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Sid Nuncius (London)
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Foxnovo F-4S 4-Slots Li-ion Ni-MH Ni-CD LCD Intelligent Battery Charger with Sound Prompt Battery Capacity Testing UK-plug Adapter 12V Car Adapter (Black)
Foxnovo F-4S 4-Slots Li-ion Ni-MH Ni-CD LCD Intelligent Battery Charger with Sound Prompt Battery Capacity Testing UK-plug Adapter 12V Car Adapter (Black)
Offered by ibestsky
Price: £28.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent battery charger, 28 July 2015
This excellent little battery charger was sent to me by the manufacturers for review, and I am very impressed. It is neat, quick and works very well.

The unit is roughly 10cm x 13 cm x 3.5cm high, so it's pretty compact. It is light but seems well made and robust. It has a detachable mains lead and also comes with a car lead, so you can use it from the lighter socket in your car if you need to recharge on the move. It is a good, practical charger.

What I like most about this unit is its versatility. It will take any combination of batteries of all sizes. I use a lot of rechargeables, and if necessary I can charge an AAA, AA, C and 18650 (for an LED torch) at the same time, which makes it really handy. It seems pretty quick (a 2200mAh battery takes about 3 hours, I think) and will charge batteries individually so you can slot one into a vacant slot at any time without affecting any others. Once charged, the unit holds the batteries at full capacity with a trickle charge.

The unit also has a couple of other handy features. The display shows the exact state of charge of each battery, which is very useful. The unit beeps when any battery reaches full charge, which is something I could do without, frankly, but it's not a real problem. You can also get it to test the true capacity of a battery which I find very useful when I know one of a set has failed but don't know which.

This is quite a sophisticated unit, so it's more expensive than some and you may want to consider whether it is right for you or if it is more than you need. If you just need to charge pairs of AA or AAA batteries, say, a more basic unit may be enough, but if you use a variety of batteries, or you value some of the other functions this unit offers I can recommend this very warmly. It's great for my use and I'm very happy with it.


Semlos Mini SK98 3 Modes XM-L T6 1200 Lumens Adjustable Pen Torch Light Zoomable Focus LED Torch Flashlight
Semlos Mini SK98 3 Modes XM-L T6 1200 Lumens Adjustable Pen Torch Light Zoomable Focus LED Torch Flashlight
Offered by SemlosDirect
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent torch - but with no charger for its battery, 28 July 2015
I was sent this Semlos torch for review: I think the torch itself is excellent, but it needs some accessories.

The torch is a really nice item. It is compact (about 11cm or 4½" long) with a press-switch on the end which toggles through three brightness modes and two strobe speeds and the light is extremely bright. You can focus or spread the beam by manually sliding the end of the torch in and out, and everything works very well.

It is very solidly made from machined aluminium and it has the feel of an extremely robust item which I would expect to stand up well to the bashing of a camping trip or a tool box, for example. It is comfortable in the hand and the clip holds it firmly in a pocket or on a belt. In short, it's a really good quality item which does the job very well and should last for years.

My reservations are about the accessories - or lack of them. There is no manual of any kind, and while it doesn't need much, a brief overview of how to use the switch and zoom/focus facility would help. More seriously, it takes a single rechargeable 18650 battery which is supplied with the torch, but there is no means of charging it. This means that you will have to buy a separate charger if you don't have one for this kind of battery. This isn't particularly expensive but is a nuisance. I think Semlos would be well advised to charge a little more and supply a charger with the torch.

Those factors mean that I can only award this four stars - which is a shame because it's an excellent little torch. I can recommend it very warmly if you don't mind the lack of a manual and charger.


Live At The Matrix December 1970
Live At The Matrix December 1970
Price: £13.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some decent music but poor sound quality, 27 July 2015
I have mixed feelings about this album. It's good to have a record of David Crosby playing live in 1970 when (in my view anyway) he was still near the peak of his songwriting and performing powers. Some of the music here is great and some isn't, to be honest - and the sound quality is pretty dreadful.

I think whether you like this or not will depend on how much you enjoy the sort of long, laid-back, drifting jams which permeate most of this album. They're very good of their type (of course they are, it's effectively Crosby and The Grateful Dead); it's the sort of thing I'd have played while talking with friends late at night in my room at university in the mid-70s, probably after a non-proprietary cigarette or two. Nowadays I find a little of it goes quite a long way so although tracks like Laughing are well done, beautiful in places and quite evocative in their way, I'm not sure how much I'm actually going to play this in the future.

