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B. Ashley "Bingo"
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Black Heart Blue
Black Heart Blue
by Louisa Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Labelled for children, exposes some complex motives., 21 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Black Heart Blue (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm also in two minds when reviewing books such as this. On the one hand, it's certainly not a bad book - but I have a hard time recommending it for "children" and perhaps even teenagers. The subject matter is very complicated and I sometimes wonder what some readers might take away from it. If, however, you're an adult, you may view this slightly differently.

It's quite well written and the plot moves forward nicely.


200 Easy Suppers: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Ideas
200 Easy Suppers: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Ideas
by Jo McAuley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars As a single father, this was a lifesaver, 21 Jun. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a big procrastinator. I love eating food and I enjoy cooking it. But my brain keeps getting in the way sometimes and preferring to go the simple way (shove stuff in the oven/microwave), and being a single father it was quite easy to justify this.

That's sort of changed somewhat, because I decided to challenge myself by using some of the recipes in this book... not much time needed, non-complex methods and easy to obtain ingredients. Now, I'm fully back in to cooking - and enjoying every second.

This was a wonderful little find.


Robots (Science Museum)
Robots (Science Museum)
by Andy Parker
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Kids, and Fun for Adults too!, 16 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My son is a big fanatic of popup books. They don't always last long due to his over-zealous handling, but this one still appears to be (mostly) in-tact, despite the fact that it's been over a year since we've had it.

There's a lot to be learned within this book, lots of popups, lots of detail, and also the ability to construct your own robot. Even I found this book to be interesting. I recommend this book to anyone who has a boy (or indeed, girl) who has an interest in things mechanical. All in all it was a lot of fun.


Philips LED Reading Book Light
Philips LED Reading Book Light

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not a lightsaber, 24 Aug. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I first showed my partner this device, she asked whether it was a light-saber or not. It does look kind of hi-tech (or maybe I am just a bit simple), but I carefully explained the cylindrical nature of a light-saber, and the nuances of a rectangular back-light.

For that is what this essentially is. A thin piece of plastic that lights up, so that you can read your paper-based books where there is little, or no other light-source. I chose to review this particular product as I had a flight to Sydney, Australia coming up, and much of that occurs in perpetual darkness. Now, I am an active traveler. I find it hard to sleep on flights unless I consume a large percentage of the galley's wine. Whilst moving myself further and further towards a state where I might be able to sleep, I read.

The trouble is long flights in the dark is that "normal" people, go to sleep. And I've always felt a bit rude turning on the standard reading-light that is above my seat. The fact that a single reading light on the plane generally bathes around 6 seats in a nice nuclear glow, doesn't help. So, when this arrived, I took it with me instead.

It's a handy little thing, lightweight, has a carrying case and a cover for the plastic. Switching on reveals it's low-glow status, and 2 subsequent presses cycles to the other 2 brightnesses. Therefore you have 3 brightness levels, ranging from "limited vision", all the way up to "I seem to be at the bottom of a well". Obviously, the brighter the setting, the less battery life, although even at the maximum setting, 3.5 hours is more than you'd get out of a laptop.

A USB cable is provided for charging (presumably from the laptop, whose battery you are now draining) but can obviously be put in to a desktop.

It's very handy, although I am sure that the drooling lady seated next to me on the aircraft opened an eye at one point, looked a little startled wondering why my book was glowing. I considered pointing out to her it was the "Book of the Dead (Air-travelers-companion Edition)", but refrained.

If you own a Kindle, however, this is probably not a purchase you need to worry about. For the rest of you page-turners who travel a lot, or have trouble paying your electricity bill, I highly recommend it.


Diary of a Wimpy Vampire
Diary of a Wimpy Vampire
by Tim Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some fun, some fatal flaws, 5 Aug. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I think this is a good book to come out at the moment, given the obsession with Twilight. I took this book on light-heartedly as it is basically a cross between "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole", and a pimply teenage vampire (who happens to be around 100 years old).

There are some good chuckles to be had, with plenty of jabs toward the vampire culture, and us humans in general. It's an interesting concept, the idea of a hormonal teen stuck in the position he is in, a bit like ground-hog day, but for much, much longer.

So whilst it wasn't a bad read, the problem I have with the concept is the fact that he appears not to be able to learn. Although he is around 100 years old, he still struggles in tests. He still writes like he wrote when he was 15 years old. I know that a book about a teenage vampire requires a modicum of ones suspense of belief, but the more that I read the more the "teenage" writing annoyed me, because it was from a century-old being. Either the brain stops developing when we get "turned", or it does not. Given that he has a passion for the piano and excels at it (his parents do not want him to pursue his talents in case attention is drawn to them), this provides evidence that the author acknowledges a vampire can learn.

I guess this one is just not that very good at it.

