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H Pedder "bookworm" (UK)

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XSories Zip It Up Earphones
XSories Zip It Up Earphones
Price: 27.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, ample sound, good looks - winner!, 23 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Other than coat hangers getting caught up in the wardrobe, the way earphones get inexplicably tangled within seconds of being placed in your pocket or bag is surely one of the most infuriating things in life! These headphones are a rather ingenious attempt at stopping this irritating problem, and they look good too.

They are proper 'in-ear' earphones - moreso than the type that come with certain mp3 players, the bud really nestles snugly in the ear. You get 3 different sized bud covers in the pack (small/medium/large) to suit all ear types! The cord can be zipped up or down - there's just a small part of the cord which is a thin standard wire where the earphones connect to the music player. The overall feel is good quality and well-thought out. They come with a compact carry case which does the job nicely. These are perfect for the gym or holidays where you need something more compact or discreet than over-ear headphones.

The sound is quite respectable for in-ear phones. They handle the top end quite well, not so much the bass notes, but overall the sound is clear and not distorted (even at high volume). They obviously don't provide an all encompassing experience like over-ear headphones but these have a good go! There's not much leakage of noise, less so than other cheap in-ear earphones, which is a bonus for people around you!

These are great earphones which do look different and stand apart from the rest, they are mid-priced for most people, but definitely worth it. They're practical but stylish and really do offer that little bit extra for your money.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
by Joshua Foer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A self-help manual secretly embedded in a true-to-life tale!, 9 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Joshua Foer was just an average guy, with an average (at best) memory - forgetting the usual stuff like where he left his car keys, why he walked into a room or what he was looking for in the refrigerator. 'Moonwalking with Einstein' is his tale of transformation from a run-of-the-mill journalist to a memory champion - it's not a self-help manual but it is a realistic inspiration for anybody whose memory is lacking.

Foer's writing style is laid-back and easy to absorb; he treads that difficult line of delving into the deeper elements (such as the science or psychology of memory) without drifting into boring or technical jargon that sends the reader to sleep. His story is quite inspirational. He tells it, literally, from start to finish - from how his journalistic curiosity about who was the smartest person in the world led him to write a short article for a magazine on the USA Memory Championship, to his blossoming friendship with some quirky English memory champs who took him under their wing to pass on their nuggets of memory-athletics in a bid to help him become a memory champ himself.

It's a chronological tale told in the words of Foer himself, who shares some of the tidbits of wisdom from the relatively unknown circle of memory masters around the world. These insights allow the reader to try some memory-improving tricks, and I have genuinely found myself using (albeit only occasionally) the memory palace technique to remember things - if I don't have pen and paper handy!

Moonwalking with Einstein is engaging and humorous, and the reader joins Foer on his journey, with his ups and downs, successes and failures. It's honest and a candid snapshot of one man's enthusiastic effort to understand, and adopt, the fascinating techniques of memory champions - people who can remember (in order!) over 1,500 random digits and the order of dozens of shuffled decks of cards.

It did feel like quite a long book; it's less than 270 pages of prose but the odd lull here and there made it feel longer. That said, for a non-fiction book it is a page-turner for the most part, and an interesting and honest account. I would recommend this to anybody who has an interest in improving their own memory, the science and/or psychology behind the human brain and our memory power, or who just enjoys reading about the interesting endeavours of other people. A great read that contains some fascinating facts to throw into conversations too...if you can remember them!

Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Creme
Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Creme
Price: 6.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, gentle and refreshing - perfect!, 31 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I suffer from sensitive skin that varies from dry to oily; I use a separate cleanser and toner once a day to truly remove impurities but like to have a facewash for use in the shower. After trying various brands of so-called sensitive face washes which all promise to gently deep clean, I was still suffering from irritated skin and it would always feel very tight afterwards.

Hail the revolution that is Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Creme! The smell is divine, it's like rubbing a Refresher bar on your face! It smells of lemon sherbet and my mouth waters every time I use it. The consistency is thick and creamy, and you don't need to use much. It makes the skin tingle, similar to products that contain mint and/or tea tree, but it's a pleasant sensation that creates that deep-clean feel.

