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Yesterday was Summer
Yesterday was Summer
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant, beautifully told story., 7 Jun. 2013
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A poignant, beautifully written story with love at its heart.

Yesterday was Summer brings the tense atmosphere of a small Scottish community into sharp focus. Relationships within the family and especially the doctor / patient relationship are explored with sensitivity and tenderness. A lovely book.


The Devil's Minister
The Devil's Minister
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating and well-told mystery, 7 Jun. 2013
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I first read this book in hardback more years ago than I care to remember. I still have that copy, and like all books I have enjoyed, after some years have passed I like to re-visit them. Nowadays I prefer paperbacks, and my Kindle, so when I discovered The Devil's Minister now available for Kindle, I had to download it.

I can't give a real flavour of the book without something being lost in my poor interpretation, so instead I have typed up an extract for you, to let Alistair Mair's writing speak for itself. From Chapter 3:

'That journey must be one of the most enchanting - as well as one of the slowest - rail journeys in the world. Especially is it enchanting when the sea is reached and the line winds along the broken coast, by little shingle bays, past rocky headlands, with the sea breaking over the thrift which clings to the crevices of the shattered rocks, with heather and birch and stunted oak growing down almost to the high water mark, and, far away, a mighty panoply of mountains disposed against the sky, patterned by the shifting shadows of the clouds, islands and mainland merged beyond the blue, white-flecked water in a prospect as magnificent as any I have ever known.

On that first day, it made a tremendous impact on me. I have known places infinitely more remote, but few in which one sensed so strongly the tortured chaos out of which the world sprang, the labouring influences of time and nature on its face, the origins of man, with his toe-hold on the shore, struggling to survive on that narrow strip between the sea and the unfriendly hills, but surviving, building up a way of life, creating a culture, working out a philosophy which comprehended man and the unruly sea, the mountains and the wide sky, and then living in that philosophy, happily, for generations, with well-springs of wisdom tapping far back in time to the dark days of his beginning.

In such a place, the past and the present are one. The continuity is there, written by the ice on a piece of stone set in the corner of a cottage gable-end. And men can be humble and proud at the same time, which is an excellent thing - humble, because all but the most foolish of men must be humble before the record of the past, and proud, because they and their fathers have endured and begotten and torn poetry out of the throat of the shouting storm.'

'...and torn poetry out of the throat of the shouting storm.'


Crock-Pot 3.5L Slow Cooker Polished Stainless Steel Finish
Crock-Pot 3.5L Slow Cooker Polished Stainless Steel Finish
Price: £24.76

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but pity about the plastic handle on the lid, 5 Feb. 2013
Excellent slow-cooker which does what it says it will do. Beef stew is tender and delicious, with the meat falling apart and the root vegetables well-cooked but not disintegrated. I put mine on at 8.30 on slow when I leave for work and it's ready when I get in at five. I then thicken it with gravy granules, give it a stir and turn it up to high for a little while to thicken, and then turn it down to the 'keep warm' setting till we're ready to eat around 7.00pm.

I wish it came with a recipe book, but it doesn't really matter as there are loads of recipes online for slow cookers. My only gripe is the plastic handle on the lid: you can't re-heat food for the next day in the slow cooker, so I have to transfer the second day's stew into a saucepan to re-heat. If the handle on the lid was metal I could just bung it in the oven in the ceramic crock pot to reheat in the oven like a normal casserole.


We Need To Talk About Kevin
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Price: £4.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, emotionally intelligent writing., 18 Jan. 2013
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I struggled to continue with this book, and read other books to give me a break from the unrelenting and (at first glance) self-obsessed spiel of the narrator. It was an interesting read, so I returned to it. I had to take breaks as it was so harrowing at times.

I gave this five stars because it is astonishing, emotionally intelligent writing and it's rare to find such unflinching honesty from a narrator - she didn't tiptoe around the various shocking thoughts she had, some of which we'll never know whether they were just her wild imaginings or if Kevin really was as evil as his mother seemed to think he might be.

