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lilysmum "lilysmum65" (uk)
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All Quiet on the Home Front: Life in Britain During the First World War
All Quiet on the Home Front: Life in Britain During the First World War
by Steve Humphries
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Home Front given a lasting voice, 3 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great book that was recommended to me as a good book to find out about what it was like to live through the war if you weren't a soldier, and were one of the children, or spouses, or parents, of a soldier. The various chapters each take a different aspect of WWI and explore it through oral histories of people, especially the poorest, who lived through it. Of course, all these people are now perished, and this is what makes this book so very special.

My favourite sections included "East Coast Bombardment", "Caring for the Wounded", and "The Year of Hunger". I found out lots about the Zeppelin raids on Britain, the way that VADs contributed to looking after wounded soldiers, and the way that food shortages affected people's lives.

The stories are entertaining, moving, humbling, gripping, and harrowing by turns. One example is Mary Hardie, aged just 4 when her mum got a telegram saying her husband was missing believed killed in 1916: " Of course, everyone was upset, but after two years had gone by, my mother took up with another man who was a tailor and the two of them worked in our house. We were all very happy. Then, right at the end of the war, another telegram came to say that Father had been released from a prisoner-of-war camp, and was on his way home, and would be arriving the next Saturday." The story goes on, and you see that everyone is a victim of the war in a different way.

This is a fitting book to read today as we commemorate the lives lost in the Great War and the terrible price paid by everyone - the people at home as well as the soldiers. I am so glad this book exists and has captured these memories before they were lost.


She Is Not Invisible
She Is Not Invisible
by Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geek lit at its best - Sedgwick does it again - five stars!, 2 Aug. 2014
This review is from: She Is Not Invisible (Paperback)
Another great book from one of my favourite writers, Marcus Sedgwick, but one that makes a departure from his usual gothic books.

She Is Not Invisible tells the story of a girl called Laureth and her 7 year old brother Ben. Laureth's dad is a writer and he hasn't been getting on with her mum too well recently. Mum's been getting annoyed about the amount of time he's been spending researching his latest novel, which is about coincidence (Or co-inky-dinks, as Ben calls them!). Dad disappears and Laureth can't contact him as his phone seems to be switched off. Then she is contacted out of the blue by this guy in New York who says he has found her dad's notebook. Laureth panics and decides she has to go find her dad. The only trouble is, she's blind. So, she has to take Ben to help her navigate the airport and to get her to the place where she's arranged to meet the guy with the notebook. The tension rises as she makes her way through, always set on her goal of finding her dad, and always working really hard to get around barriers caused by her impaired vision. It's a really compelling thriller and I could not put it down - I read it during a long train journey, and got really lost in the story.

There's lots of good themes and ideas in this book. First, it tells you a lot about love, faith and life, and being determined, and fulfilling your goals. It also has some really interesting discussions about astrology, co-incidence, synchronicity, philosophy, and physics. It tells you a bit about literature, poetry, and writing, and it tells you what it might feel like to be visually impaired, and how some people can be great and others can be blinkered or prejudiced. There's a lot of stuff about human nature to reflect on.

I loved this book. I think if you are a geeky sort of person who enjoys thinking about life, maths, and physics, and you enjoy a page turner, you will find some ideas here that will grab your attention.

Apparently the premise for the story is based on something that happened to the author, but when he told people about it, they did not believe him. So, he decided to put it into a book to test the saying "Fact is stranger than fiction".

I do think that the paperback cover is way more appropriate and attractive than the hardback jacket design, which is beautiful, but I don't feel reflects the subject matter or the book at all. I thought it would be an old fashioned historical tale looking at the front cover of the HB, which shows a silhouette of a young woman, but the paperback cover design is more modern and reflects the fact that most of the story is set in New York City.

Fantastic read. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up (and I actually think boys would enjoy this just as much as girls, though I think the cover design may put them off, and that's a real pity.)


