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J. S. Hardman "Consultant software developer (contractor)" (Near London, UK)
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The Girl You Left Behind
The Girl You Left Behind
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Didn't work for me as much as "Me Before You" did, 11 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having read and enjoyed "Me Before You" I had great expectations of this book by author Jojo Moyes. The trouble with great expectations is that it difficult to match them. The subject of this book is nowhere near as compelling as that of "Me before You". Is it fair to compare? Probably not, but it's hard to avoid.

In some ways this book does very well. The author's writing style makes me want to know more all the time, wanting to figure out how the whole thing will come together and making it difficult to put down. The characters are likeable and easy to identify with. As for the things that bothered me? There are parts of the story where I felt that the author remained superficial and could have fleshed out backgrounds more. Also, and more importantly, the end of the story is tied up just that little bit too conveniently and is perhaps a tad unrealistic.

Do I consider this book one of my "top" reads? No. Putting aside expectations it just did not quite work for me. But will I read books from this author again? Absolutely.

Recommended, with caveats.


The Secret of Crickley Hall (BBC Audio)
The Secret of Crickley Hall (BBC Audio)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical James Herbert. Ghost story that is a little uncomfortable in places, 11 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I read some James Herbert books long ago, but not for quite a while. I've never listened to one on audio CD before, so it was interesting for me to see whether his writing style changed and to find out how it works as an audio book.

"The Secret of Crickley Hall" is an unabridged reading, running for approximately 18 hours (14 CDs). I listened to it whilst driving. It started well, building up atmosphere quickly, then settled down into a fairly standard, predictable, ghost story with all the usual clichés. About half way through it goes through a brief spell where the author rotates through a number of the main characters filling in background on each in turn. It is around this point where it really became traditional James Herbert for me - where other authors leave things to the reader's/listener's imagination, James Herbert doesn't - he fills all those gaps where most authors leave things to the reader/listener, a habit that is particularly unnecessary when the subject matter is fairly uncomfortable anyway. Then as the story comes to a close, the author draws it out with a few more twists and turns, which presumably made for better TV when it was recently made into a TV mini-series (I haven't seen it yet).

The DVD of the TV mini-series has a 15 rating. Given the subject matter, that sounds reasonable. Even as a book or audio book, this is not a story for younger ghost-story fans. It's the sort of thing I would have read in my early teens.

The story is fine, the text is a bit drawn out - it could have been shorter without losing anything. Some of the saved-by-the-skin-of-the-teeth moments were a bit far-fetched, but it's all ok. The reading (by David Rintoul) is well done - no complaints there. But the overall thing is just ok, rather than great, and I think will be soon forgotten.

If you like James Herbert's writing, you will like this. Others might find his habit of filling every gap a bit annoying. Recommended, with caveats.


Cocofina 100 Percent Coconut Water 500ml (Pack of 6)
Cocofina 100 Percent Coconut Water 500ml (Pack of 6)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not tasty, but I don't find it horrible (as some reviewers do), 6 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I remember when I first drank from a fresh coconut (rather a long time ago) whilst working in the tropics, that I was surprised that it was nothing like coconut that I ate in the UK. However, where I was at the time was very hot and I had been working hard, and the liquid from the coconut quenched my thirst. It's interesting all these years later to see coconut water bottled as a drink available in the UK. Rather than just drink it as a convenience drink, I have been using it for the purpose that it is advertised for - rehydration after (and during) exercise. I find it suits this purpose well, with me usually taking a couple of gulps between sets of exercises. Does it taste like fresh coconut? Well, not quite as I remember - rather than being like taking a machete to the top of a green coconut and drinking the content, this has quite a hint of the husk to it. I wonder if part of the "manufacturing" process catches a bit of the husk whilst trying to get every last drop of liquid, but that is conjecture. The thing is, if you are exercising hard and in need of rehydration, you will barely notice that husky flavour. If you are drinking this purely as a convenience drink when not partially dehydrated, you probably will. If you have never had coconut water before, this is not the same as coconut milk or coconut cream that you can buy in the UK.

Although a number of other reviewers have said that they dislike the taste, I am not too bothered by the taste. I am drinking it as a rehydration aid during and after exercise, and I'd rather drink this than something like dioralyte (which is a great product, but not one I would choose to use during normal exercise in the UK). My real concern with this product is its green credentials. The idea of bottling liquid and shipping it over 8000 miles just to be drunk by people at the gym seems far from ideal.

