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lilysmum "lilysmum65" (uk)
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How to Pack for Any Trip (Lonely Planet How to)
How to Pack for Any Trip (Lonely Planet How to)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars "Don't leave home without it", 29 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having always considered myself to be totally rubbish at packing, I thought this book might solve my problems, which are mostly self inflicted. I tend to be disorganised, don't think about packing until the night before, then rush around in a bad temper shoving things into a case and forgetting half way through what I've already packed. I don't have a checklist that works well so I often also forget important basics. I am also totally guilt of overpacking.
This book answers all my questions and more. First of all, it covers different styles and price bands of luggage. This is possibly the least practical bit of the book, unless you're very wealthy, in which case you probably know it all anyway (or have minions to pack for you, in which case you won't need this book!)
The second section is all about over and under packing and I did find it handy to read about people who do both. The woman who underpacked for three nights in Lisbon only took the shoes she was wearing (in terms of footwear) - how on earth did she expect that to work? I would panic if I only took one pair of shoes, but then again that's why I appreciated reading this book because the over packer took two pairs of shoes for the same break and I would want to take more than that, so clearly I have a severe case of over packing.
In this section there were loads of helpful hints about ways to make your packing work harder. Ok, not everyone is going to want to drill holes in their toothbrush to make it lighter, but that there are people like that is very interesting. Towels that double as sarongs and shawls and power packs for charging your electrics using solar energy are name checked.
The next section is about how to pack effectively and the systems covered are folding, rolling, bundling, stuffing, and scented bags (that last method for people with servants I should think.)
The final section is about how to pack depending on where you are heading, and there are some bundled packing lists which I have dutifully used to make my list for Italy.
Trips specifically catered for in the "how to pack" section include: city, wilderness, afloat, beach, mountains, tropics & jungles, alpine, the Poles, desert, safari, camping, round the world, and action. So, every kind of holiday is covered. I read them all and picked up lots of useful hints for places all over the world. For example, I had no idea that sun creams are toxic to coral reefs and that you should buy a nature friendly sun block if you're planning on swimming around coral.


The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria
The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria
by Janine di Giovanni
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

4.0 out of 5 stars "Makes you feel ashamed to be human." (page 150), 28 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is a really harrowing read, in that it gives an account of the suffering of the Syrian people over the last four years. In that time, up to 300 000 people have been killed - more than in the horrendous Bosnian conflict. The author is a journalist who has reported on war for 20 years. She has won two Amnesty International awards.
In the book she recounts several visits she has made to Syria, and the interviews she has carried out with the victims of rape, violence, fighting, and torture. Current life expectancy in Syria is just 55; this has dropped by 20 years since the war began.
Di Giovanni discusses her feelings of guilt: that she is separate from someone in Aleppo or Homs, because she can "walk away" and return to her "home with electricity and sliced bread." She is unflinching when describing what she calls the "dirt, filth, fear and nausea" of war. As she says: "War means endless waiting, endless boredom. There is no electricity, so no television. You can't read. You can't see friends. You grow depressed, but there is no treatment for it, so it makes no sense to complain - everyone is as badly off as you. ... If you are critically ill - with cancer, for instance - there is no chemotherapy for you. If you can't leave the country for treatment, you stay and die slowly, and in tremendous pain."
Di Giovanni describes the effects of barrel bombing and the effects of war on families and children.
At the back of the book is a really useful chronology of the war and its main events.
I found this book painful to read and the sentence that most sticks in my mind is the one on page 150: it "makes you feel ashamed to be human."
3.9 million people have been forced to leave Syria and 7.6 million have been internally displaced. Just these sheet facts, starkly set down in an appendix, show the extent of the suffering.


Rapesco P20 Shimma Stapler and Hole Punch Set - White
Rapesco P20 Shimma Stapler and Hole Punch Set - White
Price: £16.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Matching set in white - great basic office set., 28 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great set in white and it will replace the Rapesco stapler that was clearly so attractive and useful that someone "borrowed" it from my desk and hasn't returned it! This one has a matching hole punch, which, while plastic, is still quite robust, though I wouldn't use it for punching more than half a dozen sheets at a time. As usual, Rapesco make great office tools. Very useful.


