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madgedc

madgedc
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Member since: 14.02.2011

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      18.09.2011 10:17
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      An fab picture book adding a whole new dimension to awesomeness...

      'The Troll' is a memorable future classic by Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, who is this time teamed with David Roberts and not her usual partner in crime Axel Scheffler. It sure is hard to be original nowadays, but this book manages to retell some old, beloved children's book themes (ie: Trolls and Pirates) in a new exciting, witty and creative way, making this book a head above shoulders on the junior picture book shelf.

      I bought this for my daughter when she was just under 3 years old and it has really made a big impression on her imagination. The story plays with the stereotypes of Pirates looking for treasure and Trolls who live under a bridge. We know what's supposed to happen; 'trolls are supposed to eat goats' but this poor troll doesn't get any goats 'trip trapping' over his bridge. He moves bridges repeatedly as directed by 'desperate to avoid death' creatures who tell him that goats will definitely cross the next bridge. (My daughter asked me a while ago "mumma, why doesn't he just eat the creatures anyway before he moves to next bridge?" "creative build up and melodrama" I tell her and the questions cease.)

      The Troll story is mirrored by the tale of the disastrous pirates who are in possession of a treasure map with the traditional 'x' marking the spot. However it turns out that the pirates are actually pretty atrocious navigators and probably would have trouble locating an exit from a room with only one door. Consequently they keep arriving and excavating on 'the wrong island'. To make maters worse, none of the pirate crew can cook very well so each night they sit down to disgustingly inedible fishy dishes. The two stories are just waiting to meet and meet they do resolving all the conflicts in the book. Without telling you the ending (because us parents are entitled to at least some surprises in our lives- wink) I will simply say that Mr Irony is patiently waiting in the punchline.

      I love the layout of this decent sized book. Each page is filled from top to toe with bright, funny and informative pictures, depicting the narrative in original and witty perspectives. They are actually very expressive so I think that a child, having been read the story before, could enjoy looking at the pictures alone without being able to read it- there is literally a picture for every development.

      The book is full of repetition which of course is what children love and there are some great lines for kids to join in with once they know whats coming. The characters in the book have some fantastic and memorable names such as Peg Polkadot and Ben Buckle; children naturally love this fun type of wordplay. What is also great is that the book is that it is filled with lots of dialogue. I would suggest that books with a large amount of dialogue give parents a great opportunity to engage children who don't have the patience to listen quietly to a story by using lots of fun voices to bring the characters to life. Although you would never catch me reciting it to anyone else (even if my life depended on it) I have special voices for all of the characters in the book and my kid loves it. (Eg: Peg Polkadot is a scouser and Percy patch has the voice of a snake if a snake could talk like a human- don't ask me why....)

      I love the fact that it introduces young children to irony. I also like that it takes the classic stories and reinvents them. This is an awesome picture book for junior readers and is a firm fave with my daughter (now 4). I predict that if you read this to your child when they are two then they will be reading it by themselves later on, even when they are 6 or 7 because the fun in the book isn't restricted to certain age group, having the scope to impress older children as much as it does preschoolers.I would highly recommend this to all parents of both little girls and boys as the book makes no gender biases.

      There is a spirit of adventure and fantasy in the book which my daughter is enchanted by and its a breathe of fresh air when compared to say the stiflingly boring Anthony Browne's 'Bears Magic Pencil'.
      Julia Donaldson- we parents, who are bored of using boring story telling to capture our child's short attention span, salute you! - Keep em coming :)

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        23.07.2011 22:10
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        This is a stifling nightmare: it is suffocating and all the windows are closed

        The best books stir deep emotion within us and that emotional bondage between the reader and the characters in the story can never be undone. "Woman in the Dunes", by Japanese playwright, novelist, poet and photographer Kobo Abe is one such book. It's an absolute travesty that although he was nominated numerous times he never won the Nobel Prize for literature. As you begin to read you soon find yourself in the middle of a nightmare. Abe's strength here is that once you have entered this uncomfortable and panic inducing situation; your truly there, stuck in it, until the final page.

        Plot synopsis:

        An insect enthusiast goes to the desert to look for a rare type of beetle. But a sand storm is approaching and he is offered shelter in the mysterious village that is half buried in the sand. He climbs down a rope ladder to a house at the bottom of a deep dune. Dwelling in the house is a woman whose husband and child were both killed by the sand. She is resigned to a life of continuous backbreaking labour, day and night shovelling the sand to protect the village behind. In the morning the man wakes up to find that the rope ladder is gone and he has been duped in to slavery; forced to help the woman with her endless task in exchange for food and water. He is left with a choice to make; face starvation or work as a slave.

        Layout:

        The first chapter begins with the disappearance of a man whose mother is filing a report. This leaves the reader wondering what happened to this man and the rest of the story is the explanation. The book is but 240 pages making it a fast read. Every so often there are some simple black outline drawings which are quite fun. A diagram of 'hope', the man's contraption designed to catch a carrier pigeon, is useful. But there are some of beetles, the villagers and the man wearing clothe over his face to protect his mouth and eyes from the sand. These drawings almost appear as if they are the man's own sketches, making them even creepier.

        The Heroes:

        What is interesting about this book is that none of the characters have a name. The woman is 'the woman' and the man is 'the man'. We find out that characters name is Niki Jumpei only at the end on the missing persons report; the very last afterthought of the book. But nonetheless the characters are believable and highly emotionally responsive. The man is not the most likable character ever, but his reactions to the terrible situations that are thrust upon him during his battle in the dune are extremely relatable. The woman is the source of an odd mix of sympathy and frustration. Whilst the man is finding it hard to accept his fate and on many occasions exhibiting violent behaviour, the woman is kind and gentle yet so calm and compliant with her desolate situation. The relationship between the two is compelling. Initially he is frustrated; furious with her ignorance, and since he cannot get at his capturers he takes out his emotions on her. To aid his frustration she is basically emotionless. Does a romance blossom between the two of them? Not exactly; it is a forced arrangement which becomes more normal as time goes on. Love perhaps is not the right word. This relationship echoes the main theme of the book; is the situation a paradise or a misery? You will have to decide when you read it.

        The Villains:

        The villains are the villagers who are obviously human beings. Man's worst enemy is himself? They remain mysterious throughout the book. They are unreasonable, clever and, it appears, always watching. When the man refuses to work they punish him. They seem to take on a god like character; deciding the fate of the animals entrapped in the cage of sand beneath. Abe makes use of the idea of people fearing most what they can't see/understand. The villagers are given brief descriptions at times, but mostly they are cast in the shadows, too high up above our main characters heads to be seen completely. Mostly their actions are recorded, not particularly what they say. They cast the bucket down in the dune to collect the shoveled sand or give food or water. They ignore his desperate pleas. They are eerily silent at times. They are truly quite frightening.

