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C. H. Middleburgh (Buckinghamshire, UK)

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Tregothnan Classic Loose Tea 25 g
Tregothnan Classic Loose Tea 25 g
Price: £5.25

2.0 out of 5 stars Good, but way, way over-priced, 15 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The tea is delicious, and the Cornwall connection interesting and quirky but this does not really justify the high price!

Duet in Beirut
Duet in Beirut
by Mishka Ben-David
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.85

5.0 out of 5 stars The moral assassins, 13 Jan 2014
This review is from: Duet in Beirut (Paperback)
A thriller plot that involves an undercover team in a foreign city going after a high profile target may sound very routine, especially if the hit squad is from the Mossad, but that is as predictable as Duet in Beirut gets.
The author, Mishka Ben-David, has been a high ranking officer of the Mossad, and the action, planning and methodology woven into the story have the ring of truth as a result. Ben-David creates considerable tension, not least because the original `hit' goes wrong when the shooter, Ronen, fails to pull the trigger because the target appears with his young daughter.
As everything unravels Ronen is consumed with guilt, self-loathing and anger and returns in secret to Beirut to complete the mission; because the undercover teams are close, and because the commander, Gadi, feels ultimate responsibility for the failure, he goes after Ronen - unauthorised - to try and prevent him shooting his terrorist target.
The story unfolds in Beirut, and in Israel, as senior Mossad and government figures debate what needs to be done, believing that were the hit to be carried out it would have terrible repercussions for Israel itself.
Duet in Beirut deserves the description `nail biter' as the tension ratchets ever higher; it is a superb, convincing read and a powerful reminder that a nation that feels forced to take tough steps against its enemies still has a beating, human heart.

Happy Pet Big Buddie Chucky The Chimp with Monkey Chatter Effect
Happy Pet Big Buddie Chucky The Chimp with Monkey Chatter Effect
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous!!!, 7 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Heaven knows why this is labelled as a dog toy! Within an hour of playing with it my Lhasa/Bichon cross had a gaping hole in the back of its head due to the stitching bursting from which he then extracted a brittle noise box made of plastic and two small batteries. Luckily we were on hand to prevent the dog from swallowing casing, batteries and circuit board but I shudder to think what might have happened if he had.
I bought a Kong toy at the same time which is still intact.

Ungaro Ballpoint Pen Crema
Ungaro Ballpoint Pen Crema
Price: £71.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, original pen, 23 Aug 2011
This ballpoint from Ungaro is unusual and stylish, big enough to use and small enough to store. And it feels great to write with!

The Second Son
The Second Son
by Jonathan Rabb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.67

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoffner's final farewell, 20 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Second Son (Paperback)
The Second Son concludes the trilogy whose predecessors were Rosa and Shadow and Light, Jonathan Rabb's dark and foreboding thrillers set in the troubled first three decades of the twentieth century in Germany. Rabb is a rare writer, for he has a scientist's eye for detail, combined with a poet's insights and a born story teller's originality.
The Second Son features once more the main protagonist of the previous two tales, Nikolai Hoffner, the veteran and once highly regarded Berlin policeman with a Jewish mother, who is now persona non grata with the Nazified police force due to his ancestry. Hoffner decides to journey to Spain on the trail of his son Georg who has disappeared in that country at the start of the civil war.
Hoffner suffers the rare pain of having one son, Sascha, who is a convinced Nazi and from whom he is completely estranged, and Georg who has embraced his Jewish heritage and married into a Jewish family. On his travels through Spain Hoffner's courage, strength and ingenuity are tested to the limit and his journey is full of unexpected twists and turns, as well as enormous emotional upheaval.
Rabb demonstrated in Rosa and Shadow and Light an extraordinary ability to conjure the mood of Weimar Berlin, and here he proves that his skills as a story teller are not restricted to that city for he brings civil war Spain alive in vibrant colour and a wide variety of characters both predictable and unpredictable.
Jonathan Rabb is clearly at the height of his powers as a story teller and his next novel will be eagerly awaited.

