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A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England)
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#1 Deluxe Solar Garden Security Flood Spotlight - The FireBlaze (TM) - Wireless Ultra Bright LED - Outdoor Exterior PIR Motion/Angle Sensor - Wall Mount for Path, Shed, Garage, Porch, Fence, Gate - Long Lasting Rechargeable Batteries Included - Night Intruder Alert - Free Home Security eBooks - Protect Your Investment with 90 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
#1 Deluxe Solar Garden Security Flood Spotlight - The FireBlaze (TM) - Wireless Ultra Bright LED - Outdoor Exterior PIR Motion/Angle Sensor - Wall Mount for Path, Shed, Garage, Porch, Fence, Gate - Long Lasting Rechargeable Batteries Included - Night Intruder Alert - Free Home Security eBooks - Protect Your Investment with 90 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
Offered by Pampered Gardens
Price: £49.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful light, very easy to install and not needing batteries or mains power., 14 Sep 2014
This is a very clever little light which is ideal for use in a poorly lit area outside the house. The light gives a warm glow at soon as darkness falls and then when anyone comes near it, it immediately turns up to a bright light providing good illumination for the surrounding area.

I have installed mine in the porch and it so much better than my existing porch light because I don't have to remember to turn it on from inside. This means that if I come home at night I can easily find where to put the key in the door. Also if I am at home, I can see through the glass panel in my door who is outside without having to startle them by turning on my mains-powered light.

The unit is quite compact (the light is 6cms wide) so it is not a replacement for one of those huge security lights that some people have outside their homes, but personally I have never liked these anyway - this one is so much more subtle and will not disturb the neighbours in the way that a bigger lamp might.

When the lamp arrived through with the morning post, I left it in full daylight for the rest of the day so it could charge up then hung it up in the porch. The charge lasted through the night without any difficultly so the solar unit seems to work well. It seems to be very well constructed and the description says it is fully waterproof so it can be hung outside.

This is a very useful light indeed, very easy to install with the great benefit of not needing batteries or mains power.


The Paying Guests
The Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read, deeply absorbing and rich in characters and atmosphere., 8 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Paying Guests (Hardcover)
There are no spoilers in this review.

After reading a few "so-so" books I found myself wanting to bury myself in some really good writing and recover that feeling of being swept along by a novel, resenting the time I have to spend away from it. I have always enjoyed reading Sarah Waters before (Fingersmith, The Little Stranger etc) for her complex plotting and rich charaterisation and so when The Paying Guests came out I decided to try a sample chapter on the Kindle. Within a few minutes or reading I had made the purchase of the full novel and can only say that this is a terrific read, deeply absorbing and rich in atmosphere and insights into the human condition.

As the book opens we find ourselves a very few years after the First World War in a suburb of South London. Frances Wray and her mother live in a big old house which has become too expensive for them to run. Mr Wray has died of a heart-attack leaving only debts and disorder. Frances describes him as "a nuisance when he was alive, he made a nuisance of himself by dying and he's managed to go on being a nuisance ever since". Frances's two brothers were both killed in the War and so the only option for the two women seems to take in "lodgers", or as the prefer to call them, "paying guests" - a more genteel description to early 20th century sensibilities.

The paying guests arrive in the form of a young married couple, Mr and Mrs Barber (Lilian and Leonard, but what a long time it takes for everybody to get onto first-name terms!). Sarah Waters' description of the first few days of adaptation is written with an artist's hand - Frances and her mother find it difficult to share their home with these two strangers with their mysterious noises and comings and goings. They feel that the house is no longer their own (which it isn't) and even their own space is invaded throughout the day because the Barbers have to go through their kitchen to get to the outside toilet (how easily we forget what life was like for most people a mere 100 years ago). Furthermore, Mr Barber has an extremely annoying habit of stopping to chat with Frances Wray while she is working in the kitchen - his easy familiarity grates with her desire for distance and a more formal relationship with her lodgers.

The story is written from the perspective of Frances Wray. Frances is an intelligent woman and although she is only in her late twenties, she feels that life has passed her by. We go with her on long walks through London, ending up in the lodgings of old girl-friends who seem to live so much more interesting lives. At least the Barbers make her home life a little more interesting despite the challenges.

The book quickly develops in ways I would not want to describe for fear of spoiling it for readers. Lilian Barber turns out to be a more interesting character than Frances expected and before long Frances finds herself being embroiled in the lives of Leonard and Lilian in ways which she never expected.

