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A. Hunt "book review watcher" (Glasgow, Scotland)
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A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 (Knausgaard)
A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 (Knausgaard)
by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic detail, 3 Mar. 2015
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I can see how easily this becomes addictive reading. It's good. Really gripping. But why? Is there a sort of Big Brother thing going on here? I'll be reading further volumes because I've enjoyed it and want to know how K O's life develops. And yet I feel as though it's almost more like a blend of therapy and nostalgia than literature.
Recommended, anyway!


A First Book of Nature
A First Book of Nature
by Nicola Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Nature's finest, 3 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: A First Book of Nature (Paperback)
I'm one of the many fans of this lovely book. I've bought several copies for friends with kids of the appropriate ages (quite a broad age group, too). But I secretly like flipping through it myself!


Paris Kiss
Paris Kiss
Price: £3.79

5.0 out of 5 stars For art and love, 3 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Paris Kiss (Kindle Edition)
A very satisfying re-imagining of the young lives of sculptors Jessie Lipscomb and Camille Claudel, who forged a strong bond in the studio of Rodin as they started out on their quest to become artists in their own right. No easy task in the 19th C, despite their prodigious talent and skills, but they had plenty of fun trying, living in the heady atmosphere of Paris, with its risqué haunts and colourful characters. All is well until Camille becomes Rodin's lover – a state of affairs that will be her eventual undoing.

It's not just the story itself but the relationships, choices and dilemmas that are compelling in this novel. You could be forgiven for wondering how much has really changed, in some ways. Women's friendships coming under threat from the jealousies of love affairs, and their work taken less seriously than that of their male colleagues.

A lovely book, and especially a good one for holiday reading.


The Four Marys: A Quartet of Contemporary Folk Tales
The Four Marys: A Quartet of Contemporary Folk Tales
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myth, music, magic, 17 Jan. 2015
These novellas are haunting and passionate, credible but magical, moving from the joyful to the dark side, sometimes in a single blow. From the retelling of a long-standing selkie legend to a surprising story linking a modern woman with the ladies-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, whose story she is researching – these are engaging stories, well told. Motherhood comes through as a connecting theme, but it's seen from very different perspectives through the eyes of our four Marys (Mariana, Mhairi, Mara, Mercedes).


The Woods
The Woods
Price: £3.66

3.0 out of 5 stars At his best, he's fast and furious and full of twists ..., 17 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Woods (Kindle Edition)
I probably need a bit of a break from reading Coben. At his best, he's fast and furious and full of twists and turns. But as I was reading this, it felt a bit formulaic, a bit samey, and I certainly don't think it's his best.

It's all relative, though. He IS a good plotter and he knows the mechanics of how to build the tension and keep surprising his readers. The only trouble is, once you've read a few, you start getting pretty good at guessing what the twist in the tail is going to be.


A Book of Death and Fish
A Book of Death and Fish
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It's as if I've known him all along, 17 Jan. 2015
This may be a long book, but its pages go by all too quickly. When you've turned the last one, despite the many words, you're left with the feeling that so much has been conveyed in what was not said, as much as what was explicit.

We read the details in moments, stories, impressions, the whole adding up to a feeling that we've got to know Peter as if he's family, or else a long-standing close friend, and we miss him when it's all over. We grieve with him when he loses family and friends, and we're happy for his good times – and ultimately we'll be grieving for him, too. We hang out with him sometimes when nothing in particular is happening, just like we do in life: maybe that's part of why it all feels so authentic. The subject at any given moment may be boats or fish or recipes or some detail of a history lesson at school or a remembered island iincident (like the Iolaire disaster – still in living memory for some of the characters). It may be granny's courting days or Peter's father's weaving or banter in the coastguard station or some incident in the war or just in the school playground. The tides and currents and the elements, the ever-present seas rocking and rolling at the end of the road or underneath the boat. We can almost smell the salt in the air.

Despite the language being unusual, I soon got into it and found it became familiar, though it jumped about from being song-like and poetic to plain and down-to-earth; rhythmic and flowing sometimes, or else sort of bumpy. Maybe some of the words are made up, or maybe not, but the meanings are clear enough.