        The other main character:

        The sand is the final character. It is purely symbolic and the way that it is described throughout the book helps to create the mood of each scene. The sand has killed the woman's first husband and child and it gets into everything; the food, water, their clothes and bodies. It seems to destroy all that it touches. Truly the sand permeates every scene and becomes a villainous character in its own right. The sand is ever moving, ever changing, perhaps this, to a degree, reflects the Buddhist idea of impermanence. Furthermore, Buddhists believe that the origin of suffering is attachment which one can learn to be free of thus eliminating suffering. The man possesses a deep attachment to his old life yet he can't truly understand why.

        Themes and ideas:

        Abe is a master story teller who keeps the pace throughout the book, making it a fast and addictive read. What he wishes to show the reader is certainly open to interpretation. It seems to be quite similar in some respects to 1984 but on a much smaller scale as it takes the theme of a man trying to escape an artificial world to its core. But familiarity is a dangerous thing and ignorance may well be bliss.

        The man cannot control his surroundings and the nightmare is a psychological one. Perhaps this is a comment on progressiveness and modernity. There is a great deal of symbolism in the book to be explored by those wishing to decipher the meaning of this, at times, some what cryptic book. The plot line is simple but its interpretation may not be so.

        "Woman in the Dunes" is Abe's masterpiece, but it demonstrates Abe's key interest which is present in practically all his books; charting the psychology of the human mind. The villains show the ruthlessness of evil human beings. To an extent these men exploit the labour of the man and the woman so that they can prophet from it. It is at their captives' expense that the villagers are able to go on living. The book was first published in 1964 when a Marxist revival was taking place. Is it a reference to the evils of Capitalism? I can't be sure, but the subject of slavery during such a time seems to ring such bells.

        What I loved about it and why I recommend it....

        I loved the tension that was present throughout. I loved the mysteriousness of the villagers. I loved the simplicity of the story. Instead of focusing on a large and elaborate plot with many elaborate characters, we have two sort of normal people in a less than regular situation. Abe's prose is simple, yet the vivid description which the book is filled with is beautifully constructed. Literary geniuses like Abe are able to find words for feelings I would never be able to express. The relationship between the man and woman even during moments of sexual passion is odd, awkward and intriguing.

        This is a fantastic book that is best read in one whole chunk. It is compulsive reading at its deepest and purest form. It combines psychological thriller with emotive language. I guarantee once you start reading this it is really difficult to put down. I finished the book in 2 days and as with the best authors, Abe left me hungry for more. I heard they made a film but I haven't seen it so I can't comment on that. But I think with a book which describes emotion so powerfully it would be difficult to match up to.

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        • Euthanasia / Discussion / 47 Readings / 43 Ratings
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          19.07.2011 18:30
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          Musing on some similarities between smoking and euthanasia....

          When governments decide to pass a law that will impact society in the way that a euthanasia legalization in the UK would, they mainly use the principle of Utilitarianism. Now I'm not saying that this is the sole basis of every policy that is passed through parliament, but it is at least what they tell us. The government decided to pay money into collapsing banks like Northern Rock as they argued it was the best thing they could do to benefit the majority of people. In the same way, the reason that euthanasia remains illegal is that the majority of those that have the final say, believe that euthanasia will do more harm then it will do good for our society. It appears then that the more concerned that the government is about our welfare, the more we find our free choice restricted. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I am pro-laisee fair government, only that in order to maintain social control, the government must restrict some of our choices. My intention here is not to argue either for or against euthanasia. I personally believe that euthanasia is such a subjective subject, that there is no one overall answer and that each case would have to be looked at individually. Rather, I just want to point out that there are a lot of similarities between assisted suicide and legalized drugs which are detrimental to our health. I'm using smoking as an example, but there are others I could think of for instance alcohol.

          Smoking is suicide. Many will disagree with this. Firstly, everyone knows that one person who smoked all their lives and lived to be 100. Smoking will not defiantly kill every single dependent. But statistics estimate that every year around 100000 people die from smoking related illnesses in the Uk each year. So we must accept that making the choice to smoke may cause an untimely death and it is not as simple as a lottery. The more you smoke and the heavier you smoke the more likely it is to kill you. Others will disagree as they will say that it is about intent. I don't intend to die each time I light up a ciggy, but I still must accept that by lighting that ciggy I am indeed doing something harmful to my body and I could die from it. I think people can't accept this as they are scarred. So if we accept the principle that smoking is suicide, the easier it will be to remove nicotine dependency from our society. Many smokers admit that they realize they may be killing themselves, but still they smoke. So isn't that a type of diluted suicide.

          Smoking is assisted suicide. Ok, so that claim seems really outlandish. We should take responsibility for choosing to smoke. We choose to light up the cigarette and put it in our mouth. The government agrees with that. Yet Smoking is legal. Smokers don't grow the tobacco and fly it in on a plane. The tobacco companies do. I like my local shop assistant. He is a friendly and pleasant man who runs his shop to make a living so he can take care of his family. But he stocks tobacco and he earns profit from selling it. The point I'm trying to make here, is that although smoking is an individual choice, the other people involved in the process of supply still must share some responsibility. I couldn't smoke if it was illegal and if the tobacco companies weren't allowed to turn a profit from it. I couldn't smoke if my local shop keeper refused to supply it. So when it comes to the question of moral responsibility, we have to admit that on a macro level, others are culpable.

          Smoking murders. Yes its true, worst of all, smoking not only kills the smoker, but those who breathes in the smokers smoke. These people used to be the bar staff at the local pubs. We have taken a step to limiting this type of 'unintended' murder by banning smoking in public places. But what about the people around the smoker at home. Their family, friends and children. If a smoker admits that they know they may be damaging someone else's health by smoking around them, isn't this a more serious form of murder? Interesting.

          Comparing smoking to euthanasia comes up with some interesting results which swing in favor of euthanasia. Smoking tricks people into killing themselves by making them dependent. People like to ignore the fact that they may well be committing suicide by smoking. At least with euthanasia people make no pretense about what they are doing. The intention is clear. Secondly, euthanasia is assisted on a micro scale where as smoking is assisted on a macro scale. But both choices require the involvement of a third party. Thirdly, euthanasia involves one person killing another. The person has consented (in theory) and the other person, who will be carrying out the act, has also consented. There is no such consent when it comes to smoking.

          I guess what I am saying is. That if one form of assisted suicide is legal, then it seems highly hypocritical of the powers that be to dismiss another form. Either really be concerned about the health of our society and stop taking money from cigarette taxes and decide that euthanasia should be illegal. Or legalize euthanasia and let everyone have the choice of how to kill themselves; be it slowly or fast. I know this is controversial and any people will not agree with what I am saying here, but as I stated previously i don't have a view either way. I just think that smoking is just as detrimental to our society as euthanasia may be and if not more so. So it makes it hard for me to hear when people say euthanasia will cause all manner of problems when we already have enough with smoking.