Waters writes of a period which is at the cusp of great social change. The stultified manners and relationships of Victorian and Edwardian times are being eroded by a more modern set of manners. The working class Barbers are rising upward whereas the Wrays and other more genteel people are finding that the old conventions are no longer providing them with the status or social skills they are accustomed to. This book is multi-layered dealing with the complexities of human relationships in a rapidly changing world, while also centring on a terrible crime and its aftermath. As always with Waters, we readers are treated to a good deal of suspense and highly-charged story-telling.

This book is written by a woman and most of the characters are female but as a man I found the book as relevant to me as any other. There is a courtship between two women in this story, but it is not too different from what happens between a man and a woman and in any case, the sheer complexity and drive of the story makes it a good read for either gender.

The book is a page turner in the best sense of the phrases. At times my involvement with the book was so great I had to put it down and go and do something else to clear my head and remind myself that the characters and events described were fictinoal creations! Sarah Waters has the gift of drawing you on through her satisfyingly long books and as with all good literature you find yourself spinning it out toward the end because you don't want it to finish.


Fall From Grace: David Raker Novel #5 (David Raker 5)
Fall From Grace: David Raker Novel #5 (David Raker 5)
by Tim Weaver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... around for a while now and his investigations get better with each book, 5 Sep 2014
Tim Weaver's private detective David Raker has been around for a while now and his investigations get better with each book. In Fall From Grace, he is asked to investigate the disappearance of a retired policeman, Leonard Franks, who went out to get some logs for his fireplace and was never seen again. Leonard's daughte is herself a police-woman but has become frustrated at the lack of progress in the investigation into her father's disappearance, and contacts Raker to see if he can help out.

Raker is an incredibly thorough investigator and Time Weaver gets it quite right by showing the amount of careful analysis of evidence that is required in solving a case like this. Raker compiles huge lists of evidence and then spends hours and hours analysing these and mashing them together in different ways. Helpfully for his readers, Tim Weaver lets us see some of his summaries and these are useful for refreshing the memory of what is actually quite a complex plot.

Raker has to speak to various members of the police force, including Leonard's ex-colleagues. I like the way Tim Weaver handles these very prickly encounters - I am sure police officers would act exactly like this if they have to deal with a private detective. After a hundred pages or so, the story gets very exciting and I found myself drawn into this complex case and frequently surprised at the twists and turns it takes.

I have to say, Tim Weaver is a very clever writer indeed. The story develops very skilfully indeed and the authors attention to detail is at times quite incredible. You will not find any flaws or mistakes in this book and it all hangs together beautifully. You don't have to read the earlier novels in the series first - this book is complete in itself and although there are references to David Raker's back story these are explained in enough detail to fill in any possible gaps.

A deservedly highly acclaimed book in well-reviewed series. An excellent read all round.


While Wandering: A Walking Companion
While Wandering: A Walking Companion
by Duncan Minshull
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" read for anyone who loves walking and reading, 5 Sep 2014
I have had the Vintage Book of Walking on my shelves for fourteen years and am delighted to see this lovely new edition which is published under the title While Wandering. It is certainly a book which deserves a re-release. There is a new forward by Robert McFarlane, but apart from that, this is the same wide-ranging collection of short pieces on the topic of walking.

The anthology is arranged under various chapter headings such as "Why Walk", "How to Walk", "Setting Off", "With Nature" etc. These divide the book up nicely although many of the pieces could have been filed under more than one of these headings.

There are so many gems in this book it would be difficult to know where to start. Edgar Allen Poe describes the crowds of London as they hurry home in the evening. Flora Thompson describes the journey to school taken by groups of chaotic, squabbling and shouting children, falling over each other and arriving at school dishevelled and filthy. Elizabeth Gaskell writes of crowd of factory workers on a day off, making their way through fields full of springtime flowers and leaves, revelling in the warm sunshine.

There are more modern items too. Julian Barnes, Patrick Suskind, Richard Mabey and Cólm Toibin are included here but as this is a reprint, the last 20 years or so are not represented which is a shame as there have been many books published since which could have provided more recent thoughts on the topic of walking.

One small quibble. The index has been revised with some entries dropped and others added. When I looked in the new index for one of my favourite pieces on Eric Satie, the Vintage book indexes it under Satie but the new index only references it under the author of the book it is extracted from - which is much less helpful, for while I know Eric Satie the composer I have never heard of his biographer Robert Orledge.

This is a lovely book which would make a great gift for anyone who walks, apart from being a bit of a "must have" for anyone who enjoys anthologies like this. I would have given it five stars had it been revised and updated but even as a reprint it is still worth buying.


