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A. I. Mackenzie "alimack" (Glasgow, Scotland.)
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Doctor Who: Demon Quest: Relics of Time v. 1
Doctor Who: Demon Quest: Relics of Time v. 1
by Paul Magrs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 8.85

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Entertaining but a bit daft, 28 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the start of the second set of Tom Baker serials on BBC Audio.

Like the previous Hornet's Nest serials, it contains the same cast - although Mrs Wibbsey is central with Mike Yates' only getting a secondary part.

The plot is roughly a variation of 'she's tidied up and I can't find anything!'. Vital TARDIS components are sold at a church fete and the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey have to go through time to find them.

The same comments apply as to Hornet's Nest, it's great to hear Tom Baker relishing being the Doctor again, after refusing to play the part for so long. Mrs Wibbsey (Susan Jameson) provides able support. However the plot is a bit silly and not very Who-ish in a way I can't quite put my finger on. It's great fun, though, as long as you don't take it too seriously.


The Night Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
by Clement C. Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, lovely illustrations, 21 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've read this once with my son so far. It's a bit out of season at the moment, but the richness of the illustrations and their slightly dreamy quality make it worth a look even now.

This will come into its own as the winter darkens, it's a beautiful book well bound with a quality feel to the paper. I haven't listened to the CD yet but will give that ago nearer the time.

Worth buying when Christmas comes.


Doctor Who: The Ring of Steel
Doctor Who: The Ring of Steel
by Stephen Cole
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 7.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid entertainment, middling Dr Who, 21 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a good solid adventure, easy to listen to and quite exciting.

Arthur Darvill is a good narrator and pleasant company, however his Scottish accents are terrible which is a shame particularly as there are several Scots who've worked on Dr Who - (Karen Gillan, Steven Moffat and even David Tennant) who could presumably have tackled the accent better.

The adventure feels a lot like a Jon Pertwee episode - Earth based and with no particular interaction with the TARDIS needed. The basic plot is Alien Invasion, taking over the power infrastructure on Orkney.

The other point to note is that the plot doesn't really nail either the Doctor or the Amy Pond character, it's obviously been written without foreknowledge of Matt Smith's portrayal. So the Doctor feels a bit bland.

Worth a listen if you're a fan.


Different for Girls: A girl's own true-life adventures in pop
Different for Girls: A girl's own true-life adventures in pop
by Louise Wener
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, a quick read but not much gossip, 25 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really enjoyed this book, Louise Wener writes well (must be the English degree lurking in the background) and the story she tells is great fun. I read it in about three commutes - it's got that compulsive quality that all good books have.

I have the first Sleeper album in my cupboard somewhere but I rather lost interest after that. It was a good time for music generally, and I quite fancied LW in her air hostess uniform in one of the band's videos (Vegas, in fact).

From her early (geeky) days in Essex, taping music from the radio and experimenting with make up and boys, she tells a familiar story to anyone raised in the 80s.

Of course then she goes off to Uni and on to form a Britpop band. This part of the book is a bit of an eye opener, it's not the usual salacious tale but rather gives a sense of the day to day reality of being in a band. After 2 albums Sleeper burn out recording the third, having worn away the relationship with the guitarist the impetus seems to be gone. Strange how fractious relationships seem to keep a band afloat - see also Culture Club. They probably got out at about the right time and as noted elsewhere never quite decided if they were indie or pop.

Anyway this is a quick read and entertaining, particularly if you remember the mid 90s.


The Happiness Equation: The Surprising Economics of Our Most Valuable Asset
The Happiness Equation: The Surprising Economics of Our Most Valuable Asset
by Nick Powdthavee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.72

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, long run for a short slide, 23 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book seems stuck between a a magazine article and an academic paper.
The author spends quite a long time detailing how you measure correlation (or put a straight line through some data), in chapter 1, which isn't really relevant to the audience he's trying to reach.

Also although the results are sometimes very interesting - time heals bereavement for example, but has little effect on commuting or unemployment. He takes a long time to explain the results and the writing isn't particularly good.

The last chapter improves dramatically when he relates Buddhism to his results and talks about his Thai Granny but by then he'd lost me.

A worthy effort, but needs some dramatic editing and may be better recast as magazine articles.


Panasonic TX-L32S20B 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 100Hz LCD TV with Freeview HD
Panasonic TX-L32S20B 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 100Hz LCD TV with Freeview HD

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb TV, well worth the upgrade, 3 Aug 2010
Essentially we were forced into buying a new TV, as our old JVC burned out (literally). After a fraught day of reading Which and Amazon reviews we bought this TV, which has been brilliant so far.

