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E. Ward "'emmagleb'" (Basingstoke, UK)
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Alessi Pop-Up Bottle Cap Remover (GAA01)
Alessi Pop-Up Bottle Cap Remover (GAA01)
Price: 26.14

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alessi/Peroni Bottle Cap Remover, 26 Jan 2011
I bought this for my Dad for fathers day last year, so it is now approximately seven months old.

The design of the Alessi bottle opened is undeniably gorgeous, its smooth edges fitting well in your hand and its top-removing action is easy to complete. Its a fantastic bottle opener, stylish and useful, which is what I expected from Alessi (and the price tag).

However, its broken. The bottle opener is used about six times a week (between three people, so its in no way overused), and its broken already! Something in the internal mechanism has snapped, so it never released the last bottle top. There's no way of getting it out, so with the lid in the way it can't be used to open the next bottle.

I expected more than this from Alessi!


Rock Dust Light Star
Rock Dust Light Star
Price: 7.10

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jamiroquai - Rock Dust Light Star, 1 Nov 2010
This review is from: Rock Dust Light Star (Audio CD)
After waiting quite a while for some new Jamiroquai material, Rock Dust Light Star is definitely worth the wait! The first track 'White Knuckle Ride' is foot-tappingly irresistible, really setting the scene for some seriously good funk-jazz. It also contrasts really well with the comparatively slower second track 'Blue Skies', and title track 'Rock Dust Light Star'. The tracks are well organised to avoid back-to-back similar music, and the album really benefits from this, as we find with tracks four onwards.

'Hurtin'' has a more rocky feel than some of Jamiroquai's previous material, but it doesn't seem out of place next to his more classic sounds. 'Lifeline' has a wonderful, Bond-esque, stringed background track to it, which makes it a real stand out track for me. As the previous reviewer suggested, 'All Good in the Hood' has a definite Scissor Sisters feel to it, though I think its more what the Scissor Sisters can aspire to sound like rather than Jamiroquai replicating their sound.

This CD feels like a slightly more grown up version of the Jamiroquai we last saw five years ago. Besides the Scissor Sisters, comparisons can be made to Jooles Holland, especially in tracks four, eight and ten, and the slower tempo of 'She's a Fast Persuader' brings yet more variety to our ears. 'Hey Floyd' is a great track, but feels very thrown-in-at-the-last-minute because its nothing like anything I've ever heard Jamiroquai do before, and is the only track that doesn't sit comfortably with its neighbours.

That said, I really enjoyed this CD for the fresh funk-jazz sound that Jamiroquai produces so well, which is so different to anyone else in current music industry. The mixture of their traditional style plus this new splattering of bigger, live-band type sounds has brought them bang up to date while maintaining their original character. For me, the best tracks are 'White Knuckle Ride', for getting our attention, and 'Blue Skies', 'Lifeline', and 'Smoke and Mirrors' for holding onto it. A thoroughly enjoyable album, even if you're new to the group.


Men I've Loved Before
Men I've Loved Before
by Adele Parks
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adele Parks - Men I've loved Before, 17 July 2010
This review is from: Men I've Loved Before (Hardcover)
I picked this book up with some apprehension, given that her last book Love Lies was predictable and disappointing. Nevertheless, I was willing to give this on a fair go.

'Love Lies' had fallen down on a number of aspects, including character development and plot quality. 'Men I've Loved Before' launches into its characters from the offset, giving us very detailed insights into the workings of their minds.... Natalie, a self confessed workaholic who in no way ever wants a family; her reliable husband Neil, living his dream of being a video game designer, who has recently decided he wants a baby; his oldest friend Tim, living with his fertility-crazed mum-zilla wife Alison; Karl, womanising and anti-commitment extraordinaire; and Jen, Karls unsuspecting girlfriend who blames her ex (some guy called Chris) for her not being happily married with a baby. Notice the baby theme?!

