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Ana (SW England)

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Caldura 40 litre Silent Mini Fridge (White)
Caldura 40 litre Silent Mini Fridge (White)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really IS silent, 14 Jan. 2013
I really recommend this product. It's the second one I've had, for an office. The first one lasted about 5 years I think, which doesn't seem bad. And I suspect it only died when it did due to my not having defrosted it regularly enough, and us having placed a tray on top, over the air vent (oops).

It really IS silent, which is the key thing for me, as I am neurotic about electrical noise and hums, and I can always hear the PCs and flourescent tubes in a room. The fridge is about two metres from me, and doesn't make a peep. Really good chill, too, and a great capacity. Our first one was the 30 litre, and it was very good for some milk and water bottles, but the 40 litre adds a lot more internal capacity for very little additional external size, so I'd definitely pick the 40 litre again.

Emotionally Durable Design: Objects, Experiences and Empathy
Emotionally Durable Design: Objects, Experiences and Empathy
by Jonathan Chapman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.99

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to its promise - lacking in substance, 17 Aug. 2011
(edit, 31.8.11: when I posted the below review, there was only one other review of this book, from May 2010 - a positive review. Then a reviewer took exception to the fact that I hadn't enjoyed the book, even though I had explained why. The reviewer made comments in response to my own review, and in the four days that have followed, an additional NINE reviews of the book have appeared, all either 4 or 5 stars, and all (but one) from reviewers who have (as of today) never before reviewed on Amazon (that 'one' has two reviews - both of the same author, on the same day). Of course there will always be others who enjoy a book more than I do, and I take no exception to those whose opinion contrasts with my own. But for nine new reviewers to rave about a book within a couple of days (when the books has been long available and unreviewed on Amazon), straight after one person made a noise about their annoyance at my 1 star review... well it smacks of a potential abuse of the Amazon reviewing system by individuals with a vested interest in a positive Amazon rating. This is a first in my experience of Amazon (perhaps my being ruffled by it means I have been naive!), but though all reviewers start somewhere, it makes one wary of putting too much faith in reviewers who don't have a solid reviewing record. A real shame.)

I really wanted to enjoy this book, I was so excited by its premise. But I found it a real let down, flimsy, and not well written.

The book is incredibly repetitive. Frequently I flicked back several chapters because a few lines seemed familiar, only to find I'd already read them. And the chapter summaries run to pages, and seem to me so lengthy that they seem to exclude little from the full version of the chapter. Sometimes the same thing is explained in almost the same words on two consecutive pages. For at least the first 60 pages I wondered whether the book was going to get going at all, but realised it carried on similarly, never getting to what I would expect from the `meat' of a study of this kind.

Chapman calls on designers to create products and objects that consumers will want to hold on to for longer and claims he will examine why so much perfectly good `stuff' ends up at landfill and how `emotionally durable' items may help combat that high turnover of material goods.

Chapman provides a `tool kit of ideas' after his chapter summaries; perhaps if I were a designer this would work for me, but as a general reader, it left me wanting. I anticipated examples of emotionally durable design - surely it exists? Surely there are products we grow attached to?? But Chapman didn't stray far beyond denim jeans as an example of such a product. For the most part the book is speculative and non-committal and - for me - unconvincing.

Chapman tells me little I don't already know about why I hold onto some things for longer than others, but where his title suggests objects to be the focus of his study, Chapman gets preoccupied with machines, technology, the things regularly rendered obsolete by upgrades, and the question why they are relegated to landfill. His answer is that there are always newer things which perform the same tasks either faster, more efficiently, take up less space, have larger capacity or employ new technology. Yet he advocates investing some of these items with greater emotional durability to ensure consumers won't rush to upgrade. But Chapman doesn't examine the business or capitalist factors surrounding built-in technical obsolescence, the fact that building, say, a washing machine to last for life isn't always considered good business by the manufacturers. For the same reasons, so many goods are cheaper to replace than repair, or parts for repairs are hard or impossible to come by, or the problem areas are within sealed units that consumers can't access to fix. Chapman seems to ignore these aspects of a capitalist society, but while he would like designers to adopt an `emotionally durable' design ethic, he doesn't explore the fact that it's not necessarily the industrial designer calling the shots in this respect.

