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Reviews Written by
A. J. Russell-pattison "Tony" (Manchester. U.K.)

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And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures In A Cloistered Life
And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures In A Cloistered Life
by Jane Christmas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bridget Jones Goes Benedictine, 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is ,as you will gather from the blurb, is the story of Jane Christmas. A lady in her fifties with a few ex husbands who decides to investigate her life long yearning for religious life commencing unfortunately at the exact time that her current beau asks her to marry him. He is very understanding and off she goes to "experience" life in three convents and one monastery over an unusually long period. Ostensibly an Anglican our author stays with two Anglican order of sisters and one Catholic monastery and a Catholic convent.

I should, perhaps, have known from the title and should have been certain by the cover design but still I plunged ahead. The sad history of this lady and her avowed self disclosure of religious journey should have been moving I suppose, but no.

Bemused, I looked at the other reviews on Amazon of this book. They fall neatly into two groups. The majority ravers and the minority dissenters. I position myself squarely with the later. This is not a good book.

Why? It feels and reads disingenuously. Another reviewer felt that the author was just gathering information for a new book and spun the story around it. I tend to agree.

Our author starts with an Anglican order of sisters in Canada. Here she muses on the inadequacies of the breadth and diversity of Anglican theology and longs for the dogmatic certainties of Rome. Later in her Roman Catholic stays she rails against that very dogmatism and longs for the Anglican latitude. Then to the Isle of White to stay at Worth Abbey (RC...monks) and St Cecilia's Abbey (RC...Sisters). Here she becomes surprised at the fact that RC sisters adhere to RC dogma (painting a very bleak picture of the sisters in particular ). She is affronted that the good sisters have an age limit of admissions.

For someone with a life long hunch that she might have wanted to enter religious life she seems to have done bugger all research. All the orders she visited have excellent websites with detailed information on all aspects of vocations, including usual age ranges (this book was published in 2013 not 1960). Someone who has had a yearning for religious life would surely have some knowledge about the differences in Anglican and Roman Catholic theology ( particularly as she has parents ,one of each denomination ) but she comes across as an astonished adolescent. This is why it feels disingenuous .

The counterfeit feel and breathless adolescent style was not to my taste and the humour, minimal at best.

If you have read some of the rave reviews that state that this book is quite spiritual, it isn't . If you read that it is an excellent book for those considering entering religious life, it isn't ( contact your national vocations office of the denomination of your choice).

Sorry Jane. I won't be bothering with your other books and sorry if this upsets you but you published it and I paid for it so that gives me a say!

Air Wick Freshmatic Max Air Freshener Refill Lush Hideaway 250ml (Pack of 4)
Air Wick Freshmatic Max Air Freshener Refill Lush Hideaway 250ml (Pack of 4)
Offered by UK Business Supplies
Price: £15.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who thought I would grow up to be an air freshener reviewer? Ah well!, 27 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Air Wick Freshmatic Max Refill Lush Hideaways 250 ml (Pack of 4)

Who thought I would grow up to be an air freshener reviewer? Ah well!

A bit of context. I live in a Vicarage. Not some quaint rose adorned abode named "The Vicarage" but a real one, with a Vicar, on a large housing estate in Manchester. As such this is very much a working Vicarage with meetings in the sitting room, eager parents wanting Christenings, chatting in the study and all manner of callers. As the Housekeeper I want the place to look and smell nice for all these people. A slight draw back being that both the Vicar and I smoke and we have a dog that when wet could win prizes for the most pungent wet dog smell imaginable! Thus my obsession with cleaning and nice smells!

To date I have relied mostly on scented candles for planned meetings (quite good) and plug in three scent diffusers from Ambi Pure (good but costly) for background scenting and, of course, good old fresh air, although our elderly parishioners are not that keen on artic freshness when trying to talk to the Vicar!

So I thought I would try this product for the first time and see how it goes.

It comes complete with batteries (which was a relief) and, if you follow the instructions, is easy to assemble into the working object. I am not sure what the "four pack" refers to, unless it's the casing, two batteries and the aerosol can with the fragrance which makes up the quartet. The casing is black and so unobtrusive in our house as most of our furniture is dark wood, I would imagine it would be stark in the modern home with lots of fashionable white, but not a problem here.
The first decision was where to place it. Given that it dispenses a squirt of fragrance regularly it needs most definitely not to be at head height where it could (despite the 15 second delay) catch someone in the face. We plumped for the entrance hall as the foot fall is greater there.

The fragrance is dispensed by the unit activating the aerosol automatically with a distinctive "pssst" sound. This is something you get used to after a bit but initially I kept thinking someone was trying to attract my attention! You can have it on three settings, low to high. We had it on low, which seemed more than adequate.

Compared to my previous methods of air freshening (see above) there is, on activation, inevitably a strong concentration of scent that you can almost taste, not thrilled with this bit, but it does diffuse quickly. The scent, it is claimed, is multi-layered (wild berry, coconut and fresh mint in the can I received). The scent is ok as to whether it is "multi-layered", how would you tell? I have been using mine on minimum for a month now and there seems plenty left to go in the can, so it does last.