Part of the problem is the sound quality. I don't know how this recording was made, but it wasn't overseen by a professional engineer (or no one who was any good, anyway). The overall sound is very muddy and indistinct and the balance is all wrong. The bass is incredibly loud and sharply defined, while the guitar work is much too far back and the vocals almost inaudibly faint at times. It's really a bit of an insult to both artists and buyers to put out such a poor piece of sound recording as a normal CD.

David Crosby is responsible for some of my very favourite songs ever (including Guinevere and Wooden Ships from CS&N), I like most of his work very much and I was delighted to see him make a very decent album recently in Croz. I can't, in all conscience, give this more than 3 stars, though. The music's OK and probably merits four stars, but the sound is so poor that overall it's a disappointment. Crosby fans like me will probably want to have this, but I can't really recommend it as an album.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2015 8:16 AM BST


Little Black Lies
Little Black Lies
by Sharon Bolton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, gripping thriller, 27 July 2015
This review is from: Little Black Lies (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I enjoyed this psychological thriller. It is very well written, it has a very well-painted backdrop and it was very engrossing for most of its length.

The story is set in the Falkland Islands in 1994. The story is told in three successive first-person voices: Catrin, whose children died three years ago because of her best friend's carelessness; Callum, an ex-soldier now living on the Islands; and Rachel, Catrin's (ex-) best friend. Catrin is plotting some terrible revenge on Rachel, and meanwhile a child goes missing on the Islands - the third to do so in three years. Memory lapses, misguided loyalties and other complications mean that a very tense situation develops.

The narrative voices are well done, I think, and the sense of place is excellently developed with that slightly paradoxical mixture of a small community where everyone knows your business, but with great uninhabited areas and very isolated from the rest of the world. The characters' internal states are plausibly developed, and I found Catrin's desolation and hatred very convincing, as was the all-pervading depth of Rachel's sense of shame and self-loathing. The plot developed well and I was largely gripped.

Sharon Bolton does go in for some rather stagey cliff-hangers at times, and the climaxes to her books can be a little overdone for my taste. For me, the confrontations and revelations here would have been even more effective without the extra external shenanigans, and I could have done without the frankly absurd final paragraphs, but these are minor reservations and they aren't shared by a lot of people. Certainly Sharon Bolton writes very well and I thought this was a good, gripping thriller which I can recommend.


Locatelli: Sonatas Opus 4 by Raglan Baroque Players, Wallfisch (2009) Audio CD
Locatelli: Sonatas Opus 4 by Raglan Baroque Players, Wallfisch (2009) Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific set, 26 July 2015
This very welcome re-release is a real treat. Locatelli (a younger contemporary of Bach) was a genuinely significant 18th-Century composer and violinist and the music here is always enormously enjoyable and often full of musical interest. The virtuosic pyrotechnics one would expect of Locatelli are all there but there is also great lyricism and tenderness, making this a very engaging collection of baroque music.

The musicianship is fantastic. Elisabeth Wallfisch is joined by a wonderful group of stars of baroque including them Richard Tunnicliffe, Catherine Weiss and Catherine Mackintosh (of the Purcell Quartet), the Isserlis sisters and others who are not only very fine instrumentalists in their own right but plainly enjoy playing together enormously. The group is chamber in scale giving them a lovely suppleness which really brings a sparkle to this music.

The recorded sound is (as always from Hyperion) is excellent and the notes full and interesting. It's an excellent set all round and is now at budget price for the two CD set. Very warmly recommended.


Terms & Conditions
Terms & Conditions
by Robert Glancy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, witty and enjoyable, 26 July 2015
This review is from: Terms & Conditions (Paperback)
In the end I enjoyed this book very much. I had my reservations about it, particularly at the start, but overall I found it witty, insightful and memorable.

The book is narrated by Frank who is initially recovering from a major car crash and can remember nothing about his life. It turns out that he is a corporate lawyer who writes the fine print (Terms and Conditions) in contracts, and as he recovers he finds himself re-evaluating his life. So far, so conventional, and for the first 50 pages or more I struggled a bit because I found it little more than a faintly amusing polemic against things like modern corporate-speak and the self-obsession, vacuity and insincerity of much of corporate life (and a good deal of life outside corporations). As the book progressed, though, I became much more involved. As the reality of Frank's life becomes clearer his response to it becomes much more humane and profound, and the book has important things to say about corporate and individual responsibility as well as human relationships. The characters are slightly exaggerated for effect but still convincing, and I found Frank's emerging yearning for real human contact genuinely touching in a world which substitutes of profiling and "people skills" for the genuine, sincere, flawed and delightful relationships between us. It's not a particularly original theme, but it is very well done.