The Dove Flyer
The Dove Flyer
by Eli Amir
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The other side of the coin, 30 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Dove Flyer (Paperback)
There has been a slew of books recently, some immensely powerful and moving, about the effects of the establishment of the State of Israel on the native Palestinian population, the expulsions, demolitions and terror that saw many of them leave as refugees, never to return. Far fewer books have been written from the opposite perspective, of the effect on the Jews of Arab lands of the creation of the Jewish State, and the specific and terrible way in which it affected their lives and sent them from countries their ancestors had inhabited for thousands of years to a new land with which many of them had very little in common.
The Dove Flyer tells the story in microcosm of the fate of Iraqi Jewry at this time, and an unforgettable story it is too. The main protagonists all live in the `new' Jewish quarter of Baghdad to which they have been forced to move for their own protection after the terrible Farhood riots. The narrator is Kabi, whose father is a settled and established Jewish Iraqi, thoroughly acculturated and at home in the Muslim milieu; he will have no truck with the Zionists who are already organising within the Jewish community and drawing the unwelcome attention of the secret least until his brother Hizkel, a Zionist, is arrested and taken off to prison to await trial and a possible death sentence.
As the family, their friends, neighbours and enemies come to terms with what has occurred, the ground gradually shifts beneath them all, causing new friendships to develop and old ones to break.
Eli Amir weaves a rich tapestry of Iraqi Jewish life, and the effects of events beyond their control on ordinary and extra-ordinary human beings alike.
This is a magnificent novel, as well as being beautifully written, and it acts as a powerful reminder that when the State of Israel was established, and became an almost God-given haven for the persecuted Jews of Europe, it also had a terrible effect on the Jews of the Middle East for whom a Jewish state was an alien concept and who were - albeit with many compromises - quite comfortable where they were and had been for centuries.
The Dove Flyer is not a book to miss.
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The Reluctant Mullah
The Reluctant Mullah
by Sagheer Afzal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect book for TV or a movie, 28 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Reluctant Mullah (Paperback)
With the exception of the brilliant stand-up Shazia Mirza, I doubt that many people, stupidly but not without some cause, associate Islam with humour, or Muslims with a sense of humour. And yet, of course, Muslims have as much of a sense of the absurd as the rest of us, and in my experience love to laugh as well.
The Reluctant Mullah, a first novel by Sagheer Afzal, is a wonderfully observed story of one particular Muslim family, as one of the sons, Musa, the Reluctant Mullah of the title, is given a month of days by his mystical grandfather, Dadaji, to find himself a wife before having to accept one who has been chosen for him.
Musa's quest, and the efforts of those around him, are frequently hilarious, and the characters who fill the book, notably the sex god Titty Soups (you'll have to read the book!) and Musa's mouthy sister Shabnam, are drawn, I'm sure, from the life and have an awesome and endearing credibility to them.
The Reluctant Mullah is not a laugh from beginning to end, its journey is one of torment and tragedy as well as laughter and love, but it is a story of masterful completeness and I, for one, cannot wait for Sagheer Afzal's next book. Many congratulations to Peter Halban for giving this first time novelist a richly deserved break.

The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge
The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge
by Patricia Duncker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.78

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, 26 Jun 2010
I was hooked from the first page until the last. Patricia Duncker writes with insight and sensitivity and a great sense of both emotion and place.
I have since ordered all her other books!
Reviewing novels is always a challenge, trying as you must to avoid giving the plot away, but there are two powerful central characters, as the title suggests, and by the end of the book you feel that the author has enabled you to get under the skin of both. There is much tension and threat throughout, and a real sense of mystery. This is an extraordinarily satisfying read.

The Room and the Chair
The Room and the Chair
by Lorraine Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.93

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed and disappointing, 26 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Room and the Chair (Paperback)
I bought this book having heard an intriguing interview with the author, a former Pulitzer prize-winning journalist; she clearly had some excellent ideas for a novel, but couldn't decide which was the important one and ended up following none of them through. The start is promising, and if that track alone had been resolved it might have made a good story, but after that it is a hopeless mishmash of plot lines going nowhere, cardboard characters that evoke little interest or sympathy, and a conclusion that is the ultimate cop-out. In total, I finished it because I couldn't believe it wouldn't improve - but in the end my hopes were dashed!

Draw Water and Other Things
Draw Water and Other Things
by Linda Nissen Samuels
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An artist reborn!, 11 Jun 2010
I am not a natural artist, in fact I can barely draw at all; at least I thought I couldn't until, quite by chance, I happened upon Draw Water and Other Things. Intrigued by the title I picked it up, looked through it briefly and later put pencil to paper; the results were astonishing, and though I shall never rival a serious artist I can now draw a number of things that I would have made a hash of before.
The system is effortless; you take basic, simple shapes that anyone can draw and then add to them until you have a mountain range, or a tree or a helicopter or an elephant or....the choice is huge.
More important than the response of a somewhat grizzled adult I gave a copy to my five year old grand-daughter, already well into colouring but not yet free drawing: she fell on the book with delight and has been devouring it, producing better and better pictures which she then lavishly colours.
Although this is not the sort of book I normally review on my website I cannot resist reviewing this one, in the hope that it may bring a new skill to those who, like me, had dismissed their artistic abilities, as well as being the means of giving a facility to children that will greatly enhance their childhood.

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