The character development is much, much better than 'Love Lies' and the constant sideline ambles into their innermost thoughts is insightful and helpful in understanding their individual paths. But the result is perhaps ten lines of dialogue to every five pages of 'inner thinking', which actually makes for a slow and tedious read. By 150 pages into the book, the plot is only just getting going, and I found myself skim reading sections. However, once it gets moving this does improve and the pace picks up. That said, by 150 pages into the read, and knowing as much as I do about the characters, there is no inkling as to how the book will pan out and end; there were still several options. Because of this, I find it far more realistic in terms of human thinking and the reasoning behind arguments (as we're privvy to all the inner turmoils) than anything I've read in a while; much less scripted, which I really like.

I refuse to ruin the ending, but I will say that the book maintained its mystery for quite some time, and turned out to be a very satisfying read. I finished the book satisfied at its conclusion, and completely understanding everything that had happened along the way. A recommended read, though not quite as lighthearted as previous books by Adele Parks. This books represents a slightly more serious side to chic lits, facing the baby subject head on from several viewpoints and varying levels of seriousness. This isn't a 'beach novel' in the way other chick lits are, but is definitely worth the read.


The Sellout
The Sellout
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 4.07

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Macy Gray - The Sellout, 16 July 2010
This review is from: The Sellout (Audio CD)
On the first listen, I found this album disappointing when compared to her previous release, Big but I persevered with it because I had loved 'Big' so much. And I'm so pleased that I did!

The tracks generally have a more optimistic feel to them, rather than Big's tendency towards the theatrical and melodrama. The songs are engaging without being overworked and showcase Macy's voice really well. My favourites are 'Kissed It', which is plunky, fun and flirty; and 'Real Love', which so smooth and sensual you can picture yourself happily slow dancing on a hot, sticky summer's night (well, I can anyway!). Other standout tracks are the two openers, current single 'Lately' and title-track 'the Sellout'. 'Lately' is a gorgeous, retro nod to old-style finger-snapping music and really helps set the scene for the following tracks. Personally, I would have made this the opener rather than 'The Sellout', which (besides having a great opening, which wouldn't have worked anywhere else on the CD) is a much slower track. That said, the overall composition of the album is flawless, with the end of the previous track complementing the into of the next; something that isn't achieved on many CDs.

This album is definitely a grower, and provides a fantastic stepping stone in Macy's long career. Highly recommended, even if you're new to her music, as she's such a talented singer she couldn't fail to impress. I'm already anxiously awaiting the next album!


Alice in Wonderland Combi Pack (Blu-ray + DVD)
Alice in Wonderland Combi Pack (Blu-ray + DVD)
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: 9.29

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, 20 April 2010
This was an unusual film, described as 'marmite' by my boyfriend (who I dragged along with me) as he hated it as much as I had loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed this film - I thought it was interesting, engaging and captivating right from the off, though its not without its problems.

I can imagine Tim Burton deciding to do this film then thinking "hmm... everyone knows the story, so what else can we add?". Yes, this is 'Alice', but it is an older Alice who doesn't remember her previous visits to Wonderland, and is filmed as a sequal. The film starts with Alice being proposed to and being expected to accept graciouly, but its not in her character. She runs off 'to have a moment' and this is where the film turns into Wonderland. The first part of the film is quite confusing to watch, as all the original plots of the Alice in Wonderland we know are there, *plus some*, which just makes it look like Burton has changed it for the sake of it. Its not until about an hour in that it all suddenly clicks and the last hours fuzz has turned into clever twists and a deeper stroyline than anticipated. The introduction of new characters is cleverly done, and they add to the plot quite effectivly rather than just bogging it down. Despite all the new bits and previous confustion, by the end I was captivated and actually sad when it ended.

There are several big name voices in this film that are genius exaples of casting, but who have unfortunately been lost under the Depp/Bonham-Carter fog. These include Christoper Lee, Barbara Windsor, and Stephen Fry. Matt Lucas plays Tweedledum and Tweedldee *perfectly*, and Anne Hathaway's White Queen part is 'nice' but not breathtaking. The stand-out actors (besides Alice, who carries her part extremely well) have to be Helena Bonham-Carter and Matt Lucas - their characters are so believable and well played that you forget its not real. Jonny Depp plays insane very well, though at times his acting was a little flat. Graphically, the film is amazing and Wonderland became real for the two hours; though that said, I went to see the film in 3D and was disappointed to find that it wasn't as 'in-your-face' as I had expected - it was used more for depth of vision than cinematic effect.