The other thing that edged it to five stars was the ending. The whole book fell into place and I came to the conclusion that this book is really about unconditional love, and the lengths some people will go to to test others' love for them. I think Kevin was testing his mother all along, subconsciously even as a baby, when she didn't immediately bond with him, and then later when I read the ending I thought, yes, he tested her and she has passed the test - or her thoughts indicate that she will pass the test at some point in the future when she has a chance to implement those thoughts - at horrendous cost. It's frustrating that I can't explain my conclusions in any depth without giving the ending away!

I nearly gave this four stars because I found the narrator's (the mother) obvious sharp intelligence at odds with her occasional 'I'm not stupid but I'm not exactly clever' comments. This led me to doubt the authenticity of the narrator - I got the impression I was hearing the author's voice, with her detailed emotional analysis and searing insight, not a mum who runs a travel company and has a son whose behaviour and interaction she finds troubling. Not that a travel agent can't be clever, that's not what I mean, it was that she portrayed herself as not that bright, yet I was reading the thoughts of a very clever person.


Room
Room
Price: £4.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down., 18 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Room (Kindle Edition)
One of the most amazing books I have read.

Speaking from memory, (I read this last year) if I have to analyse it I would say I preferred the scenes in the room; out of the room I wasn't quite so gripped - the story and characters once they were out didn't seem quite so developed.

Overall, a fantastic read though.


On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach
Price: £5.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of a bygone age, 18 Jan. 2013
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Kindle Edition)
I adored this book. I read it maybe five years ago so I can't write about it in any detail other than to say it was wonderful - a glimpse of a bygone age, with beautiful characterisation which shows the effect of innocence and repression not so far removed from my youth that I can't identify with the agonies this couple shared. A measured, deep, intense love story that was very moving.


Blackberry Wine
Blackberry Wine
Price: £3.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A richly atmospheric tale, 18 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Blackberry Wine (Kindle Edition)
This must be one of my favourite Joanne Harris books. Or even one of my favourite books, ever.

It's several years since I read this richly atmospheric tale. It's extraordinary. Narrated in parts by a bottle of home brewed wine left to Jay, an old man trapped in the memories of his childhood, more enticing than the present and to which he longs to return.

Set in a derelict farmhouse, with hints of magic among the blackberries, the wine, the scent of overgrown herb gardens and secrets behind the closed shutters. The scent of summers forgotten and places long past. A story told through a glass, darkly. I loved it.


Weekend in Weighton
Weekend in Weighton
Price: £2.32

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My wonderful whirlwind of a Weekend in Weighton!, 16 Jan. 2013
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This rollercoaster of a detective story begins and (bar the Police station) more or less ends at Weighton Town Hall. By the end of the book I could direct you there myself, so familiar did this small town's streets and its good citizens and shady crooks and doubting coppers feel to me. Weighton's First and Foremost Private Detective Eddie G, with his fabled sixth sense and `deliberately untidy mop of blond hair and steadfast jaw', was a handsome git, (his words, not mine) and although it wasn't love at first sight (I was laughing too much) by the time the story ended I think I was a little in love. Charmed, certainly.

This is a cracking story, told in such an original and engaging way I'm not sure quite how to put it into words. Eddie, never lost for words, would not struggle! From the start I laughed at Eddie's sizzling one-liners, and for a while I just enjoyed the ride. It was as if I'd climbed aboard the Waltzer at Weighton's funfair and from a safe distance could watch the incredible events of Eddie's action-packed weekend unfold before me in vivid cinematic technicolour. Full of unpredictable twists and entertaining turns I think what stood out for me was the genuinely engaging `voice' of the author, his forensic eye for detail and an outstanding sense of place. I was there, and if ever I need a private detective I want Eddie G on the case. I sensed an atmosphere a bit like in the old-style detective movies (think raincoat, Fedora tilted low, Dick Tracy-ish) but there any similarity ends other than Eddie's love of his dad's old Detective films with which he formed a close relationship during a long period of unemployment after dropping out of college. This is highly original, with Eddie on his bicycle dodging crooks and policemen and pursuing his first love Kate, who has returned to her home town a fully fledged solicitor. Handy in Eddie's new line of work.