The Bunker Diary
The Bunker Diary
by Kevin Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking, gripping, harrowing, and very bleak. Probably not for younger readers., 30 July 2014
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This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
This is a very powerful and disturbing book but it has proved extremely popular with my Year 8 class. A lot of them have requested a copy. It is a deserving winner of the Carnegie in my view, even though I can see why it took so long to get published, because it is unremittingly bleak and grim.

Linus is a 15 year old lad who is abducted and imprisoned in an underground bunker. He appears to be help prisoner and gradually comes to learn how best to survive, at the whim of his captor. Over the following days, five more "inmates" are incarcerated alongside Linus, including a young girl and an elderly man. The captor, who is never seen or heard, tortures his prisoners and seemingly enjoys their sufferings. He deprives them of food, and also encourages them to attack each other. It is this aspect of the book that is most disturbing. There is no sense of altruism except perhaps from Linus himself.

I do think this book needs handling with care and not recommending to all youngsters - however, teens do know what sort of books they are ready to read and whilst for some it wouldn't appeal, for others who are questioning the purpose of life, they are ready to explore these issues with the help of a bleak book like this one.

Brooks is famous for the philosophical ideas he carefully adds into his narratives and I think that's what gives this book its heft.

A remarkable, ground-breaking book, and one that will haunt you, no matter how young or old you are!


We Were Liars
We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Here is the Truth about the Beautiful Sinclair Family - or is it???, 29 July 2014
This review is from: We Were Liars (Paperback)
A bargain at 99p on Kindle and a great summer beach read, set as it is on an island off Massachusetts during the summer. It tells the story of Cadence Sinclair, a teenager who is born into an enormously privileged family. She has several cousins and all the family with their three mums (sisters) and gran and granddad spend the summers on their own private island with every advantage money can buy, as well as five golden labs called Bosh, Grendel, Poppy, Prince Philip and Fatima.

Cadence reveals early on that she has been in an accident, since when she gets terrible head aches, which she describes in a blood curdling way. "...my veins opened. My wrists split. I bled down my palms. I went light-headed." Cadence is honest about the fact that she lies, then she says she has fallen in love with Gat, who is disliked by the family for being an outsider. In fact Gat compares himself to Heathcliff.

I loved the story, and I loved the frequent dropping in of book titles such as King Lear, Jaclyn Moriarty and Diana Wynne Jones. I liked, too, the spare prose style. There are no wordy descriptions and yet there are some startlingly powerful metaphors.

It's a YA novel, but I think adults would enjoy it a lot too and the film rights have just been snapped up.

Emily Lockhart has created a fantastic page turner of a story that had me ignoring the family while I got to the end. I sort of half guessed what might be going on but the way the reveal is done is enormously clever and very, very absorbing. I immediately went back to the beginning and re-read the whole thing and wondered how I had missed what was really happening, because when you know the ending, it's a different book altogether. I would read it before the film comes out. You won't be disappointed.


Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Offered by Surplus Trade Supplies
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This bulb creates a really nice warm light, 28 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This bulb creates a really nice warm light, not like the usual LED bulbs. It gives plenty of light output for its size and it will save me lots of money because it's only 5W. I have put it in the study light alongside two regular LED bulbs and they look really white and glaring in comparison. I don't know about you, but I hate these really white lights, so I am thrilled to bits with this one. It is a shame the price is still so high and they are still so dear, but cheap ones don't work. I have tried them and they are just not bright enough!


A Tap on the Window
A Tap on the Window
by Linwood Barclay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars A book for people who go in for twisty turny plots, 28 July 2014
This review is from: A Tap on the Window (Paperback)
I don't read many police thrillers and this one wouldn't convince me to read more, although it's a good page-turning beach read.

The story starts when Cal Weaver, a private detective, gives a lift to a friend of his son's. We work out fairly soon that the son had died in a fall from a roof while high on ecstasy, and Cal and his long suffering wife have not started to grieve properly. She draws endless sketches of Scott, and Cal throws himself into his work, with a sideline of trying to investigate his own private tragedy by trying to discover who has been dealing the drugs that helped kill his son.