Afterwards, my skin feels clean, pampered and very soft - I don't even need to use moisturiser which is rare! My face isn't irritated, it feels soothed - and I feel fresh and imagine I'm glowing after using this!

Samsung DV300F SMART Compact Digital Camera - Black (16.0MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 3.0 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer)
Samsung DV300F SMART Compact Digital Camera - Black (16.0MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 3.0 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer)

92 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A picture-perfect piece of kit to fit your pocket!, 22 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Have you ever used a piece of technology (for example) and thought: why doesn't it do THIS? Or why doesn't it do it THAT way?...The people at Samsung seem to have put themselves into the consumers' shoes and thought about everything that Joe Public would want from a compact digital camera. The Samsung DV300F SMART is very aptly named - it's a clever little thing that does everything you need and more.

The camera is of average size, and is half gloss and half matt finish. The aesthetics of it are pleasing - it looks good, it feels good in the hand and it has a high-quality overall appearance. It comes with a charger, and the cable doubles as the USB cable to plug the camera into your computer. The cable is quite short, and the plug feels very light and plasticky, but if that's the only criticism them Samsung can be proud of themselves.

There are several innovative features on this camera:

* It has an LCD screen on the front as well as a whopping 3.0inch LCD screen on the back as would be expected. The front screen is brilliant for taking a picture of yourself (as is often the case with me and my husband if we holiday together and cannot find anybody to take our photograph!) - press the clearly labelled button on the top of the camera 'Front LCD' et voila - both front and rear screens are activated. This front screen also doubles as an animation to grab the attention of babies and toddlers when they're having their picture taken. It ALSO comes into force when using the timer function; instead of the usual few flashes that indicate when your the camera will activate, the front screen displays large numbers counting down from 10, so it couldn't be more obvious when to say 'cheese'.

* The SMART function of the camera is evident when taking photographs. The little icon in the corner changes from scenery mode, to portrait, to low light conditions - all without having to change any setting - it's excellent at detecting the setting in which the picture is being taken.

* Wi-fi: this is a revolution! I don't have a smart phone and so feel frustrated by the inability to take pictures and instantly upload to social network sites or email to family and friends. With my old digital camera it meant booting up the PC, downloading the pics before I could do anything else with them. This camera has in-built wi-fi and it's so easy to connect! Just connect to the network and you're away - uploading pics (even those taken at the maximum resolution of 16 megapixels) is quick and easy. You can connect wirelessly to any other device on the network, so it's just as easy to share photos with your home PC. The ability to upload to a cloud, or automatically back-up photos, is an added bonus. This is a winning feature of the camera and has taken the digital camera to the next level of usefulness.

The x5 optical zoom is as you'd expect, but just perfect for a camera of this size. The picture quality is excellent (as you'd expect at 16.1 megapixels!) and the LCD screen on the back of the camera is very large and crystal clear. The movie function is equally as impressive, with outstanding quality recording.

There are some fun extra features, such as adding a frame to photos or special effect (sepia, charcoal drawing, old movie effect etc) that will appeal to younger users as well as offer a novel twist to photos which could then be used on personalised photo gifts etc. There's also a panoramic function, which is easy to use and creates a good panoramic effect. I had great fun playing with all the extra features on this, although not sure how many I'll use on a regular basis!

The camera itself is very easy to use - the menu and functions feel more like that of a computer than a camera. As you navigate through the various options on the menu, if you're unsure what a particular function does then just leave it highlighted for a second and a helpful box appears summarising what that feature does. It's not a touchscreen LCD, which I prefer as there's less tendency for things to go wrong, and the buttons themselves are minimal but easy to activate.

This is genuinely a really lovely compact digital camera. It's not going to get the super-zoom of an slr but then an slr wouldn't fit easily in your pocket! It feels well-made and well-designed. I have an SLR camera (granted it's not all-singing) but the picture quality of this Samsung, combined with the brilliant features and portability, means that I'll probably always reach for this camera before my others.