Unboxing it is fairly simple once you've got it home, this is probably the largest size of TV which will fit into a standard saloon car. Screwing in the base takes about 20 minutes - so allow yourself time to do this. Once the base is assembled then you should plug in the TV aerial before plugging in the box to allow the full setup to take place (there's no power switch). This is straightforward and the built in HD freeview tuner is of good quality and beat our last one into a cocked hat. We get poor reception as we're in the lee of a hill but most channels are good and the BBC channels seem to be rock solid. We use the Freesat box under the TV a lot less.
Sound is good but I imagine you'd need a home cinema rig for the best sound quality.

The picture is very good, Freeview is generally good with just a bit of breakup, Freesat is also excellent although the picture is slightly paler. The TV has 3 HDMI sockets, and works best when these are used. There are also two SCART sockets for connecting older components.

I've also bought a Panasonic DMP-BD65EB-K Blu-Ray Disc Player and the picture quality really shines out with this. The colours are amazing watching a film like Avatar, and there's no noticeable image blur or lag. Note that the Viera link functions only work with other Panasonic kit but are useful.

The remote is sensibly laid out and the TV can be connected via ethernet to the internet, so far I've only checked for firmware updates using this but internet setup is straightforward. Wireless set up will require a Panasonic dongle which is about 80, excessive in my opinion.

Overall excellent, have always liked Panasonic TVs and this seems a gem as long as it lasts.

*UPDATE* There is a power switch, it's at the back and low down, there's also a channel changer rocker switch - I discovered these about a month into ownership.
It doesn't change the rest of the review - still an excellent TV.


Panasonic DMP-BD65EB-K Blu-Ray Disc Player
Panasonic DMP-BD65EB-K Blu-Ray Disc Player

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent player, 3 Aug 2010
I've paired this with a Panasonic TX-L32S20B 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 100Hz LCD TV with Freeview HD, and so far the picture is really excellent. The player can start up the TV from standby, and gives a really good picture.

One of the first films we watched was Avatar (DVD + Blu-ray) [2009], which was outstanding. Clear picture and good sound. The upscaling from DVD is good, but if you look closely you can see some things pixellate.

The player has a good remote with the controls laid out well and is easy to use, you need to use an HDMI cable to get the best out of this and it's probably worth noting that there's no SCART socket on this player - which means I couldn't have connected this to my old TV.

The BD live functionality looks a bit gimmicky to me, the firmware updates are handy and it's worth thinking how you'll network the player (wireless dongle is expensive - you might be better with home plugs). You go for the BD45 if you don't think networking is a priority.

Overall excellent player, easy to set up particularly with a Panasonic TV and really get the most out of a Full HD TV.


Hello Pingu and Other Stories
Hello Pingu and Other Stories
Price: 5.66

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 12 July 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Pingu on the TV is a very funny (and slightly gross) show, but it doesn't seem to translate to spoken word very well.

Sarah Green narrates well, but somehow squashes the humour out of the situation.
The stories are OK, but this failed to hold the attention of our 5 year old on the long drive back from Wales to Glasgow. I'm pretty sure that's the target audience, so that's probably an overall failure for the product.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever but a bit lacking in heart, 10 Jun 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book sat on my bedside table for a long time, I think I was slightly mystified by the title.

Anyway I've finally finished it, and while it's very well written and well translated, it seems to come across as an exercise in writing rather than an actual story. I found that I enjoyed it when I read it, but outside of my commute I didn't have the slightest inclination to pick it up. It lacks that compulsive quality.

The plot basically consists of a concierge who hides her intellectual leanings from her generally rich but artistically clueless patrons. Taking a pop at the snobby rich is never very hard and the book often comes over as inverted snobbery.

There are beautiful passages in the book, but they alternate with slightly pretentious parts. The ending is typically French and totally downbeat, it seems that a happy ending is beyond any French book or film and it's quite unsatisfying.

In short, I can see why it appeals to reading groups - it gives you good writing and plenty to analyse but it left me a little cold.


Shit My Dad Says
Shit My Dad Says
by Justin Halpern
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, a buy if you don't mind swearing, 7 Jun 2010
This review is from: Shit My Dad Says (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got this on a Saturday and basically finished it the same day which is increasingly rare. While reading it in cafe I snorted audibly at times, it's really that funny.

This book hangs on the nail of Justin going home to live with his father but at heart it's the father-son relationship which is being celebrated here and it has a surprisingly sweet last chapter.

Basically there's a series of incidents throughout Justin's life that almost any son or parent could sympathise with, Sam then chews Justin out pithily for his idiocy and Justin commits another idiotic act. Repeat while we all get a laugh.

So as long as you don't mind bad language and you like a laugh this book is an excellent tonic. In other words don't give it to your Mum! And subscribe to Justin's Twitter feed, it's free even if the book isn't.


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