Profile for Eleanor > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Eleanor
Top Reviewer Ranking: 465
Helpful Votes: 1440

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Eleanor (Oxford, England)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Mildew
Mildew
by Paulette Jonguitud
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A strange and vivid novella, 24 May 2015
This review is from: Mildew (Paperback)
First published in Mexico, and now translated by the author, "Mildew" is narrated by Constanza as, on the eve of her daughter's wedding, she discovers a small patch of green mould on her pubis. As the mildew spreads we are given an insight into Constanza's life and that of her niece - a troubled woman who has ripped her family apart.

I loved the charged atmosphere that Jonguitud creates and the way in which Constanza is both repulsed by and proud of her mildew. The characters are vividly drawn, their flaws draw you in, and Jonguitud's vivid often uncanny imagery makes for a rich and memorable novella.


Karate Chop & Minna Needs Rehearsal Space
Karate Chop & Minna Needs Rehearsal Space
by Dorthe Nors
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short stories and a novella, 17 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book consisting of a selection of (short) short stories and an experimental novella makes for a satisfying introduction to Dorthe Nors, a Danish author I hadn't encountered before. In her stories, with just a few pages Nors presents a dispassionate snapshot of her characters and then withdraws, often leaving the reader disturbed.

To describe the content of the stories further risks ruining a reader's enjoyment, but I particularly enjoyed 'The Buddhist', a chillingly convincing account of self-aggrandizing self-delusion, 'Mother, Grandmother, and Aunt Ellen' which explores toxic relatives and the stories we tell of them, the disturbing ambiguity of 'Mutual Destruction', and finally the humour and sweetness of 'The Big Tomato'.

The flipside of "Karate Chop" is "Minna Needs Rehearsal Space". The opening sentences introduce the novella's form:

Minna introduces herself.
Minna is on Facebook.
Minna isn't a day over forty.
Minna is a composer.

Over about 90 pages in this style Nors builds up a picture of Minna and her life, and as a reader you are swept along in her insecurities, frustrations, and moments of joy. There is nothing, perhaps, particularly special about Minna, but Nors's litany of small details, her sharp eye, and the contrast between Minna's interior and exterior life make this a very enjoyable read.


John Aubrey: My Own Life
John Aubrey: My Own Life
by Ruth Scurr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rescuing the past 'from the teeth of time', 2 May 2015
The antiquarian John Aubrey (1626-1697) wrote a lot but published little (in fact only a book of 'Miscellanies' was printed towards the very end of his life). However, he was a curious man who was continually writing on an immense variety of subjects. Aubrey's particular interest was Britain's past, its artefacts (both physical and oral) that were in danger of being lost. So Aubrey sought to record the ancient stones and stories, especially those of his home county Wiltshire, before they disappeared for good.

Scurr has selected extracts from Aubrey's scattered manuscripts and arranged them chronologically, so that the end result reads like his diary, from birth to death. The result is a wonderful book and I enjoyed it immensely. Aubrey speaks to you through the centuries giving his account of events both momentous (the Fire of London, the Civil War, the Restoration) and small ("I met Mr Hooke [the physicist] this evening at Cardinal's Tavern in Lombard Street. We drank until past midnight and Mr Hooke vomited up wine").

It's hard to believe that these are Aubrey's own words, but each entry is meticulously sourced with Scurr's interventions restricted to modernizing the words and spelling and adding words of her own 'to explain events or interactions that would otherwise be obscure and to frame or offset the charm of Aubrey's own turns of phrase'. Where I have compared Scurr's version with the original, Aubrey's words have been reproduced remarkably faithfully.

I would recommend this book to any reader, encouraging them to plunge straight into Aubrey's world. I'll finish, however, with a few of my favourite extracts which I hope will whet the appetite:

"To my great joy, I have been admitted, formally, to the Royal Society. Our meetings include experiments. Today I proposed to the learned company Mr Potter's idea of moving blood between chickens. But it was considered absurd and impossible: a blemish on the Society's reputation to experiment with such an idea. This embarrassed me very much and brought a hot blush to my cheeks. My stammer started up and was the worst it has been in years."

