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Myriam Ickx (Bousval, Belgium)
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Call the Midwife - Series 1-3 [DVD]
Call the Midwife - Series 1-3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jessica Raine
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £9.65

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a delightful program to watch, 13 Mar. 2015
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I kept seeing "Call the Midwife" in my TV program but had no idea what it was about. Then, at the beginning of series 4, I decided to give it a try and watch an episode. Right from the start, I was quite taken, to the point that I just had to buy this box-set to know more about the main characters and how their stories developed. I am now in the middle of season 3, whilst having watched season 4 on TV (sometimes, I got a bit mixed-up, I confess). I love everything: the kindness and professionalism of the nuns and the midwives, the very realistic situations in which mothers give birth, the attention to detail of the props, and the atmosphere of a very poor neighborhood at the time. To me, it has been educational as well as entertaining, and I will not delay long in buying season 4. I really admire the BBC for putting on shows of such quality; you Brits are lucky (I'm Belgian and watching you from Belgium, no way our national TV would have the means or the inspiration to create anything like this)!


The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dona Tartt again not at her best..., 18 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
When "The Goldfinch" was first published, I read so many bad reviews that, having been strongly disappointed by Dona Tartt's earliest opus "The Little Friend", I decided not to buy or read it. Then, a dear friend of mine received this book as a gift, read it and liked it a lot, and lent it to me, urging me to read it. So I did.
Some reviewers criticized the book for being too long. Personally, I don't mind; I tend to read fast, so I like very thick books, where I feel I can spend some time with the characters, they become like familiar friends and I like to go along with them and learn what is happening in their lives. Theo, in this sense, is a very endearing person, wrecked by his mother's terrible death, struggling to adapt to life with the Barbours (great description of the psyches of the whole family, especially Mrs Barbour), and all this to be ultimately torn from this family and his beloved New York by his irresponsible father who dumps him in Las Vegas. Contrary to some reviewers, I liked the Las Vegas part of the book and did not think it was too long or meaningless: the contrast between the life in NY and in those gloomy deserted suburbs is very aptly described and full of atmosphere. Intriguing, too, and essential for the rest of the book, is the unlikely friendship that Theo strikes immediately with Boris,, crucial for the rest of the story.
Later on, our Theo returns to NY and goes to live and work with Hobie, a charming man and wizard craftsman. There is also the frustrating love of Theo for Pippa, this marvelous and elusive young girl: how sweet would it have been to see those two together, in love with each other.
So far, so good.
But, after about 600 pages, Ms Tartt does not seem to really know how to bring the book to a satisfying conclusion, and that's where the story takes a very different, and to me, totally wrong turn: doubtful and obnoxious Russian, Ukrainian and German characters start to sprout like mushrooms from every other page, the story turns into a sort of bad US thriller series, complete with a depressing depiction of Amsterdam, mysterious meetings, even more mysterious bad guys popping up from nowhere, a shooting in a garage, Boris disappearing from the picture (no pun intended!) entirely for days and reappearing with a totally unlikely and very sketchy story of a ring of art thieves dismantled in Germany, invaluable paintings recovered and returned to their rightful owners, big reward, etc: all is well that ends well. The ending being wrapped up in a few pages of Theo's philosophical considerations about art, love, etc, which sound as a contrived effort from Ms Tartt to give her work a kind of literary flavor.
To summarize, although I found it hard at times to empathize with Theo (especially his drug abuse, of which we are spared no detail), I was happy for him when he was able to leave Las Vegas and return to NY to live with Hobie. But then, the story started to be more and more laborious and showed a total lack of direction, to the point of incoherence. Overall, I was disappointed with this book, but not surprised given Dona Tartt's failures at a good story in "The Little Friend". If she ever produces a fourth book 10 years from today, I do not intend to even give it a try. And I think I'm fairly generous in giving her 3 stars instead of 2.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2015 2:46 PM GMT


Por Kwan Chilli Paste with Sweet Basil Leaves 200 g (Pack of 6)
Por Kwan Chilli Paste with Sweet Basil Leaves 200 g (Pack of 6)

5.0 out of 5 stars Try it with beef!, 29 Nov. 2014
I haven't bought this sauce on Amazon yet, but I will! I used to buy it in a Chinese supermarket in downtown Brussels, but they don't carry this brand anymore so... I use it to do a stir-fry with about 1/2 kg of sliced beef, two sliced red pepperoni for the color, and an onion. I add about 3/4 of a jar of sauce, and serve it with jasmine rice. It is of course rather spicy, but that's how I like it, and the basil adds its special flavor. Some brands are just hot, but this one has a unique perfume and richness of texture. If you like something tasty and authentically Thai, just try it!


Plants behaving Badly [ 2014 ] David Attenborough
Plants behaving Badly [ 2014 ] David Attenborough
Dvd ~ David Attenborough
Offered by RAREWAVES
Price: £11.26

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behaving badly? No, cunningly!, 18 Nov. 2014
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Although this is not one of Sir David's most exciting documentaries (he doesn't appear on screen, just comments the images), it is certainly worth viewing. The DVD is twofold, with one chapter on carnivorous plants and one on orchids. I found the part on the carnivorous plants the more interesting. I knew a very little bit about the subject, but was impressed by the variety of these plants and their sometimes highly complex strategies for feeding - complex since, sometimes, these plants are not directly carnivorous, they just need some outside help to ingest the bits of nourishment fallen into their traps. Most impressive was of course the giant pitcher plants found only on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu in the Malaysian part of Borneo.

