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Chantal Lyons "C.S. Lyons" (England)
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The Dust that Falls from Dreams
The Dust that Falls from Dreams
by Louis de Bernieres
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I'll love you forever, after the war", 28 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had an interesting relationship with this book. Getting into it was difficult, with the narrative jumping erratically around between characters and events, before it settled into a middle that was moving and compelling. But the last third threw me out again - the pacing was lost and the story spent a long time deciding what it should do. I found myself continually looking away and feeling like putting it down. At the very least the book should have been edited down more so that it focused only on the entangled lives of Ash, Rosie and Daniel.

de Bernieres' prose is unfailing as always, and poetic in places, drawing laughter and sadness in turn. His characters feel real too, but often the things that happen to them don't - most distractingly, the way that every man who visits the McCosh household falls in love with one of its members, and vice versa. Life is never so neat and tidy. The trite plotting of the romances jars with the the unflinching reality of fighting in WW1 which, although the war as a period takes up a minority of the book, is the most memorable part. I've certainly never read a WW1 story which talks about the soldiers having to use their love letters as loo roll.

The detail of the story was very immersive, with the war slang and the experiences of flying (aircraft fans will love all the technical detail), but the story itself was often not; it stretched itself too thin. From the afterword, it sounds like de Bernieres has an entire saga planned beginning with this book, but I don't feel the need to continue it.


Yoga Full Toe Socks, 2 Pairs Value Pack Set, For Yoga, Pilates, Non Slip Skid Socks
Yoga Full Toe Socks, 2 Pairs Value Pack Set, For Yoga, Pilates, Non Slip Skid Socks
Offered by YogaAddict [UK]
Price: £24.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful and good value, 4 Jun. 2015
It takes a bit of getting used to have an individual part of the sock for each toe, but once you do, these socks are very comfortable, well fitting, and fulfill their purpose extremely well - it's impossible to slip on these. And while they're always going to get the odd look, the black colour at least makes them less noticeable. Two pairs of socks also makes this buy great value for money.

I use these for my stretching exercises (as a sufferer of arthritis) rather than yoga, and I've also found that they're very handy for wearing when cleaning baths and shadows. However, I've had to give four rather than five stars as they weren't as quick-drying as I had expected going on other reviews; in a ventilated room they took two days.


Into The Fire
Into The Fire
by Manda Scott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The present lets down the past, 2 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Into The Fire (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I can't help but feel that this book might have worked better if it had been written in a different way - either with much more focus on the present, and with more detail, and far fewer sections devoted to the past, or else as a straight historical piece of fiction. As it is, most of the time the two stories within this book didn't really mesh together, only managing to do so at the end. The connection felt tenuous, contrived. And while the story of the past picks up pace and vitality as it progresses, the story of the present steadily lost my interest.

That said, there are enjoyable facets to this book - there's a lovely poetic style to Scott's prose (even if there's a few too many "aching blue" skies), and the settings of past and present are conjured up tangibly. The past is particularly immersive and obviously very well researched. It felt far more realistic than the story from the present, which becomes more and more far-fetched, while a romantic angle chucked in without any warning only left me feeling cold. The ending was pleasingly bittersweet, though it left a few too many untied ends for my liking.

While I haven't read Scott's other books, I'm definitely encouraged to try her Boadicea series - if it's anything like her treatment of Jeanne d'Arc, it'll be excellent.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2015 1:34 PM BST


RockFace All Weather Moisturiser 150 ml
RockFace All Weather Moisturiser 150 ml
Price: £4.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 22 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I find it amusing that some of us reviewers think this moisturiser smells masculine and others think it smells feminine. I'm in the masculine camp - it reminds me an awful lot of the cologne a male friend of mine uses. I would have preferred the smell to be more neutral, or less pungent, especially as it seems to linger longer than the moisturising effect of the cream. The reason I've given three stars instead of two is that the cream isn't greasy, so it's convenient to apply whether out and about or at your work desk, etc. But I do feel that there are moisturisers out there that are similar in price but leave your skin feel moisturised for longer.


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

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to read, but so important, 5 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Reading this book is like having a swarm of ants running all over your brain. It's itchy and restless and dark, and not really what I'd called a "pleasant" experience - but I'm glad I read it. While I'm sure no two people experience their eating disorder in the same way, much like with Matt Haig's musings on depression, "The Time In Between" provides a powerful glimpse into what it's like to have anorexia or bulimia. It makes you angry, it disgusts you, it horrifies you. It makes you so sad.

Nancy Tucker writes brilliantly, and I hope she'll turn to other projects in the future, fiction or nonfiction. She hooks into you, even when you want to look away. The stylistic issue of Capitalising So Many Of The Words gets annoying after a while, but it's a minor criticism. The one thing I felt was missing was the explanation of how the book came to be picked up. Did she make the initial approach of agents? Was she elated or anxious when she signed her book deal? Given that the book goes up to when she's nineteen, and she must have finished the book around this time (she's 21 one now and it takes roughly 2 years for a book to go from being picked up to being published). Still, another fairly minor quibble.

The final thing it's worth dwelling on in my review is whether this is a book to recommend for people themselves experiencing eating disorders. I honestly don't know. I thought it would be "yes" before I read it. But definitely one I'd recommend to psychologists, to teachers, to pretty much anyone who works with children or has children, and to the friends of those who suffer these awful illnesses.


