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J. Cronin "dudara" (Ireland)
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Lowepro Fastpack 250 Backpack for SLR Kit, 15.4" Notebook and General Gear - Red
Lowepro Fastpack 250 Backpack for SLR Kit, 15.4" Notebook and General Gear - Red

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid and Safe, 11 Oct. 2009
I'd been looking for a backpack-type bag for my DSLR and my various lenses for quite a while. I settled on this after reading reviews online and I haven't been disappointed. It's a well-paddded, sturdy bag which has three main compartments. At the bottom is a modifiable space for camera and lenses. Velcroed sections mean that you can adjust the compartment sizes to suit. On top is another section for whatever you want. The third compartment, for notebooks, lies along the back of the bag and is very well padded. There are two regular shoulder straps, and a waist strap for extra support.

This makes a great carry-on bag for flying, as it can hold other stuff in addition to camera gear. It's an impressively tough bag.


Candy Everybody Wants
Candy Everybody Wants
by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some flair and fairly funny, 10 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Candy Everybody Wants (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Candy Everybody Wants is a light-hearted and easy-t0-read book, set nostalgically in the early 1980s. Jayson (with a distinctive "y") Blocher wants to be on T.V. He wants to be really famous. The only problem, he lives in Wisconsin where he films his own soap operas using an old video recorder with a separate tape recorder for sound. Oh, and he's gay, with a somewhat dysfunctional set of family and friends.

When events in his home town don't end well, Jayson finds himself in New York, where he sets himself firmly on the path to fame. However, things aren't quite that easy, and Jayson has to learn to come to terms with himself and his family.

The book is an easy read and makes a perfect flight or beach read. It is quite funny at times, but has the overall lightweight feel of candyfloss. There's something to watch with this author - he clearly has a flair and wit (well, he was a very famous drag queen).


Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries
Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries
by Lisa Sanders
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Honest Book, 10 Oct. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries is a collection of case studies and thoughtful insights into the technique of diagnosis. Lisa Sanders is a medical doctor, staff member at Yale University School of Medicine and technical advisor to the hit T.V. show, House. She is the author of the popular monthly Diagnosis column in New York Times Magazine.

Diagnosis focuses on the challenges faced by doctors when attempting to diagnose the cause of a patient's illness. Sanders explores tools such as the traditional physical exam, the knowledge accumulated by individual doctors and the ever-increasing use of diagnostics such as CAT, MRI and echocardigraphs.

Interpersed between all these aspects are a collection of short tales - each recounting a particular medical mystery. Each case study clearly illustrates and highlights the relevant topic under discussion. From West Nile disease to the uncommon CannabinoidHyperemesis, Sanders takes the reader through a wide range of medical puzzles and the challenges facing today's doctors.

In an world with an ever-increasing amount of medical knowledge, a large dependence on technology, and decreasing use of the traditional exam, how will tomorrow's doctors fare? It makes the reader aware of the fact that doctors are human too, not all-knowing oracles of truth. Diagnosis is written in clear English, and is more than suitable for a non-medical person to pcik up and read. A very interesting and honest book.


Undone (Grant County)
Undone (Grant County)
by Karin Slaughter
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good crime thriller, 6 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Undone (Grant County) (Hardcover)
Karin Slaughter is one of the leading lights in the crime thriller genre and she has had a hugely successful career to date. She is the author of two series - the Grant County series featuring doctor Sara Linton and the Atlanta series featuring policeman Will Trent. Apparently this novel is the 7th in the Grant County series, the 3rd in the Atlanta series and the first in a new series, the Georgia series, which will feature both main characters. This merging of two stories will surely please dedicated fans, while cutting down on the amount of writing that Slaughter has to do.

Someone is taking kidnapping successful women and holding them prisoner in a foul, underground, cave which has been dug from the earth itself. When a car collides with one of the women, who has escapted from her captor, but is tortured and starving, Trent, and his partner Faith Mitchell, find themselves on the trail of a horrific and sadistic mind. When the woman is taken to hospital, Sara Linton is the attending physician and she is horrified by the pain and condition of the woman, who calls herself Anna. Her suffering and pain is beyond belief. When reports filter through of a similar woman being kidnapped, Trent and Mitchell know that they are in a race against time.

It's easy to read this book without needing to read the previous novels. While you will be aware of past history, Slaughter does a good job of providing enough information to get you involved. The crimes described in this book are dark and ugly but Slaughter gives her lead characters more than enough human frailty and honesty to compensate for the dark nature. They are genuinely likeable people. Additionally, I felt that the author did a great job of taking the reader through the internal thoughts of a detective who is working to solve a case, as well as showing us how inter-departmental politics can jeopardise an investigation.

The novel did feel a little rushed towards the end - and somehow, the ends came together a little too neatly. But Slaughter isn't the first author to fall into this trap and she won't be the last. Overall, this is a good, personable crime thriller. Fans of the genre are bound to enjoy it, and new readers will surely be encouraged to pick up another Slaughter novel.


Halfhead
Halfhead
by Stuart B. MacBride
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visceral and captivating. One to watch!, 25 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Halfhead (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Stuart MacBride is the author of the Logan McRae series of Scottish thrillers, but he has added an initial to his name (a la Iain Banks) and struck out in a new direction with the tense and visceral Halfhead.

Halfhead is set in the near future in a world which has started to break down. The poorer elements of society are confined to massive communal blocks and many of them spend their time plugged into Virtual Reality. In order to deter crime, people convicted of serious crimes are forcibly lobotomised by the state, along with the removal of their lower jawbone, sexual organs and other identifying features. These zombie-like halfheads are then set to work in municipal buildings, where they can be seen by all.