The Grief of Others
The Grief of Others
by Leah Cohen
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars High on beautiful description, low on page-turning pull, 22 May 2012
This review is from: The Grief of Others (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What this book lacks in pace it makes up for in prose. Hager Cohen writes beautifully, with almost poetic observation, but this cannot disguise the plodding plot of The Grief of Others. It's unfortunate that there is an absence of intrigue in the novel - the subject matter is heart-wrenching and could have drawn in even the most emotionally-devoid reader but it doesn't. The family in this book have suffered a tragic loss with the death of their newborn son only 57 hours after his birth, due to the tragic defect Anencephaly. This isn't the focus of the novel, however - it focuses (as suggested by the title) on the family's grief, or rather the lack of it as it would appear to others.

The subtext of the book is more about family and relationships, and the issues and problems associated with the various dynamics of a family, than it is about the actual emotions associated with discovering your baby has a fatal birth-defect.

The prose flits from one character's perspective to the next, and from past to present. The narrative thread is skillfully interwoven, and the reader is allowed a glimpse into the conscience of the husband and wife, the teenage son and the rebellious younger daughter. Despite the chapters dedicated to the individual characters, they still seem somewhat hollow; it might be because they have little to endear them to the reader - even after what they've been through, their problems and resentments and all the other things that rumble beneath the surface of family life - they're just a bit flat. Perhaps Hager Cohen tries to cover too much - too many perspectives - and hence their stream-of-conscious narrative merely skims the surface of why they are the way they are.

It's a slow-paced book, not much happens not very fast. The prose is, however, well-written and some of the descriptions are beautiful. This will appeal to a very particular kind of reader, and if you're the type of person who instinctively reaches for books on the shelf with this kind of title or cover you're probably the kind who would like the book itself!

It's an interesting read in the examination (as much as it does) of familial problems, but it is by no means a page-turner.

200 Healthy Feasts: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook
200 Healthy Feasts: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook
by Jo McAuley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A nice little healthy addition, but nothing special!, 8 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's a small book (pocket sized, almost!) which is good, as I'm running out of room on my kitchen shelf! Hamlyn know what they're doing with these books - they offer no-nonsense cookbooks which do what they say on the tin. This book is no-frills in its layout and appearance, and the recipes are clear in their instructions.

The recipes are not especially no-frills, however. I'd hoped for 200 healthy recipes that I could use around 75-80% of, but most of them are not everyday dishes: tomato & Chorizo stew with clams; chicken tikka sticks & fennel raita; peanut, squid & noodle salad. All very nice, but not the sort of thing I can rustle up from cupboard essentials after a day at work! These dishes take a bit of effort and often some specifically-bought ingredients.

It's a handy book to have, the recipes are succinct in their instructions (usually just one page with a corresponding photo opposite) and of the ones I've cooked they've been relatively accurate and effective. It's just nothing special. Good value for money, though.

Frommer's New Zealand Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Full Size)
Frommer's New Zealand Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Full Size)
by Adrienne Rewi
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Great guide to plan a trip to NZ, 8 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is billed as a 'full size' book so therefore isn't designed to be a 'pocket guide' travel size to carry with you wherever you go - but it is a great introduction and guide to all of the delights that New Zealand has to offer. It would probably be very useful to refer to before you make the journey to NZ. It's a decent weight for its size!

It has a card/laminate style cover so it would be hard-wearing over time, and it has a pullout map which is stored in a plastic wallet in the back of the book. The map isn't detailed, but it's good for an overview of the geography of the country.

The book is split into chapters, within which there are lots of ideas and recommendations, with directions/prices/contact details etc for each listing; chapters include The Best of New Zealand, and The Best All-New Zealand Itineraries, and then chapters on key areas of the country (Auckland, Wellington, Nelson & Marlborough etc), and finally chapters on New Zealand's History & Culture, The Best Special Interest Trips, and a chapter for The Savvy Traveller.

The photos are inspiring, there are lots of maps for each area, and many suggestions for all types of people and trips.

I wouldn't necessarily refer to this book whilst on my travels, and it's not perhaps the best guide for somebody going on a lengthy backpack adventure, but it's great for planning a trip and I imagine you'd get all the pre-visit information you could wish for from this.

