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Reviews Written by
Prof TBun (Birmingham UK)

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Prisoner of Night and Fog
Prisoner of Night and Fog
by Anne Blankman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Less serious than expected, 14 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is a lot that is good about this book, so even though I found it disappointing in some ways I will recommend it a worthwile read for young adults.

It is impossible not to be swept up by the storyline from the outset. With the fascists pressing for control in Germany, it is an interesting time, but it is also a story about ideas, expectations and family. The dilemmas that face Gretchen are the same kind of dilemmas that we all face in life. Gretchen has been brought up to believe in Hitler's Rhetoric and yet she has her doubts. Doubts made worse by her familly not sharing those doubts and because Hitler is her family protector. As she enters the world of adulthood opportunity combined with insatiable curiosity causes her to investigate her doubts at great risk.

This is all very interesting, but unfortunately Blankman opts for a girlish solution to the most dificult of Gretchen's choices early on. (This is a slight spoiler). Gretchen decides to follow a dangerous stranger who's message she hates and disbelieves, because he has attrractive eyes. There are other instances as well where Gretchen's emotions get the better of her in an unlikely way for the sake of the plot.

The brutality of the time has been toned down and Hitler's and Rohm's characters are far from genuine. I don't have a problem with this because it makes the story simpler and more accessible to a wider readership. I am still not sure that Blankman does enough to explain the politcal situation before or as events happen in the story. Her American readerships is more liklely to know the role of the SA, and the relationship between the Jews and the Communists. Today we so readily associate Jews with the middle class and conservatism, that it is forgotten the Jews of that era were overrepresented in the working class poor and were amongst the leaders of the left-wing radical movements. (The sad reality being that wealthier Jews were able to buy their escape, leaving most of the poor to their doom.)

There are similarities with Mark Twain's storytelling style with the naivity of the characters, the companionship of opposite's, and a fearless approach to cultural critcism. What is missing is Twain's humour.

What I particularly like about this book is it does avoid some the normal formula for a coming of age story. Yet the time old issues of being attracted to the wrong people and upsetting those you love and rely on are dealt with.

Overall
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A provocative coming of age story, far more likely to appeal to female readers. Well paced, with never a dull moment.


Kitchen Craft 4-in-1 Multi Opener
Kitchen Craft 4-in-1 Multi Opener
Price: £3.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Good bottle opener, 13 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My Mum wanted one of these for opening caps of bottles and cartons, because of her arthritis. She is very happy with how well it works. There is was small saving buying from Amazon as well.

We have not tried it on ring pulls, as there are better alternatives.


Rexel A4 100 Pocket Clearview Display Books - Black (3 Pack)
Rexel A4 100 Pocket Clearview Display Books - Black (3 Pack)
Price: £128.78

3.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous price, 13 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These display books have disappointing flimsy plastic covers. Also disppointed was that the first pockets inside the books I recieved were badly crumpled. Other pockets are also likely to soon become crumpled with use, unless filled simultaneously to stiffen them. "Professional looking", just seems to be advertising speak for "black".

Each display book comes with its own flimsy vinyl box cover for added surface protection, and neater bookcase storage.

The pockets are glued to the spine in 5 U shaped clusters. This enables the book to be opened anywhere without bending the contents. Obviously this is better than simple DIY glue binding, but offers no functional advantage over ring binding and is less flexible. The books are slightly smaller than a ring binder.

The books feature a clear cover pocket and 3 small pocket on the inside cover. The small pockets are for a CD/DVD, a single buisness card and ??

This is not a practical product for general office or home use. I can't imagine photographers, or those in the media industry feeling these books to be of high enough quality for their use, which leaves me puzzled as to who this product is aimed at, now that most of us are digitally equiped.

The pricing shocked me, so I have looked around for similar products. The alternatives I have found ranged from £6.50 to £12 per A4 100 leaf book (the cheapest without a book cover). It is hard not to come to the conclusion that Rexel are relying heavily on the FUD marketing principle. i.e. Hoping that by charging a high price for a (possibly inferior) product, it might well frighten purchasers into sticking with a well known brand name.

Overall
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Rexel offer A4 display books of the same design which have fewer pages and are more practical. My feeling is that the 100 page version is proabably a step to far, even with its helpful storage cover.


Philips BRT383/15 BikiniGenie Trimmer
Philips BRT383/15 BikiniGenie Trimmer
Price: £24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better colour but ..., 9 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Phillips must think we are all daft. Repackaginging the same products and slapping on a hefty price rise seems to be their stategy this year.

This trimmer does a decent enough job, but is functionally no different to its cheaper predecessor.

For me the purple colour is preferable to the pink, but it could not be classed as attractive.


Philips Lumea Prestige SC2008/11 IPL Hair Regrowth Prevention System for face and body
Philips Lumea Prestige SC2008/11 IPL Hair Regrowth Prevention System for face and body
Price: £399.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unjustified price hike, 9 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You can buy the indentical previous model for a fraction of the price, and even by comparison on retail price, you can see that something is wrong with the pricing. According to Phillips sales have grown significantly, so with no real product development the price should be going down not up.