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            14.05.2011 22:47
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            A fantastic and exiting approach to history; Mortimer brings us into the world.

            Intro- why buy this?

            I love to travel. Each time I go some place I haven't visited before I like to buy a guide book so I can get a feel for where I am going; the language, the people, the law, the food, the customs, the landscape, places of interest etc etc. Having gone to many different places I am very proud of my little collection. Travel, I suppose is a form of escapism, as is my habit of travel guide reading and my love of history. I was very worried about studying medieval history when I started at university last year and I felt like I needed some sort of guide to get a feel for what I was about to embark on. The huge text books the university had prescribed for me looked unimaginably daunting. I needed something to help me 'think medieval' or get into the medieval mindset in order to understand such a strange and distant time. After all how can you understand the motivation of a people that you have never experienced. I needed something easy to read, something fun and something quick to enhance my enthusiasm. That's when I stumbled on Ian Mortimer's 'The time traveler's guide to medieval England'. This book though is not just for those interested in the study of history. It is for the socially curious, the dreamer, the adventurer, the sociologist and of course the traveler. With this book you're about to enter a world that seems alien and mysterious but also part of our heritage and the basis of what we consider reality today.

            Author and his Style

            Dr Ian Mortimer is a historian who comes across as someone who is not only truly passionate about history but who is curious in humanity as social beings. His work on the social history of medicine earned him the coverted Alexander Prize and he is a fellow of the Royal historical society. After a proud list of respectable publications Mortimer has set out on a mission (following in recent trends) to make history accessible to all. He doesn't tell us about Medieval England he invites us to live it! It is truly a revolutionary approach to the study of history using the readers mind to enhance the imagery of a world that was once real. We are the travelers coming from a far away world and the narration is our guide, pointing out places of interest and explanation for the sights we see before us.

            Reading difficulty and Audience

            This is a book which makes reading fast, easy and enjoyable. Any one is acquainted with the technical and needlessly pompous style of some scholarly articles in history can rest assured that this is not one of them. I found the book so easy to read; like a novel, it aimed to impress me with its meanings rather than its technical brilliance. I finished the book fast as I quickly got into it and found I needed minimal concentration to take in the content. This is a friendly book. Clarity is chosen over complex sentence structures. It also assumes you know nothing about Medieval England. Which was great for me, but although I can see some hardcore medievalists finding this enjoyable, the intention here is not innovative evidence and findings so I wouldn't recommend it for non beginners. This book doesn't dwell on historiography and all the work performed in each field. Instead the focus is narrative.

            How he brings you in to the world:

            1) tables and sources

            Apart from the authors comprehensible approach to narrative we also are bought closer to medieval society through the the tables that appear every so often throughout the book. It is like a travel guide; here we are not being told how stiff the law was or the theory of 'The Three Estates', we are being shown them explicitly. To get a picture of the density of rural settlements he includes a comprehensive table which shows the amount of rural poll tax payers. He gives us a feel for the economy showing average wages per jobs and how they change over time. He shows us the clothing regulations imposed by the Sumptuary Laws of 1363. the restrictions are astounding; income separates those allowed to wear fur from those who can't. So even if you have been given a fur by a dying rich cousin, if you don't earn over £100 a year you can't wear it. Through such detail we really begin to grasp how it must have been for one living in this time. Only through this detail can we begin to understand life for the average person as their voice is lost to us in the historical record. What I also love about this is the introduction to the reader to the sources that historians have to work from. If anyone has read any original medieval texts they will at first find it virtually incomprehensible and time consuming. His raw translation removes the effort.

            2)Pictures...yay!

            I do love pictures in books. Although this book sufficiently paints the imagery through its vivid descriptions, the color pictures found at two points in the book are a nice touch and also give a feel for how medieval people saw themselves and their world. The Black Death is only just hitting Europe and the paintings he includes tend to lean more to expressing a story or a metaphor rather than the true likeness of a person which became more common after The Plague. They are graphic at times; one of John of Ardern ('the great surgeon') performing a fistula operation; his finger disappearing into the holiest of holes of the sufferer. But this in tern tells us alot about the character and attitudes of a medieval person. This is a society that was a brutal and violent society in which death came soon and the young socialized into violence from an early age.

            3) Diologues

            I particularly love the diologues the author includes throughout the book. Here we can get a feel of what it was like to haggle in the market with the strange tongue of our ancestors. "Dame, what hold ye the ell of this clothe?"...."Four shillings for the ell if you please."..."That were no wisdom. For so much would I have good Scarlet."...."What were it worth?"...."Dame, it were worth to me well three shilling."...."That is evil-boden..."
            These types of diologues are present throughout the book. My lecturer Peter Heather told us we must think medieval. These dialogues do precisely that, helping you to understand the dimensions in which the medieval mind persisted. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and had fun reading them out loud! There are also a nice array of cultural items such as carols, ballads and other types of poetry, song and segments of plays which help to initiate us into medieval culture. We can understand what they found entertaining, frightening or repulsive.

            Final word:

            This is a book which takes you to a place you have never been before and it does it really well. I would recommend this book to anyone novelist medievalists or anyone who just enjoys learning about a foreign place. I couldn't put the book down and for me this book changed my opinion on medieval history. It gave me a taste to want to understand this society more. Of course I love history and love scholarly writing and debate, but I appreciate that books like this invite every literate person to gain reward from understanding a little about their heritage. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, useful and original read and one that I would recommend to all. Commendable; Ian Mortimer..... I salute you!

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            • More +
              28.02.2011 12:32
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              Mini epic into insanity; a great deal of fun!

              I am quite fussy when it comes to what I read. I often buy books from charity shops, but if they disappoint me I tend to stop, put them down and move on to something else. I tried really hard to get into Sophie Kinsella as allot of my friends love the chick lit genre, but although I found it vaguely amusing it took me ages to read 'Mini Shopaholic' and so I have relinquished realising that it just wasn't in my nature. Perhaps it says allot about me that I find Japanese literature so compelling. I would trade the world of shops, men, fashion, working in the city for a gripping, twisted mini epic such as 'The Sailor That Fell From Grace With The Sea.' If you fancy taking a break from the world of sanity and journeying into the dark side of the human mind then this book is for you.

              A little about the author....

              Heavy weight Japanese author Yukio Mishima is a compelling individual in his own right. Born Kimitake he wrote a huge selection of books, essay and short stories and was nominated for the Nobel prize 3 times. Towards the end of his life he became heavily involved in politics and became revered by leftists and nationalist alike with his very own ideas of nationalism coupled with a dedication to the way of the samurai. At aged 44 he attempted an ill planned coup de ete and was rejected by the crowd. A few minutes after his speech he committed Sepuka (ritual suicide). This is usually done when someone has been shamed or things have gone wrong.

