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Dr. W "Life is NOT an Instagram opportunity®"

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Stone Kingdoms
Stone Kingdoms
by David Park
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Park promises plenty, produces perpetually pedestrian prose, 15 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stone Kingdoms (Paperback)
Oh my! Having just read The Truth Commissioner, The Big Snow, and Swallowing the Sun, all of which were excellent, I arrive at this; an unbearably pedestrian tale told by a writer completely away from his comfort zone or knowledge base. Stone Kingdoms is a rambling, incoherent tale with no real plot, very little pace, a few poorly drawn characters and a lethargy which is crushing. It appears to be fiction written from secondary research and as Park himself confessed on Belfast TV, "writing is not a magical process, it is hard work" - and this work is a testament which embodies such sentiment. it has none of the dynamism, and energy of the other, aforementioned works nor none of their pace and prose, it is excruciatingly languid and took all my patience to finish. Next time I chose a Park novel, I will stick to what he writes best - Northern Ireland, and suggest you, dear reader, do the same.


Winsor & Newton 14ml Drawing Ink Bottle - Black Indian
Winsor & Newton 14ml Drawing Ink Bottle - Black Indian
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Too small, too expensive, and viscous, 9 Feb. 2017
I have used a variety of ins for sketching with dip pens and this is proportionately the most expensive and the worst. Prior to this I have used both Waterman and Parker's regular fountain pen ink and they worked great in terms of colour, viscosity, density, and drying time. As they both also come in much larger bottles they are also significantly cheaper. This W&N ink is not really regular ink, but behaves more like an acrylic ink insofar as it is extremely viscous to the point of requiring thinning it. In terms of logistics, the bottle is far too small (14ml), and the opening is barely large enough to get a dip pen in meaning you have to concentrate each time so as not to get ink on your pen handle. Having purchased one bottle (my last) I really cannot see any benefits of this over the other products mentioned above.


The Truth Commissioner
The Truth Commissioner
by David Park
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing way to tackle issues of truth in Northern Ireland, 8 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: The Truth Commissioner (Paperback)
When discussing literature, people too often describe a work as 'important' - in most cases, especially with regard to fiction I don't get the inference behind such an expression, as any immediately obvious 'importance' of the work cited so often eludes. In a previous review of Park's work I drew the similarity between Barthe's notion of a writerly text and Park's fiction, and it is within that realm where I think this work is genuinely important. I state that because of the way Park blends fact and fiction to create a means of getting closer to the Truth. As is often the case with Northern Irish comedy (which isn't often strictly 'funny' per se) they use comedic 'fictions' to tackle political or social problems and use satire as a cloak to speak truth to power. In Park's case he has taken non-fiction events (in part or whole) and washed these through a semi-fictional narrative which allows the reader to draw upon multiple sub-narratives, and threads to arrive (hopefully) at some greater point of understanding than had this been approached in a purely linear manner. It is arguable that this point of understaffing,may ultimately be closer to the Truth than any conclusions drawn from the endless symposia, forums, meetings, conferences, and debates which have taken place here in Belfast since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998. Furthermore a la 'comedy' mentioned prior, the format that Park has created also allows for much deeper and subtle criticism, and critique, than had he approached the subject face on (like news media so often does), and it is also this which renders the work extremely important. In Northern Ireland, there is a massive disconnect between what the ‘dogs in the street know’ and what actually gets picked up, extrapolated,and ultimately becomes the fabric of the standard narratives and what Park has done with this work is to show a wider audience the inner machinations of Northern irish society and in doing so, in some magditudinal cathartic gesture has given society here a legitimate way to review the past and to question how this can be integrated into the future.


The Big Snow
The Big Snow
by David Park
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling near its best, 2 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: The Big Snow (Paperback)
This is a superb collection of intertwined narrative which all take place at different locations within a given timeframe. A postmodern tour de force, 'Snow' is part of a movement representing the late flourishing of postmodern ideals; self-referential, playful, multiplicitous, and ultimately a good example of a writerly text, which, without the stamp of authority for conveying Truths (absolute) offers to the reader a gentler, co-constructed exchange of storytelling which in many regards repositions the novel back in its oral tradition. As per Swallowing the Sun (2004) The Big Snow has a similar tone and style of prose which can be described as deceptively simple, and whilst Park is no Raymond Carver, his stripped down literary style and his exceptionally well-drawn characters, not to mention, his aptitude for telling a good story all come to the fore in this work. Park has an ability to draw the reader close and make reading his work seem very personal. Some stories, notably: Against the Cold and The Big Snow are about as good as anything I have ever read, and this is really worth the read.


