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Quiverbow (Kent, England)
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Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-02
Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-02
Price: £13.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Office junior, 1 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There isn't really a lot to add to what has already been written. It's a good sturdy stapler that is aesthetically pleasing too. (I know that might seem a silly thing to say, but it does matter to many people.) It does what is expected of such a device and not only did it come with a pack of staples, unusually, there was already half a strip inside.


Melissa & Doug Stack and Count Parking Garage
Melissa & Doug Stack and Count Parking Garage
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ten and counting, 30 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ten different coloured wooden cars, neatly stacked on top of each other in a multi-storey car park. Lift the yellow barrier, pull out a car by the plastic dowel, and the rest slip down. The level counter also slides down, pointing to the number of cars remaining. It's a playful counting device, with the main components doubling up a useful add-on to any other M&D items you might have.

However, there's always a caveat with most things and this is no different. The barrier isn't wooden; it's plastic and I doubt will remain attached for long. Its footprint is also rather small, needing one hand to hold it steady as a car is removed. Both minor gripes.

Once again, it's solidly made and will get a lot of use. Another worthwhile addition to the Melissa & Doug range in their quest for world domination.


Broken Mirror: A psychological thriller
Broken Mirror: A psychological thriller
by Oliver Rixon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.60

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Must do better, 29 Sep 2014
Now, I'm not a professional reviewer or critic; I just get asked to read books (and other things) and give my unbiased opinion on them. This one was sent to me by the publisher for such a task.

In a small, unnamed village somewhere in Wales, a woman gives birth in an old shed and leaves the baby in the local church knowing she will be found. Scrambling up a cliff she is confronted by Reverend Wheelan (the baby's father) who, in a fit of anger, pushes her over the edge. What follows is Wheelan's psychological torture in believing that everyone he sees knows what he did, and every knock on his door is the police come to arrest him.

To be brutal, I telegraphed everything that was going to happen as if this was a 30 minute episode of Armchair Theatre. Some parts were, to me, superfluous and could have been told in fewer pages, whilst the characters aren't true to themselves with one, Jenny, telling us that Bob (her ex-husband) was now history. For someone who is 'now history', she doesn't half keep mentioning him. To be fair, Reverend Wheelan does come across as a nasty, evil bloke who hates his congregation, and the last chapter did make me wonder if that's what it would really be like, as it does make sense in a strange sort of way. Oliver Rixon gets a House Point for that.

I can't comment on the scenes within the hospital, as the author has obviously researched this, so I bow to his superior knowledge on that. However, would someone really say to themselves regarding a possible relationship that it's 'early days' having only set eyes on a man 20 minutes previous? Even less so when both are kitted up in an operating theatre.

Unfortunately, everything else, like the aforementioned Jenny, seemed rushed, with no word pictures capturing me and the story itself is weak. But that's just my opinion, which is what I'm here for. I've tried to be nice with this review but I just don't think it's going to do anything. The idea was reasonable, but it's too short and none of the characters had time to develop, which, in turn, allowed no chance of empathy. We know at the start that Wheelan raped Helen but not why, nor who she is and how they knew each other. Why she is running? From him perhaps, but then why go and leave the child in the church that he lives next to?

Yes, this is more or less self published by the author in conjunction with HollyBlue Publishing (and I'll give him five stars for actually getting a hard copy out there - printed by Amazon itself), but it seems the budget didn't stretch to proof readers, editors or typesetting. There are too many spelling errors and one seemingly glaring continuity mistake. Whomever and however novels are published, this shouldn't occur. It reflects badly on the author and those around him/her.

I always read the publisher's blurb on the back to get a small insight as to what a book is about. Sometimes you think, 'Nah, I don't fancy this' and move on. What I had never envisaged is that a publisher's blurb would not only give me a brief background but more or less what happens inside.

Rixon, and everyone else involved, has to do much better than this next time.


The Apple Years
The Apple Years
Price: £56.92

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another bite of the Apple, 22 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Apple Years (Audio CD)
A decade ago, 'The Dark Horse Years, 1976-1992' was released. That six album (on seven CDs) set brought together all George's releases on his own label. In one handy box, it was accompanied by a DVD of various promos and some in concert footage. Ten years later, the Harrison estate has seen fit to issue something similar that encompasses all six of his solo LPs (also on seven CDs) issued on Apple called, unsurprisingly, 'The Apple Years, 1968-75', once again accompanied by a DVD. So, let's "Open the box!"

