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Lady Fancifull "Tinkerbell"

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The Shore
The Shore
by Sara Taylor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, violent, disturbing, beautifully written, and with an obsidian glitter, 27 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Shore (Hardcover)
The Shore is a highly assured debut novel by a young author, originally from rural Virginia, whose tertiary education was in the UK, which is where she now lives.

The setting of this interweaving, deeply entangled collection of individual stories, spins itself backwards and forwards, picking up a thread here, leaving it dangling, working that thread into another patch of story, ranging between 1876 and 2143, within the geography of a patch of small islands off the Virginia Coast, and loosely within the interlocked lives of a couple of individuals born in the 1850s, and their descendants.

The family histories are dark indeed. Women, across the generations, abused by some of their menfolk, who are themselves hardened by poverty and prey to addiction, whether illicit alcohol, home stilled during Prohibition, or, in modern times, the cooking of crystal meth

One family strand tells the story of Medora, child of a Shawnee Indian woman and a brutal white landowner. Medora learns the lore of plants, and within her descendants there are those who still follow shamanic ways, prophetic ways.

It’s extremely difficult to categorise this powerful book – the future moves into an obvious dystopian world, which is heralded in the declining fortunes of the rural community from that 1850s start, and which is echoed in the history of many rural communities in the developed world in the twentieth century.

The book starts with a murder and a mutilation, and there are more murders to come, not to mention rape, castration, physical and emotional abuse – and yet, there is no sense at all of a gratuitous writer titillating with all this

Taylor writes extremely well – and can capture the voices of different generations, different times, men, women and children.

I really liked the fact that I never knew quite where I was going in her book, the fact that she does not follow a one directional linear route with it. The structure mirrored, if you like, the tangle of braided lives, with the grand pattern coming clear at the end, and earlier lives of people now long dead touching the sections set in the twenty-second century

What is also noteworthy, despite the brutality, the violence, the wastedness of many of the lives, is a fierce connection to the land, and family ties, and friendships, particularly concepts of sisterhood, whether sisters by blood, or sisters purely by gender.

Finally, the book cover is rather wonderful. It does not at all suggest, or hint at the true nature of this book, and I am so pleased that it doesn’t. There could have been some very poor and schlocky design, illustrating some of the violence of the subject matter. It was only on finishing the book that the cover began to reveal its subtle appropriateness (shells, just shells of various kinds)

I will, for sure, be following this writer with interest. After such an assured, and original beginning, I have no idea what subsequent books might bring. Taylor has a voice which is unusual, feels authentic, and, for once, the dustjacket praise seems deserved.

For me, Adam Thorpe, poet and novelist (Ulverton) captures her best

“Sara Taylor has a completely natural unforced feel for language and voice: a remarkable debut”

It is.

Hi-Tec ST Anton 200 Waterproof, Women's Trekking and Hiking Boots, Black/Graphite, 6 UK (39 EU)
Hi-Tec ST Anton 200 Waterproof, Women's Trekking and Hiking Boots, Black/Graphite, 6 UK (39 EU)
Offered by SportsShoes Unlimited
Price: £84.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Against the day - townee blizzards and torrents, 25 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wanted something with a little more appeal to style than my normal heavy duty winter walking boots, purely to get me around town on days of bad winter weather.

These (particularly when they popped up on a very good deal) fit the bill excellently. The size is fine, and will fit even better with a pair of thick socks, which after all, is what I'm likely to want, as the chilly fingers of winter begin to squeeze.

I must admit Hi-Tec is far from my favourite brand for a trekking or walking boot, following a bad experience some years ago when a pair of Hi-Tecs, which had been fine for doing 3 day walks of 15 miles a day for some time, turned out to have savage teeth if more days, and harsher terrain, were added to the mix.