The Gracekeepers
The Gracekeepers
by Kirsty Logan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never reached its full potential, 22 April 2015
This review is from: The Gracekeepers (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very pretty book with which to while away a few hours with. The story and the prose are both dream-like, with the same refined beauty of something like the afterlife scenes from the film version of The Lovely Bones. I enjoyed it, and looked forward to going back to it, but can't give it more than four stars because ultimately it felt quite shallow. The relatively short length constrains the narrative, especially when a number of the chapters are given over to secondary characters; the title seemed a little too shrewdly chosen ("keeper" seems to be a popular word choice for mass appeal women-targeted novels); and the circus setting also seemed designed specifically to push the right marketing buttons, building on the success of bestsellers like "The Night Circus". I never felt that I had much of a chance to grow to know the important characters, nor the fascinating world they inhabited. I really, really wish "The Gracekeepers" had been fleshed out. If it had been, this would be something very special. Instead, while I'm glad I read it (and absolutely adore the cover), I suspect I will soon forget it.


Philips HP6583/03 SatinPerfect Wet and Dry Epilator with Skin Tautening Attachment Shaver Head, Sensitive Cap and Tweezers
Philips HP6583/03 SatinPerfect Wet and Dry Epilator with Skin Tautening Attachment Shaver Head, Sensitive Cap and Tweezers
Price: £106.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Really recommended as a high-end epilator, 17 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having had the opportunity to try one Phillips model down from this (as per the table on the product page), I'd say there's no difference between them in performance, and the current Amazon price makes this one much better value. You don't get the "Precision Epilator", but again, no difference between this and the main epilator.

The one extra attachment you get in this package, the "sensitive area cap", is one I admit I haven't actually tried - armpit epilation is painful enough, so I don't think I'm ever going to be brave enough to go THERE. Some people find leg epilation similarly painful, but either I've got used to it over the years or the models on the market like this one are better-designed now for comfort.

The epilator package comes with a few nice extras - a trimmer attachment (even though I doubt I'll use that myself), high-quality tweezers with a bright light, and an attractively-designed epilator also with its own light. The fact that it's waterproof also makes cleaning easier and more hygienic.

Does this epilator leave your skin feeling as silky smooth as if you'd just shaved it? Not quite, but it's still better than shaving in the long-run - cheaper, no shaving cuts, no shaving foam needed (though regular moisturising and exfoliation is an absolute must), more time before you need to remove the hair again, and no prickly stubby feeling.


Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons 3) (Memoir By Lady Trent 3)
Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons 3) (Memoir By Lady Trent 3)
by Marie Brennan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent continuation, 3 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Brennan's back on form with the third instalment of Isabella's adventures as she travels the world seeking new discoveries about dragon-kind. "The Tropic Of Serpents" was a disappointment for me, with a lot of the names and the state politics utterly boring me. There's the usual plethora of unusual names in this book too (with Hawaii being a particular inspiration) but the story never gets bogged down this time around.

I think it helps that Isabella visits so many places this time, and sees so many different creatures (not all of them dragons). Her formal Victorian narration is a delight to read as usual (particularly when Isabella/Brennan's dry humour is applied), and there's a lovely atmosphere of scientific/archaeological mystery. The climax is, as it was in the previous book, centred around state politics and hostilities again, but this time Isabella ends up in the thick of it and doesn't relate it in a dull, concluded way which was the real failing of "The Tropic Of Serpents".

I eagerly await the next instalment! (And the cover - though it's hard to imagine what could be more beautiful than this one)


Breville 4-Slice Toaster the Perfect Fit for Warburtons
Breville 4-Slice Toaster the Perfect Fit for Warburtons
Price: £50.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty great, 1 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm really pleased with this toaster; it looks stylish and it's got plenty of handy functions, not least the ability to lift food higher when needed - crumpets are usually a nightmare!

Don't be put off by the "perfect for Warburtons" strapline. Other bread and other toast-able food items fit and toast fine in this. It's got a good toasting speed and you can heat two pieces rather than four at a time if you choose to. The defrost setting worked reasonably well, to my mind at least, though I've never had a toaster that did this before so I can't compare.

The toaster is a bit bulky (I've stacked it on top of another appliance!), but to be honest, four-piece toasters are always going to be bulky. The fifth star was knocked off due to the less-than-accessible breadcrumb trays which, as other reviewers have pointed out, have to be pulled out from the rear.


Uprooted
Uprooted
by Naomi Novik
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic in every way, 27 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Uprooted (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a huge fan of Novik's Temeraire series, but the last few books have gone from bad to dire. So I'm delighted that Novik's gone and written this instead - it's given her the break she clearly needs from Temeraire, and it's a fantastic book in its own right.

I'd been planning to read a different book before this one, and only meant to glance at the first few pages, but I was sucked in too quickly. The blurb of the book reveals barely anything, to its credit, and the story soon started to have more than a hint of Studio Ghibli's "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" to it. In a way it's hard to pin down exactly why I felt so gripped; I just know that it was so hard to put down, even to the point where if I was walking to work and I had to wait at traffic lights before I could cross the road, I'd get the book out to read another paragraph or two.

The magic in "Uprooted" is one of the stars - beautifully described and imagined, novel-feeling despite the classic fairytale style. I felt less attached to the main character than to the Dragon, her (definitely human) teacher, and to her best friend, Kasia, but that was fine, and often the dialogue and the exploits would have me grinning or smiling or my eyes racing across the lines of the page. The ending was perfect. I'd like to keep following the characters, but I don't know if there is any more story left to make a sequel - perhaps it's for the best.

This is quite a hefty book, as fairytales go; a more cautious publisher might have split it into two. But if you start with any trepidation, it'll soon turn to gladness that there's so much to read. It's also a novel that I expect will appeal to a wide age range, from about fourteen-fifteen and up. I'm almost twenty-five and I can see myself going back to "Uprooted" again and again over the years.


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