One such halfhead is Dr. Fiona Westfield. A prolific serial killer, she was lobotomised, but 6 years later, she regains her mind and starts to kill again, but this time in the guise of an anonymous halfhead. She is seeking vengeance from Will Hunter, the Network operative who captured her but Hunter, still haunted by Westfield and his part in the VR wars, is on the trail of another series of apparently unrelated killings. However, the terrible web that Westfield wove in her earlier life soon ensnares them all.

MacBride has created a horribly wonderful vision of Glasgow in the future. High tech machines and weaponry litter the pages, yet the real focus is on the people. He has managed to marry the serial killer genre and futuristic sci-fi with aplomb. My only gripe would be with the fundamental concept and reasons for creating the halfheads - I can't believe that any society would do such a thing. But putting that aside, I was truly trapped by this gritty, gory story. Word of warning, it's not for the faint of heart.


The Fire King (Dirk & Steele Romance)
The Fire King (Dirk & Steele Romance)
by Marjorie M. Liu
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A chimera, 22 Sept. 2009
The Fire King is part of the Dirk & Steele romance series from American author Marjorie Liu. This was my first venture into this series, but I will admit at the start of this review that romantic novels are not my thing.

Dirk & Steele are a detective agency who employ 'gifted' or 'supernatural' people to undertake engagements. Soria is a 'universal translator' who is recovering from a horrific incident where she lost one of her arms. She is sent by her former boss and lover to China/Mongolia where an amazing discovery has been made in a recently unearthed tomb. Little do they know that this discovery will reawaken an ancient feud.

The discovery in the tomb turns out to be Karr, a tall, handsome man who is surprisingly alive, despite having been buried in the dark for over 3,000 years. Karr is a chimera, one of the forbidden offspring when two different shapeshifters breed. In Karr's case, he is half-lion and half-dragon, but now he has reawoken in a completely different world, where his kind are very few. He has to battle his basic urges and present a human face.

Ultimately, this is a romantic novel, but somehow it failed to engage me. I found the characters a bit dull, and even all the action and mythology failed to bring much excitement to the proceedings. It's definitely a book for a niche market, but judging by other positive reviews online, it does appear that Liu has her market.


Phraseology
Phraseology
by Barbara Ann Kipfer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a reference book to keep, 16 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Phraseology (Paperback)
I'm confused as to the purpose of this book - it is supposed to provide etymology and origins of words, or act more as a casual dictionary?

There are definitions of English mustard (mustard), english breakfast (a large fry) and English Breakfast tea (surprisingly, tea). To me these words are nouns, not phrases.

I suppose I should have guessed that it might not be the best when I saw the defition of the phrase "pushing the envelope" that features on the cover. "A pilot's term for flying an aircraft at or beyond its reasonable limits". That's the definition alright, but what about the origin as promised at the top of the cover?

I went straight to the definition of one of my favourite phrases - "mind your p's and q'". Kipfer gives the definition as being an admonishment used by teachers monitoring students' handwriting. There's no mention of two other widely-accepted theories. Firstly, a warning to typesetters in the days of printing presses when the letter 'q' did not feature its characteristic tail, and hence could be mistaken for a 'p' in reverse. The second hails back to the days of drinking pints and quarts in public houses and recording of such on the slate.

For me this was the acid test, and the book failed it.

Ultimately, it's a novelty book, and you probably will learn something from it. But you'll probably be better off searching on the internet.


Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Offered by Priority Savings
Price: £130.00

58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nifty-Fifty equivalent for the D40 and D60, 13 Sept. 2009
A nify-fifty lens (50 mm prime lens) is a standard piece of kit in most photographer's kit. However, with the DX format sensor in the D40 and D60, this new 35mm prime is roughly equivalent to the traditional 50mm.

This is prime lens, meaning that you can't change the zoom. However, you can change the aperture, all the way down to a wide-open aperture of f/1.8. At this aperture size, you'll get an extremely shallow depth of field, resulting in very aesthetically pleasing blurred backgrounds. This maximum aperture size aso means that it's ideal for low-light shooting as you can acheive relatively fast shutter speeds.

This is a very sharp lens, and a great multi-purpose, walkaround lens. It hasn't been off my camera since buying it over a month ago and I've been extremely impressed with its range and versatility.


The Bradshaw Variations
The Bradshaw Variations
by Rachel Cusk
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.30

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 13 Sept. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The book centres on various members of the Bradshaw family and in particular, Thomas, Tonie and their daughter, Alexa. The traditional family roles are reversed when Tonie accepts a promotion to chair the English department in the university where she lectures and Thomas becomes a stay-at-home father to Alexa. Other characters are Thomas' brothers and their families as well as their respective parents.

The book tries to capture the tribulations of family life, but the writing is so detached that I found it hard to form any affection for the characters or their problems. It's a nice slim hardcover book but it still took me a long time to read it. I literally had to drag myself through it. Extremely unsatisfying.


Underwater
Underwater
by Elizabeth Diamond
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Emerging from the muddy murky waters, 31 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Underwater (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Underwater is the second novel from Elizabeth Diamond, who displays a high level of accomplishment in this tale. Jane is recovering from the trauma of breast cancer and trying to deal with resurgent memories from her past. She dreams of her missing brother Paul and experiences sensations of being underwater.

As the story progresses, the multiple tragedies of Jane's life begin to reveal themselves, both to her and to the reader. She has suppressed them all her life, lied about her past, but not they are coming back, demanding to be recognised. Ex-wife to Adam, and mother to Dominic, Jane has lived a separate life from them following a horrible accident. But it was events in her teenage years which truly shaped her.

Initially, I didn't find the book engaging and I wondered if I should continue to read. However, I am glad that I did. Diamond has a way of gradually revealing the intricacies and details of the story and skillfully builds layer upon layer. Don't let the slow and vague start deter you.


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