              Plot....

              The plot centres on a spoilt, troubled and confused little boy who wants his single mother all to himself. He and a group of friends have reached the conclusion that the grown ups and the world is an evil, foolish, sentimental place. Together they vow to never experience the sentimentality and emotion that they see as a weakness of the adults. The group commit small but brutal acts that help to rid themselves of emotion. The plot thickens when the boy's single mother meets a handsome sailor and they begin a lusty affair (which the boy watches through a hole in his wall) much to his annoyance. Yet soon he begins to respect the sailor, viewing him as a man who has given up on the world, never to settle down. But soon respect turns to hatred as he realises that the sailor has fallen in love with his mother and plans to settle down. The group plot their revenge on what they see as an ideological betrayal.....

              Atmosphere and narrative....

              This book is horrifying, shocking in unusual ways from start to finish. Mishima's distinctive narrative is descriptive but also focused. Those who get fed up with being spoon fed description will find the narrative particularly attractive. The book is truly a horror, but its nightmare is simplistic, full of emotion, believable and yet sophisticated. The book is uncomfortable to read at times, especially when some of the particularly gory stuff is taking place, but it is nonetheless gripping and Mishima is able to tell horror with such beauty in his words; a delicate choice so as not to completely gross you out, but enough to bring a genuine feeling of disgust.

              The disturbing feeling of the book is added to as throughout the book we skip from the world of the sane to the world of the insane. From the sailor and the mother to the boy and the group. As the book continues the two worlds which are at first completely separate begin to morph into one another as the book builds to its final scenes. As with most Japanese books the end is always left at the peak of emotion, very rarely are we given an afterthought into the rest of the novel. Yet, as it is in this book, when reading the last page everything else in it seems to figure. It had all been building up to this moment and the revelations are well worth the wait.

              Characters....

              Characters have untold dimension which is rare for such a short book, but Mishima allows the audience to view different aspects of their personalities. We see them at their most vulnerable, at their strongest and at their most relaxed and intimate moments. It is interesting that the person we end up disliking the most is a young boy, at first you sort of feel sorry for him, a natural reaction to a child, but by the end you are left with a confusing feeling of anger and disgust for this little boy. For me this is particularly disturbing as I have a daughter. This book really does push you out of your comfort zone.

              The book is also about relationships and the author pays special attention to developing the feelings between the characters. The mother begins by seeming sad, lonely but when she begins her affair with the sailor she comes to life and the romance portrayed between them is highly relatable. Throughout she is a good, hardworking single mother. The Sailor is in many ways her soul mate and you see their affair blossom through believable dialogue and emotion. The relationship between the boy and the sailor is complex. You learn allot about the fragility of both characters. What initially binds them is the boys own perceived idea of the sailor. His own notions of heroism. When these visions are shattered the reader feels regret. The sailor becomes the object of sympathy. Mishima relates more of the sailor's life and troubles and in a way you learn who the sailor really is before the boy does.

              A word about the film...

              I watched the movie online (1976) and it was sorely disappointing. The ideas within the book are what are particular in Japanese themes, custom and ideas about honour and betrayal. It is nearly untranslatable to place into a western context because mostly we don't have these ideas driven into our culture and society. The movie flopped as it took this theme and westernised it. All of the originality that had made it distinct was lost. Don't bother with the film read the book.

              My overall opinion....

              In my opinion, Mishima is one of the most talented authors of the 20th century and deserves a place up along with the greats. I read this book in a couple of days and was truly gripped. One evening I stayed up to until 3 am reading; at the risk of sounding cliché: I just couldn't put it down. When it was over I wanted more and discovered the rest of Mishima's works which are equally gripping and inspiring. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a subtle psychological horror. The plot is simple, but the characters are anything but. It is a fast read and it an intriguing escape. Horrifyingly entertaining!!

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              • History Today / Magazine / Newspaper / 16 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                28.02.2011 01:06
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                Brilliant glossy mainstream journal for anyone with an interest/tendancy/passion to history.

                Disclaimer: History Today is addictive!!!

                Those that have read my reviews before will have read that I am a history student and therefore reading historical publications are not just a matter of choice they are a matter of necessity. I began my subscription to History Today Magazine two years ago and I can whole heartedly confirm that my studies have been complimented and enriched.

                History Today magazine celebrated its 60th anniversary this January, its first publication in 1951 would have cost you half a crown. The magazine's credibility as purely academic, coupled with just a tad of inflation, has boosted the price considerably and now you're looking at close to a fiver per issue. But this is monthly and a subscription will save you £17 per year (that's 3 and half extra issues than the shop price). But more importantly, what you will gain in return are fascinating, up to date articles about history written by top historians in their fields. This will give any body who works with, or studies history an insight into current debates and historical contention that is certainly advantageous.

                The magazine always contains 5 main feature articles, most of them written by leading historians pursuing research into the subject of the article. Each is written in a way that is highly accessible to anyone ignorant to the subject in question. In short; you don't need to be a historian familiar with all the historical dialect, as most new ideas that are introduced into the pieces are explained and clarified. Articles will typically be around 7 pages. This is long enough to give enough details, but also short enough to read quickly on the bus or the tube. I use these articles in two ways. Firstly, I use them if I don't want to read a whole book to acquire a decent knowledge into a given historical period or issue or secondly, to decide whether I am interested enough in the area to read more about it. Each article will usually give you some idea of further reading. History today articles are often used by students as part of their reading where as BBC History (although a very enjoyable read) is often not. This does give a student/researcher/teacher some confirmation that what they are reading is reliable enough.

                The articles are ordered in columns around plenty of photographs or illustrations. This is particularly useful for students who are used to reading just black and white. Art can be useful in illustrating and clarifying the main points which will help them to stick in your mind. They can also be used to demonstrate how contemporaries saw the world. All of this only serves to bring history to life. Often the articles will use primary sources to bring you closer to the event.

                The magazine also has an excellent selection of usual features and regular columns. One of my favourite features is the 'letters' section. These are reader's response to the articles and features. What I truly love about reading them is that you really get a sense of historical contention. Ok, some of them may write in and say how much they loved a reading, but this is extremely rare. Most people write in to criticise an article or a particular point of view. (Correction of grammar, spelling and sloppy proof reading are also a favourite.) History is all about interpretation and like a science it builds on discrediting theories and finding new insights. The letters section shows that this is still absolutely the case and disagreement amongst historians is what makes history as a discipline so compelling.

                The 'From the Archive' section at the back involves historians revisiting articles published some time ago in history today and indicates where the article continues to be held as truth and where the articles have been revised. Updating readers about articles is really interesting as the reading learns a great deal about historiography; how it develops and what external factors ordered the historian to view an event in history in such a way. It also pays homage to some of the great historians (who are like pop stars to us students) whose works, although at times disproved or heavily criticised, provide inspiration for us up and coming ones.

