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A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England)
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Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 (PC/Mac)
Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 (PC/Mac)
Price: £65.28

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-worthwhile enhancement to already great software, 27 Sep 2014
I have been using Elements for a very long time now (since version 4 in fact) and I am still convinced that it is the best software for editing digital photographs. For doing the fine detail stuff like cloning out distractions, cropping and size adjustments, fixing lighting problems and fine-tuning colour, there's just nothing better - and I've tried most of the competition. The layering features are second to none although there are enough guided edits in the software for you not to have to delve down into the more complex stuff if you don't want to.

The Organiser is really useful and allows you to catalogue vast numbers of photographs using keywords, face recognition or location. I have nearly 30,000 digital images catalogued in Elements and have never found any inadequacies in the system.

This new version offers a variety of new features and they all seem to work really well. The new Photomerge Compose is very clever at moving objects (people for example) from one photo to another. You want to add someone into a group photo? This was quiet tricky before but now you just select them and paste them in and Elements adjusts the colour and lighting to make the new position look really natural.

The crop suggestions are quite useful, being based on classic compositional guides such as the "rule of thirds".

What's really great is the enhanced selection tools - for example, it's always been difficult to select an object with complex edges like a head of hair. Now you just do a bit of nudging in and out and you get a very fine-tuned selection.

Over the years Elements has become a very sophisticated editing tool but recent releases like 13 have concentrated on making it easier to use. The new Effects menu lets you do all sorts of things with a single click like choosing from a number of black and white conversions or selecting a pencil sketch option. There's a separate set of textures which can be added to a photo with a single click and also a good range of frames which can surround your photograph.

I'm still getting used to the new welcome screen which is called eLive. This gives lots of panels offering help with the new version, videos, examples, projects and general inspiration for better edits. The content on eLive is going to change regularly and I think it's going to be a really nice feature.

Elements is a complete photo organising and edit package in itself but you may like to use it as I do in conjunction with Adobe.Lightroom where it becomes the secondary editor. If you are already a Lightroom user, in my opinion you also need Elements for the detailed functions which are not included in Lightroom particularly the Photomerge features.


Bolse® 60W / 12-Amp 7-Port Fast Charging USB Wall / Desktop Charging Station With SmartICᵀᴹ Technology - Full Speed Charging for iPhone 5, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Touch Screen Tablet, Cell Phone, MP3 Player, (AC 110-220V International), Detachable 5 ft / 1.5 M Power Cord
Bolse® 60W / 12-Amp 7-Port Fast Charging USB Wall / Desktop Charging Station With SmartICᵀᴹ Technology - Full Speed Charging for iPhone 5, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Touch Screen Tablet, Cell Phone, MP3 Player, (AC 110-220V International), Detachable 5 ft / 1.5 M Power Cord
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: £39.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does things no other charger can do, 26 Sep 2014
The great benefit of this charger over others is that it contains some very clever technology which is able to detect what device you are plugging into it and then deliver exactly the right rate of charge to it. Any one of the seven sockets can be used for your device and you can charge multiple devices at the same time. The instructions that come with the charger say that "smart ports dynamically adapt to the charging pin signal required by each device to accept a charge".

The charger works best if you use the original USB cable that came with your device, but I have sometimes mixed up the cables and the devices still seem to charge up perfectly well. I haven't done any comparative tests but the charger seems to charge my devices quicker than usual method.

An LED light is illuminated when a device is being charged and this will flash when the device is charged up. This is an advantage over the usual charger plugs where you just have to leave them in for as long as you think necessary.

The charger gives the impression of being very well-made, feeling nice and solid. A 1.5 metre power cord is supplied and this has a useful velcro band to go round it if you want to coil up part of the cord. The instructions say that the charger is fully protected against over-heating, over-current and short circuiting so you should be able to leave it on over-night or when you go out.

It would be a good idea to find a place where you can leave the charger plugged in as you don't want to keep moving it around the house with all the cables attached. It might be an idea to fix it to the wall or to a desk with sticky pads.

All in all, this is a very good product with quality construction and a high level of technology to do something nothing else can - charge up to seven devices at the same time, with no need to worry about which socket they are plugged into.


Ipow Pastorable Flower Floral Canvas Double Zipper Large Make Up Cosmetic Pen Pencil Stationery Storage Pouch Bag Case, Set of 4
Ipow Pastorable Flower Floral Canvas Double Zipper Large Make Up Cosmetic Pen Pencil Stationery Storage Pouch Bag Case, Set of 4
Offered by soaiy
Price: £6.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A useful and attractive gift for women and girls, 25 Sep 2014
I bought these for the four women in my life, my wife, my daughter and my two grand-daughters and I can honestly say that all four are delighted with these zip-up bags. My wife uses hers as an extra little cosmetic bag to take around in her smaller hand-bag, my daughter keeps her new iPhone in hers and my grand-daughters use them for pens and pencils.

They all like the double zip compartments which make them more flexible than most bags. The designs are really nice, being in a floral or pastoral theme and the canvas construction means that they should be fairly durable. The zips on all four bags work fine.

At this price it's well worth buying four to keep in store as small gifts for any occasion - my wife's book group give each other little gifts at Christmas and she says that these would be ideal. My daughter says they would make ideal gifts for children's parties - I am sure that any older girl would be delighted to receive one.