In summarising, I believe the author missed a good opportunity here. Much more fun would have been a 100-year old male, trapped in the body of a 15 year old. It would have been more challenging to write, and more-so to read. However, this book fell way short of this concept.


Day of the Assassins (Jack Christie Novels)
Day of the Assassins (Jack Christie Novels)
by Johnny O'Brien
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Written for the younger generation, but a great read for adults, 30 July 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to say, I loved this book, and look forward to reading the next instalment.

In a nutshell, a teenager and his friend get embroiled in a time-travelling plot to prevent the assassination of Arch-duke Ferdinand (the precursor to the 1st world war). The author, whilst writing for the younger generation, manages to incorporate plot-twists, and keep even the adult-reader wondering who is on whose side at all points.

There's some good characters, some twists and turns along the way and a satisfying conclusion that leaves the door open for the next book.

Coupled with the story is a beautifully bound book with a map depicting the location of events. A nice addition, I felt and added weight and value to the product as a whole.

I highly recommend this.


Settlers 7 (PC DVD)
Settlers 7 (PC DVD)
Offered by SC-WHOLESALE
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A good game, but still lacking the original Magic, 30 July 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Settlers 7 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I've been a fan of the Settlers since its first incarnation when I owned it on the Amiga. It was a magical game, completely original and endless fun. The height of the series, for me, was Settlers 4 where there was enough variety and concentration on the economy, effective trade routes, and of course the military aspect.

Then something happened to the series... Heritage of Kings tried to do things differently, and it failed.

They got back on track for 6, but suddenly it all became about graphics and the original gameplay slowly slipped away.

Settlers 7 does return to its routes a little, but it is suddenly more complex in areas that were not necessary and simplified in areas that made the original game magical.

On top of this, the DRM that Ubisoft has installed mean that, if you have a patchy internet connection, you have less of an experience than people who have pirated the game.

Die-hard fans? Get it.

Casual settlers or newcomers would be better of finding a copy of version 4.


Primeval. Extinction Event
Primeval. Extinction Event
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a Screenplay, 4 Jun. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I saw one of the episodes of this show on TV and enjoyed it quite a lot, despite the bad effects.

To expect people to read this stuff, is surprising. From the opening pages it is like the author was watching the show on the screen and wrote down what he saw.

The end result is pretty bad and uninteresting. I have no problems with books being turned in to movies or TV shows, but when a book is written with the mindset of a TV show, it becomes difficult to engage.

Such a shame, as the idea is particularly nice.


Fragment
Fragment
by Warren Fahy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, perfect for that plane flight you've got coming up, 12 May 2009
This review is from: Fragment (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The premise of this book is simple... a reality TV show aboard the ship "Trident", answers a distress call on a remote, hitherto uncharted island. And then all hell breaks loose. In a mixture of "The land that time forgot", Jurassic Park and what was supposed to be a reality TV show, those aboard the Trident quickly find themselves up to their necks in nightmarish critters.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the fast-pace and the author's approach to not boring us with overly long histories of the major characters. He writes just enough to get us to bond with them, but not too much that we get bored with their childhood. I believe this book has the perfect balance for this kind of genre.

In-between the action, there is alot of science going on here. Just enough to use your head, and not so much that you begin to think you're reading Scientific American.

If you have a plane-trip planned, a hospital visit, or any other scenario where you need to bury yourself in something fun, I highly recommend purchasing this book. Expect to see a movie in the next few years. I'll definately go see it, just to watch the expressions on their faces.


The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs
The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs
by Irvine Welsh
Edition: Paperback

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better, 11 Aug. 2007
This was my first outing in to Irvine Welsh (although I'd seen the film trainspotting, I had not read the book!). I have to say I was largely disappointed. The writing is not at fault, although it took me a while to get used to his "style" and the various "scottish-isms" (if that's a word) that were used.

The concept is sound. A man (Danny Skinner) is an alcoholic and "other substances" abuser. He has a rival at work (Brian Kibby) who is young, energetic but a bit of a bore. As the story progresses we see Danny's addictions drive him ever downwards until he reaches a point whereby he "curses" Kibby. Whilst Danny wakes the next morning feeling fresher than ever without ill-effects from the night ebfore, we see that Kibby rises as though he'd been on a massive bender the night before, but he never drinks.

And that's the premise of the story, which is where the 3 stars come from; the effects of the abuse of Danny's body are actually played out on Kibby's body, much to Danny Skinner's glee.

So why only 3 stars? Well, the ending was awful. As things are coming to a climatic end sequence, the book... ends. Sure, there is some "resolution" but many ends are not tied up, and it appears as if Irvine Welsh just thought "och, buggrit.", wrote a page to end the book, sent it to the publisher and then retired for a well-deserved glass of whiskey.

The ending killed the rest of the book, for me.


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