To summarise - this is coconut water, it is not milky or creamy. It tastes husky/nutty, and is definitely not going to be to everybody's taste. It does seem to work well as a rehydration drink for use during exercise, but there are more environmentally friendly ways of remaining hydrated than this. I don't find it horrible, but some people do. I don't find it tasty though. I wouldn't say to avoid it, but I also cannot bring myself to recommend it either. Three stars then...


Managing for People Who Hate Managing: Be a Success by Being Yourself
Managing for People Who Hate Managing: Be a Success by Being Yourself
by Devora Zack
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful material, presented in non-academic way, 6 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As management self-help books go "Managing for People Who Hate Managing" is a reasonable one, written in a populist rather than academic style. It takes principles from various tried and tested management and personality tools and applies them to the situation where people "inadvertently" become a manager. The author describes methods that help build confidence and skills, but without becoming heavy and dry. The principles described are sound, and the various tools and suggestions are easily applicable. The author uses a rather jokey tone that does wear thin after a while, but the open and self-deprecating manner of writing seems to work. The author acknowledges that while the techniques suggested can help, they are not foolproof, and that one needs to adapt to situations and people as appropriate, without using a one-size-fits-all approach.

Recommended for those not looking for academic coverage of the subject.


A Dictionary of Environment and Conservation (Oxford Quick Reference)
A Dictionary of Environment and Conservation (Oxford Quick Reference)
by Michael Allaby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I like it, but in days of search engines, not sure who the market is., 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A nicely presented dictionary of terms relating to environment and conservation, with useful references to reliable sources of information on the web (there is an associated web-site with all of the links in one place). Actually, it goes beyond a dictionary in places, with larger items more akin to an encyclopaedia included where diagrams and more explanation are required.

In these days of online search engines and wikipedia, I am curious as to who the main market is for this dictionary. I cannot make up my mind whether it is a niche or not. Certainly, it's the sort of thing that I like to have on my shelf (but I am "old-school" in that way), not just as a reference, but also to dip into, picking a random page and reading what I find in order to broaden my knowledge of an area that I am generally interested in. It's also the sort of reference that would have been useful when I was at school, whether doing projects at junior (or even primary) school, or studying for O or A levels at secondary school. I imagine the same would be true of students studying for GCSEs and baccalaureates now. And, when I more recently studied land operations as a mature student, working from a tiny building with only intermittent internet access in the middle of a forest, this is definitely the sort of reference that would have been handy to have on the shelf there.

So, a useful, nicely presented reference, with links to reliable sources of information on the web. Good for those who like a book in their hand or who do not have reliable internet access for using search engines etc.


Genuine Stihl Contrast Clear Safety Glasses
Genuine Stihl Contrast Clear Safety Glasses
Price: £12.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great safety glasses, 11 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
How often is an item of Personal Protective Equipment fashionable? Not very and these aren't either (unlike the tinted equivalents). However, these STIHL safety glasses offer excellent protection for when you need to work without tinted lenses.

I bought my first pair for use during forestry activities, using chainsaws, chippers etc (although wearing them behind a mesh visor). The second pair I bought for a family member to use when pruning roses to avoid eye injuries. The third pair for a family member to use after laser eye surgery (taped on for use at night to avoid accidentally rubbing the eye whilst healing) instead of the goggles provided by the eye clinic - these are much better.

Recommended.


Anne Frank (2001) [DVD]
Anne Frank (2001) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Kingsley
Price: £5.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure if this is toned down for a younger audience., 6 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Anne Frank (2001) [DVD] (DVD)
I hadn't read Anne Frank's diary, nor any of the books about it, but knew the history before watching this DVD (including having an excellent guide take me through Auschwitz-Birkenau last year). As a result, I cannot compare the DVD with the diary itself, but look at it from the viewpoints of its importance and simply as a film (although one in two parts).

Although it told what happened, and some of the acting was very good (particularly Ben Kingsley as Otto Frank), this DVD felt like it had been sanitised for a younger audience, missing the atmosphere, tension, fear and sheer brutality that it could have conveyed. Not having read the diary, I don't know if this is because the DVD reflects how the diary of a girl/young woman was written, or whether it is purely a case of how the production company decided to present it for a particular target audience.