Daily Mail Pitcherwits - Volume 1 (The Daily Mail Puzzle Books)
Daily Mail Pitcherwits - Volume 1 (The Daily Mail Puzzle Books)
by Professor Rebus
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Crosswords with a difference, 28 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Crosswords with a difference

I wanted a puzzle book for my flight to Italy, and this one does the trick because it's a bit different to the usual crosswords. It is just the right level of difficulty for me, which is, quite easy. I can't do all those cryptic crosswords you get in the Times. Every so often there is a rebus clue, (sometimes they get a bit repetitive with the s sound being represented by a snake hissing), so, once you get the gist, you have really got it cracked. The solutions are handily all in the back of the book, so if you're struggling you can look at some of the answers to give you the idea. The written clues are trickier, I think, and not all easy to solve, but a good brain teaser for a holiday or journey.


Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Lipstick, Number T01 Orangélique
Bourjois Rouge Edition Souffle de Velvet Lipstick, Number T01 Orangélique
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely summer orange, 27 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Bourjois products always have that characteristic scent of a French pharmacy, and this lip gloss is no exception. It smells light, fresh and clean. The tube is small and the applicator is a sponge pad - a great size, not too small and not too big. The product itself is a matte liquid which dries on the lip but still feels moist. It doesn't feel drying at all. The coverage is quite sheer, it's really more of a tint than a lip colour, so if you're looking for a bright colour and lots of coverage, I would say this isn't for you. But, if you like a more subtle sheen of matte colour, this would be perfect. It has good staying power and looks good. This one is in a shade of orange which is vibrant but not too neon.


Born Scared
Born Scared
by Kevin Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Part page turning thriller, part philosophical book about life and death., 26 July 2016
This review is from: Born Scared (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I will confess to being a huge fan of Kevin Brooks, his Bunker Diary and Martyn Pig are two of my favourite YA novels, and I have taught Martyn Pig to Year 10 classes as well. So, when I got the chance to read Born Scared, I was excited. What I like about Brooks is his ability to drop philosophical & existential thoughts and musings into his writing so that you find yourself thinking about life (and death) long after you've put the book down.
This latest book is in a similar vein, making the reader ponder life, death, and the power of memory. It uses familiar fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood) and familiar tropes (the snow globe) to do this, and Kevin Brooks also revisits ideas and themes from earlier books. For example, Martyn Pig is set in the winter, the week before Christmas, and this book is set on Christmas Eve, with snow falling heavily.
Elliot (the first person narrator) is a boy who suffers with severe anxiety, to the extent that he has to take a pill six times a day. The pill, moloxetine, appears to be possibly based on duloxetine, an SSRI or anti -anxiety pill. Elliot has to take these consistently or he fairly rapidly suffers from extreme anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks, a raised heart beat, sweating and shaking. He talks about the reasons why he feels so anxious all the time, saying he's been like this since before he was born, possibly (he wonders) because his twin sister dies when she is one hour old, and Elliot is in the next incubator. Elliot is visited by his dead sister, who talks to him, though whether this is an "imaginary friend" type of sister, or a real visitation, is never established. For me, I saw Ellamay as a figment of Elliot's over-stressed and troubled mind.
Elliot's dad, curiously, is called Martyn (Martyn Pig?) and he lived in LA and was a writer, so a curious coincidence, except that there are other details taken from Martyn Pig too, such as the passage about snow on page 129-30, which concerns the hallucinatory experience of Gordon, Sheila's son, who is suffering the effects of a spiked drink in a sub plot that eventually links to the main plot line. Sheila is Elliot's mum's friend, and she has agreed to pick up Elliot's prescription for him after he is given the wrong drug by the pharmacy the day before Christmas Eve. The rest of the book really contains a break neck story about how Elliot is driven to leave the house and go and find out what has happened to his mum and Sheila when they don't return with his vital medications.
I liked this book because it made me think about life and death using the three main motifs of Red Riding Hood, the snow globe, and anxiety. I had a book about a now globe when I was small, in which a girl wishes to enter a snow globe so that she can visit the tiny castle in the globe. She magically becomes tiny and enters the globe. There's a similar idea in Born Scared where Elliot imagines he can see himself inside the snow globe, but is never sure what he is seeing.
There's also the curious detail of Elliot wearing his doctor's wellington boots when he goes out to find his mum in the snow. I suppose on the surface this kind of detail explains the fact that an agoraphobic boy wouldn't possess boots, but it also has interesting ideas about wearing someone else's shoes - someone who has the cure to your problems?
Overall this book made me think about: what makes us scared in life? Are we always scared of the right things? What's the difference between being dead and being alive? What's worth risking your life for? What makes it worth being alive in the first place? etc. And is any of the story real, or is it all just a side effect of coming off the meds? Lots of food for thought. I think this is a book you can't take too literally, but it certainly makes you think and think.