                In the 'past times' section there are games, quizzes and the usual amusing cartoon. (Get it? past- times pastimes? no?) The cartoon is always really funny, but then I have tried to re-tell them to others and they usually go down like a lead balloon which leads me to the conclusion that history is either no laughing matter or history jokes really aren't very funny.

                There is always a crossword which allows you to test your general history knowledge. I always have a stab at it as there is a 'recent selection of history books' up for grabs and as the proud owner of a large collection I am always looking for new additions. But alas if it's anything the crossword page has taught me is that I know nothing about history! Thankfully though, I can learn as the answers are always printed in the next edition which I usually survey with great interest at times texting answers back and forth to my friends. (One of them always replies 'I was going to say that!'- course you were.) I have noticed that since I began my subscription I am steadily improving but I'm not up there with Starkey yet.

                The history matters section consists of three short pieces dedicated and determined to relate history to today and demonstrate why history is still an important subject. I have to convey that this is my favourite part of the magazine. So many people believe that history is not important in today's modern society. I would argue that in fact it may even be more important. I will not go into detail about why this is the case. However I will say that he pieces are quick and easy to read and are very good at allowing the reader to see today's events in the context of history. On many occasions they relate to events that are shaping the world today. Food for thought about the future as well as the past.

                There is also a book review section which is ridiculously useful. These are trust worthy reviews by experts. They don't give you the good old trusted 5 star rating, but instead they give you a general opinion about the book, introduce you to the topic that the book covers and give you an indication of who the book is more appropriate for; hardcore historians or ignorant laymen (me!). I have fond some of the best books I have ever read trawling the review section. Again this page affirms to me that truly I am a reader; I get really exited when I go to buy a book and I would attribute allot of that enthusiasm to the amazingly insightful reviews that I have read in history today.

                So who can read history today? Answer- anyone with a general interest in history as an interesting read or history as an academic subject. The magazine provides up to date and credible information about all areas in history and once a month I read my copy from cover to cover (usually while my daughter is watching Nick Jnr). I plan to keep my subscription as I have found myself so eager to keep up to date with my subject that I may be slightly addicted. I would recommend this to anyone; but particularly to students of history or those considering studying history. The magazine will introduce anyone to what studying history is really about and guess what....... it aint just about remembering dates!

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                • Rimmel Glam'Eyes Mascara / Make Up / 31 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                  21.02.2011 15:21
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                  A mascara imposter!!

                  Mascara is my number one esential piece of make up kit as I regard my long eye lashes as principly my best feature. I have worn mascara every day for over 10 years now and as a consequence I have embarked on a quest to seek out the best, buying practically every new brand of mascara that meets in the highly competitive market area. If a mascara I buy doesn't perform to my likeing I push it to the bottom of my make up bag and try another one.

                  From all of the mascaras I have bought over the year I have to say that Rimmel Glam Eyes ranks very close to the bottom. Having scanned the other 24 reviews breifly it is clear that there is a real mixed feeling with regards to this mascara, some people giving it five stars! Of course we all value products differently; the wonder of individualism so unique in our society. I can only talk about this product from my own perspective and for me to give this mascara 5 stars I would either have to have a) very low expectations of a mascara or b) not tried out very many brands. Unforchanatly for Glam eyes neither category applies. I will explain to you why I will never waste a penny or even a second glance at Glame Eyes again.

                  From looking at the packageing you wouldn't suspect the products inadequacies. It is a rather attractive Gherkin shape, about 4 1/2 inches long which would fit neatly into a small travel bag and certainly abides by low cost airline flight regulations, containing 0.27 floz or 8 mml. Yet despite it's highly selable packageing it really doesn't ahve much else going for it.

                  The wand is a short length which isn't a bad thing, the closer your hand is to the brush themore control you should have over it making it easier to apply. The brush is thin and the bistles are spaced well apart. This is where some of it's problems lie. The brush is flexible, in theory allowing the brush to bend sround the individual shape of our eye lashes, however the reality is that the design of the brush is essentially straight so the aim is not achived. Instead it creates a whole host of other problems. In theory this looks like a well designed product, but in reality we have something that simply doesn't work; makes me wonder; has the designer ever worn mascara before? There is a very real danger that if you push just a little too much the brush will end up pinging back on your face or worse it could end up in your eye. This is not a one stroke mascara and application time to gain a full coverage is around 10-15 minutes as with every stroke of this brush, which has its bristles so spaced out, you miss large clumps of lash. Pluss the liguid in itself is not strong enough to create enough impact without going over your lashes quite a few times. I like my eye lashes to have full volume, I hate clumpage and mascara which take a long time to dry.

                  So how does this mascara rate in these categories. Unforchanately, very poorly. If you want volume this is not the mascara for you, the spaced out bristles moreover have the effect of thining your eye lashes out. The reason this happens is because of clumpage. This doesn't seem to be an obvious problem, it does not blob at all which is one of it's few strengths, but if you look closely there are tiny clusters of lashes grouped together creating this 'thinned out' look.


                  Furthermore, the mascara takes an exceptionally long time to dry so if you buy this product be sure to hold still for five minutes after as looking down or frequent blinking is likely to cause it to smudge around your eyes. Perhaps this copuld be forgiven if the panda look was resticted to just after application but it isn't. The first day I tried out this product I waited for it to dry then left the house. I dropped my daughter off at nursery, took a train, then a tube and arived just checking in the bathroom mirror and all was well. But when I went to the bathroom at lunch time I was appauled and embarrased to see that it had smudged underneath my eye. Which just agrivated the groing tention between me and this mascara as it menat my lunch break was 15 minutes shorter trying to sort it out. Needless to say it went to the bottom of my make up bag when I got home.

                  Some people may regard this product as good vale for money. While it is true that at under £6 it is not an expensive mascara, we need to assess whether it is value for money. What you may gain in price by buying this mascara instead of a more expensive brand, you loose in time, patience and overall effect. If you ahve sensitive eyes or dry eyes the last thing you need is a mascara which takes ages to apply. If you are inexperianced at using mascara, or have used it before and don't like it, you are liekly to be put off for life using this.

                  It isn't great value if your money is wasted and it just lingers like a bad smell at the bottom of your make up bag. The only time I might pull this mascara out of my bag again is under the highly unlikely circumstance that some body off America's Most wanted asks if they could borrow it and even then I would feel bad. Kate Moss; you can keep your London look, cause I don't want it!

