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Nailor "Awesome American in England" (Bristol, UK)

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Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know
Price: £4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars This was very good, very clear, 2 Dec. 2014
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This was very good, very clear, and very appealing. I was researching pregnancy/healthcare information for women, and found this to be the best resource. My absolute favorite part was the analysis of the connection between coffee and miscarriage - a wonderful example of how even medical professionals will seize a piece of superstition and insist that it's "SCIENCE!"

I'm not currently trying for a baby, but in the event that I am, I'll flick through this again.


Song of Sorcery
Song of Sorcery
Price: £2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The book was recommended to me in all innocence by a friend, 2 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Song of Sorcery (Kindle Edition)
It seems a bit mean to leave a two-star review for such an elderly book, but it's very rare that I return Kindle ebooks, and I thought I would explain why.

I returned this book about 95% of the way through it, because I just couldn't get past the characterizations of the ~magical exotic~ "g*psy people" without doing a sort of whole-body cringe. There are some people who can sail blithely past this kind of thing. I am not one of them, and this book is not for me.

The book was recommended to me in all innocence by a friend, who hadn't noticed anything wrong with it until I admitted that I couldn't finish the thing. (Then she was embarrassed and upset - but like I say, it's something that we're trained not to notice.) I believe that authors can grow and change, and Scarborough's style does have charm, so I'd try something by the author again.


10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters
10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters
by Vicki Stiefel, Lisa Souza
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Would love to have it on ebook!, 4 April 2014
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I bought this book for a specific pattern that I fell in love with on Ravelry, and was expecting that the rest of it wouldn't be very useful. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the nice layout and sweet writing style; it's a lot more friendly and accessible than other pattern books.

There are some patterns that I'll never knit up - a "necklace/scarf" knitted from a specific yarn that contains stainless steel wire is a cool idea, but the yarn is as readily findable as hen's teeth. But there's other cute gems, like folk rhymes for remembering how to knit and purl, adorable reminders to check gauge, a useful chapter about different/unusual fibres and what to do with them, and a good chapter about knitting patternless that I found pretty affirming as someone who often goes wildly off-pattern.

It's hard to find this book in the UK, and an ebook version would make it more accessible. As it is, the price tag, age and low visibility of the book means that nobody is really making up these patterns, preferring stuff you can get easily on Ravelry. I've suggested it to Amazon - maybe you want to, too!


Finding Mr Rochester
Finding Mr Rochester
Price: £0.77

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Story is okay, would have liked to know more about content delivery., 4 April 2014
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This 60 page book is composed of a short story, some recipes and preview chapters of Ashley's next book; thus, only about 25 pages are the actual story, rendering it much shorter than you initially think.

I already own the preview chapters of Every Woman for Herself - they came with the ebook version of "Wish Upon a Star," which I'd previously bought and paid for - and have the book on pre-order. I saw that the product description clearly included preview chapters - I just didn't expect them to be half the content of a £0.99 book, so that I'm paying another 50p to read a piece of book that I've already paid for twice. I wasn't pleased with the experience, the content didn't meet my expectations and so I felt quite soured on the whole thing - I ended up returning it. My feelings of frustration and annoyance made me want to get rid of this product.

While the writing was reasonable, the cutesy countryside slow-burn romances that Ashley writes so well don't transfer satisfyingly to the format of (effectively) a short piece of fanfiction. I like Ashley's side characters/plots/situations a whole lot more than the Man and Woman smooching, so I was a bit disappointed that this was just a Smooch.

However, if you buy the book knowing that you're paying 99p for a very short story, you will probably be very happy with this! If someone else had posted this review, I would probably still have bought the book and would have enjoyed it more than I did. 99p is cheaper than a cup of coffee to cheer you up, after all.


Merrily Watkins collection 1: Midwinter of Spirit and Crown of Lights (MERRILY WATKINS SERIES Book 11)
Merrily Watkins collection 1: Midwinter of Spirit and Crown of Lights (MERRILY WATKINS SERIES Book 11)
Price: £4.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weirdly compulsive reading, despite annoyances, 6 Feb. 2014
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I'm on the ninth book of the Merrily Watkins series, and I'm still not entirely clear why this should be so. They're not necessarily what I'd usually pick up. But I've been on a kick of Atmospheric British Literature and I particularly like pagan twists, and this series is very much fitting my mood.

Luminous, golden, and laced with profanity, Rickman's writing choices are up my alley. He balances the sacred and profane pretty nicely, and I respect that. I can forgive the "Fast Paced Page Turner" style, which I usually hate, because I like his metaphors - the crouching buildings, the looming history, the sentient weather.

