Profile for Lady Fancifull > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Lady Fancifull
Top Reviewer Ranking: 111
Helpful Votes: 6141

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Lady Fancifull "Tinkerbell"

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
Yogi Tea Ginger Orange With Vanilla 17 Teabags (Pack of 6, Total 102 Teabags)
Yogi Tea Ginger Orange With Vanilla 17 Teabags (Pack of 6, Total 102 Teabags)
Price: 12.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, tangy, bitter-sweet, 14 July 2014
This is my new favourite Yogi herb tea drink (though I bought in a health shop rather than here) You get the expansive warmth of ginger, that tongue tingly marmalade bite of citrus peel, slightly astringing, slightly bitter, and the aaah! comforted child quality of vanilla. I guess this is going to be particularly fine in winter, and as the nights grow cold and midwinter makes itself known, will no doubt come to feel deliciously Christmassy. But here, in summer, it is still smile inducing. Served chilled for really hot days.

I tend to steep my herb teas in the cup, and this is equally fine, though paler in taste, for a second mug. Yogi's are a great way to get your water requirements met, whether as hot winter or chilled summer drinks
Other ingredients are liquorice, - so those with high blood pressure should avoid 'excessive consumption', peppermint, lemongrass, black pepper.

Apart from the 'orange extract, natural flavour' all ingredients are organic. Shame they put in the one ingredient constituent which is not completely transparent as to what it actually is, and how it has been arrived at, but this is the only possible blot on this tea. The other ingredients are the herbs/plants directly, pounded, chopped or minced. Of course 'natural flavour' COULD mean the essential oil of orange, but it could also mean a welter of other things

The Other Typist
The Other Typist
by Suzanne Rindell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but ultimately not completely satisfying `twister', 13 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Other Typist (Paperback)
Susanne Rindell's easy-reading The Other Typist, set in 1920s New York, slap-bang in Jazz Age prohibition, and with not one, but with a whole clutch of remarkably unreliable central characters, including the unreliable narrator herself, is an enjoyable read, but meanders a little, does not completely make credible the central relationships, and in the end `the twist' is rather a half twist, and not that credible (well, aspects of it aren't), as I think Rindell tries to suggest the half-twist may be a one-and-a-half twist, and one particular character could easily have disentangled THAT particular piece of plottery/chicanery.

The central character, Rose, is a young woman raised in an orphanage runs by nuns, now working as a typist in a New York police precinct. She is a stenographer taking dictation and typing up the dictation of interrogation confessions. She has relationships which are psychologically revealing with her Sergeant and Lieutenant Detective. It is revealed fairly early on that she is looking back on this period of her life, and that she is indeed, not quite to be trusted; she is slippery, judgemental, prissy (that convent education), more than a little devious, and possibly has some `Sapphic' history. She is also intelligent, but her self-analysis and self-assessments are open to question.

Into the police precinct comes another typist stenographer, who has a tangled history, and is absolutely not what she seems. Odalie is sophisticated, glamorous, steely, manipulative, highly charismatic and absolutely adept at seizing the main chance to use people who get trapped, like hapless flies, in her glittering spidery web. Rose is one. But Rose is also a user and a manipulator, except at a much more basic level, lacking the fine honed skills of Odalie. The relationship between Rose and Odalie is also interesting, seen absolutely through Rose's eyes, which are of course not to be trusted - particular her analysis and excuses for her own behaviour.

I did enjoy Rose's frequent reinforcements of why we should not trust her, her wriggling disclaimers, and the plot which meandered along towards its conclusion. She is also quite funny - sometimes deliberately pert and snappy in her put-downs and observations, sometimes unintentionally so in her gaucheness and self-delusion.

However, there were anachronisms - for example pregnant women in `white collar' jobs, particularly in a male environment would not have been so easily accepted as one of the typists appears to be. This seemed quite modern, and no one really remarks much on it, or seems to think too much about it; the pregnant one no longer will take dictation when rapists and serial killers are being interrogated, but that's about the only reference.

Though I did enjoy, for the most part, the journey through the book, it did really need to be a tauter journey, and, moreover, the `twist' to have been more credible.

I'm afraid I can't reveal more about quite why the twist doesn't really stand up, for spoiler reasons.

