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Bronwen Grey (UK)

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Summersha Computer Glasses Clear Lens,anti-reflective,Eye Healthy Care Glasses (03)
Summersha Computer Glasses Clear Lens,anti-reflective,Eye Healthy Care Glasses (03)

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 3 April 2014
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Really well-made and sturdy, comfortable to wear. My prescription glasses, which cost a whole lot more, don't sit straight on my face like these do!


Glass Half Full: A Positive Journey to Living Alcohol-Free
Glass Half Full: A Positive Journey to Living Alcohol-Free
Price: 1.86

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Chic Lit in Recovery, 3 April 2014
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Written in diary form, with little development or analysis. By the time you’re 25% of the way through you are thoroughly aware that the author is on her second marriage, to her ‘soul-mate’, what else; has been sober for two years or thereabouts, after a drinking career spanning two decades; has an older teenage daughter and has recently had a second baby. These facts are then endlessly reiterated as she compares her pre-recovery existence to sobriety. I must say, I did find the clichéd references to ‘self-esteem’ and ‘empowerment’ a bit wince-making, especially when they were invariably mentioned in the context of girly concerns like losing 10 pound or improving one’s personal best in the Sheffield Ladies 10K.

The book may prove more digestible if approached little and often and if you find the mundane details of someone else’s life interesting, but wasn’t to my taste: too repetitive, irritatingly self-congratulatory and just downright prosaic. If you want good recovery literature, I recommend Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z Scoblic.


Eat For Health
Eat For Health
Price: 6.37

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Eat For Health (Kindle Edition)
Too early to say whether this regime is making inroads on my fat stores but I can confirm it is seriously bad news for the manufacturers of Senekot and similar preparations!


12 Steps of AA - The 12 Step Recovery Program of AA Explained in Today's Language: Freedom from Addiction through Recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous
12 Steps of AA - The 12 Step Recovery Program of AA Explained in Today's Language: Freedom from Addiction through Recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous
Price: 3.79

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid, 16 Feb 2014
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The language of the Big Book is (inevitably, since it was written in the 1930s) antiquated and there is a strong argument for an update but a banal, meandering and poorly written rendition in colloquialese just doesn’t cut it for me. And I find myself wondering what they teach in schools these days when within the space of two pages I spot five glaring grammatical and syntactical errors (e.g. it get’s, alki’s). If you’re asking people for money, there is absolutely no excuse for not having your work proof-read. My advice is avoid this rubbish and wait for the fifth edition of the Big Book or at least a serious attempt at a rendition into 21st century-speak by someone who isn’t just out to make a fast buck.


Wasted
Wasted
Price: 2.18

2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Wasted (Kindle Edition)
As the author herself observes, this story had all the elements – sex, drugs, a love triangle - that make a book compulsive reading. Sadly, this one was so relentlessly poorly written that seldom did the protagonists come to life. Turgid, pedestrian, anaemic are words that come to mind and it’s hard at times to remember that this is a true story, harder still to muster any sympathy for the one-dimensional, drug-addled, sex-obsessed Regina Hartwell and her entourage of self-seeking hangers-on. A feeble attempt is made to unravel her character and that of her (male) love rival but the enigmatic Kim Leblanc, the women who turned over in bed rather than alert her friend and benefactor that her life was in grave danger, remains as immune from analysis as she did from prosecution for being an accomplice to murder. Like a number of entirely vicious perpetrators and willing by-standers that preceded and succeeded her through the courts on the receiving end of kid glove treatment, (e.g. Karla Homolka, Tony Lawrence and, at the risk of courting controversy, Amanda Knox), Leblanc was the beneficiary of the apparently wide-spread belief that young, white women are somehow intrinsically incapable of acts of incalculable savagery and callousness that hard evidence firmly attaches to them.


Dog Shaming: Canine Confessions
Dog Shaming: Canine Confessions
Price: 1.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't both on Kindle, 3 Jan 2014
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This really isn't worth buying on Kindle - the pictures come out really small and are of mutts with placards round their necks `confessing' their misdemeanours. All very cute but for the most part you can't see the photos very well and you certainly can't read the placards. Also, I found all the talk of dogs eating their own poo not very conducive to dog-ownership. It may be more visually accessible in traditional book format but doesn't lend itself well to Kindle.


Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impeccably researched, dispassionate, fascinating, 3 Jan 2014
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Poor Norah Parker: motherhood was a less than entirely felicitous experience for her. Her first child died within 24 hours of birth from a heart defect, the fourth, a `mongoloid imbecile' as Downes Syndrome children were called in the fifties, was relinquished to an asylum. Her third-born displayed egregious ingratitude by luring her to a remote park, where she and her school friend, Juliet Hulme, took it in turns to batter her to death. It should be said that the girls had been watching a few too many romantic films and were convinced that one good smack over the head would cause Norah to collapse prettily and conveniently expire, leaving all well in their fantasy world. But, as Juliet Hulme remarked shortly afterwards, `the old dear took a bit more killing than we thought!'

By the law of unintended consequences, Norah's death exposed her children's illegitimacy. Two decades earlier her father had abandoned his wife and two sons to fend for themselves in the depth of the Depression and eloped with his new love. He was left emotionally devastated, socially disgraced and financially ruined by Norah's violent despatch and never forgave his daughter. But his was just one of a number of lives altered irrevocably and diverted into the dead ends of social ostracism, financial hardship and mental illness by the murder, which the author explores in depth and with compassion.

In his fascinating and impeccably researched book, Peter Graham traces how the unlikely affinity between two socially very disparate girls degenerated into an obsessive, homoerotic attachment, as faithfully recorded in Pauline Parker's diary, characterised by a rich and febrile fantasy life, delusions of grandeur and an almost complete detachment from reality.

Against the background of prim, anglicised Christchurch in 1950s New Zealand, Graham describes the court case, the perpetrators' incarceration in separate penal facilities, their release and lives up until the early nineties when the film, `Heavenly Creatures' reignited popular fascination with the circumstances of the murder. The similarities in their choices post-release are noteworthy. Once she was no longer monitored by the New Zealand authorities, Parker, who had easily assimilated Hulme's English accent and in her native New Zealand was frequently assumed to have grown up in the UK, emigrated to a small village in Kent, relocating to Orkney on the release of `Heavenly Creatures' when her identity was revealed. Both found solace in religion, Hulme choosing to become a Mormon, Parker converting to Catholicism. Neither married or had children and both live in Scotland, no more than a hundred miles from one another, although when once asked in an interview if she had ever contacted Parker, Hulme replied icily, `why would I want to do that?'

Less is known of Parker because she has spurned all publicity, although it appears that she lives a reclusive and ascetic existence. Hulme, by contrast, was already a successful crime writer under her assumed name, Anne Perry, when the film about the murder was released. Although initially she feared she would lose her home, her career and her reputation, her publicist was able to manipulate this new turn of events to her client's advantage. Anne Perry, it was alleged, wrote about redemption from personal experience, the anguish and suffering she endured as teenager apparently giving her unique insight into the subject of crime and punishment that no other crime writer could lay claim to. The subtext is, you have to suffer for your art, and Norah Parker was, in Hulme's words, `not a very happy woman anyway'.

The ever glacial Hulme, undoubtedly a psychopath, currently `rules a small principality' at her home outside a small village in Scotland, where those around her are subject to her caprices. She has managed to attract a Pauline substitute, a rather bedraggled woman called Meg McDonald, who lives next door and is apparently spellbound by her presence. The aloofness, imperiousness and unshakeable confidence in her own judgement that characterised her as an adolescent are still very much in evidence. The clear and probably sole beneficiary of Norah Parker's murder, Hulme has developed a well-rehearsed rebuttal to any questions and a heavily sanitised version of events. She describes herself as `an accessory to murder'; Pauline Parker, at death's door from bulimia, would, she claims, would have taken her own life had she not acquiesced to her pleas to assist her in ridding them both of the one obstacle to their continued relationship, a woman she in any event scarcely knew. If you have read this book, you will know these claims are distortions and untruths but whatever way you cut it, this book is a fascinating appraisal of a folie a deux which had tragic and far-reaching consequences. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Untold Story
Untold Story
by Monica Ali
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 29 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Untold Story (Paperback)
The year is 2007 and Diana, Princess of Wales, has officially been dead for 10 years. But the main character, also a princess on a quest for the simple life, did not die in the wreckage of a car in the Alma Tunnel. Instead, having survived a near-fatal car accident in Paris and fearful of an establishment attempt to silence her forever, she staged her own disappearance during one of her early morning swims and was declared missing, presumed dead: drowned or eaten by sharks. Her lily-strewn coffin contained only an outfit selected by her sons. Spirited away to Brazil by her complicit private secretary, her blonde hair is dyed darker, she works on altering her cut-glass accent, acquires brown lenses and undergoes plastic surgery. When the story opens, she is using the name Lydia Snaresbrook, having stolen the identity of a child who died 5 days after birth, and is working as a volunteer at a local animal sanctuary.