All in all, this slightly darker and a bit more sinister (read; bit more grown up) version of Alice in Wonderland is definitely worth seeing. A classic film that will be played in my household time and time again. So far, I've only seen it once, but I get the impression that seeing this film again and again will bring out new details and quirks that were unnoticed previously, so the film will keep growing. A true gem :-)


Jamie Does...
Jamie Does...
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 24.00

30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jamie Does....., 19 April 2010
This review is from: Jamie Does... (Hardcover)
I'm not a Jamie-holic and only own one of his previous books, but I do love to cook and have quite a collection of books from a variety of places. Maybe its this that made me enjoy Jamie's book a little less than the previous reviewers.

Firstly, I really appreciate and admire Jamie's concept of cooking with ingredients that I can find in my local supermarket, which is something a lot of chefs ignore. It makes planning these meals a lot easier, as most people would already have most of the bits and pieces in the pantry anyway. It also helps to make recipies from other contries more accessible, especially if you've never tasted something from that country before. To date, I've cooked a few meals from each chapter and getting good results doesn't seem that hard.

However, I do have a niggle about this book in that it feels a bit half-hearted. There are enough recipies to really get you into cooking in a particular style and with particular ingredients, but then it changes countries. The Hairy Bikers books did this too, but they have more recipies per country (and less spoace given to stock photos) and so I got a better feel for the cooking. I would almost have preferred it if Jamie had gone to town and produced a thorough book dedicated to each country. Also, Spanish and Italian cook books have been done to death, so why Jamie's editors have chosen to open his book with these countries is a mystery. Coming from Spain myself, I was *really disappointed* that the Spanish chapter only scraped the surface. Anyone who has cooked Spanish food regularly already knows these recipies by heart, and given the high standards we've come to expect from Jamie, I was anticipating something with a bit more depth. The Italian section is much the same; unadventurous and nothing new.

That said, I definitely feel that the book is worth four stars for introducing us to Sweedish, Moroccan and French cooking. These countries aren't as well explored in cookbooks so its really nice to get your teeth into something fresh. The foody pictures act as great guides, and the travel shots really set the scene, but the other stock photos feel quite forced and use up space that could otherwise be given over to more recipies. Jamies style of writing is plain and simple, and really easy to follow (though some of the 'tidbit' recipies put me in mind of the Sainsbury's cards).

I really recommend the Roast Lamb with Beans (France), Mighty Meaty Stifado (Greece), Chicken, Olive and Preserved Lemon Tagine (Morocco) and the Walnut, Chestnut and Chocolate Cake (France).


Save Me, San Francisco
Save Me, San Francisco
Price: 6.27

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Train - Save Me, San Francisco, 14 April 2010
This review is from: Save Me, San Francisco (Audio CD)
After hearing 'Hey Soul Sister' on the Radio, I immediately loooked for the rest of the album. I've heard absolutely nothing from them since the single 'Drops of Jupiter', which is no confusing me given how utterly fantastic this CD is. How have they escaped recognition in the UK?! Maybe the airplay 'Hey Soul Sister' is getting on Radio 2 will help rectify this.

All the songs have extremely addictive beats and lyrics, which work their way into your conscioiusness from the first listen. As stand-alone tracks, they are great songs, and when compiled into the ablum it creates a very high quality CD which deserves lots of stereo-time. The title track 'Save Me, San Francisco' is very upbeat and catchy, and 'Hey Soul Sister' will be an unforgetable summer song if the weather gets good enough to drive with the windows down. I can't help singing along! There are no weak or disappointing songs on the entire album, just great song after great song. Train never miss a beat, and this resulting album should hopefully get them more well deserved recognition.

