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Sandford "Sandy" (Kent, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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AmazonBasics Waterproof Car Bench Seat Cover
AmazonBasics Waterproof Car Bench Seat Cover

4.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy Protection For Your Car, 27 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was mainly concerned about the sturdiness of the cloth, that it wouldn’t tear with scrabbling claws of Callum struggling to get into the car, but it has stood up to normal wear and tear quite nicely on trips with my golden retriever on at least a daily basis.

As we will be moving back to live nearer the coast soon, as issue for us is the protection of seawater upon the car upholstery - this cover looks strong enough to cope with it. I would suggest still having a few old towels handy though…!

Although I am unsure of the price of this product, as it is an Amazon Basics item, my conclusion must be that it proves good value for money.


Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health
Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health
by Rosemary Crouch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £33.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Significant Resource, 26 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Most importantly nowadays professionals need to keep up with modern trends and approaches, not just in occupational health but all clinical services that now share what has become a very large umbrella that encompasses all psychiatric disciplines. No longer are there the discrete divisions in professional expertise, whether nursing, occupational health, social work, but everybody has to work in a more fluid and broad manner, than say a couple of decades ago, now often very much with a generic label of Care Manager for instance.

This is why such a textbook as this be explored by all who work in the psychiatric field, and will be of very good use for all disciplines as mentioned above. I have consulted the previous edition before when it came to formulating some nursing care studies, and found it very useful. This new edition feels a significant improvement, and for instance including vital DSM -5 classifications and coding systems as with ICD-10, and chapters on early intervention for young children, and eating disorders and ADHD have been pertinent inclusions.

My criticism is that I find the text over-verbose at times, and chunks of this could be far more succinct, but overall I am pleased with the structure and content. A little bit of colour would also help distinguish elements of the text, particularly case studies for instance, as the greyed-out sections I found a little difficult to read easily. A minor point perhaps on a text that I can recommend for all mental health professionals, not just occupational therapy students.


Geriatric Emergencies
Geriatric Emergencies
by Iona Murdoch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Resource with a Comprehensive Overview, 26 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Geriatric Emergencies (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is not a weighty tome, but very accessible and succinct in its format which underlines the fact that this proves to be a practical guide not just for the junior doctor, but relevant for all health professionals,(albeit sometimes a bit too detailed for my relevant needs).

The major advantage of this text is that it is written in simple language, with key points directing the reader to the most important information needed. Now recently retired from nursing in care of the elderly, the sections on falls and immobility are particularly relevant as this has always been such a common occurrence and cause of concern, and a difficult one to really assess properly, in fact with experience, a proper bug bear at times in terms of organising care and management. Along with the section of “Vulnerable Adults and elder Abuse”, this has become of increasing relevance and significance, the bullet points and flow charts for instance making it easy to locate information required.

The final chapter on delirium is very pertinent and covered well. I am a little bemused as to the omission of dementia though, as although this may not be the major clinical presentation, staff in emergency care situations need an increasingly higher level of awareness and understanding on the almost exponential rise in elderly patients formerly unknown to the services.

Overall a very comprehensive book that doesn’t feel overwhelming and gets to the point. An excellent resource.


The Past
The Past
by Tessa Hadley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ties That Bind, 23 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Past (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This novel won me over from the start.

Tessa Hadley has an impressive capacity to capture a moment, a certain mood in time, and who can describe the intimacy and atmosphere of a scene with sensitivity.

The family members are well delineated from the start, so it is effortless latching onto their uniqueness from the first pages, becoming instantly involved with each fascinating and complex character. Rooted in a basic socialist background, where social injustice and aspiration forms part of their daily ethic, this family’s shared family history binds them inexorably together, something the author achieves in communicating splendidly.

The whole gamut of family emotions is explored in this novel; unconditional love, essential irritation between members, also a quizzical sense of knowing, yet at the same time not knowing, the inner selfs of each other. The physical presence of the house is as a stage for the actors, reflecting as it does all those facets that bind them together - “they fell back inside its patterns and repetitions, absorbed into what had been there before”.

