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Marion Pennington "Dr Maz" (London United Kingdom)
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The Universe Versus Alex Woods
The Universe Versus Alex Woods
by Gavin Extence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it - just do it., 25 April 2013
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I LOVE this book. I haven't even finished it yet, and I'm rubbish at leaving feedback for things - even if I really love them or really hate them. I think this is a special and extraordinary book, and I'm horrified that it is a first novel by someone BORN IN THE EIGHTIES! Nobody should be this good first time out, and so young. Well done, sir. I take my hat off to you. *shuffles off to metaphorically burn imaginary first draft of potential novel* Yes. I know I split an infinitive. But it was asking for it.


Vax W90-RU-P Rapide Ultra 2 Pre-Treatment Upright Carpet and Upholstery Washer
Vax W90-RU-P Rapide Ultra 2 Pre-Treatment Upright Carpet and Upholstery Washer
Price: £139.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 25 April 2012
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I ordered this on a sudden whim, having worked out that once I'd paid someone to clean some of the carpets twice, I could have bought the machine to use forever. As we have cream wool carpets (not installed by us, I hasten to add!), two kids and a dog, the carpets usually look horrible. The Vax was easy to put together and the instructions were easy to follow. It worked instant wonders on the sitting room carpets, including the "high traffic area" by the door. I then tried it on the stairs. It was a good job I'd already tried it in the sitting room, as I would probably have given up and sent it back at this point, in a panic. The bottom two stairs, also cream carpet, went dark brown almost straight away. Gaaah! I thought I'd got the stair attachment rigged up wrong and was pumping filthy water into it, but it turns out that there was just so much dirt under the hooverable surface of the carpet that as the Vax was pulling it up, it made the carpets look awful. I persevered, and eventually the stair carpets went back to looking almost new, much to my relief, but it took some doing. When I emptied the dirty water - well, put it this way, I've had thinner soups. I can't believe there was so much (almost) invisible filth buried deep in the carpet, and I am looking forward to doing the rest of the house. I'd also like to say that, even though they have probably got more powerful, industrial machines, there is no way that the carpet cleaning companies could get my carpets as clean as I have in the time they spend. This is a really good buy. I'm glad I answered my whim.


Ashton Av442 Full Size Violin Purple
Ashton Av442 Full Size Violin Purple
Price: £99.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good value, 19 Dec 2011
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This is obviously no virtuoso violin, but I'm no virtuoso violinist, and it's perfect for me. Perfectly purple, too. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.


Halo Proactive Sports Wash Triple Pack
Halo Proactive Sports Wash Triple Pack

5.0 out of 5 stars Lifesaver, 19 Dec 2011
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Brilliant product - I'm a Zumba instructor and the beloved Zumbawear was beginning to come out of the machine - well, slightly less fragrant than I would have hoped. I read about this and thought it was worth a try. I'm a complete convert and won't wash my gear in anything else, now. Fab.


On the Run (The Gregory Series Book 1)
On the Run (The Gregory Series Book 1)
Price: £1.90

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A truly bad read, 5 Sep 2011
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I think I must have read a different book from everybody else, because I thought that this was an appallingly badly written book. It was loaded with cliches, there were huge holes in the plot and the characters were entirely two dimensional. I saw it through to the bitter end, and I was extremely relieved when I'd finished it.


Naked in Knightsbridge
Naked in Knightsbridge

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A bad book, 3 Jan 2011
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The words "If you like the Shopaholic, you'll love this" prompted me to buy this. Big mistake. The link to the Shopaholic series is obvious - this is a bad copy. There is nothing likeable about the main character. She is horrible. She thinks only of herself at all times, she is self-indulgent, self-obsessed and totally selfish. The plot is weak and poorly written, the other characters are in no way credible, and the whole thing made me quite cross. The Shopaholic books are well written, and although the main character in them can also be accused of being self indulgent etc., she is likeable, funny, witty and ultimately kind. Jools in this book is none of the above. Just awful. Don't bother.