The chapter on the orchids is also educational, though: first, it shows their incredible diversity in shapes and colors, and in particular explains in detail their incredibly complex and difficult mode of reproduction. I had no idea that orchids produced seeds (silly me, isn't it?), nor that it was so difficult for them to germinate. Quite a challenge, and yet they have managed to spread over the world, since many British and alpine orchids are shown, along with an evocation of Darwin's study of them.

All in all, both educational and beautiful, if sometimes a bit monstrous... I gave it 4 stars only, just because dear Sir David did not show his face - forgive me this coquetry!


Awakening
Awakening
by Sharon Bolton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awakening for me, to an author I didn't know at all but whom I liked very much!, 1 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Awakening (Paperback)
I don't know how I came to buy this book; actually, I think I'd been searching for something else with the same title, and I ended up reading my first book by Sharon Bolton. It was so gripping I couldn't let this book down, I even kept reading snatches in advance to see how the plot would develop! What I liked especially was the unusual main character: Clara,a wildlife vet, disfigured, wounded by life and almost misanthropic, not at all the type you would expect in a crime novel; then the crime weapons: poisonous snakes! On top of enjoying myself a lot with this book, I learned a lot about British snakes. This is certainly not the last book I will read by Sharon Bolton. I enjoyed it immensely and would heartily recommend it.


The Little Friend
The Little Friend
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A novel, maybe, but no story, 28 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Little Friend (Paperback)
If you are looking for an exciting story of two children, unlikely friends, spending their summer finding who murdered the older brother of one of them and taking revenge on him, this is not the book for you. There is no story in this book. When "The Goldfinch" was released, I found out, to my delight, that Dona Tartt had written another book since "The Secret History", and I immediately bought it. What a disappointment! What a letdown! Virtually nothing happens in this book. True, the descriptions of this steamy South, of the dying town of Alexandria parched under the sun, of the boredom of endless summer days, give the novel a lot of atmosphere and you can really feel the heat on your skin - but, apart from that, nothing much happens. In truth, the novel is about Harriet, about the last summer of her childhood, about the dwindling away of her friendship with shallow, sunny Hely, and, as she has a glimpse of how she will be for her whole life, one cannot help feeling sorry for her: unloved, unlovable, unloving.


Just One Evil Act: An Inspector Lynley Novel: 15
Just One Evil Act: An Inspector Lynley Novel: 15
by Elizabeth George
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How ludicrous can Havers become?, 2 Jan. 2014
... Or should I say Ms George? I have so far been a faithful reader and enthusiastic fan of Ms George's novels involving Linley, Havers et al. But this story was so unnecessarily convoluted, unrealistic, impossible to believe, peopled with such caricatures of characters, that I ended up feeling quite disgusted by the whole stuff. Havers love-sick about Pr Hazhar, going to the most far-fetched extremities to save him, to the point of throwing her career overboard - and then the "hey-presto" finale of Ardery saving Havers' skin (why the sudden change of heart?) by "confirming" her secret assignment to undertake all sorts of weird investigations in order to confound and get rid of D.I. Stewart - how more ridiculous can you get? Oh yes, and the icing on the cake: as the story between Havers and Hazhar/Haddiyah was obviously going nowhere since several episodes, let's just get rid of those two by packing them off to Pakistan, never to return; that'll be one complication less in Havers' empty sentimental life. I only mention for the sake of completeness the tedious, repetitious, clichéd descriptions of Havers' physical appearance, her lack of fashion, her bad manners, etc.

There was just too much of her and too little of D.I. Linley, who had a very minimal role in this act (all the better for him, I think), and seemed to be watching the action from the bleachers, provided he understood anything about the rules of this game.

I'll think twice before buying the next instalment; I'm going to re-read the old ones instead. As I remember, they, at least, made sense.


Rise of the Continents [DVD]
Rise of the Continents [DVD]
Dvd ~ Professor Iain Stewart
Price: £6.99

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enlightening, enthusiastic and... chilling perpsectives, 10 July 2013
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This review is from: Rise of the Continents [DVD] (DVD)
I just saw the complete series on BBC, and I have found very illuminating the animations describing the drifts of the continents to be from the original Pangaea. I also found very interesting the episode about Africa and the explanation of its tormented relief. The enthusiasm of Stewart swimming on the brim of the Victoria Falls was infectious! Like your reviewer Mister G, I had the opportunity to travel to Indonesia and climb 6 volcanoes, among which the Rinjani in Lombok. This was around 1991, and the pictures I took at the time show landscapes that no longer exist... What is chilling, but not to happen for the near future (!), is how the continents will eventually move back together again and form a new sort of Pangaea.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 18, 2013 8:08 PM BST


Tigerlily's Orchids
Tigerlily's Orchids
by Ruth Rendell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Be prepared for a huge disapppointment, 9 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Tigerlily's Orchids (Paperback)
I like Ruth Rendell's books so much that I buy them literally literary "blindfolded". I am never disappointed. Not so much luck with this one! A bunch of dysfonctial neighbours, with no one to redeem the others, living through one or two murders, or should I see living next to the crimes and exchanging pointless alcoholic remarks. Future readers, be prepared for your disappointed and much beloved Ruth Rendell!


BBC Natural History Collection Box Set [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
BBC Natural History Collection Box Set [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Price: £24.00

2 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many negative reviews about the poor quality..., 20 May 2012
... about the poor quality of the BR edition. Having already some of the boxes in normal DVD format, I don't see the advantage of buying the BR discs if this if not an improvement to the DVD edition.
I rated this one star only to be able to give my opinion after having read many bad reviews on this topic, both about the BB natural History Box Set and the Wild China box, which I am really the most interested in. I based my decision about not buying Wild China after having read many comments on the above.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2016 8:16 PM BST


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