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Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom)
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The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars `Throw the book on the fire and be done with it' muses Theo, contemplating suicide, well, I was tempted! but glad I didn't..., 30 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
Like the Ancient Mariner, Theo Decker has an Albatross around his neck. Just a Goldfinch though, for his burden, a bird a fraction of that size. Eleven years in construction, an eye achingly lengthy 864 pages spent in this very mixed up chap's company, was a long haul, a marathon of reading. Halfway through, with the paperback at last spread open making it easier to turn the pages; there is still another whole book's worth left. Weirdly though, at the end, I could have gone on longer, enjoyed the consequences of the finale, seen into the future further. Apparently 44% of readers give up on this book, as I had done myself when it first came out. This month, being our book club choice, I really went for it and I am grateful that I did. Going back to read the start again was interesting, giving deeper meaning to the events around the terrorist bomb, ('Behind the Scenes at the Museum') and the things said at the time by the dying man Theo stayed with. Yes, you could well read it twice.

Hypnotic, addictive, I was on edge from the word go, trying to work out motivations, dangers, and hidden agendas. Those of the duplicitous dad, the stoned step mum, and the kindly old bachelor furniture restorer, and the two male friends of his own age Theo makes. Street kid Boris being definitely a bad boy, unstable influence, lurching from crisis to crisis with misplaced but empowering confidence, capable of anything, even if only in his teens when we meet him. Nerdy Andy Barbour in his lavish apartment with his uptight family, quite the opposite.

Hacking my way through the forest of bad choices, secretively pursued, unadorned by any social nicety; tediously endless self-prescribed pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, dope, heavy drink just to get drunk, all self-destructive behaviour, was depressing. Chilling nightmare passages of illness, feverish and fantastical dreams, waking confusion, and the adrenaline fuelled flashes of imminent danger pepper the pages. `Vodka and vomit' as another reviewer so neatly put it. Horrors, devils permanently poking him, Theo is in hell on earth. `A spoiled, dirty life' as he calls it, he seems dead from the inside, haunted by that terrible feeling of having committed an unforgiveable crime, and being unable to admit to, or deal with it.

Shining through is the pure feeling Theo has of love for his lost mother; later replicated in his attraction and life long yearning for Pippa, the girl he meets that fateful day at the museum. When he meets and links up with Hobie, the determination to keep him away from the bad parts of Theo's life show how Theo can be careful of people, thoughtful and responsible. These are the clean feelings that beam out from the book, together with the real respect and concern for the wellbeing of The Goldfinch, wherever it might be. Lastly but more endearingly, he bonds with and takes on a little dog, Popper, previously mistreated by his step mum, and keeps it close throughout the book. This theme was beautifully written, as was so much else of course.

Theo is self educated, cultured, sensitive, wise beyond his years, he reads widely, observes and takes in everything Hobie quietly teaches him, becoming an antiques expert, with astonishing recall. I felt for him when shopping for his wedding registry, being asked to approve expensive shiny new crockery when he knew he could find whole sets in funeral sales that had far more beauty and worth.

Boris, when he re-emerges as a grown man is tough to figure out. He keeps taking stuff away in his car, including poor old Popper, and a precious passport. You can't help think the worst of him at times, he is difficult to follow, however, his final Christmas Day flourish was spectacular, explanations not coming out fast enough for the reader or poor ravaged Theo. Tension was hugely ramped up for that revelation.

Understandably such an unwieldy work throws up confusion, I thought that Mrs. Barbour admitted to knowing Hobie from the antique shop, but when Theo explains later that he is in partnership with him she doesn't. The camel hair coat, rendered useless and stained, sodden and hopeless, suddenly becomes able to warm him in the cold hotel room as he waits for Boris. Maybe I am wrong, overly picky, but such blips show me that editing was kept to a minimum, as if I hadn't already realised that by the book's bulk and rambling riffs. I am also uncertain exactly when this was set because there is no mention of a laptop computer/tablet/ipad/smart phone,; just cell phones, although Theo endlessly researched things on the internet. In Amsterdam he worried away at the Dutch newspaper reports which I translated myself in moments, with Google Translate... Maybe he forgot his device!

Pages I loved were 527, 536 572, and 810 when dreams of desertion, destruction and dereliction of duty were exquisitely painful and poignant. All worth another pass over for deeper understanding.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2015 3:11 PM BST


Charles Wilson Clothing "Heritage" Premium Jersey Cotton Polo Shirt
Charles Wilson Clothing "Heritage" Premium Jersey Cotton Polo Shirt
Offered by Charles Wilson Clothing
Price: £17.95

5.0 out of 5 stars The wine dark seas, warm summer breezes, you'll need a comfy shirt for sail or pub, walk or work..., 28 Mar. 2015
Waterloo Red, worn by the Red Lancers at that famous Battle, is an old and honourable colour, not pillar box shouty colour, but a darker, softer, perhaps appropriately, Merlot hue.