Minor annoyances:

1.) Evil lesbians. Evil, evil lesbians. Women with nonheterosexual desires are always evil, and about 70% of evil is perpetrated by nonheterosexual women. They seem to be more of an issue in the earlier books, and I hope we've moved past that for good now.
2.) The Main Romance is frustrating and composes of two people who are separated for most of the book leaving desperate messages on each other's answering machines. Actually, this is also something of a positive, because it's nice to read books for grownups that don't hinge on the romance. And you do get to follow two separate plotlines.
3.) Slightly Scooby-Doo villains; close your eyes and hum when you come to them. The climactic showdowns are satisfying, though.
4.) Although one of the main POV characters is a teenage girl, the series is sometimes obviously written by an older man in a pretty male-gazey way. If you get past the first three books this gets much better.

Outweighed by positives:

1.) No actual shaming of people with differing belief systems, mental health issues, feelings, opinions, or practices. Apart from the evil, evil lesbians, Rickman handles diversity with grace - it's almost as if humanity's differences are what make us interesting! This is incredibly unusual in much popular fiction, which can only handle one-track love stories between middle-class white heterosexual couples and crimes that involve exquisitely murdered women packaged for consumption. In the Merrily Watkins series, you actually get some variety in your tale, with discussions on the local landscape, the motivations of human beings, the evolution of modern Christianity, the nature of paganism, English classical music composers, the intricacies of hop-growing, local mythologies, history influencing the present, and the interplay between all of these things.
2.) Jane.
3.) Gomer Parry.

Basically, what I like about these books is that they explore the idea of the souls of landscapes, communities and geography in a way that's hard to put into words. They're murder mysteries that aren't too much about the sexiness of crime, but of the wounding of souls and the ripples this creates, making up a series that I am actually not too embarrassed about recommending to my friends.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2014 8:55 AM GMT


Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels)
Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover

411 of 478 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book will break your heart..., 8 Nov. 2013
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... And not really in the good way. On the quite unlikely chance that Terry ever reads this, I don't blame him and I'm not even mad. I am very happy for him to have my £10; he deserves it and more. I wish him only the best, and would have happily given him the £10 if he asked for it, without particularly wanting or needing to finish the book.

I finished the book and felt like I'd just been to a funeral.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a globally beloved institution, for good reason. He is to fantasy what Douglas Adams is to science fiction. Sadly, the 40th book of the Discworld is pretty much like Eoin Colfer's ghastly resurrection of the Hitchhiker's Guide series, only slightly worse. Colfer just didn't GET Adams and his humor, on a molecular level, so you weren't too bothered by it conflicting with your own nostalgia - you just accepted that you had paid your money for a bit of fanfiction. This is rather like buying the Officially Licensed Eighth Harry Potter Book to find that it's an alternate-universe tale of Harry laboriously taking public transport for two hundred pages while monologuing about the Industrial Revolution, and Frodo Baggins shows up near the end and breaks the fourth wall to explain to you that this is all very funny and satirical. And it's written by Dan Brown. For the young-adult market. You don't mind what's happening; you're just slightly puzzled, wondering why everyone is out of character and when the story is going to start. It's not actually BAD, it's just maybe not what you wanted.

This book echoes Discworld in its pedigree, but the prose has no engine behind it, no driving energy, no romp down a passing train of thought that suddenly sidetracks and opens up into a startling view, no diamonds in the coal seam, no clever twists of sentences that suddenly rear up and look you in the eye, no tunneling journeys into human nature, no clever bridges from one scene to the next, no non-sequiturs that turn out to be actually very meaningful, no sly tearing down of the status quo, no light at the end of the tunnel, no magic, no wonder, no satire, no sapphires. It has very little steam to lose, and it loses it. It makes me extremely sad to write this, but there it is.*

If you're an overly-dedicated and optimistic Pratchett fan like me, and you had this book on Kindle pre-order since it became available, then enjoy it as best you can. There is some charm here; in tone and twists it's, surprisingly, rather like a Trisha Ashley novel about middle-aged women finding love in a Lancashire village; you'll read it. It will also complete your collection nicely, and you will probably want to do that anyway. I understand that you'll want the closure and the completion of the series. Come over here and sit with me later; we'll commiserate. It was a wonderful run and we have so many good memories to love and share.