Some of the publisher reviews suggest comparisons to Highsmith, Hitchcock and even Great Gatsby (which the author loves, and does say this book slightly `homages') . Certainly there are some hints and elements which invite comparisons, but this is territory or time-setting, more than `essence of'

I Will Not Stand Alone - Kayhan Kalhor
I Will Not Stand Alone - Kayhan Kalhor
Price: 15.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Iranian heart; Iranian Soul, 12 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Kayhan Kalhor, the Iranian kamancheh (spike fiddle) player, is as consummate a musician and artist as one could dream of. He combines astonishing virtuosity and passionate immersion in his music, with playing which is charismatic, stellar - and, yet, curiously without `look at me ego' or hogging centre stage, muscling out his `supporting musicians' Kalhor doesn't really do `supporting musicians'. He works peer to peer with other musicians

What he does do is to work with a range of other musicians, sometimes from his own culture's musical traditions, sometimes cross culturally, as in his work with Ghazal, marrying the Iranian kamancheh with instruments from India's classical musical tradition - sitar, table, vocals. And sometimes he works with musicians better known in the European classical music traditions, most notably with Yo Yo Ma, playing a wealth of Asian music in the Silk Road series of albums.

Whatever Kalhor does, he brings devotion to his work. Whatever brilliance, finesse and mastery he brings to his playing everything is designed to shine the brilliance of the music itself. There is surrender to the music, surrender to the joint practice of playing music with others, and, if you are fortunate enough to experience a live concert with Kalhor, as I recently was, surrender to the experience of unfolding and revealing music in a shared experience for the active listener to enter into this space.

This particular CD, with music which arose out of Kalhor's own experience of his country's recent political dark places, is a meditation on music as expression of suffering, as well as music as a shared, collective experience to provide some ease from that dark night of isolation, and existential aloneness

Here, in accompaniment with Ali Bahrami Fard, we have two musicians playing adapted versions of traditional Iranian instruments. Fard is playing the santour, a shimmering, percussive dulcimer instrument - but it is a bass santour, much larger, with a wider musical range, 96 strings, 24 bridges instead of the traditional 72 and 18

Meanwhile Kalhor is playing a new instrument, developed especially for him by the instrument maker Peter Biffen, the Shah Kaman, with different stringing, and using a lighter sounding board made of wood rather than skin, with, again, the possibility of richer lower notes.

At the live concert, which this CD is a version of, the two musicians were electrifying, playing for well over an hour, a continuous piece of music (here, on the CD briefly broken into movements with track names, rather than stand alone tracks)

The music ranges from dark anguish, quiet reflection, a maelstrom of passion and energy, anger, despair, resilience, shared commitment. At times so frenetic and wild is the music that it seems impossible to sit with it, the wild expression of dance is an insistent call. Restrained by the initial hearing of the music in a concert hall, I found a subtler response, listening to the dynamic movement of the music from within physical stillness, letting the music shape itself and move within, rather than cause external movement. It deepened my appreciation of this wonderful music, and the absolute focus brought by the inspired musicians

Kenwood FP731 Multi Pro Food Processor
Kenwood FP731 Multi Pro Food Processor
Offered by royswroxhamltd
Price: 109.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clunk click, every trip!, 11 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My elderly Kenwood processor had a shear of part of the drive. Alas, the part no longer being available, despite a thorough search of spares companies, and Kenwood having made subtle changes to diameters so that the requisite part on newer machines would not fit the older model (that annoying, deliberate drive to built-in obsolescence increasing land-fill waste ya-de-ya whilst fuelling capitalism), sadly the old one had to be lugged to recycling and a new one bought.

I looked carefully at what was on offer, pleased at least to see prices had plummeted (well the price on THIS had when I bought it a month or so ago) whilst footprint on the kitchen top had shrunk dramatically, and power had surged. The choice, for me, came down to 2 models, this one and the (at that time) only marginally less expensive Kenwood FP580 2-Speed Food Processor - White There is an excellent video review of this one by Chris Hall. The similarly excellent review of the FP731 by Kath Mandu on this page, (text only review) coupled with a comparison to Chris Hall's review was enormously helpful in giving me the detail I needed to choose between what seemed to be equally good, and at that time, equally economical choices

I preferred the slightly sleeker, more pleasing (to my eyes) aesthetics of the FP731, and the deciding factor was that this model came with a second, smaller, mixing bowl and blade, which would be useful for dealing with some ingredients to be prepared and then added, for example, to a cake mix.

