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K. Railton "Avid Reader" (Newcastle)

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Hapkido [DVD]
Hapkido [DVD]
Dvd ~ Angela Mao

4.0 out of 5 stars Good watch as long as you like old school martial arts films, 4 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Hapkido [DVD] (DVD)
This is an enjoyable watch but you have to leave modern expectations of film at the living room door as this is a proper old school martial arts movie...think along the lines of the tv series Monkey. Interesting additional features on DVD too.

State Of Play: Complete BBC Series [2003] [DVD]
State Of Play: Complete BBC Series [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Simm
Price: £4.25

5.0 out of 5 stars TV drama at its best, 4 Jan 2013
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This is a fantastic fast paced drama with a great cast and excellent writing. Much much better than the film version. I strongly recommend you give it a try!

Goodbye Tsugumi
Goodbye Tsugumi
by Banana Yoshimoto
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.82

3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose but lacks plot, 4 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Goodbye Tsugumi (Paperback)
I do love beautiful prose but I just felt that this was at the expense of enough focus on a good plot. It is without doubt lovely writing but just didn't do it for me... I know others who love it though!

Space: From Earth to the Edge of the Universe (DK)
Space: From Earth to the Edge of the Universe (DK)
by Carole Stott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great present, 4 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this as a Christmas present for my husband and he loved the imagery and informative content. It really is a lovely gift.

The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent use of her fame and sizeable audience...and a great bit of literature too., 4 Jan 2013
The poor reviews are to be expected as it is more than likely that many people who bought Harry Potter for their children have probably gone on to buy it and not liked the undeniable ribbing Middle England get in this book (disclaimer - I don't believe only people in 'Middle England' bought Harry Potter books or this book). Although I have to say that I laughed loudly when I read the review which said that Rowling had used 'The Casual Vacancy' to talk about all the sordid things she couldn't in Harry Potter. That so could have come from the mouth of Shirley Mollison in this book. Hilarious...

The characters are incredibly acutely observed and I am sure if you read it you will recognise people you know in each of them. Yes, even the poor, heaven forbid! Which is, I think, the greatest strength of this novel; it is about class but it, like Barry Fairbrother himself, transcends class; showing that there is reasoning behind all our actions and humanity in most of us. Krystal Weedon is angry and a bully because she is having to juggle a drug-taking mother and toddler brother at home (trying to save him from going into care) and because she is aware she is looked down on (the only kid not invited to the party). Yet she is the only kid that saves Andrew when he has a nut allergy...and is so loyal to those that show her love. Even the prudish Shirley has her reasons for the front she puts on - she is trying to escape from any similarity to her mother whose promiscuity embarrassed her.

So for all that Rowling ridicules in this book in the end she really does treat each character sympathetically. But we are left in no doubt as to who the 'real' victims are; seeing what Krystal and her brother go through really does show that the 'squeezed middle' of the book are in all honesty not too badly off even when we do understand (not excuse) their motivations.

And apart from her deft touch with character and a political hot potato she also handles a complex plot structure (I lost count on the number of narrative perspectives) so well that you hardly notice it after a few chapters.

I absolutely applaud J K Rowling for the risk she has taken with this book and for what she has tried to achieve through it and through her fame and ready-made audience. Not to mention that the monies from the ebook version have been donated to the charity she founded which tries to keep children out of institutions and with families - Lumos. So actions as well as words. Honestly I am so impressed with what she has done and also what the book achieves as both a social commentary and as a piece of literature. Hope you do too!

Like Bees to Honey
Like Bees to Honey
by Caroline Smailes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, unique, authentic, 24 May 2010
This review is from: Like Bees to Honey (Paperback)
Caroline Smailes again manages to create a character that I instantly warmed to; a character whose motivations, guilt and fear are recognisable and heartbreaking. Nina is believable and true, even in the vividly imagined 'transit lounge for the dead' that finds its home in Malta.

The themes of loss, guilt and redemption are powerful. I also find the book a unique exploration of religion and of the perception of religion. You will never think of Jesus in the same light once you have read it! Through Nina's physical and spiritual journey some of the more damaging and guilt inducing elements of religious belief are challenged.