If you want to read a book that will give you a flavour of Lewis and island life and landscapes (and seascapes), or one that will take you back to the second half of the 20th century in familiar details, look no further. It's all here. It's addictive, too. I feel like I found a new friend, not just read a book. Great writing.


The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
Price: £6.78

5.0 out of 5 stars The old ways are the good ways, 17 Jan. 2015
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This is an absolute favourite book that I often return to - sometimes just re-reading snippets when I'm in the particular mood to visit the place again, or return to a walking pace and contemplative mindset when life has become too pressured, too fast, too speeded-up to notice things or relax.

The language Macfarlane uses is beautiful, and the ideas expressed vary from simple and direct to quite complex and abstract. Having done some long walks (multiple days on a long trail), I recognise the way my own thinking loops between these modes when a certain amount of time has elapsed at a walker's pace: thinking of the elements and being warm or cold, or being thirsty, or some other practicality, but also being aware of the old pack-horse bridge, an ancient group of standing stones, other human landmarks from times past, the glory of a view or the patterns in the sky, a glimpse of rare wildlife or a carpet of wildflowers, and perhaps sensing that you've just shared the inspiration for a poet, writer or artist who's been here before. So as well as being so well-written, the words resonate and ring true.

Highly recommended for yourself but also a nice book to buy someone as a gift, as it's one to treasure.


Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking
Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking
by Rich Landau
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Good inspiration for veggie/vegan dishes, 17 Jan. 2015
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Some lovely recipes here, and it's a mouthwatering book to browse. Not so easy to find some of the veggies or other ingredients here, though. It's a case of looking through for recipes to inspire some sort of similar version, mostly. It would have been nice to see a few more recipes: the collection is fairly slight. I'd like to visit the restaurant next time I'm anywhere remotely near enough to make the trip.


Ring of Bright Water [1969] [DVD]
Ring of Bright Water [1969] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bill Travers
Price: £4.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Bright maybe, but not very true, 16 Jan. 2015
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This is a lovely story, and I'm a huge fan of the original Gavin Maxwell book. But the ethics have completely dated, and we know that the portrayal in the film is 'Hollywooded up' and is far from being true to Maxwell's life. It's not so much the filming, acting or direction that I mean here, but the attitudes towards human relationships (heterosexuality being the only option) and to nature and conservation. It's still a classic, and the book is still one of my favourites, but the film will reveal a world much changed, and for the better in so many ways. So, yes, enjoy the otter fix, but the idea of buying your otter in a pet shop, putting it in a cage and on a lead and trying to keep it as a domesticated pet, more or less, and thinking that's all for the love of the natural world, is pretty dodgy on quite a few levels! And the relationship side of it all is just sad.


The Corrections
The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Corrections? None required, 16 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Corrections (Paperback)
I've gone back to this book after reading it and loving it - actually being blown away by it - when it was first released. I was prompted to pick it up again by the Radio 4 serialisation, which I've been enjoying even though it's quite heavily abridged.

This book may be dark, and sometimes painfully so, but the home truths about family and relationships come thick and fast, and they're often funny, too. But as well as those universals of family life, generational and sibling clashes, strains within marriage over how to bring up the kids, the horrors of contemplating the indignities of twilight years when illness is involved, and so on, there's a whole lot of commentary on wider society at the start of the new millennium, and lots of detail on the specifics.

The acuteness of observation is astonishing, and what amazes me even more is that it seems hardly to have dated in the decade and a half since it was written (except maybe for those hipsters who are so far ahead of the rest of the world that they're not part of mainstream culture!) For example, in the first part of the book, narrated by Chip, the Latvian website job still sounds quite relevant (let's face it, most of us didn't know any Java and html back then - we had only just discovered Google search! - so how can this be?), and there are hints of a precursor to Kickstartr, and in the next section there's an IPO surrounded by what's clearly the kind of sharp Wall Street practices (illegal and/or immoral) that would later kick off the world recession... and so on.

In short, this is a book not to miss. It's a masterpiece of fiction and I think certainly one of the top few books of its generation.


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