Assuming that this was produced with a young audience in mind, it's perfectly adequate, and certainly something to base discussion around, whether as part of a school curriculum or as part of discussion at home. For an older audience who already know much about the horrors committed during WW2, the diary of Anne Frank is definitely something that should be read or viewed, but I think I would recommend reading it rather than watching this DVD (unless you want to do both).

It is far from impossible that history could repeat itself, but I would like to think that it is less likely if people know what has happened before. Unfortunately, even that is no guarantee. However, it is still important that people know. To that end, for an older audience, I'd recommend some (subtitled) Polish-language films about WW2, including Katyn. For secondary school age and above, the series "The World at War" available on DVD is excellent viewing. For early secondary school age (say 11-13), this DVD of Anne Frank might be useful, but for ages above that I'd suggest reading the diary or one of the books about the diary. For things that have happened since WW2 that demonstrate just how easily such things can happen again, I'd recommend some of John Pilger's DVDs.

DVD of Anne Frank recommended for early secondary-school age range.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Gary Oldman
Price: £3.42

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much on a par with the Alex Guinness version, 31 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I rarely watch re-makes of classic films/series as they rarely live up to the originals. However, this one - "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is actually pretty good. I miss the sound of Alex Guinness's voice, but otherwise this film is pretty much on a par with the Alec Guinness version. I'm very familiar with Le Carre's works, having read or listened to (on audio CD) many of them. As a result, I`m aware of the background stories to some of the characters. I'm also used to the pace of the stories. For people watching this film without that background, I'm not sure how well it would work. Certainly, this is not a film for those who like car chases and gun fights. This is a literary, thinkers film, but probably one for people au fait with Le Carre already.

Recommended for those already familiar with Le Carre, and George Smiley in particular.


Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps [DVD]
Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Douglas
Price: £3.97

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incoherent, disjointed attempt at a sequel. Fails badly., 31 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I enjoyed the original Wall Street film, so despite very mixed reviews thought I would give Wall Street Money Never Sleeps (a.k.a. Wall Street 2) a try. I wish I hadn't.

Whilst *some* of the financial stuff in the film did actually make sense, the attempt to string different financial bits together was very tenuous. In fact, the whole thing was so disjointed, that I wonder if the script was rewritten as filming continued as a result of things happening in the real markets. If that's the case, I'm assuming it was too expensive to re-shoot earlier bits to try to produce a coherent film. Whatever the writing and filming processes were, the result is a mess. It might have been better if what was going on at the time was completely ignored. Trying to explain the ins and outs of the multiple aspects of the financial crisis and the long history that led up to it, to laypeople is nigh on impossible, so trying to make a populist film sitting on top of those events will always be difficult.

In terms of the film itself, the majority of the script was poor, the continuity awful, the use of techniques and soundtrack that felt like they were "borrowed" from "9 to 5" really dated the film, a cameo from Charlie Sheen just felt like a desperate (awkward, painful) link back to the original film in the hope of giving this one some credibility, Shia Labeouf and Carey Mulligan were simply uninteresting, the whole thing was just awful. Even Michael Douglas seemed to struggle to make anything from the material and direction he was given. He had moments that were fine, but others that were painfully wooden.

So, as good as the original Wall Street was, Wall Street Money Never Sleeps is just awful. Remember the first film. Don't ruin that memory by watching this one. Avoid.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2013 11:07 PM BST


Create a Nights Sky - Science Museum
Create a Nights Sky - Science Museum
Offered by Kenzies Direct
Price: £14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Amazed the Science Museum put their name on this - very poor, 31 Mar. 2013
Although it's cheap (I paid more than it is shown as on Amazon today, but didn't pay the extortionate P&P being shown on Amazon today), as this is labelled as a Science Museum product, I had high expectations of it. Sadly, even if I hadn't had such expectations, I would still have been disappointed.

That it is little more than a single bulb, a switch mechanism, and a piece of cardboard that the purchaser has to punch holes in, wouldn't be a problem given the price. That the end result of punching those holes is still woefully poor is a problem. I followed the instructions to the letter, gave it a try and the result was hopeless. I went back and did more work on the holes which improved things marginally, but the result was still very poor.

I purchased this some time ago. As it was so poor I put it to one side as I don't like throwing things away that I have just bought. However, I'm having a tidy up today, and it is finally going in the bin, unused after those first attempts 1-2 years ago.

Very poor. Avoid.


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