Profile for Sandford > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Sandford
Top Reviewer Ranking: 806
Helpful Votes: 1566

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Sandford "Sandy" (Kent, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Art of Waiting
The Art of Waiting
by Christopher Jory
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Riveting, 7 April 2015
This review is from: The Art of Waiting (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is evident from the first page of this novel that something special and extraordinary lies within the pages. It had such a visceral effect on me, I felt as if I was impaled on the story, like a forced invitation into a brutal and unforgiving world.

Mortality is presented in a particularly bleak and stark manner. Life is so crudely transient, with Aldo and his Italian compatriots living one ghastly minute to the next in their desperate fight against the Russian army during World War 2. The utter futility of war, the relentless sense of helplessness and hopelessness is pervasive and depressing. Isabella, (Aldo’s first love) asserts to Aldo early on in the novel, “nothing makes sense Aldo…remember that”. As the reader shares the life of Aldo and the people he meets en route, by the end of the novel this is a strident comment that really hit home.

Yes, this novel is raw and harrowing to read, but there is also a refreshing balance with its innate vitality. There is a constancy of tenderness, with an uplifting urge for Aldo in particular to fight and survive regardless. The writing facilitates some restoration of hope. The main female protagonist, Katerina, is a most intriguing and fascinating character who we experience from childhood to adulthood. She has a determined, resolute approach to life, and like a tsunami, affects all those who meet her.

All the colourful vignettes are intense, and all capable of surviving on their own, but with their close linking together, the small parts make perfect sense to the whole. Christopher Jory has great respect for his characters, wherein faith in life is sustained despite multiple privations and is experienced without sentimentality. The way he develops the various strands of this story to forge a cohesive whole demonstrates a clear talent.


The Lives of Women
The Lives of Women
by Christine Dwyer Hickey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Community Fraught and Broken, 5 April 2015
This review is from: The Lives of Women (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I felt witness to something influential and significant reading this novel. Although fiction, it has much to say in terms of social comment and social change, a factual mirror on important aspects of a time in recent history, and also an invitation to reminisce on the illusory nature of nostalgia.

What facets of society keep it functioning in harmony, or in this captivating exposé of a small community, what features begin to create dissonance and the potential for fracture? In “The Lives of Women” Christine Dwyer Hickey introduces us to a fascinating group of families, all with interesting and intriguing lives. Here we have an amalgam of families in a couple of streets living their lives with a veneer of things being relatively tickety-boo, with just a dash of something not quite right. Gradually cracks appear, and we have a fairly quick disintegration into a kind of chaos.

We are given enough information to guide us through, but the reader is tantalisingly required to fill in the gaps, with the denouement up to the reader to come to their own conclusion. The pessimist I am, I arrived at the most horrific option I could, which if proven true, places all the events in the novel onto another plane completely……. This makes the whole experience of reading that much more fulfilling, and what makes a great novel. This is one novel I didn’t really want to end.


The Lovers of Amherst
The Lovers of Amherst
by William Nicholson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Allure of Forbidden Fruit, 5 April 2015
This review is from: The Lovers of Amherst (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I felt immediately drawn into this novel with its fascinating interweaving of past, present, fact and fiction. The extra marital affair of Mabel and Austin in the late 19th Century interplayed simultaneously with the lives of Alice and Tom of today’s world works extremely well - all inextricably linked with the powerful influence of Emily Dickinson, a constant presence throughout.

This novel clasped rather than grabbed, me with its delicate and beautiful prose. There is a gentle excitement that inhabits this novel which has a freshness and vitality that never wavers. Hints of passion are never far away. There seems to be a low voltage sexual charge, which for me gave it quite an erotic edge in the most gentlest and charming of ways - quite unbrazenly sensual; William Nicholson invites the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps.

Anyone who ponders on the notion of romantic love, the nature of passion and its ramifications on our own lives will have much to reflect upon here, particularly when we are presented with the delightfully permissive atmosphere of the life of Mabel, who with her husband’s whole hearted permission embarks on a double love life with the brother of Emily Dickinson.

The idea of embracing passion when one finds it is very much linked up with an acceptance of mortality, a strand so evidently a part of this narrative. “Death is near, now is the time for love” posits the obvious, in that we have little time to experience the most essential and beautiful of this emotion, something that essentially defines us all.

All in all a pleasurable and intriguing novel to read in itself, but also left me feeling rather embarrassed about my lack of acquaintance with Emily Dickinson’s work. Recommended.


Single, Carefree, Mellow
Single, Carefree, Mellow
by Katherine Heiny
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Seeking A Life Less Ordinary, 5 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Remaining single may lead to a “carefree and mellow” life, but there is irony in the title to this novel. Despite the numerous trials and tribulations of this fascinating group of characters, all in their unique long term relationships, it is eventually to the relative comfort of this status quo that they all return, mostly all of them jaded and chastened after their extra-marital flings.

