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Crookedmouth ":-/" (As seen on iPlayer)
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Child 44
Child 44
by Tom Rob Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Book 'im, Sergei! Murder One!, 22 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Child 44 (Paperback)
I've never really been a fan of police thrillers but fell for the hype surrounding this one and was charmed, to some extent, by the slightly out of the ordinary setting - 1950's Stalinist Russia.

Child 44 is, however a rather odd contradiction and I was and still am a little unsure as to whether I really liked it.

On the one hand, the plot is worthy enough, following state policeman Leo Demidov's investigations into a series of horrific child murders. Because, in Stalin's Soviet Paradise, crime did not officially exist (or so the author tells us) Leo's identification of the murders as anything more sinister than a number of entirely unrelated and inexplicable accidents proves hugely embarrassing to the State. His battle with authority, leading to his persecution, demotion, torture and exile add spice and tension to a rather workaday concept - i.e. the serial killer novel. And watching Leo's character and ideals morph from a faithful (and feared) Soviet drone more interested in suppressing the truth than uncovering it to a moralistic campaigner for social justice provides /some/ depth. It's difficult to judge whether the author's damning description of the appalling political and humanitarian state of the USSR under Stalin's iron fist is realistic or not - it certainly SEEMS exaggerated to someone ignorant of the truth, but that just makes it all the more fun.

However, the writing is, while perfectly competent, a little drab and lifeless. And if it's hard to feel engaged by the writing, the characterisation is even worse. Leo is the most three dimensional of the entire dramatis personae and that's not saying much. There's no real depth or spark to any of the characters, no matter how much Tom Rob Smith tries to explore their past, their motivation, their feelings and emotions. This is exacerbated by his strange insistence on ignoring the usual conventions for portraying dialogue (and this, again, is wooden in the extreme) which he transcribes instead in bullet-pointed italics. For instance (you'll have to imagine the italics);

- Is Father coming back?
- He isn't coming back.
- Is he lost?
- Yes, he's lost.
- Who's bringing us meat?
- We're going to catch it ourselves.

Ugh! and so-on.

In the end, there is something compelling about the story, something that caught me and pulled me along - I did in fact find it hard to put down despite its failings and even bought the second book in the trilogy. We'll see how that goes.


Rexel A4 Active Folder (Pack of 25)
Rexel A4 Active Folder (Pack of 25)
Price: £8.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plastic envelopes, 14 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are robust and colourful plastic wallets are perfect for holding A4 manuscripts or similar. The wallets are well over-sized so will happily take 30, 40, 50 or more sheets without straining at the seams and the popper closure will keep them nice and secure.

25 of them will go a long way.


Doctor Sleep: Shining Book 2 (The Shining)
Doctor Sleep: Shining Book 2 (The Shining)
Price: £3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfort food, 5 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The True Knot are an association of ghouls who travel the highways and byways of America abducting small children (who else?) and feeding on their souls (what else?). Their current inventory will take them to Colorado and the site of the Overlook Hotel (where else?). Meanwhile, Dan Torrance, a recovering alcoholic is working as a nurse in a cancer hospice in New England. I guess it's almost inevitable that there's going to be a showdown, isn't it?

While attending a book signing in 1996, someone asked Stephen King what became of Danny Torrance, the young protagonist of King's third novel "The Shining". It took him a while, but "Doctor Sleep" is the answer to that question...

"Doctor Sleep" is classic King. You got your soul-sucking vampires (check), got your tortured alcoholic hero (check), got your psychic teenager (check), your grizzled Midwesterner father figure (check), your cataclysmic, James Bond-esque denouement (check). You know where you are with The King. You get a big old book, swollen, but full of interest; replete with character development, crammed with back-story, dripping with homely sincerity and oozing apple-pie Americana. Fortunately, though, King managed to avoid chucking in a whole squadron of flying saucers this time but I was surprised not to see a visit from Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

So there you go. A worthy (if long awaited) follow-up to The Shining. Different in character but consistent in plot. More "It'' and "Insomnia" than "Dreamcatcher" or "Dome". To say much more would be superfluous. If you like King, you'll like this. If you love King, you'll read it in one long, gritty-eyed session.