Would I buy it again? Yes, for the entrance hall it works well. I am not sure I would want one in all the rooms as being followed round by a series of hissing sounds would not appeal and would I think be a little too strong and pricey given the cost.

Strange Glory: A life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Strange Glory: A life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
by Charles Marsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.18

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence and Inspiration for the "ordinary" reader, 23 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am no theologian or academic, just a jobing Christian from the pews. As such I have, over the years, perused many spiritual writings looking for inspiration and it is in this context that I first read any of the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That said, my reading was mostly what might be called devotional (terrible word!); "No Greater Love: Lenten Meditations"/"God is on The Cross:Reflections on Lent and Easter" to be precise. These two books were along the lines of daily thoughts taken from Bonhoeffer's writing and included, of course, a brief introduction to the man himself. You get the idea?
I found his writings an inspiration indeed and was equally drawn to the man and his legend, this almost contemporary saint who has fascinated so many.

Charles Marsh's biography "Strange Glory" caught my eye and so I requested a copy. On arrival the book is frighteningly imposing in both size and style. The immaculate pedigree of the author, the copious end notes, the diligent and lengthy index all conspire to say to the ordinary reader (i.e. me) here is a seriously heavy book which may be beyond you. But no it isn't.

Marsh's writing style flows logically in an accessible manner that neither under or over rates the reader. The insertion of a bewildering array of source material enhances the timelines. We are taken on a journey from Bonhoeffers rather privileged childhood (when compared to mine) through his ministry, relationships, travels, thoughts and ultimately to his famous death. Here we are introduced to a man not a saint, with all the foibles of his nature. Here we meet those important to him within an historical context which in many ways brings the man down to size from the saintly pedestal on which he is so often placed. In doing this Marsh has done a great service to people like me in that the humanness of this man's life, plainly stated, brings the saint within reach.

I enjoyed this book very much. It took some effort, in no way a quick read, but well worth the effort. The author himself comes across as gracious (read the Aknowledgments!), diligent in the extreme and someone who wants his work to illuminate rather than obfuscate his subject for as many people as possible , not just the academic elite who occasionally write in high code for each other alone.
I highly recommend it!

Alice and the Fly
Alice and the Fly
by James Rice
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow....., 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Alice and the Fly (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gregory Hall, a teenager with mega phobias, infatuations and ,as is skilfully and agonisingly revealed ,major mental illness. These are his journals written potentially to the object of his infatuation, Alice ,over one very fateful Christmas and New Year. Interspacing our protagonists journal entries ,unevenly ,are police interview transcripts with those close to Greg, which very cleverly introduce to the readers mind the suspicion that all is far from well.

To reveal more of the story line would not be good but I have to say that this is one of the best debut novels I have read. The Author is skilled in generating a horrific anticipation that starts off gently and gains momentum. The language and imagery are appropriate for the age of the journaler and from within that format he manages to produce a storyline redolent with sinister atmosphere.

In the cover blurb the Author says that story is part biographical. Given the uncanny grip of the torments of the mentally ill teenager displayed here I sincerely hope that this is true in only a very slight part. In the same cover material the Author says he wanted to write a book that was ultimately about love and hope, in this I am fairly certain he did not succeed. A book about the lack of love and poignant hopelessness maybe.

This is an excellent book, you should read it (as should every mental health care professional!)

Cole & Mason One-Handed Oxley Salt and Pepper Mill Gift Set - Chrome/Silver, 14.5 cm
Cole & Mason One-Handed Oxley Salt and Pepper Mill Gift Set - Chrome/Silver, 14.5 cm
Price: £37.27

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They are nice, don't get me wrong, 6 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I seem to have amassed a collection of salt and pepper pots ( these will be the fifth set). It's not some weird hobby I just haven't found that one "special" set that I can bond with for eternity and having tried these out I still haven't.

They are nice, don't get me wrong, but nice only. Let's start at the beginning. The packaging is a cool dark red which compliments the silver and black of the pots visible inside. The instructions are clear and straight forward. The write up pure marketing hyperbole ( the makers are passionate about seasoning and want to open for you a world of flavour!). The pots look cool in silver and black with the Cole and Mason name on the front and they come ready stacked with salt and pepper to get you on your way ( nice touch).

On the plus side they actually work. One handed grinding is now within your grasp. You can alter the size of your grinding easily and they are especially helpful when you need to season and stir at the same time. As such I found these most useful in the kitchen while cooking.

On the down side, while they look good, the lack of weight and the jerky "grindy action" make them feel , not exactly cheap, but not the state of the art table wear the manufacturers would have you believe and pay for ( they are not cheap).

Many of you, like me, will have been told at school that "nice" is an insipid word. These are nice only at that price (£37:95 currently on Amazon ) but functional in the kitchen.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Tomorrow and Tomorrow
by Tom Sweterlitsch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a truly accomplished book. The plot outlines on the products page gives you the outline story, I want to give you how I experienced it!