This is a most becoming shade, kind to the complexion and warm to the eye. The ample length of this top will ensure it never works its way out of your waistband or worn free over jeans or chinos, will always maintain your dignity and coziness.

The velvety feel of this Heritage 'Premium' polo lasts through washing, wearing and working. The top pocket will be handy for your hanky, tickets, cards, or maybe your glasses. A knitted self coloured collar has a two button opening - a couple of monogrammed mother of pearl twinklies to brighten the look.

As with all Charles Wilson clothes there are not faults to be found, quality control is up to speed, the garments are extremely good value and can take you anywhere in style. Thank you Charles Wilson for sending this for us to review.


Charles Wilson Clothing "Heritage" Premium Pique Cotton Polo Shirt
Charles Wilson Clothing "Heritage" Premium Pique Cotton Polo Shirt
Offered by Charles Wilson Clothing
Price: £17.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Top of the Range, 28 Mar. 2015
The Heritage range of Charles Wilson clothing is superb quality. Soft, tightly knitted cotton, this all over navy has that touch of class, it could go anywhere with confidence. The front opening has two mother of pearl, white, monogrammed buttons, and with one button closed you will look at ease, relaxed, approachable.

For our family it is the softness of the shirt against your skin, the garment's generous length and properly tidy look that wins the day.

Under a blazer/jacket, worn on sunny spring or summer day, these shorts will always make you feel well dressed, confident and at ease. Many will wear them to work, they are professional in style, easy to launder, generally reliable and popular - my husband put his straight on and is more than happy to recommend this item which was sent to us by Charles Wilson to review.


Charles Wilson Clothing Pique Cotton Contrast Polo Shirt
Charles Wilson Clothing Pique Cotton Contrast Polo Shirt
Offered by Charles Wilson Clothing
Price: £14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Wilson Polos are the tops, 28 Mar. 2015
My husband always wears Polo shirts, and this one really fits perfectly; he is an XL, at just under 13 stone, 6'1 and straight up and down. If you have a tummy you might need XXL. L is fine for the younger man, our son is also 6' and a bit lighter so the L size is ideal for him.

Black doesn't seem a natural choice but I can assure you it looks great on. The white placket in the collar/ button opening is a brightening touch and very flattering. For my chaps the generosity of the length is ideal, it is really irritating having to keep tucking in short shirts and if you wear it outside your jeans, chinos, then the longer length creates a slim, tall look.

Overall is the the amazing quality of these clothes that stands out. Don't be fooled by the bargain price, these clothes are made to last, they wash wonderfully and every seam is enclosed, tidy and well made.

Thank you Charles Wilson for sending us these items to review.


Charles Wilson Clothing Jersey Cotton Striped Polo Shirt
Charles Wilson Clothing Jersey Cotton Striped Polo Shirt
Offered by Charles Wilson Clothing
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the ticket for the weekend or relaxed work day wear., 28 Mar. 2015
Honestly these superb Charles Wilson polo shirts should be on a buy quick flash sale sign, Black Friday style deal, they are such a bargain.

There is just no excuse for not being well dressed, tidy and comfortable in your everyday clothes when Charles Wilson is around to help.

The jersey is weighty in feel, no chance of sticking to you and looking cheap, the attention to sewing detail is top class, all seams and plackets professionally tailored, not a loose thread or badly sewn seam to be seen. Three neat, monogrammed mother of pearl buttons at the neck, dress up or dress down, it's up to you.

Purple, grey, white dark blue and light blue graduated stripes, ribbed collar and cuffs in navy, all look attractive. The cut is especially welcome for being long in the body, more flattering.

I really like the label too, weirdly enough, the design is of a palm tree, and dinghy on the beach, imparting a relaxed, holiday feel. Thank you Charles Wilson for sending us this item to review.


SOUND INTONE i50 3.5m Plug Foldable Stereo Headphones with Microphone & 1.5m Flat Cable (Black)
SOUND INTONE i50 3.5m Plug Foldable Stereo Headphones with Microphone & 1.5m Flat Cable (Black)
Offered by PNO
Price: £21.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward headphones that deliver a good sound, 28 Mar. 2015
These are quite basic headphones, the very shiny black version which I was sent for review are perfectly adequate and give a fine sound, good for gaming at entry level. The control on the flat lead is quite near high up the lead, you have to get to know where it is and take your hand from the keyboard to reach up towards your left ear touse it, which makes me wonder why bother when you can control things from the keyboard, and are most likely right handed.

The colour versions are more jolly and fun than the Henry Ford black ones, more to my taste to be cheerful.

The phones are light enough to wear for a while although I was aware of the adjustable, wide, flat 'head' band between them bearing down a bit. You can fold them together which you would need to as they are traditional in size, even closed they are quite a handful.

I do like the clarity of the sound and the soft padding around the ear. They are however plasticky, brittle and cheap in feel though; sorry not to be nicer about these as I was sent them for review by the manufacturer/agent.


