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Mum of the animals "Jenny Benfield" (UK)

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Fault Lines
Fault Lines
by Nancy Huston
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag of faults and strengths, 8 Oct 2008
This review is from: Fault Lines (Paperback)
Story of four generations of a family with a secret written through the narrative voice of each generation as a six year old. The secret turned out to be the 'legal' abduction of the main character by Nazis because of her blond features being a prototyype of Arian. Based on a true policy intitative known as the 'Fountain of Life' that affected some 250,000 children, the book covers a fascinating and little known abuse, but the plot fails to satisfy my curiousity or convince me. The first narrative - in the present day - is a peculiarly nasty and self-satisfied child and as the story unfolds we never find out why. It ends so abruptly I found myself looking to see if some pages had fallen out. The book's pitfalls are odd as it is clear the author has a real talent. It is as if the book was published before the writer had completed the novel.

However, I would recommend you read it yourself. It is interesting and I may have missed something obvious.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2010 6:11 PM GMT

The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay historical fiction but not memorable, 23 Sep 2008
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The strength of the book is the detailed description of the development of a cathedral and its impact on the prosperity of a town through a page-turning narrative and fictional characters. It is a fairly easy read on a difficult subject. It covers the civil war during the 12th century (Stephen and Maud) The downside is it is not a very memorable read. When my book club recommended it, I did not even remember I had aready done so! I certainly would not say don't read it - especially if you are doing GCSE architecture or medieval history. It does bring the period to life more than a textbook would and that can spur you on to learn more. However, it is not a great piece of historical fiction.

New Orleans for Dummies (Dummies Travel)
New Orleans for Dummies (Dummies Travel)
by Julia Kamysz Lane
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Local detail, 20 Aug 2008
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I bought this because it was the only one that covered New Orleans post-hurricane Katrina (at the time). The author has lived in New Orleans for many years so has the personal; touch and inside knowledge that Lonely Planet and Rough Guide travel writers sometimes lack. Resturants were easily grouped in alphabtical order and the reviews were accurate and detiled enough to make an informed choice. My husbamd and I also felt that the hotels and restaurants had more suggestions on the mid-to-expensive range than other guide books. This suited us fine as we find Lonely Planet etc., focus on the budget gap-year student while more up-market travel books tend to cover the sights in detail but assume you'll be part of a package tour once you are old enough to afford it!

A small but suprisingly useful feature was stick tags that enabled you to mark favourite places or reference points in the book easily.

I would recommend the book to anyone going to New Orleans. However, if you are an independent traveller too old for a ruck-sack and too young for a Saga Cruise, I would put it more strongly. Don't go to New Orleans without it.

Lullabies for Little Criminals
Lullabies for Little Criminals
by Heather O'Neill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.44

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of the year, 19 Aug 2008
Written in the voice of a child, this book is about the highs and lows of being cared for by her young heroin addict father. The book sets a new standard in writing about childhood trauma. It perfectly captures the confused, non-judgemental thought process of a young girl as she grows up in a community of drug-pushers, bums, pimps and other inadequates. Inexorably, Baby mutates from an innocent, vulnerable child into a whore and heroin user as she develops her own methods to answer her need to feel nurtured. The strength of the narrative is that from the beginning to end, it is told with a child's perspective. I wanted to crawl into the book and comfort her myself. Heather O'Neil is an outstanding talent. Some of the writing was so poignant, I found myself writing out passages to remember. Even the title makes me want to weep!

The Weight-loss Diaries: A Tale of Binges, Guilt, Fat Days, Late-night Refrigerator Raids, New-me Shopping Sprees, Exercise, More Binges, And... How I Beat My Life-long Weight-loss Struggle
The Weight-loss Diaries: A Tale of Binges, Guilt, Fat Days, Late-night Refrigerator Raids, New-me Shopping Sprees, Exercise, More Binges, And... How I Beat My Life-long Weight-loss Struggle
by Courtney Rubin
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars its a marathon not a sprint, 11 Jun 2008
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One of the best diet memoirs I have read. Courtney is a journalist who writes very well and, often, movingly on the trials and tribulations of losing weight. It is a memoir of weight loss not a diet book so do not expect meal plans and recipies. What she is outstanding on is the angst of losing weight and how it impacts on relationships. It's very real. She recounts the frustration she feels as her weight goes up and down just like Alice in Wonderland when she trys to eat and drink her way into the enchanted garden. She inspired me with her exercise, humour and modesty. I also found the length of time it took an inspiration rather than a deterrant.

Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet: From Pig to Twig
Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet: From Pig to Twig
by India Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not the way to pig!, 29 May 2008
It may sound priggish but Neris and India have only written an amusing lifestyle book. I cannot recommend it as a diet book. Because they are women who have lost weight, they understand the urge to flop on the couch to cheer yourself up with food because life is sad/bad/good/happy/boring. Because they are genuinely warm and funny, it is like talking about dieting with your best, funniest friend. I was very taken with the approach and am already carrying out some of the ideas. It includes what clothes to buy while you are a fatso, how to be happy without walking to the fridge and about how we cheat.

But the diet itself....

It is very, very low carb. You lose weight fast. I was tempted. But I was conscious that while they are working mothers (which means they understand) and media experts (which makes them persuasive) they are not nutritionalists. So before I did the diet, I checked out advice from doctors. They say, no, not in the long term. People need carbs. They also need fruit. Although you do lose weight fast, some of it relates to water (as always) and sometimes it burns muscle (which is a low carb thing). It can change the metabolism and make weight loss harder in the future.

