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Dubliners (Penguin Modern Classics)
Dubliners (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Joyce James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Domestic concerns on the eve of the Republic, and with Joyce's literary brilliance, 4 Feb. 2016
Pros: this book of short stories is doubly brilliant. Firstly, for those of us who've little time to spare, this is Joyce's literary brilliance in miniature. It also provides a really fascinating insight into fin de siecle Dublin- it's people and concerns both everyday and political in the early days leading towards the Irish Republic, and would be invaluable even without it having been written by Joyce!
Cons: It's real life. Some of the stories are uncomfortable, or afford 'closure'. I try to read a little before bed, but this was impossible with Dubliners because it was unsettling. Another real con is that Amazon has it listed in its list of best-selling Women's Writing. Grrr! Not only is its place in that sort of classification elbowing out literature actually written by women, but this is definitely a male authorial perspective. Granted, some of the concerns are domestic and so have more female representation than most other literature, but these women (including a maid who is exploited and thieved from by her beau, countless women dealing with drunken husbands, a trio of maiden aunts) are tantalisingly sketched into stories but their motives/responses to the situation Joyce invokes is left entirely unsaid.


Siddhartha (Penguin Modern Classics)
Siddhartha (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Problematic, but transformative, 1 Feb. 2016
This book is not without problems. As others have noted, some of the translation leaves it feeling lacking, but then I often find that with translation of 'higher concepts' from German, and without wanting to introduce a spoiler, getting pernickety on this is to miss the point of the book. I also found -as a 'Buddhist' tale- that it replicated the concerns I've had about the life of Siddharta Gautama as being of some rich dude freeing himself from earthly concerns (including the responsibility of raising a child which is left to the mother). Androcentric and classist, this text certainly is, including at one point including an assertion from the female protagonist that rape is impossible, and not concerning itself with the freedom the Brahmin Siddhartha has to choose to give up/take up the wealth of the world at will in order to facilitate a journey.
That said, this book arrived in my hands at a right time, and its message was transformative. So for all the significant faults, this has capacity to be a really really good 'read'.


The Ballad of Peckham Rye (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Ballad of Peckham Rye (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Muriel Spark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Being (nearly) local and a great lover of Spark, 29 Jan. 2016
Being (nearly) local and a great lover of Spark, I fully expected to laud this book. Sadly, no. Compared to her other works, this is a text which has dated unsuccessfully. It is really interesting to see a Peckham where manufacturing still went on, and the social world that went on in streets and venues I'm familiar with, but the racism was unpleasant to deal with. And whilst Spark's plotlines can be uncomfortable at times to great advantage, in Ballad, it isn't in a good way.


The Complete Short Stories (Canons)
The Complete Short Stories (Canons)
by Muriel Spark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must, 29 Jan. 2016
This is amazing- has to be one of, if not, the best collection of 20th century short stories by a single author. Speaks to many different concerns (women, colonialism) at times was left breathless. The only disappointment is that having read 'the complete' Spark shorts, this revelation is now not available to me again; expecting fresh levels of joy on re-reading though.


The house of secrets
The house of secrets
Price: £1.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just read the original rather than this very pale copy., 24 Sept. 2015
Plagiarism, plain and simple. Or rather, impure and vulgar. I really enjoyed Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, it was great. So I expected this title would be 'in the style of' but with the unknown author offering something unique. It didn't. Reads like a creative writing class student who was inspired by the text but lacked the ability to really understand what what special about the original text, let alone to see past it when producing their own writing.

It's a shame the manuscript wasn't properly work-shopped with successful writers/critics before the author self-published.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2016 6:10 PM GMT


Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy
Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy
by Maggie Turp
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Thought this was quite useful- highlighting the hugely neglected area ..., 24 Sept. 2015
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Thought this was quite useful- highlighting the hugely neglected area of 'passive' self harm, and some insights in how to recognise it, and help clients come to deal with it. Most of the example clients would seem to be the sort one might encounter in private practice only, which does limit its usefulness, but a thoughtful counsellor could understand how the issues presented could map into informing treatments for clients with other presentations.


Zunblock Hibiscus Children's UV-Protective Clothing Sun/Rash Vest Long Sleeve + 3/4 Length Leggings - cherry / milkshake, 122/128 cm
Zunblock Hibiscus Children's UV-Protective Clothing Sun/Rash Vest Long Sleeve + 3/4 Length Leggings - cherry / milkshake, 122/128 cm

3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 24 Sept. 2015
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cool colour, but the sizes are a bit out. and the trousers are actually quite short.


Compassion and Self-Hate
Compassion and Self-Hate
by I. Rubin Theodore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.41

1.0 out of 5 stars Only for those who (secretly) don't actually hate themselves, 24 Sept. 2015
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Bought on strength of recommendations here, I found this book a bit useless. Think it comes down to the issue that if you do have a genuine issue with self-hate and showing self-compassion, you are going to find it just doesn't 'fit' to read affirmations of the type in this book. Even though the author has gone and tried to write a walk through on improving skills/beliefs, it's uncomfortable at best, and just another thing to fail at. If everything around you has taught you to think you're worthy of hatred, then some book won't tell you different. If of course you've convinced you're the bees knees but somehow imagine you have an issue then this'd be a good and potentially useful read. My copy's off to the charity shop.


Galt Toys Shrinking Fairy Charms
Galt Toys Shrinking Fairy Charms
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 'Shrinking was fun', 24 Sept. 2015
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The box is attractive but the contents don't look much. But apparently it proved a good few hours' entertainment for 3 generations of family, importantly, not being dominated by 'boy', or gender-segregated activity. The shrinking was much enjoyed.


The Oxford Book of English Short Stories (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse)
The Oxford Book of English Short Stories (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse)
by A. S. Byatt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended (especially if you've been jaded by other short story collections!), 24 Sept. 2015
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This was a delight- I've found many short story anthologies these days seem to suffer from trying to group around a theme, or stick to one type of author, period, or genre. This collection was like taking treasures from a jewel box; perhaps not each one to your taste, or perhaps your favourite author's entry here isn't what you'd have chosen, but you'll always have individual preferences emerging. Byatt's done an amazing job choosing from a wide range of short stories, and putting them together in a way which really fits. It's also not a 'throwaway' collection you buy for a flight and can get rid of- there's a lot of depth and stories you'll want to come back to. And best, being able to discover something you wouldn't have otherwise selected for yourself which opens up a new avenue of readership- the true mark of a good edited anthology.


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