Ocean Worlds: The story of seas on Earth and other planets
Ocean Worlds: The story of seas on Earth and other planets
by Jan Zalasiewicz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Read it with a notebook to hand, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Picked this up because my daughter is a diver, husband a commercial fisherman, son now a tug master and we are all interested in Oceanography - but it's in no way limited to that.  Even in the first few pages, you're up to eyes on astronomy, physics, geography, geology, cell biology and chemistry as the authors consider the story of water, pretty much across the whole universe. 

It's a heavy read but worth at least skimming through for the gems that occasionally emerge from its sometimes murky depths.  Did you know for example, the if the earth was an apple, the oceans go no deeper than its skin? and that one of the first people to map the ocean depths as a woman, Marie Tharp, who as a female in the 1950s was not allowed on a ship and hence just made her drawings from data sent back to her on shore!

It's a heavy read if you're not a regular devourer of scientific texts but persist, keep a notebook handy and don't get too depressed by the chapter on how our oceans will eventually dry up.  

I enjoyed picking my way through it but could not have made it cover to cover - and don't think I'll be diving on Mars any time soon...


Braun Silk Epil 7 7-561 Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator with 6 Extras
Braun Silk Epil 7 7-561 Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator with 6 Extras
Price: £84.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Get ready for summer with smooth skin, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It takes a small amount of courage to use an epilator, especially for the first time. This model makes it less scary and almost a pleasure.

The Braun epilator was easy to set up out of the box with clear instructions. The device feels substantial, but not too heavy in the hand.

The built in light is a good feature, especially if your bathroom does not have lots of natural light.

You can use it wet or dry, but it works better wet in the shower or bath.

The battery charges quickly- about an hour - but needs recharging after 40 minutes of use which equates to perhaps two long sessions or several short ones, so keep the charging cable handy if you are travelling.

The epilator comes with a useful range of attachments, all designed to work at varying levels of sensitivity depending on the part of the body. It's easy to switch between the different heads.

This is the best epilator I have used. Highly recommended.


Olay Regenerist Luminous Brightening Moisturiser Cream SPF20 50ml
Olay Regenerist Luminous Brightening Moisturiser Cream SPF20 50ml
Offered by LH Beauty
Price: £19.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps try a sample before you buy, 27 Mar. 2015
The product - Olay, Regenerist Luminous brightening and protecting cream, arrived in a slim, 15cm, 5 1/2 inch high pump action rigid tube.

The cream goes on easily, a slim string of the product emerges from the pump nozzle. It has hardly any scent, and does have some ground pearl like luminosity, always a bonus. Having that twinkle helps bring your face to life, enhances a tan or livens up a paler winter complexion. Being SPF 20 you could trust it to look after your skin in the sun, whatever time of year. I am in my sixties and daily moisturising has been de rigeur for many years.

It takes eight weeks we are told, for the full effect to be noticed. Dark spots, they say, will be seen to fade and perhaps gradually disappear. These claims are supported by large proportions of testers, with the improvements appearing from first use onwards. If you follow the instructions and smooth it evenly over entire cleansed face and neck morning and evening I doubt you would have anything like enough potion to last eight weeks.

I don't mind so much about lavish promises, a moisturiser in itself, particularly with sun protection, is a good enough idea. I think this might be a little inflammatory for sensitive skin as I felt a caustic like glow after using it rather than a calming sensation, which came as rather an unwelcome surprise. I think it might be trying too hard to lighten the skin tone in order to fade the dark spots.

Unless you truly believe the promises this cream makes, and need those results especially, I think another one of their products might be more pleasant to rub on, and give better value.

I do trust Ulay/Olay and have always find their products helpful, as well as the Boots Number 7 lift and illuminate range which is extremely good.


Blaupunkt 23-Inch Widescreen HD Ready LED TV with DVD and Freeview - Black
Blaupunkt 23-Inch Widescreen HD Ready LED TV with DVD and Freeview - Black
Price: £119.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly grown up small tv/dvd, 27 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to replace a white Toshiba tv/dvd that broke in less than two years, when out of guarantee. So I couldn't bring myself to repeat buy that one again and turned to a different manufacturer, Blaupunkt. I needed a dvd playing tv for a guest bedroom.

This model is fine and dandy but has a hidden on and off button under the screen to the right, a sea-saw type switch that you have to feel for. OK if only family use this, and get to know its little ways, but for a guest bedroom you may be tempted to leave the white plastic sticker that shows where to look for it on the case. A bit distracting from the shiny black exterior. Why make life difficult. You could just unplug it when not in use. A red light glows when it is connected and standing by.

The range of programmes available, tv and radio is dazzling, there is an on screen guide that s easy to access. The remote is robust and clearly marked up. The dvd operation is simple and no wobble is discernible when the the disc is playing. The picture is crisp and clear, the sound seems pretty good at a reasonable level of volume. We plan to secure the base to the cabinet as it could be easily knocked over because of it's light weight.

The new usual connecting wires are enclosed to show pictures, play movies from a camera etc. Rather like the computer monitor it so closely resembles!


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