But even those who reinvent themselves ultimately never leave their real selves very far behind. Lydia's letters to her private secretary in the first year after her disappearance reveal that her insecurities and her search for a quiet conscience remain unchanged from when she was one of the world's most celebrated women. She acquires the prosaic existence she craved as a princess, only to discover that it means, among other things, making ends meet, changing your own light bulbs and ultimately being responsible for yourself. It does not cure her bulimia, nor diminish her overwhelming need for constantly demonstrated affection from friends and lovers that so frequently precipitated the abrupt termination of friendships; the journey in search of meaning continues, as rudderless and devoid of a compass as the one from which she so dramatically disembarked.

The plot hangs on a highly unlikely coincidence, that a familiar paparazzo on holiday in the Midwestern booney town of Kensington - (yes, really) - she now calls home, bumps into her and recognises both the woman herself and his opportunity for the scoop of a lifetime. This shift towards the implausible is the undoing of the novel and thereafter, for me at least, it unravels spectacularly. The Lydia character and her nemesis, Grabowski, leak any authenticity Ali has previously imbued them with. Grabowski's fiddling with his rosary beads becomes a rather tedious shorthand for his conflicted conscience (as if), and Lydia seems as exercised by his pursuit of her as she might be by the loss of an earring. Or perhaps the reader is meant to infer her inner turmoil from her incessant swimming, it's difficult to say. Their final confrontation in Lydia's bedroom is about as exciting as a cup of lukewarm tea. Further improbable coincides nudge the novel towards an ambiguous and unsatisfactory ending. Not without merit but a great disappointment after Brick Lane.


Tweaking the Dream: A Crystal Meth True Story
Tweaking the Dream: A Crystal Meth True Story
Price: 2.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 21 Nov 2013
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I felt as if I had been grabbed by the scruff of the neck and dragged aboard a runaway train that was accelerating towards disaster. Myers records how her recreational use of crystal meth progressed inexorably to complete loss of contact with reality and immersion in full-blown paranoia. She acknowledges that her privileged background accounts in part for the support she had in escaping addiction and shows plenty of examples of others less fortunate whose lives are warped and mutilated by this lethally addictive drug.


Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife
Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife
Price: 5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Purrrleeeezzzzz......, 18 Nov 2013
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Once upon a time there was a clique of yummy mummies, who owned a whole bunch of real estate, like luxury homes, beaches houses, log cabins by the lake with their own speed boats etc.etc. They talked to their kids as if they were adults and their husbands as if they were children, and life was one long, sad toil of holidays at said real estate, lobster lunches, dining clubs, children's parties, yoga classes, therapy sessions, shopping, tennis, getting their kids' teachers fired and bitch-fests. Along the way one or two (too many) martini cocktails are sunk to cope with life's travails - like finding your best friend has a NBF - and one of the yummy mummies (the one who thought other people would like to pay for the privilege of reading her tedious diary) decided to join AA. Predictably enough, she has a hard time identifying with America's impoverished, exploited, disenfranchised underclass who makes up the majority of attendees but gets (more or less) sober anyway. She then flaunts her sense of moral superiority over her frenemies by hosting the first alcohol-free book club evening. The End.

Yet again there seems to be no relationship between the price of the Kindle download and the quality of the end product. Evidently the author believes that, like her, we all have more money than sense and don't mind throwing it away on this pile of drivel. If you are interested in recovery literature, I heartily recommend that you give this a miss and instead try the vastly superior `Unwasted' by Sasha Z Scoblic, `Cleaning Up' by Tania Glyde or `Drinking: A Love Story' by the late Caroline Knapp. These authors are true story-tellers.


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