InventCase Amazon Kindle Voyage 2014 Smart Multi-Functional Leather Book Case Cover with Sleep Wake Function - Black and Tan
InventCase Amazon Kindle Voyage 2014 Smart Multi-Functional Leather Book Case Cover with Sleep Wake Function - Black and Tan
Offered by Sunny Savers Ltd
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I've got you covered, 23 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Given that the Kindle Voyage is so light and so slim, it seems a terrible shame to stick it in a heavy and bulky protective case. And this IS heavy and bulky. It probably doubles the weight of the Kindle and it is about double the thickness. So what was light as a feather and could be slipped with ease into a hip or back pocket is now rather more unwieldy rather less comfortable to hold.

Nevertheless, the Kindle is sufficiently valuable that it deserves some protection and if you don't want to pay more than £50 for the official "origami" style case, this looks quite attractive. For starters, it will certainly provide all the protection you need, bar stampeding elephants or bath-time tsunamis. The case is stiff enough to protect the contents from blunt instruments and the screen from sharp ones. The case also comes with an adhesive screen protector. I chose to ditch this. My last Kindle lived in a protective leather case for 5 years and suffered not a scratch so an acetate film would probably be more hindrance than benefit.

The case is magnetised so that opening and closing the cover wakes and sleeps the Kindle. However there's a cutout at the back allowing access to the on/off button. There are also cutouts allowing access to/for the USB port, the page turn buttons and the light sensor.

The cover also has a number of patches for storing cards or tickets. One large one on the outside front for a boarding card or passport and several small credit card holders on the inside, one of which has a clear window - perhaps for an ID panel. There is also a pen-loop on the side, conveniently populated by a touch-screen stylus.

Overall the quality seems good - real leather, real stitching, sturdy and long-lasting.

Dowdy it may very well be, but it's cheap, decent quality and very very necessary.


Kindle Voyage, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi
Kindle Voyage, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi
Price: £169.00

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hook, line and the kitchen sink (including some minor updates after a month using the Kindle), 15 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One trick pony and Return of the prodigal son
=====================================
I am a confirmed e-reader, having given up paper books many, many moons ago. I love being able to carry my entire library around with me and I certainly don't miss the smell or feel of paper. My first Kindle was a Kindle Keyboard (3rd generation), bought around about five years ago and I loved it. I moved on to tablet-based e-reading (Kindle for Android) and eventually ditched the KK altogether about a year or two ago. I have become a little dissatisfied with tablet e-reading however; my Galaxy Tab's battery life is OK, I suppose, but any sort of intensive use drains it so that a recharge during the day becomes inconveniently necessary. The Tablet also holds many distractions and my reading rate and volume has dropped off significantly and the difficulty of reading on a tablet in full sunlight is also well documented.

So, I picked my KK up again and instantly fell back in love with the Kindle experience. I did feel the need to upgrade, however, and decided on a whim to treat myself to a new Kindle.

What's inna box?
==============
Not a lot. The rather lush-looking box is no larger than a medium sized paperback book and it contains a Kindle (thank goodness!) and a USB lead. There's no charger - this is sold separately, which may be an irritation to some, but then there can't be many people who don't have small hordes of USB chargers clogging up their bed side table drawers these days. There's a warranty leaflet and an instruction booklet. This latter is fairly large but, on inspection, the instructions are limited to a single full page diagram of the Kindle and a sparse page telling you how to turn it on. All the instructions are on the device itself.

You look so sexy, baby
==================
First impressions are that the Kindle Voyage is SMALL! Oh, so very small. But it also looks very pretty. The subtly textured glass screen at the front is pretty much full width/height with almost no bezel. The reading area is slightly smaller, being the same as any other Kindle. The casing at the back is slightly sculpted and has a pleasant, somewhat rubbery, matt feel to it. The rear also sports an engraved Amazon logo and a tiny on-off nubbin. The Voyage could easily be mistaken for a small tablet and the overall effect makes my poor old KK look awfully dowdy.

Turn me on! Connect with me!
=========================
Turning the Voyage on for the first time (it came almost fully charged - yay!) initiates a bootup sequence which includes an tutorial simple enough to be (probably) unnecessary for all but the most inveterate technophobes. It's also impossible to skip which annoyed me intensely - I wanted to get started! It then prompted me to connect to a wifi; the Kindle scanned for nearby devices and then asked for a password. If you can't connect to a wifi at this stage you won't be able to download any books, but it's easy enough to connect later when you ARE in range.

I was rather surprised at this point when the Kindle announced itself as "Crookedmouth's Xth Kindle". I didn't have to register or even log into my Amazon account. When you buy a Kindle from Amazon it comes already registered, which is nice.