With romance a possibility and his Dad's good name to maintain and his beloved Mum to look out for Eddie has a lot on his hands already, without the Nkongos and dodgy coppers and Team Jimmy and the rest of the mob. Not to mention that he has somehow managed to get himself implicated in the murder of a certain lady of a certain age. So, with his own name to clear, and just a weekend to do it, like Eddie said, `It was turning out to be an exceptional day' - and that was just Friday.

Without giving too much away, this book was so much more than I expected. Yes, there are punch-ups (with perfect comic timing) but to me it positively sang with an irrepressibly good spirit - Eddie's - and underlying all the humour and smart quips and song lyric chat-up lines was the hope that everything would work out for him, in life, in love, and with his family. A jubilant , uplifting read - I loved it. Or as Eddie would say - Hi Ho Silver.


N4U ONLINE SUPERIOR BLACK LEATHER FLIP CASE COVER POUCH FOR HTC RADAR , SCREEN PROTECTOR & HIGH SENSITIVE STYLUS PEN
N4U ONLINE SUPERIOR BLACK LEATHER FLIP CASE COVER POUCH FOR HTC RADAR , SCREEN PROTECTOR & HIGH SENSITIVE STYLUS PEN

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT leather, 8 Jan. 2013
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I ordered this cover for my new HTC Radar phone because it said it was 'SUPERIOR BLACK LEATHER' and also because it included a stylus pen and screen protector.

This is NOT LEATHER. It is made of PVC, and smells of PVC. And there was no screen protector included.

The only plus side is that it arrived promptly and the stylus pen works.

So, if you are looking for genuine leather, this is not the phone cover to buy.


The Survival of Thomas Ford
The Survival of Thomas Ford
Price: £2.32

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling page-turner, a quite extraordinary book., 23 July 2012
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Outstanding. I lost two days of my holiday to this extraordinary book.

I bought it on the recommendation of someone who seems to have had an instinctive understanding of the sort of book I would enjoy. I'm so glad I listened because once I started reading The Survival of Thomas Ford I was drawn into something really quite extraordinary.

From the first paragraph I was mesmerised. Yet the clear bare prose of the opening pages had a haunting quality that lulled me into a world I had not - could not have from the gentle opening - anticipated. A compulsive read, a story that gripped and shocked with its unsparing clarity. Characters as wicked as they were believable, they became even more believable as the story progressed I think because, however wicked their thoughts (and we were not spared their dark thoughts) their vulnerabilities were also laid before us, like real people's thoughts justify actions even when those actions are terrible and the consequences of those actions more terrible still.

A thrilling page-turner, a literary fiction novel that swept me into the at times feral-like lives of ordinary folk. Set in the Highlands of Scotland, the dialogue was perfect and true. Yet it could equally have been set in any part of the world. Something about the unflinching way the author held up these people with their most basic human drives and motivations, their flawed reasoning, their loyalties and their desperate need to make something of their lives, guided - or haunted - by elements of mysticism made this feel almost like a ghost story at times.

Beautifully written, this is the first book where I was moved to 'highlight' a passage on my Kindle:

'Paper odds were for cowards, who wanted an excuse for not trying. If you were going to dare to try to shape the future you had to forget about such things. You had to try to change your mind into a machine that could create diamonds, then you had to use the diamonds as tools to cut your name, your family's name, into the glass surface that other people called the future. Then other people would read your name there.'

Through such insightful and beautiful descriptive passages I was able to feel an uncomfortable degree of empathy and understanding for Jack McCallum and the desperate measures he had been driven to throughout his life. The observation that earlier in history he might have been a great man. Society does that, doesn't it? It changes the goal posts. But the human spirit has its own path.

A gripping story.


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