There is plenty to praise the book for - but not the diet.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2009 12:17 PM BST

Things to do with Mum
Things to do with Mum
by Alison Maloney
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How difficult can it be to play?, 10 May 2008
This review is from: Things to do with Mum (Hardcover)
The retro-girl's annual style gives us all a yearning for a by-gone family lifestyle that never happened. I glanced at the list of activities and my mother and I had never done a single one! Didn't find the family outing that involved driving to the pub, the kids being given a coke and packet of crisps each to eat in the car while parents got wellied inside and then drove home!

The underlying tone of a woman's role being confined to kitchen experiments and sewing things is a bit hard to swallow too. I haven't seen the Dad's book but I bet he does really cool things like shooting pheasents and taking stones out of horses hooves with a swiss army knife rather than making a bath puff for granny and crowing cress in an egg cup.

Yet the book certainly fulfils a need in our family. Aware that our family tend to enjoy our leisure time solo - one child on the computer, another watching TV, Dad watching the football, me on the lap-top - we decided to introduce a time together. It needn't be expensive, I said, and ten minutes is fine. But we could never think of anything. We'd sit there and say, "how about ...?"
"Nah! It's too ....... "

We have lost the art of talking and doing things with friends, family and relatives.

So this is an answer to a prayer. It includes around 60 activities from the ones like 20 questions you can do walking to school/in the car to start your own slime factory and even make your own miniture garden.

At this stage the kids are skeptical. They'd still rather play World of Warcraft or Call of Duty on the computer. I'll try to update this review to let you know how I get on.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2008 11:24 AM BST

The Nigel Lawson Diet Book
The Nigel Lawson Diet Book
by Nigel Lawson
Edition: Hardcover

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Iron diet for iron chancellor, 6 Mar 2008
Nigel Lawson, `the iron chancellor' of Great Britain in the 1980s, has devised a diet book well suited to his character. It is basically a set of rules he rigidly sticks to, firstly, to lose weight and later to maintain weight.

The rules work but you can't help feeling, much like his economic politics, it would still work without such a high degree of deprivation - a bit more flexibility would be more fun.

Rules include: no alcohol; no sugar, no dairy products. He takes a `if it isn't hurting, it isn't working' approach. It worked. He lost 12 inches off his waist-line and five stones in under a year.

But the fast (too fast?) weight-loss took its toll. His skin hung loose on his body. Some of the recipies are Englsh country squire and that has an appeal. Try pheasant and apple casserole, duck and pigeon slices in coulis sauce and light cheese souffle. I can visualise the formal dining room, wax-polish on antique tables and the silver cutlery.

The joy of the book is not the diet itself but I would recommend anyone read it.He is an ex-journalist so he can WRITE. He loves gourmet food and some of the recipes are first-class as well as slimming. His success story in slimming is frank, witty and inspiring and it's a lighter side of political history.

i-mate JASJAR GSM/GPRS Pocket PC/Mobile Phone
i-mate JASJAR GSM/GPRS Pocket PC/Mobile Phone
Offered by Pri.Trading
Price: £292.98

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but take care with buying PDAs online, 14 Feb 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
5 stars is for the product only. It was all I ever wanted:
* It was easy to use
* sychonisation with outlook was quick and simple
* a comprehensive user guide that was well-written so I could use all the features
* I could type in realtime and send it straight out in outlook for distribution.

Then it broke. No reason. I took it out my bag and the screen had gone. I had had it all of two weeks. I was devestated.

Suddenly all the failings of buying on-line come to the fore. The supplier pda-mobiles is running the business from cyber-space. No telephone numbner, no address, no response. Replies to email are slow, polite but with nil knowledge of consumer law or Amazon 'guarentee. WTen He claims it is not a manufacturing error but a 'human' error. How would human error stop the machine working? Pressing the wrong buttons too often? And how has he come to this convenient conclusion without seeing the machine? Then you find yourself DID have a fault. Did the supplier get it from a legitimate source? You just do not know.

And Amazon. Well, bless them! Their procedures are adequate enough for CDs, books and so on - things that are not time sensitive or very expensive. Where it does not matter too much. The average of seven to ten days to investigate however is all too slow for a working tool that is so fab you became reliant on it the moment you unpacked the box. It's too dear to pop out and get a duplicate. Yet you cannot survive without it.

Things do go wrong with equipment. I accept that. If I had bought it from an O2 shop I could have received a replacement within hours of it going wrong with no questions.

So my advice would be:
1. Don't buy very expensive items from a third party on Amazon unless you know the company well
2. If you do, don't buy PDA/computers in particular. They break too often and you need more after sales suppoprt than can be provided
3. And if you choose to ignore my advice, pay by credit card.

Take Back Your Life!: Using Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2007 to Get Organized and Stay Organized (Inside Out)
Take Back Your Life!: Using Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2007 to Get Organized and Stay Organized (Inside Out)
by Sally McGhee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but corny American style, 20 Nov 2007
Take Back Your Life is a genuinely useful book on how to use Outlook 2007 to improve time-management. I am using it at work and it has improved things so that it the litmus test.

But it does have irritating flaws.

The style is Americian corporate over-enthusiastic, and it keeps putting in corny dialogue as in ,
"We said, 'Great......Now what about profit and revenue'
Susan replied, 'Now you're really pinning me down!'
We responded, "That's exactly right..."

I say, "If you don't mind that style, well, great!"
But then I asked, "Doesn't it start to grate after a while?"
Then I said, "Just kidding! Ged it? Great and Grate!"
Then I responded, "Now, I'm starting to write in that unfocused way myself."

My fundamental point: It is a book about time-management but it takes far more words than is necessary to get its point across. Us busy, busy people don't have time for that.

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