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lilysmum "lilysmum65" (uk)
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Pereira Maintains
Pereira Maintains
by Antonio Tabucchi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, spare novel seething with menace from the start, 14 Dec 2014
This review is from: Pereira Maintains (Paperback)
I was sent this novel by Canongate as part of their Christmas deal - buy a book and get a handpicked novel free. I'd never heard of Antonio Tabucchi but I read the introduction to this edition by Mohsin Hamed and had to read it. It's a fantastic little novel, a real page turner. It tells the story of Pereira, a journalist who runs the arts page of a newspaper in Portugal during the turbulent year of 1938. He clearly has been wrestling with his conscience for some time, and misses his wife (we don't know the reason for her absence) - so he talks to her photograph. When he travels, he places her photo face up in his suitcase "because she always liked having plenty of air to breathe", a small but menacing detail.
As the novel proceeds and Pereira gets himself into hotter and hotter water, I found myself almost holding my breath as I read. The dénouement, when it comes, is expected but still savage and harrowing.
An absolutely stunning novel. One of my favourites of the year because it is so sparely, but beautifully, written.


Rooftoppers
Rooftoppers
by Katherine Rundell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Sophie is an amazing little character, 13 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rooftoppers (Paperback)
I was sent this as a gift. It tells the story of Sophie, a little girl who is found after a ship sinks in a cello case by a kind man called Charles, who takes her in. Sophie is an amazing little character, very resilient and feisty, but she longs to find her mum, who she believes was the cellist on the ship.
The search for Sophie's mum, and a threat by Social Services to take her away from Charles and his somewhat unconventional parenting style, take the unlikely couple to a dreamy Paris where Sophie explores every inch of the city, including the rooftops. There she meets Matteo, a roof dweller who exists on pigeon and rat meat. If you want to know whether she ever finds a happy ending to her fairy tale, you will have to read the book!
I was a little surprised by the typos and misspellings in this book, for which I blame the copy editor - practice/practise should not be confused in a book of this calibre that has won so many plaudits. That wasn't the only mistake either, there were plenty of others.
I haven't given the book five stars because I found the story a little disjointed and I had the feeling, especially towards the end, that the writer had got a little lost along the way. It was as though she had almost come up with ideas to move the plot along on a whim. However, as an extended metaphor of the search for your self and your family history (whilst chased by a meddling grown up), this was a pleasant read, suitable for bookish youngsters.


Tacwise 0396 18G/ 25mm Nails (Box of 5000)
Tacwise 0396 18G/ 25mm Nails (Box of 5000)
Price: £3.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Great and easy to use galvanised nails., 13 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I used these nails with the Tacwise 191 ELS pro nail gun. These are easy to load into the gun and, being galvanised, are ideal for use outside. I used them to repair many fencing panels in the garden and they were very effective. I am glad I won't have rust stains to look at in the future. Using the nail gun, it was easy to adjust the power, and after a little experimentation, I got the result I wanted.

These nails are compatible with other brands of nail gun but I can recommend the Tacwise because it did the job perfectly.


The Manifesto on How to be Interesting
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting
by Holly Bourne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of teen appeal!, 10 Dec 2014
First of all, this is a very attractive book that straight away catches your eye with the red page edges. The blurb is on the front as the rules that the main character, Bree, concocts are listed.
Bree is a geek girl. She has been bullied and isn't one of the "popular possie" - every teenaged girl will recognise this. She has a friend, Holdo, who has named himself after Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. She has a good time being friends but doesn't fancy him. She does fancy her English teacher, Mr Fellows, and flirts with him. They are attracted to each other by their mutual interest in creative writing. I found this bit of the book very uncomfortable to read. I was relieved when Holly Bourne pointed out through Mr Fellows that he "could go to prison" for what he does with Bree. Bree also tries to get in with the girls in the popular possie, and this results in some funny episodes which really ring true.
Bree is a self harmer and unfortunately her relationship with Mr Fellows plays its part in taking her to the edge of a total breakdown. It's a gripping read and you can see how Holly Bourne has used her experience as an agony aunt to really understand what makes teenage girls tick. The book faithfully represents what life is like today if you are 17 years old and trying to get along with your life.
It's worth pointing out that the book carries a warning "Not suitable for younger readers" as there are some strong sexual references in it.


H is for Hawk
H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzlingly captivating read, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: H is for Hawk (Hardcover)
This is a really beautiful book in so many ways. It's an honest portrayal of a deep grief, a fascinating biography of a writer, and a how-to guide on training hawks. The book spans these three different strands with effortless ease, dipping and swooping from one story to the other, in a way that somehow highlights and draws out the meaning from the other two stories. Normally you find this kind of episodic writing patchy and look forward to returning to your favourite strand, but with this book you feel equally absorbed and entranced by each of the three storylines. I just adored this book and savoured it as a slow read which I did not want to end.
Helen Macdonald is fiercely self critical, and she writes so fearlessly. Her vocabulary is sumptuous - I had to dive for the dictionary several times and feel I have gained some fabulous words while being entertained and educated. I can't really conceive of anyone who wouldn't find something to connect with in this book. Highly recommended. One of my top three reads of this year.


Rendez-vous with Art
Rendez-vous with Art
by Philippe de Montebello
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into the world of art, 8 Dec 2014
This review is from: Rendez-vous with Art (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book would interest anyone with an interest in travel and art. There are several art galleries in Europe and America that are discussed. The book takes the form of a transcript of a two way conversation between curators and a journalist. My favourite section was right at the back of the book, where the British Museum in London was the subject of the conversation. The Assyrian Lion collection is pictured and described. I remember going to this museum and being completely captivated by this display. Here you get a glimpse into the specialists' views of the lions and I felt that it taught me more about the exhibits.
A fascinating read and it's made me want to make a list of all the galleries I would now like to visit!