The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen
The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen
by Brian Cox
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Dream duo of Cox & Forshaw add phizz to physics!, 8 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These two scientists have managed to tread that fine line between appealing to the wider non-scientific audience and avoiding the dumbing-down of their subject matter. This book is a great introduction to the world of Quantum physics (I think, I'm no expert!) - it's not an easy read, it certainly taxes the brain, but it does ease the reader into their scientific world which usually seems so far away!

The book eases the reader into the topic with a broad introduction to Quantum physics, and an outline of its concepts, before exploring it in more detail. There are mathematical equations, plenty of graphics and figures to illustrate the text, and plenty of mind-boggling ideas and theories. Yet it is readable (albeit in small doses, personally!) and engaging. It probably helped when I imagined Brian Cox's soothing voice explaining the concept of particle physics!

I have no background in science, but do enjoy reading about scientific theories and advancements, and I find astronomy, physics and all things in the universe terribly fascinating. I enjoyed this book, I found it rewarding and interesting - and a delightful addition to my bookshelf.

headphones Soul SL150 BW
headphones Soul SL150 BW
Offered by CyclopsDigital
Price: 149.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile indulgence for music-lovers, 9 Mar 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These headphones give a spectacular music experience that need to be heard to be believed - but most people won't want to spend almost 200 to try them out! That's the one problem with these: the price. For the everyday music-listener, any headphones that veer into three figures are excessively priced and out of range which is a shame because they will miss out on the phenomenal sound that you get from such high-end headphones.

I am your average Joe Bloggs, I enjoy listening to music but am not an enthusiast. My husband bought a pair of headphones, similar to these but by a competitor, for a similar price a year ago - these are as equally impressive. I can't give you the numbers or figures about the technical prowess of these headphones but I can say how they feel and what music they play well!

These give a full, rich sound when playing music through an mp3 player. I've played all genres through these: pop, rock, metal, acoustic, dance, classical. All of them sound incredible, and wearing these allows you to get lost in the music. They seem to handle songs which are mid level and upwards a little bit better than bass-heavy songs, but even so, the bass on songs is not distorted. I can't listen to music with the volume to the max on these - they are LOUD! I've also plugged these into my digital piano (with the jack that comes with these), and the sound is even better than I could have imagined.

It comes with a semi-hard case, perfect for travel, and two cables (one with a volume/pause/play control). The cables are flat, and really don't tangle (worth its weight in gold given my frustration with usual headphones wires tangling!).

They are a glossy white finish, with quilted padding on the headband and the over ear pieces. They are very comfortable (comfier than the rival brand that my husband has). They are noise-cancelling, as promised. These feel very high quality and sturdy - everything, from the material, to the cables to the connectors.

The only thing that I can find to say that's negative about these headphones is the price. But then you will struggle to find a sound quality from headphones if you're not willing to pay for it.

If you have a couple of hundred pounds to spare, and enjoy listening to music, I would buy these headphones. They look stylish, feel quality, sound incredible.

You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
by Sam Leith
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An art form that needs not be forgotten!, 15 Dec 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is similar in cover design (and probably in its intentions) to David Belios' 'Is that a fish in your ear?' and this was equally, if not more than, entertaining. It's an indepth (but understandable) examination of the art of rhetoric; how it is used in everyday speech without us even knowing we're using - right through to the techniques employed by those who traditionally use rhetoric in their professions (e.g. politicians). The cover shows this book for what it is: an engaging book that can be enjoyed by more than just academics.

It makes you think about how you can get the most out of things simply by the art of what you say, I just wish I could remember everything! It certainly opens your eyes and could prove to be a very useful insight if you're astute enough to apply the things discussed by Leith here.

Although I have an interest in language, oratory and writing (so naturally the book was of interest to me), you wouldn't necessarily have to be that way inclined to enjoy this - it's written with humour and verve - Leith involves the reader and doesn't delve too deeply into jargon.

It's entertaining, informative and's that for rhetoric?!

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