Anyway, he gives a lift to this girl, as it's raining, and he is kind of drawn to the fact that he might be able to ask her what she knows about his son's death. In fact what happens is weird, he stops for her to go to the loo and when she comes back to the car and climbs in, he notices that her clothes have dried and a cut on her hand has healed. She has switched places with another girl. This girl gets out of the car and the next day she is found dead. What follows is the story of how Cal tries to clear his name as naturally enough he is suspected of having had something to do with her death.

At this point the plot twists and turns like a twisty turny thing. Cal finds out all sorts of things along the way about who he can and cannot trust, about grief, and about how his son died. I felt the book ended in an unexpected way and that the writer was trying to say that loose ends aren't tied up in the ways we might hope. Life is not like a story and there aren't any happy endings.

Barclay is a clever writer in that every time you think the pace is slowing he throws in another twist. The final third of the book goes at breakneck speed towards the denouement.

If you like a book where you can see it in your mind's eye as though you are watching a film, a book where you think it almost reads like a screen play, then you will love this book.


The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
by Andy Miller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest book about books ever written; amusing, audacious and useful., 21 July 2014
I am grieving, because I have finished reading this book. The irony (or contradictoriality) of this fact is that I wouldn't even have bought it, had I not picked it up in the rather fine independent bookseller, Broadhursts of Southport, on an impulse. I had read about Andy Miller's work of staggering genius on the internet, and clearly not recognised it as such, because I had made the decision not to buy it, based solely on the fact that the books the author asserted he needed to read were not those which I have read myself (unless I lie about what I've read, which, unlike the author of this book, I don't).
I opened the book in the bookshop and read the first couple of pages, and saw this quote from Homer Simpson: "What's the point of going out? We're just going to wind up back here anyway," and I knew I was hooked.
I haven't read a lot of the books Miller talks about, such as: The Master and Margarita, Post Office, The Sea, The Sea, Moby Dick, A Confederacy of Dunces, or The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, but if you haven't either, don't let that stop you buying this book.
Miller talks so very engagingly about all the books, and his life, and his family, that I was captivated, to the extent that I begrudged every moment I spent away from the book. I bought it on Saturday afternoon, and I finished it this afternoon (Monday).
As well as talking about the books which Miller thinks he *should* have read, as he reads them, he also muses on philosophical questions such as the value of literature, and the whole life vs. art thing, and reading groups, and working in bookshops, and being an editor, and music, and painting, and more. It's kind of like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Whilst at first glance it appears to be a chirpy and humorous tale of a forty something chap catching up with some reading, in actual fact, it's about much more than that - art, philosophy, science, life, history. It's deeply thought out but deftly written with a lightness of touch.
I don't think I will read a better book this year, and I already feel like I am going to have to read it again.
This year, I have tried an experiment of my own, on a much smaller and less ambitious scale than Miller. I have been trying to follow Mr Gove's advice to school pupils to "read a book a week". It's the end of July and I am on book number 26 of 2014. Miller attempts something far more interesting - to read 50 great books (and a Dan Brown) in a year.
I think it's clear I am a huge fan, Mr Miller, and I'm writing this in frank admiration.
The only error I spotted was the misspelling of the Groke in the passage about the Moomin books (a childhood favourite of mine), which for some reason was spelled "Groak" in the book. Or, was this a deliberate error?
I am going to have to read some of the books on the list, starting with, I think, Michel Houellebecq's Atomised.
If I could give this six stars, I would. Reader, I could marry him.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2015 10:48 AM BST