Alice and the Fly
Alice and the Fly
by James Rice
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous debut novel, 12 Nov 2014
This review is from: Alice and the Fly (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm only on page 72 but I am very confident that I am not going to be disappointed. I really like it. The story is told in diary form by Greg - I picture him as an older teenager, say about 17? He appears to have an obsession with a girl, I think, and I think it might be Alice. He is VERY obsessive - he knows her every move and seems to be almost stalking her. He is clearly obsessive about other things, too, notably spiders, who he calls THEM.

Greg has obviously done something bad, as he keeps saying that he tries not to think about "the bad times", and his diary is intercut with police interviews with his teacher. Plus, Greg's nickname appears to be "Psycho", and that's a bit ominous really, isn't it?
There's a chapter where it rains and Greg has written the entire chapter in one continuous sentence. Really beautifully written.
It's a funny, funny book. I am very attached to Greg, even though I have got a horrible feeling there's a shock coming. This is the sort of book you savour. To be read slowly and enjoyed. I will come back when I have finished it and update! (without spoilers!)
Well yes, I have finished it now and it is absolutely captivating to the final page. There is a surprise ending which I did not see coming, and I did thoroughly enjoy it. Since then I have lent it to a 14 year old who was glued to it from start to finish just like I was. So, highly recommended for adults and teen readers alike!


PRO PLAN Cat Wet NutriSavour Junior with Turkey in Gravy 10x85g (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pouches)
PRO PLAN Cat Wet NutriSavour Junior with Turkey in Gravy 10x85g (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pouches)
Price: £29.96

5.0 out of 5 stars My cat loves it, 12 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My cat isn't really a kitten any more, he's more of a teenager really, but he loves this food. He miaows and winds himself in and out of my legs til he sees me open the cupboard and get him a pouch of this out. He eats it all - and he is a fussy eater, so I feel confident that I won't be wasting my money buying this again. He often won't eat cheaper pouches and even with expensive pouches he sometimes turns his nose up. Recommended by Max the Mouse Murderer.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.95

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ranks alongside Cormac McCarthy's The Road as a book that must be read, 26 Oct 2014
This is the best book I have read since The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I wasn't going to read it, because I had read Gould's Book of Fish by the same writer a couple of years ago, and didn't understand a word of it after about page 40, but I had persevered to the end. I thought if this was the same kind of book, I would just be lost. Anyhow, I downloaded it to my Kindle and thought I would give it a go. But it's a much more straightforward third person narrative than Gould's Book of Fish, which makes it appear a simple read, when in fact it's very complex. It looks at the lives of a group of Allied servicemen at the mercy of their Japanese captors in WWII as they work on the Death Railway. It loops in and out of multiple perspectives, diving into innermost thoughts and feelings and then swooping away into someone else's life. It's written as a series of episodes both before and after the war, and it looks at how what happens in the war lends perspective to everything Dorrigo thinks he knows about life and love.
The main characters are Dorrigo Evans, and Darky Gardiner. Dorrigo we meet before the war, when he starts a love affair with his uncle's wife, Amy. He's engaged to Ella at the same time, and is forced to leave Amy when he goes to the war. He's a physician, and leads the camp as doctor, supporting, cajoling, and healing them as best he can, though he always questions his ability to lead and is sometimes in awe of the Japanese for their invincible belief in the Emperor. Their brutal treatment of their PoWs is described in visceral detail. You can see, hear and smell the broken bones and the gangrene, the balls of rice dropped in mud and excrement, the ulcerated limbs and the lice and ticks that plague Japanese and Australian alike.
Something that happens to Darky changes the rest of the men's lives as they try to survive the war in their own ways. Darky is a remarkable character - they all are - and the Japanese and Korean soldiers are allowed their side of the story too, explaining their lives before the war and how they came to have such a rigid view of honour and loyalty to the Railway.
I was reminded of The Road, but also Hamlet, Brief Encounter, Slaughterhouse Five, Heart of Darkness, Don Quixote (Dorrigo's motto is always to "charge at windmills" - and the Bible. There are so many literary allusions in the novel that it will bear up to many re-readings. A major theme is action versus thought. Another one is "what makes a man good?"
I stayed up into the small hours reading this... until my eyes wouldn't stay open. You really should read it. It's amazing.
Flanagan has something profound to say about life, love, death and war. I can't see how he could have written a better novel.


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Gave me nightmares, but I still loved it, 19 Oct 2014
This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker and I don't normally like Booker nominated titles, but this one was an exception. I bought it after I read about the twist, which I thought sounded really intriguing. Actually the twist comes about a third of the way through the book, and if you do know it, I don't think it should put you off reading it.
The book is basically split into two halves. The first half leads up to the time when the narrator, Rosemary, is separated from her much loved sister, Fern. She still has a brother, Lowell, but we realise that something traumatic has happened that has split the family up for some reason. The second half of the book moves on from the point of the separation and tries to make sense of what has happened.
It's hard to say more without giving too much away, but what I loved about this book was the scientific stuff made accessible through being linked to Rosemary's life, the philosophy and psychology that kept dipping into the story from time to time, and the wisdom and sensitivity that come across through Rosemary's telling of her story.
I had a nightmare last night as I came to the end of the book - I think that it was definitely linked to the story and the way it had affected me. It's an emotionally charged read, but a very worth while one.


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