My KK was 3G enabled which meant I didn't need to find a wifi to connect to - I had full mobile connectivity. That was really useful at the time, but I now own two other devices (my mobile phone and my Tablet) that I can set up as mobile wifi hotpots. As a consequence I didn't feel the need to buy the Voyage 3G this time `round. And to be honest, these days, the availability of free wifi signals in airports, restaurants, hospitals and pubs makes 3G capability even less attractive.

I can read you like a book
=====================
Skipping forward a little, using this to read books is... well it's a pleasure. The Voyage's main selling point over it's next-in-line stablemate the Paperwhite is the resolution of the screen. Harking back to my old KK (167ppi) , the screen reso was pretty poor - rather like reading a book printed on crepe paper. I don't know what a 212ppi Paperwhite looks like on-screen but the Voyage is lovely; crisp and clean. The Voyage is also back-lit and the screen is, therefore, genuinely paperwhite.

The Voyage is light as a feather and sits in my hand comfortably; I can support it with a couple of fingers and turn the pages with my free fingers. Page turning is achieved by pressing the virtual buttons on either side of the reading area (they respond with a satisfyingly haptic bzzz) or by swiping the reading area as if t'were a tablet. And,I repeat, this can all be achieved one-handed leaving your other hand free to stir the béchamel sauce, steer your articulated juggernaut down the motorway or "toast" a "perp" with your "Glock", yo.

I do find the reading area a little small, compared to my 8" Tab, but the 6" screen is standard for all Kindles so I can hardly complain. In any case I got used to it pretty quickly and it doesn't bother me at all now.

The screen is subtly back-lit and it also has an adaptive feature that adjusts the back-light automatically to suit ambient conditions. This latter is a little annoying and seems to operate unbidden. I turned off the "auto-adjust" feature and was much happier.

Touch me up
==========
The Voyage is a touch-screen device and it does this rather well too. You can use this feature to swipe the pages back and forth, select text and type in notes on an on-screen keyboard. The touch screen is sensitive, but also both responsive and accurate.

Creature features
===============
The Kindle Voyage has a wide range of functionality features, many of which I have yet to discover or explore. Some of these are available on Paperwhite and will be familiar to e-reader users and some will be new:

You have access to dictionary definitions of the words you are reading and, if you're online you can call up the Wikipedia entry for the word of interest. You can also build a vocabulary list of newly learned words. The "x-ray" feature provides you with an analysis of the book that you're reading - this can be a little patchy in terms of the detail it provides but it is useful if you chance across a character (as I do) whose name looks familiar but you can't place. You can also link directly to Wikipedia (if you're connected to the internet) to research terms, names or places that you're unfamiliar with.

The Amazon Kindle bookshop can be accessed via wifi and it is all too easy to add to your "to be read" stack. Fortunately, Amazon give you a chance to change your mind avoiding the need to repent at leisure. The bookstore is, as viewed on the Kindle itself, pretty functional looking but then this IS an e-reader, NOT a web browser. Indeed the Voyage retains the "experimental web-browser" of the 3rd generation Kindles. It works a little better on the Voyage but not much.

You can organise your library into collections and synch your library across other Kindle devices. There's a nice touch that allows you to share your Kindle library with family members who have their own Kindle accounts. I haven't tried this yet but it seems like a great idea.

... look, there's a whole lot of other stuff that the Voyage does. I (and you) can take these or leave them and exploring them is, I suppose, part of the fun.

In the final analysis
================
The Voyage is the best of the best. The Kindle reading experience is fantastic across the range but the Voyage scores over the Paperwhite in terms of its superior screen resolution and its reduced size and weight. Whether these distinguishing marks are sufficient to persuade you to pay the mark-up is really a personal thing but I would guess that if you went for the Voyage, you're unlikely ever to send it back to Amazon, bitterly disappointed, to exchange it for a Paperwhite.

I've added some photos to give a flavour of what you'll be getting.
Kindle functionality offers an added dimension to reading: again, the Voyage takes this a step or two further on but to my mind this isn't a sufficiently marked improvement over the capabilities of older Kindle models so it's not something I feel the need to shout about.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2015 7:19 AM BST


Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred (Necronomicon Series)
Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred (Necronomicon Series)
Price: £12.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons death may die, 14 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There was a poet. His true name is now lost, but he is remembered as Abd Al Hazred, "Servant of the Devourer" or, more pejoratively, "The Mad Arab". The path that led to his madness is a long one, but it ended with this, The Necronomicon, the book of the law of the dead. Few original copies remain - at least one is held in the University of Miskatonic in Massachusets - but some translations survive.

