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To Kill a Mockingbird is undoubtedly a landmark novel in terms of the documentation of the injustices of black civil rights in 1930s America and has perhaps not surprisingly made it onto nearly every 'top 100 novels' list known to man. It is because of this reputation that I first picked it up and began reading.
The novel, told through the eyes of a young girl, centres around a lawyer who is asked to defend a black man wrongly accused of the rape of a white woman in Alabama and the opposition he faces throughout the trial and indeed after.
Whilst the books main event focuses on the unjust treatment of African Americans in the Deep South during the years of the Depression, I don't think it would be entirely accurate to label this as a civil rights novel - its scope is much broader: it touches on the different roles of men and women; it deals to a greater extent on the relationship between the middle and lower class; it explores how we view morality in a much more general sense than just in terms of race. The novel captures brilliantly the general attitudes and behaviours of southern people at this bleak time in American history and for this reason alone it is worth reading. And I urge every reader who comes to read this book, PLEASE, do not read this purely as a novel about civil rights - the trial doesn't even get underway until halfway through and is over in the blink of an eye. Take time to enjoy all the other themes!
But of course, despite all its other wonderful details and observations of life in general, the novel does indeed serves as a grim reminder of how we were and of the injustice which we should never see repeated...
Having read many of King's other novels, I read the blurb of this one and I have to admit that it didn't sound very appealing: husband and wife get kinky, man snuffs it, woman is trapped handcuffed to the bed and the rest of the story focuses on her efforts to escape. Big deal. But when I finally decided to give it a go I was very surprised...
What I like about this novel is that it is disturbing on so many levels.
Firstly, there is the obvious, primal fear which we all have of being trapped with no means to escape. Many of the reviews I have read have said that this aspect of the book was overly descriptive and boring however I really liked it; it built suspense and with each of Jessie's failed attempts to free herself of the handcuffs, the reader wants more and more for her to get out.
Secondly, there is the slow sort of unraveling of Jessie's mind as all of the voices in her head battle against each other - some being helpful and others far from it. In there also are the flashbacks to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and the shame which she has carried for so long. The abuse part of the book was one of my least favourite parts of the book and many readers might find it distressing (distasteful, even), but it is yet another example of how the book is disturbing.
The other deeply horrifying aspect to the novel, which pretty much every single review I read had failed to mentioned, is the presence of the character Raymond Andrew Joubert (aka the Space Cowboy), a serial killer who lurks in the shadowy corner of the room haunting Jessie and threatening to make her his next victim. Joubert, for me (although I suspect that many will disagree with me here), is one of King's most menacing characters. He made my skin crawl. I think the very idea that there is someone lurking in the corner of this dark room appeals to our most inner childish fears of the boogeyman and of things which go bump in the night. He is a small character but he makes the novel truly terrifying.
When I was looking for something new to read, I fancied a change and being an avid Stephen King fan, I decided that I wanted to read a classic. So, I went onto the net and looked at the recommendations for the top classic literature and on every list I found this book: The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger. It surely has to be good to be on every list...
Whilst I in no way hated this book, I cannot say it was overly memorable or a book that I would strongly recommend to a friend.
The Catcher in the Rye follows a troubled 17-year-old, Holden Caulfield, who has been expelled from yet another posh boarding school and is returning home to New York early for Christmas. Not able to go home to his house for fear that his parents will know about his expulsion, he spends a couple of days staying in a hotel, hanging out in bars, trying to catch up with friends and, at one point in the novel, hiring a prostitute. Holden is a complex character; he's intellectual yet at the same time very immature, he is surrounded by a city full of people yet at the same time he is extremely lonely, he fritters money without a thought yet he resents his wealthy lifestyle.
The fact that the book is written in the first-person with Holden as the narrator is, for me, the books biggest strength yet, at times, it's biggest weakness. Whilst the first-person narrative manages to convey Holden's teenage awkwardness and immaturity in a way that couldn't be achieved with a third-person style, his indirectness and use of chatty language and 1940s American slang can become extremely annoying, to the point where I would get fed up with reading the book. I think Salinger could have conveyed Holden's personality just as effectively had he toned down slightly the babbling of his narrative.