Hate
Hate
by Alan Gibbons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "I hope it does Sophie justice.", 16 July 2014
This review is from: Hate (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very moving and powerful book. It's based loosely on the murder of Sophie Lancaster and is set in and around the North West of England. Preston, Manchester, Ingleton Falls, and more places get a mention, though the setting of the murder, Brierley, and Cartmel Park are clearly fictional.
The story is about a girl called Eve, whose sister, Rosie, was killed by some youths in a park for looking different, at the age of 20. There are some well written passages meditating on Rosie's death and what it means to the different members of her family.
At the start of the book Eve is horrified by the arrival of Anthony Broad at her school. It becomes evident that Anthony was there on the night Rosie was killed, that he was a bystander, that he did nothing to intervene or to try and prevent her death. Eve decides to keep away from Anthony, but her mum doesn't. Still grieving her daughter's loss, Eve's mum goes round to Anthony's house to confront his mother and try to persuade her to make Anthony give evidence in court, evidence his mother insists he is unable to give because he didn't see a single blow struck.
Eve's best friend Jess fancies Anthony, and this makes life complicated for Jess and Eve. Jess' big brother Oli has a struggle of his own going on, which comes to light when the school debate takes as its topic "Has political correctness gone too far?"
As the book goes on, the tension rises and you begin to sense there might be an act of violence to rival the one in which Rosie got killed. Bigotry and prejudice are explored in all their ugliness.
I would recommend this book, and I think it is a useful book as a classroom read for classes who are studying hate crime or prejudice. It ticks a lot of SMSC boxes (spiritual, moral, social, cultural). More importantly, Alan Gibbons says in his forward, "I hope it does Sophie justice." I think it does.


Valentino's Chocolate Pizza 10" Milk Chocolate Pizza
Valentino's Chocolate Pizza 10" Milk Chocolate Pizza

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone I have bought these pizzas for has loved them. L-O-V-E-D them, 13 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Ah, what can I say? Everyone I have bought these pizzas for has loved them. L-O-V-E-D them. They make great gifts or sometimes we just buy one if we are off on holiday and we want to treat ourselves. Fabulous. 5 star chocolate treat. If you have never had one, you have to get one. You won't regret it.
Love, the Chocoholic x


Black Heart Blue
Black Heart Blue
by Louisa Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, redemptive, grown-up story of a dysfunctional childhood, 13 July 2014
This review is from: Black Heart Blue (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gosh, well, where to start giving you an idea of what this story is about. It's got some quite adult themes and I would guess it's suitable for those teen readers who are looking for more adult books to read. It's very powerful and dramatic and I liked it an awful lot.

Rebecca and Hepzibah are twins. You can tell by their Biblical names that their parents are religious, and indeed they are. Dad, Roderick, is a pastor and his wife is a cipher, a trodden-down woman who appears to hate her own daughters. Hepzibah seems to get all the luck, she gets the boyfriend and the parties and nights out, and Rebecca is the unlucky twin, but it's worse than that. Rebecca has Treacher Collins syndrome, which means her facial bones are malformed and she is also hard of hearing. Her hearing was made worse when her dad hit her. Dad seems to be using Rebecca as the scapegoat of the family and he takes out his frustrations on her, and makes both girls live a life of abstention and self denial - they are not allowed to bath, for example, or go shopping, or have new clothes. They have to get what they can from charity bags and Hepzibah shoplifts make-up from the local chemist. Meanwhile Rebecca reads voraciously, though she's never allowed to visit the library, and she implies that she has compared herself at one point to Mary Shelley's Creature in Frankenstein.
You guess very early on that the family is severely dysfunctional, and that all the problems in the family can be traced back to Dad, but it takes the whole story to realise why and how. In the first few pages we are told that Hepzibah is dead and I soon formed a suspicion about how it came to happen. However, I was wrong, and just kept turning the pages as the clues gradually led to the truth.
This isn't a story with violence and abuse for gratuitous reasons, though. It's a story with a heart. Both twins care for each other and protect each other, so you care about them both, even though at first Hepzibah seems to have all the luck on her side. At the end you realise that Rebecca has shown real courage and learned to love herself. If it sounds like a grim read, well, yes, it is, but lots of what happens is about triumphing over disaster and learning to live life and be positive. There are lots of themes that would give teen readers food for thought - disability and equality, love, parents, religion, rules, the value of education. That makes it sound like a worthy book, but it isn't, it's down to earth and gritty, moving and heartening, and finally, life-affirming. Oh, and it has a touch of magical realism too, which I loved.
An excellent read overall, highly recommended!


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