There is a simple, pleasing synchronicity in how Tessa Hadley comfortably balances the sections of the novel, Past and Present. A sumptuous sense of nostalgia pervades the novel, both in her descriptions of the physical environment and with each family member, but which never becomes cloying or over-sentimental. My only caveat here is that is starts to become slightly over-romanticised in her descriptions of the countryside, but this actually adds to the beauty of the narrative and the nostalgic strand, so doesn’t detract, which it could easily do with a less skilled writer.

Tessa Hadley makes conversations between the character natural and engaging, creating comforting tableaux that have delightful rhythms, and shimmer nicely. I particularly love the way that her writing moves deftly, adroitly and seamlessly from descriptions of the childrens’ world to that of the adults, conveying the world of the child in a rather uncanny way which is intuitive and beautiful.
In summary this novel is much about how people change, yet also stay the same, exploring human frailties and weaknesses with compassion and acceptance. A nice, easy, comfortable read that seems initially simple, but belies a depth and presence from an intelligent and accomplished author


Zero Zero Zero
Zero Zero Zero
by Roberto Saviano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

4.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive Account of The Global Cocaine Trade, 22 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Zero Zero Zero (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having worked for several years in the area of addiction in my professional past, this book particularly drew my attention, providing me with added breadth and depth to my somewhat meagre knowledge on the various issues surrounding the nature of the global cocaine trade.

This is a very comprehensive and highly readable account on the subject, where the author’s approach adopts an almost fictional style of writing that does much to enhance and develop the factual knowledge base. It certainly doesn’t do much to expound the virtues of being human, (but I guess the default position for this topic), and is often disturbing in its revelations. Educational and equally entertaining I found it mostly a riveting read and would recommend it for anyone involved in addiction services as well as for the general lay reader.


Love May Fail
Love May Fail
by Matthew Quick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Hope Springs Eternal, 22 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Love May Fail (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was attracted to this novel having thoroughly enjoyed his earlier novel, “Forgive me, Leonard Peacock”.

Brilliant, full of sardonic wit, I loved “Love May Fail”. Delightfully fresh and cheeky in its spontaneity, it has much vitality with a down to earth quality at its heart, albeit somewhat wacky at times. Portia Kane is a feisty lady who really decides to grab life. In her quest to improve her lot and find a meaning to her existence, she sets on a journey to save ex-teacher Mr Vernon, ( an amalgam of Jean Brodie, from “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and John Keating from Dead Poet’s Society ……) which forms the foundation of the novel. Other personalities, like Sister Maeve and Mother Catherine, (aka The Crab) add some great colour to the tale, as does the pathos of Portia’s mother and her perpetual sadness, feeling trapped as she does with her obsessions, as a virtual prisoner in her own home.

This novel has presence and immediacy which led to quite a voracious read. The nature of coincidence and the synchronicity of life sits at its heart, where fate or destiny with its chain of events result in a well paced structure to its themes. Tragedy and comedy sit empathically side by side, where the moral of the tale is live for the present and be hopeful and optimistic as to what the future may hold. A recommended read, whose humanity touched me quite markedly.


The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope
The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope
by Nancy Tucker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Tarnished Silver, 21 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Even if this highly insightful book was not well written, (which it surely is), then it deserves a 5 star rating for the capacity this young lady has for brutal honesty and intense self reflection.

There is a maturity of expression which feels uncanny in such a relatively young person. She is impressively articulate in how she communicates her complex inner world, and I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity in her achievement of putting pen to paper in such an emotionally intelligent way.

Nancy Tucker does not feel inhibited at all in expressing her anguish in her struggle with anorexia; there is no reticence in telling how it is, no ignoring the elephant in the room. She has given something precious of herself here, speaking with candour in her power of self reflection. This book invites much respect for the interest of any lay reader, as well as being almost a set text for any professional, as much for the well read clinician as someone new to the issues explored in this book. The vortex of hopelessness is especially communicated, and I feel she will have done much to foster some better understanding of this debilitating and destructive illness. Highly recommended, I feel that this lady will be offering a great deal to the field of experimental psychology in her future work


BETA Adult  Shepherds & Setters with Lamb Dry Dog Food, 12 kg
BETA Adult Shepherds & Setters with Lamb Dry Dog Food, 12 kg
Price: £26.92

4.0 out of 5 stars A Reassuring Product, 19 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I hesitated requesting this dog food product as I have a golden retriever who already eats a similar BETA product specially designed for the breed - (I hasten to add he does extremely well on it).

