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Reviews Written by
R. Creer (Cumbria, UK)
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Herzog (Penguin Modern Classics)
Herzog (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars American classic, 13 Jun. 2015
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Herzog is one of those books which you feel you should read rather than one you want to read. It reads like an important book more than an enjoyable book. It is IMHO, a book for academics and students of literature.
Personally I felt little connection with Herzog, partly because I am not a Jew, more because I am not an American and most because I don't understand the references that are scattered throughout the book.
However, his character did eventually appeal and I even felt myself strangely identifying with him at times. I also appreciated Bellow's style of narration with the switches between first and third person and the movement from past to present tense.
Yes, I'm pleased that I read it.


Twisters: 11 short stories with a twist
Twisters: 11 short stories with a twist
Price: £1.29

1.0 out of 5 stars No surprises here, 13 Jun. 2015
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If these stories had been written by members of my writing class, I'd have had words about avoiding the obvious and proof reading your writing before submission. As they have been professionally published, I remain shocked ... not by the endings, which are all entirely predictable, but by the amateurish nature of the writing.


Amy Wild: Amazon Summer (Amy Wild 1)
Amy Wild: Amazon Summer (Amy Wild 1)
by Helen Skelton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TV presenter turns to writer, 9 May 2015
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Helen's foray into writing for kids has got off to a good start. Amy Wild is an accident-prone, curious, unthinking eleven year old whose Aunt [a wacky journalist/photographer who has lost her confidence] takes her to Brazil to help with a new assignment. But Amy's penchant for getting into trouble ends up with her running away from her aunt and getting involved with young Juan, a local boy who takes her into the jungle. The adventures that follow give Amy many amazing experiences and teach her many lessons about life.

The opening pages set at home are clearly based on Helen's own home [dairy farm, brother called Gavin ...] and once in the Amazon, her famous canoeing expedition must have fed her the basis of what Amy sees. All this gives a conviction to the details which are part of the book's appeal. The mix of Amazonian wildlife and Amy's contemporary references were amusing but may lead to being dated quickly [eg Little Mix on her phone!] but for now will appeal to many kids this age.

Half way through I felt frustrated as Amy was still the selfish European child and I was desperate for her to learn from her many mistakes. I won't give too much away but the last fifty pages definitely improved and an environmental message emerged which gives the tale an extra dimension.

I enjoyed the book and can heartily recommend it for 9 -13 year olds.


Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 13000mAh 2-Port (3A Output) Fast Portable Charger  External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air 2 Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy S6 S5 S4 Note Tab, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, PS Vita, Gopro, more Phones and Tablets (Black)
Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 13000mAh 2-Port (3A Output) Fast Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air 2 Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy S6 S5 S4 Note Tab, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, PS Vita, Gopro, more Phones and Tablets (Black)
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £19.99


1.5m (5ft) Arctic Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree
1.5m (5ft) Arctic Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 Dec. 2014
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Really good tree for the money - bushy and sturdy.


Philips HR2020/50 Jug Blender, 1.75 L,400 W - Silver
Philips HR2020/50 Jug Blender, 1.75 L,400 W - Silver
Price: £27.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 8 Dec. 2014
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Good value and large bowl


The Children Act
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 18 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Children Act (Hardcover)
Another tightly constructed novel of modern middle-class British life with intelligent characters and topical themes that include medical ethics, menopausal feelings, fighting the work/life balance and sexual needs within marriage, all in a 200 page novella.

Fiona Maye, a Family Court judge, is the protagonist although not always a sympathetic one in my view. She may be wonderfully incisive and just in her judgements but she seems as tough on her husband as on errant barristers or wavering witnesses. Her relationship with a teenage Jehovah's Witness boy is just about believable even if both are rather smug at times. And Adam is almost too perfect as a counterpoint to her.