THE BOX:
It's the same style as before but unlike that previous box, the easily breakable jewel cases have been dispensed with and each is in the 'new standard' card case, which I think is better. Included is a 48 page glossy book with plenty of unseen photos (tape boxes included) and a decent narrative from Kevin Howlett, and each disc, bar 'All Things Must Pass', which has no booklet or text, and 'Living In The Material World', contains an essay by the same author.

WONDERWALL MUSIC:
A fusion of Indian and Western music. Though it might not sound appealing, and it probably works better in conjunction with the film, there are some decent tunes here. Phasing guitars, honky-tonk piano and banjos all mix with sitars, tablas, tamburas, etc. to produce some country, psychedelic, spy music and some heavy (for the time) stuff, too. It's not as bad as you might think. Harrison does play on this, alongside the Remo 4, Eric Clapton, Ringo and others. Of the three bonus tracks, the most interesting, in title at least, is 'The Inner Light'. It's an alternate instrumental take, though not wildly different, with some preceding studio chatter. The song 'In The First Place', from old Liverpool buddies Remo 4 and sounding not unlike The Beatles, is pretty good, whilst 'Almost Shankara' is Indian themed.

I've reappraised this and like it more now. Maybe because it sounds much better. I do think this may surprise a lot of people. A slow burner, as they say.

ELECTRONIC SOUND:
Whereas Lennon's self indulgence spanned three albums, at least George realised one was enough for anybody. This is him taking Gyorgy Ligeti and Stockhausen a bit too far. Experimental yes, but The Beatles were always experimental in sound. Maybe the listening public wasn't ready for something like this from a Beatle, or maybe it was that Harrison had yet to get to grips with this new fangled machine; the Moog synthesiser. (It confused America to such an extent they managed to mess up the track listing - and there were only two!) It might appear to be a collection of random sounds but there does seem to be some cohesion with this, which some might consider dark and creepy, and also way ahead of its time in that it made others think that if he can do it, so can we. Now it's been reissued, it might be considered as classical avant- garde (if you like that sort of thing). Worth listening to once just to hear why you'll never play this again, track one starts with something similar to the opening note of 'I Feel Fine', whilst track two is an amalgamation of static, Bleep and Booster, Forbidden Planet, and the Klangers. Be thankful there are no bonus tracks.

ALL THINGS MUST PASS:
The same as the 2001 reissue, albeit the cover reverts back to the original photo and is now in a gatefold sleeve. There's also a lyric sheet. This has been remastered again for this release but I can't hear any difference.

LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD:
Virtually the same as the 2006 remastered edition, this has always been an underrated release. Dispelling with the DVD, this has the 45rpm mix of 'Bangla Desh' added as a bonus track. I haven't heard this for a while and didn't realise what a great track it is. Once again, this has had a second remaster but I can't detect anything different.

DARK HORSE:
Two bonus tracks here. Think of the acoustic demo of 'Dark Horse' as a 'stripped' version with a better vocal. It's slightly slower, the occasional "ooohhss" are more prominent and I prefer it. 'I Don't Care Anymore' was originally a throwaway B-side and makes its début on CD but is a very poor, one-take, offering. This includes the overlooked 'Ding Dong, Ding Dong', and whilst not the best Christmas song you'll ever hear, at least it isn't Slade or Wizzard.

EXTRA TEXTURE:
Not only the weakest album he ever issued, this has a mere single previously unissued bonus track in 'This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)'. It's a 1992 revisit with other recent overdubs from Harrison Jr. and Ringo and is rather good, as George's vocal is much improved. The rest is too much synthesiser and keyboards and not enough guitar. It's also notable that there is barely a reference to anything spiritual.

DVD:
Whilst the disc itself might be 'exclusive' to this set, the content isn't, as four of the nine videos were on the above 2006 release of 'LITMW'. It also claims that another was a bonus with the 'ATMP' album reissue, which is news to me and, I suspect, everyone else. It's an EPK for that release. (Shame on the compilers.) Most welcome is the 'Ding Dong, Ding Dong' promo, as there won't be many buying this collection who will be familiar with it. The short - 30 seconds - TV promotional spot for 'Dark Horse' is a bit of a waste of time to be honest. The 'Concert for Bangladesh' is an EPK from 2005.