Altogether a great product and well worth the money.


The Undertaking
The Undertaking
Price: £1.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A living, breathing testimony to the horrors of fascism, 24 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Undertaking (Kindle Edition)
I often struggle to find good books among the huge numbers being published each month, but I struck gold with The Undertaking, the first novel by Audrey Magee. I enjoyed the gripping and unusual story, the wartime background and the compelling tale of human relationships under pressure.

Peter Faber is a German soldier fighting at the Eastern front, who takes advantage of a Nazi scheme to marry off single women left behind to soldiers serving in the war. The soldiers get three weeks honeymoon leave, and the women get a husband - very difficult to do when all the young men have been conscripted to fight on distant battlefields. Peter sees only a photograph of Katharina Spinell but decides that she will do for him, so a remote marriage service is held and back he goes to Berlin to meet his bride.

It is an awkward start to a marriage, but Peter is welcomed into his in-laws home and within a very few days the young couple seem happy enough with the arrangement. Peter's new father-in-law is well-connected with the local Nazi party and persuades Peter to go out every evening on some horrifying Nazi business, but after a year or so in Russia he seems to be unphased at having to conduct further atrocities at home.

Nazi philosophy has become second nature to the Berlin populace. The Jews "steal" their own property by hiding it from the good German people who believe they are entitled to the spoils of active anti-Semitism. Jewish families matter for little, and there is as little compassion for children as there is for their parents. Evicting Jewish families from their homes has about as much impact on the perpetrators as flushing out a nest of vermin from a nest. Hannah Arendt's phrase, "the banality of evil" perfectly describes the atmosphere in 1940s Berlin.

Peter soon has to return to the front and to leave the wife he has now come to love. His return sees the escalation of horror as the soldiers trudge eastwards through ice and snow, looting and pillaging on the way in a sort of brainless fight for survival. We flash back and forth between Peter and Katherina, the novel somehow teaching us more about the conditions under Adolf Hitler than most textbooks can impart, such is the power of a human story.

At this point I will stop describing the story for fear of spoiling it for others. I will close by saying that this is a very fine novel, showing evidence of much intense and no-doubt harrowing research. Audrey Magee has done a fine job here and richly deserves the reviews she has had in newspapers and other media. She must have immersed herself in the story in order for it to be such a living, breathing testimony to the horrors of fascism and its effect on the human psyche.


OP/TECH Utility Strap Sling - Black
OP/TECH Utility Strap Sling - Black
Price: £15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value, works well, a great purchase, 24 Sep 2014
I'm very happy with this strap. DSLRs are difficult things to cart around and anything that makes it a bit easier has got to be worth buying. It's certainly better than having the camera bouncing around on your chest on a neck strap, and I quite like the way I can have the camera in my hand straightaway whenever I need it. I'm left handed so have placed it on the opposite shoulder to one in the instructions. It still works fine.

It looks nicely made and is not too bulky, yet is wide enough on the shoulder pad to be comfortable. It fits into my camera bag pretty well but perhaps you need to think about the size of it if you have a snugly fitting camera case.

It was pretty easy to fix and although the strap has two buckles, this is only because some cameras have two fixing points on the side, or you may have a battery holder with a fixing point on it. If you only have one fixing point only use one buckle and you may want to do like I have and cut the other one away - there is little point in carrying it around forever in my opinion.


Expert Shield - THE Crystal Clear Screen Protector for: Nikon D5300 *Lifetime Guarantee*
Expert Shield - THE Crystal Clear Screen Protector for: Nikon D5300 *Lifetime Guarantee*
Offered by Expert Shield
Price: £7.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great product but be sure you really need it, 24 Sep 2014
Like all screen protectors, it is impossible to say that there is no degredation in clarity or appearance from a camera screen in its original condition. It's a pay-off really - if safety and no risk of scratching is important to you then a screen protector is a good idea, if you really don't think you're likely to scratch the screen then the camera is better without one. Let's face it, camera manufacturers go to great lengths to provide you with a crystal clear screen in the toughest materials possible and it's a shame to degrade this wonderful clarity with a sheet of plastic however good it is.

Having said that, on the Nikon D5300 you have the option of folding the screen back flat on the rear of the camera so it is always exposed. Sometimes you may forget to fold it back so that it's facing in to the camera and you might shove it into its case, or bang it against a belt buckle and ruin it forever. So this is where a screen protector comes in and I have opted for one, knowing how easily accidents happen, especially to a large camera like a DSLR. If you only use the screen occasionally and keep it folded back most of the time it might not be worth buying a screen protector at all.

I think this screen protector is about as good as it gets. It's very precisely cut to the size of the D5300 screen, and it's about as easy to fit as these things can be. You have to be extremely careful putting it on, but you can re-adjust it a few times without damaging it. Despite every effort possible I have not been able to totally eliminate bubbles, but the remaining ones are very tiny and are in a place that doesn't matter. I like the way that if I get fed up with the screen protector I can easily remove it without damaging the screen - this is vitally important to me.

The protectors is thin enough to have no impact on the usability of the screen and the clarlty is excellent. On the whole, despite my reservations above it's a good product and I would recommend it.


#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

3 of 4 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: £10.00

6 of 7 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 3 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

3 of 3 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.


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