The FP580 comes with a citrus juicer, which Chris Hall had already flagged up in his review as being the only part which was more fiddly to use/clean than it was worth. And I had never used the citrus juicer on my old model anyway, finding manual squeezing in the end an easier clean up operation than on the Kenwood. If I was producing fresh orange juice daily for an army it might be different. I don't even use the citrus juicer on my big beast dedicated juicer. The FP731 no longer comes with a juicer, though i believe once it did

Kenwood have rather drastically reduced the 'basic' price of their models by selling the processors with fewer bits and pieces, and leaving consumers to buy these as add-ons

Though I'm delighted with this new model, a star has been deducted for one really careless omission to this machine - it no longer comes with the safety housing carousel for the 3 shredder and julienne plates. I would NOT have wanted sharp roundels in my drawer, viciously waiting for careless hands to get cut whilst scrimmaging for a tool. Fortunately, I didn't lug my old machine to the recycle till this had been unpacked and at least the roundels fit neatly inside the old housing.

What I particularly like is the neatness of the central base, onto which you can mount the liquidiser and also the mill. To save costs, again, the liquidiser base needs to be unscrewed and screwed onto the mill when you want to mill dried goods (breadcrumbs for example) An easy, but perhaps slightly faffy operation if you use the mill a lot, though, again, a separate base can be bought as a spare for permanent attachment to the mill

I note that the identical model, except for the colour Kenwood FP736 Multi Pro Food Processor is available at a decent price (well, at the moment of writing, it is) My guess is that this 3 year old model is to be superceded by some other cosmetic tweak to keep everyone upgrading, though 'upgrade' is generally a misnomer, when its generally a cosmetic tweak.

And - for a title explanation - important to realise, that for the mixing bowl and its lid to WORK, you need to turn each till you hear an audible CLICK. This is absolutely easy, but you need to look a little closely on first assembling, to see exactly where how to position bowl and lid so they slide neatly into place. The instructions don't make this particularly clear. Without helpful Amazon reviewers, who I read assiduously before choosing the machine, I would have been on the phone to Kenwood, wailing and chuntering crossly that they had sold me a dud. You THINK you have fully engaged the bowl with the base and the lid with the bowl, but, alas, unless you have clunk clicked, you haven't.

When I bought my machine, I got it directly from Amazon, not from a third party seller, as Az had this in good stock quantities

The Emperor Waltz
The Emperor Waltz
by Philip Hensher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.91

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intertwining wheels and spirals, 10 July 2014
This review is from: The Emperor Waltz (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Philip Hensher's hefty 600 page novel, despite being set in 4 distinct time frames, and following 5 sets of characters (including the author himself), with a couple of recurring musical themes, one provided by a blackbird's song, one the Strauss Waltz of the title, is actually almost a traditionally well-crafted narrative journey, with attention given to plot, character development, repeating motifs and beautifully constructed links which work like smooth dovetailed joints.

This is consummately CRAFTED writing and story-telling

There is a recurring theme of what it is to be an outsider, the glorious, lively eccentricity of humanity is celebrated, as something with soul and heart, set against the forces which are afraid of individual human messiness and personal connection, and which operate to conform and stultify.

These themes are clearly shown in the major narrative strands. The first of these is a group of artists in the Weimar Republic, including the appearance of known artists, Klee, Kandinsky, the Bauhaus school, artists and philosophers, experimenting with form, ideas, spiritual development - Johannes Itten and Mazdaznan. The importance of art in developing `humanity' is set against the destructive, violent background of emerging fascism. The second major strand is the emergence of gay and lesbian liberation, and movement `out of the closet' from the late 70s, following the fortunes particularly of one gay man and his circle, who opens a gay bookshop. Literature changes consciousness and is changed by it.

Both the Weimar set sections and the London early 80s have sections where there are actions of casual unthinking prejudice that in some ways are more shocking than bloody violence, as in a sense the casual events, the casual low level prejudices, unchecked, are what swell, eventually into violence.