Where Chapman considers technology that attempts to harness empathy, he falls back on robots as his example - from household robots to companion `pet' type devices, rather than the more commonly `consumed' objects he would like to see given emotional durability. Whilst he considers how emotional durability depends in part on getting to know objects over time (a gadget which becomes attuned to its user over time, say), he doesn't suggest how this might be achieved in functional items like (again) the washing machine. How much can be held back in a washing machine for the owner to get to know over time?

This doesn't feel to me like an accomplished work. Perhaps the start of something good, published prematurely? The blurb on the back claims that Chapman "address[es] the actual causes that underpin the environmental crisis we face", but I don't feel he does this at all. Perhaps he explains why consumers find it so easy to give up their old mobile for a new one, but he does not provide a convincing alternative of a consumer society where design ensures a slower turn-over of goods. Beyond the roles of designer and consumer we have capitalist market forces, manufacturers and competitive multinationals with agendas at odds with Chapman's.

The book I read next, Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough was a marked contrast. Also concerned with the environmental factors surrounding product design, that book is instead bristling with ideas and insights, and tangible examples to illustrate its theory. I must read it again and get a proper review written.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2011 6:18 PM BST

Place: A Short Introduction (Short Introductions to Geography)
Place: A Short Introduction (Short Introductions to Geography)
by Tim Cresswell
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable & accessible introduction but could do with proofing, 17 Aug. 2011
I have found this to be a really valuable introduction to the concept of place in academic study, and coming from a non-geographical background doesn't hunder my enjoyment of the book. Cresswell writes in an accessible and pleasing way, talking the reader methodically through the field, and signposting further reading or lines of inquiry throughout, in addition to a collated chapter of resources and research at the end of the book. Cresswell draws on case studies by key geographers to illustrate his exploration of the subject, yet his writing style ensures that the text reads like a well constructed narrative rather than a series of citations or extracts. He refers back to earlier, connected points as he progresses. I will certainly refer back to this book in my future explration of 'place'.

My only gripe would be with this 2004 print of the book. The proofing is either lazy or absent. The use of the comma is incredibly random and often lacking - so many sentences require a second reading - and the liberal typos 'of' for 'or', 'out' for 'our', etc. are distracting. Cresswell also alternates between UK and US spelling. A good proof would have done better justice to his helpful text. I see the second edition is due out in October 2012 - I hope the publishers pick up these sloppy errors.

No Title Available

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious!, 2 July 2010
I first had this as a sample sachet free with another Korres purchase. I used it solely under my eyes until the sachet was gone, and it lasted ages, just a tiny dot around each eye each day. It really seemed to make my eyes look fresher and brighter, and the smell of roses is intense and absolutely gorgeous. It's really light, and very 'wet', not at all greasy or creamy - because that's how serums are I suppose!

I bought the full product and have been using it every morning after washing my face with the Korres green tea cleansing wash. I tone with organic rose water and moisturise with Korres wild rose 24 hour moisturiser, apart from around my eyes where I use the serum. I am a bit of a Korres nut, because the fragrances really make me feel wonderful, and Korres is less artificial than many products around, although by no means 100% free of 'nasties'. It's a bit of a half-way house I think, on the chemical-reduction front, but the products feel like quality to me, and I'm enjoying using them.

I do find the serum makes the around-eye area seem firm and bright. Certainly it remains moisturised through the day. Can take a little while for the serum to soak in, but I find it doesn't remain shiny.