To be fair you do get an bikini head with this one which isn't a great selling point IMHO.

As a product it works well, provided you have a suitable hair and skin type, but for value for money its getting a thumbs down.


Crayola-Colour Alive Enchanted Forest
Crayola-Colour Alive Enchanted Forest
Offered by eTwist
Price: £6.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Too limited, 8 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
16 simple pictures on 8 pages to colour in is nothing to excite about, nor are the pens minimalist colouring pens. The book isnt wrapped so is certain to arrive a little dog eared.The price can only really be justified by the "FREE" app. So not really free then is it?

The app does a couple of things. The first is provide a couple of special effects to your screen captures. Most notably adding some uniform gem lights where you have used the "special pen". This adds very litlle value. I suspect the special pen is mostly a means to try and defend against copyright infringement, which this product is wide open to.

Much more interesting is 3D convertion of your colouring into a sprite. A child can interact with the sprite on screen, but only when infront of the camera, which is not entirely satisfactory. Indeed all the tinkering that an adult is needed for detracts from this product generallly.

Overall.
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As a one off gimmick for a children's party, there is enough value to recommend. However I don't see this as an idea that has much of a future in its current format. There needs to be more of a way for children to interact with the sprites rather than just having screen caps taken with them.


Ink Jet Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for HP 364 - Black
Ink Jet Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for HP 364 - Black
Price: £9.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable everday ink, 3 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The cartridge fits and seems to work fine and there is little more than that that can be said about it than that. I have tried two other catridges from the same source and they were both O.K. too.

Do be aware that if you are using alternative inks for keepsake photos that they may fade faster than original HP inks which are of the highest quality.


The Eco Friendly Medium Beco Ball, Blue
The Eco Friendly Medium Beco Ball, Blue
Price: £4.29

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An expensive bouncy ball, 1 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The over the top marketting of this ball, is a little insulting. It isn't an air freshner and as a feeding tool it is hardly exciting. As for the distorted bounce as a selling point ... "You cannot be serious!".

The claim to be "toxin free" does not seem to me to completely stack up. I can't find a claim from the manufacturers anywhere that the husks used were organically grown (so they weren't), or what manufacturing process is used. BPA free is good, but hardly unusual. "Ethical sourced" is another interesting expression, with no clear meaning. No mention of Fair Trade, etc. The ball may be biodragable, but then it arrives in a polyethene bag.

I perhaps am being overly cynical, but if the cliams being made were more honest, then I would be happy to be supportive of the manufacturers efforts towards making a more ethical product.

Hype aside this ball is a decent enough toy. It is light enough for anyone to throw, and is probabably healthier than most alternatives to chew on. Durabilty is acceptable, but nothing outstanding.

The retail price seems uneccessarily high, which is backed up by some sellers offering considerable discounts.

Overall
======
Its a safer rubber ball from a trusted brand. Nothing very exciting.


Far From The Madding Crowd *Digitally Restored [DVD] [1967]
Far From The Madding Crowd *Digitally Restored [DVD] [1967]
Dvd ~ Julie Christie
Price: £12.99

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, yet hurried., 1 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a film that needed at least an extra hour to tell the story. There is no time to show relationships developing and changing, which gives the impession a false impression of impetuosity throughout. To be fair all the relationships, are important so abridgement was always going to be a thankless task. There is an assumption that you undertstand the class ettique and morality of the time, which may be a problem for modern audiences. The ending is signposted at the start which is a shame, but some may find that reassuring.

Another probelm with the film is that the restoration has not recovered the colours and detail of the countryside. The repetitive music isnt suitable for all the scenes and does not allow for the changes in mood. Why on earth it was felt necessary to repeat it even more by including a cinematic interlude is beyond belief.

I would have preferred the performances to be more animated, but on the whole they were not too bad.

The costumes were generally good, with the exception of Christie who seemed overdressed.

Overall
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A passable introduction to Thomas Hardy , for those not ready to commit to reading his books.


The Angel and the Cad: Love, Loss and Scandal in Regency England
The Angel and the Cad: Love, Loss and Scandal in Regency England
by Geraldine Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, 30 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Geraldine Roberts is an accomplished writer who has done her homework. Unfortunately the foibles of the wealthy as written about here, all seem far too familar. You do get an insight into their lives, but I was hoping that there might be more broader historical interest. There is plenty for lovers of gossip and scandal, to get their teeth into, but such things are of no interest to me.

It would be wrong for me to knock this work too much, as it is well written, and for readers who have an interest in high society there is a plausable story.

Overall
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Likely to appeal to fans of Jane Austen, but not of much interest to readers with much broader tastes. Some readers may be disappointed that the author has stuck to her research findings and not spiced things up some fictional drama.


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