The main character is skilfully and poignantly drawn. The "future" age after the destruction of Pittsburgh is woven with great art to be believable and compelling. In particular the "adware" inserted into the brains of people seems a really terrifying possibility for the not too distant future, and its the abilities this product gives to wander the recorded past and to be embroiled in an almost parallel but intimately connected universe that gives both the background and backbone of this excellent book.

Books I love I nearly always read quickly in a few sittings but for various reasons this was not possible for me with this book. Normally if my reading is interrupted I need to back read sections before moving on. This was not the case here and I think that is a testament to crystal clarity of the writing and the engaging story.

I want to give nothing away of the subtle and stylish intricacies of the plot but impress upon you how impressive I found it!

The Good Priest: A Father Vincent Ross Mystery (Father Vincent Ross Mystery 1)
The Good Priest: A Father Vincent Ross Mystery (Father Vincent Ross Mystery 1)
by Gillian Galbraith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book, 16 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The murder mystery premised on knowledge of dastardly deeds acquired by a priest in confession is not a new approach. It is, however a rich seam and this book mines it well. Our hero Father Vincent Ross, a parish priest hears a murderers confession , initially he does not know who it is but it breeds a nightmare for him. I won't go into the plot in any further detail as it will spoil it but will tell you how I found the book.

I really enjoyed this book. Our hero is realistically portrayed as a human priest while avoiding any of the sentimental portraits given in clerical hero type books which can over sentimentalise and make pious the clergy hero. The supporting characters both clergy , laity and police are also realistically constructed within a contemporary setting where clerical child abuse and cover ups are no longer unthinkable.

The plot flows beautifully and swiftly but with sufficient twists to keep the reader intrigued and engaged. The culmination of the plot , however ,seemed rather abrupt and I wish it had been more meaty or at least more something, an anticlimax to a novel I really enjoyed.

My first Gillian Galbraith read but not, I think, my last!

Mr Muscle Oxy Stain Remover Fresh Scent
Mr Muscle Oxy Stain Remover Fresh Scent
Offered by Wisdom Trading Online

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wondreful but whiffless!, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As any if you who have read some of my reviews before (are there review groupies ?) I have two things which make me review carpet cleaning products frequently. One a light coloured sitting room carpet and an adorable but messy golden Labrador !

This spay carpet or upholstery cleaner uses the oxygen method to remove stains, can't say I understand it but it does work. I have used it mainly for spot carpet cleaning, muddy paw prints etc and once for a small sick episode. The cleaning ability is rather good and does the job although the "fresh scent" resulting is rather overly subtle, at least to me ,in that I can't actually smell it! It may be that I got a dud bottle but I think not as the carpet smelt ok after cleaning up the sick, sort of neutral rather than fresh, but i am not complaining!

Handy thing to have in!

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules
by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but wearing, 21 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

This has not been an easy book to review ,so much so that I broke my self imposed reviewing rule and looked at the other many reviews of it on Amazon. The wide range of reviews from terrible to wonderful made me feel a little better in my difficulty!

The plot of these Swedish pensioners sweetly fighting the iniquities of retirement home regimes where profit must trump care by undertaking lucrative robberies to benefit themselves and ultimately other pensioners, is more than adequately described in the promo blurb and the many other reviews. Unlike other reviewers I have never read any other book by the same author.

So why did I find it so difficult? The gait and lilt of the writing style initially seemed appropriate to the age and condition of the elderly protagonists or possibly may be attributed partially to the translation from Swedish. At first it seemed sweet and gentle but over time it became somewhat wearing and tiring and led to me putting the book down for long periods.

True, the story is sweet and endearing and it does deal with some important issues in relation to the treatment and attitude of society towards the elderly but, at least for me, the style and flow was too lugubrious. It's like a prolonged and slightly draining marathon of Last of the Summer Wine! Worthy but wearing

Men Rock Cut Throat Shavette
Men Rock Cut Throat Shavette
Price: £9.49

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool but scarey, 20 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Menrock: The Cut Throat Shavette

I have only once had a shave with a cut throat razor and that was at a barbers which specialised in such things. It was a real treat and felt great.

That being the case I jumped at the chance to try this home edition cut throat razor although things didn’t quite turn out as planned!
But first. The packaging is grand. All sepia and maroon (very masculine) and featuring a picture of a partially shaved and very attractive young man who looks frighteningly cool. Inside is the razor wrapped in tissue paper and a small tube of “love heart” sweets (not sure why?). The overall effect is cool and blokey, although calling the razor a “shavette” adds a rather camp note.

As you would imagine the razor comes with blades which are easy to attach and the whole thing is simple and stylish. A friend suggested that before launching myself at my own face with what can be a quite scarey looking piece of kit that I practice by shaving foam off a balloon. Good idea I thought and so that’s exactly what I did. Anyhow, many balloons later and with the room looking like a shaving foam canister had exploded I admitted defeat. I hate balloons popping and so was a little psychologically if not physically shredded at this point!

So there you have it. Looks stylish and classy. Well made and very cool. How does it shave? No idea. Too frightened to try it! Now seeking medical help for possible tremors!

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