It's hard to tell the exact effect this is having around my eyes, because at night I'm using the Korres Evening Primrose eye cream. That product arrived out of date (not from an Amazon supplier) and I was refunded but told to keep it, so I'm using it up. That is supposed to reduce dark shadows, which has certainly happened. So I can't tell whether one product is working better for me than the other, but between them, my around-eye area is tighter and brighter, less dark in terms of shadows (which I have always been prone to) and lass baggy, something I had also been prone to. Tonight I looked at myself in the mirror, feeling exhausted after a heavy week at work, and I didn't LOOK exhausted at all. My eyes looked bright!! A bit of a miracle considering how haggard I have sometimes thought I look when I feel like this. That's what prompted me to write a review suddenly after using the serum for several months without reviewing. I thought, something's working on my face! I'm also eating lots of fruit though, and get a good and balanced diet, so of course I don't put everything down to products.

For background, I'm 34, my skin is combination and I never wear foundation or powder, but I wear mascara, so take that off using a natural cleanser (not Korres).

I will very likely continue buying this, I can't think of reasons not to. I can't give five stars because I don't like the pump dispenser. It's a rigid cylinder with a pump which regulates how much is dispensed. I find this gives me more than I need for just around both eyes, so I am using the product faster than I would otherwise. It is a small amount dispensed, and if you were using it all over your face that may not be a problem. But I need a little less with each application, and the pump doesn't allow me that choice. Others have said they find the pump hygeinic, which is a fair point, but I would prefer a tube.

Reasons to Be Cheerful: from Punk to New Labour Through the Eyes of a Dedicated Troublemaker
Reasons to Be Cheerful: from Punk to New Labour Through the Eyes of a Dedicated Troublemaker
by Mark Steel
Edition: Paperback

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worked for me!, 23 May 2006
It's taken me a long time to get around to reading this - I bought it when I saw Mark Live at Pendennis Castle, must have been soon after it was published. He was superb; my boyfriend had told me I'd enjoy the show, and I did.

But now I've finally read Reasons to be Cheerful, I'm a little bit in love with Mark Steel - an intelligent, passionate, political man who makes me laugh - and wish I could remember anything he'd said to us after the show...

I've nodded in agreement all the way through the book, at Steel's spot-on similes. In 1997 I was (naively) voting New Labour in my first General Election, aged only 21. But as Steel's commentary on times I remember seems so astute and in tune with my own recollections, I'm happy to have him form part of my education of the politics and events I just missed out on.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone even slightly left wing, or just anyone intelligent with a sense of humour. Steel had me giggling like an idiot on my own at the bus-stop, and looking forward to the usually laborious bus-ride either side of my working day.

But it's not all laughs. Steel write so lucidly and accessibly about his political road to adulthood, at turns making me frustrated and angry at world events I'd forgotten, and moving me with poignant episodes from his personal life.

Half way through, I couldn't stop myself ordering Steels's other two books, which should be with me tomorrow.

Perhaps most importantly, I really DID feel cheered by Mark Steel's words, buoyed by his eternal optimism. I also started to feel I'm not doing enough. I write letters, I go on the odd march, I live responsibly, I shop ethically, blah blah blah...but really, perhaps I should be doing more, shouting a bit louder...

Impossible Saints
Impossible Saints
by Michele Roberts
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and entrancing..., 9 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Impossible Saints (Paperback)
When I finished this book, I bought two more Michele Roberts novels on the back of it. I've yet to read them, but then, this book sat unread on my shelves for about four years.
A really smashing book. I particularly enjoyed the "shorts" between the excerpts from the main story. They were often quirky, the characters colourful, the setting timeless - sometimes it was very hard to tell whether the characters were very contemporary or medieval!!! I already look forward to re-reading. I agree with the previous reviewer that there is a fairytale element to these tales. In places I was reminded of Patrick Suskind's Perfume, just for the feel evoked...lovely!