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                  • Hitler: The Rise of Evil (DVD) / DVD / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                    20.02.2011 23:20
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                    An oddly disturbing little gem

                    As a history student, from time to time I forget that films about events in history are supposed to be entertaining rather than an absolute of historical fact. Films like Quintin Tarentino's 'Inglorious Bastards' recieve a bad wrap in history journals. Of course in this film Hitler and his henchmen die in a fire in a movie theatre in France in 1939 and there may be some people out there who will take this as a historical fact. Bad news for history, great news for entertainment. But the same cannot be said of 'Hitler; the rise of evil'. So many Hitler movies focus on the holocaust and there is no denying that this is an important issue that must be explored further, however it is always refreshing to see an entertaining film which uses this as it's jumping off point only and explores in more detail why the Nazis were able to rise to power in the first place.

                    'Hitler; the rise of evil' tells the story of Hitler's rise to power in Germany. The film pays special attention to the development of Hitler's ideas; a widely debated topic in historiography of the period. We see only snippets into Hitler's childhood; learning that he suffered years of physical abuse and that his mother was treated by a Jewish doctor. The truth is that the main source of evidence for Hitler's childhood is largely his own writing in Mein Kampf which is mainly classed as propaganda; Hitler was known to bend the truth to his cause. But for the sake of the movie; giving Hitler a motive for growing up to being the face of 20th century evil personified, works very well. At no point in time are you allowd to feel sympathy towards Hitler (slow evil music leaves a synister atmosphere throughout his 'growing up phase') humanising Hitler is not the directors intention; moreover it is an attempt to let the viewers understand the world that Hitler grew up in and how his ideas were developed; not to make you get pc about Hitler's abusive childhood.

                    One of the best things about the film is that it doesn't really let you know a definate status of the German people's opinions on antisemitism. We encounter good Germans and bad Germans throughout and no character is completely either one or the other. This allows for a realistic character development and sits nicely on the fence in this important issue in historiography. There is an interesting focus on the Good German's who attempt to take a stand against Hitler which adds to the films many dimentions. It is after all a film about Hitler, but it is not a biography; moreover it is a film about Hitler's shadow; how he castes it over them and how they react in his casted shadow. Some lay underneath it greatful for the shade while others desperately recoil and attempt to seek out the light.

                    Backed up by a fantastic supporting cast, including Peter O' Toole and Stockard Channing, Robert Carlyle portrays Hitler; a performance that is unbelieveably raw. We all knew that he is a great actor, but this perfomance, solidifies his status as an acting legend in my mind. He spits with his words; his eyes flashing lightening strikes of madness- it doesn't matter that he doesn't look like Hitler anymore than the next guy- he is believeable as Hitler if ever one could imagine him. Some of the most harrowing moments of the film are times when not really much is happening; but Carlyle's astoundingly brutal performance make them extremely disturbing. These sequences are placed at good intervals between slower scenes which helps to keep the films gripping atmosphere. In one seen for instance we see Hitler's niece Gelly being made to run around him in circles in a field while he tells her which speed to go. Although it sounds tame compared to 'last house on teh left's' notorious abuse scene, it is truly one of the most subtly twisted things I have ever seen.

                    Of course we know the ending. But the journey there is so very interesting. This film is luckily enough to escape the Hollywood movie treatment and has retained a beautiful element of simplicity. Those who like unusual cinematography and breakthrough special effects will have no use for this film. More than anything the film relies on raw acting talent, which in my opinion likens it to a live play- great for getting your heart in a flutter. It is disturbing in an usual way and I will treasure it as a rather shy little gem.

                    Run time- 177 mins
                    cert- 12
                    Director- Christian Duguay
                    Staring- Robert Carlyle
                    Any special features- Trailer
                    Hard of hearing subtitles? Yes

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                    • More +
                      17.02.2011 13:20
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                      Graphic little book with a huge graphic result- strongly recomended!

                      As a student I am always exposed to a vast array of topics that I have not really encountered before. I knew the dictionary definition of Sociology but I've never had the opportunity to study it at any length. I first started hearing more about Sociology a couple of years ago when I was doing historical research into the 19th century. I kept hearing about it and thought it would be beneficial for me to understand a bit more about the subject to enhance the depth of my work. I went to the library and was overwhelmed by the vast array of supersize text books and specific case study's that would have meant nothing to me if I didn't understand the basics. That was when I came across 'Introducing Sociology: A Graphic Guide.' I realised that if I was going to obtain a basic understanding of the subject in such a short space of time that I needed something that was easy to process and this book was just that.

                      This book is a fantastic overview of Sociology, highlighting its historical origins, development and previous work done in the field. It is designed for people who have no idea about the subject walking you through step by the step the evolution of Sociology as a legitimate social science discipline. At only 173 pages long it is a fast read and so much fun as the entire book is page after page of comical but relevant cartoons.

                      The cartoons in themselves are not basic instead they are life like, detailed sketches. A lot of them are of famous people like Marx, Durkheim, Comte and Parsons placed in surreal situations that graphically display these people's key theories. These are not children's cartoons either. For example on one page we have the head (literally his head) of American Sociologist Talcot Parsons (most famed for his functionalist ideas about the family) with a speech bubble saying 'I harnessed Freud to discuss this problem of Socialisation.' Above that we have a superb sketch of a naked Freud being harnessed by a fat, naked lady, smiling casually as she rides on top of his back sticking a sword in his behind (sounds more graphic then it is!) The cartoons make your journey into the subject uncomplicated, amusing and force the basics to stick out in your mind.

                      Each page has only a few sentences, some speech bubbles and these charming cartoons. There is a further reading list at the back and a fairly adequate index which will help you to find key players quickly and stress free. Key words are emboldened throughout and believe me there are a lot of key words in sociology, but they are all clearly defined on the same page that you meet with them. Dialogue between the cartoons also helps to highlight the key criticisms of the theories. For example a cartoon of police officers trying to detain a crazed looking August Comte ask him "how is it possible to observe, verify and deduce general laws about human interaction", another police officer states; "You positives have never produced anything resembling a natural law." Comte responds; "Sociology is a new science and we may need a lot longer to do that." The police officer has the last word "Society will probably have disappeared by then." Through these types of dialogue we learn gradually to see that most of the theories in the book have sustained much criticism. This gets the reader used to very point of sociology which is, like many sciences, to ask questions, to prove, disprove and most importantly to criticize an approach in order to understand its good points and bad.

                      This book is not for people who have more than a dictionary definition of Sociology, although I can see it being a good refresher for those who have encountered the subject a while ago. It is a fantastic first Sociology book and is pretty cheap, in my opinion great value for money!

                      This was the first 'Introducing; Graphic Guide' book I had ever read and after reading it I soon became a massive fan, purchased the book in a pocket size format (which is available on Amazon). I then realised that there were loads of other 'Introducing; Graphic Guide' books and in total I now own 16 including 'introducing Psychology', 'introducing Fractals', 'introducing Capitalism', 'introducing Ethics' and 'introducing Philosophy. I often take them on the tube or at bus stops as the pocket size makes them easy to carry, pull out and entertain your self where ever you are. It's like reading an educational comic. If you want to know more about any subject, perhaps out of curiosity or because you are considering studying it then I would strongly advice you to read one of these first. Don't be put off thinking that they will be too difficult for you; even Quantum Theory can be made easy for anyone to digest and gain an interest in.

