 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Black Dog (Paperback)
... but my 3 year old is not very interested. I am not a huge fan either: the illustrations are interesting but not really inviting enough, the story is a bit thin (no emotional resonance. And it IS possible in 32 pages, just think of Dogger).


Baby - Toddler Unisex Trousers / Leggings - Tractor
Baby - Toddler Unisex Trousers / Leggings - Tractor
Offered by little baby boutique
Price: £1.95

3.0 out of 5 stars cheap but what you pay for, 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I worried afterwards where they were sourced from. Cheap and warm but a bit short on cotton content but I suppose you get what you pay for. I just imagine that unlikely to have been sourced from a factory with the best working conditions. Won't be getting again.


The Big Red Bus
The Big Red Bus
by Judy Hindley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars bus- perfect, 15 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Big Red Bus (Paperback)
Amazing rhythm to it- my two year olds favourite for months and months and we didnt get bored either- a rarity. Didnt initially warm to the pictures (despite the illustrators extraordinary parentage) but soon changed our minds when we came to love the book so much.


Her Mother's Face
Her Mother's Face
by Roddy Doyle
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully drawn, 15 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Her Mother's Face (Paperback)
And made me weep when reading it... but then I was pregnant and probably hormonal at the time. I love this illustrator though and he pictures match up to her previous books. Marvellous.


Wonder
Wonder
Price: £3.32

5.0 out of 5 stars worth the hype, 15 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Wonder (Kindle Edition)
with so many amazon reviews already is there much point in adding anther? Good, contemporary set simple story with an excellent 'message' (its not what you look like blah blah... see 'Wild Boy' for same moral) but it has some marvellous relationships and is open about the flaws in all of us, including the main character. Its definitely one to be given to my nephew!


Wild Boy
Wild Boy
Price: £4.98

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but up against strong competition, 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Wild Boy (Kindle Edition)
Good message in the book (its not what you look like blah blah) and written with pace and verve but not hugely original tale. However kids will love it, which is the main thing...but its up against some strong alternatives in the fiction world for this age group!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2014 4:48 PM BST


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