Jump!
Jump!
by Jilly Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Massively disappointing, 3 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Jump! (Hardcover)
I've been reading Jilly Cooper for about 25 years, and have always staunchly defended her as a writer. I've found her to be witty, pun-tastic and well-read, weaving intricate plots which keep you turning the pages, laughing and crying along with her characters. So I don't know WHAT happened here. This book is rubbish. The characters (of whom there are far far FAR too many) are not even two dimensional - the heroine wants a kick up the backside, she is a total wimp, and her children are so VILE that nobody could possibly put up with them. The other characters are dull at best, criminally deranged at worst - and those are the ones you're meant to like. Jilly's usual joyful bedtime romps are replaced with a rather graphic gay sex scene (okay, fine), a scene where Amber Lloyd-Foxe prostitutes herself to a ghastly git in order to be allowed to ride one of his horses (no repercussions - she gets to ride the horse blah blah blah - so good idea, let's all go out and sleep with criminals to get what we want), and a gang-rape scene where the victim is under-age, so it's actually statutory rape as well. I found it truly bizarre that there were absolutely no repercussions for this gang-rape. The victim continues to have a thumping crush on one of the rapists (despite having begged him not to rape her or allow the other two rapists to continue) and Amber Lloyd-Foxe, in whom the victim confides details of her rape, does nothing about it and continues to be madly in love with the other rapist. JILLY!? Hello? Even if it were well written, it's bloomin' irresponsible. If this were not enough, the whole thing is disjointed and thin, there's no clear understanding of how much time has passed, the puns are shoe-horned in inappropriately - ghastly non-sequiturs everywhere - and the usual larky upper-class nonsense seems to have transformed into abysmal snobbery. I really hated this, Jilly. Sorry. You obviously had a great time researching it, but you should have spent more time actually putting a proper book together, and less time messing about at the races.


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

105 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 23 Feb 2010
This review is from: One Day (Hardcover)
I haven't read any other David Nicholls, and this one may have passed me by if it hadn't been chosen for my book club book.

I am a contemporary of the principal characters, and as such could relate to every stage of their lives. It was interesting to read the review by the 23 year old, who found it more moving than funny - I'd really like to know the ages of all the reviewers, to see whether it affected their views.

But on with the review!

I liked the device of dropping into the characters' lives once a year. Yes, initially it meant that there was less of a connection between reader and characters, which is possibly what has led some reviewers to find it hard to get into. But as the book develops over the next 20 years, the characters develop beautifully and realistically with it and you cannot fail to become involved with them, if you don't choose to dismiss them as stereotypes early on. One review stated that it was totally unbelievable that a leftie, Labour-voting northerner would befriend, let alone sleep with, a privileged softie southerner. Well, yes, they would. University broadens the mind, not to mention the sex life, and to refuse to befriend someone on the grounds of social class, geography and politics, despite a deep mutual attraction and a shared sense of humour would be narrow-minded in the extreme. To refuse to sleep with them on the same basis - hahaha! Good grief.

Dexter starts off as a totally superficial person, whose principal motivation in choosing a career is that it must be something which sounds good when you shout it out in a club. Very funny, and I'm sure there's an element of that in all of us - we hanker to have a glamorous answer to the question "and what do you do?". However, Dexter is wryly aware of his superficiality, and it is this which saves him from coming across as a complete and utter waste of space - although not in the eyes of some reviewers - maybe they missed this. Which is a shame, as without it, the book would not work. We need to like Dexter and want good things for him. We need to understand what Emma sees in him. And we need to understand that although there are times when Emma feels that her and Dexter are not together because she is not good enough or glamorous enough, it is actually Dexter's awareness of his shallowness and fundamental flaws which keep him and Emma apart.

