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Reviews Written by
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England)
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HP 364 Print Cartridge Combo Pack - (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
HP 364 Print Cartridge Combo Pack - (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Printer Basics
Price: £21.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Does what you'd expect, 2 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You can't really go too far wrong with a branded cartridge although they do work out quite expensive.


The Rocks
The Rocks
by Peter Nichols
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual backwards structure which made it very intriguing, 2 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Rocks (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are many books which tell the stories of families stretching back over several generations and this is one of those. I've always enjoyed this type of book but they do tend to follow a similar formula. I was attracted to this particular book by the promise of familiarity and the idea of some sunshine (I started the book in a cold February and the setting is Mallorca).
From the index you can see that this book is going to be different in that the dates of the sections run chronologically backwards - 2005, 1995, 1983, etc. The plot is then very interesting and I found myself reading very carefully to try to pick up all the hints about the past which may be explored further in later chapters.
The novel has a relaxing pace even though the gaps between sections are always many years and time passes quickly. The narrative is reminiscent of the Island - warm, dramatic and, sometimes, transient. The unusual time structure makes it very obvious that people come and go in life but there are always constants, with many here being guests who come back to the island every year.
It is a strange experience reading a story backwards. One particular character is introduced as she is dying but then is a major character in the next section (earlier in time of course). A couple of times I found myself flicking back to see the fall out of an event - all very intriguing.
Disappointingly, I found that the story lost its way towards the end and, when the big reveal happens, it felt that too much had been made of it throughout the whole book. Maybe the book could have benefitted from being 50 pages shorter but I did enjoy it regardless.


The Life and Loves of a He Devil: A Memoir
The Life and Loves of a He Devil: A Memoir
by Graham Norton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable to read and a good way into the personality, 2 Mar. 2015
There is no question that Graham Norton is a great tv presenter. Surprisingly though, for such a high profile figure, his private life isn't always in the press, so this book seemed a good chance to find out more about him.
Becoming 50 seems a good trigger to look back at your life and this is what he does. The book doesn't run chronologically (his autobiography did that I think), instead it puts together various memories and stories grouped into his particular passions which show aspects of his personality.
The chapters are entitled Dogs, Ireland, New York, etc and I think this loose structure allows the author to write in an easy going, comfortable style as if he were talking.
Obviously GN does have a showbiz lifestyle but he seems to strike a great balance between trying to believe that his life is somewhere near normal and not being able to believe that this is all happening to him.
The nature of the book leads to some repetition as the same events relate to multiple sections in the book, an example being when he left university. I wasn't sure about this when it started to happen as it seemed chaotic but quickly the repetition felt comfortable in the way that a conversation does where topics are often repeated for emphasis.
As expected with biographies, the book opens up the personality of the author and, here, that understanding leads to increased admiration. GN is very honest, spending plenty of time discussing his less appealing character traits (in particular his drinking habits) as well as all the fun times he has had - in fact, these are often connected!
I recently read an autobiography by Rev Richard Coles and found these books good to compare, both being gay men of a similar age who have lived very showbiz lives. I felt I learnt more about RRC from his book but thought that GN's book was more entertaining and fluffy - predictable reaction I guess?
And, by the way, I cried too at the letter he received into his problem page which he talks about towards the end of the book.


The Ice Twins
The Ice Twins
by S. K. Tremayne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some parts stretch the limits of plausibility but generally a very good novel, 22 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Ice Twins (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The question of how well you know your children is topical at the moment with the recent story of two Spanish babies who were swapped, by mistake, in hospital. After years of both mothers feeling something was wrong, the error has finally been discovered.
I love a good psychological thriller and this book has a great set up. They were a perfect family - lovely couple with gorgeous twin girls and great jobs living in London, then one twin dies in an accident, throwing the family into despair. They inherit a remote Scottish island and decide to start a new life in the hope that they can heal. There is, of course, an expectation that everything will get worse as getting better wouldn't make for a good book!
The characters are easy to engage with from the start and I felt huge empathy for their situation.
Structurally, the book is straightforward as it follows the plot chronologically. The story is told from two perspectives, Sarah and Angus, both of which seem to be unreliable in some way. Sarah's account is first person, full of thoughts and feelings, whereas Angus is third person and much more factual. The narrative swap between them is handled in a very subtle way and often you forget whose voice you are listening to.
Having established the characters and plot, the story develops into implausible territory which seems extreme. The confusion of identity is believeable but I was very unsure about how the parents handled it and the move to Scotland just seemed to add one too many complications. I loved the pace of the novel though and the atmosphere built well, working towards an end which I was not expecting.