But for around 3-5 miles on slushy soggy pavements these fit the bill admirably and don't look as stupid worn with vaguely stylish city clothes as my wonderfully serviceable heavy duty trekking Brasher boots do

Claudine At School (Vintage Classics)
Claudine At School (Vintage Classics)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked, vicious and enchanting – girl power in France, circa 1900, 21 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The story behind Colette’s Claudine series of four books puts it about that that this is a thinly disguised fiction, based on the author’s own experiences at school. The book recounts some amusing, not to mention salacious, tales of life at a school, where the headmistress and second mistress were lesbians, and the central character and narrator, Claudine, was more interested in girls and young women than she was in boys and young men, at that time. Colette’s husband, publisher and author Monsieur Willy suggested she wrote ‘her’ escapades into a story, and he would see if he could publish them. By all accounts, he didn’t initially think much of them and slung them, forgotten, into a drawer. A few years later, discovering them, he realised they were gold, and published them under his name.

To be honest, the themes of hot-house gymslip pashes, crushes and overt lesbian sex, plus a fair smattering of dominatrix behaviour, perhaps become more alluring if they are presented as being more fact than fiction. Certainly Colette had a rather unconstrained, definitely unconventional sexual history, and the reader might assume Claudine IS Colette, though the story certainly has major departures from her own known life – Claudine is the only child of a widower who is an academic specialising in the study of slugs – this latter the source of much humour, whereas Colette was the daughter of a tax collector and her much loved mother, Sido did not die in the author’s childhood!

However, life did show her to be a highly sexy and alluring woman, with a remarkably, one would think, for the time, relaxed, light-hearted and playful attitude to sex. Certainly what might be thought of as ‘Victorian morality’ was not the case across the Channel, if Colette, and her book’s reception are anything to go by. This book and the three later volumes in the series became a runaway success, inspiring merchandising mayhem.

Her writing was hugely appreciated and praised in her native country – as indeed it deserved to be – her life and her art explored female sexuality, marriage, and the struggles of women for independence. She had a great gift for describing the world of the senses and physicality. Even in this first book there is clear delight in her descriptions of the natural world, the colours, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of reality. She was at one time regarded as France’s greatest woman writer, was a recipient of several literary honours, in both France and Belgium, President of the Academie Goncourt, a recipient of the Legion of Honour, nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, and was the first French female writer to receive a full State funeral.

Reading a brief account of her life and works, though I had read the Claudine books, many years ago, I had not at that time taken on board how extraordinary the subject matter was, given the time of publication. Never mind the sexual revolution of the sixties. this Frenchwoman was openly exploring her sexuality as the twentieth century dawned – and doing so in her writing with wit, verve delicious open-ness and freedom.

Claudine is intelligent, witty, vicious, prone to sadism, rebellious, an utter minx, fearsome and sparklingly entertaining. She runs rings around everyone, she oozes sexuality and female power and is no man’s – or woman’s – pushover. The book fizzes with vivacity, and the girls are remarkably odd – the intelligent ones are all wickedly ill-behaved, and the adults to a man and woman easily manipulated by the charming and scary Claudine and her close chum and nemesis ‘the lanky AnaÔs’ This is young girl power, like a firework display.

Who would have thought that weird eating habits – a predilection for eating snow, pencils, crayons, cigarette papers and drinking vinegar could produce such an example of girls with not only attitude, but high intelligence and wit (you’ll have to read the book!)

The translated version I read was by Antonia White – she of Frost In May fame. You can rather tell that this translator is someone who is able to do much more than just ‘literal word for word’, and has the feel for the shape of a sentence, and the flavour of writing and different writers. I had no sense of ‘in translation’ just of immediate connection with what I was reading

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected positive responses, happening quite quickly, 18 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was offered a 90 day supply of this by the supplier, for free, in return for an honest review. I was pleased to try this, having ascertained that the source was not animal based. The carotenoids in this are responsible for the pink colouring in, for example, salmon and krill. This latter can be a commercial source, not something i would want, as a vegetarian. Fortunately it is also found in some algae and yeasts, and may also be synthesised in the lab.