One small difficulty I had while reading was that the whole thing has such an American feel to it that it brought me up short every time there was an explicit reference to it being set in London with English characters. This may not be a problem for many readers, but it did keep throwing me out of the story slightly.

Minor reservations aside, though, I can recommend this as a thoughtful, readable and enjoyable book.


Southern Accents In The Sunshine State (2Cd)
Southern Accents In The Sunshine State (2Cd)
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent live album, 26 July 2015
I think this is excellent. It's a fine record of Tom Petty at his absolute peak, and it's both exciting and satisfying.

This is an FM radio broadcast of a 1993 concert in Gainesville, Florida. It's a good, varied set with fine performances of real classics like Learning To Fly, Refugee, Don't Come Around Here No More and many others, which makes it, among other things, a great reminder of how many brilliant songs Tom and the Heartbreakers have recorded. There is also a good smattering of more rare tracks and some covers, some of which are very good and some of which - like Something In The Air - don't work so well for me. But that's music, and plenty of people will like the stuff I'm not so keen on and vice versa. It's a fine set overall and no TP fan could possibly be disappointed.

The sound is pretty good. It's certainly plenty clear enough to forget about sound quality and enjoy the music, and although occasionally there are some of the usual balance and fade problems with a live recording they don't interfere. The engineers have done a fine job on the balance of audience noise and music, capturing the genuine excitement of the event without interfering with the sound of the band overmuch. There are some great audience moments, like them all singing "And I'm free falling," or all yelling "Stop!" in exactly the right places in Don't Come Around Here, which really get the thrill of the concert and make me wish I'd been there. (I join in anyway, mind you.) There's a bit of chat in which you can feel Tom's rapport with the audience, but not too much. It's pretty well an ideal live recording, I'd say.

I'm a bit dubious about the release of old live material nowadays after some terrible-quality recordings have been released over the last few years, but I think this is a terrific album and it's warmly recommended.


Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On: The Very Best of Jerry Lee Lewis
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On: The Very Best of Jerry Lee Lewis
Price: £21.31

5.0 out of 5 stars A good compilation of early Jerry Lee, 25 July 2015
Really, there's not much to be said about a compilation of Jerry Lee Lewis's early Sun recordings. This is one of Rock & Roll's true greats at the peak of his form and fully justifying the nickname "The Killer." The music is just great - but you already knew that.

You may like to know that the quality of the transfers is good, with a sound which is pretty true to the originals as I remember them (yes, I am that old, I'm afraid) and it's a decent selection. There are lots of Jerry Lee Lewis compilations, some much cheaper than this, but this is the one I've ended up with and I can't comment on the others. If you want a decent compilation of early Jerry Lee I can recommend this - it's well done and gives me huge pleasure.


French White Wine - Abbesse Sauvignon Blanc - (Case of 12)
French White Wine - Abbesse Sauvignon Blanc - (Case of 12)
Offered by Laithwaites Wine
Price: £107.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good everyday wine, 24 July 2015
This is a very enjoyable Sauvignon Blanc. Many of the humbler wines from the Loire valley have improved out of all recognition over the last 25 years, and this is a really good example of the quality which is available at a reasonable price.

Abbesse is fresh and slightly tart, but in a good way and without any of that eye-watering acidity which sometimes mars Sauvignon Blanc. It has the classic cut grass and gooseberry flavours which are nicely balanced. It goes very well with seafood and anything you might squeeze a lemon over, and it makes a very enjoyable glass on its own.

I have had a quite a few bottles of Abbesse over the last few years and I have always found it reliable and thoroughly enjoyable. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you won't be disappointed in this as a very nice everyday wine. Warmly recommended.


Shadowbirds
Shadowbirds
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good album, 24 July 2015
This review is from: Shadowbirds (Audio CD)
This is a good album of well performed and well crafted songs. It's a pleasingly varied selection, loosely categorizable as Americana but with elements of soft rock, alt.-country and folk in places. It's quite hard to pin down, really - which I think is a good thing. When I first heard the opening song, Lay Down Your Love, I thought "That sounds a bit like The Byrds...oh, and Trees..." and other bands as the track went on. Then Here Then Gone's harmonies made me think of The Civil Wars...and so on. Even Fleetwood Mac (in the Nicks/Buckingham incarnation) crossed my mind in places.

It's all good stuff. They're very listenable songs with attractive melodies, very good harmonies and very good arrangements and production. These three are fine musicians and they've produced a very decent album. There is a lot of good alt.-country/Americana around at the moment and I'm not sure this stands out strongly from the crowd, but it's a good album and if you like this genre you'll like it for sure. Recommended.


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