Seeking passion, titillation and general sexual excitement in an affair is a dangerous and largely unsatisfying deal. Infatuation and the belief that there is a more fulfilled life around the corner from these women’s perceived mundane and monotonous norm, proves to be a mere fantasy. When passion fades what are you left with? Who do we turn to for comfort when we seek solace? The stark reality of these liaisons dangereuses is that such fantasy worlds don’t last, and that the idea of uncomplicated love is indeed a mere reverie. Infatuation leads to an emboldened selfishness, and self-preoccupation leads to betrayal and heartache. This, dear friends, is the basis of this highly enjoyable and reflective novel.

Katherine Heiny’s writing is alluring with a lightness of touch. It has a deceptive simplicity but abounds with compassion. She communicates a pervasive sense of sadness and melancholy in these women’s quest for happiness. Emotionally intelligent, astutely observed, and on the button with a gentle, often ironic, wit. I have to recommend it.


The Mountain Can Wait
The Mountain Can Wait
by Sarah Leipciger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aspects Of Love, 5 April 2015
This review is from: The Mountain Can Wait (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When young Curtis is the cause of a fatal car accident, it is to the reaction and behaviour of his father, tree planter and hunter Tom, that provides the main focus for this novel. Sarah Leipciger gives an impressive and engaging account of this man and his elusive psyche. Here we have an intriguing insight into how someone with apparently simple needs and wants must now reassess his life and so to his priorities. Tom slowly realises that he has to change gear mentally. He needs to up his game in order to grapple and deal with a gamut of emotions that he has largely ignored throughout his life. After his son eventually confesses his crime, Tom is forced to confront his own personal demons, to make some sense of his internal dilemmas, and strive to communicate more meaningfully with his son and daughter.

Tom is the archetypal hard man - a loner, poor talker and testosterone driven. He is also “practical, emotionless, maybe even a little ruthless”, to whom his children regard as a “jackass”. He may frustrate the reader at times, but interest and concern for him is sustained due to the balance of his other more positive personal qualities. Tom has an almost symbiotic relationship with nature, and the author conveys extremely well this communication that is so lacking in his personal relationships. It is amongst the elements of earth and water that Tom retreats in an attempt to make sense of his life, the only place where he feels properly secure and stable within himself.

So for Tom, the title of this novel turns into a question - Can the mountain wait…? Tom is inexorably drawn to the solitude and isolation that nature provides, a power that feels larger than himself, satisfying and nurturing him. Here Sarah Leipciger presents the conundrum of life choices that we all have. Do we let selfishness hold sway over those responsibilities demanded and wanted by those close to us? Tom does indulge himself at times putting his needs before others, but this is mainly for his sanity, to feel rooted, grounded, and a time to think and reflect. To breathe Tom must connect with earth, water and sky, and from there he gradually discovers the path that he must take to keep his family intact.

Tom’s actions in assisting his son confront and face up to his own responsibilities after the accident is a tortuous and painful path, but the seeds are there for a more meaningful relationship to develop. There is no proper resolution at the denouement, but a tangible sense in the final pages that there is a future for them all as a family, albeit a very hard and difficult path forward from the somewhat depressing point where we leave the story.

The adage of only writing from personal experience to achieve credibility is certainly reflected in this author’s writing. Her personal background and history is very evident and she communicates well the love for her native country, Canada. She writes with a profound intimacy and is very much in tune with understanding how people connect, (or remain disconnected). An enjoyable and recommended read.


SanDisk SDSDL-032G-G35 Ultra SDHC UHS-I Class 10 Memory Card up to 30 MB/s Read - 32 GB
SanDisk SDSDL-032G-G35 Ultra SDHC UHS-I Class 10 Memory Card up to 30 MB/s Read - 32 GB
Price: £11.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Using as backup MAC OS drive - excellent and affordable., 27 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using these ScanDisk cards in varying capacities in my Nikon D5100 SLR and Canon HF100 camcorder. They have proved to be extremely reliable and although I confess I do not do time checks the read / write speed is excellent. Such that I have formatted this 32gb variant to MAC OS and loaded OSX 10.10.3 Yoesemite to use as a backup operating system in my various MACs. Whilst SD cards are still somewhat slower than an internal or external SSD this model is proving to be an excellent compromise compared to boot-up times when compared with an internal SATA hard drive.

Highly versatile, fast, reliable and recommended.


Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Price: £211.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would be 5 stars for sound - but implementation drags rating down., 24 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ok - Lets commence with the positives:

Excellent sound, good bass, loads of treble if you require and left / right separation (when selected) very good.

Nice looking units, this review for the white variant, however if used as a stereo pair the indicating lights for both variants are on the left hand side of each unit and consequently look odd when placed in the upright position.