Having informed the supplier that my review would not be posted for a good two weeks, unless I had negative responses which tend to manifest more quickly than positive ones, in my experience, I'm very surprised to find myself, after only 6 days use, ready to make a 5 star review.

I don't have joint pain, but was interested in this for two reasons - firstly, general levels of energy, and secondly, because its action on joint pain is linked to the inflammatory (anti-inflammatory) response, I wondered whether it would be effective on other inflammatory conditions. I'm asthmatic, well controlled, and can have a tendency to overrespond to airborne pollutants. I have intermittent anosmia, completely linked with this - sinus congestion.

I definitely have noticed a positive response in energy - and that after only 4 days. My baseline for this is a particular work engagement of absolute intensity which I have to schedule so the next day is free of other work commitments. My energy was much better than normal late that evening, and a couple of unavoidable commitments the next day were fine too.

But perhaps even more impressively I'm aware of a better base level sense of smell since taking these. I'll be interested to see how things go on.

The only marginal negative I noticed (and this is not unusual with supplements which improve levels of energy) is that the one day I took this at night, having forgotten to take it as I normally do, for such supplements, at breakfast, I woke several times in the night. There were a couple of things I was fretting about, so it might have been that, or it might have been that evening is not the best time for these anyway
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2015 10:55 AM GMT

Sister Carrie (Penguin Modern Classics)
Sister Carrie (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Theodore Dreiser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Championing a fairer deal for women and the working class in early twentieth century America, 17 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sister Carrie, published in 1900, was Dreiser’s first novel, and what a deep novel it is. It follows a clear narrative journey, has completely believable characters, the central ones of whom are particularly complex, nuanced and perfectly credible as recognisable individuals – but we also absolutely see the history and culture of time and place acting on them, moulding them, influencing and shaping them. Choices may be made, which seem individual, but the freedom of expression may be more circumscribed than some characters – or some readers – may believe.

Carrie is a young rural girl, who comes to Chicago in 1889, to stay with her sister and her brother-in-law. Carrie has ambition, she is a young woman of beauty and some delicacy, wanting to improve her status and opportunities. She aspires to some kind of clerical office job, or perhaps as a sales assistant in one of the burgeoning glossy department stores. Unfortunately, her poverty and lack of experience are against her. It is an employer’s market, and all she can get is dirty, badly paid, unskilled factory work, exploited and working in impossibly harsh conditions.

Dreiser, writing with irony, looks back on the 1889 working conditions and compares them to the more enlightened thinking of ‘now’ (1900):

“The place smelled of the oil of the machines and the new leather – a combination which added to by the stale odours of the building, was not pleasant, even in cold weather. The floor, though regularly swept each evening, presented a littered surface. Not the slightest provision had been made for the comfort of the employees, the idea being that something was gained by giving them as little and making the work as hard and unremunerative as possible. What we know of footrests, swivel-back chairs, dining rooms for the girls, clean aprons and curling irons supplied free, and a decent cloak room, were unthought of. The wash rooms and lavatories were disagreeable, crude, if not foul places, and the whole atmosphere of hard contract”

Another writer with a socialist, humane ideology, Upton Sinclair, in his famous book The Jungle, set also in Chicago, in the meat processing industry, and published in 1906, rather shows the ‘atmosphere of hard contract’ had not changed in the intervening years, so Dreiser was writing at a time when, practically, those footrests, dining rooms, clean lavatories and the rest, were still unthought of in factories.

Dreiser’s particular focus in this book though, is on women, on the circumscribed choices available to women, and how poverty and want may drive a woman to make a living by selling herself. He explores the different power dynamic between men and women, and also the different morality expected of the sexes.

I discovered with interest that though Sister Carrie found a publisher, the book was considered too hot – or even too offensive – to handle, and was expurgated

What 1900 society found so offensive in Dreiser’s writing was his refusal to act the moralist, thundering down abuse on this fallen woman – instead, he reminds us how society itself creates the world in which the Carries must make this choice.