Here then is an account of the Mad Arab's wanderings in the trackless wastes of the Arabian deserts, his discovery there of the lost city of Irem and of the terrible secrets hidden beneath its ruins. Here is the naming of the laws of the dead. Here is soul travel, cannibalism, witchcraft and the summoning of demons. Here are the Elder Gods and The Old Ones; Yog Sothoth, Shub Niurath and dread Cthulhu. Who drinks of this well of evil will be changed, who attempts to master it's secrets will be lost for all time.

Here is probably the most complete, authentic and convincing version of the terrible book known to devotees of HP Lovecraft. The author, Donald Tyson claims it to be a work of fiction.

But we know better, don't we?

(PS, I'm afraid that the Kindle edition does NOT come bound in human skin. You'll need to buy the soft cover edition for that.)


ThorFire PF01 Penlight CREE XP-E2 R3 Mini EDC LED Flashlight Clip AAA Motif
ThorFire PF01 Penlight CREE XP-E2 R3 Mini EDC LED Flashlight Clip AAA Motif
Offered by Motif Shop
Price: £16.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You light up my life, 11 April 2015
This is a funky little penlight with a powerful beam. It's ideally sized for a handbag, briefcase or even your pocket.

Big pro - unlike a lot of Chinese LED torches this takes a standard UK available battery - in this case a single AAA. It's also very small and light.

Not so brilliant is the lack of a lanyard hole, but I'm not going to mark it down for that alone. Operating the light power is a bit fiddly too - three power settings all adjusted by the on off button - not the best arrangement.


SODIAL(R) Sexy Men's Opening C-string Thong Visible Underwear Pouch Panty w/ Ring
SODIAL(R) Sexy Men's Opening C-string Thong Visible Underwear Pouch Panty w/ Ring
Offered by PGTA
Price: £2.78

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars C through, 3 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, at least I don't have to worry about waist size with this. The stiff spine loops up between your buttocks and holds the whole thing securely in place. Your penis pops through the ring and your balls poke through the gap below. The effect is quite sexy giving you a pronounced "profile" and it's a lot more comfortable than it sounds.

Provided free for a review.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2015 7:04 AM BST


SODIAL(R) Sexy Men's C-string Thong Highly Flexible Underwear Panty w/Ring
SODIAL(R) Sexy Men's C-string Thong Highly Flexible Underwear Panty w/Ring
Offered by A Brilliant Planet
Price: £2.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars C through, 3 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, at least I don't have to worry about waist size with this. The stiff spine loops up between your buttocks and holds the whole thing securely in place. Your penis pops through the ring and there's a little pouch to hold your balls, A VERY little pouch I hasten to add. The effect is quite sexy, and it's a lot more comfortable than it sounds.

Provided free for a review.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2015 7:03 AM BST


HMS Ulysses
HMS Ulysses
Price: £5.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cruel sea, 2 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: HMS Ulysses (Kindle Edition)
Royal Navy cruiser, HMS Ulysses, leads a convoy of destroyers, carriers and merchant ships deep into the Arctic Circle, heading for Murmansk with vital supplies for a beleaguered Russian Army. Waiting for them is a U-boat wolf pack and some of the worst winter weather of the war. Their orders are to get through at any cost but no-one can predict just how high that cost will turn out to be.

Alistair MacLean's debut novel is arguably also his best and it ranks easily alongside Monsarratt's "The Cruel Sea" as an exemplary account of the Allied Convoy War. Taking his inspiration from his own extensive experience as an RN sailor in the Atlantic and Arctic convoys there is a strong feeling of verisimilitude to this story; but the sheer quality of his writing is also worthy of note.

The novel introduces the Ulysses as a ship with a broken and troubled crew, close to mutiny and exhausted beyond recall from previous forays into the Arctic. However, MacLean continues to build the pressure on the ship by throwing at it the most appalling weather conditions and the privations of a ruthless, determined and resourceful enemy. The attrition rate is high, both in terms of the ships and the physical and mental health of their crews. MacLean does occasionally resort to some common war story tropes and cliches and one or two frankly unlikely coincidences in order to maintain the tension and atmosphere. This is perhaps a forgivable crime because "HMS Ulysses" really is an unrelentingly compelling and indeed deeply moving page-turner of a novel. One wonders whether there is at least /some/ exaggeration for dramatic effect: on the other hand I worried that perhaps there was none and that the navy and merchant crews really did suffer as terribly as MacLean recounts here. Either way, this is an impressive piece of story telling and a true "must-read".


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