To Kill A Mockingbird
To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.49

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, of course., 9 Aug. 2005
One of the books I had always thought I ought to read, but hadn't. Finally I read it, and it really is a beautiful book. I won't re-iteratre the plot, as other reviewers have beaten me to it. But the characters held me gripped throughout. I really enjoyed reading about Scout and her family, and the small town they inhabit.
It's frustrating, the ignorance of human beings demonstrated within, and the fact that we view this largely through the eyes of child does not make it any easier to take.
A really beautifully crafted book, whose characters (particularly the strong, principled Aticus) will stay with you long after you finish reading.

The Summer Book
The Summer Book
by Tove Jansson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.33

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly Perfect, 9 Aug. 2005
This review is from: The Summer Book (Paperback)
I absolutely adore this book, I couldn't fault it, I want to give it to everyone I know, and I will re-read it for years to come.
I bought the book three years ago, and had been waiting for the right time to read it (I find it hard to start to read books I am so looking forward to). I felt I would love it, and reviews suggested the same, so it didn't seem appropriate to read it on a bus to and from work, or on a dull Cornish day - I wanted the right environment in which to savour it. Finally, I found the perfect setting: a log cabin in the woods, this summer, on a bench sitting by a stream (don't worry if this isn't possible for you when you read it, there are other settings that will do just as well, Im sure!).
Though the book is fairly short, Jansson expertly instills in the reader a strong sense of her two main characters - Grandmother and Granddaughter, so you absolutely feel you know them and care for them. I see shades of my own Grandmother in there; the wisdom and wry humour. And perhaps shades of myself as a child, stubborn and impatient. The relationship is wonderful, it's solid, loving, but not overly-sentimental; Jansson caputures the niggles between the two with humour and poignancy.
I laughed throughout this book, and marvelled on most pages at the beautiful turns of phrase and the insightful observations of both Grandmother and Granddaughter.
My next reading of this book will be in the cold of Winter, in bed when the rain belts down outside. Then it will take me back to my own summer at the log cabin, but also to the Summer of Sophia and her Grandmother.
Surely it's time more of Tove Jansson's work for adults was translated into English, and her Autobiography re-printed? What are they playing at?!!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2011 4:07 PM BST

by Banana Yoshimoto
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I loved it once, now I'm not so sure..., 9 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Lizard (Paperback)
When I first read this book two years ago, I loved it, and went and bought three more by Yoshimoto, most of which I have enjoyed. However, surprised by some reviews that suggest her prose is too simple, and her characters or stories under-developed, I re-read Lizard this week.
I'm not too sure, now. These stories are a very quick and easy read, and indeed they do keep me reading. There are lovely touches that make me smile. But on this reading I did feel that there was a lack of substance, that some of the stories were a bit shallow, and didn't really explore anything much.
I like my stories to be simple, and I don't need much plot to be kept entertained. Character is more important to me than action. Even so, I didn't feel quite satisfied by my second reading.
Since my first read, I have read a lot of Haruki Murakami, and my interest in Japanese writers has grown. I find Murakami a true master of character and story, and even simply of human emotion. Perhaps it's that Yoshimoto doesn't compare favourably, or perhaps I have been swayed by negative reviews. I do hope not. Perhaps I have just changed in my response to her work over the last two years...

Ink Dark Moon (Vintage Classics)
Ink Dark Moon (Vintage Classics)
by Jane Hishfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.56

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful, 29 July 2005
I want to let other potential readers know what a gorgeous book this is. From the point of view of a reader who is simply interested in Japan and Japanese culture, though not yet very knowledgeable about it, this book was hugely accessible and beautiful. One does not have to be a fan of poetry to appreciate this book.
I have given two copies as gifts already. What I found so beautiful was the absolute simplicity of the poems, and the strikingly contemporary thoughts, feelings and emotions expressed in them. Humans have not changed much, it seems.
Absolutely beautiful. I dip into the book from time to time, just to be blown away by the brevity of expression in each perfectly-formed piece. To read it as a whole is like a feast. I don't like to be disturbed, and ideally I will be somewhere quiet and out of doors.
Absolutely recommended 100% for anyone who in any way has an interest in human emotions.

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