However, my brother has a German Shepherd, so over the past 4 weeks since ordering this dog food, I have kept a close eye on how Angus has been faring on his new diet and all reports have been good. There have been no side effects whatsoever, and as he does tend to have a jippy tummy now and again, this hasn’t happened during this period.

It is always reassuring to buy dog food from a reputable and trusted company, so in this instance I have to recommend this product.


Fates and Furies
Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All You Need Is Love....Lalalala.., 14 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Fates and Furies (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In this novel the author succeeds admirably in conveying the intensity of Mathilde and Lottos’ unique relationship. This is not a marriage founded on attraction of opposites, but of almost incestuous similarities in their psychological make-up that seem tragically to have brought them together.

Danica, a mutual friend, refers to a darkness existing between Mathilde and Lotto. Narcissistic traits within Leo’s personality predispose him to self absorption, leading to his feeling rather “precious”. His thirst for attention never seems to be quenched, and an over-fascination with sex, verging on addiction, seems to be the only way he can find solace, comfort and release.

It is only in the final third of the novel that we really get to grips with Mathilde’s character, where much is revealed on her earlier troubled life, with the ever present torment of inner demons. She proves to be as complex, if not more so, than Lotto. Lauren Groff demonstrates her skill in how she is able to access the multi-layered elements of this intriguing and somewhat intimidating character.

With their tightly bound relationship, the fatal flaws of Lotto and Mathilde reveal a deep disturbance that has several self destructive elements. This malignant process keeps them alternately close yet paradoxically separate at times, as both are unable to communicate fully their respective feelings, (aside from the often total preoccupation with sex that they both share). Their damage from childhood experiences results in them both being users of people with their internal raging from unresolved pasts.

Lotto is portrayed as a frustrated literary genius. I found it interesting in how Lauren Groff presents Lotto’s own work in quite significant detail. For me, these attempts by Lotto to create art merely reflects an unhealthy indulgence, a displacement action for not having dealt with his own issues. All the examples of his work only serve to mirror this self absorption about his own life experiences and perceptions - there is little space for empathy towards others. As a result the overall effect for me is that it feels more like a significant parody of art rather than something of special significance to the art world. If the author’s intention is to reveal some of Lotto’s fatal flaws in such a valedictory way, then she admirably succeeds here, otherwise the outcomes of his artistic forays within the novel are really quite naff….!

There is often a lush feel to the narrative, the writing often sensual and emotionally highly charged. Poignant and tightly woven, the theme explores the losses, gains, pain and happiness of life, (although there is little joy in the novel).A major focus in the novel is how potentially tired and lacklustre relationships can become over time, thus exposing an essential fragility to which the author proves very sensitive to in her expressive writing.

So, if you want a “feel good” experience from reading this book, it is probably not quite the right choice, as I found it quite emotionally draining, where depression tends to be the most pervasive emotion explored in their distinct life journeys. I found both Lotto and Mathilde irrevocably unlikeable, which again is an achievement for Lauren Groff. I started off for a lengthy time thinking that this novel only deserved a 3 star rating, but through perseverance I grew to actually love it, where the final 150 pages or so make this indeed something special.

Recommended.


Turbulent and Mighty Continent: What Future for Europe
Turbulent and Mighty Continent: What Future for Europe
by Anthony Giddens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat too weighty, 9 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The referendum for UK residents to decide whether or not to remain in the EU is imminent in 2017. The various risks and benefits of both leaving or staying with a revised treaty has largely been a somewhat superficial discussion from politicians and media pundits, with an evident bias from each political party, more often than not with a worrying real lack of detail and proper information.

These piecemeal chunks and much repeated sound bites do little to promote intelligent and informed discussion. This thoughtful book serves to remedy with its passionate but cogent and considered argument, in this particular author’s hope for remaining within the EU.

This book has much to recommend it, but I do despair with the lack of a basic psychology, in that very little on the intellectual sphere has been directed towards such most important issues as how those we give power to actually take on the mantle of representing us everyday man. The whole dynamics of group psychology seems desperately missing, and will eventually form the nature of the EU, regardless of deep intellectual discussion on politics or economics.

A rather saddened applaud for this book.


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