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                        17.02.2011 01:56
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                        Fantastic historical work which doubles as an entertaining novel- Suitable for non-historians!

                        As a teen I read Orwell frivolously, consuming not only the mastery of his narrative but also his political ideas; Orwell turned my head to Marx and Marx to communism. I was on a high until I reached my school history lesson on the Russian Revolution and the fall of communism. Oh! But this did not deter my fascination with all things communist. Eventually my research led me to Simon Sebag Montifiore.

                        This dude comes from a family of interesting people including Sir Moses Sebag Montifiorie banking partner of the Rotheschilds and kin like Gwyneth Paltrow. (Also a brother of fellow history writer Hugh Sebag Montifiore- who is the subject of scandal around my Uni as apparently he defaults on paying student researchers- unrelated but interesting.) Simon Montifieorie is a bestselling historian world wide and has an inspirational host of credits and awards to his name. 'Young Stalin' (2007) won the Costa Biography award, the Bruno Kreisky award for political literature and the Los Angeles Times award for best biography. So what's all the fuss about anyways?

                        'Young Stalin' is the prequel to 'Stalin: court of the red Tsar' (2004) (kind of like 'The phantom menace' and co to the 'Star Wars' trilogy). The Court of the Red Tsar (highly recommended) gave us an insight into the psychology and actions of Stalin - The dictator. Now Montifiore introduces us to Stalin the poet, the choir boy, the lover, the student priest leading into Stalin the gangster, the fanatic, the vengeful and the psychotic! This book is a marvellous odyssey into the nurturing of one of the most ruthless mass murderers of the 20th century. Don't be fooled by its cover as a history book. Indeed this is the product of painstaking, relentless historical research but anyone interested in psychology will find this deeply intriguing. Montifiore gives us a snoop into Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili's (Stalin's) early years with endless detail allowing the reader to decide for themselves what led little Soso (Stalin) to become one of the most ruthless men the world has ever seen.

                        I read 'Young Stalin' before 'Court of the red Tsar' and I had all the usual assumptions about Stalin: Evil dictator, Breaker of Nations (Robert Conquest's label) lacking in humanity, betrayer of the revolution, and after reading this I must confirm that this is still very much the case, however there is one crucial difference. I based all my reasoning around the belief that Stalin was a thuggish, ruthless opportunist who pushed out the elegant intelligencia to usher in a new error of violence and indeed he was this; but he there were many other sides to Stalin. Montifiore portrays Stalin through the eyes of humanism and in this he is extremely successful revealing amazing revelations about the Stalin that the world would never come to know. Stalin wasn't only an opportunist but also a fanatical and dedicated Marxist; Lenin became his idol and with his passion for Bolshevism he was willing to commit criminal acts on behalf of the party. Unlike Lenin and Trotsky, Stalin was born in a poor, dysfunctional peasant family and he shouldn't have had the opportunities that he was given but he defied every stereotype in his climb to ruler of the Soviet Union. Trotsky described Stalin as 'vulgar' and in a way he was but he was also extremely gifted, intelligent, fiercely devoted to study and in a way was an evil diamond in the rough. Stalin was also a talented poet with some published work (before being a mass murderer) and his poetry is presented throughout the book offering a paradoxical glimpse into one of the coldest hearts in history.

                        Montifiore's narrative is witty, exciting and shows all the signs of good storytelling. The author's voice speaks throughout in an informal, straight forward manner and one gets the impression that Montifiore is just as gripped as you are. The book has an excellent chronology; list of Stalin's many aliases, photos, a full index and detailed source notes. It is an easy read at 394 pages and I finished it in over a week- it truly was that gripping.

                        This book will also appeal to those who detest history, and give two hoots about psychology, preferring the adventure provided by Dan Brown. Yet Young Stalin is a story so full of twists and turns, revelation, excitement, adventure; so full of enigma, intrigue, destiny and drama that it makes Dan Brown look like Charlie Brown; made all the more potent by the fact that it is non-fiction. (I want to see this made into a movie so it can reach the illiterate and the 'divorced from reading' people!)

                        This is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the man who came to be known as Josef Stalin. From bank robberies, love, lust, friendship, betrayal, murder to exile in Siberia (from which Stalin escaped from 9 times) this book is an epic adventure and one which I have found difficult to forget.

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                        • DeLonghi KBE3014-2 Crema / Kettle / 12 Readings / 12 Ratings
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                          16.02.2011 22:06
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                          A beautiful kettle, works well, but does nothing amazing to justify the price.

                          My overall opinion about this DeLonghi Kettle is that although it performs its function adequately, it does nothing exceptional to justify the exceptionally high price tag. This doesn't make it a bad kettle only that it has nothing special to warrant the standard retail price. This review aims to explain how I have come to this conclusion.

                          I opted for the cream colour to match my retro-mod kitchen and when I took the kettle out of the box I was most excited as it really does look as good as does in the picture. However, maintaining this high standard has not been easy. The stainless steel lid is extremely easy to clean and shines up nicely, yet the rest of the kettle is very difficult to keep in its original condition. I have used virtually every kind of scratchy clothe imaginable and sometimes the stains fade, but they do not go completely; the only thing that does any good is bleach. If you choose to buy this kettle be aware that it will require some elbow grease, particularly if you choose a light colour.

                          Another downside is that the kettle is fairly heavy to pick up especially when it is full with water. I wouldn't recommend this product to children making their first cups of real tea and anyone with a frail grip (or for the clumsy among us- a.k.a- Me!) as it really is not a light weight kettle even before the water goes in.
                          The cone shaped design will also work against you in this respect as it means that the handle is bent upwards making it difficult to pour and obtain a secure grip, this and the weight makes the kettle fairly cumbersome.

                          Cleaning the inside of the kettle is also a problem. If you live in a hard water area (like me) you will probably want to clean the inside out once a week (once a day would be ideal but what a waste of water). However, because the lid is so small in comparison to the base it is difficult to get a long brush to the bottom of it and you won't be able to see where you're poking around??? If that makes any sense! The small opening at the top also makes it more difficult to empty out all the lime scale and it will take repeated rinses to empty it all out (again we are wasting water here).

                          The filter and the lid however, are easy to remove. Both fit snugly and securely into their positions. The lid will never fall off unexpectedly (like the value kettles). The heaviness of the kettle is made up for in its sturdiness. I dropped the kettle on the floor once (not full of boiling water and no children were around- breathe out!) and it sustained not even a hairline fracture, scratch or scuff. This kettle would be difficult to damage.