The third strand is set in Ancient Rome, and concerns Christianity as a fledgling religion, treated violently by the state. Later, of course, Christianity will itself become an instrument, later in history, of oppression and state control.

There are two other sections, one of which I could not quite set within the structure, though I suspect there is a meaning I have missed, in this - very slightly in the future we have a small group of young London boys going through puberty, right in the middle of macho posturing, engaged in metropolitan gangsta speak, experimenting with drugs, whilst, downstairs, their sophisticated cosmopolitan parents, blissfully unaware, discuss education, economics and office etiquette. Above stairs the beloved children are getting slowly wasted. This section is very funny.

Hensher, in a section about the time he spent in A + E, and later in a medical ward of a London Hospital recently, as a result of complications linked with his diabetes, shows how the artist himself works, how literature is crafted - and also, how important connection and community is. There are outcasts in this section - those who live on the margins through poverty, mental health issues and alcohol abuse. Hensher and his supportive community of friends and family are now the golden ones.

Until the very end of the book, I thought my review was to be 4 star, but there is a very satisfying tying up of threads, repetition of images, symbols, artefacts, so that the tapestry of the book as a whole, works, and there is the sense of a good journey completed

4 rounded up to five.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 9:49 PM BST

The Seeds of Time
The Seeds of Time
by John Wyndham
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars The rich world of literary SciFi short stories, 8 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Seeds of Time (Paperback)
John Wyndham's short story collection The Seeds of Time is a masterclass in how unformulaic any genre might be in the hands of someone who is a crafted, imaginative literary writer who happens to write in the Sci-Fi genre, as opposed to someone who is a Sci-Fi writer. Yes, I know my prejudices are showing, but I do believe it must be the writing, the craft itself which comes first, and the mastery (or not) of that, rather than the field in which someone chooses to write.

Here, Wyndham has laid out something of a smorgasbord of different genres of writing, with a theme which might loosely be described as SF - so, if you like, he is sewing together genres, so that we get SF Romance, SF Humour, SF philiosophy, an examination of racism through the lens or disguise of SF, etc.

The short story structure itself is something which demands precision and craft to be successful. Often, short story collections rather disappoint, because the reader may very quickly realise the writer's particular tricks and tics, especially if the short story writer is basically writing in a very fixed groove - fairly recently I read an example of this, where had I just read one such story, perhaps, published as it was in a magazine, it would have been a superb example of the craft. Unfortunately gathering dozens and dozens of such stories, published over many years, individually, together, was just too much same old.

But that is definitely not the case here, because of Wyndham's splendid variety.

Inevitably, there cannot but be variations in excellence, and I can only concur with a fellow reviewer, Fiction Fan, in picking out the particularly stellar 3. It is not that the others are poor, only that these are superb

Meteor is a short and telling story which shows what might happen when the inevitable supposition of what intelligent life from another planetary system might look like, remains viewed through the lens of human size as well as shape. This was horrid, poignant and funny, all at once

Survival is a shocking and absolutely plausible story which, written in the 50s, shows the danger of underestimating women. A proto-feminist SciFi fable

Pillar To Post is an extremely clever story involving a couple of protagonists fighting through time and space for possession of the same body.

I also thought Dumb Martian, which examines racist and sexist attitudes under the guise of Sci Fi, was particularly fine, and Opposite Number, which looks at `alternate realities' the intriguing idea of a kind of bifurcating universe where the choices an individual didn't make, are playing out - and then what happens if a couple of these bifurcations collide. It's the story of `What If.........I had done this rather than that'

10 short stories - not one is poor or predictable

The Magus (Vintage Classics)
The Magus (Vintage Classics)
by John Fowles
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We shall not cease from exploration.................., 5 July 2014
The Magus is undoubtedly a book which is going to be most potent for a reader who embarks on its journey when young and unformed, when the sense of the possibility of not only choices to be made in the HOW you will live your life, but WHO you are to live your life, are potent. And it is (possibly) a book of even more resonance for a young man than it is for a young woman, as the selfish, cynical, faux-existentialist decadent central character, the narrator, is male.

But (I think this is probably the fourth or maybe fifth time I have returned to the book) it is one which still has the power to allure, to puzzle, and to bear re-reading again.