OxyLED T-03 Super Bright Wireless Motion Sensing LED Wall Light for Pathway/ Staircase/ Step/ Garden/ Yard/ Wall/ Drive Way (1 x OxyLED T-03)
OxyLED T-03 Super Bright Wireless Motion Sensing LED Wall Light for Pathway/ Staircase/ Step/ Garden/ Yard/ Wall/ Drive Way (1 x OxyLED T-03)
Offered by Thousand Shores
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compact and lightweight lamp ideal for cupboards and alcoves., 5 Sep 2014
The OxyLED T-03 is an ideal lamp to put in a cupboard or alcove to provide the extra light required where room lights can't reach. I have mounted it in an under-stairs cupboard where it comes on every time I open the door and is bright enough to see into those dark corners which were so difficult to see into before.

The unit is fairly compact and lightweight, which means that the double sided sticky pads that come with it are quite adequate to hold it firmly in place. It is powered by four AA batteries and I would normally not buy a batter lamp because of hight running costs. However, with LED lights, the four batteries should power the lamp for a very long time because LED lights use so little power.

It is very easy to use - you just take it out of its box and put the batteries inside the cover on the back of the lamp. A three way switch on the top then lets you choose on all the time, auto (turns on and off when detects motion) or off. It is best to leave it on auto all the time and it will then turn off 15 seconds after the motion ceases (in my case when I close the door on the cupboar).

This is a great product which works well and is ideally suited for what I want it for.


Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy
Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy
by Tim Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic ride described with wit and skill, 2 Sep 2014
I've always thought that long-distance cyclists are the greatest athletes and reading Gironimo by Tim Moore has convinced me. To ride round Italy on the route of the 1914 Giro d'Italia is no mean feat, but to do it on a vintage bike with reproduction clothing from the period is an amazing feat

Tim already amazed his readers by cycling the route of the Tour de France (recorded in his book French Revolutions) but Gironimal describes roads and mountains which seem to be even worse, and with the addition of the immense heat (40+ degrees Centigrade) and the ongoing problems of his ancient bike, I could only admire his great stickability which kept him going day after day until he arrived back at his starting point 400 kms later.

There are three things which make this a fantastic read

1. The combination of Tim's ride with frequent flash-backs to events on the original 1914 tour - of interest to anyone who is interested in the limits of human endurance;
2. The travel aspects - this is a real tour of Italy and we learn much about the geography and culture of the country along the way;
3. Tim's huge sense of humour which pervades the book and makes it not only very interesting but also very funny.

I can't imagine how Tim managed to complete this ride - at times he appears to have been in the depths of hell, on the verge of losing his mind with despair and exhaustion. Yet he managed to find the inner reserves to keep going. I love the way that at the end of his epic ride he finds the acclaim he richly deserved, but in a very unexpected way.

I've read all Tim Moore's book, but this is the best. Buy it and see what travel/sport writing is all about.


Bahamas is Afie
Bahamas is Afie
Price: £10.13

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laid-back but compelling music, an album with unity of purpose from beginning to end, 1 Sep 2014
This review is from: Bahamas is Afie (Audio CD)
I saw a review of this album in the Sunday Times by Canadian artist Afie Jurvanen and thought I would give it a go. I have not been disappointed. Afie obviously spends a lot of time on his song-writing, for these are great lyrics with original tunes - no sign of being in anybody elses mould here, Afie is a true innovator. But the arrangements are also incredibly inventive, without being distracting - Afie seems to know how to come up with just the right sound to enhance the message of the song.

I'll just highlight some of my favourite songs on the album.

Waves is a great opening track. Laid-back percussion, light strumming guitar. Later a female chorus, ethereal and light. This track sets the tone for the whole album. This is not in-your-face music which will stop you doing anything else, but if you put it on the player you will find yourself being drawn back to it to listen to the fine details which keep attracting your attention.

In Like a Wind we hear a lush slide electric guitar over simple acoustic finger-picking over a song with minimalistic lyrics which somehow say it all in just a few words.

Ih Half Mine we have a pacey, relaxed song with piano backing and occsional guitar strums to fill out the sound.

The tune of All Time Favourite has an almost oriental tune, with backing singers giving an atmospheric accomapaniment, soon joined with violins. A great song which follows the advice of a friend of Afie quoted in a recent interview, "when you sing you should assume you're laying next to a lover and whispering into their ear with their head next to you on a pillow".