VERDICT:
It's a sad state of affairs that Harrison's work is often overlooked. Even when anything Beatles related brings people out in their droves, George often sits on the periphery. If you're investigating George's solo career then it's an out and out five - and you do have to look at this from that perspective - if, however, you're a committed fan then it's just a three, as you'll have most of what's included (I'm hedging my bets and giving a four) and the unheard/unseen stuff is too thin on the ground to be virtually non-existent. We all know there's lots out there. Fortunately, you can buy the CDs individually.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 2, 2014 6:01 AM BST


No Harm Can Come to a Good Man
No Harm Can Come to a Good Man
by James Smythe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Number crunching, 13 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not far into the future, everyone uses a prediction programme called ClearVista. Fill in the questionnaire and the software will search everything known about you to come up with a percentage to the question you ask about yourself, or anything else for that matter; imagine, "OK Google, will I pass my driving test?". (As a result of this, there is no longer any gambling.) One person to fill in the top rate thousand question form is Laurence Walker, a man running for Presidential nomination, who wants to know what his chance of success is. Walker has paid for ClearVista's premium package that also cobbles together a prediction video.

What starts as an interesting concept soon dissolves into a 300 page narrative of one man's fall into the abyss of despair and nervous breakdown. Granted, the death of his seven year old son, which he blames himself for, would be enough to send anyone over the edge but Walker isn't helped by an incessant media that wants to find out every scrap of information about him, whatever the legalities involved. The prediction of ClearVista is just that, a prediction, but the intrusion of media outlets is such that they are in a position to make such a foretelling actually happen.

I found myself changing sides on numerous occasions, wondering why a potential presidential candidate can't see what's happening. Manipulative a politician may be, but unless television and print plays the same game, they'll lose. Mob rule also plays its part when people really do believe everything they're told. Maybe technology should take a step back for a while. After all, there are some things about ourselves we are better off not knowing, especially when the prediction can't change, which somewhat defeats the whole point of something like ClearVista. If it can foretell who will win the next election, why bother voting. If it tells the world that there will be an economic recession followed by a five year slump then World War III, anarchy is the only route out of town. Yes, the premise may have been intriguing to begin with but if you place yourself as a viewer of what occurs (surely the aim of any author), you'll be thinking there isn't any point as everything has already been decided for all of us.

The numbers might not lie but the text does. A character asks, "Do you know how many people work here [at ClearVista]? Me. Just me." Then, a few lines later says about someone else, "He works for ClearVista." Eh? A long-winded psychological thriller that didn't offer up any surprises and was, in all honesty, quite tedious in many places.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2014 2:18 PM BST


All Day and a Night (Ellie Hatcher)
All Day and a Night (Ellie Hatcher)
by Alafair Burke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Set me free, 9 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
No, this isn't a poorly spelled biography of The Kinks; the title comes from what American convicts refer to as a life sentence.

Ellie Hatcher and Jeffrey James “J J” Rogan are a couple of New York City detectives assigned as a fresh pair of eyes to an 18 year old conviction of a serial killer when a psychotherapist is murdered and new evidence turns up which may link the two cases. In light of this new evidence, the incarcerated felon is now contesting his original conviction. With a judge agreeing to release the convict due to unreliable evidence in the original investigation, it's up to Hatcher and Rogan to either prove his original guilt or find the real perpetrator. The problem is, the newly released villain’s lawyer is the half sister of one of the victims.

Yes, it's a whodunnit but also a psychological thriller in the did-he-didn't-he mould and a ripping good tale it is too. Both Hatcher and Rogan work well together, and his laconic retorts are sometimes amusing. Meanwhile Carrie, the lawyer, seems totally out of her depth though it's nice to read that the detectives appear to be happy in their lives with no demons to exorcise. They may not like the task they've been assigned but when things escalate, they both realise how a town's future lay in their hands. Not so some of the other characters involved.

There isn't as much descriptive text as you might imagine, as much of what's here is speech, which may very well be the author's style. But it's not detrimental. What makes for that good narrative is when you feel empathy for particular characters but annoyed and disappointed when it turns out you were wrong about them. It's also sad to read that some people are motivated by things other than what's right.

Books in the crime/mystery/thriller genre are rarely straightforward, which makes many worthwhile. This is one such book.


