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hfffoman (Kent)
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Ed King
Ed King
by David Guterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected disaster from a good novelist, 19 Nov 2014
This review is from: Ed King (Paperback)
I was really surprised that I disliked this novel as I thought Snow on Cedars was excellent and East of the Mountains was nearly as good. Although it has a few interesting episodes and some witty observations, it just didn't engage at all. None of the characters was likeable, nor do we get into their lives because the events are skimmed over like a summary. The scope and speed of the story isn't an excuse: William Boyd did the same thing in two novels, Any Human Heart and New Confessions, and he managed to make them fascinating and engaging from start to finish.

This novel reminded me of the film Royal Tenenbaums. It has the same slightly facetious air but, whereas the film is consistent, it felt to me that Guterson couldn't decide whether it was to be serious or a parody. It shifts between serious moments and slapstick, which might work if it was funny but it wasn't funny and I don't think it was even trying to be funny.

I hate to be negative to an author I previously rated so highly, but for me this was a total flop.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2014 9:53 PM GMT


Yoga Mat
Yoga Mat
Offered by Beck's
Price: £6.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Good mat, perfectly suitable for advanced exercise, 16 Nov 2014
This review is from: Yoga Mat (Kitchen & Home)
Please don't be put off by the reviews which say this is too thin or only suitable for beginners, or smells, or slips.

Mine has a good grip and does not smell. It is quite thin but perfectly adequate for very serious yoga sessions including the sort of workout where you finish up covered in sweat.

In case you've had bad experiences of trying to roll up a tent or sleeping bag, this rolls and unrolls easily and slips neatly back in the back.


Cat's Best Öko Plus Cat Litter, 30 L
Cat's Best Öko Plus Cat Litter, 30 L
Offered by Equestrian Performance
Price: £26.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! It has persuaded the cat to poo outside!, 16 Nov 2014
I have lived for 3 years with a contrary cat that lives outside and comes into the house to poo, instead of the other way round. At last I have a solution. My cat hates this litter so much, she now poos in the garden!! I am delighted.

I give it 2 stars because I don't think that's the intention. Also, while it does clump the waste it makes it stick to the tray and is hard to clean.

If you want you cat to poo inside, I recommend Catsan hygiene litter, (the pale blue bag), sold in Sainsburys.


Between Love and Honor
Between Love and Honor
by Alexandra Lapierre
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.37

4.0 out of 5 stars An itneresting true story of the clash of religions 150 years ago, 16 Nov 2014
This review is from: Between Love and Honor (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a well researched historical story of the Russian conquest of the five Caucasian tribes (Chechyn, Dagestan, Ungushetia, Abkhasia and Ossetia) 150 years ago.

The story centres on Shamil, the Imam of Dagestan, military and spiritual leader of the five tribes and his son. The title of the book sounds a little trite but it is an accurate reflection of the extraordinary story of the son. I don't want to give anything away. It's a tough read, almost a catalogue of suffering, death, cruelty and betrayal.

It is interesting to see that the clash of culture and religion that is widespread today is almost identical to what took place a century and a half ago when Russia allied itself with Christian Georgia and regarded the Muslim tribes occupying the mountainous land between them as a nuisance. Russia, vastly more powerful and advanced than the tribes, planned to annihilate them and may well have done so were it not for the events in the story.

The novel is set in St Petersburg and the Caucasus mountains. Although I have visited both, and could relate to the descriptions, I found much of the book, especially the middle section, too long and detailed.


Reply to a Letter from Helga
Reply to a Letter from Helga
by Bergsveinn Birgisson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.26

3.0 out of 5 stars A tale of earthy passion, 15 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a short novel in the form of a letter written by an Icelandic farmer, now an old man nearing the end of his life, to his former lover. I won't give away the story except to say it is a tale of love and disappointment set in rural Iceland and conflicts over moving from country to city life. It is a story both of regret for lost love and of the deep bond between the farmer and the earth.

At its best it gets into his animal view of nature. It also gets into his animal view of sex: he sees man's behaviour as animalistic which is interesting, though far from new. It is also very graphic. (I am tempted to give some quotes as they really are very graphic, but I would probably get banned.)

As a device, the letter doesn't really work as it is too obviously directed not at the lover but at the reader. There is a twist, but for me it didn't justify the letter form and in any case the twist is so obvious I guessed it literally on page 1 (and I don't claim to be good at guessing that kind of thing).

Please don't take my 3 stars as severe criticism. I just wasn't particularly impressed. The book is highly acclaimed and a reasonably entertaining read.


A Song for Issy Bradley
A Song for Issy Bradley
by Carys Bray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and thoughtful, 15 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a first novel and I offer the writer my encouragement to write more.

The book tells the story of a Mormon family: husband, wife and four children. It won't be a spoiler to reveal that the book is about the way the family deals with the death of one of the children (as the event occurs right at the beginning).

The collision between the outside world and the world of the church affects the grieving family members in different ways. The novel explores the way they mediate between their strong principles and practical needs.

The author tackles this difficult subject sensitively and intelligently and at the same time creates an engaging, interesting read.

