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lilysmum "lilysmum65" (uk)
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Melissa & Doug Magnetic Car Loader
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Car Loader
Price: £14.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Well made and robust toy made of wood, 21 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really sturdy and well made toy in the traditional style. It's bright colours and rounded corners make it look more expensive than it is. I'm really pleased with it and so is the little person who's been playing with it. I'm thinking of buying a couple more for Christmas presents. I prefer wooden toys to plastic ones and this is just a really well made toy.


The Paying Guests
The Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great page turner that satisfied this huge fan of Sarah Waters, 2 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Paying Guests (Hardcover)
I have read all of Sarah Waters' books and enjoyed this one too. What I like about her writing is the careful style in which every word appears to be placed with great care. I found this book to be no different. I tried and failed to get hold of an advance review copy and so made sure I bought it on the day of publication. I went to see her talk about the book in Nottingham and it was very difficult to talk about it without giving away spoilers, but I shall try!

The story opens with Frances Wray waiting in the house she shares with her widowed mother Emily for her lodgers to arrive. This married couple, Leonard and Lilian Barber, are the "paying guests" of the title. It is Lilian who catches Frances' eye when she comes down to ask if she may take a bath in her kimono and Turkish slippers. Frances, I felt, is grieving for a relationship that has ended, as well as for the death of her two brothers, and is vulnerable to the possibility of friendship with a woman her own age, to begin with. Frances feels she has been trapped into life as a "char", a help to her mother, thanks to the War, and her father's death which has left them in debt.

Frances and Lilian are soon walking in the park together - I thought these passages were some of the most beautifully written in the book, and they even decide to read Anna Karenina together (a very apt choice of novel, of course).

Indeed, the friendship between Frances and Lily soon develops into an intense love affair, and it is then that the second half of the book takes that relationship and tests it.

I won't go into detail about the second half of the book except to say that a dramatic event (which had a physical effect on me when I read it) goes on to cause all sorts of issues for Frances and Lily to face. The book gathers pace through the second half and races to a conclusion which is not ambiguous but is less resolved than Waters' previous books. I liked that, even though I like the neat plotting that she usually employs, I liked the way this book left you to think, and to some extent to judge the characters.

I probably preferred the first half of the book, and agree with Rachel Cusk in the Guardian when she says she wishes that some of the drama of the second half had been left out. I felt that too. I was perfectly happy with the story for its own sake without the drama which was very well written but felt a little unnecessary.

However, this is a small quibble. There are only two writers whose work I await with excitement and Sarah Waters is one of them.

I loved this book and would recommend it if you like a thriller, a romance, or a period historical novel, or a sensational read.


Kate Bush T-shirt by Brian Griffin - S to XXL Unisex
Kate Bush T-shirt by Brian Griffin - S to XXL Unisex
Offered by wantAtshirt
Price: £25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good T shirt, 25 Aug 2014
Good quality and fit, recommended. I bought it for my husband. He actually didn't recognise Kate to begin with - what kind of a fan is he?!?!?


The Art of Conversation: Change Your Life with Confident Communication
The Art of Conversation: Change Your Life with Confident Communication
by Judy Apps
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clear guide to making better conversation and understading how talking and listening works. Easy to read., 25 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really clear and easy to read little guide to conversation. It probably tells you much of what you knew already but makes explicit the ways that conversation work and how to make it work better for you.

It talks about how to listen as well as how to talk, how to ask open questions to keep a conversation going when it looks like it might dry up, how to find a topic of conversation in any situation (a bit like the Queen I guess!) and how to have those difficult conversations that you sometimes need to have in life that you might be intimidated by.

It contains lots of common sense but is a really good way of helping you look at what you, and others around you, do every day. The section on body language is really interesting too and it's made me look again at the way I converse with people.


The Wall
The Wall
by William Sutcliffe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Pertinent, absorbing, enthralling, 18 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
I found this novel absorbing and enthralling. I am a fan of Sutcliffe anyway, having loved New Boy and Are You Experienced?, but this is a very different, more grown up novel altogether, even though it's aimed, I guess, at a YA audience.

Joshua lives in Amarias near a big wall which he has never really thought about, even though the wall is part of his model play town that he keeps under his bed at home. One day he comes across a tunnel, and, being the sort of boy who likes adventure, he goes through the tunnel and meets a girl who saves him from a vicious beating by some lads who clearly recognise him as being from the wrong side of the wall. The book tells the story of how he tries to repay the girls kindness by tending her father's olive and lemon grove, which has been closed off by the wall, and the father is only allowed access to it once a month.

The book conveys the stifling heat and the stifling atmosphere of life on both sides of the wall incredibly well. I thought Sutciffe really got into the mind of a young lad. I know this book has been compared to Striped Pyjamas, and it does have some similarities, but I find it a more powerful and thought provoking read. Excellent.


Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-01
Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-01
Price: £30.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Does the job brilliantly., 18 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an excellent stapler. I don't think you would realise until you used it just how easy it can be using a really good, powerful stapler. I have always used cheap ones in the past, even at work. This stapler is really heavy duty but it feels like cutting through butter when you are stapling and it feels really solid and well made.

A great product.


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

1 of 1 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: £5.59

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: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking, gripping, harrowing, and very bleak. Probably not for younger readers., 30 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.


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