If you're a Pratchett fan who decided to wait and haven't purchased it yet, then I would recommend holding off for a while and trying for a good discount price - it's not something you need to rush out and buy in hardcover. In fact, get it from the library and read it on holiday, with your mind half-on-something-else, and with something pleasant to look forward to at the end, like a fancy dinner or a swim; this book will make you sad and put you in that frame of mind where you start contemplating mortality and the passing of flesh and heroes. Have some drinks available. Have my blessing. This is a sad book, not because of the content, but because of our own expectations. And, honestly, our own sense of entitlement. Who are we to demand that the poor man dazzle and delight us for decades upon decades?

If you're not so much of a Pratchett fan, you might conversely have much to enjoy about this book. Without the high expectations and starry eyes of a Discworld aficionado, you won't be disappointed. You'll recognize some of the characters, and the prose definitely brings you from one scene to another, which it is supposed to do. There is a train, and the Patrician, and an ending. It is *definitely* a book. There are many books! This is one! It has a cover and everything.

If you haven't read a Pratchett book before, then don't start with this one - it would be rather like visiting a museum after it's scheduled for demolition - nothing makes sense, the exhibits are being dismantled, you have no idea what's going on or why, inexplicable things are being thrown into dumpsters, and you get the feeling that you're not supposed to be there at all.

Oh, hell, buy it for yourself, do what you've got to do - I understand. I'll wait for you.

*I don't apologize for the train metaphors.
** Demographic information: well-educated 25-year-old female Pratchett fan.
Comment Comments (65) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2015 6:20 PM BST


Narrow Dog To Carcassonne
Narrow Dog To Carcassonne
by Terry Darlington
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and sustaining - note your prose peferences before purchase!, 19 July 2013
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I must say that I really enjoyed this book and went on to read the whole series. I did not like them as much as the first Narrow Dog, but they hang together as a charming trilogy.

A lot of people have mixed opinions about the prose style and punctuation of the Narrow Dog books, so I would strongly recommend looking at the free Amazon samples before purchase. They won't give much of the book away, and it will give you a good idea of whether or not you will like the style before purchasing the book. You'll know right away whether or not it is readable for you. If it's not, I wouldn't bother - I find that the rhythm and movement of the prose is at least 30% of the charm for me. It's definitely to my taste but I can't speak for yours.

I am a female university researcher in the 18-25 age bracket. However, I would warmly recommend this book to a variety of people, as it will have an appeal to several demographics. It will appeal to people who are interested in poetry (modern and classical), humorous travel writing, British humor, British travel, long-term relationships, dogs, boating, and misadventures. I would give this book as a gift to older family members, particularly when I wish to explain some of the culture of English boating. I would not give it to friends unless I was reasonably sure that it would match up with their prose style tastes. Darlington's writing is like Marmite - you'll love it or hate it. Both reactions are legitimate, but it saddens me to think that some people will buy the book for its content only to be turned off by the prose. So check it out first, and if you're buying it as a gift, consider the recipient's own tastes.

As a further recommendation alignment I would suggest that readers who enjoy H.E. Bates, Dorothy Sayers and Bill Bryson would probably get the most out of this book.


The Darling Buds of May
The Darling Buds of May
Price: £4.35

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Kindle version is poor value for money., 28 Jun. 2013
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I paid £5.49 for this kindle book, which is incredibly short at 144 print pages. (Many light fiction books are £1-3 for about 400 pages.)
Thus, this is a very enjoyable book (5 star) at a very difficult price.

I am a female university researcher in the 18-24 age bracket. I bought this book looking for feel-good, slightly funny British home fiction. I found it very satisfying, and actually much funnier than I thought it would be!

I particularly loved the relationships between the Larkin family, and the way that Ma and Pop are so lovingly portrayed as being wonderful, joyful people. Popular media would demonize, mock and humiliate them for being fat, working-class, erratically employed,"tasteless," enamored of their TV, with an unfashionable amount of children. Any single one of these traits in a fictional character is usually an immediate signal that they are the "bad guy," the butt of the joke, the ugly ones, the slobs, the welfare cheats and scum of society, etc, etc.

Instead, the Larkins - and everyone who falls into their orbit, including the reader - are absolutely convinced that they live the happiest lives on earth. They are warm and funny and welcoming and completely unshakable. They admire education, the beauties of nature, the pleasures of sex and the joy of food. They're nourishing.

I loved that. I loved that when Ma tells Pop that their unwed teenage daughter is expecting a baby (occurs in the first few pages) his reaction is happiness and delight at the prospect of another child in the home. I love that Ma is described as being fat and remarkably beautiful, and that I love it's obvious that Pop can't get enough of her. They are the opposite of the typical snapping, snide, awful sitcom family (where an improbably beautiful woman is paired with a boorish slob of a husband and everyone hates each other) and they are infinitely funnier and better for it.