The church does not come out of it well but the book is balanced, not overtly critical. If you are looking for a critique of the church you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a first rate novel about the complex ways of dealing with grief, I thoroughly recommend it


The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Game of the Year Edition (PC DVD)
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Game of the Year Edition (PC DVD)
Offered by 4GamersUK
Price: £4.87

5.0 out of 5 stars A first rate classic - but this is the Steam Version, 15 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are two almost identical versions of this game, both on sale at Amazon. The only visible difference is the Mastertronic logo (that is this one) or the Ubisoft logo (the other one). This one requires Steam, the Ubisoft version does not. I often use Steam but for this game I would strongly recommend the Ubisoft version though it's fractionally more expensive.

The game is dated of course, having been released in 2002, but it still holds up well, especially if you mod it. This is a good guide to modding it: http://morrowind2009.wordpress.com/. Most of his links are to PES and don't work but you can get a lot from http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/. Also he gives vital advice on making sure you have the right patches as the original game has lots of bugs. It's also worth looking at this site as many of the downloads still work: http://btb2.free.fr/morrowind.html#morrowind_patched

As to the game, the lore and history have a sophistication beyond any game I have experienced (fans of Planescape Torment make similar claims but I found it too dated to play). As you progress you read various reports and mini-books about the history and the background to the unfolding events, you see different perspectives. Right and wrong are not clear. Even the facts are in dispute. Whoever masterminded this deserves a medal. Most novels don't present such a richly ambiguous view of their world.

Games seem to follow a long term trend towards offering faster progress. It is as though the market has become progressively less patience. You may therefore find that Morrowind feels slow. For example some of the quests on the main path require finding not one items but several different ones in different parts of the world, and some of these will spawn multiple subquests, all of which require travelling to different places by foot. It you don't like this there are several mods to consider - All boat ports, All silt strider ports, Multiple teleport marking, and Run faster.


Morrowind Elder Scrolls 3: Game of the Year Edition (PC)
Morrowind Elder Scrolls 3: Game of the Year Edition (PC)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £6.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a classic - get this version, 15 Nov 2014
It's dated of course, having been released in 2002, but it still holds up well, especially if you mod it. This is a good guide to modding it: http://morrowind2009.wordpress.com/. Most of his links are to PES and don't work but you can get a lot from http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/. Also he gives vital advice on making sure you have the right patches as the original game has lots of bugs. It's also worth looking at this site as many of the downloads still work: http://btb2.free.fr/morrowind.html#morrowind_patched

There are two almost identical versions of this game, both on sale at Amazon. The only visible difference is the Ubisoftt logo (that is this one) or the Mastertronics logo (the other one). The Ubisoft version does not require Steam, the other does. I often use Steam but for this game I would strongly recommend the Ubisoft version.

As to the game, the lore and history have a sophistication beyond any game I have experienced (fans of Planescape Torment make similar claims but I found it too dated to play). As you progress you read various reports and mini-books about the history and the background to the unfolding events, you see different perspectives. Right and wrong are not clear. Even the facts are in dispute. Whoever masterminded this deserves a medal. Most novels don't present such a richly ambiguous view of their world.

Games seem to follow a long term trend towards offering faster progress. It is as though the market has become progressively less patience. You may therefore find that Morrowind feels slow. For example some of the quests on the main path require finding not one items but several different ones in different parts of the world, and some of these will spawn multiple subquests, all of which require travelling to different places by foot. It you don't like this there are several mods to consider - All boat ports, All silt strider ports, Multiple teleport marking, and Run faster.


Waiting for Sunrise
Waiting for Sunrise
by William Boyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not his best, 13 Nov 2014
This review is from: Waiting for Sunrise (Paperback)
I won't give away the story. It follows the life of an actor in Vienna in 1913 and then some espionage he gets involved in during the war. It is a curious mix of prewar Vienna, upper class English life, psychoanalysis, love and adventure. I found the story reasonably well told and enjoyable to read but, as a fan of William Boyd, I was slightly disappointed. I didn't find anything wrong with it, it just wasn't especially good. I thought Restless was better, in a similar theme. I also preferred Armadillo, Any Human Heart, New Confessions and, best of all, Ice Cream War. I would recommend any of those in preference to this, though it does seem to be a matter of taste.


Rapid F30 Flat Clinch Stapler Half Strip ABS 26/6 Throat 55mm Black Ref 23256500
Rapid F30 Flat Clinch Stapler Half Strip ABS 26/6 Throat 55mm Black Ref 23256500
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars After using cheap staplers for years, this one seems like a miracle, 11 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I used to have a special technique for getting staplers to go through more than about 15 sheets without getting a mangled half protruding staple that you break your nails on. I won't go into the details but it was quite violent. I now realise I have been missing out. Maybe my company buys cheap and nasty staplers but I am amazed at how much better this one is. It slices through 30 sheets with barely a squeeze.

As the box claims, it does indeed make the bottom of the staple lie flat against the paper instead of bulging in two little bows. It still protrudes but not as much.

Please note, I am judging the stapler itself, without considering the price as I got mine free for review. However, my comments are objective: I am genuinely delighted with it.


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