The other impact the book has had on me is that I am mad keen to visit Malta now! Malta is so acutely observed throughout the novel, almost becoming a character all of its own. It is somewhere I knew little of before picking up this book...

A really beautiful novel. Very different to Caroline Smailes previous books (which I also loved). The book still explores some deep themes that make it just as emotionally charged as 'Black Boxes' and 'In Search of Adam' (my favourite).But, where they take you by the throat, by the chin (to great effect), 'Like Bees to Honey' leads you by the hand...

I think this is the kind of novel that readers of all sorts of genres could enjoy.

From Pitch to Publication: Everything You Need to Know to Get Your Novel Published
From Pitch to Publication: Everything You Need to Know to Get Your Novel Published
by Carole Blake
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, whatever stage you are at..., 24 May 2010
This is a must have tool for any (delete as appropriate)unpublished, published, agented, non-agented writers. Diverse enough?

I picked this book up for two reasons. Firstly, because I had heard such rave reviews about it. I thought it would be very useful as I'm currently in the process of writing my first novel. Secondly, I am currently writing an essay on the business of publishing for the Masters in Creative Writing I am studying towards. Again, from what I'd heard, this book would be an authoritative resource.

It has not disappointed on either score. Carole Blake manages to combine direct honesty with a very personable style of non-fiction writing. This makes the book not just an interesting read, but also a surprisingly enjoyable read for someone like me, who never usually picks up a work of non-fiction.

The book is split into 4 sections: 'Before Your Book is Sold'; From Contract to Publication; 'Publication and Beyond; 'Appendixes' which gives crucial additional resources and information.

As an 'aspiring' novelist you could argue only part one is relevant for me. However, the other sections, that include information on areas such as marketing plans and sales, contracts, publicity and more, give information that can help when you're thinking about the audience and demand for your own book. This can help how you shape it and also how you sell it in to agents in the first place.

A very helpful resource for both my own writing and my essay. I'd wholeheartedly recommend to others, wherever they sit on the writing spectrum.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely funny and incredibly sad, 27 Jan 2010
I would recommend that everyone read this book.

Oskar is possibly my favourite protagonist of all time (along with Edgar Mint in Udall's book). He is an over-intuitive and intelligent young boy who has endured something more horrific than most can imagine, and yet he still tries to spare the feelings of others - his mam, grandmother, the people who help him along the way.

It is, to me, like a sadder and deeper version of Amelie...He is trying to unravel a secret, whilst also spreading some good in the world.

But the world is not good, and this is the other point of the book. We have not learnt from the horrors of the past, from other wars. People still kill people, kill and maim hundreds and thousands of people. And it is young children, like Oskar, who pay the penalty the world over.

Oskar's grandfather is the adult embodiment of the impact the horrors have. His story (of loss through war) is as sad as Oskars. "Child is the father of man" is definitely apt on this occasion, as he struggles to endure through life after the loss of everyone close to him. This then has a knock on effect with all the relationships in his life. He, the sculptor, in part makes Oskar's grandmother what she is through leaving, not loving back, not daring to love back, he 'makes' his own life loveless, and he 'makes' his own son live his life without a dad.

This book works on so many levels. The characters are believable, the plot is a driving force (as we follow Oskar on his trail) but most of all it is such an emotional read. I doubt if many could read it and not laugh out loud at parts, or mostly cry through the full thing.

For the first time in my life not only did I cry throughout, but I also cried for about half an hour afterwards, not only at Oskar and his family's losses, but about the cruelty we inflict on each other, by murder, hatred and not 'loving back'...

Awesome is the best way I can describe it...

Black Boxes
Black Boxes
by Caroline Smailes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.85

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So real...., 27 Jan 2010
This review is from: Black Boxes (Paperback)
I loved this book. The characters are so real and the writing is brave, unique and really achieves in breaking the mould. I am shocked by some of the other reviews for this book, especially as they are not really at all about the quality of writing or characterisation.

If you have ever known anyone with any mental health problems or any child who has lived through neglect/bullying/parents in broken relationship you will not be disappointed in the perceptive and realistic representation of those in the book who have these issues.

It is a heartbreaking and powerful book and I have recommended it to anyone who'll listen...

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