"Blood has been moved between two dogs for the first time. Before the Society, Mr King and Mr Thomas Coxe successfully performed the experiment on a small bulldog and a spaniel... No one takes any notice now of the fact that Mr Potter first thought of moving blood between animals. He and I tried it on chickens sixteen years ago: if only we had succeeded."

"A little before the Great Conflagration, somebody made a hole in the lead coffin of Dean Colet, which lay above the ground beneath his statue. I remember my friend Mr Wylde and Ralph Greatrex..decided to probe the Dean's body through the hole with a piece of iron curtain rod that happened to be near by. They found the body lay in liquor, like boiled brawn. The liquor was clear and insipid: they both tasted it. Mr Wylde said it had something of the tase of iron, but that might have been on account of the iron rod. This was a strange and rare way of conserving a corpse. Perhaps it was a pickle, as for beef. There was no ill smell."


Smart Weigh SMS500 Digital Bathroom Scale, High Accuracy, Dual Color Weight Change Detection and Smart Step-On Auto Recognition for 8 Users, Silver
Smart Weigh SMS500 Digital Bathroom Scale, High Accuracy, Dual Color Weight Change Detection and Smart Step-On Auto Recognition for 8 Users, Silver
Price: £34.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever scales, 2 May 2015
These are attractive and accurate scales that are able to remember your weight from previous visits, so you can compare the current reading with the previous reading. If several people are using the same scales then the scales store each user separately and will deliver a reading based on their profile. If two people are less than 2 kilograms apart then you have to manually indicate who is using the scale. You can choose whether the display shows pounds, stones/pounds, or kilos.

Another feature of the scales is that they glow green or red depending on whether you have lost/maintained or gained weight since the previous visit. I can see how this might be motivational, but as the scales are so sensitive they glow red even if you have gained 0.4 of a pound, for example, which really doesn't warrant a red warning display. You can, however, step off the scales before they start to glow red or green.

All in all these are good scales and handily come with batteries included. My only criticism is that these scales don't work on carpet, so I have to take them to an area with a hard floor before each use. However, they are very easy to recalibrate - you just need to step on and off quickly before weighing.

[I was given a free sample of this product for reviewing.]


Quicksand
Quicksand
by Steve Toltz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.59

4.0 out of 5 stars 'Being alive is a hostage situation', 20 April 2015
This review is from: Quicksand (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Liam is a would-be author and indifferent cop who one day realizes that his best friend Aldo could be the key to literary success. As a person who 'excretes' thought and absorbs misfortune, Aldo is an ideal muse ("I've swallowed bees. And at least twice a year a bird flies into my head. I always fall over when I'm in the middle of arguing with someone...").

As well as being a magnet for bad luck, Aldo suffers from a 'pathological entrepreneurialism' (his ideas include 'a ouija board with spellcheck, a chastity belt with biometric iris-recognition technology, and updating the handkerchief') and his failed get-reach-quick schemes have left a stream of violently angry investors in his wake.

"Quicksand" is a picaresque multi-layered novel stuffed with blackly-comic aphorisms. Toltz intersperses the humour with episodes of horror and despair, and in the end you feel the same love and frustration that Liam feels for his (literally) hard-to-characterize friend.


Winter Knitting: Patterns for the Family and Home
Winter Knitting: Patterns for the Family and Home
by MillaMia
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice variety of projects, 5 April 2015
"Winter Knitting" is a wide-ranging collection of Scandinavian-themed projects, encompassing, among other things, baby clothes, socks, cushion covers, cardigans, and scarfs. There are some lovely charts which can be adapted for other projects and some original ideas that you might not expect to find in a such a book, such as the authors' suggestion of turning gauge swatches into greetings cards. The book even includes some Scandinavian recipes.

All the projects are designed with MillaMia's Naturally Soft Merino in mind, a dk yarn usually knitted on 3.25mm needles. I have already made a pair of socks from the book and the pattern was easy to follow and I was pleased with the end result. I used the Kindle edition which works well on an iPad, although it would have been nice to have all the pictures of the finished projects in one place, or at least at the beginning of each project.