My other major criticism of the novel is that the character doesn't develop in any way; at the beginning of the novel Holden is awkward, immature and lonely and at the end of the novel he is still all of these things. I found myself desperately hoping that Holden would have some kind of epiphany and realise that he is immature and that this is largely to blame for his isolation - but this didn't happen. I was left with the feeling that I had just read 192 pages and the character had gone nowhere.
So, in conclusion, as a novel which aims solely to capture teenage angst and awkwardness through the eyes of a teenage boy, the book delivers what it promises and the feelings and experiences shown in the story will still be largely relevant to readers today. However, if you are looking for a novel where the character evolves and there is a resolve to his problems and some kind of moral or message, then maybe this is not the novel for you.
I recently received a sample of this product kindly sent to me by OXY so that I could try it and see whether it suited my skin and I have been using the product for the about the last fortnight. I have in the past found it hard to find a face wash which a) doesn't react badly with my skin, b) leaves my skin feeling fresh c) is not overly expensive and d) is not embarrassing for a guy to buy himself.
I have to say that this product didn't let me down on either of these four points.
The first time I used this product I have to admit that my face was tingling slightly but at no point was this tingling an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling like other reviews have suggested - it was really more of a clean and refreshing sensation which I actually quite liked. And after about a week of using the product I noticed that my skin was clearer and much less greasier than it had been before. The pores on my nose which quite often get clogged with dirt appeared smaller as well.
What I really liked about the product is that it lathers nicely. I have tried other washes before which just stay as a gel or a cream and they are always disappointing. When a product lathers, you can almost feel it working as it foams on your face and straight away you feel cleaner - this product does this excellently.
The micro beads also play an important part in exfoliating the skin. The great thing is that they exfoliate your skin gently and aren't gritty like many washes I have tried in the past which can leave you feeling a bit sore to say the least.
One of the biggest pluses of this product, other than the fact it works so well, is that as a man you wouldn't be embarrassed to go out and buy this product for yourself and the fact that it is a man's product is shown most importantly in the packaging, which manages to be very eye-catching and appealing in a masculine way with the black, silver and blue.
The smell of the product also will appeal to men - it smells neither overly-medicated nor overly-flowery but instead has a pleasant smell which falls in line with what you would expect a man's product to smell like, almost like a mild aftershave smell.
The biggest downside which many will find with the product is undoubtedly the price - at around £4.50 for 125ml it might seem very expensive, especially at a time when people are trying to save money, but I actually disagree. Consider all the points made above and the quality of the product - you are getting the best for your skin and OXY is one of the market's leading brands. Also bare in mind that for each wash you only need to use a small amount of product - the 30ml sample which I received has lasted me a fortnight, so a 125ml tube could easily last a month and a half (obviously depending on the amount you use and how often you use it). Not bad value at all!
Well, that pretty much sums it up. I have tried to think of some downsides, but to be quite honest, from my experience, I really cannot think of any and that's why I give the product the rating I have given.
This mouthwash is one of the better mouthwashes around. Having used a variety of mouthwashes in the past such as Corsodyl, Dentyl and Listerine, this one definitely comes out as one of the best for 'everyday' use.
It has a smooth minty taste which doesn't taste too chemically or too strong like many mouthwashes do.
It isn't overly expensive. Whilst Plax isn't the cheapest brand of mouthwash, it works out better value than many of the others on the market such as Dentyl and Corsodyl.
It keeps your breath feeling fresh for most of the day
There is one problem with this product - you can't really gargle with it!! Whenever I have tried gargling with this product, it bubbles up so much and I have always ended up choking or spitting it everywhere. This obviously won't be a problem if you don't gargle, but for those of us that do, it is a problem.
Overall, it's a very good product and I shall continue to use it, however it would be a lot better if you could gargle with it!!
After having tried other verruca treatments and having failed to remove the verruca I decided that perhaps it was time to try something a little more aggressive, so I went for freezing it off.
The product is used by attaching swab type applicator to a can of aerosol. You spray the aerosol and the end of the swab absorbs the really cold liquid which comes out of the can. After allowing the liquid to get even colder (into sub-zero temperatures!!) on the end of the swab, you touch it the verruca or wart for 40 seconds. This then freezes the wart right to the core and after maybe a couple of treatments, the wart then comes away.