There are three major figures in this book, Carrie herself, the travelling salesman Charles Drouet and the sophisticated bar manager G.W. Hurstwood, looked up to by both Carrie and Drouet. Hurstwood is a man beginning to move in circles near the people of greater power, celebrity and wealth. In fact, the adulation of celebrity, and its shallowness, so symptomatic of our own age, is also laid out here.

I found the authorial voice, and the wide ranging evidence of Dreiser’s sophisticated, nuanced thinking, as fascinating and absorbing as the story of Carrie and Hurstwood, the trajectory of their entwined histories. The first section of the book has Carrie, starting from a kind of point of lowliness and desperation, and follows her rise (looked at one way) which might also be considered her fall. When she first meets Hurstwood, his star is in the ascendant, and life is rosy, and showing every possibility of getting rosier, for him. From thence, the fortunes of the two, initially linked, begin to travel in different directions. It is Hurstwood who becomes the major focus, and the drift of his story also offers a glimpse into early twentieth century capitalism in America, and the hard fought struggles of labour to achieve fair wages, fair conditions

I must admit that Dreiser’s style is style is not always the most flowing, and he isn’t a writer of what appears to be so well and beautifully crafted that the writing seems effortlessly poised, but what at times may be rough-hewn has honesty, and the ‘stuff’ of his writing is powerful, important and necessary.

I found this an absorbing, humane, compassionate and thought provoking read

Finally, kindly alerted by other reviewers, I did NOT get this on Kindle, and went for a second hand market place seller paperback, for readability instead of poorly formatted eread!

Half Hitch Gin 70 cl
Half Hitch Gin 70 cl
Offered by 31DOVER Next Day Delivery
Price: £38.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so much Gin and It, this gin IS it!, 15 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Half Hitch Gin 70 cl (Wine)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Now to my shame I never realised there were many subtle variations of gins, and that gin drinkers might get as passionate over their tipple as whisky drinkers.

So it was a real treat to get offered this. Normally, I'd drink gin strictly with a non-diet tonic ( to the flames with artificial sweeteners) or, perhaps in some cocktail in a ditto, bar. Not something I've ever tried neat. But, in the interests of attentive reviewing, I forced myself. Haven't tried any other gin (like the ubiquitous one in the green bottle, for example) this way, so in no way a scientific comparison, but, neat, I could definitely get bitter orange notes and as bergamot is a kind of cousin or sub-variety of the bitter orange tree that made sense. And I found if I sipped carefully, rather than did anything so crude as gulping, it was rather lovely. Bitter notes, citrus notes.

So I also tried it, as per a suggestion on the product page, with fresh squeezed orange juice, a lot of rocks, and then the gin added last. I liked that very much

Something I think it might be great with, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, and a lot of ice, is, I discovered another classic marriage with gin. Gin it seems, and citrus of various ilks are good company for each other

But that will definitely be for another day.

What's in the bottle is nice. Very. And the bottle itself has had a lot of thought put into it. Very attractive presentation, it looks the class the contents deliver

A Little History of the World
A Little History of the World
by Ernst Gombrich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Santa Claus doesn’t exist – when should the children be told about history?, 13 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
E.H. Gombrich is probably best known as the author of a wonderful book on the History of Art, which I guess must have made its way, at some time, to every Art lovers bookshelf.

I recently discovered that he had, as a young man, written a wonderful history book for children, which was published in Austria in 1935, much later, translated into twenty five languages, , but only towards the end of Gombrich’s life (he died in 2001) did he produce an English version. This has also updated the History, taking it to the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Gombrich, born in Vienna in 1909, was an Austrian Jew, and made his home in England in 1936.