[I was given a free download of this book by the publishers for review.]


The Wellness Syndrome
The Wellness Syndrome
by Carl Cederström
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biomorality, 5 April 2015
This review is from: The Wellness Syndrome (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In this short polemic Carl Cederström and André Spicer argue that in the current climate, we now have a moral obligation to be happy and healthy. A consequence of this 'biomorality' is that certain behaviours such as smoking are stigmatized and the individual perpetrators of such behaviours become themselves the target of moral censure. This focus on the individual means that we are each held to be responsible for our own health and happiness, and this inward turn results in 'a creeping sense of anxiety that comes with the ever-present responsibility of monitoring every lifestyle choice' whilst simultaneously allowing outside factors such as inequality and job insecurity to be ignored.

"The Wellness Syndrome” is a well-argued and stimulating book which highlights the political ramifications of our society's seemingly beneficial promotion of wellness.


Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (Black)
Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (Black)
Price: £219.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good speaker, useless wireless, 5 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Panasonic speaker is designed to play music from devices such as a tablet or phone wirelessly (not via Bluetooth), allowing you to operate the speaker from anywhere in the house. In practice, this wireless functionality is deficient in a variety of ways and although I will continue to use the speaker (the sound quality is very good) it will be via an aux lead.

Firstly, before you can do anything, you have to install the Panasonic app. This is horrendously clunky and the fact that the screen doesn't even rotate with the device should raise alarm bells. Next you need to connect with the speaker from the settings of your device. I tried to do this from my iPad, but the speaker just didn't register and I couldn't go any further. My partner had better luck and was soon streaming great-sounding music from his library. However, trying to use Spotify premium was a disaster, again the speaker refused to recognize it and we couldn't play anything.

I would expect from such a speaker to be able to stream music from my iPad, but the speaker will only play certain types of stored music, and will not stream from non-premium Spotify or YouTube for example. This is an expensive speaker and although it looks good, is compact, and has good sound quality, I would either buy a non-wireless speaker, or a wireless speaker that actually works.


A Place Called Winter
A Place Called Winter
by Patrick Gale
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homesteading, 3 Mar. 2015
This review is from: A Place Called Winter (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"A Place called Winter" opens in a mental hospital. It is the early twentieth century, and the treatments Harry Cane is subjected to are horrific. The rest of the novel traces Harry's journey from a life of monied ease in London to a nervous breakdown in Canada. The result is an engrossing read, enjoyable for its characters, its love story, and the meticulous descriptions of the ways of Canada's homesteaders: people who have left their old lives behind in order to build a house and livelihood from scratch on the harsh Saskatchewan prairies.

An afterword reveals that Harry Cane is Gale's great grandfather and that he has filled in the bare bones of his relative's life with his own imaginings of the circumstances which brought him to Canada. Gale also includes a bibliography of books which inspired his novel, all of which look fascinating, especially as his evocative fiction has served to whet the appetite.


Single, Carefree, Mellow
Single, Carefree, Mellow
by Katherine Heiny
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wryly funny short stories, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The title and cover of this collection of short stories made me inclined to dismiss it as chick-lit, however I'm glad that I overcame my aversion and gave it a try. Heiny's focus is women, many of whom are married, living in suburbia, and having affairs. Heiny portrays her characters with clear-eyed compassion, ever alert to the humorous potential of their lives. In 'The Dive Bar', Sasha is a writer of YA novels; Heiny (who wrote such novels herself) describes 'the weekend in which she had to read two dozen young adult romances so that she could write the next one in the series. (She did it, too, though sometimes she feels she was never the same afterward.)' This final, slightly wistful aside, is typical of Heiny's humour; as is the description of a hellish birthday party in 'That Dance You Do' where the dismal unappealing children's entertainer 'turns to you with outstretched arms and says, "One more thing, I always get a hug before a go."'. Heiny can also be savage, for example in 'The Rhett Butlers' which contains a merciless depiction of a history teacher having an affair with his initially love-struck teenage pupil.

I would advise leaving some gaps between the stories as sometimes the unfaithful women began to blend into one, but overall this is an enjoyable, funny, and sometimes moving collection.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20