I would recommend it widely and highly.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2013 3:53 PM GMT


The Voyages of the Princess Matilda
The Voyages of the Princess Matilda
Price: £4.35

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a travel book - you need to care about Timothy Spall..., 28 Jun. 2013
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... and appreciate him deeply to appreciate this book.

I am sure that Spall is a lovely man and a great actor - he's fun to watch in Harry Potter. I'm not a fan, and I didn't realize who he was until reading these reviews: his fame is not enough to carry the book for me. There are plenty of people who love to enjoy stories about their favorite celebrities - I myself LOVE to watch Stephen Fry crash around jungles for no reason. But since I am not a devoted fan of Timothy Spall, I regret my purchase of this eBook.

I bought it because I am currently reading up on inland waterways journeys, and have been consuming nearly every eBook about narrowboats and Dutch barges available on Amazon.

The prose isn't particularly clever or funny, though certainly intelligible. The wit consists of things like equating a pretty village to a picture on a chocolate box and noting that a particular dog can't swim.

The descriptions of Spall's cancer are certainly sad, but I do not particularly care to hear about his cancer, and many people have cancer and their loved ones are sad. The real heart and point of this book are the italicized passages talking about Tim's cancer, and I wish him the best, but I don't have room in my heart right now to take this journey with his wife and weep for his problems. "Hard Laughter" by Anne Lamott has been a good cancer book for me - I feel as if the author is holding my hand through my cancer journey, not demanding that I bring her tea and sympathy.

This book is not particularly helpful or informative if you are interested in a travel guide to English/European waterways. It is not an interesting account of living aboard a Dutch barge. At one point, the author, Shane, complains to Tim that people have moored alongside them ("Their dirty feet on our boat!") and then whines, a page later, that some elderly ladies are not crossing their legs while sitting in public ("Kill me if I ever do that!") and then, a page later, demands to know what the river that they've moored on is called - who on earth buys a big fancy boat, bashes it around the navigation and doesn't know what the actual river is called? This attitude is not my attitude and her problems are not my problems. I am more likely to write a book in which I complain about sour-faced old ugly white British people crashing around complaining and ruining MY canal holiday! Who goes cruising without bothering to find out where they actually are? "Kill me if I ever do that!"

It's only a quick slice of the book, but it demonstrates what irritates me about these people, their conversations, their traveling. I think that perhaps the biggest irritation is that instead of taking things in stride and laughing at themselves, playing their (small) problems for comedy and drama or education, the author stridently demands tea and sympathy. She had to endure the dirty feet of the riffraff!! And she had to bail out the boat with a pint glass!! that she kept in her handbag!! Many of these little problems could be quirky/funny/dramatic but instead the author has chosen to be Put Upon. You can imagine her cornering you at parties, with Tim standing behind her, making 'hilarious' statements like "Yes! The dog cannot swim! Har har!"

My demographic is female, university researcher, age 18-25. This book was not written for this demographic.

I would recommend it to retired people in their late 60s who deeply appreciate the acting work of Timothy Spall, don't care much about the technicalities of boating, and are thinking about cancer.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2014 4:43 PM BST


Good Husband Material
Good Husband Material
Price: £1.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old book reissued - doesn't hold up as well, 2 April 2013
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I enjoy Trisha Ashley's books very much, and I pre-ordered this one without realizing that it's a Kindle re-issue of an older book. Written in 2000 and set in the late 90's, it still has the charming village feel and slow-burn romance of Ashley's other books, but it's pretty dated in some ways.

You know what you're getting with a Trisha Ashley, and this is it - it's the same plot as "Chocolate Wishes" or "Sowing Secrets" and many more, as other reviewers have pointed out. It is NOT in the rural Lancashire area that most of her more recent books are set in, and you won't spot any recurring characters (which is rather fun to do in her newer books, which are charmingly interlinked).

I think her newer books are better ("Twelve Days of Christmas" being my favorite, with the strongest heroine and most unique plot). This one is pretty rote and recycled if you've read any of her other books. She's also gotten much stronger as a writer, so this one is disappointing if you're expecting that. I wouldn't say it was a must-read, especially for the expensive Kindle price.

It was definitely enjoyable in its way, but I don't appreciate paying this much for a "new" book written in 2000 at the bottom of the author's writing talents.


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