Right, I'm off to listen to Train's back-catalogue; I feel like I've been missing out on something...
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2010 6:09 PM BST


Turn Me Loose
Turn Me Loose
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 7.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ledisi - Turn Me Loose, 14 April 2010
This review is from: Turn Me Loose (Audio CD)
This album isn't as good as Lost And Found, and nowhere near as soulful as It's Christmas. It gets progressivly worse as you listen to it, resulting in the last track, 'Them Changes' sounding like a bad college band warming up for a poorly-attended gig in some grungy bar. Its a shame, as I've been looking forward to this albums release since November.

The three stars are earned by the first four tracks, which are as edgy, well performed and soulfully portrayed as her previous material. After a very cliche'd opening 'stay strong...' spoken opening, 'Runnin'' turns into a modern soul song which really sets the tempo for the rest of the album. 'Everything Changes' is a cracking song with a very well constructed funky background track. My favourite is the title track 'Turn Me Loose', which has an addictive rhythm and will probably be a future single. However, track 5, 'Alone' is where things start going wrong; Its flat and devoid of any emotion or sensitivity that the song needs in order to work. The songs that follow are pretty half-hearted, and very disappointing after being so hyped over the first four tracks. By the end of the CD I was glad it had ended.

This CD isn't particularly worth buying, in my opinion. Try to listen to the tracks elsewhere first, and buy the few good ones individually. Hopefully, Ledisi will wake up in time for her next CD and produce something worth listening to, instead of continuing this decline into 'manufactured pap'. Stick to the other albums for the time being.


Strike
Strike
Offered by westworld-
Price: 11.49

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Baseballs - Strike!, 9 April 2010
This review is from: Strike (Audio CD)
The concept of this album is simple; covers of songs with a Rockabilly, Elvis-esque twist. There's no way that this should work as well as it does, and the reulting album is surprisingly fantastic!

The opening track, Rihanna's 'Umbrella', is so instantly recognisable I jumped out of my chair when I first heard it on the radio. Its a very good version of the song, and so infectious you just can't help singing along! This is definitely a stand out track, as are 'Hey There Delilah', 'Hot 'n' Cold' and 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing'. Some of the tracks don't work as well as others, perhaps because they aren't as well known / as recent as others, but the excellent ones more than make up for it.

This CD is great fun and feels like a warm summers day. Highly recommended!!


How To Train Your Dragon [DVD]
How To Train Your Dragon [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jay Baruchel
Price: 5.00

73 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to [Entertain] Your Dragon, 9 April 2010
The release of this film had my expectations running quite high, given the pedigree of recent films from Dreamworks, which had set the standard. 'How to Train Your Dragon' definitely rose to the challenge, with flawless animation and great depth of field if you see it in 3D at the cinema. The characters are well developed though portrayed quite simply, but this is all thats needed. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and would recommend it to anyone (no kids required) who enjoys their Dreamworks films for the quality of animations, reality of characters and high level of entertainment, with a teaspoon of cuteness added for good measure.

A previous reviewer critisised the film's lack of plot, and while I can agree on it being predictable it certinately wasn't boring. There are some great comedy moments, especially when Hiccup is getting to know Toothless, the Nightfury dragon (who bears an uncanny resemblence to Disney's Stitch (Lilo And Stitch). The temprement of the Dragon is so endeering you really feel involved in its development, and the depth of character of both protagonist and 'pet' is astounding. Both Hiccup and Toothless are embarking on the same journey, breaking free from their stereotypical cultural behaviour (Hiccup's Viking urge to kill dragons, and Toothless's dragon urge to kill humans). Its a film about unfamiliar cultural perceptions, and overcoming these on a route to something better, and both Hiccup and Toothless achieve this through 'being true to themselves', if I'm allowed that cutsie ideological statement.

All in all, a very entertaining couple of hours, and easily comparable to the likes of Madagascar. Dreamworks does it again!

And the Scottish actor's voice you can't quite recognise.....? David Tennent :-)
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2013 2:42 PM GMT


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