                          The dial on the side is fairly easy to read, but there is no ball bobbing around to highlight this- frankly, it could have been clearer. The measurements consist only of min, 0.7, 1.0, 1.5 and Max. So I have an A in GCSE maths and I should know this shouldn't I? (Rolls eyes; show off!) but that was sometime ago...how many cups is 1.7? I would prefer the good old 1 cup 2 sup system really.
                          An excellent feature of the kettle is the adjustable cord. You can wind up the cord under the kettle neatly and easily under the base. This is a great safety feature which also makes the kettle look tidy on the kitchen counter. Therefore the kettle is willing to adjust to suit your kitchen design. (However do not feel that the lead is super long as it isn't.)

                          Turning the kettle on it simple enough he switch has one setting so you just push it down. It is well camouflaged and I had to read the instructions to work it out (duh!) When the kettle is on the tiny red light will light up, however in a brightly lit kitchen it is difficult to tell whether it is on or not.
                          The kettle is fairly quiet while it is brewing, you will experience no annoying whistling sounds. I remember one value kettle which when I switched on I had to stop my conversation. How long it takes to boil depends on the amount of water but it brews quickly- around two minutes. There is no set position for the kettle on the base; it doesn't need to click into place so removal and replacement is virtually a thoughtless process.

                          The kettle does look fantastic and works very well. In regards to function I really have no complaints; this is a decent kettle and has fulfilled all my expectations. It is quite high maintenance though as explained above and does need time and attention to keep it looking chic. It is fashion over function and it is not ergonomically designed. This kettle does not aim to be the most technologically advanced piece of kitchen equipment. All in all I would recommend this kettle to someone for its style. But value for money is debatable. In my opinion it is very expensive for what it is. But it gives a full cuppa style.

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                          • More +
                            15.02.2011 11:37
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                            medium to high maintainance toaster which looks amazing in a stylish modern kitchen

                            My reason for buying this toaster was that it looked great in my kitchen (I admit that when I bought it I read no reviews nor bothered to read the box to check out its'f features) and in this repsect it has performed very well. I bought mine in cream to match my otehr appliances and as I am aiming for a retro look in my kitchen it looks oh so fab! score for looks 10/10
                            It does however take some cleaning skill. The metal needs to be poliched or it can end up looking old and dowdy and the dials are not the easiest things to clean. The panel at the bottom come sout easily so you can empty crumbs, but the tops of the indside of teh toaster are more troublesome and it needs a good emptying over the bin. So as far as easy to clean goes I would score it a 5/10.
                            As long as it is kept clean the toaster performs very well and makes lovely, hot toast. Once you find your setting you will experiance little varient. It is really easy to use. There is a function for defrost and reheat which both work as well as you need them to so for function I woudl score it 8/10.
                            I have had my toaster for 3 years and haven't encountered any problems, not een chnaged a fuse. So for reliability I would score it 9/10
                            This toaster is obviously not right for everyone- it takes up a large space on your kitchen counter, as there are 4 slices and for the money there are toasters that are better value out there. But if like me you love the retro look then I would say money well spent! People always comment on it when they come into my kitchen (maybe I lead a boring life) but it's true!

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                          • LG GCB369PUQA / Fridge / 9 Readings / 6 Ratings
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                            15.02.2011 10:38

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                            Relaible, sturdy and easy to manage- looks impresive (even if it's nothing special)

                            I always feel that there is no such thing as the purfect fridge freezer, only that there is the purfect fridge freezer for you! So read on and see if this fridge freezer meets your criteria.
                            This is a good looking fridge freezer which is not too big - as many of them are- so good for shorter people (I'm 5.5 and I can reach the top easily). It has some cool energy settings including setting it to holiday mode which will save you some money while your away. I go on holiday alot so this has been a useful function for me.
                            It is sort of easy to clean. every shelf comes out and the glass shelfs look great- but they can be a bit difficult to scrub and class cleaner helps. But the great thing about the shelves is that you can move them around to suit your needs. There is a fruit/veg drw and another box which attaches under a shelf in which you can also put extra bits. (I actually use this part for fruit and the bottom draw for veg.)
                            I have found this product to be extremly reliable- I have 5 year insurance on it and have never needed it so far in 3 and a half years as it has never encountered any difficulty.
                            I particularly love the freezer as it has a large slim draw at teh top which I put ice lollys/ice creams in- allowing for an efficient organisation. The freezer is alot smaller than the fridge so if your a big freezer user this will not suit you. Also if you have a large family- this is not teh biggest fridge going. There is only me and my daughter at my house and I have never run out of room so this is a purfect product.
                            If you think the price is too much- lets be straight about what your paying for. - Reliability- good looking- adjustable- medium sized fridge freezer. You can get cheaper fridge freezers than this which perform all of those functions. But I think the fact that it is a reliable fridge freezer is really what your paying for.

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                          • Henry HVR200 / Vacuum Cleaner / 11 Readings / 7 Ratings
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                            15.02.2011 01:19
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                            Buy a Henry if you want a vacume cleaner that is super easy to use and reliable!

                            I got me a Dyson six years ago which last a month over it's warrenty. It was complicated, anoying to fit all the littel gagets and heavy. The Henry, in contrast is the best vacume cleaner I have ever owned. I don't like stand up vacume cleaners anymore as they are too unreliable and harder to get into small spaces. Henry has been quite possibly to most relible electrical appliance I have ever encountered, never having a problem with it in 5 years. It is easy to use and comes with a nifty bag to put all your accessories so you won't loose them.
                            If you have back troubles....don't let that put you off a Henry, I feel as though the pipe is long enough for any one to feel comfortable using. (However, I am only 5ft 5.) It also picks up really well, although as I have a young child I always have it on the maximine level.
                            The bags are not cheap, but don't ever spilt and as far as I am concerned that is the much more important (we can not put a price on preventing gross dust, cat hair and stale crumbs spattered into our hair and clothing.)

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                            • Indesit WIXE127 / Washing Machine / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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                              15.02.2011 01:05

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                              Great machine in theory- but my experiance was not so great!

                              I bought my machine two and a half years ago and it was a fanstastic washing machine until that point. My last washing machine was a very old school indesit that lasted 6 years before I scrapped it. The machine looks great in the kitchen it is an attrctive and modern looking machine which is very easy to use and the digital dial is fool proof.
                              However, after those two and half years of happy washing, in which I was using teh machine about two- three times a week, I encounted a problem that couldn't be fixed. Luckily I paid out for a 5 year warrenty other wise I would have been unspeakably angry at having to pay out for another one after such a short space of time. Most washing machine manufacturers will tell you that the machine is suppose dto last 4-6 years. My washing machine has been replaced but I wouldn't buy another one like it. If your going to buy thsi machine then you really DO need a five year warrenty. I have a child and am a single mum so it was very difficult being without a washing machine for any period of time. As far as I am concerned, the machine was not over used and I did use Calgon...so either Calgon are wrong or Indesit is...just can't ake up my mind which I blame....

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