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Dominique White (Madrid, Spain)
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Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics)
Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics)
by John Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ecclesiastes 1 v 9, 27 Aug 2014
When so many people have written reviews there is very little left to say. Except that this novel made me so grateful for the wonderful teachers I had at University. Except that this novel helped me understand my father. Except that this novel has inspired me to get on with it rather than procrastinating for an eternity I no longer can be guaranteed. Except that this novel has reminded me that there really is nothing new under the sun.


Romany and Tom: A Memoir
Romany and Tom: A Memoir
by Ben Watt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To be met face-to-face and allow to influence you, 21 April 2014
Many readers will find passages of this memoir which resonate: be it the pain of foiled ambition, the pathos of unsung genius, the immutable stubbornness of certain personalities, the inability to deal with jealousy of spouse or son, the calm confidence of addiction or the incongruous task of looking after ageing parents. I have deep admiration for the author who swept me away 20 years ago with "Patient" (which I'd bought thinking would be something like "Touching the Void"!) and who has now grounded me with "Romany and Tom". Ben Watt is able to rise above circumstances, write without mincing words or emotions and express his gratitude, love and admiration for these two remarkable individuals who walked the same line. I am very grateful he shared this extraordinary story with me and look forward to his next book, hopefully in less than 20 years from now! I hardly know what to expect.


Monsters: Book 3 of the Ashes Trilogy (The Third and Final Book in the Ashes Trilogy)
Monsters: Book 3 of the Ashes Trilogy (The Third and Final Book in the Ashes Trilogy)
by Ilsa J. Bick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave and ambitious end to an unnerving horror story, 11 April 2014
"Monsters" is as terrifying as Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and as gruesome as Mario Vargas Llosa's "The Dream of the Celt". Ms Blick's study of subjugation and enslavement, ambition and treachery, survival and its components is fascinating. The novel is fast-paced, sometimes confusing, often breakneck, full of characters, plots and unexpected getaways. The fact that there are benign baddies, noble monsters and flawed heroes makes it sound clichéd, when it is anything but. Days after finishing the trilogy, I find myself reflecting on its merits whilst sitting back and watching "Apocalypse Now".


Shadows: Book 2 of the Ashes trilogy (The Second Book in the Ashes Trilogy)
Shadows: Book 2 of the Ashes trilogy (The Second Book in the Ashes Trilogy)
by Ilsa J. Bick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not to be read if squeamish, 11 April 2014
"Ashes" was a fascinating read and "Monsters" is supurb, however "Shadows" is over-long and frustratingly vague. The multiple narrative voice provides necessary insight to the story but requires dedication in order to follow. Furthermore, having to skim through most of the gore because I simply couldn't take it meant that occasionally I missed vital clues, adding to my confusion. However I stick by my 4 star rating because this post-apocalyptic horror story touches upon crisis from a thoroughly teenage viewpoint. . A word of advice and a reflection: don't buy "Shadows" without having "Monsters" to hand as the pace doesn't let up until almost the end of book 3! As for the reflection, well, I am left wondering if readers of YA target age won't balk at the carnivorous predators as much as yours truly due to having an innate ability to tolerate gore.


A Boy and a Bear in a Boat
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat
Price: £2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Flummoxed, 11 Feb 2014
My children and I chose this book as our bedtime tale about two months ago and I have to admit that we have only just finished. We found it incredibly hard going and kept moonlighting to other titles before feeling obliged to come back to this tale in the hope it would improve over time. The pace was far too slow for my ESL 8 and 4 year old kids and we found the lack of storyline immensely frustrating. Perhaps this is a tale within a tale but we couldn't decipher it. I'm afraid the lessons about building up unusual friendships or going on journeys of (self) discovery were rather swamped by the book's bad weather and boy's bad moods. Disappointing.