In brief, the well written story concerns the disaffected Urfe, a man with a wayward and careless, though unrealistically Romantic attitude to women - locked in an idea of The Woman, so that he cannot stay within what a relationship with a real woman might mean, what loving, as opposed to in love, might mean. Urfe is a product of the stultified 50s British class system. An Oxbridge graduate, a teacher at minor public schools, he takes a post teaching English at a school on `Phraxos', an isolated Greek island.

There he encounters a mysterious Greek, an older man, urbane, wealthy, steeped in the arts, philosophy, a degree of learning which is more ancient than Renaissance. A man who fulfils the roles of guru, trickster, enchanter, and through whose mind-games Urfe learns. It is almost impossible to explain the power - cerebrally, emotionally, viscerally of this book. The reader, over and over, like Urfe, is stretched, deceived, seduced, puzzled - and within this story Fowles is also creating transformations for reader as well as his central character.

He (Fowles) either displays a certain arrogance towards his reader (no spoon-feeder he), or he expects reading to BE something to work to transform, not merely to entertain, and instead RESPECTS the reader's capacity to make that journey. Untranslated passages of Latin, French, Italian, Greek, are casually strewn through the text, not to mention many allusions to artistic, musical and literary classical pieces. Reading Fowles in a Google world is fairly easy, with the ability to search for, and translate, the quotes, the references, but, at the time of writing, if you did not have that wide learning more work needed to be done in order to better understand.

In its time it was unlike anything I had read. Now, the novelist as trickster, the novelist who twists and turns the reader, making them work, whilst they unfold their fabulous immersion, is using devices we are more used to. But in the unfolding story in The Magus, time and again the reader is NOT given answers, any more than Urfe is, all is ambiguity - and even when Urfe does unravel answers, he will say ( for example) in the solving of a crossword clue how someone felt/reacted to the solving of the clue - but the reader is not given the solution, and left to work it out. These various little stings are devices to make the reader participate in what they are reading.

Perhaps nowhere does Fowles throw the refusal to `black and white' to `wrap' to tie up and produce a fixed narration more, than in the deliberate ambiguity of the end.

Many anguished letters to Fowles via his publisher, many student dissertations, over the years, were produced, arguing and debating the `what happened'

Fowles deliberately left this open. `Life', unlike Hollywood, does not have wraps
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 9:03 PM BST

The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
by Tom Hunt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eat well, eat local, eat (and cook) in good time, 30 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Tom Hunt's The Natural Cook is rather more than just another book of visual food porn, tempting you into your kitchen to try (and fail) to produce stunning results after a lot of time, heavy duty shopping and sourcing of rare ingredients shipped by rocket from Mars. Or at least air freight from across the world.

Hunt's mission is to help us save our money, save our time, delight our eyes, taste-buds and tums, at a price which doesn't cost the earth for future generations.

Although this is not a vegetarian cookbook (which will probably delight many) the star performers here are players from the vegetable, rather than animal, kingdom.

Divided initially into four quarters, to mark the four seasons, Hunt picks a few plant `stars' typical of the season, and then gives a good 8 to 10 recipes with that star player as main ingredient. He offers 3 methods of preparation for each, and then sundry recipes involving that method. Advice is also given on the storage of left-overs from each recipe and indeed where it would be advisable to make extra in order to have freezer food for later.

A full list of the `players' available in their right season is also given

His aim is to reduce food waste to a minimum, so ways of using left-overs are also included, making them part of other dishes.

This is all high end, easy prep (for the most part) gourmet, healthy, delicious and stylish food - designed to make the cook and the diner feel equally good and delighted, without sacrificing hedonic pleasure to dutiful , healthy, but rather dull eating.

As mentioned earlier, it is not a vegetarian cookbook, I guess a good quarter of the recipes involve inexpensive cuts of meat or fish, but certainly some of the meaty or fishy numbers could I think be adapted by the vegetarian cook, using tofu or pulses, as for the most part the flesh food is more Eastern and Mediterranean in quantity - if a recipe includes meat it is in smaller amounts, not groaning trenchers of severed limbs and the like - hence the possibility of replacing, for example, a recipe of asparagus and mackerel sashimi with pickled ginger, orange and soy dressing with smoked tofu in place of the fish.