Salter 800 Aqua-Weigh¿ Add & Weigh Kitchen Scale
Salter 800 Aqua-Weigh¿ Add & Weigh Kitchen Scale
Price: £15.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly vague measurements., 24 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am sorry to say I don't like these scales. I already had an electronic set of Salters and I like them very much, although I have had them a long time they have lasted very well and I have been very pleased with them. The problem with my electronic ones is only that the children keep nicking the batteries for their Play Station controllers. I therefore thought these would be a good replacement, because they don't need any batteries.
For a start, the bowl on the top of the scales looks nothing like the one in the picture. In fact, I can't believe it really belongs to the scales at all, because it slides around and threatens to fall off when you're weighing things. Secondly, the bowl has no lip, and this makes it tricky to pour ingredients into your mixing bowl tidily. Then again, I didn't find the needle very accurate. Every time I rested the bowl on the scale, it read differently. I weighed out 200g of flour to make some banana muffins and it seemed like I had a lot of flour, so I thought I'd just check it with my electronic scales, and it weighed in at 235 g! So, not that accurate at all. I am afraid I gave it up as a bad job.
I am sorry to say I would not recommend these scales.


The Trainable Cat: How to Make Life Happier for You and Your Cat
The Trainable Cat: How to Make Life Happier for You and Your Cat
by John Bradshaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and meaty read., 24 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I thought this book might be a bit daft but it's actually a fantastic read. It takes a very serious and scientific approach to understanding cat behaviour and the chapter on introducing adult cats to each other made perfect sense. I had recently tried to introduce an abandoned cat to my adult neutered male, and failed miserably. If I had had this book then, I doubt I would have succeeded, but this book described both animals' behaviour perfectly, and helped me to understand why I could not make them "like" or even "tolerate" each other on an ongoing basis.
The book is based on a lot of research done in the Bristol area, I believe, and looks at cat behaviours and common misconceptions (such as why they bring in mice and birds), and also looks at cat behaviour in terms of explaining what and where cats do their thing. Fascinating. I understand my cat a lot better now.


Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction
Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction
by Doug Lemov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended reading for secondary English teachers, 24 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I did not expect this book to be as useful and as compelling as it has been in confirming the way I teach English, and reading it has been a joy. I imagine anyone with a passion for teaching English would get a lot out of this book. Even though it's based on American practice, it is entirely relevant and useful to British English teachers.
It's based on some research work carried out in recent years in Uncommon schools in New York. Doug Lemov is a managing director there and a name I had heard discussed at work and on Twitter. Colleen Driggs is director of CPD at the Uncommon schools and Erica Woolway is chief academic officer. Uncommon Schools have been credited with closing the gap between disadvantaged and non- disadvantaged students in New York, and this book aims to share the practice that they have identified in terms of how best to develop students' literacy.
The core values which the book espouses are: read harder texts; close read texts with rigour; read more nonfiction effectively; and write more effectively in response to texts.
The book is split into six chapters. Chapter 1 is about selecting texts. I basically read it with a highlighter, and picked up lots of ideas for selecting extracts for my Year 9s and 10s. Any concerns I had that the majority of texts would be American were dispelled very quickly. The first text analysed in detail is Dickens' Oliver Twist, and Lord of the Flies gets a few mentions too.
Chapter 2 is about close reading - my favourite activity in class and here, I picked up lots of hints and tips for developing my own practice.
Chapter 3 is about non-fiction, chapter 4 is about the topic of writing for reading. Chapter 5 is about approaches to reading and focuses on ensuring that your students read a lot! Chapter 6 is all about vocabulary, and opportunities for teaching it explicitly.
Also included at the back of the book is a DVD with many, many clips of teaching real lessons. You log onto teachlikeachampion, set up a password and basically you have access to an ongoing source of online support, the cost of which is included in the book.
We have since bought another copy of this book for our English faculty and I see it as being a book we can dip in and out of throughout the year.
I came away from reading this book inspired and with so many ideas buzzing away for planning my next year's teaching.


Post-it R3301RPT 76mm x 76mm Recycled Z-Notes Pad Tower Pack - Pastel Rainbow (Box of 16, 100 Sheets Per Pad)
Post-it R3301RPT 76mm x 76mm Recycled Z-Notes Pad Tower Pack - Pastel Rainbow (Box of 16, 100 Sheets Per Pad)
Price: £25.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Recycled loveliness that make writing notes a pleasure, 20 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love these pads. They are really good value and just the right size. I also love that they are recycled - so they are kinder to the environment too. Beware of cheap imitations - these stick properly and do the job. Perfect for all sorts of jobs at work.


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