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funnyjaybird (Hertfordshire)

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EDDING Permanent Marker 140 S ohp sw
EDDING Permanent Marker 140 S ohp sw
Offered by Obbo GmbH
Price: £0.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Plant Labels, 25 Jun 2014
This has permanent ink which works brilliantly as a non-fading marker for those white plastic plant labels. Very fine nib, so easy to get all the information into a small space, and not expensive. So much better than the fat-nibbed ones supplied with the labels themselves.


Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
by Peter Hoeg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flashes of Brilliance, 8 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This seemed like a book of two halves. The first is a simple story of a boy falling to his death and the subsequent investigation by Smilla Jaspersen, who has great insight into the qualities and behaviour of snow and ice thanks to her childhood in Greenland. I loved this first section of the book and I was keen to get back to reading it whenever I could.

The story changes its dynamic when Miss Smilla boards a ship about half-way through the novel. At this point numerous characters are involved and I found it hard to keep up with who was who. There is a harder edge to the narrative, too; the whole atmosphere changes. There is a lot of technical information to absorb at this stage and increasingly spurious strands leading to the final climax of the book. I will confess that I felt quite lost at times during this second part of the narrative.

Oddly, the first part of the book feels quite female and second rather male. There is a sense of empathy between the characters in the first half, and a certain amount of subtlety in the plot. Possibilities abound. If I didn't known otherwise, I'd have assumed the author was female. In the second half there is a desperate life-or-death feeling, and the characters are hard, immutable. Smilla seems to metamorphose into a sort of female James Bond. I don't think I've ever read a book with quite such a divide.

The book is well written and is certainly worth a read, but I wasn't convinced by the final explanation and I wished we had spent more time in Denmark rather than boarding that ship. Somehow, it lost its way slightly at that point.


Northern Sky
Northern Sky
Price: £3.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive. Annoying. Dull., 8 Dec 2013
This review is from: Northern Sky (Kindle Edition)
I wanted to like this book but the central character, Ed, is so unattractive, with his propensity to get stupefyingly drunk, start rows and lash out at people, that I found it impossible to empathise with him. The object of his amorous affections is a drippy folk singer who doesn't really want to sing (or perhaps even be alive), and he is otherwise surrounded by a bunch of friends he appears to resent. Ed's biggest bete noir is the 'star of the future', Lane Fox, and it is his antipathy towards Lane which is the most repetitive and numbingly dull theme of the book. This became so persistent that I ended up sympathising with Lane as he seemed to be getting an exaggeratedly bad press.

I found the dialogue overly facetious and irritating. The peripheral characters were more interesting than the idiot we were reading about, so it was disappointing that they remained so distant. I managed to finish the book but only by speed-reading the final few chapters. Nuff said.


Wild Hares and Hummingbirds: The Natural History of an English Village
Wild Hares and Hummingbirds: The Natural History of an English Village
by Stephen Moss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Going to Oxfam, 14 Aug 2013
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I seem to be at odds with all the other reviewers here. I quite enjoyed the book at first but it became more and more repetitive and when, in July, Moss anticipated the forthcoming Autumn decline, I lost patience. July is high summer, there is so much to enjoy; why would you view it with a pessimistic eye? It was increasingly obvious that Moss preferred Spring to any other season. And the idea that if we lose certain species, such as the wryneck, we could no longer call it the countryside, is ridiculously sentimental. Nature is in a constant state of flux. Until it's paved over or swamped by rising sea-levels, the countryside is the countryside. I became increasingly irritated by this book, as you can probably tell, and skim-read from August onwards. The use of the present tense was a niggle. The opinionated views were a niggle. I'll admit, I can't stand Last of the Summer Wine or The Archers, so maybe this 'gentle' approach is wasted on me. I found it tedious - it's going straight to Oxfam.


5 Star Envelopes Pocket Peel and Seal 100gsm White C5 Ref [Pack of 500]
5 Star Envelopes Pocket Peel and Seal 100gsm White C5 Ref [Pack of 500]
Offered by Ideal Office Supplies Ltd
Price: £16.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Not What it Seemed, 5 Aug 2013
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Be aware - these envelopes have windows. It wasn't obvious to me and isn't in the item description. On close inspection, windows are visible on the box in the main image but I didn't spot that. I had to return them and re-order plain ones. Paper quality was fine, though.