He originally wrote A Little History of The World, a history book for children, when he had been commissioned to translate an English history book into German. Gombrich was not very complimentary about the history book, instead, suggested to be publisher that he could do rather better, by writing a book about history himself, for children, The publisher took him up on this, and, quite astonishingly, he wrote his wonderful ‘little history’ in 6 weeks .
The sweep of this effortlessly readable book starts in prehistory, and in 40 chapters arrives at the tail end of the twentieth century.

Whilst there is a major focus on European history, what Gombrich is really looking at is a kind of exploration of empires – whether these are empires of the mind, of ideology, ideas, religions, politics and of course the regrettable history of empires won and lost through club, sword, firearm, bomb and all the rest of mankind’s panoply of destructive devices.

It has to be said, an account of several thousands of years of interminable war, war which almost every tribe humanity might belong to (whether city states, nation states, countries, followers of religious, political or other belief systems) seems, if it gets any sort of power, to want to batter another grouping into submission to, makes for pretty depressing, despairing reading. In some ways, stunning though this is, I’m quite glad I didn’t read it as a child, since I’m pretty sure I might have succumbed to hopelessness.

What absolutely makes this book at all possible, in terms of a sensitive young mind not getting overwhelmed and distraught by our peculiar species, is the great warmth, the immense humanity, and, yes, despite our bloody history, the compassionate optimism of Gombrich, who at every turn also sees the wonders and the marvels, the intelligence, the curiosity, the excitement and the heart that is also humanity’s heritage.

And then there is the far from small matter that he writes like a dream, talks directly to, rather than down to, his intended young audience – not to mention his admiring older audience.

He will, I hope, reach small people who might, by this, want to take charge of learning the sad lessons of the past, in order to help us to better avoid repeating errors in the future.

Here is Gombrich, with a wonderfully poetic and heartfelt, not to mention wise and encouraging, exhortation to his young audience, on the theme of time, and history itself, as a river. He has taken his audience on an imaginary journey, flying along the river of time, from prehistory to the present, and presents this spacious, soulful image :

“From close up, we can see it is a real river, with rippling waves like the sea. A strong wind is blowing and there are little crests of foam on the waves. Look carefully at the millions of shimmering white bubbles rising and then vanishing with each wave. Over and over again, new bubbles come to the surface and then vanish in time with the waves. For a brief moments they are lifted on the wave’s crest and then they sink down and are seen no more. We are like that. Each one of us no more than a tiny glimmering thing, a sparkling droplet on the waves of time which flow past beneath us into an unknown, misty future. We leap us, look around us and, before we know it, we vanish again. We can hardly be seen in the great river of time. New drops keep rising to the surface. And what we call our fate is no more than our struggle in that multitude of droplets in the rise and fall of one wave. But we must make use of that moment. It is worth the effort.”

This is a marvellous, fascinating, deeply thought provoking, highly engaging and interesting book

A Long Way From Verona
A Long Way From Verona
by Jane Gardam
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Gardam’s wonderful first novel – I Capture The Castle got a deal darker, and somewhat weirder, 11 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Long Way From Verona (Paperback)
Jane Gardam is a most felicitous, and most English writer; one of pleasing quirk, wit, eccentricity and fine observation.

This novel, published in 1971, astonishingly her first novel, with its nearly thirteen year old narrator, Jessica Vye, even more astonishingly won an award twenty years later from the Phoenix Association, as ‘the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award’. – my astonishment is with that ‘children’s book’ the level of sophistication, wit, intelligence and nuance in the writing speaks also to a very un child audience. Gardam is a world removed from the film tie-up narrative action obsession which many (of course, not all) YA books seem to be geared to.

Jessica, first person narrator, is the daughter of a schoolmaster who ‘discovered a calling’ and is now a junior vicar. The book is set during the Second World War, in Cleveland, Tees-side. It is a world of great social divides, and she is of course from an impoverished, cultured, deeply moral family.