Wi-Fi signal / reception and range far superior to recent similar Bluetooth speakers that I have tried.

So, they sound really good, and look and feel like a quality item and being a speaker - sounding good ticks many boxes!

However!

As others, here on Amazon and elsewhere have reported setting-up is somewhat strained, mostly as a result of the poor App (IOS in my case).

A very clunky interface that is clearly in desperate need of a version upgrade.

The units require a software upgrade immediately on unpacking; ensure you do it before attempting anything else - saves much time and anguish.

I can well understand reports of other non-techie buyers giving in frustration.

I selected this item via the Vine program so in the hope that i could stream my iTunes library that is connected to my iMac via external USB drive.

The accompanying publicity material indicates that playback source can be via Smartphone, Tablet, PC (MAC) or NAS drive.

Whilst i have managed to stream from iPhone 4s and iPad Air2 successfully, and from direct audio input - i am unable to ‘see’ my iTunes library - even tried connecting via ethernet.

I understand that this is the Panasonic response to the Sonos range, that i believe does what I require - hopefully forthcoming upgrades will provide a fix.

My only option now is to connect the USB drive to my Apple Airport Extreme Base and hope that the ‘App’ find it - i cannot do that at this time but will report the result in due course.


The Death's Head Chess Club
The Death's Head Chess Club
by John Donoghue
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Potential For a Great Novel, 22 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This novel comes from an excellent idea and has an exceptionally strong foundation, but overall I personally found it a disappointing read. A novel as this should be engrossing and demand attention. It was frustrating never to really get any emotional hit from the writing, a pre-requisite for a novel such as this concerning the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. Sure, there are a few moments of real engagement, but they are sparse and short-lived. John Donoghue provides details of some truly horrific and disturbing events of this period, but my own emotional response didn't tally with other authors who have recounted similar events in their novels.

At times the whole experience doesn't feel particularly psychologically sound. The main characters, the Jew Emil and Sturmbannführer Bar couldn't be more separate and distinct at the beginning. Emil has decades of ingrained hatred towards the Nazis because of his experiences at the hands of the SS in Auschwitz, yet the issues between them are too simplistically dealt with as the novel develops. The sense that they all become like bosom pals by the end having dealt with such deeply profound and disturbing issues feels barely credible, although Paul Meissner, (aka Sturmbannführer Bar) is an intriguing construction by the author and has a lot going for him. It swings too easily from expressions of long seated hatred to a sense of complete forgiveness which lacked a sense of reality - too black and white and not nuanced emotionally. This leads for me to what seems a rush at the end to resolve everything, to try and square a circle and give a proper ending. My response would be more favourable if this had been left more open-ended in this respect.

One irritating feature is the amount of footnotes, which completely distracted me, as these are unnecessary in a novel. I admire and respect the author's knowledge and obvious depth of research on the subject of concentration camps of WW2, and he provides some very interesting and informative facts, but these should have been included as appendices, or as a separate chapter at the end.

I sense that the author has the ability to push this to a deeper level which it deserves, which I found frustrating. I never really engaged with the novel, which is a shame as this had the potential for something great, but it didn't really hit the spot for me.


Cole & Mason Precision Grind 12 cm Windsor Black Gloss Beech Wood Salt & Pepper Mill Gift Set
Cole & Mason Precision Grind 12 cm Windsor Black Gloss Beech Wood Salt & Pepper Mill Gift Set
Price: £41.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent For The Discerning Customer, 21 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am quite a fan of Cole and Mason, as I find the design of their products aesthetically pleasing as well as superbly made. I am an owner of a pepper mill and a pestle and mortar by the company, and find handling and using them a pleasure.

The combination of salt and pepper mill is once again pleasing to the eye with the understated design and black colour which looks quite elegant and sleek as a pair on the dining table. They look understated, but are of obvious excellent quality. I have a sense that much goes into their design, and that time is taken up in getting things right for the discerning customer. I am not one for fancy packaging, but the box that these come in make them very suitable as a gift as well in how they are presented. I have no hesitation in giving this 5 stars.


Losing It
Losing It
by Helen Lederer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Dilemmas Of Everyday Life, 21 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Losing It (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a highly competent and tightly written novel, which often raises a titter and an occasional guffaw. One would expect a certain repartee to be evident between the characters from this well known comedienne, and it succeeds. Helen Lederer is an acute observer of people, and this ability really shines through to the point that I can hear the author actually reading the text.

Often laconic, there are some healthy doses of bright cynicism that anyone with a dry sense of humour can’t fail to appreciate. Anyone with the slightest sense of low self esteem or a deficit in assertiveness will sympathetically identify very much with the trials and tribulations of Millie’s often frenetic activities of daily living. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


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