This is a great theory but for me it did not work. I actually exceeded the recommended treatments considerable, sometimes freezing my verruca two times in a row (I am not advising anyone to do this, all the instructions say not to!!!) and still the verruca did not go. The product does cause some stinging and numbness however the pain is by no means unbearable.
I think maybe this product could work for SMALL warts and verrucas but for bigger more persistent cases, I would suggest spending the money on either Bazuka Gel or a tip to the doctor's to have the wart or verruca frozen properly!!
Bazuka Extra Strength is a great product for treating warts and verrucas.
You can buy the product from any good pharmacy or if you are one of those people (like me) who finds it a little embarrassing buying this stuff over the counter, I suggest buying online (www.pharmacy2u.co.uk is a great website for this)
The gel is really simple to use; you simply apply the gel once a day, allow it to dry and then the next day you pick the gel off removing layers of wart or verruca underneath. It sounds painful, but the gel deadens the infected skin and peeling it off is not overly painful. This soon becomes a daily routine and over the course of 3 or 4 weeks the verruca or wart is gone (although it can take longer in more extreme cases)
The gel cannot be used to treat genital or anal warts and should not be used around eyes or mouth!!
The only word of warning I would give with this product (as with all products of this nature) is that you MUST continue using it until the verruca or wart is COMPLETELY cured. I used this gel previously but stopped using it before my verruca had completely gone and it simply came back again. Even if it means buying more than one tube (pharmacy2u.co.uk sells triple packs for great value!!) it is well worth making sure the treatment is completed.
PROS: The phone looks very stylish with its metallic silver outer case and simple design. It's very sturdy, I've dropped mine a few times by accident and it still works fine with minimum scratches. The screen is large and the display is very clear. The menu is very easy to use and it's straight-forward to find what you are looking for among the menus. Takes photos and videos of a very good quality.
CONS: There are only a few con's with this phone, however they are quite significant cons. The phone is locked using a small button located on the side of the phone; this is extremely annoying as when the phone is in your pocket it can unlock itself very easily and on numerous occasions I have called people without knowing because it's come unlocked!! Also, when you are holding the phone (e.g. to write a text) it is very easy to hit the camera button on the side and activate the camera. Also a warning to those who aren't used to touch-screen... it takes quite a bit of getting used to!!
Overall, there are few faults with the phone, but, for me, the faults it does have are so annoying, I don't think I would have bought this phone had I known about them.
PROS: Driclor is a very effective way to control excess sweating. Started using it about a year ago and right from the very first time I used it, my sweating decreased dramatically almost to the point where i barely sweated at all. It is odorless so it can easily be used in conjunction with other anti-perspirants or de-odorants. Is relatively cheap and good value for money (can be bought in packs of 3 at Pharmacy2U). Effects are long lasting, you can go about a month after using it before needing to use it again.
CONS: Driclor has one main downside which is the fact that when you first use it, it is very uncomfortable and most users will have a very irritating itching sensation in the area where it is applied, which considering it is meant to be used before going to sleep, is very annoying!! The discomfort isn't so bad after the first time using it. Another minor downside is that it will stain fabrics (however this hasn't been a major problem for me)
Overall, the product is very effective and works quickly. Despite the fact that it causes irritation when applied, this is a small price to pay for those who know the embarrassment of excess sweating.
PROS: Interesting concept for a mouthwash with dual layers of liquid which have to be agitated to combine. The flavours are nice and not over-bearing like some mouthwashes can be. Attractive looking product, the colours are bright. Can see that the product is working when you spit it out in the sink. Easy to gargle; doesn't foam up when gargled.
CONS: After agitating the mouthwash just once to mix the two liquids, it starts to take on quite a cloudy horrible appearance which is not so attractive when you come to use it. Other major drawback is that it is quite expensive, well over £3 a bottle I believe. The product is very gimicky: you are drawn in by the fact that it has the dual liquid system and the fact you can see the residue in the sink.
Overall a good product IF YOU CAN GET IT ON OFFER (Tesco quite regularly have it on offer) but at regular price, it's not worth the money.