In a sense, though undoubtedly delivered with style and panache, Hunt's recipes invitingly call out to the home cook to adapt and experiment with what you have to hand in YOUR cupboard - it is easy to see these are recipes designed to release your creativity in the kitchen, not stifle it into nervous following of rigid instruction.

I particularly like Hunt's using up everything possible from the cooking process in interesting ways - a lovely example, from our current `apricot season' is, having poached your fresh apricots, perhaps for an apricot melba, reserve the poaching liquid to add to white rum, lime juice and sugar and, hey presto, a daiquiri!

This is a cookery book with a lot of heart, joy, compassion and passion, as well as stuff to make the diner drool with anticipatory pleasure, and the cook happy in that fine dining can be produced without spending a life-time turning a lettuce leaf into something to be submitted for the Turner prize

The look inside lets you see some recipes, so its easy to try `is this my kind of food; do the recipes work; are they do-able or just faff' etc, and the index also gives a fair idea of the recipes.

Hunt, as I think is explained in the look inside section, has based his cooking on excellence in home and traditional dishes - `regional cooking' where the regions take in other countries as well, but this is not about cooking as art form or cooking using fashionably rare and highly exotic ingredients, and you won't need to purchase arcane equipment in order to achieve fabulous results. No foams, no jus, no blowtorches.

A Gun For Sale: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics)
A Gun For Sale: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics)
by Graham Greene
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Territory of the Thirties Suspense Novel, 24 Jun 2014
Graham Greene's early novels include several which he grouped as `Entertainments' - written between the wars and during the war, they often involve espionage, shadowy groups of subversives intent on destroying the normal fabric of life - and who those `subversives' are, and what their intent is, shifts as the forces are arraigned against each other in the Second World War.

I have just re-read the 1934 A Gun For Sale - where, curiously, it is the Balkan flashpoint of the First World War that is seen as the possible touchpaper for a Second. And the driver, or creator of the possible war is firmly seen as capitalist armaments manufacturers. War that uses assassination (in this case, of a pacifist socialist) to try to provoke the conflagration of war, in order to increase profits

The complex strands of human foibles, strengths and sufferings are clearly in evidence in this short suspense novel. The `Gun For Sale', the hired assassin, is Raven, a man with a hare-lip. Raven came from a violent, abusing home, denied affection and regard; witnessing whilst young a horrific event, he is brought up in institutions. Greene is straight into the complexity of making the reader engage with the question of where the responsibility for Raven and his kind, really lies.

The central relationship in the story is that between Raven, who never trusted `a skirt', and Ann, the girlfriend of Mathers, the solid, dependable, trustworthy policeman who is hunting Raven down for a crime he did not commit.

Ann is a dancer in a third-rate musical company, and is herself someone of slightly dubious sexual morality. Showgirls dispense mild favours in order to get dinners. By chance, Ann and Raven tangle when he uses her as a shield to evade arrest. She is drawn into the plot through pity for Raven, and a sense that injustice has been done to him. She abhors what she realises he has done, but the sense of wrong done TO him is still strong.

Greene finds plenty of opportunities to show what is an enduring theme in his book - how the corrupt and vicious, particularly those on the margins of society, are not without nobility, and that the upstanding and virtuous may have shadowy, less attractive sides.

This is a pacey read, right from the arresting murder at the start, and all characters are complex and three dimensional.

However, I was left with a sense of unease, in that there are a couple of throwaway allusions which read as anti-Semitic towards the real villain of the piece, the powerful steel magnate who wishes to push Europe towards war for the sake of profits.

Of course, we have all become very much more alert to the ways in which racist thinking exists and existed. Greene almost casually mentions that this character might have come from Jewry. He is a shadowy figure and links to International Capitalism. A scant few years after the publication of this book, the spectre of a demonised, Jewish conspiracy was being used to whip up a nation to either commit, or turn a blind eye to, horrific acts. The almost casual way in which, in 2 or 3 sentences Greene expresses anti Semitism, was a bit of a shocking slap in the face. Clearly, a degree of anti-Semitism did exist in this country almost without it being thought about, but the shock for me was to find its expression in the writing of this most humane and compassionate writer about human frailties.