Etcetera
Etcetera
by Sibella Court
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent Twaddle, 10 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Etcetera (Hardcover)
I can see that this book has tactile qualities and a certain moody attraction, but the overall impression is one of pretentious self-indulgence. So much of it could feature in Private Eye's 'Pseud's Corner' - 'Slapdash wallpaper, with all its tracks and unaligned patterns, creates an eccentric, transient sculpture'; 'Lead pencils, sharpened with knives are particularly appealing to me. I wrote the first draft of this book in pencil while sitting on the beach'. It made me squirm. The book espouses the idea of collecting things to display in the home, something I enjoy doing, but Court is cramming so much onto a shelf it's hard to see what's what, and the dusting must take forever. So many of her ideas are simply for show and don't reflect true character. Unless you are actually a sailor, why hang nautical charts on the wall and drape a display of knots over it? It's not logical. If you like the idea of collecting pieces of barbed wire or crocheting a cover for a large beach stone, this is the book for you. The use of typewriter font throughout also grated on me, it's just so 'look, it's all homemade'. Sorry, just didn't like it. Sent it back.


The Garden Party: Stories in the Key of Life
The Garden Party: Stories in the Key of Life
by Katherine Mansfield
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous writing, odd format., 23 Jan 2013
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This is my first Katherine Mansfield book. Her writing is atmospheric and ephemeral, with beautiful descriptive passages. Having said that, her characterisation is witty and at times I laughed out loud. I would certainly read more of her work, it raises interesting themes and I loved the flow of her prose. Five stars for the content.

The format of the book, however, left a lot to be desired. There were anomalies in the layout which I assumed were intentional to begin with; large gaps within conversations, no breathing space between chapters. I eventually realised it was just sloppy editing when I found a chapter heading at the very bottom of a page. Has that ever been good practice in publishing? Examining the book, I noticed there was no frontispiece detailing the date first published, the copyright, etc. Nor was there any back cover biography of the author, so for some time I was trying to work out where the stories were set. Somehow, it spoilt the reading experience. It felt like a cheap fake of a book. I'd advise anyone thinking of reading these wonderful short stories to choose a different version.


Insects of Britain and Western Europe (Field Guide)
Insects of Britain and Western Europe (Field Guide)
by Michael Chinery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.63

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide, 23 Jan 2013
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I'm very impressed with this guide, it's the right size to carry on trips and the illustrations are excellent. My daughter came home to visit from Sheffield University where she's studying biology and said 'that's the book we've been recommended for our insect IDs', which is a recommendation in itself. Buy it - you won't regret it.


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Read, 23 Jan 2013
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This review is from: One Day (Paperback)
It seems to me, having looked at many of the reviews here, that if the reader empathises with the characters, they enjoy the book and if they don't, they don't. I did empathise with the characters and the chronology, and even the geography, having lived for two years in Rankeillor Street when I was a child. I read the book on a trip to Helsinki and found the early chapters very entertaining - Emma's production of 'Oliver!' was hilarious, I thought. However, towards the middle of the book, I found myself becoming increasingly depressed by Dexter's behaviour (reminiscent of personal experience) and I was completely pole-axed by the ending. It was so overwhelming, it eclipsed the final chapters for me. Nothing really mattered after that; I think I would rather Dexter had topped himself in the succeeding chapter and be done with it. It left me feeling depressed for several days afterwards. The bittersweet nature of the relationship reminded me strongly of 'The Time Traveller's Wife', but the ending was straight out of 'Cold Feet'. Have I been manipulated? Yes, probably, but then isn't that what fiction is all about?


Bring Up the Bodies
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Spellbinding, 11 Aug 2012
This review is from: Bring Up the Bodies (Hardcover)
I found this book even more enjoyable than Wolf Hall. With readers already familiar with the characters, Mantel focuses with a keener eye and there is more room for Cromwell's internal dialogue. It's just wonderful to read such an intelligent book, one which satisfies all curiosity and leads the reader in so many directions. The characters are beautifully drawn in all their complexity, believable and oddly vulnerable despite their rarified positions at court. Ever since my history lessons at school I've been fascinated by the story of Anne Boleyn - bewitching seductress or hapless victim of a tyrant? Bit of both, it would seem. I'm generally sceptical of historical fiction, and most of it (sorry Phillipa Gregory) makes me squirm, but Hilary Mantel is on another level altogether. This is the real thing.


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