Philips GC2048/80 Easyspeed Steam Iron with 120g Steam Boost and Ceramic Soleplate, 270 ml, 2300 Watt, Purple
Philips GC2048/80 Easyspeed Steam Iron with 120g Steam Boost and Ceramic Soleplate, 270 ml, 2300 Watt, Purple
Price: £34.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Iron(ing) man, 31 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Why is it that whenever you look for an iron, they all seem to come in some variation of blue, or white with blue flashes? (Yes, I know not every iron follows this practice but the shelves do appear to be full of these.) Those nice people at Philips have bucked that trend with this purple offering.

Whilst this doesn't have the weight and gadgets, etc. of a high-end iron, it doesn't come with that equally high price tag either. This might be at the lowest end of the scale in monetary terms but it does do what it's made for. Fill it through the nose and the plate will be ready to use by the time you've laid out your first item of clothing on your board. Considering its weight it was a pleasant surprise to find out how well it got rid of the creases in everything – I have to admit I had been ironing for a while before I was informed I didn't need to do socks and undies (no wonder it was taking so long). What I did find was that it did need filling more often but that's only down to the reservoir capacity. It's not a complaint, just an observation.

If you want something that is easy to use, won't break the bank and is light enough to possibly double up as a travel iron, this is one to keep an eye on.


Melissa & Doug Bella Butterfly Chair
Melissa & Doug Bella Butterfly Chair
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Take a seat, 27 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We have a pair of Black's chairs that go everywhere with us. Young Cassie always commandeered one for her own use, but with this Melissa & Doug chair she now has her own. As with the 'grown ups' chairs, this also incorporates a cup holder in the right arm and comes with its own carry bag.

When this chair is set up, the legs click into place so no small fingers will get accidentally trapped, as it cannot be folded up without pushing in two clips at the back of the frame. With the seat and back pink and the arms and legs green (the case is also mainly pink), I don't think this chair will be mislaid.

To know whether this butterfly chair is worthwhile, you need to know how much use it will get. Ordinarily, Cassie goes from one toy to another but on this particular visit, she sat in her new chair and listened as a whole raft of Dora the Explorer books were read to her. She's never usually still long enough for that to happen.

Well worth it.


Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden First Vehicles Set
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden First Vehicles Set
Price: £15.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Planes, vans and automobiles, 26 Aug 2014
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Melissa and Doug is a brand that seems to be taking over the world at an alarming rate. Cassie is two and a half and has an M&D dollshouse with garage. Though she plays with it each time she visits, she does wonder where the cars are. Now she has something to place in the previously empty garage.

This pack has three sturdy wooden vehicles; a lorry, a plane and a car, all coloured yellow and blue. All three also have red wheels, which is where this set loses a star. Whilst the vehicles themselves are of that solid construction, the wheels are flimsy plastic, as are the spindles holding them on. Knowing how children play with these (and adults who join in), I can envisage a few tears when the wheels break. (The spinning propeller on the plane is also red plastic but that won't be used nearly as much.)

Notwithstanding that, this set will provide many hours of enjoyment and will also help with a child's spacial awareness, fine motor control skills (being able to use your fingers) and imaginative play. These vehicles are far superior to those of an all plastic variety.


LOGIK LG10SK13 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 & Note 10.1" Starter Kit
LOGIK LG10SK13 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 & Note 10.1" Starter Kit
Offered by MegaSaleStore
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Take a tablet..., 25 Aug 2014
This review is for the Tab 2 7.0" starter kit. (There is no option available for that one.)

I've just bought a Samsung Tab 4 7.0" in the local branch of a well known electronics and white goods megastore. (I don't think it's right to say it was PC World, so I won't.) As with a mobile phone, the first thing anyone should do is get a case to offer some protection if you drop it. I baulked at paying £20+ for one specifically aimed at the size screen I have but I then noticed this.

It came with a screen protector, which was too large for my Tab 4 but I wasn't bothered about that, a cleaning cloth and a soft tipped stylus pen. It folds against itself so it can be used in a landscape semi upright position. Yes, it was for a Tab 2, which means the hole for the camera is in the wrong place so I have to take it out to use that - oh the hardship, but my Tab 4 fitted well but what swayed me in its direction was the price; £1.91! Has to be five stars at that price.


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