Emma, meanwhile, has been written off by other reviewers as being typical two-dimensional trashy novel fodder, a ridiculous female fantasy of the frumpy woman who is too intelligent for her own good (not sure where they got that, but everyone's entitled to their opinion) getting the drop-dead gorgeous bloke. Well, as I said above, I think this misses the point. It also misses another point: that Emma is not frumpy (or overly intellectual). She feels that she is lacking in the glamour stakes, but so does every other woman in Britain who doesn't conform to the current physical ideal of the seven foot surgically enhanced blonde with knees wider than her thighs and ribs you could play a glockenspiel on. Whenever Emma is seen through anyone's eyes other than her own, she is gorgeous, witty, desirable, generous and excellent company. While this is not an uncommon characteristic of female literary heroines in this era, it is also a fair reflection of the general zeitgeist, and I don't think it's particularly valid to criticise a book on the basis of writing realistic characters.

Dexter's shallowness and need for adulation has predictable consequences with him initially trundling and then hurtling down the road to rack and ruin - drugs, meaningless sex, black holes in the memory. Again, this has been flagged up as being predictable. In my opinion it is only predictable in that this is what would happen to Dexter (and happened to many celebrities in the 90s - as it continues today), given his background and character flaws - so it is a logical progression of a well-written character. Just because we can see where he's going doesn't mean he wouldn't or shouldn't go there.

I really enjoyed this book. I think that David Nicholls did a really good job of moving the characters on and allowing them to grow. The device offered him the opportunity of exploring how these two people would react at different stages of their lives, and he grasped this admirably. Emma's comments on her friends' approach to parenthood had me howling with that most enjoyable form of laughter - recognition. Dexter's reactions to his growing fame, notoriety and dwindling star were very well documented. All in all, I think it was a great read and would highly recommend it to all.

So why only four stars?

Well, call me an old romantic, but I was GUTTED by the ending. My mouth dropped into a wide O and tears rolled down my cheeks at that short and totally unexpected sentence. I felt cheated. It wasn't what I wanted to read. I felt like I'd invested twenty years of my life in these peoples' lives (see how effectively he wrote?!) and this... it upset me. Not that I want my books to be all sweetness and tweeting birdies, but it hadn't been. There had been bad times and heartbreak and darkness, and I think they deserved more light.
Comment Comments (18) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2011 3:54 PM GMT


My Name is Red
My Name is Red
by Orhan Pamuk
Edition: Paperback

11 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My Name is BoRed, 23 Feb 2010
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This review is from: My Name is Red (Paperback)
Oh, this is an awful, dreary book. Like other reviewers, I am a prolific reader. Like other reviewers, I invariably finish books when I've started them, even if they're hard going. Like other reviewers, I didn't manage this one - I threw it across the room in sheer anger that it was wasting my time, and seemed to be doing so on purpose. I really felt that it didn't like me. I have never taken a book's failings so personally!

I really am NOT a fan of reviewing translations of books, as I think that the subtleties of the language are lost and the validity of the review is forfeit. However, we must READ translations, or miss out on some wonderful world literature.

However (again, with the howevers!) this book is not dreary, in my opinion, because of any loss of subtlety. Rather, the structure is dreary. It plods. The narrative point of view constantly changes, giving no feeling of continuity or urgency. Sheesh. The narrator is at one point (or possibly several points, I regretfully admit that I didn't get that far) a dog - this could be interesting. It isn't. At another point, it's a tree. This is another big yawn. I forget which narrative point of view finally did it for me (a stone? a puddle? some drying paint?) but the only satisfying thing about this book was the thud it made when it hit the wall.

I would not, under any circumstances, recommend this book to anyone. Unless it was to someone I fundamentally disliked, and who I knew was going to have access to no other books for the foreseeable future. But that would just be evil.


In a Little While
In a Little While
by Charlotte Hudson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book, 17 May 2005
This review is from: In a Little While (Hardcover)
The first time I read this book to my daughter, I wished I'd read it through myself first, because the ending was so lovely that I almost burst into tears reading it aloud! A lovely book, brilliant for anyone whose mummy is just about to go into hospital, but excellent anyway. I love Charlotte Hudson's work - it always has a message without being obvious, annoying or hammering it home. Really lovely.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2014 1:24 PM BST


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