Unicorn Oche Mate - Black/White/Gold/Red
Unicorn Oche Mate - Black/White/Gold/Red
Offered by Darts Corner
Price: £5.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Geometry saves the day, 29 Dec. 2016
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This review is from: Unicorn Oche Mate (Sports Apparel)
Great simple item saves time and energy in positioning the oche. Uses simple geometry to determine the length of the oche from the face of the dart board - ingenious solution to a usually troublesome task.


Swallowing the Sun
Swallowing the Sun
by David Park
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and intriguing read well worth the investment of time and energy, 29 Dec. 2016
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This review is from: Swallowing the Sun (Paperback)
I saw Park on a local TV programme talking about this work, and was very intrigued by both him and the story. Despite living in Belfast for the last three years I had not heard of Park, nor read any fiction from the City. StS is both well written and well constructed, it is engaging and has well drawn characters, the plot (for the most part, save the ending) is thoroughly believable and it certainly is no 'read by numbers' - with several plot changes and twists which keep the reader engrossed. Living in the City where the book is based I also felt that Park managed the difficult task of name-dropping, very well indeed. Although names and places were dropped - and this will have added to the enjoyment for those of us 'in the know' it was subtle and unpretentious enough to not make this read for the choir, and to shut out others. To summate, an interesting and intriguing read well worth the investment of time and energy; I'm looking forward to reading other works by the author.


The Marble Collector
The Marble Collector
by Cecelia Ahern
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag (of marbles), 15 Dec. 2016
This review is from: The Marble Collector (Paperback)
There is nothing fundamentally flawed about this book insofar as rendering it terrible, unreadable, or boring - accusations raised by previous reviewers. That said, however, it is 'lacking' in some key regards, but firstly the plus points. I was lent this book by a colleague during an invigilation session, it is one of the few books (the only??) I have ever read which is both entertaining AND allowed the reader to dip in and out without losing the plot. So if you are looking for a train/plane read it is perfect for that. The characters are reasonably well drawn and quite believable although they can be a little two-dimensional the story is interesting, charming, and quite moving in places. What is wrong with the book then? Well it jumps around (globally) it's clearly written by an Irish writer about Eire and suddenly it is set in the USA and prices are quoted in U$D, likewise, some vocabulary is contrived - perhaps for the American market - this 'processing' ultimately demeans the story and diminishes the credibility of the narrative. Other criticisms lie in the gender balance of the piece. Ahern doesn't write men or boys very well at all - whilst she might have grown up around a lot of brothers (??) she lacks the ability to penetrate the male characters and animate them beyond surface and superficial masks of stereotypical machismo. A good deal of the male dialogue is quite inauthentic and clearly lacks primary grounding. Following on from this is the slightly misandristic matriarchal undertones which not only render the hero a heroine, but also play too heavily on how capable, and how overworked/undervalued mothers are whilst simultaneously extolling the virtues of the protagonist mother to the nth degree.

Despite the criticisms levied above, i would recommend this but only if you could get it for less than full price!


The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal
The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal
by Parker J. Palmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT 'The Courage to Teach' but a COMPANION BOOK, 18 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Deceitfully appeared in an Amazon search for 'The Courage to Teach' (fantastic book ★★★★☆) with the same picture on the front and very ambiguous wording that clearly does not make a categorical distinction between this as a companion text and the original. This, in my opinion borders on the dishonest and Amazon needs to make this clear on their website.


Set of Six Moroccan Tea Glasses- Blue
Set of Six Moroccan Tea Glasses- Blue
Offered by Moroccan Bazaar
Price: £16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for tealights, 2 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are really lovely glasses for tea-lights. Not sure I would consider using them as drinking glasses, though. Also, another reviewer said that theirs broke, but these are pretty sturdy glasses and to be honest I would have preferred them to be a bit MORE delicate. The only slight minus I have is that as I want to use them for tea-light I would have preferred a mixed box and would suggest to the seller that they split boxes and sell them with two glasses of three colours in them, that way they will expand their market and potential customer base.
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TOOGOO(R) Billiard/Pool/Snooker Towel Cloth Cue Shaft Slicker Burnisher Cue Shaft Cleaner Polisher
TOOGOO(R) Billiard/Pool/Snooker Towel Cloth Cue Shaft Slicker Burnisher Cue Shaft Cleaner Polisher
Offered by Candy Lighting
Price: £1.37

1.0 out of 5 stars Utter rubbish; avoid!, 15 May 2015
Is absolutely not 'fit for purpose' as laid out in the Sale of Goods Act (1979, section 14) . Firstly it does not slide all the way down a standard (Powerglide) cue, and secondly it has hard material inside - something like the hook side off of velcro. This is likely to cause damage to the cue and cannot (should not) be used by anyone who cares about their cue. Utter rubbish.


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