I love Bitter Memories, a simple song with a sort of Delta Blues guitar track which could have been played by Mississippi John Hurt! I can see plenty of people trying to recreate the sound at home on an old guitar.

All The Time has very unusual use of distorted guitar which cuts in and out very effectively. Great rhythms in this track. A real winner. A completely different blue-grassy guitar sound is used on Little Record Girl, the only song which could be called "catchy".

There is plenty of variety in this album but there is an overall unity to the tracks which makes it all hang together really well. It moves along smoothly from one track to another, drawing you from one musical experience to another. The long final track, All I've Ever Known is one of the best, with an easy-going sound with plenty of laid-back guitar and piano riffs which fill it out to a very satisfying whole and summarises this great album.


iClever IC-F27 In Car Universal Wireless FM Transmitter with USB Car Charger for Smartphone, MP3 MP4 and any Audio Player with 3.5mm Audio Jack including iPhone 5/5s/4/4s/Samsung S3 S4, HTC one, Motorola Droid X, Nokia Lumia 520/900/1020, iPod, iPod Touch
iClever IC-F27 In Car Universal Wireless FM Transmitter with USB Car Charger for Smartphone, MP3 MP4 and any Audio Player with 3.5mm Audio Jack including iPhone 5/5s/4/4s/Samsung S3 S4, HTC one, Motorola Droid X, Nokia Lumia 520/900/1020, iPod, iPod Touch
Offered by Thousand Shores
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works perfectly, very easy to set up and use, 1 Sep 2014
This device was incredibly easy to set up and use. It comes nicely packaged in an easy-to-open box and the instruction booklet is clear and easy to understand. I took it out to the car, plugged the power connector into the lighter socket (good secure fitting - not likely to slip out like some plugs). I selected a preset on my car radio which had nothing tuned to it and using the up/down buttons on the device selected the same wavelength.

I then plugged my tablet into the transmitter and fired up Spotify and immediately found myself listening to music from the tablet on the car radio. It was loud and clear with no drop-outs and no static or other interference.

Basically, this competitively priced device does what it says with no problems. It couldn't be easier to use. I particularly like that it has a USB socket on it so with the appropriate cable you can charge your device while listening to music from it.


Melissa & Doug Alphabet Sound Puzzle
Melissa & Doug Alphabet Sound Puzzle
Price: £4.33

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The wooden base is robust and the plastic letters have a nice rounded fell to them (no scratchy corners, 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a well-made puzzle which would be ideal for a young child - say three to five years old. The wooden base is robust and the plastic letters have a nice rounded fell to them (no scratchy corners!). When the letter is lifted out, an electronic voice calls out the letter name and a word beginning with it.

Some people find the American accent lets this product down, but we have several talking toys which our grand-children play with when they visit and I don't think the accent is a problem - in my experience the child does not actually take too much notice of the voices and is more interested in what you say when you play with them. The main point of the game is to fit the correct letters into their shapes and also to make up short words from the letters.

I think there are few parents of little children who would be disappointed to receive this game. We are pleased to have added it to our collection and experience so far is that the children enjoy playing with it. I was tempted to give it five stars but I suppose the American accent makes it slightly less than perfect.

You need to supply two AAA batteries of your own to power the electronic voice.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2014 4:31 PM BST


Brabantia 30 Litre Laundry Bin with White Body/ Plastic Lid and Removable Black/ Grey Laundry Bag
Brabantia 30 Litre Laundry Bin with White Body/ Plastic Lid and Removable Black/ Grey Laundry Bag
Price: £51.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more struggling down the stairs with armfuls of washing!, 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I suppose it was only a matter of time before Brabantia brought out a laundry bin. We already have a very high quality kitchen waste bin and so when this product came out I was pleased to get hold of it as soon as possible. The bin is a quality item, with a lightweight metal body with ventilation holes around the base of the unit. The lid has a hole in it through which you can drop your washing.

A fabric bag inside the bin can be taken out so you can carry your washing to the washing machine without having to carry arm-loads of socks etc. The bag fits nicely around the top of the bin (the bag has a rubber strip around the top with a velcro fastener.

The bin would probably not be big enough to hold a family's weekly wash, but it's ideal for those who live on their own or with one or two others, or for families who do the laundry frequently.

This would be an ideal wedding or house-warming present - I suspect most people wouldn't even know that such a thing existed and so it would be a nice surprise to receive it. I am sure it would last for years and years. Altogether a quality product, worth the money for anyone who is trying to furnish a stylish home.


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