Monkey Wars
Monkey Wars
by Richard Kurti
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Oops - I forgot to say that it was the best book I read in 2013, 7 Feb 2014
This review is from: Monkey Wars (Paperback)
"Monkey Wars" is quite simply too good to be read solely by young adults. This is a truly remarkable allegorical tale which sheds light on the difficulties of decision making in times of political unrest and war. "Monkey Wars" will no doubt become recommended reading for teenagers, alongside George Orwell’s modern classics “Animal Farm” and “1984” or Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”. The joy in reading this fast-paced, often gruesome, cruel and stark story comes from witnessing the compassion shown by some, the survival against the odds of others as well as the pathos and the glory so well scripted that the tale literally sweeps you away. Months after having read the preview copy kindly sent to me by Walker Books I still find myself thinking of this book and checking up on the author's twitter account from time to time to see if there is news of a sequel.


How to Love
How to Love
by Katie Cotugno
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Spoiler alert - questions and praise for How To Love, 26 Dec 2013
This review is from: How to Love (Paperback)
I've just finished reading the first chick-lit title to pass through my hands since I officially hit middle-age. I admit failure in my attempt to read it as if I were still a teen, and found instead that this novel has stirred diametrically opposed and equally powerful feelings of nostalgia and relief.

How To Love provides a couple of lessons we are never too old to learn. Quite apart from the marvellously messy love story in itself, there are rich pickings for all. There is a poke in the eye for parents who perhaps err on the side of keeping-up-with the Joneses for the sake of an easy life. Yet the more subtle and incredibly cutting criticism meted out at parents who practice religious hypocrisy with the understanding that they have nothing to blame for their children's mistakes stings with its accuracy. All in all I found myself quite appalled by the tragedies that could have been avoided if somebody had just stopped to ask Sawyer why he hated his father so much (abuse?) or why Reena was pathologically incapable of expressing her feelings (grief?).

I would encourage everyone to read this slick, quick, gripping and thought-provoking novel - despite its garish bright-pink cover. It is a deceptively easy and profoundly moving read about teenage apathy, survival, growing up and loving.


Ashes (The First Book in the Ashes Trilogy)
Ashes (The First Book in the Ashes Trilogy)
by Ilsa J. Bick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars a personal reflection, 20 Dec 2013
As an adult fan of YA titles I am always on the look-out for quality fiction that can be read on many levels. "Ashes" has a fast-paced, watertight story that requires attention in order to not miss vital clues and along the way ticks all critical boxes for YA fiction as far as I'm concerned. However "Ashes" also has a Biblical hinge upon which the narrative swings that is fascinating and invites reflection. Furthermore I believe the author is challenging us to define survival. Finally, on a personal level, what most struck me was the invitation to discuss adolescent perception of the elderly and specifically of the impact that mental illness has on people of that generation.
I look forward to reading the following two installments of this fascinating trilogy.


First English with Supercat (First Languages with Supercat) (First Languages with Supercat)
First English with Supercat (First Languages with Supercat) (First Languages with Supercat)
by Catherine Bruzzone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good for teaching English at home, 6 Jun 2013
This book from "b small" publishing house is the best I've found for language learners of this age. It includes a CD, a poster, playing cards and stickers. The idea is to learn English at home through play, crafts and songs. The book aims to help non-native English speaking parents try their hand at teaching English to their children. The CD is very helpful as has careful explanations of the activities as well as clear pronunciation to help with vocabulary. After every song there is a karaoke version of the same music so that families can try singing along themselves, without the help of the singer.


handa's Surprise with DVD (Book & DVD)
handa's Surprise with DVD (Book & DVD)
by Browne
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars I use this to teach English to toddlers in Spain - over & over again!!!!, 6 Jun 2013
In this story set in Africa we follow Handa on her journey to visit her friend Akeyo in the next village to hers. She takes a basket of seven different fruits which she carries on her head. As she walks between the two villages she is blissfully unaware of the fact that several animals have pilfered the fruit from the basket she is carrying. She wonders to herself which of the fruits Akeyo would like the most but it turns out the answer is quite unexpected! Children love this tale because they identify with Handa but also with the cheeky animals. This book is wonderful for talking about animals, fruit, colours and surprises.


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