The novel starts arrestingly, thus :

“I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine. I will make this clear at once because I have noticed that if things seep out slowly through a book the reader is apt to feel let down or tricked in some way when he eventually gets the point”

Now, I must admit, with a quite ‘lost my innocence, twenty-first century head on’ I thought that beginning was going to herald some tale of child molestation or other abuse.

Not so – Jessica, aged 9 has a cataclysmic experience when a poet visits her school, and informs her


This is an utterly delicious book. For the first third I was laughing immoderately, and the influence of another wonderfully witty English writer – Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle – was very clear.

But Gardam goes into darker territory – just when you think you have the measure of the book. Jessica is certainly quite an odd child, there is an awkwardness about her, socially. She has something of the misfit about her, and, though nothing is ever spelt out, the reader might imagine that grown up, she might have a great fragility, and, perhaps keeping a tight grasp on sanity might, at times, be a challenge. Not only is she a little strange, something of an outsider, but she is drawn, as a child, to less than conventional adults.

The intensities of religious faith, as well as the intricacies of class, not to mention the fervour (and humour) of messianic communism feature largely in this book, as good works and visiting the slums happen, all against the background of air-raids and rationing.

In none of this does Gardam (or Jessica) lose her quirk, wit and lightness of touch

This is one of those wonderful books that utterly amuse, utterly enchant, whilst at the same time presenting the reader with the bottomless chasms and impossibly charged heights of rollercoaster early adolescence.

Here is Jessica, crafting a poem whilst worrying about the awfully grown out of dress she is going to have to wear to a house-party which her mother insists she must attend, given by church colleagues of a higher status

‘As merman weeping in a seaweed grove,
As sorrowing dolphin on a silver strand….
I stretch my hands and cry for life and love.’

I read this through and was extremely pleased with it. I wrote a few more verses and then went and looked in the wardrobe. The viyella hung like a dead bird. It had little round pale-blue flowers all over it and pale buttons and puff sleeves. I went back to the poem and read it again. It was dreadful”

Adam Elements USB 3.0 16G OTG Ponte 311 Red
Adam Elements USB 3.0 16G OTG Ponte 311 Red
Offered by XCSOURCE
Price: £10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 star if you have the phones which can do this!, 10 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent little USB/micro USB . I can verify the USB works and it's a good backup USB stick to use between PC and lappy if I don't want to hookup to network sharing.

The little double caps protectors are a great idea, as is the range of colours, so you could easily store different things on these, for ease of recognition.

Speed of transfer seemed a little slower from the PC to the stick than it was to another USB.

Do be aware though that not everything with a micro USB slot will be able to read what you have stored on the USB from your PC - the suppliers clearly tell you what generation OS you need for your Android device. And, sadly, it won't work with a Blackberry, though if you have a Blackberry Z30, you might make things happen, or might make things happen if you get USB to go USB/micro USB lead

I was supplied with this, for free, in return for an honest review.

Guilty Gadgets - BlackBerry Micro USB Host OTG Cable - Micro USB B/Male to USB2.0 A/Female OTG Host Cable For BlackBerry Z30, BlackBerry 9720, BlackBerry Q5, BlackBerry Z10, BlackBerry Q10 - BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
Guilty Gadgets - BlackBerry Micro USB Host OTG Cable - Micro USB B/Male to USB2.0 A/Female OTG Host Cable For BlackBerry Z30, BlackBerry 9720, BlackBerry Q5, BlackBerry Z10, BlackBerry Q10 - BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
Offered by Guilty Gadgets
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars UNSUITABLE for Blackberrys before the Z30 - hardware for this not in Z10 phones!, 10 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Unfortunately, the product listing says this USB/micro USB OTG converter is suitable for Blackberry Z10.

On finding this didn't work on my Z10, I did some further research - and discovered that 'USB on the go' was brought in by Blackberry with the Z30 onwards. The Z10 lacks the hardware and putting this into the micro USB slot with a USB stick the other end will not produce happy signs of recognition from your Z10. Misleading product listing!

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