I loved the shape of the story, as balanced as Fiona's decisions and with an ending that is controlled and truly satisfactory. I thought McEwan handled the legal intricacies well and the slowly recovering relations with long-suffering Jack were drawn in enough detail to be enjoyable to the reader.

But, even in such a short novel, there were too many unnecessary sections, especially all the pretentious displays of classical music knowledge. Reference to fugues and counterpoints serve merely to alienate those not in that world. This was repeated with all the rehearsals and the final performance Fiona had with her colleague, an aspect of the story I found irrelevant and distracting. Was the author simply showing off his knowledge? Other details are almost as redundant: Fiona's clothing and perfume, the architecture of the Northumbrian house, etc. Of course, details that enable the reader to visualise the setting are helpful but McEwan does go over the top, almost as if he had a good short story that he wanted to turn into a novel, thus adding descriptions at frequent intervals.

I am very fond of some of McEwan's other books [especially Saturday] but, although well structured, this did disappoint me.


If We Could Speak Like Wolves
If We Could Speak Like Wolves
by Kim Moore
Edition: Pamphlet

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars These wolves do speak, 26 Feb. 2013
This is a small and unassuming collection of powerful poems that mix detailed observation, original imagery and some intriguing quirkiness. Some are rather brutal [Tuesday at Wetherspoons], some surreal [In Praise of Arguing] and some eerie [The Thing]. But all contain lines that puzzle and confuse, fascinate and strike the reader with their inventiveness. Kim Moore is truly a poet to watch. Highly recommended.


The Beautiful Indifference
The Beautiful Indifference
by Sarah Hall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No indifference to this beauty, 3 Jun. 2012
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A beautiful series of short stories with landscapes at their heart but with a range of themes and styles. All are thought-proking, challenging and unique, many about dark desires, some sexually blunt at times. A few are less perfect than the others in terms of satisfying the reader, finishing brusquely, but Sarah Hall's writing is so earthy, so Anglo-Saxon in its language that I find them all refreshing. Highly recommended.


Catch a Fish From the Sea: Looking for Love - Will Settle for Like
Catch a Fish From the Sea: Looking for Love - Will Settle for Like
by Nasreen Akhtar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Catch a Fish from the Sea [Using the Internet], 29 May 2012
Clearly, this book was not aimed at someone like me, a white guy in his 60s. Firstly, the age thing: a book written by someone in her 20s desperately [yes, largely she seemed desperate] looking for a husband is not what I want in a story; Jane Austen did it so much better and I am not a great fan of hers either! Secondly, the gender thing: a book obsessed with a woman's feelings and how so many men let her down [I lost count of the number who were not up to her standards] in so many ways will clearly appeal more to females than males. Then the culture/religious thing: I certainly learned a lot about Asian/Muslim attitudes within families and how we outside that community tend to stereotype them, but it did not need 320 pages to do that; indeed, it did not need a story at all, a documentary would do. The number of quotations from the Qur'an and the totally redundant glossary [the terms were explained within the text] seemed to reinforce my notion that the book was aimed at those interested in joining the Islamic faith. I reckon that if an equivalent book with an evangelical Christian quoting the Bible and explaining its terms were written, readers in the UK would query it far more.

So, what did I like about the book? I liked the character of Nasreen herself: I liked her stubborn independence even when it slipped into impossibility; I liked her modern outlook [to technology, to friends, to the world in general]; I liked her self-deprecating humour [I would have liked more of it!]. I guess I like the whole idea of the book, the notion behind the story about the problems of internet dating. The trouble is there was so little story and so many unanswered questions, not least about the fact/fiction nature of the book. Is it a novel? Is it a true tale? Really? Totally true? How did Nasreen manage to set up her own publishing company just to publish her own story? Did she find the "Prince Charming" mentioned at the end? She deliberately refuses to tell us ... so we'll read her sequel? Am I being manipulated here?

So, I am confused by this book. Maybe, when our Book Club discusses it next month, I'll discover more.


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