Braun Oral-B PRO 4000 CrossAction 4-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Braun Oral-B PRO 4000 CrossAction 4-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Price: 54.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly sourly looking at a gift-horse in my mouth as the wheel gets reinvented, 23 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a big fan of the Braun electric toothbrush /Oral B toothbrush head combination, and have had a fairly simple Braun for many years, with the odd foray into trying other brands.

I'm not quite sure why, I think I lost my Braun somewhere, and a good deal was offered on a Colgate electric. This was horrible, the brush heads not a patch on Oral B, and I very quickly returned to the Braun camp.

Then I got offered a Waterpik to try a year ago, as part of the Vine programme. Fortunately I kept my elderly Braun, `just in case' I wasn't particularly enamoured of the sonic Waterpik with its high pitched whine, though it did clean well. It was all rather irrelevant though, and any `amour' I might have had for the Waterpik Ended when it died a scant 6 months later. The model appears not to exist any more, and I guess it may have been poorly designed

So..I was delighted to be offered the chance to try a higher end Braun out.

Manufacturers are obviously often re-inventing the wheel to get consumers (particularly if they make good, sturdy products that DO go on and on) to buy new models. The Braun 4000 doesn't look THAT different from an earlier, less expensive model on sale this time last year, the Triumph range, the 4000.

It is however much more advanced than the trusty simple one I still have from over 10 years ago.

And there are some good things in this, but there are some annoyances.

A visual display (red light comes on) if you apply too much pressure - the whole reason I went, years ago, to an electric was because I was a little heavy handed in my brushing and the hygienist tutted, and said don't brush so hard.

There is an indicator light which comes on when the battery will shortly need recharging (that was something the Waterpik had, but my old Braun didn't , and I was forever finding the brush suddenly stopped mid cleaning.

The model comes with 3 of the Oral B brushes. So you get a chance to try some of the range - the brushes are the 3D Whitening, with a little rubbery centre, to rub your gums; the sensitive, for those with...sensitive teeth, and the apparently top `o the mornin' range cross-action one

The little case to store your brush heads in, which will also fit the charger if you want this permanently plugged into a shaver point in the bathroom


I'm not completely sold on the 30 second `stutter' to remind you to brush the next quadrant of your mouth. And as it doesn't shut off after 2 minutes (as the Waterpik did) in theory you could just go into a reflective state and keep on going

There are 4 cleaning modes - but no clear indication which one you are in (another reviewer has pointed out the SOUND of each mode is subtly different, but the user will just have to work this out and get used to it (I think the next model up gives a visual cue)

The absence of a travel case (again this was something the Waterpik did) The more expensive model up does have one. But, to be brutally frank, I wouldn't really shell out a three figure sum for a toothbrush, though I am of course pleased to be given this to review. Okay the electronics-there is even a top of the range with Wi fi AND Bluetooth* taking the price of your toothbrush to over 200 - may be worth the extra 100 - the digital display to indicate the modes, the 30 secs etc, but I do think the travel case is a simple and obvious `value added' that ought to be there in this 3 figure brush - that cheaper similar looking last year's model DID come with the case. Soggy toothbrush in a sponge bag is a bit of a pain.

IF I were looking to buy a Braun OralB toothbrush which had all the features of this one (and more, as it includes the travel case) I would held straight over to the Braun Oral-B Triumph 4000 Four-Mode Power Toothbrush, which is considerably cheaper, and currently is on a special deal (23.6.14) as is the Triumph Wifi versionOral B Triumph 5000 Toothbrush Wireless Smart Guide With 6 heads + 1 New Tri-Zone head I can't quite figure out what the difference is between the new range for 2014 and the 2013 Triumph range.

Sometimes, capitalism is plain WEIRD - I guess the Triumph (which seems to have been reviewed well, as `last year's model' is to be discontinued, stocks selling cheaply, and the new higher priced range will be offered at a higher price, and then discounted to sell off stocks next year when the 2015 toothbrush, marginally altered - a different shade of blue? a different name? is introduced. A wheel is still a wheel, as long as it.well, goes round

*Back in the day a BlueTooth was a severe sign of something untoward happening, needing a rapid visit to the dentist, A BlueTooth Toothbrush is faintly alarming.

If you did, thanks for reading this piece of verbosity

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20