The Night Circus
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't find anything to connect to, 18 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Night Circus (Paperback)
I tend to avoid fantasy books and was cautious when this was chosen as my book club read. It starts well though and I was intrigued by the two Victorian gentlemen selecting apprentices for some sort of magical challenge. Unsurprisingly, as the pupils develop they find their own ideas and passions, not always in line with their tutors.
The great part of this novel is the circus and the descriptions of it. It could imagine myself wandering through the tents and deciding which one to explore - that is the beautiful fairy tale side to the book.
The author then seems to have made a decision to make the fairy tale suitable for adults by wrapping the circus in an overcomplicated plot which twists around and ends up achieving nothing at all.
Structurally, the book works with the chapters jumping forward gradually, although I was never quite sure why Bailey's story had to run in a different time.
I just got bored with the relationship between Marco and Celia which is a major part of the plot. If you love each other then you find a way, if you don't then you have to do something else. All the ethereal histrionics really didn't add anything to the novel.
There is good in this book (I admired the way that the author handled the cross over from fantasy to the real world without any worries about rules) but I couldn't find any connection and didn't really care what happened to the circus or its character. Without the engagement then the book failed for me.


The Value of Culture: On the Relationship between Economics and Arts: On the Relationship Between Economics and the Arts
The Value of Culture: On the Relationship between Economics and Arts: On the Relationship Between Economics and the Arts
by Arjo Klamer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas presented in an academic way, 16 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
At the time I bought this I was working on an essay which explored how the value of art is effected by the world around it.
This book provided plenty of ideas which then gave me some starting points for exploration.
The narrative is presented in a pretty dry way though so I would only recommend this book specifically for further academic research.


Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm Stain - Elusive
Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm Stain - Elusive
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful lip balm in a pleasant spring colour, 16 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This product is packaged like a pen - it has a lid and the lipstick comes up in the middle of the container, looking like a thick crayon. The plastic packaging mean that it will be fine mixed up with all the other stuff in my handbag.
When i first tried it I was disappointed as the colour did not show much - you have to think of it as a lip balm with colour rather than a lipstick then its quite a nice product. It has a moisturising finish which is lovely and smooth.
Compare it to other lip balms and this product scores favourably as the colour lasts much longer than other lip balms, although still needs applying fairly regularly to keep the colour topped up.
The colour is pinky which feels great for spring...


5 x 100W 78mm Tungsten Linear R7s Halogen floodlight J78 security light bulb Long Life Lamp Company brand
5 x 100W 78mm Tungsten Linear R7s Halogen floodlight J78 security light bulb Long Life Lamp Company brand
Offered by Strictly Lamps
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Seem to be better than previous, similar, bulbs, 16 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm impressed with these bulbs. We've got uplighters which seem to have gone through bulbs at frequent intervals since being installed.
I decided to try Amazon to see what they had to offer and these seemed to fit the bill.
The first one has been in for a few weeks now and no problems - so all good so far.


At the Water's Edge
At the Water's Edge
by Sara Gruen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Characters not perfect but an enjoyable read, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: At the Water's Edge (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A newly married, high society couple from the US decide to come to Scotland with a friend to search for the Loch Ness monster. They travel in January 1945 with WW2 still raging and find themselves in a nation struggling with rations, blackouts and gas masks.
The idea of the story is great and the author spends plenty of time setting the story by highlighting lots of contrasts between New York and Drumnadrochit, where they stay. The locations are very clear and the "fish out of water" metaphor works well. Its the characters that don't work quite so well - they come to life straightaway but are mostly too extreme and stereotyped, quickly losing their initial impact (why do Americans always have to be brash and Scots always have to be dour?).
I found though that half way through the book the story kicked in properly and from that point onwards it was a delightful read.


A Robot In The Garden
A Robot In The Garden
by Deborah Install
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle look at artificial intelligence, 4 Feb. 2015
This review is from: A Robot In The Garden (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having a robot in your garden sounds unlikely in our world. In this novel though, a parallel world is created where a robot is considered to be no more than a nuisance.
The writing style is lovely, bringing together the familiar and unfamiliar in a very natural way. Particularly enjoyable is the way the author describes set ups - I loved the idea of dust living on the top of books and then emerging every day for a wander about.
It's nowhere near to science fiction and the setting is completely familiar but every so often you are knocked out of a comfort zone by a reference to androids, robots or drones being used in day to day life.
AI is the topic of the moment. Lots of people (scientists and many others) are talking about it and options are being explored in various films (Her and Ex Machina as examples). There is also talk of the Turing test which looks at a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavious equivalent to that of a human being. This novel takes a view of the possibilities.
Whilst there is a technological aspect to the novel, it is primarily about relationships - Ben/Tang, Amy/Tang, Ben/Amy and many more. It looks at how AI can effect us all.
The book is a fairly easy read but does touch on some heavy topics.


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